Weekly Climate and Energy News Roundup #356

The Week That Was: April 13, 2019, Brought to You by www.SEPP.org

By Ken Haapala, President, Science and Environmental Policy Project

Quote of the Week: “To be ignorant of what occurred before you were born is to remain always a child. For what is the worth of human life, unless it is woven into the life of our ancestors by the records of history?” — Marcus Tullius Cicero

Number of the Week: 2 inches per century?

Ignorance of History: Since its Third Assessment Report (AR3 or TAR) the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has tried to suppress history. It featured Mr. Mann’s infamous “hockey-stick” showing that in the Northern Hemisphere the Earth’s surface temperature was cold with some variation from 1000 AD until the late 1800s. Afterwards temperatures rose significantly with increasing human emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2). (Summary for Policymakers, p 3, 2001) The “hockey-stick” has been thoroughly discredited, but not withdrawn.

Assume for a moment that the claim is correct and the industrial revolution with its CO2 emissions caused the earth to warm. Humanity is far better off than it was before. Prior to the industrial revolution, many parts of the globe were in the grips of a little ice age.

For example, extensive written records in northern European countries, especially church records, show that during several periods during the Little Ice Age, the summers were too cold and wet for crops to ripen, and famine would occur. There were manifested by outbreaks of infectious diseases such as cholera, dropsy, dysentery, and tuberculosis. Epidemics of diseases associated with neurotoxins from eating unripened grain, such as ergotism, St Anthony’s fire, occurred. As Thomas Hobbes said, life outside of society was solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.

The Industrial Revolution essentially freed humanity from subsistence living. In the US and other developed countries, farming requires about 2 percent of the population and there is no shortage of food, regardless of false claims by the IPCC and its followers in the US Global Change Research Program (USGCRP).

The fear of CO2 is built on long-term forecasts / projections / predictions from global climate models that cannot describe what is occurring in the atmosphere today, where the greenhouse effect occurs. The fear is amplified by an abysmal ignorance of history. Former Secretary of State John Kerry, who promotes fear of CO2 and climate change, was asked in a Congressional hearing why CO2 concentrations were greater before humanity existed than today? Kerry could not answer the question and tried to avoid it. The Congressman asking the question has a master’s degree in engineering from MIT and termed climate science a pseudo-science. As the quote the quote of the week indicates, we have many politicians who remain always a child.

It remains even more amazing that many politicians are promoting children, who have little or no knowledge of history, to be spokesmen for the fear of global warming / climate change. John Kerry, who has a degree in political science, has claimed that he understands climate science, a difficult subject. One wonders how he would respond if he were asked to explain the greenhouse effect, to rank the naturally occurring greenhouse gases, and to explain the interrelationship among them. See links under Defending the Orthodoxy, The Political Games Continue, Facts about agriculture. https://www.fb.org/newsroom/fast-facts and https://www.ipcc.ch/site/assets/uploads/2018/07/WG1_TAR_SPM.pdf


Changing Climate: Paul Homewood has several interesting posts on studies of climate change that occurred before many of our political children were born. Some of the studies are ten or more years old, but bear repeating because they are ignored by the IPCC, the USGCRP, and the like. One important study is the mapping of the north coast of Greenland done by the Geological Survey of Norway. The mapping showed a number of raised beach ridges that suggest that 6,000 to 7,000 years ago, the ice cover of the Arctic Ocean was far less than today, at least in the area of Greenland, and perhaps open water extended to the North Pole.

This study, part of the International Polar Year project, also included studies of ruined settlements along the coasts,that were created by the first Inuit immigrants. Homewood followed up with a 2001 article on the “Climate and People in the Prehistoric Arctic.”

That study traces the hunting techniques of Paleoeskimos (Old Eskimos) as compared with the Indians and the recent Eskimos (Inuit) populations in Canada along with Europeans. These studies reveal that hunting strategies changed with changing Arctic climate and that a cooling was not necessarily disastrous to a hunting society even though it may be so for an agricultural society.

Also discussed are ice cores taken from Svalbard, the Norwegian archipelago in the Arctic Ocean, about the same latitude as northern Greenland. With a latitude of 74 degrees to 81 degrees North, it is well above the Arctic Circle. Its maritime climate gives a far better indication of changes in the Arctic Ocean than ice cores taken in central Greenland.

The Svalbard ice cores date back only about 1000 years, but the warmest period was around 1000 AD ,warmer than today. The coldest was about 1850 with an average temperature of about minus 25 C.

Such studies indicate that the Arctic was warmer in the past than today and that the current warming is not unusual, regardless of claims by the IPCC and the USGCRP. See links under Changing Climate – Cultures & Civilizations and Changing Cryosphere – Land / Sea Ice.


Fear of Ocean Acidification: One of the great fears promoted by the IPCC, the USGCRP, and others is that increasing atmospheric CO2 will cause the oceans to acidify, thus prevent shellfish from forming shells. The fear is based largely on ignorance of the ocean and misleading experimentation. The pH of a solution measures the concentration of hydrogen ions compared with hydroxide ions in a solution.

A solution with a pH of 7 is neutral. A pH above 7 has a dominance of hydroxide ions and is called basic (alkaline) and a pH below 7 has a dominance of hydrogen ions and is called acidic. The scale is logarithmic, not linear. Generally, oceans are mildly alkaline (pH a bit over 8). Ocean acidification refers to a lowering of pH in the water, even though it is a misnomer. The ocean at large will may remain above 7 because of the near-infinite buffering capacity of the limestone in the oceans

The pH of a particular section of the ocean may vary significantly depending on ocean currents, and season. Also, ocean water above CO2 vents may be actually acidic (pH below 7).

There have been numerous experiments demonstrating a symbiotic relationship between corals and algae allowing corals to grow shells. Craig Idso of CO2 Science reports a study that has measured the actual process. Idso writes:

“The impact of predicted ocean acidification on coral calcification remains a matter of debate given the wide range of responses that have been observed in laboratory and field studies to date. However, early pessimism on this topic has given way to optimism in recent years as a growing body of research has demonstrated a biological control on calcification. The latest study to shed some light in this regard comes from Sevilgen et al. (2019).”

“Writing in the journal Science Advances, the team of seven researchers notes that coral skeleton formation (i.e., calcification) takes place within an extra-cellular calcifying medium (ECM), a “semi-enclosed compartment of a few nano- to micrometers thickness that is ‘sandwiched’ between the skeleton and the calcifying calicoblastic epithelium” and “separates the ECM from a direct contact with the surrounding [seawater] environment.” It is widely accepted by the scientific community that the chemical composition of the ECM is the key factor controlling calcification and that corals can biochemically modify the carbonate chemistry within the ECM by raising the pH, [carbonate and calcium] values within the ECM (relative to surrounding seawater) in order to maintain favorable rates of calcification (i.e., a higher aragonite saturation state[phrase deleated]. However, evidence of such alterations has primarily come from indirect approaches using geochemical proxies as opposed to direct measurements in the ECM itself — until now.”

The process involves inserting microsensors capable of measuring CO2, carbonate and calcium into the growing edge of living corals. These indicate increasing activity within the coral. This is but one more step in doing away with the myth that increasing CO2 will make the oceans barren. The concept is illogical, because corals evolved during periods of much higher CO2 than today. See links under Review of Recent Scientific Articles by CO2 Science.


The Greenhouse Effect – Black Body Radiation: TWTW had planned to present an essay on blackbody radiation – the radiation emitted by an idealized physical body that absorbs all electromagnetic radiation which strikes it, regardless of frequency or angle. The frequency of the radiation makes no difference as to the ability of the black body to absorb the radiation. A white body is a contrasting idealized concept in which all radiation hitting it is reflected.

The problem with preparing such an essay is that a black body is such an idealized concept that it has little practical value except in discussing how different greenhouse gases interfere with different electromagnetic energy emitted by the globe. The subject deals more with the atomic and molecular spectra of these gases than with black body radiation from earth.

As stated previously, our planet is an unevenly heated, spinning globe with its climate influenced greatly by the chaotic motion of two fluids of different viscosities moving against each other and over the irregular surface of the earth. The globe is far from an idealized body with a given temperature. Using the black body radiation concept would be more confusing than illuminating. Next week’s TWTW will deal more specifically on the effects of greenhouse gases on outgoing infrared radiation.




SEPP is conducting its annual vote for the recipient of the coveted trophy, The Jackson, a lump of coal. Readers are asked to nominate and vote for who they think is most deserving, following these criteria:

· The nominee has advanced, or proposes to advance, significant expansion of governmental power, regulation, or control over the public or significant sections of the general economy.

· The nominee does so by declaring such measures are necessary to protect public health, welfare, or the environment.

· The nominee declares that physical science supports such measures.

· The physical science supporting the measures is flimsy at best, and possibly non-existent.

The seven past recipients, Lisa Jackson, Barrack Obama, John Kerry, Ernest Moniz, John Holdren, Gena McCarthy and Jerry Brown are not eligible. Generally, the committee that makes the selection prefers a candidate with a national or international presence. The voting will close on June 30. Please send your nominee and a brief reason why the person is qualified for the honor to Ken@SEPP.org. Thank you.


Number of the Week: 2 Inches per century is the estimated rate sea level from melting glaciers other than those on Greenland and Antarctica, from a study released by the University of Zurich published in Nature. According to reports, the researchers used a comprehensive database compiled by the World Glacier Monitoring Service maintained by a worldwide network of observers. Further, they combined these data with their own satellite analyses.

Of course, the headlines were something else. For example, Phys.org stated:

“335 billion tons of ice lost each year.”

“Glaciers have lost more than 9 trillion tons (that is 9,625,000,000,000 tons) of ice between 1961 and 2016, which has resulted in global sea levels rising by 27 millimeters in this period.”

The 27 mm over the 55-year period works out to 2 inches per century.

The abstract of the paper states:

“The present glacier mass loss is equivalent to the sea-level contribution of the Greenland Ice Sheet, clearly exceeds the loss from the Antarctic Ice Sheet, and accounts for 25 to 30 per cent of the total observed sea-level rise.”

At 30% of observed sea-level rise, this would be 6.6 inches per century. At 25% of observed, 8 inches per century. These increases is what Fred Singer estimated in the 2008 report of the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC).

These estimates are far below what James Hansen, et al. claimed in their paper “Ice melt, sea level rise and superstorms: evidence from paleoclimate data, climate modeling, and modern observations that 2 ºC global warming could be dangerous.” In the abstract of that 2016 paper the authors claimed that:

“We hypothesize that ice mass loss from the most vulnerable ice, sufficient to raise sea level several meters, is better approximated as exponential than by a more linear response.”

Figure 30 of the Hansen, et al. paper, gave what can be called a reverse hockey-stick of mass change in ice in Greenland and the Antarctic. The IPCC, USGCRP, NOAA, and NASA-GISS need to straighten their hockey-sticks. See links under Challenging the Orthodoxy – NIPCC, Defending the Orthodoxy, and Changing Seas.



1. Look, Up in the Sky—a Black Hole!

In a distant ‘event horizon,’ scientists spy a cosmic ‘shadow.’

By Ray Jayawardhana, WSJ, Apr 10, 2019


SUMMARY: The astrophysicist and dean of arts and sciences at Cornell writes:

“For something no one has ever seen, black holes seem awfully familiar. Astronomers believe they are numerous. Science-fiction authors and film directors love using their ability to warp space and time as a plot device. But humanity is only now getting its first blurry glimpse at a real-life black hole.

“Using a globe-spanning network of radio telescopes, astronomers this week revealed a black hole’s “shadow” for the first time. Observational evidence for black holes, with gravity so strong not even light can escape their grip, has piled up in recent decades. Some are gargantuan monsters lurking at the hearts of galaxies, including our own Milky Way, while others are invisible stellar corpses that tug on their companion stars.

“The evidence had been circumstantial until recently. The deduction of a black hole’s presence came by default. Observations implied the existence of superdense, compact objects (or clusters of such objects) but didn’t positively identify the black holes as such.

“Corroboration finally came three years ago, when the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory registered a chirp, lasting fractions of a second. It was two black holes merging into one, triggering gravitational waves amounting to subtle ripples in the fabric of space-time. By now, researchers have “heard” the fleeting shrieks of colliding black holes 10 times.

“That may be enough to convince most people. But the scientists behind Wednesday’s announcement are a dogged bunch. They set out to pin down a black hole by its most distinctive feature—the virtual boundary called the event horizon, which marks the point of no return. Anything that crosses it, including light, has no escape.

“Theorists realized that while no one can see a black hole directly, its “shadow” ought to be visible against the fog of radiation in its immediate vicinity. The shadow results from the combined effects of extreme bending and disappearance of light near and beyond the event horizon. Researchers calculated the shadow would be large enough to detect with an Earth-size network of radio telescopes.

“Now, thanks to a carefully choreographed observation campaign and two years of painstaking analyses, the Event Horizon Telescope team has captured the shadow of a supermassive black hole, billions of times heftier than the sun, at the heart of a giant elliptical galaxy known as M87. Reality tends to be messier than theory, so it’s no surprise the actual image is blurrier than the striking computer simulations that preceded it.

“Nevertheless, if seeing is believing, we have finally glimpsed the monster’s shadow, having heard its whimpers only recently. It appears that one of the weirdest constructs of the human mind exists for real. The transformation of the black hole from a mathematical oddity, emerging from Einstein’s theory of general relativity, to an observable fixture of the cosmos is a testament to humanity’s collective intellectual prowess, relentless curiosity and dogged perseverance.”


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