By Ken Haapala, President
Brought to You by www.SEPP.org The Science and Environmental Policy Project
Constant, Not Accelerating: On May 16, SEPP Chairman emeritus S. Fred Singer had an essay in the Wall Street Journal explaining why there is little humanity and governments can do to stop the constant rate of sea level rise. Unfortunately, in the print edition, the sentence “But there is also good data showing sea levels are in fact rising at a constant rate,” was muddled into reading “But there is also good data showing sea levels are in fact rising at an accelerating rate.” [Boldface added]. The error was corrected in the online editions. The central issue of Singer’s essay is” that sea-level rise does not depend on the use of fossil fuels.”
Singer discusses the melting of the Ross Ice Shelf, part of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet, is from below, not above. This may be from geothermal activity along the West Antarctic Rift, a major, active rift valley lying between the far larger East Antarctica and the smaller West Antarctica. Recent research has revealed major geothermal areas under West Antarctica, much of which was previously unknown. Further, it is unknown if the geothermal activity is increasing or decreasing.
As such, with limited knowledge, there is little humanity or governments can do to prevent increases in sea level rise. Unfortunately, in its last assessment report (AR-5, 2013 & 2014) UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPPC) proclaimed that sea level rise was accelerating, without solid evidence. Some government agencies, such as NOAA and NASA, followed, thereby lowering their standards.
Today, NOAA and NASA use two sets of sea level measurements, without carefully calibrating them, and without carefully explaining the difference. In effect, they are recreating one of the main errors in Mr. Mann’s hockey stick – inappropriately combining, associating, two different sets of measurements, from different instruments, to create a trend that does not exist. The two sets of measurements are long-term tidal gages, and short-term satellite measurements. It appears that the short-term satellite calculations have a major issue with proper adjustment – including estimates of the contribution of ice melt in the Antarctic to sea level rise.
Fred Singer sticks with long-term tidal gage data to make the long-term estimate that eventually, in 7,000 years, the Ross Ice Sheet will melt, in a geological time-sense, “collapse.” Of course, many things may intercede with this estimate, such as a new ice age. In his exercise, Singer demonstrates the folly of governments acting on long term predictions without thoroughly understanding the assumptions.
Why NOAA and NASA do not adequately explain their techniques in sea level rise projections, and do not properly calibrate the data sets can only be explained by the leadership of NOAA and NASA. But their actions are instilling unjustified fear of sea level rise, thereby undermining their own credibility. See Article # 1 and links under Changing Cryosphere – Land / Sea Ice.
Quote of the Week. “Reason is ‘more often than not overpowered by non-rational human frailties—ambition, anxiety, status-seeking, face-saving,’ Tuchman points out. ‘Rulers,’ she notes, ‘will justify a bad or wrong decision on the ground, as one historian and partisan wrote of John F. Kennedy, that ‘He had no choice,’ but no matter how equal two alternatives may appear, there is always freedom of choice to change. Yet to recognize error, to cut losses, to alter course, is the most repugnant option in government.’” – Jon Meacham reviewing “The March of Folly: From Troy to Vietnam” by Barbara W. Tuchman (1984), author of “The Guns of August” (WW-I), WSJ, May 17, 2018 [Boldface added]
Econometric Paper: Last week, TWTW discussed a paper by Wallace, D’Aleo, and Idso, which used generally acceptable econometric techniques to remove the influence of volcanoes and the El Niño Southern Oscillation on comprehensive satellite temperature data dating to 1978. The paper also used limited atmospheric data from weather balloons dating to 1959 to estimate and remove the shift in the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO) of 1976-77 [which has not been well defined]. The main conclusion of the paper is that there is no statistically significant warming from carbon dioxide. It is important to note that this does not mean that there is no influence from CO2 or other greenhouse gases. But, using strict, accepted statistical techniques, the influence of CO2 cannot be found over this time period.
According to the Mauna Loa Observatory, in 1979 CO2 concentration was 337 ppm (parts per million); in 2016, it was 404 ppm. Based on laboratory evidence, the greenhouse effect of CO2 on temperatures is highly logarithmic, with much of the influence occurring in the first 100 parts per million (ppm). According to some theoretical estimates, by 340 ppm, the graph of the increase in temperatures with increasing CO2 is becoming quite horizontal. Thus, the results of the Wallace, et al. paper are not inconsistent with early theoretically estimates before the 1979 Charney Report. That report made speculative claims about increases in water vapor that have not been substantiated, but the theoretical estimates were based on decades of laboratory experiments.
During a briefing on another subject, Ross McKitrick, expressed doubt that the econometric paper would be published by major journals which focus on climate. Along with Steve McIntyre, McKitrick exposed the folly of Mr. Mann’s hockey-stick (about 2003) and received considerable abuse as a reward. McKitrick is having difficulty getting his new paper, co-written by John Christy, published in a climate journal. This illustrates the problem of getting papers published that dare think outside the box, a box carefully guarded by the climate establishment and the climate modelers. See links under Challenging the Orthodoxy and ftp://aftp.cmdl.noaa.gov/products/trends/co2/co2_annmean_mlo.txt
The Repugnant Option: The quote of the week is particularly meaningful for those who argue against the climate establishment and the projections / predictions of the climate models. Governments have spent tens of billions of dollars producing “climate science” and through tax benefits and other subsidies have spent hundreds of billions “fighting” climate change. Yet, they have little to show for it, other than very expensive computer models that cannot reliability predict atmospheric temperatures, much less climate. John Christy’s repeated tests of the models, showing their failings, must be painful to the modelers.
Barbara W. Tuchman, the author of the quote of the week, was not an established historian when she wrote the highly readable ‘The Guns of August” about the opening phase of World War I. She was criticized for her lack of qualifications. Certainly, she did not have the command of military strategy of B.H. Liddell Hart, a British Army Captain during the war, who demonstrated that it was a watering down of the original 1905 German plan by Graf von Schlieffen, that led to the stalemate, and years of senseless trench warfare. But, Tuchman grasped the human follies that lead to failures in thinking and inept strategies and policies.
The current myth that solar and wind can replace thermal sources of electricity generation such as nuclear and fossil fuel power plants is absurd until a long-lasting, affordable, storage system for electricity is available on a commercial scale. Modern civilization requires reliable and resilient electricity, its nervous system. To call solar, which fails daily, and wind, which fails erratically, “sustainable” is an illustration of human folly.
We can only hope that some of the leaders of the folly will begin to realize that “the most repugnant option in government” is the best one for the public, before they do too much damage. See links under Questioning European Green and Subsidies and Mandates Forever.
Transparency? EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt continues to be attacked by organizations claiming to be scientific but who are more political? His call for transparency in the science forming the basis for EPA regulations a lightning rod. After the comment period closes on May 30, TWTW will review some of the most egregious claims on why transparency is harmful to science. See link under Change in US Administrations.
Demand Response? Writing in Energy Matters, Roger Andrews analyzes on of the myths created by those who assert that the world can be powered entirely by renewables. They assume that “demand response” will force consumers to match future demand with availability of electricity from intermittent generation. Using available residential electricity rates, Andrews evaluates:
“historic demand data from two quite different grids – Denmark and California – to determine what factors have affected demand there and how large these effects are. In both cases demand changes are closely correlated with rapidly rising electricity prices, but these have not resulted in significant demand reductions in Denmark or, arguably, any demand reductions at all in California. Attempts to flatten out California’s ‘duck curve’ have also been unsuccessful despite punitive electricity rates during high-demand periods. The conclusion is that financial incentives and disincentives will not result in the levels of demand response necessary to support an all-renewables world.”
This is another illustration of how myths are incompatible with messy data, and the folly of government officials believing myths. See links under Energy Issues – Non-US.
Future Air Conditioning? We are seeing a spate of articles worrying what will happen if people in the developing world, mostly in tropical or near tropical countries, want air conditioning. The articles focus on the carbon dioxide produced by fossil fuel power plants. What they do not consider, is that the UN is using the Montreal Protocol to limit coolants used in air conditioning. The UN is doing this under the guise of limiting greenhouse gases that may cause ozone depletion.
These actions are making air conditioners less efficient, and larger. Thus, to produce a desired amount of cooling, air conditioners will require more energy. Perhaps geothermal energy is a solution in some places in the world, but not all, and it can be expensive. See links under Defending the Orthodoxy, and Problems in the Orthodoxy.
Number of the Week – 18. In “Table ES-1: Global Warming Potentials (100-Year Time Horizon) Used in this Report” of the EPA’s “Inventory of U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Sinks, 1990-2016” (April 12, 2018), the EPA lists 18 chemicals as ‘greenhouse gas emissions using “UNFCCC reporting guidelines for national inventories require the use of GWP values from the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report (AR4) (IPCC 2007).”
The list does not include water vapor (H2O), which is the globe’s dominant greenhouse gas, and speculated in the 1979 Charney Report to greatly amplify CO2-caused global warming. The list includes refrigerants and fire suppressants. The values given for global warming potential range from 1 for carbon dioxide to 22,800 times that for SF6, sulfur hexafluoride, an inorganic, nontoxic, excellent electrical insulator. See links under Defending the Orthodoxy.
1. The Sea Is Rising, but Not Because of Climate Change
There is nothing we can do about it, except to build dikes and sea walls a little bit higher.
The Chairman emeritus of SEPP writes:
“Of all known and imagined consequences of climate change, many people fear sea-level rise most. But efforts to determine what causes seas to rise are marred by poor data and disagreements about methodology. The noted oceanographer Walter Munk referred to sea-level rise as an “enigma”; it has also been called a riddle and a puzzle.
“It is generally thought that sea-level rise accelerates mainly by thermal expansion of sea water, the so-called steric component. But by studying a very short time interval, it is possible to sidestep most of the complications, like “isostatic adjustment” of the shoreline (as continents rise after the overlying ice has melted) and “subsidence” of the shoreline (as ground water and minerals are extracted).
“I chose to assess the sea-level trend from 1915-45, when a genuine, independently confirmed warming of approximately 0.5 degree Celsius occurred. I note particularly that sea-level rise is not affected by the warming; it continues at the same rate, 1.8 millimeters a year, according to a 1990 review by Andrew S. Trupin and John Wahr. I therefore conclude—contrary to the general wisdom—that the temperature of sea water has no direct effect on sea-level rise. That means neither does the atmospheric content of carbon dioxide.
“This conclusion is worth highlighting: It shows that sea-level rise does not depend on the use of fossil fuels. The evidence should allay fear that the release of additional CO2 will increase sea-level rise.
“But there is also good data showing sea levels are in fact rising at a constant rate. The trend has been measured by a network of tidal gauges, many of which have been collecting data for over a century.
“The cause of the trend is a puzzle. Physics demands that water expand as its temperature increases. But to keep the rate of rise constant, as observed, expansion of sea water evidently must be offset by something else. What could that be? I conclude that it must be ice accumulation, through evaporation of ocean water, and subsequent precipitation turning into ice. Evidence suggests that accumulation of ice on the Antarctic continent has been offsetting the steric effect for at least several centuries.
“It is difficult to explain why evaporation of seawater produces approximately 100% cancellation of expansion. My method of analysis considers two related physical phenomena: thermal expansion of water and evaporation of water molecules. But if evaporation offsets thermal expansion, the net effect is of course close to zero. What then is the real cause of sea-level rise of 1 to 2 millimeters a year?
“Melting of glaciers and ice sheets adds water to the ocean and causes sea levels to rise. (Recall though that the melting of floating sea ice adds no water to the oceans, and hence does not affect the sea level.) After the rapid melting away of northern ice sheets, the slow melting of Antarctic ice at the periphery of the continent may be the main cause of current sea-level rise.
“All this, because it is much warmer now than 12,000 years ago, at the end of the most recent glaciation. Yet there is little heat available in the Antarctic to support melting.
“We can see melting happening right now at the Ross Ice Shelf of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet. Geologists have tracked Ross’s slow disappearance, and glaciologist Robert Bindschadler predicts the ice shelf will melt completely within about 7,000 years, gradually raising the sea level as it goes.
“Of course, a lot can happen in 7,000 years. The onset of a new glaciation could cause the sea level to stop rising. It could even fall 400 feet, to the level at the last glaciation maximum 18,000 years ago.
“Currently, sea-level rise does not seem to depend on ocean temperature, and certainly not on CO2. We can expect the sea to continue rising at about the present rate for the foreseeable future. By 2100 the seas will rise another 6 inches or so—a far cry from Al Gore’s alarming numbers. There is nothing we can do about rising sea levels in the meantime. We’d better build dikes and sea walls a little bit higher.”
Mr. Singer is a professor emeritus of environmental science at the University of Virginia. He founded the Science and Environmental Policy Project and the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change.
2. New York’s Green Energy Roulette
Gov. Cuomo uses up his state’s electricity margin of safety to advance his career.
By Holman W. Jenkins, Jr., WSJ, May 15, 2018
Link to report: 2018 Power Trends: New York’s Dynamic Power Grid
By Staff Writers, New York Independent System Operator (NYISO), 2018
After commenting on the claim in the New York Times that Eric Schneiderman was one of the “good” ones, the columnist writes:
“Of course, the problem here is assuming that sharing one’s politics is tantamount to being a ‘good’ person. So anyone who differs is ‘bad’? This only shuts out unwelcome truths and aids the state’s residency in fantasyland.
“Take the explosion of political correctness out of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s mouth at an event last Thursday when questioned by green activists. ‘I don’t build any fossil-fuel plants anymore, and I banned fracking, and I have the most aggressive renewable goals in the country,’ he insisted, according to Politico.com. He also credited himself with blocking new pipelines.
“Some of these claims are untrue; all are perverse.
“Mr. Cuomo banned fracking in New York, but that didn’t stop fracking. It only deprived New Yorkers of their share of jobs and prosperity that other states are enjoying.
“Gas plants have been approved on his watch, including one at the heart of a corruption scandal that will send one of his closest former aides to jail.
“His opposition to pipelines runs flat into his signature scheme to get 50% of the state’s power from renewables by 2030. A new report from the state grid manager could not be clearer: The report uses the word ‘reliability’ 155 times and warns that new gas plants are urgently needed to support the governor’s wind and solar goals.
“New Yorkers find energy a fitting subject for irrational gestures only because they haven’t yet paid the cost in blackouts and intolerable price hikes. That will change.
“Mr. Cuomo’s renewables goal was subject to no cost-benefit analysis—because there is no benefit. New York accounts for 0.4% of global greenhouse emissions.
“Germany shows and a new study of 10 nations confirms: Investing heavily in wind and solar doesn’t really reduce fossil-fuel use or fossil-fuel emissions. Why? Adding solar and wind as adornments to a basically functioning grid is one thing. Once you begin relying on them, however, each must be paired with an equivalent gas plant for when wind and sun are absent.
“This is expensive, and the outage risk remains, not just because the grid must cope with a proliferation of unpredictable, intermittent power sources. Coal plants, which New York state has been closing willy-nilly, maintain 30 days of fuel on site. The state’s biggest nuclear plant, which Gov. Cuomo is closing, requires refueling only every two years.
“In contrast, gas plants depend on just-in-time fuel delivery from an interstate pipeline system, connected to producing areas (which, thanks to Mr. Cuomo, New York isn’t).
“In 2014’s polar vortex, the Northeast and the Midwest avoided blackouts by burning dirty oil in gas plants when pipelines became overloaded, and grid operators still had to cut voltage by 5% to keep heat and lights on. If the same thing happened today, it’s doubtful that blackouts could be avoided.
“Mr. Cuomo privately would argue his green posturing protects New Yorkers from worse. Whoever wins the Democratic primary is likely to be the next governor. His primary opponent is ‘Sex and the City’ actress Cynthia Nixon, who wants 100% of the state’s energy from renewables by 2050.
“A feature and not a bug is the incoherence of both candidates’ green button-pushing. Closing the Indian Point nuclear plant, for instance, which both joyously support, would mainly deprive New York of its most important source of climate-friendly energy.
“The problem is, Mr. Cuomo intends to run for president in 2020, so his pandering will have to continue for another two years while the state burns through its energy safety margin.
“Let’s borrow a concept from technologist Peter Thiel, who once noted President Obama’s ‘touching faith’ in capitalism to support the burdens he placed on it.
“Careers like Mr. Cuomo’s are built on running down what might be called ‘good policy’ political capital. Mr. Cuomo is using up the state’s margin of energy survival to burnish his green potentials. He is sacrificing upstate’s economy to burnish his green credentials.
“President Trump may lack decorum, but his corporate tax reform addressed a universally recognized problem, and now future politicians have a fresh cushion for antibusiness tax gestures without unduly risking the economy.
“Ditto his trimming back of President Obama’s expensive but ineffectual climate policies: Now future politicians can dip their buckets in this well to advance their careers without overtaxing the citizenry’s ability to sustain costly climate gestures that produce no benefit.
“This is the good-policy capital buffer at work. Mr. Cuomo is doing statewide what Mayor David Dinkins did for New York City in the early 1990s, using up the buffer.”