Weekly Climate and Energy News Roundup #207

The Week That Was: December 5, 2015 – Brought to You by www.SEPP.org

By Ken Haapala, President, Science and Environmental Policy Project

COP-21: The festive part of the Conference of Parties (COP-21) of the United Nations’ Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), is over in Paris. This part began COP-21, giving various national politicians the opportunity to preen for the cameras as if they are celebrities. After all, some claim they are attending the conference in order to save the world from global warming/climate change. Who knows, some may actually believe it.

Now comes the hard part. The delegates to COP-21 must work out an agreement that, at least, gives the appearance they are saving the world. Of course, COP-21, and the UNFCCC, follows the party line laid out in the Fifth Assessment Report (AR-5, 2013 & 2014) by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Humans are mostly (more than 50%) responsible for 95 to 99% of global warming/climate change since about 1950. As stated in last week’s TWTW (November 28, 2015), this is a scientific hypothesis that must be tested. It has not been tested. Instead, the needed testing has been replaced by a cloud of assertions, some scientifically very good, some extremely poor, from which no one can logically draw firm conclusions with a 95 to 99% certainty. Simply, there is no scientific reason to accept severe limitations on carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, as envisioned by many parties at COP-21.

Further, as discussed in last week’s TWTW, the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC) released a report that contradicts many of the claims by the IPCC, including:

“Probably the only “consensus” among climate scientists is that human activities can have an effect on local climate and that the sum of such local effects could hypothetically rise to the level of an observable global signal. The key questions to be answered, however, are whether the human global signal is large enough to be measured and if it is, does it represent, or is it likely to become, a dangerous change outside the range of natural variability? On these questions, an energetic scientific debate is taking place on the pages of peer-reviewed science journals.

“In contradiction of the scientific method, IPCC assumes its implicit hypothesis – that dangerous global warming is resulting, or will result, from human-related greenhouse gas emissions — is correct and that its only duty is to collect evidence and make plausible arguments in the hypothesis’s favor. It simply ignores the alternative and null hypothesis, amply supported by empirical research, that currently observed changes in global climate indices and the physical environment are the result of natural variability.

 

“The results of the global climate models (GCMs) relied on by IPCC are only as reliable as the data and theories “fed” into them. Most climate scientists agree those data are seriously deficient and IPCC’s estimate for climate sensitivity to CO2 is too high.”

In short, the science presented by the IPCC is inadequate to justify curtailing the use of fossil fuels, which produce CO2. Fossil fuels are critical for economic growth and are used to generate needed reliable electricity, the hallmark of modern civilization. Nuclear is an option, but is opposed by many of the same groups that oppose fossil fuels. The same with hydroelectric power, where it can be used. Geothermal can be used only in specialized regions, such as Iceland. Finally, solar and wind are unreliable, without commercial-scale, affordable back-up, which is yet to be developed, except for pumped storage in specific locations. As some villagers in India said, they want real electricity, not fake electricity, from solar.

At this time, it appears that any agreement requires massive annual payments to developing countries, called the Green Climate Fund. The estimated amount is $100 Billion per year. No doubt, many UN leaders would like to see such a fund for the fees and other mechanisms they can use to divert some of the revenue for their own uses. UN leaders have long rankled about the need to rely on donations from member countries.

At this time, there appears to be four major stumbling blocks to such an arrangement: China, India, Russia, and the US Senate. See links under Challenging the Orthodoxy – NIPCC and On to Paris.

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Quote of the Week: “There is perhaps no field aspiring to be scientific where flagrant personal bias, logic martyred in the cause of supporting a prejudice, unfounded assertions, and even sentimental rot and drivel, have run riot to such an extent as here.” Helen Thompson Woolley In a review of research on the psychological differences between men and women — 1910

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Number of the Week: 17 years

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China: In a report published by the Global Warming Policy Foundation, veteran China watcher and environmentalist, Patricia Adams explains why the leadership of China cannot agree to control carbon dioxide emissions – if they tried, they would face a revolution. The public has become accustomed to the increasing incomes and prosperity that have come with the spectacular economic growth of the country. All a result of increased use of fossil fuels.

Many western reporters talk about pollution in China, but, apparently, they are so misled by the poor definitions of pollution by anti-fossil fuel groups, including the US EPA, that they fail to distinguish between health threatening pollution and carbon dioxide, which is essential for life on this planet. No ordinary concentrations of carbon dioxide are a threat to human health, even many times ordinary levels. There are special circumstances when extremely high concentrations of carbon dioxide caused oxygen deprivation, but these are isolated incidences.

For China, air pollution means real health threats such as nitrogen and sulphur oxides, not imaginary threats from un-validated computer models of future climate change used by the EPA and western reporters. For the delegates from China, it is better to experience the disappointment by some other government delegates than a revolution at home. See links under Problems in the Orthodoxy.

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India: Local newspapers have long reported that leaders of India insist the Green Climate Fund be in place or at least guaranteed by developed countries – western promises will not do. Further, leaders of India are less than impressed by the science presented by the IPCC. In its Fourth Assessment Report (AR-4, 2007) the IPCC claimed the snow and ice on the Himalayas will be gone by about 2035. The then leader of the IPCC, Rajendra Pachauri, arrogantly dismissed a carefully researched, contradicting study by one of the foremost experts in the field. Such affronts are not easily forgotten. There is little empirical support for the findings on the Himalayas in AR-4.

The leaders of India recognize the benefits of economic growth and prosperity driven by use of fossil fuels. It would take a great deal to persuade them otherwise. See links under On to Paris! and Problems in the Orthodoxy.

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Russia: Tim Ball was a student of Herbert H. Lamb, the pioneer of modern climate science. Also, Ball had the opportunity to work with climate scientists from the Soviet Union. According to Ball, Russian scientists are well based on the cyclical nature of climate change and question the IPCC. In a post, Ball quotes German Physicist and meteorologist Klaus-Eckart Plus who states:

“Ten years ago I simply parroted what the IPCC told us. One day I started checking the facts and data—first I started with a sense of doubt but then I became outraged when I discovered that much of what the IPCC and the media were telling us was sheer nonsense and was not even supported by any scientific facts and measurements. To this day I still feel shame that as a scientist I made presentations of their science without first checking it.” “Scientifically it is sheer absurdity to think we can get a nice climate by turning a CO2 adjustment knob.”

Ball goes on to say:

“Russian scientists know what the IPCC said. Because of them Putin knows that the climate science of the IPCC is wrong. He knows it because Soviet and now Russian climatologists practice open science, which is ironic in a political system that is supposed to be controlling. He also knows the IPCC is designed to use climate for political goals because he does it better than most. As they say, it takes a thief to catch a thief. How much money will Putin contribute to the Green Climate Fund?

This brings up the critical point: What will it take to get Russia to sign on? What will the Western delegates offer Putin? See links under Challenging the Orthodoxy

For a scientific paper from Russia, see: Science: Is the Sun Rising?

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US Senate: The Majority Staff of US Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works released a white paper “to provide the American people the truth about the state of international climate negotiations and the full impacts of President Obama’s approach.” Among the key findings are:

· Congress has a history of opposing international agreements, etc. targeting greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions that undermine the welfare of the American people and the economy.

· The President has unilaterally pursued radical environmental policies to “decarbonize” the US economy, rather work than with Congress.

· The Administration’s pledge to reduce GHG emissions is unlikely to be implemented.

· The Administrations pledge to the Green Climate Fund is not supported by Congress.

· The Senate must be able to exercise its constitutional role to approve any agreement setting targets or timetables emerging from COP-21. Anything else is little more than a press release.

· The Administration’s claimed victory at COP-21 is based on mere promises.

In short, even if there is an agreement at COP-21, anything binding will be subject to a significant political fight.

The President has largely ignored or demeaned Congress for its role of approving foreign policy and energy policy. Any requests for approval of a treaty or other agreement arising from COP-21 is likely to be viewed sternly. See links under On to Paris!

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Political Polls: In general, TWTW does not consider political polls reliable. All too often, the results are manipulated by the organizers. Examples include the three polls reviewed by TWTW that reported that 97% of scientists agree… These polls more reflected the views of the organizers rather than the views of the purported subjects.

Exceptions occur with organizations that repeat the polling process consistently. From 1958 to 2015, the Pew Research Center has taken polls to estimate public trust in government. It finds that “Public trust in the government remains near historic lows. Only 19% of Americans today say they can trust the government in Washington to do what is right “just about always” (3%) or “most of the time” (16%).” In general, the Obama Administration has polled below that of any prior administration since the poll began in the Eisenhower Administration (with a low of 73%).

The traditional press may write very favorable stories about his administration, but the public is far from impressed. A political fight between Congress and the Administration may prove to be discomforting to supporters of the administration. See links under Communicating Better to the Public – Do a Poll?

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Changing Antarctic: With his great tenacity, Steve McIntire is digging into the morass of Antarctic ice melt. There is significant disagreement among the experts, which McIntire duly notes. Ice is melting in the smaller West Antarctic Ice Sheet (including the Antarctic Peninsula), and is gaining in most of East Antarctica, about 80% of the area. For years, ice loss on the West Antarctic Ice Sheet and Antarctic Peninsula have been noted, whatever the cause, which may be from geothermal warming below the ice sheet, with little or no human influence.

The main issues are: 1) is the net an increase or decrease in ice and 2) is there a discernable human cause? McIntyre’s post is long and technical, needing familiarity with concepts such as GIS, geographic information systems which helps visualize, analyze, and interpret data to understand relationships, patterns, and trends, and GIA, glacial isostatic adjustment, which accounts for the earth’s mantle recovering from the weight of glacial ice during the last ice age. It is too early to draw any general conclusions, except to say that the alarmist view of rapidly melting ice accompanied by drastic sea level rise gets most of the attention in the media, while the view that nothing new is happening gets little attention. SEPP considers the latter the null hypothesis, and any other hypothesis must be tested.

McIntire observed that going from AR-4 to AR-5, the IPCC dropped any significant discussion of the Holocene, the period of warming since the end of the last ice age, over 10,000 years ago. The UN’s science ignores the most recent 10,000 years of climate history, yet the UN expects humanity to restrict the use of fossil fuels based on its science? See links under Changing Cryosphere.

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Number of the Week: 17 years. According to a report from the Congressional Budget Office, the Department of Energy is 17 years behind schedule “in its contractual obligations to remove and dispose of civilian nuclear waste, and it has already incurred significant liabilities for damages related to its partial breach of contracts with electric utilities.2 The federal government has already paid $5.3 billion in damages to electric utilities, and DOE estimates that its remaining liabilities will total $23.7 billion if legislation and sufficient appropriations are enacted that will enable it to begin to accept waste within the next 10 years. However, if the department’s schedule is further delayed, the anticipated costs—which will be borne by taxpayers through spending from the Department of the Treasury’s Judgment Fund—will climb.”

Yet, this Administration and its Department of Energy are most anxious that humanity curtail its use of fossil fuels immediately.

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Gas Driller Hits a Gusher—and Sinks Its Own Stock

A big find typically would send an energy company’s stock surging, but in an industry awash in the commodity, it is having the opposite effect

By Timothy Puko and Ryan Dezember, WSJ, Nov 26, 2015

http://www.wsj.com/articles/gas-driller-hits-a-gusherand-sinks-its-own-stock-1448533982

SUMMARY: EQT Corp. this summer drilled what by some measures is the biggest natural-gas gusher ever. The well, in southwestern Pennsylvania’s Greene County, produced enough gas in its first 24 hours to power every home in Pittsburgh for nearly three days. Named Scotts Run 591340 after a historic coal field that sparked a regional energy boom after World War I, the well has continued to produce at unusually high rates with no signs of fading soon.

“That would sound like good news. But in a glutted industry in which natural-gas prices are plunging as record amounts of unused gas build up in storage, it is a problem. Since EQT finished drilling the gusher in July, its shares have lost 29%, while U.S. natural-gas prices have fallen 24%.

“Scotts Run 591340 taps part of a rock formation called the Utica Shale that has only been lightly explored so far because it sits almost 3 miles below the Earth’s surface.

“Situated beneath Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Ohio, the Utica is close to gas-consuming regions of the Northeast. If it proves as productive as EQT’s well and a few nearby wells suggest, it could mean trouble for billions of dollars of wells and pipelines built in and from more established regions like north Louisiana and the Rocky Mountains.”

No one knows how extensive the Utica is. “EQT said last month that it would suspend drilling projects in other parts of Pennsylvania to concentrate on the Utica, where it thinks wells have the potential to be so prolific that they could lower natural-gas prices and make competing projects uneconomical.

The Utica is already starting to alter the U.S. natural-gas balance. The U.S. Energy Information Administration said this week that the country’s proved reserves of natural gas rose 10% in 2014 to a record of 388.8 trillion cubic feet. Ohio’s reserves nearly tripled thanks to finds in portions of the Utica Shale, a big factor in the higher total, the government agency said.

“Much of the Utica lies beneath the Marcellus, and some producers and investors believe it could take over as the country’s biggest source of low-cost natural gas.

“’The Utica certainly has the potential to be more economic than the Marcellus, but it’s too early to make a definitive call,’ said David Schlosser, EQT’s executive vice president of engineering, geology and planning.”

[SEPP Comment: The old studies, based on un-validated computer models, that the US would run out of natural gas by the end of the 20th century are clearly out of date. So are claims that the US needs to subsidize solar, wind, and biofuels for energy security.]

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