Weekly Climate and Energy News Roundup #210

The Week That Was: December 19, 2015 – Brought to You by www.SEPP.org

By Ken Haapala, President, Science and Environmental Policy Project

COP-21: The Conference of Parties (COP-21) of the United Nations’ Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) is over. With great fanfare, an agreement was signed. The parties agreed to agree to try to limit carbon dioxide emissions. The agreement will have no identifiable effect on global climate change, because the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has failed to establish the influence that human carbon dioxide emissions (CO2) have on climate. This “scientific body” has failed to distinguish between natural variation of climate, which has been ongoing for hundreds of millions of years, and the human influence, if any, of CO2 on this natural variation. Multiple studies that have the same flaw are just more of the same.

Further, no global climate model has been validated and there has been no effort, announced to the public, to validate one, in spite of billions of dollars spent by governments. This failure indicates there is a major problem in the publicly announced IPCC science, most likely because the influence of CO2 on climate is small, rendering these costly efforts to regulate CO2 insignificant. As Richard Lindzen said of the effect of CO2 on climate: “[It is] trivially true and numerically insignificant.”

A diverse array of views on the agreement is found below. In the major additions, it is an agreement, not a treaty, in the sense that it has no binding effect on the United States. A treaty would require approval of two-thirds of the Senate present. One purpose of this requirement in the US Constitution is to provide a check on presidential powers. Unlike in many other countries, a treaty in the US has the force of law. The Obama Administration realized it would not obtain approval of two-thirds of the Senate, thus delegates representing the Administration made last minute changes to the Agreement making it nonbinding and thereby avoiding Constitutionally required approval.

Among the key provisions in the final agreement are: there are no binding monetary commitments, there are no binding commitments to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, and the next big accounting of progress will be in 2023, with ongoing meetings in between. In short, it is an agreement to perpetuate the appearance of doing something, while spending public funds. The big surprise is that any Party can withdraw after three years, effective 1 year later. See links under Challenging the Orthodoxy – NIPCC, Defending Paris! Analyzing Paris! Questioning Paris! Forget Paris, On to Morocco! Funding Issues and http://www.senate.gov/artandhistory/history/common/briefing/Treaties.htm


How Much Will the Paris Climate Deal Cost the U.S.?

By William Mauldin, WSJ, Dec 14, 2015


SUMMARY: According to the author The U.S. UNFCC “…pledge is built around President Barack Obama’s “clean power plan,” which focuses on steep reductions in carbon dioxide emissions from the electricity sector—mainly coal. The U.S. government estimates the impact of the power rule—issued by the Environmental Protection Agency—at between $28 billion and $39 billion in 2030, or 0.1% to 0.2% of projected GDP.”

A projection by the World Resources Institute resulted in the $170 billion hit to GDP in 2030, not considering the potential gains from better public health or an improved climate. And by 2040, the impact on GDP would decrease significantly.

[SEPP Comment: The health benefits of the power plan and the reduction in CO2 emissions are as questionable as the global climate projections. Further, most projections do not consider the costs of unreliable electricity. Germany is now experiencing such costs.]


Quote of the Week: “Yet, in holding scientific research and discovery in respect, as we should, we must also be alert to the equal and opposite danger that public policy could itself become the captive of a scientific-technological elite.” Dwight D. Eisenhower, Farewell Address, 1961


Number of the Week: 7


What Happened? As can be seen in the links below, many environmental groups are disgusted with the agreement, as is James Hansen, who often pretends to speak for all scientists, or, at least, climate scientists, but does not. The Greens thought they had a binding agreement, but if the agreement is binding it is not in key parts such as timetables, emission limits, and required payment of moneys.

The clearest explanation of what happened, that TWTW reviewed, came from Suzanne Goldenberg, a journalist at the UK Guardian. She is well-known in many Washington circles and certainly is not a global warming skeptic. She writes:

“Under US insistence, the 31-page agreement was explicitly crafted to exclude emissions reductions targets and finance from the legally binding parts of the deal. Other areas of the deal, including five-year review cycles, do carry legal force. That would free Obama from having to submit the deal to Congress.”

“The other exclusion zone was any clause in the agreement that would expose the US to liability and compensation claims for causing climate change.”

When the Senate approved the UNFCCC treaty that was submitted by President H.W. Bush (Bush 41), it attached specific conditions regarding targets and climate funding. US liability for compensating claims are a general exclusion. The Obama Administration was clever in avoiding Senate review of the agreement – perhaps too clever.

The Administration leaves office in January 2017. A future administration may declare that the agreement does not obligate the United States or the US government, but is only between Obama Administration and the other parties. To support the argument, a future administration can rightfully claim the Obama Administration specifically excluded the US from key points of the earlier agreement. Also, future administration may withdraw completely. Thus, Mr. Obama’s legacy may be temporary. See links under Defending Paris and The Political Games Continue.


Green Climate Fund: Even for green groups there was a nasty surprise at COP-21. The entire COP process is not about science, it is about power and money. The ability of India and China to demand payments to the Green Climate Fund for past climate change is an example of the absurd lengths the Administration, and other Western governments, are taking to try to appease these countries. The adverse effects of past climate change since the industrial revolution (about 1750) is a myth created by the IPCC and Green Groups. Apologizing for this mythical claim demonstrates the weakness of the Administration. Eighteenth century Europe was marked by starvation and famine. In the 19th century, many immigrants came to the US from Europe, forced to leave their homelands due to agricultural harvest failures. If CO2 caused the warming since 1750 to today, then funds should be paid to the producers of CO2, rather than forcing current citizens to pay for warmer, more benign climate. See links under Defending Paris! and Funding Issues.


COP – 22 and Theater: The entire COP process has taken on the attributes of theater. One could call it the highly stylized Kabuki Theater, which is thought to have originated in Kyoto, Japan, the site of the prior “Climate Agreement.” Or one could call it a shallow version of Shakespeare’s King Lear, a mad man raging against storms. To make the theater analogy more complete, the next COP meeting # 22 is scheduled take place in Morocco in November 2016. Morocco was the setting of the very popular 1942 American film, Casablanca. Near the end the former lovers, now parting, played by Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman, wistfully say they will always have Paris. The film is reported to have cost $950,000. The next COP meeting will cost the public far more. See links under Forget Paris, On to Morocco!


George Washington: In his written, farewell address to the nation, after two terms as President, George Washington wrote several paragraphs cautioning the nation to avoid foreign entanglements. With the continuing COP UNFCCC process, we are witnessing that the advice remains sound. See link: http://www.csamerican.com/doc.asp?doc=washfarewell#pt4


Models v. Observations: Last week’s TWTW linked to devastating testimony to the Senate Subcommittee on Space, Science, and Competitiveness by John Christy demonstrating, generally, the global climate models greatly overestimate atmospheric warming since 1979, when satellites were first used to gather data that can be used to calculate temperatures. The temperatures are calculated by three independent groups. These temperatures are independently confirmed by four different sets of measurements by weather balloon.

This week, Patrick Michaels and Paul “Chip” Knappenberger published a working paper reinforcing Christy’s findings. The new paper includes an update of one presented by the authors at last year’s meeting of the American Geophysical Union. The authors show a strong divergence between trends in the global climate models and observed global surface temperatures (ending 2014). In general, the divergence is outside of any realistic statistical boundaries.

In addition, Michaels and Knappenberger cite 14 studies, published in peer-reviewed scientific literature since 2011, that provide strong evidence that the temperature sensitivity of the earth to a doubling of CO2 is at the low end, at best, to that estimated by the IPCC in its latest, Fifth Assessment Report (AR-5, 2013). See links under Models v. Observations


Siting Issues of Surface Temperature Stations: The US weather station system measuring temperatures is one of the best in the world. However, in recent years there have been a number of adjustments to the historic data, that, in general, lower temperature measurements of the older data; thus, give impressions of warming trends where there might not be one. Updating earlier work, Anthony Watts and his team, analyzed the 1218 stations of the US Historic Climatology Network in the continental US (48 states). They determined 410 stations were not sufficiently disturbed to require adjustments over a thirty-year dataset. They determined that the 30-year temperature mean of well sited stations shows a significantly warming than the official temperature trend reported by NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center (NOAA/NCDC).

These and other significant findings were reported in a paper at this year’s meeting of the American Geophysical Union. The justification for an annual COP theater is disappearing and NOAA’s claims of the hottest year ever are highly suspect. See links under Measurement Issues.


Funding Green Groups: According to an article by Patrick Michaels, at least some Green groups involved in promoting the COP theater are well-funded. The 2014 budget for the Environmental Defense Fund is $120,500,000; Natural Resources Defense Council, $106,000,000; and the Sierra Club, $100,000,000. These numbers were not independently checked by TWTW, but are in line with numbers previously checked against IRS Form 990s. To which groups people give their money is their business, but, contrary to public myth, environmentalism is big business.

These green groups are spreading the fear of global warming/climate change. Also, they spread fear of hydraulic fracturing for oil and natural gas. Plus, in general, they oppose use of fossil fuels and other forms of generating reliable electricity. In the general media, the claims of Big Green and the assertions based on science are not carefully delineated, as they should be.

[Note: In 2014, SEPP received no donations in excess of $5,000, which would trigger reporting requirements by the IRS. The same applies thus far this year, and the revenues and expenses are reviewed by an independent accountant.] See links under The Political Games Continue.


Undue Influence? An editorial in the December 18 Wall Street Journal covers what may be undue influence by Big Green on policies being made by the Obama Administration, particularly the EPA. Thanks to the determination of Chris Horner of the Energy & Environment Legal Institute, once secret emails are showing a close working relationship between senior members of the EPA and members of Big Green such as Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and the Sierra Club. Prior emails showed a fictitious employee of the EPA, Richard Windsor, who won citations for his work. The non-existent Windsor turned out to be the prior EPA Administrator, Lisa Jackson (a recipient of SEPP’s April Fool’s Award).

The current batch of emails show Big Green targeting of coal-fired power plants and how the EPA can evade provisions in the Clean Air Act. The extent to which members of Big Green or EPA officials broke laws is not clear. No doubt, additional emails will be uncovered. The close working relationships started before EPA’s questionable “Endangerment Finding” in 2009 that carbon dioxide emissions endanger public health. Without this finding, the administration’s power plan to eliminate many sources of reliable electricity would be endangered. See Article # 1.


Number of the Week: 7. Seven independent estimates of atmospheric temperatures were used by John Christy for his graph and testimony. The three satellite data sets are from the University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAHv6), Remote Sensing Systems (RSSv3.3), and NOAA (STAR). The four sets of balloon data include one from the UK Hadley Center (HatAT2).

Interestingly, the big press releases by NOAA claiming “the hottest (month) (year) fail to mention the atmospheric measurements including those from NOAA. The surface data that goes into these press releases is very spotty by comparison.


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