Weekly Energy and Climate News Roundup

The Week That Was: February 8, 2020, Brought to You by www.SEPP.org

By Ken Haapala, President, Science and Environmental Policy Project

Quote of the Week: Judges ought to be more leaned than witty, more reverent than plausible, and more advised than confident. Above all things, integrity is their portion and proper virtue.” – Francis Bacon

Number of the Week: Exceeds in Six of Seven Categories.

Expanding the Orthodoxy: Writing a post on Project Syndicate, Johan Rockström, Lars Heikensten, and Marcia McNutt announced:

“…the Nobel Foundation is hosting its first-ever Nobel Prize Summit, with the theme ‘Our Planet, Our Future,’ in Washington, DC, from April 29 to May 1. The summit – supported by the US National Academy of Sciences, the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, and the Stockholm Resilience Centre/Beijer Institute – will bring together more than 20 Nobel laureates and other experts from around the world to explore the question: What can be achieved in this decade to put the world on a path to a more sustainable, more prosperous future for all of humanity?”

Johan Rockström is Director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK), known for extreme views on the dangers of carbon dioxide and climate change. Lars Heikensten is Executive Director of the Nobel Foundation. And Marcia McNutt is President of the US National Academy of Sciences (NAS). Ms. McNutt came from the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), a highly politicized organization that ignores the scientific method as described by Richard Feynman, discussed in last week’s TWTW.

In 1990, the once premier publication of AAAS, Science Mag, published the ground-breaking work of Roy Spencer and John Christy on using data collected by satellites to calculate temperature trends. In the mid-1990s it became clear that the atmosphere was not warming in an alarming manner, even after small errors in orbital change were corrected. Then Science Mag instituted a policy of not publishing research that contradicted claims that carbon dioxide (CO2) would cause dangerous global warming. Perhaps the billions of dollars that began to flow from Washington to universities during the Clinton/Gore Administration played a role in this decision, but one would hope not.

Nonetheless in the mid-1990s one can see a sharp divergence between what models forecast / project / predict and what is actually occurring in the atmosphere. This divergence continues after twenty-five years, indicating that US climate modelers do not adhere to the scientific method of testing the results of their models against all physical evidence.

Further, when McNutt was an editor of Science Mag. it published a fawning review of “Merchants of Doubt, a book by Oreskes and Conway that accused four distinguished US scientists of distorting research in order to personally profit with payments from various companies, particularly tobacco companies. But the book produced no evidence of such bribery. Instead, it implied the evidence can be found in the footnoted references. The evidence does not exist.

Science Mag. promptly rejected a rebuttal by SEPP Chairman emeritus, S. Fred Singer, the only surviving one of the four accused, stating there was no room to publish his short rebuttal.

Thereby, Science Mag. showed it is a leader in the politicization of American science following the well-established practice in politics – accusations count, no evidence needed.

One cannot expect much but more than propaganda from the Nobel Prize Summit. But we can hope that the political theme of “no evidence needed” will not carry on in the awarding of the Nobel Prizes in the physical sciences. See links under Expanding the Orthodoxy.


Life Begets Life: Writing on his website, Roy Spencer brings up an interesting concept:

“Maybe when it comes to photosynthesis, more life begets still more life, leading to a slowly increasing ability of the biosphere to remove excess CO2 from the atmosphere.”

Spencer had an error in his initial calculations about what is incorporated within the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) estimates of future CO2 concentrations called Representative Concentration Pathways (RCPs). As shown below, Spencer quickly posted his corrections.

But the question he asks needs to be explored. Is it possible that human emissions of CO2 will not eventually double CO2 concentration in the atmosphere because increasing photosynthesis will prevent a doubling of CO2? The increase in photosynthesis is evident in 30 plus years of photos showing a greening of the earth.

The concept of life begetting life with increasing CO2 is different from the pessimistic theory of population growth expressed by Thomas Malthus that population growth will always outrun economic growth, particularly for agriculture, resulting in subsistence living for most humans. According to Malthus, population increases in geometric progression, while the means of subsistence will increase in only an arithmetic progression. Or put differently, food production will increase at a constant (or possibly decreasing rate) while population, unless checked by deaths, will increase at an increasing rate. The Malthus concept pervades in current international thinking such as the “Limits of Growth.”

Expressed in terms of photosynthesis, Spencer’s concept is that with human CO2 emissions, photosynthesis will increase at an increasing rate, placing a limit on human capability of increasing CO2 concentration in the atmosphere by burning fossil fuels. As expressed in previous TWTWs, laboratory experiments show that with increasing CO2, temperature increase occurs at a diminishing rate. Spencer’s concept places an additional cap on the ability of human emissions of CO2 to increase temperatures.

Also, there is significant physical evidence of increasing photosynthesis reducing carbon dioxide. During the early formation of earth’s atmosphere including oxygen, great bursts in photosynthesis by micro-organisms such as cyanobacteria consumed CO2 and produced oxygen, part of which formed iron oxides. Later, the atmosphere was dramatically transformed from CO2 being an abundant gas and oxygen a trace gas to CO2 being a trace gas and oxygen an abundant one. The remarkable transformation occurred as multicellular life emerged.

Spencer’s concept is thought provoking and should be explored by those organizations claiming to research climate change, but it is doubtful it will be. See links under Challenging the Orthodoxy.


Tampering with Surface Data: Every year we listen to claims that X was the hottest day / month / year ever. Writing on his website, ICECAP, meteorologist Joseph D’Aleo explains why we simply do not know whether such claims are true. He states:

“Temperatures over oceans, which covered 71% of the globe, were measured along shipping routes mainly in the Northern Hemisphere erratically and with varying measurement methods. Despite these shortcomings and the fact that absolutely no credible grid level temperature data existed over the period from 1880 to 2000 in the Southern Hemisphere’s oceans (covering 80.9% of the Southern Hemisphere), global average surface temperature data estimation and publication by NOAA and NASA began in the early 1990s.

“To illustrate the problem, on January 16, 2020, the WSJ published a lead article by Robert Lee Hotz stating: ‘NASA, NOAA ranked 2019 as the second-hottest year in tracking data to 1880. The world experienced near-record global temperatures in 2019, federal climate scientists said. —.’ This claim was made despite the fact that absolutely no credible temperature data exists over this period for more than 40% of the planet

“After 2000, there were diving buoys. But when the best technology designed specifically for the purpose, the ARGO buoys, disappointed by showing no upward trend, the data from the buoys was ‘adjusted.’ John Bates, data quality officer with NOAA admitted ‘They had good data from buoys…and ‘corrected’ it by using the bad data from ships. You never change good data to agree with bad, but that’s what they did – so as to make it look as if the sea was warmer.’ He retired after that change was made.

[Has graph showing the significant adjustments yielding a warming trend, after adjustments.]

That was just the latest example of data manipulation. Initially, this global data had a cyclical pattern similar to previously reported Northern Hemisphere data (high in the 1930s and 40s, low in the 70s). Then, as time progressed, the previous officially reported GAST data history was modified, removing the cycle and creating a more and more strongly upward sloping linear trend in each freshly reported historical data set.

Tony Heller posted additional graphics showing how data was changed which he titled the Superbowl Of Data Tampering.

Jennifer Marohasy shows that the same has occurred in Australia. She writes:

“It is not disputed that Blair Trewin under the supervision of David Jones (both working at the Australian Bureau of Meteorology) remodel all the historical temperature data generating trends and statistics that look quite different from the actual measurements.”

It is clear the entities of NOAA, NASA and Australian BOM do not practice rigorous adherence to the scientific method as described by Richard Feynman and advocated by other physical scientists. See links under Challenging the Orthodoxy and Measurement Issues – Surface


Preparing for Glasgow: Since the Paris Agreement in 2015, every Conference of Parties (COP) to the UN Framework Convention for Climate Change has been deemed a failure by those advocating adherence to UN warnings of dangerous CO2-caused climate change (global warming). Physical evidence that CO2 is causing dangerous warming is exceedingly thin. Much of it has been tampered with, as shown immediately above. But that does not stop those who desire an international government from trying, such as the effort by executives of PIK, Nobel Foundation, and NAS discussed above.

COP-26 is being hosted by the UK government and will be located in Glasgow. This is bringing its own set of problems, among them that the UK just withdrew from the European Union, creating conflict between the UK and the EU, as well as political conflict within the UK. Paul Homewood brings attention to a new report by the UK Climate Coalition claiming greater dangers from floods due to climate change. It states in the foreword:

“As this report shows so graphically, the consequences of climate change such as increased flood risk are already having devastating effects on people and businesses.

“Adapting to the inevitable changes in our climate is vital, and we are taking robust action to improve the resilience of our people, economy and environment, including by investing £2.6 billion over six years to better protect our communities from flooding and erosion.

“Tackling climate change and the impact on our environment is both a national and international priority. The UK is already leading the way by delivering on our world-leading target of net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. We will ask our partners to match the UK’s. [whatever that means.]

No doubt, many more such reports will appear in the UK over this year. After presenting contradicting data Homewood concludes:

“The idea that cutting UK emissions will make Britain’s weather better belongs in the kindergarten, and not real science.”

See links under After Paris! Communicating Better to the Public – Make things up, and Problems in the Orthodoxy


T-Shirt Weather: Outside the Antarctic Circle, 66.5 degrees S, the Esperanza Base (63 degrees 24 min S) is one of only two civilian settlements in Antarctica. Built in 1953 by Argentina, it is on the northern tip of the Antarctic Peninsula and has a population of about 55. [The other civilian base is also on the northern tip of the Antarctic Peninsula, Villa Las Estrellas (62 degrees 12 minutes S). It was built by Chile and has a winter population of 80.] In January and February, the daily mean temperature of Esperanza is above freezing. According to initial reports, Esperanza reached 18.3 degrees Celsius (65 Fahrenheit) on February 7, almost a full degree above the previous high set five years ago. Of course, representatives of Greenpeace found the news “shocking.”

Given its isolated position, subject to winds and ocean currents, extrapolating temperature data from Esperanza to the Antarctic land mass is thoughtless. But apparently that is what the World Meteorological Organization (WMO, a parent organization of the IPCC) is doing. It claims Antarctica is among the fastest-warming regions on the planet. Yet, it has no thermometers covering the main part of the inland land mass. See links under Defending the Orthodoxy.


Changing Seas: The fear of sea level rise hit the news again. Certainly, ground subsidence is a problem in many areas along the East Coast and the Gulf of Mexico. Where it is a major problem, such as in the Norfolk-Newport News area, efforts to minimize ground water extraction by using desalination should be undertaken. Apparently, such low-cost alternatives for fresh water are being ignored.

Looking at the North American Continent, tidal gages along most of the Gulf of Alaska, and Churchill, Canada, on the Hudson Bay, show sea levels are dropping by at least 9 mm/yr. or 3 feet/century. This is likely rebound from the last Ice Age or for the Gulf of Alaska the Pacific plat slipping north and subducting, thereby raising the land. There here is little to be feared from the Hudson Bay or the Gulf of Alaska draining empty in the next few years. The fear of sea level rise largely stems from the illogical category of “Hasty Generalization.” See links under Changing Seas and https://tidesandcurrents.noaa.gov/sltrends/sltrends.html?stnid=970-141]


Additions and Corrections: Last week, TWTW discussed cargo cult science from a lecture on scientific integrity by Richard Feynman. Geologist Clifford Ollier stated Feynman did not fully understand the cargo cult. He wrote:

“I have lived and worked in Papua New Guinea (PNG) for years, so I think I have a better idea. My first trips were in the 1960s, when the people were more primitive than now.

“They were amazed by many things, like bicycles and aeroplanes, but I’ll start with just tinned meat. How can you find the material that the can is made of? How can you carve it so thin? And how do you get the meat on the inside? No, they must be made in heaven. Who lives in heaven? Our Ancestors. Who are they sending the cargo to? Us. But who has the cargo? Whitey!

So, the basic belief is that the whites are intercepting the cargo that was sent to them. They went to great lengths to find out how. The aeroplane story is of an attempt to intercept the cargo for themselves.

“It is almost impossible to put the story into perspective, but when the University of PNG was set up the Vice Chancellor (a man with great experience of the country) explained to the early staff (about a third each from England, Australia and New Zealand) that they should remember that for most PNG natives the first time they saw a wheel it was on an aeroplane.”


Number of the Week: Exceeds Standards in Six of Seven Categories. A questionable study claiming one-third of Americans experienced poor air quality due to pollution prompted efforts to find the basis for the claim. The abstract of a paper in Nature, Climate Change stated:

“New analyses based on Earth system modelling show that reducing ozone from the energy, industrial and transportation sectors could mitigate climate change by enhancing the ability of vegetation to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere through photosynthesis.”

The article stated:

“That year, [apparently 2018] 108 million Americans lived in areas where ground-level ozone or particulate pollution was above the level that the Environmental Protection Agency says presents ‘little to no risk,’ according to a report from the Environment America Research and Policy Center.”

But TWTW was unable to find evidence substantiating the claims beyond a press release using EPA numbers. Since CO2 is called a pollutant by the EPA, it is surprising any Americans experience suitable air quality.

However, a review of the latest air quality data on category pollutants, including PM 2.5, revealed that for six of the seven category pollutants the natural average has been below the national standard for years. These category pollutants include carbon monoxide, lead, nitrogen dioxide, PM 10, PM 2.5, and sulfur dioxide. and that in 2018 the US average ozone just reached the national standard based on 196 sites. The decrease from 1980 to 2018 was 31%. In other words, the improvement in air quality is exceeding standards set decades ago. https://www.epa.gov/air-trends/ozone-trends#oznat

It appears there are no generally recognized data substantiating the claims in Nature, Climate Change and other articles. Unlike with NOAA and NASA, to the knowledge of TWTW no one has produced evidence that EPA is tampering with the data. See links under Communicating Better to the Public – Use Yellow (Green) Journalism?



1. A Heated Oxford Education

Protesting students get a personal lesson about fossil fuels.

Editorial, WSJ, Feb 2, 2020


TWTW Summary: Begins with the image of Oxford made of bright minds debating the existence of God or quantum physics, then continues:

“But even the brainiest sometimes need a lesson in common sense.

“That’s exactly what the bursar at St. John’s College—the most richly endowed college at Oxford—delivered when he responded to students occupying his 15th-century quadrangle and refusing to leave until the college divested its oil-company shares. The students want the college to sell the more than $10 million of its endowment now invested in Shell and BP, and they want it now.

“The Times of London reports that bursar Andrew Parker made them a counteroffer. ‘I am not able to arrange any divestment at short notice,’ he wrote. ‘But I can arrange for the gas central heating in college to be switched off with immediate effect. Please let me know if you support this proposal.’

“The idea that the students themselves make a fossil-fuel sacrifice did not go over well. One protest organizer complained that Mr. Parker was being flippant, noting that ‘it’s January and it would be borderline dangerous to shut off the central heating.’ Another suggested Mr. Parker was being provocative.

“Again the bursar responded with wisdom: ‘You are right that I am being provocative but I am provoking some clear thinking, I hope. It is all too easy to request others to do things that carry no personal cost to yourself. The question is whether you and others are prepared to make personal sacrifices to achieve the goals of environmental improvement (which I support as a goal).’

“Surely a worthy lesson applicable far beyond the colleges of Oxford.”


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