The Week That Was: September 5, 2015 – Brought to You by www.SEPP.org
By Ken Haapala, President, Science and Environmental Policy Project
Divergence and the EPA: The August 28 TWTW discussed three forms of increasing divergence: 1) the surface temperatures record as reported by US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the atmospheric record; 2) the divergence between the global climate models and the atmospheric record; and 3) the divergence between what is being reported and discussed by the Climate Establishment and what is occurring in Nature.
Several readers inquired how do these forms of divergence impact on the US EPA’s Endangerment Finding (EF)? The EF is the EPA ruling that human emissions of greenhouse gases, particularly carbon dioxide (CO2), endanger human health and welfare. The ruling is critical to the Administration’s plan to regulate CO2 emissions from power plants, making the American public more dependent on unreliable and expensive solar and wind. As being witnessed in Europe, those countries with the greatest expenditures, “investments”, in solar and wind have the highest electricity costs to consumers, led by Demark and Germany.
As explained below, these forms of divergence weaken the already empirically weak evidence offered by the EPA for its endangerment finding. The weakening of evidence is particularly true for the non-existent “hotspot,” which the EPA erroneously claims is the distinct human fingerprint for CO2-caused global warming. [Note: since other greenhouse gases can be measured and regulated separately from CO2, and since CO2 cannot be separated, on a commercial scale, from emissions from fossil fuel-fired power plants, CO2 is the focus below.]
The hotspot is a pronounced warming centered over the tropics at an altitude of about 33,000 feet (10,000 meters). This region should show a greater rate of warming (warming trend) than the surface, but not higher temperatures. [In the lower atmosphere, temperatures decrease as altitude increases.] The issue is not the science of the hotspot, but its very existence. Where is it, can it be measured.
As discussed by Fred Singer in American Thinker in 2013 and 2014, in its Second Assessment Report (AR2-1996) the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) declared that a hotspot existed, without producing evidence of it. Subsequently, IPCC lead author Ben Santer of the USA, had a study published that showed the hotspot, but the researchers truncated the time series data, removed the 5 years beginning the period covered by observations and the 8 years ending the period. The removed data bring into question the existence of the hotspot. Santer also was a lead author of the 2006 report of the US Climate Change Science Project (US CCSP, now the US GCRP), which showed a hotspot in the models, but produced no physical evidence of its existence.
In its Endangerment Finding, the EPA produced no physical evidence of the existence of the hotspot. Further, with the divergence of atmospheric data from the surface data, which has been inflated to show a greater warming trend than before, it is doubtful if anyone can show the existence of a pronounced hotspot.
During the earlier litigation over EPA’s endangerment finding, the Chief Justice of the US Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, the court of relevant jurisdiction, made it clear he would not tolerate any questioning of the EPA science. In general, the full court and the Supreme Court had a similar view.
However, the issue is not the scientific interpretation of a phenomena, but its very existence. The question is not the cause, but is it there? If the Federal Courts will not review if a pronounced warming trend exists, is there any physical evidence they will review? See links under Challenging the Orthodoxy.
Quote of the Week: Reality must take precedence over public relations, for nature cannot be fooled. Richard Feynman
Number of the Week: 54%
Please Note: Due to schedule conflicts, next week’s TWTW will be shorter than usual
Mann’s Nature Trick: During Climategate, the removal of data that conflicted with hockey-stick, which purported to show dramatic temperature increases during the 20th century, became known as Michael Mann’s Nature Trick – after the journal, Nature, which published Mr. Mann’s article. The removed data showed a decline in recent temperatures in one of the proxy datasets used. The hockey-stick was featured in the Third Assessment Report (AR3-2001). Thus, we have two successive IPCC reports that have glaring problems, which have not been adequately addressed by the Climate Establishment. See links under Challenging the Orthodoxy.
The Show: The United States is currently the chair of the Arctic Council, a group of the eight countries bordering the Arctic (Canada, United States, Denmark (Greenland), Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Russia.). The Council also has a dozen countries with permanent observer status, including China, India, Japan, South Korea, and Singapore.
On August 30 & 31, at the request of the US, officials of these countries attended a meeting titled Conference on Global Leadership in the Arctic: Cooperation, Innovation, Engagement, and Resilience (GLACIER). President Obama used the conference to promote his perceived need for swift action on climate change. China and India refused to sign a non-binding agreement to aggressively address climate change at the 21st session of the Conference of the Parties (COP-21) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) to be held in Paris from November 30 to December 11. Reports of whether or not Russia signed are conflicting. According to a report in The Diplomat, the inability of the President to have total support for a non-binding agreement may indicate difficulties at COP-21.
The President also used event to publicize his interpretation of global warming/climate change. One photo opportunity was the melting of ice in Glacier Bay, where ice has been melting since about 1750. The melting began before the beginning of the Industrial Revolution and major use of fossil fuels, which many blame to be the cause of global warming/climate change. As Patrick Moore, a Greenpeace co-founder, points out, the ice in Glacier Bay has been retreating and advancing for centuries. According oral tradition of the native “Huna Tlingit people, it is said that the glacier has advanced and retreated a number of times during their occupation of the area. Each time the glacier advanced they would move to the village of Hoonah in Icy Strait outside Glacier Bay. When the glacier retreated, many of them would move back into the bay. These multiple migrations were certainly caused by climate change, but it had nothing to do with human activity.”
Such photo opportunities may impress Mr Obama’s entourage of journalists, however they seem to have a diminishing impact on the American public as explained on the web site Fabius Maximus when discussing the fictitious 97% consensus on climate change and controversies regarding it. The author states: “Summary: This vignette illustrates important aspects of the climate change debate, and why it has failed to gain sufficient support from Americans to pass large-scale public policy measures. For two decades journalists and scientists have cooperated to produce political propaganda, exaggerating and misrepresenting the work of the IPCC. Their failure should inspire us, showing a resistance to manipulation greater than many people expected (it surprises me).”
The photo opportunities can be classified as propaganda. Edward Bernays, who helped sell World War I to Americans as necessary to keep the world safe for democracy, praised propaganda as needed to organize the habits and opinions of the masses. It is becoming evident that this target audience is journalists. See Article # 1 and links under Problems in the Orthodoxy, and Communicating Better to the Public – Use Propaganda.
The Sun: European Physics News published an article by Henrik Svensmark, a co-founder of the hypothesis that cosmic rays, modulated by the sun, influences the climate on earth. In concluding the article, Svensmark asserts a consistency exists between, variations in cosmic ray flux and climate that warrants additional research.
Willie Soon, a target of those in Congress who organized a witch hunt, was a co-author of another article evaluating the role of solar variability on temperature trends in the Northern Hemisphere. Further, Climate Etc. links to a Russian article that uses data from deep boreholes to establish Earth’s surface temperatures for the past 1,000 years. The article suggests that, about 500 years ago, temperatures began rising from the Little Ice Age, not 150 years ago as usually assumed. That 1000 years ago it was warmer than today and the driving factor is natural, solar activity, not humans.
These studies contest the assertions by some in the climate establishment who consider the role of the sun to be trivial, and those who assert that recent warming must be from CO2 because they cannot think of anything else that would drive it. See links under Science: Is the Sun Rising?
Social Cost of Carbon: Nicholas Stern, of the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment, created a study on the economics of climate change that has had a significant impact on politics in the US and in the UK. The Stern review asserts that the benefits of strong, early action outweigh the costs of climate change. Among other tricks, it uses an average discount rate below 1.5%. Most politicians would be lost when such tricks are explained. In effect, a low discount rate inflates the apparent value of actions today, as compared with taking actions in the future. The US Government Accountability Office recommends a discount rate of 7%. A discount rate of 1.5% would be justified if the economy was in a depression.
Ruth Dixon of the University of Oxford wrote a review of Mr. Stern’s latest book. Why Are We Waiting? The Logic, Urgency and Promise of Tackling Climate Change. She quotes Stern as writing: ‘[t]o be effective, some economists and scientists may have to become directly involved in the processes of practical decision-making and advice. It is, of course, a challenge to do this and retain some objectivity, but the alternatives may be irrelevance or gross misuse of the work.’”
Some readers may recognize the argument as similar to the false dilemma presented by Stephen Schneider, which can be called the Schneider syndrome. By invoking it, Stern is essentially stating he knowingly misled the public as to the future cost of climate change in order to achieve the goal of actions today. See links under Lowering Standards.
NASA – Sea Level Rise: Last week TWTW linked to a press release by the NASA Sea Level Change Team announcing a dramatic rise in sea levels. A recent search of the internet failed to locate a study substantiating a dramatic rise. Other than the press release, TWTW located a report stating, in effect, sea level rise is dependent upon location – it may be rising faster than a world-wide average in some locations or even falling in other locations. There is nothing new here, and the importance of the location has been emphasized many times, including in the NIPCC Reports. Could the press release be in honor of the President’s show in Alaska? See links under Changing Seas
Number of the Week: 54% According to statistics compiled US Department of Agriculture, Foreign Agriculture Service, from the period 1986-89 to 2013-15 the world-wide average yield for wheat and coarse grains (essentially cereals except rice) grew from about 2.4 metric tons per hectare to about 3.7 metric tons per hectare, or about 54%. If this is the result of climate change, it is bountiful. So much for the US Global Change Research Program and other entities that predict starvation and death from climate change, and entities such as the US Department of Defense that predict mass refugees and conflicts due to starvation from climate change.
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. Obama’s Half-Baked Alaska
Yes, the glacier of Glacier Bay is receding—as it has from time to time for centuries.
By Patrick Moore, WSJ, Sep 3, 2015
SUMMARY: As stated above, the co-founder of Greenpeace states that the President ignored the oral traditions of the Huna Tlingit people on their movement in and out of Glacier Bay as the ice retreated and advanced.
Moore writes: “The fashionable tendency to blame every change in climate and every extreme-weather event on human emissions is doing a grave disservice to the scientific tradition. We know that the climate has been changing for millions of years due to a multitude of perfectly natural factors. There is no reason to believe that those factors have suddenly disappeared and [that] now humans are the all-powerful shapers of global climate destiny. Yet this entirely unproven hypothesis of catastrophe is compelling to those who would control our beliefs.
“Politicians want us to believe they are saving us from ruin; religious leaders want to reinforce original sin and the need for repentance; some business leaders want us to subsidize their expensive “green” technologies; and the climate activists want their money-machine to keep on giving.
“This powerful convergence of interests ignores the fact that carbon dioxide is essential for all life on Earth, that plants could use a lot more of it, and that the real threat is a cooling of the climate, not the slight warming that has occurred over the past 300 years.”
2. Big Solar’s Subsidy Bubble
Companies cash in on tax credits and ‘net-metering’ schemes.
Editorial, WSJ, Aug 30, 3015
SUMMARY: The author writes: “The Department of Energy’s Inspector General revealed last week that the legendary solar-panel manufacturer Solyndra—a poster baby of the Obama stimulus—lied to the feds to get a $535 million loan guarantee before going bust in 2011. Solyndra is a cautionary tale, but the Obama Administration is still throwing caution to the sun.”
Following a four year investigation: All evidence suggests that DOE was a willing victim. The IG notes that DOE loan officers felt “tremendous pressure” from the White House and Congress to rush through loan-guarantee applications. In their haste DOE officials failed “to ask specific questions, and require specific assurances” and overlooked major red flags.
“The larger problem is that the White House is more concerned with boosting the politically favored solar industry than protecting taxpayer dollars. More troubling, the solar industry may be growing too big to fail, and the Administration is assisting another taxpayer solar scam.”
“Solar installations increased 30% last year thanks partly to cheaper photovoltaic panels, but also a rush to cash in on the 30% federal investment tax credit that expires next year. The largest tax credit beneficiaries are big businesses like Wal-Mart and Google, solar-leasing companies and their investors. The financiers of SolarCity, which installs and leases rooftop panels, include Goldman Sachs, Citigroup and J.P. Morgan Chase —the guys Mr. Obama loves to hate.
“As the President dryly remarked, these businesses are “not doing this just out of altruism.” The real reason: Solar leases are a high-yield political investment.
“Here’s how this dubious business works. Solar-leasing companies install rooftop systems (which often cost tens of thousands of dollars) at no upfront consumer cost. Homeowners rent the panels for 20 years at rates that typically escalate over time but are initially cheaper than power from the grid. Investors get to pocket the myriad state and federal subsidies while homeowners are promised hundreds of dollars annually in savings on their electric bills.
“Sounds fantastic. The catch is that the teaser rates could shoot up if government subsidies are scaled back.”
“Maybe the biggest risk to solar profits is that many states are considering revising their net-metering policies, which are a key profit driver for the solar industry. These policies require utilities to purchase extra energy generated by residential and commercial solar installations—above and beyond what is used on their premises—at the retail power rate. This is often twice the wholesale price.
“The reason for the disparity is that the retail rate includes transmission, delivery and grid maintenance costs. Solar customers who depend on the grid to obtain power at night and sell their excess generation during the day skirt these costs. In doing so, they shift the costs of supporting the grid to other customers who must then pay more.”
“The solar industry’s top lobbyist Bryan Miller—who was the Department of Energy’s senior counsel while Solyndra was cashing in—threatened thousands of job cuts if the current net-metering rates weren’t extended. Vivint Solar, the U.S.’s second biggest panel installer, suspended operations in the state. All of this shows how dependent companies are on the regulatory subsidy.”
3, The EPA’s Next Big Economic Chokehold
Lowering ozone—from cars, trucks, factories and power plants—in the name of an imaginary health benefit.
By Tony Cox, WSJ, Sep 1, 2015
SUMMARY: The author writes: “This fall the Environmental Protection Agency plans to take its next grand regulatory step, following the announcement of the EPA’s Clean Power Plan over the summer. The agency is likely to introduce stringent new standards for ground-level ozone, arguing that a lower allowable level of ozone—an important component of smog—will reduce asthma in the U.S., among other claimed health benefits. Yet the EPA ignores decades of data and studies, some under the agency’s auspices, that reveal no detectable causal relation between past reductions in ozone and better public health, including reductions in asthma cases.
“The new regulation may be the most expensive ever for the U.S. economy—even worse than the Clean Power Plan’s effect on coal-fired power plants. Some studies, such as one published in August by National Economic Research Associates, estimate implementation costs of hundreds of billions of dollars a year in the short run, and trillions of dollars over the next two decades, as well as millions of lost jobs. Why would it be so costly? Because attacking ozone involves almost every facet of the economy—as the EPA notes, “automobiles, trucks, buses, factories, power plants” and “consumer products” all contribute to ground-level ozone.
“So it is important to be clear about what health benefits, if any, such costly reductions in ambient, or surrounding, ozone levels are known to cause.
“No one disputes that while average levels of ozone have fallen significantly across the nation since 2000, the number of asthma sufferers has increased. Yet advocacy and lobbying groups such as the Natural Resources Defense Council and the American Lung Association claim that cutting ozone in the future will reduce asthma. The Obama White House blames increasing numbers of asthma patients on climate change.
“The National Institutes of Health lists neither climate change nor ozone as a cause of asthma. It notes that the exact causes are unknown, with excessive hygiene in childhood (and resulting underdeveloped immune systems) being investigated as a hypothesis. Assertions that ambient ozone causes asthma have been criticized by many state air-quality regulators, including those in Texas, Ohio, Indiana and South Dakota.
“Undaunted, the EPA forges on.”
“Fortunately, there is abundant historical data on ozone levels and asthma levels in U.S. cities and counties over the past 20 years, many of which have made great strides in reducing ambient levels of ozone by complying with existing regulations. It is easy to check whether adverse outcomes, from mortality rates to asthma rates, have decreased more where ozone levels have been reduced more. They have not. Even relatively large reductions in ozone, by 20% or more, have not been found to cause detectable reductions in deaths and illnesses from cardiovascular and respiratory illnesses, contrary to the EPA’s model-based predictions.
“How the EPA and society proceed when confronted with a divergence between optimistic model-based predictions and practical reality will say much about what role, if any, we collectively want science and objective analysis to play in shaping crucial environmental and public-health regulations.
“The cynical use of asthma patients to promote a pro-regulation political agenda that won’t actually help them undermines the credibility of regulatory science and damages the public interest.
“Mr. Cox is the editor in chief of the peer-reviewed journal Risk Analysis and on the faculty of the University of Colorado School of Public Health. His Denver-based company, Cox Associates, develops and applies causal analyses for improving health outcomes.”