The Week That Was: February 29, 2020, Brought to You by www.SEPP.org
By Ken Haapala, President, Science and Environmental Policy Project
Green Dreams: Many political leaders and political factions have little or no understanding of the importance of reliable, predictable electricity to modern civilization and economic wellbeing. Without thoroughly demonstrated examples of success, a number of local and national governments have passed laws phasing out electricity generated by fossil fuels based on the belief that wind and solar can replace fossil fuels. This “green dream” may become a nightmare.
In the UK, the Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF) has produced a set of studies estimating that removing fossil fuels from:
“the electricity system and domestic housing in the next three decades will cost over £2.3 trillion pounds. The final bill will surpass £3 trillion, or £100,000 per household, once the cost of decarbonising major emitting sectors like manufacturing, transport and agriculture are included.”
The government has failed to make public the costs involved:
“According to the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) the costs for Net Zero in 2050 are ‘manageable’: ‘…we estimate an increased annual resource cost to the UK economy from reaching a net-zero [greenhouse gas] target that will rise to around 1–2% of GDP by 2050.’ [Boldface added]
“Yet, the CCC has resisted attempts to have its calculations disclosed under FOI legislation. Even more remarkably, it has admitted that it has not actually calculated a cost for the period 2020–2049. The decision by Parliament to undertake the complete decarbonisation of the UK economy is thus uncosted.
“According to GWPF director Benny Peiser, the two new studies represent the first meaningful attempts to pin down the cost of net zero:
“‘Although the Committee on Climate Change claims that net zero can be achieved at modest cost, they have now quietly admitted that they have not actually prepared any detailed costing. Unfortunately, Parliament seems to have taken them at their word, and we are now embarked on a project that risks bankrupting the country.’”
To put the irresponsible government actions into perspective, according to the Office of National Statistics the
“Median household disposable income in the UK was £29,400 in the financial year ending (FYE) 2019” https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/personalandhouseholdfinances/incomeandwealth/bulletins/householddisposableincomeandinequality/financialyearending2019provisional
Thus, a cost of about £100,000 per household is more than three times the current household disposable income.
Although the US has not enacted a similar plan, several states and localities have. Researchers for Power the Future and the Competitive Enterprise Institute prepared estimates for 11 states. The costs for the first year of implementing the proposed Green New Deal will be about $75,000 per household. In 2018, the median household income for the US 25 most populous metro areas was about $65,000. Although politicians will not claim this to be a goal, the actions of many them in the UK and the US will bankrupt ordinary citizens and the bulk of the population or create an unsustainable debt.
Even worse, there are no commercially viable electricity systems based on wind and solar that do not require backup from fossil fuels. Efforts have all failed, such as El Hierro in the Canary Islands and King Island, Tasmania. Even in the windy Canary Islands, wind failed for unpredictably long periods of time Rescue required diesel. The glowing web site for King Island states:
“King Island is a world-leading hybrid power system that provides reliable and secure electricity supply using a high proportion of renewable energy (65% per annum).” [Boldface added] https://www.hydro.com.au/docs/default-source/clean-energy/hybrid-energy-solutions/king_island.pdf?sfvrsn=f3ad4828_2
The rest of the time, diesel is required. Furthermore, the quoted locations are among the best anywhere for solar and/or wind production. Many studies have concluded that in the USA wind and solar cannot produce more that about 4% of national needs, on an average basis, even if nighttime diesel backup is provided. As discussed in previous TWTWs, few areas in the world have sufficient vacant land areas at elevation differences and water availability necessary to make pumped-hydro storage viable. Pumped-hydro storage of surplus electricity is the only proven large-scale storage system. It is a 100-year-old technology and has been shown to work satisfactorily only with electrical systems with consistent, predictable surpluses, such as in Bath, Virginia, which relies on coal and nuclear. About 20 to 30% of the energy is lost in the pumped-hydro process.
The fear of catastrophic global warming that is driving this political effort is based on unrealistic computer models that cannot describe what is happening in the current atmosphere, much less able to predict what will occur 30 or 80 years from now. Errors may be buried in tens of thousands of lines of computer code. That is why rigorous testing of results of computer models against the best physical evidence must be done, but it is not.
Instead of correcting errors in predictions against actual evidence, as required by the scientific method, the US climate modelers appear to be meeting the demands of the UN and intensifying error. Thus, the climate modeling effort is entering the realm of science fiction. And politicians involved do not understand the difference between science and science fiction. See links under Questioning European Green and Questioning Green Elsewhere.
Model Problems: Following some correspondence, Richard Courtney of the UK, who has published a number of articles in journals, provided TWTW with his 2008 response to a request by US Senator James Inhofe. In it, Courtney discusses the great weakness of global climate models and why they should not be used to set long-term policy even if they correctly described the current atmosphere, which however they do not. The issues Courtney raised in 2008 apply today, because the models have not been corrected for errors, which are becoming more severe.
Inhofe’s Question #4: “As policy discussions advance in the next Congress, do you believe climate models exist that are capable of focusing on particular areas to give more reliable predictions for the future? If not. in your estimate, how long until such models can be developed?”
“I do not think there are any models of global climate capable of providing adequately reliable predictions for the future, and I suspect such models will not be capable of development within the lifetime of anybody now alive. Reasons for this opinion are both theoretical and pragmatic.
“No model’s predictions should be trusted unless the model has demonstrated forecasting skill. As explained above [in Courtney’s paper], none of the climate models has existed for 20, 50 or 100 years so it is not possible to assess their predictive capability on the basis of their demonstrated forecasting skill; i.e. they have no demonstrated forecasting skill and, therefore, their predictions are unreliable. Put bluntly, predictions of the future provided by existing climate models have the same degree of demonstrated reliability as has the casting of chicken bones for predicting the future.
“The ability of a computer model to appear to represent existing reality is no guide to the model’s predictive ability. For example, the computer model called ‘F1 Racing’ is commercially available. It is based on physical principles (if it were not then the racing cars would not behave realistically), and ‘F1 Racing’ is a much more accurate representation of motor racing than any GCM is of global climate. But the ability of a person to win a race as demonstrated by ‘F1 Racing’ is not an indication that the person could or would win the Monte Carlo Grande Prix if put in a real racing car. Similarly, an appearance of reality provided by a GCM cannot be taken as an indication of the GCM’s predictive ability in the absence of the GCM having any demonstrated forecasting skill.
“Furthermore, the climate models are based on assumptions that may not be correct. The basic assumption used in the models is that change to climate is driven by change to radiative forcing. And it is very important to recognise that this assumption has not been demonstrated to be correct. Indeed, it is quite possible that there is no force or process causing climate to vary. I explain this as follows.
“The climate system is seeking an equilibrium that it never achieves. The Earth obtains radiant energy from the Sun and radiates that energy back to space. The energy input to the system (from the Sun) may be constant (although some doubt that), but the rotation of the Earth and its orbit around the Sun ensure that the energy input/output is never in perfect equilibrium.
“The climate system is an intermediary in the process of returning (most of) the energy to space (some energy is radiated from the Earth’s surface back to space). And the Northern and Southern hemispheres have different coverage by oceans. Therefore, as the year progresses the modulation of the energy input/output of the system varies. Hence, the system is always seeking equilibrium but never achieves it.
Courtney stated the difficulties of understanding equilibrium, harmonics, and oscillation in a climate system. Then continues:
“However, there may be no process because the climate is a chaotic system. Therefore, the observed oscillations (ENSO, NAO, etc.) could be observation of the system seeking its chaotic attractor(s) in response to its seeking equilibrium in a changing situation.
“Very, importantly, there is an apparent ~900-year oscillation that caused the Roman Warm Period (RWP), then the Dark Age Cool Period (DACP), then the Medieval Warm Period (MWP), then the Little Ice Age (LIA), and the present warm period (PWP). All the observed rise of global temperature in the twentieth century could be recovery from the LIA that is similar to the recovery from the DACP to the MWP. And the ~900-year oscillation could be the chaotic climate system seeking its attractor(s). If so, then all global climate models and ‘attribution studies’ utilized by IPCC [UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change] and CCSP [US Climate Change Science Program, changed to US Global Change Research Program] are based on the false premise that there is a force or process causing climate to change when no such force or process exists.
“But the assumption that climate change is driven by radiative forcing may be correct. If so, then it is still extremely improbable that – within the foreseeable future – the climate models could be developed to a state whereby they could provide reliable predictions. This is because the climate system is extremely complex. Indeed, the climate system is more complex than the human brain (the climate system has more interacting components – e.g. biological organisms – than the human brain has interacting components – e.g. neurons), and nobody claims to be able to construct a reliable predictive model of the human brain. It is pure hubris to assume that the climate models are sufficient”
See links under Challenging the Orthodoxy.
Weather and Climate: Last week, TWTW discussed the issues raised by Meteorologist Cliff Mass in advocating greater computer resources to be used in US numerical weather prediction under NOAA’s National Weather Service. Accurate weather prediction is vital, and improvements are important. This week, Mass presents arguments why the US should be a leader in numerical weather prediction. Among them:
“2. The U.S. has the largest weather research community in the world– no nation or groups of nations is even close. Thus, we have the scientific infrastructure and expertise to be the best.”
“3. Many Nations and Companies Depend on U.S. Numerical Weather Prediction and Cannot Afford the ECMWF or UKMET Forecast Products. Same with U.S. universities.”
“5. U.S. Numerical Weather Prediction Research and Operation is Spending More Money Than Any Other Nation or Groups of Nation.”
“6. Global Weather and Climate Prediction are Converging.” [See link to Mass]
“7. Operational Weather Prediction is a Key Testbed for Evaluating Physical Understanding of the Atmosphere.”
Points 2, 5, and 6 raise a problem. The US weather research community is under The National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) in Boulder. NCAR has a major computer facility in Cheyenne, Wyoming, which has a huge computer capability.
The largest single group using this facility is:
“The Climate Simulation Laboratory (CSL), which was established in 1995, represents CISL’s premier opportunity for researchers seeking high-performance computing and data storage systems to support extremely demanding, high-profile climate simulations. Such simulations require high resolution, span many centuries of simulated time, encompass large numbers of ensembles, integrate new physics or models, or address national and international scientific priorities.
“CSL projects’ large-scale, long-running simulations typically require millions of core-hours to complete and usually produce many terabytes of model output that must be stored for analysis and comparison with other simulations and with observations.” [Boldface added]
As demonstrated by John Christy and discussed in the November 9, 2019 TWTW, there is a significant divergence between the temperature trends observed in the atmosphere and what the models used by CSL and NCAR calculate (See CCSM & CESM in the graph). The divergence grows after 1995, when CSL was established. There appears to be no effort by the CSL & NCAR to correct its models to what is being observed in the atmosphere. Fundamental to the scientific method is identification and correction of error. Therefore, CSL and the leadership of NCAR appear to be ignoring the scientific method. See links under Changing Weather and http://www.sepp.org/twtwfiles/2019/TWTW%2011-9-19.pdf (under Nature v Models)
Number of the Week: $61,937. According to the US Census Bureau, the estimated 2018 real median household income was $61,937 for the US. As stated above, the estimated costs of implementing the Green New Deal is about $75,000 per household for the eleven states studied. According to these calculations, the Green New deal would bankrupt all people of median income and below (about 58% of the population). The Census Bureau tables show that the only states that have a 2018 median household income above $75,000 are California, Connecticut, District of Columbia (the highest), Hawaii, Maryland, and New Jersey. The eleven states studied are not on this list.
It appears that many politicians do not have a clue about what their grand plans will cost, nor do they appear to care. See links under Questioning Green Elsewhere and https://www.census.gov/library/publications/2019/acs/acsbr18-01.html
Massive swarms devour crops, while European environmentalists seek to ban insecticides.
By Richard Tren, WSJ, Feb 24, 2020
The co-founder of Africa Fighting Malaria writes:
A plague of locusts has hit Africa. Massive swarms are devouring crops and other vegetation in their path, imperiling millions and setting the stage for a humanitarian disaster. On his recent visit to three African countries, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo committed a welcome $8 million to aid in locust control. If the U.S. really wants to help, it would stand firm against the radical anti-insecticide agenda.
The desert locust, which the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization describes as ‘the most destructive migratory pest in the world,’ can fly as far as 120 miles a day. Tens of billions of locusts can travel in the same swarm. The FAO says that locust swarms now threaten food security and livelihoods in Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, and Uganda as well as the Arabian Peninsula. Kenya has been hit especially hard. One swarm there measures 37 by 25 miles, and agricultural officials there estimate that 1.2 million acres of pasture and cropland have already been destroyed. The U.N. says that more than 20 million people in East Africa are facing food shortages.
The best way to stop the locusts is to spray insecticide from the air. Unfortunately, Kenya lacks adequate supplies of the best and most effective insecticide, fenitrothion, and is scrambling to get additional stocks. The radical environmental movement, which seeks to ban fenitrothion and other safe and effective chemicals, has made Kenyan authorities’ work more difficult.
Since last September, European Union-funded nongovernmental organizations in Kenya have been petitioning the Kenyan Parliament to ban more than 250 registered agricultural insecticides. Foremost among these groups is the Route to Food Initiative, funded by the Heinrich Böll Foundation, which in turn is affiliated with the German Green Party. The chemicals the Greens seek to ban are essential for controlling not only locusts but also common agricultural pests, weeds and fungi. Even as locusts devastate Kenyan crops, NGO lobbyists continue their anti-insecticide crusade.
While the swarms of desert locust present an urgent threat, Africa’s farmers face countless other pests that reduce crop yields. The fall armyworm, a caterpillar native to the Americas, arrived in Africa in 2016 and now affects most of the continent. The pest feeds on many crops but prefers corn, a staple in many African countries, and already it has reduced yields by as much as 50% in some countries.
In the Americas, farmers manage the fall armyworm using a combination of genetically modified crops and insecticides. In Africa, where governments ban most GM crops and lack insecticide, farmers are almost defenseless. The FAO should be working overtime to help African governments deal with the problem in the same way the U.S. has. Instead it seems in thrall to a European environmentalist agenda that eschews modern insecticides and would have African farmers pluck the caterpillars one by one. The FAO’s ‘agro-ecology agenda’ also seeks to ban modern pesticides, impede mechanization and even reduce global trade.
Insecticides are essential not only to modern agriculture but also for public health. They protect people from mosquitoes, fleas, sand flies and other pests that transmit countless parasitic and viral diseases that claim millions of lives every year.
The U.S. ambassador to the FAO, Kip Tom, is taking a lonely stand against this luddite anti-pesticide agenda.
The author discusses that the US ambassador criticized FAO members in a US Department of Agriculture forum, then states:
Mr. Pompeo called on African countries to liberalize their economies and enact reforms to attract investors. This is wise advice, and many African countries are following it already. Reform and liberalization increase prosperity and reinforce sovereignty. Following through on agricultural reforms would make African countries less reliant on paternalistic donors from the EU and U.N.
Africans can let foreign donors play out their ideological fantasies in Africa, like colonialists of yore. Or they can send them home, where, thanks to modern farming technology, they have the privilege of full supermarket shelves.