Weekly Climate and Energy News Roundup #376

The Week That Was: September 14, 2019, Brought to You by www.SEPP.org

By Ken Haapala, President, The Science and Environmental Policy Project

Quote of the Week – “If by the liberty of the press were understood merely the liberty of discussing the propriety of public measures and political opinions, let us have as much of it as you please: But if it means the liberty of affronting, calumniating and defaming one another, I, for my part, own myself willing to part with my share of it.” —Benjamin Franklin (1789)

Number of the Week: UP 24%


Climate Model Issues – Greenhouse Feedbacks: Prior to the 1979 Charney Report, numerous laboratory experiments established that a doubling of carbon dioxide (CO2) would cause a modest increase in global temperatures, nothing of great concern. The Charney Report states that advocates of global climate models, mainly NASA-GISS and NOAA’s Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory at Princeton advocated that a positive feedback, mainly from water vapor from the oceans would result in a far greater warming, which was estimated to be 3º C plus or minus 1.5º C. The last paragraph of the report, Section 4 – Models and Their Validity states:

“We conclude that the predictions of CO2 -induced climate changes made with the various models examined are basically consistent and mutually supporting. The differences in model results are relatively small and may be accounted for by differences in model characteristics and simplifying assumptions. Of course, we can never be sure that some badly estimated or totally overlooked effect may not vitiate our conclusions. We can only say that we have not been able to find such effects. If the CO2 concentration of the atmosphere is indeed doubled and remains so long enough for the atmosphere and the intermediate layers of the ocean to attain approximate thermal equilibrium, our best estimate is that changes in global temperature of the order of 3° C will occur and that these will be accompanied by significant changes in regional climatic patterns.”

The conclusions of the Charney Report were based on the consistency of the global climate models and were not verified by experiments or observations. The conclusions of the Charney Report have been retained by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and its followers such as the US Global Change Research Program (USGCRP) for forty years. But they have provided little investigation of the feedbacks, particularly what is occurring in the atmosphere. Key questions remain: Do the positive feedbacks exist and to what extent?

Writing in Watts Up With That (WUWT), Patrick Frank announced the publication of his paper “Propagation of Error and the Reliability of Global Air Temperature Projections” in Frontiers in Earth Science: Atmospheric Science, after six years of trying. Frank’s personal experiences give an idea of the difficulty of publishing a paper that questions the climate orthodoxy. His comments are biting, including the view that many “experts” in the establishment confuse false precision with accuracy in estimates. An example of false precision is when NASA-GISS made estimates of average surface temperature to 4 one-hundreds of a degree F, even though measuring devices may be no more accurate than plus or minus 2 degrees F.

According to Frank, “the paper demonstrates that climate models have no predictive value.” One may agree with the statement that models have little or no predictive value without agreeing with the claim that Frank’s paper demonstrates this. Again, one needs to realize that even though models agree with one another, all may be incorrect. [Note that the model of the Marchuk Institute of Numerical Mathematics of the Russian Academy of Sciences is an outlier, making projections of atmospheric temperature trends far below the other models and close to observed temperature trends.]

In posts on September 11 and 12, Roy Spencer articulates his concerns with the Frank paper, the second post following an exchange with Frank. Spencer states that the models are not forced to balance the global energy budget at every step, as Frank implies, but each model only once, during control runs. The 20 plus models have a wide variety of errors. Spencer writes:

…” yet they all basically behave the same in their temperature projections for the same (1) climate sensitivity and (2) rate of ocean heat uptake in response to anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions.”

“Thus, the models themselves demonstrate that their global warming forecasts do not depend upon those bias errors in the components of the energy fluxes (such as global cloud cover) as claimed by Dr. Frank ….”

The issue goes back to the issue raised by the Charney Report: what are the feedbacks and how well can they be estimated? Consistency in model results does not imply that the climate system is well understood or even that the greenhouse effect is well represented.

As Spencer states in his September 13 post:

“The big question is, ‘How much will the climate system warm in response to increasing CO2?’ The answer depends not so much upon uncertainties in the component energy fluxes in the climate system, as Frank claims, but upon how those energy fluxes change as the temperature changes.”

Stated differently, what happens depends on how the energy fluxes change. What predictions we can make depends on the uncertainties in the energy fluxes and the changes in energy fluxes. Spenser continues:

“And that’s what determines ‘climate sensitivity.’

“This is why people like myself and Lindzen emphasize so-called ‘feedbacks’ (which determine climate sensitivity) as the main source of uncertainty in global warming projections.” See links under Challenging the Orthodoxy, Defending the Orthodoxy, and Model Issues.


The Greenhouse Effect – Poor Measurements: In his discussion of his new paper, Frank brings up a 2001 paper by Willie Soon, et al. that remains important today in discussing the limitations of global climate models: “Modeling climatic effects of anthropogenic carbon dioxide emissions: unknowns and uncertainties.” Despite massive improvements in computing power, advances in technology, and important satellite measurement sensors, the modelers generally ignore measurements of the atmosphere, and stick with surface measurements that have multiple flaws, particularly the urban heat island effect in changing land use, even slightly. The abstract of the Soon et al. paper states:

“Because the expected anthropogenic climate forcings are relatively small compared to other background and forcing factors (internal and external), the credibility of the modeled global and regional responses rests on the validity of the models. We focus on this important question of climate model validation. Specifically, we review common deficiencies in general circulation model (GCM) calculations of atmospheric temperature, surface temperature, precipitation and their spatial and temporal variability. These deficiencies arise from complex problems associated with parameterization of multiply interacting climate components, forcings and feedbacks, involving especially clouds and oceans. We also review examples of expected climatic impacts from anthropogenic CO2 forcing. Given the host of uncertainties and unknowns in the difficult but important task of climate modeling, the unique attribution of observed current climate change to increased atmospheric CO2 concentration, including the relatively well-observed latest 20 yr., is not possible. We further conclude that the incautious use of GCMs to make future climate projections from incomplete or unknown forcing scenarios is antithetical to the intrinsically heuristic value of models. Such uncritical application of climate models has led to the commonly held but erroneous impression that modeling has proven or substantiated the hypothesis that CO2 added to the air has caused or will cause significant global warming. An assessment of the merits of GCMs and their use in suggesting a discernible human influence on global climate can be found in the joint World Meteorological Organisation and United Nations Environmental Programme¹s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reports (1990, 1995 and the upcoming 2001 report). Our review highlights only the enormous scientific difficulties facing the calculation of climatic effects of added atmospheric CO2 in a GCM. The purpose of such a limited review of the deficiencies of climate model physics and the use of GCMs is to illuminate areas for improvement. Our review does not disprove a significant anthropogenic influence on global climate.”

The authors of this paper endured significant personal, ad hominem attacks for displaying the courage of speaking openly on the limits of climate modeling as it was being executed.

The same criticisms apply today. The greenhouse effect occurs in the atmosphere. Until the climate modelers, or those who control their budgets, demand that climate modelers incorporate atmospheric data in their models, we can expect that climate science as expressed by the IPCC and the USGCRP will continue to stagnate, while individual research advances, despite a lack of government financing. As Nir Shaviv stated: The graph of changes in the estimates from a doubling of CO2 is the most boring he ever drew. Please note that two of the authors of the 2001 paper, Willie Soon and Sherwood Idso received the Fredrick Seitz Memorial Award for “Exceptional Courage in the Quest for Knowledge.” See links under Challenging the Orthodoxy.


Stunning Ignorance: The once distinguished American Geophysical Union, now called AGU, “Advancing Earth and Space Science” has issued a position statement for member comment. The statement is titled:

“Society Must Address the Growing Climate Crisis Now”. The opening sentence reads: “Prompt and concerted actions to limit and adapt to human-caused climate change are less costly than remaining on the current trajectory and can provide great benefits for human well-being.” The bit that is most striking is:

“The Predictions

“Realistic and continually improving computer simulations of the global climate predict that both temperature and sea level will continue to rise as a result of past and future greenhouse gas emissions. Past emissions will contribute to some additional heating into the near future. However, the amount of rise will be predominantly determined by future human-caused emissions. Global average temperature will only stabilize after net emissions of CO2 reach zero, i.e. the amount entering the atmosphere is matched by the amount removed, and emissions of other greenhouse gases are stable or decreasing.” [Boldface added.]

Do the authors of this statement actually believe that human emissions CO2 caused the current period? (That is, the Quaternary, of the past 2.5 million years — with frequent, prolonged glaciations interrupted by brief warm periods.) That only CO2 causes warming? See links under Defending the Orthodoxy.


Troubles in the EU? Writing in Forbes on the EU, reporter Dave Keating discusses a little-known treaty that can bring significant problems to politicians trying to reduce use of carbon-based fuels – Energy Charter Treaty. Signed in 1991 and taking effect in 1998, the treaty governs

“…the cross-border energy investments between the countries of the European Union and former Soviet states such as Kazakhstan and Georgia. It dealt with a variety of issues, but perhaps the most impactful was investor dispute settlement.

“The mechanism protects investors against sudden regulatory changes that might cancel the energy projects they’ve invested in.

“Sounds simple enough. But since then, the treaty has morphed into something almost unrecognisable. Russia has since pulled out of the treaty, and the investor dispute settlement mechanism is being mostly used by fossil fuel companies suing Western European countries for cancelling fossil fuel projects – nothing to do with the post-communist world.”

According to Keating, today, about two thirds of the investor lawsuits under the treaty involve an investor from one EU country suing the government of another EU country. Governments (taxpayers) have been ordered or agreed to pay more than $51 billion in claims. Litigation is escalating. See links under After Paris.


Disciplined? Petteri Taalas, the Secretary General of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) from January 2016 until January 2020, gave an interview to a Finnish magazine in which he disagreed with climate doomsday extremists. The WMO is one of the UN parent organizations to the IPCC. After the interview was picked-up by other news organizations, the WMO issued a press release from Taalas stating:

“To stop a global temperature increase of more than 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, the level of ambition needs to be tripled. And to limit the increase to 1.5 degrees, it needs to be multiplied by five.”

“WMO is coordinating a synthesis report of the latest climate science prepared under the auspices of the Science Advisory Group to the Climate Action Summit, which I co-chair. It will serve as a ‘transparent envelope’ of authoritative and actionable cutting-edge science which underlines both the need for climate action as well as solutions to help in mitigation and adaptation.” See links under Problems in the Orthodoxy.


SEPP April Fool’s Winner: Last week, TWTW announced the winner of the April Fool’s Award is AOC by a landslide! Although many distinguished and not so distinguished people were nominated, such as Ola Royrvik of the Norwegian Nobel Institute, Bill Nye the supposed science guy, Joachim Schellnhuber of the Potsdam Center for Climate Impacts, and Greta Thunberg, the young thing; Alexandria Ocasio Cortez outpolled them all – by far.

Although it is difficult to locate any legislative accomplishments by AOC, one could say she has accomplished a great deal towards earning this prestigious award of a lump of coal. AOC, and her press, has helped galvanize candidates for the nomination for President by the Democratic Party into an absurd race to spend the most money to destroy a reliable, functional system of energy, particularly electricity, with expensive, unreliable electricity.

The race to destruction is based on fears generated by models that have not been validated, and when tested against physical evidence, fail. Since normal science depends on rigorous application of the scientific method, one can term this fear as paranormal science, supernatural. AOC’s former chief of staff, Saikat Chakrabarti, has been reported to say it’s not about the environment, it’s about control. That is the issue, expanding government control over the American public when it is clearly not needed. See links under The Political Games Continue.


Number of the Week: UP 24% — Argus Media bills itself as the “leading independent provider of energy and commodity price benchmarks.” It reported that:

“Brazil’s grains and oilseeds crop rose by 6.4pc to a record 242mn metric tonnes (t) in the 2018-2019 harvest, boosted by increased corn and cotton output.

“The total compared with 227.7mn t from last year’s crop, the country’s agricultural statistics agency Conab said in its final report on the season ended 30 June.

The corn harvest rose by 24pc to a record 100mn t in 2018-19 from the prior year. The final number was pulled higher by favorable weather conditions for winter corn, which accounts for nearly two thirds of all the country’s cereal production.”

“Soybean output fell by 3.6pc to 115mn t, down from the prior harvest but still the second largest on record. The crop was impacted by hot, dry weather between December-January, an important period for development of the crop.” [Boldface added].

The Fourth National Climate Assessment (2018) by the USGCRP stated that the Midwest would become too warm for agriculture. The major export crops of the Midwest are soybeans and corn (maize). The primary competitor is Brazil with the agriculture regions in the tropics where soybeans and maize are flourishing. For six years, Brazil has outproduced the US in soybeans for export. The failure to understand agriculture indicates the quality of the work of US climate scientists. See link under Agriculture Issues & Fear of Famine



1. China to Exempt U.S. Soybeans and Pork From Punitive Tariffs

Measure follows President Trump’s two-week postponement of increased tariffs on some Chinese goods

By Chao Deng in Beijing and Lucy Craymer in Hong Kong, WSJ, Sep 13, 2019


TWTW Summary: The journalists write:

“China will exempt purchases of U.S. soybeans, pork and other agricultural products from punitive tariffs, in a move that appears aimed at addressing one of President Trump’s most pressing demands during the protracted trade war.

“China’s official Xinhua News Agency said the government would support purchases of U.S. agricultural products by Chinese companies and waive the tariffs that Beijing has imposed as trade tensions have flared. The report didn’t specify the amount of products affected by the measure, which was attributed to the country’s Commerce Ministry and its main economic planning agency, the National Development and Reform Commission.

“The U.S. and China are seeking ways to break a deadlock in the continuing trade war before the next round of high-level negotiations, scheduled to take place in Washington in early October.

“Both sides have made goodwill gestures in recent days. On Wednesday, President Trump delayed a new round of tariff increases on $250 billion of imports from China that would have taken effect Oct. 1, the 70th anniversary of Communist Chinese rule—an apparent concession that the state-media report cited in justifying the lifting of tariffs on U.S. agricultural goods.

“Beijing is separately looking to narrow the scope of its negotiations with the U.S. to only trade matters, seeking to set aside thornier national-security issues for now and place them on a different track, The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday.

“China’s latest move could get a positive reception from Mr. Trump, who said after a Group of 20 leaders’ meeting in June that President Xi Jinping had agreed to make purchases of large amounts of U.S. farm goods.

“China, for its part, made no official mention of such a commitment after the meeting, and The Wall Street Journal reported that Mr. Xi had made no such promise.

“Mr. Trump has since complained about what he regards as China’s backsliding on its commitment to buy U.S. farm products.

“The new measure is also likely to be cheered by U.S. farmers growing soybeans in Illinois, raising cattle in Texas and feeding hogs in North Carolina, all of whom have seen business suffer and prices fall as a result of tariffs that Chinese officials began implementing last year.

“China has been one of the largest export destinations for U.S. agricultural commodities since 2009. However, U.S. agricultural exports to China halved in 2018 and were down a further 20% in the first six months of this year. This fall in demand has hurt prices for U.S.-produced commodities and added to the financial challenges already facing American farmers.

“Factors beyond the trade war might be behind China’s lifting of tariffs on items such as pork, a staple of the national diet. A yearlong outbreak of deadly African swine fever has ravaged the country’s hog population, and Beijing has struggled in recent weeks to increase pork supply, from pushing farming incentives to rationing and even opening its emergency pork reserves.”

The article then speculates on issues that have not been fully resolved.


2. Canada’s Oil Market Finds Outlet in U.S. Demand

Canadian exports have jumped since the U.S. imposed sanctions on Venezuela’s state-owned oil giant

By Vipal Monga, WSJ, Sep 12, 2019


TWTW Summary: The journalist writes:

“A glut of oil in Canada is easing, thanks to higher demand for dense crude from U.S. Gulf Coast refineries and government-imposed production cuts that have offset a shortage of pipeline capacity.

“Canadian oil stockpiles have fallen to their lowest level since November 2017, with inventories dropping below 26 million barrels as of Aug. 30, according to data provider Genscape.

“The development is a shift from roughly a year ago. Back then, Canadian oil prices traded at a discount of more than $51 a barrel to the U.S. benchmark, according to S&P Global Platts. The reason? Congested pipelines prevented the country’s producers from getting their oil out.

“A resulting increase in inventories, which added to the pressure on prices, prompted the Alberta provincial government in December to order producers to cut output. This year, a U.S. embargo on Venezuelan oil has narrowed the gap between Western Canadian Select and U.S. West Texas Intermediate. On Wednesday, the difference was about $13 a barrel.

“In January, the U.S. imposed sanctions on the South American country’s state-owned oil giant, putting at risk roughly 500,000 barrels of shipment a day. Canadian exports to the U.S. have jumped, as refiners along the Gulf Coast scrambled to fill the gap.

“‘The U.S. Gulf is structurally short of heavy, sour crudes,’ said RBC Capital Markets energy analyst Michael Tran, referring to the grade of dense crude oil produced in Venezuela and Canada.

“While output from U.S. oil companies has been plentiful, much of the crude produced from shale drilling is ‘light,’ meaning it has a low density, and ‘sweet,’ or low in sulfur. Many U.S. refineries are configured to process some heavy, sour crude to produce fuels like gasoline and diesel.”

The article continues with discussion of specific import figures and speculation of the future.

[SEPP Comment: Last year, occasionally in the spot market Canadian crude was almost given away. The article again demonstrates that crude oil is not fungible, as commonly assumed. Refineries are designed around the characteristics of the particular crude oil that is most easily delivered to them, and their products are also unique.]


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