By Ken Haapala, President, Science and Environmental Policy Project
The Week That Was: July 8, 2017 – Brought to You by www.SEPP.org,
Quote of the Week. “Whoever is careless with the truth in small matters cannot be trusted with important matters: “– Albert Einstein
Number of the Week: 39%
New Atmospheric Data? Roy Spencer responds to the recent paper by Mears and Wentz, who are principals in Remote Sensing Systems (RSS), competitors with the Earth System Science Center at the University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH). As speculated in last week’s TWTW, this may be part of an effort to discredit John Christy’s effective testimony on Capitol Hill that global climate models greatly overestimate the warming trend of the atmosphere. Spencer states:
“Before I go into the details, let’s keep all of this in perspective. Our globally-averaged trend is now about +0.12 C/decade, while the new RSS trend has increased to about +0.17 C/decade.
“Note these trends are still well below the average climate model trend for LT [Lower Troposphere], which is +0.27 C/decade.” [Boldface was italic in the original.]
What we see is that extending warming trends for a century, the models calculate a century-long trend of 1 degree C above the RSS calculations and 1.5 degrees C above the UAH calculations. The so-called “corrections” of 0.5 degrees C to the RSS data are not that significant when compared with the overestimates of the average of the global climate models.
Among other points, Spencer discusses the different techniques used by the two groups to adjust for the error in the diurnal cycle (daily pattern) in the climate models. UAH uses empirically derived adjustments, RSS uses model derived adjustments. As Spencer states:
“In general, it is difficult for us to follow the chain of diurnal corrections in the new RSS paper. Using a climate model to make the diurnal drift adjustments, but then adjusting those adjustments with empirical satellite data feels somewhat convoluted to us.”
See links under Challenging the Orthodoxy.
Surface Data: For some years, independent meteorologists such as Joseph D’Aleo have noticed a disturbing trend in historic data reported by certain government entities, such as NOAA, Ashville (previously called the National Climatic Data Center, now called the National Centers for Environmental Information). These historic data are used by NOAA, NASA and the Hadley CRU. Hadley CRU is a dataset developed at the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia in England and the Hadley Centre (the UK Met Office). In general, multiple adjustments were made to the historic data that reduced past warm periods. The net effect was to give a greater present day warming trend, than in the past.
For example, in the US, many long-term records were set in the 1930s, but the current, adjusted data does not show that decade as particularly hot, when compared to today. And, the US was the world-wide gold standard for temperature measurements.
A new study by Wallace, D’Aleo, and Idso systematically analyzes the Global Average Surface Temperatures reported by NOAA, NASA, and Hadley CRU. The results are striking. For example, Figure IV-1 shows five different plots of 5-year temperature trends by NASA-GISS (Goddard Institute for Space Studies on Broadway) produced from 1980 to 2015. The period around 1940 became progressively cooler in these plots. Similar adjustments have been made to the other datasets as well as to datasets for specific locations.
The study recognizes that adjustments to surface data may need to be changed, but the overall trend reflected in the changes appears to create a bias in the data. Further, strong cyclical patterns that once appeared are muted. A comprehensive review of the adjustments is in order.
Side note: Some of those who established the standards for US weather stations, which became the world-wide gold standard, were members of the oldest science society of Washington. As a past president of that society, this author finds the tarnishing of that standard particularly disturbing. See links under Challenging the Orthodoxy.
Red Team / Blue Team: In several instances in congressional testimony, John Christy has called for a Red Team/Blue Team approach for addressing the US issues regarding climate science. The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and its followers such as the US Global Change Research Program (USGCRP) are well funded by government. They attribute climate change to primarily human activities, particularly carbon dioxide emissions.
As Christy points out, what is lacking is a well-funded Red Team:
“…[to] look at issues such as natural variability, the failure of climate models and the huge benefits to society from affordable energy, carbon-based and otherwise. I would expect such a team would offer to congress some very different conclusions regarding the human impacts on climate.”
One can liken this approach to the adversarial arguments in a criminal court of law. (CO2 is a criminal?) The reports of the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change were intended to have a Red Team approach. However, the publisher, The Heartland Institute and other groups, do not have the deep, multi-billion-dollar pockets enjoyed by the IPCC, USGCRP, etc.
This idea appears to be gaining attention. In Climate Etc. Judith Curry discusses the idea more fully. We have had decades of spurious claims about the dangers of carbon dioxide, which is essential for life as we generally understand it. Such an approach may help dispel decades of myths such as a 97% consensus, CO2 can be seen from smoke-stacks, etc. It would be important to establish solid rules of evidence, such as unvalidated models are not hard evidence, and to avoid dogmatic participants. See links under Challenging the Orthodoxy and Seeking a Common Ground.
Executive Actions: The Constitution is a practical guide for government, limiting the powers of its branches. From this comes the popular term “checks and balances.” Increasingly, some of the executive actions of the prior administration are being discarded. Since these actions are not law, there is no reason for the current administration to keep them, should it so choose to change them. Increasingly, the Trump administration is reversing executive actions under the Obama administration.
The same can be said for the Paris Accord (Agreement) which the Obama administration sold to the public as an executive action and did not send to the Senate for two-thirds approval, as required by the Constitution for a treaty. The cries of those who expected great sums of money through the Paris agreement, such as Christiana Figueres, formerly Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), are not significant. They knowingly played a game, and lost. As discussed in last week’s TWTW, Ms. Figueres formed an organization expecting up to One Trillion Dollars a year. See Article # 1 and links under After Paris!
Economic Return on Energy Investment: Writing for the Global Warming Policy Forum, Economics Professor Michael Kelly brings up an important concept that many writers on energy issues fail to consider: Economic Return on Energy Investment.
In the US, following the Civil War, fossil fuels such as coal quickly replaced biomass (wood) and muscle power (animal and human). The economy boomed. People found the care and feeding of a steam engine is much easier than the care and feeding of horses. City streets became much cleaner, and boots were no longer needed. What was important was not the number of people employed in a particular energy sector, but the employment the energy sector created in other economic sectors.
Kelly’s Economic Return on Energy Investment is a measure of the productivity of various energy types. He finds that 9% of the global GDP is tied up in energy, yielding a return of about 11:1. For coal and gas power plants, the return is about 50:1. For nuclear power plants it is about 70:1. The low values of traditional biomass, and other external issues bring the global value down to 11:1.
Applying this analysis to solar photovoltaics, he finds a return of less than 4:1; for wind power, a return of less than 8:1. In brief, there is not much opportunity for solar and wind to lift the third world to modern European standards. See links under Questioning European Green.
Offshore Wind: Often, wind promoters claim offshore wind is reliable, even though it is becoming obvious that onshore wind is not. Writing in Energy Matters, Roger Andrews examines the validity of this claim for the world’s wind nation, Denmark, and finds it wanting – without considering added costs of salt water corrosion.
“Previous Energy Matters posts that highlight the difficulties of integrating intermittent wind power with the grid have been based dominantly on onshore wind data, but claims that offshore wind is significantly less erratic and will therefore be much easier to integrate with the grid have not been checked. This post reviews the question of whether it will. It finds that offshore wind is indeed less erratic than onshore wind but still nowhere near consistent enough to do away with the need for storage or conventional backup generation.”
Finding solid data is always a major problem for such studies, but he succeeds in finding a database for Denmark that separates onshore and offshore production. The analysis covers three years, 2014 to 2016. A small country, Denmark is ringed with offshore wind farms on three sides.
Rogers finds that offshore wind has a capacity factor of 43% as compared with onshore wind of 25%; but, also, that when wind dies onshore it does so offshore as well. Back-up is needed for both. Given that offshore wind costs about twice that of onshore, it is not much of a bargain. See links under Alternative, Green (“Clean”) Solar and Wind.
Number of the Week: 39%: The island of El Hierro in the Canary Islands was to be a show-case of 100% wind power for electricity. Excess electricity would be used for pumped hydro storage, to be used when the wind failed to meet demand. After two full years of operation, the system provided 39.1% of the electricity needed. The balance came from diesel generators. The reservoirs are inadequate for the hydro component. But the circus continues with plans for wind supplying a higher percentage of total energy needs. Have those in the Pentagon who bragged about weather-dependent wind power helping the nation’s energy security heard of this island? See link under Alternative, Green (“Clean”) Solar and Wind.
1. Pruitt’s Clean Water Break
Obama’s legacy of rule by decree is rapidly being undone.
Editorial, WSJ, July 2, 2017
The editorial states:
“President Trump is having a hard time getting legislation through Congress, but his Administration is moving fast to roll back Barack Obama’s pen- and-a-phone lawmaking. The latest example, which barely registered in the press, is the Environmental Protection Agency’s decision last week to rescind the unilateral rewrite of the Clean Water Act.
“The Obama EPA in 2015 redefined “waters of the United States” under the Clean Water Act to include any land with a “significant nexus” to a navigable waterway. Several arbitrary thresholds were used to determine significance, such as land within a 100-year floodplain and 1,500 feet of the high-water mark of waters under government jurisdiction. The rule extended the government’s writ to prairie potholes, vernal pools and backyard creeks.
“Thirty-one states sued the feds for violating the Administrative Procedure Act, and the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals enjoined the rule nationwide. Now Administrator Scott Pruitt is putting the rule on ice while the EPA works up a replacement. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy muddied the waters with his controlling opinion in the 2006 Rapanos v. U.S. case that conceived the new “significant nexus” standard, which the Obama EPA used as a pretext to pursue its water land grab.
Side comment: Piles of wet leaves have been arbitrarily been considered proof of “waters of the United States”, leaving the landowner with no recourse but seeking relief by expensive litigation.
“Mr. Pruitt said the EPA will propose a new rule ‘in accordance with Supreme Court decisions, agency guidance, and longstanding practice’ that would ‘return power to the states and provide regulatory certainty.’ Consider it another lesson in the limits of pen-and-phone rule by decree.”