Weekly Climate and Energy News Roundup #331

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

By Ken Haapala, President

General Comment: Three major events occurred this week for evaluating the effectiveness of the UN Framework Convention for Climate Change (UNFCCC) and its subordinate organization, the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), in issuing reports on the causes of climate change, a process that has been ongoing for hundreds of millions of years. The major events were: one, a speech by MIT Professor emeritus, Richard Lindzen; two, an independent evaluation of the surface data set established by the Hadley Center and the Climatic Research Unit at East Anglia University; and three, the publication of the first of three special reports by the IPCC for its parent organization, the UNFCCC.

Lindzen’s Speech: A participant in the IPCC, who resigned, atmospheric physicist Richard Lindzen was Alfred P. Sloan Professor of Meteorology at MIT. He is noted for his work in dynamic meteorology, atmospheric tides, ozone photochemistry, quasi-biennial oscillation, and the Iris hypothesis. Lindzen is certainly qualified to talk about the physics of the atmosphere, where the greenhouse effect occurs. Several key points of the talk are summarized below.

Lindzen uses a quote from C.P. Snow (an English physical chemist who became a novelist) to differentiate between those familiar with science and those who are not. Then Lindzen states:

“While some might maintain that ignorance of physics does not impact political ability, it most certainly impacts the ability of non-scientific politicians to deal with nominally science-based issues. The gap in understanding is also an invitation to malicious exploitation. Given the democratic necessity for non-scientists to take positions on scientific problems, belief and faith inevitably replace understanding, though trivially oversimplified false narratives serve to reassure the non-scientists that they are not totally without scientific ‘understanding.’ The issue of global warming offers numerous examples of all of this.”

Lindzen gives a description of the earth’s climate system as circulation of two turbulent fluids (atmosphere and oceans) interacting with each other and the land, made turbulent by the rotation of the globe – exposing the fluids and the land to uneven heating by the sun. (The energy flow from the sun is not stable.) As such,

“The fact that these circulations carry heat to and from the surface means that the surface itself is never in equilibrium with space. There is never an exact balance between incoming heat from the sun and outgoing radiation generated by the Earth. This is because heat is always being stored in (and released from) the oceans. Therefore, surface temperature is always varying somewhat.” [Punctuation slightly changed.]

To discuss “earth in balance” is a foolish simplification.

When air-flows interact with the uneven topography of the land, they become distorted.

“Topography therefore plays a major role in modifying regional climate. These distorted air-flows even generate fluid waves that can alter climate at distant locations. Computer simulations of the climate generally fail to adequately describe these effects.”


“A vital constituent of the atmospheric component is water in the liquid, solid and vapor phases, and the changes in phase have vast impacts on energy flows. Each component also has important radiative impacts.”

After discussing the substantial energy transformations from the phase changes of water, Lindzen brings up the greenhouse effect and states:

“…that the two most important greenhouse substances by far are water vapor and clouds. Clouds are also important reflectors of sunlight.

“The unit for describing energy flows is watts per square meter. The energy budget of this system involves the absorption and reemission of about 200 watts per square meter. Doubling CO2 involves a 2% perturbation to this budget. So do minor changes in clouds and other features, and such changes are common….” [Boldface is italics in the original.]

Lindzen concludes the section by discussing “unforced” natural variation that may take 1,000 years to appear:

“Nature has numerous examples of autonomous variability, including the approximately 11-year sunspot cycle and the reversals of the Earth’s magnetic field every couple of hundred thousand years or so. In this respect, the climate system is no different from other natural systems.

“Of course, such systems also do respond to external forcing, but such forcing is not needed for them to exhibit variability. While the above is totally uncontroversial, please think about it for a moment. Consider the massive heterogeneity and complexity of the system, and the variety of mechanisms of variability as we consider the current narrative that is commonly presented as ‘settled science.”

Under the section “The popular narrative and its political origins,” Lindzen begins with:

“Now here is the currently popular narrative concerning this system. The climate, a complex multifactor system, can be summarized in just one variable, the globally averaged temperature change, and is primarily controlled by the 1-2% perturbation in the energy budget due to a single variable – carbon dioxide – among many variables of comparable importance.


“This is an extraordinary pair of claims based on reasoning that borders on magical thinking. It is, however, the narrative that has been widely accepted, even among many sceptics. This acceptance is a strong indicator of the problem Snow identified.


“Many politicians and learned societies go even further: They endorse carbon dioxide as the controlling variable. And although mankind’s CO2 contributions are small — compared to the much larger but uncertain natural exchanges with both the oceans and the biosphere — they are confident that they know precisely what policies to implement in order to control CO2 levels.” [Punctuation slightly changed.]

Lindzen discusses the role several actors have played in developing this “magical” thinking, including the ideologically motivated UNFCCC.

In discussing the “evidence” Lindzen asserts:

“First, for something to be evidence, it must have been unambiguously predicted. (This is a necessary, but far from sufficient condition.) Figure 1 shows the IPCC model forecasts for the summer minimum in Arctic sea ice in the year 2100 relative to the period 1980–2000. As you can see, there is a model for any outcome. It is a little like the formula for being an expert marksman: shoot first and declare whatever you hit to be the target.” [Boldface added]

Lindzen similarly demonstrates the inadequacy of claims of “hottest year ever,” sea level rise, etc. He states:

“At the heart of this nonsense is the failure to distinguish weather from climate. Thus, global warming refers to the welcome increase in temperature of about 1ºC since the end of the Little Ice Age about 200 years ago. On the other hand, weather extremes involve temperature changes of the order of 20ºC. Such large changes have a profoundly different origin from global warming. Crudely speaking, they result from winds carrying warm and cold air from distant regions that are very warm or very cold. These winds are in the form of waves. The strength of these waves depends on the temperature difference between the tropics and the Arctic (with larger differences leading to stronger waves). Now, the models used to project global warming all predict that this temperature difference will decrease rather than increase. Thus, the increase in temperature extremes would best support the idea of global cooling rather than global warming. However, scientifically illiterate people seem incapable of distinguishing global warming of climate from temperature extremes due to weather. In fact, as has already been noted, there doesn’t really seem to be any discernible trend in weather extremes.”

Lindzen concludes:

“There is at least one positive aspect to the present situation. None of the proposed policies will have much impact on greenhouse gases. Thus we will continue to benefit from the one thing that can be clearly attributed to elevated carbon dioxide: namely, its effective role as a plant fertilizer, and reducer of the drought vulnerability of plants. Meanwhile, the IPCC is claiming that we need to prevent another 0.5ºC of warming, although the 1ºC that has occurred so far has been accompanied by the greatest increase in human welfare in history. As we used to say in my childhood home of the Bronx: ‘Go figure’”

The entire speech is much needed and worth reading. TWTW urges all readers to read and evaluate it. Lindzen clearly illustrates the value of Feynman’s comment in the Quote of the Week. Simply because the IPCC names its process as science, does not make it science. See links under Challenging the Orthodoxy.


Quote of the Week “I learned very early the difference between knowing the name of something and knowing something.”― Richard P. Feynman

Number of the Week: 2%


Poor Data Coverage: The reports of the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC) have questioned the poor coverage of the earth surface by the instruments used to measure temperatures. For example, page 8 and 9 of the 2008 NIPCC report discusses the inadequacy of the coverage of the 2,592 feasible 5º X 5º boxes. Prior to World War II, there were less than 600 boxes covered with “mean value” (23%) with about 200 covered with a “max-min” value (8%).

Building on his doctoral thesis from James Cook University, Australian researcher John McLean investigated (audited) the surface data set known as HadCRUT4, which is highly cited and is used to adjust many global climate models. As one might expect, he found the coverage to be extremely sparse, particularly in the early part of the record. Also, McLean found improbable data, and systematic adjustment errors, large gaps with no data, location errors, and other glaring mistakes. Jo Nova states that McLean’s main points include:

“Almost no quality control checks have been done: outliers that are obvious mistakes have not been corrected – one town in Columbia [sic]spent three months in 1978 at an average daily temperature of over 80 degrees C. One town in Romania stepped out from summer in 1953 straight into a month of Spring at minus 46°C. These are supposedly “average” temperatures for a full month at a time. St Kitts, a Caribbean island, was recorded at 0°C for a whole month, and twice!


“Temperatures for the entire Southern Hemisphere in 1850 and for the next three years are calculated from just one site in Indonesia and some random ships.


“Sea surface temperatures represent 70% of the Earth’s surface, but some measurements come from ships which are logged at locations 100km inland. Others are in harbors which are hardly representative of the open ocean.


“When a thermometer is relocated to a new site, the adjustment assumes that the old site was always built up and “heated” by concrete and buildings. In reality, the artificial warming probably crept in slowly. By correcting for buildings that likely didn’t exist in 1880, old records are artificially cooled. Adjustments for a few site changes can create a whole century of artificial warming trends.”

One of the most extreme errors reported:

“For April, June and July of 1978 Apto Uto (Colombia, ID:800890) had an average monthly temperature of 81.5°C, 83.4°C and 83.4°C respectively.”

A quick conversion shows that 81.5C is 178.7F and 83.4C is 182.2F. These data are shown to one-tenth of a degree C. Is this type of precision important when the units are totally wrong? One can guess that the numbers were intended to be Fahrenheit not Celsius, but it would not be proper to make such a conversion.

McLean’s effort shows that the HadCRUT4 data set is not reliable. As mentioned in last week’s TWTW, thanks to frequent adjustments, called homogenization, NOAA’s Global Historical Climatology Network Monthly Temperature Dataset produced by National Center for Environmental Information (NCEI) is not reliable. Consequently, any conclusions of temperature trends based on these data sets are suspect.

To TWTW, there is little question that the globe has warmed since the Little Ice Age. But trying to attribute this warming to carbon dioxide requires assumptions on the quality of the data that are not justified. Further, the poor coverage of the Arctic in earlier data prompts strong questions about claims that the recent warming of the Arctic is unusual. We simply do not know. Reports from the Arctic in the early 1920s cited a warming, so Arctic warming may be part of natural variation that is not well-understood. See links under Challenging the Orthodoxy – Data.


IPCC Special Report: The IPCC has released the first of three special reports at the request of the UNFCCC. The report is called by others SR1.5 and the press release states:

Limiting global warming to 1.5ºC would require rapid, far – reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society, the IPCC said in a new assessment. With clear benefits to people and natural ecosystems, limiting global warming to 1.5ºC compared to 2ºC could go hand in hand with ensuring a more sustainable and equitable society, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) said on Monday.” [Boldface added.]

The rational for the Special Report is given later in the press release:

“As part of the decision to adopt the Paris Agreement, the IPCC was invited to produce, in 2018, a Special Report on global warming of 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels and related global greenhouse gas emission pathways. The IPCC accepted the invitation, adding that the Special Report would look at these issues in the context of strengthening the global response to the threat of climate change, sustainable development, and efforts to eradicate poverty. Global Warming of 1.5ºC is the first in a series of Special Reports to be produced in the IPCC’s Sixth Assessment Cycle. Next year the IPCC will release the Special Report on the Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate, and Climate Change and Land, which looks at how climate change affects land [and ?] us.” [Boldface was italics in the original.]

The press release shows that the IPCC is a political body acting on behalf of the UNFCCC. Given the above discussion on the poor quality of the surface data sets the distinction between 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels and 2°C is absurd. See links under Challenging the Orthodoxy, Defending the Orthodoxy, and Questioning the Orthodoxy.


Indian Hunters: As discussed in the past two TWTWs, the first IPCC Chairman, Bert Bolin (about 2001) claimed that carbon dioxide (CO2) warming was articulated by Svante Arrhenius in 1896. Bolin ignored the later 1906 paper in which Arrhenius revised his estimates of warming to about one-half of his earlier estimate of 5°C–6°C claimed by Bolin. Not discussed by Bolin was that Arrhenius was attempting to estimate what causes ice ages to end, well before Milutin Milankovitch developed his widely accepted cycles.

Also, not discussed by Bolin were the experiments by laboratories on the energy absorption properties of atmospheric gases starting in the 1920s. These clearly refute the high estimates of the influence of CO2 on temperatures written by Bolin. The UNFCCC and the IPCC ignore research and scientific papers that bring doubt to their work.

When evaluated as a whole, the entire UNFCCC and IPCC process is reminiscent of the way in which groups of plains Indians drove herds of plains bison (American buffalo) to their deaths by their using natural instincts against them and taking advantage of natural weaknesses. As described at Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump in southern Alberta, Canada, during migration periods the Indians would return to well-used areas that had a cliff that bison could not see well in advance (about 10 to 15 meters, or 30 to 45 feet). But a fall over the cliff would kill or cripple the bison when they went over.

To prepare for the drive, the hunters prepared a wall of cut saplings that appeared as woodlands to the bison having poor eyesight. These driving lanes were well marked by stone cairns and tapered like a long funnel. Generally, cow-calf herds were targeted.

To get the herds to move from their grazing areas to the killing grounds, the hunters would send young men (dressed bison-calf robes) making noises like bison calves so that the herds would move to “protect their calves.” Mature men dressed in wolf robes would make noises at the rear of the herd to prompt them to move from danger.

The process may take days, all the while increasing the speed at which the herd moved into the funnel. At the right time many hunters would emerge from the “woods” making loud noises to panic the herd to stampede towards safety – actually over the cliff. Once they went over, all were killed by the hunters to ensure no survivor would warn other bison.

The steady exaggeration of the influence of CO2, and the sudden dire predictions of SR1.5 appear to be intended to cause the herd to stampede. It appears that Mr. Trump is not inclined to join the herd. No wonder many supporters of the IPCC are so angry at him. See links under Defending the Orthodoxy and Other Scientific News.


Number of the Week: 2% Richard Lindzen estimate to total influence on the globe’s energy budget from a doubling of CO2 is only 2%, or less. Not particularly noticeable given natural variability of up to 20ºC. See links under Challenging the Orthodoxy.



1. U.N. Ignores Economics Of Climate

New Nobel laureate William Nordhaus says the costs of proposed CO2 cuts aren’t worth it.

By Bjorn Lomborg, WSJ, Oct 9, 2018


Summary: the president of the Copenhagen Consensus Center and author of “The Skeptical Environmentalist” writes:

“The global economy must be transformed immediately to avoid catastrophic climate damage, a new United Nations report declares. Climate economist William Nordhaus has been made a Nobel laureate. The events are being reported as two parts of the same story, but they reveal the contradictions inherent in climate policy—and why economics matters more than ever.


“Limiting temperatures to 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit above preindustrial levels, as the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change urges, is economically and practically impossible—as Mr. Nordhaus’s work shows. The IPCC report significantly underestimates the costs of getting to zero emissions. Fossil fuels provide cheap, efficient power, whereas green energy remains mostly uncompetitive. Switching to more expensive, less efficient technology slows development. In poor nations that means fewer people lifted out of poverty. In rich ones it means the most vulnerable are hit by higher energy bills.


“The IPCC says carbon emissions need to peak right now and fall rapidly to avert catastrophe. Models actually reveal that to achieve the 2.7-degree goal the world must stop all fossil fuel use in less than four years. Yet the International Energy Agency estimates that in 2040 fossil fuels will still meet three-quarters of world energy needs, even if the Paris agreement is fully implemented. The U.N. body responsible for the accord estimates that if every country fulfills every pledge by 2030, CO2 emissions will be cut by 60 billion tons by 2030. That’s less than 1% of what is needed to keep temperature rises below 2.7 degrees. And achieving even that fraction would be vastly expensive—reducing world-wide growth $1 trillion to $2 trillion each year by 2030.


“The European Union promises to cut emissions 80% by 2050. With realistic assumptions about technology, and the optimistic assumption that the EU’s climate policy is very well designed and coordinated, the average of seven leading peer-reviewed models finds EU annual costs will reach €2.9 trillion ($3.3 trillion), more than twice what EU governments spend today on health, education, recreation, housing, environment, police and defense combined. In reality, it is likely to cost much more because EU climate legislation has been an inefficient patchwork. If that continues, the policy will make the EU 24% poorer in 2050.


“Trying to do more, as the IPCC urges, would be phenomenally expensive. It is important to keep things in perspective, challenging as that is given the hysterical tone of the reaction to the panel’s latest offering. In its latest full report, the IPCC estimated that in 60 years unmitigated global warming would cost the planet between 0.2% and 2% of gross domestic product. That’s simply not the end of the world.


“The new report has no comparison of the costs and benefits of climate targets. Mr. Nordhaus’s most recent estimate, published in August, is that the “optimal” outcome with a moderate carbon tax is a rise of about 6.3 degrees Fahrenheit by the end of the century. Reducing temperature rises by more would result in higher costs than benefits, potentially causing the world a $50 trillion loss.


“It’s past time to stop pushing so hard for carbon cuts before alternative energy sources are ready to take over. Instead the world must focus on resolving the technology deficit that makes switching away from fossil fuels so expensive. Genuine breakthroughs are required to drive down the future price of green energy.


“Copenhagen Consensus analysis shows a ramped-up green-energy research-and-development budget of around $100 billion a year would be the most effective global-warming policy.”

Lomborg argues that this approach is far less costly than the IPCC approach.

2. On Climate, Listen to the Nobel

And not the media’s hysterical and confused response to the latest IPCC report.

By Holman Jenkins, WSJ, Oct 9, 2018


Summary: The journalist writes:

“Journalists have been herniating themselves unnecessarily in covering a new report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change finding that global temperature might increase by another 0.9 degree Fahrenheit sometime between 2030 and 2052.


“The truth is, any reporter with a fifth-grade education could have made the same calculation last week, last year or 10 years ago by applying the standard climate-sensitivity estimate (in use since 1979) to the standard emissions forecasts.


“The IPCC foresees heat waves, rainstorms and floods, but heat waves, rainstorms and floods have always happened, and it isn’t clear what the report is really saying. The New York Times notes an estimate that an additional 0.9 degree will cost the global economy $54 trillion but that fails to say over what period. For the record, global gross domestic product is expected to hit $100 trillion in 2020, and virtually all experts see global GDP continuing to grow faster than global climate costs mount up.


“The climate cognoscenti, meanwhile, are understandably more focused on what an important report, due in 2022, will say about the 40-year-old, unsatisfying climate-sensitivity model that underlies so many fuzzy forecasts reported in the media as fact. Today’s IPCC is mum but does specifically acknowledge two studies this year that greatly play down the likelihood of catastrophic climate outcomes, including one described in this column in February.


“Bottom line: The U.S. media once again proves itself largely useless to anyone interested in the climate conundrum. ‘Planet has only until 2030 to stem catastrophic climate change, experts warn,’ went a CNN headline, announcing yet another deadline that is sure to be missed. Unmentioned is the ‘or else’: We’ll have to adapt to some measure of climate change in a climate that is always changing even as the economy evolves toward greener technologies.


“Or take a recent Washington Post piece that hyped a Trump administration estimate that the earth might warm by 7 degrees Fahrenheit by the end of the century, which was found buried in an environmental statement related to fuel-economy mandates.


“Again, this merely applies the standard climate-sensitivity envelope to previously forecast future emissions, as any reporter could have done. The Trump document, in fact, is no different from Obama documents showing that the pending Obama fuel-mileage rules produce virtually no climate benefit—less than 0.0072 degree Fahrenheit by 2100.


“The Trump analysis also states plainly what the IPCC only muffles: ‘Drastic reductions’ in greenhouse gases are not ‘currently technologically feasible or economically practicable.’”

After discussing political issues, the journalist concludes:

“At a cost of between $1 billion and $10 billion annually the forecast warming could be stopped by injecting reflective particles into the atmosphere. Via magical thinking, the IPCC presumes this technology would be employed only in conjunction with a forced march toward green energy. Right. Here’s something you can take to the bank: A future struggle among nations will concern how this cheap instrument of climate modification is to be used and for whose benefit quite regardless of any debate over climate change and fossil fuels.”



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