Weekly Climate and Energy News Roundup #177

The Week That Was: April 18, 2015 – Brought to You by www.SEPP.org The Science and Environmental Policy Project

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

Energy Not Heat, Exclusively: A source of frustration for members of SEPP, and others, are the efforts by some of classifying these skeptics as denying the existence of the greenhouse effect, often by claiming that the greenhouse effect is contrary to the second law of thermodynamics. The law applies to the flow of heat (thermal energy) from a warmer body to a cooler one. The atomic theory of heat (thermal energy) is based on the motion of atoms and/or molecules. Though it may use atoms, the transfer of energy does not require them. There forms of energy other than heat.

Many global warming skeptics question the claim that increasing the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere by a few molecules per one million will cause significant global warming. The theoretical calculations of how much warming are based on dry air (no water vapor). These calculations cannot be directly applied to the globe where the amount of water vapor in the atmosphere varies widely – from about 0% to about 4%. As the percentage of water vapor increases, the influence of additional carbon dioxide diminishes.

One can experience the greenhouse effect of water vapor by spending a few summer evenings in the rural Southeast US and compare them with summer evenings in the rural Southwest US, away from irrigation, at a similar latitude and elevation. In the Southeast, which is humid (has significant water vapor), the evenings cool slowly. In the Southwest, initially the evenings may be hotter, but they cool more quickly. The difference is an example of the greenhouse effect as it applies to water vapor, with a greater effect in the Southeast than in the Southwest. [Last week, Roy Spencer presented the evening greenhouse effect as measured where he lives in Alabama, Southeastern US.]

Recognizing the difference in cooling due to a difference in the greenhouse effect by water vapor is not contrary to the second law of thermodynamics because the law applies to transfer of heat rather than all forms of energy. Transfer of heat, requires atoms and/or molecules. The transfer of electromagnetic energy from the sun to the earth, through empty space, does not. The transfer of reflected light (electromagnetic energy) from the cold moon to the warm earth is not contrary to the second law of thermodynamics.

One can experience that energy transfer is not the same as heat transfer in a modern kitchen by placing a warm glass of water in a cold microwave and turning on the microwave. The water will boil long before the microwave will warm. Those skeptical that a small increase in the carbon dioxide concentration of the atmosphere will cause significant global warming are not necessarily denying the greenhouse effect and should not be classified as such. They grasp the difference between energy and heat. See link: http://www.drroyspencer.com/2015/04/why-summer-nighttime-temperatures-dont-fall-below-freezing/


Quote of the Week: “When people learn no tools of judgment and merely follow their hopes, the seeds of political manipulation are sown.” Stephen Jay Gould [H/t Tim Ball]


Number of the Week: 60 Years




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 8 [New Date]. Please send your nominee and a brief reason why the person is qualified for the honor to Ken@SEPP.org. Thank you.


Climate and Health: As discussed in the April 11 TWTW, the US Global Change Research Program (USGCRP) has released a draft of a Climate and Health Assessment for public comment. The document states “Do Not Cite or Quote.” The next few TWTWs will certain sections of this report, emphasizing topics that are not substantiated or contrary to public health history. These will be used to prepare a succinct response from SEPP, due on June 8.

The first section of the report deals with “Temperature-Related Deaths and Illness.” It states that days that are hotter than normal in the summer or colder than normal in the winter can cause increased levels of illness and death by compromising the body’s ability to regulate its temperature or by inducing direct or indirect cardiac complications. Given the wide range of temperatures that are experienced in most of the United States on a daily basis, the statement prompts the question: “What is normal?”

The key findings in this section are: 1) Increases in Temperature Related Deaths, due to warming [Very Likely, High Confidence]; 2) Illness and Deaths Are Related to Deviations from Seasonal Average; 3) Changing Tolerance to Extreme Heat and 4) Some Populations Are at Greater Risk. There is no issue with the fourth finding.

The first finding creates significant issues. Even though the US government spent over $35 billion on climate science research from fiscal year 1993 to FY 2013, federal agencies have failed to create a global climate model, verified and validated, for predicting future temperatures. Without a valid climate model, temperature forecasts are highly speculative. Thus, the core of the entire USGCRP Climate and Health Assessment is speculative. Labeling such statements with terms such as Very Likely or High Confidence is pure fiction. There is no objective method to assess likelihood or confidence.

Further, there is no indication that the government agencies are attempting to create a valid climate model that has predictive power (skill). Based on its past reports, what we will probably see from the USGCRP is speculation passed on as knowledge. In the future, TWTW will focus on the more highly questionable issues presented by the USGCRP, even though the report must be regarded as speculation. See links under Defending the Orthodoxy.


April Fools Award: Thus far, there have been 12 nominees for the SEPP April Fools award (see above). The prospective honorees include John Beal, a former EPA official who flimflammed EPA managers and the entire US on air pollution, water pollution and global warming and is now in jail for pretending to be a CIA official. Tom Steyer made the list for financing political candidates who oppose carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. Stephan Lewandowsky was honored for suggesting the tendency to believe in conspiracy theories predicted skepticism about human caused global warming/climate change, published in Psychological Science and PLoS. EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy was honored for obvious reasons, including being a leader of the 13 agencies in USGCRP (above). Al Gore received the honor because to leave him off the list of recipients would be a crime. US Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz was also honored by a nomination.

Due to travel and computer maintenance commitments, the other nominees will be presented in the May 2 TWTW and the voting will close on May 8.

The nomination of Ernest Moniz was by a recently retired chair of an engineering department of a branch of a noted New England University. He states:

“In brief, when the Secretary of Energy is more interested in developing energy policy that supports CO2 emission targets than producing reliable energy, we have a problem. With Kerry, Obama or Jackson you can sum it up to ignorance — they are not educated in science and they surround themselves with supposed experts, who they choose to trust. With Moniz, you cannot — he has a renowned academic pedigree. Yet in spite of his obvious intelligence and education, he believes that despite the fact that computer simulations cannot predict the drag on a golf ball based on first principles, they can solve the vastly more complex problem of the earth’s climate, which includes inter-related thermodynamic, heat transfer and chemistry in a multi-phase domain set in a non-inertial reference frame, which is over 10^5 times the size of the golf ball.”

Mr Moniz spoke at a graduation at the university:

“It was a painful experience for me. Rather than giving the students useful words of advice, he spent his entire speech expounding on the dangers of climate change:


“Based on his willful ignorance and in a position of great importance, I can think of no better candidate for this prestigious award.”


Standing Tall: One US government entity that makes projections has not succumbed to that desire to pretend it can forecast the future or has bent its projections to the president’s policy – the US Energy Information Administration (EIA). The Annual Energy Outlook, 2015 – projections to 2040 states:

“This report was prepared by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), the statistical and analytical agency within the U.S. Department of Energy. By law, EIA’s data, analyses, and forecasts are independent of approval by any other officer or employee of the United States Government. The views in this report therefore should not be construed as representing those of the Department of Energy or other Federal agencies.”


“Projections by EIA are not statements of what will happen but of what might happen, given the assumptions and methodologies used for any particular case. The AEO2015 Reference case projection is a business-as-usual trend estimate, given known technology and technological and demographic trends. EIA explores the impacts of alternative assumptions in other cases with different macroeconomic growth rates, world oil prices, and resource assumptions. The main cases in AEO2015 generally assume that current laws and regulations are maintained throughout the projections. Thus, the projections provide policy-neutral baselines that can be used to analyze policy initiatives.”

In spite of the Administration’s initiative to significantly reduce carbon dioxide emissions, in its new Outlook the EIA projections show little change in US CO2 emissions to 2040. Under the scenario of high economic growth, use of coal for electrical generation does not drop significantly. However, in the general “Reference Case”, use of coal falls from 39% of electrical generation (2013) to 34% of electrical generation. The biggest increases are natural gas (27% to 31%) and renewables (13% to 18%). Oil price does not have much of an influence on electrical generation, because in the US less than 1% of electrical generation comes from petroleum and other liquids. See links under Energy Issues – US and Return of King Coal?


World Bank or Asian Bank? China has founded the Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank. According to reporter Eduardo Porter of the New York Times, American diplomats are upset that dozens of countries are joining China’s new infrastructure investment bank, a potential rival to the World Bank and other financial institutions backed by the United States. The reason is simple. The West’s environmental policies are blocking their access to energy. The World Bank came out with a report “Turning down the heat: Confronting the new Climate Normal.” It was based on unsubstantiated projections from global climate models. The World Bank announced it would not finance coal-fired power plants.

This is not the first time that the West has tried to impose its environmental policies on others, to their detriment. Without supporting evidence it was harmful to humans, in the 1970s Western governments banned the use of DDT, and tried to have it banned world-wide. Yet, it was previously shown that the most cost-effective way of controlling malaria in tropical countries was by the indoor spraying of huts with DDT twice a year. Western governments did not consider the consequences of such a ban. Malaria rates in countries which implemented the ban exploded, with millions dying prematurely. Western politicians and diplomats may ignore these efforts, but there is no reason to assume they have been forgotten. See links under Funding Issues.


Wind Bursts: A new hypothesis has been proposed for the failure of a significant El Niño in 2014 to cause a significant warming predicted by some in government agencies– wind bursts may suppress El Niños. The entire effort to explain the lack of warming is becoming silly. This explanation is another natural influence not considered in the IPCC’s 95% certainty of human cause. See links under Models v. Observations.


Death of Enron – Finally? Writing in Master Resource, on occasion, Robert Bradley Jr, re-caps how Ken Lay of Enron was able to convince many Greens to support natural gas as well as support wind and solar power for electrical generation. The legislators in Texas succumbed to Lay’s persuasion and instituted significant renewable energy mandates, in the form of a Renewable Portfolio Standard in 1999 and a Renewable Energy Zone for power lines. In spite of intense opposition from environmentalists and renewable energy industry groups, the Texas Senate voted to end these mandates. Among arguments used to keep them, was that their removal will shake the industry’s confidence in Texas’ business climate. As if an industry that needs mandates and subsidies to survive is indicative of a strong business climate. See links under Subsidies and Mandates Forever and Environmental Industry


No TWTW Next Week: Due to travel commitments and the need for computer maintenance, there will be no TWTW the weekend of April 25. TWTW is expected to resume the weekend of May 2.


Additions and Corrections: Immediately after the March 11 TWTW was distributed, numerous readers pointed out that it confused carbolic acid and carbonic acid. Carbolic acid is an organic disinfectant, unrelated to carbon dioxide. Carbonic acid, a weak acid, is created by mixing carbon dioxide with water. When raising some freshwater tropical fish, such as discus, brightly colored fish from the Amazon, enthusiasts often create carbonic acid by bubbling carbon dioxide in the aquarium.

There has been no clarification on the main point, how can researchers declare that the oceans acidified by the volcanic release of carbon dioxide from the region of north-central Russia called the Siberian Traps? The more generally accepted view by geologists is that the lowering of pH was from enormous amounts of sulfur dioxide converted to sulfuric acid, a far stronger acid than carbonic acid.

TWTW deeply appreciates such corrections and the efforts of its readers for making them.


Number of the Week: 60 Years. April 12th marked to 60th anniversary of the polio vaccine. An ancient disease, major outbreaks occurred in Western Europe and the US in the 19th century. By the mid-20th century, polio was one of the most feared childhood diseases in the US. The wide adoption of the vaccine and the subsequent suppression of the disease world-wide was a triumph of public health. One wonders how members of the anti-vaccine movement would react to a resurgence of this disease. See link under Other News that May Be of Interest


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