Weekly Climate and Energy News Roundup #221

The Week That Was: April 2, 2016 – Brought to You by www.SEPP.org

THIS WEEK: By Ken Haapala, President, Science and Environmental Policy Project

Cooling Down? Writing in Watts Up With That?, geologist Norman Page argues that the fear of unprecedented and dangerous global warming caused by human emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) will abate by about 2020. Using sections of the Fourth Assessment Report (AR-4, 2007) of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Page points out that the climate orthodoxy does not know how to test for the reliability of the climate models it uses.

Using proxy data for solar variation, Page asserts that the IPCC erroneously attributes changes due to solar variation for temperature change caused by increasing CO2. As such, the models greatly over estimate future warming, or what he calls Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming (CAGW). According to Page, the short-term cooling that is expected to follow the current El Niño is greatly amplified by a long-term cooling caused by a decline in solar activity. We should be seeing this solar cased cooling by 2020.

Page concludes that the reputation of science is being damaged by establishment climate scientists who have made “two egregious errors of judgment in their method of approach to climate forecasting and thus in their advice to policy makers in successive SPMs [Summary for Policymakers]. First, they based their analyses on inherently untestable and specifically structurally flawed models which included many questionable assumptions. Second they totally ignored the natural, solar driven, millennial and multi-decadal quasi-cycles.” Under the current circumstances, useful forecasting is impossible.

“It is fashionable in establishment climate circles to present climate forecasting as a “wicked” problem. [A term used by mathematicians.] I would by contrast contend that by adopting the appropriate time scale and method for analysis it becomes entirely tractable so that commonsense working hypotheses with sufficient likely accuracy and chances of success to guide policy can be formulated.

“If the real outcomes follow the near term forecasts in para 3.3 above [a cooling, found in the article] I suggest that the establishment position is untenable past 2020.This is imminent in climate terms. The essential point of this post is that the 2003 peak in Fig 1 marks a millennial peak which is totally ignored in all the IPCC projections.”

No doubt some will dismiss the evidence presented by Page, simply because he is a petroleum geologist. But this would be similar to dismissing the evidence of plate tectonics presented by petroleum geologists.

[As demonstrated in the court filings by some scientists, the major evidence asserted by the EPA in finding the CO2 can cause dangerous warming cannot be found. Further, the models used by the IPCC, and relied upon by the EPA, greatly overestimate the warming of the lower atmosphere, up to 50,000 feet (15,000 meters). This is where the major greenhouse effect occurs, and any amplification of an increased greenhouse effect from CO2 should occur.]

See links under Challenging the Orthodoxy.

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Quote of the Week: “Science can purify religion from error and superstition. Religion can purify science from idolatry and false absolutes. Each can draw the other into a wider world, a world in which both can flourish.” Pope John Paul II [H/t Tom Sheahen]

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Number of the Week: # 1 – Top US Manufactured Good

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Paris Agreement: In Climate Etc. Judith Curry presents the views of Lucas Bergkamp on the Paris Agreement. The Agreement codifies the work of the IPCC and the UN Framework Convention for Climate Change (UNFCCC), no matter how faulty the science and the models on which it relies are. “Despite these references to science, the relation between the ‘best available science’ and the Agreement is ambiguous at best and calamitous at worst.”

“As the issue of the global temperature ‘hiatus’ illustrates, the ability of climate science to self-correct and properly inform policy-making is hampered by an inability to reexamine the fundamental assumptions driving the scientific enterprise and its relation to policy-making. Given climate policy’s objectives, funding agencies, scientists, and scientific advisors, in turn, are encouraged to provide ‘policy-relevant’ science supporting the policies pursued by the politicians.

 

“Rather than attempting to reverse this trend, the Paris Agreement aggravates the current problems by reinforcing the scientistic [sic: scientific] thinking underlying climate policy-making: it codifies the putative causal relations between anthropogenic emissions and global temperature increase, between temperature increase and climate change, and between climate change and adverse impacts. It even intensifies and extends this thinking to make the temperature increase limitation goal more ambitious and to require net zero emissions by the second half of this century.

 

“With the Paris Agreement, the relation between climate policy-making and science has become even more strained and entrenched. As Kuhn observed, the scientist is ‘a solver of puzzles, and the puzzles upon which he concentrates are just those which he believes can be both stated and solved within the existing scientific tradition.’ Unfortunately, at this juncture, the revolution that is necessary to change the state of affairs requires not only a scientific, but also a political and policy paradigm shift. While the former is already difficult enough to achieve, the Paris Agreement made the latter even harder by increasing the stakes through coupling very substantial financial streams with the dominant hypothesis of human-induced climate change.”

 

Bregkamp provided insights into policy driven science that is resulting in disregard of empirical evidence. As Curry states: “I have no idea how to push the ‘reset button’ here and salvage climate science. As for energy policy, one can only hope for technological breakthroughs in energy generation, storage and transmission that make all this a moot issue.”

 

As described in the March 19 TWTW, the US State Department diverted $500,000,000, largely marked for economic development, to the UN Green Climate Fund established in the Paris Agreement. The Green Climate Fund has not been approved by Congress. The critical issue of credibility of government agencies is not moot when such actions are taken. See links under After Paris and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PTHe_rn0dEU&feature=youtu.be

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Atmospheric Temperatures: Roy Spencer reports that the March global atmospheric temperature, as measured by satellites, and reported by the University of Alabama in Huntsville are lower than they were in February. February was an all-time high. The issue is what will happen in the next few months. Will the temperatures fall, as expected with a weakening El Niño? In what range will they settle? Will it be above, below, or approximately the same as it was before the El Niño? See links under Challenging the Orthodoxy and Changing Weather.

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Political Conformity: The Wall Street Journal reports that “the Bank of England, the Financial Stability Board and the European Systemic Risk Board are examining how banks, insurers and pension funds would cope if policies designed to reduce carbon-dioxide emissions led to a sharp drop in the share price of oil, gas and coal companies.

 

“They are looking at new rules to disclose exposures to both stocks and bonds in such companies, conducting stress tests based on different climate scenarios or even requiring additional capital buffers.”

This may be an early step to force these financial institutions to conform to the political policies of the EU and the UNFCCC regarding carbon based fuels. The US sub-prime lending debacle provides a guideline of what may happen.

For years, politicians demanded that banks and other financial establishments expand home mortgage lending to the less well-off or financially less responsible. Credit scores are the best single indicator of the ability, or willingness, to make mortgage payments. Such indicators were dismissed by the politicians and by government sponsored enterprises such as Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, major guarantors of home lending. The Federal Reserve Bank of Boston even issued a report claiming that real estate values in the US will not fall. After the housing boom, came the housing bust in 2008 and the financial collapse.

Immediately, politicians, such as Christopher Dodds and Barney Frank, who heavily promoted the sub-prime lending, blamed the banks and lending institutions for these loans, which they previously demanded. Conforming to political fads can be a financial disaster.

Perhaps the annual report of Berkshire Hathaway, with comments by Warren Buffett, can provide guidance to these companies that will face political demands. The company is heavily involved in insurance. As reported in the March 5 TWTW, Berkshire Hathaway has had a 19.2% compounded annual gain for its stockholders from 1965 to 2015. See Article # 3 and http://www.berkshirehathaway.com/2015ar/2015ar.pdf

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Compatibility of Science and Religion: Much has been written about the conflict between science and religion. Writing in American Thinker, physicist Thomas Sheahen uses the development of the Big Bang Theory from calculations derived from the General Theory of Relativity to illustrate that science and religion are not necessarily incompatible. Understanding priorities and the difference between knowledge and belief are very important. See Article # 1.

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Past Sea Levels: A paper in Nature examines the sea levels in past interglacial periods and finds that the levels were between 6 and 9 meters (20 to 30 feet) higher during the last interglacial (130,000 to 115,000 years ago) than they are now. The paper also notes that the CO2 concentrations were about 280 ppm (compared with about 400 ppm today) and that the global mean temperature was about 0 to 2º C warmer than today. These findings are generally acceptable.

The paper then applies a model of what will happen to the Antarctic ice sheets, if the planet warms according to the climate models. Here is the dispute. The sensitivity of the earth’s climate (temperatures) to greenhouse gases, namely CO2, is under intense debate. Except for the Russian model, the global climate models generally greatly overestimate warming occurring in the lower atmosphere. There is no logical reason to assume that the estimates will be correct in the next decade or century. Further, there is no reason to assume that stopping CO2 emissions will stop natural sea level rise. The article did not go into the shortcomings of the global climate models nor did the headline stories stemming from it. See links under Un-Science or Non-Science?

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Additions and Corrections: Several readers, including physicist Donald Rapp, have stated TWTW may becoming too dogmatic in its assertions that EPA’s finding that greenhouse gas emissions endanger human health has a poor empirical basis. Rapp writes: “But there is a non-zero probability that in the future, human health and welfare will be affected negatively, if not endangered. While we cannot accurately predict that probability, nor can we accurately predict the impacts on human health and welfare, it seems to me that you are posing the question in stark black and white rather than gray.”

Rapp is correct, the issue is not black and white. TWTW will try to avoid becoming dogmatic. It does not question the greenhouse effect or that increasing CO2 will cause some warming. The issue is how much, and will that warming be amplified, such as by increased water vapor in the atmosphere above the tropics?

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SEPP’S APRIL FOOLS AWARD

THE JACKSON

SEPP is conducting its annual vote for the recipient of the coveted trophy, The Jackson, a lump of coal. Readers are asked to nominate and vote for who they think is most deserving, following these criteria:

· The nominee has advanced, or proposes to advance, significant expansion of governmental power, regulation, or control over the public or significant sections of the general economy.

· The nominee does so by declaring such measures are necessary to protect public health, welfare, or the environment.

· The nominee declares that physical science supports such measures.

· The physical science supporting the measures is flimsy at best, and possibly non-existent.

The four past recipients, Lisa Jackson, Barrack Obama, John Kerry, and Ernest Moniz are not eligible. Generally, the committee that makes the selection prefers a candidate with a national or international presence. The voting will close on June 1. Please send your nominee and a brief reason why the person is qualified for the honor to Ken@SEPP.org. Thank you. The award will be presented at the annual meeting of the Doctors for Disaster Preparedness in July 9.

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Number of the week: # 1 – Top US manufactured good – Refined petroleum products — such as gasoline, fuel oil, jet fuel and liquefied refinery gases. The value of shipments was nearly $700 billion in 2014 (latest data available), more than four times as much as the No. 2 product, light trucks, according to Market Watch. The data is from the “Annual Survey of Manufactures: Value of Products Shipments: Value of Shipments for Product Classes” (released 01/08/2016). The next eight are pharmaceuticals, airplanes, automobiles. iron and steel, animal slaughtering, plastics, organic chemicals, and petrochemicals. See link under: Oil and Natural Gas – the Future or the Past?

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ARTICLES:

1. Science, Religion and the Big Bang Theory

By Thomas P. Sheahen, American Thinker, Mar 27, 2016

http://www.americanthinker.com/articles/2016/03/science_religion_and_the_big_bang_theory.html

SUMMARY: Tracing the development of the Big Bang Theory from calculations based on General Theory of Relatively, physicist Tom Sheahen gives a lucid example of the capability of science and religion. “Working independently, Georges Lemaitre, a Belgian Catholic priest, solved Einstein’s equations for a universe starting at time t = 0 and expanding from a singular point to its present size.” Initially rejected by Einstein and others, the theory became accepted as better telescopes were developed.

“In 1950, a most interesting backstage drama took place, which shows what real scientists think about even the best scientific theories. Pope Pius XII saw that the Big Bang theory coincided nicely with the narrative in Chapter one of the Book of Genesis, and considered making it a doctrine of faith, declaring it true. Obviously that would have been a huge accolade for Lemaitre, a permanent vindication of his theory.

“Instead of rejoicing at this, Lemaitre himself talked the Pope out of it. Lemaitre explained that NO theory in physics, however elegant or reliable, is truly final. Every theory can always be revised; every theory can be contradicted (and thereby destroyed) by a single experiment. Lemaitre knew his history well: only a century earlier, “the ether” seemed a sure thing.”

It is enormously to the credit of Fr. Georges Lemaitre that he stood up to sustain the independence of science and religion. Lemaitre had an enduring confidence that both science and religion are complementary pathways to knowledge, but scientific theories can stand or fall on their own, and don’t need religion to referee. As Albert Einstein said, “Science without religion is lame; religion without science is blind.”

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2. Certainty, Climate Change, Church and State

America was formed on a basic premise of the separation of church and state, but the climate religion blends the two together.

Letters, WSJ, Mar 30, 2016

http://www.wsj.com/articles/certainty-climate-change-church-and-state-1459357600

“Regarding David B. Rivkin Jr. and Andrew M. Grossman’s “Punishing Climate-Change Skeptics” (op-ed, March 24): The shift by global-warming alarmists to criminalize dissent dramatizes how soundly they are losing the battle. They long ago lost the battle for public support, with global warming ranking near or at the bottom of national surveys of voters’ concerns.

“Surveys of climate scientists, even those heavily biased in favor of climate alarmism, find extensive disagreement on the underlying science and doubts about its reliability. The indisputable fact remains that the science isn’t settled about the causes, effects and severity of global warming. And skeptical scientists must be free from threat of criminal prosecution to continue their search for answers and solutions.”

Dan Miller, Chicago

“Current moves to brand global-warming skeptics as “heretics” reaffirms that this isn’t about science, but rather a secular religion that serves a most unholy alliance of interest groups. The foundation of true science is constant doubt and an unwavering commitment to the empirical process of discovery. In contrast, religions have historically been founded on a system of unquestioned belief, control, disregard for compliant nonbelievers and the persecution of outright heretics. The global-warming cause célèbre thus mimics in a tidy technological package the religious precepts of guilt (I carbonize), penance (I submit to government supervision and taxes) and absolution (I am redeemed as “green”). As such, the doctrine is well-suited for recruitment among the primarily urban intellectuals who eschew traditional religion but still hunger for redemption.

“America was formed on a basic premise of the separation of church and state, but the climate religion blends the two together.”

Barry B. Bannister, Baltimore

“The Catholic Church opposed and suppressed Galileo Galilei to preserve its worldview and power. Today, fossil-fuel industry spokesmen and market fundamentalists oppose and suppress climate-change science to preserve their worldview and power. Galileo was eventually vindicated by history; evidence and logic overcame entrenched self-interest. Climate scientists—not climate skeptics—are more analogous to heroic heretics in their battles with deeply rooted self-interest.

Charles Gessert, Duluth, Minn.

“Whatever compels the closed minds of elites who should know better, one doesn’t have to go back to Galileo’s persecution to find reason for humility. Recall during the eugenics movement of the early 20th century the castigation of dissenters: Teddy Roosevelt saw deniers as fostering “race suicide,” Margaret Sanger fretted over the production of “human weeds” and Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes opined that “three generations of imbeciles are enough.” World leaders were self-assured about eugenics until Hitler gave them pause.”

Em. Prof. Richard Saunders, Dartmouth College, Canaan, N.H.

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3. Regulators Examine Financial Risks of Climate Change

Exploring disclosure rules and stress tests based on different climate scenarios

By Gabriele Steinhauser, WSJ, Mar 29, 2016

http://www.wsj.com/articles/regulators-examine-financial-stability-risks-to-climate-change-oil-exposure-1459444688

SUMMARY: The reporter writes: “Regulators around the globe are researching potential risks to financial stability from a failure to contain climate change or a sudden collapse in the value of fossil-fuel assets.

“Institutions such as the Bank of England, the Financial Stability Board and the European Systemic Risk Board are examining how banks, insurers and pension funds would cope if policies designed to reduce carbon-dioxide emissions led to a sharp drop in the share price of oil, gas and coal companies.

“They are looking at new rules to disclose exposures to both stocks and bonds in such companies, conducting stress tests based on different climate scenarios or even requiring additional capital buffers.

“The regulators’ concerns rest on scientific assessments that much of the world’s known fossil-fuel reserves would have to stay underground if governments want to limit global warming to 2 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels. If they aim to contain average temperature increases to 1.5 degrees, as set out in an international climate deal sealed in Paris in December, the so-called carbon budget would shrink even more.

“That has triggered fears that a poorly managed switch to less-polluting energy sources, such as solar or wind power, could cause selloffs of fossil-fuel companies and broader economic problems caused by energy shortages.

“Insurers are particularly threatened by climate change. Rising sea levels and other environmental changes already have cut into their businesses, properties in certain areas are becoming too expensive to insure, extreme weather and storms are bound to increase payouts and, finally, a devaluation of their investments in fossil-fuel companies could erode capital cushions, says Mr. Waygood.

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4. Earthquake Risk Increased in Energy-Intensive States, USGS Says

About seven million people live, work in parts of U.S. vulnerable for induced temblors; largest concentrations in Texas, Oklahoma

By Erin Ailworth, WSJ, Mar 28, 2016

http://www.wsj.com/articles/earthquake-risk-increased-in-energy-intensive-states-usgs-says-1459187500

SUMMARY: No link to maps: The reporter writes:

“The states most at risk of such man-made quakes—Oklahoma, Kansas, Texas, Colorado, New Mexico, and Arkansas—are largely concentrated in regions where the energy industry disposes of millions of gallons of wastewater that is produced during the oil-and-gas drilling and pumping process. [Boldface added.]

“It has become commonplace to inject wastewater pumped from oil-and-gas wells, a super salty, often chemical-laced mix, back underground into special water disposal wells. That water injection process often happens at high pressure. The practice may help trigger movement along fault lines, according to a growing body of research that links wastewater disposal to an increasing number of earthquakes in states where energy companies have intensified their operations, though some prominent shale producers have been vocal critics of those geologic reports.”

“The Oklahoma Corporation Commission, or OCC, which regulates the state’s oil and gas industry, has spent the last year cracking down on the use of wastewater disposal wells.

“Regulators have asked Oklahoma disposal well operators across a swath more than 10,000-square-miles wide to reduce the volume of wastewater they inject into about 600 wells by about 40%. That amounts to a cumulative decrease of more than 800,000 barrels of water a day.

“Tim Baker, Oklahoma’s chief oil-and-gas regulator, has stopped all administrative approval of disposal wells capable of handling more than 20,000 barrels a day—no matter how far from earthquake activity they are located. Operators may still apply to operate such wells, but now need special approval directly from OCC commissioners.

“Matt Skinner, a spokesman for the OCC, said state regulators expected the USGS maps to show Oklahoma as a trouble spot for man-made quakes induced by wastewater disposal wells.”

CONTINUE READING –>

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