Weekly Climate and Energy News Roundup #209

The Week That Was: December 12, 2015 – Brought to You by www.SEPP.org

By Ken Haapala, President, Science and Environmental Policy Project

COP-21: The difficult part of the Conference of Parties (COP-21) of the United Nations’ Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) is over. On December 12, the organizers announced an agreement of sorts. Since the announcement went against the time constraints for this TWTW, adjectives describing the agreement will be left to others, and the analysis of it will be appear in the next TWTW, when it is more clear what was agreed. The following description comes from an article in the Wall Street Journal published on December 12, updated to 6:17 pm Eastern Standard Time. TWTW inserts are in brackets.

“More than 190 nations have agreed on a plan to limit climate change [assuming it is caused by human emissions of greenhouse gases], ending a decades long search for an accord requiring the world’s economies to regulate the emission of gases that [SOME] scientists say are causing the earth to warm.

“Negotiators sealed the deal after changing provisions that would have triggered a requirement that the agreement be approved by the U.S. Congress, where there are many lawmakers skeptical about a climate accord. They won over developing nations at the last hour by exempting them from obligations to help pay the bill for confronting climate change.

“The deal calls for wealthy economies such as the U.S. and the European Union to shoulder more of the burden, including a pledge to channel at least $100 billion a year to poor countries to help them respond to climate change.

“The deal also requires action for the first time from developing nations, including large emitters such as China and India, to find ways to lower the trajectory of their emissions growth, even as they attempt to lift hundreds of millions of people out of poverty.

“Governments have pledged to limit the world’s warming from the dawn of the industrial era to “well below” 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) and to “pursue efforts” to limit warming to 1.5 degrees.

“Whether the agreement will work fast enough to stave off the most damaging impacts of climate change is far from certain. The world has already warmed 0.9 degree Celsius since the late 19th century, according to the United Nations.

“The accord’s weak spot is it allows nations to determine their own emissions reduction plans, immune from challenges by other governments. That was a compromise necessary to bring a host of governments on board, including the U.S., which would have been forced to ratify an internationally-agreed emissions reduction plan in the U.S. Senate, where Republicans and a few Democrats have staunchly opposed climate-change legislation.

“A coalition of developed countries and the poorest nations most vulnerable to climate change insisted the deal require governments to revisit their emission-reduction plans every five years. The first review will occur in 2023.”

As expected by SEPP, the agreement rests on power and money – and an appeal to an animist religion. China and India demonstrated their power by demanding the payment $100 Billion per year from developed countries. Thus, citizens in developed countries may be forced to pay monies to the rich in poor countries due to extreme exaggerations by some Western scientists and politicians on the certainty of scientific knowledge in climate science.

The appeal to an animist religion is found in a draft agreement proposed by the Co-Chairs of the UNFCCC, which appeals to Mother Earth. Often animist religions invoke fear of the unknown, particularly on children. For example, the religion of the Inuit of Canada was driven by fear – of monsters that may lurk outside the living area, particularly during the long winter nights, or may lurk at the water’s edge. Mid-20th century Inuit carvings, with artists living in newly formed villages, frequently depicted such monsters of their childhood.

The UN International Panel on Climate Changes (IPCC) and certain agencies of the US Government use computer models to project, predict, or forecast dire outcomes if humans continue to use fossil fuels, which are a critical part of modern civilization. In spite of over $40 Billion spent on climate science by the US since 1993, the US government and the IPCC has failed to narrow its official range of uncertainty of the sensitivity of the earth to a doubling of carbon dioxide (CO2) since 1979. It may be that the lowest bound is far too high.

Also interesting is how will the US administration present this agreement, or parts of it, to Congress. The Administration has constantly exaggerated the threat of climate change, and submitted the US plan of emissions reduction to the UNFCCC without consulting Congress. Why should Congress feel obligated to comply with any plan that the Administration develops, on which it has not been consulted? See links under Challenging the Orthodoxy, Questioning the Orthodoxy, and On to Paris!


Quote of the Week: “The prudent man always studies seriously and earnestly to understand whatever he professes to understand, and not merely to persuade other people that he understands it; and though his talents may not always be very brilliant, they are always perfectly genuine. He neither endeavours to impose upon you by the cunning devices of an artful impostor, nor by the arrogant airs of an assuming pedant, nor by the confident assertions of a superficial and impudent pretender.” Adam Smith The Theory of Moral Sentiments (1759)


Number of the Week: 3 Times and 4 Times


The Hearing: While delegates from 190 countries were meeting to reach an agreement on how to control carbon dioxide emissions, the fear of which is projected by model-based science, Senator Ted Cruz, chairman of the Subcommittee on Space, Science and Competitiveness, convened a hearing titled: “Data or Dogma? Promoting Open Inquiry in the Debate over the Magnitude of Human Impact on Earth’s Climate.” Researchers included John Christy, of the University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH), William Happer of Princeton, and Judith Curry of the Georgia Tech. The testimony of Christy was, in the view of TWTW, compelling and will be discussed here. The testimony of Happer and Curry will be discussed next week.

Retired Rear Admiral David Titley, now professor at Penn State, and formerly Chief Operating Officer at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), also testified. He embraced the IPCC’s and the Administration’s position that climate change is occurring more rapidly than known in the past [has he looked at the events surrounding the Younger Dryas?] and that we know how to proceed to control climate change – by controlling CO2 emissions. He also made questionable claims of accelerating sea level rise, the rate of rise is increasing, that the human “fingerprint” is unmistakable [though no one has been able to find it]. He also claimed that in 1980 Esso [now Exxon] researchers predicted global temperature rise “with astonishing accuracy” – an accuracy that he failed to demonstrate.

Author Mark Steyn also testified. He was drawn in the controversy when he was sued by Penn State professor Michael Mann. Mann initially claimed he received a Nobel Prize (the IPCC as a whole shared the Peace Prize with Al Gore). Key points of Steyn’s testimony will be discussed below. See links under Questioning the Orthodoxy – The Hearing


Evidence-Based Science: John Christy’s written testimony was a solid challenge to the Paris conference and the EPA’s claim that CO2 emissions endanger human health and welfare (EPA’s Endangerment Finding). Key points include:

· Many of UAH datasets are used to test hypotheses of climate variability and change

· Outputs of the models are hypotheses (or claims) and do not provide proof of links between climate variations and greenhouse gases

· Equations are not exact, but at best approximations

· Fundamental: if we understand a system, then we should be able to predict its behavior. If we cannot predict, then at least some factors in the system are not well defined or perhaps even missing. [This is more restrictive than mere replication – which reproduces but does not guarantee the fundamental physics are well known. One can get the right answer for the wrong reasons.]

For Christy, the relevant question is how much heat is accumulating in the global atmosphere? CO2-caused warming should be easily detectible by now. Since 1979, two independent means to monitor this layer [from surface to about 50,000 feet], balloons from below and satellites from above. Yet, the hot spot is missing.

To demonstrate his findings Christy presented the results of 102 CMIP-5 rcp4.5 (representative concentration pathways) climate model simulations. Yet only one group of the 32 groupings of models runs is close to observations through November 2015

However, there is a very tight correspondence between the average of 4 balloon datasets and the average of 3 satellite datasets, extremely tight correspondence since 2005. On average, models over-estimate real world warming rate by 3 times – since 1979 – 37 years.

“Using the scientific method we would conclude that the models do not accurately represent at least some of the important processes that impact the climate because they were unable to “predict” what has already occurred. In other words, these models failed at the simple test of telling us “what” has already happened, and thus would not be in a position to give us a confident answer to “what” may happen in the future and “why.” As such, they would be of highly questionable value in determining policy that should depend on a very confident understanding of how the climate system works. “

Christy went on to present the evidence from the tropical Mid-Troposphere, where the “hot spot” should occur. This gives more detail on how well the models perform regarding greenhouse gases. In the models, the tropical atmosphere warms even more than the global atmosphere. The difference between the observations and the models is even more extreme, but since 2012 convergence of the average of the balloon datasets and the satellite datasets is not quite as tight as with global data. On average, models over-estimate real world warming rate over the tropics by 4 times – since 1979 – 37 years.

He then went on to assume the US stopped emitting carbon dioxide as of May 13, 2015, using the IPCC impact tool known as the Assessment of Greenhouse-gas Induced Climate Change (MAGICC) and a climate sensitivity of 1.8 ºC, which is indicated by empirical data. Even with no US CO2 emissions for the next 50 years, Christy and his assistant calculated that the model based increase in global temperatures would be only 0.05 to 0.08 ºC less than with US emissions. This minimal increase is less than observed monthly fluctuations in temperatures.

Christy went on to discuss extreme weather events: in the US, 100 º F days per year are down (from 1895 to 2014); wildfires down (1960 to 2014); forest fires down (1965 to 2013); no Global increase in droughts (1982 to 2012) no major increase in flood or droughts in US (1895 to 2015) and world grain production, wheat, rice, and course grains, up significantly (1961-2012).

Christy expressed disappointment in the scientific process used by the IPCC and its followers. Climate science is murky, with large uncertainties. There must be rigorous hypothesis testing (testing of claims). Yet, there is little or none. The IPCC Fifth Assessment Report (AR5), in every case, overestimated the tropical response to extra greenhouse gases, indicating the assumed climate response to greenhouse gases is too sensitive.

He states a bias in government funding, with a (false) consensus more meaningful than objective investigation. Consensus is a form of “argument from authority” The consensus is little more than a consensus of those selected to agree with the consensus, with the Climate Establishment as the gatekeepers of information and opinion. Christy recommends that five to ten percent of government funding goes to exploring alternative hypotheses.

Christy concludes that IPCC science has severe failings:

1) Theoretical understanding of the way greenhouse gases affects climate fails simple tests;

2) Even if one accepts climate models, the effect of proposed regulations will be negligible;

3) Claims of extreme weather events are not supported by evidence;

4) Official information is largely controlled by biased government agencies

See links under Questioning the Orthodoxy – The Hearing


Oh Mann: Author Mark Steyn also testified. He was drawn into the controversy when he was sued by Michael Mann. Although he presented no new science, a number of commentators found his testimony entertaining. Steyn repeatedly referred to what John Christy calls the Climate Establishment as Big Climate. His views can be read and seen in the links below. In general, Steyn confined himself to the dogma part of the title of the hearing “Data or Dogma.” It is clear that since being sued by Mr. Mann, Steyn has done his homework and understands many of the issues, something many journalists on climate issues have not done. Among other issues, in his written testimony, Mr. Steyn points out the National Science Foundation spent $700,000 on an off-Broadway play, The Great Immensity, which flopped.

In his write-up of the hearing, Steyn’s piercing wit becomes evident. He is particularly blunt on the lack of proper manners exhibited towards witnesses. For example, in the hearing the discussion of the satellite record focuses on retired Rear Admiral Titley and ignores John Christy, who was one of developers of the system of using satellite measurements to calculate temperatures.

But it is the exchange among Senator Markey from Massachusetts, Judith Curry, and Mark Steyn that attract a number of commentators. Senator Markey brought up the idea of the ideology of deniers. One wonders what this means. Steyn speculates: “Must be something to do with energy. So an ideology perhaps something like this: people need electric power and transportation fuel to be happy and safe and to support their economy. They prefer their power to be secure, plentiful, and economical; all other things being equal, they prefer clean energy to dirty energy. SCARY.”

Among the issues not discussed in detail is that Senator Markey apparently believes that last winter’s deep snows in Massachusetts were caused by a warm “blob” off the coast of Massachusetts. However, as WeatherBell Analytics explains there are two major problems with this claim. 1) the blob was too far off the coast to affect the temperatures of Boston, and 2) the temperatures were cold, causing light, deep snow; rather than, heavy, wet, compacted snow. Those who spent time in rural New England may realize that if a winter storm disrupted electric power, stopping well-water pumps, it would take 10 to 20 inches of cold, dry snow to create an inch of water, where only 3 to 4 inches of warmer, wet snow would do the same.

Some members of the Climate Establishment may regret the day Mr. Mann sued Mr. Steyn and got him involved. See links under Questioning the Orthodoxy – The Hearing.


Load-Following Problems: In an easy-to-understand article, power-plant expert Donn Dears explains why it is difficult to convert coal-fired power-plants from base load to load following, as the Administration’s power plan envisions. Renewable electricity generation, solar and wind, which the Administration favors, are given preference. Using coal-fired power plants, or nuclear or hydroelectric, as back-up when solar and wind fail is difficult and costly. Much of the costs are in increased maintenance and a shorter working life of critical components. See link under The Administration’s Plan – Independent Analysis.


Number of the Week: 3 times and 4 times. As explained above, John Christy calculates that on average, models over-estimate real world warming rate by 3 times – since 1979 – 37 years, using Global Mid-Troposphere data and over-estimate tropical warming by 4 times. Yet, the IPCC expresses 95 to 99% certainty that humans are the dominant cause of recent global warming.


1. Bernie’s Climate Honesty [Article with posted comment from SEPP.]

The Senator’s energy plan shows where Democrats want to go.

Editorial, WSJ, Dec 8, 2015


“Bernie Sanders has no chance to win the Democratic presidential nomination, but the breathtaking details of the climate-change plan he released this week are still worth noting. They show where the Democratic Party is headed.

“The Vermont Senator calls climate change “the single greatest threat facing our planet,” and he seems to mean it. He is proposing a 40% reduction in carbon emissions by 2030, and an 80% reduction by 2050, which is significantly more than the up-to 28% cut by 2025 that President Obama has pledged at the Paris climate confab.

“To reach this developing world level of CO2 emissions, Mr. Sanders would: impose an unspecified carbon tax; ban all offshore drilling and fossil-fuel leases on federal lands; stop “dirty pipeline” projects; ban natural gas and oil exports; force states to ban fracking; ban mountaintop coal mining; impose a new fuel-efficiency standard of 65 miles per gallon by 2025; spend “massive” federal dollars on subsidies for wind, solar, geothermal, biofuels, home-efficiency programs and energy storage; federally underwrite electric-car charging stations, high-speed passenger and cargo rail, a smart grid, and clean-energy job training; shut down the nuclear industry; and provide “clean energy funding” to the rest of the world.

“Mr. Sanders doesn’t include the cost of all this, for obvious political reasons, yet give him points for honesty. Hillary Clinton wants voters to believe that Planet Earth can be cooled with this rule change or that subsidy tweak. The Sanders plan admits that decarbonization under current technology will require a government-mandated top-to-bottom remake of the U.S. economy, and maybe the American way of life. Welcome to the revolution.”

SEPP’s posted comment:

Climate has been changing for hundreds of millions of years and no doubt humans have some influence on local climate. As scientists with the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC) assert, the science used by the UN and many governments fails to distinguish between global, natural variation and human influence on natural variation. UN groups, and others, fail to conduct proper scientific testing of their assumptions (hypotheses).

Although government reports show the US government spent over $40 Billion on climate science, global climate models have not been properly validated. In general, the models greatly overestimate warming of the atmosphere, where the greenhouse effect should be taking place. There is no logically reason to assume that dire predictions from these models are remotely valid. They should not be used to establish energy policy

Kenneth Haapala, President

Science and Environmental Policy Project


2. Notable & Quotable: Adam Smith

From ‘The Theory of Moral Sentiments’ (1759)

Editorial, WSJ, Dec 7, 2015


The prudent man always studies seriously and earnestly to understand whatever he professes to understand, and not merely to persuade other people that he understands it; and though his talents may not always be very brilliant, they are always perfectly genuine. He neither endeavours to impose upon you by the cunning devices of an artful impostor, nor by the arrogant airs of an assuming pedant, nor by the confident assertions of a superficial and impudent pretender. He is not ostentatious even of the abilities which he really possesses. His conversation is simple and modest, and he is averse to all the quackish arts by which other people so frequently thrust themselves into public notice and reputation. For reputation in his profession he is naturally disposed to rely a good deal upon the solidity of his knowledge and abilities; and he does not always think of cultivating the favour of those little clubs and cabals, who, in the superior arts and sciences, so often erect themselves into the supreme judges of merit; and who make it their business to celebrate the talents and virtues of one another, and to decry whatever can come into competition with them. If he ever connects himself with any society of this kind, it is merely in self-defence, not with a view to impose upon the public, but to hinder the public from being imposed upon, to his disadvantage, by the clamours, the whispers, or the intrigues, either of that particular society, or of some others of the same kind. [Not adjusted for American English.]



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