Weekly Climate and Energy News Roundup #344

The Week That Was: 2019-01-19, Brought to You by www.SEPP.org

By Ken Haapala, President, The Science and Environmental Policy Project

Quote of the Week: “Truth never dies but lives a wretched existence,”— Yiddish proverb [H/t Tim Ball.

Number of the Week: Advancing to # 3?

The Weather Engine: Last week’s TWTW discussed the two primary energy flows from the surface through the atmosphere into space as speculated in the influential 1979 Charney report: 1) carbon dioxide (CO2) absorbing and re-radiating (interfering with) some of the outbound long-wave radiation from the surface to space and 2) increased water vapor absorbing and re-radiating (interfering with) even more outbound long-wave radiation. According to the Charney Report, the increased water vapor is more significant than the CO2 in causing a warming of the planet.

Further, TWTW discussed the 1997 model of the earth’s “Annual Global Mean Energy Budget” as presented by Kiehl and Trenberth paper published by the American Meteorological Society. In their graph, Figure 7, one can see the component allocated to outgoing longwave radiation and the component allocated to increasing water vapor, evapotranspiration and latent heat. Other publications disagree with the specific numbers but accept the concept.

According to the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and their followers, there is a water vapor component of release of latent heat in the upper troposphere. This is the so called “hot spot,” which is assumed to be located over the tropics and strongest at a pressure between 300 to 200 millibars (mb) (roughly 9 to 11 km, 30,000 to 36,000 feet above the tropics). Over 50% of the atmosphere is below 6 km.

This “hot spot” has not been found and is not increasing as it should if the water vapor component of “CO2- caused global warming” is as strong as claimed in the Charney Report and repeated by the IPCC and others for 40 years. The recent McKitrick and Christy paper demonstrated that 60 years of weather balloon data have shown no such warming is taking place. Many other publications have likewise not found it

SEPP Chairman emeritus Fred Singer was a co-author of the 2007 Douglas, et al. paper, the first publication showing that the hot spot cannot be found. The paper is described in the 2008 Report of the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC 2008). Fred Singer told Haapala that last week’s TWTW did not adequately discusses the importance of the absence of the hot spot; it is further discussed below. [The interference with outbound thermal radiation by greenhouse gases will be discussed more fully in a future TWTW.]

A change in temperature requires thermal energy, sensible heat. A second requirement of thermal energy is a change in state (or phase change), which occurs when liquid ocean water evaporates into water vapor. This type of thermal energy is named Latent Heat. Ice melting in a water glass is another example of a phase change: one that releases energy. Upon evaporation, the temperature remains the same, but the water vapor contains considerably more energy.

Sunlight creates thermal chaotic motion of the atmosphere, which causes air with water vapor entrained to rise up. This convection process drives the winds and turbulence of the atmosphere. At the much cooler temperatures of altitudes like 10 km, water vapor condenses and becomes liquid then ice. The conversion (phase change) from a gas back to a liquid (or solid) releases the latent heat into the atmosphere, slightly warming the nitrogen and oxygen. From high altitude, some heat is radiated into space, and part remains in the atmosphere. The entire process can be called a heat engine, or weather engine. When the Charney Report was written, the process was understood. This issue in question was: will a CO2-caused warming increase the intensity of this process, the weather engine?

Forty years of comprehensive atmospheric temperature trends, the last twenty years with no statistically significant warming, and 60 years of balloon observations show that the global atmosphere is not warming in a way indicating that the process is intensifying. The weather engine is not becoming more extreme. Thus, projections / forecasts / predictions from climate models or other means that CO2 warming is causing more extreme weather events are not supported by the hard evidence of temperature trends in the atmosphere.

If there is any greenhouse gas effect that is significant at this time, it is the warming of the Arctic, not the Antarctic that is both warming and cooling. The Daily Mean Temperature graphs of the Danish Meteorological Institute (DMI), from 1958 to current, north of the 80th northern parallel, show that temperatures are rising in the cold months, not the summer. In the cold months, the Arctic is extremely dry, thus the warming may be from an increase in water vapor from El Niños, the causes of which are not understood.

Please note that the above discussion does not include transport of heat from the tropics to the polar regions both by the oceans and the atmosphere. As Richard Lindzen has discussed, any greenhouse gas warming of the polar regions is likely to be beneficial, because it lessens the temperature extremes (temperature gradient) between the tropics and the polar regions, thus reducing the driving forces of winds and severe storms. As climate change pioneer H.H. Lamb discussed in his book, “Climate, History and the Modern World,” the fiercest storms to hit Western Europe occurred during the Little Ice Age, a cold period. See links under Challenging the Orthodoxy – NIPCC, Challenging the Orthodoxy and Defending the Orthodoxy and http://ocean.dmi.dk/arctic/meant80n.uk.php


AMS Report: The atmospheric data show there is little increase in temperature trends indicating, as discussed above, that the weather engine shows no increasing intensity. Thus, those attuned to atmospheric temperatures should realize that there is little hard, consistent evidence showing weather is becoming worse. Each day, meteorologists release weather balloons to collect data to update their weather models. This is called reanalysis data and it is based on observations, not the results of models. Even so, weather models cannot be relied upon to predict severe weather events 2 weeks out.

Yet the American Meteorological Society (AMS) has issued a stunning, highly questionable report on anecdotal evidence, evidence collected in a casual or informal manner, rather than hard evidence collected in a systematic manner: “Explaining Extreme Events from a Climate Perspective.” The cover letter states:


New Studies Reveal Clear Ties between Today’s Extremes and Human Causes


“DECEMBER 10, 2018 – Washington DC – The U.S. Northern Plains and East Africa droughts of 2017, floods in South America, China and Bangladesh, and heatwaves in China and the Mediterranean were all made more likely by human-caused climate change, according to new research published today in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society (BAMS).


“The seventh edition of the report, Explaining Extreme Events in 2017 from a Climate Perspective, also included analyses of ocean heat events, including intense marine heatwaves in the Tasman Sea off of Australia in 2017 and 2018 that were “virtually impossible” without human-caused climate change. Also included are analyses of Australian fires and Uruguay flooding.


“This is the second year that scientists have identified extreme weather events that they said could not have happened without warming of the climate through human-induced climate change.


“’These attribution studies are telling us that a warming Earth is continuing to send us new and more extreme weather events every year.’ said Jeff Rosenfeld, Editor in Chief of BAMS. ‘The message of this science is that our civilization is increasingly out of sync with our changing climate.’”

Droughts in the Great Plains? “Climate change made the 2017 Northern Great Plains drought 1.5 times more likely by shifting the balance between precipitation and evapotranspiration of soil moisture.” What would the AMS have said during the “dust bowl” years of the 1930s? Floods in Bangladesh and southeastern China? Surely some members of the AMS must realize that they have occurred before.

Apparently, the leaders of the AMS are becoming more focused on climate models than on observations, losing the ability to recognize limits in our understanding of weather. See links Lowering Standards and https://climatedataguide.ucar.edu/climate-data/atmospheric-reanalysis-overview-comparison-tables


Economists on the March: Not to be outdone in spreading alarm, the World Economic Forum issued “The Global Risks Report: 2019.” The two risks with the highest impact and highest likelihood are: 1) Extreme weather events and 2) Failure of climate-change mitigation and adaptation. These have greater likelihood and impact than natural disasters.

Amazingly, in terms of impact, weather events and failure of climate-change mitigation have only a slightly lower impact than weapons of mass destruction. Weapons of mass destruction are rated as having a low likelihood of risk.

A poor term, according to the UN such weapons include chemical and biological weapons as well as nuclear weapons. In terms of impact, failure of climate change mitigation and adaption have an impact similar to use of nuclear weapons?

Not to miss out, a group of US economists and former Government officials signed a letter urging a carbon tax to “combat climate change.” The tax will increase annually until the undefined “goals” are met. They claim a carbon tax is more efficient than regulation, which may be true, but it is no reason for implementation. They assert: “To maximize the fairness and political viability of a rising carbon tax, all the revenue should be returned directly to U.S. citizens through equal lump-sum rebates.” Anyone who has studied the US tax code would recognize the absurdity of this claim.

Upon reading it, Haapala posted the following statement in the comments section following the article:

“The evidence that CO2 is the primary cause of global warming / climate change is as solid as the evidence Paul Samuelson had in claiming the economy of the Soviet Union is comparable to the economy of the US.”

For the benefit of TWTW readers not versed in US economics, Samuelson was the first US Nobel laureate in “Economic Sciences” (1970) because he: “has done more than any other contemporary economist to raise the level of scientific analysis in economic theory.” In the 60s, 70s, and early 80s, Samuelson created a tremendous issue in the field because he claimed that since the Soviet military was comparable to the US, its economy must be comparable. The works of competent American economists contradicting Samuelson, who could read and write Russian, were often ignored and denied professional advancement.

Wall Street Journal journalist Holman Jenkins has comments on the proposal. See links under Expanding the Orthodoxy and Articles # 1 and #2.


Ocean Heat Content: The globe’s atmosphere is not warming as projected / forecasted / predicted, so the journal “Advances in Atmospheric Sciences” published a paper on the ocean heat content: “2018 Continues Record Global Ocean Warming.” How a warming that should be taking place in the atmosphere occurs in the oceans without first occurring in the atmosphere is not discussed.

Independently, Roy Spencer and Judith Curry thoroughly addressed issues with the paper. Spencer did so in two posts and raised many questions. Curry used one post to address the paper and similar papers.

One of the difficult issues is that the paper calculates how much the oceans have warmed over the 40-year period 1971 to 2010, a period used in the last IPCC Assessment Report (AR-5, 2013). Reports assert the oceans have warmed 40% more than previously thought. Spencer found the justifications used for the claim and calculated 11%, but Spencer recognizes that the uncertainty in the calculations is major. Among other issues is that they used 33 models to calculate a model average. How good are the models? No one knows.

The practice of assembling multiple models, developed in various way, using different parameters, then averaging them creates unknown errors. One cannot assume that the errors will cancel out, nor can one assume the errors are randomly distributed, there may be a systematic bias in the models. See links under Challenging the Orthodoxy and Defending the Orthodoxy.


Antarctic Warming and Cooling: The threat of accelerating sea level rise is often based on claims that the West Antarctic Ice Sheet will collapse (melt over several thousand years). An examination of the 40-year map of atmospheric temperature change indicates that if it does, it will not be from greenhouse gas warming.

The satellite data shows that there is some warming from about 0 degrees to 90 degrees east longitude. Elsewhere there is cooling, even over the Antarctic Peninsula, where surface warming is reported from the many observatories there. Further, the geothermal hot areas in West Antarctica may be changing the Antarctic Circumpolar Current. These are issues in need of observing rather than jumping to conclusions about CO2. Stopping CO2 emissions will not stop geothermal activity. See links under Changing Climate and Changing Cryosphere – Land / Sea Ice.


Number of the Week: Advancing to # 3? According to reports, the American Petroleum Institute is estimating that in 2019 the US will become the third largest exporter of Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG). According to the EIA, the largest LNG exporters from 2013 to 2017 were (in order): Qatar, Australia, Malaysia, Nigeria, Indonesia Algeria, US.

In the late 1970s many in Washington were convinced the US was about to run out of natural gas. Their belief was supported by then “state of the art” numerical models run on computers. In 1978, Congress passed, and President Carter signed an energy bill including the Powerplant and Industrial Fuel Use Act which included provisions effectively prohibiting construction of power plants solely using natural gas or oil. In 1987 the act was repealed. All reliable power plants being built in the US today are powered by natural gas.

This history demonstrates the folly of basing government policies on long-term predictions from numerical models that have not been verified and validated. Verification and validation of models is a process that climate modelers avoid.



1. Economists’ Statement on Carbon Dividends

Bipartisan agreement on how to combat climate change.

Editorial, WSJ, Jan16,2019


SUMMARY: The letter begins:

“Global climate change is a serious problem calling for immediate national action. Guided by sound economic principles, we are united in the following policy recommendations.


“I. A carbon tax offers the most cost-effective lever to reduce carbon emissions at the scale and speed that is necessary. By correcting a well-known market failure, a carbon tax will send a powerful price signal that harnesses the invisible hand of the marketplace to steer economic actors towards a low-carbon future.


“II. A carbon tax should increase every year until emissions reductions goals are met and be revenue neutral to avoid debates over the size of government. A consistently rising carbon price will encourage technological innovation and large-scale infrastructure development. It will also accelerate the diffusion of carbon-efficient goods and services.


“III. A sufficiently robust and gradually rising carbon tax will replace the need for various carbon regulations that are less efficient. Substituting a price signal for cumbersome regulations will promote economic growth and provide the regulatory certainty companies need for long- term investment in clean-energy alternatives.


“IV. To prevent carbon leakage and to protect U.S. competitiveness, a border carbon adjustment system should be established. This system would enhance the competitiveness of American firms that are more energy-efficient than their global competitors. It would also create an incentive for other nations to adopt similar carbon pricing.


“V. To maximize the fairness and political viability of a rising carbon tax, all the revenue should be returned directly to U.S. citizens through equal lump-sum rebates. The majority of American families, including the most vulnerable, will benefit financially by receiving more in “carbon dividends” than they pay in increased energy prices.


“George Akerlof, Robert Aumann, Angus Deaton, Peter Diamond, Robert Engle, Eugene Fama, Lars Peter Hansen, Oliver Hart, Bengt Holmström, Daniel Kahneman, Finn Kydland, Robert Lucas, Eric Maskin, Daniel McFadden, Robert Merton, Roger Myerson, Edmund Phelps, Alvin Roth, Thomas Sargent, Myron Scholes, Amartya Sen, William Sharpe, Robert Shiller, Christopher Sims, Robert Solow, Michael Spence and Richard Thaler are recipients of the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences.

Other signers include former Treasury secretaries, members of the Council of Economic Advisers, and officers of the Federal Reserve.


2. Big Names Bake a Climate Pie in the Sky

They mean well, but eminent economists are pushing an unreal ‘carbon dividend’ plan.

By Holman Jenkins, Jr. WSJ, Jan 18, 2019


“An impressive list of names endorse a carbon dividend proposal published in The Wall Street Journal this week. They include 27 Nobel Prize winners plus former Treasury secretaries, Federal Reserve chairmen and White House economists.


“They propose not only a steadily rising fossil-energy tax, but a new bureaucracy to distribute the proceeds to every American in annual “dividend” payments. They would repeal the existing panoply of green subsidies and mandates. Their program also requires a new import tax to stop U.S. industry from shifting its carbon-intensive activities offshore.


“Their plan contains quite a few moving parts. As Texas Democrat and new liberal heartthrob Beto O’Rourke seems to say about everything these days, let’s start a discussion!


“And that’s the problem. I can’t help thinking of the original grand bargain worked up by the tobacco industry, plaintiffs’ lawyers, the states, and antismoking groups in 1997. Here’s our program, now enact it, they said to Congress. Never were Republicans and Democrats so united in telling a collection of special interests to get lost.


“By its very breadth and radical nature, the carbon-dividend plan announces a climate emergency. This concession Democrats will gladly embrace, along with any chance to enact a new tax. But distributing the proceeds equally to the rich? That sounds insufficiently progressive. Besides, since we face a “climate emergency,” wouldn’t the money be better spent on speeding up deployment of wind and solar? As for existing mandates and subsidies, sure, we might expend additional political energy to repeal these. And pigs might fly.


“Congress, let’s remind ourselves, exists to pursue national priorities in a way that greases as many special interests as possible. To the voting public, meanwhile, the cost of effective climate action dwarfs the perceived benefits by a country mile. This is why our existing climate efforts, while expensively pleasing to certain lobbying interests, are so trifling as to be inconsequential to the climate.


“The dividend approach is supposed to end-run the problem of public support by putting the money back into voters’ pockets directly. Good luck with that. And it still doesn’t solve the deeper conundrum.”

Jenkins discusses CO2 emissions are a global issue, not a national issue and further writes:

“The carbon-dividend crowd, unlike the Green New Deal crowd, at least addresses the global dimension—but with a colossal and unlikely act of coercion. Other nations, they tell us, will be forced to enact their own carbon taxes to get relief from our import tax. In their hubris, they dictate not only to the U.S. Congress, but to all the world’s legislatures.


“Let’s grow up. The world faces lots of problems, none more so than its vastly accumulating debt.


“Climate scientists are not nearly as simple-minded as climate reporters. Scientists’ worst-case emissions scenario, RCP 8.5, is one in which the global economy lapses into economic and technological stagnation (contradicting an assumption on the left that stopping economic growth is the solution to climate change).


“A tax reform that included a carbon tax to replace taxes that depress work, saving and investment would be an incentive to do everything in a less carbon-intensive way, bringing forth new technologies.


“More to the point, it would be a model other countries could adopt out of self-interest—they need growth too, and tax reform is a way to stimulate it. Political grand bargains are unneeded. Legislators in the future will be endlessly hungry for revenue collected in ways that minimally impact growth.


“A carbon tax is not a miracle solution. There aren’t any. We will be living with some amount of climate change due to the highly uncertain effects of rising CO2 levels for the foreseeable future. The difference between a happy and unhappy outcome for humanity will come down to our ability to maintain economic growth and technological progress in the face of our extraordinarily daunting debt challenges.


“Finally, pardon a valedictory cynicism, but the most important truth about any political proposal is the part unsaid. Corporations rush to fund the carbon-dividend campaign not because [they] believe the plan is actionable, but because CEOs and PR departments need something gaudy to point to in order to suggest their concern about climate.


“Not that I doubt the sincerity of many who sign on to this DOA proposal, but their credibility could have been better spent. Imagine if it had been employed to alert the media to the dubious, longstanding, likely fraudulent science of radiation risk that has so inhibited the development of nuclear power. Overnight the chances of the world dealing efficiently with its climate puzzle would be increased appreciably.”



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