Weekly Climate and Energy News Roundup #332

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

By Ken Haapala, President

Specific Problems in IPCC Science: New Zealand is one country whose politicians have accepted the questionable science of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). As such, the government is implementing measures that are destructive to the livestock industry, primarily cattle and sheep, based on hollow calculations by the IPCC – that is, calculations that have little meaning, no matter how precise. The calculations are on the greenhouse warming potential (GWP) of methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O), which are calculated to comprise 50% of New Zealand’s emissions of greenhouse gases. These actions illustrate how acceptance of the shoddy science of the IPCC by government entities can become economically destructive to westernized nations.

Last week’s TWTW discussed the exceptional talk by Richard Lindzen to the Global Warming Policy Foundation on the “magical” thinking of the ideologically motivated IPCC and its parent, the UNFCCC (UN Framework Convention on Climate Change), which organized the Paris Agreement. Lindzen asserted that “the two most important greenhouse substances by far are water vapor and clouds.” The global climate models relied on by the IPCC and its followers such as the US Global Change Research Program (USGCRP) do not properly capture the influence water vapor and clouds.

Writing in “The Journal,” The Official Publication of The New Zealand Institute of Primary Industry Management, Jock Allison and Thomas Sheahen address the folly of New Zealand’s proposed greenhouse gas policies by specifically addressing the defects in IPCC models. Jock Allison and a scientist and New Zealand sheep breeder and Tom Sheahen is the Chairman of SEPP, with an extensive background in physics and energy.

A major defect in the IPCC models is the treatment of water vapor as a feedback mechanism from warming caused by carbon dioxide (CO2). Water vapor is the dominant greenhouse gas by far, it and clouds account for 80 to 90% or more of the greenhouse gas effect. Water vapor is natural and changing, both regionally and seasonally. To treat it as a feedback and not as a natural cause of greenhouse gas warming is a major defect rendering all model predictions / projections useless. Among other issues, naturally occurring water vapor diminishes the greenhouse warming potential of other gases, particularly methane and nitrous oxide.

As Allison and Sheahen state:

“The 2013 IPCC Report, AR5 (Physical Science Basis, Chapter 8, p. 666) states: ‘Water vapour is the primary GHG in the earth’s atmosphere. The contribution of water vapour to the natural greenhouse effect relative to that of CO2 depends on the accounting method, but can be considered to be approximately two to three times greater.’ Further, the IPCC’s 1992 report indicates that water vapour accounts for 55% of the total GHG effect, and that clouds account for a further 17% (Figure 4).

“Many scientific assessments consider that the total effect of water vapour is more like 90%, much more than the 72% suggested by the IPCC. Even at a value of 72% for water vapour, the proportion of the GHG effect on the world temperature, which international governments are ambitiously seeking to diminish through the reduction of the GHGs going into the atmosphere, is far less than conveyed in communications to the general public through official channels or the media.” (p.6) [Spelling as in the original]

One could argue it is too difficult to incorporate water vapor in the models, but the UNFCCC and its supporters are demanding actions that are extremely punitive to western prosperity claiming certainty in the predictions / projections from the models – a certainty that does not exist. With greenhouse gases the issue is a slowing of the cooling of the earth:

“The cooling process involves multiple steps: heat from the surface is radiated back, absorbed by the various GHGs (mainly water vapour), and transported upward by the convection of moist air to the upper troposphere, where clouds form. Throughout this journey from the surface molecular collisions, emission and re-absorption of radiation continues. The ‘greenhouse effect’ is attributed to gases that absorb and emit solar electromagnetic energy in a particular part of the electro- magnetic spectrum – ultraviolet (UV), visible, infrared light. The final cooling step (emission to space) takes place via infrared radiation leaving the upper troposphere and stratosphere.

“The downgoing radiation from the sun is in the UV and visible light part of the spectrum (0.1 to 1.2 microns wavelength), and here there is some interception of energy by clouds and a little by water vapour. There is virtually no effect of the GHGs, CO2, CH4, and N2O at the wavelength of the incoming radiation from the sun.

“All of the upgoing thermal radiation is in the 3 to 70-micron range of the spectrum, where the GHGs have some effect in absorbing the up-radiated heat from the earth’s surface.”

The authors further assert:

“The potential effectiveness of GHGs in influencing temperature depends essentially on five factors:

1. The capability of individual molecules to absorb or radiate heat.

2. Their relative concentration in the atmosphere.

3. Whether each can actually absorb effectively (as heat is radiated to and from the earth) depends on both the location of their spectral bands and the energy distribution of the earth’s outgoing radiation.

4. Competition for absorption by and between other gases.

5. Phase change of water, evaporation, condensation and precipitation.”

By ignoring water vapor as the primary greenhouse gas, the IPCC ignores the practical fact that water vapor severely limits the ability of methane and nitrous oxide to absorb outgoing (upgoing) radiation, severely limiting their greenhouse gas potential. Essentially, calculations of the greenhouse gas effect on the earth’s atmosphere by methane or nitrous oxide are hollow – meaningless. New Zealand’s agricultural policies about greenhouse gases are essentially meaningless, so are claims that methane leaks from other sources are causing dangerous global warming.

In Figure 2 (p. 5), the authors show the logarithmic relationship between atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations and temperatures (assuming a given climate sensitivity to CO2). This is based on the MODTRAN atmospheric model at the University of Chicago. Even at the pre-industrial level, the influence of CO2 was becoming small and almost flat. The IPCC dare not show such a relationship because the fear of carbon dioxide-caused global warming will vanish.

In arguing against New Zealand policies on methane and nitrous oxide, the authors assert:

“There are four serious discrepancies regarding our present political assessment of the effectiveness of CH4 and N2O as GHGs:

1. The similar molecular structure to CO2 and H2O, N2O and CH4 result in their individual capability to absorb radiating heat from the earth of a similar order of magnitude.

2. There are very tiny amounts of CH4 and N2O in the atmosphere.

3. The earth emits very little energy in the energy band where both CH4 and N2O can absorb radiation.

4. The absorption bands of CH4 and N2O are narrow and small, thus these molecules are unable to materially contribute to the dominant role of water vapour in the heat transfer process.”

“We assert therefore that the GWP values of both CH4 and N2O are vastly overstated by the IPCC, and therefore by member governments of the UNFCCC. Consequently, it is suggested that these gases be removed from New Zealand’s Greenhouse Gas Inventory, and that the supporting case for such treatment be prepared for negotiation with our international partners.

“Further, there is a much bigger prize at stake. CO2 has such a small part to play in global warming/climate change, with no more than 20% of the total greenhouse (heating of the earth) effect and probably a lot less than that, and the effects of CH4 and N2O are trivial. This means that there is an urgent need to stop all this expensive concentration on ‘climate change’ and be rid of the naivety of assuming that human beings can control and/or stabilise the climate.”

One can summarize the paper by stating that we cannot create reliable models for effects of greenhouse gases without a reliable model on the effects of water vapor – which does not exist in the IPCC’s review. The fear of greenhouse gas-caused dire warming is based on hollow (meaningless) models. See links under Challenging the Orthodoxy.


Quote of the Week “Facts, good or bad, are stubborn things.” – John Adams [H/t Donn Dears]

Number of the Week: 20 Years


A Crack Developing? Last week, Benny Peiser of the Global Warming Policy Forum gave a talk at the offices of the Competitive Enterprise Institute. One comment was of particular note. In the past, given sufficient tax incentives and other financial breaks, large German industries have gone along with environmental policies of the EU and Germany, including ones on fossil fuels.

Now, Herbert Diess, the Chairman the Board of Management of Volkswagen Group, one of the world’s leading manufacturers of automobiles and commercial vehicles and the largest carmaker in Europe, has spoken out against stricter CO2 emission limits imposed by the EU. Diess claims these policies are pushing Europe’s car industry to the “brink of collapse” and the campaign against petroleum powered cars is threating the existence of the German car industry. Also, he criticized the proposed switch to electric cars as detrimental to the environment because Germany’s electricity systems are still dominated by coal-fired power generation.

One should not read too much into this unusual event, but one must note that some in industry are publicly objecting a switch to extreme green. See link under Non-Green Jobs.


HadCRUT Data: Last week’s TWTW discussed an independent audit of widely used surface temperature data produced by the UK Met Office Hadley Centre for Climate Change and the Climatic Research Unit of East Anglia University. As expected the data was defended by the MET office. Writing in The Australian, Graham Lloyd stated:

“The Met Office said many of the problems identified are well known to anyone who has worked with climate data and are dealt with extensively in the literature including in the papers describing the construction of the data sets.”

This is not satisfactory. How many of those proposing policies based on IPCC reports, which use this surface data, understand the deficiencies in the data and how poor the coverage of the data is? The poor quality of the data, particularly in the early part of the record, is largely ignored in the reports of the IPCC and its followers. If these were fiduciary reports produced by corporations in the US, the Security and Exchange Commission (SEC) would be investigating and proposing serious penalties – as Elon Musk discovered concerning his tweets. Governments that believe the IPCC are making enormous gambles on the prosperity of the public based on deficient data. See links under Measurement Issues — Surface


Nobel Award to William Nordhaus: The 2018 Nobel in economics was awarded to William Nordhaus and Paul Romer. Nordhaus received his award for his work in climate change. He is a promoter of a carbon tax and developed an economic model to assess the costs of climate change, including crop failures and flooding, called the Dynamic Integrated Climate-Economy model, or DICE. Nordhaus claims that we a gambling with the future of the planet.

The first US recipient of this Nobel was Paul Samuelson, who made his fame and Nobel with “Foundations of Economic Analysis” (1947). bringing the heavy use of mathematics into economics. In 1948, the first edition of “Economics” by Samuelson was published, advocating Keynesian economics and the heavy use of mathematics. In 1985, Samuelson was joined by William Nordhaus.

From the 1960s to the mid-1980s, Samuelson argued that the Soviet economy was comparable to the US economy because its military was comparable. Contrary to Samuelson’s claims, when pressed by the Reagan military build-up and anti-ballistic missile technology, the Soviet economy collapsed. To paraphrase Richard Feynman: It doesn’t matter how beautiful your model is, it doesn’t matter how smart you are. If your assumptions are wrong, your conclusions are wrong. This applies to the DICE model. See links under Challenging the Orthodoxy.


Number of the Week: 20 Years. Last week, Richard Lindzen stated that there has been no significant warming of the globe for 20 years. The paper by Allison and Sheahen asserts the same. An El Niño may be forming in the central Pacific, not eastern Pacific, and the “Son of Blob” is appearing in the Gulf of Alaska. If they develop, they may impact end-of-year temperatures. TWTW will wait until the end of the year before drawing a conclusion on 20-year temperature trends. See links under Changing Weather.



1. Fighters Downed by Hurricane

Why America’s best military aircraft couldn’t fly to escape a storm.

Editorial, WSJ, Oct 16, 2018


SUMMARY: The editorial states:


“Hurricane Michael did terrible damage in Florida last week, and that may include some of the world’s most capable military aircraft left in its path. But why can’t Air Force F-22 jet fighters, of all things, escape a storm? Answer: They lack the parts to be operational and so were stuck in hangars to take a beating.


“Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson said Sunday that the damage to an unspecified number of F-22s on Tyndall Air Force Base was ‘less than we feared.’ But maintenance professionals will have to conduct a detailed assessment before the Air Force can say with certainty that the planes will fly again. Press reports estimate that at least a dozen planes were left on the base due to maintenance and safety issues.


“Welcome to a fighting force damaged by bad political decisions and misguided priorities. Of the Air Force’s 186 F-22s, only about 80 are “mission capable,” according to a July analysis from the Government Accountability Office. The average across the Air Force in 2017 was that about 7 in 10 planes were mission capable, which is still too low for meeting increasing demands.


“Part of the F-22 problem is upkeep on a coating that helps the planes evade radar. Another issue is the supply chain for parts now that the U.S. no longer produces the airplane, and “some original manufacturers no longer make the parts or are completely out of business,” GAO notes. Air Force officials told GAO that a simple wiring harness requires a 30-week lead time for finding a new contractor and producing the part. Ripping out parts from planes that work, or “cannibalizing,” is now common practice in military aviation.


“Then there’s scale, or lack thereof. The Air Force in the 1990s planned for about 650 F-22s, which were designed to replace the F-15. That number fell to about 380 over time, according to GAO, but in 2009 President Obama and Defense Secretary Bob Gates convinced Congress to shut down the production line.


“At the time Messrs. Obama and Gates argued that the U.S. had to focus on defeating unconventional enemies (Islamic State), whereas the F-22 is designed for air dominance against conventional national forces, which could also be handled by the new F-35.


“This now looks like a mistake, as Russia and China improve their military technology and the F-35 continues to have a cascade of problems. The Pentagon last week grounded the entire F-35 fleet for a fuel tube issue, though most were cleared to fly again as of Monday. Now the F-35 is the only fighter show in town. The Air Force looked at restarting the F-22 production line and predicted it’d cost billions to launch. That isn’t happening.


“The larger mistake of the Obama years was cutting defense willy-nilly to pay for entitlements and other priorities, which meant military units in all branches were crunched for training, flight hours and maintenance. Budget uncertainty through “continuing resolutions” from Congress compounded the pain.”

The editorial concludes with issues concerning the upcoming election.


2. Harness the Market to Manage the Climate

The problem is dire, but the solution isn’t command and control.

By Fred Krupp, WSJ, Oct 15, 2018


SUMMARY: The president of the Environmental Defense Fund writes:

“Last week gave the world a ghastly climate show-and-tell. First came the new report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, confirming that our climate is already changing rapidly and telling us we have a dozen years to act if we are to manage the risk of ecological and economic devastation. Then Hurricane Michael came ashore in Florida after growing from Category 2 to Category 4 in less than 24 hours—showing one reason scientists are so concerned.

“Because of the problem’s severity, some say we need a command-and-control solution, with governments telling companies how to retool. Climate change is an urgent problem, but that’s not the right approach. The world instead should harness the marketplace—the most powerful force available. Here are three policies that would help:

“• Slow deforestation and restore damaged forests. Properly managed woodlands help avoid emissions by not burning the trees and also draw carbon dioxide from the atmosphere through photosynthesis.” [Details dropped.]


“• Cut short-term climate pollutants such as methane. These gases stay in the atmosphere for less time than carbon dioxide but trap far more heat while there. Methane, the chief component of natural gas, is responsible for a quarter of all current warming. The largest industrial source of methane pollution is the global oil-and-gas industry, so EDF is launching a satellite to measure and map these emissions world-wide. Our goal is a 45% reduction in methane pollution from oil and gas by 2025. This would deliver the same climate benefit over the next 20 years as closing about one-third of the world’s coal-fired power plants.


“• Stop letting companies pollute for free. In most of the world, there is no economic incentive for corporations to reduce pollution. But if they had to pay every time they put a ton of emissions into the atmosphere, they’d find creative ways to reduce pollution. By itself, a tax on pollution doesn’t guarantee reductions, so any carbon pricing policy must include enforceable limits to ensure emissions are cut as much as the science demands. As the work of the Nobel Prize-winning economist William Nordhaus makes clear, pricing carbon is a much cheaper way of hitting climate goals than command-and-control regulations.


“Scientists, investors and philanthropists also are exploring ways to remove carbon dioxide directly from the atmosphere. It’s a challenge, but a system that pays a bounty for carbon soaked out of the sky would spur a race to develop and commercialize this promising concept.


“Some people would get rich, and that’s OK. If videogames and iPhone apps can create wealth, so can saving the world.”


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