The Week That Was: October 12, 2019, Brought to You by www.SEPP.org
By Ken Haapala, President, Science and Environmental Policy Projec
Quote of the Week – “Beware of false knowledge; it is more dangerous than ignorance.”— George Bernard Shaw [William Readdy]
Number of the Week: Up 4850% in 20 Years
Solar-Climate Variability – Svensmark Hypothesis: It its review of recent papers, CO2 Science discusses a study in Nature, Scientific Reports, of a linkage between multi-decade variability in rainfall in the Western Mediterranean and solar activity over the last thousand years. The authors use high-resolution speleothem records (stalagmites) from two caves in Morocco to create a statistical basis for measuring changing precipitation. The paper illustrates how messy observational data can be and how exceptional the data presented in the 2008 report by the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC) from a cave in Oman is. (pp 11-13)
The authors of the new paper had to identify three separate trends appearing in the data: 1) the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO); 2) the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (AMO), and 3) the Vries-Suess 200-year solar cycle. All three effect climate patterns, including wind and rainfall patterns, in the Western Mediterranean, have severe socio-economic consequences. Speleothems provide high-resolution records of effective rainfall, the amount of precipitation that actually infiltrates the soil. This study is but one more that supports the 1997 hypothesis by Henrik Svensmark and Eigil Friis-Christensen that linked galactic cosmic rays and global climate change. Changing activity of the sun (solar wind and magnetism) modify the high energy cosmic rays hitting the earth. An active sun with increased solar wind and magnetism slows down cosmic rays. Fewer high energy cosmic rays decrease the cloudiness of the globe. A dormant sun results in less solar wind and magnetism and greater high energy cosmic rays increasing the cloudiness.
The 2008 NIPCC report states:
“The demonstration of solar influence on climate is now overwhelming. One of the prize exhibits is seen in Figure 14 [Neff et al. 2001], which summarizes data obtained from a stalagmite from a cave in Oman. The carbon-14 variations are a clear indication of corresponding changes in galactic cosmic rays (GCR), which are modulated by variations in solar activity. The oxygen-18 values are proxies for a climate parameter, like temperature or precipitation, from a shift in the Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ). The correlation extends well over 3,000 years, with amazingly detailed correspondence. The bottom graph shows the central 400 years expanded and is accurate on almost a yearly basis, making a cause-effect relationship very likely.
“The best explanation for these observations, and similar ones elsewhere, is that – as has long been recognized [Singer 1958] – GCR intensity is modulated by the strength of the solar wind and its magnetic field. More recently, a detailed mechanism whereby cosmic rays can affect cloudiness and therefore climate has been suggested and verified experimentally by Henrik Svensmark . More detailed work is to take place under the CLOUD project proposed by a group of scientists at CERN, the world’s largest particle accelerator.” (pp. 11 & 12)
CERN’s CLOUD experiments have reinforced the Svensmark Hypothesis. But those skeptical about the natural causes of climate change and the influence of high energy cosmic rays on cloudiness have insisted that the experiments do not directly support the Svensmark Hypothesis. Even though CERN is in the midst of a two-year upgrade, the CLOUD experiment has started another run that will last until the end of November. A press release from CERN states:
“The CLOUD experiment studies how ions produced by high-energy particles called cosmic rays affect aerosol particles, clouds and the climate. It uses a special cloud chamber and a beam of particles from the Proton Synchrotron to provide an artificial source of cosmic rays. For this run, however, the cosmic rays are instead natural high-energy particles from cosmic objects such as exploding stars.
“‘Cosmic rays, whether natural or artificial, leave a trail of ions in the chamber,’ explains CLOUD spokesperson Jasper Kirkby, ‘but the Proton Synchrotron provides cosmic rays that can be adjusted over the full range of ionisation rates occurring in the troposphere, which comprises the lowest ten kilometres of the atmosphere. That said, we can also make progress with the steady flux of natural cosmic rays that make it into our chamber, and this is what we’re doing now.’
“In its 10 years of operation, CLOUD has made several important discoveries on the vapours that form aerosol particles in the atmosphere and can seed clouds. Although most aerosol particle formation requires sulphuric acid, CLOUD has shown that aerosols can form purely from biogenic vapours emitted by trees, and that their formation rate is enhanced by cosmic rays by up to a factor 100.
“Most of CLOUD’s data runs are aerosol runs, in which aerosols form and grow inside the chamber under simulated conditions of sunlight and cosmic-ray ionisation. The run that has just started is of the ‘CLOUDy’ type, which studies the ice- and liquid-cloud-seeding properties of various aerosol species grown in the chamber, and direct effects of cosmic-ray ionisation on clouds.
“The present run uses the most comprehensive array of instruments ever assembled for CLOUDy experiments, including several instruments dedicated to measuring the ice- and liquid-cloud-seeding properties of aerosols over the full range of tropospheric temperatures. In addition, the CERN CLOUD team has built a novel generator of electrically charged cloud seeds to investigate the effects of charged aerosols on cloud formation and dynamics.
“‘Direct effects of cosmic-ray ionisation on the formation of fair-weather clouds are highly speculative and almost completely unexplored experimentally,’ says Kirkby. ‘So, this run could be the most boring we’ve ever done—or the most exciting! We won’t know until we try, but by the end of the CLOUD experiment, we want to be able to answer definitively whether cosmic rays affect clouds and the climate, and not leave any stone unturned.’”
If the experiment supports the Svensmark Hypothesis, then it will have more experimental support than the hypothesis that CO2 is the primary determinant of climate change, which has no experimental support. See links under Science: Is the Sun Rising? and Challenging the Orthodoxy – NIPCC.
The Greenhouse Effect – Uncertainty: The difficulties in differentiating among the various possible causes for changes in precipitation in the Western Mediterranean discussed above are compounded many times in trying to estimate the impact of an enhanced greenhouse effect on temperatures from an increase in carbon dioxide (CO2). We now have Top of the Atmosphere (TOA) measurements of outgoing infrared radiation. Ideally, these data should provide the necessary support to one side of the controversy or the other: is increasing carbon dioxide causing dangerous global warming, or is it not causing dangerous warming? Understanding these measurements goes to the issue.
At best, surface temperature data indirectly may include the greenhouse effect. However, surface temperature data includes many human influences unrelated to CO2, such as the Urban Heat Island effect. In her blog, Jo Nova brings up a number of human influences on surface temperatures unrelated to CO2, including a change in the size of the Stevenson screens. Part of a standard weather station, these screens shelter meteorological instruments against precipitation and direct heat radiation while allowing air to circulate freely around the instruments. Changing the size in Australia to a smaller one may have, unintentionally, caused a sharp increase in recorded temperatures because the new screens do not buffer the instruments as well as larger ones.
A problem arising from simply using Top of the Atmosphere measurements are the magnitudes of the measurements. The procedure involves subtracting a very large number from another very large number, resulting in a small number. Any error in the two large numbers may result in a very large error in the small number. Thus, it must be recognized that no single approach from one set of data is without possible errors. Multiple approaches from multiple sets of data are preferred. See links under Measurement Issues — Surface
Younger Dryas: One of the most dramatic examples of abrupt climate change occurred when the warming trend coming out of the last major Ice Age was interrupted by a dramatic cooling about 12,800 years ago followed by a subsequent warming of about 10º C (18 º F) in just a few decades about 11,500 years ago. According to geologist Don Easterbrook writing in Watts Up With That in 2012:
“…Terrestrial plants and pollen indicate that arboreal forests were replaced by tundra vegetation during a cool climate. This cool period was named after the pale-yellow flower Dryas octopetella, an arctic wildflower typical of cold, open, Arctic environments. The Younger Dryas return to a cold, glacial climate was first considered to be a regional event restricted to Europe, but later studies have shown that it was a world-wide event. The problem became even more complicated when oxygen isotope data from ice cores in Antarctica and Greenland showed not only the Younger Dryas cooling, but several other shorter cooling/warming events, now known as Dansgaard-Oerscher events.
“The Younger Dryas is the longest and coldest of several very abrupt climatic changes that took place near the end of the late Pleistocene. Among these abrupt changes in climate were: (1) sudden global warming 14,500 years ago (Fig. 1) that sent the immense Pleistocene ice sheets into rapid retreat, (2) several episodes of climatic warming and cooling between ~14,400 and 12,800 years ago, (3) sudden cooling 12,800 years ago at the beginning of the Younger Dryas, and (4) ~11,500 years ago, abrupt climatic warming of up to 10º C in just a few decades. Perhaps the most precise record of late Pleistocene climate changes is found in the ice core stratigraphy of the Greenland Ice Sheet Project (GISP) and the Greenland Ice Core Project (GRIP). The GRIP ice core is especially important because the ages of the ice at various levels in the core has been determined by the counting down of annual layers in the ice, giving a very accurate chronolgoy, and climatic fluctuations have been determined by measurement of oxygen isotope ratios. Isotope data from the second GISP, GISP2, Greenland ice core suggests that Greenland was more than~10°C colder during the Younger Dryas and that the sudden warming of 10° ±4°C that ended the Younger Dryas occurred in only about 40 to 50. years.”
A number of hypotheses have been suggested for this event, including an impact by a meteorite or asteroid causing the cooling. Geologists recently discovered evidence of a “platinum spike” in a crater, called “Wonderkrater,” about 12,800 years ago in the Limpopo Province, north of Pretoria in South Africa. Meteorites are rich in platinum. Whether this discovery supports the meteorite hypothesis remains to be determined. However, the Younger Dryas event demonstrates the absurdity of calling recent warming “unprecedented.” See links under Changing Climate.
Additions and Corrections [TWTW Editorial]: The September 28 TWTW linked to the remarks by President Trump to the UN Event on Religious Freedom. Several readers inquired why was this in TWTW? The remarks included the statement:
“The United States is founded on the principle that our rights do not come from government; they come from God. This immortal truth is proclaimed in our Declaration of Independence and enshrined in the First Amendment to our Constitution’s Bill of Rights. Our Founders understood that no right is more fundamental to a peaceful, prosperous, and virtuous society than the right to follow one’s religious convictions.”
The division between the rights of the people, individual rights, and the powers of government is critical to the founding of the country, and often ignored or misunderstood. Several decades ago, a member of the US Commission on Civil Rights praised the constitution of the Soviet Union for the rights the government granted its public. Apparently, the Commissioner failed to read the section that stated that the rights were conditioned on the dutiful obedience of the laws of the Soviet Union. Individual rights have no such condition. However, the government has the powers to restrict rights upon following legal procedures.
The powers of government are few, defined, and limited. Individual rights are many undefined, and broad. When discussing the need for a Bill of Rights, James Madison, a principal author and promoter of the Constitution to replace the Articles of Confederation, thought a bill of Rights was not necessary because the rights were clearly understood and he feared that placing some in a Bill of Rights would unduly bring focus to those few articulated and limiting the others. Madison eventually agreed to a Bill of Rights, and 10 out of the 12 proposed amendments became the first amendments to the Constitution.
One fundamental right is the right of self-improvement, including community improvement. Following the spectacular 1893 Chicago World’s Fair where electric lights were used to decorate buildings, foundations, and power search lights, many cities were transformed by the miracle of light. Seeing their youth leaving for the “bright lights of the city” rural areas, primarily in the north, formed cooperatives and other organizations to provide electricity to their regions. This was long before the federal government became involved with projects such as the Tennessee Valley Authority and Boulder (Hoover) Dam. The right of self-improvement through the use of electricity, energy, needed no governmental approval. Energy use is a critical issue addressed in TWTW. See https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefings-statements/remarks-president-trump-united-nations-event-religious-freedom-new-york-ny/
California Blackout: The major regulated electrical utility in California, Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E), is in Chapter 11 bankruptcy, which provides for reorganization to keep its business alive and pay creditors over time under supervision by a Federal bankruptcy judge. This is different than a Chapter 7 liquidation which involves the sale of a debtor’s nonexempt property and the distribution of the proceeds to creditors, often under the supervision of trustees appointed by the court. Under chapter 7, there is no requirement to file for a plan of reorganization.
According to reports, on October 8, Judge James Donoto of the US District Court for the Northern District of California held that PG & E no longer has the sole right to shape its reorganization. It must consider bondholders and those who have filed lawsuits for previous fires that may have been started by PG&E electrical lines. What will develop remains to be seen.
During this legal mess, this week, PG&E cut electricity off to about 800,000 customers, fearing additional fires from high winds in California. Needless to say, no one is particularly happy with the situation. One could only imagine what would be circumstances if the primary sources of power were only wind and solar, as envisioned by many politicians in California. See Article # 2 and links under California Dreaming, https://restructuring.primeclerk.com/pge/ and
Number of the Week: Up 4850% in 20 Years: Writing in Forbes, Jude Clemente quoted USGS director Jim Reilly as saying: “Watching our estimates for the Marcellus rise from 2 trillion, to 84 trillion, to 97 trillion in under 20 years demonstrates the effects American ingenuity and new technology can have.” That is up 48.5 times (4850%) in 20 years. See link under Oil and Natural Gas – the Future or the Past?
1. A Hostile Climate for Children
Environmentalists double down on Malthusianism, which is inhumane and won’t even reduce carbon.
By Joseph C. Sternberg, WSJ, Oct 11, 2019
SUMMARY by TWTW: The author states:
“As if the world didn’t already have enough problems, now we’re all supposed to hate babies.
“Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez last week couldn’t quite bring herself to tell an attendee at a town hall that no, we should not ‘eat the babies’ to rein in climate change. The faux constituent was a prankster (and it’s a mercy no one actually believes this), but the prank worked because Malthusianism is in fashion again on the climate-obsessed left. Ms. Ocasio-Cortez played to type by passing up a chance to pooh-pooh even the most extreme version of it.
“Who can blame her, when barely a month earlier presidential candidate Bernie Sanders mostly got a pass in respectable circles for suggesting at a climate-change town hall that better birth control in poorer countries should be ‘a key feature of a plan to address climate catastrophe,’ in the words of the entirely genuine audience member who asked a leading question.
“Barely a month before that, Britain’s Prince Harry announced he would limit his output to two children in the name of environmentalism—a view heartily endorsed by Jane Goodall, whom he was interviewing for British Vogue (don’t ask).
“Someone might ask Japan how this all works out.
“Western politicians and royal second sons talk the talk about having fewer children. The Japanese have walked the walk straight out of the empty maternity ward for four decades. This week brings news that in Japan the number of live births this year could fall below 900,000, after births in the first seven months of 2019 fell nearly 6% compared with the same period last year.
“Who knows if this is doing any good for the environment, even if you adopt the view that what matters to the planet above all is restricting carbon emissions. Yes, emissions are down in no-baby Japan—to the lowest point in eight years as of the last fiscal year. An aging population brings some carbon-reduction benefits, such as the moderation in the rate of car purchases Tokyo notes in its periodic submissions to the U.N.’s climate panel.
“Yet in other respects the picture is more mixed. One reason Japan’s baby count keeps falling is that fewer young Japanese men and women are getting married. This means that the number of households—relevant to climate discussions since one needs to heat and light each home—keeps rising.
“The number of members of each household keeps falling as babyless Japanese singletons strike out on their own. Without dipping into an argument about causation, it’s notable that a supposedly pro-environment decline in babies is correlated with other social trends that aren’t as friendly to the atmosphere.”
The author questions if few babies encourage less CO2 emissions, then continues:
“The problem, though, is that this discussion misses the bigger question climate activists never engage when they talk about population: Is their less carbon-intensive dream world a place we actually want to live in, if the price of achieving it is to have fewer children?
“Japan’s experience suggests not. Its population decline seems to be both effect and cause of various economic and social miseries. The precise reasons for Japan’s long-running birth dearth are debated among demographers and economists, but an important factor is that a decline in the economic prospects of young Japanese men has frozen the marriage market. Japanese women, who are growing more professionally successful, may find they can’t take time out of their careers to have children.
“Again taking care not to assume causation when correlation will do, it’s notable that these trends over time can take on a self-reinforcing quality. Chronic economic decline in a country with too few children won’t make men’s job prospects any better. Women who have been goaded into the workforce in part to compensate for today’s shortage of working-age people will find it harder (or perhaps just less desirable) to take time off to start their own families.
“And all of this is wrecking Japan’s family-oriented culture, as more people grow old without children or grandchildren to care for them. How does one balance these economic and social costs against carbon emissions in the grand political, economic and moral scales?
“A humane environmentalism would be more alert to and interested in that sort of question. It might be less easily ridiculed and more politically successful as a result.”
2. California’s Dark Ages
Why the progressive paragon is living like it’s 1899
Editorial, WSJ, Oct 10, 2019
SUMMARY by TWTW: The editorial states:
“Californians are learning to live like the Amish after investor-owned utility PG&E this week shut off power to two million or so residents to prevent wildfires amid heavy, dry winds. Blame the state’s largest blackout on a perfect storm of bad policies.
“Two dozen or so wildfires in the past few years have been linked to PG&E equipment, including one last fall that killed 85 people. PG&E under state law is on the hook for tens of billions of dollars in damages and has filed for bankruptcy. For years the utility skimped on safety upgrades and repairs while pumping billions into green energy and electric-car subsidies to please its overlords in Sacramento. Credit Suisse has estimated that long-term contracts with renewable developers cost the utility $2.2 billion annually more than current market power rates.
“PG&E customers pay among the highest rates in America. But the utility says inspecting all of its 100,000 or so miles of power lines and clearing dangerous trees would require rates to increase by more than 400%. California’s litigation-friendly environment has also increased insurance rates for tree trimmers and made it hard to find workers.
“Meantime, opposition to logging and prescribed burns in California’s forests compounded by a seven-year drought has yielded 147 million dead trees that make for combustible fuel. Rural communities are at especially high fire risk when winds kick up as they have this week.
“To avoid more damage, PG&E announced this week that it would cut power across 34 counties in Central and Northern California as long as there are sustained winds of 25 miles an hour and gusts of 45 miles an hour. After winds subside, the utility says it may take several days to inspect equipment before power returns, and there could be more blackouts this fall.
“Suddenly, Californians are learning to love fossil fuels. Stores have experienced runs on oil lamps—yes, those still exist—and emergency generators fueled by gasoline, propane or diesel. Napa County wineries and even the tunnel connecting San Francisco with the East Bay are operating on generators.
“Most batteries that store solar power can’t keep homes charged for more than a day during a blackout, and most electric-car owners won’t have enough juice to escape the power outage. Still, liberals in Sacramento want to abolish fossil fuels.
After discussing a new estimate of future CO2 emissions the editorial continues:
“… Wildfires last year produced more CO2 than the state’s businesses, homes and farms, offsetting state emission reductions in 2017 nine times over.
“Environmental regulators responded to the report by claiming that carbon from burned trees is more ‘natural’ than from combusted fossil fuels. Perhaps they’ve inhaled too much of their own smoke.”