Weekly Climate and Energy News Roundup #411

By Ken Haapala, President, Science and Environmental Policy Project

Re-Blogged From WUWT

Quote of the Week: “’It is a pleasure to stand upon the shore, and to see ships tost upon the sea: a pleasure to stand in the window of the castle and to see the battle and the adventures thereof below: but no pleasure is comparable to the standing upon the vantage ground of truth (a hill not to be commanded and where the air is always clear and serene), and to see the errors, and wanderings, and mists, and tempests, in the vale below.’ so always that this prospect be with pity, and not with swelling or pride.” – Of Truth, Francis Bacon (1625)

Number of the Week: 140% more than [of] a very small number is still a very small number

Political Rhetoric: Writing in the Wall Street Journal, Todd Myer, the author of “Eco-Fads: How the Rise of Trendy Environmentalism Is Harming the Environment” discusses how certain politicians use the term science without any special meaning. Myer states:

“The word ‘science’ has been hollowed out by politicians, who have stripped it of its substance and power and replaced them with emotional pabulum. These politicians discard the scientific method and deploy the term merely as a weapon against their opponents.”

After discussing an example by Washington State Governor Jay Inslee, Myer states further:

“When the governor and other politicians refer to ‘the science,’ they rarely point to actual science. It is a bluff designed to imply that their chosen policy is based on more than guesswork and politics.

“In his 2015 book, ‘Government That Works,’ John Bernard—a onetime member of Mr. Inslee’s transition team and the nation’s leading expert on using data to improve government management—approvingly quotes a physician-politician who observes that ‘the lack of measures in government allows political leaders to play a blame game with no way to verify whose rhetoric is accurate.’ On both climate change and the Covid-19 crisis, Mr. Inslee has either refused to provide real measures or has changed the metrics when they became politically inconvenient.

“For a while, Mr. Inslee claimed he supported using objective metrics to improve government performance. After he took office, he launched Results Washington, a program he said was designed to set data-driven targets for many areas of public policy. For example, he set targets for policies designed to reduce CO2 emissions from cars, buildings, and energy. By the beginning of 2018, five years into Mr. Inslee’s governorship, his administration was missing nearly every target.

“Soon before Mr. Inslee announced his 2020 presidential campaign—based almost entirely on fighting climate change—the embarrassing metrics were removed from the state webpage. After the Washington Policy Center highlighted this, a reporter from the Seattle Times asked the head of Results Washington about it. The agency director answered: ‘The new dashboards also represent a shift away from the old data-only approach to a more human-centered approach that incorporates narratives.’ Replacing data with ‘narratives’—story telling—is practically the definition of unscientific. It is exactly what Mr. Bernard’s book warned about: eliminating measures and replacing them with political rhetoric. It’s one reason Mr. Bernard has expressed disappointment with Mr. Inslee’s management.

After discussing how meaningless the Covid-19 dashboard has become, Meyer states:

“Ironically, a Bloomberg interview with the governor this month about his response to the coronavirus referred to his work on climate change. The headline: ‘Fighting Climate Change Prepared Jay Inslee for a Pandemic.’ That’s partly correct: His use of ‘science’ as a rhetorical tool, rather than a guide, is similar in both cases.

“The history of the past seven years indicates that Mr. Inslee uses the word ‘science’ mostly to construct a rhetorical Potemkin village: a facade that conceals the lack of substance behind his decisions while giving the public something nice to look at.

“By hiding the data on Washington’s climate goals and refusing to reveal the scientific basis for its current coronavirus guidelines, the governor is substituting a political blame game for real measurements.”

After another example, Myer concludes:

“Numbers speak for themselves. When the numbers tell the wrong story, politicians retreat into narratives that they pretend are science.

“Mr. Inslee isn’t unique, but the national attention he has received for his work on climate change and now the coronavirus make him a prime example of how prominent politicians use the word ‘science’ to mask their motives in managing health and environmental challenges.” [Boldface added to the above]

Tricks such as meaningless dashboards and other political rhetoric are becoming common to many once distinguished scientific organizations, such as the UK Met Office, discussed below. See Article # 1.


State of the Climate – Physical Evidence: In sharp contrast to political rhetoric, Ole Humlum a former Professor of Physical Geography at the University Centre in Svalbard, Norway, and Emeritus Professor of Physical Geography, University of Oslo, reported “The State of the Climate 2019,” published by the Global Warming Policy Foundation. It is based on data, not model speculation. In the Executive Summary Humlum presents ten key facts:

“1. According to the [surface] instrumental temperature record (since about 1850), 2019 was a very warm year, but cooler than 2016.

2. In 2019, the average global air temperature was affected by a moderate El Niño episode, interrupting a gradual global air temperature decrease following the strong 2015–16 El Niño.

3. Since 1979, lower troposphere temperatures have increased over both land and oceans, but more so over land areas. The possible explanations include insolation, cloud cover and land use.

4. The temperature variations recorded in the lowermost troposphere are generally reflected at higher altitudes too. In the stratosphere, however, a temperature ‘pause’ commenced in around 1995, 5–7 years before a similar temperature ‘pause’ began in the lower troposphere near the planet’s surface. The stratospheric temperature ‘pause’ has now persisted for about 25 years.

5. The 2015–16 oceanographic El Niño was among the strongest since the beginning of the record in 1950. Considering the entire record, however, recent variations between El Niño and La Niña are not unusual.

6. Since 2004, when detailed recording of ocean temperatures began, the global oceans above 1900 m depth have, on average, warmed somewhat. The strongest warming (between the surface and 200 m depth) mainly affects the oceans near the Equator, where the incoming solar radiation is at its maximum. In contrast, for the North Atlantic, net cooling at the surface has been pronounced since 2004.

7. Data from tide gauges all over the world suggest an average global sea-level rise of 1–1.5 mm/year, while the satellite record suggests a rise of about 3.2 mm/year, or more. The noticeable difference in rate (a ratio of at least 1:2) between the two data sets still has no broadly accepted explanation.

8. Since 1979, Arctic and Antarctic sea-ice extents have had opposite trends, decreasing and increasing, respectively. Superimposed on these overall trends, however, variations of shorter duration are also important in understanding year-to-year variations. In the Arctic, a 5.3-year periodic variation is important, while for the Antarctic a variation of about 4.5-years’ duration is seen. Both these variations reached their minima simultaneously in 2016, which explains the simultaneous minimum in global sea-ice extent. This particularly affected Antarctic sea-ice extent in 2016.

9. Northern Hemisphere snow cover extent undergoes important local and regional variations from year to year. Since 1972, however, snow extent has been largely stable.

10. Tropical storms and hurricanes have displayed large annual variations in accumulated cyclone energy (ACE) since 1970, but there has been no overall trend towards either lower or higher activity. The same applies for the number of continental hurricane landfalls in the USA, in a record going back to 1851.”

Of particular interest to TWTW are the two different temperature records for lower troposphere (# 3 & #4) and the different trends in sea levels depending upon the instruments making the measurements (#7).

In 2017, Remote Sensing Systems (RSS) adjusted their data showing an increase in warming ostensibly to compensate for orbital drift. University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH) did not because Roy Spencer and John Christy had previously recognized the drift and adjusted for it based upon measurements.

After explaining the adjustments, Spencer concluded:

“The bottom line is that we still trust our methodology. But no satellite dataset is perfect, there are uncertainties in all of the adjustments, as well as legitimate differences of opinion regarding how they should be handled.

“Also, as mentioned at the outset, both RSS and UAH lower tropospheric trends are considerably below the average trends from the climate models.

“And that is the most important point to be made.”

On Humlum’s point # 7 regarding different rates of sea level rise:

The April 25, 2020 TWTW presented the different rates in sea level rise depending the instruments used in measurement. These were discussed in the Journal of Marine Geodesy in presenting sea level rise in geologically stable Newlyn, England. The rate of increase in the short-term satellite data (1993-2014) is less than the variation found in the long-term tidal gage data (1915-2014), although the measured rate was greater. Rather than misleading the public by combining the two, without calibration, and declaring an acceleration; Humlum honestly states this is a problem yet to be resolved.

Among other major points Humlum brings up are the following:

“We can detect a great deal of heat rising from the bottom of the oceans. This obviously cannot be anything to do with human activity. So, although people say the oceans are warming, in reality there is still much to learn.”

“We have learned in recent months about the potentially high cost of leaping to conclusions. We must take more care in our response to small changes in the climate.”

See links under Challenging the Orthodoxy and http://www.drroyspencer.com/2017/07/comments-on-the-new-rss-lower-tropospheric-temperature-dataset/ and http://www.drroyspencer.com/wp-content/uploads/APJAS-2016-UAH-Version-6-Global-Satellite-Temperature-Products-for-blog-post.pdf which links to the UAH paper. For Newlyn tidal gage data: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/01490419.2015.1121175


What Distinct Human Fingerprint? After peer review, the leadership of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Second Assessment Report (AR-2, 1995) inserted a graph claiming to show a distinct human fingerprint, pronounced warming over the tropics between 7 and 14 km (between 23,000 and 46,000 feet). Within weeks of publication, the late Frederic Seitz wrote in the Wall Street Journal:

“In my more than 60 years as a member of the American scientific community, including service as president of both the National Academy of Sciences and the American Physical Society, I have never witnessed a more disturbing corruption of the peer-review process than the events that led to this IPCC report.”

Of course, Seitz was rebutted by the leadership of the IPCC and its followers. Even though no one has been able to find the distinct human fingerprint, the IPCC, and its followers such as the US Global Change Research Program (USGCRP) have retained it. Now it appears to be disappearing from the political rhetoric. Will it disappear from the climate models?

In a wonderful example of what Myers, above, calls replacing evidence with political rhetoric, including dashboards, the UK Met Office has declared that the human fingerprint is everywhere. Paul Homewood addresses some of the weaknesses of the new dashboard. See links under Challenging the Orthodoxy and Defending the Orthodoxy.


Climate Velocity? A paper published in Nature Climate Change brings up more political rhetoric – climate velocity is changing – based on narratives from the IPCC Assessment Reports.

One can wonder what the climate velocity was during the Younger Dryas (12,900 to 11,700 years ago) when the world returned to glacial conditions after warming for about 5,000 years, then suddenly warmed again? According to estimates from Greenland ice cores, the temperature swings were about 15 ºC or about 27 ºF. See links under Defending the Orthodox.


Dinosaur-Dooming: Another example of disguising crucial facts with political rhetoric appeared in an article in Nature Communications, discussing the estimated angle of the asteroid hitting off Mexico in the Gulf of Mexico creating a crater, covered by water, known as Chicxulub. The abstract states:

“A steeply-inclined impact produces a nearly symmetric distribution of ejected rock and releases more climate-changing gases per impactor mass than either a very shallow or near-vertical impact.” [Boldface added]

The article states:

“Such a strike likely unleashed billions of tonnes of sulphur, blocking the sun and triggering the nuclear winter that killed the dinosaurs and 75 per cent of life on Earth 66 million years ago.”

So, the climate-changing gases killing the dinosaurs caused a global cooling. However, the climate change gases the political rhetoric claims we must fear cause warming. If both warming and cooling are to be feared, then we must understand both causes. The IPCC and its followers ignore causes of global cooling. See links under Communicating Better to the Public – Use Yellow (Green) Journalism?


Uncertainty: The IPCC and its followers express great certainty in their work, which is unjustified. They frequently state “the science is settled,” even though it is not. For example, the greenhouse theory is not well developed as it applies to the globe.

By contrast, in astrophysics, significant uncertainty is common and well noted. For over 20 years, astronomers have been seeking about half the ordinary matter making up the universe. [The missing ordinary matter is different than the invisible, unidentified dark matter that makes up most of the mass in the universe. Dark matter does not absorb, reflect, or emit light, thus cannot be detected by observing electromagnetic radiation.] The missing ordinary matter is made up of ordinary particles such as protons and neutrons, called baryons.

Now, using an ensemble of telescopes in the desert of Australia, cosmologists believe they may have observed the missing ordinary matter between galaxies by observing how the velocity of radio waves change in “empty space.” The radio waves are caused by mysterious blasts which no one can explain. See links under Other Scientific News.


Not Disney Too! Among others, Susan Crockford has debunked the documentaries of walruses falling to their deaths from overcrowding caused by disappearing sea ice. Thus, parts of the documentaries are “fake news.”

According to the Alaska Fish & Wildlife News, the 1950s Disney documentary of lemmings herding together and committing mass suicide by jumping into the ocean is fake. A 1983 investigation by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, among other things, that the film was shot in Alberta, which has no ocean coastline and the lemmings were thrown over a cliff along a river. A picture may be worth a thousand words, but it may be misleading as well. See links under Below the Bottom Line.


Number of the Week: 140% more than a very small number is still a very small number. When RSS increased its estimates of atmospheric temperature of temperature change by 40%, the Carbon Brief website made a big deal of it. Roy Spencer commented at the time: 140% more than a very small number is still a very small number. It may have been more correct to say: a 40% increase of a trivial number is still trivial. See link http://www.drroyspencer.com/2017/07/comments-on-the-new-rss-lower-tropospheric-temperature-dataset/



1. When Covid ‘Science’ Is a Smokescreen

Like many politicians, Washington’s Jay Inslee trusts the numbers only when they serve his purposes.

By Todd Myers, WSJ, May 27, 2020


TWTW Summary: The article by the environmental director of the Seattle-based Washington Policy Center is in the section News You Can Use.


Trump Protects Your Rights From Regulators

A little-noticed provision of his executive order will help people like our clients, who’ve spent years in court fighting abuses.

By Jonathan Wood and Elizabeth Slattery, WSJ, May 16, 2020


TWTW Summary: The members of Pacific Legal Foundation write:

“One of the first actions of Congress in 1789 was proposing a bill of rights that limited government power and guaranteed the liberties of the American people. Power has since shifted from Congress to an unaccountable regulatory state, but there is no equivalent bill of rights to limit its power or protect liberty in the bureaucratic process.

“President Trump last week issued an executive order, ‘Regulatory Relief to Support Economic Recovery.’ Its temporary relief provisions have attracted much attention, and deservedly so, but an important part has been overlooked. The executive order includes a regulatory bill of rights that identifies ‘principles of fairness in administrative enforcement and adjudication’ and commands agencies to revise their procedures accordingly.

“Here are some of the principles: You should be presumed innocent unless proven guilty of violating a regulation. Agency enforcement should be prompt and fair, not needlessly drawn out. Disputes should be decided by neutral judges, not agency enforcement officials. Agency rules of evidence should be clear and fair, and agencies shouldn’t withhold evidence that is potentially exculpatory. Threatened penalties should be proportionate to the alleged wrong. Agencies shouldn’t coerce you into giving up your rights. Agencies shouldn’t engage in practices that cause unfair surprise. And agency practice should promote, rather than evade, accountability.

“These principles may seem basic, but federal agencies have too often failed to uphold them, as we explain in a Pacific Legal Foundation report released this month, ‘The Regulatory State’s Due Process Deficits.’ Through nine case studies of enforcement abuse involving our foundation’s clients, we show how agencies withhold fair notice, use biased rules of evidence, threaten excessive penalties to coerce people into giving up, resist scrutiny by courts and evade democratic accountability.

“Consider the Environmental Protection Agency’s treatment of Mike and Chantell Sackett, who in 2007 were attempting to build their dream home in Priest Lake, Idaho. As work began, the EPA without notice claimed their lot was a federally protected wetland and demanded they abandon their plans for a home. Large daily fines would pile up if they failed to comply. When the Sacketts protested, bureaucrats refused to provide evidence to support their claims and attempted to deny the Sacketts their day in court.

“The Supreme Court ruled unanimously in 2012 that EPA orders alleging Clean Water Act violations are judicially reviewable. But the foot-dragging had its intended effect, and the potential fines ultimately grew to more than $150 million. Only after 12 years of litigation and public criticism did the EPA relent and drop the order and the fines. It still isn’t clear whether the Sacketts can build anything on their property. Our appeal to clarify is pending at the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.”

The authors give two more examples and conclude:

“The problem isn’t that agents occasionally cross lines in pursuit of clear villains. Bureaucrats have stacked the process against ordinary people even in mundane cases. These problems aren’t isolated to the EPA. Our report details abuses by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Food and Drug Administration and others.

“The First Congress included in the Bill of Rights a guarantee that no one would be deprived of life, liberty, or property ‘without due process of law.’ The protections inherent in this clause are vital to shielding Americans from arbitrary or abusive government action. The Regulatory Bill of Rights promises the same protections against the regulatory state, protections that are long overdue, as our clients can attest.”



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