Brought to You by www.SEPP.org
By Ken Haapala, President Science and Environmental Policy Project
TWTW: Due to other commitments requiring refraining from public comments that may be misconstrued as suggesting policy, this TWTW will be short and comments restrained. Responses to correspondence will be limited. Thank you.
Appropriate Science? Senator Sheldon Whitehouse and Representative Raul Grijalva have written to President Trump objecting to Ken Haapala’s unpaid, temporary position on the Department of Commerce transition, landing team. They correctly state Haapala has no advanced degree in natural sciences. Afterwards, the letter contains numerous errors, such as Haapala “has made a career out of denying the science behind climate change.”
Born in Massachusetts, immediately north of Senator Whitehouse’s home state of Rhode Island, Haapala learned in elementary school that many of the geographic features of New England and the northern US were formed by ice sheets and the subsequent melt. The last ice sheets began melting about 18,000 to 20,000 years ago, raising sea levels by about 120 meters (400 feet), as discussed in last week’s TWTW. Certain maps show deep canyons cut in the eastern continental shelf by rivers such as the St. Lawrence and the Hudson.
These ice sheets created numerous lakes such as the Great Lakes, Finger Lakes, etc. in the northern US. There are few such natural lakes in the southern US. Also, evidence of scouring of bedrock by glaciers can be found in Central Park in Manhattan.
When teaching economics at Arizona State University, in Representative Grijalva’s home state, Haapala observed the impact of water vapor, the major greenhouse gas, on climate. The largely uninhabited parts of the Sonoran Desert were hotter during the day, but cooled more rapidly at night than areas in Southeastern US of similar latitude and elevation, during the same months.
Also, areas with extensive irrigation or urbanization cool much more slowly at night than rural areas without irrigation, showing a human influence on climate. Evidence of changing climate and its causes has long fascinated Haapala.
When engaged under federal contract to review the US energy models, particularly the natural gas model, Haapala became disturbed by the lack of proper testing of the numerical models – so called “state-of-the-art” computer models. Although many of the studies he reviewed were impressive, Haapala reported major issues with the models, and why they were unsuitable for short-tern prediction and not useful for long-term policy. The report was largely ignored. The conventional thinking in Washington at the time was that the world would run out of oil around the end of the 20th century. Policies based on these models continue to cost taxpayers, without benefits.
Messrs. Whitehead and Grijalva misstate that “SEPP is a project of the Heartland Institute”. It is not. SEPP is its own entity formed in 1990 by distinguished scientists such as S. Fred Singer and Fredrick Seitz. It is funded by private contributions, not by companies in energy, chemicals, or tobacco industries, as falsely stated in the Washington Post. When Haapala joined SEPP, he resigned as a long-time member of the board of the oldest science society formed in Washington, because he knew he would be subject to political attacks and did not wish to have these attacks reflect on that organization. Daring to confront conventional thinking has its own responsibilities and penalties.
A great influence on Haapala’s willingness to question conventional thinking are the writings of Bertrand Russell, a British philosopher and mathematician. With no advanced degree in natural sciences, Russell wrote very clearly on many scientific issues of the day. As an objector to World War I, Russell was convicted under “The Defense of the Realm Act”. For that reason, he was dismissed from his position at Trinity College, Cambridge. He was jailed for speaking out against British efforts to entice the US to join the War. One of Russell’s major objections to Britain’s entry into the War was that the treaties and agreements used to justify Britain’s entry were not publicly discussed by the legislature, the Parliament. Is this similar with the U.S. involvement in Paris Agreement to limit CO2 emissions?
In 1940, Russell’s appointment to City College of New York was thwarted by legal action. Due to his writings on religion and morals, a New York court found him “morally unfit” to teach – mathematics and logic? Intolerance of those who disagree with conventional thinking is not limited by political party or ideology. See links under Suppressing Scientific Inquiry.
Quote of the Week. Science is a way of thinking much more than it is a body of knowledge. – Carl Sagan
Number of the Week: Less than 40%
Arctic Refreeze: In January, Arctic sea ice is expanding rapidly. The Siberian Times reports that two Russian icebreakers, the Kapitan Dranitsyn and Admiral Makarov, are “marooned” for the remainder of the winter – until May or early June. It may be premature to book a winter pleasure cruise of the Arctic. See links under Changing Cryosphere – Land / Sea Ice.
Hurricane Activity: The web site, CO2 Science, reviewed an interesting paper by Mexican scientists on hurricane activity in the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea. These scientists developed a chart estimating hurricane activity from 1749 to 2012. Based on their chart, the number of hurricanes varies annually, with a sharp peak about 1840 with 13 hurricanes. However, the general trend is a decline in frequency. The researchers attribute the general decline to an increase in sunspot activity. See links under Review of Recent Scientific Articles by CO2 Science.
Attributing Blame? Writing in Energy Matters, Roger Andrews reports an interesting analysis performed for the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The US is a party to the UNFCCC.
The analysis was performed by an ad-hoc group for modelling and assessment of contributions of climate change (MATCH) to evaluate a proposal by Brazil. The report gives a pie chart of an estimate of temperature increases from 1890 to 2000 based on estimates of greenhouse gas emissions (CO2, CH4, and N2O). [Assuming greenhouse gas emissions are the cause.] Andrews writes:
“Assuming that the sum of the contributions from the USA, OECD Europe, Oceania (Australia and New Zealand), Japan and Canada represents the warming contribution of the developed countries we find that these countries were responsible for only 41% of the global temperature increase between 1890 and 2000. The remaining 59% was caused by emissions from Latin America, Africa, the Middle East and Asia less Japan, which with the exception of Singapore and arguably South Korea include all the world’s developing countries, along with the Former Soviet Union and East European countries, which at the time had nowhere near reached developed country income levels and mostly still haven’t.”
See links under Questioning the Orthodoxy.
Number of the Week: Less than 40%. Roger Andrews updates the 2000 estimates of possible temperature rise from greenhouse gas emissions and concludes that if the analysis is correct, “developed countries have caused less than 40% of the global warming to date and the developing countries more than 60%.” Then, why are developed countries expected to make the bulk of the contributions to the Green Climate Fund run by the UNFCCC? The UNFCCC goal is $100 Billion per year. See links under Questioning the Orthodoxy.
1. Trump Administration Aims to Reverse Obama’s Climate Agenda
Anticipated actions would come on top of other commitments to repeal environmental regulations issued over past eight years
By Amy Harder, WSJ, Jan 22, 2017
SUMMARY: The reporter states: “The Trump administration is looking to take action within days to reverse former President Barack Obama’s climate agenda and show its commitment to promoting fossil-fuel infrastructure, according to people familiar with the plan.
“The anticipated actions would come on top of other commitments President Donald Trump has made to repeal a raft of environmental regulations issued by Mr. Obama over the past eight years, especially a high-profile measure cutting carbon emissions from power plants and a water-pollution rule. Presidential directives ordering the Environmental Protection Agency, which issued both regulations, to begin work to repeal them are likely within days, although the actual repeal could take years.
“The additional moves include actions to advance the Keystone XL oil pipeline and a push to remove greenhouse-gas emissions as an element of environmental reviews of new projects.”
However, the timing and method of repealing policy items has not been set.
Also: “The Trump administration also is looking to squash guidance the White House issued last August on climate change and is weighing suspension of a metric, called the social cost of carbon, that seeks to incorporate the monetary impact of climate change into government actions.
“That guidance, which has no legal impact, calls on federal agencies to consider greenhouse-gas emissions as part of regular reviews required under the National Environmental Policy Act, a federal law that lays out the environmental reviews required for a host of different infrastructure projects, including pipelines.
Eliminating the guidance and the metric is a way for Mr. Trump to show he is working to promote American energy and infrastructure, a staple of his campaign rhetoric, according to people close to the administration.”
2. No More Keystone Capers
Trump liberates two pipelines but could kill them with new demands.
Editorial, WSJ, Jan 24, 201
SUMMARY: After praising Trump for executive orders for reviving the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines, the editorial states:
“Keystone is predicted to spin off 20,000 construction and manufacturing jobs, many of them to be filled by union workers, and add $3 billion to GDP. The pipeline could move 830,000 barrels a day along the route from Alberta to Nebraska; up to 100,000 would come from North Dakota, where a glut of crude has to travel by rail to reach refineries built to process it. The efficiencies will ripple across the oil and gas industry.
“The Keystone order directs the State Department to make a recommendation within 60 days for a prompt approval, though environmental groups will file lawsuits in every eligible jurisdiction. The objections are specious: President Obama’s State Department concluded on several occasions that Keystone would have no meaningful effect on climate or emissions. Moving oil by pipeline emits less carbon and is safer than trains.
“As for Dakota Access, you may have noticed the months-long media rally around Standing Rock Sioux protests. The tribe claims the pipeline will harm its land and water, but this is fake news: Dakota Access does not run beneath the reservation. The route, which was altered 140 times in North Dakota to protect cultural resources, cuts along private land where other pipelines run. The tribe lost in federal court but has vowed to fight President Trump’s order.
“One danger here is President Trump’s campaign promise to “renegotiate some of the terms” that included bromides about how “we’ll build our own pipes, like we used to in the old days.” He floated royalty payments during the campaign, and a separate order on Tuesday directed the Commerce Department to develop a plan to use U.S. steel and iron in all new pipelines. TransCanada has said in past months that it’s “fully committed” to Keystone XL, but the company may not be eager for another politician to direct its investment decisions.
“White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said Mr. Trump is looking to ensure taxpayers the best possible deal. Reminder: Taxpayers pay nothing. The State Department estimated that when Keystone is finished and pumping oil, local governments will collect more than $55 million a year in property taxes. About 70% of the resulting refined products from Keystone would stay in the U.S., which will push down gas prices as another benefit, according to a study from IHS. That already sounds like a good deal.
“Meanwhile on the livefeed for “The Resistance,” Senate Democrats are proposing a trillion dollars in direct federal spending on public works—and no doubt hoping to persuade President Trump to go along and divide the GOP. But Republicans in Congress should not agree to a dollar of new such spending without more streamlining in permitting.
“Private investment projects like Keystone and Dakota Access are the superior route to creating jobs and boosting incomes, which President Trump has long said is his first priority. Mr. Trump’s best move would be to ditch his floated Keystone conditions and enjoy taking credit for the resulting economic growth. He could even attend the next ground-breaking ceremony.”