The Week That Was: July 27, 2019, Brought to You by www.SEPP.org
By Ken Haapala, President, Science and Environmental Policy Project
Quote of the Week: “For a successful technology, reality must take precedence over public relations, for nature cannot be fooled.” – Richard P. Feynman, final sentence in his report on the Challenger disaster.
The Scientific Method – SEPP: For some, the term “science” is a political slogan. Such as, “science supports my program.” Further, government entities entrusted to produce scientific reports are frequently drifting away from rigorous science and more towards research using unvalidated models. The US Fourth National Climate Assessment produced by the US Global Change Research Program (USGCRP) and its 13 government entities is an excellent example. The Summaries for Policymakers of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) have become largely political. So are its special reports such as “Global Warming of 1.5 ºC” in October 2018. Such reports are harming the public. As discussed in last week’s TWTW, the psychiatric and psychological communities are identifying patients as suffering from “climate distress,” “climate grief,” “climate anxiety” or “eco-anxiety.”
Unfortunately, these government funded groups appear to be so driven by the use of unvalidated models, that they do not care about the harm they cause or the scientific integrity of their reports. TWTW and SEPP have been searching for an accurate way to identify properly conducted research as compared with research using unvalidated models also called science. At one point, TWTW used the term “empirical science.” But Professor Christopher Essex of the Department of Applied Mathematics at the University of Western Ontario demonstrated the terms “empiricism” and “empirical science” have become murky as well.
Following the guidelines of The Right Climate Stuff team, rigorous adherence to the scientific method may be the appropriate guide for evaluating reports. The scientific method has been developed since the 17th century and is an important contribution from Western Civilization to humanity. It is a procedure that involves systematic observation, careful measurement, experimentation, and the creation, rigorous testing, and modifications of hypotheses. Skepticism is a critical part of the scientific method.
On its website, SEPP has posted a mission statement that includes:
“SEPP questions the use of models for public policy unless the models have been appropriately verified and validated. No matter how elaborate, results from numerical models that are not thoroughly tested against hard evidence are speculative and cannot be relied upon. Testing the results of a model by using parts of the model against the results from the entire model is a ruse, used all too frequently. Comparing a model with similar models is not model validation. They may have similar errors.
“Logic can carry models only so far. If they fail any tests against relevant data, the models must be changed or discarded. Omitting critical data violates the scientific method.”
The above quote from Richard Feynman came from his investigation of the Challenger disaster. Critical data had been ignored by NASA’s management. The first two paragraphs of Feynman’s report bear repeating:
“It appears that there are enormous differences of opinion as to the probability of a failure with loss of vehicle and of human life. The estimates range from roughly 1 in 100 to 1 in 100,000. The higher figures come from the working engineers, and the very low figures from management. What are the causes and consequences of this lack of agreement? Since 1 part in 100,000 would imply that one could put a Shuttle up each day for 300 years expecting to lose only one, we could properly ask “What is the cause of management’s fantastic faith in the machinery?”
The NASA culture of the scientists and engineers was risk adverse. They sent management information describing that the O-Rings were being bypassed with launches at temperatures around freezing. Management ignored these warmings. Feynman goes on to write:
“We have also found that certification criteria used in Flight Readiness Reviews often develop a gradually decreasing strictness. The argument that the same risk was flown before without failure is often accepted as an argument for the safety of accepting it again. Because of this, obvious weaknesses are accepted again and again, sometimes without a sufficiently serious attempt to remedy them, or to delay a flight because of their continued presence.”
One can ask NASA, NOAA and NCAR/UCAR: “What is the cause of management’s fantastic faith in the models?” It has been clearly demonstrated that the climate models used by NASA, NOAA, and NCAR/UCAR fail to describe current temperature trends in the atmosphere, the troposphere, where the greenhouse effect occurs. The results of these unvalidated models, contradicted by evidence, are projected 100 years hence, depicting significant warming. Consequently, these organizations and their unvalidated models are encouraging government policies that will be economically destructive and harmful to Americans. See links under Seeking a Common Ground and www.sepp.org.
A Different Perspective: Douglas Carson of Louisiana Geological Survey gave an interesting talk at the Gulf Coast Association of Geological Societies Convention, which included presentations by members of The Right Climate Stuff team. The subject was: “Which will dominate future global temperature changes in next 200 years: solar irradiance or greenhouse gases?”
He asserts that the proxy data shows that a decrease in sunspot activity leads to increased cloudiness, supporting the Svensmark hypothesis. A big problem with drawing any firm conclusions is that all the major decreases in sunspots occurred before 1850, before the beginnings of any systematic temperature record (though isolated instrument records exist, such as for middle England). Thus, the datasets are very thin and do not show a great deal of cooling during the Little Ice Age. (However, there are increasing proxy data that the Medieval Warm Period and the Little Ice Age occurred on all continents and was not restricted to Europe as many alarmists claim.)
Carson shows a graph giving estimates of how much sunlight is reflected by different clouds, earth surfaces, vegetation, and water bodies. For example, thick clouds reflect 70 to 80% of sunlight, thin clouds from 25 to 30%. See links under Commentary: Is the Sun Rising? and Changing Climate.
ICCC-13: After several years of emphasizing energy, The Heartland Institute organized a conference on climate change in Washington, which was sold out. Unfortunately, it occurred on July 25, the day before the House of Representatives went on August recess. Usually, there is a flurry of activity immediately before a recess. Yet, two members found time to address those attending. Both Representative Jeff Duncan of South Carolina and Tom McClintock of California seemed to be attuned to the improper use of climate models, that have not been validated, to make predictions.
As an article describing his talk stated, McClintock noted claims by Prince Charles, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and others that we have 18 months to 35 years until catastrophic events occur:
“’I suppose I have as much authority as either of them to make predictions so I’ll give us another four and a half billion years, which is the amount of time the climate’s already been changing on the planet,’ McClintock said to an appreciative crowd at the Heartland Institute’s convention featuring climate scientists and other experts who spent the day making the case against a manmade climate crisis.”
The Global Warming Policy Forum has posted the slides its president, Benny Peiser, presented at the convention. His view of the economic prospects of the EU are grim. The EU is a leader in the “keep it in the ground” and anti-fossil fuels movements. But it now has the highest energy prices among G20 nations [19 countries plus the EU accounting for about 90% of the world’s gross product and 80% of the world’s trade], its share of the global economy is falling rapidly, and its household electricity prices are double those in the G20, while industrial electricity prices are nearly 50% higher. Yet, CO2 emissions are increasing. Put simply, the promise of green jobs depended on continued subsidies on solar and wind or breakthroughs in technology that are not materializing. Taxpayers are revolting as growing unrest demonstrates.
Upcoming TWTWs will discuss other presentations made at the conference. A general observation may be that the scientists making presentations agree that carbon dioxide has a small greenhouse effect and the warming effect of a doubling of CO2 is in the range of 1 to 1.5ºC. See links under Challenging the Orthodoxy – Conference.
Seeing the Invisible: With a blog titled “Seeing the Invisible” The Times of India carried an editorial by Indian economist Sanjeev Sabhlok. It is a good take on Adam Smith’s invisible hand discussed in his 1776 book “An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations” where individuals pursuing their own private interests benefit the society as a whole. The blog states:
“The blog is named after Seeing the Invisible, the title of the book on economics that Sanjeev has written. Economics involves the study of invisible incentives and motivations. Self-seeking ministers and bureaucrats often work invisibly and insidiously against the public interest. This is more so in socialist countries where governments undertake a number of unnecessary functions.”
Among other comments, the blog post asserts:
“We know how hard it is to stop governments from interfering in our lives. The cost-benefit test was devised specifically to stop bureaucracies from running amuck [sic] at the slightest scare by forcing them to confess all costs and all benefits.”
“The cost-benefit test can often be tortuous and is hated by all bureaucrats and ministers, but it is invaluable in imposing a crucial discipline on them.”
Unfortunately, by using statistical manipulation, economist Nicholas Stern influenced the UK Parliament to pass the Climate Change Act 2008. Stern declared global warming / climate change was a market failure requiring government interference. As the UK public is discovering, Stern greatly underestimated the current costs of the UK reducing CO2 emissions and overestimated the benefits. The value of cost benefit analysis depends on the integrity of those preforming the analysis. The actions of US government entities in greatly overestimating the current warming of the atmosphere are no better than the actions of Mr. Stern. See links under Challenging the Orthodoxy.
Benefits of CO2: Craig Idso, with his father Sherman Idso, was a major editor and contributor to the NIPCC book, “Climate Change Reconsidered II: Biological Impacts.” This book references several thousand studies showing increasing carbon dioxide benefits humanity and the environment. Virtually all types of plants benefit. Green plants produce oxygen and food, carbohydrates. Thus, animals which use both, directly and indirectly, benefit as well. Recently, Craig discussed research using micro-instruments measuring corals manipulating the pH of the water in the area in which they grow shells, bringing into question that increasing CO2 will cause harmful changes in pH of the water – so called ocean acidification.
Craig announced the Institute for the Human Environment, “…a non-profit educational organization advocating for the continued development and improvement of society and the natural environment. Its mission is to support the unfettered use of fossil fuels so that the industrial evolution of the human community can continue…” We wish him success in this notable endeavor. See link under Social Benefits of Carbon Dioxide
SEPP’S APRIL FOOLS AWARD
The voting is closed and the winner who most closely meets the qualification is being selected. No missing shards here, one hopes.
Number of the Week: 1934: Tony Heller has a post showing two sides of 1934. In the northeast US, the winter was extremely cold. On February 9, 1934, the coldest location was -52ºF at Stillwater Reservoir, NY. In the central US, the summer was extremely hot and dry. On July 23, 1934, the Chicago Airport hit 109ºF – “the highest ever reached on a government thermometer here since the establishment of the weather bureau in 1871.” According to the July 1934 Palmer Modified Drought Index, about half the country, most of the Midwest was in extreme drought.
Yet the media and many weather stations continue to exclaim that extreme weather today is unprecedented. Is this the type of stable weather that alarmists consider stable? See link under Changing Weather.
1. A Reality Check for Solar and Wind
All told, renewables produce a small fraction of recent years’ increased production of oil and gas.
By Robert Bryce, WSJ, July 21, 2019
SUMMARY: The senior fellow of the Manhattan Institute asserts that nearly all the candidates to replace Trump have two common talking points: loathe hydrocarbons and love renewables. He continues:
“Democratic contenders need a reality check. Despite years of federal subsidies, wind and solar are being trounced by the staggering surge in domestic oil and natural-gas production.
“Occidental Petroleum recently agreed to buy Anadarko Petroleum for $38 billion largely because it coveted Anadarko’s acreage in the Permian Basin, which covers about 75,000 square miles of West Texas and eastern New Mexico. The first commercial well in the Permian, the Santa Rita No. 1, blew in near Big Lake, Texas, in 1923. Despite its long history, the Permian is now the world’s hottest energy play.
“The latest Energy Information Administration data show that since early 2014 oil production in the Permian has grown to more than four million barrels a day from about 1.5 million. Gas production in the Permian has nearly tripled in the same period to about 14 billion cubic feet a day from about five billion. In terms of energy, nine billion cubic feet of gas is equivalent to 1.5 million barrels of oil. Add the oil and gas increases and since 2014 the Permian’s output has jumped by roughly four million barrels of oil equivalent a day.
“Now look at solar and wind. In 2018, according to BP, all U.S. solar projects produced about 441,000 barrels of oil equivalent a day. The increase in oil and gas production from 2014 to today in the Permian alone is equal to about nine times the output of every solar project in the U.S. In 2018 domestic wind production totaled about 1.3 million barrels of oil equivalent a day. The increase in Permian oil and gas production since 2014 is equal to three times the annual output of every wind turbine in the country.
“Those numbers are instructive, but that’s only the Permian. Add production from all the other shale plays—including the Haynesville, Utica and Marcellus—and total U.S. oil and gas production since 2014 has jumped by about 5.7 million barrels of oil equivalent a day. That means that over the past half-decade alone U.S. oil and gas production has increased by roughly 13 times the total output of all domestic solar projects and more than four times the total output of every wind turbine in the country.
“Renewable-energy promoters never tire of touting the growing output and declining cost of solar and wind. Those claims may be true. But simple math shows that oil and gas are leaving solar and wind in the shade.”
2. ‘The Weather Machine’ Review: The Future of the Forecast
Weather prognostications represent 150 years of open international cooperation. But with the privatization of data, there are dark skies ahead.
By Howard Schneider, WSJ, July 21, 2019
SUMMARY: The book reviewer writes:
“The future is often portrayed, in books and in articles, as being overrun by the sinister consequences of robotics and artificial intelligence. In ‘The Weather Machine: A Journey Inside the Forecast,’ Andrew Blum offers a reassuring counterpoint to such technodystopias. Weather forecasting ‘is a wonder we treat as a banality,’ Mr. Blum tells us. ‘It marks a high point of science and technology’s aspirations for society, but like a lot of things these days, its complex inner workings are not only mysterious but hidden beneath a veneer of simplicity.’
“The book is a chronicle and celebration of meteorology. The author traces modern weather science back to the first half of the 19th century, when many of the tools and means that would allow scientists to scrutinize the climate and disseminate their findings were being invented, among them synoptic weather charts, improved anemometers to measure wind speed, and professional weather observers—but also Samuel Morse’s telegraph, which brought forecasting to a pioneering new stage. ‘ ‘The weather’ no longer merely described the conditions at a specific place on earth but weather patterns that stretched thousands of miles,’ Mr. Blum writes. The weather became ‘a rationally and imaginatively constructed vision stretching broadly across the land.’ In short, meteorology had entered the industrial era.
“The 19th century not only engendered inventors like Morse and scientists like the Norwegian Vilhelm Bjerknes, whose groundbreaking work applied the principles of physics to an examination of the atmosphere, but also started the bureaucratization of meteorology. ‘Bureaucracy’ usually has ominous connotations, but here it allowed scientists to share information, theories and discoveries much more smoothly than before. Mr. Blum tells us that ‘the first congress of what became the International Meteorological Organization met in Vienna in 1873. Thirty-two representatives of twenty governments attended. They were primarily scientists and directors of weather bureaus. . . . Their fundamental project was to begin the international exchange of weather observations.’
“As technology advanced, weather-research instruments followed apace: increasingly sophisticated buoys, thermometers and barometers, eventually followed by satellites and instrumented balloons. Weather satellites—the U.S. launched the first one in 1960—were truly revolutionary. In particular, the satellites orbiting the poles, projecting ‘10,000 channels of infrared and radar soundings, shot from space through the clouds, [are] the game-changing observatories of today’s forecasts.’ Now we have ‘supercomputers and a purpose-built telecommunications system to tie it all together,’ Mr. Blum writes. He notes that weather satellites were initially and inextricably linked to Cold War realpolitik, where ‘military uses justified the meteorological efforts.’ Indeed, one of the most suggestive conclusions of this book is that weather forecasting is shaped by society’s larger agendas.
“Today the organizational epicenter of state-of-the-art meteorology is the European Center for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts. Opened for business in 1979, this ‘forecast factory’ is located in Reading, England, and is funded by 22 European member-nations. When it comes to global weather models, the center’s version ‘is king,’ Mr. Blum says, superior to the one produced by the U.S. National Weather Service. One highlight of the book is Mr. Blum’s visit to the center’s headquarters. The data-crunching prowess of its two Cray supercomputers is impressive to the point of being intimidating. ‘At the time I visited,’ Mr. Blum writes, the computers ‘had 260,000 processor cores, capable of conducting 90 trillion calculations per second,’ and they ‘ingested 40 million weather observations a day.’
“The European Center is a splendid example of how technology can unite us. Nevertheless, Mr. Blum has forebodings of potential problems on the horizon. ‘There is the possibility,’ he tells us, ‘that billions of tiny temperature and barometric sensors—in smartphones, home devices, attached to buildings, buses or airliners—could meaningfully compete with the [current] relatively few and carefully constructed weather stations.’ In that event, he asks, ‘Who would own the data? Government weather services have a hundred-and-fifty-year history of sharing their data and giving their services away for free. But if observations are being made by private networks and aggregated by the Googles, IBMs or Amazons of the world, that openness can no longer be assumed.’ [SEPP Comment: This is a concern, but so the deliberate manipulation of historical data by government entities entrusted with the data.]
“In his overview of 19th-century weather scientists, Mr. Blum surprisingly omits the distinguished British meteorologist James Glaisher, who risked his life to obtain data by soaring aloft in a balloon. Mr. Blum also mistakenly states that Nazi Germany’s attempt to install ‘a clandestine intercontinental automatic weather station’ in Canada was ‘the only known Nazi incursion on North American soil.’ In truth, Nazi saboteurs also landed in New York and Florida. Finally, the book gives a rather perfunctory account of climate change—which is startling, since climate change could, conceivably, profoundly alter our culture, our lives, our planet’s very geography.
“I end with a caveat: Weather prognostication continues to improve, but isn’t perfect and, if I understand Mr. Blum correctly, it probably never will be. Better to keep a sense of humor—and those umbrellas—handy forever.”