Weekly Climate and Energy News Roundup #318

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

By Ken Haapala, President

Problem of Induction: As briefly discussed in the May 26 TWTW, the scientific developments of the 19th and early 20th century resulted in a questioning of the philosophical bases for knowledge about the physical world, particularly about the ability to make predictions. Newtonian mechanics could not describe Brownian Motion. Quantum Mechanics, advanced at the beginning of the 20th century by Max Planck, Einstein, and others, does not fit into Euclidian geometry. The questioning of the ability to predict the future highlighted the extremely skeptical views expressed by Hume in “A Treatise of Human Nature” (1739). Hume had questioned the grounds by which we come to our beliefs about the unobserved using inductive inferences.

In “The Problems of Philosophy” (1912), Bertrand Russell writes:

“Experience might conceivably confirm the inductive principle as regards the cases that have been already examined: but as regards unexamined cases, it is the inductive principle alone that can justify any inference from what has been examined to what has not been examined.”

Herein is a major problem with the use of long-term projections / predictions from mathematical models. We simply do not know how solid the results are. Further, Russell writes:

“The general principles of science, such as the belief in the reign of law, and the belief that every event must have a cause, are as completely dependent upon the inductive principle as are the beliefs of daily life. All such general principles are believed because mankind have found innumerable instances of their truth and no instances of their falsehood. But this affords no evidence for their truth in the future, unless the inductive principle is assumed. [Boldface added]

 

“Thus, all knowledge which, on the basis of experience tells us something about what is not experienced, is based upon a belief which experience can neither confirm nor confute, yet which, at least in its more concrete applications, appears to be as firmly rooted in us as many of the facts of experience. The existence and justification of such beliefs – for the inductive principle, as we shall see, is not the only example – raises some of the most difficult and most debated problems of philosophy. We will, in the next chapter, consider briefly what may be said to account for such knowledge, and what is its scope and its degree of certainty.”

(Chapter VI, On Induction Pages 68 & 69, Galaxy Book publication, 1959)

The view that prediction is not knowledge has been expressed by many, including in the lectures by Richard Feynman available on U-Tube. Yet, the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and its followers, such as the US Global Change Research Program (USGCRP), continue to treat the projections / predictions of the IPCC reports as if they are knowledge.

Repeatedly, John Christy has testified before committees in Congress, producing evidence from Earth System Science Center at the University of Alabama in Huntsville, demonstrating that the global climate models tested greatly overestimate the warming of the atmosphere, where the greenhouse gas effect occurs. Except for the model by the Institute of Numerical Mathematics, in Moscow, the models used by the IPCC are false. In general, the US models greatly overestimate the warming of the atmosphere, despite the US spending over $40 Billion on what government reports call climate science, from 1993 to 2015.

Simply, there is no reason for the governments to implement policies, including those on energy use, based on falsified models. Such policies defy logic, fact, and scientific philosophy. See links under Challenging the Orthodoxy.

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Quote of the Week. “Science is what you know, philosophy is what you don’t know.” – Bertrand Russell.

Number of the Week: $14,000 per megawatt hour. (10,600 USD)

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Fear Run Its Course? Writing in the Wall Street Journal, reproduced by the Global Warming Policy Forum, Steven Hayward, Resident Scholar at the Institute of Government Studies at Berkeley, argues that the fear of climate change is no longer a pre-eminent policy issue. Eliminating fossil fuels is no longer a critical concern. Hayward uses a five-stage model by political scientist Anthony Downs to explain his views.

The five stages are: one, activists and experts expressing a problem; two, media and political alarm; three, recognition that the costs of the “solution” are very high; four, decline in intensity of public interest; and five, prolonged limbo. Hayward concludes with:

“Scientists who are genuinely worried about the potential for catastrophic climate change ought to be the most outraged at how the left politicized the issue and how the international policy community narrowed the range of acceptable responses. Treating climate change as a planet-scale problem that could be solved only by an international regulatory scheme transformed the issue into a political creed for committed believers. Causes that live by politics, die by politics.”

It appears the US may be heading for the final stages, but a real concern is the damage that bureaucratic scientists in government will do and the monetary and physical harm they will cause. For example, the myth that solar and wind can replace nuclear and fossil fuel power plants is dangerous and expensive. Modern civilization requires reliable and resilient electrical power, something that many government officials in the US, Europe and Australia do not recognize or understand. See links under Challenging the Orthodoxy, Questioning European Green, and Energy Issues for Non-US, Australia, and US.

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Deploying Dreams? Writing in Spectrum, the publication of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), power expert Vaclav Smil examines some of the claims made that green technologies can quickly replace traditional methods for generating and distributing electricity. As he explains, too many “experts” believe that what applied to miniaturization of electronic circuitry in electronic chips used in computers and similar devises (Moore’s law) will also apply to all things electronic.

In a short essay, Smil does his best to dispel this absurd notion, that has seized far too many politicians and government bureaucrats.

“However, our civilization continues to depend on activities that require large flows of energy and materials, and alternatives to these requirements can’t be commercialized at rates that double every couple of years. Our modern societies are underpinned by countless industrial processes that have not changed fundamentally in two or even three generations. These include the way we generate most of our electricity, the way we smelt primary iron and aluminum, the way we grow staple foods and feed crops, the way we raise and slaughter animals, the way we excavate sand and make cement, the way we fly, and the way we transport cargo.”

A 450-ton Francis hydro-turbine or the 4,360,000 cubic yards (3,333,000 cubic meters) of concrete used to construct Hoover Dam cannot be miniaturized easily. The hub and nacelle of a Vestas V-90 1.8 MW wind turbine, alone, weighs 14,780,000 pounds (88 metric tonnes). The weight of the tower and base are many times that. They cannot be miniaturized easily. See links under Challenging the Orthodoxy.

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Questions Answered: Writing in American Thinker, physicist Wallace Manheimer address three critical questions about global warming / climate change:

“1) is the scientific community really united? 2) can solar and wind take over any time soon to provide the required vital energy for the maintenance of modern civilization in today’s world of 7 billion people? and 3) has CO2 caused any harm yet?”

He states the answer to each is NO and clearly explains why. See links under Challenging the Orthodoxy.

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Delusions in Paris: Donald Trump has been denounced in the general press for announcing last year that the US will pull out of the 2015 Paris Agreement. As reported in TWTW at the time of the agreement, the Paris Agreement was significantly changed at the last moment and was never submitted to the Senate for approval as a treaty. The Obama Administration insisted that it was an executive agreement, not a treaty. Executive agreements may be long-lasting or not, depending on the whims of the executive. That Mr. Trump rejected the executive agreement was no surprise.

On his web site, Paul Homewood discusses parts of a web site called Profiles of Paris. The site asks: “Please explore the remarkable stories of the people who created the Paris Agreement, and what it means for the future. Use the filters to guide you. This collection will grow in the coming months, so watch this space.”

Unfortunately, no information is given on the sponsor of the site, making one suspicious, but some of the quotes appear genuine. Particularly important is a May 2018 statement by Laurent Fabius, the French Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development and the president of COP 21 (Conference of Parties) when the agreement was signed. He writes that after working out last minute difficulties of getting all parties to agree, he got a surprise:

“It was then that John Kerry, the US Secretary of State, urgently requested a meeting. John Kerry had been very helpful all through the process. Indeed, a few days earlier he and the Chinese negotiator had been in my office for the purposes of fine-tuning some of the wording that would later prove to be valuable in the final arbitration. ‘Laurent,’ he said, ‘I cannot accept the text, it is impossible.’ ‘Not possible? But it is too late to change!’ ‘It’s impossible,’ he repeated, ‘because there is a section where the word ‘shall’ has been used in the place of ‘should’, which was in the previous versions. In one case – as any lawyer will tell you – there is an obligation of means, and in the other the United States would be agreeing to an obligation to achieve precise results. The use of ‘shall’ would require that the US Senate put the text to a vote for approval. As you know, if we have to go down that path, there will be no Paris Agreement.’ That was quite a blow! I quickly asked my team to review the situation. In the previous versions, the term that referred to financing was in fact ‘should’. As the final draft of the text was prepared, ‘should’ had unfortunately been changed to ‘shall’. A typographical error. I told John Kerry that I was going to try to find a solution, but there was no guarantee. If the other delegations objected, we were headed for failure.”

We do not know if the term “shall” was a typo for “should,” but Mr. Obama’s desire to avoid presenting the agreement to the Senate was well documented at the time. Mr. Fabius obtained the approval of the G77 (a major group of countries including China) and the revised agreement was signed.

Of course, Mr. Fabius finds the actions of Mr. Trump reprehensible. Could it be that Mr. Trump is taking advantage of last minute “typo” changes made by Mr. Fabius?

It is becoming clear that the current administration recognizes the economic benefits to the country offered by the fossil fuel resources of the country and is willing to take advantage of these resources. See links under After Paris!

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Bay Cities Litigation: Federal Judge William Alsup, presiding over the public nuisance complaint by Oakland and San Francisco against five oil companies, provided another surprise to all the parties: in addition to all the damages in the future that the cities claim, the judge wants to see how the public, especially the people of California, have benefited from the use of fossil fuels. Listing and estimating the monetary value of these benefits will be a daunting task.

Perhaps, by now, the attorneys general (AGs) for the cities and those who urged them to file the litigation are finding that litigation can be dangerous and is not to be taken lightly. In testimony against the oil companies, the cities used Myles Allen, a lead author in later IPCC reports and an expert on the “social cost of carbon.” Will he participate in this legal round? See Article # 1 links under Litigation Issues.

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Sea Level Rise: Contrary to the IPCC experts and the Bay Cities AGs, Fred Singer stated in the Wall Street Journal that sea level rise was not accelerating as the IPCC claimed. Mr. Mann and others objected to Singer’s essay. Singer’s views are defended by others. See Article #2.

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Cost-Benefit Analysis: EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt created an uproar among many in the press and science organizations by announcing that public health science that is not revealed to the public should not be used to create public health regulations. Now, he is creating another uproar. The EPA announced requests for comments on policies regarding the use of cost-benefit analysis.

Among other issues, TWTW would suggest that the analyses use fixed, identified growth rates, fixed, identified discount rates (of future costs and benefits) and be updated periodically. Some economists manipulate such rates for political purposes. For example, in the UK, Nicholas Stern used an unrealistically low discount rate to make costs projected far in the future appear immediate and pressing, thus influencing the passing the UK Climate Change Act 2008.

No doubt, the current request for comments will produce outrage by some. But, the current system works poorly, and needs to be improved greatly. See links under EPA and other Regulators on the March.

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Number of the Week: $14,000 per megawatt hour (MWH). (10,600 USD) Australian commentator Jo Nova reports that short-term spikes in electricity prices in New South Wales, Australia, hit $14,000 Australian. The average for June 8 was $220/MWH (170 USD). In the US, for March, latest data available, the highest peak was about $70/MWH for New England (ISONE). The average high for UW wholesale markets was far less, and the Midwest had a high of about $30/MWH. Australia, which once enjoyed some of the lowest electricity rates in the world, is experiencing the problems created by politicians who believe solar and wind power can replace thermal generation. See lines under Energy Issues – Australia and https://www.eia.gov/electricity/monthly/update/wholesale_markets.php

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ARTICLES:

1. The Climate-Change Tort Racket

Liberal cities join the contingency-fee bar to shake down oil firms.

Editorial, WSJ, June 8, 2018

https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-climate-change-tort-racket-1528499384?mod=cx_picks&cx_navSource=cx_picks&cx_tag=contextual&cx_artPos=1#cxrecs_s

SUMMARY: After political comments on racketeering laws, the editorial continues:

”San Francisco, Oakland, New York and Seattle have sued five global oil giants—BP, Chevron , ConocoPhillips , ExxonMobil and Royal Dutch Shell —for billions in future damages from climate change. Brass-knuckled plaintiff firm Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro has been shopping around the lawsuit to other cities desperate for cash.

 

“No court has recognized common-law claims for injuries supposedly caused by climate change, and the Supreme Court unanimously ruled in AEP v. Connecticut (2011) that the Clean Air Act pre-empts public nuisance torts against corporations for greenhouse-gas emissions. So the cities are now arguing that the mere production and promotion of fossil fuels create a public nuisance, and the suits are heading to court.

 

“San Francisco and Oakland were counting on a home courtroom advantage with their choice of legal venue give that climate change is something of a religion in California. But Clinton-appointed federal Judge William Alsup is calling fouls as he sees them.

 

“’We won the Second World War with fossil fuels. If we didn’t have fossil fuels, we would have lost that war and every other war,’ the judge mused during a recent hearing. ‘And so we have gotten a huge benefit from the use of fossil fuels, right?’ Plaintiff attorney Steve Berman agreed.

 

“Judge Alsup also pointed out that the federal government and states have encouraged the production of fossil fuels. ‘If the nation is saying, ‘please do it,’ how can we hold them liable for that?’ he asked.

 

“The cities’ ostensible trump card was a document purporting to show that the oil companies concealed evidence that they knew for decades that fossil fuels contribute to global warming. But as the judge noted, this ‘smoking gun’ was merely a ‘slide show that somebody had gone to the [United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change] and was reporting on what the IPCC had reported, and that was it. Nothing more.’

 

“When Judge Alsup asked for an example of an out-of-pocket cost that San Francisco has paid due to climate change, Mr. Berman replied: ‘We have people that we’ve had to employ, outside consultants, to study global warming. Had to hire them to figure out how high the sea wall should be.’

 

“Even this was contradicted by a 2017 San Francisco general-obligation bond document that says ‘the City is unable to predict whether sea-level rise or other impacts of climate change or flooding from a major storm will occur.’ If Mr. Berman is right, then the Securities and Exchange Commission should prosecute San Francisco for a fraudulent bond offering.

 

“Cities are demanding billions for an ‘abatement fund’ that will help backfill their budgets. San Francisco schools’ retirement costs have more than doubled since 2012. New York City subways are in disrepair, which its lawyers attribute to hurricane damage caused by climate change but everyone knows is the result of decades of neglect. The real public nuisances in these progressive sanctuaries are vagrancy, public urination and open drug use that are all increasingly common.

 

‘Hagens Berman, which has negotiated a 23.5% contingency fee in the San Francisco and Oakland cases, is hoping the oil giants will pay to make the lawsuits go away, which may be tempting as cases pile up. Federal Judge John Keenan is reviewing a motion to dismiss New York City’s lawsuit on June 13. But by fighting the lawsuits, the companies are giving the public a valuable education in the monetary self-interest behind climate-change politics.”

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2. You Wouldn’t Think Sea Level Is So Complex

Since precise measurements began, mean atmospheric CO2 level has risen for 58 consecutive years, with no detectable acceleration of sea-level rise.

WSJ, June 1, 2018, Letters

https://www.wsj.com/articles/you-wouldnt-think-sea-level-is-so-complex-1527873471

“Prof. Fred Singer (“The Sea Is Rising, but Not Because of Climate Change,” op-ed, May 16) is right: CO 2 emissions have no detectable effect on sea-level rise. Profs. Andrea L. Dutton and Michael E. Mann (May 22 letter) claim, without measurable evidence, that human-caused climate change raises sea levels.

 

“Sea-level is rising in some places and falling in others. Globally, sea levels are very slowly rising, but “human-caused climate change” cannot be the cause, because the rate of rise is no greater now than when the first Model A rolled off Ford’s assembly line.

 

“Ice crevasses near the coast of West Antarctica.

Ice crevasses near the coast of West Antarctica. PHOTO: MARIO TAMA/GETTY IMAGES

Since precise measurements began, mean atmospheric CO 2 level has risen for 58 consecutive years, with no detectable acceleration of sea-level rise. Clearly, human-caused warming doesn’t significantly increase the rate of sea-level rise.

 

“Profs. Dutton and Mann also suppose the Antarctic ice sheet simply must lose ice in a warming climate because of “basic physics.” That’s also nonsense. Most of Antarctica averages far below freezing, so a few degrees of warming won’t melt it. Melting decreases ice-sheet mass balance, while snowfall adds to it, offsetting sea-level rise. Multiple studies confirm accumulating snow on ice sheets increases as the climate warms, the result of downwind “ocean effect snowfall.”

 

“Compelling evidence shows global warming from fossil-fuel use is modest and benign, and higher CO 2 levels measurably benefit agriculture and natural ecosystems, outweighing hypothetical harms.

CONTINUE READING–>

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