Weekly Climate and Energy News Roundup #399

The Week That Was: February 15, 2020, Brought to You by www.SEPP.org

By Ken Haapala, President, Science and Environmental Policy Project

Quote of the Week: “”Laws are made for men of ordinary understanding and should, therefore, be construed by the ordinary rules of common sense. Their meaning is not to be sought for in metaphysical subtleties which may make anything mean everything or nothing at pleasure.” —Thomas Jefferson (1823)

Number of the Week: January 1736


Future Emissions Down, Climate Sensitivity Up? Writing in American Thinker, Anthony Watts draws attention to a surprising article in one of the climate establishment’s journals, Nature. In that article by Zeke Hausfather and Glen Peters, the authors point out that great increases in carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions are unlikely to take place in the 21st century. Thus, the world will not warm as much as claimed using the standard modeling assumptions common to the global climate models used by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The authors propose that the IPCC modelers moderate their extreme emissions scenario, their storyline.

The unlikely possibility of the extreme increase in CO2 emissions has been addressed by many sceptics, such as Judith Curry and Roy Spencer, and in the Reports of the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC). Further, the comprehensive physical evidence of warming of the atmosphere, where the greenhouse effect occurs, does not show a dangerous warming as CO2 is increasing. The scenarios used are secondary to the main issue, the sensitivity of temperatures in the earth’s atmosphere to increasing CO2.

Watts describes what may be the latest trick being used by the IPCC to continue to excite the public in demanding limits on CO2 emissions, namely the IPCC is changing the standard for the sensitivity of the planet for a doubling of CO2. This standard was established in 1979 by a committee by US National Academy of Sciences chaired by Jule Charney for whom the committee’s report is named.

Influenced by climate modelers, the Charney Report estimated that climate sensitivity to be 3 °C (5.4 °F), give or take 1.5 °C (2.7 °F). This estimate was above previous estimates because the Charney Report assumes an increase in atmospheric water vapor, the dominant greenhouse gas. At the time there was no comprehensive atmospheric physical evidence to support or refute the assumptions.

In 1990, Roy Spencer and John Christy developed the method for estimating temperature trends from satellite data going back to 1979. The assumptions in the Charney Report have been refuted by physical evidence, which has been ignored by the UN IPCC. Thus, in effect the IPCC has been basing its recent reports on a fictional atmosphere, shown not to exist.

In his essay, Anthony Watts discusses that the IPCC may be realizing that its scenarios for extreme increases in atmospheric CO2 may be farfetched. During the current round of preparation for the Sixth Assessment Report (AR6), to compensate for expected smaller increases in CO2 concentration, the IPCC may be increasing its claimed sensitivity of the earth’s temperatures to increasing CO2. Make the CO2 monster scarier. The initial reports indicate this is occurring. We will know more within a few months. We will see if US laboratories engaged in atmospheric research will continue using a fictional atmosphere – dramatically departing from the scientific method as described by Richard Feynman and others.

Note that Watts brings up recent work by Roy Spencer. On February 1, Spencer estimated that humanity would probably not double atmospheric CO2. On February 5, Spencer posted some additional calculations, subsequently discovered a minor error in the later calculations and quickly retracted them. He continues to assert that the UN IPCC still overestimates future CO2 concentrations in its scenarios. See links under Challenging the Orthodoxy – NIPCC, Challenging the Orthodoxy, Problems in the Orthodoxy.


Nature Arising? Writing on her website, Climate Etc., Judith Curry, a climate modeler who has fallen out of favor, reviews the new set of emissions scenarios for the UN IPCC AR6 and evaluates them using what is called TCRE – Transient Climate Response to Cumulative Carbon Emissions. Curry brings up that natural climate variability plays an important role in climate change (think ice ages and past warm periods). She discusses solar variations, volcanic eruptions, and decadal-scale ocean circulation variability. Curry concludes:

· “We are starting to narrow the uncertainty in the amount of warming from emissions that we can expect out to 2050

· All three modes of natural variability – solar, volcanoes, internal variability – are expected to trend cool over the next 3 decades

· Depending on the relative magnitudes of emissions driven warming versus natural variability, decades with no warming or even cooling are more or less plausible.”

After some discussion, she continues:

“Apart from the ‘wild card’ of volcanic eruptions, the big uncertainty is solar indirect effects. Based on the literature survey that I’ve conducted, solar UV effects on climate seem to be at least as large as TSI effects. [TSI- Total Solar Insolation (exposure to the sun’s rays)] A factor of 2-4 (X TSI) seems completely plausible to me, and serious arguments have been presented for even higher values. I also note here that almost all estimates of ECS/TCR [ECS – Equilibrium Climate Sensitivity] from observations do not include any allowances for uncertainties associated with solar indirect effects. Scafetta (2013) included solar indirect effects in an estimate of ECS and determined an ECS value of 1.35 ºC.

“Neither the effects of AMO [Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation] nor solar indirect effects have been included in attribution analyses of warming since 1950.

“So why does this analysis ‘matter’?

· For those that are urgently worried about the impacts of AGW and the need to act urgently to meet deadlines related to emissions, the natural climate variability may help slow down the warming over the next few decades, allowing for time to make prudent, cost effective decisions that make sense for the long term.

· Failure to anticipate and understand periods of stagnant warming or even cooling detracts from the credibility of climate science and may diminish the ‘will to act.’”

Note that TWTW does not emphasize surface temperature trends because they are subject to many more human influences than atmospheric temperature trends. Even though there is a modest warming of the atmosphere, there is no physical evidence that atmospheric warming would cause a greater warming of the surface. If one accepts surface temperature data, the surface is warming at a far greater rate than the atmosphere. Thus, surface warming is largely due to influences other than CO2 emissions. This critical separation has not been made by the IPCC. See links under Challenging the Orthodoxy.


Cause and Effect – Milankovitch Cycles and CO2: Writing in the newsletter Energy Advocate, Professor Emeritus of Physics Howard Hayden brings up a dilemma for the advocates of Al Gore’s view of physics and climate. [No link available.] In his movie, Gore dramatically shows his interpretation of Antarctic ice cores and how CO2 changes temperatures.

The Fifth Assessment Report of the IPCC (AR5, 2013) recognizes the Milankovitch cycles saying

“Recent modeling work provides strong support for the important role of variations in the Earth’s orbital parameters in generating long-term climate variability.”

The question is by what mechanism would Milankovitch cycles cause changes in CO2 in the earth’s atmosphere? The Milankovitch theory states: A warming of the oceans by changes in solar energy causes an outgassing of dissolved gasses, especially CO2 which is the atmospheric gas most readily absorbed by water, with cold water absorbing more than warm water. The IPCC has no such mechanism.

The dilemma is illustrated by an article in Phys.org reporting on a paper published by PNAS. The paper was titled “Orbital pacing and secular evolution of the Early Jurassic carbon cycle.” However, the Phys.org article stated:

“The world is waking up to the fact that human-driven carbon emissions are responsible for warming our climate, driving unprecedented changes to ecosystems, and placing us on course for the sixth mass extinction event in Earth’s history.”

The abstract to the paper states:

Global perturbations to the Early Jurassic environment (∼201 to ∼174 Ma), notably during the Triassic–Jurassic transition and Toarcian Oceanic Anoxic Event, are well studied and largely associated with volcanogenic greenhouse gas emissions released by large igneous provinces.

Large igneous provinces are large masses of igneous rocks formed by large releases of lava and magma (lava is magma that reaches the surface of the earth). Massive volcanic activity will release carbon dioxide. But also, it will release sulfur dioxide, hydrogen sulfide, hydrochloric acid, and carbon monoxide, which are much more worrisome than warming caused by human emissions of CO2. Further, it would emit massive amounts of particles into the atmosphere, which will cool the earth. It is thought these events occurred when the supercontinent, Gondwana, pulled apart, eventually leading to the current continents. For some reason, the Phys.org article omitted these details and went on to state:

“The study of past global change events, such as the end-Triassic mass extinction and the Toarcian Oceanic Anoxic Event, as well as the time in between, allows scientists to disentangle the different processes that control global carbon cycle change and constrain tipping points in Earth’s climate system.”

Apparently, Phys.org considers the forces that broke up the supercontinent are insignificant to claimed tipping points in today’s climate system. To grasp how an interesting paper is distorted into an alarming one see links under Changing Earth.


What Climate Crisis? The UN claims of a climate crisis continue to be repeated, diverting resources from more needed issues. An article in the New England Journal of Medicine claiming Australian bushfires were proof of a climate crisis prompted Haapala to post in the journal the following comment:

“Carbon dioxide (CO2) and the greenhouse effect are critical for life on this planet. Green plants require CO2. Without green plants, it is doubtful complex life would exist. Water vapor is the primary greenhouse gas, CO2 is secondary. Without the greenhouse effect much of the earth would freeze at night, making it barren of complex life.

“The claim that life-giving CO2 is a threat causing a climate crisis is extraordinary, requiring extraordinary physical evidence. There is a dearth of physical evidence that CO2 is causing dangerous global warming. The greenhouse effect occurs in the atmosphere. The entire 40-year record of comprehensive atmospheric measurements shows temperatures have warmed slightly. This is the most comprehensive global temperature record existing. What physical evidence shows that greenhouse gases are causing dangerous warming? The problems of bushfires in Australia have been known since Black Thursday in 1851. Bushfires are not physical evidence of a CO2-caused climate crisis.”

See link under Health, Energy, and Climate.


Blacklist: Roger Pielke, whom a Congressman demanded be investigated because he does not support the claim of dangerous global warming, brought up that the website Skeptical Science has a list of those who give what Skeptical Science calls climate misinformation. Some readers of TWTW may find the list useful in identifying those who have been particularly successful in thwarting the evidence-free science used by Skeptical Science and other alarmist groups. The list includes SEPP Chairman emeritus Fred Singer.

The apparent creator is Dana Nuccitelli who gained fame as a co-author of John Cook’s paper on the so-called 97% consensus. Contrary to standard polling techniques, they classified respondents after the poll was taken, based on personal opinion, not based on answers to objective questions. According to the pollsters, astrophysicist Nir Shaviv is one of those classified in the 97%, which Shaviv denounced. See links under Suppressing Scientific Inquiry.


Fear of Famine: Nature Sustainability published a paper claiming most of the increase in food production in China and India since 2000 is “mostly owing to an increase in harvested area through multiple cropping facilitated by fertilizer use and surface- and/or groundwater irrigation.” Given its position that CO2 is a pollutant, it is not surprising that Nature Sustainability will not mention the benefits of CO2 fertilization.

What is most interesting is that the article states that food production in China and India is up 35 percent since 2000. This increase is a direct contradiction to claims of CO2 increasing poverty and starvation, including such threats discussed by the Pentagon and in the latest US National Climate Assessment. See links under Social Benefits of Carbon Dioxide.


Unreliable and Unpredictable Too: While they do not emit CO2 while operating, readers realize that TWTW considers electrical generation from wind and solar to be inferior to thermal generation, because they are unreliable and undependable. Grid operators must make significant efforts to ensure that the grid is operating within tight tolerances in real power balancing, reliability, disturbance control, frequency, cyber security, etc. The task is made much more difficult by the politically popular introduction of unreliable and undependable sources of generation.

Writing on his website, Not a Lot of People Know That, Paul Homewood demonstrates that wind power is unpredictable. The UK experienced a the sudden spike in wind power output when Storm Ciara arrived, followed by a sharp fall in output, possibly from turbines shutting down, then a sharp increase. No doubt, the roller-coaster was not fun for the grid operator, National Grid.

Homewood followed the posts about the storm and the flooding that occurred after the storm with a post on the unpredictability of wind power. The daily forecasts by National Grid were about one-third over actual generation. Fortunately, the UK has sufficient generation from combined-cycle gas turbines (CCGT) to compensate for the shortfall. But when the CCGT are gone, as the politicians dream, the consequences will be outrageous. See Changing Weather Alternative, Green (“Clean”) Solar and Wind.


Number of the Week: January 1736. January 2020 was unusually warm in central England. According to the Met Office records, temperatures in January 2020 reached the level reached in January 1736. Started in 1659, these are the longest temperature records existing. The hottest January was 1916. At least this record has not been “homogenized” by NOAA or NASA-GISS. Is the warming from 1659 to 1916 an example of dangerous “global warming?” See link under Changing Weather.



Better Pipes for Safer Oil Transport

Minnesota regulators approve a greener way to move fossil fuels.

Editorial, WSJ, Feb 10, 2020


TWTW Summary: Unlike the Obama Administration that used many tricks to stop pipelines, the Trump Administration appears to be leaving such decisions to local officials to the extent possible. The editorial states:

Climate-change activists want to ban fossil fuels, and that means opposing all pipelines that move oil from producers to the market. Green activists succeeded in delaying Enbridge’s Line 3 in the Upper Midwest for more than a year, but last week the oil pipeline cleared a key regulatory hurdle. That’s good news for the environment.

The proposed Line 3 would run nearly 350 miles through Minnesota, and in 2018 the state’s Public Utilities Commission voted to let the $2.6 billion project proceed. Opponents sued, claiming the initial 13,500-page environmental review wasn’t adequate. An appeals court rejected most of the claims but ruled that the review needed to further address the risks of a spill in the Lake Superior watershed. That revised review took another 16 months but last week won approval from the Public Utilities Commission. [Boldface added]

The comment on the environmental review demonstrates that the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA ) has become a make paperwork exercise, wasting resources.

The Minnesota chapter of 350.org called the decision ‘immoral’ and said the commission ‘has chosen to stand for climate chaos.’ Winona LaDuke, the executive director of Honor the Earth, said the commission’s vote was ‘egregious’ and that the pipeline reflects ‘the craziness of Canada and the US at the end of the fossil fuel era.’ Line 3 still needs to secure federal and state permits before it can break ground, and self-proclaimed ‘water protectors’ have vowed to continue their obstructionism.

But allowing Line 3 to proceed is the best way to protect the environment in Minnesota and beyond. The new pipeline would replace the old Line 3, which was built more than 50 years ago. That aging pipe now can’t operate at full capacity because of corrosion and seam cracking, and Enbridge estimates it will require some 7,000 repairs by 2035. The new Line 3 would come equipped with the latest technology for the prevention and early detection of spills.

Environmentalists would prefer to shut down the old Line 3 without replacing it. But demand for oil endures, and without a pipeline it would reach consumers by road or rail. The risks of a spill persist, and the alternative methods of transportation are more carbon-intensive than pipelines.

Credit Minnesota’s Public Utilities Commission for recognizing these realities. As usual, climate-change absolutists brook no dissent in their demands for the fantasy of a world without fossil fuels.


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