Weekly Climate and Energy News Roundup #359

The Week That Was: May 11, 2019, Brought to You by www.SEPP.org

By Ken Haapala, President, Science and Environmental Policy Project

Quote of the Week: “…we have to offer up scary scenarios, make simplified, dramatic statements, and make little mention of any doubts we might have…. Each of us has to decide what the right balance is between being effective and being honest. I hope that means being both.” – Stephen Schneider, Discover, pp. 45–48, October 1989.

Number of the Week: 0.05ºC in 25 years

Honest Science: The full comment by Stephen Schneider in the 1989 interview in Discover magazine, cited above, is:

“On the one hand, as scientists we are ethically bound to the scientific method, in effect promising to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but — which means that we must include all the doubts, the caveats, the ifs, ands, and buts. On the other hand, we are not just scientists but human beings as well. And like most people we’d like to see the world a better place, which in this context translates into our working to reduce the risk of potentially disastrous climatic change. To do that we need to get some broad-based support, to capture the public’s imagination. That, of course, entails getting loads of media coverage. So, we have to offer up scary scenarios, make simplified, dramatic statements, and make little mention of any doubts we might have. This ‘double ethical bind’ we frequently find ourselves in cannot be solved by any formula. Each of us has to decide what the right balance is between being effective and being honest. I hope that means being both.”

In efforts to frighten the public about climate and the environment, the UN bureaucracies at the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and its parent organization, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), are losing effectiveness and becoming far less honest. This lack of candor extends to its followers including the US Global Change Research Program (USGCRP) and its 13 affiliated agencies.

The latest UN effort comes from the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES):

“…an independent intergovernmental body, established by member States in 2012. The objective of IPBES is to strengthen the science-policy interface for biodiversity and ecosystem services for the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity, long-term human well-being and sustainable development.”

The leadership of the five groups of experts is under Sir Robert Watson (UK) a long-time foe of carbon dioxide emissions who chaired the IPCC from 1997 to 2002. Under his leadership the IPCC produced the Third Assessment Report (AR3, 2001), which featured Mr. Mann’s hockey-stick, claimed a false scientific consensus, rising sea levels, increased frequency of heat waves, false confidence in the ability of climate models to project / predict, and stronger evidence (highly questionable) that global warming / climate change over the previous fifty years was caused by human activities, primarily use of fossil fuels. It was in AR3 that the term model predictions was changed to projections at the insistence of the late Vincent Gray of New Zealand, a persistent critic.

According to its media releases IPBES is releasing a comprehensive report showing that:

“Nature’s Dangerous Decline ‘Unprecedented’ Species Extinction Rates ‘Accelerating’

“Current global response insufficient; ‘Transformative changes’ needed to restore and protect nature; Opposition from vested interests can be overcome for public good

“Most comprehensive assessment of its kind; 1,000,000 species threatened with extinction”

The “Advance Unedited” version of the report shows “hockey-stick” style graphs of extinction of species, but little hard evidence. Instead, it is filled with bureaucratic language and organizational graphs. Interestingly, under direct drivers the report does not include carbon dioxide (CO2) but does state:

“The direct anthropogenic drivers are those that are the result of human decisions, namely, of institutions and governance systems and other indirect drivers. Anthropogenic drivers include habitat conversion, e.g., degradation of land and aquatic habitats, deforestation and afforestation, exploitation of wild populations, climate change, pollution of soil, water and air and species introductions. Some of these drivers, such as pollution, can have negative impacts on nature; others, as in the case of habitat restoration, or the introduction of a natural enemy to combat invasive species, can have positive effects.” (p.37)

Air pollution and climate change have become a euphemism, a rewording, for CO2 emissions.

We now have over 35 years of Landsat satellite imagery showing that with increasing carbon dioxide the planet is greening, and plant life is flourishing. Yet, the UN reports ignore the benefits of CO2.

Recently, the UK had children protesting CO2 emissions under the banner of “Extinction Rebellion,” implying that continued CO2 emissions will cause extinction. These events and the new UN report prompt a perplexing question: which group is more immature? The children of the Extinction Rebellion, who believe adults claiming dangers of CO2. Or, the “experts” at the UN claiming 1,000,000 species are about to go extinct from CO2, despite decades of evidence showing plant life is flourishing from more CO2. See links under Defending the Orthodoxy and Social Benefits of Carbon Dioxide.


The Greenhouse Effect – A Bit of History: Many authors advocating that small changes in the current level of atmospheric CO2 will cause major changes in temperatures refer to a 1896 work by noted Swedish chemist Svante Arrhenius in which he calculated the effect of CO2 on temperatures as if it were the primary driver of global warming (and cooling), sufficient to bring the earth out of the last major ice age. His calculations are rigorous and impressive, but that does not mean his conclusions are correct.

In 1941, Serbian astrophysicist Milutin Milankovitch began developing the mathematical theory that the seasonal and latitudinal variations of solar radiation received by earth determine major warming and cooling periods, the latter becoming ice ages. According to NASA’s Earth Observatory (Mar 24, 2000, not updated):

“Now known as the Milankovitch Theory, it states that as the Earth travels through space around the sun, cyclical variations in three elements of Earth-sun geometry combine to produce variations in the amount of solar energy that reaches Earth:

1. “Variations in the Earth’s orbital eccentricity—the shape of the orbit around the sun.

2. Changes in obliquity—changes in the angle that Earth’s axis makes with the plane of Earth’s orbit.

3. Precession—the change in the direction of the Earth’s axis of rotation, i.e., the axis of rotation behaves like the spin axis of a top that is winding down; hence it traces a circle on the celestial sphere over a period of time.

“Together, the periods of these orbital motions have become known as Milankovitch cycles.”

In 1976, Hays, Imbrie, and Shackleton published a paper, in Science, based on 450,000 years of ocean-floor sediments in the Southern Hemisphere showing that the changes in the climate corresponded with Milankovitch Theory. From this, they concluded that in the earth’s orbital geometry are the fundamental cause of the succession of Quaternary ice ages (the current period beginning about 2.6 million years ago). Using this model, one can estimate that within the next seven thousand years the Northern Hemisphere will begin experiencing extensive glaciation.

There are some issues with this theory. However, the current findings of the IPCC, and its followers, are based on the 1979 Charney Report, which admitted it was based on speculation from climate modelers, not evidence. Physical evidence that CO2 is the major driver of global warming / climate change is yet to be produced.

Unfortunately, many of those who claim that the greenhouse effect is a well understood theory dating back to the work of Svante Arrhenius in 1896, ignore his later work in 1906 in which he backed down from his 1896 calculations that a doubling of CO2 will increase temperatures by 5 to 6 ºC (about 10 ºF) . Fortunately, in 2014 Friends of Science, a group based in Canada, translated the later work from German. The 1906 work is more in-line with forecasts by the IPCC and what the Charney Report speculated.

Arrhenius based his revised work on an 1861 lecture by John Tyndall,

“…Tyndall presented the results of an analysis of the relatively strong absorption of heat radiation by water vapour and carbon dioxide. On the basis of this analysis, he expressed the view that changes in CO2 and water vapour content of the atmosphere explain all climate changes which had been identified by geological research.”

From reading the paper by Arrhenius, it appears he did not grasp the greenhouse effect. It appears that Tyndall grasped the concept of the greenhouse effect, but his experiments produced crude estimates. Thanks to later experiments, satellites, and modern sensors, we can refine these crude estimates of the effect of water vapor and CO2, which will be further discussed in subsequent TWTWs. Unfortunately, it appears that greenhouse gas warming will not be sufficient to prevent another ice age from occurring. See links under Challenging the Orthodoxy and https://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/features/Milankovitch


AIRS: The April 25 TWTW discussed Roy Spencer’s post on NASA’s Atmospheric InfraRed Sounder (AIRS) starting with the Aqua satellite in early 2002.

“The skin temperature is still ‘retrieved’ in partly- (and even mostly-) cloudy conditions from other channels higher up in the atmosphere, and with ‘cloud clearing’ algorithms, but these exotic numerical exercises can never get around the fact that the surface skin temperature can only be observed with satellite infrared measurements when no clouds are present.” [Boldface was italics in the original.]

What was even more interesting to TWTW was the comment by Spencer:

“AIRS has even demonstrated how increasing CO2 in the last 15+ years has reduced the infrared cooling to outer space at the wavelengths impacted by CO2 emission and absorption, the first observational evidence I am aware of that increasing CO2 can alter — however minimally — the global energy budget.”

Spencer has followed these with two additional posts using AIRS. One, using AIRS, Spencer shows that for the US nighttime surface temperatures and lower troposphere temperatures from surface to 2.5 km (8,000 thousand feet) have been warming significantly, but daytime temperatures have not been warming significantly. Two, over the entire 16.6-year record the warming of the troposphere has been slight, as indicated by UAH temperature records using microwaves (which can record temperature trends in spite of clouds).

The first post confirms the assertion that greenhouse gas warming is primarily a nighttime occurrence, slowing nighttime cooling of the earth. It is not a daytime threat. Thus, the claims of the IPCC, and its followers, that increasing CO2 will cause dire heat waves, crop failures, etc. are largely fabrications. The second post indicates that we have nothing to fear from increasing CO2. Without question, continuous monitoring of the atmosphere is important, but there is no evidence that increasing CO2 is causing significant change. See links under Challenging the Orthodoxy.


Measurements of El Niño Frequencies: There are several types, “flavors,” of El Niños with different consequences in weather. The primary El Niño type, flavor, is a warming tongue in the sea surface in the eastern Pacific along the equator off Peru. The second major type is a warming in the central Pacific along the equator some 10,000 km (6,000 miles) away.

Researchers have hit on a technique of taking core samples of corals to estimate changing patterns of El Niños. The researchers discovered that for most of the 400-year record both types occurred with approximately the same frequency, but the eastern Pacific type was significantly stronger. However, since about 1900 the central Pacific El Niño is becoming more frequent and stronger than in the past. The cause of El Niños is not established and the 400-year record is too short to assume that the current trend will continue. One could use the data to argue that El Niños brought the globe out of the Little Ice Age. See links under Defending the Orthodoxy and Changing Weather.


Uncertainty: There is a great deal of uncertainty regarding climate change and its causes. Unfortunately, the over $40 billion that the US government has spent on climate science, according to published government reports, has helped little. Great advances have been made in sensors and instruments, but important ones are largely ignored by government scientists. Greenhouse theory and the contribution of CO2 to warming are not well understood. There are no general theories supported by hard data that withstand hard analysis.

Writing in “Quadrant,” and carried in Climate, Etc. retired Australian atmospheric physicist Garth Paltridge expressed his views. Essentially, climate change has become a religion for those who have no religion. Though not stated by Paltridge, differently, one could argue that those opposing this “new religion” assert that explanations of climate change are unsatisfactory for those who are restlessly seeking knowledge or believe that government power, national or international, should not be extended over critical components of the economy, such as energy, without clear, compelling evidence of need and value. See link under Challenging the Orthodoxy.




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: 0.05ºC in 25 years. A report in “Atmospheric and Oceanic Science Letters” describing: the main features of the recently published World Ocean Experiment–Argo Global Hydrographic Climatology comparing it with the previous studies compiled in NOAA’s WOA13 [World Ocean Atlas Climatology], both with the same temporal and spatial resolution. The report states:

“The two climatologies characterize mean ocean states that are 25 years apart, and the zonally averaged section of the WAGHC-minus-WOA13 temperature difference clearly shows the ocean warming signal, with a mean temperature increase of 0.05°C for the upper 1500-m layer since 1984”.

0.05°C is finer than the accuracy of even good thermometers. Claiming ocean measurements of temperature of greater accuracy is a computational exercise of “manufactured” precision – the outcome of averaging a huge amount of data, none of which is known with that accuracy.

No doubt, much will be made of this report to claim that the oceans are warming and that the warming is accelerating. Oceans have been warming and cooling for hundreds of millions of years. Assuming the precision stated in the report is accurate, the current 25-year period indicates that, if continued, the oceans will warm by 1ºC (2 ºF) over the next 500 years. Interestingly, the NOAA’s graph of the World Ocean Atlas Climatology has a contour interval of 2ºC, which would require 1000 years. See links under Changing Seas and https://www.nodc.noaa.gov/cgi-bin/OC5/woa13fv2/woa13fv2.pl




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