Friday, September 21, 2012

At last!  A Warmist notices Antarctica

The jeers of skeptics have finally got to them.

It is perfectly true that there is a great physical difference between the Arctic and the Antarctic.  The Antarctic is mostly land and the Arctic is mostly sea.  So is it because the Antarctic is land  ice that it is not melting?  The Warmists say that is "largely" so (because that's in their models) but are up against something:    There's lots of sea ice in the  Antarctic too and it's not melting either.  So they resort to different models and theories.  Warmists are never short of theories.  But being wise after the event anyone can do

In a column about the record high Antarctic sea ice, skeptic James Taylor writes, "Please, nobody tell the mainstream media or they might have to retract some stories and admit they are misrepresenting scientific data."

But if anyone had asked an actual scientist, they would have learned that a good year for sea ice in the Antarctic in no way nullifies the precipitous drop in Arctic sea-ice levels year after year — or the mounds of other evidence indicating global warming is really happening.

"Antarctic sea ice hasn't seen these big reductions we've seen in the Arctic. This is not a surprise to us," said climate scientist Mark Serreze, director of the NSIDC. "Some of the skeptics say 'Well, everything is OK because the big changes in the Arctic are essentially balanced by what's happening in the Antarctic.' This is simply not true."

Projections made from climate models all predict that global warming should impact Arctic sea ice first and most intensely, Serreze said. "We have known for many years that as the Earth started to warm up, the effects would be seen first in the Arctic and not the Antarctic. The physical geography of the two hemispheres is very different. Largely as a result of that, they behave very differently."

The Arctic, an ocean surrounded by land, responds much more directly to changes in air and sea-surface temperatures than Antarctica, Serreze explained. The climate of Antarctica, land surrounded by ocean, is governed much more by wind and ocean currents. Some studies indicate climate change has strengthened westerly winds in the Southern Hemisphere, and because wind has a cooling effect, scientists say this partly accounts for the marginal increase in sea ice levels that have been observed in the Antarctic in recent decades.

"Another reason why the sea-ice extent in the Antarctic is remaining fairly high is, interestingly, the ozone hole," Serreze told Life's Little Mysteries. This hole was carved out over time by chlorofluorocarbons, toxic chemicals formerly that were used in air conditioners and solvents before being banned. "The ozone hole affects the circulation of the atmosphere down there. Because of the ozone hole, the stratosphere above Antarctica is quite cold. Ozone in the stratosphere absorbs UV light, and less absorption [by] ozone makes the stratosphere really cold. This cold air propagates down to the surface by influencing the atmospheric circulation in the Antarctic, and that keeps the sea ice extensive."

But these effects are very small, and Antarctic sea-ice levels have increased only marginally. In the coming decades, climate models suggest rising global temperatures will overwhelm the other influences and cause Antarctic sea ice to scale back, too.

The extent of Arctic sea ice at its summertime low point has dropped 40 percent in the past three decades. The idea that a tiny Antarctic ice expansion makes up for this — that heat is merely shifting from the the Southern Hemisphere to the Northern and therefore global warming must not be happening — is "just nonsense," Serreze said.


Antarctic sea ice reaches record high while IPCC models predicted the opposite

A recent paper in the Journal of Climate finds that most climate models erroneously predicted that Antarctic sea ice extent decreased over the past 30 years, which "differs markedly from that observed."

As noted in the abstract, Antarctic sea ice has confounded the models by instead increasing over the satellite era. In fact, it is currently at a record extent that is more than 2 standard deviations above the 1979-2000 average.

The authors lament, "The negative [Antarctic sea ice] trends in most of the model runs over 1979 - 2005 are a continuation of an earlier decline, suggesting that the processes responsible for the observed increase over the last 30 years are not being simulated correctly."
Journal of Climate 2012

An Initial Assessment of Antarctic Sea Ice Extent in the CMIP5 Models

By John Turner et al.


We examine the annual cycle and trends in Antarctic sea ice extent (SIE) for 18 Coupled Model Intercomparison Project 5 models that were run with historical forcing for the 1850s to 2005. Many of the models have an annual SIE [sea ice extent] cycle that differs markedly from that observed over the last 30 years. The majority of models have too small a SIE at the minimum in February, while several of the models have less than two thirds of the observed SIE at the September maximum. In contrast to the satellite data, which exhibits a slight increase in SIE, the mean SIE of the models over 1979 - 2005 shows a decrease in each month, with the greatest multi-model mean percentage monthly decline of 13.6% dec-1 in February and the greatest absolute loss of ice of -0.40 × 106 km2 dec-1 in September. The models have very large differences in SIE over 1860 – 2005. Most of the control runs have statistically significant trends in SIE over their full time span and all the models have a negative trend in SIE since the mid-Nineteenth Century. The negative SIE trends in most of the model runs over 1979 - 2005 are a continuation of an earlier decline, suggesting that the processes responsible for the observed increase over the last 30 years are not being simulated correctly.

Lewandowsky in meltdown?

After all the hilarity about psychologist Lewandowsky's totally unscientific research methods when he tried to prove that climate skeptics are moon-landing deniers, a strange silence has fallen. His paper was publicized as  “in press”.  But when will it actually appear?  Has the journal been embarrassed by the junk they accepted for publication and postponed it into the never never?

Lewandowsky’s paper was in press as of July 27th, when the Guardian announced its results. But it doesn’t seem to have been published in the September edition of Psychological Science. Nor is it mentioned in the “early releases”.  Stan points out most of the September stories were first published in late July.   It may mean nothing (a delay of a month), or it may mean the paper is being rewritten, or possibly presages a silent “withdrawal”?  Certainly skiphil found a comment by Lewandowsky that suggests the moonlanding paper was being “extended” and was not quite the complete and settled science it was presented as being at  The Guardian by Adam Corner, and The Telegraph too. h/t to Stan, Barry, Wayne and Skilhil in comments at CA.
64. Stephan Lewandowsky at 22:04 PM on 14 September, 2012

Questions continue to be raised for further information relating to this paper. My response is threefold:
1. I see little merit in treading over ground that is already clearly stated in the paper (e.g., the elimination of duplicate IP numbers).

2. Several questions concern material that is presently subject to an FOI request. I will let that process run to completion rather than pre-empt it.

3. The supplementary online material for the article is being extended to contain additional information (e.g., the outlier analysis from the preceding post). The online supplement will be released when the typesetting of the article is complete.

Time permitting, I may also write another post or two on topics relating to this paper that are of general interest.
This Friday it will be eight weeks since The Guardian article. In this modern era where anyone can self-publish a book in a day on their home computer, it does seem odd that Psychological Science needs nearly 2 months to typeset an article.

Note point 2 also: No Stephan, no one cares if you “preempt the FOI” — there is no penalty for releasing information that is public property. As a public servant and a scientist(?) the emails, the data and the methods belong to all Australians. Sure, redact the private details, but no one should have to FOI those answers in the first place. That you use the FOI as an excuse to delay providing the answers you owe the public sends a message about your dedication to the honest process of discovery and your conscientious duty as a man who is supposed to serve the public. If you had a clear conscience, and were proud of your work, you’d be only too happy to help people understand your careful responsible impartial dependable work, right?


Additional note:  In the bad old days of paper-only publication, a journal article could take two years to appear.  Some of mine did.  But these days, journals have an online  list of articles accepted but not published in paper -- and that listing should have a negligible lag.  Lewandowski is missing from the relevant list -- JR.

The EPA’s 4 Gallon Minimum Fuel Requirement

Drive an older car or own a moped, motorcycle or lawnmower? Depending on which fuel pump you use, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is requiring that you buy at least four gallons of fuel—although some vehicles that require the minimum four gallon requirement don’t even have a four gallon fuel tank.

According to a recent letter by the EPA to the American Motorcyclist Association, motorists buying E10 fuel (a mixture that contains 10 percent ethanol) from a hose that also supplies E15 fuel (a mixture that contains 15 percent ethanol) must buy at least four gallons to protect customers following behind. Ethanol is hard on engines and less efficient than regular gasoline. E15 can even cause engine failure in smaller or older engines. So if you’re using a blender pump to buy E10 that sells both E15 and E10, the residual amount of E15 left in the hose from the previous customer could cause significant damage to those smaller and older engines—unless you purchase at least 4 gallons.

In 2010, the EPA began allowing up to 15 percent of ethanol to be blended into gasoline for cars and light-duty trucks model years 2007 or newer. A year later, the agency included model years 2001 to 2006. Automotive equipment manufacturers warn that the EPA’s acceptance of E15 is premature and conducted tests that show out of eight engines tested, “two popular gasoline engines used in light-duty automotive applications of vehicles from model years 2001 through 2009 failed with mechanical damage when operated on intermediate-level ethanol blends (E15 and E20).”

The controversy over E15 and the 4 gallon minimum fuel requirement are part of a larger problem: the ethanol mandate. The ethanol mandate, also known as the renewable fuels standard, was created in 2005, increased in 2007, and requires the production of 36 billion gallons of ethanol by the year 2022.

Slower demand for gasoline, however, has made the ethanol targets for each year difficult to meet. So now producers are over-supplying a government-created market. Instead of working to develop a product that consumers want to purchase, ethanol interests want the government to create an even larger artificial market for ethanol. One way was to encourage the EPA to allow for a higher percentage of ethanol to be blended into gasoline.

Allowing more ethanol to be blended into our fuel mixture isn’t necessarily the problem. We should encourage a competitive fuel market by removing regulatory barriers that prevent alternative fuels from reaching the market. Fuel choice and a more diverse fuel market can be beneficial when it’s driven by producers and consumers in a free market. The problem occurs when the federal government creates artificial markets through mandates. Inevitably, such policies lead to unintended consequences. In the case of the ethanol mandate, these consequences include potential engine damage and minimum fuel requirements.

Congress established and President Bush signed into law the ethanol mandate to address high fuel prices, dependence on foreign oil, and environmental concerns with the hope that renewable technologies could stimulate the economy. Sound familiar?

Thanks to Congress’ efforts to solve perceived problems that could have and should have been left to the market and American ingenuity to tackle, Americans have one more real problem to add to the heap of real problems the ethanol mandate has created.

On top of the E15 debacle, the ethanol mandate is driving up food prices, has caused more environmental harm than good, and is driving up fuel prices. Although fuel that is 85 percent ethanol appears cheaper at the gas station, it is less energy dense, so you’re actually paying more. In essence, for every problem the ethanol mandate was supposed to address, the opposite effect is occurring. This is why politicians are calling for waiving the ethanol mandate and the European Union is scaling back the amount of biofuels developed from food crops.

A lot of questions remain as to what fuel is safe for a motorist to use, but one thing is certain: Congress needs to repeal the ethanol mandate.


House readies for battle against Obama’s war on coal ahead of elections

 In a final act before voters make their way to the polls, the U.S. House of Representatives is readying itself for battle against the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Obama Administration’s apparent war on coal.

The Republican-led House is hoping the Stop the War on Coal Act, H.R. 3409, will leave a lasting impression on voters by highlighting the onslaught of regulations and rules against America’s prime electricity source that threatens countless jobs and higher energy prices across the nation.

This act includes various provisions prohibiting the EPA and the Obama administration from pursuing and implementing an attack on coal production and use.  The House Energy and Commerce Committee claims bipartisan support of the Energy Tax Prevention Act, the Transparency in Regulatory Analysis of Impacts on the Nation (TRAIN) Act and the Coal Residuals Reuse and Management Act will save jobs and keep energy prices down for American families and businesses.

“Just looking at the EPA’s mercury emission regulations alone — which require power plants to be retrofitted with new technologies — costs billions of dollars to implement,” says Bill Wilson, president of Americans for Limited Government (ALG).  “However due to the prohibitively high cost of this new technology, many older coal-fired plants are being shut down, ending countless Americans jobs for those who depend on coal for their livelihoods.”

A vote on this legislation is expected Friday, Sept. 21; it is a welcome start to reining in the prevailing and overbearing EPA.

The EPA’s vendetta against coal has led to a complete break in their lawful powers as it weasels its way into the states through a process called “sue and settle.”  Through this process the EPA is able to create new laws without any consent from Congress or the president.

This political game consists of radical environmental groups, which typically ally with the EPA, but on a specific rule or regulation don’t think the EPA is doing a good enough job.  These groups then sue the EPA and the Agency settles with them agreeing to fix the problem. Therefore a court-imposed deadline on the EPA leaves it with no other option but to override the state’s regulations and enforce its own controls.

In one such EPA rule, the Regional Haze Rule, such lawsuits have enabled the Agency to act far beyond its constitutional authority.  The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, in a report titled, “EPA’s New Regulatory Front: Regional Haze and the Takeover of State Programs,” highlights how the EPA, along with court-mandated deadlines, has bullied its way into state territory by delaying state plans for emission control.

“By combining this tactic of delaying approval of the state plans with Sue and Settle and a court-imposed deadline to act, EPA has manufactured a loophole to provide itself with the ability to reach into the state haze decision-making process and supplant the state as decision maker. EPA has, effectively, engineered a way to get around the protections of state primacy built into the Regional Haze statute by Congress.”

This rule alone is threatening to devastate communities and industries throughout the U.S.

There is no industry immune to the EPA’s overreach.  For now, the EPA and this administration have coal on their radar, but that’s not to say others won’t come into their crosshairs.

The Stop the War on Coal Act is a starting point allowing Congress to take back some of the EPA’s new-found power and protect America’s vast energy supply.

“If our hope is to bring America out of this recession in one piece then affordable energy is a must,” ALG’s Wilson concluded.  “The House must pass this legislation and begin the arduous task of reining in the out-of-control EPA.”


Is the EPA superagency bigger than the President and Congress?

So much for the separation of powers.  Thanks to federal court rulings, even if Mitt Romney prevails in Nov., he will be hard-pressed to unilaterally rein in regulatory overreach by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

The problems at the agency are fixable, but they will require decisive action by Congress and the president — and even then courts may remain a likely avenue for radical environmentalists to enact sweeping restrictions on the energy industry, the wider economy, and everyone’s standards of living.

Under the Obama Administration, the agency has taken the habit of entering into “sue-and-settle” arrangements with radical fringe groups. This is where an organization sues the EPA demanding that they enforce the law in a new, expanded way.

The EPA then enters into a consent decree with the party, which is signed by a judge without review, since the two disputing parties are in “agreement.” Suddenly, the EPA’s power under, say, the Clean Air Act or the Clean Water Act has been expanded dramatically.

Does that sound like the normal process for a bill becoming law? This process completely takes Congress and the Presidency out of the equation.

It is that easy. And it is becoming more widespread.

In June, holding a hearing on the matter, Chairman of the House Oversight Subcommittee on Technology Rep. James Lankford noted, “In the past 3 years, the Administration has concluded approximately 60 settlements with special interest — 29 of these agreements bound EPA to make major policy changes.  The plaintiffs in these cases are often the very same reoccurring players — the Sierra Club, [the Natural Resources Defense Council] NRDC, Defenders of Wildlife, Wild Earth Guardians, and Center for Biological Diversity.”

Besides the EPA, radical groups have also used the tactic on the Departments of the Interior, Transportation, Agriculture, and Defense, the Fish & Wildlife Service, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Lankford called attention to two notable rules changes that have resulted from sue-and-settle. The first was the implementation of regional haze regulations by the EPA even though the Clean Air Act gave that power to the states, which is being used to threaten the closure of the Navajo Generating Station that provides supplies electricity for the 14 pumping stations required to move water to southern Arizona for some 80 percent of the state’s population.

Another example Lankford cited was the implementation of regulations affecting new coal-fired power plants being applied to existing ones — so-called New Source Performance Standards (NSPS) for Electric Utilities.

Both efforts are designed to force existing coal power plants to be retrofitted with costly technologies that will make delivering coal electricity — currently at $30 to $35 per megawatt hour to produce — much more expensive than it is today. By 2017, the Department of Energy estimates that the Obama Administration’s policies will have tripled the cost of coal to anywhere from $97 to $139 per megawatt hour.

That is one of the reasons why Americans for Limited Government has filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request in May to get to the bottom of what could be another sue-and-settle regulation in the making related to coal-ash. We have requested — and are still awaiting — all communications between the EPA’s Offices and the eleven groups which sued the Agency on April 5 including the Sierra Club, Chesapeake Climate Change Network and Physicians for Social Responsibility.

More broadly, thirteen state attorneys general including Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt have similarly filed a FOIA request to obtain communications on all of the previous sue-and-settle regulations, alleging that some of these consent orders may be prearranged. Pruitt noted to the Edmond Sun that the EPA has in some instances entered into a consent decree the same day the lawsuit was filed.

But even if Romney managed to rein in the EPA and other agencies’ sue-and-settle tactic by fighting the cases in court, that is no guarantee of victory. Massachusetts v. EPA was one such case where the Commonwealth of Massachusetts sued the Bush Administration to regulate carbon dioxide, a biological gas necessary for the very existence of life, as a “harmful pollutant” under the terms of the Clean Air Act.

Despite the fact that the law was never designed to regulate CO2, and the Agency itself argued against such an interpretation, the Supreme Court arbitrarily changed what the law meant, leading to the EPA’s carbon endangerment finding and subsequent rulemakings in the Obama Administration’s war on coal.

Merely fighting in court — and leaving the nation’s energy independence up to judicial whims — is no longer a strategy the American people can count on.

That is why Romney should focus on legislation that will explicitly make clear that neither the Clean Air Act nor any other federal statute can regulate carbon dioxide as a pollutant. Further, Congress must work to repeal or reform any statute that the EPA’s expansive, judicial-created powers have been based on.

In addition, as president, Romney would need to go at agencies administratively and clean house at the EPA, the Departments of the Interior and Energy, the Fish & Wildlife Service, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers that are seeking to control all land use across the nation.

The envirocrats are relentless and must be fought at every turn. They have used the courts to unilaterally expand their own powers, all in defiance of the separation of powers to create a superagency. This issue is not only about reclaiming American energy independence, it is about restoring the rule of law to Washington, D.C. and the consent of the governed more broadly.

Reining in the EPA and other agencies is going to be very difficult. However, no agency of government should be bigger than the President of the United States and the members of Congress who are elected by the people.




The graphics problem:  Graphics hotlinked to this site sometimes have only a short life and if I host graphics with blogspot, the graphics sometimes get shrunk down to illegibility.  From January 2011 on, therefore, I have posted a monthly copy of everything on this blog to a separate site where I can host text and graphics together -- which should make the graphics available even if they are no longer coming up on this site.  See  here and here


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