The Week That Was: November 9, 2019, Brought to You by www.SEPP.org
By Ken Haapala, President, The Science and Environmental Policy Project
“You must do the best you can–if you know anything at all wrong, or possibly wrong–to explain it. If you make a theory, for example, and advertise it, or put it out, then you must also put down all the facts that disagree with it, as well as those that agree with it. There is also a more subtle problem. When you have put a lot of ideas together to make an elaborate theory, you want to make sure, when explaining what it fits, that those things it fits are not just the things that gave you the idea for the theory; but that the finished theory makes something else come out right, in addition.”
“In summary, the idea is to try to give all of the information to help others to judge the value of your contribution; not just the information that leads to judgment in one particular direction or another.” – Richard Feynman, Cargo Cult Science
The Buck Stops Here: President Harry Truman (1945 to 1953) was not well liked by the eastern political establishment, either Republican or Democrat. He was considered ill-educated, crude, and ill-suited for the job. Yet he was well read in history. He was ill-prepared for assuming office on April 12, 1945 because President Roosevelt hid his illness and did not include Truman in important discussions.
Truman was president during a turbulent time and made difficult decisions. For years, historians have criticized Truman for authorizing the dropping the uranium bomb on Hiroshima and the plutonium bomb on Nagasaki. Immediately after Nagasaki, Japan surrendered, ending World War II, formally on August 14, 1945. The US had no more atomic bombs. Much of the criticism of Truman for authorizing the bombing was based on early releases that the US was reading secret diplomatic messages urging surrender. It was not until much later that the US released files showing that it was also reading secret military messages, in a different code, urging continuing the war.
During Truman’s administration the UN was formed (charter signed on October 24, 1945); the US instituted the Marshall Plan, departing greatly from the usual practice of the victors economically punishing the losers of a war; the armed forces were integrated; NATO and other structures for facing the threat of the Soviet Union were formed; and the US entered the war in Korea.
Truman was fond of playing poker and telling stories with his friends. In the early 20th century a term in poker became to a US slang for blaming others for one’s failures – “passing the buck – possibly referring to the buck knife. Truman had a sign on his desk stating where he thought responsibility and accountability should lie – “the buck stops here.” In his farewell address Truman asserted: “The President–whoever he is–has to decide. He can’t pass the buck to anybody. No one else can do the deciding for him. That’s his job.” See https://www.trumanlibrary.gov/education/trivia/buck-stops-here-sign
California Control: There has been a great deal of “passing the buck” regarding responsibility for the electrical black-outs and the fires started by public utility lines in California. Yet, the Constitution of the State of California clearly assigns accountability and responsibility to the state government, namely the State Legislature. Section 3 of Article 12, the Public Utilities Section of the Constitution reads:
SEC. 3. Private corporations and persons that own, operate, control, or manage a line, plant, or system for the transportation of people or property, the transmission of telephone and telegraph messages, or the production, generation, transmission, or furnishing of heat, light, water, power, storage, or wharfage directly or indirectly to or for the public, and common carriers, are public utilities subject to control by the Legislature. The Legislature may prescribe that additional classes of private corporations or other persons are public utilities.
(Sec. 3 added Nov. 5, 1974, by Prop. 12. Res.Ch. 88, 1974.) [Boldface added]
Yet, no leader in the legislature, or the executive office has stood up and said: “The Buck Stops Here.” See links under Energy Issues – US and California Dreaming;
Nature v. Models – The Greenhouse Effect: The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has avoided rigorously establishing a clear relationship between temperatures and greenhouse gases. Further, the IPCC attributes most change in temperatures to carbon dioxide, ignoring the major greenhouse gas water vapor, until the end, where it is tacked on. To disguise its lack of knowledge of the relationship between carbon dioxide and temperatures the IPCC relies on hypothetical Relative Concentration Pathways (RPC). These supposedly relate to the Earth’s energy imbalance, in watts per square meter, from increasing greenhouse gases. The IPCC’s 5th Assessment Report (AR5, 2013) defines these, in increasing order of energy imbalance, as RCP W/m2; 4.5 W/m2; 6.0 W/m2; and 8.5 W/m2. Most Global Climate Models are created to follow these pathways.
It is easy to demonstrate that the extreme RPC 8.5 yields absurd results, though many climate scientists and politicians consider the results feasible. What is far more meaningful is to see how US climate models using the modest RCP 4.5 compare with what is actually occurring in the atmosphere. John Christy of the Earth System Science Center at the University of Alabama in Huntsville kindly provided TWTW with results of US model runs using the KMNI Climate Explorer, from the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute (KNMI), the Dutch national weather service.
The model runs include 10 runs using two NCAR / UCAR models funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF); 3 runs using the three Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory (GFDL) models, 1 run each funded by NOAA; and 34 runs using the two Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) models funded by NASA. The observations are the Tropical Mid-Tropospheric Temperatures from 1979 to 2018 (40 years) taken from 4 different balloon datasets; the average of 3 different satellite datasets; and the world-wide reanalysis datasets used daily for calibrating weather models. In the graph blow, the NCAR / UCAR models are identified as CCSM4 and CCSM1.
Starting about 1995, the models began to greatly overestimate the warming of the tropical mid-troposphere. Today, the overestimate of temperature trends for the RCP 4.5 scenario of low emissions is about twice that of what is occurring.
From balloon and satellite data, the average trend in increasing atmospheric temperatures is 0.12 ºC per decade. The average for the two GISS models is 0.25 and 0.26 ºC per decade; the GFDL model trends are 0.40; 0.32, and 0.33 ºC per decade; and the NCAR / UCAR models are 0.26 and 0.24 ºC per decade. Even under this low emissions scenario, none of the models come close to what is occurring in the atmosphere. Sadly, US funding entities consider this sloppy thinking “science.”
For description of KNMI see: https://www.knmi.nl/over-het-knmi/about
IPCC AR6 – More Cult Science: Writing in his blog, No Tricks Zone, Pierre Gosselin translated a post from the website Die kalte Sonne. It covers the preparation of the IPCC Sixth Assessment Report including how carefully lead authors are selected so that there is no breaking away from the IPCC cult.
Further, recent studies indicate that the previous claim that a doubling of CO2 (or greenhouse gas equivalents) of 3ºC plus or minus 1.5ºC is far too high. The IPCC will address that by raising the numbers. How to do that. Create a new hockey-stick. This one based on a 2000-year reconstruction of temperatures known as PAGES 2K.
Steve McIntyre of Climate Audit, one of the statisticians who demolished the previous hockey-stick, has looked at previous versions of PAGES 2K. By region, he found errors in Antarctic Proxies, among them: excluding appropriate data while including questionable borehole inversions; continued use of questionable tree ring proxies in North America; exclusion of relevant data in South America estimates.
If current temperatures do not show sufficient warming, reconstruct the past. It looks like a new round of smoke and mirrors used as physical evidence. See links under Questioning the Orthodoxy
Maybe Bye Paris: The Trump Administration did what many consider unforgivable. It did as promised and submitted the formal withdrawal from the Paris Agreement. The Obama Administration’s handling of the agreement was foggy. It was initially written as a treaty and signed by most countries. Then the Obama Administration objected, apparently because it was too obvious it was a treaty, and it was redrafted and signed again. Depending on the audience, it was treated as a treaty, which requires approval of two-thirds of the Senate or an executive agreement, which does not. The former has the force of law and requires Senate action for revision. An executive agreement does not require Senate approval, but usually administrations have sought to bring in key member of the opposite party in the legislature for consent. The Obama administration did not.
Some Trump advisors would have preferred to see the president submit the Agreement to the Senate with a clear timeframe to be approved or rejected as a treaty. Writing for the Competitive Enterprise Institute web site, Myron Ebell explains what he considers are the disadvantages of the approach being used by the Trump administration. See links under Change in US Administrations.
Did State Break the Law? Under the Freedom of Information Act a group called the Energy Policy Advocates is seeking a “Memorandum of Law” by the US State Department giving State Department officials authority to sign and accept the Paris Agreement. It may become interesting. See links under Litigation Issues.
Number of the Week: Down 66%. From 1.9 billion to 650 million. Based on World Bank estimates a group called Our World in Data estimates that the number of people living in extreme poverty is down 66% in the past 28 years. In 1990, the number of people in extreme poverty was 1.9 billion, about 36% of the world’s population. In 2018, the number of people in extreme poverty was 650 million people, about 9% of the world’s population of 7.5 billion.
Extreme poverty is defined as:
“…a person is considered to be in extreme poverty if they live on less than 1.90 international dollars (int.-$) per day. This poverty measurement is based on the monetary value of a person’s consumption. Income measures, on the other hand, are only used for countries in which reliable consumption measures are not available.”
International dollars are based on “Purchasing Power Parity” (PPP), a World Bank estimate for the ability of a person to obtain items locally.
The bulk of this remarkable decline in extreme poverty has occurred in South Asia, East Asia and Pacific. The extreme poverty population in Sub-Saharan Africa has increased. Much of the reduction of extreme poverty can be attributed to opening of the economies to market competition (especially China and India) and use of energy, particularly fossil fuels.
According to CO2 data compiled at the observatory at Mauna Loa Observatory, the CO2 increase was 16%; mean estimate of 354 in 1990 and mean estimate of 409 in 2018. As stated above, the Earth Science Center at the University of Alabama in Huntsville estimates that the rise in mid-tropospheric temperatures, where greenhouse gases should be causing dangerous warming has been 0.12 ºC per decade or 0.01 ºC per year.
UN continues to use the cult science of the IPCC, and its followers, claiming dangerous carbon dioxide-caused global warming based on climate models that fail basic testing. It is the UN and its cult followers who are becoming inhumane, not those who ignore them. See links under Social Benefits of Carbon Dioxide.
Follow Michael Crichton’s Rule
The late writer warned about bending to social pressure instead of heeding evidence.
By Andy Kessler, WSJ, Nov 3, 2019
TWTW Summary: Kessler writes:
“‘Jurassic Park’ and ‘Westworld,’ from the brilliant mind of Michael Crichton, aren’t real. But neither are a lot of things that pass for arguments these days. Crichton, who died in 2008, gave a lecture at Caltech in 2003 titled ‘Aliens Cause Global Warming.’ In his words, it was about the ‘uneasy relationship between hard science and public policy’ but I took away a lot more. Relax, this column isn’t about climate change.
“His first example was nuclear winter. In 1975 the National Academy of Sciences stated that even with multiple nuclear detonations, the effect from dust would be minor. In 1979 Congress’s Office of Technology Assessment said the science was poorly understood and it wasn’t possible to estimate damage. Yet by 1982 the Swedish Academy of Sciences speculated that smoke would cover the Northern Hemisphere, blocking the sun and disabling photosynthesis—nuclear winter.
“Within five years, famed astronomer Carl ‘Billions and Billions’ Sagan figured a 5,000-megaton nuclear exchange would cause temperatures to drop below freezing for three months. Of course, there was no empirical study to back any of this. But what amazed me was the observation that no one could take the other side of the argument. Physicist Freeman Dyson said, ‘It’s an absolutely atrocious piece of science, but who wants to be accused of being in favor of nuclear war?’ Argument over.
“Same for secondhand smoke. In 1994 the Environmental Protection Agency found that 11 studies of the link between smoke in restaurants or offices and cancer were not conclusive, but nonetheless labeled secondhand smoke a Group A carcinogen. The World Health Organization also began to warn against secondhand smoke despite inconclusive studies of its own. Since then, study after study has found no statistically significant relationship between cancer and being near indoor smoking. Yet no one takes the other side of the argument. Except for smokers, no one likes the smell of tar and nicotine while they’re eating or working. Yuck. No one, including me, is actually for secondhand smoke.
“Crichton observed: ‘Once you abandon strict adherence to what science tells us, once you start arranging the truth in a press conference, then anything is possible.’ That includes children at the United Nations yelling, ‘How dare you.’ It’s knee-jerk analysis. I call it the Crichton Conundrum: ‘I’m against it, so these theories must be right—even though the science is most likely bunk.’ Shallow, but sadly a reality.
“The conundrum is everywhere. Take the $15 minimum wage, a so-called living wage—who could be against that? The problem is that the alternative isn’t necessarily $8 or $10 an hour; often it’s no job and $0 an hour. Lo and behold, restaurants are closing in San Francisco.
Or take net neutrality. No one wants an un-neutral internet, even though that enables innovative pricing to help fund fiber-optic and wireless buildouts. Similarly, we all feel good about ‘natural’ forest management and now California burns.
“These arguments are often vague, even Orwellian—the expressions ‘net neutrality’ and ‘climate change’ conceal their shallow concepts. But they’re also Crichtonesque in the way they foreclose any argument from the other side. If you’re against food stamps or children’s health spending, you’re heartless, even though they are inefficient, ineffective and rife with fraud. And friendly sounding No Child Left Behind and Common Core? Sorry, math scores went down.
“Free college, day care and medical care? Didn’t Cuba try that? Free or price-controlled goods always end up like subsidized bread in the Soviet Union. You get less of it and empty shelves. The same is true of rent control, as California will soon learn.
“Nobel Prize-winning economist (who could be against that?) Joseph Stiglitz last year suggested relief of Puerto Rico’s burdensome debt. Ah, relief—except then Puerto Rico would probably not be able to borrow again for a long time (which applies to student loans as well). And then there’s social justice. No one is for injustice, but now campus mobs are threatening free speech.
“Many counterarguments are hard to frame. You can’t just argue the opposite. Crichton reminds us to question the science, the data and the studies, and to argue outside the box you’re put in. Often the answer to most policy questions is ‘Who pays?’ Of course, it’s ‘greedy corporations’ or the 1% fat cats, except that jobs are created by corporations, or funded out of the investment savings of the wealthy, creating new companies and progress. Are you against that?
“Why doesn’t anyone make the case for free markets? Because it doesn’t lend itself to easy sound bites: ‘What do you mean millions of people make billions of price decisions every day that efficiently allocates capital?’”
The author concludes with examples of questionable government regulations.