Monday, April 07, 2014
Green 'smear campaign' against professor who dared to disown 'sexed up' UN climate dossier
The professor who refused to sign last week’s high-profile UN climate report because it was too ‘alarmist’, has told The Mail on Sunday he has become the victim of a smear campaign.
Richard Tol claims he is fighting a sustained attack on his reputation by a key figure from a leading institution that researches the impact of global warming.
Prof Tol said: ‘This has all the characteristics of a smear campaign. It’s all about taking away my credibility as an expert.’
Prof Tol, from Sussex University, is a highly respected climate economist and one of two ‘co-ordinating lead authors’ of an important chapter in the 2,600-page report published last week by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
He has been widely criticised by green campaigners after he claimed that the much shorter ‘summary for policymakers’ – hammered out in all-night sessions between scientists and government officials over a week-long meeting in Yokohama, Japan – was overly ‘alarmist’.
In his view, the summary focused on ‘scare stories’ and suggestions the world faced ‘the four horsemen of the apocalypse’.
He said he did not want his name associated with it because he felt ‘uncomfortable’ with the way the summary exaggerated the economic impact of global warming.
The source of the alleged smear campaign is Bob Ward, director of policy at the London School of Economics’s Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change. [Ward has a first degree in geology only]
Mr Ward – neither an economist nor a climate expert – claimed on the institute’s website that he was waging ‘an ongoing struggle’ to force Prof Tol to correct ‘errors’ in his work.
Mr Ward had earlier sent an email disparaging Prof Tol’s research to several leading IPCC scientists and officials.
They included Prof Tol’s fellow co-ordinating lead author, Doug Arent, director of America’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory; and Professor Chris Field of Stanford University, the overall chairman and editor of the IPCC report.
The email claimed that Prof Tol’s ‘antics’ were ‘likely to reflect badly on the IPCC and his co-authors’. In response Professor Arent informed Mr Ward that the chapter he co-ordinated with Prof Tol was ‘double and triple checked’.
He added that after Mr Ward – one of the IPCC’s registered ‘reviewers’ – found a tiny, statistical error in an earlier draft, it was revised.
On the website, Mr Ward said he spotted errors in three of Prof Tol’s papers in October and raised them in an email to him. But according to Mr Ward, Prof Tol ‘refused to give any undertaking to correct them’. In one email seen by this paper, Mr Ward admits the errors are ‘small’. Mr Ward added that after further correspondence, Prof Tol ‘seemed determined not to correct his papers’.
Yet weeks before Mr Ward published his article, Prof Tol volunteered to correct a handful of highly technical, minor numerical mistakes. And almost a month before Mr Ward’s article appeared, a scientific journal had asked him to write his own article, saying what he found wrong with Prof Tol’s work.
Prof Tol said yesterday: ‘Ward claims I refused to correct errors, but it’s not true.’ He added that the errors made no difference to his conclusion that global warming of up to 2.5C may have a net beneficial impact on the world economy.
Ward admitted yesterday that the journals which published Tol’s papers told him weeks ago that he was prepared to correct some of his alleged errors, and that he had been asked to write a paper of his own.
He denied his actions were a smear campaign, insisting he was merely fulfilling his role as an IPCC reviewer and claiming that he still did not know which ‘errors’ Tol was prepared to correct. He said: ‘If Tol thinks I am engaged in a smear campaign because I have pointed out his errors he is redefining what a smear campaign means. It is his behaviour that is unreasonable.’
He said that Tol had called him an ‘attack dog’ in his own blog and that this was ‘abusive’.
A very strange "Summary"
According to Raj Pachauri, chairman of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), its report last week was its most terrifying yet, portending famine, disease, extreme weather and wars, proving ‘no one on this planet is going to be untouched’.
But a Mail on Sunday analysis shows that the 47-page ‘summary for policymakers’ of a much more detailed 2,600-page document – ‘sexed up’ some of the key findings.
Its ‘alarmist’ spin led Professor Richard Tol to demand his name be removed from it.
Neither report covers the science of climate change, only possible impacts. Many of these, the full document admits, are difficult to forecast.
In any case, computer models say the world should already be warmer – as this newspaper has reported many times.
The strangest thing about the summary is the way it was produced. For seven days, about 200 people – 120 of them government officials, not scientists – sat in a hall in Yokohama, Japan, trying to hammer out a final draft reflecting the full text.
Big issues were not resolved until the final session, which started at 9.30pm and ended at 10am next day. Long before that, many delegates had left or fallen asleep. ‘Important decisions were made by a handful of countries which were still there, including the UK and US,’ says one source. ‘It’s no wonder the summary isn’t a true reflection of what the scientists wrote.’
Real cost of Climate McCarthyism, apart from big bills, is to free speech
At the heart of the current, poisoned debate about global warming lies a paradox. Thanks to the ‘pause’, the unexpected plateau in world surface temperatures which has now lasted for 17 years, the science is less ‘settled’ than it has been for years.
Yet, despite this uncertainty, those who use it to justify a range of potentially ruinous energy policies have become ever more extreme in their pronouncements. Their latest campaign is an attempt to silence anyone who disagrees.
This reached a new and baleful milestone last week, with a report from the Commons Science and Technology Committee saying BBC editors must obtain special ‘clearance’ before interviewing climate ‘sceptics’.
The committee’s chairman, Labour MP Andrew Miller, likened sceptics to the Monster Raving Loony Party, suggesting they should be allowed to express their views with similar frequency.
High profile commentators, including the Energy and Climate Change Secretary Ed Davey, often describe climate change sceptics as ‘deniers’, on a par with those who reject evidence of the Holocaust.
One Sunday columnist recently insisted the parallel was exact, because the evidence of global warming is as strong as that for Auschwitz.
Academics who deviate from the perceived ‘correct’ line risk vilification. The most recent example is Professor Richard Tol of Sussex University, who had the temerity to remove his name from a UN climate report because he said it was ‘alarmist’.
Another is Prof Roger Pielke Jnr of Colorado. His ‘crime’ is to have published evidence that, so far, hurricanes have not become more frequent, while financial losses from extreme weather have not increased as a result of climate change. His reward has been an organised campaign demanding he be sacked.
The Breakthrough Institute – an influential, and very green – US think tank has described those who try to close down debate in this way as ‘climate McCarthyites’, after the infamous 1950s Senator who sought to root out Communists from American public life.
It is an increasingly apt analogy. Miller, Davey and their allies often cite a study showing that 97 per cent of academic papers dealing with climate say that human-induced global warming is real.
But here is the thing: so do almost all of those attacked as ‘deniers’, including Lord Lawson, whose appearance on the Radio 4 Today show in February sparked the current furore over sceptics getting airtime.
Where they differ from the supposed mainstream is not over the existence of warming, but its speed, and how to deal with it.
Then, so do many scientists. The ‘pause’ means that the climate computer models, on which most forecasts are based, say the world should already be rather warmer than it is: in one expert’s words, they are ‘running too hot’.
Why is this? Many scientists are engaged in honest attempts to answer this question. Some suggest that the ‘climate sensitivity’ – a measure of how much the world will warm in response to a given increase in carbon dioxide – may be significantly lower than was widely believed only a few years ago.
Moreover, the response to rising CO2 adopted thus far palpably has not worked. The emissions cuts agreed by the EU and other countries at the 1997 Kyoto Treaty and imposed by our own Climate Change Act have made energy more expensive, and exported jobs and prosperity to countries such as China – which adds billions of watts of coal fired power to its grid each year. CO2 emissions have continued to rise.
The architects of such policies know they have failed, but they have no alternative except more of the same. Maybe it’s because their argument is weak that they resort to climate McCarthyism. The cost, apart from higher energy bills, is to democracy, and free speech.
How did the IPCC’s alarmism take everyone in for so long?
Climate scaremongers are still twisting the evidence over global warming
When future generations come to look back on the alarm over global warming that seized the world towards the end of the 20th century, much will puzzle them as to how such a scare could have arisen. They will wonder why there was such a panic over a 0.4 per cent rise in global temperatures between 1975 and 1998, when similar rises between 1860 and 1880 and 1910 and 1940 had given no cause for concern. They will see these modest rises as just part of a general warming that began at the start of the 19th century, as the world emerged from the Little Ice Age, when the Earth had grown cooler for 400 years.
They will be struck by the extent to which this scare relied on the projections of computer models, which then proved to be hopelessly wrong when, in the years after 1998, their predicted rise in temperature came virtually to a halt. But in particular they will be amazed by the almost religious reverence accorded to that strange body, the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which by then will be recognised as having never really been a scientific body at all, but a political pressure group. It had been set up in the 1980s by a small band of politically persuasive scientists who had become fanatically committed to the belief that, because carbon dioxide levels were rising, global temperatures must inevitably follow; an assumption that the evidence would increasingly show was mistaken.
Five times between 1990 and 2014 the IPCC published three massive volumes of technical reports – another emerged last week – and each time we saw the same pattern. Each was supposedly based on thousands of scientific studies, many funded to find evidence to support the received view that man-made climate change was threatening the world with disaster – hurricanes, floods, droughts, melting ice, rising sea levels and the rest. But each time what caught the headlines was a brief “Summary for Policymakers”, carefully crafted by governments and a few committed scientists to hype up the scare by going much further than was justified by the thousands of pages in the technical reports themselves.
Each time it would emerge just how shamelessly these Summaries had distorted the actual evidence, picking out the scary bits, which themselves often turned out not to have been based on proper science at all. The most glaring example was the IPCC’s 2007 report, which hit the headlines with those wildly alarmist predictions that the Himalayan glaciers might all be gone by 2035; that global warming could halve African crop yields by 2050; that droughts would destroy 40 per cent of the Amazon rainforest. Not until 2010 did some of us manage to show that each of these predictions, and many more, came not from genuine scientific studies but from scaremongering propaganda produced by green activists and lobby groups (shown by one exhaustive analysis to make up nearly a third of all the IPCC’s sources).
Most of the particularly alarmist predictions came from a report by the IPCC’s Working Group II. This was concerned with assessing the impact on the world of those changes to the climate predicted by the equally flawed computer models relied on by Working Group I, which was charged with assessing the science of climate change. The technical report published last week was its sequel, also from Working Group II, and we can at once see, from its much more cautious treatment of the subjects that caused such trouble last time, that they knew they couldn’t afford any repeat of that disaster.
Looking at the Summary for Policymakers, however, we see how the scaremongers are still playing their same old game. On pages 12-14, for instance, they are still trying to whip up fears about extreme weather events, killer heatwaves, vanishing tropical islands, massive crop failures and so on, although little of this is justified by the report itself, and even less by the evidence of the real world, where these things are no more happening as predicted than the temperature rises predicted by their computer models.
This latest report has aroused markedly less excitement than did its hysterical predecessor in 2007. They have cried wolf once too often. The only people still being wholly taken in, it seems – apart from the usual suspects in the media – are all those mindless politicians still babbling on about how in Paris next year they are finally going to get that great global agreement which, if only we put up enough wind farms and taxes, will somehow enable us to stop the climate changing.
They can dream on. But alas, the rest of us must still pay the price for their dreams.
If the goal is “energy independence,” what issues should be a priority in America?
Recently the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) sent out a “2014 Priority Issues Survey.” In addition to the obligatory Tea Party bashing: “help the Democrats protect the progress we have made from Tea Party radicals, deliver the positive changes America needs and help Democrats win a Majority in the U.S. House of Representatives!” and the fundraising requests to “help protect House Democrats against Republican attacks”—there is a section on energy.
Section VII, asks: “Which of the following will help America achieve energy independence?” It offers five options that do little to move America toward energy independence—which isn’t even a realistic goal given the fungible nature of liquid fuels. Additionally, most of the choices given on the DCCC survey actually increase energy costs for all Americans—serving as a hidden tax—but hurt those on the lower end of the socio-economic scale the most. The proposals hurt the very people the party purports to champion.
The survey asks respondents to “check all that apply.”
-Raising gas mileage standards for all new cars and trucks
This choice presumes that making a law requiring something will make it happen. Sorry, not even the Democrats have that kind of power. Even the current Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) Standard of 54.5 miles per gallon (mpg) by 2025—finalized on August 28, 2012 and called “the largest mandatory fuel economy increase in history”—will be tough to hit.
The CAFE standards mean that a carmaker's passenger vehicle fleet average must achieve 54.5 mpg. To meet that, and produce the big pick-up trucks and SUVs Americans like to drive, the manufacturers must also produce the little itty-bitty cars with mpg above 60 and the more expensive hybrids (not one of which was on the top ten best-seller list for 2013)—or have a loss leader like the Chevy Volt to help bring down the average.
Suggesting a forced raising of gas mileage standards implies that auto manufacturers are in collusion with oil companies and are intentionally producing gas guzzlers to force Americans into buying lots of gasoline.
With the price of gasoline wavering between $3-4.00 a gallon, most people are very conscious of their fuel expenditures. If it were technologically possible to build a cost-effective truck or SUV that had the size and safety Americans want and that got 50 mpg, that manufacturer would have the car-buying public beating a path to its door. Every car company would love to be the one to corner that market—but it is not easy, it probably won’t be possible, and it surely won’t be cheap.
When the new standards were introduced in November 2011, Edmonds.com did an analysis of the potential impact: 6 Ways New CAFE Standards Could Affect You. The six points include cost and safety and highlights some concerns that are not obvious at first glance.
Achieving the higher mileage will require new technologies that include, according to Edmunds, “turbochargers and new generations of multispeed automatic transmissions to battery-electric powertrains.” The National Highway Traffic Saftey Administration and the Environmental Protection Agencyhave estimated that the average new car will cost $2,000 extra by 2025 because of the proposed new fuel-efficiency standards.
Additionally, new materials will have to be used, such as the proposed new Ford F-150 made with aluminum, which is predicted to add $1500 over steel to the cost of a new truck. Aluminum also complicates both the manufacturing and repair processes. Edmunds reports: “Insurance costs could rise, both because of the increased cost of cars and the anticipated hike in collision repair costs associated with the greater use of the plastics, lightweight alloys and aluminum necessary for lighter, more fuel-efficient vehicles. (Plastics, lightweight alloys and aluminum are all more difficult than steel to repair.)”
Another concern is safety. “The use of weight-saving materials will not only affect repair costs but could make newer vehicles more susceptible to damage in collisions with older, heavier vehicles, especially SUVs and pickups. Their occupants could be at a safety disadvantage.”
One of the subtle consequences of high mileage vehicles is the probable increase in taxes. Edmunds points out that lower driving cost may increase wear-and-tear on the nation’s highway system as consumers drive more freely. “Declining gas sales mean a further decrease in already inadequate fuel-tax revenue used to pay for road and infrastructure repair and improvement. … As more untaxed alternative fuels such as compressed natural gas and electricity are used for transportation, fuel tax revenue falls even farther. All of this is likely to lead to calls for a road tax based on miles driven and not the type of fuel used.”
Instead of increasing costs by forcing a higher mpg, a free-market encourages manufacturers to produce the cars the customers want. The Wall Street Journal story on the Ford F-150s points out: “In 2004, as the auto market soared, Ford sold a record 939,511 F-series pickups. That amounted to 5.5% of the entire U.S. vehicle market. But four years later, gas prices rose above $4 a gallon, sales of pickups began tumbling.” Then, consumers wanted small cars with better mileage. I often quote an ad for Hyundai I once saw. As I recall, it said: “It’s not that complicated. If gas costs a lot of money, we’ll produce cars that use less of it.”
In response to an article in US News on the 5.45-mpg CAFE standard, a reader commented: “ALL CAFE regulations should be repealed. Let the market and fuel prices decide what vehicles are purchased. The federal government should not be forcing mileage standards down the throats of the automaker or the consumers. This is still America, right?”
-Develop Renewable Energy Sources
There is nothing inherently wrong with the idea renewable energy. However, the cost factor is one of the biggest problems. When I do radio interviews, people often call in and point out Germany’s renewable energy success story: “The share of renewable electricity in Germany rose from 6% to nearly 25% in only ten years.” While that may be true, it doesn’t address the results: “Rising energy costs are becoming a problem for more and more citizens in Germany. Just from 2008 to 2011 the share of energy-poor households in the Federal Republic jumped from 13.8 to 17 percent.”
Germany has been faced with a potential exodus of industry as a result of its high energy costs. For example, in February, BASF, the world’s biggest chemical maker by sales, announced that for the first time, it “will make the most of its capital investments outside Europe.” According to the Financial Times, Kurt Bock, BASF chief executive explained: “In Europe we have the most expensive energy and we are not prepared to exploit the energy resources we have, such as shale gas.”
Throughout America people are beginning to feel the escalating costs of the forced renewable energy utility companies are required to add as a result of Renewable Portfolio Standards that more than half of the states passed nearly a decade ago.
But the cost is not where I take issue with the DCCC’s inclusion of “Developing renewable energy sources” in its survey. The survey question is about achieving “energy independence.”
In preparation for writing this column, I posted this question on my Facebook page: If the goal is “energy independence,” what issues should be a priority in America? The first answer posted was: “Smart grid and fast ramp natural gas turbines.” Another offered: “High efficiency appliances and lights. I am a LED FAN!” Yet, another: “Solar, tidal, water.” Bzzzzzzt, all wrong answers.
All of the above suggestions are about electricity. The U.S. is already electricity independent. We have enough coal and uranium under our soil to provide for our electrical needs for the next several centuries. Add to that America’s newfound abundance of natural gas and we are set indefinitely. By the time we might run out of fuel for electricity, new technologies will have been developed based on something totally different, and, I believe, something that no one is even thinking about today.
Developing more “solar, tidal, water” or wind energy won’t “help America achieve energy independence.” Nor will a smart grid or natural gas turbines. High efficiency appliances or LED light bulbs won’t either.
-Encouraging consumer and industrial conservation
Consumers are already feeling the pinch of higher energy costs—both electricity and liquid fuels. When possible, people are restricting driving by taking a stay-cation rather than a traditional vacation. Many people who can afford the option are switching to more energy-efficient light bulbs.
As the BASF story above makes clear, most industry is energy intensive. In the story about the Ford F-150’s use of aluminum, the WSJ says that the new manufacturing process requires “powerful and electricity-hungry vacuums.” Industry cannot stay in business without profit. Therefore, in interest of preservation, energy conservation is virtually an instinct.
The cost of energy drives conservation.
Including this question in the survey is a red herring that would lead the respondent to think conservation is a big issue.
-Investing in energy efficient technology
When the word “investing” is used in reference to a government document or program, it always means spending taxpayer dollars. In a time of ongoing economic stress, we don’t need to borrow more money to spend it on something of questionable impact on energy independence.
Remember, much of the “efficiency” numbers bandied about refer to electricity, which has nothing to do with energy independence. Energy.gov states: “Every year, much of the energy the U.S. consumes is wasted through transmission, heat loss and inefficient technology…Energy efficiency is one of the easiest and most cost effective ways to … improve the competitiveness of our businesses and reduce energy costs for consumers. The Department of Energy is working with universities, businesses and the National Labs to develop new, energy-efficient technologies while boosting the efficiency of current technologies on the market.” Among the “solutions” presented on the page are “developing a more efficient air conditioner” and “a new smart sensor developed by NREL researchers that could help commercial buildings save on lighting and ventilation costs.” Nothing is offered that will actually impact energy independence.
-Increasing offshore drilling and oil exploration in wilderness areas
Respondents are discouraged from selecting the one item on the list that could actually lead to “energy independence” by the inclusion of the words “offshore” and “wilderness areas”—as if those are the only places drilling could take place.
Yes, we should increase exploration and drilling—and, while there are risks, it can be, and has been, done safely in offshore and wilderness areas. But there are vast resources available on federal lands that are either locked up or are under a de facto ban due to the slow-walking of drilling permits.
Instead of phrasing the choice “Increasing offshore drilling and oil exploration in wilderness areas,” if the goal is energy independence, the option should have read: “Release America’s vast energy resources by expediting permitting on federal lands.”
While the options on the DCCC survey, even if a respondent checked them all, will do little to “help America achieve energy independence,” the survey didn’t include any choices that could really make a difference in America’s reliance on oil from hostile sources.
Some selections that would indicate a true desire to see America freed from OPEC’s grip should include:
-Approving the Keystone pipeline;
-Revising the Endangered Species Act so that it isn’t used to block American Energy Development;
-Encouraging the use of Compressed Natural Gas as a transportation fuel in passenger vehicles and commercial trucks;
-Expediting permitting for exploration and drilling on federal lands;
-Opening up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge; and
-Cutting red tape and duplicative regulations to encourage development.
The fact that not one of these options that would truly make a difference was included belies the ideology of the Democrat Party. Its goals do not include energy independence. Instead it wants to continue the crony corruption that has become the hallmark of the Obama Administration as evidenced by Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz’s April 2 announcement that: “the department would probably throw open the door for new applications for renewable energy project loan guarantees during the second quarter of this year.”
Like the Ukraine, until there is a change at the top, the U.S. will likely remain dependent on the whims of countries who want to use energy as a weapon of control. The goal should be energy freedom.
New paper finds sea surface temperatures were controlled by natural 60-year climate cycle during 20th century
A paper published today in Theoretical and Applied Climatology finds that the natural 60-year climate cycle explains both the abrupt warming shifts of sea surface temperatures in 1925/1926 and 1987/1988 [60 years apart], as well as the remaining temperature variability during the last century.
According to the authors, "warming of sea surface temperatures (SST) since 1900, did not occur smoothly and slowly, but with two rapid shifts in 1925/1926 and 1987/1988," but that "apart from these shifts, most of the remaining SST variability can be explained by the El Niño Southern Oscillation and the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO)."
The authors find "the timing of these two SST shifts (the natural 60 year cycle ) corresponds well to the quasi-periodicity of many natural cycles, like that of the PDO, the global and Northern Hemisphere annual mean temperature, the Atlantic Multi-decadal Oscillation, the Inter-Tropical Convergence Zone, the Southwest US Drought data, the length of day, the air surface temperature, the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation and the change in the location of the centre of mass of the solar system" and that the characteristics of these two abrupt shifts are "frequently encountered in a large variety of natural systems."
Evidence for two abrupt warming events of SST in the last century
Authors: Varotsos, Costas et al.
We have recently suggested that the warming in the sea surface temperature (SST) since 1900, did not occur smoothly and slowly, but with two rapid shifts in 1925/1926 and 1987/1988, which are more obvious over the tropics and the northern midlatitudes. Apart from these shifts, most of the remaining SST variability can be explained by the El Niño Southern Oscillation and the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO).
Here, we provide evidence that the timing of these two SST shifts (around 60 years) corresponds well to the quasi-periodicity of many natural cycles, like that of the PDO, the global and Northern Hemisphere annual mean temperature, the Atlantic Multi-decadal Oscillation, the Inter-Tropical Convergence Zone, the Southwest US Drought data, the length of day, the air surface temperature, the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation and the change in the location of the centre of mass of the solar system.
In addition, we show that there exists a strong seasonal link between SST and ENSO over the tropics and the NH midlatitudes, which becomes stronger in autumn of the Northern Hemisphere.
Finally, we found that before and after each SST shift, the intrinsic properties of the SST time series obey stochastic dynamics, which is unaffected by the modulation of these two shifts. In particular, the SST fluctuations for the time period between the two SST shifts exhibit 1/f-type long-range correlations, which are frequently encountered in a large variety of natural systems. Our results have potential implications for future climate shifts and crossing tipping points due to an interaction of intrinsic climate cycles and anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions.
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.
Preserving the graphics: Most graphics on this site are hotlinked from elsewhere. But hotlinked graphics sometimes have only a short life -- as little as a week in some cases. After that they no longer come up. 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 or here
Posted by JR at 12:42 AM