Weekly Climate and Energy News Roundup #184

The Week That Was: June 20, 2015 – Brought to You by www.SEPP.org

By Ken Haapala, President, Science and Environmental Policy Project (SEPP)

The Encyclical: Early in the week, an Italian newspaper leaked a version of the Pope Francis’ highly anticipated encyclical letter on the environment and climate change. After a flurry concerning the unauthorized release, a final document has been released, which is under review. [There is a bit of irony here because Galileo wrote his scientific works in “vulgar” Italian rather than “scientific” Latin.]

The Pope’s encyclical does not advance science. It offers no empirical evidence that 20th century warming resulted from human carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions (and other greenhouse gas emissions). The primary, critical hypothesis needed to be tested is that CO2 emissions are causing dangerous global warming, now called climate change. The pope’s advisors do not advance empirical evidence supporting the hypothesis. The failure of the globe to warm is more than sufficient evidence that there are problems with the hypothesis. Local and regional climate change from land use changes are a secondary issues.

The Letter states: “The earth, our home, is beginning to look more and more like an immense pile of filth.” Environmental degradation has long been a major problem, which, for generations, has been made more visible by urbanization. Western, industrialized societies are making great strides in reducing environmental degradation, in a large part thanks to increased prosperity through the use of fossil fuels.

The Letter calls for reducing the dangers of climate change by reducing carbon dioxide emissions, requiring diminished use of fossil fuels. Yet, there is no empirical evidence advanced that CO2 emissions increase climate change, which has been occurring for at least 1.5 billion years, long before multi-cell life. Denying use of fossil fuels to the extreme poor is hardly a way of alleviating poverty. Many societies in Asia, including China and India, are showing great improvements, even with warts such as air pollution, in the overall health and living conditions of the general population through the use of fossil fuels. Conspicuous consumption and waste may be undesirable, but excess is not justification for removing the necessary.

Perhaps the Letter can be summed as outdated thinking on climate being used to advance questionable environmental goals.

There is a great deal of speculation on why the Vatican issued such a letter. One suggestion is to have a place at the 21st Conference of Parties (COP) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate (UNFCCC) in Paris, starting at the end of November, in order to overrule some of the most drastic measures of population control that may be considered.

Another suggestion is to open up discussion on the entire global warming/climate change issue – something that is sorely needed. After decades of dramatic pronouncements, Western governments have not been able to produce empirical evidence substantiating the central hypothesis — CO2 emissions are causing dangerous global warming. For a diversity of views see Article # 1 and links under Expanding the Orthodoxy – The Pope, and Expanding the Orthodoxy – The Pope – Loyal Opposition.

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Quote of the Week: “Science is the belief in the ignorance of experts.” Richard Feynman.

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Number of the Week: $37 Billion ++?

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SEPP’S APRIL FOOLS AWARD

THE JACKSON

The voting for SEPP’s annual April Fools Award is over. We thank all those who participated with nominees and votes. The winner of this close race will be announced at the 33rd Annual Meeting of the Doctors for Disaster Preparedness in Ontario, CA, from July 31 to August 2, 2015.

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The Swamp: In a lengthy essay in the Australian online magazine, Quadrant, science writer Matt Ridley gives an overview of the general status of western climate science, as embraced by western governments – a swamp. The opening paragraph bears repeating:

“The great thing about science is that it’s self-correcting. The good drives out the bad, because experiments get replicated and hypotheses tested — or so I used to think. Now, thanks largely to climate science, I see bad ideas can persist for decades, and surrounded by myrmidons of furious defenders they become intolerant dogmas”

Briefly taking readers through scientific fads, such as Lysenkoism and low-fat diets, Ridley focuses on how special interests groups have captured what is termed climate science during and after the second assessment report (1995) by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

“Since then, however, inch by inch, the huge green pressure groups have grown fat on a diet of constant but ever-changing alarm about the future. That these alarms—over population growth, pesticides, rain forests, acid rain, ozone holes, sperm counts, genetically modified crops—have often proved wildly exaggerated does not matter: the organisations that did the most exaggeration trousered the most money. In the case of climate, the alarm is always in the distant future, so can never be debunked.

 

“These huge green multinationals, with budgets in the hundreds of millions of dollars, have now systematically infiltrated science, as well as industry and media, with the result that many high-profile climate scientists and the journalists who cover them have become one-sided cheerleaders for alarm, while a hit squad of increasingly vicious bloggers polices the debate to ensure that anybody who steps out of line is punished. They insist on stamping out all mention of the heresy that climate change might not be lethally dangerous.

 

Today’s climate science, as Ian Plimer points out in his chapter in The Facts, is based on a “pre-ordained conclusion, huge bodies of evidence are ignored and analytical procedures are treated as evidence”. Funds are not available to investigate alternative theories. Those who express even the mildest doubts about dangerous climate change are ostracised, accused of being in the pay of fossil-fuel interests or starved of funds; those who take money from green pressure groups and make wildly exaggerated statements are showered with rewards and treated by the media as neutral.” [Boldface added].

Based on US government reports, SEPP has traced the US government has spent at least $40 Billion on what it classifies as climate science, since 1993, with little going on understanding the natural causes of climate change. After giving specific examples of how those scientists who disagree with the establishment are marginalized, in the section “Harm to Science”, Ridley quotes Garth Paltridge:

We have at least to consider the possibility that the scientific establishment behind the global warming issue has been drawn into the trap of seriously overstating the climate problem—or, what is much the same thing, of seriously understating the uncertainties associated with the climate problem—in its effort to promote the cause. It is a particularly nasty trap in the context of science, because it risks destroying, perhaps for centuries to come, the unique and hard-won reputation for honesty which is the basis for society’s respect for scientific endeavour.

Such an effort cannot withhold without the implicit support of science journalists, many of whom are obviously in the alarmist camp. As David Whitehouse of the Global Warming Policy Foundation has written, science journalists do not meet the standards required for financial journalists. They fail to look beyond the headlines. This easy-to-read essay should be understandable to many, including the Pope’s climate advisors. See links under Suppressing Scientific Inquiry.

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Beyond the Headlines: As discussed in the June 6 TWTW, a team led by Thomas Karl, the director of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Climatic Data Center, (NOAA-NCDC), and some of his colleagues, have adjusted sea surface temperature record to give the appearance of a stronger warming trend over the past 15 years. Sea surface data is collected from several sources including ships and, later, specially designed buoys. The data from buoys are considered superior in accuracy, than the data from ships, particularly data in the early part of the record. There is no justification for adjusting what most consider to be superior data from buoys to bring it in line with what most consider to be inferior data from ships, and Karl et al. gave none. A brief paper discussing the effort was published in Science.

This week, NOAA announced that this past May was the hottest May on record. Dutifully, many science journalists reported the new claim without bothering to note that the claim is based on a newly adjusted historic record, or that the claim is inconsistent with the satellite record, which is far more comprehensive. Financial journalists would be severely criticizing such a claim of a historic record made by a private company. With such claims, NOAA is becoming a distraction to scientific inquiry rather than a trusted source for scientific inquiry. See links under Challenging the Orthodoxy – Karl et al.

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Changing Standard?: Similar to the World Bank, the Energy Information Agency (EIA) issued a dire warning on future global warming, of up to 3.5 degrees C by 2200, without physical evidence to support its claims. The motto of the report is: “Secure, Sustainable, Together”

“This special report, part of the World Energy Outlook series, assesses the effect of recent low-carbon energy developments and the INDCs proposed thus far. It finds that while global energy-related emissions slow as a result of the climate pledges, they still increase. To compensate, governments will need to ramp up efforts, reviewing their pledges regularly, setting realistic and attainable longer-term goals and tracking their progress. This report also proposes the adoption of five measures that would achieve a near-term peak in global energy-related emissions while maintaining momentum for stronger national efforts.

 

“The next few months could be decisive in determining our energy and climate future. Will countries take on and abide by commitments that will make a meaningful impact? Will they agree to additional measures to spur further innovation and action? Achieving our goals is still possible, but the risk of failure is great: the more time passes without a deal, the more high-carbon energy infrastructure is locked in.

 

“COP 21 presents an opportunity we cannot afford to miss.”

This report demonstrates the EIA cannot be considered an independent, non-political entity. One can only hope that the EIA will not begin to adjust its reports to meet its political goals. See links under On to Paris!

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Real Arctic or Imaginary Arctic? Those who have read the writings of European or New World Arctic explorers and observers, and some of the records of the Hudson Bay Company, may be uncomfortable with the view expressed by the Climate Establishment that Arctic sea ice, under natural conditions, provides a stable, predictable habitat, and that only recently has Arctic sea ice become unstable. Independent polar bear scientist Susan Crockford has a new paper challenging what she calls an Arctic Fallacy.

Ms. Crockford bases her paper on observations since the 1960s, but many students of Arctic history would not be surprised by many of her findings, which include naturally-occurring changes in habitat. No doubt, those with a vested interest in keeping the current fallacy alive, which has formed part of the US Arctic policy, will try to dismiss or marginalize her work. See link under Changing Cryosphere – Land / Sea Ice

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Number of the Week: $37 Billion ++? An article in the Wall Street Journal states that the China Development Bank has lent nearly $37 billion to Venezuela since 2008. Additional amounts are unclear. Future delivery of oil was the security for the loans. Further, the China Development Bank has made significant similar loans to energy companies and governments of oil-producing countries. With the fall in the price of crude and the decline in the boom of China’s economy, and the stagnation of Venezuela’s oil industry, the future is uncertain and officials refused to comment. See Article # 2

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ARTICLES:

Please note that articles not linked easily or summarized here are reproduced in the Articles Section of the full TWTW that can be found on the web site under the date of the TWTW.

1. The Pope’s Green Theology

The good news: His encyclical invites honest discussion. Let’s have it.

By Robert Sirico, WSJ, Jun 18, 2015

http://www.wsj.com/articles/the-popes-green-theology-1434668086

SUMMARY: “Let’s cut to the chase: Much of what is in Pope Francis’ encyclical on environmental stewardship, Laudato Si’, poses a major challenge for free-market advocates, those of us who believe that capitalism is a powerful force for caring for the earth and lifting people out of poverty. But one of the most welcome lines is a call for honest, respectful discussion.

“Francis warns against both extremes: on one end, ‘those who doggedly uphold the myth of progress and tell us that ecological problems will solve themselves simply with the application of new technology and without any need for ethical considerations or deep change.’ And on the other end those who view men and women ‘as no more than a threat, jeopardizing the global ecosystem, and consequently the presence of human beings on the planet should be reduced.’

 

“He continues: ‘On many concrete questions, the Church has no reason to offer a definitive opinion; she knows that honest debate must be encouraged among experts, while respecting divergent views.’ That Francis would lend the full moral force of his office to call for an honest debate is a great step for the planet. This has not characterized the past few decades of discussion.

 

“As a priest who strives to be faithful to his church, I know that I too am expected to use my God-given reason in evaluating these questions. The pope’s primary focus is the faith, and the moral implications that faith has for our behavior and the systems of politics and economics we create. In this sense, there is plenty of room for discussion. The purpose of an encyclical is not to close that debate, but precisely to open faith to understanding.”

Fr. Sirico is president of the Acton Institute.

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2. Venezuela Oil Loans Go Awry for China

China Development Bank is on the hook as South American country struggles

CONTINUE READING –>

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