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2020 Retrospective

Edward A. Reid Jr.
Posted On:
Dec 29, 2020 at 3:00 AM
Climate Change

“The best-laid schemes o' mice an' men, Gang aft a-gley, And leave us nought but grief and pain, For promised joy.”, Robert Burns

The past year has been a rollercoaster ride for the issue of climate change. The year began with the expectation of an effort to rescind the 2009 EPA Endangerment Finding; and, of expanded hydraulic fracturing supporting continued reductions of US CO2 emissions as natural gas combined cycle power plants replace aging coal generating stations.

The emergence of the COVID19 pandemic in January “sucked all the oxygen out of the room”, refocusing attention from a variety of issues including climate change. Climate activists complained loudly that the focus on their issue had been overwhelmed by the pandemic. A group of approximately 400 media outlets concluded that the climate issue was not receiving sufficient attention to convince the US public that climate change was  a “crisis”, or “emergency” or “existential threat” and began a coordinated effort to provide more intensive coverage.

The US House of Representatives Democrat majority established a Select Committee on the Climate Crisis. The Democrat presidential candidates established positions regarding climate change, many of which drew heavily on the Green New Deal and the Blue Green New Deal. These positions then evolved into the Democrat Platform for the 2020 election; and, into multi-trillion-dollar climate change action plans and commitments to replace fossil fuels for power generation in the US by 2035.

The IPCC proceeded with development of the Sixth Assessment Report and the CMIP6 ensemble of climate models. The IPCC continued its unofficial policy of excluding research results which do not support the IPCC and consensed climate science community narrative. The consensed climate science community also continued its unofficial effort to prevent non-conforming research results from publication in peer reviewed journals. Several of the CMIP6 climate models project even higher temperature anomalies by the end of the century, despite the fact that the CMIP5 models almost universally over-project future temperature anomalies.

Research continued to suggest that the actual climate sensitivity to CO2 was close to, or even below, the lower end of the climate sensitivity range used by the climate models. These research results suggested that climate change is not now, nor is it likely to be, a “crisis”.

Major aspects of the “settled science” remain far from settled, including:

  •     differences between near-surface and satellite temperature measurements;
  •     differences among various sea surface temperature measurements;
  •     differences between tide gauge and satellite sea level rise measurements;
  •     differences among the projections of the ensemble of climate models; and,
  •     differing positions on the impact of climate change on extreme weather events.

The UNFCCC cancelled its Conference of the Parties 26 because of the COVID pandemic.

The US withdrawal from the Paris Accords became official on November 4th.

The UN Secretary General has called on the leaders of member nations to declare “Climate Emergencies” in their countries.

Numerous organizations have begun calling for restrictions on citizen freedoms like those imposed in response to the COVID19 pandemic to control climate change.