Weekly Climate and Energy News Roundup #225

The Week That Was: May 7, 2016 – Brought to You by www.SEPP.org

By Ken Haapala, President, Science and Environmental Policy Project

Tropical Atmosphere: Temperature trends in the tropical atmosphere are particularly important because, according to the theory advanced by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), this is where any warming from carbon dioxide (CO2) should be amplified by an increase in warming from other factors, namely water vapor – the most abundant greenhouse gas. Indeed, amplified warming has been a major feature in recent IPCC reports, beginning in the Second Assessment Report (AR-2, 1996), which claimed a pronounced warming trend over the tropics centered about 10 km (33,000 feet) of about twice the warming trend of the surface. A paper published by Douglass, Christy, Pearson and Singer in 2007 pointed out that the hot spot cannot be found in the atmospheric temperature trends measured by balloons and by satellites. This has been a major source of contention between scientists supporting the IPCC and by those challenging it. [As Richard Lindzen stated in his video reviewed in the last two TWTWs, Group 1 and Group 2 scientists.]

In his written testimony to the U.S. House Committee on Science, Space and Technology on February 2, John Christy of the University of Alabama in Huntsville submitted the results of 102 IPCC CIMP-5 Climate Model runs for the Global Bulk Atmospheric Temperature. (Surface to 50,000 feet (15,240 meters). (CIMP-5 is the latest version global climate models used by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC))

Christy tested the results of these model runs against temperature observations by four different datasets of weather balloon measurements with one type of instruments and by satellites with another type of instruments as calculated by 3 different entities. Christy shows a 0.98 correlation between the types of observational datasets, which is very high for such types of measurements. Not only is there significant disparity between the average of model runs and observations; but also, since 1995 the disparity is increasing significantly. The models greatly overestimate the warming of the bulk atmosphere, and that over the tropics by approximately three times the observed. (TWTW, Feb 6, 2016)

On her web site, Climate Etc., Judith Curry wrote that she planned to use Christy’s work in her presentation to the National Associated Regulatory Utility Commissioners. Gavin Schmidt, the head of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (NASA-GISS) took exception, claiming Christy’s work was defective. In two separate posts (including statistical analysis), Steve McIntyre examined Schmidt’s claims and found them defective. Nothing Schmidt presented (mostly statistical) contradicts the empirical work presented by Christy.

In brief, Schmidt’s criticism of Christy claims that Christy did not appropriately recognize the uncertainty in the models. This is similar to Santer’s defense of the hot spot. Simply that it cannot be observed does not mean that it does not exist, because the uncertainty in the models is so large!

It is strange that the IPCC expresses great certainty in its work in its Summary for Policymakers (AR-5, 2013) and in its models. Yet when critical characteristics of the work and the models are not observed, defenders of the IPCC evoke great uncertainty in the work and the models.

For background on how the hot spot came about see Bernie Lewin’s piece: “Remembering Madrid ’95: A Meeting that Changed the World.” https://enthusiasmscepticismscience.wordpress.com/

For a description Santer’s work and the rebuttal see pages 5 to 8 of the report of the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change: Nature, Not Human Activity, Rules the Climate. http://www.sepp.org/science_papers/NIPCC_final.pdf

And for the current dispute see links under Challenging the Orthodoxy and Models v. Observations

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Quote of the Week: “Man, once surrendering his reason, has no remaining guard against absurdities the most monstrous, and like a ship without rudder, is the spot of every wind. With such persons, gullability, which they call faith, takes the helm from the hand of reason and the mind becomes a wreck.” —Thomas Jefferson (1822)

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Number of the Week: 67%, up 14 times, down 50%

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Assembly of Models: Modern weather forecasting often includes an assembly of multiple models. This works fine as long as those making the forecasts recognize the limitations. [One fleet meteorologist commented that the furthest out they can forecast weather is 11 to 14 days, provided all the models converge.] Long-range weather forecasters, such as those with WeatherBell Analytics, look at many models and attempt to determine which have patterns seen in the past, and base their long-range forecasts on these patterns.

The IPCC and its followers use multiple models to make long-range predictions/projections. As shown by Christy, in general, the models greatly overestimate the warming in general, and over the tropics, in particular. Also there is a logical problem with relying on the average of models – there is no logical reason to assume the average will capture what is occurring or what will occur. In part of his criticism of a lecture by Tim Palmer at the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics in Waterloo, Canada, string theorist Luboš Motl recognizes the logical problem. Motl writes:

“Palmer made a short introduction to chaos theory you can get even in the most superficial pop-science publications, mentioned some hurricane in 1987 or whatever, and said that the future may be predicted despite the chaos. He was promoting the usual misconception that the probability of the meteorological phenomenon X may be calculated as the percentage of models or model runs that produce a future that obeys the conditions of X.

“Needless to say, this is extremely far from the truth in the real world. The problem is that the models share some (very many) systematic errors and a big fraction of these systematic errors are more or less completely shared by the different models (and they’re certainly shared by different runs of the same model). (In some cases, the term “systematic error” is a euphemism because the errors are as big as the effects they are trying to predict – so the models are literally worthless for many purposes.)

“So by running a model many times and averaging the results (and the calculation of the fraction to calculate the probability is an example of averaging, one averages the numbers 0 or 1 from different models/runs), you just don’t improve your accuracy too much and maybe you don’t improve it at all.

“Richard Feynman made the same point that “the averaging many opinions doesn’t help” when he talked about the “judging of the books by their covers”. He was a committee member along with many other people who weren’t doing their work properly and he was annoyed by the herd instincts that were implicitly claimed to be more important than careful work:

“’This question of trying to figure out whether a book is good or bad by looking at it carefully or by taking the reports of a lot of people who looked at it carelessly is like this famous old problem: Nobody was permitted to see the Emperor of China, and the question was, What is the length of the Emperor of China’s nose? To find out, you go all over the country asking people what they think the length of the Emperor of China’s nose is, and you average it. And that would be very “accurate” because you averaged so many people. But it’s no way to find anything out; when you have a very wide range of people who contribute without looking carefully at it, you don’t improve your knowledge of the situation by averaging.’

“Palmer and similar people obviously don’t understand these things – or they do understand and pretend not to understand. So the main message of Palmer’s talk was completely wrong. Too bad that he claims to be a leader of an Oxford climate predictability group.”

Would Feynman, who was not shy, say that by relying on experts and their models, and not atmospheric observations, the IPCC is attempting to determine the length of the Emperor’s nose without observation – even though observations are publically available? See links under Models v. Observations and “What Richard Feynman Can Teach Development Practitioners” http://aidsource.ning.com/profiles/blogs/what-richard-feynman-can-teach-development-practitioners

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The Witch-Hunt Unfolds: The full subpoena by the Attorney General for the Virgin Islands delivered to Exxon Mobil has been revealed. About 100 organizations are mentioned. Many can be considered conservative or libertarian – opposed to unwarranted expansion of government power. In the subpoena the Science and Environmental Policy Project (SEPP) is listed, though SEPP has not received a subpoena. The late Fredrick Seitz, former chairman of SEPP, and S. Fred Singer, current chairman, are identified as persons of interest.

SEPP is a non-profit, scientific organization dedicated to evaluating public policies using one criterion – empirical science. Public policy positions must be based on solid, comprehensive data. Politics, ideology, religion, and similar considerations are immaterial.

Among the many scientists identified in the subpoena are Richard Lindzen, who provided an excellent description of difference in thinking between scientists agreeing with the IPCC and those scientists disagreeing; and John Christy, co-discoverer of measuring temperatures via satellites, and who has published the finest datasets of global temperatures ever compiled.

There are a number of excellent comments found in the links below. An article in the Washington Times states that sixty-nine of the organizations named in the subpoena are listed on Greenpeace’s #ExxonSecrets website — and in virtually the same order. If so, then Attorney General Walker of the Virgin Islands may be conspiring with Greenpeace and with other state attorneys general to suppress the rights of those who insist on empirical science over model speculation.

This apparent violation of the Civil Rights Act of 1985 can be easily stopped by a US Attorney invoking that act. If it is not, then we will be witnessing the extension of authoritarian power by government officials who call themselves liberal-progressives. See Articles 1 & 2, and links under Suppressing Scientific Inquiry – The Witch Hunt and Suppressing Scientific Inquiry – The Witch Hunt – Push-Back

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Solid Science: Writing in Commentary magazine, John Steele Gordon has a straight-forward description of a method of separating solid science from the fluff – or what Lindzen may call the differences between Group 1 and Group 2 scientists and the commentators making up Group 3.

Steele’s five criteria are:

1) Sound science produces predictions that come true.

2) Science is always skeptical.

3) Sound science needs sound data.

4) Who benefits?

5) Chicken Little doesn’t act like he believes the sky is falling.

Under point 3, sound data, in climate we have seen a profound growth of solid data – from satellites. When the Charney report estimating a sensitivity of the earth’s temperatures from a doubling of CO2 between to 1.5 to 4.5ºC came out in 1979, there was no comprehensive global data. So his approach of asking the experts, who were modeling the climate, made some sense. We now have over 35 years of solid data from satellites and the approach no longer makes sense. Yet, that inferior approach is what the IPCC and others who ignore the solid data expects us to accept. For further descriptions, see link under Challenging the Orthodoxy.

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Greenland Myths: TWTW reader Clyde Spencer sent us yet another article claiming the great melting of the Greenland ice. As with most such articles, it contained logical fallacies of over generalization. What applies to a narrow valley with glacial ice touching the sea, does not necessarily apply to the entire plateau of ice thousands of feet above sea level. In 1888 a party led by Norwegian Fridtjof Nansen dispelled many myths about Greenland having a lush green valley behind the rim of high mountains by climbing the high mountains, crossing southern Greenland on skis, and finding nothing but a broad barren plateau of ice. Spencer writes about his experience:

“Incidentally, when I was in the Army, I was stationed at the Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory in Hanover (NH). I also spent a month in Greenland supervising a crew doing a closure survey on a tunnel near Camp Tuto in the snout of one of these valley glaciers near Camp Tuto. There is an interesting related story: when the tunnel originally was being constructed, the Army decided to drive an air shaft to the surface about 1500’ in from the entrance. However, when they got close enough to the top of the glacier that they could see the blue glow of sunlight, they could also hear a meltwater stream. They prudently decided to abandon work on the shaft so as not to get flushed out. However, the point of this little story is that obviously not all the meltwater flows at the base of the glacier and the researchers may not be warranted in assuming that the meltwater pools-up at the base. My personal guess is that the terminus may be more subject to cracking than farther inland, allowing meltwater streams at intermediate levels to reach ground level. It takes about 200 feet of ice overburden to develop sufficient pressure for ice to deform plastically. That is, below 200’ from the surface, the ice will tend to close any channels. Therefore, one might expect most of the meltwater to be flowing within 200’ of the surface at some distance from the terminus.”

For the article see link under Communicating Better to the Public – Make things up.

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Changing Climate: An article in Scientific American describes a river that existed in the Sahara between 11,700 and 5,000 years ago and states it would be the 11th longest river in the world. This is old news, but the key question remains unanswered: what caused the climate change. According to the IPCC, the level of CO2 was quite stable between 11,700 years ago and the 19th century. In Climate, History, and the Modern World, HH Lamb suggested a cooling of the Northern Hemisphere which caused a drying of the Sahara – the tropical rains no longer came that far north. Cannot find that in the IPCC reports. See links under Changing Climate.

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Additions and Corrections: Reader Paul Kenyon corrects a source of a quote from the IPCC used in TWTW. He states: “I have a more extensive quote which includes that exact quote, which reads as: “In climate research and modelling we should recognize that we are dealing with a coupled-nonlinear chaotic system and therefore that long-term prediction of future climate states is not possible” IPCC 3rd Assessment Report (2001) Section 14.2.2.2 page 774. Note the different (earlier) reference location, AR3 rather than AR4.”

As ever, we appreciate those who correct our errors.

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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 on July 9 in Omaha.

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Number of the Week: 67%, up 14 times, down 50%. The US Energy Information Agency (EIA) released several reports which show the importance of hydraulic fracturing in the production of natural gas and for the US economy. In 2015, hydraulically fractured wells provided about 67% of the total natural gas output in the US, from 2000 to 2015 production went up about 14 times, from 3.6 billion cubic per day (Bcf/d) of marketed gas in the United States, to more than 53 Bcf/d, and during the same period, adjusted for inflation, the spot price at the Henry Hub in Louisiana (an important trading index), went down by approximately 50%.

Using a different time frame, the second report estimated: “In constant 2015 dollars, average annual household energy expenditures peaked at about $5,300 in 2008. Between 2008 and 2014, average annual household energy expenditures declined by 14.1%. During this period, household expenditures decreased by 17.7% for gasoline, 25.1% for natural gas, and 28.3% for fuel oil. Electricity expenditures declined by a more modest 0.7%. EIA uses these average household energy expenditures to inform its outlooks for summer transportation expenditures and winter heating fuels expenditures.”

Yet many politicians, who consider themselves to be liberal-progressives, such as Governor Cuomo of New York, wish to stop hydraulic fracturing for oil and natural gas, using false or exaggerated claims of drinking water contamination.

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ARTICLES:

Please note that articles not linked easily or summarized here are reproduced in the Articles Section of the full TWTW that can be found on the web site under the date of the TWTW.

1. The Climate Police Escalate

A subpoena hits a think tank that resists progressive orthodoxy.

Editorial, WSJ, Apr 29, 2016

http://www.wsj.com/articles/the-climate-police-escalate-1461968775

“Sometimes we wonder if we’re still living in the land of the free. Witness the subpoena from Claude Walker, attorney general of the U.S. Virgin Islands, demanding that the Competitive Enterprise Institute cough up a decade of emails and policy work, as well as a list of private donors.

“Mr. Walker is frustrated that the free-market think tank won’t join the modern church of climatology, so he has joined the rapidly expanding club of Democratic politicians and prosecutors harassing dissenters.

“New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman started the assault last autumn with a subpoena barrage on Exxon Mobil. His demand for documents followed reports by Inside Climate News and the Los Angeles Times that claimed Exxon scientists had known for years that greenhouse gases cause global warming but hid the truth from the public and shareholders.

“Those reports selectively quoted from Exxon documents, which in any case were publicly available and often peer-reviewed in academic journals. Some Exxon scientists changed their views over the years, and several years ago the company even endorsed a carbon tax.

“Mr. Schneiderman nonetheless says he is investigating Exxon for “defrauding the public, defrauding consumers, defrauding shareholders.” He also tipped a broader assault by claiming that the oil and gas company was funneling climate misinformation through “organizations they fund, like the American Enterprise Institute,” the “American Legislative Exchange Council” and the “American Petroleum Institute.” He wants to use the Exxon case to shut down all “climate change deniers.”

“Mr. Schneiderman didn’t single out CEI, and CEI doesn’t disclose its donors. But in January CEI senior attorney Hans Bader blasted Mr. Schneiderman for violating Exxon’s First Amendment rights. “Government officials cannot pressure a private party to take adverse action against a speaker,” he wrote. Mr. Schneiderman responded by inviting more than a dozen state AGs to join him in “collectively, collaboratively and aggressively” investigating fossil-fuel companies and their donations. He rolled out Al Gore for the press conference.

“Mr. Walker belongs to this climate prosecution club and so he unleashed his subpoena attack on CEI, as well as on DCI Group, a Washington-based PR firm that represents free-market and fossil fuel groups. His demand for a decade’s worth of papers on climate research is a form of harassment. The process is itself punishment, intended to raise the cost of speaking freely on climate policy lest it invite legal bills and other political headaches.

“Mr. Walker is also over the line in demanding the names of nonprofit CEI’s donors, who can remain secret under federal law. Anyone on the list will become a new target for the Schneiderman climate posse.

“CEI has filed to quash the subpoena, and the nonprofit has hired attorneys Andrew Grossman and David Rivkin, who recently founded the Free Speech in Science Project to defend First Amendment rights against government abuses. The project is much needed.

“Rhode Island Senator Sheldon Whitehouse has asked the Justice Department to use the RICO statutes to bring civil cases against climate dissenters. Attorney General Loretta Lynch recently referred to the FBI a request from two Democrat Congressmen seeking a criminal probe of Exxon. Democrats on Capitol Hill have sent letters pressuring companies to disavow the Chamber of Commerce for its climate heresy.

“This is a dangerous turn for free speech, and progressives ought to be the first to say so lest they become targets for their own political heresies. Rather than play defense, the targets of the climate police need to fight back with lawsuits of their own.”

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2. Some Thoughts on the Politics, Profits, and Prophecies of Climate Change

By Anthony J. Sadar, American Thinker, May 8, 2016

http://www.americanthinker.com/blog/2016/05/some_thoughts_on_the_politics_profits_and_prophecies_of_climate_change.html

“Dire climate change, predicted by atmospheric models but not substantiated by reality, has become the coinage of statists. Wealth transfer executors never had it so good. No wonder free-market thinkers and scientists whose currency is reality are targeted by the climate police.

“But what if climate model output is not good enough to justify the transfer of trillions of middle-class tax dollars to politically-favorable machinates, let alone send someone to jail under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) act? What if promoters of doom are somewhat biased in their thinking and even have some incentive for hoping for the worst where the atmosphere is concerned?

“As hard as this may be to accept, it is possible that climate model results may be in serious error and doomsayers may be biased and incentivized somehow. After all, some of the most vociferous champions of climate chaos are not scientists but political types–Democratic presidential candidates, Democratic attorneys general, Democratic president, vice president, cabinet members, and former Democratic vice president. And, among those most likely to gain in power and profit are political types–Democratic presidential candidates, Democratic attorneys general, Democratic president, vice president, cabinet members, and former Democratic vice president.

“Endorsement by politicians, along with the establishment of ‘settled science,’ doesn’t particularly help science, rather it’s more likely to harm it. Examples of negative impact of politics and magisteriums on science abound–from Aristotle’s geocentrism to eugenics and Lysenko’s practice of science in the service of the Soviet state.

“Science thrives on open-mindedness, independent thinking, and perspective. Yet, the current world of climate science is limited by influence from federal government largesse and academic groupthink.

“Overall direction for politically-correct climate conclusions come via the United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which role, since its establishment in the late 1980s, has been to assess ‘the scientific basis of the risk of human-induced climate change, its potential impacts and options for mitigation.’

“Informed challengers to the IPCC include the recently established Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC), a group of ‘nongovernmental scientists and scholars who have come together to understand the causes and consequences of climate change.’ Conclusions from their independent investigation of the climate issue, explained in Why Scientists Disagree About Global Warming: The NIPCC Report on Scientific Consensus (Heartland Institute, 2015), include:

‘Climate is an interdisciplinary subject requiring insights from many fields.’

‘Fundamental uncertainties arise from insufficient observational evidence, disagreements over how to interpret data, and how to set the parameters of models.’

‘Climate scientists, like all humans, can be biased. Origins of bias include careerism, grant-seeking, political views, and confirmation bias.’

“ The IPCC, ‘created to find and disseminate research finding a human impact on global climate, is not a credible source.’ For instance, ‘[i]n contradiction of the scientific method, IPCC assumes its implicit hypothesis – that dangerous global warming is resulting, or will result, from human-related greenhouse gas emissions – is correct and that its only duty is to collect evidence and make plausible arguments in the hypothesis’s favor. It simply ignores the alternative and null hypothesis, amply supported by empirical research, that currently observed changes in global climate indices and the physical environment are the result of natural variability.’

“From ample references to peer-reviewed works and based on NIPCC reports ‘drawn from its extensive review of the scientific evidence,’ Why Scientists Disagree About Global Warming argues that ‘any human global climate impact is within the background variability of the natural climate system and is not dangerous.’

“Scientists have a long way to go to sufficiently understand the workings of the atmospheric environment. So, a terrific disservice is done to the discipline of science, when power-seeking “politicians and narrow-minded individuals of all stripes seek to foreclose reasonable investigation with their claims of settled science and demands for immediate action that will likely produce just another redistribution of wealth fiasco.”

CONTINUE READING –>

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