Weekly Climate and Energy News Roundup #277

The Week That Was: July 15, 2017 Brought to You by www.SEPP.org

By Ken Haapala, President, The Science and Environmental Policy Project

Models v. Atmospheric Temperatures: Roy Spencer has further comments regarding the recalculated atmospheric temperatures recently produced 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). Spencer points out that despite claims in the press, the new (more warming) RSS dataset does not resolve the discrepancy between observed temperature trends in the lower troposphere.

It is in the lower troposphere that greenhouse gas warming occurs. Discussions about surface warming or deep ocean warming are secondary to the issue: are greenhouse gases causing dangerous global warming? According to the greenhouse gas theory, and reports by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), and its followers, this warming trend is to be most pronounced over the tropics (roughly 20 degrees South and North of the Equator. As Spencer writes “Even the New RSS Satellite Dataset Says the Models are Wrong.”

The new lower troposphere dataset “(Version 4, compared to Version 3.3) didn’t really change in the tropics.” Spencer produces a chart demonstrating how wrong the models are. See links under Challenging the Orthodoxy.


Quote of the Week. “Science is a beautiful gift to humanity; we should not distort it.”– A.P.J. Abdul Kalam


Number of the Week: 96% since 1750


Atmospheric Temperature Calculations: On her web site, Jo Nova gives five succinct reasons why UAH data is superior to RSS data. Briefly, they are:

· UAH satellite data is validated by measurements from weather balloons, RSS data is not.

· In the latest adjustments UAH uses empirical data to adjust data affected by diurnal drift. RSS uses model estimates. (Note: adjusting empirical data with model estimates does not produce empirical data, but model estimates thereof.)

· Two satellites disagree with each other (NOAA-14 and 15). The UAH team removed the one they think is incorrect. RSS keeps both inconsistent measurements.

· RSS keeps the warming error before 2002, probably caused by diurnal drift, but fixes the error after then. The effect is a steeper overall warming trend.

· UAH uses a more advanced method with three satellite channels. RSS uses the original method Roy Spencer and John Christy developed with only one channel, but three angles.

See links under Challenging the Orthodoxy


G-20: The meeting of the Group of Twenty, government leaders and bank governors from 20 major economies, was predicted by some in the press to be a thrashing of Donald Trump and his announcement that the US will withdraw from Paris Accord. It ended with a whimper.

Perhaps the writers of The American Interest expressed the importance of the meeting and its final communique best. After repeating two paragraphs from the “Final Communiqué” the writers state:

“Take note of the stark contrast in the language used in the official statement between the U.S.-authored first paragraph and the “Paris”-focused second. Whatever one’s priors [prior beliefs] are on how climate change is best addressed, it’s difficult not to immediately recall George Orwell’s seminal essay “Politics and the English Language”—on how bad political writing is (at minimum) a tell [a signal] for very lazy thinking.

“The first paragraph is written in crystal clear, easy to understand prose. The United States, which in contrast to Europe is actually succeeding in cutting its own emissions, is doing so by bringing comparatively clean natural gas to market through fracking. It is looking to leverage this bonanza to help provide energy security to its allies. And insofar as it does this by providing them with natural gas, it will be helping wean them off of dirty coal as well, thereby further lowering global emissions.

“The second paragraph is difficult to understand—all empty aspirations and limp hectoring swimming in a soup of acronyms and allusions to reports and annexes. Its only clear call to action is for developed countries to contribute money to the so-called Green Climate Fund—an effort that to date has fallen far short of expectations, and that President Trump has (correctly) criticized as an ill-conceived slush fund. Now go back and read the final sentence: “…full implementation in accordance with the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities, in the light of different national circumstances…” Seriously, you can’t make this stuff up.

“The FT [Financial Times] reported that the phrase in the first paragraph, about helping other countries access and use ‘fossil fuels more cleanly and efficiently’, was particularly contentious. That should tell you all you need to know about how ideological and deranged environmental politics has become.”

See links under Questioning the Orthodoxy.


Paris: In or Out? After the G-20 meeting concluded, President Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey stated that the Parliament of Turkey may not approve the Paris Accord. Apparently, it hinges on whether Turkey as classified an industrial country. If it is, it may have to pay into the Green Climate Fund; if it is not, it may receive money from the Fund. The success of the Paris Accord may depend on the flow of cash. Many of the reports praising the 194-nation agreement fail to mention that direction and volume of cash flow is an important component.

How does this bode for the $100 Billion per year expected to flow into the Green Climate Fund? Or the $1 Trillion per year to Mission 2020, set up by Christiana Figueres, the former executive secretary of the UN Framework Convention for Climate Change (UNFCCC), under which the Paris Accord was negotiated. It would be interesting to view many of the side-deals reached away from the public eye. See links under After Paris!


Limiting Plant Growth: CO2 Science has several reviews of informative articles discussing the nutrients which limit the growth of plants. According to the writers the major limiting factors, in addition to food and water, are: 1) carbon [dioxide]; 2) nitrogen; and 3) phosphorus.

“Under current ambient conditions, plant growth and development are typically carbon-limited, which is why plants generally exhibit increased growth and biomass production in response to atmospheric CO2 enrichment. Next to carbon, nitrogen is usually the second most limiting nutrient to plant growth, followed by phosphorus (P). Thus, although it is a less significant component of plant tissues than carbon and nitrogen, phosphorus is still required for successful life-cycle completion in many plant species; and, therefore, it is prudent to investigate aspects of plant phosphorus acquisition and biomass production in response to atmospheric CO2 enrichment when phosphorus concentrations in soils are less than optimal.”

The web site has cataloged many studies that show carbon dioxide enrichment fosters more efficient use of water and other essential nutrients. [Note: the most widely used industrial method for nitrogen fixing is the Haber process, discovered in 1909.] See links under Review of Recent Scientific Articles by CO2 Science.


The Web: Writing in Energy Matters, energy expert Paul-Frederik Bach of Denmark illustrates the highly complex system of transmitting electricity in Europe. P-F Bach spent years working with grid issues in the Danish system, with its many interconnects, including integrating wind power.

TWTW has frequently discussed the difficulties that occur when weather-dependent wind power fails to generate the expected electricity. P-F Bach discusses in some detail the other side of wind generation – what to do with surplus electricity. The planner’s dream that consumption (demand) can be rapidly adjusted is not materializing. Until consumption (demand) can be rapidly adjusted, he sees future problems in surplus electricity, declining market prices to producers for the surplus and congested grids. These will lead to increasing prices to consumers and / or curtailment of renewable sources. See links under Alternative, Green (“Clean”) Solar and Wind


The Slow Roll: By most standards the Trump administration has been very slow in filling important government positions reserved for political appointees. The pre-election transition team was perhaps one-eighth the size of the Hillary Clinton team. After the election, many of the members of the Trump team left. The vetting process for filling positions has been very slow.

This has been complicated by political games in the Senate for reviewing appointees, that is more fitting of a school yard than a serious deliberative body of mature adults. As a result, it will be months before the policies of the administration are implemented in many agencies. One can see the effects of the slow-roll in various agency releases.

For example, a recent press release from part of NOAA on greenhouse gases stated:

“These five primary greenhouse gases account for about 96 percent of the increased climate warming influence since 1750. Fifteen secondary greenhouse gases also tracked by the AGGI [Annual Greenhouse Gas Index] account for the remaining 4 percent.”

The five greenhouses gases listed are “carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, and two chlorofluorocarbons that were banned by the Montreal Protocol…” Thus, two of the gases that account for 96% of the climate warming since 1750 did not exist until the late 19th century.

By far, the dominant listed gas is carbon dioxide. Using this statement, someone familiar with climate history can powerfully argue that: “According to NOAA, carbon dioxide alone has raised the living standards of most people living in the temperate zones from subsistence agriculture when famine and despair were one poor harvest away – even without the benefits of fossil fuels.” This conclusion may not be what the author of the press release intended. See Article # 3 and links under Defending the Orthodoxy.


Biological Annihilation: In 1968, Paul Ehrlich’s “Population Bomb” came out, predicting mass starvation due to over population. Many of those familiar with international demographics at the time realized that the prediction had a significant error. Generally, countries with increasing wealth were experiencing declining female fertility rates. The decline in birth rates was occurring in about one generation. There are exceptions, such as in Arab states.

Ehrlich received great honors and is credited with promoting birth control world-wide, including forced sterilization. Some later works on the overpopulation and declining productivity of agriculture were co-written by John Holdren. Of course, Holdren was President Obama’s scientific advisor. Just one graph of US yields of corn for grain presented by Joseph D’Aleo demonstrates how very wrong they were.

Ron Bailey is a noted critic of the works of Ehrlich and writes a review of Ehrlich’s latest work. See links Challenging the Orthodoxy – NIPCC, Expanding the Orthodoxy, and Agriculture Issues & Fear of Famine.


Hyperbole: It is mid-July and another typical summer for global warming predictions: Past predictions include: islands are drowning, fish are shrinking, and mountains are moving. The problem with climate science is that the rigorous work is buried in the IPCC reports and covered by non-science and hyperbole. See links under Below the Bottom Line.


Number of the Week: 96% since 1750. The statement in the NOAA report that: “These five primary greenhouse gases account for about 96 percent of the increased climate warming influence since 1750…” should not be forgotten.



1. U.S. Boost to Oil Drilling Will Barely Dent Russia’s Energy Monolith

With global oil and gas markets glutted, the Trump administration’s moves to boost U.S. drilling and exports can play only a marginal role

By Georgi Kantchev and Lynn Cook, WSJ, July 13, 2017


Commenting on Mr. Trump’s announcement that his administration will promote oil and gas development and exports of such the reporters write:

“While a boom in U.S. oil-and-gas production is keeping a lid on prices and spurring exports, it’s largely a function of market factors far from Washington’s control. Because global oil and gas markets are already glutted, moves by the Trump administration to boost drilling and exports can only play a marginal role.

“’Easing regulation can help output on the margins, but markets will dwarf policy in determining the outlook for U.S. domestic energy production and exports,’” said Jason Bordoff, director of the Center on Global Energy Policy at Columbia University and a former energy official in the Obama administration.

“Russia dominates the European natural-gas market, and many on the Continent remember a time several years ago when Mr. Putin threatened to cut off countries, including Poland and Germany. It’s a tall order to compete head to head with Russia, which operates an extensive network of pipelines into Europe.”

“In the first four months of 2017, U.S. LNG exports, at 198 billion cubic feet, were nearly eight times what they were in the same period last year, according to the latest federal data.

“But that remains a fraction of the market. For European buyers, the biggest impact has been the ability to use LNG as leverage to get better prices on Russian gas. Before Lithuania’s first LNG import terminal opened in 2014, state-controlled PAO Gazprom lowered gas prices to the country by 20%. Poland last month became the first former Soviet bloc country to receive a U.S. gas cargo, while Lithuania recently signed a deal with Cheniere Energy Inc. to receive gas exports this summer from Louisiana. Other countries in the region are building infrastructure to handle more LNG imports.

“That has spurred Moscow to lower prices to compete and to try to develop its own LNG facilities. Russia wants to build another large gas pipeline into Europe, a project opposed by Washington and Brussels.

“Russia has become very flexible in the way they are marketing their gas as they compete with LNG,” said Ira Joseph, head of gas and power analytics at S&P Global Platts.

“Still, some see an opening for the U.S. to boost exports to Europe in coming years. Half of all long-term supply agreements into Europe—the vast majority of which involve Russia—expire in the five-year period that started in 2016, according to the International Energy Agency.

“’U.S. gas is a powerful alternative to Europe’s other options,’ IEA chief Fatih Birol said.”

After a discussion of growing US oil exports, the reporters state:

“This month, Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke promised to speed up permitting for developing oil and gas on federal lands, but little output comes from such acreage because U.S. drillers are focused on private lands. The Trump administration has moved to expand drilling off the coast of Alaska, a U-turn from the Obama era, but with crude prices below $50 a barrel, few companies are eager to drill in the challenging Arctic environment.

“The White House has also trumpeted the idea of approving more natural-gas export terminals along the Gulf Coast. Problem is, the market doesn’t need them right now.

“Under President Barack Obama, 23 U.S. gas export facilities were approved. Four are operating, and by 2021 a total of nearly 13 billion cubic feet of gas a day could be shipped out, said John Best, managing director of Criterion Research, a Houston energy consulting firm.

“From Florida to Alaska, projects capable of exporting another 30 billion cubic feet of gas have been announced but not yet approved. Mr. Best believes approved facilities will ship out only around 8 billion cubic feet of gas, and many of the others will never be built because they no longer make financial sense.

“’The world can’t absorb this much gas that quickly,’ he said.”


2. Mineral Rights Can Make You Rich

One study estimated that in 2012 private owners earned some $22 billion in royalties.

By Merrill Mathews, WSJ, July 9, 2017


Link to report: Oil, Gas, and Coal Royalties: Raising Federal Rates Could Decrease Production on Federal Lands but Increase Federal Revenue

By Staff Writers, GAO, June 20, 2017


The writer, a scholar with the Institute for Policy Innovation, brings out a characteristic of property ownership in the US. In general, mineral rights are property of the land owner, while in many other countries they are property of the government. Many property owners are encouraged to allow development of the mineral rights in exchange for royalties. He writes:

“In fiscal 2016, Washington collected $3.9 billion in royalties from oil and gas production on federal land and offshore—and that’s down from $6.6 billion in 2015, according to a new report from the Government Accountability Office. Lower energy prices contributed to the decline, but so did the Obama administration’s roadblocks on drilling-permit applications.

“The Congressional Research Service reports that federal lands produced 1.57 million barrels of crude oil a day in 2008. By 2015 that had risen 25% to 1.955 million. But over the same period production on nonfederal land more than doubled from 3.467 million barrels a day to 7.46 million.

“The contrast was starker for natural gas. Federal lands produced 6,471 billion cubic feet in 2008, but that number shrank to 4,594 billion by 2015. Over the same period production on nonfederal lands grew from 14,523 billion cubic feet to 24,143 billion.

“The difference is even more pronounced when you realize that the royalty rate is typically much higher on state and private land. Oil and gas producers are required to pay 12.5% to drill on federal land. Royalties on state land are usually in the range of 16% to 18%. In Texas, the largest producer, the typical rate is 25%. Royalties on private land often reflect the state rate.

“Why would producers flock to state or private land rather than cheaper federal land? Because time is money. The Bureau of Land Management took an average of 307 days in 2011 to process applications for drilling permits. States can give approval within a few months.

“The National Association of Royalty Owners, a trade group, estimates that eight million to 12 million people receive royalties from oil and gas production nationwide. A 2013 study by Timothy Fitzgerald and Randal Rucker, economists at Montana State University, estimated that in 2012 private owners earned some $22 billion in royalties. Production on private lands has since increased significantly.

“Mr. Fitzgerald and others estimated later that six major shale plays generated $39 billion in private royalties in 2014…”

“But there’s hope for more. ‘So much of our land was closed to development,’ President Trump observed in a recent energy speech. ‘We’re opening it up.’ If he makes good on that promise, it will give the economy a major boost, along with millions of royalty owners.”


3. Senate Fight Over Trump’s Nominees Heats Up

More than 30 nominees await confirmation as Democratic lawmakers slow the process

By Brent Kendall and Natalie Andrews, WSJ, July 12, 2017


SUMMARY: The reporters state:

“A congressional battle over President Donald Trump’s nominations for a range of influential positions is escalating and becoming more acrimonious, creating additional uncertainty over when some notable government vacancies might be filled.

“Mr. Trump has been slower than recent presidents to roll out nominees. But for an array of people the president has selected, Senate Democrats are using procedural tactics to slow the confirmation process to a crawl—at least in part to object to the lack of open hearings on health-care legislation, Democratic leaders say.

“More than 30 nominees are sitting on the sidelines while they await a final Senate confirmation vote. Those include several picks for the Justice and Treasury departments, as well as new commissioners for a federal energy regulator that has been unable to conduct official business because of its vacancies.

“If the current pattern holds, many of these people may not be confirmed for their jobs before the Senate takes a break in mid-August. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) in most circumstances has been invoking Senate procedures to require up to 30 hours of debate per nominee, an amount of Senate floor time that means lawmakers can’t confirm more than a handful of nominees each week.

“The minority party often waives a requirement for lengthy debate, but Democrats are generally declining to do so. In response to GOP complaints, they cite what they call Republican obstructionism under President Barack Obama, including Republicans’ refusal to hold a hearing or vote on Mr. Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, Merrick Garland.

“In the current environment, even noncontroversial nominees can take up several days of Senate time. For example, the Senate spent much of the first part of the week considering the nomination of David Nye to be a federal judge in Idaho. Mr. Nye was originally nominated by Mr. Obama and Mr. Trump renominated him after taking office.

“Senators took a procedural vote Monday on Mr. Nye, but he wasn’t confirmed until Wednesday afternoon, on a 100-0 vote.

“Raw feelings on both sides of the aisle erupted this week. Republicans accused Democrats of unprecedented obstruction, saying it would take the Senate more than 11 years at the current pace before Mr. Trump could fully staff a government.

“White House legislative affairs director Marc Short, in a press briefing Monday, accused Mr. Schumer of being an irresponsible champion of the “resist” movement. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) cited the issue as a top reason for his decision to push back the Senate’s planned August recess by two weeks.

“On the Senate floor Wednesday, Mr. McConnell said Democrats were “bound and determined to impede the president from making appointments, and they’re willing to go to increasingly absurd lengths to further that goal.”

“Democrats dismiss such characterizations given what they see as unprecedented Republican tactics toward Mr. Obama’s nominees, especially Judge Garland. In February 2016, Republican Senate leaders said they wouldn’t consider a Supreme Court nominee until after the election.

“Democrats also note that Mr. Trump has yet to name people for hundreds of vacancies and say there have been paperwork problems with a number of people he has chosen.

“’Our Republican friends, when they’re worried about the slow pace of nominations, ought to look in the mirror,’ Mr. Schumer said on the Senate floor on Tuesday. The GOP complaints about the pace of confirmations, he added, ‘goes to show how desperate our Republican leadership is to shift the blame and attention away from their health-care bill.’

Mr. Schumer has said Democrats will generally insist on lengthy Senate debate time for nominees until Republicans start using traditional Senate procedures for advancing their health legislation, including committee hearings and bill markups.

Mr. McConnell has said Republicans have held numerous hearings on ACA issues in the past and it isn’t necessary to do so for the current legislation.

The article continues with additional examples.



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