Weekly Climate and Energy News Roundup #346

Brought to You by www.SEPP.org

By Ken Haapala, President, Science and Environmental Policy Project

Influence of Greenhouse Gases: The past two TWTWs discussed that when liquid water changes phases and turns into a gas, water vapor, it absorbs heat energy, which is not measured by temperature. By convention, the energy is called latent heat. Most, but not all, of the idealized process takes place in the tropics or what was once labeled the Torrid Zone, lying between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn. In the idealized model, solar energy transports the water vapor to the top of the troposphere (the lowest layer of the atmosphere) where the water vapor condenses into rain, or freezes into ice, releasing the latent heat.

This idealized process, which TWTW called the weather engine, apparently accounted for a major amplification of the greenhouse gas effect emphasized by climate modelers discussed in the 1979 Charney Report. The speculated impact is called the “hot spot” and is common to global climate models. As TWTW previously discussed, 40 years of comprehensive atmospheric temperature trends and 60 years of more narrow weather balloon temperature measurements by separate instruments do not reveal an unusual rate of warming at the speculated (hypothesized) region. Thus, the prediction fails and one should no longer assume the speculated warming exists.

Unfortunately, the climate establishment, including the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and the US Global Change Research Program (USGCRP), ignore atmospheric temperature trend data, where the greenhouse gas effect takes place. Thus, they poorly serve the public by producing unreliable science.

The weather engine is illustrated in the center of a widely accepted graph in the 1997 Kiehl and Trenberth’s paper on the “Earth’s Annual Global Mean Energy Budget.” Over the next several issues, TWTW will discuss the right side of the graph, surface radiation and back radiation, and how greenhouse gases interfere with outgoing longwave radiation. Every effort will be made to keep the discussion in clear English, using as little technical language, graphs, and equations as possible. An exhaustive discussion of the greenhouse gas effect requires an understanding of integral equations, thus TWTW’s discussion will not be thorough. But it will attempt to explain what is missing in the treatment of the greenhouse gas effect by the IPCC and the USGCRP and why they greatly overestimate, or exaggerate, the influence of carbon dioxide (CO2).

To start, this TWTW will address a few misconceptions. One frequently encountered misconception is that since increasing CO2 in the atmosphere is greening the earth, increasing CO2 must also be greatly influencing the climate, the weather, and causing global warming. These are two greatly different systems on earth that should not be confused. CO2 is vital for life as we generally recognize it. But as a greenhouse gas, it is not vital for climate change, global warming, etc. The earth has been warming and cooling for hundreds of millions of years, independently of the concentrations of CO2 in the atmosphere.

One can look at these two roles as similar to an accomplished Shakespearian actor playing different roles in a repertory theater. An accomplished actor is vital in the role of Brutus in Julius Caesar. But an accomplished actor is not needed in the role of King of France in King Lear. It is important to know of the existence of the King of France, because his wife, Lear’s daughter, is torn between her love for Lear and her love for her husband and family. But his actual character is not vital to the performance. As with these plays, the importance of carbon dioxide is vital in promoting life but minor in causing climate change.

Another popular misconception is that CO2 is the dominant greenhouse gas. There are five naturally occurring greenhouse gases: water vapor, H2O; carbon dioxide, CO2; ozone, O3, methane, CH4; and nitrous oxide, N2O. How these gases in different concentrations interfere with outgoing longwave radiation is vital to understanding the total greenhouse gas effect.

By far, the dominant greenhouse gas is water vapor, which the IPCC ignores. Supposedly, the IPCC only considers the emissions of greenhouse gases from human activities and water vapor is natural. This is bunk. One cannot understand the temperature effects of a greenhouse gas without understanding the interrelationships among all greenhouse gases. The IPCC’s reports are similar to mounting a production of King Lear with no one playing the role of Lear.

An additional popular misconception is that interrelationships uniformly apply. The relationship between CO2 and temperature is logarithmic, not linear. As the concentration of CO2 changes, its relationship with other greenhouse gases changes. A common error is that methane is many times more powerful a greenhouse gas than CO2. To make such a calculation one must assume specific concentrations, including residence times. The relationship changes as these vary.

For example (a rare exception to “no equations”), consider the equation A is equal to 1 divided by X with X less than 1. The closer the value of X is to zero, the greater is the value of A, to the point that the equation virtually explodes, becomes meaningless. As will be shown later, the actual value of methane as compared with CO2 is far less than commonly assumed. (To keep equations from exploding, modelers insert controls, called parameters, which can influence the results of the models in ways not described.) See links in the last two TWTWs and links under Challenging the Orthodoxy and Defending the Orthodoxy.


Quote of the Week “Scientists best serve public policy by living within the ethics of science, not those of politics. If the scientific community will not unfrock the charlatans, the public will not discern the difference — science and the nation will suffer.”— Philip Handler, former president of the National Academy of Sciences, [H/t Michael Crichton via Roy Spencer]

Number of the Week: 5.7%


El Niño Cooling: This past week, the central US experienced severe cold. Someone at NOAA tweeted an absurd comment implying that the cold was caused by oceans being warmer. As discussed in the past two TWTWs, NOAA’s estimates of ocean heat content are highly questionable and may be the result of individual, personal studies, and not NOAA reports.

A key graph in NOAA response, “Predicted daily mean, near-surface temperature (ºC) differences from normal (relative to 1979-2000),” shows extensive warming of Antarctica where there are few instruments and where atmospheric temperatures show a cooling. No source is given for the data covering areas with no weather stations. Separately, in fall 1918 [maybe 2018? – Bob], NOAA estimated that the 2018-19 winter would be mild and warmer than usual in the central states and the east. It remains to be seen.

In August, Weatherbell Analytics LLC issued its estimates for the winter, with the central and southeastern US, except for Florida, cooler than usual with more snow than usual. Weatherbell cautioned its viewers that there would be blasts of frigid air from the Arctic interrupted by brief warm periods. Weatherbell based its forecasts on a type of El Niño that is generally not discussed, the Modoki El Niño. Usually, an El Niño results in a warming of the equatorial surface waters of the eastern Pacific, off the coast of South America. The Modoki El Niño is characterized by a warming of the equatorial central Pacific, which produces different weather patterns for the US. Weatherbell based its forecasts on analogs, that is, years that had similar patterns. The meteorologists systematically review analogs by seeking “fits” for over 20 variables.

When Weatherbell saw a high number of thunderstorms occurring in the Indian Ocean, it forecast a warming of the stratosphere, which would move over the Arctic. According to the forecast, the stratospheric warming would result in a subsequent cooling of the central and eastern US. The stratospheric warming occurred in December, and some news agencies predicted that winter was over. This week central and eastern US experienced severe cold. Weatherbell is now predicting that after another warm spell winter will return and remain into March.

Unfortunately, as with the tweet from NOAA (not identified), the changing weather resulted in nonsense, including claims that the “Polar Vortex” is responsible and unusual. In the 19th century, settlers in the upper Midwest noted severe blasts of cold Arctic air. In the 1880s, even Theodore Roosevelt speculated whether the Great Plains were inhabitable. Numerical weather forecasting greatly advanced the field, but reliable forecasts beyond two weeks remain elusive and NOAA’s forecasts seem mired in erroneous climate models.

Regrettably, the Weatherbell link is available only temporarily, but please see https://www.weatherbell.com/, and the links under Defending the Orthodoxy, Questioning the Orthodoxy, and Changing Weather.


Hot and Cold: Contradicting the claim that the Polar Vortex is due to global warming, Roy Spencer presents data showing “there is no evidence in the data supporting the claim that decreasing Arctic sea ice in recent decades is causing more frequent displacement of cold winter air masses into the eastern U.S., at least through the winter of 2017-18:”

Tony Heller brings up data showing that 1936 had both the hottest and coldest temperatures in the US Midwest. TWTW was unable to locate the source. However, in addressing many of the errors in the 2018 Fourth National Assessment, by the USGCRP, Roger Andrews located an EPA site on Climate Change Indicators. These data show that from 1895, the hottest decade in the contiguous 48 states was the 1930s; from 1910, the coldest decade was the 1980s. The data came from NOAA. Apparently, the representatives of NOAA and the EPA participating in the USGCRP Fourth National Assessment did not check their own databases. See links under Challenging the Orthodoxy and Measurement Issues – Surface.


Crichton Speech: Roy Spencer posted a 2003 lecture at Caltech by Michael Crichton on the increasingly uneasy relationship between hard science and public policy, “Aliens Cause Global Warming.” It covers a number of false predictions / projections made by scientists and the folly of believing a particular point of view is correct because it is a consensus. In addressing global climate models Crichton states:

“This fascination with computer models is something I understand very well. Richard Feynmann called it a disease. I fear he is right. Because only if you spend a lot of time looking at a computer screen can you arrive at the complex point where the global warming debate now stands.”

If anything, in the subsequent 15 years the disease has become worse, not better. See links under Challenging the Orthodoxy.


Christy On EPA’s Scientific Advisory Board: John Christy of the University of Alabama, Huntsville, has been appointed to the EPA’s Scientific Advisory Board. The Hill newspaper gave a toned-downed version of what the defenders of global warming say:

[Christy] “is an outspoken climate skeptic and often cited by pundits and politicians opposing climate policies.”

“Christy’s work includes arguing that the climate is less sensitive to greenhouse gas emissions than the scientific consensus has found, including the United Nations’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. He argues, therefore, that human activity has a very small impact on the climate.”

“He told the House Science Committee in 2017 that the climate models that international bodies rely upon have failed in the past and shouldn’t be used to set policy.

“’The average of the models is considered to be untruthful in representing the recent decades of climate variation and change, and thus would be inappropriate for use in predicting future changes in the climate or for related policy decisions,’ he said.”

SEPP and TWTW have a clear respect Christy. He is a recipient of the Fredrick Seitz Memorial Award presented by SEPP and his work is frequently cited in TWTW. He will deliver evidence, something that Washington clearly needs, rather than sound bites that the news media crave. See links under Change in US Administrations.


A Lesson from Banking? Energy Matters posted an essay by John Andrews on what dangers may be ahead for the tech industries. John Andrews draws from his 30-year experience in banking. He cautions:

[The] “‘golden age’ of minimal oversight is already coming to an end for many.

“This is a challenging and dangerous place to be for any company or industry. As a banker, I can assure my tech colleagues that public perception and policymakers can fundamentally alter any business model, and in very damaging ways. That is a reality that the tech industry needs to quickly understand.”

Although Andrews is not specifically referring to the US and the experience with mortgage backed securities, he describes times of tremendous turmoil beginning in 2008. A time when politicians, who were among the strongest promoters of mortgage-backed securities with minimal documentation, turned on the investment banks that sold them. The bad loans turned to disaster and politicians tried to out-do themselves by penalizing those who sold them.

If there is a good parallel, it is with wind and solar and the false promises that they can deliver reliable, affordable electricity. Some politicians have promoted heavily that promise, requiring citizens to accept the promise. As we see in Australia, Germany, and some states of the US, that promise can turn to dust. When the public realizes that the promise is false, they will turn on the politicians, who will turn on other promoters. See links under Seeking a Common Ground, Questioning European Green, Questioning Green Elsewhere and Energy Issues – Australia.


Number of the Week: 5.7%. TWTW reader Paul Dellevigne that recognized proclaimed surface temperature data going back to 1880, or a similar date, were suspect. So, he wished to understand how solid the data are since 1905. Exploring temperature stations records maintained by NOAA, the Integrated Global Radiosonde Archive (IGRA), he found data showing when stations went into service and out-of-service. He classified the data by periods: 1905 to 1929; 1930 to 1949; 1950 to 1969; 1970 to 1989; 1990 to 2009; and 2010 to 2018.

Dellevigne calculated that 5.7% of the stations in service during 2010 to 2018 were in service from 1905 to 1929; 32.1% of those in service during 2010 to 2018 were in service from 1930 to 1949. Yet, when writing press releases, NOAA has no difficulty in claiming precision to two decimal places? See links under Measurement Issues — Surface



1. The Prosperity Paradox’ Review: A Better Way to Fight Poverty

The current foreign-development paradigm of government-funded programs should be replaced by an entrepreneurial model.

By Rupert Darwall, WSJ, Jan 30, 2019


SUMMARY: The reviewer writes:

“Perhaps the most corrosive and enduring consequence of the 2008 financial crisis was the capitalist’s loss of confidence in capitalism. “Society is increasingly looking to companies, both public and private, to address pressing social and economic issues,” BlackRock’s Larry Fink wrote last year in a letter to CEOs, as if to say that capitalism absent such an overt objective would be inherently bad. It’s easy for Mr. Fink to call for curbs to the pursuit of prosperity—his compensation for the year before his social-purpose letter was $28 million. But the biggest losers from such a sentiment aren’t corporate bosses; they’re the majority of ordinary workers and society as a whole. As the economist Joseph Schumpeter observed: “The capitalist process, not by coincidence but by virtue of its mechanism, progressively raises the standard of life of the masses.”

“For Schumpeter, entrepreneurs and the companies they found are the engines of wealth creation. This is what distinguishes capitalism from all previous forms of economic society and turned Marxism on its head, the parasitic capitalist becoming the innovative and beneficent entrepreneur. Since the 2008 crash, Schumpeter’s lessons have been overshadowed by Keynesian macroeconomics, in which the entrepreneurial function is reduced to a ghostly presence. As Schumpeter commented on John Maynard Keynes’s “General Theory” (1936), change—the outstanding feature of capitalism—was, in Keynes’s analysis, “assumed away.”

“Progressive, ameliorative change is what poor people in poor countries need most of all. In “The Prosperity Paradox: How Innovation Can Lift Nations Out of Poverty,” Harvard Business School’s Clayton Christensen and co-authors Efosa Ojomo and Karen Dillon return the entrepreneur and innovation to the center stage of economic development and prosperity. The authors overturn the current foreign-aid development paradigm of externally imposed, predominantly government funded capital- and institution-building programs and replace it with a model of entrepreneur-led innovation. “It may sound counterintuitive,” the authors write, but “enduring prosperity for many countries will not come from fixing poverty. It will come from investing in innovations that create new markets within these countries.” This is the paradox of the book’s title.

“The authors’ notion of innovation is Schumpeterian, as is the singular importance they accord it in the economic process. Their conception goes beyond final products to embrace production, process, organization and financing. They are especially insightful about the catalyzing effects of market-creating, behavior-changing and culture-forming innovation on economic development by providing products and services people didn’t know they needed, thereby converting nonconsumers into consumers. “By investing in market-creating innovations,” Mr. Christensen and his co-authors argue, “investors and entrepreneurs inadvertently engage in nation-building.”

“Skeptics will contend that the stony ground of today’s poorest countries—the book lists 20 countries whose 2015 per capita income had declined below its 1960s levels—is too barren for growth. “Many prosperous countries today,” the authors respond, “were once poor, corrupt, and badly governed.” America in the 1850s was more impoverished than present-day Angola, Mongolia or Sri Lanka. Institutional capacity was weak and corruption rife. “Successful economies develop in spite of widespread corruption,” the authors write. South Korea’s spectacular economic growth in the 1960s and ’70s occurred during the corrupt rule of Gen. Park Chung-hee.

“Innovation, regardless of circumstances, is possible, Mr. Christensen and his co-authors say. Examples drawn from the developing world, past and present—including 19th-century America and postwar Japan and South Korea—illustrate the book’s central idea: that development takes root when innovation harnessed to the entrepreneur’s ambition pulls in the resources a society needs to become prosperous.”

After discussing the example of the Tolaram Group, a Singapore-based conglomerate that created the instant-noodle market in Nigeria, the reviewer continues:

“Some of the authors’ examples operate with an explicit social purpose, and plenty do not, but profit is what sustains all of them and makes their societal contributions sustainable. What the author describes and advocates is simply capitalism in action.

“Not all innovation works this way, of course. Did the North American Free Trade Agreement have a retarding effect on Mexico by encouraging it to specialize in efficiency innovations and somehow leach out home-grown innovation? ‘We do not know the answers to all of the development puzzles in our world,’ the authors admit. Instead of a book of glib answers, they present something much more powerful—a work of creative destruction for today’s failed development-policy paradigm.”


2. A Hoax and Its ‘Human Subjects’

An Institutional Review Board disciplines an academic prankster. But is it constitutional?

By Charlotte Allen, WSJ, Jan 28, 2019


The essayist writes:

“A massive academic hoax has taken a surprising twist. Peter Boghossian, an assistant professor of philosophy, faces disciplinary action at Oregon’s Portland State University. The accusations against him raise constitutional questions about federal regulation of academic research. They also implicitly acknowledge that the prank had a serious point.

“Mr. Boghossian—along with two confederates, neither of whom has an academic affiliation—set out to expose shoddy scholarship in what they call ‘grievance studies.’ They concocted 20 pseudonymous ‘academic papers,’ complete with fake data, and submitted them to leading peer-reviewed scholarly journals in fields like ‘queer studies’ and ‘fat studies.’ The Journal’s Jillian Melchior discovered the deception last summer and broke the story in October, by which time seven of the phony papers had been accepted for publication and four published.

“‘It had to be done,’ Mr. Boghossian tells me. ‘We saw what was happening in these fields, and we were horrified at the faulty epistemology that these people were using to credential themselves and teach others.’ The effort drew praise from some well-known public intellectuals, including Richard Dawkins, Jordan Peterson and Steven Pinker.

“Mr. Boghossian said in October that he expected to face disciplinary action and maybe to lose his job. He quickly came under fire from Portland State colleagues—one of whom, social-work professor Stéphanie Wahab, is a co-editor of Affilia: Journal of Women and Social Work, which accepted an article titled ‘Our Struggle Is My Struggle.’ It consisted in part of a chapter of ‘Mein Kampf’ with feminist buzzwords swapped in for Hitler’s anti-Semitisms. In an anonymous letter to the student newspaper, a dozen professors accused Mr. Boghossian of ‘chronic and pathological, unscholarly behavior.’

A hastily formed university committee recommended that Mr. Boghossian be investigated for ‘research misconduct’—that is, purposely fabricating data. That case would seem to be open and shut, but the investigation has stalled.

“More serious are the sanctions against Mr. Boghossian announced Dec. 21 on behalf of Portland State’s Institutional Review Board for conducting research on ‘human subjects’ without submitting his research protocol to the IRB for review as required by the federal National Research Act of 1974. The ‘human subjects’ in question were the editors and peer-reviewers of the duped journals. Portland State ordered Mr. Boghossian to undergo ‘human subjects research training,’ and its letter warns that ‘further actions may be required,’ with no elaboration.

Odd as it may sound, experts say Portland State seems to have a strong case against Mr. Boghossian: As a legal matter, he was doing research, and other professors were his subjects. The real problem is the 1974 law and the tangled regulations the Health and Human Services Department has issued over the years. Scholars have long complained that HHS’s sweeping interpretation of its mandate has censored, delayed and stymied their scholarly projects—a classic example of governmental mission creep.

“Congress passed the National Research Act in response to the notorious Tuskegee experiments on unwitting black men and similar abuses. Yet the scope of the law—designed to ensure that researchers have ‘informed consent’ from their subjects—extends far beyond medicine, to social science and even historical scholarship if living persons are involved. Only in 2017, after decades of complaints, did HHS agree to exempt such endeavors as oral history and literary criticism from IRB oversight. More exemptions went into effect early this year, but they don’t seem to cover Mr. Boghossian’s work. Sanctions can include withholding of federal money from an entire institution until the violation is corrected.

“Further, although IRB vetting technically applies only to federally funded research, HHS has strongly encouraged institutions to apply it to private research as well, and most have gone along. Portland State is one of numerous schools that take federal funding to have signed an ‘assurance’ that it will apply IRB vetting to all its research, no matter what the funding source.”

After further discussing legal issues the essayist concludes:

“Unfortunately for Mr. Boghossian, his deception may make him an unsympathetic plaintiff in a constitutional challenge to a federal law. Nonetheless, Portland State, in pursuing disciplinary sanctions against him, is paying him a backhanded compliment: acknowledging that he has done genuine research exposing the intellectual vacuity of ‘grievance studies,’ to which its practitioners must now respond.”


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