Wednesday, November 05, 2014
'Alarmist' green groups made 'exaggerated' claims about global warming, UN climate change scientist says
Green groups have been unhelpfully “alarmist” in making the case for tackling global warming - but the world now needs to take urgent and radical action if it wants to prevent dangerous climate change, leading UN scientists have said.
Some claims that non-governmental organisations have made about climate change “have undoubtedly been exaggerated”, Professor Myles Allen, one of the lead authors of a major new report from the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) said.
“NGOs have at times been alarmist over climate change… but the IPCC has been very clear and measured throughout. I think alarmism on any issue is unhelpful.”
He suggested the alarmism had resulted in the general public getting the wrong impression about what climate change entailed.
“People think climate change is just all about melting icecaps and the Arctic, the reality is climate change is about the weather changing in many parts of the world including where many people live,” he said.
Prof Allen was speaking after the IPCC unveiled a major report warning that time is running out to prevent "irreversible and dangerous impacts" of climate change.
Ban Ki-moon, the UN secretary general, said the report showed “massive and urgent and immediate action” was required to cut greenhouse gas emissions to prevent warming of more than 2C above pre-industrial levels, the threshold regarded as dangerous.
To achieve this, global emissions must fall by at least 40 per cent by 2050 from 2010 levels, and be cut to zero – or even “negative” - by the end of the century. Negative emissions could entail huge programmes of planting forests to absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
Failure to take further action to limit greenhouse gas emissions will be more likely than not to result in warming of more than 4C above pre-industrial levels by 2100, the report warns, with “severe and pervasive” impacts including flooding, dangerous heatwaves, ill health and violent conflicts.
“The risks associated with temperatures at or above 4C include substantial species extinction, global and regional food insecurity, consequential constraints on common human activities, and limited potential for adaptation in some cases,” the report warns.
Mr Ban said he was “confident” that world leaders could agree a deal to curb emissions by a crunch summit in Paris late next year – despite widespread scepticism from many that Governments will be prepared to take as radical action as the IPCC says is needed.
Cutting emissions to keep warming within 2C would be likely to require some 80 per cent of the world’s electricity to be generated from low-carbon sources such as nuclear reactors or wind farms by 2050, up from about 30 per cent today, the report said.
By 2100 fossil fuel power generation would be “almost entirely phased out” unless power plants were fitted with ‘carbon capture and storage’ (CCS) technology to bury carbon dioxide emissions in the ground.
Despite fears over the costs of green energy, Mr Ban said it was a “myth” that tackling climate change would “cost heavily” and said the IPCC’s reports made clear that “inaction will cost much, much more”.
“Science has spoken, there is no ambiguity in their message. Leaders must act, time is not on our side,” he said.
Rajendra Pachauri, chairman of the IPCC, said there was "little time before the window of opportunity to stay within 2C of warming closes". Delaying action until even 2030 would significantly increase the costs and challenges of preventing dangerous warning, he said.
But he dismissed claims by green groups that the forecasts rendered much of the world’s oil and gas reserves “unburnable”. “I don’t think one can translate the findings into fossil fuel assets becoming redundant because with CCS it is entirely possible that fossil fuels can continue to be used on a large scale,” he said.
He warned that if the world failed to act then by the end of the century crop yields would decrease substantially. “Starvation and hunger" would become “large threats to human society”, he said. “The cost of inaction will be horrendously higher than the cost of action,” he warned.
Ed Davey, the secretary of state for energy and climate change, said: “This is the most comprehensive, thorough and robust assessment of climate change ever produced. It sends a clear message that should be heard across the world – we must act on climate change now. It’s now up to the politicians – we must safeguard the world for future generations by striking a new climate deal in Paris next year.”
Climate change is a problem. But our attempts to fix it could be worse than useless
By Bjorn Lomborg
The UN Climate Panel came out with its final report yesterday. It is a summary of its 3 main reports, published over the last year. It tells us that global warming is real and a significant problem. And as usual, the media hears something else – in the words of Mother Jones magazine, how future warming will be “ghastly, horrid, awful, shocking, grisly, gruesome.”
In between the alarmist hype and the reality of climate change we once again risk losing an opportunity to think smartly about energy and find a realistic way to fix global warming.
Fossil fuels aren't going anywhere
We need to realise that the world will not come off fossil fuels for many decades. Globally, we get a minuscule 0.3pc of our energy from solar and wind. According to the International Energy Agency, even with a wildly optimistic scenario, we will get just 3.5pc of our energy from solar and wind in 2035, while paying almost $100 billion in annual subsidies. Today, the world gets 82pc of its energy from fossil fuels, in 21 years it will still be more than 79pc.
The simple reason is that cheap and abundant energy is what powers economic growth. And for now, that means four fifths from fossil fuel, and much of the rest from water and nuclear. While wind is lower cost in a few, rural areas, coal is for the most part much cheaper, and provides power, also when the wind is not blowing.
As the poor half of our world is reaching for a similar development to that of China, they will also want much, much more power, most of it powered by coal. Even the climate-worried World Bank president accepts that "there’s never been a country that has developed with intermittent power."
Realising that fossil fuels will be here for a long time means stronger focus on moving from coal to gas, since gas emits about half the greenhouse gasses. The US shale gas revolution has reduced gas prices and lead to a significant switch from coal to gas. This has reduced US CO₂ emissions to their lowest in 20 years.
In 2012, US shale gas reduced emissions three times more than all the solar and wind in Europe. At the same time, Europe paid about $40 billion in annual subsidies for solar, while the Americans made more than $200 billion every year from the shale gas revolution. Gas is obviously still a fossil fuel and not the final solution, but it can reduce emissions over the next 10-20 years, especially if the shale revolution is expanded to China and the rest of the developing world.
Climate change is a problem - but not the biggest the world faces
Poverty, disease, poor sanitation and starvation kill more people than climate change will
While global warming will be a problem, much of the rhetoric is wildly exaggerated – like when UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon calls it “an existential challenge for the whole human race.” The IPCC finds that the total cost of climate change by 2070 is between 0.2pc and 2pc of GDP. While this is definitely a problem, it is equivalent to less than one year of recession over the next 60 years.
Global warming pales when compared to many other global problems. While the WHO estimates 250,000 annual deaths from global warming in 30 years, 4.3 million die right now each year from indoor air pollution, 800 million are starving, and 2.5 billion live in poverty and lack clean water and sanitation.
When the UN asked 5 million people for their top priorities the answers were better education and health care, less corruption, more jobs and affordable food. They placed global warming at the very last spot, as priority number 17.
Bad 'solutions' can cause more problems than they fix
Growing crops for biofuels has destroyed rainforests and driven up the cost of food
Climate policies can easily cost much more than the global warming damage will – while helping very little. The German solar adventure, which has cost taxpayers more than $130 billion, will at the end of the century just postpone global warming by a trivial 37 hours.
While a low carbon tax in theory could help a little, the political reality is that climate policies almost everywhere have been ineffective, done little good while sustaining the most wasteful technologies. The IPCC warns than less-than-perfect climate policies can be 2-4 times more expensive. Biofuels, for instance, have driven up food costs, likely causing an extra 30 million starving, with prospects of starving another 100 million by 2020. And it is likely that biofuels cause net increase in CO₂ emissions, because they force agriculture to cut down forests elsewhere to grow food.
This is why we have to be careful in pushing for the right policies. For twenty years, the refrain has been promises to cut CO₂, like the Kyoto Protocol. For twenty years these policies have failed. We should instead look to climate economics to find smarter solutions.
The fundamental problem is that green energy is too expensive, which is why it will need billions in subsidies the next two decades. Instead of making more failed promises to pay ever more subsidies, we should spend the money on research and development of the next generations of green energy sources. If we can innovate the price of green energy down below the cost of fossil fuels, everyone will switch, including China and India. Economics confirm that for every dollar spent on green R&D, we will avoid $11 of climate damage.
But this requires us to separate the hype from the real message from IPCC: global warming is a problem, but unless we fix it smartly, we won’t fix it at all.
No matter how much Tom Steyer spends, Florida isn’t buying climate disaster
The legendary bank robber Willie Sutton apparently did not say that he robbed banks “because that’s where the money is,” even though everyone thinks he did. And, apparently, rich donors also don’t identify issues that are “where the voters are,” at least in Florida.
Billionaire Tom Steyer has spent $12 million trying to make Floridians scared of global warming — an issue Gallup recently found ranks dead last among voter priorities. Other research indicates that the more people are harangued about it, the more they turn off, making this money not well spent.
Blame the information age, where people can easily see for themselves that we are in our 18th year without a global-warming trend. They can also go the National Climatic Data Center’s website and plot out Florida’s yearly temperature; there is no overall significant warming trend in the entire record, which covers 118 years.
A little advance work could have saved a ton of money. The most popular climate change website in the world, Anthony Watts’s www.wattsupwiththat.com, now has well over 200 million views. It is decidedly nonapocalyptic. The most prominent scare site, RealClimate.org, has a hundred times fewer views.
Watts’s site is run on a shoestring. While some of Steyer’s ads blame the Koch Brothers for skepticism about the end of the world, Watts has never seen a dollar of their support — or, for that matter, many dollars of anyone’s support, as it is mostly run with a tip jar.
Here’s the cool part: According to the model the Environmental Protection Agency uses to assess the climatic effects of various policies, if the emissions from the entire state of Florida dropped immediately to zero, the amount of global warming that would be saved by the year 2100 would be a grand total of seven thousandths of a degree Celsius (0.007°C). Such action would cost the Florida economy a fortune — even more money down the climate rat hole.
And thanks in no small part to the nearly two decades without any warming, it looks as though the amount the EPA assumes will occur this century was substantially exaggerated.
Some of Steyer’s ad footage clearly conflates warming and tidal inundations caused by hurricane winds. The fact is a lot of people in Florida don’t remember the last big (Category 3 or higher) one, Hurricane Wilma, which made landfall in Florida on Oct. 24, 2005. In fact, Wilma was the last such Category 3 to strike in the entire U.S., 3,292 days ago. This is the longest that the country has gone without such a storm since the Civil War era, and 23 days from now, we will be in the longest major hurricane drought in our recorded history.
The truth of the matter is, the planet is warmer than it was, and there’s some evidence that people have something to do with it. It just doesn’t have anything to do with hurricanes and their brethren around the entire planet, nor is it strong enough to even induce a significant warming trend in the overall Florida record.
Incidentally, the hallmark of warming from carbon dioxide (recent years notwithstanding) is that the coldest air masses of the winter are what warm the most. These are what freeze Florida’s orange crop. One notorious 1977 freeze, dubbed The Siberian Express, actually put down snow in Miami, for the first and only time since good weather records have been kept.
As Casey Stengel would have said, “you could look it up,” which is precisely what people do when hectored about the upcoming climate apocalypse. People my age have lived through about nine such apocalypses. “Acid rain” seems so quaint now, doesn’t it?
The reason voters rank global warming dead last is because they are tired of these false apocalypses. They are suffering from apocalypse fatigue, something well-heeled political donors would do well to recognize. Throwing money at exaggerated disasters may cost more votes than it buys.
Climate Scientists Aren't Alarmist Enough (?)
Ecofascists have a clear motive when fearmongering about global warming. They want more and more government control over our everyday lives. That’s what we expect the day after tomorrow. The Washington Post reports, “On Nov. 2, the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change will release its ‘Synthesis Report,’ the final stage in a yearlong document dump that, collectively, presents the current expert consensus about climate change and its consequences.”
No one has ever accused these scientists of underestimating the threat. Until now. The Post notes, “According to a number of scientific critics, the scientific consensus represented by the IPCC is a very conservative consensus. IPCC’s reports, they say, often underestimate the severity of global warming, in a way that may actually confuse policymakers (or worse). The IPCC, one scientific group charged last year, has a tendency to ‘err on the side of least drama.’” The least drama? What movie have they been watching? Certainly not “The Day After Tomorrow.
It’s Rarely About the Environment Anymore
Back in 1970, when I got involved in the first Earth Day and nascent environmental movement, we had real pollution problems. But over time, new laws, regulations, attitudes and technologies cleaned up our air, water and sloppy industry practices. By contrast, today’s battles are rarely about the environment.
As Ron Arnold and I detail in our new book, Cracking Big Green: To save the world from the save-the-Earth money machine, today’s eco-battles pit a $13.4-billion-per-year U.S. environmentalist industry against the reliable, affordable, 82 percent fossil fuel energy that makes our jobs, living standards, health, welfare and environmental quality possible. A new Senate Minority Staff Report chronicles how today’s battles pit poor, minority and blue-collar families against a far-left “Billionaires Club” and the radical environmentalist groups it supports and directs, in collusion with federal, state and local bureaucrats, politicians and judges – and with thousands of corporate bosses and alarmist scientists who profit mightily from the arrangements.
These ideologues run masterful, well-funded, highly coordinated campaigns that have targeted, not just coal, but all hydrocarbon energy, as well as nuclear and even hydroelectric power. They fully support the Obama agenda, largely because they helped create that agenda.
They seek ever-greater control over our lives, livelihoods, living standards and liberties – in part because they know they will rarely, if ever, be held accountable for the fraudulent science they employ and the callous, careless or deliberate harm they inflict. And because they know their wealth and power will largely shield them from the deprivations that their policies impose on the vast majority of Americans.
These Radical Greens have shuttered coal mines, coal-fired power plants, factories, the jobs that went with them, and the family security, health and welfare that went with those jobs. They have largely eliminated leasing, drilling, mining and timber harvesting across hundreds of millions of acres in the western United States and Alaska – and are now targeting ranchers. In an era of innovative seismic and drilling technologies, they have cut oil production by 6% on federally controlled onshore and offshore lands.
Meanwhile, thanks to a hydraulic fracturing revolution that somehow flew in under the Radical Green radar, oil production on state and private lands has soared by 60% – from 5 million barrels per day in 2008 (the lowest ebb since 1943) to 8 million bpd in 2014. Natural gas output climbed even more rapidly. This production reduced gas and gasoline prices and created hundreds of thousands of jobs in hundreds of industries and virtually every state. So now, of course, Big Green is waging war on “fracking” (which the late Total Oil CEO Christophe de Margerie jovially preferred to call “rock massage”).
As Marita Noon recently noted, Environment America has issued a phony “Fracking by the Numbers” screed. It grossly misrepresents this 67-year-old technology and falsely claims the oil industry deliberately obscures the alleged environmental, health and community impacts of fracking, by limiting its definition to only the actual moment in the extraction process when rock is fractured. For facts about fracking, revisit a few of my previous articles: here, here and here.
Moreover, when it comes to renewable energy, Big Green studiously ignores its own demands for full disclosure and obfuscates the impacts of technologies it promotes. Wind power is a perfect example.
Far from being “free” and “eco-friendly,” wind-based electricity is extremely unreliable and expensive, despite the mandates and subsidies lavished on it. The cradle-to-grave ecological impacts are startling.
The United States currently has over 40,000 turbines, up to 450 feet tall and 1.5 megawatts in nameplate output. Unpredictable winds mean they generate electricity at 15-20 percent of this “rated capacity.” The rest of the time mostly fossil fuel generators do the work. That means we need 5 to 15 times more steel, concrete, copper and other raw materials, to build huge wind facilities, transmission lines to far-off urban centers, and “backup” generators – than if we simply built the backups near cities and forgot about the turbines.
Every one of those materials requires mining, processing, shipping – and fossil fuels. Every turbine, backup generator and transmission line component requires manufacturing, shipping – and fossil fuels. The backups run on fossil fuels, and because they must “ramp up” dozens of times a day, they burn fuel very inefficiently, need far more fuel, and emit far more “greenhouse gases,” than if we simply built the backups and forgot about the wind turbines. The related land and environmental impacts are enormous.
Environmentalists almost never mention any of this – or the wildlife and human impacts.
Bald and golden eagles and other raptors are attracted to wind turbines, by prey and the prospect of using the towers for perches, nests and resting spots, Save the Eagles International president Mark Duchamp noted in comments to the US Fish & Wildlife Service. As a result, thousands of these magnificent flyers are slaughtered by turbines every year. Indeed, he says, turbines are “the perfect ecological trap” for attracting and killing eagles, especially as more and more are built in and near important habitats.
Every year, Duchamp says, they also butcher millions of other birds and millions of bats that are attracted to turbines by abundant insects – or simply fail to see the turbine blades, whose tips travel at 170 mph.
Indeed, the death toll is orders of magnitude higher than the “only” 440,000 per year admitted to by Big Wind companies and the USFWS. Using careful carcass counts tallied for several European studies, I have estimated that turbines actually kill at least 13,000,000 birds and bats per year in the USA alone!
Wildlife consultant Jim Wiegand has written several articles that document these horrendous impacts on raptors, the devious methods the wind industry uses to hide the slaughter, and the many ways the FWS and Big Green collude with Big Wind operators to exempt wind turbines from endangered species, migratory bird and other laws that are imposed with iron fists on oil, gas, timber and mining companies. The FWS and other Interior Department agencies are using sage grouse habitats and White Nose Bat Syndrome to block mining, drilling and fracking. But wind turbines get a free pass, a license to kill.
Big Green, Big Wind and Big Government regulators likewise almost never mention the human costs – the sleep deprivation and other health impacts from infrasound noise and constant light flickering effects associated with nearby turbines, as documented by Dr. Sarah Laurie and other researchers.
In short, wind power may well be our least sustainable energy source – and the one least able to replace fossil fuels or reduce carbon dioxide emissions that anti-energy activists falsely blame for climate change (that they absurdly claim never happened prior to the modern industrial age). But of course their rants have nothing to do with climate change or environmental protection.
The climate change dangers exist only in computer models, junk-science “studies” and press releases. But as the “People’s Climate March” made clear, today’s watermelon environmentalists (green on the outside, red on the inside) do not merely despise fossil fuels, fracking and the Keystone pipeline. They also detest free enterprise capitalism, modern living standards, private property … and even pro football!
They invent and inflate risks that have nothing to do with reality, and dismiss the incredible benefits that fracking and fossil fuels have brought to people worldwide. They go ballistic over alleged risks of using modern technologies, but are silent about the clear risks of not using those technologies. And when it comes to themselves, Big Green and the Billionaires Club oppose and ignore the transparency, integrity, democracy and accountability that they demand from everyone they attack.
Fred Singer Closing in on Fact: CO2 Doesn’t Affect Global Temperature
by Dr Pierre R Latour
I write to concur with conclusions in Dr S Fred Singer’s recent essay: “The Climate Sensitivity Controversy”, by S. Fred Singer, American Thinker (October 15, 2014) and to solve the puzzles he posed. fred singer
In particular he concludes “climate sensitivity, CS, is close to zero”. This means any effect of CO2 on Earth’s temperature and climate is vanishingly small, hence unimportant. Singer leaves his warmist camp and joins the denier camp of skeptics.
I met Singer at his University of Houston lecture hosted by Prof Larry Bell on February 6, 2012 and his several talks at the latest Heartland Institute ICCC, Las Vegas, July 7-9, 2014. He has played an important role in disputing alarmist global warming claims for decades. He has received many awards.
Singer reveals he assumes CO2 warms Earth because it is called a greenhouse gas, which does not make it so. It is also green plant food, which does chemically make it a coolant. Great confusion arises when a radiating gas, which cools the atmosphere, is incorrectly labeled a greenhouse gas and then warming is arbitrarily assigned to it, by virtue of the nomenclature change.
I discovered in 2012 introducing radiating gases like H2O and CO2 to the atmosphere actually cools the Earth slightly and had useful direct email exchanges with Singer on the matter. Naturally I am pleased he has reached a similar conclusion, perhaps by another way.
The proper way to calculate CS is from the laws of physics, chemistry, biology and chemical engineering with correct physical properties. Relying on empiricism and data regression for large complex engineering systems is well known to be incorrect and flawed. They never represent the nonlinear world outside their domain of fit; cannot extrapolate, only interpolate. Same for stock market charting. The whole data fitting exercise to support GHGT (greenhouse gas theories) is worthless from its inception. (Except it conveniently proved CO2 lags temperature by 800 years from Al Gore’s 420,000 year trend, proving CO2 could not cause these temperature changes; the sun did it.)
My way is physics, the Stefan Boltzmann Law of radiation intensity from all matter proportional to its temperature and emissivity. This Law works for entire planets, even when there are clouds, thermal feedbacks and hurricanes.
I parted company with Singer with his current “Of course, the proper way to determine Climate Sensitivity (CS) is empirically -- by using the climate data.” two years ago. That is wrong. He expresses misgivings himself.
Singer and GHGT promoters are wedded to the idea of correlating temperature and CO2 data, which alone can only prove correlation, never causation. A corollary error is to account for other known causes driving temperature, like solar, and ascribe all response discrepancy actually due to unknown causes, to CO2. Another error is to statistically fit data to empirical equations and attempt to extrapolate outside the validity domain of the data. Interpolation is allowed, extrapolation of nonlinear natural world outside the domain is not. A fourth error is to deviate from the scientific method practice which uses experimental data to falsify proposed theories that don’t predict nature’s behavior well, rather than claim validity of when predictions are confirmed by luck. A fifth error is to keep data analysis methods used to support validity of hunches confidential, particularly when publically financed. (Newton’s Principia Mathematica made him famous by full disclosure.) Worst of all is filing defamation lawsuits against skeptics questioning secret GHGT methods, assumptions and scientific basis. Even smearing them and attacking their character is unacceptable. Five strikes and you are way out. These principles are well known to control systems engineers, but not UN IPCC GHGT promoters that lack credentials.
Singer correctly notes there are several different temperatures involved; a source of confusion I discovered years ago. The GHGT literature is intellectually incoherent, a mess. He is correct to point out atmospheric global warming ceased since 1997 until now, 2014. The globe warms about half the time, 4.6 billion/2 = 2.3 billion years. It cools half the time also.
He has been wandering around in the swamp of atmospheric feedbacks, positive or negative, proclaiming it is all too complicated and controversial. Like esteemed MIT Professor Richard Lindzen and other meteorologists, he is trapped in his feedback swamp and can’t get out.
Feedbacks are the province of control systems engineering. (I know what feedback control is and how to build it. In 1997 I proved any thermostat for Earth adjusting fossil fuel combustion is unmeasurable, unobservable and uncontrollable; it will never work. Even Lord Monckton is beginning to consider control systems engineering; I encountered him personally in Las Vegas.)
Singer calls for more research, while promoters at UN IPCC and global climate change organizations are already wasting $1 billion/day in hopeless controversy and useless assessment reports.
Inventing a new mechanism of radiant heat transfer, back-radiation, from cold atmospheric CO2 molecules back down to Earth’s surface, with intensity 333 w/m2 (compared to solar intensity reaching surface which averages 161 w/m2 of surface) warming it further, causing it to radiate up even more intensely at 396 w/m2, violates FLoT and SLoT, constituting a perpetual motion machine creating energy to drive global warming, an impossibility of nature. Heat does not flow from cold matter to hot matter, heating hot further; only from hot to cold. This is engineering fraud of the first order. GHGT has been falsified by eminent physicists.
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 1:36 AM