Weekly Climate and Energy News Roundup #176

The Week That Was: April 11, 2015 – Brought to You by www.SEPP.org The Science and Environmental Policy Project

By Ken Haapala, President, SEPP – Re-Blogged From http://www.WattsUpWithThat.com 

Climate and Health: By using the Freedom of Information Act, Chris Horner, of the Competitive Enterprise Institute, obtained an email addressed to “Richard Winsor” the imaginary employee of EPA used by Lisa Jackson as a disguise for receiving and sending email. The particular email in question, dated March 18, 2009, discussed strategic communications and suggested EPA shift its tactics from emphasizing the weakening science of global warming to the fear of pollution, especially air quality, with emphasis on the EPA’s Children’s Health Office. As discussed in the February 7 and February 14 TWTWs, the EPA has done this, making many highly questionable claims about respiratory diseases, such as asthma, even though the causes are not known and the disease may be greatly over-diagnosed, not only in the US but in England as well. TWTW cited research that made the claims dubious, at best.

This week, the Administration announced a major marketing campaign involving the Surgeon General of the US and many government agencies claiming that climate change is a threat to public health. One of the featured diseases is asthma, particularly childhood asthma. The effort is led by the US Global Change Research Program (USGCRP), with an enacted budget for fiscal year 2014 of $2.489 billion from various agencies plus an additional $14 million from the State Department and USAID.

The President added a now common personal touch by claiming that his daughter suffers from asthma caused by climate change. Now, instead of claiming the coal-fired power plants cause asthma, the Administration is claiming climate change causes asthma.

The executive summary of the report declares that: “Changes in climate, specifically rising temperatures, increasing precipitation, and increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide, are expected to contribute to increasing levels of some airborne allergens and associated increases in asthma episodes and other allergic illnesses compared to a future without climate change.” The report asserts a high confidence in this finding. [Please note that each page of the report states: “Draft for Public Comment. Do Not Cite or Quote.”]

Humanity evolved beginning about 6 million years, with homo-sapiens appearing about two hundred thousand years ago. For about 2.5 million years the earth has had extreme climate change of ice ages with long periods of glaciation and brief periods of warmth. According to the Administration, humanity, which evolved in the tropics during extreme climate change, is now threatened by climate change and warmth?

According to the announcement by USGCRP, public comments must be submitted by 12:00pm Eastern time, June 8, 2015. To adequately prepare SEPP’s comments, over the next several weeks, TWTW will present certain parts of this document, with comments, for review by its readership. The goal will not be to prepare an exhaustive rebuttal, but to prepare a 5 to 10 page document refuting of the most salient points. The adequacy or inadequacy of hypothesis testing will be emphasized. See links under Defending the Orthodoxy, Communicating Better to the Public – Use PSYOPs, http://www.globalchange.gov/about/budget, and https://wattsupwiththat.files.wordpress.com/2015/01/march-09-epa-strategy-memo-to-lpj.pdf


Quote of the Week: “When we allow science to become political then we are lost. We will enter the internet version of the Dark Ages, an era of stifling fears and wild prejudices, transmitted to people who don’t know any better.” Michael Crichton [H/t Tim Ball]


Number of the Week: 13




SEPP is conducting its annual vote for the recipient of the coveted trophy, The Jackson, a lump of coal. Readers are asked to nominate and vote for who they think is most deserving, following these criteria:

· The nominee has advanced, or proposes to advance, significant expansion of governmental power, regulation, or control over the public or significant sections of the general economy.

· The nominee does so by declaring such measures are necessary to protect public health, welfare, or the environment.

· The nominee declares that physical science supports such measures.

· The physical science supporting the measures is flimsy at best, and possibly non-existent.

The three past recipients, Lisa Jackson, Barrack Obama, and John Kerry, are not candidates. Generally, the committee that makes the selection prefers a candidate with a national or international presence. The voting will close on May 1. Please send your nominee and a brief reason why the person is qualified for the honor to Ken@SEPP.org. Thank you.


PSYOPs: Students of Psychological Warfare may recognize the Administration’s tactics as typical psychological operations – PSYOPs. The Department of Defense defines PSYOPs as “planned operations to convey selected information and indicators to foreign audiences to influence the emotions, motives, objective reasoning, and ultimately the behavior of foreign governments, organizations, groups, and individuals.”

Though practiced for countless generations, PSYOPs came into full flower during World War I, with the belligerents using it both against the enemy and on their own people. In general, when using PSYOPs, propaganda, on their own populations, the Germans ridiculed the allies as incompetent, the allies de-humanized the Germans. In preparing for World War II, Hitler, and others, recognized the allied effort was more effective than the German effort. During World War II, all sides depicted their own populations as heroic and the enemy as sub-human.

During World War I, Edward Bernays was one of the foremost practitioners of PSYOPs for the United States. He wrote the influential Propaganda, published in 1928. At the time, propaganda did not have the negative connotations it developed during World War II and afterwards. Bernays made a fortune advertising for cigarette companies. Later, when the strong evidence became known that cigarette smoking is harmful to health, Bernays dropped these accounts.

There is a legal issue if the US Information and Educational Exchange Act of 1948 (Smith–Mundt Act), which restricts the use of PSYOPs and propaganda on the US population, applies to all agencies of the US, or just the Department of State. Nevertheless, it is important to identify government use of these tactics on the public.

One could argue that propaganda has been common in the global warming/climate change issues. The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), and the USGCRP, which follows it, have become ever more strident with certainty in their science that humans are the primary cause of global warming/climate change. This certainty is being increasingly questioned as nature refuses to follow the forecasts of an ever-warming globe. Increasingly, natural variation is coming to the fore.

The hockey-stick, which minimized natural variation, and emphasized late 20th century warming is but one example of the stridency, which could be viewed as propaganda or PSYOPs. The personal investigations by members of Congress on the private funding of researchers who express doubt about the official science are another example of PSYOPs, propaganda. So are the unsubstantiated claims that independent scientists questioning the IPCC received funding from tobacco companies, etc. The these claims are particularly disturbing when those making such claims are honored by once distinguished scientific institutions. In some small measure, we should be thankful that the Administration has become so blatant in its efforts, allowing PSYOPs and propaganda to be openly discussed in its proper context. See links under Communicating Better to the Public – Use PSYOPs


Another View of US Health Effects from Climate Change: In 2012 the Cato Institute released a point-by-point rebuttal to the 2009 report of the USGCRP. Unlike the 2009 USGCRP, the Cato report contained a chapter on human health. As Patrick Michaels and Chip Knappenberger discuss the key points in that chapter are:

• “The health effects of climate change on the United States are negligible today, and likely to remain so in the future, unless the United States goes into precipitous economic and technological decline.

• Death certificate data indicate that 46 percent of all deaths from extreme weather events in the United States from 1993-2006 were from excessive cold, 28 percent were from excessive heat, 10 percent were from hurricanes, 7 percent were from floods, and 4 percent were from tornadoes.

• Over the long term, deaths from extreme weather events have declined in the United States.

• Deaths in the United States peak in the colder months and are at a minimum in the warmer months.

• In U.S. cities, heat-related mortality declines as heat waves become stronger and/or more frequent.

• Census data indicate that the migration of Americans from the cold northern areas to the warmer southwest saves about 4,600 lives per year and is responsible for three to seven per cent of the gains in life expectancy from 1970-2000.

• While the U.S. Global Change Research Program states that “Some diseases transmitted by food, water, and insects are likely to increase,” incidence of these diseases have been reduced by orders of magnitude in the United States over the past century, and show no sign of resurgence.”

To this, SEPP can add that according to the two largest re-insurance companies in the world, monetary losses from extreme weather events are declining, but losses from cold weather in the US are increasing. The Administration needs to be informed that its PSYOPs campaign has already been decimated. Only an update for its new claims is needed. See links under Challenging the Orthodoxy


Convincing a Skeptic: Ron Bailey of Reason Magazine asked: “What Evidence Would Persuade You That Man-Made Climate Change Is Real?” The short answer to that is: if you are referring to carbon-dioxide caused global warming, now called climate change, show a global climate model that has been verified and validated. In spite of the U.S spending over $35 billion on climate science, there are none.

Failing that, show a global climate model with significant predictive skill – it forecasts temperatures well. Judith Curry observed: that “there is one climate model that falls within the range of the observational estimates: INMCM4 (Russian).” As Curry notes, others observed that the Russian CMIP-5 model is performing the best with HADCRUT 4 and Berkeley Earth surface temperature data and it “has high inertia from ocean heat capacities, low forcing from CO2 and less water for feedback.”

In different posts Roy Spencer and Christopher Monckton answer Bailey’s question in greater detail. Spencer’s comments are particularly succinct:

“The first problem I have is with his premise: that skeptics believe humans have no role in climate change. I don’t know of any serious skeptics who hold such a view. Now, maybe he is addressing people who deny any human involvement in global warming. His article is vague, and maybe he can clarify his intent for us.

“The second problem I have is with Ron’s list of a variety of evidences of global-average warming, which (again) no skeptic worth their salt disputes. The science dispute is over how much of the warming is manmade versus natural. Like too many others, Ron conflates climate change with human-caused climate change, which are not the same thing.

“Regarding his list, he seems to believe they are independent evidences of manmade warming. Wrong. To the extent warming occurs, even if it is entirely natural, warming would occur in the atmosphere and deep ocean; it would cause an increase in atmospheric water vapor, as well as precipitation; the warming would be stronger in the upper troposphere than the lower troposphere; and stronger over land than over the ocean.

“These things would all occur together anyway, no matter the cause of the warming, Ron. And causation is, indeed, the question which science so far cannot answer.

“Since climate models cannot even hindcast what has happened (let alone forecast), they clearly have no handle on multi-decadal temperature changes brought about by natural effects. There does not even need to be any forcing — e.g. the sun, volcanoes, etc. — in order for climate to change because the ocean-atmosphere system is nonlinear and dynamical — in a word, chaotic. It can change all by itself. For example, [in] this plot we see that global warming (and cooling) has been the rule, not the exception, for the last 2,000 years:” [Plot given in post.]

“Significantly, that warming occurred during the period when climate modelers developed their models, and since they assumed all warming was manmade, they had to increase the models’ sensitivity. Now, they are between a rock and a hard place, continuing to publish overly-sensitivity models they know are wrong (based upon both surface AND deep ocean warming rates).”

Spencer’s point that a list of the consequences of global warming is not evidence of cause is particularly salient. Repeatedly, there are studies of the projections from climate models being given as evidence. Yet, projections from climate models, which have not been validated, are little more than sophisticated speculation and are categorized in TWTW under the heading Un-Science or Non-Science?

Spencer’s point of the models being developed during a time of warming, which was assumed to be man-made, and now overestimate warming is crucial. The failure of government to fund natural causes of recent warming and cooling is becoming apparent and its interpretation of climate science is biased.

See links under Challenging the Orthodoxy and http://judithcurry.com/2015/03/23/climate-sensitivity-lopping-off-the-fat-tail/


Acidic Waters? There were several recent articles on the mass extinction that occurred about 252 million years ago. Most discussions attributed the extinction to enormous volcanic activity, particularly the region of north-central Russia called the Siberian Traps. For example, Ian Plimer’s heaven+earth states the eruption may have released sufficient sulfur dioxide to cause intensely acidic rain and perhaps cause the ocean surfaces to become acidic for a brief time. A recent paper published in Science attributes the lowering of pH to carbon dioxide (CO2). However, the abstract does not explain how the technique used to measure pH can separate if the cause of the lowering is due to carbon dioxide (carbolic acid) or due to sulfuric acid. Those claiming that carbon dioxide emissions will cause acidic waters will support the CO2 explanation, even though sulfuric acid is far stronger than carbolic acid.

TWTW reader Clyde Spencer writes: “I question whether a highly-buffered alkaline solution (sea water) can dissolve enough CO2 to truly become acidic. From reading in my college oceanography text, it appears that even in hydrogen sulfide-rich waters in ‘dead’ zones, sea water rarely even gets as low as pH 7 [neutral]. Club Soda, which is un-buffered and saturated with CO2, has a pH of about 5. That is probably the lowest fresh water can get with only carbonic acid present.”

Decaying vegetation can cause freshwater bodies to reach significant acid levels, far below 7 (neutral). For example, Okefenokee is a southern blackwater swamp (or bog) stretching from southern Georgia to northern Florida. It has a measured pH between 3.5 and 3.9. Yet it supports plant and animal communities including insects, fishes, birds, turtles and alligators. None are unique to the swamp. It also supports smaller creatures such as crustaceans. Before jumping to conclusions about the acidic effects of carbon dioxide, the research be must explored further. See links under Changing Earth — Acidic Waters and https://smartech.gatech.edu/bitstream/handle/1853/44153/BergstedtA-97.pdf


Lowering Standards: The American Physical Society (APS) is revisiting its policy statement on global warming. The draft statement reads:

On Climate Change:

Earth’s changing climate is a critical issue that poses the risk of significant disruption around the globe. While natural sources of climate variability are significant, multiple lines of evidence indicate that human influences have had an increasingly dominant effect on the climate warming observed since the mid-twentieth century. Although the magnitudes of future effects are uncertain, human influences on the climate are growing. The potential consequences of climate change are great and the policies of the next few decades will determine human influences on the climate for centuries.

On Climate Science:

As summarized in the 2013 report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), there continues to be significant progress in climate science. In particular, the connection between rising concentrations of atmospheric greenhouse gases and the increased warming of the global climate system is more certain than ever. Nevertheless, as recognized by Working Group 1 of the IPCC, scientific challenges remain to our abilities to observe, interpret, and project climate changes. To better inform societal choices, the APS urges sustained research in climate science.

On Climate Action:

The APS reiterates its 2007 call to support actions that will reduce the emissions, and ultimately the concentration, of greenhouse gases, as well as increase the resilience of society to a changing climate. Because physics and its techniques are fundamental elements of climate science, the APS further urges physicists to collaborate with colleagues across disciplines in climate research and to contribute to the public dialogue.

Some had hoped that the APS would consider recent research suggesting natural influences play an important role in climate change, but the bureaucracy is too entrenched. What it defines as “significant progress in climate science” is anyone’s guess. Steve Koonin’s participation in an APS workshop give rise for some hope beyond the bureaucratic science. But to no avail. Writing in Climate Etc., Koonin points out the human (anthropogenic) influence is very small compared with the natural influences on climate, which are many times larger. See links under


2 thoughts on “Weekly Climate and Energy News Roundup #176

  1. I’m wondering which blogging and site-building platform you’re using? I’m new to running a blog and have been thinking about using the WordPress platform. Do you think this is a good foundation to start with? I would be extremely grateful if I could ask you some questions through email so I can learn a bit more before getting started. When you have some free time, please get in touch with me at:. Thanks
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    • Yes, I’ve been happy using WordPress and would recommend it to you. BTW, I format in Apache OpenOffice, and then I paste it in so that I have more control over how it appears.


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