Weekly Climate and Energy News Roundup #224

The Week That Was: April 30, 2016 – Brought to You by www.SEPP.org

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

Types of Climate Science: The four-minute video by MIT Professor Emeritus of Meteorology Richard Lindzen so concisely highlights the ongoing conflicts regarding the human influence on global warming, (now called climate change), that it bears repeating. The major issue: Does 20th century warming come primarily from human emissions of greenhouse gases, chiefly from carbon dioxide (CO2), or largely natural causes with other human causes such as land use change included.

Lindzen divides the participants into three groups: 1) knowledgeable scientists who largely agree with the findings of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and its five assessment reports (ARs); 2) knowledgeable scientists (such as those in the Non-governmental Panel for Climate Change (NIPCC)) who largely disagree with the findings of the IPCC that burning of fossil fuels may cause dangerous global warming; and 3) politicians, environmentalists, and the media. [It should be noted that a number of scientists in group 2 participated in earlier IPCC reports, including Mr. Lindzen, and departed from it. Some stated that the IPCC has become too politicized.]

Lindzen notes that the two groups of knowledgeable scientists who disagree on the effects of burning of fossil fuels largely agree on a surprising number of points.

· The climate is always changing.

· CO2 is a greenhouse gas, without which life on earth is not possible, but adding it to the atmosphere should lead to some warming.

· Atmospheric levels of CO2 have been increasing since the end of the Little Ice Age in the 19th century.

· Over the past two centuries, the global mean temperature has increased slightly and erratically by about 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit, or one degree Celsius.

· Given the complexity of climate, no confident prediction about future global mean temperature or its impact can be made.

Some may find the last point surprising. But, the IPCC fourth assessment report (AR-4, 2007) stated that: “The long-term prediction of future climate states is not possible.” Here we see a major problem between what the groups 1 & 2 scientists have articulated and what members of group 3, the politicians, environmentalists, and the media, have claimed. Unfortunately, the clamor created by group 3 has virtually drowned out the clear agreements between groups 1 & 2, and the sharp distinctions between them. According to Lindzen, group 3 have their own reasons –money, power, and ideology – to promote a catastrophic scenario. The impact of group 3 is making pure scientific research into the actual influence of carbon dioxide on the climate very difficult.

Adding to the difficulty is the participation of scientists who are not knowledgeable on climate science issues and business interests hoping to benefit from the fear of global warming, mostly from subsidies or direct payments for “green” energy technologies, which governments continue to lavishly provide. Lindzen does not give this subset of group 3 a name, or label. He does state that they have joined the bandwagon of group 3 and are publishing papers blaming global warming for everything from acne to the Syrian civil war.

If we term the scientific debates as the climate wars, the latter group can be termed as climate war profiteers, or climate profiteers. These include scientists who contribute little or nothing to the scientific issues, frequently incorrectly stating the issues, and who hope to advance their careers by making a fuss out of little. Examples include those who attack climate skeptics for irrelevant reasons, such as being allegedly paid by tobacco interests, and those who manufacture a non-existing consensus, or use inferior polls to declare a consensus or an agreement where one does not exist. Of course, politicians and state attorneys general who are calling for investigation of private individuals and groups skeptical of “dangerous” human-caused global warming fall into this group of climate profiteers.

Lindzen’s short video greatly clarifies the myriad of motivations of those advocating political policies in the name of “climate science” and should make anyone reading an article that states “scientists say” very skeptical. See links under Challenging the Orthodoxy and Challenging the Orthodoxy – NIPCC.

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Quote of the Week: “The real world is muddy and messy and full of things that we do not yet understand. It is much easier for a scientist to sit in an air-conditioned building and run computer models, than to put on winter clothes and measure what is really happening outside in the swamps and the clouds. That is why the climate model experts end up believing their own models.” — Freeman Dyson in Edge [H/t Al Fin]

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Number of the Week: 70% of observed greening

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Type 1 & 2 Scientific Issue – Surface Measurements: Anthony Watts presented a scientific paper by John R. Christy, Alabama Office of the State Climatologist, and Earth System Science Center, The University of Alabama in Huntsville, Huntsville, Alabama (UAH) and Richard T. McNider, Earth System Science Center, UAH, published in the “Journal of Applied Meteorology and Climatology” published by the American Meteorological Society (AMS). The paper addresses issues such as which surface measurements should be used, and how are they verified?

The issues are critical because many IPCC supporters, Group 1 scientists, ignore atmospheric data from satellites, even though that is where the greenhouse effect takes place – largely, in the lower troposphere below 50,000 feet (15,200 meters). Some of these scientists justify this selected ignorance by saying they use only surface data “because that’s where people live.”

One valid argument for ignoring atmospheric temperatures is that the comprehensive satellite temperature dataset (starting in December 1978) is too short, and the independent weather balloon dataset, starting in the 1950s, is not comprehensive. Using data going back to 1883 from three different datasets of inland Alabama, (Montgomery, Birmingham and Huntsville), the UAH team examined daytime, nighttime, and daily average datasets. They found that the daytime highs were least disturbed by human activity, such as urbanization, including buildings causing turbulence, disrupting nighttime airflow. [It should be noted irrigation can cause daytime cooling and nighttime warming: “Irrigation increases dry soil’s ability to hold heat and releases a powerful greenhouse gas (water vapor) into the lowest levels of the atmosphere over dry and desert areas.”]

“When the cool layer of air near the surface is disturbed, warmer air aloft is drawn down to the surface. All of those cause real changes in the local climate, raising local surface temperatures, especially at night, by amounts large enough to be noticed both by weather station thermometers and by people living in some of those areas.

“But none of those changes has anything to do with widespread climate change in the deep atmosphere over large areas of the globe, such as might be seen if caused by increased concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

“’Over time this might look like warming or an accumulation of heat in the temperature record, but this temperature change is only caused by the redistribution of warmer air that has always been there, just not at the surface,’ said Richard McNider, a distinguished professor of science at UAH.

“So how can climatologists use existing long-term surface temperature records to accurately track the potential effects of enhanced CO2? Take the nighttime boundary layer (and all of the things we do to interfere with it) out of play, say Christy and McNider.”

Christy stated: “Because of the natural mixing of the atmosphere caused by daytime heating, daily maximum temperatures are the best surface data to use to look at temperatures in the deep atmosphere. At the surface, the daytime maximum temperature just represents more air than the nighttime low.”

“Summers in Alabama have been cooling, especially since 1954. Interior Alabama’s ten coolest summers were after 1960, with most of those after 1990. As might be expected given that cooling, climate models individually and in groups do a poor job of modeling the state’s long-term temperature and rainfall changes since 1883.

“The researchers conclude the models — the same models widely used to forecast climate change — show “no skill” in explaining long-term changes since 1883.”

In his comments, Anthony Watts added the surface temperatures of Las Vegas, Nevada, which has undergone a major building boom in recent decades. The annual average maximum temperatures show no increase since records started in 1937, but the average annual minimum temperatures show a steady increase.

Surface temperatures may be measuring a human influence that has little to do with greenhouse gases. If so, then programs to greatly restrict CO2 emissions will not have much bearing on global warming/climate change, and are purely wasteful and punitive. See links under Measurement Issues – Surface.

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Type 3 Issues – Defining Experts: An example of Lindzen’s Group 3 can be found in a publication by a group comprising of Cook, Oreskes, et al. (including Maibach, Lewandowsky, and Nuccitelli) in Environmental Research Letters, an open access publication. The abstract reads:

The consensus that humans are causing recent global warming is shared by 90% – 100% of publishing climate scientists according to six independent studies by co-authors of this paper. [Boldface added]

The dates covered are 1991 to 2011. The authors reply to a letter by Richard Tol who pointed out that the prior Cook 97% consensus “omits tests for systematic differences between raters. Many abstracts are unaccounted for. The paper does not discuss the procedures used to ensure independence between the raters, to ensure that raters did not use additional information, and to ensure that later ratings were not influenced by earlier results.” Also, Tol included additional authors, which the group does not consider to be experts.

Using the group’s criteria, the writings of climate change pioneer H.H. Lamb, and many others, including early researchers on the Ice Ages, are excluded, or the authors are considered non-experts. Interestingly, the group invokes the revolutionary concept of plate tectonics, which was greatly advanced by petroleum engineers. Maibach, one of the group, is a member of the RICO-20, advocating criminal investigation of those who disagree with their ideas on climate change for possible influence by oil companies. Such is the state of Group 3 Climate Science. See links under Defending the Orthodoxy and

http://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/1748-9326/11/4/048001/meta

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Paris Agreement: The political show of the signing of the Paris Agreement took place on UN declared International Mother Earth Day, April 22, 2016. Questions regarding the enforceability of the Agreement remain, including will the US government claw back the $500,000,000 the US State Department, transferred to the UN Green Climate Fund, which was not authorized by Congress.

This brings up a number of interesting issues. As Martin Livermore points out in an essay: as unsubstantiated claims by the IPCC intensified, anti-fossil fuel advocates intensified their willingness to punish fossil-fuel users, regardless of the costs to the economy, and even as evidence of the need diminishes. De-carbonizing electricity, now becoming very difficult, will be easy compared with de-carbonizing transport and heating.

Further, in western Europe, and elsewhere, we are witnessing high costs and unreliability of alternatives to fossil fuels. The inflated claims that accompany alternative projects is turning out to be little else than marketing propaganda. What if there is no other solution for requiring fossil fuels to provide affordable, reliable energy for electricity, transport, heating/cooling, medical, and health needs? No doubt, many western leaders do not care today, but the results can be very damaging for many people. See links under After Paris? Questioning European Green and Non-Green Jobs

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Solar Disruptive? Researchers with the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and U. California, Berkeley, produced a study that may remove some of the exaggeration that too often accompanies promoters of industrial solar-power projects. This empirical and statistical study evaluates factors determining solar plant (industrial) performance.

Their study reveals useful suggestions for improving cost-efficiency of industrial solar-power plants. Just adding more solar modules may not be cost effective.

Their study finds that rooftop solar panels feeding the grid are disruptive, and appear to be more costly to the consumer than reliable power plants – such as fossil fuels and nuclear. Cloudy and northern situations with a low azimuth to the sun; are not desirable. Germany provides an extreme example of what not to do. What is needed is project-level energy storage – rare in the US for the utility-scale markets. The only type that appears to be effective is pumped hydraulic storage, which entails significant environmental and locational issues. Initial reports indicate that Germany is no longer looking at battery storage for back-up needs.

As an aside, it is amazing the number of political entities that push solar power even though their locations are unsuitable. Many useful maps have been published, including a global map that has some interesting locations for sunny days. See links under Alternative, Green (“Clean”) Solar and Wind and Questioning European Green

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Another Pipeline Blocked: Pipelines are considered the safest way to transport liquid fuels and gases. For no clear reasons other than political, the Obama Administration blocked the building of the extension of the Keystone Pipeline from Canada into the US. The pipeline would have expanded crude deliveries from Canada to Texas, partially replacing imports of heavy crude from unstable Venezuela and elsewhere outside of North America.

For no clear reasons, other than political, the administration of Governor Cuomo of New York blocked a pipeline from Pennsylvania to New York and New England, which would bring inexpensive natural gas to these areas that have some of the highest electricity prices in the country. Natural gas is the low-cost alternative to coal-fired power plants for electricity and is also needed for heating. The pipeline may save up-state New York homeowners $1000 per year.

There was no solid justification given for this denial of permits except the pipeline failed to meet the state’s water quality standards, which were unspecified. Cuomo has used the same argument to ban hydraulic fracturing for natural gas in the state.

Governor Cuomo considers himself to be a progressive-liberal, as does President Obama. Though not directly these actions, political columnist George Will writes about the attitudes of progressive-liberals when writing about the calls for RICO investigations:

“Four core tenets of progressivism are: First, history has a destination. Second, progressives uniquely discern it. (Barack Obama frequently declares things to be on or opposed to “the right side of history.”) Third, politics should be democratic but peripheral to governance, which is the responsibility of experts scientifically administering the regulatory state. Fourth, enlightened progressives should enforce limits on speech (witness IRS suppression of conservative advocacy groups) in order to prevent thinking unhelpful to history’s progressive unfolding.”

There is little reasoning with those who have such high beliefs in themselves. See article #2 and links under Suppressing Scientific Inquiry – The Witch Hunt – Push-Back and Energy Issues — US

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Push-Back: The Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) has responded to the legally questionable subpoena by the Attorney General for the Virgin Islands. CEI’s attorneys are Grossman and Rivkin, who appear to have a solid understanding of the situation. In addition to violation of First Amendment Rights, the reasons why the CEI attorneys consider the subpoena defective is 1) that it needed to be issued by a court of record, and there is no court of record, and 2) that such subpoenas of discovery apply to pending judicial actions, and there are no such actions. It will be interesting if the entire effort to investigate amounts to a violation of the Civil Rights Act of 1985. See links under Suppressing Scientific Inquiry – The Witch Hunt – Push-Back

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Greening Earth: A paper in the magazine Nature Climate Change reinforces the studies produced by the Non-governmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC) that humans adding carbon dioxide (CO2) is a net benefit to the environment and to humanity. Plants are flourishing and the overall environment is becoming more robust.

The new study was based on satellite photos taken by NASA that show higher rates of photosynthesis are occurring. CO2 is a main source of fuel for plants, thus for all life on Earth. The composite photos show all parts of the US are greening – benefiting from increased CO2. Yet, the US Global Change Research Program (USGCRP), of which NASA and NOAA are a part, continues to calculate a social cost of carbon dioxide (SCC), without regard to the benefits, — truly a dysfunctional enterprise. See Challenging the Orthodoxy – NIPCC, particularly Climate Change Reconsidered II: Biological Impacts and links under Social Benefits of Carbon

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More EPA Non-Science: EPA announced it is intensifying haze regulations under the clean air act. Amusingly, a cited example is the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge. Discussed in prior TWTWs, the Okefenokee is a natural bog, extending from southern Georgia into northern Florida. The waters are naturally highly acidic, with ph as low as 3.5 (7 is neutral). Yet, non-specialized wildlife and aquatic-life thrive there. As with many eastern parks, truly cleaning the air of “pollutants” causing haze would require clear-cutting the extensive woodlands which emit significant volatile organic compounds, causing haze. The EPA does not bother understanding the science behind its regulations. See link under EPA and other Regulators on the March

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Climate Hustle: C-FACT has released a humorous movie, Climate Hustle, which will appear in many local US theaters on the evening of Monday, May 2, for a one-night special. For a list of theaters by state see: http://www.climatehustlemovie.com/. For a review by Anthony Watts see link under Questioning the Orthodoxy.

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Number of the Week: 70% of observed greening. According to authors of the new study on the benefits of increased CO2 (cited above): “Factorial simulations with multiple global ecosystem models, suggest that CO2 fertilization effects explain 70% of the observed greening trend, followed by nitrogen deposition (9%), climate change (8%) and land cover change (LCC) (4%).” See links under Social Benefits of Carbon.

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ARTICLES:

1. The Green Unreality Show

Politicians from 175 countries agree to keep doing whatever they intended to do anyway.

By Holman Jenkins, Jr. WSJ, Apr 22, 2016

http://www.wsj.com/articles/the-green-unreality-show-1461365276

SUMMARY: Jenkins writes:

“The climate deal negotiated in Paris and signed in New York Friday is not a treaty. It is not enforceable against the U.S. or anybody else. It waves vaguely at the idea of a $100 billion adjustment fund for poorer countries, to be filled in later by somebody else, maybe.

“Like all such international agreements, it’s a giant PR exercise designed to put a global imprimatur on what domestic politicians want to do anyway. In China and India, that’s grow their energy output any way they can. In President Obama’s case, it’s continue to dish out green mandates and subsidies that please his entourage.

“Economist Bruce Yandle coined the term bootleggers and Baptists for political coalitions of true believers and their more self-interested fellow travelers. The climate movement is the ultimate example.

“Having ginned up a climate “crisis” in the first place, it’s almost as if the movement has ginned up a fake victory to keep the game going. This week’s signing was preceded by an outpouring of fishy studies in the press about how renewable energy is on the verge of solving the problem. The most paradoxical claim, regularly aired in the New York Times, is that the fate of the planet depends on how you vote in the U.S. presidential race because solar power is falling rapidly in cost and is now competitive with fossil fuels.

“Well, then it doesn’t matter how you vote. Cheaper solar energy will displace fossil energy for purely economic reasons.

“The fragment of truth here is that the cost of solar collectors has come down thanks to Chinese production, but this represents a small fraction of the actual cost of integrating solar into the power system.

“Solar is free; the sun does not send us a bill. But solar is only competitive to the extent that fossil-fuel plants remain on hand to provide backup power when the sun is not shining. Unfortunately, fossil-fuel plant economics deteriorate rapidly when plants must stop and start to make up for fluctuating wind and solar.

“This is why, for instance, Germany managed to increase its use of renewables and its output of carbon dioxide at the same time—because it resorted to cheap coal to keep the lights on at a price its people could afford.

“This is why states like Iowa and Texas, which brag about their wind production, have more stubborn emissions output than do states that simply followed market signals to switch to gas from coal.”

Jenkins then discusses some of the traps and the lack of storage familiar for readers of TWTW and adds:

“In truth, the cost of backup power not only caps solar and wind growth, renewables may already have overshot. The International Renewable Energy Agency, in a discordantly sober report, predicts that wind and solar will start shrinking their share in the fast-growing developing economies in coming years.

“Now you, dear reader, are properly backgrounded on a fight going on in many U.S. states. The fight concerns the exorbitant costs imposed on other ratepayers to subsidize backup power for solar adopters.”

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2. Cuomo’s Energy Jobs Veto

He kills a natural gas pipeline that would reduce electricity costs.

By Editorial, WSJ, Apr 26, 2016

http://www.wsj.com/articles/cuomos-energy-jobs-veto-1461712400

SUMMARY: The editorial states:

“Andrew Cuomo is gearing up to prevent any liberal challenge to his re-election campaign in 2018. Having banned hydraulic fracturing, New York’s Governor is now blocking a pipeline to deliver cheap natural gas to New York and New England.

“As world leaders celebrated the Paris climate change accord in New York on Friday, Mr. Cuomo made a toast by rejecting a water permit for the 124-mile Constitution natural gas pipeline between eastern Pennsylvania and Albany. He wants to prevent other states from realizing economic benefits that he’s denied New Yorkers.

“Shale fracking has driven down natural gas prices and boosted manufacturing in the Midwest and Southeast—domestic production has more than quadrupled since 2009—but limited pipeline capacity has constrained supplies in the Northeast. Consumers compete with power plants for heating fuel in the winter, raising gas and electricity prices.

“In 2014 the average retail price of electricity in New York was 16.3 cents per kilowatt hour—fourth highest after Hawaii, Alaska and Connecticut, and 60% more than the national average. Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Vermont ranked fifth, sixth, seventh and ninth, respectively.

“The Constitution Pipeline promised to deliver enough natural gas from the Marcellus Shale to fuel three million homes in New York and New England. Converting to natural gas from heating oil would save the typical upstate New York homeowner $1,000 per year.

“Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen, a Democrat, advocated the pipeline’s approval to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) in 2014 because of “unprecedented electricity price increases in the coming years” due to natural gas infrastructure constraints. Amphenol Aerospace, a manufacturer, says it stayed in Sidney, New York, only because of assurances from “state officials that they would assist us in bringing natural gas to plant.”

“FERC approved the pipeline in 2014, declaring that careful engineering and $26 million in environmental mitigation would reduce any adverse impact to “less than significant levels.” After delaying the pipeline’s water-quality certification for 16 months, the New York Department of Environmental Conservation now says developers haven’t provided “comprehensive and site-specific analysis.”

“Meantime, Mr. Cuomo announced last week $150 million in new renewable-energy subsidies and $57 million more to “help low-income households reduce utility costs.” The Associated Press also reported last week that the Cuomo administration is crafting a plan to prop up struggling nuclear plants to provide back-up generation for unreliable renewables and prevent thousands of job losses upstate.

“Behold Mr. Cuomo’s economic growth strategy: Destroy private high-paying energy and manufacturing jobs. Then create government programs that soak state taxpayers to compensate the victims and subsidize his politically favored industries.”

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3. Notable & Quotable: ‘Scientific Regress’

‘If science was unprepared for the influx of careerists, it was even less prepared for the blossoming of the Cult of Science.’

Editorial, WSJ, Apr 25, 2016

http://www.wsj.com/articles/notable-quotable-scientific-regress-1461623898

Link to paper: Scientific Regress

By William Wilson, First Things, May 2016

http://www.firstthings.com/article/2016/05/scientific-regress

From “Scientific Regress” in the May issue of First Things, by William A. Wilson, a software engineer in San Francisco:

“The best scientists know that they must practice a sort of mortification of the ego and cultivate a dispassion that allows them to report their findings, even when those findings might mean the dashing of hopes, the drying up of financial resources, and the loss of professional prestige. It should be no surprise that even after outgrowing the monasteries, the practice of science has attracted souls driven to seek the truth regardless of personal cost and despite, for most of its history, a distinct lack of financial or status reward. Now, however, science and especially science bureaucracy is a career, and one amenable to social climbing. Careers attract careerists, in [Paul] Feyerabend’s words: ‘devoid of ideas, full of fear, intent on producing some paltry result so that they can add to the flood of inane papers that now constitutes ‘scientific progress’ in many areas.’

“If science was unprepared for the influx of careerists, it was even less prepared for the blossoming of the Cult of Science. The Cult is related to the phenomenon described as “scientism”; both have a tendency to treat the body of scientific knowledge as a holy book or an a-religious revelation that offers simple and decisive resolutions to deep questions. But it adds to this a pinch of glib frivolity and a dash of unembarrassed ignorance. Its rhetorical tics include a forced enthusiasm (a search on Twitter for the hashtag “#sciencedancing” speaks volumes) . . . Some of the Cult’s leaders like to play dress-up as scientists— Bill Nye and Neil deGrasse Tyson are two particularly prominent examples—but hardly any of them have contributed any research results of note. Rather, Cult leadership trends heavily in the direction of educators, popularizers, and journalists.”

CONTINUE READING –>

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