Weekly Climate and Energy News Roundup #314

By Ken Haapala, President. Science and Environmental Policy Project

Brought to You by www.SEPP.org

Behaving Like Bureaucrats? Last week’s TWTW discussed four significant issues regarding the climate science proclaimed by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), and its followers, such as the US Global Change Research Program. (USGCRP). In recent months, independent scientists have found four areas in which IPCC science is deficient. Deficiency in any one of the areas is sufficient to show that the IPCC science significantly over estimates the influence of carbon dioxide (CO2) on the globe’s temperatures.

The areas are:1) logic; 2) methodology (procedures used); 3) improper data; and 4) extraneous data (leading to biases). First, the issue of failure in logic comes from the IPCC’s elimination of increased water vapor amplifying any warming caused by increasing CO2 and the work of Monckton, et al. that illustrates a logical error. Second, the issue of failure in methodology is illustrated by the work of the Three Profs and the recent work of Lewis and Curry.

Third, the issue of failure in proper data has been long demonstrated by John Christy and others, most recently in an April 6 paper published in the International Journal of Remote Sensing. The greenhouse effect occurs in the atmosphere, and greenhouse gases are not warming it as claimed by the IPCC. Fourth, the issue of failure in eliminating extraneous data creating biases is demonstrated by Wallace, et al. (2017). The El Niño Southern Oscillation and volcanos have a clearly established direct influence on surface and atmospheric temperatures. The solar influence is imputed from the 1977 Pacific Climate Shift, for which existing data are incomplete. In addition, Fred Singer has presented evidence that the late 20th century warming shown in the surface temperatures did not actually occur, because it is not found outside of government reports.

In a non-politicized world of science, one would expect that scientists would systematically evaluate each of these issues and respond accordingly. However, in the highly politicized world of climate science, one can expect fierce personal attacks, or the issues being ignored, swept under the bureaucratic rug. As Roger Pielke Jr. discusses in a recent post, fierce personal attacks work as a form of censorship. Honest scholarship is not respected by many politicians and government-funded scientists.

Science is a dynamic system, or dynamic process, in attempting to understand the natural world. As additional hard evidence is compiled, and verified, the theories and models must be adjusted accordingly. In bureaucratic climate science, they are not adjusted, and the hard evidence is dismissed or ignored. If the bureaucratic scientists continue to dominate, American science will suffer from stagnation.

Please see links under Censorship and links in the following TWTWs: April 29, 2017 (Wallace, et al), March 24 and 31, 2018 (Three Profs), March 31, 2018 (Monckton), April 7, 2018 (Singer) April 28, 2018 (Lewis & Curry), and (Christy, et al.).


Quote of the Week.“We’ve got to ride the global warming issue. Even if the theory of global warming is wrong, we will be doing the right thing, in terms of economic policy and environmental policy.” – Sen. Timothy Wirth quoted in “Science Under Siege” by Michael Fumento, 1993.

Number of the Week: 3.5 times more


A New Pricing Mechanism? A liberal candidate for governor of California, Michael Shellenberger, has asked question that few try to answer: “If Solar And Wind Are So Cheap, Why Are They Making Electricity So Expensive?” With falling costs of solar panels and wind turbines why are electricity costs to the consumer increasing? At the beginning of this century, E. ON, then the largest independent electricity provider in Europe, estimated that with ten percent penetration, electricity from wind power would become stable and more affordable. Instead, the opposite has happened.

A 2013 study by Lion Hirth suggested that the more electricity that comes from renewable (solar and wind) generators, the lower is its value. Value declines quickly, particularly with solar. Hirth divides the types of electrical generation into two groups, the Variable Renewable Electricity group (VRE) and the constant electricity generation group. He writes:

“A review of the published literature, regression analysis of market data, and a numerical model of the European power market were used in this study to quantify this drop and identify drivers. We find that the value of wind power is slightly higher than the value of a constant electricity source at low penetration; but falls to 0.5-0.8 at a market share of 30%. Solar reaches a similar level at 15% penetration, because its generation is concentrated in fewer hours. We identify several drivers that affect the value of renewables significantly.”

“These findings lead to a number of conclusions. Firstly, there are a number of integration options that help mitigating the value drop of VRE: transmission investments, relaxed constraints on thermal generators, and a change in wind turbine design could be important measures. Especially increasing CHP flexibility seems to be highly effective. Increasing wind turbine rotor diameters and hub heights reduce output variability and could help to stabilize wind’s market value. Secondly, variable renewables need mid and peak load generators as complementary technologies. Biomass as well as highly efficient natural gas-fired plants could play a crucial role to fill this gap. On the other hands, low-carbon base load technologies such as nuclear power or CCS do not go well with high shares of VRE. Thirdly, we find that a high carbon price alone does not make wind and solar power competitive at high penetration rates. In Europe that could mean that even if CO2 prices pick up again, subsidies would be needed well beyond 2020 to reach ambitious renewables targets. Finally, without fundamental technological breakthroughs, wind and solar power will struggle becoming competitive on large scale, even with quite steep learning curves. Researchers as well as policy makers should take the possibility of a limited role for solar and wind power into account and should not disregard other greenhouse gas mitigation options too early.”

Writing in Energy Matters, Roger Andrews compares the electricity costs of the US and Europe and finds that electricity costs to consumers are the greatest where renewable power is most prevalent. In Europe, residential electricity rates are greatest in Denmark, followed by Portugal, Germany Spain, Italy, and the UK. A graph of the Electricity Price v Installed Wind plus Solar Capacity Per Capita is clear. The greater the use of alternatives, the higher the prices.

In addressing the differences between Europe and the US, Andrews states:

“The reasons for the difference are a) that renewables surcharges are added to residential electricity bills in Europe but not in the US and b) that residential electricity bills in Europe have increased roughly in proportion to the amount of money spent on renewables growth. Residential rates in US states are set by state Public Utility Commissions that are legally obliged to set prices at levels that are fair to both consumers and providers. As a result the European bill payer pays for new wind, solar etc. while US renewables expenditures are offset by adjustments to the federal budget that are not itemized but which ultimately get paid by the US taxpayer.”

Both analyses may be incomplete. The central issue may be that real costs of renewables are underestimated in the pricing mechanisms because the units used are not appropriate. As discussed in the April 21 TWTW, a severe, 12-day winter storm challenged the grid operators in the eastern US, particularly the PJM Interconnection, serving the most customers, 65 million.

This storm demonstrated that electrical grid systems must be reliable and resilient for as long as two weeks, resilience being defined as sufficiently elastic to expand and contract to any reasonably expected increase or decrease in electricity demand over that period. The specific requirements for any system need to be adjusted to the weather systems experienced in the region. The European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts has a goal of predicting severe weather events two weeks in advance by 2025. At this time, it is doubtful whether the US National Weather Service, under the politicized NOAA, can accomplish a similar goal.

Thus, to achieve reliance, the grid operators need to consider obtaining contracts long enough to assure that the maximum reasonably expected demands for reliable electricity can be met. The durations can vary seasonally, and generation mix adjusted accordingly, by lowest bids, or similar means. Such an effort would lessen the importance of the 24-hour spot market in determining costs to consumers. The spot market does not recognize the importance of reliability and resilience.

By their very nature, a two-week period of contracts will eliminate much of solar and wind, except in special circumstances. But, if these alternatives are not ready for “prime time,” there is no reason why modern civilization should require them. The health and safety of the public are too important to be subordinated to political whims. See links under Censorship, Questioning European Green, Subsidies and Mandates Forever, Energy Issues – US, and https://www.ecmwf.int/sites/default/files/ECMWF_Roadmap_to_2025.pdf


Oil and Natural Gas: In examining an appropriate energy mix for grid operators, national defense issues about oil and natural gas are no longer applicable. Contrary to what bureaucrats and computer models predicted in the 1970s, the country has not run out of oil and gas. In 2017, the US became a net exporter of natural gas and is on track to become a net exporter of oil in about 5 years. The world price is no longer completely controlled by OPEC and Russia. Limits in the US are in transport, mainly pipelines. Interestingly, the Permian Basin in West Texas and New Mexico, once considered exhausted, is now the third largest producing area in the US. See links under Energy Issues – US.


Quote-of-the-Week: Former Senator and UN official Timothy Wirth was clearly motivated by a desire to use bureaucratic science, even if not substantiated, to control human behavior. Starting with the “science” of Thomas Robert Malthus, many intelligent people have assumed they understand the limits of human potential and the dangers humanity creates. Later renditions of this belief include the “Population Bomb,” published 50 years ago, and Mr. Mann’s “hockey-stick,” published 20 years ago, purportedly showing that 20th century warming was unprecedented and dangerous.

The fact that hard evidence does not support these theories (hypotheses) does not deter many intelligent people from embracing them, because they appear to be “scientific.” See Article # 1 and link under Oh’ Mann.


The Joke: On his blog, Manhattan Contrarian, Francis Menton addresses the impracticality of reducing carbon dioxide emissions. Yet, many politicians and international types pretend they are sincere in their efforts. The latest meeting of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Bonn is going through the actions of appearing significant, but the developing countries are demanding the money they were promised if they went along. With the US pulling out, there is little money to be had.

The Maldives, a poster child for rising sea levels, is building seaside resorts and expanding its airport runways for the largest passenger planes to fly in tourists. Yet, it is demanding money.

Menton discusses the many failures to reduce emissions, and the never ending “lip service” towards the goal of meeting the “Paris Agreement.” See links under After Paris! And Below the Bottom Line.


Number of the Week: 3.5 times more. Physicist Howard Hayden has a clearly written book: “Energy: A Textbook.” In that and his commentary he dispels the concept that by saving energy, we, in effect, create it. Greater energy efficiency: “is a concept that has no enemies.”

Our colonial ancestors had no airplanes, trains, cars, trucks, electricity, clean water delivered to homes, sewage treatment, paved highways, telegraph, telephone, radio, television, central heating, internet or cell phones, yet we use only three-and-a-half times as much energy per capita as they did. We have these conveniences precisely because of steadily improving efficiency in both the generation and use of energy.

To regard efficiency as a source of energy, as Priola and Winter do [two Colorado politicians], is equivalent to saying that dieting is a source of nutrition. Hungry? Go diet. See link under Questioning the Orthodoxy.



1. The Population Bomb Was a Dud

Paul Ehrlich got it wrong because he never understood human potential.

By William McGurn, WSJ, Apr 30, 2018


SUMMARY: The veteran columnist writes:

“’Hell is other people.’ These oft-misquoted words were written by Jean-Paul Sartre. But it would take a Stanford biologist, Paul Ehrlich, to elevate them into a full-fledged ethos that would be used to justify outrages inflicted on millions of innocent people—most of them weak, vulnerable and poor.

“Fifty years ago this month, Mr. Ehrlich published “The Population Bomb.” In it he portended global cataclysm—unless the world could be persuaded to stop producing so many . . . well . . . people. The book sketched out possible scenarios of the hell Mr. Ehrlich believed imminent: hundreds of millions dying from starvation, England disappearing by the year 2000, India doomed, the average American’s lifespan falling to 42 by 1980, and so on.

“Mr. Ehrlich’s book sold three million copies, and his crabbed worldview became an unquestioned orthodoxy for the technocratic class that seems to welcome such scares as an opportunity to boss everyone else around. In this way the missionary fervor once directed toward Christianizing the globe found its late-20th-century expression as proselytizing for population control. Thus Robert McNamara, whose leadership would prove even more destructive at the World Bank than it had been in Vietnam, would declare overpopulation a graver threat than nuclear war—because the decisions to have babies or not were ‘not in the exclusive control of a few governments but rather in the hands of literally hundreds of millions of individual parents.’

“In his day Mr. Ehrlich’s assertion about the limited ‘carrying capacity’ of the Earth was settled science. Never mind that it is rooted in an absurdity: that when a calf is born a country’s wealth rises, but when a baby is born it goes down. Or that the record shows that when targeted peoples resist the prescription—don’t have babies—things quickly turn coercive, from forced abortions in China to contraceptive injections given to black women in apartheid-era South Africa.”

The columnist discusses his 1981 meeting with Julian Lincoln Simon, stating Simon would smile and say “‘the doom-and-gloomers had a false understanding of scarcity that led them to believe resources are fixed and limited.’

“The evidence, by contrast, was that by almost any measure—life expectancy, infant mortality, caloric intake—things were getting better all the time. The reality, Julian liked to say, is that we live amid ‘an epidemic of life.’

“In 1981 he put his findings together in a book called ‘The Ultimate Resource.’ It took straight aim at Mr. Ehrlich. In contrast to the misanthropic tone of “The Population Bomb” (its opening sentence reads, “The battle to feed all humanity is over”), Julian was optimistic, recognizing that human beings are more than just mouths to be fed. They also come with minds.

“Ultimately their clashing views led to a famous wager in 1980. If Mr. Ehrlich was right, prices for commodities would grow more expensive as they became scarcer. If Simon was right, they would become cheaper as humans found more cost-effective ways of extracting them or cheaper alternatives. Mr. Ehrlich picked the commodities—nickel, copper, chromium, tin and tungsten—but in 1990 lost the bet.

“The larger victory, however, was not about the price of tin. It was the idea that the finite supply of any given natural resource is only one part of the equation. The other is human ingenuity, which adapts to circumstances and turns what were once luxuries into everyday amenities. That’s why Julian called the human mind “The Ultimate Resource.” And that’s why it never runs out.

“Julian left us in 1998 but his spirit can be detected in any number of thinkers. Matt Ridley, author of ‘The Rational Optimist,’ is one. The economist Thomas Sowell is another. So is anyone who stands up to say: Give people free markets and property rights, and you will be astonished by how much they will improve their lot—and ours.

“Fifty years out, alas, Mr. Ehrlich remains as impervious to the evidence as ever. In an interview two months ago in the Guardian, Mr. Ehrlich decreed the collapse of civilization a ‘near certainty’ in the next few decades. Which may be a good reminder that skepticism is in order whenever someone waves the flag of ‘science’ to justify the latest antihuman nostrum.

“Because it turns out hell isn’t other people after all. To the contrary, human beings constantly find new and creative ways to take from the earth, increase the bounty for everyone and expand the number of seats at the table of plenty. Which is one reason Paul Ehrlich is himself better off today than he was when he wrote his awful book—notwithstanding all those hundreds of millions of babies born in places like China and India against his wishes.”



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