Weekly Climate and Energy News Roundup #328

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

By Ken Haapala, President

An Experiment – Testing the Core Hypothesis of Climate Models: The reports of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) contain a morass of hypotheses, guesses, that are often untested. All too often the IPCC leadership dismisses challenges as meaningless or of little importance. For example, when the Fourth Assessment Report (AR4, 2007) declared that the glaciers of the Himalayan Mountains would melt by 2035, the government of India challenged this assertion. It was brushed aside.

Then the government of India hired geologist Vijay Kumar Raina, a glacial expert, who reported some glaciers are advancing, others are retreating, and nothing is out of the ordinary. According to reports, this glaring fault was also brushed aside:

“Jean-Pascal van Ypersele, vice-chair of the IPCC, added that the mistake did nothing to undermine the large body of evidence that showed the climate was warming and that human activity was largely to blame. He told BBC News: ‘I don’t see how one mistake in a 3,000-page report can damage the credibility of the overall report.’” [The Guardian, Jan 20, 2010]


Similarly, the IPCC uses multiple Global Climate Models (GCM) with countless assumptions and hypotheses. Criticizing any particular model, or hypothesis, produces the response of “So What?”

Ross McKitrick, Department of Economics and Finance, University of Guelph, and John Christy, Earth System Science Center, University of Alabama in Huntsville, have undertaken to identify a core hypothesis common to the climate models used by the IPCC and to test the hypothesis against the longest data set available that describes what is actually occurring. Along with Steve McIntyre, McKitrick found that the statistical techniques used by Mr. Mann, et al. in their “hockey-stick” produced such a shape from random noise. Along with Roy Spencer, Christy found a method for calculating temperature trends in the atmosphere from data collected by satellite, the most comprehensive almost global temperature trends existing.

In weeding through the countless hypotheses to identify one common, major testable hypothesis, McKitrick and Christy used four criteria (conditions): measurability, specificity, independence and uniqueness

The condition for measurability requires that a prediction must refer to a target that is well-measured over a longtime span.

The condition for specificity requires “large, well-measured atmospheric regions where GCMs predict, more or less in unison, not only specific magnitudes of change, but also on a specific (and reasonably rapid) time scale.”

The condition for independence requires that “once a model has been tuned to match a target [data], its reproduction of the target is no longer a test of its validity. In the case of GCMs, this rules out using the global average surface temperature record for testing, since during development models are often adjusted to broadly match its evolution over time.” This is a major problem with most GCM because they are tuned to surface data, not atmospheric data where the greenhouse gas effect occurs.

If one tunes a model to a particular set of data, then one cannot test the validity of the model with that set of data. This eliminates using surface temperature data to test the validity of most climate models.

The condition for uniqueness requires the elimination other factors, to the maximum extent possible. “Ideally, then, we look for a prediction uniquely tied to the underlying causal mechanism of interest.”

They found: “Air temperature in the 200-300 hPa layer of the tropical troposphere meets all four test conditions, pretty much uniquely in the climate system as far as we are aware.” The 1979 Charney report and all five IPCC reports indicate that any CO2-caused warming will be amplified by an increase in water vapor, primarily over the tropics. [Using a standard altitude to pressure conversion table, the 200-300 hPa layer is approximately 30,000 feet (9100 m) to just under 40,000 feet (12,200 m) above sea level.


This atmospheric layer has four advantages for testing the hypothesis:

“First, homogenized measurements from more than one independent source are available over a 60-year span from 1958 to 2017. This is twice the length of the customary 30-year interval usually thought to be necessary for identifying a climatological phenomenon and more than enough compared to the response time scale in GCMs. The time span encompasses several major volcanoes and strong El Niño events, and the Pacific Climate Shift of the late 1970s, but is long enough to allow distinct identification of an underlying smooth trend, if one exists.”

The Pacific Climate Shift may be connected to the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO). This shift produced a warming in the late 1970s that stopped the alarm of global cooling and an oncoming ice age. At the time, the sudden increase in temperatures was not understood. The PDO has been traced back for centuries.

“Second, as was noted in the 2007 Fourth IPCC Assessment report (Meehl et al. 2007, Ch. 10), GCMs unanimously project that warming will reach a global maximum in the tropics near the 200-300 hPa layer, due to the so-called negative lapse rate feedback (NAS 2003), and that the warming will occur rapidly in response to increased greenhouse forcing.”

“Third, by focusing on the 200-300 hPa layer we avoid contaminating the test by searching for a signal to which the models were already tuned. The surface temperature record is ruled out for this reason, but satellite-based lower-and mid-troposphere composites are also somewhat contaminated since they include the near-surface layer in their weighting functions. Radiosonde samples measure each layer of the atmosphere independently, not simply as a gradient against the surface.”

“Fourth, simulations in the IPCC AR4 Chapter 9 (Hegerl et al. 2007) indicate that, within the framework of mainstream GCMs, greenhouse forcing provides the only explanation for a strong warming trend in the target region. AR4 Figure 9.1 illustrates 20thcentury climatic reconstructions applying one-at-a-time individual forcings from observed solar, volcanic, GHG, stratospheric ozone and sulphate aerosol changes.”

Using three different 60-year sets of weather balloon records, they test the warming demonstrated in the models against observations. They find:

“The mean restricted trend (without a break term) is 0.325 +/- 0.132ºC/decade in the models and 0.173 +/- 0.056ºC/decade in the observations. With a break term included they are 0.389ºC/decade (models) and 0.142 +/- 0.115ºC/decade (observed). Figure 4 shows the individual trend magnitudes.” The break-term is the adjustment for the PCS. During the 60 years covered, the CO2 concentration at Mauna Loa went up 29%.

As McKitrick’s states in his post, this finding shows that “models misrepresent a process fundamental to their usability for studying the climate impacts of greenhouse gases.” That is, the models show warming trends that are significantly greater than the observed warming – about 2.7 times the observed trend for the data sets that include the PCS (PDO).

The warming bias in the models should be unacceptable for any prudent government agency, including the EPA which relies on the GCMs for its finding that CO2 endangers public health and welfare. Probably there is little that can be done about the UN IPCC. It is in a world of its own. But any US government agency that uses such models to establish policy should be viewed with great skepticism. See links under Challenging the Orthodoxy.


The Jason Model: Last week’s TWTW mentioned a 1979 report on global warming by JASON, a group of independent scientists who advise the government. TWTW had not been able to find the report. Reader Gary Pavek promptly sent TWTW an April 1979 Technical Report JASON, “The Long-Term Impact of Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide on Climate.” It had been retrieved from Google records.

The report was prepared for the Department of Energy and stated that “neither the ocean-atmosphere nor the atmosphere-biosphere interfaces are well understood.” They are still not well understood, underlying the importance of the McKitrick-Christy test which pertains only to a layer of the atmosphere, which should not be greatly influenced by these interfaces nor by human land use change, such as urbanization.

The report states: “The JASON climate model suffers from a number of fundamental weaknesses. The role of clouds in determining the albedo is not adequately taken into account nor are the asymmetries between the northern and southern hemisphere.” Both these issues remain in GCMs today.

It discusses two models, one being a gray atmosphere model, meaning that greenhouse gases reduce the transparency of the atmosphere to outgoing infrared radiation. The paper states: “The gray atmosphere model predicts an increase of average surface temperature of 2.8ºK for a doubling of CO2, a result about a degree less than the nine-band model. In the model the principal effect of increasing CO2 is to enhance the absorption by weak CO2 bands in the 8-12-micron region.”

TWTW could find no empirical justification for increasing the absorption ability of these weak CO2 bands. Certainly, when the neighboring bands become saturated, there may be some spillover effect, there is no logical reason to assume that the absorption ability of CO2 would greatly increase above what is indicated by laboratory experiments.

Unlike the models used in the Charney report, the Jason climate model did not assume an increase in water vapor and had the extreme warming occurring in the polar regions not the equatorial region. Since 1979, the atmosphere above the North Pole has been warming, but not the atmosphere above the South Pole.

The Department of Energy has a new climate model. A quick review of the web site revealed that the new model includes issues on the optical depth of aerosols. Optical depth is a term-of-art applying to the transparency of gases to radiant energy. However, a quick review did not reveal any further research on the change in optical depth of CO2, which is assumed to change in the Jason Model. TWTW will search further. See links under Defending the Orthodoxy.


Will Happer Debate: Writing in WUWT, Andy May discussed a “Great Debate” series between Dr. David Karoly and Dr. William Happer. The debate was conducted in writing. Karoly is a “climate scientist who has been heavily involved in several IPCC reports and first described the famous ‘atmospheric fingerprint’ (cooling in the stratosphere and warming in the troposphere) that shows rising greenhouse gas concentrations have an impact on recent surface warming.” [This is different than the Santer “human fingerprint.”] Will Happer was discussed in last week’s TWTW.

The first part presented arguments regarding how unusual recent global warming is and how we know the recent observed increase in CO2 is due to human activities. In the second part they presented their thoughts on the amount of warming caused by greenhouse gas emissions and the accuracy of the calculations. The third part, they address dangers of global warming, the calculation of the value of ECS (the equilibrium climate sensitivity to a doubling of CO2), and the need to do something about climate change.

The fourth part is a summary prepared by Andy May. Unfortunately, Karoly dropped out, and responses to Happer’s comments were handled by Glenn Tamblyn, a blogger for the web site skeptical science, which accepts the IPCC view and became dogmatic. See links under Seeking a Common Ground.


AGs for Sale or Rent? CEI professional Chris Horner has uncovered a disturbing trend in the offices of some state attorneys general. Environmental groups are hiring attorneys to work in the offices of these state attorneys general under the disguise that they are “pro bono” volunteers. Depending on the laws of the state, this may or may not be legal. But it is doubtful that a state attorney general will press charges against his own office.

When his term of office expired, Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell was immediately arrested on federal corruption charges for receiving improper gifts and loans from a Virginia businessman. He was tried and convicted. It took two years, but his conviction was unanimously vacated by the US Supreme Court. It found there was no crime – no quid pro quo – no evidence that an “official act” was made in exchange for favors. Simply setting up meetings was not sufficient. What McDonnell did may have been distasteful, but not criminal.

The actions of the AGs in accepting “volunteers” paid by third parties into their officers may be just distasteful. But if these volunteers are involved in “official acts” it may become criminal. Note: Ken Haapala knows attorney Chris Horner who was very persistent in uncovering fictious EPA employees used to disguise messages from past EPA administrators. See links under Expanding the Orthodoxy.


End of Ice Ages and Other Solar Issues: Writing in Climate Etc., physicist Donald Rapp explores what may be a condition needed to end Ice Ages. The Milankovitch cycle is widely accepted for explaining the formation and ending of ice ages in the current Quaternary Period (starting about 2.5 million years ago). However, the theory does not explain why in only a few occasions does an increasing in solar intensity result in a termination of an Ice Age. In many occasions it does not. A sharp increase in “solar intensity might be necessary for a termination, but it is certainly not sufficient.”

Some researchers have advanced the concept that dust accumulation on the ice sheets in conjunction to the increase in solar intensity are important. Using basic calculus Rapp advances this position.

Writing in the Global Warming Policy Forum, David Whitehouse explores the relationship between the Maunder Minimum and the Little Ice Age. It is not straight forward and there may be a number of relationships that are not understood. The complexity of solar influence in the Northern Hemisphere may involve much more than what is generally discussed. See links under Science: Is the Sun Rising?


Hurricane Florence: Upon reaching the East Coast at the Carolinas, Hurricane Florence stalled, and its winds abated. This is very fortunate in terms of destruction from high wind, but unfortunate in terms of flooding. Such storms show we still need a better capability in predicting severe storms, and their intensity. Of course, the storm was accompanied with the usual babble that it was an example of CO2-caused global warming.

As a side note, Anthony Watts posted an amusing video clip of a reporter struggling against the storm, as two people in the background strolled by. See links under Changing Weather and Below the Bottom Line.


Number of the Week: $5.20 and $6. 50 per million BTU. TWTW has seen numerous estimates of the cost of shipping liquified natural gas (LNG) from the Gulf Coast to Europe and Asia. Based on assumptions made in preparing the Natural Gas Market Model for the Annual Energy Outlook, 2018, the US energy Information Administration estimates the cost of shipping from Sabine Pass, Louisiana to Europe is $5.20 per million BTUs and to Asia $6.50 per million BTU.

These costs include a Liquefication and Pipe fee of $3.36, Transportation cost to Europe of $1.20, Transportation cost to Asia of $2.48 Regasification cost of $0.11 and a Fuel surcharge of 15% of Liquefication and Pipe fee. The costs do not include the cost of the natural gas.

The costs of shipping from Cove Point, MD are slightly higher, even to Europe. Additional facilities are coming on-stream, which the EIA included in its additional estimates. The natural gas boom is for real, and companies are scrambling to build natural gas shipping facilities. The first few that complete in construction and commitments will probably profit handsomely, the rest, less so.



1. The Price Californians Will Pay

Jerry Brown signs the statewide ban on fossil-fuel power by 2045.

Editorial, WSJ, Sep 12, 2018


The Editorial States:

“Gov. Jerry Brown on Monday signed a bill requiring that 100% of California’s electricity be generated by renewables like wind and solar by 2045. The price of his green virtue won’t be cheap.

“‘California is committed to doing whatever is necessary to meet the existential threat of climate change,’ the Governor declared. ‘California has been doing stuff that the rest of the world is hoping to get to one day.’

It shows a graph based on EIA numbers that residential costs of electricity in 2018 are about 50% greater in California than the US average, about 30% greater than in New Jersey.

That ‘stuff’ is costing Californians dearly. See the nearby chart tracking residential electricity rates since 2011. Plunging natural gas prices—the wholesale price has fallen 28% since 2011—due to the shale drilling boom have curbed electricity rate increases in most states.

But California has moved most aggressively against fossil fuels, and what do you know? Its electric prices have risen the most in the country outside of New England, which suffers from a natural gas shortage due to inadequate pipeline capacity.

Since 2011 California’s electricity rates have surged 30% compared to an 8% increase nationwide and 15% in Washington. Rates in some states like Florida (-3%) and New Jersey (-2%) have fallen modestly. Seven years ago California’s electricity rates were 27% higher than the national average. Today, they are 53% higher.

California’s 100% mandate will require utilities to pay even more for new renewable generation, battery storage and transmission. The state will need about 200 times more energy storage than it currently has to compensate for gas-fired plants. Green cross-subsidies also drive up retail electricity prices. For instance, utilities pay rebates to homeowners with solar panels in addition to compensating them at the retail rate for surplus energy they remit to the grid.

Liberals say Californians won’t pay more for electricity because efficiency mandates will reduce consumption. But low-energy appliances are more expensive and can, well, backfire. Customers have complained that tankless water heaters in larger homes require additional equipment to expedite hot-water delivery that can end up driving up energy costs.

Gov. Brown has also directed the California Air Resources Board to develop a plan to achieve ‘carbon neutrality’ by 2045 so that the state emits as much carbon dioxide as it removes. This would literally require everyone to drive electric cars and farmers to develop technologies to capture cow flatulence—long after Mr. Brown has stopped exhaling CO2 himself.


2. More Hurricane Arguments

Crack news organizations deployed narratives ahead of the storm.

By James Freeman, WSJ, Sep 14, 2018


Summary: The co- author of “Borrowed Time” writes:

“Hurricane Florence continues to pour historic volumes of water upon the Carolinas, causing several deaths, leaving hundreds of thousands of people without power, flooding vast areas of the region, and sending many residents in search of food and shelter.

“Meanwhile American news consumers are finding no shortage of pundits eager to define the disaster as the result of allegedly insufficient government regulation. This analysis represents a high level of preparedness. In the days and hours before Florence made landfall, many media outlets deployed anti-market narratives in the coverage areas where editors believed they could be most useful.

“The Washington Post editorial board wrote on Tuesday:

“President Trump issued several warnings on his Twitter feed Monday, counseling those in Florence’s projected path to prepare and listen to local officials. That was good advice.

“Yet when it comes to extreme weather, Mr. Trump is complicit. He plays down humans’ role in increasing the risks, and he continues to dismantle efforts to address those risks. It is hard to attribute any single weather event to climate change. But there is no reasonable doubt that humans are priming the Earth’s systems to produce disasters.

“Yet there is much more than reasonable doubt on the question of whether the President or any of his predecessors is ‘complicit’ when it comes to extreme weather. Last month University of Colorado environmental studies Professor Roger Pielke Jr. wrote in the Journal:

“’Since 1990, the global population has increased by more than 2.2 billion, and the global economy has more than doubled in size. This means more lives and wealth are at risk with each successive disaster.

“’Despite this increased exposure, disasters are claiming fewer lives. Data tracked by Our World in Data shows that from 2007-17, an average of 7,000 people each year were killed by natural disasters. In the decade 50 years earlier, the annual figure was more than 37,000. Seven thousand is still far too many, but the reduction represents enormous progress.

“’The material cost of disasters also has decreased when considered as a proportion of the global economy… The decrease in disaster damage isn’t a surprise, because as the world population and economy have grown, the incidence of the most damaging extreme events has hardly changed. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reported in 2014 that there has been no increase in hurricanes, floods, droughts or tornadoes within the past 30 years.’

After asking how appropriate Pielke’s comments are for North Carolina, the author then goes into a discussion centering on how frequently should building codes be updated.


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