Sunday, June 07, 2015

More on the Karl et al. attempt to abolish the warming "hiatus"

There is no doubt that the work of Thomes Karl and his colleagues as publicized by NOAA will be welcomed with a gladsome heart by Warmists. It purports to wipe away their biggest embarrassment.  As such it will be seized on and recalled triumphantly for years.  No doubt will ever be attached to it.  It will be treated as unassailable truth.

But even if Warmists close their eyes to the various weaknesses of the study, it still seems important to let conservatives know what a piece of junk the study is.  I put up on Friday an account of some of the huge holes in it but there is one thing more about it that is, I think, worth saying.

The authors have in fact supported their basic point by their findings.   They say that the rate of warming observed in the 21st centory is quite similar to the rate of warming in the late 20th century.  But that in fact throws the spotlight on how weak was the warming in the late 20th century. If their findings for the 21st century did not meet the normal criteria for statistical significance, what does that say about warming in the late 20th century?  It clearly says one thing:  The effects observed in both the late 20th and 21st century were extremely feeble:  So feeble that even their statistical significance is in doubt.

Statistical significance is only a minor type of significance.  It is simply the first step in assessing overall significance. It rules on whether an observed effect was of a size that could be due to chance fluctuations alone.  Any effect robust enough to take seriously should demonstrate statistical significance with the greatest of ease.  Statistical significance is simply an initial filter to enable us to toss out absolute junk.  It guarantees no other form of significance.  Lots of correlations can be statistically significant without being of any importance to the world at all.

So when do we say:  "No warming"?  The easiest and least controversial answer is "when any observed warming is so slight that it does not even reach statistical significance".  But that is in a way something of a cop-out.  What we really need to say is "When the effect is so weak as to be of no practical importance".  And when we are looking at warming of less than one degree Celsius per century, that condition is clearly fulfilled.  And there is no dispute that warming as weak as that is exactly what has happened.  The whole Warmist religion has been based on a triviality from the get-go.

Nobody noticed the tiny temperature rise of the 20th century until Warmists started jumping up and down about it and nobody will notice a similar rise in the 21st. century if it occurs.

Climate scientists in new controversy

More reactions to the Karl et al. paper

Note no recent trend in the satellite and balloon data

A fake pause, a looming cooling and an inconvenient graphic neatly frame the Bonn climate change talks where, like all such gatherings, the political spin was applied to serious science.

It is noteworthy but not surprising that a lot of attention was given to a paper by the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration that found the 15-year hiatus in global surface temperatures did not, in fact, exist.

The pause has gained widespread acknowledgment, not least in the most recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change synthesis report, but sharp differences remain about its cause and significance.

But NOAA researchers re-­analysed (mostly oceanic) temperature records and, after adjustments, made the pause disappear. According to the paper, the “thousands of updated and corrected temperature observations” show temperatures did not plateau and the rate of warming has been at least as high as in the second half of the 20th century.

The findings predictably have been met with scepticism from many who already question the homogenisation of land-based surface records by world weather agencies. A review of the Australian Bureau of Meteorology’s homogenisation practices for the national average surface temperature data, ACORN-SAT, has been completed and is expected to be made public in about two weeks.

But as the latest NOAA paper shows, the real action has moved from land to the sea. The most important new adjustment made by the NOAA authors was to account for the changing coverage of ships and floating buoys, which differ slightly in their readings. A key change was the method of taking the temperature recordings.

NOAA researchers found that accounting for this discrepancy increases the temperature trend over the oceans for the most recent period (since 1998) and makes recent global warming trends indistinguishable from those across the 1950-99 period.

Matthew England, chief investigator at the Australian Research Council’s Centre of Excellence for Climate System Science at the University of NSW, says the findings are no surprise. “There’s nothing all that new in this paper and nothing that surprises me,” he says. “The bottom line is that multiple datasets and multiple lines of evidence have shown that global warming hasn’t stalled at all.”

But other scientists urge caution. Peter Stott, head of climate monitoring and attribution at Britain’s Met Office Hadley Centre, says the slowdown has not gone away. “The warming trend over the past 15 years has been slower than previous 15-year periods,” he says. “While the earth continues to accumulate energy as a result of increasing man-made greenhouse gas emissions, these results also confirm that global temperatures have not increased smoothly.

“This means natural variability in the climate system or other external factors have still had an influence and it’s important we continue research to fully understand all the processes at work.”

David Whitehouse of the Global Warming Policy Foundation says the new research is “a highly speculative and slight paper that produces a statistically marginal result by cherry-picking time intervals, resulting in a global temperature graph that is at odds with those produced by the UK Met Office and NASA”.

“The authors have produced adjustments that are at odds with other all other surface temperature datasets, as well as those compiled via satellite,” Whitehouse says. “They do not include any data from the Argo array that is the world’s best coherent dataset on ocean temperatures.”

Tim Osborn, professor of climate science at the University of East Anglia, says he would caution against dismissing the slowdown in surface warming on the basis of the NOAA study or downplaying the role of natural decadal variability for short-term trends.

“There are other datasets that still support a slowdown over some recent period of time, and there are intriguing geographical patterns such as cooling in large parts of the Pacific Ocean that were used to support explanations for the warming slowdown,” Osborn says.

Nonetheless, the NOAA paper certainly has drawn a good deal more scientific attention than another one from scientists at Britain’s Southampton University and National Oceanography Centre that implies global climate is on the verge of broadscale change that could last for decades.

The new climatic phase, the researchers say, could be half a degree cooler, more than half of the temperature rise claimed by global warming. But whereas the NOAA paper was accompanied by a publicity release from international science media organisations, they could offer no guidance on the Southampton paper, which is at odds with the warming theme.

This is despite the paper saying the change is associated with a cooling of the Atlantic, something entirely compatible with early attempts to explain the pause.

The study, published in Nature, indicates ocean circulation is the link between weather and decadal-scale climatic change. It is based on observational evidence of the link between ocean circulation and the decadal variability of sea surface temperatures in the Atlantic Ocean.

Both the NOAA and Southampton papers address the big question in climate change science: why have climate model ­predictions not matched the measured facts?

The question was most recently highlighted by Patrick Michaels, director of the Centre for the Study of Science at the Cato Institute and past president of the American Association of State Climatologists.

Michaels was commenting on a graph presented to the US House of Representatives committee on natural resources by the University of Alabama’s John Christy on May 15. “It’s impossible, as a scientist, to look at this graph and not rage at the destruction of science that is being wreaked by the inability of climatologists to look us in the eye and say perhaps the three most important words in life: we were wrong,” Christy says.

Instead, the latest research from NOAA contends it is not the models that are wrong, just the data.


What’s Really Wrong With the Global Surface Temperature Record

Recently there has been much discussion as to whether the homogeneity adjustments applied to raw surface air temperature records by GISS, NCDC, CRU and BEST might not have manufactured a lot of the global warming allegedly caused by man-made greenhouse gases. Here I look briefly into this question, but more deeply into into the question of whether the published “surface temperature” time series that are presently used to evaluate global warming, such as HadCRUT4, GISS LOTI and NCDC land & ocean, are fit for purpose. And without further ado here are the conclusions I have reached based on an analysis of HadCRUT4, the most commonly-used of the published “surface temperature” series:

1. The homogeneity adjustments applied to the raw surface air temperature records are suspect but have little impact on HadCRUT4.

2. The bias adjustments applied to the raw sea surface temperature records are equally suspect and have a larger impact. They don’t add warming (they actually apply a net cooling adjustment between 1880 and the present) but they significantly change the shape of HadCRUT4.

3. HadCRUT4 combines surface air temperatures and sea surface temperatures that show quite different trends into an apples-and-oranges average that does not provide meaningful results. Consequently HadCRUT4, along with its sister GISS, NCDC and BEST combined land and ocean “surface temperature” series, must be deemed unfit for purpose, particularly when the purpose is to quantify global warming and to guide the world’s multi-trillion-dollar efforts to combat it.

4. When surface air and sea surface temperatures are considered separately – which is the way they should be evaluated – we find that climate models do a generally good job of hindcasting surface air temperatures but a conspicuously poor job of hindcasting sea surface temperatures.


New Book

A Kindle book, "The Unsettled Science of Climate Change: A Primer for Critical Thinkers," has just been released at the Amazon Kindle store.

It presents the skeptical position from the perspective of an informed layman. I've made every effort to make the case with minimal recourse to ideological rhetoric, and maximal reference to generally accepted mainstream scientific research. A distinctive feature of this book is the emphasis placed on fundamental scientific principles, such as correlation, cause and effect, model building, Occam's Razor, etc., plus, of course, simple logic and common sense.

Via email from the author

Research – Bees and wind turbines

This is an amusing study.  Greenies have it as an item of faith that things they don't like -- such as pesticides -- are responsible for shrinking bee populations.  What if the real culprits were the Greenies' beloved windfarms?  The research below is suggestive, though hardly conclusive

It is a known to everyone that noise from wind turbines generates sound both heard and inaudible to humans. Sounds emitted that are not within the scope of being audible to humans, basically come in the form of vibrations. These vibrations can travel much further than audible sound and affect a vast area, several miles from the wind farm itself. Downwind, these low frequency vibrations can travel up to 50 KM from the source.

Wind turbine mapThe drastic increase in the number of wind farms in the United States began between 2004 and 2005, and has blossomed to cover vast sections of the country today, as seen on the blue map below.

Interesting to note is the time frame of drastic increases of the number of wind farms from 2004 to 2005. This time frame becomes very important, because it is also the exact time when massive disappearances of honey bees began to be reported, beginning in 2005, with drastic increases in the years to follow.

The next map shows the states where the most losses of honeybees have occurred.

The orange map below is also an interesting map, because if you didn’t know better, you would believe it is another wind farm map. Although the southeast area of the United States, such as Florida does not have large numbers of operating wind farms, the honeybee disappearances in that area are attributed to weather events.

Wind turbine mapA series of hurricanes in 2004 and 2005, including hurricane Katrina virtually wiped out this area’s honeybee population. With this in mind, the direct link to wind farms for the massive die off can be made.

While scientists scramble trying to find answers and offer theories ranging from a new form of virus, the earth’s magnetic shift, to perhaps solar flares. It would be wise for them to look into the effects of sound vibrations emitted from wind turbines.

In a report by WH Kircher, titled Acoustical Communication in Honeybees on 02/05/1993, finds that airborne sounds and vibrations play an important role in honeybee communication. It is also coming to light that honeybees use sound vibrations to navigate, similar to sonar used by marine life and bats.

Since vast areas are within affective range of low frequency sound levels emitted by wind turbines, it becomes clear that there is a connection between low frequency sound produced by wind turbines and the disappearance of honeybees. The areas with the most disappearances of honeybees directly

correspond with that of operating wind farms.

California is second, behind North Dakota for honeybee losses and first in wind farm operations, within range of areas where honeybee colonies are located. As of 2007, most North Dakota wind farms were concentrated within a small area in the southeastern portion of the state. Since then, wind farms have spread to many other sections of the state, and the resulting losses of honeybees will most likely increase as well.

On a world scale, areas of honeybee disappearances does correlate with operating wind farms in particular regions. It isn’t enough that the wind industry continues to operate under the guise of being a renewable energy source that will help in getting us off fossil fuel, when in reality they use more fossil fuel than they will ever produce.

The sad fact is this industry is only responsible for degrading our countryside with useless spinning towers. While the building and operations of the wind farms are killing millions of endangered bird species, raping pristine land and turning it into nothing more than a cluttered mess of steel and fiberglass. Turbines are destroying the natural habitat of wildlife in such areas. It seems now, that it may be responsible for the near destruction of the world’s honeybee population.


House Committee Drops Funding for State Department Climate-Change Programs

Just months before the most important U.N. climate conference in years, Republican appropriators in the House of Representatives are taking aim at one of the Obama administration’s most cherished priorities – international climate change funding.

An appropriations bill for the State Department and foreign operations, released Tuesday, excludes funding for three major climate initiatives – the Green Climate Fund, the Clean Technology Fund, and the Strategic Climate Fund – and also removes funding for the U.N.-backed Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

Also in the firing line is funding for the U.N. Population Fund (UNFPA), the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and debt relief.

The bill eliminates funding for these “lower-priority international programs,” the House Appropriations Committee said in a statement, in order to meet what it views as top priorities – including “funding for security activities around the world,” support for key allies, and increased funding “for embassy and diplomatic security to address new needs identified after the Benghazi terrorist attack.”

“This legislation is first and foremost a national security bill,” said Rep Kay Granger (R-Texas), chairwoman of the Appropriations subcommittee on State and foreign operations.

Appropriations Committee chairman Rep. Hal Rogers (R-Ky.) said it provides funding for “critical endeavors – bolstering the fight against terror, strengthening our allies, helping innocent lives facing conflict and strife, and protecting our democracy, our people, and our way of life.”

In doing so, the drafters decided climate change programs did not merit funding.

The Green Climate Fund, launched in 2011, is designed to help developing countries curb “greenhouse gas” emissions and cope with occurrences attributed to climate change, such as rising sea levels.

With the aim of reaching $100 billion a year from public and private sources by 2020, it is one of the most ambitious elements of the global climate campaign.

President Obama last November pledged $3 billion for the GCF, a promise touted by Secretary of State John Kerry at subsequent U.N. climate talks, even as Republican lawmakers slammed the move.

The U.S. pledge is by far the largest announced contribution to date for the fund, which now has pledges totaling some $10.2 billion, from 33 countries.

In its fiscal year 2016 budget request, the administration asked for $500 million – $350 million for the State Department and $150 million for the Treasury Department – as a first step towards meeting that $3 billion objective.

The Clean Technology Fund aims to provide financing for low-carbon technologies, aimed at reducing the emission of the “greenhouse gases” blamed for climate change.

The administration’s FY2016 request included $170.68 million for the CTF.

The Strategic Climate Fund is a multi-faceted initiative meant to help countries deemed most vulnerable to the effects of climate change, to respond to the potential risks they face. It includes programs aimed at helping them become more resilient, to combat deforestation, and to access renewable energy.

The administration requested $59.6 million for the SCF in FY2016.

The State and Foreign Operations bill also eliminates funding for the IPCC (the administration’s FY2016 request was for $11.7 million); for the IMF ($62 million requested); and for the UNFPA ($35 million requested). UNFPA funding has long been controversial over alleged links to China’s coercive population limitation programs.

Elsewhere, the bill includes a raft of provisions that would make specific funding contingent on changes in the way business is conducted at the U.N. and by certain governments.

Targets include the U.N. Human Rights Council’s disproportionate focus on Israel; Pakistan’s counterterrorism cooperation with the U.S.; the Palestinian Authority’s June 2014 unity agreement with Hamas; and Iran’s compliance with nuclear agreements.

The bill also prohibits any additional funding of a U.S. Embassy in Havana, Cuba; forbids funding to implement the U.N.’s Arms Trade Treaty; and reinstates the “Mexico City policy,” a Reagan administration measure prohibiting federal funding for organizations that promote or perform abortions around the world.

‘Tight budget environment’

France is hosting a U.N. international climate conference in November and December this year, and the Obama administration is energetically supporting efforts to produce a new global climate treaty.

At a Senate Foreign Relations subcommittee hearing last month, Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) questioned Acting Assistant Secretary Judith Garber about the administration’s climate change requests in what he called a “tight budget environment.”

“Given the increasing need for humanitarian assistance, democracy promotion, embassy security measures, countering global terrorist threats, I’m wondering why the administration is requesting such a large increase for global climate change, when most people think this could be better spent [on those other issues],” Barrasso said.

Garber defended the GCF, saying it differed from existing climate investment funds in key respects. It draws in the private sector, will have a much broader donor base, focuses on the most vulnerable, and will be more transparent, she said.

In an op-ed Wednesday, three former deputy assistant secretaries of environment and energy, Matthew Kotchen, Gilbert Metcalf and William Pizer, argued that support for the GCF was in the U.S. national interest.

“When poor, vulnerable countries pursue climate-resilient growth, they are better able to cope with extreme weather events and experience fewer disasters. And when emerging economies build out more clean energy infrastructure, we all avoid the worst of climate change in the first place,” they wrote. “The result is a more secure and stable world, benefiting our nation and all countries.”

A Feb. 2015 Congressional Research Service report highlighted likely congressional concerns about climate-related budget requests: fiscal constraints, potential for misuse by “inefficient and bloated bureaucracies,” uncertain results, and uncertainties in climate science.

“Prevailing scientific research on the current and future impacts of greenhouse gas emissions on the global climate exhibits varying degrees of analytical uncertainty,” it said.

“The lack of definitiveness in some data and in certain model projections has been offered by some as a reason to postpone and/or reconsider both domestic and international climate change assistance policies and programs.”


Lessons from Europe: Recipe for a High-Cost Energy System

While President Obama promotes renewable energy and members of Congress argue about energy policy, a renewable energy disaster is unfolding in Europe. Driven by a desire to halt climate change, Europe has created a high-cost energy system where everyone loses. U.S. policy leaders should learn from the debacle occurring overseas.

European energy policy today is dominated by the European Climate Change Program (ECCP), which was established by the European Community in 2000. The program called for the nations of Europe to adopt measures to cut greenhouse gas emissions. The goal was for Europe to collectively meet the targets of the Kyoto Protocol climate treaty signed in 1997.

The ECCP was based on two assumptions. The first was that changes to national energy systems were needed to fight global warming. Second, that coal, gas and oil fuels would become more expensive, allowing renewable energy to compete. But policies to promote renewables resulted in substantially higher electricity prices for Europe.

Europe used subsidies and mandates to promote renewables. Feed-in tariffs were enacted in most nations, providing a payment to homeowners and businesses for electricity fed into the grid from solar or wind facilities. Governments paid a fixed subsidy of four to 10 times the wholesale electricity price, guaranteed for up to 20 years, for generated electricity.

Electricity from renewables is also granted grid priority. Utilities are required to accept wind and solar-generated electricity as a first priority, regardless of market demand. Output from traditional coal, natural gas and nuclear plants is scaled back or shut down when renewable output is high. Wholesale electricity prices, once driven by market demand, are today dominated by the weather. When the wind blows and the sun shines, large amounts of electricity are dumped onto the grid from wind and solar installations, forcing wholesale electricity prices negative.

Other factors added to the growing debacle. In 2011, Germany announced a complete phase-out of nuclear power in the wake of the Fukushima disaster in Japan, closing nuclear power plants and straining the electrical system of Europe’s largest economy. In addition, Germany and France banned hydraulic fracturing, ensuring that European natural gas prices will remain high for the next decade.

The results of Europe’s green energy measures have been bizarre. Feed-in tariffs in Germany stimulated more than one million rooftop solar installations. But Germany is not exactly the sun belt. The latitude of central Germany is the same as that of Calgary, Canada. As a result, German solar installations generate electricity at less than 10 percent of rated output. Over a million solar installations provide only 6 percent of Germany’s electricity and 1 percent of the nation’s energy. For this solar miracle, German citizens are obligated to pay over $400 billion in current and future payments to solar providers through higher electricity rates.

Denmark erected over 5,000 wind turbine towers, one for every thousand Danish citizens. Turbines blanket the nation, providing a beautiful view of a 300- to 500-foot tall tower from almost every house, farm, field, forest and beach. But the turbines produce only 1.3 gigawatts each of electricity on average. All could be replaced by a single large conventional power plant. Today, Denmark has the highest electricity prices of the developed nations.

Europe has created an energy system where everyone loses. Consumers, industry, traditional power plants and even renewable energy companies are now losing. Even though wholesale electricity prices are falling, consumer electricity prices have doubled over the last 10 years due to large subsidy payments to renewable companies. Nations with the largest percentage of renewable energy also have the highest electricity prices. Citizens of Spain pay 23 eurocents per kilowatt-hour, three times the U.S. price, and citizens of Germany and Denmark pay more than 25 eurocents per kilowatt-hour, four times the U.S. price.

European industrial companies are also big losers. French firms pay more than twice the U.S. electricity rate and German firms pay three times the rate. European industrial electricity rates have risen more than 50 percent since 2007, while U.S. industrial rates have been flat. European firms also pay double the U.S. price for natural gas. European chemical firms are now building plants in America to utilize low-cost ethane from shale fracking, a technology not available in Europe.

Traditional European electrical power companies are losing as well. The wholesale price of electricity is down 50 percent in the last five years and conventional plants can no longer break even. An example is the Irsching high-efficiency natural gas plant in Germany. Built in 2010, it can operate at 60 percent efficiency. But the plant is not profitable as a backup to renewables. In March, the owners announced a shutdown of the plant.

Last year, E.ON, the largest German utility, suffered its first loss in more than 50 years. Both E.ON and Swedish utility Vattenfall have announced plans to exit their conventional power plant business in Germany in favor of renewables. Magnus Hall, president of Vattenfall, stated last year, “It makes it difficult to see how you could invest in conventional generation under these circumstances.”

Finally, even renewable energy companies are now losing. European governments have realized that they can no longer afford the green energy revolution. Subsidies have recently been cut in Belgium, Germany, Greece, Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom. In Germany, solar employment dropped 50 percent and many renewable companies declared bankruptcy. Spain ended its feed-in tariff subsidy and placed a cap on renewable industry profits, resulting in 75,000 lost renewable jobs and a 90 percent reduction in solar installations.

U.S. energy policy makers should learn from Europe’s energy experience and pursue sensible energy economics.



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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