The Week That Was: January 23, 2016 – Brought to You by www.SEPP.org
By Ken Haapala – The Science and Environmental Policy Project
Robert M. Carter, RIP: A splendid fellow and a great friend of scientific integrity passed this week. He inspired and encouraged many scientists to question the unsubstantiated claims that atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations, mainly carbon dioxide (CO2), are the dominant cause of climate change. As a geologist he knew better. He demonstrated that the CO2 hypothesis does not stand up to rigorous testing, thus needs to be discarded or changed.
Lesser characters have labeled this testing as “cherry-picking”; confusing the use of selected data to advocate a particular hypothesis (guess) with testing a hypothesis against all relevant data. If a hypothesis fails one dataset, then it cannot be a generally acceptable scientific hypothesis.
Some of the testaments to Bob’s influence are largely unknown, such as Steven McIntyre’s acknowledgement of Bob Carter’s encouragement to continue to explore the deficiencies of Michael Mann’s 1998 interpretation of temperatures in the Northern Hemisphere for the past 1,000 years – the so-called hockey-stick. The hockey-stick was a critical part of the Third Assessment Report (AR-3) of the UN Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change (IPCC), 2001. Although not used in subsequent reports, the hockey-stick has not been withdrawn, illustrating that the reports of the IPCC need a rigorous scientific audit.
Joining S. Fred Singer and Craig Idso, Bob became a co-editor and co-author of the reports of the Nongovernmental International Panel for Climate Change (NIPCC). His significant contributions and writing skills can be seen, particularly in the last report Why Scientists Disagree About Global Warming.
For his politically unpopular scientific views, Bob experienced various slights and abuse by the politically motivated. But no one has been able to challenge the scientific credibility or integrity of this singular man. Please see links under Challenging the Orthodoxy – Robert M. Carter and Censorship.
Quote of the Week: “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” — Franklin Delano Roosevelt, First Inaugural Address, 1933 [H/t Nothing to Fear by Donn Dears]
Number of the Week: 0.1%
Hottest Year? On Friday and Saturday, January 22 & 23, nature delivered about two to three feet (0.6 to 0.9 meters) of snow to the Washington DC Area and areas in the mid-Atlantic region. In some areas, this is one of the deepest snows recorded. Initial reports put the storm surge in some areas along the eastern seaboard above that of Sandy. The storm was not a hurricane, but largely an old fashion Nor’easter. Certainly, this storm is a weather event, not a climate trend.
This event is ironic because on January 20 entities in the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (Washington, DC) and NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (New York City) announced with great fanfare that 2015 was the hottest year in their surface temperature records. The true irony comes from trying to make high surface temperatures a climate trend, not a weather event. It is generally acknowledged that the high global temperatures were driven by a strong El Niño event in the tropical central Pacific Ocean (not by one in the eastern Pacific off the coast of South America, where the warmest waters usually occur). As such, the El Niño 2015 is a weather event, not a climate trend.
What will these government entities announce when the El Niño fades, as it appears to be fading, leading to cooler global surfaced temperatures? Or more interestingly, what will they announce if the strong El Niño is followed a by a strong La Niña, a cooling event, as is often the case. Will they claim that El Niños are climate trends but La Niñas are weather events? This issue is an example of the logical error of generalizing from the last data point.
Adding to the issues raised by the press releases, is the frequent statement “This was the highest among all years in the 1880–2015 record…” Except for Europe and the conterminous 48 states of the US, the coverage of surface-air temperature measuring stations is extremely thin prior to the 1950s and many stations dropped out in recent years. Yet both NOAA and NASA-GISS make no effort in their press releases to alert the public how incomplete their records are. See links under Challenging the Orthodoxy, Defending the Orthodoxy, and Measurement Issues.
NOAA v. NOAA: NASA-GISS has long ignored satellite measurements of global temperatures, though they are the most comprehensive, independently verified temperature measurements ever compiled. What is interesting is the NOAA atmospheric measurements that were ignored by the NOAA entity claiming the “hottest year.”
According to a NOAA web site on upper air, there are numerous measurements of atmospheric temperature measurements, which were ignored in the press release. There are two datasets of lower troposphere measurements by UAH (University of Alabama in Huntsville) and RSS (Remote Sensing Systems). An additional NOAA web site places the lower troposphere in roughly at the lowest five miles (8km) of the atmosphere. [Since the depth of the troposphere varies with latitude and season, NOAA descriptions will be used.] The report states that for both sets 2015 was the 3rd warmest in the record (since 1979).
There are four datasets of mid-troposphere satellite measurements: UAH, RSS, UW-UAH, UW-RSS. The UW designation is for modifications of UAH and RSS data made by the University of Washington. The NOAA site states: “The mid-troposphere temperatures are centered in the atmospheric layer approximately 3–10 km [2–6 miles] above the Earth’s surface, which also includes a portion of the lower stratosphere.” The site also states there is an overlap of the mid-troposphere with the lower stratosphere measurements and that a “third analysis has been performed by Dr. Qiang Fu of the University of Washington (UW) (Fu et al. 2004) to remove the influence of the stratosphere on the mid-troposphere value.” These adjustments are the source of UW modifications. The NOAA site does not mention any adjustments for the apparent overlap with lower troposphere with mid-troposphere measurements. Except for RSS that ranks 2015 as the 4th warmest year, the three other data sets of satellite measurements of the mid-troposphere rank 2015 as the 3rd warmest year, with 1998 as the warmest year (1998 was a very strong El Niño year).
Based on satellite measurements, NOAA ranks 2015 as the third warmest year or cooler. This is very different than the press release claiming the hottest year. There is no justification for NOAA or NASA-GISS to make press releases ignoring these data.
Further, NOAA uses one set of weather balloon data dating back 58 years, RATPAC. This ranks 2015 as the warmest year. In its analysis of the performance of global climate models against observations, UAH uses four sets of balloon data, including RATPAC. The three additional datasets are: HadAT2, RICH, RAOBCOR. See links under Defending the Orthodoxy, Measurement Issues, and http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/sotc/upper-air/201513
Homogenize or Pasteurize? [A bit of humor] In the US dairy industry, homogenization is the process of forcing natural milk through small holes under high pressure to break up relatively large fat molecules into tiny ones. This makes the liquid more uniform and prevents it from separating into milk and cream. Pasteurization is the process of heating milk, cream, or other liquids sufficiently to kill harmful organisms (such as bacteria, viruses, protozoa, molds, and yeasts) but retain some of the beneficial organisms.
In treating data, homogenization is used to try to address discrepancies in the data such as interruptions, change of instruments, location, etc. In treating historic sea surface data, Tom Karl, et al. of NOAA may have thought they were homogenizing historic data, making it more uniform; but, were really pasteurizing it (heating it). See links under Challenging the Orthodoxy.
Selective Ignorance: A perplexing attitude expressed by a number of those who consider themselves scientists, or scientifically minded, is that they ignore atmospheric satellite data and only look at surface data “because that’s where people live.” Having had two feet of snow just deposited from the sky influences how one lives. Weather is created by the interplay of the atmosphere and the surface (both land and ocean). Ignoring the influence of changing atmosphere is selective ignorance. In choosing selective ignorance, such scientists become similar to a herd of deer thrashing about in deep snow trying to understand what happened to their browsing area. See comments by Spencer under Challenging the Orthodoxy.
Challenger Expedition. One of the great scientific nautical explorations of the mid-to-late-19th century was the expedition by the H.M.S. Challenger from 1872 to 1876. Equipped with many then-modern instruments, the vessel sailed about 70,000 nautical miles (about 130,000 km) recording then unknown species, depth soundings, and ocean temperature measurements. During the voyage, the middle latitudes of the Atlantic were covered most extensively along with the middle latitudes of the western Pacific (Asia). The Antarctic was touched, south of the Indian Ocean, but the Arctic was not. Other areas not covered were the eastern Pacific, north of Chile, the Indian Ocean, and the east coast of Africa.
Two types of thermometers were used, the “Miller-Caselli” and the “reversing.” The former was used extensively, the latter, which gives better readings of ocean temperatures at different depths, was more experimental and became popular later. Given the poor coverage of ocean temperature measurements during this voyage, it is surprising to see a paper using these as a baseline to establish ocean heat content for the beginning of the industrial era (1865). See links under Un-Science or Non-Science?
Peak Oil: There is a great deal of speculation as to what will happen to oil prices in the near future. But the scientific issue of peak oil – that the earth will soon run out – is not an issue for the foreseeable future. Fear of exhaustion of oil and natural gas in the near future was misplaced.
Production is driven largely by politics, price, and technology. Deep water or deep subsurface extraction, such as in the Gulf of Mexico or off South America, needs high prices to justify the costs. Technology of land-based deep underground hydraulic fracturing of dense shale can continue at moderate prices. Technology used in extracting traditional sources, such as those in the Mid-East can continue at even lower prices. In general, the prices will be bounded by lifting costs in the Mid-East, as the floor, and extraction costs of oil from shale, as the ceiling.
In the 1970s, US energy policy was based on “state of the art” energy models. The Models were not validated; were based on a short-term data that was a special case, and were unsuitable for long-range predictions.
The global climate models have similar shortcomings: They are not validated; are based on short-term data that may be a special case; and are unsuitable for long-range predictions – greatly overestimate the warming of the atmosphere as compared with data from satellites. Unfortunately, governments do not understand these problems of policies based on un-validated models. See links under Energy Issues – Non-US; Energy Issues – US, and Oil and Natural Gas – the Future or the Past?
Electricity for Africa: Western bureaucrats, such as those in Washington, favor “energy savings” over labor intensity. However, the affected public often prefer the labor savings given by electricity use. Writing in the Green Tech Media, Catherine Wolfram gives conclusions reached in a study she and others did on solar generated electricity in rural Kenya. Local solar generated electricity is a favorite among western bureaucrats and politicians.
“People want high-wattage appliances, such as irons. The set of appliances owned by home solar households is much more similar to un-electrified households than the households with grid connections. The Center for Global Development describes recent research that makes a similar point. The center found that nearly 90 percent of households in Tanzania that already had ‘access to electricity outside of the national grid, such as solar power’ still wanted a connection to the national grid. The researchers also link to an article that describes villagers with a solar microgrid in India who still want ‘real’ electricity, by which they mean grid-provided power.”
Very simply, most home solar systems cannot power labor saving appliances. See links under Energy Issus – Non-US.
False Fracking Claims: Big Green has repeatedly claimed that deep underground hydraulic fracturing of dense shale will contaminate well water. The governor of New York believes it and established a program to prohibit the practice in his state. One of the justifications used was an EPA claim of contamination near Pavillion, Wyoming. The EPA has quietly backed down. Now a report on the claim is finished.
Among other issues: The geology is sandstone, not shale. The water wells are shallow and the area is irrigated, which can result in some contamination of water wells. This is another fear from typical over-generalization. Of course Big Green, and the governor of New York, will ignore such studies. See links under Energy Issues – US
Additions and Corrections: Reader Charles Anderson corrects the lack of a billion: “’In August 2013, the White House reported that in FY 2013, US expenditures (including tax provisions and credits) on Clean Energy Technologies were $5.783 billion, Energy Tax Provisions That May Reduce Greenhouse Gases were $4.999 billion, and Energy Payments in Lieu of Tax Provisions were $8.080 [billion], for a total $18.862 billion. Such expenditures created a sustained green lobby for climate change.’ Anderson stated: “When discussing billions, $8.08 seems too trivial to mention! OK, so it is clear you left the billion out that follows it, but at least you now know you are being read and read carefully.”
Perhaps we have become jaded about a billion dollars when reviewing the enormous government deficits of the past few years.
Number of the Week: 0.1% Paul Homewood writes that at 5 pm on Jan 19, 2016, the output from the wind farms in the UK, reported by the government distributor, dropped to 72 MW, or 0.1% of the consumption of 52.1 GW for that period. The output for the 24-hour period ending at 10:30 pm was better, averaging just 0.3%. The peak wind capacity was not given.
On Jan 15, 2016, the power distributor for Denmark, Energinet, DK, announced “For the first time ever, power was supplied to the Danes for a whole day without any of the country’s large central power stations being in operation. This has never happened before for a whole day running.” [Boldface added] Why not just build central stations that require minimal back-up? See links under Alternative, Green (“Clean”) Solar and Wind.
1. How Iran Could Quickly Send Oil Prices Even Lower
The impact of Iran’s return to the global oil market isn’t just about production
By Spencer Jakab, WSJ, Jan 19, 2016
SUMMARY: The author asserts that “Iran’s full-re-entry into the world energy market upon the lifting of sanctions has been expected since last summer. Furthermore, oil production can’t simply be switched on and off, particularly after years of underinvestment.
“But Iran has been champing at the bit in hopes of regaining market share lost to rivals. And that is why its return to the market might be more bearish more quickly than investors expect.
“Iran has reportedly built up the world’s largest fleet of supertankers, many of which were simply parked as floating storage tanks. This means it now has around 30 million to 50 millions barrels of oil and condensate to unleash on the world market immediately, according to analyst estimates.”
“What matters is how rapidly Iran ramps up sales, how soon massive cuts in capital expenditure by private companies affect output and the global economy’s thirst for crude—particularly in once rapidly growing markets like China.
“Granted, Iran in a sense would be cutting off its nose to spite its face if its sales drive the price of oil even lower. In the short term, though, that may not matter.
“Thirsty for cash and perhaps feeling vindictive, Iran seems willing to unleash a wave of crude at the worst possible time.”
2. The Power of Persuasion
Wilson’s wartime ‘information’ bureau was, in reality, about indoctrination. FDR spoke of closing financial institutions as ‘bank holidays.’
By David Shribman, WSJ, Jan 21, 2016
Review of: Republic of Spin, By David Greenberg
SUMMARY: What is called “spin” became an art form in the US during the 20th century. “There is plenty of spinning to be deplored in these pages, not only the bluster and bombast of Theodore Roosevelt and the wartime propaganda of Woodrow Wilson but also, in more recent days, the credibility gap of Lyndon Johnson and the Watergate mendacities of Richard Nixon. It was Nixon who in his memoirs delivered himself of one of the great truths of our politics. “In the modern presidency,” he said, “concern for image must rank with concern for substance.”
“Whether as “news management,’’ “image making’’ or “branding,’’ spin has become a distinguishing characteristic of the presidency. Richard Neustadt used to tell his Harvard government classes that the presidency consisted of little more than the power to persuade. It is in this context that, in Mr. Greenberg’s telling, TR emerged as a master persuader, using the tricks of spin with new artistry. His great gift, if it can be called that, was to transform windy 19th-century political rhetoric (recall the hours-long discourses of Daniel Webster) to the pithy sound bite, which is why the phrases “speak softly and carry a big stick” and “my hat’s in the ring” resonate with us still. It was, after all, a short leap from “Square Deal” to “New Deal” to “Fair Deal” and eventually to “New Frontier.” And TR’s decision to release bad news late on a Friday is still a formidable implement in the White House toolbox.
Woodrow Wilson created a wartime “information” bureau that was less about informing than indoctrinating. He also instituted the presidential press conference. “A friendly chat,’’ he called it, and usually it was, though Mr. Greenberg says that Wilson came across as “condescending, even imperious.” FDR spoke of the shuttering of financial institutions as “bank holidays” and chose Archibald MacLeish to run a wartime bureau with the Orwellian name of the Office of Facts and Figures, a task that the poet performed not wisely but too well, pumping out what Mr. Greenberg calls “persuasion, advocacy and even polemics.” It was Fiorello La Guardia who, as a Roosevelt adviser, said the government should deliver itself of “sugarcoated, colored ornamental matter, otherwise known as ‘bunk.’ ”
“Mr. Greenberg is dispassionate enough to describe the bunkmeisters as part of long line of governmental toadies and PR specialists who, “while putting out the government line, convinced themselves that they were merely countering the opposition’s lies with truth.’’ Once in a while they were. Most of the time they were spinning so fast that they were dizzy.
“All of this flummery accelerated with television. We forget that it was Dwight Eisenhower who fancied himself the “TV president”—the phrase came from Henry Cabot Lodge—even before the election of the real TV president, John F. Kennedy. And it was Ike who, in 1955, held the first televised press conference, a ritual that Kennedy was to master. Three years before Kennedy’s inauguration, Aldous Huxley argued in “Brave New World Revisited” that the modern methods “now being used to merchandise the political candidate as though he were a deodorant positively guarantee the electorate against ever hearing the truth about anything.”
“Few practitioners of such methods were more skilled than the cast of Camelot. Arthur Krock of the New York Times, himself not always immune to the Kennedy charm, complained after the Cuban Missile Crisis about “the hazards incurred by the decision of a government of this democracy to manage the news as an instrument of national security policy.’’ Half a decade later, two-thirds of Americans would tell Gallup pollsters that the government had deceived the public in Vietnam.
“It was, as Mr. Greenberg explains, a small step to Watergate, which Nixon aide H.R. Haldeman described in his diary as ‘just a public-relations problem that only needed a public-relations solution.’”