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In the Wake of the News

Green Climate Funding

Numerous US corporations have stated that they are committed to efforts to mitigate climate change. Many of these corporations encouraged President Trump to remain in the Paris Agreement, which would include maintaining / increasing funding for the Green Climate Fund. These corporations apparently envision the potential to grow their businesses by offering their products and services to the developing and not-yet-developed countries, which would be recipients of climate change mitigation and adaptation funding from the Green Climate Fund.

This suggests a potential alternative source of US funding for the UN Green Climate Fund. US Corporations which have expressed commitment to mitigating climate change (and envision potential market development opportunities resulting from funding available through the UN Green Climate Fund) could provide funding directly to the Green Climate Fund. These funds could be provided from net profits, perhaps shared between retained earnings and dividends, with the approval of shareholders. Alternatively, the US federal government might choose to permit these contributions to be treated as market development expenses, which would make them tax deductible business expenses, which would transfer a maximum of 35% of the contributions to all taxpayers.

These corporations might make these contributions on the condition that the corporations manage the allocation of the funds to the recipient nations, consistent with the guidelines adopted for the Green Climate Fund. This would allow the corporations to use their management skills and experience to maximize the benefits of their funding for the recipients and their corporate interests. It would also avoid surrendering control of the funds to the opaque and demonstrably incompetent UN bureaucracy. Direct corporate involvement could also dramatically reduce the potential for funding to be siphoned off by the governments of the recipient nations.

The following US corporations directly encouraged President Trump to remain in the Paris Agreement.

Corporation

Oper. Income ($M)

Net Income ($M)

1% of Gross ($M)

1% of Net ($M)

Adobe

903

629

9

6

Apple

71,230

53,395

712

534

Facebook

12,427

10,217

124

102

Gap

1,191

676

12

7

Google

15,403

12,733

154

127

Hartford

804

896

8

9

HP

2,496

2,279

25

23

Ingersoll Rand

1,572

1,492

16

15

Intel

12,874

10,316

129

103

Johnson Controls

6,447

1,679

64

17

Levi Strauss

462

291

5

3

Microsoft

20,182

16,798

202

168

Morgan Stanley

8,848

6,123

88

61

PG&E

2,181

1,402

22

14

Schneider Elec.

2,951

1,811

30

18

TOTAL

 

 

1600

1207

 

The table above demonstrates that a 1% allocation of after tax net income by the listed corporations could provide annual funding of $1.21 Billion per year to the UN Global Climate Fund; and, that a 1% allocation of gross revenues could provide annual funding of $1.6 Billion to the Green Climate Fund. Other large US corporations have also expressed support for the Paris Agreement.

Total net income of US corporations is approximately $1.8 trillion Therefore, it is reasonable to assume that contributions from US corporations could yield $5 - 20 billion for the UN Climate Fund. The question is whether US corporations are willing to put their money and their shareholders’ money on the line.

The US withdrawal from the Paris Agreement does not inhibit these corporations from making such contributions; and, US government treatment of these contributions as business expenses could offset a portion of the contributions. The Administration might consider encouraging major US corporations to make such contributions.

 

Tags: Green Climate Fund

Paris Paranoia – The results of the U.S. withdrawal from the Paris Climate Agreement

Much has been said and written about the anticipated effects of President Trump’s decision to withdraw the US from the Paris Climate Accord. Several US cities and states have announced their intention to conform to the CO2 reduction targets agreed to by President Obama in the Paris Accord. Several corporations have also announced their intent to continue pursuing CO2 emissions reductions in line with the previous US voluntary commitment.

Some have described these statements as defiance of President Trump’s decision to withdraw the US from the Paris Accord. However, nothing in President Trump’s statement in any way prevents or inhibits US cities and states, or US Corporations from pursuing climate change related actions which they believe are in their enlightened self-interest. Therefore, while these statements certainly express disagreement with Trump’s decision, they do not represent defiance. They merely express a willingness to move forward on their own, as they were free to do before the Paris Accord was ratified, after it was ratified, and after the US withdrawal.

There are significant differences in the positions of these entities and the position of the US as a nation with regard to the Accord. President Obama obligated the United States to achieving a 26-28% reduction in US CO2 emissions by 2030; and, expressed the nation’s intent to reduce US CO2 emissions by 80% by 2050. President Obama also obligated the United States to provide approximately 30% of the funding for the UN Green Climate Fund, which was to provide an initial $100 billion per year to fund adaptation to and mitigation of the adverse effects of climate change on developing and not-yet-developing nations. The UNFCCC expected this climate funding to increase to approximately $400 billion per year.

US cities, states, and corporations are not and will not be signatories to the Paris Accord. Therefore, they have not obligated themselves to achieving specific CO2 emissions reduction levels by 2030 or 2050. They have also not committed themselves to contribute to the Green Climate Fund. Arguably, they are less obligated as the result of the US withdrawal from the Accord, as they would have been obligated by the US federal government to achieve some portion of the overall US reduction target. Also, as US taxpayers, they would have been obligated to provide their share of the US contribution to the Green Climate Fund.

President Trump offered to consider renegotiation of the Paris Accord, or negotiation of a new Accord which would be fairer to US taxpayers. However, both France and Germany have stated that there would be no such negotiations. Regardless, the US is now free to proceed to deal with the issue of climate change as it sees fit. That means that ongoing efforts to improve energy efficiency, implement renewable energy for power generation and alternative fuels for transportation can continue apace. State energy commission and utility commission renewable portfolio standards programs and renewable energy incentives can continue or expand.

Essentially, the only effects of the US withdrawal are the shedding of the national compliance and funding obligations in the Paris Accord and avoidance of the limitations to US national sovereignty embodied in the Accord. US citizens, cities, states and the US as a nation can now plan for their future actions regarding climate change without looking over their shoulders to see who’s after them.

 

Tags: Paris Agreement, CO2 Emissions, COP 21

Highlighted Article: On the Validity of NOAA, NASA and Hadley CRU Global Average Surface Temperature Data & The Validity of EPA’s CO2 Endangerment Finding

June 2017 research report from Dr. James P. Wallace III, Dr. Joseph S. D’Aleo, and, Dr. Craig D. Idso  that concludes: Temperature adjustments account for ‘nearly all of the warming’ in government climate data.

“... it is impossible to conclude from the three published GAST data sets that recent years have been the warmest ever – despite current claims of record setting warming,”

 

On the Validity of NOAA, NASA and Hadley CRU Global Average Surface Temperature Data & The Validity of EPA’s CO2 Endangerment Finding

 

Tags: EPA Endangerment Finding, Temperature Record, Global Temperature, Hadley CRU, NOAA, NASA

EXTRA - Some Thoughts on Independence Day 2017

The American colonies did not declare independence from Britain and fight the Revolutionary War with Britain to achieve that independence for the United States of America, only to surrender that independence less than 250 years later and voluntarily submit to being ruled by the globalist bureaucrats at the United Nations.

The citizens of the United States did not work toward and invest in the development of the US economy to hand the fruits of their labors to the UN, to be distributed to the rulers of other nations which have not achieved the same level of development, or which have not even permitted pursuit of such development.

The US capitalist economy was not developed to compensate for the poor economic performance, or outright failure, of socialist and communist economies, or the economies of dictatorial kleptocracies. US capital should not be used to cover up those economic failures, or to support those kleptocracies.

The Framers of the US Constitution did not create the First Amendment protections for freedom of speech to protect only certain, preferred speech or the speech of certain preferred groups. The First Amendment protections for freedom of religion were not created to protect only certain religions, or only the free exercise of religious practices in private settings.

The Framers did not create the First Amendment protections for freedom of the press to protect only certain forms of “press”, or some preferred subset of the “press”, or even a government press. Press freedom was protected to assure that the populace was informed, not narrowly to support some ideology, but broadly to support knowledge and understanding.

Independence Day is a time to celebrate our independence; and, it is a time to contemplate contemporary challenges to that independence and the freedom and liberty which it protects and defends. These contemporary challenges include: the UN pursuit of some form of global governance, intended to circumscribe our freedom and liberty, under the guise of controlling climate; the UN pursuit of wealth and income redistribution, ostensibly in pursuit of climate stabilization and climate justice; the US federal government efforts to reshape social norms, providing preferred status and special rights to subsets of the total US population; the US federal government efforts to inhibit free religious expression, when that religious expression conflicts with reshaped social norms; the US government funding of research, not to advance science, but to influence public perceptions of the state of science; and, the US federal government efforts to inhibit skeptical discussion of the state of the science.

In these efforts, guidance is made to appear to be offered with a velvet glove, when in reality that velvet glove barely disguises the iron fist it covers. The guidance is offered with politically correct words and phrases of dubious meaning, including: social justice; environmental justice; climate justice; and, racial and ethnic justice. The meaning of those terms is intended to evolve, over time, as required to achieve the objectives of those exercising governance.

Independence Day is also a time to realize that these contemporary challenges are not unique, but rather newer forms of historical challenges, presented and viewed in a contemporary context.

“Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”, George Santayana

 

Tags:

The Paris Climate Agreement

The Paris Agreement “entered into force on 4 November 2016”. A total of 197 “parties” have “ratified” the Agreement. Ratification of the Agreement is voluntary. Establishment of Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) under the Agreement is voluntary. The form and magnitude of the NDCs are voluntary. Achieving the NDCs is voluntary. Continued participation in the Agreement is voluntary. Participation in the Climate Fund is voluntary.

Ratification of the Agreement and performance under the Agreement is voluntary because the United States insisted that it be voluntary if the US were to participate. The US took this position because a requirement for mandatory participation and/or mandatory performance would have made the Agreement a “Treaty” under US law, which would have required ratification by a two thirds majority of the US Senate. The US Administration of President Obama considered Senate ratification extremely unlikely.

The US Administration of President Trump has now decided to withdraw the US from the Agreement. The Agreement permits withdrawal with one year advanced notice. Withdrawal can be initiated by the Executive Branch of the US government, since the Agreement was entered into by the Executive Branch. Withdrawal from the Agreement ends any voluntary US commitments under the Agreement, regarding both NDCs and contributions to the Climate Fund.

The Trump Administration had already halted contributions to the Climate Fund. The Administration’s proposed 2018 budget does not include funding for the Climate Fund. The Administration is also attempting to reverse the EPA Clean Power Plan (CPP), which was the primary vehicle for achieving the CO2 emissions reductions committed to by the Obama Administration under the Paris Agreement. The Administration is also questioning the 2009 EPA Endangerment Finding regarding CO2, which underlies the entire US climate change effort.

The Administration decision to withdraw from the Paris Agreement does not prevent other parties which ratified of the Agreement from pursuing their pledges under the Agreement. It also does not halt the ongoing decline in US CO2 emissions, though it might result in a slowing of the rate of decline. However, US withdrawal will have a major impact on the Climate Fund, since the US was expected to be the largest contributor to the Fund.

The Administration decision to withdraw from the Paris Agreement does not necessarily affect any existing or proposed new US efforts to reduce CO2 emissions. It does not affect US climate research efforts. However, the Administration has made it quite clear that US climate change efforts will be significantly changed in the future, both in scope and direction.

 

Tags: Paris Agreement, Clean Power Plan, CO2 Emissions, COP 21

Bootleggers, Baptists, and The Jones Act

Suppose that a freak Atlantic storm pummels the city of Boston, leaving it flooded for days and cut off from services by land and air—trucks cannot reach it and planes cannot land. But a Canadian transport ship happens to be passing by, loaded with fruits and bottled water, en route from Florida to its home port in Halifax.

What should the ship do?

(a) It should divert from its course and deliver emergency supplies to Boston.

(b) It should do nothing and continue its original trajectory.   

The correct answer is: (b) Nothing. 

In 1920 the United States adopted the Jones Act, requiring that any cargo carried between two US ports be (a) carried only on US-built ships or barges that are (b) mostly manned by US citizens, and (c) that the vessels be owned by US individuals or companies.

Predictably, this regulation has increased shipping costs, raised prices for consumers, and decreased the competitiveness of US shipbuilding companies. It has also led to bizarrely expensive and wasteful but common transport occurrences.

For example:

* Shipping oil from the Gulf Coast to Canada costs $2 per barrel on international ships, but shipping from the Gulf Coast to the US East Coast costs $5-6 on American Jones Act ships.

* After a winter storm, New Jersey faced a rock salt shortage. Officials found 40 tons of rock salt for sale in Maine and a ship available to transport it all in two days. But the ship was flying a Marshall Islands flag, so it couldn't be used. The only US-flagged ship available was a barge that could carry only 9.5 tons per trip. So transporting the salt took 5 trips over 1 month and cost an extra $700,000.

* To get its lumber to Seattle, an Alaskan company found it cheaper to ship from Juneau to Seattle via Tokyo, Japan on international ships rather than directly from Juneau to Seattle on American ships.

The Jones Act was passed shortly after World War I when national security was strongly in everyone's mind. Yet the Jones Act is a classic Bootleggers and Baptists phenomenon, with crony businesses able to profit while other supporters fly the flag of national security needs. Yet while no significant national security needs have been met or materialized from the Act, plenty of connected shipbuilding and shipping companies have blocked competition and collected semi-monopoly rents. Industry incumbents make significant campaign contributions to politicians, and those politicians won't touch the Jones Act.

Geographically remote states such as Hawaii are especially hard hit, as businesses there cannot use competitive international shipping to transport goods between the mainland and Hawaii. (For more information, check out the Hawaii Shippers Council site on the Jones Act and the Grassroot Institute's primer on the Jones Act and its negative impacts on Hawaiian consumers.)

The Jones Act obstructs also emergency aid after natural or manmade disasters, when foreign ships in the area are often prevented by law from offering assistance.

* When the Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded in 2010, killing eleven people and spilling tens of thousands of barrels of oil per day into US territorial waters in the Gulf of Mexico, foreign ships were prevented from helping with clean-up efforts.

* Hurricane Sandy hit land on October 29, 2012 affecting 24 states along the US eastern seaboard. On November 2—three days later—President Barack Obama issued an exemption. During that three-day gap, no foreign ship could help any of those 24 states by moving supplies or people from one US port to another. Further note that it took a presidential order for emergency help to be allowed. Morally-challenged regulation, indeed.

(A related point about perverse regulatory consequences concerns US state-level licensing requirements: out-of-state plumbers, electricians, and other skilled professionals are forbidden from helping out with disaster relief.)

Wise politicians, however, can and do grant Jones-Act exemptions. A special act of the US Senate was passed to allow a sailboat race. In arguing for the exemption, Senator Dianne Feinstein noted the economic benefits to Americans from allowing the race. But if the benefits of a boat race are obvious, why not allow those economic benefits to be realized more generally?

The year 2020 will be the 100th anniversary of the Jones Act. Will a century of unintended bad consequences lead to its repeal?

 

Tags:

Is CO2 the God of Weather?

Many ancient cultures attributed the significant events occurring around them to the “gods”. Some had individual gods for each type of event. Many had religious ceremonies created to appeal to or to appease the various gods. In some cases, these ceremonies involved human sacrifices.

The consensed climate science community uses climate models to produce potential future climate scenarios; and, to attempt to explain observational information from the real current climate. They suggest that increased atmospheric CO2 would result in climate change, which would then result in the following:

  • more tropical cyclones;
  • stronger tropical cyclones;
  • more tornados;
  • stronger tornados;
  • more frequent droughts;
  • more severe droughts;
  • longer droughts;
  • desertification;
  • increased crop failures;
  • greening of the globe;
  • more heavy rainstorms;
  • more flooding;
  • more heat waves;
  • colder winters;
  • more snow;
  • less snow;
  • ice free Artic;
  • melting permafrost;
  • shrinking glaciers;
  • climate refugees;
  • increased crop failures;
  • more rapid plant growth;
  • animal range shifting;
  • plant range shifting;
  • more rapid sea level rise;
  • more frequent wildfires;
  • coral bleaching;
  • ocean acidification;
  • widespread hunger;
  • unrest and conflict; and,
  • resource wars.

Some sources assert that these effects of climate change are already manifesting in various parts of the globe; and, that they will become more pervasive in the future. However, the only documented effects to date are minimal warming, continued progressive sea level rise, slightly reduced ocean alkalinity and the greening of the planet.

The proposed approaches to avoiding, minimizing or reversing the purported effects of climate change resulting from increased atmospheric CO2 concentrations involve various forms of human sacrifice. None appear to require the sacrificing of virgins on ceremonial altars so far, though some have suggested that fate for “deniers”. However, population control of some undefined form is an integral component of the overall approach. Abandonment of fire is another integral component, as is the abandonment of animal husbandry. Return to a hunter/gatherer existence is currently not advocated, at least publicly. Some appear to mourn the passing of the age of the “noble savage”.

There is no shortage of individuals and organizations willing and anxious to lead and/or participate in the effort to appease the “God of Weather”, for several hundred billion dollars per year. There does appear to be a shortage of sources willing and anxious to provide the desired funding.

The problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of other peoples' money.” --Margaret Thatcher

 

Sources:

https://climate.nasa.gov/effects

https://www.wwf.org.uk/updates/effects-climate-change

https://www.edf.org/climate/climate-changes-effects-plunder-planet

https://ec.europa.eu/clima/change/consequences_en

http://www.windows2universe.org/earth/climate/cli_effects.html

http://www.davidsuzuki.org/issues/climate-change/science/impacts/impacts-of-climate-change/

http://www.businessinsider.com/terrible-effects-of-climate-change-2014-10

http://www.greenpeace.org/international/en/campaigns/climate-change/impacts/

https://www.nature.org/ourinitiatives/urgentissues/global-warming-climate-change/threats-solutions/

https://www.nature.org/ourinitiatives/urgentissues/global-warming-climate-change/threats-solutions/

http://www.noaa.gov/resource-collections/climate-change-impacts

https://www.nrdc.org/stories/are-effects-global-warming-really-bad

 

Tags: Bad Science, Sea Level Rise, Severe Weather, Drought, Climate Models, Agriculture, Climate Change Debate

A Stake Through the Heart – Trump’s View of Existing Climate Change Activities

The Trump Administration has raised a number of questions regarding the US and global efforts to limit climate change. Each of these questions must be addressed calmly, carefully, and comprehensively. The Administration must be extremely aware of potential legal challenges to its actions, even when those actions are clearly within the scope of its constitutional authority, as has been the case with the travel ban and sanctuary cities actions.

The key issues with regard to climate change are:

  • the Paris Accords, which were ratified by the previous administration without the advice and consent of the US Senate;
  • the EPA Clean Power Plan, which was issued based on a ruling by the US Supreme Court that EPA was authorized to regulate CO2 emissions under the Clean Air Act;
  • the EPA Endangerment Finding which asserted that CO2 emissions represented a threat to public safety and health;
  • the Social Cost of Carbon (SCC) analysis prepared by the Interagency Working Group on Social Cost of Greenhouse Gases;
  • the future EPA and DOE budgets in support of climate change action;
  • future US involvement in the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change; and,
  • future participation in the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

The US participation in the UNFCCC essentially underlies all of the other climate change issues. The Heritage Foundation recommended that the US withdraw from the UNFCCC in 2016. This action is within the authority of the Executive Branch. The withdrawal would become effective one year after the Administration provided notice. Withdrawal would terminate any US financial and performance obligations under the Convention.

The second obvious step was to withdraw the US from the Paris Accords. The previous Administration assured that the obligations to which it agreed in the Paris accords were non-binding, since otherwise the Paris Accords would have required the advice and consent of the US Senate, which would have been extremely unlikely to ratify the Accords as a treaty. Again, the withdrawal will become effective one year after the Administration provided notice. The withdrawal will terminate any non-binding US financial and performance obligations under the Accords.

The Administration has already issued an Executive Order to the participating agencies to disband the Interagency Working Group on Social Cost of Greenhouse Gases. One of the most crucial issues with the current SCC is that there is no recognition of the benefits of increased atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations, although these benefits are real and might well exceed the costs, now and for the foreseeable future. The other crucial issue is that the SCC is based on modeled scenarios produced by unverified models; and, thus, the actual SCC is unknown and arguably unknowable.

The US Supreme Court has stayed the enforcement of the EPA Clean Power Plan to allow several lawsuits filed by the Attorneys General of several states (including the current EPA Administrator) to move through the courts. The Administration has determined that it will not act to defend the CPP in the ongoing proceedings.

Finally, there are a series of issues with the 2009 EPA Endangerment Finding. The Administration has not yet taken any action to rescind the Endangerment Finding, but such steps might well be crucial to achieving its overall objectives.

 

 

Tags: Cost of Carbon, United Nations, Clean Power Plan, Paris Agreement, EPA Endangerment Finding, Donald Trump

Who Is To Blame for Cronyism?

Clever humans can be endlessly inventive in corrupting government powers: bribes, kickbacks, nepotism, insider tips, selective enforcement of rules, threats … the list is long.

Cronyism is the practice of using government power to benefit those with special connections—usually politicians and special interests in business, unions, environmental groups, friends, and family members.

For example, the nephew of a politician will receive a subsidy for his business, or two politicians will trade favors that enrich both, the head of an opera association will give free tickets to an opera-loving regulator to induce a tax-exemption, the head of an environmental organization with a lovely home will induce a regulator to declare a neighboring parcel of land off limits to development.  

Everyone officially condemns those practices, yet our success at preventing them is limited. That’s because we typically get the source of the problem wrong.

The most common blame-label is “crony capitalism.” Note that label assumes the corruption occurs within capitalism. When the abuses occur under socialism—as in Cuba, Venezuela, or North Korea—we call them “crony socialism.”

But our system is neither capitalist nor socialist, so we need a better label.  

Free-market capitalism on principle separates government and the economy as much as possible—for the same reasons that religious freedom requires separating the government from religion as much as possible.

Socialism, by contrast subsumes the economy under the government as much as possible—for the same reasons that it makes all human activities, religion included, matters of government control.

Our system, by contrast, tries to split the difference and deliberately integrates the government and the economy—but without nationalizing most property as socialist systems do.

We use various labels for the unwieldy hybrid: Interventionism, the Administrative State, the Mixed Economy, or the Third-Way, which was the preferred label of President Bill Clinton and Prime Minister Tony Blair in the 1990s, General Electric CEO Jeff Immelt in the 2000s, and current British Prime Minister Theresa May in the 2010s. What they all have in common is urging that business power and government power work hand in hand.

Simple logic predicts that cronyism will increase in the Third-Way systems. Give politicians control over more of the economy, and of course more businesses will try to influence those politicians and of course more politicians will use their power to benefit themselves and their friends. The system incentivizes corruption from both sides.

When former President Obama’s administration put $700 billion of TARP funds on the table for distribution, it caused a feeding frenzy.  In that ensuing feeding frenzy, how many of those billions went to the connected and the unscrupulous and how many went to businesses that had a genuine economic case to make? President Trump arrived in the government’s chief executive office as a billionaire businessman. How many of the administration’s decisions will be made exclusively on the basis of what’s best for American interests and how much will be influenced by personal business interests?

The point is that crony capitalism is a misnomer. We currently have an economy characterized by zones of semi-free markets within a giant regulatory system. And, not coincidentally, we have a lot of corruption. So when we are investigating corruptions it should at the outset be an open question whether a particular corruption emanated from the business side or the government side. Businesses can offer bribes, and government officers can demand bribes—and in a mixed economy they are expected to be working together, so both sides have further opportunities to work out mutually beneficial but corrupt arrangements.

International data also bear out the correlation between amount of corruption and amount of government control over the economy. US companies investing in foreign countries are found guilty of bribery at a rate that more-or-less matches the degree of the various foreign government’s economic management. 

In the relatively free-markets, by contrast, where politicians have less control over economic decision-making, cronyism is much less and necessarily has to go underground.

So let’s just call it cronyism, and recognize that further empowering government control over the economy is a devil’s bargain.

 

Tags: Crony Capitalism, Cronyism

Natural Variability Exists

The consensed climate science community attributes the approximately 1°C increase in global annual temperatures since 1880 to anthropogenic CO2 emissions; and, discounts the effects of natural climate variability. Great concern is expressed over the rate of change of the global average temperature anomaly (~0.7°C/century), which is claimed to be the most rapid rise in the historical record.

However, as shown in the graph below from the National Centers for Environmental Prediction, natural variability still exists; and, it can result in changes in the global average temperature anomaly far more rapid than the change attributed largely to human influences. The seven months of daily anomalies cover the emergence from the 2015/2016 Super El Nino.

The two most dramatic features of the graph are the rapid temperature anomaly excursions in January, 2017 and April, 2017. In early January, the global anomaly declines rapidly by slightly more than 0.5°C, then rapidly rebounds by approximately 0.6°C. In April, the global anomaly again declines by approximately 0.5°C. These rapid changes, which are each equal to or greater than half the anomaly change over the past 135 years, occurred over a period of 15-30 days, or at a rate of approximately 600 times the rate of change attributed to human influences.

These two features are even more dramatic when only the Northern Hemisphere is considered. The Northern Hemisphere anomaly declines by slightly more than 1°C in early January, then rapidly rebounds by more than 1.2°C in mid-January. In April, the anomaly again declines rapidly by more than 1.1°C. These anomaly changes occurred at a rate approximately 1200 times the rate of change attributed to human influences.

It is interesting to note that the Southern Hemisphere, which contains far less land surface and thus far more ocean surface than the Northern Hemisphere, experiences far more tightly constrained variations; and, that these variations are out of phase with the larger variations in the Northern Hemisphere. The Southern Hemisphere anomaly is less than 60% of the global anomaly during the period.

It is also interesting to note that the 2017 year-to-date anomaly is averaging approximately half the global anomaly increase attributed to human influence.

The consensed climate community has also concluded that the pause in global temperature anomalies over the past 20+ years did not happen, based on a reanalysis of sea surface temperature estimates reported in Karl et al 2015. However, as illustrated by the graph below, natural variability continues to exist in the earth’s oceans as well.

There is no known human influence which would cause sea surface temperatures to decline precipitously, as they did in the last few months shown in the graph above, nor is there any human influence capable of causing the rapid increases and decreases shown in the remainder of the graph.

The consensed climate science community has been very quick to attribute increases in global temperature anomalies to human influence; and, to minimize the impacts of natural phenomena, such as El Nino and La Nina events, on those anomalies. They have been far less forthcoming with explanations of declines in the anomalies, such as those discussed above.

 

Tags: Temperature Record, Global Temperature, Natural Variability

Future World – How Many Windmills Would We Need?

The US currently consumes approximately 97 quadrillion British Thermal Units (BTU) of energy in all forms each year (97 Quads). Since this quantity of energy and the forms of energy which constitute it vary over time, this analysis will use rounded numbers to avoid the impression of unjustified accuracy or precision.

Current US energy consumption, by fuel source, is approximately:

  Natural Gas 29 Quads
  Coal 14 Quads
  Oil 36 Quads
  Renewables 10 Quads
  Nuclear 8 Quads

 

Current US electricity consumption is approximately 12 quads.

 

 

The objective of the climate change movement is to eliminate fossil fuel consumption by the end of the century, if not before. The climate change movement is also not supportive of nuclear power generation or additional hydroelectric generation. Achieving their goal would require replacing the useful energy services provided by approximately 87 quads of current US energy consumption with renewable sources of energy. As shown above, current US energy consumption produces only approximately 31 quads of useful energy services. The balance of the energy consumed is rejected as the result of process inefficiencies. Therefore, approximately 21 quads of additional renewable energy would be required to replace the useful energy services currently provided by fossil fuels and nuclear, assuming 100% utilization efficiency. At a more realistic utilization efficiency level of 60%, approximately an additional 35 quads of renewable energy would be required.

One scenario would provide the entire 35 quads of additional renewable energy with wind generation. If we assume a mix of onshore and offshore wind generation, an average wind turbine capacity of 3 MW and an average wind turbine capacity factor of 35%, the incremental generating capacity required would be approximately:

35,000,000,000,000,000 BTU/yr

3MW/WT * 0.35 * 1,000,000 W/MW * 3.413 BTU/Whr * 8766 hours/yr. = 35,000,000,000,000,000 BTU/yr

31,000,000,000 BTU/yr = 1,200,000 wind turbines

Normal electric industry practice would provide a capacity reserve margin of approximately 20%, to allow for weather extremes and equipment outage for maintenance and repair. This would increase the number of additional wind turbines required to approximately 1,450,000.

Hourly variations in electricity demand can average approximately 60%, which would require either additional generation capacity or storage capacity equal to approximately 30% of peak demand. Seasonal demand is also higher in summer and winter than in spring and fall, requiring additional, longer term, storage.

Current US electric generating capacity is approximately 1,000 Gigawatts (GW), of which 70 GW is wind generators and 80 GW is hydroelectric generators. Replacing the remaining 850 GW with 3 MW wind turbines at a 35% capacity factor would require approximately 800,000 wind turbines.

Therefore, it would require approximately 2.3 million wind turbines to replace existing fossil and nuclear generated electricity and the current direct uses of coal, oil and natural gas. That is approximately 30 times the current installed wind generation capacity. Other scenarios might rely on a combination of wind and solar initially, with later additions of Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion and Wave Energy. Regardless, this would be a monumental task.

 

Tags: Renewable Energy, Wind Energy

Endangered Species – Reconsideration of the EPA Endangerment Finding

President Trump’s Presidential Executive Order on Promoting Energy Independence and Economic Growth instructs the EPA Administrator to “review and, if appropriate, as soon as practicable, take lawful action to suspend, revise, or rescind, as appropriate and consistent with law, the "Legal Memorandum Accompanying Clean Power Plan for Certain Issues," which was published in conjunction with the Clean Power Plan.”

The legal underpinnings for the Clean Power Plan(CPP) are: the April 2, 2007 US Supreme Court ruling that CO2 is a pollutant under the Clean Air Act; and, the EPA December 5, 2009 Endangerment Finding and Cause or Contribute Finding for greenhouse gases. This Endangerment Finding requires that EPA establish and promulgate a National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS) for the greenhouse gases which are the sources of the endangerment. This NAAQS has not been issued in the 7+ years since the Endangerment Finding; and, an internet search provides no links to any documentation of EPA activity to develop and promulgate this NAAQS.

Several sources have called for reconsideration of the EPA Endangerment Finding:

           (HT: The Science and Environment Policy Project www.sepp.org)

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt questions whether EPA has either the authority under the Clean Air Act or the ability, as currently structured and staffed, to regulate CO2 emissions. Congress considered and explicitly rejected including CO2 as a criteria pollutant when considering the Clean Air Act and its later amendments.

Democrat members of the US Senate have written to Administrator Pruitt, expressing their concerns about the future of the CPP; and, demanding responses from EPA regarding EPA decisions relating to the future of the CPP.

It is becoming increasingly clear that the effort to rescind the CPP will be challenged as long as the Endangerment Finding remains in place. Therefore, as difficult as it might appear, the Endangerment Finding must be challenged; and, either substantially revised or rescinded.

Recent climate research suggests that climate sensitivity to increased atmospheric CO2 concentrations is at the lower end of the range of values estimated by the IPCC, or even below that range. These results suggest that humanity is not as “endangered” as the studies used to support the 2009 EPA Endangerment Finding indicated. Therefore, it appears that the first approach to revising or rescinding the EPA Endangerment Finding should be a thorough review of the recent climate sensitivity research by non-EPA “tiger teams”, to determine whether the “endangerment” identified by EPA is real and of sufficient magnitude to justify regulatory programs such as the CPP.

Absent the requirements of the CPP, electric utilities and non-utility power plant owners and the state utility commissions which regulate them would be free to continue to pursue expanded natural gas combined-cycle power plant and renewable generation options, applying Best Available Current Technology, consistent with maintaining system reliability and controlling consumer energy costs.

 

Tags: Clean Power Plan, EPA, Endangerment Finding

Enlightened Self-interest – Opposition to Trump’s Environmental Policies

Prior to the US election in November 2016 the UNFCCC, the IPCC, the signatories to the Paris Accords and numerous environmental NGOs were quietly confident that the expected future Clinton Administration would continue the environmental policies of the Obama Administration. Since the election of President Trump, those organizations and their progressive allies in the US have attempted to convince the then President-elect and now President to modify the positions he espoused during his campaign regarding climate change.

They have also attempted to convince themselves and others that the momentum produced by the Paris Accords would continue regardless of the positions taken by the Trump Administration; and, they attempted to halt or slow the approval of Scott Pruitt as the new EPA Administrator. Their progressive allies in and out of government have resisted and continue to resist the changes being pursued by President Trump and Administrator Pruitt. They even organized a March for Science to demonstrate their opposition to the Administration’s climate agenda.

Several recent events have clearly demonstrated to these groups and their progressive allies that they have been unsuccessful in slowing the Administration’s pace or changing its direction.

The NGOs and others have now begun efforts to convince US businesses that they “must” take the lead in moving the US toward a clean energy economy, since the Administration has decided not to force the US economy down that path. The Environmental Defense Fund document linked above goes into significant detail regarding what they believe is in the enlightened self-interest of US businesses, apparently under the impression that those businesses would be incapable of identifying courses of action which would be in their best interests on their own; or, that they can shame the businesses into courses of action which the businesses do not see as being in their best interests.

The Administration actions so far have no impact on the climate change positions taken by several states in the Northeast and California, which have established state goals and state cap & trade programs designed to achieve those goals. The Administration actions also have no effect on the Renewable Portfolio Standards established by state legislatures and regulatory bodies regarding electric power generation. They also have no impact on state incentive programs for on-site generation, including net metering programs available from regulated utilities. However, the Administration has begun efforts to free the states from the CO2 emissions reduction requirements which would be imposed by the EPA Clean Power Plan, which has currently been stayed by the US Supreme Court.

The US “commitment” to reduce its CO2 emissions under the Paris Accords is not the only issue of discussion regarding the Accords. The developing nations have begun their “show me the money” chorus regarding the Climate Fund agreed to in Paris. It appears exceedingly unlikely that the desired $100 billion per year funding level will be achieved, despite the best intentions of the intended funders and the fondest desires of the intended recipients.

 

Tags: Clean Power Plan, Donald Trump, EPA, United Nations, IPCC, Paris Agreement

Hyperbolic Reaction to Trump’s Executive Order

The general reaction of the consensed climate science community, the environmentalist community, the progressive political class, and the “mainstream” media to the Trump Presidential Executive Order on Promoting Energy Independence and Economic Growth has been marked by a degree of hyperbole bordering on the unhinged. The EO has been accused of doing several things which it does not do, nor even intend to do.

One major focus of the reaction has been aimed at the Administration’s intent to remove support for the Clean Power Plan. This is viewed as an attempt to reinvigorate the US coal industry, though the intent is actually to allow operators of existing coal-fired electric generating plants to continue to operate those plants to meet their customers’ electric needs; and, to allow the construction of new coal-fired generating stations, if approved by the State Utility Commissions with jurisdiction over the serving utilities. The EO does not affect existing State Renewable Portfolio Standards, nor does it reduce or eliminate existing federal programs to encourage wind and solar generation development and use. The EO does not require a reversion from current environmental dispatch protocols to economic dispatch. The EO does not affect any existing federal emissions regulations regarding criteria pollutants. The EO merely states the intent not to enforce the proposed CO2 emissions limits imposed by the CPP, which are not currently economically achievable on either new or existing coal generators with commercially available and demonstrated control equipment.

Trump’s critics have proclaimed that the Clean Power Plan is the salvation of the future of life as we know it; and, that not enforcing it will make no difference because its objectives will be achieved anyway. There is reasonable likelihood that the truth lies somewhere between these extreme positions.

A second major focus is the intent to abandon or substantially revise the current Social Cost of Carbon calculation. The current SCC estimate of ~$40 per ton is believed to be exaggerated; and, to completely ignore the social benefits of increased atmospheric CO2, such as the NASA-documented “greening” of the planet. Increased atmospheric CO2 concentrations have been experimentally determined to increase plant growth rates and to improve the efficiency with which plants use available water.

The intent of the SCC calculations was to be a precursor to a carbon tax or fee (essentially a “sin” tax) intended to drive up the costs of fossil fuels and produce large incremental federal revenues. One proposal for a “fully refundable carbon tax” is discussed here in all its redistributionist glory.

A third significant focus is the intent to reopen federal lands to fossil fuel exploration and production. Most of the growth of natural gas reserves over the past eight years has been the result of exploration and production on private lands. While this has been effective in dramatically increasing availability and reducing cost, the limitations to E&P on federal lands has taken many highly regarded development prospects “off the table” and led to the development of less attractive prospects because they are on private land and thus accessible.

Perhaps the most shocked reactions to the explanations of the Administration positions which led to this Executive Order have been to the extremely blunt response by Administration Budget Director Mick Mulvaney to questions about climate change funding in the President’s Budget Outline. Mulvaney is quoted as responding that he believed the President had been quite clear that he believed that funding was a waste of taxpayers’ money and that the Administration would not be funding that in the future.

 

Related Articles:

Cornwall Alliance Fights Climate Ugliness

 

Tags: Regulation, EPA, Clean Power Plan, Donald Trump

Whistleblowing and Government Secrets, Chelsea Manning edition

In his final days in office, President Obama commuted the prison sentence of Chelsea Manning. While in the employ of the US Army, Manning had downloaded tens of thousands of government documents and passed them on to Wikileaks.

Among the leaked documents were many State Department cables, reports on incidents during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as on the treatment of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay. Some documents revealed information that put US diplomacy into disadvantaged negotiating positions and exposed personnel to increased military risk. Some of the more controversial documents were about arbitrary arrests, the use of torture and the training of torturers, and 2007 video footage showing an Apache helicopter killing civilians in Baghdad, Iraq.

So: Is Manning a traitor who illegally exposed sensitive government secrets -- or a whistleblower exposing corrupt and illegal government activities? Or both?

In the business world, ethicists encourage whistleblowers to set aside the ordinary expectation of confidentiality and loyalty to expose illegalities within their organizations. The US Department of Labor has extensive protections in place for whistleblowers. The employers that whistleblowers expose are prohibited by law from taking adverse actions such as firing, threatening, or reducing the whistle-blowing employee's compensation.

Does anything change when the employer is the government itself? And does it matter that very recent public perceptions are of a government with an increasing number of high officials who lie prodigiously, use power arbitrarily, and then use information-classification procedures to cover-up their misdeeds? Our government officials are constitutionally bound, and they are ultimately responsible to us, the citizens.

Executive Order 13526 says:

“In no case shall information be classified … in order to: conceal violations of law, inefficiency, or administrative error; prevent embarrassment to a person, organization, or agency … or prevent or delay the release of information that does not require protection in the interest of the national security.” (Sec. 1.7, Classification Prohibitions and Limitations)

Yet we should also consider the standard procedures whistleblowers should follow.

The first consideration is to whom the problem should be reported. Normally, problems can be reported to a superior officer. But if the superior is the problem, then it can be communicated to the superior's superior. If that is bureaucratically impossible or the illegality is coming from on high, then the whistleblower can appropriately seek an ombudsman or an independent regulatory or judicial office with the authority to investigate.

A second consideration is how much information to release. Whistleblowers should not release information indiscriminately, but rather only information directly relevant to the infraction(s).

So relevant to evaluating Chelsea Manning's actions is whether she respected those two considerations.

Did she discuss her concerns with her superiors? Or if she rightly judged that would be ineffective, did she seek out the Army's or other appropriate watchdog or judicial units, e.g., the FBI? Or did she simply and directly go public to Wikileaks?

And did she review the information she downloaded and release only those documents relevant to her legitimate concerns? Or did she indiscriminately release any documents she was able to acquire?

Illegal activities and cover-ups by high government officials are dangerous to our republic -- but so is the flouting of the rule of law and its specified procedures.

 

Tags: Chelsea Manning, Whistleblower
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