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In the Wake of the News

Urban Heat Island Effect

Urban Heat Island

U.S. EPA--

The above graphic from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratories (U.S. EPA) clearly illustrates one aspect of the Urban Heat Island (UHI) effect – the impact of urbanization on late afternoon temperatures. The graphic depicts a 7oF elevation of downtown temperature relative to the temperatures in surrounding rural areas. This temperature elevation is the result of multiple factors, including decreased albedo, localized heat emissions, and wind blocking.

The UHI effect also manifests as warmer nighttime temperatures, primarily as the result of heat retention in downtown buildings and roads, combined with wind blocking. The nighttime warming can significantly exceed the daytime effect.

The UHI effect is clearly anthropogenic, though it is not the result of increased CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere. Human construction of cities, towns and villages, commercial areas and industrial parks has an obvious impact on the local climate, though a far lesser impact on global climate, since cities occupy on approximately 3% of global land area.

Numerous groups are involved in efforts to slow or halt urban sprawl. However, as the above graphic indicates, increased population density drives the UHI effect. It would be reasonable to expect that further increasing population density would cause the temperature difference between downtown areas and the surrounding rural areas to increase.

The graphic does not include an airport, though most larger cities are served by one or more airports. This is a significant omission from a climatological standpoint, since approximately half of all measuring stations in the Global Historical Climatology Network (GHCN) are located at airports. While airports are not affected by wind blocking to the same extent as the downtown areas in cities, they are affected by both decreased albedo and localized heat emissions. The primary purpose of the Automated Weather Observing System (AWOS), the Automated Surface Observing System (ASOS), and the Automated Weather Sensor System (AWSS) at airports is to provide local weather information in the interests of safe and efficient aviation operations. One of the primary aviation concerns is maximum temperature, since it affects both aircraft engine thrust and aerodynamic lift of the wing surfaces.

These automated airport weather stations are being used increasingly for climate related data acquisition because they are available and are well maintained. However, they are not ideally located for climatological measurement purposes.

Climate Reference Network Rating Guide - adopted from NCDC Climate Reference Network Handbook, 2002, specifications for siting (section 2.2.1) of NOAA's new Climate Reference Network:

Class 1 (CRN1)- Flat and horizontal ground surrounded by a clear surface with a slope below 1/3 (<19deg). Grass/low vegetation ground cover <10 centimeters high. Sensors located at least 100 meters from artificial heating or reflecting surfaces, such as buildings, concrete surfaces, and parking lots. Far from large bodies of water, except if it is representative of the area, and then located at least 100 meters away. No shading when the sun elevation >3 degrees.

Class 2 (CRN2) - Same as Class 1 with the following differences. Surrounding Vegetation <25 centimeters. No artificial heating sources within 30m. No shading for a sun elevation >5deg.

Class 3 (CRN3) (error >=1C) - Same as Class 2, except no artificial heating sources within 10 meters.

Class 4 (CRN4) (error >= 2C) - Artificial heating sources <10 meters.

Class 5 (CRN5) (error >= 5C) - Temperature sensor located next to/above an artificial heating source, such a building, roof top, parking lot, or concrete surface."

These airport weather stations offer the advantages of state-of-the-art measuring instruments, continuous measurement and frequent recalibration. However, they require “adjustment” of the data for climatological purposes, to reduce or eliminate the effects of the surrounding buildings, runways, taxiways and aircraft engine exhaust.

When assessing the validity of climatological temperature measurements, it is important to ask one simple question: “Where is the measuring station?” The answer affects the validity of both the maximum and minimum temperature measurements.


Tags: Urban Heat Island

Chinese Climate Leadership

Numerous recent articles have asked questions in this general form: “Will America Let China Lead the World?” These articles suggest that the US had the leadership role on climate change and that US withdrawal from the Paris Agreement will somehow cede the leadership role on climate change to China. These articles are based on highly questionable assumptions. Their primary intent, prior to the US withdrawal, was to shame the new Administration into remaining in the Agreement. Their primary intent, since the US withdrawal, is to shame the Administration into reversing its decision to withdraw.

The first questionable assumption is that the U.S. had a leadership role in climate change and the establishment of the Paris Agreement. The Rio Earth Summit, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and the long series of Conferences of the Parties have all been UN activities, aided and abetted by environmental organizations and Non-Government Organizations (NGOs). While US diplomats and scientists have been involved in these activities, they have generally not been in leadership roles.

Specifically, in the case of the Paris Agreement, the US took President Obama’s preferred posture of “leading from behind”. The intent of the majority of the nations which participated in the creation of the Paris Agreement was the establishment of a treaty, which would be binding upon all of the signatory parties, both as to emissions reductions and contributions to the UN Green Climate Fund.

The US delegation was unwilling to enter into the agreement as a treaty, since President Obama was convinced that the US Senate would not ratify the Agreement as a treaty. Thus, rather than leading the effort envisioned by the Agreement, the US resisted the direction preferred by the other participants and forced compliance with the terms of the Agreement to be made voluntary as a condition of US participation. The US also insisted on the provision that nations be permitted to withdraw from the Agreement, which President Trump recently exercised.

The second questionable assumption is that China would ascend to the leadership role on climate change. China’s commitment under the Agreement with regard to emissions reductions is that China would begin reducing its CO2 emissions by about 2030, though it expressed its intent to reduce its “carbon intensity” in the interim. That could hardly be construed as a leadership position in an agreement intended to achieve reductions in CO2 emissions. China’s current primary focus is on economic development and reduction of criteria pollutant emissions (SOx, NOx, and particulates) from its existing coal power generation infrastructure, to reduce hazardous and obnoxious air pollution in its cities.

China is also a participant in the Group of 70 plus China, which is demanding funding from the UN Green Climate Fund. China has made no funding commitment to the Green Climate Fund; and, thus, is hardly in a leadership role regarding the Fund.

The third questionable assumption is that the other national participants in the Paris Agreement would accept China’s leadership, should China attempt to exert leadership within the Agreement. This is especially questionable as long as China is only committed to following along behind with regard to CO2 emissions reductions.

The fourth questionable assumption is that the UN, environmental organizations and NGOs which currently lead the climate change efforts under the Agreement would be willing to cede their leadership roles to China. These organizations all have visions of Climate Fund $ billions “dancing in their heads” and would likely be reluctant to cede control of their visions.


Tags: Paris Agreement, China

Virtue Signaling When Responding to Climate Polls

“Virtue Signaling refers to the public expression of an opinion on a given topic primarily for the purpose of displaying one’s moral superiority before a large audience to solicit their approval.”, Know Your Meme

“Seven out of 10 Americans supported remaining in the (Paris) agreement, according to a national poll conducted by the Yale Program on Climate Communication after the election.”

I suspect the results of this Yale poll and others are an example of virtue signaling by members of a populace which has been inundated with “climate consensus”, “future climate catastrophe”, “carbon pollution”, “more and stronger storms”, “more longer severe droughts”, “increased desertification”, etc. The poll questions are structured to invite virtuous responses; and, nobody wants more “pollution”.

The poll questions rarely identify the costs of remaining in the agreement, now and in the future. The possibility that electricity costs would double, or more, as the globe moved towards zero net CO2 emissions, as President Obama suggested, is not part of the background to the poll questions. The per capita tax increase required to fund the US share of the Green Climate Fund, either at the initial $100 billion per year funding level, or at the post-2030 $425 billion per year funding level, is also not part of the background to the poll questions.

Even at that, previous experience with polls asking whether individuals would spend “X” more for some good or service if it provided “Y” benefits suggests far higher positive response to the poll questions than the positive response when those same individuals are asked to “write the check”. In the case of US participation in the Paris Agreement, the “check” could be very large indeed. The capital investment required to reach zero net CO2 emissions in the US would be approximately $30 trillion.

US annual residential electric bills range from ~$1000 – 1800, or from ~$0.09 – 0.21 per kWh. The prospect of spending an additional $1000 – 1800 per year for the same quantity of electricity would be expected to dampen the enthusiasm of many consumers. The prospect of even higher costs as electricity replaced petroleum for transportation uses and natural gas for residential, commercial and industrial direct uses is hardly ever discussed.

The additional tax burden on US taxpayers to provide the intended ~25% US share of the initial annual funding of $100 billion for the UN Green Climate Fund would be ~$75 for each man, woman and child in the US (~330,000,000), or ~$150 for each man, woman and child in families which actually pay income taxes (~165,000,000). That tax burden would increase to ~$600 for each man, woman and child in families which pay income taxes after 2030, when annual funding for the Green Climate Fund would be expected to rise to ~$425 billion per year.

Pollsters don’t bother to remind poll respondents of the TANSTAAFL principle.

“There Ain’t No Such Thing As A Free Lunch.” 

Many poll respondents don’t think about the principle when they respond to poll questions.

In the case of the Paris Agreement, specifically the Green Climate Fund, most also ignore yet another principle.

“The Better Lunch Is, The More It Costs.”

Even though participation in the Paris Agreement is “voluntary”, its intent is not. Rather, its intent is that participants are progressively “sucked in”, which leads to a third principle which is also not often mentioned.

“Once You Start Eating, You Can’t Stop.”

These principles are also described in game theory as:

“You can’t win.”

“You can’t break even.”

“You can’t quit the game.”

President Trump has decided that the US, as a nation, will not participate in this game. States, cities and corporations which wish to play the game would be wise to do so outside of the Agreement, lest they discover that their participation becomes their own “Hotel California”. 

Last thing I remember, I was

Running for the door

I had to find the passage back to the place I was before

'Relax' said the night man

'We are programmed to receive'

You can check out any time you like

But you can never leave!


The developing and not-yet-developing nations of the world would also be wise to contemplate the price of the “free lunch” they are demanding from the Green Climate Fund on their future freedom. However, that is a story for another day.


Tags: Paris Agreement, COP 21, Green Climate Fund, CO2 Emissions, Polling

Climate Linguistics

Linguistics: “the study of human speech including the units, nature, structure, and modification of language”

Climate discussions have had some interesting impacts on linguistics, though it would be inaccurate to refer to those impacts as contributions to linguistics. Climate discussions have modified the meanings of words, not to clarify elements of the discussion, but rather to obfuscate. Climate discussions have also modified the language by adding new phrases to describe perceived actions or attitudes.

I have previously discussed the various applications of the word “denier” and its variants in climate discussions. The term is typically used derisively and inaccurately to refer to someone who questions the consensus climate orthodoxy. In this time of “sound bite” and “bumper sticker” communications, the term is handier than taking the time and effort to explain skepticism as it relates to climate. Its obvious allusion to Holocaust “denial” is both derisive and dismissive. It elides the distinction between denial of a historical fact with skepticism regarding a hypothesis.

I have also previously discussed the differences between facts (data) and beliefs (estimates) in climate discussions; and, the difference between potential future scenarios and predictions in climate modelling. Again, it is common in climate discussions to use terms which imply unjustified certainty, rather than to make the effort to provide a clear understanding of the state of the science. It seems strange to argue that the audience does not, or would not, understand the distinctions when no effort has been made to explain the distinctions.

The environmental community has taken upon itself the responsibility and authority to define what are the appropriate behaviors to be followed by various groups regarding the environment and the climate, as well as the responsibility to identify and vilify those who are not demonstrating those appropriate behaviors.

Numerous companies have begun advertising their sensitivity to the environment, sustainability and climate; and, establishing very visible programs demonstrating their commitment to the environment, sustainability, and climate. However, if the environmental community judges the advertised efforts to be insufficient, they have applied the new term greenwashing to those efforts, to convey their judgement that the efforts are less than they appear to be, or less than they need to be. The environmental community then frequently begins greenshaming (another new term in the lexicon) to coerce the companies to adopt more “appropriate behaviors”.

This has also led numerous companies and individuals to begin practices which have been assigned the new term virtue signaling. Most virtue signaling is verbal, though some extends to the physical. One the most obvious and most humorous examples of physical virtue signaling is the installation of insignificantly low capacity wind turbines in highly visible commercial locations, such as automobile dealer’s lots. The same might be said of insignificantly low capacity, but high visibility solar collector installations. Some have even suggested that the purchase and use of very expensive or significantly range limited electric vehicles is a form of virtue signaling.

Recently, after the announcement of the US withdrawal from the Paris Agreement, former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg announced his intent that Bloomberg Philanthropies would donate $15 million to the UNFCCC to replace the US share of its operating expenses. This was most certainly an exercise in virtue signaling, as well as an effort to embarrass and greenshame the Trump Administration.

There appears to be an intellectual disconnect between the choice to use certain existing words inappropriately and inaccurately to convey contempt and the choice to create new terms for essentially the same purposes. Language has not obviously become more precise as a result, though it has become a bit more colorful.


Tags: Estimates as Facts, Climate Change Debate, Climate Science, Adjusted Data

Climate Research Priorities

Tracking changes in Earth’s climate is important. Climate change measurement is a unique challenge, because the experiment is ongoing, as it has for billions of years. Also, the experiment cannot be rerun if there is a measurement problem, because each day is unique. This means that instrument accuracy and reliability are essential; and, that the instruments must be placed carefully, to ensure that they are measuring the correct conditions or events. In addition, the changes being measured are quite small, so the measurement approach must ensure that the act of measuring the changes does not alter the conditions being measured.

The US Climate Reference Network (US CRN) satisfies the requirements discussed above, but only for the US. The satellite measurements also satisfy those requirements globally. However, the Global Historical Climate Network (GHCN), which provides the measurements used to produce the temperature anomaly products maintained by NOAA/NCEI, NASA GISS, Hadley Centre and others does not satisfy those requirements. Measurement station accuracy is known to be persistent problem, as is measurement station location. Many station locations have been compromised by progressive urbanization. Other locations were compromised when they were installed, such as those on or adjacent to buildings or those installed at airports. The time has come to abandon the GHCN.

The calibration of the satellite measuring systems are regularly checked against deep space temperature and the temperatures measured by balloon-mounted radiosondes. Satellite land surface temperature measurements can also be checked against the measurements taken by the US CRN; and, could be checked against measurements taken by similar installations at other locations around the globe, if and when such installations exist. Satellite sea surface temperature measurements are routinely checked against measurements taken by buoys deployed across the world’s oceans. It is also time to abandon collection and analysis of sea surface temperature measurements taken by sensors in the engine cooling inlets of ocean going vessels, or by lowering buckets over the sides of ships to collect water samples for measurement.

The satellite measurements are far more comprehensive geographically, far more accurate than most ground-based temperature measurements, and far less influenced by progressively changing conditions on the ground. The satellites also primarily measure changes in the temperature of the troposphere, where heat energy accumulating in the atmosphere is stored.

However, as important as tracking changes in the earth’s climate is, the more important issue in climate change research is developing an understanding of both the natural and the anthropogenic factors which affect the climate. This is essential to developing a model of the climate which actually models how the climate would respond to various changed conditions, of which increased atmospheric CO2 concentration is one of many. Current climate models do not actually model the real climate well. This is hardly surprising, since many factors and events which affect climate are not well understood; and, thus, not included in the current climate models.

The primary factors which drive current climate models are climate sensitivity to CO2 and various forcings, including clouds. There is no experimentally established value for climate sensitivity, which is why values ranging from 1.5 - 4.5ºC per doubling of CO2 concentration in the atmosphere are used in model runs, rather than a single, experimentally determined value. Likewise, it is not even certain whether the forcing associated with clouds is positive or negative. Exercising climate models using a range of values for their primary drivers produces a wide range of potential future scenarios. However, none of these climate models have been validated, nor are they likely to be, as long as they do not include the range of significant natural factors which have affected global climate throughout the ages. These factors include El Nino Southern Oscillation, the Pacific Decadal Oscillation, and The Atlantic Multi-decadal Oscillation.

Current models also do not account for the effects of solar events or changes in solar activity of emissions. This is a particularly significant omission, since solar activity is the source of virtually all the energy which heats the earth and its atmosphere. It seems inconceivable that a climate which accurately models the real climate is possible without appropriate treatment of solar influences.

Therefore, the primary focus of climate research must shift to understanding and quantifying all the significant factors which affect the climate; and, to using that knowledge to develop a climate model which actually models the real climate. Once this model has been developed and verified, the more difficult task of determining whether the model has any forecasting effectiveness can begin.

It seems ludicrous to believe that we can accurately model an extremely complex system we do not understand. It seems at least equally ludicrous to believe that we can control an extremely complex system that we do not understand. It seems even more ludicrous to believe that we can understand how that extremely complex system would react in the distant future, if we cannot understand how it reacts now.


Tags: Temperature Record, Global Temperature, Satellites, Climate Models, US Climate Reference Network (CRN), Global Historical Climate Network (GHCN)

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.


Oper. Income ($M)

Net Income ($M)

1% of Gross ($M)

1% of Net ($M)




































Ingersoll Rand










Johnson Controls





Levi Strauss










Morgan Stanley










Schneider Elec.











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: Highlighted Article

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



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?



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




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
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