Weekly Climate and Energy News Roundup #198

The Week That Was: September 26, 2015 – Brought to You by www.SEPP.org

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

Changing Science: Several developments related to climate science occurred this week that can have some influence on policy as governments are rushing towards an “agreement” to be reached 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. No doubt, these developments will be ignored by some governments, the government-supported Climate Establishment, which adheres to the findings of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) while ignoring its deficiencies, and by the well-funded Green lobby, which depends on an image of “saving the world.” One development is a book-length independent review of the IPCC’s work by Alan Longhurst, a biological oceanographer with over 50 years’ experience. The second development is group of essays by mathematician and electrical engineer David Evans posing a serious critique of the models depended upon by the IPCC and the Climate Establishment.


Quote of the Week: “Common sense is the collection of prejudices acquired by age eighteen.” Albert Einstein


Number of the Week: 7 Years


Longhurst Review: Encouraged by Judith Curry, Alan Longhurst reviewed the work of the IPCC from 2012 to 2015 and reached the following conclusions.

· Global surface-air temperature records do not provide a reliable estimate of the influence of increased CO2 due to land use change (urbanization, etc.) and effects of industrial particulates.

· Users cannot judge the consequences of adjustments to surface-air data sets.

· Sea surface temperatures are not a substitute for surface-air temperatures over oceans – due to changes attributable to ocean vertical motions, upwelling, etc.

· Description of the global heat budget is inadequate.

· Evidence for an intensification of extreme weather events and, in particular, tropical cyclones is very weak and is largely due increasing reliability and coverage of weather monitoring.

· “Global climate in the present configuration of the continents falls naturally into a limited number of patterns that are forced externally and patterned by internal dynamics” – influenced by the North Atlantic Oscillation and the Southern Oscillation that describes the strength of trade winds.

· “The recent melting of arctic ice cover over larger areas than 20 years ago in summer is not a unique event, but is a recurrence of past episodes and is the result of cyclically-­‐variable transport of heat in warm North Atlantic water into the Arctic basin through the Norwegian Sea…”

· Sea level is rising, but the causes -­‐ especially at regional scale -­‐ are more complex than suggested by the IPCC and involve many processes other than expansion due to warming.

· “The consequences of acidification of seawater is one of the most enigmatic questions, it seems now that (i) marine organisms are more resilient to changing pH than was originally feared, because of the genetic diversity of their populations and (ii) the history of pH of seawater during geological time suggests that resilience through selection of genomes has emerged when appropriate in the past.”

· “Unfortunately, the essential debate on these issues will not take place, at least not openly and without prejudice, because so many voices are today saying – nay, shouting -­‐ ‘enough, the science is settled, it is time for remediation’. In fact, many have been saying this for almost 20 years, even as fewer voices have been heard in the opposite sense. As discussed in Chapter 1, the science of climate change -­‐ like many other complex fields in the earth sciences -­‐ does not function so that at some point in time one can say ‘now, the science is settled’: there are always uncertainties and alternative explanations for observations.”

Nothing reviewed of Longhurst’s work appears inconsistent with the findings of the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC): Climate Change Reconsidered II. The NIPCC reports include extensive reviews of scientific papers citing the benefits of increased atmospheric CO2, including benefits to marine life.

Longhurst does not address atmospheric temperatures measured by satellites, independently supported by weather balloon measurements. These are beyond ordinary human influences that affect surface-air measurements taken a few feet off the ground. SEPP considers atmospheric measurements which engulf virtually the entire globe to be the only ones from which average global temperatures can be calculated.

The recent modifications made by the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to the sea surface temperature records intensify the issues, not reduce them. See links under Challenging the Orthodoxy – NIPCC and Challenging the Orthodoxy.


David Evans: The analysis of IPCC climate models by model expert David Evans is appearing in a series of posts by Jo Nova, his wife, on her web site. Jo Nova is a very articulate writer on science issues, particularly on climate issues. The posts under the title “New Science” will likely continue for some time. Already, the criticisms are addressing significant flaws in the climate models, which make the models unsuitable for long-term projections and for policy decisions. The second paragraph in the opening is refreshing:

“Government science is stuck in a rut, strangled – trying to capture the creative genius of discovery and force it through a bureaucratic formula, like it can work to a deadline or be judged by the number of papers, or pages, or citations, or by b-grade officials. Blogs are new, but this form of independent scientific research, done for the thrill of discovery, outside institutions and funded by philanthropists, is the way science was mainly done before WWII.”

Evans then discusses the core of the basic physics model that a doubling of CO2 will cause a warming of 1.2 º C, as estimated in the Charney Report of 1979. [The IPCC has amplified the range of the warming proposed in the Charney Report, but has not improved on it.] He will take us on a tour of the feedbacks and the details of the models, asserting that the structure of the model is wrong – it is connected the wrong way.

The journey is beginning, and promises to be interesting. Since some posts are more technical than what customarily appears herein, TWTW will link to the posts, largely without comment. We will enjoy the journey and see if Evans accomplishes what he asserts: “Basically it is going to come down to one connection. The basic physics is correct, but the climate scientists misapplied it. After fixing the plumbing, it all flows beautifully.

“This argument potentially breaks the intellectual logjam. The empirical reality was measured correctly after all.”

See links under Challenging the Orthodoxy and “Climate Fears and Finance” http://www.sepp.org/key_issues/ClimateFearsandFinance6-6.pdf


The Pope’s Visit: The writings of the Pope and his talks reflect antiquated thinking about economic systems more in line with 19th century thinking brought in sharper contrast during the period between WWI and WWII. He criticized what he calls capitalism, a term not commonly used until the mid- to-late 1800s. Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels strongly criticized the “capitalistic system” in Das Kapital (1867). However, western economic systems can be better termed as based on private enterprise, or free market systems. In the latter, the meaning of free is from undue government control. These terms better fit the market economies of the west than capitalism.

The critical economic issue is who controls the means of production and the decisions of what to produce. Is it a central authority or the multitude of decisions by many people? As seen in many countries, such as the Soviet Union and Argentina during the reign of Peron, central decision making, often favoring a few, can be economically repressive to the many. Conversely, in market economies, if private companies make poor decisions on what to produce, they fail leading to bankruptcy or take-over. Unfortunately, in his economic pronouncements, the Pope fails to make such important distinctions.

Western market economies have addressed environmental deterioration and greatly improved environmental conditions without centralized decision-making. The claim that human carbon dioxide emissions will cause unprecedented and dangerous global warming is not supported by atmospheric temperature measurements, which are the finest, only comprehensive measurements of global temperatures existing. Simply, there is no compelling environmental or human reason to institute centralized economic powers, which have repeatedly failed in the past.

Murkiness of thinking was characteristic in his remarks to Congress. He requested Congress not impede immigration from Latin America. He may realize that people are immigrating largely for economic reasons, to find a better life. These antiquated remarks are forgivable for the Pope, but not for his economic advisors.

The Pope insists that governments must interfere with free-market system to address climate change, which, however, is based on inadequate science.

The cost of such interference is enormous. It is the free market system in the US that allowed the expansion of oil production from shale – all occurring on private or state-owned lands, not federally controlled lands and waters. This production is breaking the grip of government-controlled petroleum companies in OPEC. The resulting decline in oil prices is a boon to humans in general. See links under Defending the Orthodoxy, Expanding the Orthodoxy – The Pope, and Expanding the Orthodoxy – The Pope – Loyal Opposition


A Stern Review: Michael Kelly has a review of the new book by Nicholas Stern: Why Are We Waiting? The Logic, Urgency, and Promise of Tackling Climate Change. Lord Stern is the author of an influential report on the costs of climate change. The report depends on statistical manipulation of estimates of future costs using discount rates that are fitting for economies that are undergoing prolonged economic recession or depression.

Mr. Kelly’s review shows a poetic flair: “Those building the biblical Tower of Babel, intending to reach heaven, did not know where heaven was and hence when the project would be finished, or at what cost. Those setting out to solve the climate change problem now are in the same position. If we were to spend 10 or even 100 trillion dollars mitigating carbon dioxide emissions, what would happen to the climate? If we can’t evaluate whether reversing climate change would be value for money, why should we bother, when we can clearly identify many and better investments for such huge resources? The forthcoming Paris meeting on climate change will be setting out to build a modern Tower of Babel.” See link under A Stern Review


US Energy Plan: Ernest Moniz and John Holdren announced a review of the current state of energy technology. After the now usual rhetoric that global climate change, caused by carbon dioxide from energy use, is one of the most significant threats to the well-being of people now alive as well as to that of future generations, the statement claims that the released second Quadrennial Technology Review (QTR) “identifies game-changing clean and efficient energy technologies.” The report promotes the current construction of four nuclear reactors, wind power and solar power.

Reliable electricity is critical for modern civilization. The administration’s top scientists fail to mention the greatest failure in Mr. Obama’s power plan – the inability to store electricity on an affordable, commercial scale. The only proven method is pumped storage; but, the administration’s intensified water regulations make it doubtful if any new such facilities can be built. But the plan contains a promise: “Energy storage: Fundamental research on efficient, durable storage could enable transformational change across multiple sectors, including transportation, and the electricity system.” [Boldface added].

The statement also claims: “The QTR provides a blueprint for the Energy Department’s energy-technology development and for enabling the science that will make future technology breakthroughs possible.” Some hoped for breakthroughs may never materialize. Great technological advances in one area do not necessarily mean great advances in another area.

The statement claims that: “Since the last QTR was published in 2011, the number of large-scale carbon capture and storage (CCS) demonstration projects has doubled globally.” SEPP was unable to identify one commercially viable project that is not connected to using carbon dioxide to produce additional quantities of oil or natural gas from wells. The British CCS project is in trouble as private companies power have pulled out due to reversals on subsides making the project too risky to proceed.

The US plan promises energy savings. Many such promises have been based on making labor saving appliances more energy efficient; but, less efficient for humans, or more expensive. See links under The Administration’s Plan and Questioning European Green


RICO 20: As expected, there is push-back against the 20 people who signed a letter addressed to the US President and the Attorney General demanding racketeering (RICO) investigations of those who disagree with their views about climate change. The critiques reflect the saying: “Those who live in glass houses should not throw stones.”

The letter does not advance science, but largely ignores it – namely the inability of global warming proponents to advance climate science significantly beyond the Charney Report of 1979. One of the critiques brought up that some of RICO 20 signers are from the government-funded Center for Climate Change Communication at George Mason University. The actions of the RICO 20 are similar to the actions during World War I by the U.S. Committee on Public Information, actions which participant Edward Bernays later called propaganda. Is the Center for Climate Change Communication a reincarnation of the WW I committee? See links under Suppressing Scientific Inquiry – The Witch Hunt – Push-Back.


Blood Moon: For parts of the world, September 27, 2015, will be marked by the eclipse of the harvest moon, the largest apparent full moon, creating what is called a “blood moon.” September 27 is Fred Singer’s 91st birthday. Is the heavenly event a celebration of Mr. Singer’s birthday? Ever-skeptical Fred Singer would say no. See link under Other News that May Be of Interest.


Number of the Week: 7 years. Washington’s time frame for review of Keystone, now 7 years, is taking on biblical proportions – the concept of indefinite plentitude.

It took less time to build the transcontinental railroad, 1,907 miles, from Council Bluffs, Iowa, to the San Francisco Bay, connecting the eastern railroad system to the Pacific coast. The railroad was built largely by hand and explosives, and supplied by newly laid rail. Today, the bureaucrats in Washington are using high speed computers to generate mounds of meaningless paper.

Washington is involved because the pipeline will cross the international border. This is how Washington treats the largest trading partner of the US and the country with which it has its longest border. Should the President of China trust Washington? See links under Washington’s Control of Energy.



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. Methane Madness: Science Does Not Support White House Policy

By S. Fred Singer, American Thinker, Sep 22, 2015


SUMMARY: The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on 18 August 2015 proposed regulations to reduce emissions of methane. These regulations would be the first to directly restrict methane emissions by the oil and gas industry; they build on a 2012 rule that sought to curb volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from hydraulic fracturing (fracking) to extract natural gas. Combined, the two regulations could reduce the oil and gas sector’s methane emissions by up to 30% by 2025, compared with 2012 levels, EPA says.

The proposed EPA regulations are part of a larger effort by the White House to reduce national methane emissions by 40–45% by 2025. [See go.nature.com/o6uzlj for more detail.] But methane has only negligible influence on climate — contrary to popular belief and contrary to the claims of the IPCC, the UN’s climate science panel. Basic physics does not support White House policies to control methane emissions.


2. Methane Regulation: Some Personal Recollections

By S. Fred Singer, American Thinker, Sep 23, 2015


SUMMARY: The White House-EPA plan to control methane emissions is but the latest effort against our domestic energy industry and would simply raise costs to consumers. It acts like an energy tax, but with no money flowing into the US Treasury – a pure waste of resources. EPA is apparently unaware that the generally believed greenhouse (GH) effectiveness of methane (when compared to a molecule of CO2) is too high by a factor of about 100. In addition, atmospheric methane levels are roughly 200 times less than those of CO2 – yielding a GH overestimate of about 20,000. This display of recent scientific ignorance has brought back memories of 45 years ago.


3. Gas Prices Ought to Be Lower

Oil prices have dropped 60%, but a gallon of gas is down only 25%. Why? Regulation isn’t cheap.

By Jacob Borden, WSJ, Sep 23, 2015


SUMMARY: “Though commonly known as commodities, oil and refined fuels are increasingly design-specific products. That is, the price you pay at the pump for a gallon reflects local constraints, not merely the price of oil. No two refineries are designed identically, and no new world-scale refinery has been built in the U.S. since 1976. Meanwhile, the global oil market has grown more diverse, including heavier, unconventional tar sands and shale oils as well as relatively light and sweet benchmark crudes.


“Some refineries are limited by the amount of asphalt they can accept in their crude, while others are limited by their capacity to remove sulfur. Only a handful of U.S. refiners have so far elected for the extensive upgrades and regulatory approvals needed to process large amounts of unconventional crude. Thus the regulatory burdens are leaving the American refinery fleet largely inflexible. That’s why crude-oil processing has become specific to the design details of each refinery.”

Further, the refinery fleet is complicated by a wide variety of specialized fuels required in specific areas.

“This is exacerbated by the renewable-fuels mandate, which requires blending nearly all gasoline with ethanol. Ethanol, when mixed with gasoline, increases the tendency for the lightest molecules to evaporate and contribute to urban smog. Gasoline therefore has to be stripped of so-called light-ends, increasing refining costs while reducing the yield of marketable fuel.

“A similar set of regulatory constraints is affecting the retail price of diesel. In 2007, the EPA lowered the sulfur limit for on-road diesel to 15 parts per million, and for the first time applied the previous specification of 500 parts per million to off-road diesel—railroad and marine fuels, for instance. The 15 parts per million ultralow sulfur diesel specification now applies to off-road diesel as well. Meeting the new specifications has left refiners with three options: use only the lightest and sweetest crudes, operate equipment harder and sacrifice yields, or invest to maintain capacity.”

”And so this regulatory patchwork builds a price premium into every gallon, essentially to compensate refiners for providing fuels that meet ever-increasing regulatory and production demands. The result: When oil prices rise, the rise is reflected in retail fuel prices. But when oil prices fall, the relief you feel at the pump is limited.”


4. The VW Emission Bug

Why would the company install a ‘defeat device’ on its U.S. cars?

Editorial, WSJ, Sep 23, 2015


SUMMARY: The editorial answers the questions how and why. How, electronic sensors and the software recognize if the automobile is being driven or if it is undergoing a stationary test. Under the former, the anti-NOx system is turned off. Why, the system reduces fuel mileage and torque, the ability to accelerate, often called performance.


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