Weekly Climate and Energy News Roundup #291

By Ken Haapala, President,Science and Environmental Policy Project

Brought to You by www.SEPP.org

USGCRP Science? As reported in TWTW last week, a search for the current budget of the US Global Change Research Program (USGCRP) found nothing newer than the requested budget for FY 2017, which ended in September 2017. The USGCRP produced the Climate Science Special Report: Fourth National Climate Assessment (NCA4), Volume I, (CSSR) released last week. In his evaluation of the latest USGCRP report Joseph Bast of The Heartland Institute linked to an August 20 article in the Washington Post stating that a federal advisory panel to the USGCRP had been disbanded. Its charter was expiring, and the Trump administration chose not to extend it. The advisory panel was the 15-person Advisory Committee for the Sustained National Climate Assessment. The status of the USGCRP is not clear.

What is now called the USGCRP has a murky, politicized past. It was established in 1989 and mandated by Congress in 1990 to “assist the Nation and the world to understand, assess, predict, and respond to human-induced and natural processes of global change.” It is to produce a National Climate Assessment every four year. Since 1990, it has produced four reports. The last full report, the 3rd National Climate Assessment, was in May 2014. Apparently, after the election of Mr. Trump, the USGCRP decided on the CSSR, released last week. As with prior NSGCRP reports, it ignores the “natural processes of global change”, which is part of its Congressional mandate.

Such political games are part of USGCRP’s established history. After the election of Mr. Bush, in 2000, under a prior name, the USGCRP released the 2000 U.S. National Assessment of Climate Change report. As shown in the 2008 report of the Nongovernmental International Panel for Climate Change (NIPCC) (Fig 16 & pp 14 to 16), the government report had projections / predictions that were nonsense. The government entity had two different climate models for climate change to 2090, which produced dramatically different results for precipitation, by regions. The worst example was for the Red River watershed in the Dakotas and Minnesota. One model had a precipitation drop of about 80%, turning the region into a desert, the second model had a precipitation increase of about 80%, resulting in dramatic flooding.

The disparity between two models is but one example how inadequately tested global climate models may be used to project / predict almost anything. The federal courts found that the 2000 report did not meet the standards of the Data Quality Act, also called the Information Quality Act. The recent reports of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and the USGCRP have tried to cover up the disparities in the results of their global climate models by blending them into an ensemble. Usually, there are too few runs of any model to establish realistic forecasts for that model. The forecasts change with each run.

Further, the major problem remains, the models are not adequately tested to be used to form government policies on global warming / climate change. As comments by Patrick Michaels carried in last week’s TWTW illustrate, USGCRP ignores the existence of the important problem between the forecasts of atmospheric temperature trends by the global climate models with actual atmospheric temperature trends. The USGCRP ignores physical science. See links under Challenging the Orthodoxy – NIPCC and Defending the Orthodoxy – A Last Gasp?

Quote of the Week. “It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it!” – Upton Sinclair [H/t Energy Matters]

Number of the Week: 1.8 to 1

Sea Level Rise: The latest report of the USGCRP states: “The Climate Science Special Report (CSSR) is designed to be an authoritative assessment of the science of climate change, with a focus on the United States” In addition to its ignorance of actual atmospheric temperature trends, one can assess how rigorous the report is by examining a dramatic statement in the CSSR: “Global mean sea level (GMSL) has risen by about 7–8 inches (about 16–21 cm) since 1900, with about 3 of those inches (about 7 cm) occurring since 1993 (very high confidence). (Ch. 12).”

As shown in the 2008 NIPCC report (pp. 16 to 19), for the last 4000 years sea levels have been rising at a rate of about 7 inches (18 cm) per century, slowly decreasing. The question is: why the sudden shift to a 3 inch rise since 1993, or about 13 inches (33 cm) per century? Indeed, this was Key Finding # 1 in Chapter 12, Sea Level Rise of the CSSR. Yet, atmospheric temperature and CO2 trends did not justify a shift, or inflection point.

“Thus, these results indicate about 11–14 cm (4–5 inches) of GMSL rise from 1901 to 1990. Tide gauge analyses indicate that GMSL rose at a considerably faster rate of about 3 mm/year (0.12 inches/year) since 1993,7,8 a result supported by satellite data indicating a trend of 3.4 ± 0.4 mm/year (0.13 inches/year) over 1993–2015 (update to Nerem et al. 20109[?]) (Figure 12.3a). These results indicate an additional GMSL rise of about 7 cm (about 3 inches) rise since 1990. Thus, total GMSL rise since 1900 is about 16–21 cm (about 7–8 inches).”

“The finding regarding the historical context of the 20th century change is based upon Kopp et al., who conducted a meta-analysis of geological RSL reconstructions spanning the last 3,000 years from 24 locations around the world as well as tide gauge data from 66 sites and the tide gauge based GMSL reconstruction of Hay et al.1”

TWTW contends that the analysis fails for at least 4 reasons. One, the Kopp finding is faulty, with the number of tidal gages used being too few for any global impact, over a short-term, to draw the conclusions in Kopp study. Two, the CSSR recognizes that shifts in wind patterns, causes unknown, result in multi-decadal variation in tidal gages that are not related to CO2. For example, the effects of these wind patterns on Pacific tidal gages were discussed in the June 18, 2016 and February 18, 2017 TWTWs. Yet, these effects are ignored in the Key Finding.

Three, the satellite instrument data have been improperly calibrated to tidal gage data, yielding a hockey-stick effect. Difficulties of calibrating satellite instruments with tidal gages were discussed in the February 18, 2017, TWTW. Four, another source for improper calibration is an overestimate of the influence of melting in the West Antarctic Ice Sheet since the last Ice Age as discussed in the May 13 TWTW. Geological research shows the exposed rocks above the trimline of the southern Ellsworth Mountains to be 2.1 to 2.6 million years old, not recently exposed after the last Ice Age, as assumed by those making calibrations for the GRACE satellites. At best, it is premature to make the generalizations in the CSSR report as a key finding, supporting government control of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions.

In a letter to the Wall Street Journal opposing comments by Steve Koonin (discussed in the last TWTW), Kopp contends that his analysis is correct and tries to add weight to his arguments by using tidal flooding along the Atlantic and Gulf Coast as an example of human activity. He is partially correct. Human ground water extraction does cause land subsidence, a major problem in many coastal areas such as Tidewater Virginia. But, it is unrelated to human CO2 emissions.

It will be interesting to read comments by others who have approached sea level rise from a global perspective, using hundreds of tidal gages, such as retired NASA meteorologist Tom Wysmuller. See Article # 2 links under Challenging the Orthodoxy – NIPCC, Defending the Orthodoxy – A Last Gasp?


Politicized Science? In another letter to the Wall Street Journal on Koonin’s op-ed, William Colglazier, a “former executive officer of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences and National Research Council”, expresses his concern that the red team/blue team approach would politicize science by stating:

“The quickest way to politicize scientific knowledge, what is known and not known, is to treat it as no different from other aspects of a contentious public-policy debate.”

His concern is well put. It is vital we establish scientific knowledge, what is known and not known. However, government reports on climate science are politicized by government supported scientists who disregard critical atmospheric data, where the greenhouse effect occurs. This disregard of data challenging government policy is the core for the founding of NIPCC and its subsequent reports. The funding of NIPCC was insignificant compared to the over $40 billion the US government spent on climate science since 1993, not to mention the hundreds of billions on alternative sources for electricity. See Article # 2 and Challenging the Orthodoxy – NIPCC


Food Security – An Academic Threat? The UN Framework Convention for Climate Change (UNFCCC) has started its 23rd Conference of Parties (COP-23) with a certain member largely absent – the US. The press release for COP-23 states: “UN Climate Change Conference 2017 Aims for Further, Faster Ambition Together” and claims they can succeed by “Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals through Climate Action.” One can assume that what is meant by “Climate Action” is having the UN control of CO2 emissions world-wide, with payments to UN entities. Other press releases included claims that “2017 is set to be hottest non-El Niño year by the UN World Meteorological Organization” (WMO). Unlike 2016 and 2015, nature in not cooperating with the UN and COP-23 by warming the world with an El Niño; thus, the equivocation. Of course, the measurements used by the UN WMO are surface measurements, yet the greenhouse effect occurs in the atmosphere.

Looking beyond the festivities, one can see an excellent example of the difference between the academic and the practical, as discussed by Admiral Rickover, covered in last week’s TWTW. Admiral Rickover compared academic nuclear reactors with practical nuclear reactors. Academic reactors are not possible. Practical reactors can be built, realized. With the UN activities, one can compare the academic threat to food security with the practical threat to food security.

Of course, the reports of the UN continue to state that carbon dioxide-caused warming threatens agriculture crops, with poor yields from high temperatures, droughts, floods, extreme weather events, etc.

Yet, as presented in Article #2 of last week’s TWTW, the practical threat is different. With the “hot” El Niño years, there has been an oversupply of food grains, threatening the profits of international grain traders and farmers. “Five years of back-to-back bumper crops in markets across the globe have kept grain prices low and upended traditional dynamics in the farm sector. Trading giants like ADM (Archer Daniels Midland), Bunge and Cargill Inc., which buy farmers’ crops to market and process, are being squeezed.”

In part, these bumper crops are the result of atmospheric carbon dioxide fertilization, which greatly increases primary plant production, a boon to humanity. [A previous US National Assessment by the USGCRP (and its predecessor) only discussed weeds such as Kudzu, an invasive plant.] Only a few researchers, such as Craig Idso and Richard Tol, analyze the practical benefits of carbon dioxide. Instead, the government-funded academics contrived the “social cost of carbon (dioxide)” ignoring its benefits. The benefits of increased carbon dioxide are foreign to UN bureaucrats.

In addition to CO2 enhancement, the bumper crops of grains show another bright side to modern agriculture – the enormous increases in grain production in tropical Brazil. Long thought to be too hot with soils too poor (thin and acidic), yet total grain production is increasing in Brazil thanks to specialized plant strains and soil treatments. These tropical areas will provide needed back-up in food sources if a solar cooling occurs soon, as predicted by many solar scientists. Such a solar cooling would be devastating to grain production in more northern latitudes in North America and Eurasia, as it was during the Little Ice Age, when millions died of famine and disease as harvests failed during intense wet, cold periods. See last week’s TWTW and links under Defending the Orthodoxy.


Melting Antarctica Ice: NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) has produced more evidence that a system of volcanoes lies under ice covering the Marie Byrd Land section of the West Antarctica. Marie Byrd Land is about the size of Greenland. The West Antarctic Ice Sheet is considered unstable, unlike the far larger East Antarctic Ice Sheet, which is about two-thirds of the Continent. There has been a great deal of speculation, but little evidence, that CO2 caused warming is adding to the instability of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet.

A 2017 survey by De Vries showed 138 volcanoes under the West Antarctic Ice Sheet making up what is called the West Antarctic Rift System. De Vries found 91 volcanoes, not previously known. The new JPL research supports the claim that the rift system is active. The rift may be likened to the mid-Atlantic rift driving continental plates apart, running through Iceland. See links under Changing Cryosphere – Land / Sea Ice.


Government Policies Killing Jobs: Writing for the Fraser Institute in Canada, economists Ross McKitrick and Elmira Aliabari examine the results of government policies in the province of Ontario. The results are another example of politicians allowing ideological beliefs to interfere with practical duties. The economists conclude that rising electricity costs have become a major problem for the prosperity of Ontario and its major cities of Ottawa and Toronto.

“Ontario now has the highest electricity costs across all Canadian provinces and among the highest costs in North America. In 2016, large industrial consumers in Toronto and Ottawa paid almost three times more than consumers in Montreal and Calgary and almost twice the prices paid by large consumers in Vancouver. Even some select large industrial consumers (Class A) that were granted rate reductions still paid higher rates than high-demand electricity users in Quebec, Alberta, and British Columbia.”

“Compared to many American and Canadian jurisdictions, Ontario has exhibited the most substantial decline in its manufacturing sector over the past decade. Between 2005 and 2016, while many Northeast jurisdictions that are Ontario’s main competitors boosted their manufacturing sector’s share of GDP, in Ontario it declined by 5.1 percentage points. Since Ontario’s manufacturing sector is lagging behind other jurisdictions, global factors such as world demand, exchange rates, and technological change cannot explain the poor performance. What is different for Ontario is the problem of rising electricity costs, which have likely placed too large a financial burden on Ontario’s manufacturing sector and hampered its competitiveness.”

The economists state:

“The problem of rising electricity costs is a problem made in Ontario, directly tied to the provincial government’s policy choices, which include aggressively promoting renewable sources, structuring long-term contracts poorly, and phasing out coal. The significant employment losses in Ontario’s manufacturing sector and the overall stagnant employment and economic growth rates in this province should concern policy makers. We urge the government to consider meaningful reforms aimed at significantly lowering electricity costs in the province.” See link under Non-Green Jobs


Market Favoritism: Last week’s TWTW discussed what is physically required to provide reliable (dispatchable), stable back-up electricity to wind and solar power. The estimate of 10 gigawatts needed for Southern California requires 5 Hoover Dams and Lake Meads. These will not magically appear.

Donn Dears discusses how the preferential dispatch system used by many market operators, and required in many states, is destructive because it excludes critical baseload power from fossil fuel and nuclear power plants, eventually forcing their closure. This is a rare example where short-run marginal cost pricing becomes costlier to consumers in the long-run, than long-run total cost pricing. These external costs of the wind and solar power generators need to be internalized, placed on the wind and solar power generators. This concept is far different, but parallel, to the effort being made by academic economists on what they claim to be the “social costs of carbon dioxide”, ignoring that increased CO2 is beneficial.

As demonstrated by the Black Event in South Australia, the baseload problem will reoccur. It will not magically go away. A practical electricity back-up system is proven on a commercial scale is needed. Right now, hydropower is the only proven system on a large scale. Long-promised batteries are not evident. See links under Energy Issues – US


Number of the Week: 1.8 to 1 Using government numbers for green jobs, even though many green jobs are temporary, economists Ross McKitrick and Elmira Aliabari estimated that for each green job created by government policies, the province of Ontario lost 1.8 manufacturing jobs.



1. Global warming and peer review

By S. Fred Singer, American Thinker, Oct 30, 2017 [H/t Timothy Wise]


The Chairman of SEPP writes:

“An essay in the current issue (Oct. 2017) of Eos, the house organ and newsletter of the American Geophysical Union (AGU), is titled “Red, Blue – and Peer-Review” (P.R.).

“The essay asserts that P.R. is superior to a debate between a (red) team of climate skeptics and a (blue) team of alarmists. I disagree strongly and will point to prominent cases where P.R. is misused to keep contrary opinions and facts from being published and thus enforce a “consensus.” A classic case is described by Douglass and Christy here.

“I can cite many more examples – assuming that the IPCC (U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) represents a kind of P.R., as constantly claimed by alarmist IPCC proponents.

“I have shown, and convinced many others, that the ‘evidential facts’ in support of anthropogenic global warming (AGW), cited by the first three Assessment Reports (A.R.s) of 1990, 1996, and 2001, are based on spurious analyses and data.

“Recently, I discovered that the evidence used by A.R. 4 (2007) and A.R. 5 (2013) does not really exist; it is fake, an artifact of incomplete data analyses. I refer here to the reported surface warming of 1978-1997 (for details, see this). [A Global Warming Surprise, By S. Fred Singer, American Thinker, May 11, 2017, http://www.americanthinker.com/articles/2017/05/a_global_warming_surprise.html]

“But publication of such a result is difficult. It involves finding a sympathetic and courageous journal editor who will not send the manuscript to unfriendly, biased reviewers.

“Obviously, a red-blue debate might rapidly settle any controversies – or at least bring them to light. Thus, one understands why consensus-enforcers try to keep out inconvenient facts, avoid debates, and prefer peer review.”


2. Summary of Letters to the Wall Street objecting to the Koonin editorial carried are Article # 1 in the November 4 TWTW:

Good Science Should Rule U.S. Climate Policy

Robert E. Kopp, Ph.D.

“As a scientist and author on the Climate Science Special Report, I stand by its conclusions: The rate of global sea level rise since 1900 has been faster than during any comparable period in at least 2,800 years.

“It’s unfortunate that Steven E. Koonin chose to wait until months after an extensive public review process to critique the Climate Science Special Report (CSSR), which he attacks in “A Deceptive New Report on Climate”

“Had he suggested further explanation of decadal variability in global mean sea-level rise during the review process, it might have been added by the authors. They might have noted that the rate of global sea-level rise today is likely faster than during its previous high in the 1930s-40s, also a period of relatively rapid temperature increase. Further, they might have noted the robust acceleration in sea level since 1900 that has been revealed by multiple analyses.

“As a scientist and author on the Climate Science Special Report, I stand by its conclusions: The rate of global sea-level rise since 1900 has been faster than during any comparable period in at least 2,800 years. It has led to about seven to eight inches of global sea-level rise, about three inches of which have occurred since 1993. Human activities have contributed substantially to this high rate, which is a major contributor to the accelerating increase in tidal flooding in over two dozen Atlantic and Gulf Coast cities. One to four more inches of rise will likely occur over this century, depending in part on carbon-dioxide emissions, though levels as high as eight feet cannot be ruled out. The points that Mr. Koonin raises are minor comments about framing; the underlying scientific evidence is correct.”


E. William Colglazier, Ph.D.

“I am the former executive officer of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences and National Research Council (1994-2011) and former Science and Technology Adviser to the U.S. Secretary of State (2011-14).

“The quickest way to politicize scientific knowledge, what is known and not known, is to treat it as no different from other aspects of a contentious public-policy debate. Mr. Koonin’s op-ed provides a good example. His so-called red team/blue team proposal for climate science would create two teams to debate scientific uncertainties and their significance. The teams would include nonscientists and scientists outside the relevant disciplines. This effort in effect becomes a political process with value judgments and no guarantee of an unbiased scientific assessment by the most highly qualified experts.

“I commend the Trump administration for not trying to suppress the scientific judgments in the Climate Science Special Report, which are counter to the views of President Trump, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt and others in the administration. If the Trump administration really wanted to know the current state of scientific knowledge related to climate change, all it has to do is read the reports of the National Academies as well as the CSSR.”


3. OPEC Says Oil Demand Will Grow Past 2040

Cartel’s view on peak-oil demand differs from some big-oil companies

By Christopher Alessi, WSJ, Nov 7, 2017


SUMMARY: The author discusses that the forecasts of the OPEC cartel contradict Royal Dutch Shell and Norway’s Statoil on the recent concept, peak oil demand. OPEC is more in line with the International Energy Agency:

“In its annual World Oil outlook, OPEC said slower-than-expected global economic growth as a result of increased protectionism and reduced free trade could weigh on oil demand through 2040, resulting in demand of roughly 107.5 million barrels a day in 2040.

“But the cartel predicts long-term oil demand to increase by 15.8 million barrels a day, hitting 111.1 million barrels a day in 2040, compared with 95.4 million barrels a day in 2016. That growth should be fueled by high population growth and a burgeoning middle class in developing countries.

“’Within the developing countries, China is expected to continue to be the largest consumer of oil’ through 2040, while India ‘will be the region with the second-largest overall demand growth,’ the report said.

“However, OPEC said demand in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development—a group of 35 industrialized, oil-consuming nations including the U.S.—is expected to decline by 8.9 million barrels a day during the run-up to 2040, driven by slowing population growth, stricter energy efficiency standards and the rise of electric vehicles.

“The cartel said medium-term growth should be buoyed by the introduction of new International Maritime Organization regulations mandating the use of lower sulfur petroleum products in marine fuel, which should likely lead to an uptick in refinery runs.

“’Oil demand growth in 2020 is expected to be higher because of these regulations, primarily due to the likely surplus of high-sulfur fuel oil volumes priced at a discount assumed to be absorbed by the power generation sector and volumetric processing gains from switching from fuel oil to diesel,’ the report said.

“Still, the OPEC report highlighted that global annual demand growth is expected to slow to 810,000 barrels a day in 2022, compared with 1.45 million barrels a day in 2017, a result of expected higher oil prices, efficiency gains, lower population growth in the OECD and China and increased uptake of alternative fuel vehicles.”


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