Weekly Climate and Energy News Roundup #303

By Ken Haapala, President, Science and Environmental Policy Project

Brought to You by www.SEPP.org

Quote of the Week.“Akin to, and largely responsible for the sweeping changes in our industrial-military posture, has been the technological revolution during recent decades.

“In this revolution, research has become central, it also becomes more formalized, complex, and costly. A steadily increasing share is conducted for, by, or at the direction of, the Federal government.

“Today, the solitary inventor, tinkering in his shop, has been overshadowed by task forces of scientists in laboratories and testing fields. In the same fashion, the free university, historically the fountainhead of free ideas and scientific discovery, has experienced a revolution in the conduct of research. Partly because of the huge costs involved, a government contract becomes virtually a substitute for intellectual curiosity. For every old blackboard there are now hundreds of new electronic computers.

“The prospect of domination of the nation’s scholars by Federal employment, project allocations, and the power of money is ever present – and is gravely to be regarded.

“Yet, in holding scientific research and discovery in respect, as we should, we must also be alert to the equal and opposite danger that public policy could itself become the captive of a scientific-technological elite

“It is the task of statesmanship to mold, to balance, and to integrate these and other forces, new and old, within the principles of our democratic system – ever aiming toward the supreme goals of our free society. — President Dwight D. Eisenhower, January 17, 1961 [Boldface added.]

Number of the Week:10.2 million barrels per day.

False Intelligence: President Eisenhower’s farewell address, from which the above quotation is taken, gives valuable advice for setting government policy and the need to ensure that policy is not based on incorrect information, false intelligence, no matter how scrupulously obtained. As the Supreme Commander Allied Expeditionary Force in the European theatre during the planning and execution of Operation Overlord (the Allied invasion of German occupied northwestern Europe), Eisenhower understood the value of solid intelligence, and the dangers of false intelligence. In part, the success in Normandy was built on deception, false intelligence.

The most logical place for the Allied landings was at Pas de Calais, the area in northern France, which is the shortest distance on the English Channel from southeast England and France, about 33 km (21 miles). This area is over 250 km (160 miles) east of the actual location of the landings. To deceive the German High Command and Hitler into believing that the landings would occur at Pas de Calais, The Allies invented the fictitious First U.S. Army Group, supposedly located in Kent and Sussex under the command of Lieutenant General George S. Patton. They constructed dummy tanks, trucks, and landing craft, positioned them near the coast and allowed German high-altitude recognizance planes a brief view. Some of this “invasion force” was made of specially designed inflatable rubber.

In addition, several military units moved to the area to bolster the illusion that a large force was gathering there. Real radio traffic from the actual landing force was routed to Kent via landline and then broadcast, to give the Germans the impression that most of the Allied troops were stationed in southeast England. The ruse, trick, was so successful, that for several critical weeks after the Normandy landings, the Germans held back vital combat units to defend against landings at Pas de Calais, which never came.

Eisenhower’s forces had their own difficulty with faulty intelligence. The hedgerows separating fields in France were not as easily penetrated by mechanized equipment as the hedgerows in England. As a result, the offensive stalled for weeks.

It is not clear what Eisenhower thought about the faulty Allied intelligence. No doubt, he would have dealt harshly with those providing it, if it were deliberate.

Many in Washington are attempting to establish greenhouse gas policy, namely carbon dioxide (CO2) policy, and related energy policies based on faulty intelligence provided by the US Global Change Research Program (USGCRP) in its National Climate Assessments. The greenhouse gas effect occurs in the atmosphere. To directly measure any changes in climate due to greenhouse gases, we need to measure changes in the atmosphere. Surface-air temperature measurements are a poor proxy, as the strong divergence between surface-air temperature trends and atmospheric trends demonstrates.

Before the method of using satellite data to comprehensively calculate atmospheric temperature was announced in 1990, and thoroughly tested shortly thereafter, there was no option but using incomplete, sparse, surface data. Now, there is no excuse for not using the 39-year satellite data record.

Yet, the USGCRP, and programs with NOAA, and NASA continue to promote false intelligence based on faulty surface data. Worse, they use long-term forecasts from global climate models which are demonstrated to be wrong – they fail in short-term forecasts. Thus, there is no logical reason to assume the models will succeed in long-term forecasts.

The US government errs in believing it can build prudent policy based on “scientific research” that deliberately uses false intelligence. That the USGCRP boasts on its web site that it follows the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is an insult. The USGCRP ignores its independent mandate to understand both human and natural influences on climate. See links under Challenging the Orthodoxy – NIPCC, Challenging the Orthodoxy, last week’s TWTW and Eisenhower’s Farewell Address to the Nation at http://mcadams.posc.mu.edu/ike.htm

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Another Victim of False Intelligence: According to the once distinguished Science Magazine,

“Kathleen Hartnett White, who had been picked to chair the White House’s Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ), came under fire from senators in both parties for what they characterized as her extremist views and disregard for science.”

Ms. White has withdrawn her nomination to that post. Her “disregard for science” is that she refused to accept the false intelligence promoted the USGCRP and the Climate Establishment and made statements such as: “CO2 does not have the characteristics of an air pollutant that ‘contaminates and fouls and has a direct impact on human health.’” The questioning by senators from both parties demonstrates that both political parties are infected by false intelligence. The article linked to a letter signed by hundreds of Ph.D.s demonstrating the extent of false intelligence.

A similar commotion is occurring in the European Union, where key positions rotate among countries every six months. The new president of the EU environment council is the environment minister of Bulgaria, Neno Dimov, who has expressed skepticism about the UN’s version of climate change. See links under Communicating Better to the Public – Go Personal.

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Professor Pangloss? In his satire Candide, ou l’Optimisme, Voltaire created Pangloss, a Professor of “metaphysico-theology-cosmolonigology”, who proved through reason, logic, and analogy this was the best of all possible worlds. Scott Pruitt, the new Administrator of the EPA, expressed the idea, also expressed by SEPP, that increasing CO2 may be beneficial to the world, humanity and the environment. Immediately he was criticized by “scientists” promoting False Intelligence claiming Pruitt was misleading the public. According to E&E “Pruitt’s comments inch closer to those of controversial figures like the former nominee to lead the White House Council on Environmental Quality, Kathleen Hartnett White, who has pointed to carbon dioxide as the ‘gas that makes life possible on Earth.’” Voltaire would have the material to write another satire. See links under Defending the Orthodoxy and Change in US Administrations.

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Sea Level Rise Reversed? The Pacific island nation of Tuvalu has long been considered an example a country with is endangered by rising seas. Now, a new study using 43 years of aerial photographs and satellite imagery finds that about three-quarters of the islands grew in land area.

Probably, this news is not surprising to Nils-Axel Mörner, Clifford Ollier, and others who have physically examined the sea level change in various Pacific Islands and who have expressed skepticism to the claims of a dramatic increase in sea level rise, which is largely based on questionable models. But this increase in land area may be news to the Climate Institute, which has been promoting fear of CO2-caused sea level rise among small island nations, featuring a web site with titles such as “Submerging Paradise: Climate Change in the Pacific Islands” stating:

“Nowhere is climate change more evident than in small island states, where entire populations are facing existential challenges – the very real prospect of full evacuation, dispersed resettlement, and potential cultural annihilation. Of these, many of the most threatened territories lie within the great expanse of the Pacific Ocean.”

It should be noted that Michael Calvin MacCracken is a director at the Climate Institute and formerly Chief Scientist for Climate Change Programs. Also, he was executive director of the USGCRP. His objections to the petitions for review EPA’s Endangerment Finding are noted in the July 24, 2017 TWTW. See links under Changing Seas and http://climate.org/

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Ozone Again? Reports indicate that the globe’s stratospheric ozone layer may be thinning. If so, it contradicts claims of success of the Montreal Protocol, which was enacted “to protect” the earth’s ozone layer over when greatly exaggerated claims where made on the extent of ozone loss over the polar regions. In the laboratory, it was shown how certain man-made gases used as refrigerants, such as chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), could breakdown ozone molecules. However, it was never well demonstrated how dense molecules of CFCs rise to the stratosphere.

Today, the Montreal Protocol, which was rushed through and ratified by the US Senate, is being used by international groups to justify controls on greenhouse gases. These actions make one skeptical of the validity of the latest reports on the ozone layer. See links under Models v. Observations

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The Right Touch: The on-line Australian magazine Quadrant had an interesting pair of articles on how the Australian Climate Council is promoting the fear of CO2 – caused climate change. It is claiming that the country’s most popular tourist attractions are threatened, including the Great Barrier Reef. A professor who dared to question the threats to the Great Barrier Reef has been sanctioned by his university – the James Cook University, which attempted to silence Robert Carter, one of the editors of the reports by the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC) by not renewing his position.

In the US, claims of damaging the tourist industry are used to oppose the opening of the US continental shelf to drilling beyond the state limits. These fears at least have some basis and have been effective in some states such as California and Florida. It would be interesting to see what would happen if the Federal government changed its royalty laws and allowed states which do not share in royalties to do so. See links under Censorship, Communicating Better to the Public – Use Propaganda, and Oil and Natural Gas – the Future or the Past?

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Litigation Issues: The litigation issues raised by California municipalities and New York City in their lawsuits against five oil companies continue to raise questions as to the hypocrisy demonstrated by these actions – the governments claim of specific damages from climate change, yet do not so inform investors in their municipal bonds. Over the past two weeks, TWTW has covered some of the issues. Writing in the Wall Street Journal, a former hedge-fund manager who specialized in sovereign debt describes the apparent deceit of municipalities in California, when issuing bonds. The conclusion of his essay bears repeating:

“Plaintiffs’ lawyers probably never intended that their war on the fossil-fuel industry would end up shining a light on the perilous state of local public finances. But wars have a funny way of creating unintended consequences. If the unqualified statements made in court about the impact of climate change are even half true—regardless of the cause—the finances of many of California’s coastal cities could soon be underwater. [Boldface added.]

The taxpayers in these municipalities may be severely burdened by foolish political actions. See Article # 1 and links under Litigation Issues.

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Expanding the Orthodoxy: According to reports, “The Ohio State University has joined the newly launched University Climate Change Coalition, an alliance of 13 leading research universities that will create a collaborative model to help local communities achieve climate goals.”

The University of California leads the group and a list of all committed members is included. According to the report: “In 2016, the U.S.-based members of the coalition performed about one-quarter of the environmental science research conducted by all U.S. institutions, according to data collected by the National Science Foundation.”

These actions affirm the wisdom of President Eisenhower’s address.

If policies and programs to “fight climate change” by reducing CO2 emissions are implemented, they are likely to be as successful as German defense of the Pas de Calais against a non-existent army equipped with inflatable tanks, guns, and trucks. See link under Expanding the Orthodoxy.

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Number of the Week – 10.2 million barrels per day. According to EIA estimates, in January the US oil production averaged 10.2 million barrels per day, exceeding its average daily production per month record set November 1970 at 10.04 million barrels per day.

“EIA estimates that U.S. crude oil production averaged 10.2 million barrels per day (b/d) in January, up 100,000 b/d from the December level. EIA estimates that total U.S. crude oil production averaged 9.3 million b/d in 2017 and will average 10.6 million b/d in 2018, which would mark the highest annual average U.S. crude oil production level, surpassing the previous record of 9.6 million b/d set in 1970. EIA forecasts that 2019 crude oil production will average 11.2 million b/d.”

In 1956, geologist King Hubbard predicted US oil production would peak about 1970. His prediction embodied assumptions, which were forgotten by those who modeled long-term oil production for the Club of Rome and the US government. His assumptions excluded oil from shale, oil sands, and deep-water production. Already, US production of natural gas and natural gas liquids exceed historic maxima. Now, so does oil. Changing technologies with human innovations have a way of making fools of those who make dire predictions. See links under Oil and Natural Gas – the Future or the Past? and https://www.eia.gov/outlooks/steo/

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ARTICLES:

1. Climate Change Could Swamp Your Muni-Bond Portfolio

California localities warn of disaster when suing oil companies. So how come they don’t tell investors?

By Jay Newman, WSJ, Feb 2, 2018

https://www.wsj.com/articles/climate-change-could-swamp-your-muni-bond-portfolio-1517613603

SUMMARY: The former hedge-fund manager who specialized in sovereign debt describes the apparent deceit of municipalities in California, when issuing bonds. He writes:

“By the end of this century Oakland, Calif., will be experiencing a ‘100-year flood’ every week. At least that’s what the Oakland city government argued last year, when it filed a lawsuit against several oil companies for contributing to climate change. The city forecasts that rising water levels in the San Francisco Bay will threaten the sewer system and other property ‘with a total replacement cost of between $22 billion and $38 billion.’

“Suppose you hold some of Oakland’s municipal bonds. This climate apocalypse sounds like a serious risk, right? Yet a recent prospectus for Oakland’s general-obligation bonds shrugs off the threat. ‘The City is unable to predict when seismic events, fires or other natural events, such as sea rise or other impacts of climate change or flooding from a major storm, could occur,’ the prospectus states. And even if such events occur, the city can’t be sure ‘whether they will have a material adverse effect on the business operations or financial condition of the City or the local economy.’

“Other California localities have told courts one thing and investors another regarding climate change. In a similar lawsuit, San Francisco claims it faces ‘imminent risk of catastrophic storm surge flooding.’ But in a bond offering last year, the city said it is ‘unable to predict whether sea-level rise or other impacts of climate change or flooding . . . will occur.’ San Mateo County claims in another suit that there is a 50% chance that a ‘devastating three-foot flood . . . occurs before 2030.’ The county uses boilerplate similar to San Francisco’s to play down such risks in its communications to bondholders.

“These jarring inconsistencies have led Exxon Mobil, a target of the lawsuits, to seek judicial relief. In a petition to a Texas court, the company states: ‘The disconnect . . . indicates that the plaintiff municipal governments do not actually believe the allegations in their complaints and that the allegations were not made in good faith.’ Exxon is also asking for permission to depose the lead plaintiff’s lawyer, along with 15 California officials involved in filing the lawsuits.

“It is possible the California officials were truthful in their attestations about their forecasts. But that means they seriously misled their investors, hoping they could ding deep-pocketed oil companies while continuing to borrow cheaply in the municipal bond markets.

Stating that the actions of the municipalities and reneging on contracts are not uncommon practice, the author explains that bondholders have little relief because their bonds are usually lumped into class action litigation of long duration and unpredictability. Then, the longtime investor states:

“But this case may be different thanks to the astonishing presence of contemporaneous, and directly contradictory, legally binding statements. This could prompt the Securities and Exchange Commission to abandon its hands-off approach and require state and local governments to disclose to investors risks arising from climate change, rather than allowing them to equivocate.

“States and municipalities facing climate-change-associated risks would suffer a significant blow to their credit ratings, according to a Moody’s Investors Service report issued in November 2017. Municipalities that sought big paydays from major oil companies may end up with a bitter second prize—more disclosure and higher borrowing costs.

“Plaintiffs’ lawyers probably never intended that their war on the fossil-fuel industry would end up shining a light on the perilous state of local public finances. But wars have a funny way of creating unintended consequences. If the unqualified statements made in court about the impact of climate change are even half true—regardless of the cause—the finances of many of California’s coastal cities could soon be underwater.” [Boldface added]

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2. America’s Self-Imposed Uranium Shortage

The U.S. and its allies have plenty, but we still buy from despots.

By John Barrasso, WSJ, Feb 7, 2018

https://www.wsj.com/articles/americas-self-imposed-uranium-shortage-1518047294

SUMMARY: The Chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee writes:

Uranium plays a vital role in maintaining America’s national security. The element powers nearly a quarter of the U.S. Navy’s fleet and keeps the lights on in around 20% of American homes and businesses. So why is the U.S. relying on adversaries to supply it with uranium?

“The American West—including my home state of Wyoming—is rich in uranium. In 2016, commercial nuclear power plants purchased 50.6 million pounds of uranium, according to the Energy Information Administration. The U.S. could produce tens of millions of pounds a year, relying on friendly countries like Canada or Australia for the remainder. Yet the element often comes from nations like Russia, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. Together, the three supply around 40% of America’s commercial nuclear fuel.

“Making matters worse, America’s only plant capable of preparing natural uranium for enrichment was idled last year. All uranium mined in the U.S. must now leave the country for processing in places like France and Canada. Then it is reimported for use in domestic nuclear power plants.

“The federal government has made the situation worse. Since the 1990s, the Energy Department has maintained a stockpile of uranium from decommissioned nuclear weapons. For the past decade, the agency has actually bartered uranium away in exchange for services from contractors. The contractors then sell the uranium.

“If the department sold its uranium directly, the funds would go to the U.S. Treasury, not to the agency’s coffers. This bartering scheme effectively circumvents Congress’s power of the purse, which is why the Government Accountability Office called it illegal in 2006 and 2011. The department kept doing it anyway.

“This is happening while the U.S. is producing uranium at the lowest levels since the early 1950s. None of that matters to Washington. Each year since 2011, Energy has bartered away more uranium than the U.S. has produced.

“In the past two years, the department has given contractors more than double the amount of uranium that America generates. Even though U.S. producers suffer harm from this racket, they don’t have standing to challenge the government in court. The result is that American uranium producers now supply less than 5% of American nuclear fuel, and the number of American uranium workers was cut in half between 2011 and 2016.”

Arguing that DOE policies benefit foreign governments at the expense of US uranium producers, the senator concludes:

“At a minimum, the administration should pursue policies that promote robust American uranium production. America is on the cusp of losing its ability to produce its own nuclear fuel. The administration can’t let that happen.”

CONTINUE READING –>

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