Weekly Climate and Energy News Roundup #245

The Week That Was: October 22, 2016 – Brought to You by www.SEPP.org

By Ken Haapala, President, Science and Environmental Policy Project

Limits of Influence of CO2 – Laboratory Evidence: In a 2015 interview regarding the position of Pope Frances on climate change, physicist Tom Sheahen stated why he believes that human emissions of Carbon Dioxide (CO2) are not a major contributor to global warming/climate change.

“My career includes time at the National Bureau of Standards (now the National Institute for Standards and Technology) where I actually measured infrared absorption by CO2. I may have been the last person ever to do so because the results are exactly what had been found about a century ago. In 100 meters, the most important band of CO2 absorbs completely; we call that ‘saturation.In the atmosphere, absorption by CO2 was over 90 percent saturated in pre-industrial times and the increase in atmospheric CO2 from 300 to 400 parts per million adds only about 1 percent to 2 percent absorption. [Concentrations are now about 400 parts per million.] All that does is shift the altitude slightly from which water vapor (which is by far the dominant greenhouse gas) radiates infrared energy away into space. The empirical evidence today (worldwide satellite measurements) clearly shows that despite increasing CO2, earth’s average temperature is not increasing rapidly.” [Boldface added].

“As for computer models, I have done a fair amount of computer modeling and I know that there are always parameters that you don’t know precisely, so you guess at them and hope they don’t mess up the calculation seriously. But every computer model has such deficient assumptions hidden within it, and you don’t know for sure that they won’t matter. Richard Feynman phrased it perfectly a half-century ago: ‘No matter how smart you are or how good your theory is, if it doesn’t agree with observation, it’s wrong!’ A computer model that is unable to ‘predict’ the past is surely not to be trusted to predict the future.”

As an example of the research, a link to a 1955 journal article discussing the influence of CO2 on temperatures is provided under Challenging the Orthodoxy. Please note that Tom Sheahen is now the Vice President of SEPP.

Why the assessment “Report of an Ad Hoc Study Group on Carbon Dioxide and Climate July 23-27, 1979)”, the Charney Report, failed to discuss the laboratory results from one of the nation’s premier research laboratories is unknown. Instead, the Charney Report relied on modeling efforts to state:

“When it is assumed that the CO2 content of the atmosphere is doubled and statistical thermal equilibrium is achieved, the more realistic of the modeling efforts predict a global surface warming of between 2ºC and 3.5º with greater increases at high latitudes. “

After calling for faster computers, the report states:

“It is significant, however, that none of the model calculations predicts negligible warming.

The primary effect of an increase of CO2 is to cause more absorption of thermal radiation from the earth’s surface and thus to increase air temperature in the troposphere. A strong positive feedback mechanism is the accompanying increase of moisture, [water vapor], which is an even more powerful absorber of terrestrial radiation. We have examined with care all known negative feedback mechanisms, such as increase in low or middle cloud amount, and have concluded that the oversimplifications and inaccuracies in the models are not likely to have vitiated the principal conclusion that there will be appreciable warming. The known negative feedback mechanisms can reduce the warming, but they do not appear to be so strong as the positive moisture feedback. We estimate the most probable global warming for a doubling of CO2 to be near 3ºC with a probable error of ±1.5ºC.”

With over 35 years of observations the “strong positive feedback mechanism” – the so-called “hot spot” – cannot be found and the increase of air temperature in the troposphere is negligible. What little increase found may be attributed to changing ocean patterns called the El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) – first observed in the 1700s. See links under Challenging the Orthodoxy and Defending the Orthodoxy.


Quote of the Week. “I learned very early the difference between knowing the name of something and knowing something.” ― Richard Feynman


Number of the Week: 88 seconds


Influence of CO2 – Field Evidence: As stated in the NIPCC Reports, (2008 pp. 5 – 8), the strong positive feedback mechanism called for in the Charney Report and later identified as the human fingerprint of global warming in the 1996 Second Assessment Report (SAR or AR-2) of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) cannot be found. It has not been found since, despite use of statistical methods that approach absurdity.

In his February 2016 Testimony, John Christy presented comprehensive tropospheric data since 1979, where the “hot-spot” should occur, showing no hot-spot. Also, Christy submitted the results of 102 IPCC CMIP-5 Climate Model runs for the Global Bulk Atmospheric Temperature. (Surface to 50,000 feet (15,240 meters). (CMIP-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.

Christy found that global climate models overestimate atmospheric warming by 2.5 times over the globe and by 3 times over the tropics

Recently, Wallace, Christy, and D’Aleo presented a peer-reviewed paper, using weather balloon data going back to 1959, showing that with a climate shift (Pacific Decadal Oscillation, (PDO) in 1977, all the warming in the atmosphere can be explained by the El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) index.

Very simply, the warming from carbon dioxide assumed in the Charney Report, based on information from modelers, cannot be found in the laboratory and cannot be found in the field. It is past time for the National Academies of Sciences and the National Research Council to re-visit the Charney Report, and all subsequent research based on its finding. This revisit should include the wealth of empirical atmospheric data that has been compiled by satellites and weather balloons since 1979, that was not available when the Charney Report was written.

A similar revisit is timely for all scientific organizations that accept the findings of the Charney Report, or its adherents.

As stated by Hal Doiron who modeled the Apollo lunar lander:

“In my NASA experience, we were not allowed to use un-validated models for critical design or operational decisions involving human safety. The available data show that we do not have a rapidly developing climate problem requiring swift, corrective action.”

See links under Challenging the Orthodoxy – NIPCC and Challenging the Orthodoxy.


Rear-Guard Action? As stated above, John Christy found that global climate models overestimate atmospheric warming by 2.5 times over the globe and by 3 times over the tropics. The discoverer of the yet to-be-found distinct human fingerprint, Benjamin Santer, joined others, to write a paper comparing climate models with their data – a lesser-known, a not-vetted, satellite dataset, while ignoring radiosonde data from weather balloons. They found the model warming bias was only 1.7 times too high! On his web site, Roy Spencer discusses these findings.

The co-authors of the Santer report include Susan Solomon, lead author of IPCC AR-4 (2007), researchers with Remote Sensing Systems (RSS) who have heavily, largely unsuccessfully, criticized the work of Christy and Spencer in the past (their main criticism, orbital decay, quickly adopted), and researchers with the Department of Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Washington, who criticize tropospheric data because there is a cooling, unexplained, of the stratosphere, which is above the troposphere.

In his February 2016 report, Christy focused on data from the troposphere – surface to 50,000 feet (15,240 meters). What is happening in the stratosphere is moot to the issue. See links under Challenging the Orthodoxy.


Greening World: Author, now member of the House of Lords, Matt Ridley gave a lecture to the Royal Society which well summarized the benefits of carbon dioxide enrichment of the atmosphere as compared with the unsubstantiated global warming from carbon dioxide.

On his web site, Roy Spencer presented the latest harvests of corn, soybeans, and wheat in the US. If carbon dioxide caused global warming is destroying agriculture, the US corn belt has yet to realize it. The corn stretches roughly from Ohio west to eastern Nebraska; and from north Texas to Minnesota. See links under Social Benefits of Carbon


Carbon Tax: The Cato Institute published an economic analysis of the frequently proposed tax on carbon dioxide (carbon tax). Some politicians are anxious to tax a gas essential for life on the planet, as we generally recognize it. It will be a tax justified by a politically created fear that has not been empirically demonstrated. See links under Cap-and-Trade and Carbon Taxes.


La Nina Cooling? The US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has brought back the possibility of the current ENSO event ending with a La Niña, a general cooling. Such an event can have major impacts on weather world-wide. Often, an ENSO event ends with a La Niña. Why NOAA dismissed that possibility in 2016-17 remains a mystery.

What will happen to temperatures after the current ENSO remains to be seen. See links under Changing Weather.


Administration’s “Clean Power Plan” – Constitutional Issues: The constitutional arguments involving the Administration’s Power Plan have been transcribed and published. Favorable court decisions are vital to the administration’s hopes of avoiding Congressional review of its plan and its support of the Paris Agreement. The next TWTW will discuss these arguments along with Executive Agreements, which the administration hopes will justify its avoidance of legislative review.


The Black System: On October 19, the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) updated its report on what is now called the Black System – when all the electricity from the grid in the state of South Australia went out on September 28. In land mass, South Australia is about 20 percent larger than the three states generally known as the West Coast of the US and more than twice as large as what the Census Bureau defines as North-East US – from the Maryland-Pennsylvania border to Maine.

South Australia has the largest penetration of wind power in the country. It was shut shut down of power from some of these wind farms on the approach of a line of thunderstorms that began the entire power loss. In some areas, it took two weeks for power to be restored. The event demonstrates the vulnerability to weather events of the system based on major use of wind power, in South Australia averaging 40%. Coal-fired and nuclear power plants have massive built-in inertia, and are far more robust. See links under Questioning Green – Australia.


Additions and Corrections: Posted on the ICECAP web site were comments by Jim Wallace, a co-author of the above referenced ENSO study. These comments were apparently directed to TWTW. There are some minor disagreements about statistical approaches, as expected by researchers trained in different techniques.

The major difference is a view of what the Federal Courts will do, particularly the Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit and the Supreme Court. Based on observations and discussions with attorneys appearing before the Court, TWTW believes the DC Circuit has taken a very biased view in favor of government agencies on issues labeled science. Some agencies, such as the EPA, are taking advantage of this bias. The net result will be highly biased law and a general erosion of government agency standards in matters of science.

On the issue of whether-or-not the courts will overturn the actions of the agencies, Wallace and TWTW may disagree. But, on the key issue, must the agencies be challenged when their science is biased, there is no disagreement. See link under Challenging the Orthodoxy.


Number of the Week: 88 seconds. The above mentioned AEMO report states, in South Australia took 88 seconds from the first wind farm to trip until the entire system went black. Questioning Green – Australia.



1. Appliance Makers Try to Keep Their Cool as Rules Change on Refrigerants

Global deal to phase out HFCs is likely be a boon for makers of less-polluting alternatives already on market

By Andrew Tangel and Ted Mann, WSJ, Oct 16, 2016


SUMMARY: The reporters state:

“A global pact to limit planet-warming emissions is likely to force manufacturers of air conditioners and refrigerators to consider passing the additional cost of alternative coolants to consumers.


Global envoys agreed on Saturday to phase out hydrofluorocarbons from cooling appliances beginning in 2019. Meeting in Rwanda, major emitters including the U.S., China and India agreed to aim for an 80% reduction in their use by 2045.


Alternative coolants exist to power window-unit air conditioners, commercial chillers and household refrigerators, but many are unapproved for use in the U.S. Some are flammable. Manufacturers will have to convince regulators the new compounds are safe before retooling production.


Many companies anticipated that so-called HFCs would eventually be banned. They have collectively spent billions of dollars researching alternatives.”

[SEPP Comment: One can only guess what comes next. Could we just go back to CFCs, now that we know that the ozone hole is not a problem?]


2. Big Oil to Start Spending Again After Two-Year Slump

Major oil companies are beginning to invest in projects as oil prices show signs of recovery

By Sarah Kent and Kevin Baxter, WSJ, Oct 18, 2016


SUMMARY: Based on an “Oil and Money” conference including BP Chief Executive Bob Dudley, the authors state:

“For the past two years, the industry has been racked by oil prices that collapsed to less than $50 a barrel from 2014 highs of $114 a barrel, and then never recovered to those previous highs. Now, with the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries promising a modest output cut and prices generally on the rise, executives and industry leaders say they have a sense of guarded hope as oil prices hover around $50 to $52 a barrel.

Mr. Dudley predicted an oil price of between $50 and $60 a barrel in 2017, compared with prices that have ranged between $28 a barrel and $53 this year. Ali Moshiri, president of African and Latin America Exploration and Production at Chevron Corp., said U.S. shale producers would invest again if prices rise to $60 a barrel.

“The phenomenon of shale oil is real and when prices rise to $60 a barrel you will see the level of active rigs rise. This is inevitable,” Mr. Moshiri said during a panel discussion.

A rising oil price would allow the energy industry to make needed investments, restore some of the tens of thousands of jobs cut in the past two years and stem some of the economic pain rippling through oil-dependent economies from Venezuela to Saudi Arabia.

OPEC, the 14-nation cartel that controls over a third of the world’s crude production, restored some optimism to the embattled oil industry when it agreed last month to cut production by about 1% to 2%. The cuts would, in theory, help draw down a vast oversupply of oil that has flooded world markets and sent prices skittering to decade-lows this year.”


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