Weekly Climate and Energy News Roundup #292

Brought to You by www.SEPP.org, The Science and Environmental Policy Project

By Ken Haapala, President

Quote of the Week. “It’s easier to fool people than to convince them that they have been fooled.” – Mark Twain [H/t Joe D’Aleo]

Number of the Week: 82%

COP-23: After two weeks of the participants declaring how they are out to save the world from carbon dioxide-caused warming, the 23rd Conference of Parties (COP-23) of the UN Framework Convention for Climate Change (UNFCCC) has ended with the promise – wait until next year. It is at COP-24 that the delegates of the various countries promise to address the hard task of developing the complex rules needed to fulfill the promises and pledges they made to achieve the Paris Agreement in 2016.

At COP-23 there were few dramatic effects, such as a President Obama, with a newly minted Nobel Peace Prize, flying in to try to save the day, as in 2009. Or agreements signed with great fanfare, then suddenly changed at the last minute to avoid pesky details, such as the US Constitution, which requires treaties have two-thirds approval of the Senate, as occurred with the Paris Agreement. Will the special committee appointed by the Storting (Norwegian parliament) attempt to persuade President Trump with an award in 2018?

The US Senate may become a major obstacle to any future agreements. Some Senators have witnessed how the Obama administration used legalistic arguments to avoid the clear requirements in the Constitution, and even ignoring the conditions placed in the resolution for acceptance of the treaty forming the UNFCCC.

There were plenty ironies at COP-23. UN General Secretary Antonio Guterres, a socialist politician from Portugal who was Prime Minister from 1995–2002, warned that fossil fuel use is unsustainable. Fossil fuels (coal, oil, petroleum, and natural gas products) constitute about 75% of Portugal’s energy consumption (2014). As readers of TWTW realize, wind and solar are not sustainable, they fail frequently. Other than hydroelectric generation there is not a practical non-fossil fuel backup when they fail. Nuclear requires too much time to ramp-up. Also, ramping strains large hydro turbines, requiring more maintenance and replacement.

Now that the current US administration is not pushing the UN agenda, Germany may be the leader for the UNFCCC. Indeed, Bonn was chosen as the location rather than in Fiji, which was the ceremonial host. Yet, Germany has failed to meet the government’s promised reductions in carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions for nine years, and its electricity prices are increasing dramatically, reaching those of Denmark, the highest in Europe. Germany consumes more coal than any other country in the EU, and German industries are rebelling against the government policies, and may move elsewhere.

Poland is scheduled to host COP-24. It is a major consumer of coal. According to the World Energy Council (2016): “Poland consumes 77 million tonnes of coal per year, which makes it the 10th largest coal consumer in the world and the 2nd largest in the EU, after Germany. 92% of electricity and 89% of heat in Poland is generated from coal and according to the official Polish Government Energy Policy Strategy, coal will remain the key element of the country’s energy security until at least 2030.”

After suffering years of economic and other oppression by the Soviet Union, it may be questionable that Poland will vigorously push an agreement that promises economic oppression by the UN.

The host country, Fiji, started COP-23 with claims that soon it will be engulfed by the waves from carbon dioxide-caused sea level rise. As stated in previous TWTWs, the 2008 report of the Nongovernmental Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC) addresses sea level rise on pp. 16 to 19. The estimate is about 7 inches per century, roughly stable for 4000 years. The issue is discussed further in subsequent NIPCC reports, such as the 2013 Climate Change Reconsidered II: Physical Science. The claims by Fiji and the US Global Change Research Program (USGCRP), discussed in last week’s TWTW, brought on several counter studies.

A study by Nils-Axel Mörner et al. suggests that the level of corals around Fiji indicates that sea levels have been stable for about 200 years. The corals indicate that the sea levels shift every few hundred years, possibly due to changes in the distribution of the mass of the water with small changes in the rate of the earth’s rotation. Whether Mörner’s explanation is exact, or not, is not the key issue. The key issue is the reported rapid increase in the rate of sea level rise since 1993 false result of improper calibration of new instruments on satellites.

See links under After Paris!, After Paris – COP 23, Questioning European Green, http://www.indexmundi.com/facts/portugal/fossil-fuel-energy-consumption, and

https://www.worldenergy.org/data/resources/country/poland/coal/

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Lowering Standards: One of the disturbing signs of improper governance is the lowering of scientific standards by once-noted agencies such as NASA. TWTW reader Paul Sheridan sent an analysis by a young researcher who did a simple regression between concentration of CO2 vs ppm) vs temperature from 1959 to 2016 and found an R squared of .898. The data for CO2 and temperatures comes from the NASA web site: Global Climate Change: Vital Signs of the Planet.

The web site states that the CO2 measurements come from NOAA, Mauna Loa Observatory, Hawaii, and the global temperature measurements come from NASA-Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS). The NASA web site states:

“The year 2016 ranks as the warmest on record. (Source: NASA/GISS). This research is broadly consistent with similar constructions prepared by the Climatic Research Unit and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.”

The web site states the data, “Global Land-Ocean Temperature Index”, “illustrates the change in global surface temperature relative to 1951-1980 average temperatures.”

The 1979 Charney Report, published by the National Academy of Sciences, states that the greenhouse effect occurs in the atmosphere, not on the surface. With data going back to 1979, we have the most rigorous, comprehensive atmospheric temperature data from satellites, independently confirmed by different instruments on weather balloons.

What is NASA doing using indirect surface data, that may have many other influences, on a web site dedicated to stating the facts regarding the influence of greenhouse gases, when more rigorous, comprehensive, direct data is available from NASA/NOAA satellites?

A simple “eyeball” comparison shows a significant disparity between surface temperature data and satellite atmospheric data. By using surface temperature data on a site purportedly showing the influence of greenhouse gases, NASA is misleading the public. Its standards have greatly diminished since the days of Apollo.

Also ironic is its graph on sea level rise:

“Sea level rise is caused primarily by two factors related to global warming: the added water from melting ice sheets and glaciers and the expansion of sea water as it warms. The first graph tracks the change in sea level since 1993 as observed by satellites.”

Since January 2016, sea levels have been generally lower. No upward trend, contradicting what was written in the Climate Science Special Report just released by the USGCRP.

“The second graph, derived from coastal tide gauge data, shows how much sea level changed from about 1870 to 2000.”

That graph comes from the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, (CSIRO) of Australia. Strangely, it has not been updated for over 15 years. See links under Lowering Standards.

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Food Security: Last week’s TWTW discussed that 5 years of bumper crops have created excesses of food crops which are creating problems with grain handlers as well as farmers. These bumper crops occurred during “the hottest years” ever. The USGCRP and the UN disregard these practical finding in their academic claims that carbon dioxide caused global warming will cause mass famine, etc. The writers at CO2 Science disagree. They reviewed a paper by L. Mariani in The European Physical Journal Plus titled “How to Feed the Planet and Its Additional 1.5 Billion Persons 30 Years from Now.” Given how far-fetched the academic forecasts of the UN and the USGCRP are compared to actual events, it is worth quoting a few comments at length.

“As illustrated in the figure below, Mariani notes that a ‘return to a glacial period would reduce by 51% the global productivity for thermal (low temperatures) and nutritional (low levels of CO2) reasons,’ whereas a return to pre-industrial conditions would reduce global production of the four keystone crops by 18 percent. Looking to the future, however, Mariani notes that increases in both CO2 and temperature would improve production, increasing the combined production of wheat, maize, rice and soybean by 15 and 24 percent above today’s values.”

“Commenting on his findings and looking to the past, Mariani writes that ‘the return of temperature and CO2 to glacial or pre-industrial values would give rise to serious disadvantages for food security and should be as far as possible avoided, as also highlighted by the results of Cage and Coleman (2001) and Araus et al. (2003)’ (emphasis added). And with an eye to the future, Mariani says that ‘the agricultural sector is able to successfully meet the challenge of global change and guarantee food security to levels higher than the current ones for a world population that in 2050 will exceed 9 billion people,’ to which we would add — only if governments avoid implementing CO2 emission reduction schemes, which schemes are appearing more and more to be akin to genocide.”

One may disagree with precise value of some of the forecasts, but the general trend is clear: both warming and carbon dioxide fertilization greatly benefit agriculture, humanity, and the environment. See links under Review of Recent Scientific Articles by CO2 Science.

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Additions and Corrections: Last week’s TWTW contained a sentence that puzzled several readers who are geologists: “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.”

A better sentence would have read: “The geologists estimated that the Ellsworth Mountains have been exposed, free of ice above the trimline, for at least 2.1 to 2.6 million years. They stated that the GRACE satellites were calibrated on the assumption that the exposure occurred after the maximum of the last ice age, about 20,000 years ago. If true, this error would have resulted in a significant overestimate of Antarctica’s contribution to the 110 meters of sea level rise that occurred from ice melt over the past 20,000 years.”

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Number of the Week: 82% According to the calculations of Mariani, under the temperature and CO2 conditions of the pre-industrial age, the combined world production of wheat, maize, rice, and soybeans would be 82% of what it is today. The UN and the USGCRP wish to return us to the pre-industrial levels?

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ARTICLES:

1. Chemical Plant Owners Urged to Prepare for Worst-Case Flooding

U.S. Chemical Safety Board says facilities, especially in Gulf of Mexico coast, need to ready for extreme weather events

By Christopher M. Matthews, WSJ, Nov 15, 2017

https://www.wsj.com/articles/chemical-plant-owners-urged-to-prepare-for-worst-case-flooding-1510774059

Link to paper: Assessing the present and future probability of Hurricane Harvey’s rainfall

By Kerry Emanuel, PNAS, Nov 13, 2917

http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2017/11/07/1716222114

[SEPP Comment: Another forecast of increased probability of extreme weather events based on academic models that have not been adequately tested.]

SUMMARY: According to the authors: “The U.S. Chemical Safety Board is warning that many industrial sites where hazardous materials are stored may not be adequately prepared for extreme weather events.

“A dayslong chemical fire outside of Houston during Hurricane Harvey erupted because the plant’s owner never anticipated the worst-case scenario that played out in August as historic rainfall swamped its facility, the federal investigator said Wednesday.

“French chemical maker Arkema SA had a disaster plan in place for its Crosby, Texas, plant located 25 miles from downtown Houston, but it didn’t anticipate 6 feet of floodwater. Flooding caused the site’s main electrical source to fail and then forced workers to shut off emergency power generators. Without refrigeration systems to cool the organic peroxides manufactured at the plant, the compounds became unstable and ignited.

“The Arkema disaster should be a lesson to other chemical and industrial plants that urgently need to reassess their flood planning, lead investigator Mark Wingard said.

“Vanessa Sutherland, chairwoman of the Chemical Safety Board, said Harvey showed that more extreme storms are possible and industrial sites need to re-evaluate how they prepare for flooding and test their worst-case assumptions.”

Fortunately, no one was killed, but the company faces litigation from first responders for not adequately preparing for the power outage. The journalist states:

“The MIT study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, said that Houston—and Texas in general—will face an increasing risk of devastating rainfall. Texas had a 1% chance of experiencing Harvey-scale rainfall for any given year between 1981 and 2000, the study said. That risk could rise to 18% by the end of the century if greenhouse-gas emissions continue to rise. Those emissions help warm offshore waters—a phenomenon that can magnify the severity of storms and generate more rain, creating bigger floods, the authors said.”

The study can be considered another example of academic research compared to practical research. What caused the heavy flooding of the Houston area the year after the city was founded?

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2. How Local Utilities Gamed the Natural-Gas Market

They booked large orders and then canceled at the last minute, which pushed electric prices up by 20%.

By Fred Krupp, WSJ, Nov 16, 2017

https://www.wsj.com/articles/how-local-utilities-gamed-the-natural-gas-market-1510869318

Link to press release: STUDY: New England Customers Paid $3.6 Billion in Inflated Electric Bills Due to Regulatory Disconnect Between Natural Gas, Electricity Markets

By Staff Writers, EDF, Oct 11, 2017

https://www.edf.org/media/study-new-england-customers-paid-36-billion-inflated-electric-bills-due-regulatory-disconnect

SUMMARY: The president of the Environmental Defense Fund uses three years of data to claim certain power generators manipulate the supply of natural gas to increase profits. The abstract of the study reads:

“New England is at the leading edge of an energy transition in which natural gas is playing an increasingly important role in the US electricity generation mix. In recent years, the region’s wholesale natural gas and electricity markets have experienced severe, simultaneous price spikes. While frequently attributed to limited pipeline capacity serving the region, we demonstrate that such price spikes have been exacerbated by some gas distribution firms scheduling deliveries without actually flowing gas. This behavior blocks other firms from utilizing pipeline capacity, which artificially limits gas supply to the region and drives up gas and electricity prices. We estimate that capacity withholding increased average gas and electricity prices by 38% and 20%, respectively, over the three year period we study. As a result, customers paid $3.6 billion more for electricity. While the studied behavior may have been within the firms’ contractual rights, the significant impacts in both the gas and electricity markets underscore the need to improve regulation and coordination as these two energy markets become increasingly interlinked.”

The study does not adequately explain why despite major imports of inexpensive hydroelectricity from Quebec, there has been general increases in electricity prices across the northeast as discussed by Joseph D’Aleo under Challenging the Orthodoxy.

CONTINUE READING –>

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