Weekly Climate and Energy News Roundup #370

The Week That Was: August 3, 2019, Brought to You by www.SEPP.org

By Ken Haapala, President, Science and Environmental Policy Project

Quote of the Week: “Do you know what we call opinion in the absence of evidence? We call it prejudice.”— Michael Crichton [H/t William Readdy]

Number of the Week: 1998 and 2016

Confusing Planet: Our planet is a complex place, no doubt confusing global warming headline seekers. About 71%of the surface is water (ocean), 29% is land. Water warms and cools far more slowly than land. Complicating matters further, the dominant greenhouse gas is water vapor, slowing the nighttime cooling of water and land masses even further, where it is present.

Making matters even more complex is that about 81% of the Southern hemisphere is water and 19% is land. For the Northern Hemisphere, about 61% is water and 39% is land. Land area varies by latitude. About 68% of the land is in the Northern Hemisphere, only 32% in the Southern Hemisphere. By latitude, the highest percentage of land area is between 30 degrees North and 60 degrees North. [The distribution of land areas has changed significantly over the past 750 million years, making any paleo-earth studies of the greenhouse effect of carbon dioxide on temperatures difficult. One cannot assume the ocean currents were the same as today.]

Today, the planet’s orbit places it closest to the sun in early January (winter in the Northern Hemisphere), and farthest in early July (summer in the Northern Hemisphere). Yet the hottest month for global temperatures tends to be July, due to the distribution of the land areas. [The orbit, axial tilt, and orientation vary as described by the Milankovitch cycles.]

This week, the World Meteorological Organization announced that preliminary data indicates that July 2019 may have been the hottest month recorded. The announcement was blared by the trumpets of global warming including the head of the UN, Antonio Guterres. As typical, the trumpeters ignored the details. The data were preliminary, and they do not survive examination. The data relied on forecasts for the end of the month, not actual observations.

On his website, Roy Spencer describes three errors in claiming July was the hottest month. The worst is the continued use of land instruments which are affected by the urban heat island effect. This has been well documented. Anthony Watts demonstrated it for the US. Jo Nova is posting a few examples in Australia on her website. Amazingly, the Australian Bureau of Meteorology has carefully mapped all the deficiencies of the instrument site at Murray Bridge, South Australia, including positions of the sun, yet continues to use the data.

Bureaucratic inertia is stunning. Correctly estimating the distortion from the urban heat island effect in the land surface data is impossible. To make matters worse, NOAA has “adjusted” rural instruments to more closely match urban instruments.

A second error in the surface temperature data are the changes in ocean measurements from changing technologies, from buckets, to engine water intakes, to buoys. There is no systematic method of calibrating these different methods because the different methods of bucket sampling and depth of water intakes is unknow. NOAA claimed to do so, but, as discussed in previous TWTWs, the claim is not credible. The third source of error described by Spencer is that the location of both land and ocean instruments is notoriously incomplete. Yet, NASA-GISS continues to show temperatures over large areas where there are no measuring stations, no instruments.

As Spencer demonstrates, the unusual warmth of western Europe was offset by unusual cool of eastern Europe. He advocates using Global Reanalysis datasets for monthly estimates of surface temperatures. These are the result of daily observations using surface thermometers, buoys, ships, weather balloons, commercial aircraft data, and a wide variety of satellite data sources. They are used daily to forecast the weather.

The US reanalysis dataset, CFSv2, available to the public shows that July 2019 was not the hottest July ever, it was the fourth warmest in 41 years behind 2016, 2002, and 2017. According to 41-year dataset, which goes back to 1979, July 2019 was only 0.5ºF (0.3ºC) above normal for July.

TWTW adds that the Japan Meteorological Agency reanalysis dataset goes back to 1958. See links under Measurement Issues – Surface, http://phl.upr.edu/library/notes/distributionoflandmassesofthepaleo-earth, and https://www.jma.go.jp/jma/indexe.html


Better US Surface Data: Writing in ICECAP, Meteorologist Joseph D’Aleo of WeatherBell Analytics discusses the U.S. Climate Reference Network (USCRN), which is also discussed by Anthony Watts. The purpose of the USCRN program is to provide an accurate series of climate observations for monitoring trends in the nation’s climate and supporting climate-impact research.

Similar to what Anthony Watts found, a 1999 paper showed that, due to station siting, 75% of the surface stations have a daily uncertainty equal to or greater than 1ºC. Sixty-four percent had a daily uncertainty equal to or greater than 2ºC (about 4ºF). The current CRN was based on work by John Christy and provides proper siting the outside the influence of the Urban Heat Island effect. According to the NOAA website:

“Data from NOAA’s premiere surface reference network. The contiguous U.S. network of 114 stations was completed in 2008. There are two USCRN stations in Hawaii and deployment of a network of 29 stations in Alaska continues. The vision of the USCRN program is to maintain a sustainable high-quality climate observation network that 50 years from now can with the highest degree of confidence answer the question: How has the climate of the Nation changed over the past 50 years?

“These stations were designed with climate science in mind. Three independent measurements of temperature and precipitation are made at each station, ensuring continuity of record and maintenance of well-calibrated and highly accurate observations. The stations are placed in pristine environments expected to be free of development for many decades. Stations are monitored and maintained to high standards and are calibrated on an annual basis. In addition to temperature and precipitation, these stations also measure solar radiation, surface skin temperature, and surface winds. They also include triplicate measurements of soil moisture and soil temperature at five depths, as well as atmospheric relative humidity for most of the 114 contiguous U.S. stations. Stations in Alaska and Hawaii provide network experience and observations in polar and tropical regions. Deployment of a complete 29-station USCRN network in Alaska began in 2009. This project is managed by NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center and operated in partnership with NOAA’s Atmospheric Turbulence and Diffusion Division.”

The data D’Aleo presents start in 2005 and show little warming. This raises a major issue: Why did the US Global Change Research Program (USGCRP) omit a complete discussion of the temperature and precipitation trends identified by the USCRN in its Fourth National Climate Assessment (2017, 2018)? Certainly, the hard evidence indicates that the alarming conclusions of the USGCRP report need to be tempered. See links under Measurement Issues – Surface, https://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/data-access/land-based-station-data/land-based-datasets/us-climate-reference-network-uscrn, https://science2017.globalchange.gov/, and https://nca2018.globalchange.gov/.


Rural Electrification in India: Among the more pernicious programs announced by the environmental industry is the “War on Coal.” Each residence burning coal for heating or cooking is dirty. But modern coal-fired power plants, with appropriate scrubbers are not. “Power by wire”, rural electrification, greatly helped the US and all developed countries. The addition of scrubbers on coal-fired power plants since the 1970s has helped clean the air in the US.

According to a report in Master Resource, the government of India has announced a goal of electrifying all residences by 2022. Others report mixed results as to how successful the program is. There are complaints about metering, billing, and bill paying. Outages seem to be a major problem as well. Rural areas may experience 2 to 4 interruptions per day. But the significant efforts seem to be paying off. The fuel for electricity is coal and construction of modern coal-fired plants is underway. See links under After Paris! and Seeking a Common Ground.


Lindzen’s Acceptance: Richard Lindzen’s acceptance of SEPP’s Fredrick Seitz Memorial Award has been posted on Heartland’s website. Lindzen discusses the long list of distinguished scientists who have objected to the claims of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) that carbon dioxide (CO2) is the primary driver of global warming / climate change. See link under Challenging the Orthodoxy – Conference


Nature Nailing Mr. Mann? Nature Magazine and Nature Geographic had articles that were inconsistent and questioned Mr. Mann’s famous hockey-stick. The former had an article asserting there were no globally coherent warm and cold periods over the past 2,000 years. The latter had a paper asserting that volcanoes were the cause of the latter part of the Little Ice Age.

In private correspondence on a separate paper, physicist Donald Rapp has pointed out what is called “Global Warming” since 1880 may be better termed “Arctic Warming.” Particularly since 1910 warming has been far greater in latitudes above 60ºN than elsewhere. Above 60ºN, temperatures fell from 1940 to 1970 and rose again since. Given the complexity of the globe’s climate system, consistent global warming seems unlikely. See links under Communicating Better to the Public – Exaggerate, or be Vague?


Additions and Corrections: Richard Lindzen made an important distinction in proper terminology when discussing the scientific method: the scientific method as commonly described refers to experimental sciences where one can have controlled experiments. The situation for observational sciences is profoundly different. There are no controlled experiments, and one cannot generally prove anything; one can only improve confidence. So, we can test hypotheses using controlled experiments. But we cannot test them using observational methods, only support or refute them.

Needless to say, testing unvalidated models against other unvalidated models, or parts thereof, which is often done and called “model experiments” does not qualify as a controlled experiment.




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: 1998 and 2016: Roy Spencer reports that in the atmospheric temperature database reported by the University of Alabama in Huntsville, the July temperatures for 2019 were exceeded in 1998 and 2016. See links under Measurement Issues – Atmosphere.



1. Compromise Can Promote Green Policy Goals

Our energy future will look different than its past. That transition is under way, but it doesn’t have to be a binary choice between 100% renewables or unmitigated carbon emissions from fossil fuels

Letter By Kathy Fackler, Citizens’ Climate Lobby, July 31, 2019


SUMMARY: boldface added]

Regarding Robert Bryce’s “A Reality Check for Solar and Wind” (op-ed, July 22): Simple math may show that oil and gas production is leaving solar and wind in the shade, but simple physics shows that carbon-dioxide emissions from fossil fuels damage our climate and our future prosperity. Our energy future will look different than its past. That transition is under way, but it doesn’t have to be a binary choice between 100% renewables or unmitigated carbon emissions from fossil fuels.

“Smart policy planning would protect our energy supply while also reducing the costs and risks associated with greenhouse-gas emissions. On Jan. 17 the Journal published “Economists’ Statement on Carbon Dividends” signed by 3,500 U.S. economists, including all living former chairs of the Federal Reserve and 15 former chairmen of the president’s Council of Economic Advisers, urging immediate national action to address climate change, and calling a carbon tax “’the most cost-effective lever to reduce carbon emissions at the scale and speed that is necessary.’

“If the cost of pollution is included in the cost of energy, the market will efficiently shift toward cleaner forms of energy, including natural gas, renewables and nuclear.

[SEPP Comment: The physics of the greenhouse effect is about as simple as the physics of quantum mechanics. The fact the economists agree that taxes are the most effective way to stop consumption of a particular good does not mean the tax is needed or desirable. Dividends returning the taxes is highly questionable.]


2. California Bans Trump

The state passes a law to bar him from the primary ballot.

Editorial, WSJ, July 31, 2019


SUMMARY: The article states:

“Remember all that angst and anger expressed by progressives that President Trump would ignore judicial orders, rig election laws, and maybe even refuse to give up power if he loses in 2020? We’re still waiting for any of that to happen. But that hasn’t stopped Democrats from stretching the Constitution to defeat Mr. Trump.

“The latest example came Tuesday from California when Governor Gavin Newsom signed a law that would bar Mr. Trump from the state primary ballot unless he discloses his tax returns. That’s right. California Democrats are trying to keep a sitting President from running for re-election in their state.

“‘These are extraordinary times and states have a legal and moral duty to do everything in their power to ensure leaders seeking the highest offices meet minimal standards, and to restore public confidence,’ Mr. Newsom, a Democrat, said in a statement.

“Even if this means rigging the ballot to defeat an opponent they loathe? Apparently so. We’re on record saying Mr. Trump should release his tax returns, but there’s nothing in the Constitution that says he must. Americans can factor his refusal into their voting calculations, and most Democratic presidential candidates have released their tax returns or promised that they will.

California may be violating the Constitution with this law. Mr. Trump’s lawyers are promising a legal challenge, and they have a strong case that a state can’t add onerous qualifications for ballot access that go beyond the Constitution’s requirements for age, citizenship and residency. That was the basis for the Supreme Court decision barring term limits in Congressional elections.

“This is one reason that Jerry Brown, Mr. Newsom’s predecessor, vetoed a similar bill in 2017. ‘First, it may not be constitutional,’ Mr. Brown wrote in a veto statement, and the rest is worth quoting at length:

“‘Second, it sets a ‘slippery slope’ precedent. Today we require tax returns, but what would be next? Five years of health records? A certified birth certificate? High school report cards? And will these requirements vary depending on which political party is in power? A qualified candidate’s ability to appear on the ballot is fundamental to our democratic system. For that reason, I hesitate to start down a road that well might lead to an ever escalating set of differing state requirements for presidential candidates.’

The article concludes by discussing the possibility of Republicans doing the same in other states against Democratic nominees and the possibility of Trump appealing.


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