Thursday, July 10, 2014

High quality NOAA Data Show U.S. in Decade-Long Cooling

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s most accurate, up-to-date temperature data confirm the United States has been cooling for at least the past decade. The NOAA temperature data are driving a stake through the heart of alarmists claiming accelerating global warming.

Responding to widespread criticism that its temperature station readings were corrupted by poor siting issues and suspect adjustments, NOAA established a network of 114 pristinely sited temperature stations spread out fairly uniformly throughout the United States. Because the network, known as the U.S. Climate Reference Network (USCRN), is so uniformly and pristinely situated, the temperature data require no adjustments to provide an accurate nationwide temperature record. USCRN began compiling temperature data in January 2005. Now, nearly a decade later, NOAA has finally made the USCRN temperature readings available.

According to the USCRN temperature readings, U.S. temperatures are not rising at all – at least not since the network became operational 10 years ago. Instead, the United States has cooled by approximately 0.4 degrees Celsius, which is more than half of the claimed global warming of the twentieth century.

Of course, 10 years is hardly enough to establish a long-term trend. Nevertheless, the 10-year cooling period does present some interesting facts.

First, global warming is not so dramatic and uniform as alarmists claim. For example, prominent alarmist James Hansen claimed in 2010, “Global warming on decadal time scales is continuing without letup … effectively illustrat[ing] the monotonic and substantial warming that is occurring on decadal time scales.” The word “monotonic” means, according to Merriam-Webster Online, “having the property either of never increasing or of never decreasing as the values of the independent variable or the subscripts of the terms increase.” Well, either temperatures are decreasing by 0.4 degrees Celsius every decade or they are not monotonic.

Second, for those who may point out U.S. temperatures do not equate to global temperatures, the USCRN data are entirely consistent with – and indeed lend additional evidentiary support for – the global warming stagnation of the past 17-plus years. While objective temperature data show there has been no global warming since sometime last century, the USCRN data confirm this ongoing stagnation in the United States, also.

Third, the USCRN data debunk claims that rising U.S. temperatures caused wildfires, droughts, or other extreme weather events during the past year. The objective data show droughts, wildfires, and other extreme weather events have become less frequent and severe in recent decades as our planet modestly warms. But even ignoring such objective data, it is difficult to claim global warming is causing recent U.S. droughts and wildfires when U.S. temperatures are a full 0.4 degrees Celsius colder than they were in 2005.

Even more importantly than the facts above, the USCRN provides the promise of reliable nationwide temperature data for years to come. No longer will global warming alarmists be able to hide behind thinly veiled excuses to doctor the U.S. temperature record. Now, thanks to the USCRN, the data are what the data are.

Expect global warming alarmists, now and for the foreseeable future, to howl in desperation claiming the USCRN temperature data are irrelevant.

Of course, to global warming alarmists, all real-world data are irrelevant.


Less than Half of Americans Say Humans Causing Global Warming

A newly released poll by the Pew Research Center reveals a majority of Americans believe either there is no solid evidence of recent global warming or recent global warming is caused by nature rather than human activity. According to the poll, merely 40 percent of Americans believe there is solid evidence of recent global warming and such warming is caused primarily by humans.

Looking more closely at the numbers, 61 percent say there is solid evidence the Earth is warming while 35 percent say there is no such solid evidence. Within the 61 percent saying there is solid evidence of warming, 40 percent say humans are likely the cause, while 18 percent say nature is the cause and 3 percent are unsure.

According to Pew, political liberals constitute the only group saying global warming is occurring and humans are the primary cause. The poll’s results show those same political liberals believe by overwhelming margins that politicians should “do whatever it takes to protect the environment.”

The same poll shows Americans support building the Keystone XL pipeline by a margin of 61 percent to 27 percent.


Salvation and Conservation, or Ruination and Confiscation?

“I’ve preserved more than 3 million acres of public lands for future generations, and I am not finished,” President Obama proudly declared before signing a proclamation newly designating the 500,000-acre Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument in New Mexico in mid-May. “I’m searching for more opportunities to preserve federal lands where communities are speaking up, because wherever I see an opening to get things done for the American people, I’m going to take it.”

In the perfect centrally-planned fantasy world inhabited by Obama and his fellow Big-Government progressives, politicized and top-down bureaucratic control really is the smartest and most effective means for ensuring proficient environmental stewardship and preserving our natural heritage for future generations.

But back here in the real world, Big Government simply isn’t getting the job done.

Passed at the height of the progressive movement in 1905, the Antiquities Act empowers the executive to unilaterally declare public landmarks and assign the federal government with the seemingly simple and innocuous task of environmental preservation.

Back in March, the president used the act to designate more than 1,600 acres along the Northern California coast as the Point Arena-Stornetta Public Lands. And in March of last year, he used the act to “protect” more than 240,000 acres as the Rio Grande del Norte National Monument, also in New Mexico. And all of this despite the fact that the National Park Service (which only directly manages about 15 percent of all federal lands) already has an estimated deferred maintenance backlog of at least $12 billion.

Deferred maintenance projects include repairs for roads, bridges, hiking trails, sewer systems, and pollution controls which go unaddressed while the fate of our national parks and natural resources are often left to await the mercy of political and fiscal decisions in Washington, D.C.

The federal government already owns almost a third of the entire surface area of the United States, but is constantly in a position to acquire more through the Land and Water Conservation Fund, a funding mechanism derived mostly from offshore oil and gas leases and used as a means for the federal government to grab more land without having to also provide for the funds to steward its existing lands. Obama’s 2014 budget asked that Congress fully fund the LWCF to the tune of $900 million, never mind that it is egregiously irresponsible for the federal government to be in the business of growing the federal estate when it cannot even properly manage the land that it already owns.

It can be quite politically difficult for opponents to argue against any executive action that gets to use something as apparently innocuous as environmental conservation as its ostensible mission statement, and don’t progressive environmentalist know it!

For decades, litigious environmentalist groups have used the growing reams of regulations governing the federal estate to go to court to steer public-land management and policy decisions in the direction that they prefer. That direction reliably means pushing land-use policies away from the sort of dynamism and innovation that allows for diversified, productive uses like cattle grazing, timber harvesting, energy development, and even recreation, and usually toward shutting off entire areas from human use on the supposed behalf of the desert tortoise or the sage grouse or some other almost-approaching- endangered species.

Clinton-era U.S. Forest Service chief Jack Ward Thomas once noted that court battles have tied the agency into a

“Gordian knot” that creates a “vicious cycle of increasing costs, time delays, and inability to carry out management actions.” As a result, the Forest Service is severely limited in their forest- thinning and other fire-suppression activities. This has led to catastrophic wildfires that have ravaged the arid West.

Instead of bringing still more lands under the inept umbrella of top-down management, the federal government needs to start selling off federal lands, both for the sake of the environment and the budget (and if that seems a bridge too far for too many, then the Obama administration can at least open up the federal estate to innovative, more free-market techniques like commercial leasing or public-private park partnerships that can actually generate revenue and court management decision from the people on-the-ground with the most complete knowledge).

Big-Government-loving environmentalist types are all too happy to accept on faith that the federal government is the best possible steward of environmental quality across the American landscape, rather than the hotbed of inefficiency, incompetence, and increasing costliness that ruins ecosystems, restricts access, dampers rural economies, and runs up the national deficit that it actually is



The corporation now seems to take its orders from the green lobby and is generating alarm over the environment

The BBC’s behaviour grows ever more bizarre. Committed by charter to balanced reporting, it has now decided formally that it was wrong to allow balance in a debate between rival guesses about the future. In rebuking itself for having had the gall to interview Nigel Lawson on the Today programme about climate change earlier this year, it issued a statement containing this gem: “Lord Lawson’s views are not supported by the evidence from computer modelling and scientific research.”

The evidence from computer modelling? The phrase is an oxymoron. A model cannot, by definition, provide evidence: it can provide a prediction to test against real evidence. In the debate in question, Lord Lawson said two things: it was not possible to attribute last winter’s heavy rain to climate change with any certainty, and the global surface temperature has not warmed in the past 15 to 17 years. He was right about both, as his debate opponent, Sir Brian Hoskins, confirmed.

As for the models, here is what Dr Vicky Pope of the Met Office said in 2007 about what their models predicted: “By 2014, we’re predicting that we’ll be 0.3 degrees warmer than 2004. Now just to put that into context, the warming over the past century and a half has only been 0.7 degrees, globally . . . So 0.3 degrees, over the next ten years, is pretty significant . . . These are very strong statements about what will happen over the next ten years.”

In fact, global surface temperature, far from accelerating upwards, has cooled slightly in the ten years since 2004 on most measures. The Met Office model was out by a country mile. But the BBC thinks that it was wrong even to allow somebody to challenge the models, even somebody who has written a bestselling book on climate policy, held one of the highest offices of state and founded a think-tank devoted to climate change policy. The BBC regrets even staging a live debate between him and somebody who disagrees with him, in which he was robustly challenged by the excellent Justin Webb (of these pages).

And why, pray, does the BBC think this? Because it had a complaint from a man it coyly describes as a “low-energy expert”, Mr Chit Chong, who accused Lord Lawson of saying on the programme that climate change was “all a conspiracy”.

Lawson said nothing of the kind, as a transcript shows. Mr Chong’s own curriculum vitae boasts that he “has been active in the Green party for 25 years and was the first Green councillor to be elected in London”, and that he “has a draught-proofing and insulation business in Dorset and also works as an environmental consultant”.

So let’s recap. On the inaccurate word of an activist politician with a vested financial and party interest, the BBC has decided that henceforth nobody must be allowed to criticise predictions of the future on which costly policies are based. No more appearances for Ed Balls, then, because George Osborne’s models must go unchallenged.

By the way, don’t bother to write and tell me that Lord Lawson is not a scientist. The BBC also rebuked itself last week for allowing an earth scientist with dissenting views on to Radio 4. Professor Bob Carter was head of the department of earth sciences at James Cook University in Australia for 17 years. He’s published more than 100 papers mainly in the field of paleoclimatology. So bang goes that theory.

The background to this is that the BBC recently spent five years fighting a pensioner named Tony Newbery, including four days in court with six lawyers, to prevent Mr Newbery seeing the list of 28 participants at a BBC seminar in 2006 of what it called “the best scientific experts” on climate change.

This was the seminar that persuaded the BBC it should no longer be balanced in its coverage of climate change. A blogger named Maurizio Morabito then found the list on the internet anyway. Far from consisting of the “best scientific experts” it included just three scientists, the rest being green activists, with a smattering of Dave Spart types from the church, the government and the insurance industry.

Following that debacle, the BBC commissioned a report from a geneticist, Steve Jones, which it revisited in a further report to the BBC Trust last week. The Jones report justified a policy of banning sceptics under the term “false balance”. This takes the entirely sensible proposition that reporters do not have to, say, interview a member of the Flat Earth Society every time they mention a round-the-world yacht race, and stretches it to the climate debate.

Which is barmy for two blindingly obvious reasons: first, the UN’s own climate projections contain a range of outcomes from harmless to catastrophic, so there is clearly room for debate; and second, this is an argument about the future not the present, and you cannot have certainty about the future.

The BBC bends over backwards to give air time to minority campaigners on matters such as fracking, genetically modified crops, and alternative medicine. Biologists who thinks GM crops are dangerous, doctors who thinks homeopathy works and engineers who think fracking has contaminated aquifers are far rarer than climate sceptics. Yet Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth spokesmen are seldom out of Broadcasting House.

So the real reason for the BBC’s double standard becomes clear: dissent in the direction of more alarm is always encouraged; dissent in the direction of less alarm is to be suppressed.

I sense that some presenters are growing irritated by their bosses’ willingness to take orders from the green movement.


Liberal Mega-Donor Wants to ‘Penalize People’ Who Add to ‘Climate Risk’

Speaking in New York City last week, Wall Street billionaire Tom Steyer outlined his vision for penalizing people whose actions may contribute to climate change.

“We need to reward people whose behavior reduces climate risk and penalize people who add to it,” Steyer said. “If we can get this right, I think there’s no doubt that our economy is going to continue to do very well.”

Steyer’s comments came at an event with several wealthy businessmen—such as former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg and former bankers and government officials Hank Paulson and Robert Reich—to unveil a report from Risky Business, an economic analysis of the financial impact to be caused by climate change.

Deemed the “liberal answer to the Koch Brothers,” Steyer is one of the richest businessman in America and played a key part in raising millions of dollars to elect President Obama in 2008 once Hillary Clinton lost the Democratic nomination.

Steyer met with Obama this week to discuss what the White House could do to tackle climate change, and the “insurance industry’s role in helping American communities prepare for extreme weather and other impacts of climate change,” according to Reuters.

That points to a plan to allow insurance companies to begin assessing for “climate risk” in certain industries, a more market-focused approach to discourage industries from emitting large amounts of carbon dioxide.

Some of the people who may be “penalized” for adding to climate risks, however, are workers in plants and factories all over the rust belt of the United States. Although they recognize the need to mitigate the effects of climate change, some believe this shouldn’t come to the detriment of industries and traditional blue-collar workers.

“It is a fact that global warming threatens our planet. Scientists are as certain of this as they are of the dangers of smoking or riding in a car without a seatbelt,” said Tony Montana, spokesman for the local United Steelworkers union in Pittsburgh. “Declaring ‘war’ on entire industries, such as coal, oil, or natural gas, however, is not the answer. These industries created and supported a way of life for workers and their communities for generations.”

If the idea of penalizing carbon emitters eventually makes it to the political process, Steyer has assured he will have allies in the fight.

NextGen Climate Action, a multi-million dollar political action committee funded by Steyer, has already beefed up the Democratic Senate Majority PAC with more than $5 million in hopes of guaranteeing the issue of climate change remains a political issue in many key states. Key union groups have similarly received funding by Steyer.


More taxpayer dollars for green energy?

There is an intentional tension in Washington. Our founding fathers planned that opposing views would balance each other out — a push-pull takes place. Spend. Don’t spend.

This tug-of-war is seen, perhaps most obviously, in the so-called renewable energy field. After Solyndra, and the more than fifty other stimulus-funded green energy projects that have failed or are circling the drain, the public has grown weary, and wary, of any more spending on green energy. The money isn’t there to spend and the motive behind the 2009 rush to push billions of taxpayer dollars out through the Department of Energy has been tainted by corruption and illegal activity.

The green-energy emphasis was sold as a job creator for unemployed Americans, as a cure for global warming, and a way to slow a perceived energy shortage. It sounded so positive in the many speeches President Obama gave as a sales pitch to the American public.

Today, Americans know better.

They knew about Solyndra — which took millions and then folded. Thanks, in large part to my exposĂ©, many now know about Abengoa and the Solana solar project—which took billions of tax-payer dollars and is now functioning and producing electricity but does so by breaking immigration and labor laws, giving foreigners hiring preference, and stiffing American suppliers.

Watching multiple predictions fail and proponents get rich, Americans instinctively know that the whole global warming agenda doesn’t add up — as evidenced by this week’s International Conference on Climate Change where more than 600 “skeptics” from around the world gather to discuss real science and policy.

With headlines heralding: “North Dakota has joined the ranks of the few places in the world that produce more than a million barrels of oil per day,” people know there isn’t an energy shortage. And America’s new energy abundance is on top of our rich reserves of coal and uranium that can provide for our electrical needs for centuries to come.

Yet, the White House keeps pushing the green-energy narrative and, on July 3, 2014, “The Energy Department Just Announced $4 Billion For Projects That Fight Global Warming,” as the headline reads at

Wind Energy and the Production Tax Credit

Simmering just below the headlines is the push-pull over the Production Tax Credit (PTC) for Wind energy that expired at the end of 2013.

A recent study from the Institute for Energy Research (IER) that examined the state-by-state burden of the PTC, called the PTC “an amazing subsidy” because it can “effectively give a utility a bigger subsidy than the actual market price. It would be as if Uncle Sam allowed car dealers to knock off $60,000 from their tax bill for every $50,000 car they sold. Indeed, the PTC is so generous that it can result in negative wholesale electricity prices.” The “Sharing the Burden of the Wind PTC” report shows which states benefit most from the federal subsidy and which lose—with Texas being the biggest winner having received $394 million in the form of PTC credits.

Texans might be elated at their good fortune, however the IER study points out that individual consumers “still lose from the existence of the wind subsidies.” It states: “it’s not as if the IRS takes the population of Texas and divides $394 million among them, evenly. Rather, the wind subsidies are concentrated in the hands of a small group of wind producers.” As a result, wind serves as a tax shelter for large corporations.

On June 26, wind energy proponents — including pages of signatories who benefit financially from the tax credit — sent a letter to the top Congressional leaders urging them to “support the immediate passage of the Expiring Provisions Improvement Reform and Efficiency (EXPIRE) Act.”

On the other side, citizens, like Mary Kay Barton of New York, are sending their elected federal representatives letters asking them not to support a PTC extension as proposed in EXPIRE. She sent a letter to Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) and he sent one back to her.

Schumer opens: “Thank you for writing to express your opposition to tax credits, and subsidies for alternative energy. I share your opposition to unsuccessful and unnecessary subsides.”

He then goes into a long paragraph about his effort to put an “end to subsidies for huge oil companies” and brags about being a “cosponsor of S.940, the Close Big Oil Tax Loopholes Act, which would roll back huge subsidies and tax credit for large oil companies.” Green energy supporters, such as Schumer, like to mix the terms “subsidies” and “tax credits” with “tax deductions” — when they are completely different. A subsidy, or loan guarantee, and tax credit involves taxpayer dollars being doled out—or taxes not collected — to incentivize a favored activity. This is not how America’s oil-and-gas producers are treated. They do, however, receive tax deductions — like any other business — that allow them to write of losses and the cost of doing business against income. Additionally, as the New York Times, in a story about corporate tax rates, reported last year: “Large oil companies typically pay high rates.”  It shows that the average tax rate among companies is roughly 29 percent, while “large oil companies” are paying 37 percent and utility companies that “benefited from the 2009 stimulus bill, which included tax breaks,” have an “overall” rate of 12 percent.

In response to Barton’s letter about ending the PTC for industrial wind, Schumer continues: “I believe that it is necessary to balance our country’s increasing energy needs with the need to protect the environment. We must also focus on renewable energy and energy conservation in order to meet our growing energy demands. According to one study, if the U.S. increases its efficiency by 2.2 percent per year, it could reduce foreign oil imports by more than 50 percent. Such actions would not only reduce our dependence on foreign oil but would also safeguard the environment.”

Barton told me: “You’ll note that Senator Schumer still seems to think that subsidies for wind energy (electricity) will somehow ‘reduce foreign imports,’ and then references increasing ‘efficiency’ in response to a letter about inefficient, unreliable wind?” She’s picked up on one of my favorite soapboxes: we could cover every available acre with wind turbines and solar panels and it would do nothing to “reduce our dependence on foreign oil” or increase America’s energy independence. Wind and solar produce electricity and, through our coal, natural gas, and uranium supplies, we are already electricity independent. We import oil to fuel our transportation fleet.

As the fight over the PTC points out, wind energy cannot survive without the tax credits.

High Cost, Low Benefit

Wind energy is also more expensive than almost all other electricity sources — only solar is higher. A new study from the Brookings Institute on the “best path to a low-carbon future,” assumes that CO2 emissions are causing climate change and therefore must be reduced. It analyzes the costs and benefits of the most common solutions. The study found: “Adding up the net energy cost and the net capacity cost of the five low-carbon alternatives, far and away the most expensive is solar. It costs almost 19 cents more per KWH than power from the coal or gas plants that it displaces. Wind power is the second most expensive. It costs nearly 6 cents more per KWH.” The study puts these additional costs in context: “The average cost of electricity to U.S. consumers in 2012 was 9.84 cents per KWH, including the cost of transmission and distribution of electricity. This means a new wind plant could at least cost 50 percent more per KWH to produce electricity, and a new solar plant at least 200 percent more per KWH, than using coal and gas technologies.” The study concludes: “renewable incentives that are biased in favor of wind and solar and biased against large-scale hydro, nuclear and gas combined cycle are a very expensive and inefficient way to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.”

Wind energy proponents cling to the idea that we must reduce fossil fuel use and believe, therefore, that the extra cost is worth it. However, because of the intermittency issues with wind and the reliability demand from the consumer, it requires fully dispatchable back-up power generation. Natural gas is the best form of back up because it can be easily adjusted to produce more or less electricity — however the constant adjustment results in less efficient use and more CO2 emissions.

I like to explain the preference for natural-gas back ups this way. Suppose you are going to cook a hamburger. You can cook it over charcoal or natural gas/propane. To use charcoal, you mound up the charcoal in the grill, soak it in lighter fluid, and toss in a match. You then wait 30 minutes for the coals to get nice and hot. Once hot, you put on your burger and cook it for 5-8 minutes. You remove your burger and leave the coals to die down — which could take several hours. On natural gas/propane, you simply turn it on and light the grill. After giving it 5 minutes to heat up, you toss on your burger. When your burger is cooked, you turn off the grill, and it is cool in minutes.

Natural gas is the preferred back up for wind (and solar) energy because, as in the burger example, its production can more easily be increased and decreased to follow the needed output — even though it operates most efficiently at a consistent level. Coal-fueled electricity generation cannot be simply turned up and down.

By way of answering the question: “Why are the costs of wind and solar so much higher, and the benefits not much different from other low-carbon alternatives?” the Brookings study states: “The benefits of reduced emissions from wind and solar are limited because they operate at peak capacity only a fraction of the time.”

It’s Not Just About the Money

If cost issues weren’t enough to make you a wind energy opponent, think of the health issues.

In late June, the American Bird Conservancy (ABC) took President Obama up on his “so sue me” challenge and filed a lawsuit over his administration’s modification of the 1940 Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act that now allows wind energy producers a thirty year permit to kill the majestic birds. According to ABC spokesman Bob Johns, “the Obama administration has gone too far with incentives for the wind industry.” The Washington Times quotes Johns: “Since the 1980s, wind turbines have killed an estimated 2,000-3,000 eagles, but the industry has paid only one fine.”

Wind turbines hurt more than birds. On June 16, a Michigan judge agreed with residents who live near the 56-turbine Lake Winds facility and who complained of health problems that began just after the turbines began operating. A lawsuit filed on April 1, 2013 argued that noise, vibrations, and flickering lights emanating from Lake Winds were adversely affecting their health.

Cape Wind

Despite these, and other harmful impacts — which include a loss of property values when wind turbines are installed in a neighborhood — and opposition from environmental groups and local fisherman, the Department of Energy has just approved a stimulus-funded $150 million loan guarantee for the controversial Cape Wind project planned to be built in the Nantucket Sound. Cape Wind, scheduled to begin construction in 2015, will be the first utility-scale wind facility in U.S. waters.

Addressing the loan guarantee announcement, the Boston Globe states: “Now, with a large portion of financing in place, regulatory approvals in hand, and most legal challenges resolved, the project has finally reached a threshold where it is likely to get done.” Validating my earlier point of higher cost, the Globe says the two largest utilities in Massachusetts “agreed to purchase a total of 77.5 percent of the power generated by Cape Wind at a starting price of 18.7 cents per kilowatt hour—well above typical wholesale prices.”

Like other wind energy projects, Cape Wind is dependent on the PTC extension. It is time for everyone who opposes government intervention in markets to contact his or her representatives — as Mary Kay Barton did — and voice opposition to the PTC extension. Call and say: “Stop supporting wind energy. It is an inefficient system that leads to perverse outcomes. The massive expansion of wind energy that we’ve seen in the past six years would not survive on a level playing field.”



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


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