Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Richard Lindzen: Understanding The IPCC Climate Assessment

Each IPCC report seems to be required to conclude that the case for an international agreement to curb carbon dioxide has grown stronger. That is to say the IPCC report (and especially the press release accompanying the summary) is a political document, and as George Orwell noted, political language “is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.”

With respect to climate, we have had 17 years without warming; all models show greater tropical warming than has been observed since 1978; and arctic sea ice is suddenly showing surprising growth. And yet, as the discrepancies between models and observations increase, the IPCC insists that its confidence in the model predictions is greater than ever.

Referring to the 17 year ‘pause,’ the IPCC allows for two possibilities: that the sensitivity of the climate to increasing greenhouse gases is less than models project and that the heat added by increasing CO2 is ‘hiding’ in the deep ocean. Both possibilities contradict alarming claims.

With low sensitivity, economic analyses suggest that warming under 2C would likely be beneficial to the earth. Heat ‘hiding’ in the deep ocean would mean that current IPCC models fail to describe heat exchange between surface waters and the deep ocean. Such exchanges are essential features of natural climate variability, and all IPCC claims of attribution of warming to mans activities depend on the assumption that the models accurately portray this natural variability.

In attempting to convince the public to accept the need to for the environmental movement’s agenda, continual reference is made to consensus. This is dishonest not because of the absence of a consensus, but because the consensus concerning such things as the existence of irregular (and small compared to normal regional variability) net warming since about 1850, the existence of climate change (which has occurred over the earths entire existence), the fact that added greenhouse gases should have some impact (though small unless the climate system acts so as to greatly amplify this effect)over the past 60 years with little impact before then, and the fact that greenhouse gases have increased over the past 200 years or so, and that their greenhouse impact is already about 80% of what one expects from a doubling of CO2 are all perfectly consistent with there being no serious problem. Even the text of the IPCC Scientific Assessment agrees that catastrophic consequences are highly unlikely, and that connections of warming to extreme weather have not been found. The IPCC iconic statement that there is a high degree of certainty that most of the warming of the past 50 years is due to man’s emissions is, whether true or not, completely consistent with there being no problem. To say that most of a small change is due to man is hardly an argument for the likelihood of large changes.

Carbon restriction policies, to have any effect on climate, would require that the most extreme projections of dangerous climate actually be correct, and would require massive reductions in the use of energy to be universally adopted. There is little question that such reductions would have negative impacts on income, development, the environment, and food availability and cost – especially for the poor. This would clearly be immoral.

By contrast, the reasonable and moral policy would be to foster economic growth, poverty reduction and well being in order that societies be better able to deal with climate change regardless of its origin. Mitigation policies appear to have the opposite effect without significantly reducing the hypothetical risk of any changes in climate. While reducing vulnerability to climate change is a worthy goal, blind support for mitigation measures – regardless of the invalidity of the claims – constitutes what might be called bankrupt morality.

It is not sufficient for actions to artificially fulfill people’s need for transcendent aspirations in order for the actions to be considered moral. Needless to add, support of global warming alarm hardly constitutes intelligent respect for science.


Britain's  energy crisis is self-inflicted

 Forget about the government’s reshuffle, which will have barely registered outside of the political world. The news that should have been preoccupying Westminster yesterday was the latest worries about the possibility of a partial blackout this winter, with the system expected to be at 95 per cent capacity. The safety margin will thus be just five per cent under the central forecast, the lowest for years and far too small for comfort, though thankfully the National Grid remains confident that the system will cope.

Yet the narrowness of the cushion is almost incredible: we are one of the richest countries in the world, and yet first the Labour party and now the Tories and Lib Dems have deliberately adopted or reinforced a set of deranged energy policies that are pushing us ever closer to the brink of catastrophe.

Coal plants have been shut, even though they should have become a more competitive energy source as market prices have fallen; and the UK is struggling to increase its output of renewables, which are costly and often unreliable (wind power obviously fluctuates). As the National Grid put it yesterday, the contraction in electricity margins has been driven by the Large Combustion Plant Directive, issued by the European authorities in October 2001 (during Labour’s time in office) and economic pressure on older gas fired power stations (which has caused them to close or mothball).

The EU Directive’s full effects have been felt over the past year or so, with massive generating stations being shut last December and in March and August this year. This counter-productive and ill-timed process is described in typical Euro-jargon as combustion plants “opting-out”, an Orwellian turn of phrase if ever there were one.

This contraction in supply has been partially offset by the fall in peak demands as a result of greater efficiency and the recession, increasing wind generation and the construction of gas fired power stations. There are lots of other things wrong with our energy supply and infrastructure, and there is a genuine risk of some sort of collapse at some point this decade, a prospect which is making many industrial users of energy very nervous.

The worst thing about all of this is that the UK would be toast had its industrial and manufacturing output not collapsed so disastrously during the recession. It is hard to see how electricity production would have coped had demand been significantly higher, as it would have been had the downturn not been as bad.

It is true, of course, that many Tories within the coalition are becoming increasingly restive about all of this, and now realise that the onslaught of environmental restrictions on energy production has had hugely costly side-effects, pushing up prices and reducing supply. Many now also realise that the government made a big mistake cracking down on shale gas exploration: the industry was dealt a devastating blow when the coalition over-reacted to a very minor tremor caused by fracking two years ago and has yet to recover, despite George Osborne’s best efforts.


Ministers face attack over growing blackout risk

Energy policy questioned as National Grid warns threat of cuts is highest for five years

Business groups have attacked the Government’s energy strategy after National Grid revealed that the risk of winter blackouts was the highest for more than five years.

The Grid said the demand for electricity could reach 95pc of available supply if the country was hit by a cold snap. The safety cushion or “margin” of just 5pc is the lowest predicted by the Grid since 2007.

They may be forced to issue demands – or NISMs – for emergency power to come on stream on certain days over the winter to cope. Experts blamed the wafer-thin margin on a near-20pc fall in coal-fired generating capacity over the past year.

Business leaders said the energy crunch meant spot prices for electricity were likely to go even higher, placing severe pressure on “intensive” users, such as steel producers and paper manufacturers.

John Longworth, director-general of the British Chambers of Commerce, said that unless ministers took some “long term” decisions British manufacturers might be forced to relocate overseas.

He told The Daily Telegraph: “We have short-term planning at a micro level coming out of our ears. We have an absence of long-term planning on infrastructure and that includes energy. There is a real risk this could start hitting the economy and growth over the next 10 years.”

Jeremy Nicholson, director of the Energy Intensive Users Group, said British companies were already at risk of losing business on the international stage because of spiralling energy costs. He said: “The problems are only going to get worse over the next two years.

In its “Winter Outlook”, National Grid insisted there would be enough gas to cope with demand this winter, but Chris Train, market operations director, said that in the event of a 1 in 20 winter, there would be a mere three gigawatts (GW) of spare electricity capacity.

He explained that coal-fired generating capacity has fallen by one fifth in the past year – nearly 6GW – just as coal prices plunge on world markets and admitted coal prices would have to almost double for gas to become more attractive as a fuel.

The electricity margin of 5pc in a cold spell was “tighter than we have seen historically,” said Mr Train, but he was confident there would not be a blackout. He declined to say whether manufacturers with interruptible contracts would be told to down tools to help the Grid during times of peak demand.

Mr Train told a packed industry conference in London: “There is no room for complacency. It’s a plea for the market to be vigilant as we go into this winter.”

Last June, Ofgem revealed that the risks of blackouts in the middle of the decade had tripled because the UK had failed to build enough wind farms and nuclear power stations to replace old fossil fuel plants taken out of commission. Some experts believe the electricity margin will fall to just 2pc in 2015-16.

Mr Nicholson said: “This is entirely as a result of political decisions. If you go back to the last Labour government, they were dithering over nuclear energy for years. And we’re still waiting.”
He added: “The target is for 30pc of our power to come from renewables by 2020, but no one believes we could do that, even if we can afford it.”

A spokesman for the Department of Energy and Climate Change insisted there would be "enough energy to meet our needs" this winter. He added: "Our infrastructure can deliver more than we need and has coped well during recent very cold winter spells.
"But that's not enough - we also need energy security for the future which is why we're driving through bold reforms of the electricity market to attract new, home grown energy generation that build on the record levels of investment we've seen since 2010. This will be achieved in a way that’s affordable for both consumers and businesses."


Four threats more serious than global warming

By Martin Hutchinson

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released its new report on global warming on September 30, which was duly played up by the world's media. Actually, if you read it carefully, it represented a considerable backing off from the previous report, released in 2007. It has now become clear that, not only has global warming receded as a significant threat in the next century, but there are also several other threats which are well within the bounds of possibility and would have far more serious consequences. Needless to say, the resources we are devoting to combating them are modest in comparison to those devoted to the warming boondoggle.

The backing off by the IPCC can be quantified: the mean forecast warming by 2100, 3.1 degrees Celsius in the 2007 report (with a worst case of 6.2 degrees) was reduced to 2.2 degrees with a worst case of 4.8 degrees in this version. That sounds mildly dangerous, until you consider the differences in incentives between Wall Street traders and global warming scientists.

Wall Street's traders and risk managers are paid to shove risks under the rug and allow manic trading to go on, thus producing disasters like the 2007-08 crash and the "London Whale" blow-up. Conversely, global warming scientists are out of a job if they don't rattle the chains of the worst case scenarios, making it appear that the globe is imminently about to share the fate of a meatball in a wok over an open flame.  Thus you can round the estimates down rather than up as in the case of financial risk, and assume that 2.2 degrees by 2100, together with a rise of 0.5 meters – slightly under 2 feet – in the world's oceans is the worst we can expect.

If you look at past trends the world has heated up by about 0.85 degrees since 1880 (which is well within the range of natural variation, although humans could be responsible for part of it.) Extrapolating that to 2100 gives you a temperature rise of 0.7 degrees, which isn't worth spending money on, although I grant you we should probably keep a few global warming scientists around (far fewer than the 800 who collaborated on the IPCC report) to keep an eye on the ecosystem in case it surprises us.

The huge amount of money we save by firing most of the global warming scientists and – much more important – shutting down the various half-baked subsidy schemes that have been instituted in the area cannot however be put back in taxpayers' pockets, alas, for there are several other problems that before 2100 may well cause a great deal more damage than global warming.

The best known of these problems, with considerable discussion but no solutions in recent years, is that of a cyber meltdown. This could be caused by an electromagnetic pulse attack, by a cyber war probe from hostile states or other entities, or even by a solar flare, such as the Carrington Event of 1859, which knocked out telegraph systems all over Europe and North America, setting several telegraph stations on fire.

Needless to say, we are a lot more dependent on electronics than our ancestors were in 1859; it is also a pretty good bet that our systems are considerably more sensitive to solar flare activity than the early telegraph systems, which were remarkably robust, with quite large currents and chunky receiving equipment. A joint venture of Lloyds of London and U.S. atmospheric experts in June 2013 estimated damage from a repetition of the Carrington Event today at $2.6 trillion. That's not total destruction, but it beats global warming, at any rate this side of 2100. And given that the last one happened only in 1859, the probability of a similar event between now and 2100 must be reckoned at least one in three.

There are two levels at which such an event could paralyze our systems. At one level, it would simply take down the power system. That would have an effect similar to an ordinary power cut, except that restoring the grid would be a matter of considerable difficulty. In such an event, there might well be casualties, for example on aircraft whose guidance and control systems cut out, but the damage would be finite and short-lived.

The other possibility, however, is that such an attack could wipe out all the information stored in the world's server farms. That would be much more serious, and far more damaging than an equivalent event 30 or 40 years ago, before we were all interconnected and dependent on electronic media for all our information.  Without stored data both we and our banks, brokers and credit card companies would be completely ignorant as to our balances (except for a few old fogies like me who still insist on getting written statements.)  All packages in transit during the outage would be lost. Those of us who rely on IT to earn our living would be unable to communicate, or to locate past files (though IT specialists as such would be hugely in demand.) And so on.

I'm not sure whether that would bring our civilization crashing down currently, but by 2030, with fogies reliant on paper records having died out, it undoubtedly would. And the solution that would have been proposed in 1859, of replacing the Internet with a gigantic steam-powered system with mechanical relays and pneumatic tubes, is probably not practicable!

The second destructive possibility, which in recent years has received much less attention, is that of a democratic disaster. By this I mean a malfunctioning of one of the major democracies, a country powerful enough to represent a significant proportion of the world's economy and military capability. This happened in 1933, when Adolf Hitler was democratically elected in Germany at a time of unparalleled depression, but we have rather lost sight of the possibility in the years of prosperity since World War II.

With the West's economies no longer reliably producing rising living standards, the chance of malfunction has once again risen. By malfunction, I mean something more than simple election of an inept government within the normal democratic traditions of the society; we have had plenty of those – think the Edward Heath, John Major and Gordon Brown ministries in Britain or the Jimmy Carter, George W. Bush or Barack Obama administrations in the United States. Those episodes are damaging but transitory, except to the extent that they may disrupt the economy sufficiently to produce a pathological election result to follow them.

The probability of a pathological election result has increased everywhere in the last decade, and especially since the 2008 downturn. In Italy, for example, a clown got 25% of the vote last February, and missed by less than 5% being asked to form a government. In relatively prosperous Austria last Sunday, the Grand Coalition of Christian Democrats and Social Democrats got a mere 50.8% of the vote, a pretty un-Grand result, with the socially unacceptable Freedom party and other fringe parties getting the rest. In Greece, the government has arrested the leaders of the Golden Dawn party with the clear approval of the European Union, an event more disturbing than the modest electoral success of Golden Dawn itself.

At some point, in some major rich and/or powerful country, a government will be elected that is as far outside the comfortable consensus as Hugo Chavez in Venezuela or Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe. That government may be hard-left or xenophobic nationalist right; it doesn't really matter. The economic and political damage that it does to the country concerned will be incalculable, and if the pathological government takes to military expansionism it may bring about a regional or general Armageddon.

A third potential disaster has arisen since the 2008 crisis, and the foolish measures taken by governments worldwide to combat it: that of universal bankruptcy. Japan's government debt is now approaching 250% of the country's GDP, which would be the highest level ever successfully brought down without default (by Britain in 1815 without inflation and in 1945 with it.) Prime minister Shinzo Abe has now announced that he is accompanying the increase in VAT due next year (which might be recessionary but would go some way to solving Japan's budget problem) by a $50 billion package of yet more wasteful spending, all while the central bank buys Japan government bonds at a rate of $130 billion a month, more than the U.S. on an economy one third the size.

This can't end well, it really can't. Abe's monetary stimulus was worth trying, and has got Japan's economy off dead center. However the country's real problem is that, year after year, government spending is more than 50% higher than revenues. With Japan's population beginning to decline (a very healthy development overall) further boosts to spending are utterly counterproductive. Abe's policies will almost certainly succeed in causing inflation, but at the cost of debt default.

As is well known, several European countries are also close to default, with bets being taken by traders on which one goes over the edge first (Greece, of course, has already partially defaulted.) The U.S. budget position has improved this year, but the budget deficit remains over $600 billion and demographic factors, President Obama's enthusiasm for all kinds of spending, the poisonous atmosphere in today's Washington and the next recession could easily combine to push the country into debt default or at least rescheduling. The real risk is in a general loss of confidence in government debt. This would immediately endanger the balance sheets of every bank in the world since those institutions have for the last decade being playing the yield curve and loading up on assets which their regulators told them were risk free.

Governments being unable to borrow would be a substantial economic improvement over the current position, in which they borrow like madmen without regard for the morrow. However, we can't afford to lose the banks, and we can't afford to lose that large proportion of people's savings that are invested in either government or bank paper. A general default is by no means impossible, and if it happened it would cause more economic damage than a cyber collapse or all but the most serious war-causing democratic failure.

Finally, within either the next 1,000 years or the next 20,000 years, according to whose theories you believe, we are due to enter another Ice Age, with temperatures some 6 degrees Celsius below the current level. Given that plant growth is heavily dependent on temperature, this would have a far more devastating effect on agriculture than an equivalent warming, apart from the land lost under glaciers – it would almost certainly wipe out a substantial fraction of our current world population. You can guess the probability of this occurring before 2100 as between 1 in 10 and 1 in 200, but either way it's not zero.

All these threats, except the renewed ice age, should be easier to combat than global warming and would be much more devastating if they occurred. Resources should be concentrated where they are most useful.


Rapid increase in ocean heat…?

What does this graph show? A catastrophically rapid increase in ocean heat content?

When global surface temperatures started levelling off, and then continued to plateau, it was a real blow to the alarmist cause. How could they claim that global warming was an urgent problem that needed trillions of taxpayer dollars to fix when the temperatures showed otherwise?

How could they retain their cushy roles on UN- and government-funded climate organisations, jetting round the world staying in five-star hotels at the taxpayers’ expense, whilst all the while imploring the rest of us to scale back our unsustainable and polluting lifestyles?

Here’s the alarmists’ thought process: Where’s the missing heat? Our models must be right (no doubt there), so it must be hiding somewhere. Somewhere we can’t measure it. Deep in the oceans!

And because of the much larger heat capacity of water compared to air, the differences in temperature would be of the order of hundredths of a degree.  Which is conveniently impossible to measure accurately.

Which is why ocean heat content is the buzzword du jour.

The graph above actually shows the number of times “ocean heat” appears in a Google search of Skeptical Science for each year since 2006. From six mentions in 2007, we have reached a projected 166 for the whole of 2013 (125 as of today).



See here for a debunking of the ludicrous ocean heat theory.  Once again Warmists are making mountains out of changes measured only in hundredths of one degree

Dr Karl’s klimate krap

(Karl Kruszelnicki is an Australian-based Jewish funnyman who frequently broadcasts on scientific matters.  He sometimes broadcasts for the ABC, Australia's major public broadcaster)

Every science presenter on the ABC is a fully paid-up climate alarmist.

But because of the 16-year temperature stasis that nobody wants to acknowledge, Dr (for a doctor he is*) Karl resorts to spouting krap:
Even before this report was released, some of the news media (such as the Daily Mail in the United Kingdom) recklessly claimed that this latest IPCC report revealed that global warming was over — and that in fact, the world was now cooling. This was very wrong.

Krap. The four major temperature series, GISS, HadCRUT, UAH and RSS (take note, Dr Suzuki) all show either stasis, imperceptible warming or cooling (see image below). And whether global warming is “over” or not is irrelevant – that’s just a tabloid newpaper making a story.

The real issue is why there has been such a divergence between models and real-world temperature. Despite fudging the graph in the IPCC Summary for Policymakers to give the impression that the models are still on track, the truth is that the models have spectacularly failed to predict the current stasis in global temperatures. Climate sensitivity to CO2 has been overestimated and natural forces ignored.
For one thing, nine of the 10 hottest years on record have happened in the last decade.

True, but irrelevant. Yes, the planet is warming, and has been for a couple of centuries, so it’s no great surprise that each decade is, generally, warmer than the last. The old “on record” chestnut is wheeled out, despite the fact that records barely cover 150 years. Dispassionate? Krap!
The trouble is, the surface of our planet has many many square metres. So that extra heat reflected back down to the ground is roughly equivalent to exploding a few hundred thousand Hiroshima-sized nuclear weapons in our atmosphere — every day.

This is recycled krap. Recycled by Dr Karl, from John Cook of Un-Skeptical Pseudo-Science, who in turn recycled it from James Hansen. Despite sounding terrifying, because the Sun is so powerful and the Earth so huge, this amount of energy approximates to half a watt per square metre (your average light globe is 60 watts), which would be lost in the downwelling radiation of approximately half a kilowatt. Cheap alarmist krap.
The overwhelming majority of the heat trapped by the extra carbon dioxide in our atmosphere enters the oceans.

Since 2007, we have been monitoring the oceans with small drifting oceanic probes — ARGO probes. Today, there are some 3,600 of these robotic probes in the oceans of the world. They continuously float up and down, rising to the surface and then diving down to a depth of 2 kilometres on a roughly 10-day cycle.

These ARGO probes have measured the heating of the oceans caused by that 93.5 per cent of the heat energy reflected back down by the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. It turns out that about two thirds remains in the upper ocean between the surface and a depth of 700 metres, while the remaining one third of that heat energy goes deeper into the ocean — between 700 and 2000 metres.

Dr Karl trots out the buzzword du jour (see yesterday), ocean heat. The dog ate my warming. They seek it here, they seek it here, they seek it everywhere. Everywhere it can’t be measured, that is.

The ARGO probes have been around less than a decade, and the changes in temperature are of the order of a few hundredths of a degree. But here’s a thought – perhaps the warming over the last twenty years was caused by the oceans releasing heat (that couldn’t be measured) into the atmosphere, and was nothing to do with CO2?



For more postings from me, see  DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC and AUSTRALIAN POLITICS. Home Pages are   here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here.  

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