The Week That Was: October 24, 2020)
Brought to You by www.SEPP.org
By Ken Haapala, President, Science and Environmental Policy Project
Quote of the Week: “Holmes: I have no data yet. It is a capital mistake to theorise before one has data. Insensibly one begins to twist facts to suit theories, instead of theories to suit facts.” – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s 1891 A Scandal in Bohemia, [H/t James Randi]
Number of the Week: 251.9 million years ago
Atmospheric Measurements? The generally accepted standard for atmospheric carbon dioxide measurements are the ones from Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii run by NOAA. Writing in No Tricks Zone, Kenneth Richard asks: “Is this the best location to measure global CO2 levels?”
It may be a reasonable location, provided the MPAA carefully maintains the records. Alas, NOAA has not carefully maintained the US surface temperatures, once the gold standard.
In addition to Mauna Loa, NOAA has observatories in the Utqiaġvik (formerly Barrow) Alaska, the most northern point of the US; American Samoa, in the middle of the South Pacific; and the South Pole Observatory. According to NOAA’s Global Monitoring Laboratory website:
“We have confidence that the CO2 measurements made at the Mauna Loa Observatory reflect truth about our global atmosphere. The main reasons for that confidence are:
“The Observatory near the summit of Mauna Loa, at an altitude of 3400 m, is well situated to measure air masses that are representative of very large areas.
“All of the measurements are rigorously and very frequently calibrated.
“Ongoing comparisons of independent measurements at the same site allow an estimate of the accuracy, which is generally better than 0.2 ppm.”
This is strange. NOAA’s measurements of carbon dioxide are at 3400 meters (11.150 feet) to assure they are of large air masses and represent large areas. Yet, NOAA’s global climate modelers use highly localized surface temperature data (roughly shoulder height) to make model estimates of the influence of CO2. NOAA’s modelers ignore the temperature trends of the bulk atmosphere, which have been compiled for over 40 years, where CO2 is measured and where the greenhouse effect occurs.
Further, in discussing the background of CO2 levels, the NOAA website presents two sets of data: 1) air that has been artificially dried of all water vapor; and 2) air that has 3% water vapor. When John Tyndall began his experiments in 1859, he began to realize that water vapor is the dominant greenhouse gas which keeps the world considerably warmer at night than it would be otherwise. Yet NOAA’s modelers use artificially dried air to calculate the influence of CO2 and other greenhouse gases. See links under Measurement Issues — Surface and Measurement Issues – Atmosphere.
Weather – The Political Football: Last week, TWTW discussed a new report from the UN Office for Disaster Reduction which declared that climate disasters have doubled over the past 20 years (2000-2019). Unfortunately, TWTW did not link to the report and does so now. Among the Themes listed on the website of the report is “Advocacy & Media.” That theme well summarizes the report. Its purpose is to promote the dangers of human emissions of carbon dioxide, whether such dangers exist or not.
Last week, Eric Worrall writing in Watts Up With That had a good review of some of the deficiencies in the report concerning flooding in Asia, particularly China. This week, Paul Homewood addresses deficiencies in the report for US Tornadoes. This week, Paul Homewood compares the Emergency Events Database (EM-DAT) by Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters – CRED tornado claims with the U.S. annual count of tornadoes maintained by NOAA from 1954 through 2014. Although modern instruments are more capable of recording a tornado than those used in the past, the annual count shows no trend.
Not discussed by Homewood, the U.S. Annual Count of Strong to Violent Tornadoes (F3+), 1954 through 2014 also show no strong trend, but one might claim that violent tornadoes are declining. By far, the worst year was 1974. Further, 1957, 1961, 1965, 1971, and 1973 had as many or more violent tornadoes than 2011, which had the highest number after 1974. As Homewood concludes:
“Remember that EM-DAT record even tiny events, which for instance affect only 100 people. Virtually every tornado which goes through a populated area will qualify under this definition.
“And, of course, the NOAA graph above confirms that the number of tornadoes has been trending down, not up.
“Plainly the EM-DAT database is worthless and should not be used for comparing long term trends.”
It is worth remembering that in 1980 the Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters (CRED) became a World Health Organization (WHO) Collaborating Centre. See links under Challenging the Orthodoxy, Defending the Orthodoxy, and https://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/climate-information/extreme-events/us-tornado-climatology/trends.
Why Normalize? When comparing different years, or periods, economists like to normalize, to bring things to a standard condition of state. In other words, trends are best discerned on an everything-else-being-equal basis. This does not necessarily mean that there is a static, state. As stated previously, the economist Joseph Schumpeter considered that the normal state of a competitive economy is change – creative destruction. By creating improvements, newly forming processes and companies overcome the dominant positions of older ones. There normalization involves comparing similar-to-similar, or apples-to-apples. The deficiencies in the above discussed report are its failure to normalize the two time periods during an era when human prosperity was growing rapidly. According to Our World in Data, based on World Bank data, the number of people living in extreme poverty in 1990 was 1.9 billion, 36% of the world’s population. By 2015, the number went down to 730 million, about 10% of the world’s population. The CRED report failed to realize the impact of this.
Before the CRED report, Roger Pielke Jr. recognized the IPCC as producing credible reports on extreme weather events. For example, he frequently recognized the UN IPCC Fifth Assessment Report (AR5, 2013) because it tried to normalize changes, which the CRED report did not. In August, the journal Environmental Hazards published a paper Pielke finished in July, “Economic ‘normalisation’ of disaster losses 1998–2020: a literature review and assessment.” The Abstract establishes why normalization of economic losses is necessary.
“Nowadays, following every weather disaster quickly follow estimates of economic loss. Quick blame for those losses, or some part, often is placed on claims of more frequent or intense weather events. However, understanding what role changes in climate may have played in increasing weather-related disaster losses is challenging because, in addition to changes in climate, society also undergoes dramatic change. Increasing development and wealth influence exposure and vulnerability to loss – typically increasing exposure while reducing vulnerability. In recent decades a scientific literature has emerged that seeks to adjust historical economic damage from extreme weather to remove the influences of societal change from economic loss time series to estimate what losses past extreme events would cause under present-day societal conditions. In regions with broad exposure to loss, an unbiased economic normalisation will exhibit trends consistent with corresponding climatological trends in related extreme events, providing an independent check on normalisation results. This paper reviews 54 normalisation studies published 1998–2020 and finds little evidence to support claims that any part of the overall increase in global economic losses documented on climate time scales is attributable to human-caused changes in climate, reinforcing conclusions of recent assessments of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.’ [Boldface added]
In the Introduction section of the paper Pielke asserts:
“To successfully employ normalizations methods requires understanding relationships of economic loss, changing patterns of societal vulnerability and exposure, and trends in the frequency and extreme weather events. (IPCC 2012…)”
The 2012 paper is titled: “Managing the risks of extreme events and disasters to advance climate change adaption.” The paragraph continues:
It is essential to emphasize that one should not look for direct evidence of changes in the incidence of weather events in economic loss data – whether normalized or not – climate data will always better serve that purpose. However, because normalization studies seek to remove the effects of changing societal factors in a historical loss record and adjust data to a common base year, trends in normalized losses should be consistent with trends in related weather extremes. Consequently, climate data provide an important independent check on normalization results.” [Boldface added]
The new CRED report, a part of the UN World Health Organization, failed to normalize their results, standardize reported events, and ignored an important independent check of their results. See links under Challenging the Orthodoxy.
“Correct” Environmentalism: The American Institute for Economic Research (AIER) was founded in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, in 1933, to promote the concepts of a free market and free society with the role of government confined to the provision of public goods. According to its 2019 Annual Report, its revenues totaled $2.1 million – virtually nothing compared to some major environmental organizations. AIER sponsored the October 4 Great Barrington Declaration authored by noted epidemiologists (physicians) who questioned what they consider the excessive response to COVID-19 by many governments. The opening statement of the Declaration reads:
“As infectious disease epidemiologists and public health scientists we have grave concerns about the damaging physical and mental health impacts of the prevailing COVID-19 policies and recommend an approach we call Focused Protection.”
The final paragraph reads:
Those who are not vulnerable should immediately be allowed to resume life as normal. Simple hygiene measures, such as hand washing and staying home when sick should be practiced by everyone to reduce the herd immunity threshold. Schools and universities should be open for in-person teaching. Extracurricular activities, such as sports, should be resumed. Young low-risk adults should work normally, rather than from home. Restaurants and other businesses should open. Arts, music, sport, and other cultural activities should resume. People who are more at risk may participate if they wish, while society as a whole enjoys the protection conferred upon the vulnerable by those who have built up herd immunity.
By now, it is clear which groups are vulnerable and those which are not. According to the October 23 report by the US Centers of Disease Control and Prevention:
“The total number of excess deaths (deaths above average levels) from January 26 through October 3 ranged from a low of approximately 841 in the youngest age group (<25 years) to a high of 94,646 among adults aged 75–84 years. However, the average percentage change in deaths over this period compared with previous years was largest for adults aged 25–44 years (26.5%)). Overall, numbers of deaths among persons aged <25 years were 2.0% below average, and among adults aged 45–64, 65–74 years, 75–84, and ≥85 years were 14.4%, 24.1%, 21.5%, and 14.7% above average, respectively.”
The “excess deaths” are highly age related, and other conditions which weaken the immune system are often involved. Yet, the signers of the Declaration have been strongly attacked, including a Nobel laureate in Chemistry for expressing the “wrong ideas” about COVID-19.
In defending the sponsoring institute writer Joakim Book commented:
“Much of the outrage over AIER’s sponsoring and hosting of the Declaration had nothing to do with what the scientists in it said, or even the topic of societal disagreement that it captures.”
Apparently, many critics of the Declaration claim it downplays the fictious “environmental crisis” which the UN and many of its followers insist is occurring. The UN and its followers produce hollow evidence such as the CRED report discussed above, which is a collection of faulty analysis. To base policy on questionable evidence is folly; thus, to criticize other folly is anti-environmentalism? See links under Seeking a Common Ground, Science, Policy, and Evidence, https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/69/wr/mm6942e2.htm#:~:text=Overall%2C%20numbers%20of%20deaths%20among,14.7%25%20above%20average%2C%20respectively and
Food Security: A favorite topic of “climate crisis” promoters are food security, how the changing climate will destroy food production. As discussed in previous TWTWs, the US Fourth National Assessment by the US Global Change Research Program asserted that US production of corn (maize) and soybeans will suffer from warming. Yet, the biggest US export competitor for these crops is tropical Brazil, In 2019, Brazil fell to third in maize, slightly less than Argentina
Starting this week, TWTW will have a new heading, Changing Technology, to include improvements in food production. Argentina announced it engineered a drought resistant variety of wheat. However, no importing country has yet approved it. The biggest destination for Argentina wheat export is Brazil. See link under Changing Technology.
Are They Green? Politicians are pushing green vehicles. But avoid the question: will they increase requirements for electricity? In California, the energized system that delivers electrical power (the grid) already has problems to deliver the power when needed the most. The results are blackouts, because solar is unable to deliver power in the late afternoons when sunshine is diminishing.
Of significant interest is what will happen when commuters come home and plug-in their electric vehicles? The governor and legislators of California ignore such difficulties and the regulated utility companies see such issues as opportunities expand regulatory approved costs, thus profit centers because they allow regulated utilities to run up their “rate base” for permitted, regulated profits. A game played at the expense of the general consumer.
In a related issue, power expert Donn Dears discusses the Battery Day presentation by Elon Musk stating:
“To his credit, Musk has assembled an engineering team that identifies problems and then identifies solutions to those problems.
“During the Battery Day presentation, Musk’s engineering leader summarized the following actions that he predicted would result in a 56% improvement in battery cost and a 54% improvement in range.” [Explained in the article.]
See Alternative, Green (“Clean”) Vehicles and Article # 1
Number of the Week: 251.9 million years ago. A paper published in Nature Geoscience is being used to claim a greenhouse catastrophe killed nearly all life during Permian–Triassic mass extinction about 251.9 million years ago. The claim of “greenhouse catastrophe” is based on volcanic eruptions which emitted sulfur dioxide, which is very acidic, and carbon dioxide, which is mildly acidic. This is not evidence that human emissions of carbon dioxide will endanger life on this planet today. See links under Defending the Orthodoxy.
# 1 Utilities Wage Battle Over Charging Stations
By Rebecca Elliott, WSJ, Oct 19, 2020
TWTW Summary: The reporter writes:
“Electric vehicles are widely seen as the automobile industry’s future, but a battle is unfolding in states across America over who should control the charging stations that could gradually replace fuel pumps.
“From Exelon Corp. to Southern California Edison, utilities have sought regulatory approval to invest millions of dollars in upgrading their infrastructure to prepare for charging and, in some cases, to own and operate chargers.
“The proposals are sparking concerns from consumer advocates about higher electric rates and oil companies about subsidizing rivals. They are also drawing opposition from startups that say the successors to gas stations should be open to private competition, not controlled by monopoly utilities.
“That debate is playing out in regulatory commissions throughout the U.S. as states and utilities promote wider adoption of electric vehicles. At stake are charging infrastructure investments expected to total more than $13 billion over the next five years, according to energy consulting firm Wood Mackenzie. That would cover roughly 3.2 million charging outlets.
“Calvin Butler Jr., who leads Exelon’s utilities business, said many states have grown more open to the idea of utilities becoming bigger players in charging as electric vehicles have struggled to take off in the U.S., where they make up only around 2% of new car sales. ‘When the utilities are engaged, there’s quicker adoption because the infrastructure is there,’ he said.
“Major auto makers including General Motors Co. and Ford Motor Co. are accelerating production of electric vehicles, and a number of states have set ambitious EV goals—most recently California, which aims to ban the sale of new gasoline-powered cars by 2035. But a patchy charging-station network remains a huge impediment to mass EV adoption.
“Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden has called for building more than 500,000 new public charging outlets in a decade as part of his plan to combat climate change. But exactly how that would happen is unclear. The U.S. has fewer than 100,000 public outlets, according to the Energy Department. President Trump, who has weakened federal tailpipe emissions targets, hasn’t put forward an electric-vehicle charging plan, though he backed a 2019 transportation bill that would have provided $1 billion in grants to build alternative fueling infrastructure, including for electric vehicles.
“Charging access varies widely by state, as does utility involvement, which can range from providing rebates on home chargers to preparing sites for public charging—and even owning and operating the equipment needed to juice up electric vehicles.
“As of September, regulators in 24 states had signed off on roughly $2.6 billion of utility investment in transportation electrification, according to Atlas Public Policy, a Washington, D.C., policy firm. More than half of that spending was authorized in California, where electric vehicle adoption is highest.”
The article then goes into political history over the past 20 years but ignores cost except saying Southern California Edison claims its program will:
“…increase the average residential customer’s bill by around 50 cents a month.”