Weekly Climate and Energy News Roundup #302

By Ken Haapala, President, Science and Environmental Policy Project

Brought to You by www.SEPP.org

39 Years of Data: The “Global Temperature Report” for December 2017 by the Earth System Science Center at the University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH) contained an illuminating global map. The map showed the global temperature change in the lower troposphere as calculated from satellite measurements from December 1979 to December 2017 – 39 years. These calculations are independently verified by direct measurements of temperatures from weather balloons. These are the most comprehensive temperature data compiled, far more inclusive than surface-air data, taken about shoulder height off the ground, largely in westernized regions of the global land mass. Further, it is in the atmosphere where the greenhouse gas effect occurs, not at shoulder level. [Satellite data do not include the region directly over the poles.]

These atmospheric data reveal a pronounced warming over the Arctic, as one would expect from greenhouse gas theory. However, except for the region known as Queen Maud Land, roughly south of Africa, which shows a pronounced warming, the bulk of Antarctica shows a cooling, or no change. This is contrary to what one would expect from the greenhouse gas theory, as expressed in the 1979 Charney Report produced by the US National Academy of Sciences.

Further, the bulk of the atmosphere over the tropics does not show a strong pronounced warming, contrary to what the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) asserted in its Second Assessment report, claiming it had detected a distinct human influence (human fingerprint) on climate from greenhouse gases (SAR, 1995).

The atmosphere continues to contradict the findings of the IPCC, and it is past time to re-evaluate the assumptions made by it, its supporters, and its models. Also, when will the IPCC advocates in NOAA and NASA admit that greenhouse gas warming occurs in the atmosphere, not on or near the surface of the earth? NOAA and NASA continue to undermine their own credibility by their continued use of surface (surface-air) temperatures and by their manipulation of historic data, producing a false warming trend. See links under Challenging the Orthodoxy, Lowering Standards, and Measurement Issues — Atmosphere

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Quote of the Week. The sun, with all those planets revolving around it and dependent on it, can still ripen a bunch of grapes as if it had nothing else in the universe to do. – Galileo Galilei

 

Number of the Week: 16% Paid

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Solar Changes: The Canadian Center of Science and Education published a paper by researchers at National Astronomical Observatories of the Chinese Academy of Sciences estimating changing solar activity during the Holocene period, going back almost 12,000 years. They do so by estimating sunspot activity from 9455 BC to 1895 AD. Direct observations of sunspots go back about 4 centuries. Using a mathematical technique called wavelet transform, the researchers use proxy data, such as carbon 14 and beryllium 10 isotopes, to estimate solar activity to the earlier period. In so doing, they build on the work of others who have shown variation in solar activity relates to global and regional climate change.

Their analysis indicates a cyclical variation in solar activity of roughly 500 years, with the amplitude of the solar activity varying over time. For example, about 11,000 years ago there was a pronounced increase in solar activity, as well as about 4000 years ago, and in recent years. About 8,000 years ago there was a pronounced decrease in solar activity, as well as about 500 years ago, which corresponds to the low solar activity observed by early astronomers using telescopes (Galileo and others). [Note, a 500-year solar activity cycle that includes sunspot cycles with changing amplitude, is not inconsistent with the 1,500-year cycle described in the book by Fred Singer and Dennis Avery.]

The changing amplitudes of solar activity indicate that long-term changes in climate are influenced by solar activity. However, it is important to note that these climate changes do not occur with each solar cycle, but with a series of solar cycles with an increasing or decreasing solar activity. Consequently, those who may believe that a single cycle of low solar activity will result in a cooling climate will probably be disappointed.

The oceans hold a tremendous amount of heat, and there is no logical reason to assume that a single solar cycle of low activity will result in the release most of this heat. It would take several such cycles before a pronounced climate change is observed.

It is interesting to note that the graph of the solar activity shows that currently, solar activity is comparable to that of 4,000 years ago and was exceeded about 11,000 years ago. No doubt, the paper will be criticized in the Western journals, because it indicates that carbon dioxide (CO2) is not the primary driver of climate change. See links under Science: Is the Sun Rising?

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One Model, One Run? One of the criticisms appearing in Western Journals of global climate models is the inability of models to track changing temperature through the Holocene, the past 11,500 years or so. A paper published in Nature, states:

“Cooling during most of the past two millennia has been widely recognized and has been inferred to be the dominant global temperature trend of the past 11,700 years (the Holocene epoch). However, long-term cooling has been difficult to reconcile with global forcing, and climate models consistently simulate long-term warming. The divergence between simulations and reconstructions emerges primarily for northern mid-latitudes, for which pronounced cooling has been inferred from marine and coastal records using multiple approaches. Here we show that temperatures reconstructed from sub-fossil pollen from 642 sites across North America and Europe closely match simulations, and that long-term warming, not cooling, defined the Holocene until around 2,000 years ago. The reconstructions indicate that evidence of long-term cooling was limited to North Atlantic records.”

Obviously, there are major inconsistencies between this paper and the one discussed above. But aside from the data limited to one paleoclimate proxy, pollen, unspecified, the real issue is with the simulation of climate using one climate model (probably run once because there was no mention of multiple runs or averages) and concluding that these efforts:

“… reinforce the notion that climate models can adequately simulate climates for periods other than the present-day.”

In his February 2, 2016, written testimony to the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology, John Christy showed that only one global climate model closely approximated observations of global mid-tropospheric temperature variations, the Russian model by the Institute of Numerical Mathematics. All the other models overestimated the warming of the mid- troposphere by 2.5 to 3 times.

To assert that the Nature paper makes a “hasty generalization” is polite. See links under Models v. Observations and http://docs.house.gov/meetings/SY/SY00/20160202/104399/HHRG-114-SY00-Wstate-ChristyJ-20160202.pdf (pp. 12 & 13)

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Svensmark Hypothesis Supported? Perhaps unknowingly, Science Magazine, gave support to the Svensmark Hypothesis that cosmic rays can cause cloudiness when it carried a paper on ultrafine aerosols. Those criticizing the Svensmark Hypothesis claim the products of cosmic rays hitting the atmosphere are too small for affect cloud formation. The new paper is titled: “Substantial convection and precipitation enhancements by ultrafine aerosol particles.’

The summary of the paper states:

“Up with ultrafine aerosol particles

“Ultrafine aerosol particles (smaller than 50 nanometers in diameter) have been thought to be too small to affect cloud formation. Fan et al. show that this is not the case. They studied the effect of urban pollution transported into the otherwise nearly pristine atmosphere of the Amazon. Condensational growth of water droplets around the tiny particles releases latent heat, thereby intensifying atmospheric convection. Thus, anthropogenic ultrafine aerosol particles may exert a more important influence on cloud formation processes than previously believed.”

Of course, there is no mention of the Svensmark Hypothesis. See links under Commentary: Is the Sun Rising?

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CEI Letter: Last week’s and prior TWTWs have discussed problems associated with the litigation filed by municipalities such as New York, San Francisco, and Oakland against oil companies for selling petroleum which creates CO2 when burned. These and other jurisdictions have made specific claims of future damage from global warming, particularly from rising sea levels. The claims are highly questionable, lacking physical evidence that CO2 is causing increased sea level rise and other claimed damages. But, they have been made in court filings.

As discussed last week, the 1933 and 1934 securities laws are taken seriously by the US courts. Errors of omission are dealt with severely, as are errors of commission. Yet, in their securities filings, these municipalities are “glossing over” any harms from CO2-caused global warming.

On February 1, attorneys with the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) notified the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) of possible securities related fraud as to omission of, or glossing over, climate risks, which the municipalities in California specifically state in their litigation filings as being damaged by climate change. In CEI’s letter to LeeAnn Ghazil Gaunt; Chief of the Public Finance Abuse Unit of the SEC, the opening paragraph states:

“It has come to our attention that various municipalities expect substantial future financial harm, but have either explicitly disclaimed the ability to determine such harms or at the least omitted these potential harms when informing bond investors. We wish to notify the SEC of these potential problems so that they can be properly investigated with appropriate action taken to protect investors.”

Unfortunately, the taxpayers in these jurisdictions may suffer from higher bonding costs and insurance premiums long after the politicians are gone.

Please note, SEPP has joined CEI on several activities objecting to the EPA Endangerment Finding, but was not involved with this letter. See links under Litigation Issues

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Trump State of the Union: The State of the Union address by President Trump may have been remarkable for at least two reasons: 1) climate policy and 2) energy policy.

Perhaps the most remarkable item in the address and its official rebuttal by Rep. Joe Kennedy (D-Mass.) was the failure to mention dire global warming / climate change, drastic sea level rise, and the many ills that have been prophesized if we continue to burn fossil fuels and emit carbon dioxide. Is a new realization occurring that we will not overheat or drown in acidic waters? Probably not. The alarmists will continue to attack President Trump for his climate policies and gently criticize Kennedy for his oversight. After all, decades of carbon dioxide fear cannot be overcome with a single speech.

For the first time since President George W. Bush asserted “America is addicted to oil” in 2006, the State of the Union address asserted that the US has ample fossil fuel resources and will continue to develop them to advance its economic and foreign policy goals. See Article # 2 and links under Change in US Administrations Energy Issues – Non-US

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Number of the Week: 16% Paid. The signers of the Paris Agreement were to pay “dues” on January 1, 2018, to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). Only 31 of the 197 countries signing did so. The 84% who did not included China, Brazil, France, Germany and the US. In March, the US State Department budget eliminated funds under the Global Climate Change Initiative, which previously had about $6.4 million. About 20% of the UNFCCC operating budget. See links under After Paris!

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ARTICLES:

1. China Creates Nuclear Powerhouse

Two of the country’s largest nuclear-power firms remerge in effort to boost market power and efficiency.

By Wayne Ma, WSJ, Jan 31, 2018

https://www.wsj.com/articles/china-creates-nuclear-powerhouse-1517401534

SUMMARY: The reporter states:

“The country’s state-asset regulator said Wednesday it approved the merger of China National Nuclear Corp., which develops and produces nuclear power, and China Nuclear Engineering and Construction Group, which builds nuclear-power plants.

“The megamerger would create a company with combined assets of about $100 billion and a workforce of more than 140,000 people.

“The merger has been in the works since at least March 2017, when the publicly listed units of both companies each said their parents were planning to restructure. The two companies split up in a previous round of government-sponsored restructuring in 1999.

“Beijing has been systematically combining and strengthening its state-owned enterprises over the past two years to boost their market power and efficiency. China’s two largest steelmakers merged in 2016, while its top coal miner and one of its biggest power producers combined less than a year later.

“By merging the two companies, Beijing hopes vertical integration can reduce costs and make its nuclear giant more competitive, especially overseas, where it hopes to follow in the footsteps of other Chinese firms’ success abroad in winning contracts for rail and power-grid construction and operation.

“China is the fastest-growing country for nuclear power as Beijing ramps up capacity as part of a plan to diversify beyond its reliance on coal-fired power plants. Coal-fired plants make up more than 60% of the country’s power mix, according to China’s National Energy Administration, and are a main source of air pollution.

“China had 36 gigawatts of installed nuclear-power-generation capacity last year, or about 2% of total power-generation capacity, according to the energy administration. Beijing has set an ambitious target to reach 58 gigawatts of nuclear capacity by 2020 and analysts say it could target more than 200 gigawatts by 2030. By comparison, U.S. nuclear capacity was about 100 gigawatts last year, though most of that capacity was built before 1990.”

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2. Drilled, Baby, Drilled

A decade ago Barack Obama mocked Sarah Palin. Who was right?

Editorial, WSJ, Feb 1, 2018

https://www.wsj.com/articles/drilled-baby-drilled-1517531831

SUMMARY: After discussing how the previous administration mocked the political slogan “drill, baby, drill, the editorial states:

“The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) reported Thursday that U.S. crude oil production exceeded 10 million barrels a day for the first time since 1970. That’s double the five million barrels produced in 2008, thanks to the boom in, well, drilling, baby.

The EIA summary puts it this way: ‘U.S. crude oil production has increased significantly over the past 10 years, driven mainly by production from tighter rock formations including shale and other fine-grained rock using horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing to improve efficiency.’”

“The magnitude of the boom is remarkable. The gusher has pushed the U.S. close to overtaking Saudi Arabia and Russia as the world’s leading oil producer. In 2006 the U.S. imported 12.9 million barrels a day of crude and petroleum products. By last October that was down to 2.5 million a day. Some gimmick.

“This translates into greater energy security as the U.S. is less dependent on foreign oil sources. Donald Trump calls it ‘energy dominance,’ which implies that the U.S. wants to husband its supplies like gold at Fort Knox. The reality is we want to produce and sell what the market will bear, including exports to willing buyers around the world.

“Thanks to Congress’s deal with Mr. Obama in 2015 when Republicans extended wind and solar subsidies in return for lifting the oil export ban, the U.S. exported some 1.5 million barrels of oil a day in November. Some readers may recall that Heritage Action instructed Congress to vote no, and Breitbart called the bill ‘a total and complete sell-out of the American people.’ Perhaps even they can now see that trading temporary subsidies for a permanent change in export law was shrewd and good for the country.

“Also striking is how quickly the oil and gas industry has recovered from the oil price plunge of 2015-2016. Previous price declines led to multiple bankruptcies and bank failures. This time drillers adapted quickly, took the rig count down fast, and cut costs. America’s flexible private capital markets helped the companies ride out the price trough, and now producers, investors and lenders are reaping the benefits of the oil price rebound to $69 a barrel.

“And don’t forget the fracking boom in natural gas. EIA says U.S. gas production increased by some 50% from January 2010 to November 2017, reducing carbon emissions and heating prices. Thanks to new export terminals, the U.S. is now selling liquefied natural gas around the world. This has the potential to compete with Russian gas so Western Europe doesn’t have to succumb to Vladimir Putin’s periodic energy blackmail. Unleashing U.S. energy is Donald Trump’s best Russia containment strategy.

“It’s worth stressing some of the policy lessons in all this. The first is that the best response to energy shocks is to let the market adjust to the price signals. As oil prices soared in the latter half of the last decade, politicians panicked and rushed to ban certain light bulbs, and subsidize and mandate cellulosic ethanol and other energy fads. The media fed the panic and cheered the politicians on. We were back at ‘peak oil’ and the end of fossil fuels.

“Yet American ingenuity was already discovering the solution for high prices in the shale plays of North Dakota, Pennsylvania, Texas and elsewhere. These drillers could move fast because they had the support of private capital and could lease private land. The frackers were also largely regulated by the states, which meant even the Obama Administration couldn’t stop them.

“This is a familiar American story of invention and wealth creation that benefits everyone, but it never would have happened if central planners in Washington had to approve it. That’s the most important lesson.”

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3. Big Oil Finds Going Green Is Hard to Do

Shell has made the clearest bet on a lower-carbon future but that may cause headaches in the near term

By Nathaniel Taplin, WSJ, Feb 1, 2018

https://www.wsj.com/articles/big-oil-finds-going-green-is-hard-to-do-1517485633

SUMMARY: The journalist states:

“Thanks to better global growth and OPEC’s grit, oil is testing $70 a barrel again. Oil titans like Royal Dutch Shell RDS.B -2.99% are reveling in the unexpected bounty: the firm posted strong fourth-quarter results Thursday showing earnings up a cool 147% compared with a year earlier.

“Not bad for an oil firm supposedly entering the twilight years of the petroleum age.

“Still, oil’s resurgence raises some interesting questions. Of all the big oil firms, Shell has made the clearest bet on a lower-carbon, more-electric future—its roughly $50 billion purchase of BG Group in 2016 vaulted it into the top echelons of global natural-gas producers. In recent weeks, it has forked out for British power company First Utility—about $200 million, according to Thomson Reuters —and up to $217 million for a big stake in American solar producer Silicon Ranch Corp.

“With China now making a concerted push to green its power sector—and political risk stirred up by low-carbon advocacy unlikely to disappear soon—Shell’s strategy will probably pay off over the medium to long term. Nearer term, it can cause some headaches when oil prices unexpectedly rebound.”

The reporter concludes that getting out of oil, and natural gas, production will be difficult for the oil majors.

CONTINUE READING –>

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