The Week That Was: March 19, 2016 – Brought to You by www.SEPP.org
By Ken Haapala, President, Science and Environmental Policy Project
Witch Hunt: The prospect of the Federal government investigating, and possibly prosecuting, those skeptical of claims that human emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) are the primary cause of recent global warming/climate change is again in the news. Last week, TWTW linked to articles stating that US Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch has referred the issue to the criminal investigative division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). Twenty scientists, (the RICO 20) signed a letter to Attorney General Lynch, and others, suggesting that global warming skeptics be prosecuted under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), a law created to prosecute mobsters. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island was a leader of a group of politicians promoting the investigation. Earlier, Mr. Whitehouse claimed he advocated investigation, but not prosecution. Recently, he has been silent on this fine distinction.
On March 15, the Wall Street Journal had a solid editorial on this issue. Roy Spencer, the co-discoverer of the manner of using satellites to measure atmospheric temperatures, the finest global measurements available, wrote that he was identified as a possible target. Many of the RICO 20 actively promote human-caused dangerous global warming within the American Meteorological Society (AMS). The disposition of RICO-20 member Edward Maibach of George Mason University in Virginia by Chris Horner of the Competitive Enterprise Institute is revealing.
The Wall Street Journal editorial brings up that another member of the RICO-20, also a professor at George Mason University, may have inappropriately used federal funds while a full-time professor. But this issue is secondary to the primary issue of misuse of the racketeering law to suppress those who have raised legitimate questions about rigor of the climate science developed by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and the US Global Change Research Program (USGCRP) and incorporated the EPA’s endangerment finding (EF) and used to justify the Administration’s energy plan and the Paris Agreement advocated by the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
To SEPP’s knowledge, the AMS has not condemned the apparent abuse of power by the administration, nor has any major science society. The silence is illustrative of a major problem within these science societies. See Article # 1 and links under Suppressing Scientific Inquiry – The Witch Hunt.
Quote of the Week: “One of the saddest lessons of history is this: If we’ve been bamboozled long enough, we tend to reject any evidence of the bamboozle. We’re no longer interested in finding out the truth. The bamboozle has captured us. It’s simply too painful to acknowledge, even to ourselves, that we’ve been taken. Once you give a charlatan power over you, you almost never get it back.” ― Carl Sagan
Number of the Week: $500,000,000.00
Federal Funding: Given the possibility of FBI investigation of those skeptical of the claim that human emissions of CO2 are causing unprecedented and dangerous global warming, it is useful to review the federal funding of those supporting the claim.
At different times, the Government Accountability Office (GAO), the Congressional Research Service (CRS), and the White House have reported to Congress on the extent of such funding. After examining the reports, and removing double counting, SEPP calculated that from Fiscal Year (FY) 1993 to FY 2013 total US expenditures on climate change amount to more than $165 Billion. More than $35 Billion is identified in the reports as climate science. By way of comparison, the historian at NASA has calculated that in current dollars the Apollo program cost about $130 Billon. The US has spent more on climate change than it spent to send men to the Moon.
In August 2013, the White House reported the FY 2013 expenditures were some $22.5 Billion. Also, the link to the previously used CRS report no longer works, but a slightly updated one, September 13, 2013 was found. This contained an estimate for FY 2014. SEPP has not been able to find any comprehensive reports covering FY 2015 & FY 2016. However, the published budget of the USGCRP is about $2.5 Billion per year for FY 2014, 2015, & 2016. Thus, one can say with confidence that US government published reports show that since FY 1993, the federal government has spent more than $40 billion on what the government classifies as climate science.
The CRS report states: “The President’s request for FY2014 contains $11.6 billion for federal
expenditures on programs. In the request, 23% would be for science, 68% for energy technology
development and deployment, 8% for international assistance, and 1% for adapting to climate
change. The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) also reports that energy tax provisions
that may reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions would reduce tax revenues by $9.8 billion.”
Of the $11.6 billion in actual expenditures the bulk goes for activities other than science, including subsidizing the UNFCCC and the IPCC. The tax provisions, largely in support of wind and solar, are considered a drain on government revenues.
The most critical number for global warming/climate change is the sensitivity of the Earth to a doubling of CO2.
A 1979 report to the US National Research Council of the National Academy of Sciences, “Carbon Dioxide and Climate: A Scientific Assessment”, (Charney, et al. estimated that Climate Sensitivity of the earth to a doubling of CO2 would range from 1.5ºC to 4.5ºC, about 3 to 8ºF.
But understanding the impact of increasing atmospheric CO2 has not advanced for 35 years, since the Charney report, in spite of five major reports by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) The latest IPCC report AR-5 still shows the same range of uncertainty. Clearly, there is something wrong with the assertion that CO2 has a significant impact on temperatures or with the procedures used by the IPCC, or both.
SEPP believes that the problems are both in the assertion and in the procedures. Studies, that are largely ignored by the IPCC, estimate that the sensitivity of the planet to a doubling of CO2 will be below 1.5ºC, perhaps significantly below 1ºC. These estimates do not justify alarm about global warming/climate change, or the continued massive expenditures on a problem that is not occurring. See Defending the Orthodoxy – Federal Funding of Climate Science and
Models v. Observations: The Charney report, as solid as it was for the time, has been superseded by observations. We now have over 35 years of solid temperature observations from satellites, calculated by three different entities, and backed-up by four separate datasets by weather balloon. They are not showing the increase in temperatures estimated in the Charney report and in the five assessment reports by the IPCC.
The Charney report was based on then-current climate models. As stated in the Chapter “Models and Their Validity”:
“The independent studies of the CO2/climate problem that we have examined range from calculations with simple radiative-convective models to zonally and vertically averaged heat-balance models with horizontally diffused heat exchange and snow-ice albedo feedbacks to full-fledged three-dimensional general circulations models (GCM’s) involving most of the relevant physical processes. Our confidence in our conclusion that a doubling of CO2 will eventually result in significant temperature increases and other climate changes is based on the fact that the results of the radiative-convective and heat-balance model studies can be understood in purely physical terms and are verified by the more complex GCM’s. The last give more information on geographical variations in heating, precipitation, and snow and ice cover, but they agree reasonably well with the simpler models on the magnitudes of the overall heating effects.” (Boldface added) [Models verifying models?]
As stated in the February 28, 2016 TWTW, the brief filed by scientists on behalf of West Virginia, Texas, et al., contesting the Administration’s power plan, demonstrated that the models greatly overestimate atmospheric warming. Over 35 years of solid data is sufficient to show that there is something very wrong with the climate models.
Further, the Charney report states: “All the GCM’s predict larger surface ΔT at high latitudes.” (change in temperatures). The increase in temperatures is being observed in the Arctic, but not in the Antarctic. Again, something is wrong with the models. Why the IPCC, the USGCSP, and other entities, considered scientific, have not adjusted their findings to actual observations is a mystery. See links under Challenging the Orthodoxy and http://www.atmos.ucla.edu/~brianpm/download/charney_report.pdf
Canary Islands, Again: The March 5 and March 12 TWTW discussed the effort to make electricity generation on El Hierro of the Canary Islands 100% renewable. The hybrid system with a wind park of 11.5 MW capacity and pumped hydro storage of 11.2 MW capacity cost about 84 million euros. The system delivered 32% of the electricity needed in the first 8 months of operation. Additional comments by Roger Andrews show that 100% of renewable electricity is possible – if the island used geothermal generation. The island is on a volcano.
Iceland has already shown how electricity can be generated from geothermal sources. About 30% of the electricity consumed in Iceland comes from geothermal sources, with about 70% from hydro. Of course, someone may claim that the precautionary principle prevents this because using geothermal power may cool the earth faster. Why those in authority in El Hierro decided on wind power is only known to them. See link under Alternative, Green (“Clean”) Energy – Other.
Abrupt Climate Change: An interesting post on Watts Up With That asserted that climate variations over the past 5 million years show fractal patterns. Fractals are repeating patterns described in mathematics and can be found in nature. What made the post interesting for TWTW is that it brought up Dansgaard–Oeschger (D-O) events. A NOAA web site stated D-O events are periods of abrupt warming (5 to 7 deg. C) followed by more gradual cooling. They were found in Greenland ice cores. These are different from Heinrich events found by studies of sediments deposited by icebergs melting further south of Greenland.
At least, the entity of NOAA maintaining the web site recognizes that abrupt warming is within natural variation, not necessarily human-caused. The warming that brought the earth out of the Little Ice Age may be due to D-O events, not primarily due to human activity. See links under Changing Climate.
Number of the Week: $500,000,000.00 (Five Hundred Million). Through the Department of State, the Obama Administration delivered Five Hundred Million dollars to the UN Green Climate Fund, even though the money and the Green Climate Fund were not approved by Congress. The money came from economic development funds. Donn Dears linked to a video of a part of a Senate Hearing with State Department Deputy Secretary Heather Higgenbottom answering questions by Senator Cory Gardner, of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, inquiring on what authority the State Department made this transfer: “…. the lawyers said we could.” The video gives insight as to the financial and ethical accountability in the current State Department. See After Paris!, Expanding the Orthodoxy and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PTHe_rn0dEU&feature=youtu.be
1. Plenty of Political Climate Change
Sen. Whitehouse used to pretend he opposed jailing dissenters.
Editorial, WSJ, Mar 15, 2016
SUMMARY: The editorial states:
“Sheldon Whitehouse took to the Senate floor last fall to assail our coverage of his climate agenda. We had criticized his plan to use the RICO law, created to prosecute mobsters, against people who disagree with him about global warming. We also criticized George Mason University’s Jagadish Shukla, who wrote to Attorney General Loretta Lynch and other federal officials urging them to follow the Senator’s advice. New developments aren’t helping the credibility of Messrs. Shukla and Whitehouse.
“In October Mr. Whitehouse denied that the RICO litigation threat—with its potential for treble damages—was intended to shut down scientific debate. The Rhode Island Democrat claimed he wants civil rather than criminal prosecutions of climate dissenters. As if bringing financial ruin on defendants accused of independent thought isn’t bad enough.
“But now it looks like the campaign to silence climate dissidents could move beyond a potential civil case—and we’re not hearing a peep from Mr. Whitehouse. Attorney General Lynch told the Senate last week that her department had referred a request to prosecute climate dissent to the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Specifically, it was referred to the FBI’s criminal investigative division. A Justice official says on background that this is ‘not an indication or recommendation of whether a matter merits investigation, but is simply a referral to an appropriate investigative authority at the Department.’
“Even as Sen. Whitehouse questioned Ms. Lynch on this very matter at the hearing, he uttered no criticism. His spokesman says the Senator still doesn’t favor criminal investigations and that Mr. Whitehouse thought the FBI referral “appeared unusual for the pursuit of a civil investigation.” But if Justice does throw people in jail for scientific skepticism, the message seems to be: Don’t count on Mr. Whitehouse to defend your liberty.
“While the FBI ponders whether to slap the cuffs on people who don’t believe in U.N. climate models, scientists who agree with Mr. Whitehouse are thriving beyond the dreams of most academic researchers.
“Check out Mr. Shukla, who egged on Ms. Lynch in the pursuit of climate skeptics. We noted recently the House Science Committee report that the George Mason professor had appeared to violate university policy in raking in more than $511,000 in combined compensation in 2014 from the school and his tax-exempt outfit, the Institute of Global Environment and Society. His wife collected another $166,000 that year to serve as the IGES business manager, and their daughter has been listed as an employee.
“We’ve reviewed a 2012 memo from Mr. Shukla’s lawyer to IGES trustees saying that in some cases he would be entitled to fly business class and to bring his wife on trips, and also to have a leased car with a monthly payment not to exceed $600. IGES has been funded almost entirely by taxpayers. Many young scientists would be thrilled to win a federal grant even a fraction of the Shukla family haul. Mr. Shukla did not respond to requests for comment.
“We understand why Messrs. Whitehouse and Shukla want to use the power of government to stifle their scientific and political opponents. But it’s harder to understand why George Mason wants to be associated with this sort of taxpayer fleecing and the silencing of academic dissent.”
2. California Regulators Give Ivanpah Solar Plant More Time
Lifeline gives owners up to a year to work out problems
By Cassandra Sweet, WSJ, Mar 17, 2016
SUMMARY: According to the reporter:
“California regulators threw a lifeline Thursday to the struggling Ivanpah solar plant, which has failed to generate the electricity it is required to produce under contracts with PG&E Corp.
“The plant, located about 50 miles southwest of Las Vegas in California’s Mojave Desert, cost roughly $2.2 billion and received about $1.5 billion in federal loans, according to the Energy Department.
“The plant’s two units that serve PG&E are expected to generate 640,000 megawatt-hours a year, according to documents from the commission. The units generated 45% of that amount in 2014, and 68% in 2015, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis of federal and state documents.”
[SEPP Comment: No estimate of the cost to the consumer.]
3. Crude Mystery: Where Did 800,000 Barrels of Oil Go?
Tally of unaccounted for oil hit highest level in 17 years in 2015; Oil data is ‘an imperfect science’
By Georgi Kantchev, WSJ, Mar 17, 2016
SUMMARY: According to the reporter:
“There is mystery at the heart of the oversupplied global oil market: missing barrels of crude.
“Last year, there were 800,000 barrels of oil a day unaccounted for by the International Energy Agency, the energy monitor that puts together data on crude supply and demand. Where these barrels ended up, or if they even existed, is key to an oil market that remains under pressure from the glut in crude.
“Some analysts say the barrels may be in China. Others believe the barrels were created by flawed accounting and they don’t actually exist. If they don’t exist then the oversupply that has driven crude prices to decade lows could be much smaller than estimated and prices could rebound faster.
“While the IEA estimates supply and demand from global data, its numbers on where the oversupply is being stockpiled come only from members of the OECD. That means that some of those barrels might be found in non-OECD countries like China.
“Some analysts disagree. The missing barrels have become such a large proportion of the oversupply that this would imply that stockpiles are building up in non-OECD countries at a much faster pace than those in the organization, something that they question.
Analysts also point out that collecting data on oil is hard.
“Demand data is derived from models rather than from real measured consumption and is often substantially revised, investment bank DNB Markets said in a research note. More than half of global oil demand also now comes from non-OECD nations where statistical gathering isn’t as well developed, the bank said.”
[SEPP Comment: During the OPEC oil embargo against the US in the 1970s, the US oil imports actually increased. Companies were buying oil to be shipped to one country, then having it diverted to the US. Some members of the US Congress actually called for the prosecution of the executives of these oil companies because the procedure avoided the politically contrived idea that the price of oil should depend on the year the well was drilled and similar political restrictions.]