Weekly Climate and Energy News Roundup #353

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

By Ken Haapala, President

Letter to President Trump: On March 18, under the leadership of the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) and The Heartland Institute, about forty independent organizations and over one hundred individuals sent a letter to Donald Trump supporting the proposed President’s Commission on Climate Security under the direction of William Happer of the National Security Council staff. Robert Bradley posted the entire letter on the web site Master Resource. A few key points are quoted below:

“The commission would consist of a small number of distinguished experts on climate-related science and national security. It would be charged with conducting an independent, high-level review of the Fourth National Climate Assessment and other official reports relating to climate and its implications for national security. Its deliberations would be subject to the transparency requirements of the Federal Advisory Committees Act.

“In our view, an independent review of these reports is long overdue. Serious problems and shortcomings have been raised repeatedly in the past by highly-qualified scientists only to be ignored or dismissed by the federal agencies in charge of producing the reports. Among major issues that have been raised and that we hope the commission will scrutinize: the models used have assumed climate sensitivities to CO2 concentrations significantly higher than recent research warrants; the models used have predicted much more warming than has actually occurred; predictions of the negative impacts of global warming have been made based on implausible high-end emissions scenarios; the positive impacts of warming have been ignored or minimized; and surface temperature data sets have been manipulated to show more rapid warming than has actually occurred. An underlying issue that we hope the commission will also address is the fact that so many of the scientific claims made in these reports and by many climate scientists are not falsifiable, that is, they cannot be tested by the scientific method.

“The conclusions and predictions made by these reports are the basis for proposed energy policies that could cost trillions of dollars in less than a decade and tens of trillions of dollars over several decades. Given the magnitude of the potential costs involved, we think that taking the insular processes of official, consensus science on trust, as has been the case for the past three decades, is negligent and imprudent. In contrast, major engineering projects are regularly subjected to the most rigorous and exhaustive adversarial review. We suggest that climate science requires at least the same level of scrutiny as the engineering employed in building a bridge or a new airplane.

“We further note that opponents of the proposed commission have already stooped to making personal attacks on Dr. Happer. Many signers of this letter know Dr. Happer personally and all are familiar with his scientific career. We know him to be a man of high capabilities, high achievements, and the highest integrity.

“It has been reported that some officials within your administration have proposed an internal working group as an alternative to an independent commission subject to FACA. Insofar as an internal working group would consist of federal career scientists reviewing their own work, we think this alternative would be worse than doing nothing.

“Although an independent commission of distinguished scientists would have high credibility, we do not mean to imply that its report should be the end of the matter. We therefore suggest that the National Academies of Science and Engineering would be appropriate bodies to conduct an initial review of the commission’s report.”

SEPP Chairman Thomas Sheahen and President Kenneth Haapala signed the letter on behalf of SEPP. For years, Will Happer worked with SEPP Chairman emeritus Fred Singer who found him an exceptional physicist. As expressed in last week’s TWTW, Happer’s field of expertise is Atomic, Molecular and Optical Physics, which is the only portion of science that links carbon dioxide (CO2) to claimed global warming (a.k.a., climate change).

TWTW cannot speak for others signing the letter, but SEPP is very disturbed by lack of hard evidence the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and, particularly, the US Global Change Research Program (USGCRP) have offered for their claims that CO2 is causing drastic global warming. More specifically, as John Christy and his colleagues at the University of Alabama in Huntsville have shown, the global climate models funded by the US government cannot track temperature trends in the atmosphere over the past forty years, they greatly overestimate these trends. Thus, there is no logical reason to assume the models are remotely accurate in predicting what will occur in the atmosphere with increasing CO2 over the next 80 years. Yet, the fear of carbon dioxide-caused warming is based on predictions from these models.

Using government reports on expenditures, TWTW has estimated that the US has spent over $40 billion on climate science since 1993 (the last report ended in 2015). The budget of the USGCRP has been about $2.5 billion per year. According to its web site:

“USGCRP was established by Presidential Initiative in 1989 and mandated by Congress in the Global Change Research Act (GCRA) of 1990 to ‘assist the Nation and the world to understand, assess, predict, and respond to human-induced and natural processes of global change.’”

In addition to satellites used to estimate temperature trends, independently supported by instruments on weather balloons taking daily readings, we have constant satellite monitoring of the atmosphere for clouds, aerosols, atmospheric chemistry, and other elements critical for understanding Earth’s environment and changing climate. Yet, the IPCC and the USGCRP ignore the great advances in monitoring the atmosphere, where the greenhouse effect occurs. It’s like 17th century scientists arguing the heavens orbit the earth but refusing to use a telescope.

The IPCC has the political excuse that it is not responsible for understanding and predicting natural processes of global change. The USGCRP has no such excuse.

Hard evidence separates science from science fiction. The IPCC and USGCRP ignore the hard evidence. See links under Challenging the Orthodoxy, Change in US Administrations, https://www.globalchange.gov/about, and https://atrain.nasa.gov/


Quote of the Week: “Future generations will wonder in bemused amazement that the early twenty-first century’s developed world went into hysterical panic over a globally averaged temperature increase of a few tenths of a degree, and, on the basis of gross exaggerations of highly uncertain computer projections combined into implausible chains of inference, proceeded to contemplate a roll-back of the industrial age.” – Richard Lindzen, [H/t Gordon Fulks]

Number of the Week: 100% Renewable


An Independent, Public Review Is Stalinist? Among strange objections to the commission discussed above is an article in The Guardian newspaper by Michael Mann and Bob Ward that such a commission is a Stalinist tactic to discredit climate science. Mr. Mann was the lead author of the famous “hockey-stick” graph featured by the IPCC Third Assessment Report (AR-3, 2001) until statisticians such as Stephen McIntyre and Ross McKitrick demonstrated that the statistical procedures used by Mr. Mann, et al., produced a hockey stick from noise, that the methodology used differed from what was stated in print, and it could not be replicated. When McIntyre and McKitrick tested the Mann procedure they rejected the temperature reconstruction.

In addition to calling an independent review a Stalinist tactic and climate lysenkoism, Mann and Ward engaged in a personal attack on Will Happer. Apparently, the worst they could find is that when approached by a potential client for consulting, Happer sent the potential client documents on his views on carbon dioxide-caused global warming, and on the “social cost of carbon,” a concept that is without any hard evidence and is contrary to the demonstrated benefits of CO2 enrichment. Happer suggested that any possible consulting fees go a non-profit organization he helped establish, the CO2 Coalition. [When Happer received SEPP’s Fredrick Seitz award for his outstanding contributions to science, Happer directed that the award moneys be sent to the CO2 Coalition.]

Since Mr. Mann is a “distinguished professor of atmospheric science and director of the Earth System Science Center at Pennsylvania State University,” perhaps he does not wish members of the commission to ask: “Why do atmospheric scientists ignore temperature trends of the atmosphere?”

Mann’s co-author is Bob Ward, the policy and communications director at the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at the London School of Economics and Political Science. See links under Communicating Better to the Public – Go Personal.


The Greenhouse Effect – Atmospheric Gases: When discussing atmospheric gases, it is useful to refresh one’s memory of the relative concentrations of various gases. To be more useful these will be put in the same units, that is ppmv: parts per million by volume. In the idealized dry atmosphere:

Nitrogen is about 78% of the atmosphere or 780,840 ppmv;

Oxygen is 20.9% or 209,460 ppmv;

Argon is 0.93% of the atmosphere or 9,340 ppmv;

Carbon dioxide is about 0.04% of the atmosphere or 400 ppmv [carbon dioxide varies seasonally and is increasing]. The next greenhouse gas, significantly lower, is

Methane, with about 0.00018% of the atmosphere or 1.79 ppmv;

Nitrous oxide is about 0.0000325% or 0.325 ppmv; and

Ozone is about 0 to 0.000007% or 0 to 0.07 ppmv.

The greenhouse influence of ozone is predominantly in the upper the atmosphere, the stratosphere, where it is created naturally by chemical reactions involving solar ultraviolet radiation (sunlight) and oxygen molecules. It is formed elsewhere in the atmosphere with chemical reactions involving volatile hydrocarbons, oxides of nitrogen, and sunlight. Before pollution control devices, ozone from car exhausts were a problem. In eastern forests of North America, terpines from trees can create ozone haze under the proper conditions.

Methane and nitrous oxide do not have enough concentration to increase the greenhouse effect significantly.

The kicker to this is water vapor, H2O in a gaseous phase. Over the full atmosphere, it is calculated to be about 0.4% or 4,000 ppmv. In the troposphere water vapor is typically 1% to 4% or 10,000 to 40,000 ppmv. The boundary between the troposphere and stratosphere is called the tropopause. From the NCAR/UCAR web site:

“The troposphere is the lowest layer of Earth’s atmosphere. Most of the mass (about 75-80%) of the atmosphere is in the troposphere. Most types of clouds are found in the troposphere, and almost all weather occurs within this layer. The troposphere is by far the wettest layer of the atmosphere; all of the layers above contain very little moisture.

“The bottom of the troposphere is at Earth’s surface. The troposphere extends upward to about 10 km (6.2 miles or about 33,000 feet) above sea level. The height of the top of the troposphere varies with latitude (it is lowest over the poles and highest at the equator) and by season (it is lower in winter and higher in summer). It can be as high as 20 km (12 miles or 65,000 feet) near the equator, and as low as 7 km (4 miles or 23,000 feet) over the poles in winter.”

By the tropopause, liquid water and water vapor freeze out and above it, the concentration is only about 4 ppm. See: https://scied.ucar.edu/shortcontent/troposphere-overview


Greenhouse Effect – Water Vapor: It is important not to confuse water vapor with liquid water (fog, clouds, etc.). A good description of water vapor was posted by Weather Street.com:

Water vapor is water in its gaseous state-instead of liquid or solid (ice). Water vapor is totally invisible. If you see a cloud, fog, or mist, these are all liquid water, not water vapor.

Water vapor is extremely important to the weather and climate. Without it, there would be no clouds or rain or snow, since all of these require water vapor in order to form. All of the water vapor that evaporates from the surface of the Earth eventually returns as precipitation – rain or snow.

Water vapor is also the Earth’s most important greenhouse gas, accounting for about 90% of the Earth’s natural greenhouse effect, which helps keep the Earth warm enough to support life.

When liquid water is evaporated to form water vapor, heat is absorbed. This helps to cool the surface of the Earth. This “latent heat of condensation” is released again when the water vapor condenses to form cloud water. This source of heat helps drive the updrafts in clouds and precipitation systems, which then causes even more water vapor to condense into cloud, and more cloud water and ice to form precipitation.

Interesting facts:

Water Vapor Cools AND Warms the Climate System? When water evaporates from the surface of the Earth, it cools the surface. This keeps the surface from getting too hot. But because that water vapor is also the atmosphere’s primary greenhouse gas, water vapor acts to keep the Earth’s surface warmer than it would otherwise be.

So which effect is stronger, water vapor’s cooling effect or warming effect? Interestingly, it is seldom mentioned in the global warming debate that the surface cooling effect of evaporation (which creates water vapor) is stronger than its greenhouse warming effect.

There is strong disagreement about the assertion above that water vapor accounts for about 90% of the Earth’s natural greenhouse effect, many think it is far less. What is critical is that the greenhouse effect makes the earth habitable. It would be about 60 degrees F or 33 degrees C colder if there was no greenhouse effect. See link under: Seeking a Common Ground.


Greenhouse Effect – Idealized Dry Air: One of the huge problems of the IPCC and USGCRP reports on the greenhouse effect is that the calculations ignore liquid water (clouds) and water vapor. There is no such thing as dry air in nature. Even deserts have moisture, often forming as dew in the morning under certain weather conditions.

The only place you can get dry air is in the physics laboratory, where you begin with real air and pump it through a tube so as to pass over a desiccant, a gravel-like chemical whose function is to take out H2O. At the end of that line, you can capture the dry air into a closed container, which may be as large as an industrial-gas-cylinder; but, nevertheless, it is an entirely artificial gas that does not occur in nature. And it must be keep enclosed to do experiments upon dry air.

All statements pertaining to real air must necessarily include H2O; and any assertions based on dry air have no relevance to real air. As will be explained in future TWTWs, inclusion of water vapor changes the calculations for other greenhouse gases.

As Richard Lindzen has stated repeatedly, global climate models do not capture clouds (liquid H2O), nor do they capture changing atmospheric water vapor in their calculations (gaseous H2O). However, atmospheric temperature trends capture both water vapor and clouds. The global climate modelers need to use the hard evidence being gathered about the changing atmosphere, rather than continue with assumptions made in the 1979 Charney Report. Hard evidence separates meaningful computer simulations from computer games


Prairie Flooding: After a hard, cold winter, the Great Plains, prairie states, such as Nebraska, are suffering from flooding. The spring thaw came quickly, and the ground was frozen solid so it can not absorb melting snow. Tim Ball gives his views about the difficulties experienced in the prairie provinces of Canada. After the great blizzards of the 1880s reaching as far south as Texas, some people were wondering if the Great Plains were suitable for habitation. See links under Changing Weather.


Snow Cover Trends: A comparison of snow cover trends in the Northern Hemisphere between climate models forecasts and observations was performed by Connolly, et al. They found the climate models poorly explain the observed trends. “While the models suggest snow cover should have steadily decreased for all four seasons, only spring and summer have exhibited a long-term decrease and the pattern of the observed decreases for these seasons was quite different from the model predictions.” Two of the authors, Soon and Legates, are members of SEPP’s board. See links under Challenging the Orthodoxy.


Additions and Corrections: Geologist Bill Balgord commented on a poorly worded sentence near the conclusion of last week’s Greenhouse Effect section. Among other items, the word colder was left out. The sentence should have read: Those camping in the desert at night find that it’s much colder than a more non-desert place of comparable altitude and latitude, because water vapor (clouds, humidity) absorbs infrared photons and gives off some photons in a downward direction, resulting in a slower cooling of the surface. TWTW deeply appreciates such observations. Clear communication is one of our objectives.

The section discussing Judith Curry’s findings on hurricanes has been delayed.


Number of the Week: 100% Renewable. Solar Daily had an interesting headline: “Achieving 100 percent renewable energy production.” The article gave some important details. “Costa Rica operated 311 consecutive days in 2018 on renewables driven primarily by hydroelectric power production (75%), followed by geothermal power production (15%), then wind power production (5%), solar power production (4%), and a very small sector of biomass power production (less than 1%).” This was for electricity only, not all energy. What the country did for the other 54 days was not discussed. What it used for energy other than electricity was not discussed.

If Costa Rica is the model for California and other states planning major efforts to go renewable, where do they plan to put the dams and rivers needed for hydroelectric power production? Where are the close-to-surface heat sources needed for geothermal? See link under Communicating Better to the Public – Exaggerate, or be Vague?



1. Is There a Green Rational Deal?

Congressional Democrats propose a fantastically expensive plan to fix precisely nothing.

By Holman Jenkins, WSJ, Mar 15, 2019


[SEPP Comment: Dreams cost nothing, only the implementation costs money!]

SUMMARY: The journalist writes:

“Put me down as doubting the Green New Deal means we’re now about to have a serious policy debate about climate. If we did, how would Democrats stop taxpayers from discovering the following: For a minuscule fraction of the cost of the Green New Deal, we could fix the biggest piece of the climate problem by injecting particles into the air sufficient to block 1% of sunlight hitting earth.

“No, this would not cure every risk (or end every theorized benefit) associated with higher atmospheric CO2. But it would neutralize the biggest putative risk, namely a warming of the planet. Gernot Wagner, a Harvard economist specializing in climate, is the latest to run the numbers. He estimates that such a program would cost around $2 billion a year. His findings are in line with estimates made by other reputable researchers.

“This non-eye-popping sum represents about 0.1% of the estimated world-wide annual cost of stabilizing atmospheric CO2 by midcentury (which ain’t happening). Using words precisely, it would be infinitely more cost-effective than the Green New Deal, which addresses only U.S. emissions and therefore would solve nothing.

“A 2008 paper by the liberal scholar Cass Sunstein offers an insight that should have informed our thinking all along. Donald Trump is right: China and India might be happy to hold our coat but they won’t be joining us in the climate fight. And without their full participation, the climate fight cannot successfully achieve any goal.

“So let’s have a debate. To be remotely useful, the press would have to rediscover a concept it has religiously avoided in the discussion so far: cost and benefit. Reporters would have to learn something about the climate science they hug to their breast as an infallible gospel in a foreign language they haven’t bothered to learn.

“They could start by noticing that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the accepted authority, has failed to improve upon a 40-year-old guesstimate that a doubling of atmospheric CO2 would lift global temperature somewhere between 2.7 and 8.1 degrees Fahrenheit.

“The IPCC does not claim this wide and baggy range is even reliable, only that it comports with a variety of computer simulations. If the IPCC could validate any of these simulations, it could also offer a narrower, more useful range.

“Still, we have to proceed on some basis, so what are the implications?

If the world adopts the widely prescribed goal of holding temperature increase to 3.6 degrees above the preindustrial average, it might require forestalling 300 billion tons of future emissions—or perhaps 900 billion tons.

“We might spend $2 trillion a year and avoid 6.3 degrees of additional warming—or maybe only 0.9 degrees.

“Global society is not irrational for being unwilling to spend $2 trillion annually on so uncertain a basis. Consider a recent U.S. report that was abysmally covered in the media. Government scientists, without being especially upfront about it, combined extreme worst-case assumptions both for future emissions and for how much warming might result from a given amount of emissions.

“They came up with a shocking forecast of a U.S. temperature increase of 11 degrees Fahrenheit by 2090. Even so, their estimate of the annual damage to the U.S. economy was a manageable $500 billion, or about 0.8% of national income assuming a meager 1.6% annual growth rate between now and then.

Now don’t spit out your coffee. A worst-case outcome is a risk worth reducing for the U.S. and the world if it can be done cost effectively. But this means taking account of costs and benefits; it means confronting the incentives of other countries—neither of which the Green New Deal does.

“Is there a saner, no-regrets approach? The only one I can see would consist of the following: Invest in battery research and work to remove the irrational obstacles to nuclear power. Adopt a carbon tax as a pro-growth tax reform and hope the example catches on. Even if it doesn’t, any low-carbon energy technologies that emerge, if they are efficient and competitive, will be adopted by other countries.”

After a few political comments, the journalist concludes with:

“A cynic might even say Congress’s real climate policy has always been to milk the issue and then revert to Plan B: The $2 billion option of trying to block enough sunlight to offset any warming caused by CO2.”

2. Norsk Hydro Is Hit by Ransomware Cyberattack

The company, one of the world’s largest aluminum producers, says its operations were crippled

By Alistair MacDonald and Dominic Chopping, WSJ, Mar 19, 2019


SUMMARY: The journalists write:

“Norsk Hydro AS said it suffered a ransomware cyberattack Tuesday that crippled computers and production at the aluminum and energy giant.

“The Norwegian company, whose business includes mining, smelting and renewable-energy generation, said the virus had been isolated to keep it from spreading further internally, though it was uncertain when operations would return to normal.

“’Let me be clear, the situation for Hydro is quite severe. The entire computer network is down,’ said Norsk Hydro finance chief Eivind Kallevik, who noted the virus first surfaced in the company’s U.S. operations.

“In a ransomware attack, hackers scramble the files of victims and demand ransom to decrypt them again. Mr. Kallevik said the attack on Norsk Hydro, which he described as involving an “encryption virus,” was followed by a ransom demand.

“In a well-known attack in 2017, so-called WannaCry ransomware affected businesses, hospitals and government agencies around the world.

After speculating on the software used, the journalists continue:

“In February, Altran said the French National Cybersecurity Agency confirmed that the company was attacked with “a crypto locker virus using a never-before-seen code that was nondetectable by best-in-class firewall and IT defense mechanisms.”

“A number of U.S. utilities have been hit by Russian hackers. The intrusion into the control rooms of the nation’s power grid could have caused blackouts, federal officials have said; and top Trump administration officials have pushed for action to defend the country’s electricity system and other critical industries, particularly against cyberattacks from China, Iran, North Korea and Russia.

“To reduce the risk of cyberattacks from external networks, utility companies and manufacturers often ‘air gap’ their computer systems, meaning they aren’t connected to the internet. It is unclear to what extent Norsk Hydro cordoned off its systems.”


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