Weekly Climate and Energy News Roundup #276

By Ken Haapala, President, Science and Environmental Policy Project

The Week That Was: July 8, 2017 – Brought to You by www.SEPP.org,

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Quote of the Week. “Whoever is careless with the truth in small matters cannot be trusted with important matters: “– Albert Einstein

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Number of the Week: 39%

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New Atmospheric Data? Roy Spencer responds to the recent paper by Mears and Wentz, who are principals in Remote Sensing Systems (RSS), competitors with the Earth System Science Center at the University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH). As speculated in last week’s TWTW, this may be part of an effort to discredit John Christy’s effective testimony on Capitol Hill that global climate models greatly overestimate the warming trend of the atmosphere. Spencer states:

“Before I go into the details, let’s keep all of this in perspective. Our globally-averaged trend is now about +0.12 C/decade, while the new RSS trend has increased to about +0.17 C/decade.

“Note these trends are still well below the average climate model trend for LT [Lower Troposphere], which is +0.27 C/decade.” [Boldface was italic in the original.]

What we see is that extending warming trends for a century, the models calculate a century-long trend of 1 degree C above the RSS calculations and 1.5 degrees C above the UAH calculations. The so-called “corrections” of 0.5 degrees C to the RSS data are not that significant when compared with the overestimates of the average of the global climate models.

Among other points, Spencer discusses the different techniques used by the two groups to adjust for the error in the diurnal cycle (daily pattern) in the climate models. UAH uses empirically derived adjustments, RSS uses model derived adjustments. As Spencer states:

“In general, it is difficult for us to follow the chain of diurnal corrections in the new RSS paper. Using a climate model to make the diurnal drift adjustments, but then adjusting those adjustments with empirical satellite data feels somewhat convoluted to us.”

See links under Challenging the Orthodoxy.

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Surface Data: For some years, independent meteorologists such as Joseph D’Aleo have noticed a disturbing trend in historic data reported by certain government entities, such as NOAA, Ashville (previously called the National Climatic Data Center, now called the National Centers for Environmental Information). These historic data are used by NOAA, NASA and the Hadley CRU. Hadley CRU is a dataset developed at the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia in England and the Hadley Centre (the UK Met Office). In general, multiple adjustments were made to the historic data that reduced past warm periods. The net effect was to give a greater present day warming trend, than in the past.

For example, in the US, many long-term records were set in the 1930s, but the current, adjusted data does not show that decade as particularly hot, when compared to today. And, the US was the world-wide gold standard for temperature measurements.

A new study by Wallace, D’Aleo, and Idso systematically analyzes the Global Average Surface Temperatures reported by NOAA, NASA, and Hadley CRU. The results are striking. For example, Figure IV-1 shows five different plots of 5-year temperature trends by NASA-GISS (Goddard Institute for Space Studies on Broadway) produced from 1980 to 2015. The period around 1940 became progressively cooler in these plots. Similar adjustments have been made to the other datasets as well as to datasets for specific locations.

The study recognizes that adjustments to surface data may need to be changed, but the overall trend reflected in the changes appears to create a bias in the data. Further, strong cyclical patterns that once appeared are muted. A comprehensive review of the adjustments is in order.

Side note: Some of those who established the standards for US weather stations, which became the world-wide gold standard, were members of the oldest science society of Washington. As a past president of that society, this author finds the tarnishing of that standard particularly disturbing. See links under Challenging the Orthodoxy.

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Red Team / Blue Team: In several instances in congressional testimony, John Christy has called for a Red Team/Blue Team approach for addressing the US issues regarding climate science. The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and its followers such as the US Global Change Research Program (USGCRP) are well funded by government. They attribute climate change to primarily human activities, particularly carbon dioxide emissions.

As Christy points out, what is lacking is a well-funded Red Team:

“…[to] look at issues such as natural variability, the failure of climate models and the huge benefits to society from affordable energy, carbon-based and otherwise. I would expect such a team would offer to congress some very different conclusions regarding the human impacts on climate.”

One can liken this approach to the adversarial arguments in a criminal court of law. (CO2 is a criminal?) The reports of the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change were intended to have a Red Team approach. However, the publisher, The Heartland Institute and other groups, do not have the deep, multi-billion-dollar pockets enjoyed by the IPCC, USGCRP, etc.

This idea appears to be gaining attention. In Climate Etc. Judith Curry discusses the idea more fully. We have had decades of spurious claims about the dangers of carbon dioxide, which is essential for life as we generally understand it. Such an approach may help dispel decades of myths such as a 97% consensus, CO2 can be seen from smoke-stacks, etc. It would be important to establish solid rules of evidence, such as unvalidated models are not hard evidence, and to avoid dogmatic participants. See links under Challenging the Orthodoxy and Seeking a Common Ground.

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Executive Actions: The Constitution is a practical guide for government, limiting the powers of its branches. From this comes the popular term “checks and balances.” Increasingly, some of the executive actions of the prior administration are being discarded. Since these actions are not law, there is no reason for the current administration to keep them, should it so choose to change them. Increasingly, the Trump administration is reversing executive actions under the Obama administration.

The same can be said for the Paris Accord (Agreement) which the Obama administration sold to the public as an executive action and did not send to the Senate for two-thirds approval, as required by the Constitution for a treaty. The cries of those who expected great sums of money through the Paris agreement, such as Christiana Figueres, formerly Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), are not significant. They knowingly played a game, and lost. As discussed in last week’s TWTW, Ms. Figueres formed an organization expecting up to One Trillion Dollars a year. See Article # 1 and links under After Paris!

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Economic Return on Energy Investment: Writing for the Global Warming Policy Forum, Economics Professor Michael Kelly brings up an important concept that many writers on energy issues fail to consider: Economic Return on Energy Investment.

In the US, following the Civil War, fossil fuels such as coal quickly replaced biomass (wood) and muscle power (animal and human). The economy boomed. People found the care and feeding of a steam engine is much easier than the care and feeding of horses. City streets became much cleaner, and boots were no longer needed. What was important was not the number of people employed in a particular energy sector, but the employment the energy sector created in other economic sectors.

Kelly’s Economic Return on Energy Investment is a measure of the productivity of various energy types. He finds that 9% of the global GDP is tied up in energy, yielding a return of about 11:1. For coal and gas power plants, the return is about 50:1. For nuclear power plants it is about 70:1. The low values of traditional biomass, and other external issues bring the global value down to 11:1.

Applying this analysis to solar photovoltaics, he finds a return of less than 4:1; for wind power, a return of less than 8:1. In brief, there is not much opportunity for solar and wind to lift the third world to modern European standards. See links under Questioning European Green.

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Offshore Wind: Often, wind promoters claim offshore wind is reliable, even though it is becoming obvious that onshore wind is not. Writing in Energy Matters, Roger Andrews examines the validity of this claim for the world’s wind nation, Denmark, and finds it wanting – without considering added costs of salt water corrosion.

“Previous Energy Matters posts that highlight the difficulties of integrating intermittent wind power with the grid have been based dominantly on onshore wind data, but claims that offshore wind is significantly less erratic and will therefore be much easier to integrate with the grid have not been checked. This post reviews the question of whether it will. It finds that offshore wind is indeed less erratic than onshore wind but still nowhere near consistent enough to do away with the need for storage or conventional backup generation.”

Finding solid data is always a major problem for such studies, but he succeeds in finding a database for Denmark that separates onshore and offshore production. The analysis covers three years, 2014 to 2016. A small country, Denmark is ringed with offshore wind farms on three sides.

Rogers finds that offshore wind has a capacity factor of 43% as compared with onshore wind of 25%; but, also, that when wind dies onshore it does so offshore as well. Back-up is needed for both. Given that offshore wind costs about twice that of onshore, it is not much of a bargain. See links under Alternative, Green (“Clean”) Solar and Wind.

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Number of the Week: 39%: The island of El Hierro in the Canary Islands was to be a show-case of 100% wind power for electricity. Excess electricity would be used for pumped hydro storage, to be used when the wind failed to meet demand. After two full years of operation, the system provided 39.1% of the electricity needed. The balance came from diesel generators. The reservoirs are inadequate for the hydro component. But the circus continues with plans for wind supplying a higher percentage of total energy needs. Have those in the Pentagon who bragged about weather-dependent wind power helping the nation’s energy security heard of this island? See link under Alternative, Green (“Clean”) Solar and Wind.

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ARTICLES:

1. Pruitt’s Clean Water Break

Obama’s legacy of rule by decree is rapidly being undone.

Editorial, WSJ, July 2, 2017

https://www.wsj.com/articles/pruitts-clean-water-break-1499030184

The editorial states:

“President Trump is having a hard time getting legislation through Congress, but his Administration is moving fast to roll back Barack Obama’s pen- and-a-phone lawmaking. The latest example, which barely registered in the press, is the Environmental Protection Agency’s decision last week to rescind the unilateral rewrite of the Clean Water Act.

“The Obama EPA in 2015 redefined “waters of the United States” under the Clean Water Act to include any land with a “significant nexus” to a navigable waterway. Several arbitrary thresholds were used to determine significance, such as land within a 100-year floodplain and 1,500 feet of the high-water mark of waters under government jurisdiction. The rule extended the government’s writ to prairie potholes, vernal pools and backyard creeks.

“Thirty-one states sued the feds for violating the Administrative Procedure Act, and the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals enjoined the rule nationwide. Now Administrator Scott Pruitt is putting the rule on ice while the EPA works up a replacement. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy muddied the waters with his controlling opinion in the 2006 Rapanos v. U.S. case that conceived the new “significant nexus” standard, which the Obama EPA used as a pretext to pursue its water land grab.

Side comment: Piles of wet leaves have been arbitrarily been considered proof of “waters of the United States”, leaving the landowner with no recourse but seeking relief by expensive litigation.

“Mr. Pruitt said the EPA will propose a new rule ‘in accordance with Supreme Court decisions, agency guidance, and longstanding practice’ that would ‘return power to the states and provide regulatory certainty.’ Consider it another lesson in the limits of pen-and-phone rule by decree.”

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Weekly Climate and Energy News Roundup #275

By Ken Haapala, President, The Science and Environmental Policy Project

The Week That Was: July 1, 2017 Brought to You by www.SEPP.org

Climategate 2017? Last week TWTW discussed a paper by Santer, et al. that seems to support the view that, generally, global climate models greatly overestimate the warming of the atmosphere. The exception is the model by the Institute of Numerical Mathematics in Moscow. TWTW suspected that the paper may be part of a ruse, a trick, to discredit John Christy’s Congressional testimony on December 8, 2015, and February 2, 2016. Christy had stated that global climate models overestimate warming by 2.5 to 3 times. The new Santer paper is similar to one in the Journal of Climate on December 21, 2016.

The 2016 Santer paper claimed that the Christy did not properly account for stratospheric cooling. If that cooling is included, the warming projected by the models is only 1.7 times what is occurring. Yet, Christy specifically limited the data in his testimony to 50,000 feet, below the stratosphere, to avoid the complexity of the issue. The new Santer paper, published in Nature Geoscience on June 19, 2017, has many of the same authors as the previous paper. A noted exception is that Susan Solomon of MIT is not included in the second paper. [Michael Mann is listed as a co-author in the second paper.]

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Weekly Climate and Energy News Roundup #274

By Ken Haapala, President, Science and Environmental Policy Project

Brought to You by www.SEPP.org

Upheaval in Washington: One can describe the election of Donald Trump and the beginning of his administration as an upheaval against establishment Washington, including both political parties. Certainly, those expressing dissatisfaction at the early steps taken by the Trump administration are from multiple political alliances. Some political groups are outraged by the administration’s decision to leave the Paris Agreement (Accord), other groups are concerned that the Administration is moving too slowly. Each set has arguments that are, at least, partially right.

Some of those objecting to the US leaving the Paris agreement may have counted on lavish US spending on their pet schemes. As mentioned in June 10 TWTW, the Paris agreement involved side agreements that could be costly to the US taxpayer. For example, according to its defenders the Mission Innovation pact of 2015, involved a US commitment of over $6 billion in 2017 and increasing to over $12 billion in 2021. The purpose was to double expenditures on clean energy research and development, apparently without approval by Congress.

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Indirect Effects of the Sun on Earth’s Climate

By Mike Jonas – Re-Blogged From http://www.WattsUpWithThat.com

And what might they be?” – Dr. Leif Svalgaard

For a long time, I have been bitterly disappointed at the blinkered lopsided attitude of the IPCC and of many climate scientists, by which they readily accepted spurious indirect effects from CO2-driven global warming (the “feedbacks”), yet found a range of excuses for ignoring the possibility that there might be any indirect effects from the sun. For example, in AR4 2.7.1 they say “empirical results since the TAR have strengthened the evidence for solar forcing of climate change” but there is nothing in the models for this, because there is “ongoing debate“, or it “remains ambiguous“, etc, etc.

In this article, I explore the scientific literature on possible solar indirect effects on climate, and suggest a reasonable way of looking at them. This should also answer Leif Svalgaard’s question, though it seems rather unlikely that he would be unaware of any of the material cited here. Certainly just about everything in this article has already appeared on WUWT; the aim here is to present it in a single article (sorry it’s so long). I provide some links to the works of people like Jasper Kirkby, Nir Shaviv and Nigel Calder. For those who have time, those works are worth reading in their entirety.

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Weekly Climate and Energy News Roundup #271

By Ken Haapala, President,The Science and Environmental Policy Project

Brought to You by www.SEPP.org

What Did Trump Learn? President Trump just returned from a meeting with the G-7, a group of industrialized nations. According to reports, some of the leaders of the G-7 countries tried to convince Trump of the need to commit to the Paris Agreement limiting carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, and he did not do so. Speculation abounds on what he will do in the coming weeks regarding the Agreement. He had stated he would announce a decision after the G-7 meeting.

Those advocating the Paris Agreement have never offered physical evidence that CO2 emissions are the primary cause of global warming / climate change. They just assumed it. So did the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), and other political bodies such as the US Global Change Research Program (USGCRP), with a budget of about $2.5 billion per year. It will be interesting to see if mere assumptions, accompanied by great publicity, will be good enough for President Trump to commit to a program that may cause massive damage to the US economy.

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This is the Way the Climate Scare Ends; Not With a Bang, But a Whimper

By Ian Aitken – Re-Blogged From http://www.WattsUpWithThat.com

What does the future hold for the climate change debate? Will there ever come a day when we see the headlines across the globe, ‘It’s Official – There Is No Climate Change Crisis’? Hardly – for unless we find some way to leap ahead in the currently highly immature science of climate change and manage finally to pin down the exact direct and indirect (via feedbacks) warming effect of adding greenhouse gases to our atmosphere and the exact effects of natural changes in our climate the outcomes will remain uncertain. The eminent scientist Stephen Koonin has stated that, ‘Today’s best estimate of the sensitivity [of the atmosphere to the addition of carbon dioxide]… is no different, and no more certain, than it was 30 years ago. And this is despite an heroic research effort costing billions of dollars.’

Basically, unless the ‘Uncertainty Monster’ is slain (and there is absolutely no reason to believe that will happen in the foreseeable future) neither the believers nor the skeptics can ‘prove’ their case. In which case we seem to be in a ‘wait and see’ position. But for how long? Even if the current global warming Slowdown persisted for decades it would still be possible that dramatic and dangerous warming was just about to resume. Indeed in 2015 The UK’s Royal Society expressed the view that it would take 50 years of divergence between the observations and the climate models before they would be convinced that the theory of anthropogenic climate change was flawed. We cannot be absolutely sure that there will be no climate change crisis – only that it is becoming increasingly unlikely. So the politically-correct scientific shibboleths of the ‘climate change crisis’ idea may well persist for a great many decades.

Having persuaded the world to spend trillions of dollars on fighting man-made climate change is the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) really going to admit that the causes of climate change are actually far more complex than they originally thought and so they may have been fundamentally mistaken about both the attribution and quantification of warming? And what about the UK’s Royal Society and the American National Academy of Sciences, those most renowned of scientific institutions; are they going to admit that they may have put political correctness and scientific funding concerns before scientific objectivity?

What about all those climate scientists who have been so careful to tacitly collude with the IPCC and not rock the climate change crisis boat; are they going to admit that their judgments may have been skewed by considerations of the self-interest of retaining their jobs, careers, incomes and pensions? And the many climate research units around the world; are they going to say, ‘Well we must go where the science takes us – if the science says that there actually isn’t a problem then we’ll just have to shut up shop.’ What about all of the senior politicians in the western world who have foisted an avalanche of regulations, taxes and controls on their electorates to ‘fight climate change’; are they going stand up and admit that their scientific illiteracy led them to be completely fooled?

Are all those prestigious environmental organizations, such as the WWF, Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth going to admit they had only ‘signed up’ to the global warming scare because it happened to suit their agendas, attracted donations and increased their influence? Is the BBC, that globally respected bastion of impartiality and objectivity, going to admit to the people of Britain that it abused its position of trust by simply taking on face value the selective and spun science fed to them and taking an irresponsible and unjustifiably partisan editorial approach to the climate change debate? What about all those newspaper journalists who for years have been repeating NASA and IPCC Press Releases as ‘objective facts’, neither subjecting them to critical analysis nor asking any awkward questions?

What about all those celebrities who have lined up to pledge their support for fighting climate change by flying less frequently in their private jets to reduce their ‘carbon footprint’? What about all those school teachers who (willingly or unwillingly) taught their pupils about the climate change crisis as though it was an undisputed fact? No, it just isn’t going to happen – far too many reputations and far too much money is at stake.

There is also the strange culture in science explained by the scientific historian Thomas Kuhn as, ‘Once it has achieved the status of a paradigm, a scientific theory is declared invalid only if an alternative candidate is available to take its place’. Note that he is not suggesting that this is right; instead he is saying that history shows it to be case. A credible alternative theory today is the ‘cosmic ray flux theory’; but for every dollar in research funding that goes into that theory and for every mention in the media of that theory there must be ten thousand that go into the IPCC theory. It just cannot compete. And anyway it is too late – the IPCC theory grabbed the high ground decades ago and has never surrendered it. Furthermore skeptical scientists are not suggesting that there is any single, simple theory to supplant the IPCC’s anthropogenic climate change theory, the ‘Climate Change Orthodoxy’.

Instead they offer a theory that climate change probably derives predominantly from natural ocean-atmosphere oscillations and/or by natural solar variations (irradiation and cosmic ray flux) and/or by natural cloud cover variations and/or the Milankovitch Effect, i.e. it is probably predominantly just natural. On the one hand you have something that is superficially simple, certain and easy for the public and journalists and politicians to understand (‘our carbon dioxide emissions are definitely the cause of dangerous climate change and reducing them will definitely solve the problem’) and on the other hand something that is complex, nuanced, uncertain and requires a considerable knowledge of science to understand (‘various complex and interlinked phenomena in nature, none of which is well understood, are probably the predominant cause of climate change that in some ways will probably be beneficial but in others may not’).

It is a very easy to understand, very alarming problem with a very ‘simple’ solution (‘decarbonize globally’) vs. a very hard to understand, very unthreatening problem with no man-made solution (since we are at the mercy of nature). Which is more likely to get the media headlines, sell newspapers and grab the public imagination? And simply admitting that our knowledge of climate change science is too slight to know ‘what causes climate change’ is never likely to supplant the dominant paradigm of the Climate Change Orthodoxy. Perhaps the Climate Change Orthodoxy theory lives on for little better reason than the failure of a simple, certain, compelling alternative theory to supplant it – and if the skeptical scientists are right then no such theory is ever likely to be found. Add to the huge vested interests of the media the huge vested interests of the scientists, the scientific authorities and the army of people who profit hugely from subsidized renewables and the dominant paradigm appears secure for the indefinite future.

Instead we may find the years rolling by with rising man-made greenhouse gas emissions yet modest, nonthreatening, global warming (and perhaps some temporary global cooling). In the fullness of time the inability of the climate change models to predict climate states generally, and atmospheric temperatures specifically, will become increasingly inescapable, the funding for climate change science research will quietly peter out (at first research into physical climate science, then later research into climate change mitigation, then finally research into climate change adaptation), the climate change researchers will quietly move on to other things (perhaps researching natural climate variability – or global cooling), the journalists and politicians will quietly stop talking about the climate change crisis – and the whole issue will quietly fade from the public consciousness. Basically, the man-made climate change crisis idea will probably simply follow a trajectory, not dissimilar to that of many other ‘man-made global crises’ (such as the DDT or BSE ‘crises’), of

1) Scientists misreading the evidence, confusing correlation, cause and effect – and then, long before the science is sufficiently mature to warrant it, leaping to alarmist conclusions

2) Scientists then exaggerating the risks (and suppressing uncertainties and contradictory evidence) in order to attract government funding to investigate the potential scare properly

3) Journalists hyping the potential scare in order to drum up public alarm (and sell newspapers)

4) The public, unable to understand the science, over-reacting and clamoring for political action

5) Politicians, unable to understand the science, over-reacting and responding to public alarm by rushing in ill-considered policies to mitigate the perceived risks

6) Politicians increasing scientific funding in order to find more evidence in support of the scare in order to confirm the rightness of their policies

7) Scientists duly supplying more evidence in order to attract further government funding (this evidence being used by journalists to drum up even more public alarm)

8) A rising awareness by scientists that the problem is actually much more complex (and the causes much more ambiguous and uncertain) than they originally surmised – and, anyway, far less risky

9) A rising awareness by the public and politicians that the risks have been exaggerated and the scare is not materializing – and the policies have done, and are doing, more harm than good

10) Scientists, journalists and politicians quietly retreating from association with the scare

11) The scare fading from the public consciousness

Today we are at about point (8). The trouble is that at this point the investment in the ‘cause’ has been so vast (both in terms of money and reputation/ego) that calling a halt has become virtually impossible (although Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris climate accord would be a good start). After (11), in the 2030s or 2040s perhaps, we may start to see many PhD theses being written by psychology graduates about the great global delusion of the catastrophic climate change scare of the early 21st century and the extraordinary story of how a small group of highly politicized scientists and computer modelers brought science into public disrepute as never before by corrupting the scientific process in order to achieve their hubristic and utopian goals.

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Maue: New Climate Hiatus or Accelerated Warming Trend Coming?

By Dr. Ryan Maue – Re-Blogged From http://www.WattsUpWithThat.com

You Ought to Have a Look: Time for a New “Hiatus” in Warming, or Time for an Accelerated Warming Trend?

As you can tell from our blog volume, there’s been a blizzard of new and significant climate findings being published in the refereed literature, and here’s some things You Ought to Have a Look at concerning the recent “hiatus” in warming and what might happen to our (now) post-El Niño climate.

With President Trump still deciding on U.S. participation in the Paris Climate Agreement, new research suggests the Earth’s global mean surface temperature (GMST) will blow past the so-called 1.5°C Paris target in the next decade. But before making that ominous prediction, Henley and King (2017) provide us with a good history lesson on a taboo topic in climate science circles: the recent global warming “hiatus” or “pause” from 1998-2014. One could be forgiven for thinking the hiatus was “settled science” since it featured prominently in the 2013 IPCC AR5 assessment report. But a concerted effort has been made in recent years to discount the hiatus as an insignificant statistical artifact perhaps based upon bad observational data, or a conspiracy theory to distract the public and climate policymakers. Even acknowledging the existence of the “hiatus” is sufficient to be labeled as a climate change denier.

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