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Climate and Climate Change

Climate and Climate Change

Climate Change

Two days before Halloween, 2011, New England was struck by a freak winter storm. Heavy snow descended onto trees covered with leaves.  Overloaded branches fell on power lines.  Blue flashes of light in the sky indicated exploding transformers.  Electricity was out for days in some areas and for weeks in others. Damage to property and disruption of lives was widespread.

That disastrous restriction on human energy supplies was produced by Nature.  However, current and future energy curtailments are being forced on the populace by Federal policies in the name of dangerous “climate change/global warming”.  Yet, despite the contradictions between what people are being told and what people have seen and can see about the weather and about the climate, they continue to be effectively steered away from the knowledge of such contradictions to focus on the claimed disaster effects of  “climate change/global warming” (AGW, “Anthropogenic Global Warming”). 

People are seldom told HOW MUCH is the increase of temperatures or that there has been no increase in globally averaged temperature for over 18 years.  They are seldom told how miniscule is that increase compared to swings in daily temperatures. They are seldom told about the dangerous effects of government policies on their supply of “base load” energy — the uninterrupted energy that citizens depend on 24/7 — or about the consequences of forced curtailment of industry-wide energy production with its hindrance of production of their and their family’s food, shelter, and clothing. People are, in essence, kept mostly ignorant about the OTHER SIDE of the AGW debate.

Major scientific organizations — once devoted to the consistent pursuit of understanding the natural world — have compromised their integrity and diverted membership dues in support of some administrators’ AGW agenda.   Schools throughout the United States continue to engage in relentless AGW indoctrination of  students, from kindergarten through university.  Governments worldwide have been appropriating vast sums for “scientific” research, attempting to convince the populace that the use of fossil fuels must be severely curtailed to “save the planet.”  Prominent businesses — in league with various politicians who pour ever more citizen earnings into schemes such as ethanol in gasoline, solar panels, and wind turbines — continue to tilt against imaginary threats of AGW.  And even religious leaders and organizations have joined in to proclaim such threats.   As a consequence, AGW propaganda is proving to be an extraordinary vehicle for the exponential expansion of government power over the lives of its citizens. 

Reasoning is hindered by minds frequently in a state of alarm.  The object of this website is an attempt to promote a reasoned approach; to let people know of issues pertaining to the other side of the AGW issue and the ways in which it conflicts with the widespread side of AGW alarm (AGWA, for short).  In that way it is hoped that all members of society can make informed decisions.

Highlighted Article - My Global Warming Skepticism, for Dummies

  • 1/18/18 at 10:20 AM

By: Roy Spencer PH. D.

“The total amount of CO2 humans have added to the atmosphere in the last 100 years has upset the radiative energy budget of the Earth by only 1%. How the climate system responds to that small ‘poke’ is very uncertain. The IPCC says there will be strong warming, with cloud changes making the warming worse. I claim there will be weak warming, with cloud changes acting to reduce the influence of that 1% change."

My Global Warming Skepticism, for Dummies

 

Tags: Highlighted Article

Climate Science Peer Review Is A Zombie

Climate science peer review is the “walking dead”, kept walking by those who “killed” it in the first place. It was “killed” by those it was intended to serve, by their willingness to provide “pal” review to those with whom they agreed and their unwillingness to provide fair (or any) review to researchers with whom they disagreed. This process has resulted in the publication of “peer” reviewed studies in major journals which have later been demonstrated to be flawed. It has arguably also resulted in skeptical studies not being published, or being published in lesser known scientific journals.

There appear to have been numerous factors which contributed to the zombification of climate science peer review, including:

  • willingness of journals to permit authors to select their peer reviewers;
  • unwillingness of authors to select critical peers;
  • willingness of journals to publish studies without providing access to all the background materials necessary for critical review;
  • reluctance of authors to provide access to their work product by peers expected to be critical of their work; and,
  • failure of authors to properly archive their work product.

Many of these factors only became apparent as the result of the publication of the Climategate e-mails, which exposed the active resistance of researchers at the University of East Anglia to providing data to skeptical peers, efforts to avoid publication of skeptical research in premier journals and to prevent its inclusion in the reports of the IPCC and efforts to have journal editors disciplined or fired for allowing peer review of skeptical research and its subsequent publication.

The Climategate e-mails also exposed the existence of “Mike’s Nature trick”, which Michael Mann used to help shape his “hockey stick”; and, the broad awareness of Mann’s “trick” within the consensed climate science community. Dr. Mann has since aggressively resisted FOIA requests for release of his e-mail exchanges with other climate researchers and the supporting data and analytical procedures involved in creation of the “hockey stick”. Mann has also sued another climate researcher, several authors and an internet website for criticizing the “hockey stick”. Interestingly, he and his attorneys have “slow walked” the legal process, avoiding discovery while increasing the legal expenses of those he has sued. The source(s) of his funding for these legal efforts are unknown.

Dr. Susan Crockford, a Canadian zoologist recently published a paper which contradicted the conclusions of polar bear research published previously. She was quickly attacked in an online piece by the authors of the earlier research and others.  She has demanded a retraction.

Dr. Mark Jacobson and several co-authors published a study regarding renewable energy, which was later challenged in a paper by another group of authors. Jacobson has since sued the authors of the paper challenging his work for defamation. The source(s) of his funding for the lawsuit are unknown.

At the extreme, funding of skeptical climate research can be and has been limited or prevented by “peers” unwilling to provide fair peer review of skeptics’ research proposals. Roger Pielke, Jr. says he has been told by a National Science Foundation (NSF) officer: “Don’t even bother submitting an NSF proposal, because we won’t be able to find a reviewer who will give you a positive score.”

 

Tags: Peer Review

Defending Climate Orthodoxy

scientific method: principles and procedures for the systematic pursuit of knowledge involving the recognition and formulation of a problem, the collection of data through observation and experiment, and the formulation and testing of hypotheses. 

One of the most egregious aspects of the activities exposed by the Climategate e-mails was the concerted effort to deter publication of scientific papers which questioned the climate orthodoxy of the consensed climate science community and prevent inclusion of those papers in the IPCC reports. Despite their discovery as the result of Climategate, these activities have continued unabated. While the consensed climate science community has been unsuccessful in preventing publication of scientific papers critical of the climate orthodoxy, it has been successful in keeping most of them from publication in the premier scientific journals in the US and Europe; and, it has been successful in suppressing media attention to the studies.

There were more than 500 scientific papers supportive of some aspect of climate skepticism published in 2016. More than 400 such papers have been published in 2017. (Interestingly, a search for this article produced a SNOPES “Fact Check” as the first result.) These papers have received little or no attention in the US media, largely as the result of their publication in secondary journals; and, as the result of the absence of promotion by the consensed climate science community.

The attention of the US media is primarily focused on the results of government funded studies involving the use of unverified climate models to create scare scenarios. The study authors, the journals in which they publish and the government agencies which fund their studies are conscientious in their efforts to attract media attention; and, the “if it bleeds, it leads” media are all too anxious to cooperate.

The ability of members of the consensed climate science community to suggest potential peers to participate in peer review of their scientific studies, generally to the exclusion of skeptical reviewers, has reportedly degenerated into a system of “pal review”. This has been accompanied by an unwillingness on the part of members of the consensed climate science community to review scientific papers by skeptics of the climate orthodoxy; and, by submission of persistent critical reviews of skeptical papers.

One of the most active areas of skeptical climate research is the study of the sensitivity of the climate to increasing atmospheric CO2 concentrations, which the consensed climate science community has identified as the “control knob” of global climate. Numerous skeptical climate scientists question this view of CO2, referring to it as a “fallacy”. Several recent studies have suggested climate sensitivities to CO2 significantly lower than the range of values used by the IPCC.

The continued divergence of the Climate Model Intercomparison Project Phase 5 (CMIP5) climate model scenarios from the observed global temperatures have caused members of the consensed climate science community to acknowledge that there are problems with the climate models, including excessive sensitivities ascribed to the “control knob”.

In summary, the “settled science” might not be “settled” after all; and, the climate orthodoxy might not be as orthodox as we have been asked to believe.

 

Tags: Climate Science, Climate Skeptics, Peer Review

Highlighted Article: The Costs and Hazards of Human Caused Global Warming

  • 12/28/17 at 11:04 AM

By: Andy May

"Seven posts on the potential costs and hazards of human-caused global warming and the impact of humans on the environment in general."

  1. Do humans harm the environment? Dec. 9, 2017
  2. Population Growth and the food supply Dec. 11, 2017
  3. Calculating the Cost of Global Warming Dec. 14, 2017
  4. Extinctions and shutting down the Gulf Stream Dec 16, 2017
  5. Climate-related Deaths and Insecurity Dec. 18, 2017
  6. Global Warming and Extreme Weather Dec. 22, 2017
  7. Glaciers and Sea Level Rise Dec. 28, 2017

 

Tags: Highlighted Article

Climate Change 2017 Year in Review

The year 2017 was a good year regarding climate change in the US, at least from the perspective of this skeptic. The US inaugurated a President with a healthy skepticism regarding CAGW (catastrophic anthropogenic global warming) and climate alarmism. The new President appointed an EPA Administrator with a healthy skepticism regarding CAGW and climate alarmism.

The President has withdrawn the US from the Paris Accords, ending an “all pain and no gain” commitment to emissions reductions and environmental transfer payments which would have hampered US economic growth. The President has also halted future payments into the UN Green Climate Fund. Unfortunately, the President has not yet withdrawn the US from the UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change), as required by current statute. This withdrawal would also speed US withdrawal from the Paris Accords.

The President’s budget proposal showed a 35% reduction in the EPA budget, largely representing a reduction in EPA’s climate change activities. There has already been a reduction of approximately 40% in federal government awards for research dealing with climate change. This should result in a significant reduction in the number of model-based scary scenario studies fed to the media. There was also a significant reduction of the US presence at COP23 (United Nations Conference of Parties).

The EPA Administrator placed the previous Administration’s Clean Power Plan on hold, potentially avoiding the premature closing of coal-fired power plants and the resulting disruption of the US electric industry.

The EPA Administrator ended the “sue and settle” practice at EPA, under which the agency cooperated with environmental interests in preparing and pursuing lawsuits against EPA, which the Agency then settled on terms acceptable to both the environmental interests and Agency staff.

The EPA Administrator has also expressed interest in attempting to modify or reverse the EPA Endangerment Finding regarding CO2 and other “greenhouse gases”. The Administrator has expressed the belief that the science cited in support of the Endangerment Finding is faulty; and, that the science was not developed by EPA, as required by statute, but was taken in large measure from work reported by the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change). Regrettably, the Administrator has apparently taken no actions so far regarding the Endangerment Finding.

The EPA Administrator suggested structuring a Red Team / Blue Team exercise to review and debate the current status of climate change research and of the climate models on which the CAGW concern is based. However, no action has apparently been initiated regarding this process. This effort would require significant cooperation from both NASA and NOAA. The President has nominated individuals to the Administrator positions in these agencies, but neither has been confirmed.

US emissions of “greenhouse gases” have continued to decline, despite US withdrawal from the Paris Accords. Emissions by other signatory countries to the Paris Accords have not necessarily followed suit. Several countries which expected to receive funds from the US Green Climate Fund to support low emissions economic development have threatened to abandon their plans if the funding is not forthcoming.

The global temperature anomaly products continue to report observed “adjusted” anomalies significantly below the scenarios produced by the CMIP5 (Coupled Model Intercomparison Project Phase 5) climate models. This trend is expected to continue, as a growing number of climate studies are reporting lower climate sensitivities to “greenhouse gas” concentrations in the atmosphere than the climate sensitivities used by the IPCC.

Finally, it appears highly unlikely that 2017 will be “the warmest year evah”. Whew!

 

Tags: EPA, Donald Trump, Paris Agreement, Climate Models

Climate Change Perversion

“Climate Change Skepticism is “Perverse”, Pope Francis

Perverse: turned away from what is right or good: corrupt (Merriam-Webster)

There is ample historical evidence for climate change. Therefore, while false skepticism regarding the reality of climate change might be perverse, real skepticism regarding climate change is simply ignorance. However, ignoring or denying the reality of the Roman Warm Period, the Medieval Warm Period and the Little Ice Age while promoting a future climate “hockey stick”, for example, might be considered perverse. Believing that the climate had always been as it was in 1850, for example, is simply ignorance.

Anthropogenic climate change skepticism is more complex. Skepticism that all previous climate change was natural, but that recent climate change is exclusively or primarily anthropogenic, is a reasonable position, since it is not currently possible to measure the human contribution to climate change on a global or macro scale. However, it is possible to demonstrate human influence on climate on a local or micro scale, particularly in the case of the Urban Heat Island Effect. It is also possible to calculate the impact of human forest clearing and conversion to farmland on the albedo of the land. It is unreasonable to assume that the natural factors which caused climate change in the past somehow ceased, to be replaced exclusively by human influences.

Catastrophic anthropogenic global warming (CAGW) skepticism is even more complex; and, more rational. CAGW concerns are based on unverified climate models, typically fed the Representative Concentration Pathway (RCP) 8.5 “business-as-usual” or worst-case scenario. Since the models have not been verified, there is no basis upon which to assume that they have any predictive skill. In fact, the models are currently showing warming more than two times greater than observations.

There are, however, several aspects of the current climate science process which are perverse:

  • continuing to collect and adjust near-surface temperature data believed to be inaccurate, rather than replacing the temperature sensors with sensors capable of producing accurate data, or relocating the sensors to appropriate locations;
  • continuing to “create” temperature inputs for locations where there are no sensors, or where the sensors have ceased operating, rather than install or replace sensors;
  • continuing to “reanalyze” previously adjusted temperature data to alter the historical record;
  • continuing to fund production of catastrophic climate scenarios using unverified models and unrealistic emissions growth paths, rather than devoting the available funding to attempting to verify one or more models;
  • failing to seek to understand the relationships between near-surface temperature measurements and satellite temperature measurements; and,
  • failing to seek to understand the relationship between surface-based and satellite-based sea level rise measurements.

There are also aspects of the politics surrounding the climate science process which are perverse:

  • demonization of legitimate skepticism on the part of climate scientists;
  • refusal to fund research which questions the climate orthodoxy;
  • erection of barriers to the publication of skeptical scientific papers; and,
  • lawsuits against climate scientists critical of others’ scientific papers.

Skepticism regarding unproven assertions is a natural human response. Attacking that skepticism, rather than responding to it, typically raises “red flags” among skeptics. The persistent refusal of those in the consensed climate science community to debate, or otherwise engage, skeptical scientists raises additional “red flags”.

 

Tags: Climate Change Debate, Climate Skeptics, Climate Models, Climate Science

Highlighted Article - A Veneer of Certainty Stoking Climate Alarm

  • 12/7/17 at 10:31 AM

From the November 27, 2017 issue of the Competitive Enterprise Institute's "OnPOINT"

A Veneer of Certainty Stoking Climate Alarm

By: Rupert Darwall

“While the nations of the world met in Bonn to discuss implementation of the Paris Climate Agreement, the Trump administration was working to dismantle President Obama’s Clean Power Plan and to establish a climate “red team” to critically evaluate the scientific basis for dangerous human-caused climate change and the policy responses.”

 

Tags: Highlighted Article

Perspective on Limiting Global Warming to 2 Degrees

The often stated “goal” of the UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change) is to limit global warming to 2oC (3.6oF) above pre-industrial levels; and, preferably to 1.5oC (2.7oF) above pre-industrial levels. The near-surface temperature records suggest that ~1oC (1.8oF) of this warming has already occurred, leaving just 0.5-1oC (0.9-1.8oF) until the “goal” is reached. The Paris Accord was touted as the last, best hope to keep global temperatures within the 2oC goal. However, the UNFCCC has recently acknowledged that achieving the emissions reductions pledged under the Accord would be inadequate to avoid exceeding the 2oC “goal”, no less the 1.5oC preferred “goal”.

It is generally acknowledged that most of the global warming in the industrial era has manifested as milder winters and warmer nights, rather than as hotter summers. Therefore, a look at typical winter temperatures today, with the existing 1oC (1.8oF) warming and in a 1oC (1.8oF) warmer future can provide some perspective on this potential future, warmer world.

A trip down Interstates 71 and 75, from Cleveland, Ohio to Atlanta, Georgia provides one example.

Temperatures following Interstate 71 and 75

The average difference between the winter high temperatures in these cities is 3oF, city to city, or 40% greater than the potential future warming “goal” envisioned by the UNFCCC. Essentially, each city on the list would have an average winter high temperature slightly cooler than the city below it on the list. The average difference between the winter low temperatures in these cities is 2oF, city to city. Interestingly, the average difference between the summer high temperatures and between the summer low temperatures is 1oF, city to city.

A trip down Interstates 29 and 35, from Fargo, North Dakota to Laredo, Texas provides another example.

Temperatures following Interstate 29 and 35

The average difference between the winter high temperatures in these cities is ~6oF, city to city, or 200% greater than the potential future warming “goal” envisioned by the UNFCCC. Essentially, each city on the list would have an average winter high temperature ~4oF cooler than the city below it on the list. The average difference between the winter low temperatures in these cities is ~6oF, city to city. Interestingly, the average difference between the summer high temperatures and between the summer low temperatures is ~2oF, city to city.

The potential future warming to the UNFCCC “goal” would change growing seasons slightly, on average, but the larger effects would be on the start and end of the growing seasons, rather than on conditions during the growing season. The magnitude of these potential changes appears to be well within the ability of farmers to adapt their planting and harvesting schedules.

 

Tags: Paris Agreement, United Nations, Temperature Record

Not-so-subtle Influences – Search Engine Bias

Google and other search engines are our modern-day paths to knowledge on an extremely broad range of subjects. However, at least on the topic of climate science and climate scientists, they are a not-so-subtly guided path toward information consistent with the current climate consensus.

Searches for information on Dr. Roy Spencer, Dr. Judith Curry, Dr. Richard Lindzen, Dr. John Christy and Dr. David Legates all begin with links to their individual websites, followed by a link to a Wikipedia page. However, these are immediately followed by one or two links to websites such as skepticalscience.com, desmogblog.com, thinkprogress.org and facingsouth.org., typically referring to them as climate “deniers” or climate “misinformers”, or linking them to conservative or industry funding sources.

Searches for information on Dr. James Hansen, Dr. Gavin Schmidt, Dr. Michael Mann, Dr. Kevin Trenberth and other members of the consensed climate science community follow a similar pattern initially, but contain no links to opposition websites. Rather, they typically contain links to recent studies they have completed or recent public comments they have made.

The companies which operate search engines use several criteria to determine the material to which they provide links; and, the order in which those links appear. The consistent “first list” provision of links to opposition websites in response to searches for information regarding skeptical climate scientists and the complete absence of such links in the case of searches for information on members of the consensed climate science community suggests several possible explanations:

  • the operator of the search engine prefers or supports one position over another;
  • the early-listed website owners somehow influence their positioning in the lists; or,
  • there are no opposition websites taking positions against the climate consensus and the members of the consensed climate science community.

Regardless, the effect is to include negative references to the scientists or their work prior to providing links to their work or to positions they take regarding climate issues. This makes finding links to their work more difficult, while not-so-subtly suggesting that their work might be of poor quality, or of little value, or inaccurate.

Similarly, searches for recent climate change research typically return very few links to skeptical research and skeptical scientists. Much of this is the result of the massive disparity between the funding levels for research supporting the global and national government climate consensus and the funding levels available for skeptical research. The first lists provided by such searches typically contain multiple links to NASA and EPA webpages and references to government-funded research.

Searches for skeptical climate change research typically contain multiple links to sites critical of the skeptical position; and, few if any links to actual skeptical research results.

Success in finding skeptical research results and commentary essentially requires that you know where to look for such information, since the most used search engines will not make the search easy or very productive. Even searches for skeptical climate change websites return first lists containing links to opposition websites, including skepticalscience.com and the Union of Concerned Scientists.

 

Tags: Silencing the Skeptics, Bias

Diminishing Impact of Increased CO2

“It doesn't matter how beautiful your theory is, it doesn't matter how smart you are.  If it doesn't agree with experiment, it's wrong.” --Richard P. Feynman

The impact of incremental increases in atmospheric CO2 concentrations diminishes as the CO2 concentration increases, as illustrated by this graph.

Heating Effect of CO2

The author notes that “the first 20 ppm accounts for over half of the heating effect to the pre-industrial level of 280 ppm”. Equally important is that the impact of increased atmospheric CO2, from whatever source, is approaching zero asymptotically.

The range of climate models included in the Climate Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP5) largely do not illustrate an asymptotic approach to a limiting anomaly value, as would be expected, as illustrated in this graph. However, both the HadCRUT4 near-surface temperature anomaly and the UAH Lower Atmosphere temperature anomaly appear to demonstrate the beginning of an asymptotic approach to a limiting anomaly value, which would be substantially lower than might be indicated by most of the climate models. This apparent asymptotic approach coincides with the “hiatus” or “pause” which followed the 1998 super El Nino.

90 CMIP5 Climate Models vs. Observations

Numerous recent research papers have suggested far lower climate sensitivity to increased atmospheric CO2 concentrations than the climate sensitivity estimates used by the CMIP5 climate model scenarios shown above. Co-author of the paper “ Lewis N and Curry J A: The implications for climate sensitivity of AR5 forcing and heat uptake estimates, Climate Dynamics (2014)”, Nic Lewis, explains their study here. The results reported in these papers are consistent with the appearance of an approach to a limiting climate anomaly in both the near-surface and satellite anomalies, as shown above. While the duration of the flattening of the anomaly curves above is too short to be considered a climate change, it is certainly an indication that there are effects occurring in the climate which are not predicted by the models.

The time frame shown in the graph above begins shortly after the beginning of the satellite era. A longer time frame is available in the graph below, produced by Dr. James E. Hansen of NASA GISS in 1988.

Annual Mean Global Temperature Change

The lowest line on the graph, Scenario “C”, assumes drastically lower emissions beginning between 1990 and 2000. The point “x1” indicates the value of the UAH satellite anomaly as of June 2017. The point “x2” indicates the value of the HadCRUT4 anomaly as of June 2017. The calculated anomalies are consistent with Scenario “C”, though actual emissions history is consistent with Scenario “A”; and, are also consistent with lower climate sensitivity.

The consensed climate science community has begun to acknowledge the widening gap between the climate scenarios produced by the CMIP5 climate models and the anomalies calculated by NOAA / NCEI, NASA GISS, HadCRUT, UAH and RSS. However, that has not yet ended the persistent claim that “the science is settled” and that “the time for debate is over”, nor has it ended EPA Administrator Pruitt’s call for a Red Team / Blue Team exercise on climate change.

“It ain’t over till it’s over.”, Yogi Berra, American philosopher

Tags: Climate Models, CO2 Emissions

Highlighted Article - The Science Police

  • 11/20/17 at 12:53 PM

From the summer 2017 issue of ISSUES IN SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY

The Science Police

By: Keith Kloor

" On highly charged issues, such as climate change and endangered species, peer review literature and public discourse are aggressively patrolled by self-appointed sheriffs in the scientific community."

 

Tags: Highlighted Article

Clean Power Plan Redux

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt has signed an order rescinding the Clean Power Plan. This action will trigger an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking regarding potential future emissions reductions and reduction strategies. This action will also likely trigger a plethora of lawsuits by environmental groups; and, perhaps, by several states. However, these lawsuits are likely to be fought out in the courts, rather than resolved through the “sue and settle” approach for which the Obama Administration EPA became famous.

The Clean Power Plan was frequently characterized as “a war against coal”, though it was actually a war against fossil fuel use for electric power generation. The Clean Power Plan established CO2 emissions levels for power plants which could not be met by any commercially available technology for burning coal to produce electricity. However, this approach left the door open for further reductions in the permitted emissions levels, which would eventually have precluded natural gas simple-cycle and combined-cycle gas turbines as well. Natural gas was viewed as a “bridge” fuel, useful to displace coal for power generation until it could then be replaced by renewables.

It is important to recognize that, under President Obama’s Climate Action Plan the Clean Power Plan was the Obama Administration’s primary tool to move the electric sector of the US energy economy to a zero net CO2 emissions by the end of the twenty-first century, if not before. The Obama Administration’s Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards for light duty vehicles and Regulations for Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Commercial Trucks and Buses focused on gasoline and Diesel emissions from the transportation sector. The intent of these regulations was to move the transportation market towards electric vehicles.

The Climate Action Plan also discussed industrial, commercial and residential energy efficiency initiatives, but did not discuss setting emissions standards for those energy markets which would ultimately result in the elimination of fossil fuel use for industrial and commercial processes, or for commercial and residential space heating, water heating, laundry drying, food preparation, etc. However, the ultimate intent was to shift all direct energy use in these sectors to electricity.

Each of these federal actions was part of an overall plan to shift the US energy economy to total reliance on electricity; and, ultimately, to total reliance on electricity generated by renewable energy sources, primarily hydro, geothermal, wind and solar, plus other renewable sources which might become economically competitive over time, including ocean thermal energy conversion, wave energy and dry hot rock geothermal energy.

The Obama Administration used tax policy and direct subsidies to encourage utilities and their customers to adopt renewable technologies and hybrid and electric vehicles. Numerous states supported this effort with tax policies and direct subsidies, as well as indirect subsidies, including net metering of electricity for residential and commercial customers who implemented on-site renewable energy systems, primarily solar photovoltaic electric generating systems.

All of this activity stemmed from the 2009 EPA Endangerment Finding. Recent research has questioned whether the information used to justify the Endangerment Finding was accurate. It is likely that the current Administration will seek to overturn the 2009 Endangerment Finding, though this is perceived to be a very difficult challenge.

 

Tags: EPA Endangerment Finding, Clean Power Plan

Climate Change Debate

Professor Michael E. Mann, Distinguished Professor of Atmospheric Science at Penn State University, creator of the (in)famous hockey stick and self-appointed spokesperson of the consensed climate science community, apparently has no interest in participating in the Red Team / Blue Team exercise regarding climate change proposed by EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt. Mann recently opined, during a lecture on (of all things) academic and intellectual freedom at the University of Michigan, that climate was not debatable. It would be just as well that Mann would choose not to participate, since he should not be allowed to participate, as he has failed to share the data and calculations underlying his seminal “contribution” to climate science; and has, in fact, aggressively used the court system to avoid disclosing the underlying data and calculations.

The Red Team / Blue Team debate should focus on:

  • the degree to which the near-surface temperature data currently being collected represent climate, as opposed to the effects of localized heat islands;
  • the legitimacy and objectivity of the processes being used to “adjust” the data;
  • the frequency of recalibration of the sensors used to collect the data;
  • the influence of data “infilling” and “homogenization”;
  • the justification for periodic “reanalysis” of historic data;
  • recent research results for climate sensitivity;
  • recent research regarding cloud formation and cloud forcing;
  • recent research regarding solar influences on earth’s climate;
  • the causes of the recent temperature “hiatus” or “pause”;
  • the causes of the recent 12 year major landfalling hurricane respite;
  • the causes of the decrease in major tornado frequency and intensity;
  • changes in drought and flood frequency and magnitude;
  • the difference between the land-based and satellite sea level rise measurements;
  • the growing disparity between measured and modeled anomalies;
  • the Social Cost of Carbon;
  • recent research on the social benefits of carbon; and,
  • the influences of natural phenomena on climate (El Nino, La, Nina, AMO, PDO)

All the above issues are clearly debatable; and, are subjects of active debate, even within the consensed climate science community.

Perhaps the most difficult aspect of the proposed debate will be the necessity to separate fact from belief in the presentations of various positions. We know that CO2, Methane and several other gases are “greenhouse gases”. We know that human activities result in the emissions of these gases. We know that the effects of these gases in the atmosphere are logarithmic, with declining effect as concentrations increase. We know that earth’s atmospheric, near-surface and sea surface temperatures have increased.

However, we do not know the sensitivity of earth’s climate to a doubling of atmospheric CO2 concentration. We do not know the magnitude of climate forcings and feedbacks. We do not have a model which allows us to know what climate will be like in the future. We do not have accurate temperature measurements of the near-surface, with the exception of the United States Climate Reference Network. There is even recent disagreement between the two primary sources of satellite temperature measurements. There is also continuing disagreement between the surface-based and satellite sea level measurements.

Dr. Mann was correct when he stated that “climate is not debatable”. Earth has a climate. He would still have been right if he had stated that climate change was not debatable. Climate has clearly changed throughout earth’s history. He might even have been correct if he had stated that some human contribution to climate change is not debatable. However, he was almost certainly not correct in stating that climate change “is human-caused”, since that would exclude any involvement of natural variation, which clearly continues.

 

Tags: Michael Mann, Red Team Blue Team Debate, Settled Science, Climate Change Debate

The Boy Who Cried Wolf - Hurricanes and Climate Change

Hurricane Harvey was one of the most extensively and most accurately tracked and reported hurricanes in history. Predictions of its track, timing, intensity at landfall and expected precipitation amounts were extremely accurate. Federal and Texas government preparation for its aftermath appear to have been exemplary. The federal and state governments recommended that Houston be evacuated. However, the mayor of Houston elected not to call for evacuation; and, many Houston residents decided not to self-evacuate for their own safety.

Evacuation would not have reduced the physical devastation to property and infrastructure in Houston, but it would likely have reduced the incidence of injury and death resulting from the storm. Evacuation would also likely have reduced the need for the extensive formal and informal rescue operations which followed the storm. One tends to wonder why people and politicians decided not to evacuate. I suspect one reason is the tendency of the National Weather Service, the National Hurricane Center and the media to over-hype weather events which then are far less severe than their hype.

I suspect that much of the climate science community shares some responsibility for the public’s tendency to ignore warnings of impending disaster. Much of the climate science community has been consistently and aggressively incautious in its creation of worst case scenarios regarding potential future climate change. Movies such as Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth and An Inconvenient Sequel and Roland Emmerich’s The Day After Tomorrow have created an aura of unreality regarding climate change.

The climate science community has generally been cautious about blaming Harvey’s severity on climate change, but some climate scientists have stated unequivocally that climate change made Harvey stronger and more damaging. Other climate scientists have stated that there is no scientific basis for such claims.

Hurricanes have been a fact of life in the southeastern US throughout our history. There is a Saffir-Simpson scale for hurricane intensity because the intensity of hurricanes varies significantly, though the underlying reasons for these variations are not well understood. The satellite era has allowed meteorologists to detect tropical depressions earlier and then monitor their intensity as they develop into tropical storms and hurricanes, or decay, over time. Similar technology has been applied to the identification and tracking of tornados as well.

Regardless of the assertions by much of the climate science community, there has been no increase in hurricane frequency or intensity over the past seventy years. There has also been no documented increase in tornado frequency and intensity, or flooding and drought frequency and intensity. Sea levels have been rising since the trough of the Little Ice Age; and, have been rising at a relatively consistent rate throughout the period of the instrumental record.

The technology we have available to track these storms and predict their futures is very impressive. However, it is essential that those who use this technology use it responsibly and report what they learn from the technology clearly and carefully, so that the public and public officials can respond appropriately to the information they provide.

 

Tags: Climate Science, Severe Weather

Well Imagine That – HadCRUT4 Global Temperature Record

The graph below shows the HadCRUT4 Northern Hemisphere, Southern Hemisphere and Global temperature history for the period of the instrumental temperature record from 1850 to the present.

HadCRUT4 Temperature Anomaly

The global average temperature anomaly has varied from approximately -0.3oC to approximately 0.7oC over the period, relative to the HadCRUT 1961-1990 reference period, or a total variation of approximately 1.0oC, on an annual basis. The variation has been greater in the Northern Hemisphere (~1.1oC) than in the Southern Hemisphere (~0.8oC), largely because the Northern Hemisphere has a larger land area, which changes temperature more rapidly than the sea area.

In a recent blog entry at the Real Climate web site, Dr. Gavin A. Schmidt, Director of the NASA Goddard Institute of Space Studies, made the following observation regarding absolute temperatures and temperature anomalies.

“But think about what happens when we try and estimate the absolute global mean temperature for, say, 2016. The climatology for 1981-2010 is 287.4±0.5K, and the anomaly for 2016 is (from GISTEMP w.r.t. that baseline) 0.56±0.05ºC. So our estimate for the absolute value is (using the first rule shown above) 287.96±0.502K, and then using the second, that reduces to 288.0±0.5K. The same approach for 2015 gives 287.8±0.5K, and for 2014 it is 287.7±0.5K. All of which appear to be the same within the uncertainty. Thus we lose the ability to judge which year was the warmest if we only look at the absolute numbers.” (emphasis mine)

Absolute zero Kelvin is -273.15oC, so 287.4oK is 14.25oC (~57.6oF). According to Dr. Schmidt, this temperature is known to +/-0.5oC (+/-0.9oF).

The HadCRUT anomaly data show a total variation in global average temperature of approximately 1.0oC over the period from 1850-2016, which is approximately equal to the confidence range (+/-0.5oC) asserted by Dr. Schmidt for the absolute value of global average temperature. Therefore, the absolute value of the global average temperature is approximately 14.5oC+/-0.5oC over the period; and, the change in that absolute value over the period is of questionable statistical significance. That is a far cry from unprecedented warming.

Dr. Schmidt expresses the anomaly value, in the observation quoted above, to two decimal place precision, as is common in climate science. However, the anomalies are not measured at this level of precision. Rather, the measurements are made to a single decimal place and then “adjusted”. The additional decimal place results from application of the Law of Large Numbers. However, in the case of global temperature anomaly values, the application of this statistical principle is questionable, since the numerical values used to calculate the anomalies have been “adjusted” and, thus, any errors in the numbers should not be considered random.

 

Tags: Global Temperature, Temperature Record, HadCRUT
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