Weekly Climate and Energy News Roundup #289

By Ken Haapala, President, Science and Environmental Policy Project

Brought to You by www.SEPP.org

Quote of the Week. “The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing. One cannot help but be in awe when he contemplates the mysteries of eternity, of life, of the marvelous structure of reality. It is enough if one tries merely to comprehend a little of this mystery every day.” – Albert Einstein

Number of the Week: $0.00? Zero?

Funding Climate Science: Internal to the globe, the earth’s climate is partially determined by the movement of two dynamic fluids: 1) the atmosphere; and 2) the oceans. Fluid dynamics is not thoroughly understood; thus, the actions of these fluids cannot be clearly defined.

But, it is an external force, the sun, which is the dominant controller of the earth’s climate. Once thought to be fixed, it is now shown that the energy from the sun varies, not only in radiant energy; but also, in solar magnetism and solar wind. Experiments at CERN, and elsewhere, have shown that the formation of clouds is by promoted cosmic rays, which are moderated by the intensity of solar wind.

To understand what happens to this highly complex system if a minor greenhouse gas, carbon dioxide (CO2), is added to the atmosphere, is very challenging and not easily resolved. There will be many mistakes made and hypotheses tentatively accepted even though they may be faulty. This tentative acceptance and later rejection is part of the human experience in science and in other activities. It is important to question hypotheses, and discard those found wanting. Rigorous science requires that the process occur, and be noted, so ideas can advance. Apparently, rejection of false hypotheses is not being made public by the climate establishment.

For example, it appears that the climate establishment has discarded the so called “hot-spot”, once called the distinct human fingerprint. First so proclaimed in an IPCC Physical Sciences Working Group meeting in Madrid in late November 1995, the “hot-spot” became the justification for the statement: “the balance of evidence points towards a discernible human influence on global climate.” It was important in helping obtain the over $40 billion US government has spent in “climate science” since 1993, tens of billions on “climate change financing” and the tens of billions in tax subsidies for poor alternatives to fossil fuels – mainly solar and wind [the amounts are based on government reports and government definitions]. In “fighting” climate change, the US is spending almost as much as it did on all the Apollo missions, in 2012 dollars. The funds do not include the moneys the state department turned over to UN organizations in the closing days of the Obama Administration.

Part of the funds spent by the US went to the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and one of its parent organizations, the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), largely through the State Department and the USAID. The IPCC has become an established political organization continuing to investigate the influence of greenhouse gases, mainly CO2, on the earth’s temperatures, but not rigorously rejecting or modifying hypotheses found faulty. Thus, the IPCC is masking its activities and undermining its own scientific credibility. It did the same with Mr. Mann’s “hockey-stick.”

The budgets of the State Department examined do not reveal the sources of funds given to the UN organizations in the closing days of the Obama Administration. Further, the latest budget of the US Global Change Research Program (USGCRP) is the FY 2017 requested budget of $2.790 billion, but it is not enacted by Congress and contains $10 million from USAID. The budget page contains the cryptic note: “DOS [Department of State] has been included as a non-add agency in the past, but reported no USGCRP funding during this time period.” Does anyone know what DOS is spending? See TWTWs dated December 31, 2016, and February 4, 2017 and links under Financing Issues.

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Discovering CO2 Influence: Several readers have submitted suggestions on what may be wrong with the IPCC approach to discover the influence of CO2. Of course, these would apply to the follow-on reports by the USGCRP, EPA, etc. The suggestions can be classified into two general groups, not mutually exclusive. They are: 1) major issues with the Kiehl-Trenberth global-energy annual budget and 2) the possibility that the El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) reveals a signal of CO2 warming.

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Energy Flows: Australian Meteorologist William Kininmonth writes TWTW that the plausible argument embodied in the Kiehl-Trenberth model ignores critical factors of energy flows. Essentially, if energy flow to space in the form of infrared radiation (IR) is reduced by greenhouse gases (CO2), then the surface, and atmospheric, temperatures will rise until the inflowing and outgoing radiation is balanced – at the top of the atmosphere.

This approach ignores findings by Trenberth and Caron (2001) that average annual top of atmosphere net radiation varies significant by latitude. It is positive at the tropics (net incoming) and highly negative in the polar regions (net outgoing). The difference in energy is transported towards the poles by ocean and atmospheric circulations with only limited impact on surface temperature.

Further, Kininmonth challenges the term “heat trapping gases” because: “There is sufficient CO2 in the atmosphere such that across the CO2 wavebands all the IR emission from the surface is completely absorbed within the first few tens of metres of the boundary layer; the CO2 cannot ‘trap’ any more of the surface IR emission.”

[SEPP Chairman Fred Singer has made a similar assertion concerning the term “heat trapping gases”, stating the major energy flow from the surface to the atmosphere (troposphere up to about 50,000 feet (15,000 m)) is not by infrared radiation; but, by convection, including the transfer of latent heat by evapotranspiration.]

Using equations presented in the IPCC first assessment report (1990), Kininmonth calculates that to achieve the global climate model projections of surface temperatures rising between 2.0C and 4.5C for a doubling of CO2 requires water vapor amplification of some 6 to 15 times greater the direct effect of CO2, which is unrealistic. For the 2009 model, see link under Defending the Orthodoxy.

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Endangerment Finding: Retired career EPA senior analysist Alan Carlin explains why he believed the EPA finding that greenhouse gases, particularly CO2, was seriously flawed when made, and remains so. Given his previous dedication to the EPA, his views merit extensive quoting: [Boldface in the original]

“1. Bottom Up GCMs Used by Alarmists Prove Nothing. The principal justification offered by climate alarmists for their beliefs is that by using bottom up general circulation models (GCMs) they believe they can predict how the climate as a whole will operate by considering how they believe it operated in a large number of individual geographic grid cells. They claim that the models show that global temperatures are primarily determined by atmospheric CO2 levels. These GCMs are modified weather models, which generally are not valid and therefore not useful much beyond two weeks because of the chaotic nature of climate. But the alarmist model builders claim that they can usefully run these models over periods of decades or even centuries and get valid results.

“Climate modelers are not scientists. They are not doing science. Their climate model projections have no physical meaning. Their climate model projections have never had any physical meaning.

“Unfortunately, many people are impressed by big computer models and those that write them; they do not understand them and take this approach seriously, which only proves that garbage fed into a large computer model yields garbage out.

“2. The Few Available Top Down Studies Conclude that Observed Climate Change since 1960 Can Be Explained by Natural Factors. The bottom up computer modeling could never produce valid results and has always been a waste of time and effort despite the expenditure of billions of dollars by various national governments and the UN. In very recent years a very different, top down approach has been tried by a few researchers; so far the results have been exactly the opposite of the alarmist models–that CO2 levels have no significant effects on global temperatures; changes in global temperatures since about 1960 can be fully explained by known natural factors.

“3. Earth Has a Very Extensive Natural Temperature Control System which Rules Out the Alarmists’ Predicted Catastrophic Temperature Increases. There is substantial evidence that Earth has a very effective natural temperature control system that continuously and automatically keeps down temperatures, particularly near significant bodies of water due to the very unusual properties of the water molecule. This makes it impossible that there can be any substantial increase in temperatures in tropical areas (where much of the heat from the sun enters the climate system) near water, and hence no danger of the catastrophic increases predicted by the alarmists. And most of Earth’s surface is water. The temperature control system includes a number of emergent climate phenomena, including clouds, thunderstorms, tornadoes, monsoons, hurricanes, ocean currents, and coastal fog.

“4. The Alarmists’ Whole Approach Ignores the Effects of Earth’s Temperature Control System. It only deals with “forcings” allegedly resulting from higher CO2 levels as if the Earth had no natural temperature control system. To prove their conclusions it must be shown that whatever temperature increases may result from higher levels of CO2 are not dissipated by Earth’s temperature control system in such a way as to negate the temperature increasing effects of these alleged forcings. So unless it can be shown that CO2 decreases the effectiveness of the temperature control system CO2 increases would be largely if not totally irrelevant…

“5. Their Basic Hypothesis Does Not Satisfy the Scientific Method since reasonable inferences based on their key alarmist hypothesis can be shown to be false.

“6. Numerous Other Significant Inconsistencies between climate alarmist science and real world observations; there are so many, in fact, that very extensive books have been written about them by distinguished scientists and carefully reviewed by numerous experts.

“None of this was seriously discussed when the Endangerment Finding was approved in great haste and little serious discussion in 2009. Clearly it is long past time for the robust, meaningful discussions that Administrator Pruitt and most skeptics believe are necessary. Altering our entire way of life at monumental costs, negative benefits, and no meaningful discussion are simply not a prudent course for public policy and will result in enormous losses for taxpayers, ratepayers, and the nation unless EPA or the courts change the Obama Administration’s Endangerment Finding. The Trump Administration is trying to reduce the impact of the Obama CO2 emission reduction regulations but could be much more effective and efficient about it by reopening the Endangerment Finding and making the needed robust, meaningful discussion part of the proceedings.

On his web site, Carlin provides support for these assertions. See links under Challenging the Orthodoxy.

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Thankless Task: Economics professor Dieter Helm of the University of Oxford has undertaken what may be a thankless task. He was charged with developing a market structure that would deliver the objectives of the UK 2008 Climate Change Act (CCA) at lowest cost. This is far different than developing an energy market that delivers lowest cost electricity. The opening paragraph of the Executive Summary gives an idea of what may create an uproar.

“This review has two main findings. The first is that the cost of energy is significantly higher than it needs to be to meet the government’s objectives and, in particular, to be consistent with the Climate Change Act (CCA) and to ensure security of supply. The second is that energy policy, regulation and market design are not fit for the purposes of the emerging low-carbon energy market, as it undergoes profound technical change.”

There is a serious question regarding the practical nature of “profound technical change.” What is achievable, and at what cost? Nearly every week there is an announcement of a potential battery, or other electricity storage, breakthrough. But in one hundred years none have been available on a commercial scale except hydro-pumped storage.

The Summary concludes with:

“Not to implement these recommendations is likely to perpetuate the crisis mentality of the industry, and these crises are likely to get worse, challenging the security of supply, undermining the transition to electric transport, and weakening the delivery of the carbon budgets. It will continue the unnecessary high costs of the British energy system, and as a result perpetuate fuel poverty, weaken industrial competitiveness, and undermine public support for decarbonisation. We can, and should, do much better, and open up a period of falling prices as households and industry benefit from the great technological opportunities over the coming decades.”

Again, what are the great technological opportunities? See links under Energy Issues – Non-US

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New Electricity Pricing Scheme? Although the US does not suffer under the burden of the UK 2008 Climate Change Act, the Energy Department apparently recognizes that increased reliance on solar and wind can create instability to the grid. It has suggested a plan to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to ensure grid reliability. This plan would allow “recovery of costs of fuel-secure generation units” – give a pricing preference to sources of energy that are dispatchable; that is, human controlled to turn on, off, and change intensity as needed.

Immediately there was push-back. But, as South Australia and the growing belly of the California Duck illustrate, the problem is serious. Energy expert Donn Dears explains the situation. However, the CEO of the nation’s largest electricity market operator suggested FERC an alternative: “describe essential reliability services like stability that we use and don’t pay for today.” In so doing, the market operators may be able to establish economic values on these characteristics, which are vital in modern civilizations. It may be similar to performance targets of voltage, frequency and reliability, which were common before politicians wished to impose their ideological desires on electricity. See links under Energy Issues – US.

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Accuse First, Evidence May Come! The herbicide glyphosate is under insistent attack by European Greens, although they have little or no proof it causes harm. The effort is part of a well-established practice by greens to get rid of products they do not like, no matter the human benefits the products have.

Probably the most deplorable example was the outright banning of DDT by the EPA during the Nixon Administration. Although its insecticide properties were not discovered until 1940, the chemical was highly useful in ridding body lice and other insect infestations on people living in crowded conditions such as in prisoner-of-war camps. US GIs took dry “showers” using DDT. Periodic indoor spraying of huts with DDT was found to be highly effective in controlling malaria in tropical countries. But if it is fashionable to blame the chemical, without evidence, don’t bother with evidence.

Please note that neither SEPP nor Fred Singer have taken any money, fees, gratuities, donations, etc. from Monsanto, the manufacturer of Glyphosate (Round-up) as claimed by Mr. Michael Mann in the Washington Post. See links under Questioning European Green and Article #1.

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Carbon Dioxide, A Social Cost or Benefit? Manhattan attorney Francis Menton discusses yet another estimate of the bureaucratic concept called the social cost of carbon (dioxide). This was recently performed analysis by the EPA, and it demonstrates how a few changes in assumptions such as altering the discount rate from 3% to 7% can drastically alter the results from $51 per ton to $1 per ton.

At the same time, the Government Accounting Office (GAO) came out with a study at the request of Senators Maria Cantwell and Susan Collins estimating the costs of climate change at $34 billion to $112 billion per year by late century, discounted to $9 billion to $28 billion in today’s dollars. The GAO estimate was based on the 2014 National Assessment by USGCRP. Of course, no one has bothered to verify and validate the models used.

Interestingly, the CO2 Science group reviews a third assessment of the increase in plant primary production from increasing CO2. As the reviewer states:

“Thus, we have two independent findings from two independent scientific teams confirming there has been a large increase in global GPP [Gross Primary Production – greening] since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution. And from the additional work of Cheng et al., we know that that increase has largely resulted from the growth-enhancing, water-saving and stress-alleviating benefits of atmospheric CO2 fertilization of plants.”

When will those in the corridors of Washington realize that CO2 is vital for plants, the environment, and life on the planet as we generally recognize it? See links under Defending the Orthodoxy, Questioning the Orthodoxy, and Review of Recent Scientific Articles by CO2 Science.

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Number of the Week: $0.00? (zero) TWTW performed a web search for the budget of USGCRP for FY 2018, which began on October 1, 2017. The search uncovered no budget, enacted or requested, and no budget except one requested for FY 2017, not enacted. Given that the USGCRP has acted as a conduit for moneys to the IPCC and UNFCCC, and that it produced national assessments based on climate models that it failed to verify and validated, this may be a positive sign. An August 14, 2017 Congressional Research Service report on Federal Research and Development Funding: FY2018 stated on p 9.

“In FY2017, 13 departments and agencies participated in the USGCRP. USGCRP efforts are coordinated by the NSTC Subcommittee on Global Change Research. Additional USGCRP information can be obtained at http://www.globalchange.gov. This section will be updated when the USGCRP updates its budget information.”

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ARTICLES:

1. Climate Alarmists Use the Acid-Rain Playbook

The parallels between the two environmental frenzies are many, but the stakes are much higher now.

By Rupert Darwall, WSJ, Oct 25, 2017

https://www.wsj.com/articles/climate-alarmists-use-the-acid-rain-playbook-1508969822

SUMMARY: The author of “Green Tyranny:” writes:

A majority of scientists might say a scientific theory is true, but that doesn’t mean the consensus is reliable. The science underpinning environmental claims can be fundamentally wrong—as it was in one of the biggest environmental scares in recent decades.

The acid-rain alarm of the 1970s and ’80s was a dry run for the current panic about climate change. Both began in Sweden as part of a war on coal meant to bolster support for nuclear power. In 1971 meteorologist Bert Bolin wrote the Swedish government’s report on acid rain to the United Nations. Seventeen years later he became the first chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

There are many parallels between acid rain and global warming. Each phenomenon produced a U.N. convention—the 1979 Geneva Convention on Long-Range Transboundary Air Pollution in the case of acid rain, and the 1988 Framework Convention on Climate Change. And each convention led to a new protocol—the 1985 Helsinki Protocol and the 1997 Kyoto Protocol. Public alarm surrounding acid rain was far more intense, especially in Germany, where popular reaction to media stories about acid rain reached a pitch of hysteria not yet seen with global warming. A 1981 Der Spiegel cover story featured an image of smokestacks looming over a copse of trees with the title “The Forest Is Dying.”

“The most striking parallels are the role of scientific consensus in underpinning environmental alarm and the way science is used to justify cuts in emissions. The emission of sulfur dioxide into the atmosphere “has proved to be a major environmental problem,” Bolin wrote in his 1971 report. National scientific academies across North America and Europe were in complete agreement. “We have a much more complete knowledge of the causes and consequences of acid deposition than we have for other pollutants,” a report by the National Academy of Sciences’ National Research Council said in 1981. According to the NRC, the circumstantial evidence was “overwhelming.” Many thousands of lakes had been affected, rivers were losing salmon, fisheries in the Adirondacks were in a bad way, red spruce were dying, and production from Canadian sugar maple trees had been affected. Acid rain was a scientific slam dunk.

“Politicians duly parroted what the scientists told them. “Acid rain has caused serious environmental damage in many parts of the world,” President Jimmy Carter wrote in his 1979 environmental message to Congress. He signed an agreement with Canada to establish five acid-rain working groups, and Congress set up a 10-year National Acid Precipitation Assessment Program, which went by the catchy acronym Napap.

‘To Canadian anger, President Ronald Reagan was more skeptical than his predecessor. The head of Canada’s Federal Assessment and Review Office accused Mr. Reagan of “blatant efforts to manipulate” the science being done by the working groups. A formal note of protest from Ottawa pointed to the more than 3,000 scientific studies on acid rain yielding “sufficient scientific evidence” for policies to cut emissions.

[Opposing Reagan for the nomination] “Vice President George Bush promised Canada that if elected president, he would act on the problem. But as acid-rain cap-and-trade legislation was making its way through Congress, the Environmental Protection Agency encountered a major problem. Napap’s draft report concluded that the science was wrong. Yes, power-station emissions make rain more acidic—rain is naturally acidic, and more so during thunderstorms—but changes to ecosystems, the report said, were mainly caused by changes in land use. The felling of trees and the burning of stumps in the Adirondacks had reduced the acidity of the forest floor. After conservationists put a stop to it, the soil gradually returned to its previous acidity.

“Rather than admit it had the science wrong, the EPA set about suppressing the inconvenient findings. The Napap report was delayed until after key provisions of cap-and-trade legislation had been agreed to in Congress. As outlined in a 1992 article in Reason, the EPA then waged a dirty-tricks campaign to discredit Edward C. Krug, a soil expert and the leading dissident Napap scientist. It assembled a group of compliant scientists to conduct a sham peer review and conclude that Mr. Krug was a bad scientist. The episode ended with an assistant administrator of the EPA, William Rosenberg, apologizing to Mr. Krug to avoid a threatened libel action.

“To this day, the zombie science of acid rain lives on at the EPA’s website, which falsely states that acidification of soil, streams and lakes is caused by emissions from power stations. The EPA reckons the annual cost of anti-acid-rain measures in the U.S. will reach $65 billion in 2020, but it no longer claims that the money will prevent ecosystem damage. Now it just claims to be improving public health.

The author concludes that Scott Pruitt’s approach may be a great improvement by requiring open debate on the issues of CO2 caused global warming.

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2. Trump Plan for Coal, Nuclear Power Draws Fire From Environmental, Oil Groups

Critics from factions often at odds are calling Trump administration’s proposal a bailout for struggling power plants

By Timothy Puko, WSJ, Oct 22, 2017

https://www.wsj.com/articles/environmentalists-energy-companies-unite-in-fight-against-electrical-grid-plan-1508677201

Summary: The reporter writes:

“A Trump administration proposal aimed at shoring up coal-fired and nuclear power plants across the nation has generated opposition from an array of energy and consumer interests, including some who are often at odds on energy policy.

“Oil and gas companies, wind and solar power producers, some public utilities, electricity consumers and environmentalists—rarely natural allies—are all publicly opposing the Energy Department’s proposal. The plan would effectively guarantee profits for some nuclear and coal-fired power plants, prompting critics that also include former federal regulators to call it a bailout for struggling plants that undermines competitive markets.

The reporter discusses specific groups opposing the proposal, then concludes with:

“The [proposal] I put forward was a way to kick-start a national discussion about reliability and the grid,” Mr. Perry told the House Committee on Energy and Commerce last week. “And from the best I can tell, we’ve been pretty successful at doing that.”

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3. The Fatal Flaw in California’s Cap-and-Trade Program

Emitters can just leave—which is why the state has now delayed carbon’s real day of reckoning to 2030.

By Richard Sexton and Steven Sexton, WSJ, Oct 20, 2017

https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-fatal-flaw-in-californias-cap-and-trade-program-1508538322?tesla=y

SUMMARY: The authors, a professor of agricultural and resource economics at the University of California, Davis and his son, is a professor of public policy and economics and a faculty fellow of the energy initiative at Duke University, write:

“When California’s Gov. Jerry Brown signed a 10-year extension of the state’s cap-and-trade program this summer, it was heralded as a rebuke of President Trump, who had just announced he would withdraw the U.S. from the Paris Climate Accord. While the nation was failing on climate change, the story went, states could succeed. The trouble is that California could leak—like a sieve.

“In the decade since Mr. Brown’s predecessor, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, first signed the Global Warming Solutions Act, the cap-and-trade program has done little to abate carbon emissions, let alone planetary warming. Under the law, companies in California that emit carbon in their production processes must secure scarce permits for the right to do so. The theory is that this creates an incentive to invest in green power and energy efficiency.

“Yet the law’s designers still have not confronted the central conundrum of trying to impose a state or regional climate policy: As firms compete for a limited supply of carbon permits, they are put at a disadvantage to out-of-state rivals. Production flees the state, taking jobs and tax revenues with it. Emissions ‘leak’ outside California’s cap to other jurisdictions.”

After discussing failed attempts to stop companies from leaving the state and that without the US the Paris Agreement will fail, the authors conclude:

“’California is leading the world in dealing with the principal existential threat that humanity faces,’ Mr. Brown said during this summer’s signing ceremony. ‘What could be a more glorious undertaking?’ But five years into cap and trade, neither he nor the state’s regulators have shown that regional climate policy can overcome the leakage problem and actually succeed. If they truly want to lead, they need to offer more than hot air.”

CONTINUE READING –>

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