Weekly Climate and Energy News Roundup #285

The Week That Was: September 23, 2017 Brought to You by www.SEPP.org

By Ken Haapala, President, Science and Environmental Policy Project

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Quote of the Week. “Long run is a misleading guide to current affairs. In the long run, we are all dead.”— John Maynard Keynes, the British Economist who earlier predicted that the extreme punitive demands of the Treaty of Versailles, the primary treaty ending World War I, would lead to disaster.

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Number of the Week: 99.998%

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A Concession? A work published in Nature Geoscience by noted British climate modelers led by Richard Miller has stirred considerable interest. Though some of the authors participate in the UN Intergovernmental Governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), they made a concession that their models overestimate global warming. Many of those skeptical about the claim that global warming / climate change is controlled by carbon dioxide considered this to be a major event. Others are not too sure, and consider it may be a tactical ploy.

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Weekly Climate and Energy News Roundup #257

By Ken Haapala, Pres., Science & Environmental Policy Project http://www.SEPP.org

Climate Change Understanding: Two separate guests to Watts Up With That discuss major issues in climate change modeling and the processes used by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Some of these issues have been present since the inception of the IPCC and carry over to other government-funded reports such as those by the United States Global Change Research Program (USGCRP). The issues may create substantial systematic errors in the reports, some of which continue after decades of research.
Tim Ball, a student of climate change pioneer H.H. Lamb, discusses the problem of developing a refined hypothesis (theory) that exceeds the capability of gathering the data needed to substantiate that hypothesis (theory). Lamb established the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) at the University of East Anglia as a center for collecting climate data. As Ball states, Lamb wrote:
“…it was clear that the first and greatest need was to establish the facts of the past record of the natural climate in times before any side effects of human activities could well be important.”
This goal has been thwarted by those who succeeded Lamb and used CRU as a means for reinforcing the belief that human activities dominate climate change, not merely contributed to climate change.
Very simply, we do not have the surface data and the processes to separate natural variation from the human activities. And the processes used lump natural variations with human activities, particularly in surface temperature data. The processes used by the IPCC and USGCRP are faulty, and need to be changed or ignored. These entities are not engaged in empirical science to understand climate change. Instead, they are engaged in processes “to prove” climate change is caused by humans, even if it requires ignoring history. Often the lack of rigorous research is disguised by vague language. Ball’s lengthy post is well worth reading. See links under Challenging the Orthodoxy.

Quote of the Week.
“When people learn no tools of judgment and merely follow their hopes, the seeds of political manipulation are sown.” Stephen Jay Gould [H/t Tim Ball]
http://drtimball.com/…


Number of the Week: $23.7 Billion


Climate Change Modeling: As with Tim Ball, retired mathematician Mike Jonas discusses the issues involved in developing a hypothesis and models that go beyond the capabilities of meaningful measurement. Jonas emphasizes the problems of using expanded weather models as global climate models. The weather models are chaotic, thus produce different results with each model run.
As Fred Singer stated in a report by the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC, 2010), based on an investigation of Japan’s climate model, at least ten separate runs are needed in hopes to obtain a central tendency for each individual model. Yet, the IPCC presents only one model run for each of the many models it uses it its reports. There is no logical reason to assume that any particular run represents the central tendency of that model.
Jonas discusses that the US National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) performed 40 runs from 1920 to 2100 for its Community Earthy System Model (CESN), with a slight change in initial conditions – the global atmospheric temperatures was changed by less than one-trillionth of one degree for each run. The NACR / UCAR’s publication AtmosNews states that the results were called the CESM Large Ensemble that give “astounding” diverse climate projections. In little over a year, the Ensemble data were used in “100 peer-reviewed scientific journal articles.” One wonders how many of these articles questioned the utility of using such highly unstable models for estimating future climate. Jonas stated: “This NCAR report shows unequivocally that the climate models in their current form can never predict future climate.”
As H.H. Lamb demonstrated, the earth’s climate changes. However, compared with nature, climate models are highly unstable, yet EPA and other government organizations claim they represent nature.
In the post and an earlier one, Jonas discusses the problems involved in “tuning,” that is adjusting the models to produce appropriate results. A major problem, not particularly discussed, is adjusting the models to surface data, while atmospheric data are largely ignored. Yet, as stated in the 1979 Charney Report published by the National Academy of Sciences, the effects of greenhouses gases occur in the atmosphere, with the secondar effect at the surface.
Both the surface and atmospheric temperature data are affected by natural occurrences such as volcanoes and El Niños. However, surface data are affected by many additional human influences, such as the Urban Heat Island Effect, irrigation, location of instruments near airports, etc. In general, for decades the models have been “tuned” to the wrong data. As John Christy’s testimony to Congress demonstrated, except for the Russian model from the Institute of Numerical Mathematics, using a single run, the IPCC models greatly overestimate the warming of the atmosphere, where the effect of greenhouse gases occurs. See links under Challenging the Orthodoxy – NIPCC, Challenging the Orthodoxy, Defending the Orthodoxy, and Models v. Observations.


Bias in Publications: Patrick Michaels and Paul “Chip” Knappenberger discuss bias in publications, including the magazines Nature and Science. However, their discussion does not sufficiently underline the extreme bias in these publications.
In March 1990, Science published a paper by Roy Spencer and John Christy describing a method for using data collected from NOAA polar orbiting weather satellites to comprehensively calculate atmospheric temperatures for virtually the entire globe, except for the extreme poles. These data cover about 97 to 98 percent of the globe, including oceans, deserts, mountain ranges, jungles, etc. where there are few surface instruments. Initially, certain small errors in calculation were discovered, including orbital decay. These were acknowledged and corrected. This is how science advances.
However, these magazines largely ignore studies using comprehensive satellite data in favor of studies using sparse surface data. Further, often the missing data is infilled, that is calculated from other data that may result in systematic biases. For an extreme example, Nature published Mr. Mann’s hockey-stick which used a statistical technique, that had an internal bias, to create the impression that late 20th century warming was unprecedented as compared with the prior 1,000 years, at least in the Northern Hemisphere. This article has not yet been retracted. See links under Challenging the Orthodoxy.


TWTW Guilty of Bias: TWTW emphasizes reporting studies and articles that contradict and question establishment climate and environmental science because it does not have the staff to adequately explore all such articles.
When it comes to evidence of CO2-caused global warming / climate change, TWTW has focused on the lack of evidence, weaknesses in the evidence supporting CO2 is causing warming, and evidence of other causes. In part, this is justifiable because the UN and the US have enormous budgets dedicated to emphasizing CO2 as the cause, without properly considering natural variation. The US spends about $2.5 billion a year on “climate science.”
This problem is amplified by UN and US entities using the results of global climate models as proof of cause. These models are poorly implemented to understand the influences of greenhouse gases. They are “tuned,” that is adjusted to surface temperature measurements when the greenhouse gases effect occurs in the atmosphere. The fact that these models are not properly tested, that is, verified and validated, indicates the severity of the problem. The disconnect between the research efforts and the political demand to control greenhouse gas emissions is severe.
The NIPCC reports contain a more balanced view, but are largely ignored by the climate establishment and many US scientific organizations – though not by the Chinese Academy of Sciences. See links under Challenging the Orthodoxy – NIPCC.


Political Stability: Retired EPA scientist Alan Carlin asks a question about the US. “What will happen to the climate alarmist cause in two, four, or eight years?” Carlin considers the US political system more stable than the European systems, thus significant change is slow to take hold.
The difference in timeliness has been observed by others as well. Usually, in parliamentary systems, the leader of the executive branch is also the leader of the legislative branch, thus there is more cohesiveness in implementing political programs. The downside is actions such as the UK Climate Change Act of 2008, following the 2007 IPCC Fourth Assessment Report (AR-4). The Act requires that the UK becomes a low-carbon economy, to cut CO2 emissions by 80% as compared with a 1990 baseline. The public is suffering from misallocation of resources due to programs attempting to meet the requirements of this Act.
In the US, political power is far more diffuse, less concentrated. Often, the executive and legislative branch are controlled or led by different political parties. Also, state and regional interests are important. Thus, party discipline is reduced in the legislative branch, as compared with European parliaments. President Obama found this out when his version of the Climate Change Act, the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009, failed to pass the Senate, even though the Senate and House were controlled by his political party. What will happen over the next four years is very difficult to predict. See link under Questioning the Orthodoxy.


Snappy: Amusingly, recent newspaper reports labeled the author of TWTW a “swamp alligator.” He is guilty of touring and observing wildlife in southern swamps, such as the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, some with a pH as low as 4. In the mid-20th century, the Okefenokee was the setting for a noted comic strip that appealed to adults, Pogo. One of the main characters was Albert the Alligator. But, that name is too docile for TWTW, so let’s call him Snappy. See links under Below the Bottom Line.


Number of the Week: $23.7 Billion. Lisa Linowes, who follows such matters, wrote in Master Resource that the US Joint Committee (House and Senate) on Taxation (JCT) now estimates the total cost of the wind production tax credit in the years 2016–2020 to be $23.7 billion. The $23.7 billion is for deployment of an electricity generating system that is not reliable. Wind production is not dispatchable, meaning it can be turned on when needed, within a known time-period. Wind power places a burden on reliable forms of electricity generation. Further, wind power is not needed for electricity in the US, except for isolated conditions. See link under Alternative, Green (“Clean”) Solar and Wind.


ARTICLES:
1. Trump Dams the Regulatory Flood
His executive order should change the bureaucratic incentives.
Editorial, WSJ, Jan 30, 2017
https://www.wsj.com/articles/trump-…
SUMMARY: After recognizing the contradictions in early actions the editorial states: “President Trump signed an executive order adopting a ‘two-for-one’ regulatory budget that will help accelerate growth and innovation.
The Obama years were a boom era for rule-making, but the truth is that obsolete and onerous rules have been accumulating for decades. In a working paper for George Mason’s Mercatus Center, Bentley Coffey,Patrick McLaughlin and Pietro Peretto estimate that the economy would be about 25% larger if the level of U.S. regulation had stayed constant since 1980. That’s now more than $4 trillion a year, or $13,000 per person.
The Trump order aims to prevent such waste by requiring the agencies to repeal two old rules for every new one they publish. This is in some sense a gimmick, since some regulations are far more significant, costly or distorting of investment choices than others. But the text of the order suggests that for every dollar of new cost imposed on the private economy, each agency will have to find two dollars of burden to relieve.”
“The permanent bureaucracy lives to justify its own existence, regardless of which party holds the White House, and rules inevitably beget more rules. Mr. Trump’s order starts to change the institutional incentives.
“Under a two-for-one policy, each individual department will need to scrutinize its own books in search of offsets and rules needing modernization, which will make deregulation as high a priority as rule-making. The Environmental Protection Agency can’t poach savings uncovered at, say, the Fish and Wildlife Service. This could lead to more realistic cost-benefit tests, focus the bureaucracy on trade-offs and strengthen regulatory accountability.”
“One key appointment to watch will be Mr. Trump’s choice to run the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA), who will be crucial to ensuring that the rollback will work in practice. The White House has failed to appoint a regulatory task force to supervise regulation until the OIRA job is filled, and this means that some agencies will now try to expand their writ while no one is watching. Democrats will try to delay approving a nominee for as long as possible.
“Meanwhile, the House this week will begin the job of repealing some of President Obama’s worst regulations. Republicans plan to rescind Mr. Obama’s midnight rules under the Congressional Review Act (CRA) that gives Congress an up-or-down vote on new rules. The House and Senate will vote on joint disapproval resolutions, which need only a majority before they are sent to the President.
“On the chopping block is one EPA regulation related to streams that is estimated to threaten up to one-third of the remaining jobs in the coal industry. Another target is a Bureau of Land Management rule designed to undermine oil and gas fracking on federal land. A third is a Securities and Exchange Commission rule that forces U.S. companies to report payments to foreign governments, which can mean disclosing proprietary information that competitors can use against them.
The CRA is a exceptionally powerful reform tool, as our Kimberley Strassel reported last week. Amid the rush to pump out ever more rules, the Obama Administration may have failed to comply with many CRA mandates. The more the Trump Administration works with Congress to codify reform, the more durable the economic progress will be.
“…If Mr. Trump can break up the Washington central planning that is again misallocating resources, the resulting job creation and new investment would be a great legacy.”


2. What Kind of a Judge Is Neil Gorsuch?
He carefully follows the law, and writes as engagingly as Scalia, without the abrasiveness.
By David B. Rivkin Jr. and Andrew M. Grossman, WSJ, Jan 31, 2017
https://www.wsj.com/articles/what-k…
SUMMARY: After lengthy praise of the Judge’s literary style, the authors write:
“Judge Gorsuch’s textualism extends to the Constitution, quite emphatically: ‘That document,’ he wrote, ‘isn’t some inkblot on which litigants may project their hopes and dreams for a new and perfected tort law, but a carefully drafted text judges are charged with applying according to its original public meaning.’ Looking to the ‘original public meaning’ of the Fourth Amendment, for example, Judge Gorsuch has rejected the government’s view that a search warrant could be applied across jurisdictional lines. He also disputed its claim that police officers may ignore ‘No Trespassing’ signs to invade a homeowner’s property without a warrant.
“What about the Constitution’s separation of powers, intended to safeguard liberty? Judge Gorsuch has been at the vanguard of applying originalism to the questions raised by today’s Leviathan state, which is increasingly controlled by unaccountable executive agencies. These questions loom large after the rash of executive actions by President Obama, and now the whiplash reversals by the Trump administration.
“The deference that judges now must give to agencies’ interpretations of the law, he wrote in an opinion last year, permits the executive ‘to swallow huge amounts of core judicial and legislative power and concentrate federal power in a way that seems more than a little difficult to square with the Constitution of the framers’ design.’
“Judge Gorsuch added: ‘Maybe the time has come to face the behemoth.’ His addition to the Supreme Court would give the justices a better chance than ever to do precisely that.”

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Weekly Climate and Energy News Roundup #251

The Week That Was Dec 9, 2016 – Brought to You by www.SEPP.org

By Ken Haapala, President, Science and Environmental Policy Project

Deliberate Ignorance – Where’s The Data? As discussed in the past few TWTWs, the 1979 Charney Report to the National Research Council of the US National Academy of Sciences articulated that there were two components to possible global warming from carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gases. The first component is a warming directly from CO2. The warming takes place in the atmosphere. Based on laboratory experiments, this warming would be modest, highly logarithmic, and likely beneficial. The second component was proposed by those creating global climate models. This warming is from an increase in atmospheric water vapor, and far more powerful than warming from CO2. At the time, there was no data to confirm or deny this warming from an increase in water vapor.

Based primarily on calculations with global climate models, the Charney report estimated that “the most probable global warming for a doubling of CO2 to be near 3ºC with a probable error of ±1.5ºC.” Since the Charney Report, we have had five reports from the UN Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change, and several reports for the US Global Change Research Program (USGCRP), under various names. Generally, they repeat the findings in the Charney report. Except for the discredited Santer “hotspot” which depended on eliminating data that was inconsistent with the assertion, these reports produce no atmospheric data to confirm or deny the second component of the warming, the more powerful warming from water vapor.

Now, we have comprehensive data of atmospheric temperatures dating from December 1978, independently confirmed by data from weather balloons. In his February 2, 2016, testimony, John Christy, a co-discoverer of the method of calculating atmospheric temperatures from information collected by satellites, produced excellent summaries of the data from satellites, particularly between the surface to 50,000 feet where both components of the greenhouse gas warming should take place, and compared them with global climate models. In general, the models overestimated atmospheric warming by 2.5 times and by 3 times over the tropics, where the water vapor warming should be more pronounced.

As discussed in last week’s TWTW, in making its finding that greenhouse gas emissions endanger human health and welfare (Endangerment Finding), the EPA produced no data, instead relied on three lines of evidence: 1) understanding of the physics of greenhouse gases; 2) a questionable study that late 20th century warming was unusual; and 3) global climate models. The evidence is woefully incomplete.

Further, any warming of the surface is not the same as a warming of the atmosphere, and can be highly influenced by other human activities such as change in land use, change in instrument locations, and change in instrument types. An example of the last type, is a switch in instruments used to measure surface ocean temperatures. Earlier methods were instruments located on ship water intakes, well below the surface of the water, the current method is to use instrument buoys at the surface. The latter is subject to direct warming from sunlight, unrelated to and CO2 – caused warming. For example, see NIPCC 2008, p. 19 & 20.

To build a reliable database, any such changes must be carefully calibrated. For surface temperature measurements, all too frequently changes in instruments have not been carefully calibrated. For example, in the US, the use of mathematical adjustments for land surface records is highly questionable, because the results are inconsistent with the historic records of high temperatures.

For satellite measurements, the changes in instrumentation are carefully calibrated, errors are quickly corrected, and deviations are noted. Now, three independent, competitive groups analyze the same data when received.

It is time to petition the EPA for a reconsideration of the Endangerment Finding, stating that there are no data supporting the second component of the global warming theory and that its reliance on global climate models is not scientifically based, because the greatly overestimate atmospheric warming. See links under Challenging the Orthodoxy – NIPCC, Challenging the Orthodoxy, and Defending the Orthodoxy.

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Quote of the Week. “In God we trust, all others bring data.” – Motto of the Apollo team.

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Number of the Week: 99.98%

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If Not CO2, then What? One of the most scientifically vacuous arguments advanced by the IPCC and its advocates is: “If CO2 has not caused late 20th century warming, then what?” The paper by Wallace, Christy, and D’Aleo provides the “what” – changes in the El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) and the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO). Others, including Ian Plimer of Australia and de Freitas et al. of New Zealand, have suggested this may be the case. The Wallace et al. paper shows strong statistical relationships between changes in ENSO events, coupled with the PDO, and changes in temperatures. The statistical relationships are far stronger than the one between CO2 and temperatures. The Wallace, et al. paper applies to both atmospheric and surface measurements.

This research is being confirmed by other independent research by other groups.

The IPCC has considered the ENSO as weather events, too short for consideration for climate change. But, the changes in the frequency of ENSOs and changes in the PDO are not too short for climate events influencing global temperatures.

Of course, correlation is not causation. This adage came with the development of statistical techniques in the early 20th century, when efforts to use correlation to assert causation produced foolish results. Conversely, without correlation causation is difficult to establish, because many other influences may dominate. That appears to be the case in the CO2 – temperature relationship, particularly for surface data. See links under Challenging the Orthodoxy – NIPCC and Challenging the Orthodoxy.

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Acid – Alkaline Balance: A great misnomer in studies of the influence of increased atmospheric CO2 is ocean acidification. The term is alarming and wrong. The corrosiveness of a water-based solution is measured by its pH. A pH below 7 is acidic, a pH above 7 is alkaline, which can be very corrosive. The closer the pH is to 7, the less corrosive the solution. SEPP has reviewed no empirical studies which assert that with increasing atmospheric CO2, the pH of the oceans will drop below 7 – become acidic.

Yet, we have numerous laboratory studies in which the researchers drop acid, such as hydrochloric acid, into tanks with marine life and consider the results as credible.

Such actions would horrify some tropically fish fanciers who bubble CO2 through their aquariums to lower the pH below 7, to promote coloration in Amazonian fish such as discus. They would not consider pouring hydrochloric acid in the aquarium, which would kill the life.

That said, increasingly, there are studies showing seasonal, and daily variations in pH, without harm to marine life, such as corals. Some coral reefs have pH gradients with depth or exposure to natural CO2 seeps.

As stated in the NIPCC Report on Biological Impacts: “Caution should be applied when interpreting results from laboratory-based studies … Rising atmospheric CO2 do not pose a significant threat to aquatic life … The natural variability of oceanic pH is often much greater than the change in pH levels forecast by IPCC…”

The difference between the laboratory results and the field results illustrates the need to verify the results of the laboratory in the field. See links under Challenging the Orthodoxy – NIPCC and Review of Recent Scientific Articles by CO2 Science, both this week and in last week’s TWTW.

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Model Issues – Importance of Aerosols in Climate Models: One of the deficiencies in the IPCC approach to understanding climate, is basing the findings on runs of a suite of models. Often these model runs are singular. Yet, as explained by Fred Singer in a paper, model runs produce different results each time. Singer estimates that at least 10 different runs are needed for each model to obtain a reasonable approximation for the results of that model. This is not done.

A second major issue creating significant uncertainty in the results of models is that often the models are run producing estimates for both warming from CO2 and cooling from aerosols, small particles in the atmosphere. This procedure makes as much logical sense as expecting that solving one simple linear equation with two unknowns will produce a unique solution. The range of solutions is infinite. If imaginary numbers are added, then the range of solutions is imaginary!

The important CLOUD experiment at CERN began to estimate a range of values for aerosols, an important beginning to arrive at empirical bounds for aerosols and for climate models. Until bounds are established, the certainty expressed by the IPCC, the EPA, and the Climate Establishment in these simply is not justified. See links under Challenging the Orthodoxy – NIPCC and Model Issues.

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After the Election: An outpouring of outrage over the election of Donald Trump continues. One thing is clear: he is upsetting the Democratic establishment, the Republican establishment, and, above all, the Climate Establishment. His designation of Scott Pruitt for administrator of the EPA will not win accolades among green groups, but Trump did not receive their support in the election. Pruitt is the Attorney General for the State of Oklahoma, and a litigant against the Obama administration’s so-called Clean Power Plan. Expect events to become quite heated in Washington for the remainder of the winter, even though actual Congressional sessions will be mostly symbolic rather than meaningful. It is impossible to predict what the outgoing administration will do. For a sampling of articles see links under After the Election –.

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Post-Election Predictions? Perhaps as a result of the election, in Polar Bear Science, Susan Crockford highlights several highly questionable assertions being made by “experts” on Arctic animals about the future. See links under Communicating Better to the Public – Make things up.

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Post-normal Science and Thinking: Writing in Power Line, Steven Hayward discusses what he calls “post truth” media. Hayward considers this concept as stemming from a remark by the 19th century philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche: “there are no facts, only interpretation.” The concept was picked up by nihilist philosophers and continues today. Of course, post-normal view is rejected by empirical scientists who believe that facts stem from observations. Perhaps the view is the basis for some people, such as those who identify themselves as from the Union of Concerned Scientists, to label hypothesis testing as “cherry picking.”

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Quote of the Week: The quote of the week: In God we trust, all others bring data., was prominently displayed at NASA Space Flight Center near Houston, which controlled the Apollo missions. The activities of this center should not be confused with NASA-GISS, which focuses on surface temperatures. Gavin Schmidt, GISS director, is a listed expert reviewer of the Endangerment Finding and has produced slogans such as carbon dioxide is the “control knob” of the earth’s temperatures. The web site gives his office as on 2880 Broadway, New York, NY. The difference between the science behind NASA-GISS reports and the science behind Apollo missions is greater than the difference between Broadway and the Houston Space Flight Center. See http://www.therightclimatestuff.com/

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Number of the Week: 99.98% As stated in last week’s TWTW: According to reports, on Dec. 1, construction of the 1,172-mile Dakota Access Pipeline will be all but finished. The only thing left to build, says its owner, Energy Transfer Partners, will be about 1,100 feet of pipe to be laid beneath Lake Oahe, a sliver of water south of Bismarck, N.D., that is man-created by a dam on the Missouri River. The pipe will be drilled underneath the river bed, and will not disturb it. Laying of the $3.5 Billion pipeline was 99.98% complete.

This week, the administration killed construction by refusing to issue necessary permits, even though the pipeline developers won past court challenges.

In addition to an enormous increase in National Debt, the US is in the worst economic recovery since the Great Depression. Is there any question why? See links under Washington’s Control of Energy.

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Thank you — whether you celebrate Hanukkah, Christmas, or other holy days during this time, we wish you and your family happiness in this blessed season and a joyful new year.

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Science and Environmental Policy Project (SEPP)

SEPP is a 501(c)3 organization incorporated in Virginia with the Federal Tax ID of #54-1645372.

The donated funds will be used exclusively in furtherance of SEPP’s charitable purpose and will not be used to fulfill any pledge, personal obligation, or lobbying activities. SEPP provides no direct benefit to donors as a result of their donations.

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ARTICLES:

1. To Mars by Economy Class: A Perfect Project For Trump

By S. Fred Singer, American Thinker, Dec 9, 2016

http://www.americanthinker.com/articles/2016/12/to_mars_by_economy_class_a_perfect_project_for_trump.html

“President Trump can “make America great again” by planning a surprising and easily affordable human exploration mission to the red planet Mars and its two moonlets Phobos and Deimos: PH-D, for short. JFK is remembered by many people mainly for putting Americans on the Moon, but he really just initiated the program.

“The two moonlets of Mars were discovered in 1877 at the US Naval Observatory in Washington, DC. They are in near-circular, near-equatorial orbits around Mars. Deimos, smaller than the island of Manhattan, orbits at a distance of 6.9 Martian radii; Phobos, about five times larger than Deimos, is at 2.8 radii, with its orbit shrinking because of tidal friction; it will be gone in just a few million years. In past lectures, I have joked that the dinosaurs might have seen more Martian moons, now gone, “if they had had better telescopes.”

“Notice that I did not suggest colonization of Mars — the current rage, a replay of the massive, wildly expensive and technologically infeasible Empire Project of the 1950s, envisioned by space pioneer Wernher von Braun. Unfortunately, this premature emphasis on colonization tends to color even realistic manned Mars projects as fantasy. Nor do I favor the business-as-usual continuation of unmanned missions to Mars, promising the eventual return of Mars samples for analysis in terrestrial labs.

“The feds have traditionally supported exploration — including basic science, which does not promise an immediate pay-off. Indeed, that has been the rationale for building multibillion-dollar particle accelerators for high-energy physics and telescopes for astronomy. So the PH-D project, as I have nicknamed it, would fit right in — a combination of good science and high adventure. Even its cost is relatively modest — about $30 billion over 10-20 years, well within the current NASA budget, and about that of a half-dozen unmanned Mars missions. Its scientific return would be many times greater. Its public and international impact would be tremendous.

No Showstoppers

“The PH-D project is basically a manned transfer from Earth orbit to Mars orbit, taking about six months; there don’t seem to be any showstoppers at all. A rough calculation has convinced me that ordinary chemical propulsion is quite sufficient — no need for any exotic schemes that require lengthy development. Any simple fuel, like kerosene, suffices, and any of the available oxidizers can do the job. No special rocket engine is needed; existing ones will do -–as explained below. And propulsion is surprisingly cheap — only a few percent of the total project cost; more than 95% of the cost is engineering and design — and the US has many well- qualified engineers.

“Electric power — again no problem. Of course, solar photo-voltaic becomes more difficult at Mars distance, where solar energy is less than half that at Earth orbit. But the Russians have space-tested nuclear reactors, and units are available for purchase. I estimate that 100 kilowatts should do nicely and would even provide an adequate reserve of power. [The U.S. uses plutonium electro-thermal generators on its deep-space missions.]

“Other issues, relating to maintenance and life support of astronauts, present no problems either; they have been mostly solved in the International Space Station. As in the ISS, one would recycle liquid waste, but not solid waste. With cheap propulsion and essentially unlimited payload, one simply carries more food and water. The same argument applies to maintaining a healthy breathing atmosphere.

“Radiation is usually cited as the major health risk; but propellants turn out to be the most effective shield, especially against heavily ionizing particles of the incident galactic cosmic radiation — GCR. Once the astronauts set up their base on Deimos, the preferred destination, they can construct also a more permanent shelter against the omni-directional cosmic rays, the unidirectional meteor showers, and the occasional solar eruptions that can lead to penetrating particle radiation. Note that none of that protection is present in the ISS, but Deimos itself provides shielding against unidirectional radiation; it is only necessary to move to the opposite side.

“Absence of gravity can lead to long-term health problems. The answer here, as in the ISS, is regular exercise, aided by artificial gravity from a centrifuge; such a scheme should be tested in the ISS.

Scenario of Deimos Base

“Assemble propellants in low-earth orbit — LEO; then send to Deimos as “slow freight” – including a nuclear reactor, spare habitat, spare rocket engine, penetrators and rover vehicles equipped for return of samples; release penetrators that will provide also seismic data, and some rovers while underway to Mars. Send one habitat, two rovers and some of the propellant to Phobos — for use on the later sortie to Phobos and Mars surface.

“Test the habitat-lab while in LEO with 5 astronauts aboard; then send them to Deimos on a “fast express” trajectory. Upon arrival, shield and activate the reactor; surround the habitat-lab with rocket propellants to provide additional shielding; set up a GPS system and weather satellites for Mars.

“Start sample-return program, analyzing initial samples — and call for follow-up samples from different Martian locations or different depths, based on the initial analyses– all the while consulting with experts on Earth.

Sortie to Phobos and Mars Surface

“Two astronauts depart for Phobos and meet two rovers, collect samples of regolith and deeper, and send them back to Deimos base, then move on for a powered landing on a preselected Mars site, meet rover vehicle there, collect samples, set up an experimental equipment, and then take off for return to Phobos and thence to Deimos base. Note that take-off from Mars requires only our small rocket — while a direct return to Earth would have required a special, high-thrust rocket, capable of lifting the large propellant load necessary for transit to Earth.

Deimos Base vs Mars Base

“There is no question that a Deimos base is easier to set up, much cheaper, safer, and better in all respects than a base on Mars. Besides, it can be accomplished much sooner, perhaps within 10-15 years.

“A Mars base does not confer mobility, does not provide a view of the rovers; from Deimos one can view the surface from pole to pole for up to 40 hours. [Deimos is in a near-synchronous orbit, with an orbital period of 30.3 hours, just a little longer than the spin period, 24.7 hours, of the planet.]

“On Mars, because of its gravity field, meteor impacts are more frequent and also more energetic; there is interference from Mars’ atmosphere, from winds, and from dust storms—while on Deimos one gets a ‘free’ vacuum, essential for most lab instruments, such as mass spectrometers, electron microscopes, etc.

Scientific Questions: Planetology (and learn also about the early history of Planet Earth)

“The origin of Phobos and Deimos is a real puzzle: Initially, I applied a modified (‘push-pull’) tidal theory[1] to extrapolate their present orbits backward in time; but I do not believe they are captured asteroids — although that’s what many textbooks claim; it’s just too improbable. Nor were they formed along with Mars; it leads to an unstable solution. I now believe they are the remnants of a Mars-moon –M-m, captured gravitationally, akin to Earth-Moon, but into a retrograde orbit; the other, heavier fragments of the M-m have already spiraled in and disappeared, impacting on or near Mars’ equator.

Some research questions — and learn also about the early history of Planet Earth

1. Why do Phobos and Deimos, presumably related, look so different? Is it just the regolith and is it based on the difference in their orbits?

2. Are Ph and D solid rock or rubble piles?

3. Are there tiny moonlets orbiting Mars between Ph and D?

4. Explore orbiting dust at Ph and D.

5. Explore evidence for ancient impacts of fragments near Mars’ equator.

6. Establish history of Mars’ obliquity by tracing W-182 tungsten isotope, from the radioactive decay of hafnium.

7. Was capture of M-m essential in heating Mars by tidal friction to produce its iron core?

Scientific Questions –Meteorology And Climatology — and test theories of causes of climate change and ice ages

1. Test forecast models developed for Earth on Mars weather predictions.

2. Test current climate models against Mars observations: predictions of dust storms; test analyses of Martian polar -layer deposits against ice-age theories and periods of oscillation of Mars obliquity, precession and orbit eccentricity.

Scientific Questions — Crypto-Life And Paleo-Life

“Is life unique to the Earth — as some believe? This is a very basic issue with philosophical and even theological overtones

“Look for hidden life forms, taking into account that life may have developed several times, independently, at different locations, and been wiped out subsequently. These life forms may be ephemeral and unable to survive for more than a few hours — hence undetectable in Mars samples returned to Earth, as currently planned. It may be advisable to develop also techniques for detecting life in situ, for ultra-fresh sampling.

“Ancient life, now dead, may be detectable in some sort of fossil form. Its formation likely required the presence of liquid water — i. e., survival of oceans, lakes, or simply pools of water for a sufficient length of time. Note that these life forms may not have been based on carbon, but possibly on silicon. Note also that use of a Deimos base minimizes chances of both forward and back-contamination of Mars with terrestrial biota.

Conclusion

“We believe that the scientific yield of the PH-D mission more than justifies such a project. Its impact on the public here and abroad would be akin to the Apollo project and fully supports president Trump‘s goal of “making America great again.”

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2. A Lawyer for a Lawless EPA

Scott Pruitt can restore respect for the states in environmental policy.

Editorial, WSJ, Dec 7, 2016

http://www.wsj.com/articles/a-lawyer-for-a-lawless-epa-1481155238?mod=whatnext&cx_navSource=cx_picks&cx_tag=poptarget&cx_artPos=1#cxrecs_s

The editorial states:

“As Donald Trump rolls out his domestic-policy nominees, Democrats are discovering to their horror that more often than not he meant what he said. The latest evidence is the President-elect’s intention to nominate Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt to run the Environmental Protection Agency.

“There was a time when Republican EPA administrators were liberals in GOP power suits. Think William Reilly under George H.W. Bush or Christine Todd Whitman under George W. Bush. They more or less agreed with the left’s command-and-control model of environmental regulation, and they’d pile more costs on the private economy.

“The Democratic Party’s green extremism, especially on climate change, has made such Republicans obsolete. President Obama couldn’t get his climate-change agenda through a Democratic Congress, so he ordered the EPA to impose it on the 50 states by diktat. The agency reinterpreted statute after ancient statute as its bureaucrats saw fit, daring the courts to stop them. Think of the Clean Power Plan to put the coal industry out of business, the carbon endangerment rule, grabbing authority to call any pond or puddle a “waterway,” and so much more.

“Mr. Pruitt’s first job will be restoring respect for the Constitution and cooperative federalism in EPA rule-making. He knows how to do this because he led the legal charge by the states against EPA abuses, including the victory of a Supreme Court stay on the Clean Power Plan as it moves through the appellate courts. If he is confirmed by the Senate, Mr. Pruitt could order the EPA’s lawyers to inform the courts that the agency no longer stands by the legal interpretation behind the Clean Power Plan.

“Democrats will attack Mr. Pruitt as a climate-change “denier,” but his only offense is disagreeing with them on energy policy. The irony is that Mr. Pruitt will probably do more for the environment than Mr. Obama ever did because he will make sure that rules issued by the EPA are rooted in law and thus won’t be overturned in court.”

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3. Not So Risky Climate Business

A new study dismantles the logic of oil and gas ‘systemic risk.’

Editorial, WSJ, Dec 8, 2016

http://www.wsj.com/articles/not-so-risky-climate-business-1481243362

SUMMARY: (No link to the study) The editorial states:

“Among the many doomsday scenarios floated by the climate-change lobby is a theory that asks: What if an abrupt change in policy strands fossil-fuel resources in the ground, which in turn crashes oil companies and then the global economy? IHS consulting recently released a rebuttal to this “carbon bubble” babble, and the dismantling deserves more attention.

“Daniel Yergin and Elena Pravettoni of IHS looked at whether oil and gas assets pose a “systemic risk” to the world financial system, a danger floated by more than a few regulators. No less than Bank of England Governor Mark Carney warned in 2015 that limits on carbon could crater asset valuations and “potentially destabilize markets,” as the damage rippled through insurers and banks with portfolios in oil.

“Regardless of forced carbon reductions or temperature spikes, the switch to alternative fuels will take decades. For some perspective, the authors note that the oil industry started up in 1859 but did not overtake coal as the world’s largest energy source for about a century. Barring some technological breakthrough, no one expects oil to be a minority source of energy before 2050. Financial markets and insurance contracts can manage risks as they evolve year-to-year or even day-to-day.”

“Perhaps the strongest evidence that oil companies won’t blow up the world economy is that they’ve been stress-tested by the recent crash in commodity prices. Some 82 global oil companies burned off 42% of their value between June 2014 and December 2015, or about $1.4 trillion in market capitalization. Yet the report notes that since oil dipped below $100 a barrel in 2014, the Dow Jones Industrial Average has risen 6%.

“The panic over climate risk is really a pretext for more regulation. Mr. Carney chairs the Financial Stability Board, an international outfit that exists to flag financial risks and offer itself as the answer. An FSB task force later this month will deliver “guidelines for voluntary disclosure” that could cover assets and risk practices for oil companies as well as their investors. The report will likely be submitted to major country financial ministers for approval.

“Mr. Carney and the FSB are playing to climate activists, who want to use such disclosure as ammunition to pound pension and other investment funds to divest from fossil-fuel companies. Mr. Carney has also highlighted the climate-change free-speech probe led by New York’s Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, which is based on flimsier evidence than even Mr. Carney’s conjectures.

“The real financial risks are from Mr. Carney’s attempt to turn certain kinds of legal investments into political targets. The political allocation of capital into housing was one of the root causes of the 2008 panic. Let’s not politicize energy investing in the same way.”

CONTINUE READING –>

Weekly Climate and Energy News Roundup #218

The Week That Was: March 12, 2016 – Brought to You by www.SEPP.org

By Ken Haapala, President, Science and Environmental Policy Project

Quest for Precision: One of the characteristics of scientific activities is the quest for precision to describe the physical world. Precision in understanding the error, or uncertainty, of one’s knowledge is an example of this quest. In some of his many essays on the philosophy of modern science Bertrand Russell, a prolific writer, used the ability to articulate uncertainty of knowledge as an example of what separates a scientist from an ideologue. The scientist defines with empirically established boundaries of the certainty of his findings. For example, a finding may be within plus or minus 5% using rigorous procedures that are well established. The ideologue is certain, absolutely, without boundaries of error.

Another issue is false precision, that is presenting numerical data in a manner that implies greater precision than is possible with the instrumentation or procedures used or knowledge current. Combining high precision data with low precision data and using the error range of the high precision data is a common example. To others, this practice gives the illusion of greater understanding and overconfidence in the accuracy of the results. Scientists and engineers have various techniques to correct for false precision.

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Weekly Climate and Energy News Roundup #211

The Week That Was: December 26, 2015 – Brought to You by www.SEPP.org

THIS WEEK: By Ken Haapala, President, Science and Environmental Policy Project

COP-21 – Smoke and Mirrors: The Conference of Parties (COP-21) of the United Nations’ Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) ended with significant changes to the earlier, to be agreed upon, agreement with the changes in a few small words. As Paul Homewood recognized the word “shall” was changed to “should” in the paragraph “Developed country Parties shall should continue taking the lead by undertaking economy-wide absolute emission reduction targets. Homewood suspected that the US delegates (probably under instructions from the White House) demanded the change. The issue was making the carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions reduction of the document legally binding. Making emissions reductions legally binding on the US would require Senate approval while the term “should” is not legally binding. President Obama has not consulted with Congress on the “Nationally Determined Contributions.” Contrary to the name, these contributions were decided by the administration, not nationally, and making them legally binding would require approval of two-thirds of the Senate present. The Administration’s game-playing faced harsh reality.

According to an article by Nitin Sethi, of the Business Standard out of India, the US Administration did not shoulder the burden of the harsh reality, but placed the burden on delegates from the European Union. The article opens with:

“If there was one overarching imprint on the Paris climate change negotiations, it was of the diplomatic heft that the US enjoys. The last hours of the talks, when the US was faced with the challenge of removing a phrase it didn’t like in the final agreement, it was left to the European Union to walk across the aisle to convince everyone to not oppose the changes the US demanded. The European Union, once hailed as the climate change leader of the world, was canvassing the developing country bloc to accept an agreement that was discordantly against its own non-negotiable position wanting a strict legally-binding protocol and not a loosely-bound agreement that the Paris outcome eventually became.

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Weekly Climate and Energy News Roundup #209

The Week That Was: December 12, 2015 – Brought to You by www.SEPP.org

By Ken Haapala, President, Science and Environmental Policy Project

COP-21: The difficult part of the Conference of Parties (COP-21) of the United Nations’ Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) is over. On December 12, the organizers announced an agreement of sorts. Since the announcement went against the time constraints for this TWTW, adjectives describing the agreement will be left to others, and the analysis of it will be appear in the next TWTW, when it is more clear what was agreed. The following description comes from an article in the Wall Street Journal published on December 12, updated to 6:17 pm Eastern Standard Time. TWTW inserts are in brackets.

“More than 190 nations have agreed on a plan to limit climate change [assuming it is caused by human emissions of greenhouse gases], ending a decades long search for an accord requiring the world’s economies to regulate the emission of gases that [SOME] scientists say are causing the earth to warm.

“Negotiators sealed the deal after changing provisions that would have triggered a requirement that the agreement be approved by the U.S. Congress, where there are many lawmakers skeptical about a climate accord. They won over developing nations at the last hour by exempting them from obligations to help pay the bill for confronting climate change.

“The deal calls for wealthy economies such as the U.S. and the European Union to shoulder more of the burden, including a pledge to channel at least $100 billion a year to poor countries to help them respond to climate change.

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Weekly Climate and Energy News Roundup #207

The Week That Was: December 5, 2015 – Brought to You by www.SEPP.org

By Ken Haapala, President, Science and Environmental Policy Project

COP-21: The festive part of the Conference of Parties (COP-21) of the United Nations’ Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), is over in Paris. This part began COP-21, giving various national politicians the opportunity to preen for the cameras as if they are celebrities. After all, some claim they are attending the conference in order to save the world from global warming/climate change. Who knows, some may actually believe it.

Now comes the hard part. The delegates to COP-21 must work out an agreement that, at least, gives the appearance they are saving the world. Of course, COP-21, and the UNFCCC, follows the party line laid out in the Fifth Assessment Report (AR-5, 2013 & 2014) by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Humans are mostly (more than 50%) responsible for 95 to 99% of global warming/climate change since about 1950. As stated in last week’s TWTW (November 28, 2015), this is a scientific hypothesis that must be tested. It has not been tested. Instead, the needed testing has been replaced by a cloud of assertions, some scientifically very good, some extremely poor, from which no one can logically draw firm conclusions with a 95 to 99% certainty. Simply, there is no scientific reason to accept severe limitations on carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, as envisioned by many parties at COP-21.

Further, as discussed in last week’s TWTW, the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC) released a report that contradicts many of the claims by the IPCC, including:

“Probably the only “consensus” among climate scientists is that human activities can have an effect on local climate and that the sum of such local effects could hypothetically rise to the level of an observable global signal. The key questions to be answered, however, are whether the human global signal is large enough to be measured and if it is, does it represent, or is it likely to become, a dangerous change outside the range of natural variability? On these questions, an energetic scientific debate is taking place on the pages of peer-reviewed science journals.

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