Weekly Climate and Energy News Roundup #226

The Week That Was: May 14, 2016 – Brought to You by www.SEPP.org
By Ken Haapala, President, Science and Environmental Policy Project

A Climate Model That May Work: In his written testimony submitted to the US House Committee on Science, Space & Technology on February 2, John Christy of the University of Alabama in Huntsville presented the results of a basic empirical test. Do the climate models simulate what has occurred in the atmosphere since the advent of comprehensive satellite measurements of atmospheric temperatures in the last few weeks of 1978 – the only comprehensive global measurements of temperatures existing – and independently supported by four datasets from weather balloons, which are not comprehensive. The test period includes the entire satellite record from 1978 through 2015 – 37 years.

As Christy wrote:

“I was able to access 102 CMIP-5 rcp4.5 (representative concentration pathways) climate model simulations of the atmospheric temperatures for the tropospheric layer and generate bulk temperatures from the models for an apples-to-apples comparison with the observations from satellites and balloons. These models were developed in institutions throughout the world and used in the IPCC AR5 Scientific Assessment (2013).”

There were a total of 32 models represented in these 102 simulations. Of these 32 models only one tracked well against global mid-tropospheric temperature variations – the Russian INM-CM4. On average, the models overestimated global warming by 2.5 times that measured.

When comparing mid-tropospheric temperature variations as simulated by the 32 to models with actual observations in the critical tropics, the models did worse. On average, they overestimated warming by 3 times that measured. Again the Russian INM-CM4 outperformed the others.

As Christy fully recognized, such a test is not suitable for prediction or for public policy. For example, the results from the Russian INM-CM4 model came from one simulation. Multiple simulations may produce different results. The model may not capture the various influences on climate correctly, and may fail in the future. But the test clearly shows that long-term projections/predictions from the group of models, ensemble, are unsuitable for public policy that has a dramatic, destructive effect on the economy as proposed by many western governments. Conversely, the Russian model is a start.

An internet search revealed that the Russian INM-CM4 model is the Institute of Numerical Mathematics Coupled Model, version 4.0. The Institute of Numerical Mathematics (INM) is a division of the Russian Academy of Science. According to its web site, the INM has eleven major research groups including Large/Meso Scale Dynamics of the World Ocean and Russian Peripheral Seas; Modeling and Observation Data Analysis; Role of the World Ocean in the Global Change Processes; Development of Global Climate Models and Creation of Scientific Basis for Studying the Climate Change Predictability; Expert Systems for Assessing Regional Consequences of Global Climate Changes; Numerical Modeling of the Dynamics and Kinetics of Atmospheric Trace Gases and Aerosols; and Determination of the Vegetation Cover Biomass Volume from Space Monitoring Data.

It will be very interesting to see how this model performs in the future. As to the bulk of the other models, waiting for an ensemble of models to perform well may be as futile as waiting for an ensemble of questionable musicians to perform the Beethoven’s 5th beautifully, without a conductor. See links under Challenging the Orthodoxy and http://www.inm.ras.ru/inm_en_ver/

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Quote of the Week: “Global warming, due to greenhouse gasses, is the latest in a long series of one-factor theories about a multifactor world. Such theories have often enjoyed great popularity, despite how often they have turned out to be wrong.” – Thomas Sowell [H/t Paul Redfern]

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Number of the Week: 48% increase

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Proposed Climate Model: Andrew Montford brings up a simplified climate model proposed by J. Ray Bates of the Meteorology and Climate Center, School of Mathematics and Statistics, University College, Dublin, Ireland. The model is available on the web and bears further examination. It has been accepted by the Journal of Earth and Space Science.

Bates divides the globe into two zones – tropical and extratropical. This makes some sense because the characteristics of each are significantly different, over a full year. The tropics ae hot and humid year-round, and the extratropics vary seasonally. Over eighty percent of the earth’s surface of the tropics is water, predominately oceans; while about 71 percent of the global is water. Further, the great heat conveyer systems of the global, oceans and atmosphere, transport heat from the tropics to the higher latitudes and atmosphere also transports heat from the surface to outer space.

Speculating, since the atmosphere over the tropics if virtually saturated with the dominant greenhouse gas, water vapor, it may be the heat transfer by the atmosphere from the tropics to outer space that the climate models are not capturing in their overestimation of atmospheric warming.

In his model, Bates uses atmospheric temperatures from satellites, an improvement over the non-comprehensive surface temperatures used in most global climate models.

In his paper, Bates finds that his conclusions are similar to the findings of Lindzen and Choi (2011) and the findings of Mauritsen and Stevens, corrected, (2015) [references in the Bates paper].

The central conclusion is the effective climate sensitivity of the earth’s temperature to a doubling of carbon dioxide (CO2) is approximately 1ºC which is well below the findings in the 1979 Charney report of 1.5 to 4.5 ºC, which were not empirical. In general, the findings in the five assessment reports of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) were similar to the Charney report and these five reports did not empirically establish their findings using comprehensive satellite data.

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A Different Solar Model: Using the approach of an electrical engineer, David Evans further expands his approach to explaining climate change. In the first nineteen essays, Evans developed the assertion that, in general, climate modelers had made a simple modeling error, a feedback error.

“Heat trapped by increasing carbon dioxide is trapped in the upper troposphere, where it is simply emitted to space by water vapor instead. Add this to the forcing-feedback model that is the basis of climate science, and two things happens: you find the sensitivity to increasing carbon dioxide is about a fifth to a tenth of what the IPCC says it is, and the model finally fits with the observations that water vapor emissions layer did not rise in the last few decades (the missing hotspot). All solved, very neat.” [Evans: from comment section at the end of the current post.]

In the current post, Evans attempts to explain the apparent delay between changes in solar irradiance and their effect on the earth’s climate. A delay of about one solar cycle (11 years) has been observed by others. Evans uses the electrical engineering concept of notch filters which allow most frequencies to pass through but lessen the intensity of selected frequencies. To Evans, slight variations in cloud cover act as filters. These small variations of cloud cover are difficult to measure. For many researchers, the difficulty with global climate models in dealing with clouds is well recognized. The responses to this post should be interesting. See links under Science: Is the Sun Rising?

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Methane Rules: The EPA has announced new rules regulating emissions of methane from new oil and natural gas operations. Similar rules on existing operations are sure to follow. Oil and gas production are one of the few bright spots in the US economy, which has stagnated with about a 2 percent growth rate since the 2007-2008 recession, and low full-time employment. As discussed in the May 7 TWTW, thanks to hydraulic fracturing (occurring on lands not controlled by the Federal government) natural gas prices are down by about 50% from 2000 at the Henry Hub. Also, the US EIA reported:

“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.”

Needless to say, the importance of reliable low-cost energy did not make it into the calculations used by the EPA in determining the benefits and the need for new rules. Instead, the EPA announced: “After reviewing the more than 900,000 comments received on its August 2015 proposal, EPA updated a number of aspects in the final rule that increase climate benefits, including removing an exemption for low production wells and requiring leak monitoring surveys twice as often at compressor stations, which have the potential for significant emissions.”

As EPA veteran Alan Carlin states, “The effects on global temperatures [from new controls on methane emissions] will not be measurable even if the regulation achieves everything EPA claims it will. It will, however, increase the cost of natural gas (as well as oil), which will make it less likely that natural gas will be used compared to other energy sources, particularly coal.”

Those who have sat through EPA comment sessions with professional listeners, realize that many, if not most, of the comments in favor of EPA rules are little more than speakers taking out pictures of their children and grandchildren saying this is why the rules are important. To the EPA listeners, the baby pictures are as meaningful for regulation as any rigorous scientific comments. Such is the status of EPA hearings on scientific issues today. See links under EPA and other Regulators on the March

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A Legal Loss: As reported in the Guardian, a Minnesota administrative law judge found the estimates used by the Public Utilities Commission for the social costs of carbon (SCC) are too low. Instead the judge recommended that costs estimated by, what is now, the US Global Change Research Program (USGCRS) be accepted. The judge ran through the various models and concluded that the climate sensitivity is reasonably considered to be in the 2-4.5°C range. See links under Litigation Issues.

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A Legal Gain – RICO-20: On April 22, the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) prevailed it its Virginia Freedom of Information Act against George Mason University (GMU) requesting public records on how a group of academics “the RICO-20” (including six from GMU) used public funds to organize their call for a Federal racketeering investigation (RICO) of entities who disagree with them on climate policy. The Virginia court released the ruling last week, and the University immediately requested the records be withheld pending appeal. On Friday, May 13, the court denied the request and ordered immediate release of the records.

The records will make amusing reading for those who so care, and some are being posted now, with comments. It appears that the actions fit as a conspiracy to deny civil rights under the Civil Rights Act of 1985, but it is unlikely that the current US Justice Department will investigate, given that it gave the investigation of the original RICO complaint by the RICO-20 to the FBI for criminal investigation against those who sued.

Things will be very lively at GMU, where divisions of the law school were named as entities of interest in the lawsuit urged by the RICO-20 and announced by the Attorney General of the Virgin Islands. Apparently, many of those in the RICO-20, and their supporters, expected substantial monetary benefits, including academics at the main campus of George Mason. This will be an ongoing issue for some time. See links under Suppressing Scientific Inquiry – The Witch Hunt – Push-Back

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Travel: Due to travel, the May 21 TWTW will be brief, and there will be no TWTW on May 28. SEPP Chairman Fred Singer and President Ken Haapala will be in Austria and Russia.

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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: 48%: Currently, the EIA projects a 48% increase in world energy consumption by 2040 (in BTUs). The increase will largely be in renewables, natural gas, and liquid fuels, ordered by growth rates. The forecasted major sources of energy in 2040 will be liquid fuels, natural gas, and coal. (Natural gas overtaking coal around 2030.) A more complete report is scheduled to be available on May 23, which may include the Administration’s energy plan.

No discussion at this time on success, or costs, in making solar and wind sources of electricity dispatchable, to be turned on and off when needed. That is, reliable, predictable, and consistent.

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ARTICLES:

 1. A Climate Courtroom Crusade Scorches Due Process

Attorneys general demand Exxon’s files without first asking a judge—a case of the fox guarding the hens

By Philip Hamburger, WSJ, May 11, 2016

http://www.wsj.com/articles/a-climate-courtroom-crusade-scorches-due-process-1463007726

SUMMARY: The professor of law at Columbia University challenges New York Attorney General’s announcement claiming that a coalition will hold fossil fuel companies accountable:

“’The First Amendment, ladies and gentlemen, does not give you the right to commit fraud,” he said.”

“The threat to scientific inquiry and political speech is obvious. Not so widely recognized is the underlying violation of due process. Start with the fact that Mr. Schneiderman and the other attorneys general have relied, as their opening move, on a nonjudicial subpoena to force the disclosure of information.”

“Traditionally, federal and state governments could demand testimony, papers or other information in only very limited ways. A legislative committee could call witnesses and insist that they appear and testify. But an attorney general who wanted to rifle through a private company’s filing cabinet had to get a warrant signed by a judge based on probable cause, or had to ask a court overseeing a grand jury to issue a subpoena.

“Otherwise the attorney general had to wait until he brought civil or criminal charges, and in a criminal case he could get only a very limited version of discovery. As the founding generation knew from experience, government demands for papers could be dangerous.

“Much has changed over the past century. When civil discovery of evidence, now a common process, evolved in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, some states, for the sake of convenience, allowed subpoenas for such purposes to be signed not by judges, but by clerks, and then even by parties in cases. The subpoena power thus began to drift out of the hands of the judiciary.

“Although this initial step was trivial, it offered legitimacy for what followed: Over the 20th century, Congress gave administrative agencies, from the Agriculture Department to the Department of Health and Human Services, statutory authority to issue subpoenas in their own name. And state legislators have granted such power to their equivalent agencies.

“All sorts of administrators, at both levels of government, thereby acquired an expansive power to demand information without initially working through a judge. This was bad enough, but it gets worse. Lawmakers also granted subpoena authority to their attorneys general. New York did so in 1921. Even prosecutors thus can now read through private papers on demand.

“The Supreme Court upheld the subpoena power of agencies in United States v. Morton Salt (1950), on the theory that administrators are exercising the power of a grand jury. This is improbable, but it is even more improbable for prosecutors, who lead grand jury proceedings. Having a role in facilitating grand juries, a prosecutor cannot, by himself, be assumed to act as one. Even if the Morton Salt argument really justifies administrative subpoenas, it cannot explain an attorney general’s subpoena.

“Nor can the dangers of giving a subpoena power to prosecutors be waved away. In a grand jury, a judge oversees the proceedings to prevent excessive intrusions into private papers and lives. In a government agency, the administrator typically is not an elected official, and therefore is not using the subpoena power to generate public support for his own political campaign. But when an attorney general issues a subpoena, the opposite conditions prevail: There is no ongoing judicial supervision and far too much politics.

“Regrettably, this evasion of judicial subpoenas is only the beginning of the due-process problem, for Mr. Schneiderman and other attorneys general have the power to bring not simply administrative, but criminal, charges on the basis of the information they force out of private parties. They thereby dangerously combine the roles of grand jury and prosecutor.

“If Mr. Schneiderman were bringing a civil case, he could seek discovery only after filing a complaint about a concrete injury, and his demands would be subject to judicial supervision, including protective orders to narrow their scope. If he were bringing a criminal case, he would have difficulty getting much information at all from the defendant through discovery.

“But with the usurped subpoena power, he can engage in a roving investigation, unlimited by any formal accusation, and then can use the results to bring criminal charges. This is a dangerous amalgam of grand-jury and prosecutorial power in one person. Mr. Schneiderman’s subpoena to Exxon Mobil thus stands apart. His ability to demand information in this way is a quintessential case of the fox guarding the henhouse.

“The threats to privacy in our society are not merely technological; they also are legal. In addition to electronic surveillance, nonjudicial subpoenas allow government to examine private documents as if they were an open book. And as shown by Mr. Schneiderman, when attorneys general can issue such subpoenas, a valuable judicial power becomes a prosecutorial threat to liberty and due process.”

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2. How Emerging Nations Can Use Data to Curb Pollution

By Sam Ori, WSJ, Apr 25, 2016

http://blogs.wsj.com/experts/2016/04/25/how-emerging-nations-can-use-data-to-curb-pollution/

SUMMARY: The executive director of the Energy Policy Institute at University of Chicago proposes how regulators in developing countries with strong legal air-quality standards can better control pollution by adapting actions such as those by India’s Gujarat without expensive energy technology or heavy-handed government intervention. They need reliable information near real-time.

“Pollution regulators there have developed the country’s first standards for low-cost and reliable pollution monitoring. This network of continuous emissions monitoring systems is beginning to allow regulators to rapidly pinpoint where pollution is occurring and if policies are working. That kind of information could be the basis of multiple policy innovations—from simply doing a better job of detecting and punishing violations to creating regional pollution emissions trading networks that would rapidly and cost-effectively improve air quality for large whole cities and states.”

[Multiple] “innovative approaches use the same basic strategy: collect and analyze data, test cost-effective policies, and scale what works. And, there is certainly no shortage of creative ideas to test. Delhi discovered this recently when nearly 250 ideas poured in from students, entrepreneurs, nonprofits, businesses and citizens from throughout India for an Innovation Challenge launched in partnership with the University of Chicago. Like the other approaches, the winning idea (or ideas) will be rigorously tested and if successful implemented in Delhi—perhaps even becoming a prototype for other cities.”

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3. Venezuela’s Hunger Is No Game

Inflation hit 180% in late 2015. Little food is available, and most people can’t afford it.

By Mary Anastasia O’Grady, WSU, May 8, 2016

http://www.wsj.com/articles/venezuelas-hunger-is-no-game-1462738401

The commentator for Latin America writes: “In his craving for power, the late Hugo Chávez pledged to redistribute Venezuela’s wealth to the poor masses. The god-father of ‘21st-century socialism’ seems to have been unaware that the resources he promised to shower on his people had to first be produced.

“Fifteen years into the Bolivarian revolution, Venezuela is facing dire food shortages. A crisis may still be averted—but only with a sharp reversal of the policies that have destroyed the country’s productive capacity. A nation either has to produce what it consumes or must import it. What it imports is paid for with foreign exchange from exports or debt.

“Venezuela has long relied on oil dollars to pay for imports. But it also has grown corn, sorghum and rice, and it has had cattle, poultry and fishing industries. Now the nation is in trouble not only because of lower oil revenues and institutionalized corruption but also because government policies have badly damaged domestic production.

“Among the many stupidities that socialism promotes is the idea that by imposing price controls and forbidding profits, government can make food both cheap and widely available.

“The opposite is true, and Venezuela proves the rule. An August-September 2015 survey by the multi-university, Caracas-based social and economic research project Encovi found that 87% of those polled reported that they did not have sufficient income for food. Their privation is a result of artificially holding down prices, which creates shortages. Consumers are forced to scurry about black markets looking for what they need and then pay dearly for it—if they can. They face killer inflation which, according to the central bank, was 180.9% on an annual basis in the fourth quarter of 2015, up from 82.4% in the first quarter of last year.

“Hunger is only a symptom of a broader economic collapse, all along the production chain, brought on by state diktat.”

“Protein is hard to come by. Eggs have all but disappeared from grocery stores. In October, seven tuna canneries employing 3,000 people had to close because they could not get dollars from the central bank to pay foreign suppliers who provide the materials for production like fish and cans. Basic medicines like aspirin have vanished.”

“Ironically the very rich, who Chávez swore to crush but who still have dollars, are not starving. But the poor and working classes face a grim future.”

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4. History of Energy Forecasts Leaves Room for Humility

Supposedly a report from the CIA declared that we were running out of natural gas.

Letters, WSJ, May 10, 2016

http://www.wsj.com/articles/history-of-energy-forecasts-leaves-room-for-humility-1462913817

“Regarding R. Tyler Priest’s review of Mason Inman’s “The Oracle of Oil” (Bookshelf, April 26): The oil story miscue wasn’t the only energy boo-boo of the 1970s. I remember being ordered to shut off my gas lamp as the government mandated a reduction in gas consumption. Utility companies discontinued the connection of new gas furnaces, so I had to install an oil furnace in my new home. Supposedly a report from the CIA declared that we were running out of natural gas.

“Then a major New York City bank’s economics department calculated that by 1980 OPEC would hold most of the world’s money. Forecasts by such reliable entities went up in smoke as we weathered the OPEC embargo and oil price explosion. And as we can all attest, we weren’t running out of natural gas. We should all be wary of similar forecasts that are being made by those who claim to be professionals in areas such as the impact of budget deficits and global warming.”

Thomas E. Nugent, Charleston, S.C.

[SEPP Comment: What is now the Department of Energy had state-of-the-art computer models “proving” the US was running out of natural gas and the world out of oil by the end of the 20th century.]

CONTINUE READING –>

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