Weekly Climate and Energy News Roundup #419

By Ken Haapala, President, Science and Environmental Policy Project

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

Re-Blogged From WUWT

Quote of the Week: “What we observe is not Nature itself but Nature exposed to our methods of questioning.” –Werner Heisenberg, also “We have to remember that what we observe is not nature itself, but nature exposed to our methods of questioning.” – Ludwig Wittgenstein

Number of the Week: Zero (0)

July Summary Part V; General Conclusions: Four weeks ago TWTW reviewed Richard Lindzen’s new paper summarizing what we know with reasonable certainty, what we suspect, and what we know is incorrect about climate change, the greenhouse effect, temperature trends, climate modeling, ocean chemistry, and sea level rise. Key parts included (with additions in boldface):

1) The climate system is never in equilibrium.

2) The core of the system consists of two turbulent fluids interacting with each other and unevenly heated by the sun, which results in transport of heat from the equator towards the poles (meridional) creating ocean cycles that may take 1,000 years to complete.

3) The two most important substances in the greenhouse effect are water vapor and clouds, which are not fully understood and are not stable.

4) A vital component of the atmosphere is water in its liquid, solid, and vapor phases and the changes in phases have immense dynamic consequences.

5) Doubling carbon dioxide, (CO2), creates a 2% disturbance to the normal flow of energy into the system and out of the system, which is similar to the disturbance created by changes in clouds and other natural features. Given the turbulent conditions of the climate system that cannot be described by equations, the concept of forcing has little meaning.

6) Temperatures in the tropics have been extremely stable. It is the temperature differences between the tropics and polar regions that are extremely important. Calculations such as global average temperature largely ignore this important difference.

Three weeks ago, TWTW used the work of William van Wijngaarden and William Happer (W & H) to summarize what we know with reasonable certainty, what we suspect, and what we know is incorrect about the greenhouse effect. Both the gentlemen are experts in Atomic, Molecular, and Optical physics (AMO), which is far from simple physics, but is necessary to understand how greenhouse gases interfere with (delay) the radiation of energy from the surface into space – that is, to understand the mechanisms by which the earth loses heat every night.

1)There is no general understanding of the greenhouse effect sufficient to develop elegant equations.

2) The optical depth or optical thickness of the atmosphere (transparency) changes as altitude changes. The depth is measured in terms of a natural logarithm and, in this instance, relates to distance a photon of a particular frequency can travel before it is absorbed by an appropriate molecule (one that absorbs and re-emits photons of that frequency).

3) Unlike other natural greenhouse gases, water vapor, the dominant greenhouse gas, is not evenly distributed in the atmosphere. [SEPP Comment: The variability of water vapor during the daytime and the formation of clouds from H2O, etc., combine to make impossible theoretical computations of “climate” dynamics with any value. Because water vapor varies hourly, daily, and seasonally and by location, the Charney Report recognized a decent calculation was impossible. So, it went down the erroneous path of ignoring H2O, and assumed a CO2 value; and then came back in with a “feedback” concept to try to account for H2O. The concept fails and continues to be a poor modeling practice that produces failures.

4) There is a logarithmic relationship between greenhouse gases and temperature.

5) “Saturation” means that adding more molecules causes little change in Earth’s radiation to space. The very narrow range in which methane (CH4) can absorb and emit photons is already saturated by water vapor (H2O), the dominant greenhouse gas, below the tropopause, where the atmosphere is thick. Thus, adding methane has little effect on temperatures.

6) The high-resolution transmission molecular absorption database (HITRAN) is a compilation of spectroscopic parameters used to calculate and simulate the transmission and emission of light in the atmosphere. The database project started by the Air Force Cambridge Research Laboratories (AFCRL) in the late 1960s in response to the need for detailed knowledge of the infrared properties of the atmosphere. “The goal of HITRAN is to have a self-consistent set of parameters. However, at the same time the requirement is to archive the most accurate parameters possible. It must be emphasized that the parameters that exist in HITRAN are a mixture of calculated and experimental. Often the experimentally determined values are more accurate than the calculated ones, and vice versa.” From this database, W & H calculate that a doubling of CO2 will increase temperatures by no more than 1.5 ⁰ C – an upper bound, based on what we know about the atmosphere today. This upper bound is similar to the one calculated by Apollo veteran scientists and engineers in TRCS team. The Apollo veterans participated in the hallmark of NASA’s space program.

Two weeks ago, TWTW reviewed the problems with models as discussed by established Japanese climate modeler Mototaka Nakamura and as demonstrated in a new paper by Ross McKitrick and John Christy. Previously, Tony Thomas summarized some of the main problems identified by Nakamura:

•           Ignorance about large and small-scale ocean dynamics.

•           A complete lack of meaningful representations of aerosol changes that generate clouds.

•           Lack of understanding of drivers of ice-albedo (reflectivity) feedbacks: “Without a reasonably accurate representation, it is impossible to make any meaningful predictions of climate variations and changes in the middle and high latitudes and thus the entire planet.”

•           Inability to deal with water vapor elements.

•           Arbitrary “tunings” (fudges) of key parameters that are not understood.

Further, Nakamura rejects the IPCC concept that the influence of humans adding CO2 can be predicted by models. He states:

“I want to point out a simple fact that it is impossible to correctly predict even the sense or direction of the change of a system when the prediction tool lacks and/ or grossly distorts important nonlinear processes, feedbacks in particular, that are present in the actual system.” [Boldface added.] In short, we simply do not know whether the feedbacks will amplify or dampen disturbances to the system.

Nakamura further states that two major problems in the models are ocean flows (ocean circulation) and water in the atmosphere. Both problems are stated by Lindzen.

McKitrick and Christy tested the values calculated from 38 new CMIP6 models for the time period 1979 to 2014 with datasets from three different types of observations. 1) Four different sets of Radiosonde (or sonde) data obtained from weather balloons. 2) Four different sets of data obtained by microwave sensors onboard polar orbiting satellites which measure intensity of microwave emissions from atmospheric oxygen which are directly proportional to temperature. 3) Four different datasets known as Reanalyses, two from Europe, one from Japan and one from the US, NASA.

The 12 datasets cover 35 years and have been available for at least 5 years. The three different types of datasets from observations are grouped tightly both for global and the tropics. For most of the models, the mean for satellite observations is below the lower part of the 95% confidence interval for that model, indicating that the model cannot estimate atmospheric temperature trends. As Nakamura has written, the global climate models have no predictive value. The UN IPCC and its followers have clearly departed from the scientific method into the world of wild speculation.

The June 27 TWTW linked to Roy Spencer’s comparison of the results of 13 CMIP6 models with surface temperature data, which are far less comprehensive than atmospheric data and subject to many more human and natural influences than atmospheric data. The CMIP6 models produce significantly more warming than the older CMIP5 models and overestimate the HadCRUT4 surface warming tend by about 50%. Thus, the Climate Models tested have little or no demonstrated ability to predict surface temperature trends now or into the future.

Last week, TWTW discussed two efforts to distort the influence of carbon dioxide: one, changing ocean chemistry, so-called ocean acidification; and two, so-called accelerating sea level rise. Some of the most fertile areas of the oceans are those that experience upwellings, prevailing deep ocean currents come to the surface, bringing nutrients and increased carbon dioxide from the bottom. In turn, these promote photosynthesis, plant and animal life, and the beginning of the marine food chain. As described by Jim Steele, in 2006 to 2008 the US Pacific Northwest experienced a particularly strong upwelling which caused an oyster die-off.

The die-off was not from atmospheric CO2, but from the oyster industry importing Pacific oysters from Japan, which did not evolve in the Pacific Northwest. These oysters simply release their eggs into the water because they evolved in waters that do not experience rapid changes in pH from upwellings. Thus, in 2006-2008, during strong changes in pH, the eggs and larvae died. Conversely, the Olympia oysters native to the Pacific Northwest “brood” their larvae in their shells where the pH is more controlled. These natural conditions which caused the 2006-2008 die-off were complicated by actions by the Northwest oyster farmers.

In discussing the so-called acceleration of sea level rise, TWTW discussed the observed rate of sea level change at geologically stable Newlyn, Cornwall, England, as presented in a paper by E. Bradshaw in the Journal of Marine Geodesy. There are two different rates of change, one, a hundred-year rate of change as measured by tidal gages of 1.8 mm/per year (7 inches per century). The second rate of change is 3.8 mm/per year (15 inches per century) over a 11-year time period (from 1993-2014) as measured by satellites. One cannot say that the second rate of change is the correct one and sea level rise is accelerating, because over the one hundred-year tidal gage record there have been several other periods with rates of change similar to the satellite one. Thus, a claim of sea level rise increasing is a hasty conclusion based on a change of instrumentation.


Greenhouse Gases and the Greenhouse Effect: On July 18, TWTW discussed a paper by William van Wijngaarden and William Happer (W & H) published by the CO2 Coalition. The paper is based on calculations using the HITRAN database discussed above. The paper illustrates the type of calculations involved, which John Kerry called simple physics, demonstrating he knows not of what he speaks.

W & H present various figures demonstrating the idealized outflow of radiant energy from earth to space and identify the frequencies in which specific greenhouse gases reduce that outflow, warming the earth. The paper illustrates the importance of water vapor and that water vapor’s absorption frequencies overlap those of certain greenhouse gases that can slow outgoing radiation. One of those gases for which the absorption frequencies are already saturated by water vapor is methane. Thus, as illustrated in Figure # 4 (p. 11) of the paper, a doubling of methane produces little increase in the absorption of outgoing radiation. The fear of livestock creating dangerous warming is not substantiated by observations.

Also, Figure # 5 (p. 12) illustrates the calculated increase in the greenhouse effect if CO2 is doubled, slight; and the decrease in the greenhouse effect if CO2 is eliminated, significant. The significant effect of eliminating CO2 as compared with doubling is consistent with the logarithmic relationship between greenhouse gases and temperature.

Further, the figures illustrate that water vapor influences outgoing radiation over a broad range of frequencies. Given the interrelationship between the influence of water vapor with other greenhouse gases, the practice of the IPCC modelers to make estimates of the turbulent atmosphere without water vapor first, then add a calculation for water vapor, is contrary to what happens in nature. There is no logical reason to assume the greenhouse effect is calculated correctly. Given the great overestimates of atmospheric warming by the global climate models, it is doubtful that total greenhouse effect is properly calculated. See links under Challenging the Orthodoxy.


General Conclusions [subject to change as data change]:

The oceans and the atmosphere are complex systems that cannot be accurately described mathematically at this time.

The Greenhouse Effect in the atmosphere is complex and cannot be accurately described mathematically at this time.

There is no physical evidence demonstrating that adding carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is causing a dangerous greenhouse warming of the atmosphere, thus of the earth.

The claim of ocean acidification from increased atmospheric carbon dioxide is false and misleading.

The claim that increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide is causing an acceleration of sea level change is not substantiated by long-term sea level trends from geologically stable tidal gauges and may be a temporary condition.

The global climate models predicting or forecasting dangerous warming in the future do not describe what is happening in the atmosphere or on the surface, thus have no predictive value.

The benefits of increased CO2 to plant life and the environment are well established, but frequently ignored.

The benefits of the greenhouse effect to life on the planet by keeping it warmer at night and suitable for habitation are well established, but frequently ignored.

Thus, there is no compelling physical evidence that humanity should change its use of fossil fuels, unless something more reliable and more affordable is developed that does not require costly storage to make it reliable. See links under Challenging the Orthodoxy – NIPCC, Challenging the Orthodoxy, and Seeking a Common Ground.


Atmospheric Temperature Trends: On their respective blogs, Roy Spencer and the Earth System Science Center, UAH, have posted the atmospheric temperature trends for July 2020. Spencer notes:

“The linear warming trend since January 1979 remains at +0.14 C/decade (+0.12 C/decade over the global-averaged oceans, and +0.18 C/decade over global-averaged land).”

In the view of TWTW, the 40 year plus trends are not alarming. The trends indicate that the claims that warming is hiding in the oceans of the Southern Hemisphere are spurious, bogus. See links under Measurement Issues – Atmosphere.


Primary Productivity: As used in ecology, primary production is the ability of organic compounds, through photosynthesis, to use light energy to convert inorganic chemical compounds including carbon dioxide into organic compounds. Almost all life on Earth relies directly or indirectly on primary production. CO2 Science reviews a paper on “Long-term Trends in Global Gross Primary Productivity.” As the review states:

“In considering all of the above, it is clear that fears of a soon-to-be-collapsing terrestrial biosphere are vastly overstated. Rather than declining in vigor as so many climate alarmists falsely claim, the world’s land vegetation is increasing its robustness, and has been doing so for over at least the past eleven decades.

“Ironically, the reason for that enhancement is the very action climate alarmists claim should be decimating it: humanity’s increasing use of fossil fuels. [Boldface italics in the original.]

“The combustion of fossil fuels is the principal driver of the contemporary increase witnessed in both atmospheric CO2 and nitrogen deposition. And, if you believe the climate alarmists that rising CO2 is the sole cause of modern warming, well, you can add the positive effects from a warming climate to CO2 and nitrogen deposition as an attributable factor driving the positive trends in GPP.

“Humanity and nature should therefore be thankful for the use of fossil fuels instead of demonizing it as so many climate alarmists do. They couldn’t be more misguided.”

Further, after a 25-yearr study of Harvard Forest, in central Massachusetts, the researchers wrote:

“Since 2000, NPP [Net primary production] has increased by 26%. For the period 1992–2015, NEP [Net ecosystem production] increased 93%. The increase in mean annual temperature and growing season length alone accounted for ~30% of the increase in productivity.”

Amusingly, the researchers could not admit the benefits of more CO2. See links under Social Benefits of Carbon Dioxide and Review of Recent Scientific Articles by CO2 Science.


Wind Power Failure: On her blog, Jo Nova presents two different weather conditions that result in the failure of wind power in Australia. She writes:

“The sharpest power cuts are happening in between the high-pressure cells. As the wind picks up, production maximizes, only to crash as turbines hit their safety cut off points and drop out of production suddenly. About 50 times a year generation across the entire Australian wind farm grid falls by 500MW or more within one hour or less.

“On the other hand, when large cell weather patterns traverse Australia whole windfarm regions are becalmed and rendered useless within hours. This sort of failure can be as large as 2 to 4 GW of power disappearing in less than nine hours. This is like a whole coal power plant or even two (with 8 different units) producing virtually nothing. It never happens with coal, but it happens about twenty times a year with wind power.”

Apparently, those politicians insisting on replacing reliable power from fossil fuels and nuclear with offshore wind believe that such weather conditions do not appear near their friendly shores, such as East Coast hurricanes or Nor’easters. See links under Alternative, Green (“Clean”) Solar and Wind.


No TWTW Next Week: There will be no TWTW on the weekend of August 15. TWTW will resume the weekend of August 22.


Vote for Aprils Fools Award: The voting for the SEPP’s April Fools Award will be continued until August 10. The winner will be announced on August 22. The leading contenders are the darling of global warming alarmists, Greta Thunberg; and the leader of stellar examples of what not to do with numerical modeling, be definitive without double-checking assumption and data, the computer modelers at Imperial College represented by Neil Ferguson.

Other nominees include Popular Naturalist David Attenborough, Professor and Political Commentator Brian Cox, World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada. Get your votes in by Monday.


Number of the Week: Zero – (0). All CMIP6 models tested against actual temperature trends, both atmospheric and surface, failed to be within 5% of the data, a standard for reliability of statistical estimates. Much worse, for the atmosphere, the 95% confidence intervals of almost all the models failed to include the 95% confidence intervals of three different atmospheric datasets. And these models are being used to make temperature predictions of 30, 80, and 180 years out?

Simply, as the Quotes of the Week suggest, the modelers and the government entities that sponsor them are not asking the right questions.



The Tesla Secret

Why don’t Wall Street and the press talk about how the EV business really works?

By Holman Jenkins, WSJ, Aug 4, 2020


TWTW Summary: The journalist writes:

“Wall Street is narrowly focused on Tesla’s stock price, the press on a brainless debate about whether electric cars are good or very, very good. But try listening to Elon Musk.

“Last quarter the company lost $100 million on electric cars and reported a profit thanks to $400 million in mandated government gifts from other car makers who get their profits from trucks and SUVs. Mr. Musk has stridently complained about regulators encouraging others to build their own electric cars rather than buy fuel-economy credits from Tesla. He urged Detroit to farm out its production of compliance vehicles to Tesla. He renewed the proposal again this week. Essentially, he wants Tesla to help itself to a big share of the profits these companies are obliged, under green mandates, to shift to EVs.”

After recognizing many readers may not wish details, Jenkins continues:

“Let’s understand: If a market opportunity exists for electric vehicles, it hardly requires an existing car maker to exploit it—Tesla has proved that.

“If a public good is served by promoting electric cars, GM or other existing auto companies hardly need to make them, any more than Exxon needs to make windmills and solar panels. This is just a dumb category error, like saying a maker of arms for chairs must make arms for the military.

“Unfortunately policy salesmanship often operates on such dumb errors. You need a story that can be told to an idiot (the public) as well as a bunch of special interests eager to be greased. And we live in a time of emboldened, self-confident stupidity. The press swooned at President Obama’s vaporware target of 54.5 miles a gallon. The fairy tale was treated as the real thing while ignored as too wonky to report was the actual practical, calculated effect: freeing Detroit to make big pickups and SUVs under fuel-economy rules in return for producing token numbers of money-losing EVs to be exploited for presidential photo-ops.

“Until the media starts doing its job, this slide toward policy idiocy will only accelerate. Such government interventions always tend to cartelize the industry they take aim at. That’s the drift here. Mandates that result in electric vehicles being dumped on the market are a deterrent to new EV entrants. Tesla wants to shelter behind these barriers too, though you would never get Mr. Musk to admit it.

“Not that these arrangements are ever likely to prove stable. In Europe, the scheme already is unraveling as the previous diesel fetish did. Governments are pumping out desperate amounts of money to make electric vehicles free to some buyers in hopes of relieving their auto companies of enormous fines they will soon face for missing government-imposed EV targets.

“This silliness has nothing to with climate gains and everything to do with politicians trying to stop their deranged artifices from blowing up on their companies and auto workers. Only two developments in history have made a discretely detectable impact on global emissions: the invention of fracking and the collapse of Soviet heavy industry. Both imparted a one-time boost to the steady, consistent decline in global GDP energy intensity as manufacturing has given way to service-based and then digitally based economies.

“Even greens now admit as much: These trends, unless interrupted by terrible policy mistakes, virtually guarantee that emissions over the next century will fall far short of the worst-case scenario (known as RCP 8.5).

“In the meantime, we lie to ourselves histrionically that electric cars will have any impact at all. Take the big electric SUVs now flooding the market because, with their high price points, manufacturers hope to recoup more of their losses. These vehicles are actually worse for the environment, so energy-intensive is production of their large batteries.

“So what about Tesla’s stock price? The company is plainly valued as if tomorrow’s expected profits won’t be coming from the car business but from some Musk magic yet to be revealed. And that’s fine. Investors are entitled to bet, God bless them, that Mr. Musk is creating the next Apple, not the next GM.

“This column supported Mr. Musk in his battle with the SEC. It urged him to raise capital in the middle of the fight to show he still had investor support. Let technology and consumer tastes, rather than regulatory actions, determine the outcome.

“But a bizarre sidelight is that Tesla’s market capitalization is now greater than GM, Ford, Daimler, VW and Fiat Chrysler’s combined. Tesla is worth more than most of the industry that it relies on for the subsidies that are the only reason it was able to report three consecutive quarters of profit.”


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