Monday, November 18, 2013
IPCC ‘s Bogus Evidence for Global Warming
by S. Fred Singer
The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was set up by the United Nations in 1988 and has been trying very hard to demonstrate the threat of a dangerous human influence on climate due to the emission of greenhouse gases. This is in line with their Charter, which directs the IPCC to assemble reports in support of the Global Climate Treaty – the 1992 Framework Convention on Climate Change (FCCC) of Rio de Janeiro.
It is interesting that IPCC “evidence” was based on peer-reviewed publications - but (reluctantly) abandoned only after protracted critiques from outside scientists. E-mails among members of the IPCC team, revealed in the 2009 ‘Climategate’ leak, describe their strenuous efforts to silence such critiques, often using unethical methods.
I will show here that the first three IPCC assessment reports contain erroneous scientific arguments, which have never been retracted or formally corrected, but at least have now been abandoned by the IPCC — while the last two reports, AR4 and AR5, use an argument that seems to be circular and does not support their conclusion. Australian Prof. “Bob” Carter, marine geologist and paleo-climatologist, refers to IPCC as using “hocus-pocus” science. He is a co-author of the latest (2013) NIPCC (Non-governmental International Panel on Climate Change) report “Climate Change Reconsidered-II“. We also co-authored a critique of the 2013 IPCC-AR5 Summary.
1. IPCC-AR1 (1990)
This first report of the IPCC bases its entire claim for AGW on the fact that both CO2 and surface temperatures increased during the 20th century – although not in lock-step. They assign the major warming of 1910 to 1940 to a human influence — based on a peer-reviewed paper by BD Santer and TML Wigley, which uses a very strange statistical argument. But the basis of their statistics has been critiqued (by Tsonis and Swanson) — and I have demonstrated empirically elsewhere that their conclusion does not hold.
While this faulty paper has never been retracted, it is now no longer quoted as evidence by the IPCC — nor accepted by the overwhelming majority of IPCC scientists: Most if not all warming of the early 20th century is due to natural, not human causes.
2. IPCC AR2 (1996)
This report devotes a whole chapter, #8, to “Attribution and Detection.” Its main feature is what one might call the “invention” of the “Hotspot,” i.e. an enhanced warming trend in the tropical troposphere — never actually observed.
Unfortunately, the “evidence,” as presented by BD Santer, was published only after the IPCC report itself appeared; it contains two fundamental errors. The first error was to argue that the Hotspot is a “fingerprint” of human influence — and specifically, related to an increase in greenhouse gases. This is not true. The Hotspot, according to all model calculations, is simply an atmospheric amplification of a surface trend, a consequence of the physics of the tropical atmosphere.
[Technically speaking, it is caused by increased convective activity whereby cumulus clouds carry latent heat from the surface of the tropical ocean into the upper troposphere. In other words, the Hotspot is not human-caused, but arises from a "moist-adiabatic lapse rate" of the atmosphere. This effect is discussed in most meteorological textbooks and is widely accepted.]
How then did AR2 conclude that a Hotspot exists observationally? This is the second issue: The IPCC selected a short interval in the atmospheric temperature record that showed an increase — while the general trend was one of cooling. In other words, they cherry-picked their data to invent a Hotspot — as pointed out in a subsequent publication by PJ Michaels and PC Knappenberger [see graph below]
The matter of the existence of a Hotspot in the actual tropical troposphere has been the topic of lively debate ever since. On the one hand, DH Douglass, JR Christy, BD Pearson and SF Singer, demonstrated absence of a Hotspot empirically while Santer (and 17[!] IPCC coauthors), publishing in the same journal, argued the opposite. This issue now seems to have been finally settled, as discussed by Singer in two papers in Energy & Environment [2011 and 2013].
It is worth noting that a US government report [CCSP-SAP-1.1 (2006)] showed absence of a Hotspot in the tropics (Chapter 5, BD Santer, lead author). But the report’s Executive Summary managed to obfuscate this result by referring to global atmosphere rather than tropical.
It is also worth noting that while the IPCC-AR2 used the Hotspot invention to argue that the “balance of evidence suggest a human influence,” later IPCC reports no longer use the Hotspot argument.
Nevertheless, one consequence of this unfortunate phrase in AR2 has been the adoption of the Kyoto Protocol, an international treaty to limit emissions of greenhouse gases. Even though Kyoto expired in 2012, it has managed to waste hundreds of billions of dollars so far — and continues to distort energy policies with uneconomic schemes in most industrialized nations.
3. IPCC AR3 (2001)
AR3 attributes global warming to human influences based on the “Hockey-Stick” graph, using published papers by Michael Mann, derived from his analysis of multi-proxy data. The hockeystick graph [bottom graph below] claims that the 20th century showed unusually rapid warming — and thus suggests a strong human influence. The graph also does away with the well-established Medieval Warm Period and Little Ice Age, which were shown in earlier IPCC reports [see top graph below].
It was soon found that the Hockeystick graph was in error and did not deserve continued reliance. Canadian statisticians Steven McIntyre and Ross McKitrick demonstrated errors in Mann’s statistical analysis and in the use of certain tree-ring data for calibration. In fact, they showed that Mann’s algorithm would generate a Hockeystick graph — even if the input data was pure noise. [I served as a reviewer for M&M's initial paper in Energy & Environment 2003.]
It is worth noting that the IPCC no longer uses the Hockeystick to support human-caused warming, even though AR3 still claims to be at least 66% certain that greenhouse-gas emissions are responsible for 20th century warming.
4. IPCC-AR4 (2007) and AR5 (2013)
Both reports use essentially the same faulty argument in their attempt to support their conclusion of human-caused global warming. Their first step is to construct a model that tries to match the reported 20th-century surface warming. This is not very difficult; it is essentially a ‘curve-fitting’ exercise: By selecting the right level of climate sensitivity and the right amount of aerosol forcing, they can match the reported temperature rise of the final decades of the 20th century, but not the initial decades — as becomes evident from a detailed graph in their Attribution chapter. This lack of agreement is due to the fact that their models ignore major forcings — both from variations of solar activity and from changes in ocean circulation.
They then use the following trick. They re-plot their model graph, but without an increase in greenhouse gases; this absence of forcing now generates a gap between the reported warming and unforced model. Then they turn around and argue that this gap must be due to an increase in greenhouse gases. It appears to me that this argument may be circular. Even if the reported late-20th-century surface warming really exists (it is absent from the satellite and radiosonde records), the IPCC argument is not convincing.
It is ironic, however, that IPCC claims increasing certainty (at 90% in AR4 and at least 95% in AR5) for an attribution to human causes, which appears to be contrived. Additionally, while AR4 calculates a Climate Sensitivity (for a doubling of CO2) of 2.0 – 4.5 degC, AR5 expands the uncertainty interval to 1.5 – 4.5 degC. So much for the claim of increased certainty in the IPCC-AR5 Summary.
Yet, while claiming increased certainty about manmade global warming, both reports essentially ignore the absence of any surface warming trend since about 1998. Of course, they also ignore absence of any significant warming in the troposphere, ocean record, and proxy data during the crucial preceding (1979-1997) interval.
In spite of much effort, the IPCC has never succeeded in demonstrating that climate change is significantly affected by human activities — and in particular, by the emission of greenhouse gases. Over the last 25 years, their supporting arguments have shifted drastically — and are shown to be worthless. It appears more than likely that climate change is controlled by variations in solar magnetic activity and by periodic changes in ocean circulation.
Science and Journalism Take a Vacation
A recent Times of London article claimed new “research” demonstrates that a “chemical onslaught is destroying Britain’s amphibians.” A “toxic cocktail,” it stated, is killing UK frogs, toads and newts.
Manmade chemicals “can affect animals’ immune systems – leaving them vulnerable to attack by fungi, bacteria and other infections,” it continued, citing statements by two scientists. Laboratory experiments show that pesticides have a “powerful effect on amphibian immune systems, even at low concentrations,” causing diseases that have been around for decades to “suddenly become much more deadly.”
And not just for amphibians, the story added. “Some fear the same effects could extend to humans, who are exposed to numerous manmade chemicals, in food, drinks and the air.”
It concluded by quoting Elizabeth Salter Green, director of CHEM Trust, which the Times said sponsored the so-called research. “There is mounting evidence that exposure to even tiny levels of these [agricultural pesticides and urban] chemicals can compromise the immune system. The European Union needs to take a lead on both identifying and controlling the risks,” she insisted.
The story certainly sounds plausible. However, as Baltimore journalist H. L. Mencken observed, “There is always a well-known solution to every human problem – neat, plausible, and wrong.” Indeed, there are ample reasons for skepticism. The Times “news story” underscores what happens when genuine science and objective journalism take a vacation, on chemicals, medicine, global warming and other topics.
CHEM Trust is financially supported by and promotes the work of Greenpeace, an organization that co-founder Patrick Moore says has become “anti-science, anti-technology and anti-human.” Greenpeace fabricated claims that Shell Oil’s Brent Spar production platform contained tons of oil, toxic wastes and radioactive materials, to attract donations and ensure that the platform was not sunk as an artificial reef.
The Rainbow Warriors spend tens of millions of dollars opposing pesticide spraying to prevent malaria that kills nearly a million people annually; Golden Rice, the genetically modified grain that contains a Vitamin A precursor that can save millions of developing world children from blindness and death; and fossil fuels that enhance and safeguard lives in countries everywhere. Canada refused to grant charitable status to Greenpeace, due to its repeated falsehoods, politicized activities and lack of “public benefit.”
Had CHEM Trust been an industry-funded organization, the Times would almost certainly have noted that affiliation, regardless of how scrupulous and transparent the research might have been. Author Jonathan Leake’s failure to mention the Greenpeace connection reflects his (and the Times) tendency to promote environmentalist views and assertions as straightforward, unimpeachable science.
The CHEM Trust paper wasn’t even research. It was an advocacy brief – a summary of research papers and conclusions carefully selected to support claims that chemicals pose unacceptable risks to wildlife and humans. As the document itself suggests, its ultimate purpose is to secure even more draconian changes in EU chemicals policy and legislation, which already reflect the “precautionary principle.”
That vague and arbitrary “principle” focuses on the risks of using chemicals – but never on the risks of not using them. It spotlights risks that a chemical might theoretically cause, but ignores the risks that it would clearly reduce or prevent. It is another potent weapon for anti-technology activists: Whatever they support complies with the precautionary principle; whatever they oppose violates it.
Just as bad, the Times article was apparently based on exclusive access to the embargoed report. This shabby willingness to be used as an activist mouthpiece is reminiscent of the now-infamous 2012 Seralini “study.” Giles-Eric Seralini is a well-known anti-biotechnology activist associated with a lobbying group that released a paper purporting to prove that genetically modified foods cause cancer in rats.
Accompanied by gruesome photographs of lab rats with massive tumors, the study was released under an “embargo” to selected journalists, who signed an agreement not to show the paper to outside scientists before the story hit the newspapers and airwaves. That meant the journalists could not seek unbiased comments or provide any balance or corrections to the activist storyline.
New York Times blogger Carl Zimmer called the episode “a rancid, corrupt way to report about science.” Nevertheless, many “mainstream” publications took Seralini up on his offer, including Agence France Presse and Reuters. Within 24 hours after the embargo was lifted, independent scientists piled on, exposing almost every aspect of the “study” as flawed, and even dishonest and fraudulent. One said the story was “designed to frighten” people, and the author and editors “should be ashamed.”
But Seralini got the headlines he wanted. So did Greenpeace and CHEM Trust.
Making this latest debasement of science and journalism even more disturbing is that fact that the “toxic cocktail” of agricultural and urban chemicals is merely the latest in a long line of “studies” that activists have offered as “proof positive” that modern technologies are destroying amphibians and nature. Previous alleged perpetrators have included pesticides alone, acid rain, ozone depletion and global warming – whatever was fashionable at the time, and whatever activist groups calculated would attract donations, expand their political power, and help enact punitive laws and regulations.
Some species develop resistance to pesticides, but meanwhile the real causes of disappearing amphibians receive insufficient study and attention, to address the problem in time to prevent more extinctions.
For example, a year ago the Washington Post ran a dramatic story about scientists in the Panamanian rainforest desperately trying to save dwindling frog species. “Where there once was a crazy cacophony of frog song,” its reporters wrote, there is now only “a spooky quiet. The streams have gone silent.” The golden frog, Panama’s animal mascot, has not been seen since 2009.
However, these rainforests are as pristine as habitats can get. There are virtually no pesticides or other chemical pollutants. Disease is the real culprit, in this case Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis, the “Bd fungus,” which has been decimating amphibians in Panama, the USA and elsewhere for years.
For several decades, African clawed frogs were imported into the United States and other countries as pets, for scientific research and as pregnancy tests (they ovulate when injected with a pregnant woman’s urine). Unfortunately, because these frogs are largely immune to the Bd fungus, they are effective carriers of this devastating non-native disease. (So are Pacific tree frogs.) As they escape or are released into the wild, and then migrate further, into other habitats, they spread the fungus; people hiking in those habitats pick the fungus up on their boots and shoes, spreading it even further. Clawed frogs have been implicated in the decline or extinction of some 200 frog species worldwide.
Native to eastern North America, American bullfrogs are raised as food and pets in factory farms in the US, China and other countries. They too are largely immune to Bd and other chytrid skin fungus diseases, which cause amphibians’ skins to thicken and lead to cardiac arrest, and thus have been major carriers.
In high enough concentrations, pesticides can kill amphibians, fish and other wildlife. It is also possible that lower concentrations of pesticides and other chemicals might reduce immunities to fungal and bacterial agents. But it’s dangerous to base conclusions on cherry-picked studies disseminated by CHEM Trust and Greenpeace. As to genetic deformities and other abnormalities, the same chemicals may be responsible – but so too might other ubiquitous chemicals that rarely get mentioned in activist press releases or media stories, because it wouldn’t be politically correct: namely, birth control medicines that are flushed down toilets or discharged in urine, especially around urban centers. The jury is still out.
Good science and journalism must make clear what is verifiable fact; what is simply hypothesis, conjecture or rank opinion; and what is outright, disingenuous activist advocacy. The Times of London writers were either snookered or willing dupes. Either way, its credibility has been seriously undermined.
Warmists can’t stop themselves
Climate alarmists' tactics -- exaggeration, misrepresentation, smear and scorn -- have hurt the movement more than helped it. No surprise there. Cultists are always the last to recognise the folly of their ways
When the idea of dangerous anthropogenic global warming (AGW) from fossil fuel emissions arose it found strong resonance across a variety of important interests. For researchers it meant funding and recognition. With the media it was attention-grabbing drama. To activists it was the mother of all eco-threats. Business saw huge profits to be made, while bureaucrats recognised the potential for massive increases in power and control.
For politicians it was a no-brainer, with strong popularity on one side and only denigration on the other.
An impressive AGW bandwagon soon assembled and fired-up a luxurious hundred billion dollar gravy train. In late 2009 everything was on track for a glorious triumph by AGW forces at the Copenhagen Climate Summit, which was to have been the gateway to the clean, green new world promised by the eco-prophets.
Then came Climategate and the wheels started to come off.
In reality the whole vast AGW structure was built on a flimsy foundation of highly dubious prophesies by a small coterie of third-rate academics whose reputations and careers have been based almost entirely on dramatic claims about climate change which have proved to be either wrong, doubtful, or at best, yet to be verified. The description of their being “third rate” is used with due consideration. The attention-grabbing claims concerning AGW have been both fraught with uncertainty and subject to diverse unrefuted criticism. Well-founded credentials and reputations in research are not based on iffy speculation and un-verified predictions. Competent scientists avoid such speculation and take care to clearly qualify the limits and uncertainties involved in any opinions or predictions they may offer.
With rare exception, all of the leading scientific proponents of catastrophic AGW have been unknown academics until they climbed onto the climate change bandwagon and began to make dramatic predictions of imminent catastrophe. The few exceptions with established reputations outside of climate catastrophism seem to have been already committed to a catastrophist view of other environmental threats for which AGW is only the latest, greatest and most popular. It also has boasted the added attraction of being by far the most rewarding.
In addition, climatology was a little known, highly interdisciplinary area of study in which researchers from almost any field could participate and call themselves climatologists. Doing so and offering some dramatic claim about AGW virtually assured widespread news coverage with anointment by the media of status as an “expert”. Generous grants were sure to follow.
For an academic with only a meagre reputation to risk, the temptation would have been hard to resist — especially so for those suffering from that common academic malady, an inflated opinion of one’s own importance and intellectual ability. The opening of a shortcut to fame and fortune while bypassing the normal and tedious slog to recognised expertise was surely too right to have been just luck. It must have been meant to be and has accordingly been defended with all the ferocity of true believers.
In climate alarmism the perceived righteousness of the cause has led to a wholesale abandonment of what had previously been considered to be proper scientific practice. In climate research it has become widespread and accepted practice to refuse to reveal methods and materials, ignore opposing evidence, misrepresent findings, exaggerate confidence, suppress publication of conflicting findings and use personal denigration to discredit anyone who dares to raise questions about the latest and endless streams of claims and assertions. While such malpractice has become pervasive, it will usually involve just complex technical matter at a time, requiring a considerable level of background knowledge if arguments are to be fully understand.
However, the fundamental ethical issues are something everyone can understand and it is here where the alarmists have done the most to discredit themselves. Whenever clear evidence of dishonest behaviour by AGW proponents has been exposed, instead of simply condemning it they have followed a pattern of first trying to deny it then, when that fails, attempting to justify it. Finally, when mis-information has been thoroughly exposed, they seek to trivialise “mistakes” as being of no importance in any case. In doing this they have make it clear that any regard for truth is subordinate to the righteousness of their cause.
Before widespread systematic scientific misconduct began to be exposed in climate research, science enjoyed a high level of public trust. In abusing this trust, climate alarmists gained a short-lived advantage. However, the inevitable exposures have inflicted serious and long lived damage to both their own cause and to the reputation of science itself. This will be difficult to repair.
Now, it seems that all of the dire predictions about warming temperatures, species extinctions, extreme weather, melting glaciers, accelerating sea levels, epidemics, crop failures and sundry other climate catastrophes are starting to be seen as having failed. Having denied any possibility of natural variability in the modest rise in global temperature observed in the latter part of the 20th century, the alarmists are now finding it difficult to explain why their most certain hopes have not materialised. That they might have been wrong all along is, of course, unthinkable.
In the face of an ever increasing departure from unfolding reality their response has been to simply ratchet up the level of alarm and claim more certainty than ever. This seems a bizarre strategy, especially from a group which purports to be composed of scientists of the highest calibre. They must deem reality itself to be subordinate to a dubious theory ratified only by group consensus.
From the outside it looks like a retreat to the bunkers for a last stand by fanatical adherents of an extremist cult preparing for martyrdom in a final paroxysm of righteousness. Perhaps it’s the prophesied battle of Armageddon featuring the righteous hosts of postmodernism vs. the Satanic idea of an objective reality independent of anything one might choose to believe. Or could it just be that the constant misrepresentation of reality that is now the norm in climate research has become so ingrained that adherents have difficulty differentiating reality from fantasy, not unlike the condition psychiatrists used to call Pseudologia Fantastica?
However it is characterised, the current tactics of climate alarmists in public debate are doing nothing to restore their credibility, serving only to make themselves look ever more foolish and untrustworthy.
If they are really as certain as they profess to be, the best thing they could do at this point would be to shut up. If they are right, reality should prove them so soon enough. And if the science is settled, as they claim, there is no need for more research anyway. Of course they won’t do anything of the sort. Shutting up would mean giving surrendering all that flattering attention and funding they have come to accept as their just due.
So, in all probability the show will continue, not as a debate but as a farce, with the lead characters making ever-bigger fools of themselves until the public tires of paying the bills and finds something better to do with its tax money.
Warmism is motivated cognition -- it serves needs for its believers
Christopher Horner, a senior fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute and the author of Red Hot Lies: How Global Warming Alarmists Use Threats, Fraud, and Deception to Keep You Misinformed, said that some people’s belief in man-made global warming goes back to the same “long-proved human instinct” to assign blame that led to witch trials throughout history.
“Previously, when the crops failed, leading to famine, babies died…you’d blame the witch next door, throw her on the fire,” Horner said on The Glenn Beck Program. “Now, it’s when these catastrophes occur.”
The author told Stu Burguiere, who was filling in for Glenn Beck, that it is “tiresome” when such individuals “do this ritual in response to every blizzard or heat wave,” and “disgusting or sick” when man-made global warming is consistently blamed for natural catastrophes.
But Horner argued that there are different reasons people feel so strongly about the issue, and that for some, it simply comes down to “desperation.”
“Obviously when the spaceship that they either promised or were promised continues to not show up, or the comet continues to not come by, doomsday remains elusive, they’re grabbing anything that floats by,” he said.
But for others, Horner said that man-made global warming “affirms (their) worldview” that “modernity, whatever it is, wealth is horrible.”
The two also discussed the back-story behind the often-repeated line that “the science is settled,” and Horner said that in some cases, those climate change “experts” have included “hotel administrators, experts in ancient Chinese healing techniques, (and) gynecologists.”
The bottom line, the author argued, is if those who believe that man-made global warming had a real argument, “they’d make it, and…they’d stick with it.”
“They wouldn’t bounce between drought, rain, hot, cold, snow, no snow, warming, weather, climate, jobs, the French will like us (to prove their point),” Horner remarked. “They’d make their case.”
The Fracking Fight Goes Way Left
The fight against hydraulic fracturing has recently ratcheted up. On November 5, one town in Ohio and three in Colorado, passed ballot measures designed to ban or temporarily halt hydraulic fracturing—the brief (3-5 day) phase, often referred to as “fracking”—that is essential to the advanced oil-and-gas extraction processes that have given America the lead in global energy production. A fourth Colorado town awaits a recount. Initial election results showed the moratorium in Broomfield, Co—failed by 13 votes. However, on November 13, after all the overseas, military, provisional and other outstanding ballots were counted, it had passed by 17 votes. A margin of less than 0.5 percent triggers an automatic recount—leaving the final outcome currently unknown. In Bowling Green and Youngstown, Ohio, the opposite happened. Similar proposed bans against fracking were defeated.
Of the four votes in Colorado, Tisha Schuller, president of the Colorado Oil and Gas Association (COGA) calls the Boulder and Lafayette votes merely “symbolic,” and noted that “Lafayette's last new well permit was in the early 1990s and Boulder's last oil and gas well was plugged in 1999.”
However, Fort Collins, CO, is near the promising production of the Niobrara shale. The Fort Collins city council passed a resolution encouraging voters to reject the proposed moratorium. And, in Broomfield, the city council, in August, entered into a memorandum of understanding that would allow energy company Sovereign to drill 21 wells—as long as stringent standards are met. In these cities, these five-year bans will bite.
In Ohio, the Oberlin ban is, likewise, “symbolic,” as Oberlin, a college town, has no drilling plans. Bowling Green, which rejected the ban, also has no drilling plans. However, in the Mahoning Valley where Youngstown is located, there is current oil-and-gas activity. In Youngstown, which is a depressed former steel town, residents have twice voted down a fracking ban. The Akron Beacon Journal reports: “the United Association of Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 396 spent more than $74,000 trying to defeat the amendment. The union called it a job-killer.” Supporters of the ban claim “the loss can be explained by voters who are hard up for the jobs energy development brings.” (Note: “energy development” does bring jobs.)
Within the past year, Longmont, CO, became the first town in the state to ban fracking and Mora County, NM, became the first county in New Mexico to ban the “extraction of oil, natural gas, or other hydrocarbons.”
National Geographic states: “the wins provide momentum for the national movement to ban hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.” Former Colorado State House Representative, B.J. Nikkel, is quoted as saying: “This is round one in a much longer match.” Mora County Commissioner, John Olivas, declared: “We’re ready for this fight.” Fracking opponent, Gretchen Goldman, an analyst at the Union of Concerned Scientists’ Center for Science and Democracy, said: “The decision of whether or not hydraulic fracturing occurs in these Colorado communities may ultimately lie with the courts, where the city of Longmont is already being sued by COGA and the state of Colorado over its fracking ban.”
Because fracking is governed by the states, the bans put cities and counties at odds with state—and even federal—laws. According to a New York Times (NYT) article written at the time of Longmont’s fracking ban passage (November 2012), Colorado’s Democrat Governor, John W. Hickenlooper, warned residents of a lawsuit from the state and insisted that only the state has “the authority to regulate drilling.”
Ohio’s Department of Natural Resources also, according to RC 1509, has the “sole and exclusive authority to regulate the permitting, location, and spacing of oil and gas wells and production operations within the state …” A recent lawsuit in Ohio challenged the idea of “preemption.” The City of Munroe Falls argued “home-rule” authority to regulate gas-drilling operations and won the case in the Summit County Court of Common Pleas, but was reversed by the Ninth District Court of Appeals in what has been described as a “knock-out punch.” The case will now go before the Ohio State Supreme Court with a decision expected this spring.
In July 2013, Hickenlooper’s administration joined COGA in a lawsuit seeking to overturn Longmont’s fracking ban.
Concerned about the lawsuits, Longmont’s Mayor Dennis L. Coombs said: “People really didn’t think through this too well.”
Stan Dempsey, President of the Colorado Petroleum Association, told me he “expects the Fort Collins and Broomfield bans will be fought in court.”
The NYT states that seven former mayors of Longmont fought the ban and cites Bill Swenson, who said the ban was “contrary to state laws.” Swenson believes, “We are, in effect, taking your property.”
In New Mexico, where a lawsuit was filed, on November 11, against the Mora County drilling ban, former State Land Commissioner Pat Lyons, agrees. Under his leadership, many tracts were leased for potential drilling in Mora County which he said “could be a big boon for the economy.” Lyons told me Mora’s drilling ban is a “private property takings.”
However, the lawsuit against Mora County, and its leaders, didn’t go the “takings” route. Instead, the Independent Petroleum Association of New Mexico, along with one individual and two New Mexico land owners, argue that Mora County’s ordinance violates their rights under the First, Fifth, and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution, as well as corresponding rights under the New Mexico Constitution. The suit alleges that the Commission lacks authority to pass this unconstitutional ordinance that impacts property rights, due process and First Amendment rights.
In 1978, New Mexico passed the New Mexico Oil and Gas Act, which created the Oil Conservation Commission and Oil Conservation Division, which are vested with complete “jurisdiction, authority and control” regarding the development of oil or gas. The Division regulates oil-and-natural gas activity within the State so as to protect, among other things, fresh water, public health, safety and the environment, and issues rules for “safety procedures for drilling and production of oil and gas wells.”
Unlike the Colorado lawsuits, the suit against Mora Country, has not, to date, been joined by New Mexico government. Lyons believes New Mexico’s Land Commissioner, Ray Powell, “should be taking a strong stand for New Mexico’s children. He should be one of the lead participants in the fight for New Mexico.”
Lyons is referencing the fact that in New Mexico, revenues from oil-and-gas activity on state lands go directly into the Permanent Fund and each tract has a specific beneficiary assigned to it. Some of the beneficiaries that will be losing out of the millions of dollars that could be generated over the life of the Mora County leases include: NM School for the Visually Handicapped and NM School for hearing impaired; NM State Hospital and Carrie Tingley Hospital; the NM Boys School, NM Institute of Mining and Technology, and Eastern NM University; and K-12 schools throughout the state.
The New Mexico civil rights lawsuit was filed by the Mountain States Legal Foundation, whose President, William Perry Pendley, sent me the following statement:
“The lawlessness we have seen emanating from Washington, DC, has spread like a wildfire across the country. When elected politicians, senior administration officials, and career bureaucrats proudly proclaim that the Constitution is irrelevant and the law is whatever they say it is, it is little wonder that officials across the country follow their bad example. From coast-to-coast, isolated units of local government have declared that, regardless of what the federal and state constitutions or federal and state laws provide, they will bar their residents from using their property, creating jobs, and generating revenue and if the locals do not like it, then they can sue. I am proud that landowners in Mora County and the Independent Petroleum Association of New Mexico have the courage to demand adherence to constitutional liberties and the rule of law and have asked Mountain States Legal Foundation to represent them in that important battle.”
As Pendley indicates, all of these fracking and drilling bans and/or moratoriums are part of an attempted national movement led by the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund, which has drafted model legislation for communities—such as Mora County, NM; Oberlin, OH; and Lafayette, CO—known as the Community Bill of Rights.
The “symbolic” votes in communities with no oil-and-gas development are part of a strategy to target left-leaning constituencies where ordinances can be passed and momentum can be built. Addressing the approach, Nikkel observed: “As the debate moves from places like Boulder and Lafayette—which come with highly Democratic constituencies—to purple Colorado, you're going to see a different outcome.”
Because of efforts to ban fracking—which, along with horizontal drilling has just allowed the U.S. to pass a milestone in the march toward energy self-sufficiency—the House of Representatives has drafted the Protecting States’ Rights to Promote American Energy Security Act (H.R. 2728), which would keep states in charge of hydraulic fracturing as they have always done and keep the EPA out of it. H.R. 2728 is scheduled to come up for a vote as early as November 18. Please contact your Representative to encourage support of H.R. 2728.
“When we talk about banning fracking, we’re talking about outlawing a process that is absolutely critical to developing our vast energy resources and intentionally forfeiting billions in economic activity and tax revenue.” Addressing the election results, Jon Haubert, Communications Director for Coloradoans for Responsible Energy Development, adds: “The need for education about one of our state’s—and nation’s—most important topics clearly won’t be going away. In Colorado especially, there are high standards and model regulations in place to ensure that the health and safety of our communities come first. As we discovered in these elections, not enough know that.” Haubert places some of the blame “squarely on the oil and natural gas industry for not properly educating the public.”
Russell Mendell, statewide director for Frack Free Colorado, has declared: “This is the point in history where communities need to decide if they want to stay addicted to hydrocarbons and fossil fuels or move toward sustainable energy.” In response, many have proposed that if communities with potential oil-and-gas development choose to ban it, they should truly break their so-called hydrocarbon addiction and quit using oil and gas.
The outcome of the fracking fight will be fought in the court of public opinion, as much as it will be in state and federal courtrooms. Though environmental groups have declared victory in this round, the fight is far from over. Earlier this year, Democratic Governor, Jerry Brown of California, signed a law in September that specifically allows fracking. Across the country, people—from Youngstown, OH, to California’s Governor Brown—understand that “energy development” bring jobs and economic growth. They understand that energy makes America great.
Strange Doings on the Sun
The sun should be at the climax of its usual 11-year cycle of activity, but solar physicists are puzzled by its mellow solar maximum. WSJ's Robert Lee Hotz reports. Periods of low activity have in the past coincided with cold periods on earth
Something is up with the sun.
Scientists say that solar activity is stranger than in a century or more, with the sun producing barely half the number of sunspots as expected and its magnetic poles oddly out of sync.
The sun generates immense magnetic fields as it spins. Sunspots—often broader in diameter than Earth—mark areas of intense magnetic force that brew disruptive solar storms. These storms may abruptly lash their charged particles across millions of miles of space toward Earth, where they can short-circuit satellites, smother cellular signals or damage electrical systems.
Based on historical records, astronomers say the sun this fall ought to be nearing the explosive climax of its approximate 11-year cycle of activity—the so-called solar maximum. But this peak is "a total punk," said Jonathan Cirtain, who works at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration as project scientist for the Japanese satellite Hinode, which maps solar magnetic fields.
"I would say it is the weakest in 200 years," said David Hathaway, head of the solar physics group at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala.
Researchers are puzzled. They can't tell if the lull is temporary or the onset of a decades-long decline, which might ease global warming a bit by altering the sun's brightness or the wavelengths of its light.
"There is no scientist alive who has seen a solar cycle as weak as this one," said Andrés Munoz-Jaramillo, who studies the solar-magnetic cycle at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, Mass.
To complicate the riddle, the sun also is undergoing one of its oddest magnetic reversals on record.
Normally, the sun's magnetic north and south poles change polarity every 11 years or so. During a magnetic-field reversal, the sun's polar magnetic fields weaken, drop to zero, and then emerge again with the opposite polarity. As far as scientists know, the magnetic shift is notable only because it signals the peak of the solar maximum, said Douglas Biesecker at NASA's Space Environment Center.
But in this cycle, the sun's magnetic poles are out of sync, solar scientists said. The sun's north magnetic pole reversed polarity more than a year ago, so it has the same polarity as the south pole.
"The delay between the two reversals is unusually long," said solar physicist Karel Schrijver at the Lockheed Martin Advanced Technology Center in Palo Alto, Calif.
Scientists said they are puzzled, but not concerned, by the unusual delay. They expect the sun's south pole to change polarity next month, based on current satellite measurements of its shifting magnetic fields.
At the same time, scientists can't explain the scarcity of sunspots. While still turbulent, the sun seems feeble compared with its peak power in previous decades. "It is not just that there are fewer sunspots, but they are less active sunspots," Dr. Schrijver said.
However, the sun isn't idle: After months of quiescence, it unleashed vast streams of charged particles into space five times in as many days last month, and flared again last week. Even so, these outbursts exhibited a fraction of the force of previous solar maximums.
By comparison, a Halloween solar storm in 2003, near the peak of the last solar maximum, was the largest of the Space Age. Even though it mostly bypassed Earth, the storm disabled a Japanese satellite, sent astronauts aboard the International Space Station scrambling for radiation shelter, disrupted drilling for oil and gas in Alaska, scrambled GPS navigation and forced the U.S. Defense Department to cancel military maneuvers.
As the solar cycle winds down in the years ahead as part of its normal cycle, blasts of charged particles should become even less frequent. Among other things, Earth's outer atmosphere will cool and contract, which can extend the life of satellites by lessening the drag on them.
"That makes the commercial satellite operators all happy," said Todd Hoeksema at Stanford University's Wilcox Solar Observatory. "And the astronauts are happy when there is no radiation."
Several solar scientists speculated that the sun may be returning to a more relaxed state after an era of unusually high activity that started in the 1940s.
"More than half of solar physicists would say we are returning to a norm," said physicist Mark Miesch at the High Altitude Observatory in Boulder, Colo., who studies the internal dynamics of stars. "We might be in for a longer state of suppressed activity."
If so, the decline in magnetic activity could ease global warming, the scientists said. But such a subtle change in the sun—lowering its luminosity by about 0.1%—wouldn't be enough to outweigh the build-up of greenhouse gases and soot that most researchers consider the main cause of rising world temperatures over the past century or so.
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Posted by JR at 8:10 PM