Weekly Climate and Energy News Roundup #228

The Week That Was: June 4, 2016 – Brought to You by www.SEPP.org

By Ken Haapala, President, Science and Environmental Policy Project

The Sun & Clouds: The UN Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change (IPCC), and its followers such as the US Global Change Research Program (USGCRP) largely ignore Svensmark’s hypothesis that incoming high-energy cosmic rays, modulated by the sun, influence global climate by changing cloudiness. When the sun is active, the envelope of high-energy charged particles making up the solar wind (the heliosphere) expands in the solar system, reducing the high-energy cosmic rays hitting the atmosphere. Cloudiness decreases, resulting in warmer weather. When the sun is dormant, the heliosphere contracts, increasing the high-energy cosmic rays hitting the atmosphere. Cloudiness increases, resulting in cooler weather. According to reports, the major rationale for the IPCC, and others, for ignoring Svensmark’s hypothesis was that the forming of cloud droplets, thus clouds, required sulfur dioxide produced by human emissions and by volcanoes. Thus, according to the IPCC, until the industrial revolution, Svensmark’s hypothesis did not apply to climate change; but, in its recent analysis, the IPCC does not consider climate change until after the industrial revolution.

The rationale is strange for several reasons. One, contemporary 16th and 17th European records and paintings (such as those by Pieter Brueghel) show the Little Ice Age was cold and cloudy. Earlier, using tricks such as Mr. Mann’s hockey-stick in 2001, the IPCC has tried to dismiss the Little Ice Age as a local phenomenon, but evidence is compiling that it was global. Two, the reports of the IPCC asserting the dominant influence of carbon dioxide (CO2) focus on the period after the industrial revolution, particularly, the period after 1950. During this period there were significant human emissions of sulfur dioxide. The global climate models used by the IPCC consider that sulfur dioxide has a significant cooling effect (independent of cloudiness), partially off-setting the calculated warming effect of CO2 (and other greenhouse gases).

Thus, it appears that the IPCC, and its followers, only consider sulfur dioxide when it is convenient for their assertions – a strange approach to empirical science.

Researchers at CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, performed experiments under the CLOUD program supporting Svensmark’s hypothesis. Now they have performed experiments showing that sulfur dioxide emissions from humans or volcanoes are not needed for water droplets to form – organic vapors emitted emissions from trees, and other vegetation, is sufficient to seed the formation of clouds. The observations that pure organic nucleation of water droplets to form clouds are supported by observations at the Jungfraujoch observatory as well. Interestingly, to some, the highly oxygenated molecules are known as the “aroma of the trees.”

It will be interesting to see how the IPCC and others in the Climate Establishment react to these experiments and observations. See links under Challenging the Orthodoxy, particularly the comments by Luboš Motl.


Quote of the Week: “Unthinking respect for authority is the greatest enemy of truth.” Albert Einstein “The Curious History of Relativity”


Number of the Week: Productivity of less than 1%


No TWTW Next Week: Due to travel, there will be no TWTW next week. TWTW will resume on the weekend of June 18.


The Sun & UV: Among those skeptical of the claim that adding a few molecules CO2 per 10,000 molecules of atmosphere will cause significant global warming/climate change; there has been a lively debate. Are the dominant natural changes from changes in the sun or changes in ocean circulations? (In addition to orbital changes.) On his web site, P Gosselin translates a recent review of papers by Sebastian Lüning and Prof. Fritz Vahrenholt on the influence of the sun, particularly Ultraviolet Radiation (UV) on atmospheric circulations, including the stratosphere, and, in turn, on ocean circulations. Much of the work is preliminary and statistical, and in need of empirical verification.

This type of work on the natural variations on influencing the earth’s climate is greatly needed. The IPCC does not consider the effects of variations in UV. Based on SEPP’s analysis, the vast bulk of government funding is going to supporting the Climate Establishment, and its claim that CO2, and other greenhouse gases, are the primary cause of global warming/climate change. Yet, the Climate Establishment cannot explain what caused the warming of the early part of the 20th century, from about 1910 to 1940, and chooses to ignore it. See links under Commentary: Is the Sun Rising?


European Talks: During the week of May 23-28, SEPP Chairman Fred Singer gave invited talks on lunar origin and planetary exploration and on climate issues, at the Russian Institute for Space Studies (IKI) in Moscow and at the Physics Department at the University of Vienna, the oldest university in German-speaking Europe. SEPP President Ken Haapala gave talks on issues regarding climate science, climate models, and energy use at both institutions.

The talks were well-received and the discussions that followed were illuminating. Among the salient points was that the speakers were overly critical of the global climate models. As described in the May 21 TWTW, except for the Russian Institute of Numerical Mathematics Coupled Model, version 4.0 (INM-CM4), the models reviewed greatly overestimate the warming of the lower atmosphere, below 50,000 feet (15 km). This part of the atmosphere includes where the pronounced greenhouse effect occurs and where the “hot spot” showing an amplification of the greenhouse effect should occur. Further, it is below the region that is experiencing stratospheric cooling.

A comment asserting that the speakers were overly critical brought up that the mission of the IPCC was to estimate human influences on surface temperatures, and the modelers were trying to accomplish that mission. Herein is a critical issue. In its 2014 Synthesis Report: Summary for Policymakers, the IPCC does not discuss these limitations. It does discuss surface temperature change from 1951 to 2010, but the data are sparse (far from comprehensive), and the data is subject to many influences other than greenhouse gases, which the IPCC blames for global warming/climate change.

The IPCC gives no credible rationale for ignoring atmospheric temperature data, which are far more comprehensive, and measure where the greenhouse effect occurs. Yet, the UN is pushing to control greenhouse gas emissions while ignoring direct measurements of the effect of greenhouse gases – even though the data is publicly available! See link under Defending the Orthodoxy.


The Witch Hunt: The public battles between those who wish to investigate skeptics about the findings of the IPCC and the subjects of the investigations who claim they are defending the civil rights, namely free speech, continue. Some Republican senators on the Judiciary Committee have written to Attorney General Loretta Lynch to demand the US Department of Justice stop “its ongoing use of the law enforcement resources to stifle private debate on one of the most controversial public issues of our time – climate change.” The Justice Department has referred the matter to the FBI, which is subordinate to it.

One of the members of the Judiciary Committee is Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), who called for the investigation. One can wonder if Senator Whitehouse realizes that the global warming fear is based on inferior surface data, that in a fiduciary capacity, could be called substandard or sub-prime? See links under Suppressing Scientific Inquiry – The Witch Hunt – Push-Back


Runaway Venus: A difficult myth often faced by skeptics is the claim that the planet Venus is an example of a runaway greenhouse effect, even though the atmospheric pressure at the surface of Venus is more than 90 times that of the earth. Often, people do not understand the influence of pressure on temperatures as described by the ideal gas law. In discussing Scientism, Willie Soon and Istvan Marko bring up excellent comments by physicist Will Happer on the differences between Venus and the Earth. To make one point, Happer uses the analogy of a diesel engine. Unlike a gasoline engine, a diesel engine does not require a spark plug or an ignition system.

In a normal gasoline engine, after the fuel-air mixture is compressed to 6 to 10 atmospheres, a spark ignites the mixture. In a diesel engine the compression is far greater, between 14 to 23 atmospheres. The compression heats the air sufficiently to ignite the fuel when it is injected into it. Depending on the fuel, it may require a temperature of 210 to 260ºC (410 to 500ºF). At over 90 atmospheres, no wonder Venus surface is hot. See link under Questioning the Orthodoxy.


Wind Speeds: A blog post discussing the decision by the US Department of Energy to withdraw $40 million in funding of the Virginia Offshore Wind Technology Advancement Project (VOWTAP) mentioned that the utility, Dominion Virginia Power, had hoped to build wind turbines capable of withstanding Category 3 hurricanes winds, which are considerably stronger than the winds for which the wind farms in Europe are designed.

According to the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale, Category 3 storms have wind speeds of 111-129 mph (178-208km/h) and are not infrequent off the coast of Virginia. Yet, in the discussion of Offshore Wind Energy, by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, US Department of Interior, there were many studies of environmental effects of off-shore electricity generation but no studies on the ability of off-shore wind farms to handle moderate to severe hurricanes. See links under Alternative, Green (“Clean”) Solar and Wind


Energy Return on Energy Invested: Euan Mearns has a straightforward discussion on Energy Return on Energy Invested (ERoEI or EROI), which is an estimate of the efficiency of any energy gathering or generating system. The concept came from ecology but can be applied to proposed systems of gathering or generating energy, particularly electricity. Traditional systems, such as hydropower, nuclear, and fossil fuels, are quite efficient. But with many other different types of energy schemes, estimates of their efficiency becomes important. See links under Energy Issues – Non-US


Number of the Week: Productivity of less than 1%. Much was made over the announcement on May 25 that in 2015 more people are employed in US solar energy than in oil and natural gas extraction. Writing in Watts Up With That?, David Middleton uses reports from Bloomberg, BP Statistical Review of World Energy June 2015, and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics to analyze the employment in units of “millions of tonnes of oil equivalent” (MTOE) of energy produced. He uses 2014 data which is more complete than 2015 data. His conclusion is that in MTOEs, the average worker in the solar industry is less than 1% as productive as the average oil and gas employee.



California’s Cap-and-Trade Bubble

The carbon-credit market sputters, as it also has in Europe.

Editorial, WSJ, May 30, 2016


The editorial states: “When carbon cap and trade flopped in Europe, liberals blamed design flaws and hailed California’s embryonic program as a better regulatory model. But cap and tax is struggling in the Golden State too.

“A mere 2% of the carbon emissions credits that the California Air Resources Board (CARB) put up for auction in May were sold. The quarterly auction raised only $10 million of the $500 million that CARB projected. That’s awful news for Democrats in Sacramento who planned to spend the windfall on high-speed rail, housing and electric-car subsidies.

“Each year, CARB ratchets down the statewide emissions cap. Most energy-intensive businesses including refiners, manufacturers and fuel suppliers must cut their carbon output or buy credits for exceeding the cap.

“In 2005 the European Union launched its Emissions Trading System, which the Obama Administration and even some Republicans hoped to copy before Rust Belt Democrats revolted. Europe’s cap-and-trade bubble has since burst as sluggish economic growth and heavily subsidized renewables have produced a glut of credits. By 2013 the roughly €30 price per ton that was putatively needed to reduce use of coal had plummeted to a few euros. Politicians have been reluctant to withdraw credits to prop up the price because they don’t want to handicap struggling businesses. Regulatory uncertainty has amplified price fluctuations.

“As Europe went, so heads California. CARB’s auctions kicked off in 2012 with robust demand and have raised nearly $5 billion. But demand has shrunk this year amid regulatory and legal risks. The California Chamber of Commerce has challenged the auctions as an illegal tax that CARB imposed without the constitutionally required two-thirds vote of the legislature.

“Cap-and-trade revenues are supposed to fund only projects that reduce emissions, and the state Legislative Analyst’s Office has questioned whether the funding recipients are doing so. For instance, the bullet train will release more carbon over the next three decades.

“The legislature will likely also have to reauthorize cap and trade beyond its 2020 expiration date, and many Democrats will want changes. In 2014, 16 Assembly Democrats exhorted CARB to exempt transportation fuels. CARB estimates that cap and trade increases the price of gasoline by about 12 cents per gallon.

“While a Sacramento superior court has upheld the program, an appellate court last month appeared more skeptical. Traders who hoped to flip allowances at a higher price have since been offloading credits and undercutting CARB’s auction floor.

In 2014 then Senate President Darrell Steinberg warned that cap and trade was ‘asking the trading market to enter directly into the energy segment again and that brings back bad memories’ of rolling blackouts and electricity price spikes last decade. Reading Europe’s tarot cards, he told the Los Angeles Times that ‘this is an experiment that is yet unproven.’

CARB says this spring’s auction bust is no big deal and regulators can withhold credits until the price rises. Unlike their European counterparts, California’s climate crusaders don’t seem to care if their businesses and consumers suffer.



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