Weekly Climate and Energy News Roundup #391

The Week That Was: December 21, 2019, Brought to You by www.SEPP.org

By Ken Haapala, President, Science and Environmental Policy Project

Quote of the Week: “Collective fear stimulates herd instinct, and tends to produce ferocity toward those who are not regarded as members of the herd.” ― Bertrand Russell, Unpopular Essays

Number of the Week: 1/1,000,000,000,000 (One part per Trillion)

The Greenhouse Effect – With Clouds: The CO2 Coalition has published a paper by Richard Lindzen addressing climate sensitivity trying to explain why US climate models do so poorly when tested against observations from nature. Until climate models can describe what is occurring in the atmosphere today, there is no reason to accept projections / predictions from such models about the future. Lindzen’s approach to the problem is different from those by Wijngaarden & Happer, and Roy Spencer discussed in the previous two TWTWs.

Among other things, Lindzen includes the influence of high-level cirrus clouds, which form above the tropopause, where water vapor freezes out. As Lindzen states:

Most discussions of the greenhouse effect restrict themselves to clear air where only the greenhouse gases are relevant. However, the infrared opacity of upper-level cirrus clouds is often large enough that when such clouds are above the emission level for the greenhouse gases, they block the infrared radiation from the gases, and the new emission level is near the top of these clouds. This is very important because in the presence of such clouds, the presence of the greenhouse gases below these clouds becomes relatively irrelevant to the greenhouse effect. It should also be noted that when such clouds are absent, water vapor is far and away the most important greenhouse gas. (pp 5 & 6)

However, Lindzen recognizes the generally accepted calculations of the earth’s average temperatures and the reflection of sunlight by clouds:

“The common claim that the earth would be 33ºC less than today’s temperature comes from including the reflectivity of clouds, which brings the reflectivity to about 0.3. This reduces the incoming radiation to 240 Watts per square meter and leads to a temperature of 255 K.” (p 5)

Recognizing that about 30 percent of the solar energy arriving at upper atmosphere of the globe is reflected back to space is important for later calculations. Lindzen tries to write for the general scientifically educated audience stating:

“By now, the reader may well suspect that a full discussion will be tantamount to covering almost the totality of atmospheric and oceanic physics, and that this will be well beyond what is possible in a research review for even a knowledgeable lay audience. I will, however, try to cover enough to make evident the silliness of former Secretary of State John Kerry’s peculiar claim that although physics and chemistry may be hard, climate is simple enough for a child to understand. (Warning: Some mathematics will be necessary.)” (pp 4 & 5)

He relies on the traditional one-dimensional picture to illustrate feedbacks and how they determine climate sensitivity. Then he goes into more difficult concepts:

“Exploration of explicit feedbacks will immediately require going to three dimensions, and this will be described in Section 4. Section 4 will examine dynamic heat transport and how it affects mean temperature. This will illustrate some profound difficulties with the simple picture of climate sensitivity.

“Section 5 will discuss various approaches to determining climate sensitivity, and Section 6 will summarize the situation. The reader should be warned that this is a difficult subject, and that understanding it requires genuine effort. (p 5)

The discussion in TWTW will be restricted to some of the more important concepts Lindzen presents and leaves to the curious reader to explore further. Although his approach is different from those taken by Wijngaarden & Happer and Spencer, Lindzen’s conclusions are similar. Based on direct calculations from established theory (not speculation as found in the Charney Report and Reports of the UN Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change (IPCC)) a doubling of carbon dioxide (CO2) from 400 parts per million (ppm) to 800 ppm will result in an increase in temperatures of about 1ºC, and may be as low as 0.75ºC

This finding is far different than 3 ºC plus or minus 1.5 ºC found in the Charney and IPCC reports. Those findings are based on speculation made about 40 years ago and rely on significant increases in atmospheric water vapor amplifying or magnifying the influence of CO2. The amplification or magnification is not being found in modern measurements of the atmosphere.

Further, since the 1979 Charney report, it has been assumed that the feedbacks from warming will be additional warming, a positive feedback. But there has been no physical evidence presented supporting this assumption. There may be a negative feedback reducing the CO2 influence. There is no logical reason for dismissing the possibility.

In his discussion of the real climate system, Lindzen brings up that the focus on average global temperature may be misguided. The focus should be on the temperature differences between the equator and the poles, say the Arctic. This is what Arrhenius (1896) focused on in attempting to evaluate whether greenhouse gas warming could protect civilization from another ice age.

Today, the difference in temperatures is about 40ºC; at the maximum of the last ice age (18,000 years ago) it was about 60ºC; while during the hot Eocene (about 50 million years ago) it was about 20ºC. The temperatures in the tropics changed little. It is the temperature differences between the lower latitudes and the higher latitudes that drive heat transport, thus extreme storms. Those claiming that mid- and higher-latitude warming will intensify storms seem not to remember the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics.

Lindzen also discusses the tight fit between glaciation cycles and changes in Sun-Earth orbital geometry as presented in the Milankovitch theory. One must recognize that correlation is not causation, particularly if the relationship is noisy. However, the tight fit between exposure to the sun at latitudes about 65 ºN and glaciation is remarkable, particularly since they both move in the same direction almost simultaneously. As Lindzen states:

“We see that insolation in the summer Arctic varies by about 100 Watts per square meter, a very large value compared to the global average of 240 Watts per square meter, and as Edvardsson et al. note, this is consistent with energy needed to freeze and melt the glaciers. As we have also seen, the temperature difference between the tropics and the pole during the glacial maxima was about 60°C, leading to about a 5°C change in global mean temperature [based on stated assumptions]. However, the annually and globally averaged insolation changed by only about 1 Watts per square meter. If we were to absurdly assume that it was this mean rather than the Milankovitch parameter that forced the glaciation cycles, we could falsely conclude that the climate sensitivity was huge (Genthon et al., 1987)” (p 11)

After presenting graphs showing that the climate models make unrealistically high estimates of the sensitivity of the globe to CO2, Lindzen presents graphs showing that the warming from 1957 to 2008 was not unlike that of 1895 to 1946. There is nothing unprecedented about the current warming.

Lindzen uses the temperature responses of the globe to volcanic activity, to show that a favorite trick of the climate modelers lacks supporting physical evidence. The aerosols, fine particles emitted by volcanos, cool the globe for a short period. The modelers use aerosols to claim that the “real” effects of CO2 are not being experienced due to aerosol cooling. Lindzen calculates a chart showing the extent of aerosol cooling needed to force agreement with observations. The greater the assumed sensitivity of the earth to CO2 warming, the greater the assumed aerosol cooling needed. At a CO2 sensitivity of 0.75 ºC for a doubling of CO2, no aerosol cooling is needed.

In discussing several other explanations for the erroneous estimates of climate sensitivity in climate models, Lindzen states:

“Mention should also be made of a novel approach to climate sensitivity by Shaviv (2008). Shaviv used solar cycle variations in ocean heat content to show that the solar cycle forcing was about 5-7 times greater than one would obtain from measurements of solar output. This is consistent with the suggestion that cosmic ray variations associated with the solar cycle induce changes in clouds. Comparison with solar cycle variations in surface temperature then leads immediately to estimates of climate sensitivity which is found to be less than 1°C.” [SEPP Chairman emeritus Fred Singer heartily endorsed the work on the influence of cosmic ray variations associated with changing solar wind.]

In the summary Lindzen states:

“The situation with respect to climate sensitivity is that we basically see no reason to expect high sensitivity. The original basis for considering that high sensitivity is possible (namely, the hypothetical water vapor feedback of Manabe and Wetherald, 1975) is clearly contradicted by the measurements of TOA radiative fluxes which show that the total long-wave feedback, including cirrus cloud variations, may even be negative. Analysis of the temperature data leads to the conclusion that if anthropogenic contributions are the cause of warming since the end of the Little Ice Age, and if aerosols are limited to a contribution of 1 Watts per square meter, then climate sensitivity in excess 1.5°C is precluded.”

Lindzen recognizes his work may be erroneous. There may be natural variation or an amplification that is not considered. He states:

“…Our simple calculation suggesting that sensitivities in excess of 1.5°C were precluded depends upon the assumption that models are correct in producing negligible natural internal variability. It is, however, remotely conceivable that there was in reality (as opposed to in models) natural internal variability that was exactly what was needed to cancel the effect of high sensitivity, but that this internal variability would eventually be overwhelmed, and allow the high sensitivity to reveal itself.

“This remote possibility is far from “settled science,” and the thought that multi-trillion-dollar policies would be implemented to putatively prevent this, seems far from rational. This is especially so when one considers that for about 95 percent of the time since complex life systems appeared (about 600 million years ago), levels of CO2 were much higher than they are anticipated to become (as much as 10-20 times today’s levels) without evidence of a relationship to global mean temperature.” (p 21)

See links under Challenging the Orthodoxy and the previous two TWTWs.


The Gore Myth: Lindzen’s presentation of the Milankovitch cycles and the tight correlation between solar insolation (solar radiation reaching a given area) at 65 ºN and Arctic ice volume prompts a discussion on the Gore Myth that CO2 change causes ice ages and the emergence from ice ages. This was speculated by Svante Arrhenius who tried to calculate what the sensitivity of the climate must be to changing CO2 for CO2 to cause ice ages to begin and end, as shown by geological research.

According to a recently translated paper by Friends of Science, later (in 1906) Arrhenius backed down from his 1896 sensitivity estimates of 5 to 6 ºC for a doubling of CO2 when subsequent experiments showed his calculations were probably erroneous. In his later calculations Arrhenius eliminated the influence of water vapor. He calculated that a doubling of CO2 would cause a temperature change of 1.6 ºC. The main point is that Arrhenius realized that as observations and data change, calculations have to change.

However, recent efforts to resurrect the idea that CO2 is the major cause of climate change create a big hole in knowledge of climate change. According to the Milankovitch theory, the changing orbital relationship between the sun and the earth warms and cools the Arctic and the oceans. Since cold water more readily absorb gases than warm water, particularly CO2, the warming oceans release CO2 into the atmosphere, raising its concentration in the atmosphere. According to Lindzen’s calculations, this would be a minor positive feedback.

If we follow the Gore Myth that increasing CO2 is the primary cause of the Arctic to warm, what causes the increasing CO2? It certainly cannot be the Milankovitch cycles! See links under Challenging the Orthodoxy.


COP-25 – What Went Wrong? Carbon Brief, which promotes international control of CO2 emissions has a discussion, written by multiple authors, from their perspective on what went wrong with in the 25th Conference of Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The essay states:

“Nearly 27,000 delegates arrived in the Spanish capital in early December aiming to finalize the “rulebook” of the Paris Agreement – the operating manual needed when it takes effect in 2020 – by settling on rules for carbon markets and other forms of international cooperation under “Article 6” of the deal.

“They also hoped to send a message of intent, signaling to the wider world that the UN climate process remains relevant – and that it recognizes the yawning gap between current progress and global goals to limit warming.”

Despite protests for the rulebook, and the appearance of climate “stars”:

“Ultimately, however, the talks were unable to reach consensus in many areas, pushing decisions into next year under “Rule 16” of the UN climate process. Matters including Article 6, reporting requirements for transparency and “common timeframes” for climate pledges were all punted into 2020, when countries are also due to raise the ambition of their efforts.”

From the perspective of TWTW, it appears that at least two significant strategic errors weakened the UN’s efforts:

1. The decision of the Obama Administration to ensure that Paris Agreement would not be a treaty requiring Senate approval, thus allowing Mr Trump to withdraw from it, and

2. The decision of The UN Environment Programme (UNEP), a parent of the IPCC, to release its emissions gap report just prior to the COP.

The US has already announced it will not pay the remaining $2 billion of the $3 billion Mr. Obama pledged to the UN’s Green Climate Fund.

The second error gave reason for countries emitting large amounts of CO2, particularly China, India, Japan, Brazil, and Australia, to delay and sabotage any agreement. The report gave the latest speculative estimates of how much fossil fuel use would have to be cut to meet the 2030 goals for the 1.5°C and 2°C temperature targets of the Paris Agreement.

Political leaders in these countries realized their citizens will be furious with dramatic increases in energy costs that eliminating fossil fuels will entail. It is one thing for politicians to pledge to do something in the future when they are gone, it is another thing to require meeting those pledges immediately, while they are in office. See links under After Paris! and Problems in the Orthodoxy.


No Modern Famines? Writing on his web site, Jim Steele has an explanation of why modern famine predictions fail. This should be mandatory reading for those in the Pentagon who claimed climate change is leading to war and the authors of the US National Climate Assessment by the US Global Change Research Program (USGCRP). Steele begins:

“When I graduated high school in 1968 there were rampant predictions of environmental collapse and eco-catastrophe theories flourished. The highly influential Stanford scientist Dr Paul Ehrlich dominated the doomsday media stating, ‘Most of the people who are going to die in the greatest cataclysm in the history of man have already been born.’ Predicting global famine in 1970 this PhD wrote, ‘The death rate will increase until at least 100-200 million people per year will be starving to death during the next ten years.’

“Why was Ehrlich’s apocalyptic predictions so wrong? Ehrlich believed the promise of the ‘green revolution’ via high yield crops and better cultivation practices would never offset the needs of a growing human population. Indeed, the early distribution of high yield ‘miracle seeds’ had failed to stave off famines during the cooler 1960s. But then the earth began to warm, there was a CO2 fertilization effect and the growing season increased in concert with great leaps forward in genetics, biotechnology and agricultural innovations.”

The world has changed, but the thinking of those who will to suppress humanity has not. See links under Challenging the Orthodoxy


Water, Clear Cool Water: Andrew Montford, whose excellent book exposed the problems with Mr. Mann’s “hockey-stick,” has an essay on the needs of those in Sub-Sahara Africa. Very simply, communities need adequate supplies of drinkable water and sewer sanitation. These are often best provided by the use of fossil fuels, which many “humanitarians” deplore. See links under Challenging the Orthodoxy

Dear Reader of The Week That Was,

The Science & Environmental Policy Project (SEPP) is a 501-c-3 organization, incorporated in Virginia. Its Federal I.D. Number is 54-1645372 and donations are US tax deductible. Established in 1990 by S. Fred Singer to challenge government environmental policies based on poor science, SEPP stands for objective science, based on physical evidence and rigorous adherence to the scientific method.

No matter how elaborate, results from numerical models that are not thoroughly tested against physical evidence are speculative and cannot be relied upon. Testing the results from using parts of a model against the results from the entire model is a ruse used by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC. Major government policies based on speculation and misleading “modeling” are a waste of resources.

Our founder, Dr. Singer, is Chairman emeritus. Physicist Dr. Thomas Sheahen is Chairman. Other distinguished scientists serve on the board of directors. Ken Haapala continues as president and oversees general operations. We continue to be very productive.

Two prevalent myths are damaging our economy and hurting the less fortunate: 1) greenhouse gases, chiefly carbon dioxide, are causing dangerous global warming; and 2) wind and solar can easily replace fossil fuels, nuclear, and hydro in electricity generation. Both are false, yet widely accepted. We continue to contest these myths, and others, with hard evidence.

In collaboration with like-minded groups, we produce hard-hitting comments for the public record and provide scientific testimony on Federal government climate and energy policy. We are actively attempting to eliminate or change the EPA’s endangerment finding, despite a lack of physical evidence, that carbon dioxide, CO2, poses a danger to public health.

In 2007, SEPP established NIPCC (Non-governmental International Panel on Climate Change) to respond to the false claims of the UN-IPCC, and its followers, who claim, without hard evidence, that the use of fossil fuels and CO2 emissions, will lead to climate disasters. The Heartland Institute continues the NIPCC efforts with well-attended sessions of the International Conference on Climate Change and the NIPCC reports at www.NIPCCreport.org.

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Number of the Week: 1/1,000,000,000,000 (One part per Trillion). Writing on the website of the American Council on Science and Health, Alex Berezow and Josh Bloom discuss how modern instruments can detect almost any chemical in your body or in the environment at levels as minute as ‘one part per trillion,’ which is roughly equivalent to a drop in an Olympic-sized swimming pool.”

They emphasize that the comments by Paracelsus, in the 16th Century that “the dose makes the poison” still apply. “Yet, the activist-legal complex promotes an alternate theory, namely that the mere presence of a chemical is an indicator of its potential harm. It is not.”

The same applies to modern yellow (green) journalism. Imagine the chemicals that one is exposed to by taking a dip in the ocean! See links under Litigation Issues.



A Decade in Which Fracking Rocked the Oil World

Shale drillers made the U.S. the globe’s top producer of oil and natural gas, but the boom is showing cracks as the decade ends

By Rebecca Elliott and Luis Santiago, WSJ, Dec 17, 2019


TWTW Summary: The reporter and graphics editor begin:

“Ten years ago, the U.S. ranked third in global oil production, trailing Saudi Arabia and Russia.

“A decade later, it leads the world in oil as well as natural-gas output, having more than doubled the amount of crude it pumps while raising gas production by roughly two-thirds, according to federal data.

“There is a simple reason for the surge: fracking. Horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing techniques spurred a historic U.S. production boom during the decade that has driven down consumer prices, buoyed the national economy and reshaped geopolitics.

“Though some of these methods had existed for years, they were successfully applied to dense rock formations only about two decades ago as technologies improved, allowing companies to unlock vast amounts of oil and gas.

“Drillers first targeted natural gas in the Barnett Shale of North Texas, and later unleashed a trove of the fuel in Appalachia. Further advances allowed them to release heavier oil molecules from shale formations. That led to a renaissance of one of America’s most venerable oil fields, the Permian Basin of Texas and New Mexico.

“A decade ago, drilling and fracking in tight rock formations such as shale produced less than one million barrels of oil a day in the U.S., according to data from the Energy Information Administration. Today that figure is roughly eight million barrels a day.

“Before the surge in shale drilling, U.S. crude production had been steadily declining since the 1970s, leaving the country vulnerable to price shocks such as after the 1973 Arab oil embargo. Now, the country is more insulated, thanks in large part to the shale boom. After Saudi Arabia shut down more than half of its oil production following a September attack on its oil facilities, U.S. benchmark oil prices briefly shot up but declined to pre-attack levels in about two weeks. Fracking also has limited the domestic effects of sanctions on countries such as Venezuela, which had long been one of the top suppliers of crude to the U.S.

“The shale boom, meanwhile, has supported a surge in overseas crude sales, allowing the country to become a net exporter of oil and refined products such as gasoline for the first time in decades.

“‘At the beginning of the decade, energy independence was still a joke for late-night television comedians,’ says author Daniel Yergin, who is vice chairman at IHS Markit. ‘Turn around a decade later, and we’re here.’

“Soaring U.S. oil production also helped create a global glut of crude that has forced the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and Russia to curb output to prop up prices, a dynamic that continued through the end of the decade.

“Rapid U.S. natural-gas production, meanwhile, created a surplus of the cleaner-burning fuel and made it inexpensive. That led to a historic shift: Gas surpassed coal as the top source of U.S. electricity during the decade, the EIA says. The average price of gas for residential customers also has fallen by about 25%, adjusted for inflation, since 2009, EIA estimates show.

“The added oil production changed the relationship between crude prices and the U.S. economy. Whereas higher oil prices were once an unequivocal drag on the country’s economy, the impact is now more mixed. More-expensive crude still hurts consumers, but it is an economic boon to the country’s revived oil-producing regions, partially offsetting the impacts.”

The article concludes with an all too typical discussion of reaction by investors. After boom-and-bust cycles, this part of the energy sector is maturing, thus great profits are no longer to be made, and speculative-type investors express concerns.

[TWTW Comment: Compared with the oil prices projected before hydraulic fracturing of oil became recognized, consumers have greatly benefited. The negative implications in the article are meaningless. An examination of the government budgets of Saudi Arabia and Russia demonstrates huge holes once filled by oil revenues, basically from consumers.


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