The Week That Was: May 18, 2019, Brought to You by www.SEPP.org
By Ken Haapala, President, Science and Environmental Policy Project
Language: In WUWT, a TWTW reader asked: “Do you see a tendency in the climate change reporting, say in the last 3 years? Is it getting better, scientifically speaking, or worse?”
Both in newspapers and in magazines with science or nature in the name, the reporting has been become more strident and personal attacks more frequent. But this was occurring long before the election of Donald Trump.
For example, in their 2010 book, Merchants of Doubt attacking four distinguished scientists, Oreskes and Conway implied that the evidence supporting their claims could be found in the works referenced in footnotes. Of course, the evidence was not there. By 2015, such subtleties were gone, no footnotes needed.
In the run-up to the Paris Agreement, 2015, UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and its followers were among the leaders of strident claims on the certainty of the science implying that $100 billion per year sent to the UN Green Climate Fund could alleviate the threat of climate change by controlling carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. As the IPCC became more strident on the effects of CO2 on temperature, it produced no significant hard evidence. The effort was political, not scientific.
Based on hard evidence, compared with natural changes, CO2 is a bit player in climate change. A graph covering the past 600 million years in an article by meteorologist Joe Bastardi shows the historic weak relationship between CO2 and temperatures. The graph may not be exact, but it should not be ignored, unless there is powerful hard evidence that the relationship is strong—evidence that the IPCC and its followers have failed to produce.
The recent attacks on Will Happer and the proposal to have an independent committee reviewing climate science indicate that the climate establishment knows something is wrong with its work. Happer is an expert in Atomic, Molecular and Optical Physics, which includes the study of electromagnetic radiation (including infrared radiation), the very field which is needed to understand how increasing CO2 may affect the earth’s temperatures by slowing electromagnetic radiation (including infrared radiation) from the earth’s surface to space. Yet, editorials in science magazines claim that he is not qualified because he is not a climate scientist – whatever a climate scientist is. See links under Challenging the Orthodoxy and Change in US Administrations.
Guardian Guidelines: According to reports the Guardian newspaper, UK, has updated its style guidelines. As stated in The Hill newspaper the guidelines:
“…no longer recommend the use of the phrases ‘climate change’ and ‘global warning.’
“The Guardian will instead use ‘climate emergency, crisis or breakdown’ instead of ‘climate change’ and ‘global heating’ instead of ‘global warming,’ although the other phrases won’t be prohibited. The paper will also stop using ‘climate skeptic,’ opting instead for ‘climate science denier.’
“‘Wildlife’ will be used instead of ‘biodiversity’ and ‘fish stocks’ will also change to ‘fish populations.’
“‘We want to ensure that we are being scientifically precise, while also communicating clearly with readers on this very important issue,’ editor-in-chief Katharine Viner said in a Friday Guardian article explaining the change. ‘The phrase ‘climate change’, for example, sounds rather passive and gentle when what scientists are talking about is a catastrophe for humanity.’
“‘Increasingly, climate scientists and organizations from the UN to the Met Office are changing their terminology, and using stronger language to describe the situation we’re in,’ she added.
“The article notes that United Nations secretary general António Guterres has used the phrase ‘climate crisis,’ as does climate scientist Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, who has advised German Chancellor Angela Merkel, the EU and the pope.”
Under these guidelines, is TWTW a climate science denier because TWTW claims that IPCC’s version of climate science is not science because it ignores contradicting hard evidence or is it a climate science denier because TWTW asserts the IPCC does not understand the greenhouse effect? See links under Defending the Orthodoxy.
Nature and Children: Nature magazine had an article advocating the use of children to motivate parents on the political issue of climate change, or “climate breakdown.” Statistician William Briggs discusses the absurdity of the proposal.
Also, it is useful to review the maturation of the human brain. According to the Health Encyclopedia of the University of Rochester Medical Center:
“Understanding the Teen Brain
“It doesn’t matter how smart teens are or how well they scored on the SAT or ACT. Good judgment isn’t something they can excel in, at least not yet.
“The rational part of a teen’s brain isn’t fully developed and won’t be until age 25 or so.
“In fact, recent research has found that adult and teen brains work differently. Adults think with the prefrontal cortex, the brain’s rational part. This is the part of the brain that responds to situations with good judgment and an awareness of long-term consequences. Teens process information with the amygdala. This is the emotional part.
“In teen’s brains, the connections between the emotional part of the brain and the decision-making center are still developing—and not always at the same rate. That’s why when teens have overwhelming emotional input, they can’t explain later what they were thinking. They weren’t thinking as much as they were feeling.”
Unfortunately, for many politicians it seems that the prefrontal cortex has never fully developed. See links under Communicating Better to the Public – Use Propaganda on Children and https://www.urmc.rochester.edu/encyclopedia/content.aspx?ContentTypeID=1&ContentID=3051
Greenhouse Effect – Benefits: It is generally accepted that greenhouse gases are a natural part of Earth’s atmosphere. It is estimated that greenhouse gases raise average surface temperature of the by Earth about 33ºC (60ºF). Without greenhouse gases, it is estimated that the average surface temperature would be about minus 18ºC (0ºF), rather than the current 15ºC (59ºF) for estimated global temperatures today. Water vapor and clouds account for 70 to 90% of the greenhouse effect. The 70% is from the 1992 IPCC report. Others assert a greater role for water vapor and clouds. The other major greenhouse gas is carbon dioxide, contributing an estimated 5 to 25%.
It is important to realize that without the greenhouse effect, the continental regions of the landmass out of the tropics would be much colder at night – well below freezing. Such temperatures would prevent agriculture in the great breadbaskets of the world, in the temperate regions. Grasses such as wheat and maize (corn) would not grow. Under such conditions, perhaps the only plants growing in the Midwest would be mosses, heaths, and lichen such as those growing in the tundra. (As discussed in last week’s TWTW, Roy Spencer estimated that, based on the AIRS infrared temperature sounding instrument on the NASA Aqua Satellite, about 80% of the warming that has occurred since the satellite was launched in 2002 has occurred at night.)
The greenhouse effect is critical for agriculture and for life in the United States. For the Supreme Court to find that greenhouse gases, namely water vapor and carbon dioxide, are pollutants that can be regulated by the EPA under the Clean Air Act is an extraordinary act requiring extraordinary evidence. The Supreme Court had none. In its finding that greenhouse gases endanger public health and welfare, the EPA ignored the benefits of greenhouse gases and the greenhouse effect, but produced no hard evidence of harm, only questionable studies and models that do not describe what is occurring in the atmosphere.
The Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) has filed a Request for Correction under the Information Quality Act requesting the EPA stop using its Endangerment Finding until it corrects procedural errors committed during the preparation of the Endangerment Finding. This is in addition to the earlier petition filed by CEI and SEPP and is not part of a future supplement being prepared stating that the evidence presented by the EPA demonstrates that it does not understand the Greenhouse Effect and the benefits therefrom. See links under Challenging the Orthodoxy.
Multicellular Life: About 3.5 billion years ago, life was far simpler. It largely consisted of microorganisms such as prokaryotes, single-cell organisms without a membrane-bound nucleus. These are considered more primitive than eukaryotes which have a well-defined membrane-bound nucleus and specialized structures.
One form of prokaryote, blue-green bacteria, cyanobacteria, developed a method of obtaining energy by photosynthesis, using energy from the sun to chemically breakdown molecules of water and carbon dioxide and reform them creating carbohydrates and oxygen. Then, life got complicated and multicellular life gradually developed, including, much later, animals.
All multicellular life depends on the breaking down molecules of water and carbon dioxide. Yet in their gaseous phase, these compounds are called pollutants.
Svensmark and Cosmic Rays: Last week our friends at WUWT carried an interview with Henrik Svensmark who developed the hypothesis that during times of low solar activity high-energy cosmic rays increase cloudiness in the earth’s atmosphere. During times of high solar activity, the intensified solar wind reduces the number of high energy cosmic rays hitting the atmosphere, reducing cloudiness. Unfortunately, the written introduction to the interview was a bit cloudy about cosmic rays and solar radiation. TWTW did not link to it.
Svenmark’s hypothesis is that high-energy cosmic rays from exploding supernovae (hugely massive stars), upon entering our atmosphere, cause ionization tracks which serve as nucleation sites for clouds to form. When the sun is very active, that is, during times of very numerous sunspots, the strong solar wind and solar magnetic field reduce the flux of these energetic cosmic rays, thereby decreasing cloud cover. During times of low solar activity (such as the Maunder Minimum), the cosmic ray flux increases cloud cover, thereby blocking incoming sunlight and cooling the earth.
Astrophysicist Gordon Fulks, “Solar Modulation of Galactic Cosmic Ray Electrons, Protons, and Alphas, JGR 1975” alerted SEPP to the confusion on the huge energy difference between of galactic cosmic rays and solar output. See links under Science: Is the Sun Rising?
Energy and the Information Infrastructure: Energy expert Mark Mills has produced five parts of a series in Real Clear Energy discussing the tremendous demands for electricity from developing electronics and associated high-tech equipment. The development of “smart” technology and artificial intelligence will place burdens on the grid that renewables cannot meet. Among the critical requirements for data centers, and other “smart” centers is that electricity must be reliable. Wind and solar are not, and battery back-ups are quickly depleted. The power demands are too great.
Mills summarizes his views in another article stating an energy revolution will not come from renewables. He states:
“If we want a disruption to the energy status quo, we will need new, foundational discoveries in the sciences. As Bill Gates has put it, the challenge calls for scientific ‘miracles.’ Any hoped-for technological breakthroughs won’t emerge from subsidizing yesterday’s technologies, including wind and solar. The Internet didn’t emerge from subsidizing the dial-up phone, or the transistor from subsidizing vacuum tubes, or the automobile from subsidizing railroads. If policymakers were serious about the pursuit of the next energy revolution, they’d be talking a lot more about reinvigorating support for basic science.”
There has been a number of comments made about ExxonMobil giving $100 million to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and other DOE laboratories with emphasis on “developing transformative advanced energy technologies with a focus on reducing emissions.” However, based on reports much of this money will be going into failed technologies such as “biofuels, carbon capture and storage technologies.” One wonders if anything really transformative will come from this research. See links under Challenging the Orthodoxy and Seeking a Common Ground.
SEPP’S APRIL FOOLS AWARD
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: 415.26 ppm. (parts per million) At NOAA’s Mauna Loa Hawaii Observatory, (3397 meters, or 11,135 feet above sea level) carbon dioxide hit 415.26 ppm on May 14. Traditionally levels peak in May then go down as plant life in the Northern Hemisphere consumes CO2 to grow. This should be a time for merriment over the coming bursting of spring and greening of the planet. Unfortunately, for many it is a time for spreading fear of CO2. See links under Measurement Issues – Surface.
1. Roundup of Cancer Evidence
The EPA says the weed killer is safe and noncarcinogenic.
Editorial, WSJ, May 14, 2019
The editorial states:
“A California jury awarded a stunning $2.055 billion Monday to a couple who claim that Bayer AG’s Roundup weed killer caused their cancer. But would the judgment have been different if the judge had allowed the jury to see contradictory evidence?
“That’s the question Bayer will raise in its appeal thanks to Judge Winifred Smith, who presided over the trial. The Alameda County Superior Court judge denied a request by Bayer’s lawyers to inform the jury that the Environmental Protection Agency concluded last month that Roundup’s active ingredient, glyphosate, is noncarcinogenic and poses no risk to public health when used as directed.
‘What’s the relevance?’ Judge Smith asked before dismissing Bayer’s request. But if glyphosate is safe, then it isn’t responsible for the non-Hodgkin lymphoma of Alva and Alberta Pilliod. The verdict follows two other recent cases awarding $158 million against Roundup. Bayer now faces lawsuits from some 13,400 plaintiffs bringing similar claims.
The plaintiff lawyers behind these cases rely heavily on the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), which claimed glyphosate is ‘probably carcinogenic.’ But the EPA’s new glyphosate assessment is far more robust than that 2015 analysis. Among other considerations, the EPA’s experts looked at 167 epidemiological, animal carcinogenicity, and genotoxicity studies. The agency excluded 39 of those studies over concerns about quality.
The IARC relied on fewer than half as many such studies. It was ‘limited to data published in openly available scientific literature and as such only considered a subset of the studies that EPA considered,’ says Alexandra Dunn, the assistant administrator at EPA’s Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention.
The international agency also failed to nix research focused on non-mammalian species like worms or reptiles, which the EPA considered irrelevant in determining human risk. And in 2017 Reuters reported the IARC ignored and omitted evidence that glyphosate was noncarcinogenic.
The IARC has issued cancer risk warnings for more than 1,000 products and activities, including hot beverages, aloe, red meat and working the night shift. An adviser for its glyphosate assessment, Christopher Portier, was accepting pay from Lundy, Lundy, Soileau & South, a firm known for its cancer class-action lawsuits. Mr. Portier now appears as a witness for the plaintiffs in the Roundup litigation.
The EPA’s glyphosate judgment is an interim finding and awaits final approval. But it follows similar judgments by regulators from the European Union, Australia, Japan, Canada and other developed countries after comprehensive evaluations. A longitudinal study published in 2017 in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute tracked cancer incidence among nearly 45,000 licensed pesticide applicators who used Roundup. The study found that ‘in unlagged analyses, glyphosate was not statistically significantly associated with cancer at any site.’
The EPA also looked for possible hazards to those who ate crops exposed to glyphosate. The agency made conservative assumptions about the levels of glyphosate residue on the crops and drinking water and concluded there is no risk to human health.
That sure sounds relevant, and perhaps the jury would have agreed. Big business isn’t popular these days, but companies don’t deserve to be looted based on a biased presentation of scientific evidence. [Boldface added.]