Sunday, March 13, 2016

New Report Says Science Can Estimate Influence of Climate Change on Some Types of Extreme Events

"For years scientists have given almost a rote response to the question of whether an instance of weird weather was from global warming, insisting that they can't attribute any single event to climate change. But "the science has advanced to the point that this is no longer true as an unqualified blanket statement," the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine has reported".  So says good ol' Seth Borenstein of AP.  The Academy press release below tells more.

But the whole thing is just climate theology: untestable guesswork.  The most basic element of science is testability. If a proposition is not testable, it is not science.  When the Warmists can make accurate predictions, their propositions will have been successfully tested, but they have never managed to do that. The estimates below can be challenged by other estimates but that is still proof of nothing

It is now possible to estimate the influence of climate change on some types of extreme events, such as heat waves, drought, and heavy precipitation, says a new report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.  The relatively new science of extreme event attribution has advanced rapidly in the past decade owing to improvements in the understanding of climate and weather mechanisms and the analytical methods used to study specific events, but more research is required to increase its reliability, ensure that results are presented clearly, and better understand smaller scale and shorter duration weather extremes such as hurricanes and thunderstorms, said the committee that conducted the study and wrote the report.

“An increasingly common question after an extreme weather event is whether climate change ‘caused’ that event to occur,” said committee chair David W. Titley, professor of practice in meteorology and founding director of the Center for Solutions to Weather and Climate Risk at the Pennsylvania State University.  "While that question remains difficult to answer given all the factors that affect an individual weather event, we can now say more about how climate change has affected the intensity or likelihood of some events.”

Extreme event attribution is a fairly new area of climate science that explores the influence of human-caused climate change on individual or classes of extreme events compared with other factors, such as natural sources of climate and weather variability.  The science typically estimates how the intensity or frequency of an event has been altered by climate change and provides information that can be used to assess and manage risk, guide climate adaptation strategies, and determine greenhouse gas emissions targets.  For example, in the wake of a devastating event, communities may need to make a decision about whether to rebuild or relocate and need input on how much more likely or more severe this type of event is expected to become in the future.

Some extreme event attribution studies use observational records to compare a recent event with similar events that occurred in the past, when the influence of human-caused climate change was much less.  Other studies use climate and weather models to compare the meteorological conditions associated with an extreme event in simulated worlds with and without human-caused climate changes.  The report finds that results are most reliable when multiple, different methods are used that incorporate both a long-term historical record of observations and models to estimate human influences on a given event.

The most dependable attribution findings are for those events related to an aspect of temperature, for which there is little doubt that human activity has caused an observed change in the long-term trend, the report notes.  For example, a warmer climate increases the likelihood of extremely hot days and decreases the likelihood of extremely cold days.  Long-term warming is also linked to more evaporation that can both exacerbate droughts and increase atmospheric moisture available to storms, leading to more severe heavy rainfall and snowfall events.  However, temperature alone does not fully determine the probabilities of extreme events.  Attributing specific extreme events to long-term climate change may be complicated by factors such as natural long-term fluctuations in the ocean surface temperatures.

Statements about event attribution are sensitive to the way the questions are framed and the context within which they are posed, the report says.  For example, choices need to be made about defining the duration of the event, the geographic area impacted, what physical variables to study, what metrics to examine, and what observations or models to use.  These assumptions and choices can lead to large differences in the interpretation of the results, and should be clearly stated.

The committee supported continued advancements in weather and climate modeling, and noted that focused research on weather and climate extremes would improve event attribution capabilities.  In addition, community standards for attributing classes of extreme events would make it easier to compare results from multiple studies.  Objective event selection and definition criteria could reduce potential selection bias and help elucidate how individual events fit into the broader picture of climate change.

Event attribution is retrospective, but the report calls for the development of predictive weather-to-climate forecasts of future extreme events that account for natural variability and human influences.  This could be based on concepts and practices within the Numerical Weather Prediction framework, including routine verification of forecasts using observations and rigorous approaches to improving the forecast system.


Rubio: No Law Can Change the Weather

"There's never been a time when the climate has not changed," Sen. Marco Rubio said at Thursday night's Republican debate in Coral Gables, Florida.

"I think the fundamental question for a policy maker is, is the climate changing because of something we are doing, and if so, is there a law you can pass to fix it?"

Rubio, addressing concerns about flooding in Miami, said it's caused by two things: "Number one, south Florida is largely built on land that was once a swamp. And number two, because if there is higher sea levels or whatever -- it may be happening -- we do need to deal with that through mitigation. And I have long supported mitigation efforts.

"But as far as a law that we can pass in Washington to change the weather, there's no such thing."

Rubio said current and proposed legislation addressing climate change "would be devastating for our economy."

He also criticized the Obama administration's "war on coal."

"Let me tell you, who is going to pay the price of that? Americans are going to pay the price of that. The cost of doing that is going to be rammed down the throats of the American consumer, the single parent, the working families who are going to see increases in the cost of living, the businesses who are going to leave America because it's more expensive to do business here than anywhere else.

"And you know what passing those laws would have -- what impact it would have on the environment? Zero, because China is still going to be polluting and India is still going to be polluting at historic levels.

"So, I am in favor of a clean environment. My children live in South Florida. My family is being raised here. I want this to be a safe and clean place, but these laws some people are asking us to pass will do nothing for the environment and they will hurt and devastate our economy."

Ohio Gov. John Kasich said he believes that humans do contribiute to climate change. He advocates "all the sources of energy," including solar, wind and renewable energy.

"Battery technology can unleash an entirely different world," he said.


Nevada's home solar business is in turmoil as the state's Public Utilities Commission starts to phase out incentives for homeowners who install rooftop solar panels

"Sustainable" needs lots of taxpayer money -- or it isn't sustained

Some of the largest solar companies have stopped seeking new business in the state and laid off hundreds of workers.

Even for small solar installers, this once-booming business has slowed to a trickle. The warehouse at Robco Electric in Las Vegas was filled to capacity with pallets of solar panels stacked high last year. Now, it's nearly empty.

"The PUC made a decision and it just devastated our industry," says Robco President Rob Kowalczik. He's all business when talking about how the PUC sided with the utility and pretty much killed off residential solar in Nevada. But when it comes to his workers, he chokes up.

"The hardest thing is to lay people off," says Kowalczik. So far, his company has let 25 people go. The solar division of his company is down to a few salespeople and one installation crew.

One of the 25 is Connie Berry. She was just a few months into her job as an installer for Robco. Now, she's looking for work in the construction business, but she holds out hope her solar job will come back.

"It's been two months now since I got laid off, and I was hoping to get a call back. ... I got my tools. I'm ready to go," says Berry.

In front of Robco Electric, you're more likely now to see the company's sales cars parked in the middle of the day. Sales and marketing manager Tim Webb says last year they would have been out chasing down new leads all day. He says there were a lot of other solar companies on the road, too.

"It was kind of like the solar gold rush here. All these companies flocked into town, set up an office and sold systems. Now they're gone. There's just a few of us remaining," says Webb.

Companies like SolarCity say they were left with no choice but to stop doing business in Nevada when the PUC changed the rules for something called "net metering."

Net metering allows homeowners with solar panels to sell excess electricity they generate to the utility at retail rather than wholesale rates. It's a great deal for homeowners because they can do something good for the environment and save money on their energy bills.

But every kilowatt generated on someone's roof is one less the local utility sells. And utilities use that ratepayer money to maintain the electrical grid.

In this case, the local utility, NV Energy, is owned by Warren Buffett's company Berkshire Hathaway. During an interview with CNBC last month, Buffett echoed an argument utilities across the country have been making: When solar customers don't pay to maintain the power grid, that leaves everyone else to pick up the tab.

"We do not want the nonsolar customers, of whom there are over a million, to be subsidizing the 17,000 solar customers," Buffett said, talking about NV Energy's customers in Nevada.

Buffett said NV Energy can produce solar power from large, centralized plants for less than it costs to buy electricity from rooftop solar customers under the old net metering rules.

"We do not want our million plus customers who do not have solar to be buying solar at 10.5 cents [per kilowatt hour] when we can churn it out for them at 4.5 cents," he said.

SolarCity co-founder and CEO Lyndon Rive says utilities like NV Energy are just trying to protect their monopolies.

"They want to deploy the infrastructure. They do not want to let consumers deploy that infrastructure because then they don't get a regulated rate of return on that infrastructure," says Rive.

Rive wants big changes for the country's power grid. Instead of central generators delivering electricity out to customers, he imagines a grid where customers produce their own power and compete with the local utility. Under Rive's vision for the grid, there's a smaller role — and less profit — for utilities.

"We need them to manage the lines and let the rest be a competitive market. Competition will drive innovation, which will then create products that we couldn't even think of today," he argues.

The big solar companies haven't given up completely on Nevada yet. SolarCity and others plan to challenge the changes to net metering, first in the courts and then with a ballot referendum in November.

The question now is whether Nevada's experience will spread to other states. Solar advocates successfully preserved incentives next door in California. Now they're focused on another sunny state, Arizona, where the next battle over residential solar incentives appears to be heating up.


AG Lynch: DOJ Has Discussed Whether to Pursue Civil Action Against Climate Change Deniers

Attorney General Loretta Lynch acknowledged Wednesday that there have been discussions within the Department of Justice about possibly pursuing civil action against so-called climate change deniers.

“This matter has been discussed. We have received information about it and have referred it to the FBI to consider whether or not it meets the criteria for which we could take action on,” Lynch said at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Justice Department operations.

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) raised the issue, drawing a comparison between possible civil action against climate change deniers and civil action that the Clinton administration pursued against the tobacco industry for claiming that the science behind the dangers of tobacco was unsettled.

“The similarities between the mischief of the tobacco industry pretending that the science of tobacco’s dangers was unsettled and the fossil fuel industry pretending that the science of carbon emissions’ dangers is unsettled has been remarked on widely, particularly by those who study the climate denial apparatus that the fossil fuel industry has erected,” Whitehouse said.

“Under President Clinton, the Department of Justice brought and won a civil RICO action against the tobacco industry for its fraud. Under President Obama, the Department of Justice has done nothing so far about the climate denial scheme,” Whitehouse added.

“A request for action by the Department of Justice has been referred by you to the FBI. My question to you is other than civil forfeitures and matters attendant to a criminal case, are there other circumstances in which a civil matter under the authority of the Department of Justice has been referred to the FBI?” he asked.

“Senator, thank you for raising that issue, and thank you for your work in this area. I know your commitment is deep. This matter has been discussed. We have received information about it and have referred it to the FBI to consider whether or not it meets the criteria for which we could take action on. I’m not aware of a civil referral at this time,” said Lynch.

“I will look into that and get back to you, but I’m not aware of a civil referral outside of the one that you just raised,” added Lynch.

“Are there any civil cases with the United States as plaintiff within DOJ’s civil division in which the FBI is preparing the case for the civil division?” Whitehouse asked.

“Are you regarding climate change issues?” Lynch asked.

“Regarding any matter,” Whitehouse asked.

“I couldn’t give you that information right now in terms of whether or not—” Lynch responded.

“I will take that as a question for the record,” Whitehouse said.


Clinton's Ecofascist Fracking Play

People on the Left may think they see a difference between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders as the two duke it out for the Democrat nomination, but those of us with common sense and constitutional principles only see two peas from the same pod.

Sanders has made no bones about his desire to grow the government to such an extent that it basically runs the means of production in this country. He’s a socialist, and that’s how socialists think. Clinton has pretended to embrace a (slightly) more laissez faire view of the economy that would allow business to take more care of itself. But that’s coming from a candidate who advocates lavish corporate welfare through the Export-Import Bank. Poor Boeing can’t compete without massive taxpayers subsidies, don’t you know.

Sunday’s debate was a good example of the commonality that exists between the two leftists. Sanders was asked about hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking” — the process by which American energy companies have produced a glut of oil and natural gas, thereby saving individual consumers hundreds of dollars a year. Sanders didn’t miss a beat, saying he does not support fracking and would ban the practice outright. Clinton’s answer was more nuanced on its face, but came out the same way.

Take a gander at this tripe from candidate Clinton: “You know, I don’t support it when any locality or any state is against it, number one. I don’t support it when the release of methane or contamination of water is present. I don’t support it — number three — unless we can require that anybody who fracks has to tell us exactly what chemicals they are using. So by the time we get through all of my conditions, I do not think there will be many places in America where fracking will continue to take place. And I think that’s the best approach, because right now, there are places where fracking is going on that are not sufficiently regulated.”

In short, after a bizarre and half-hearted paean to federalism, Clinton went on to conclude she intends to regulate fracking out of existence just like Barack Obama has done with the coal industry. But that is an utterly foolish move.

The low gas prices that Obama has taken credit for are largely a result of fracking. Again, the practice makes natural gas and oil cheaper to extract and energy more affordable. The Wall Street Journal reports that the average price of natural gas dropped close to 60% between 2008 and 2012. Furthermore, consumers have saved between $63 and $248 billion in 2013 alone, according to the Institute for Energy Research, and the savings continue to add up. The IER reported that without fracking, crude oil would cost $12 to $40 per barrel more. Not to mention that we’d be paying foreign countries for more oil.

These savings have been most beneficial to the poorest families in the country because they spend a larger part of their income on energy and transportation than wealthier families do. At a time when energy prices, like health care costs, are rising so fast they threaten the financial well-being of millions of families, any relief is welcome. And that’s particularly true of the relief at the gas pump coming from fracking.

Even the EPA, the ungodly monster that has become the principal tool for the Left’s forcible conversion of the American economy, has obliquely supported fracking. A draft report the agency published in June last year states, “We did not find evidence that [fracking] mechanisms have led to widespread, systemic impacts on drinking water sources in the United States.”

Clinton is having none of it. She has decided to go after the ecofascist vote and drive yet another clean, economical energy source into oblivion. Her proposals will drive up energy costs, but she doesn’t care. After all, it suits her politically, and she’s not exactly dead broke either. When was the last time she drove herself anywhere or filled up her gas tank? Or worried about whether she could pay her heating bill?

She remains shockingly unconcerned about the impact her policies would have on one of the constituencies she is supposedly looking out for. But, then again, it’s not about how Clinton can help. It’s about what her supporters can do to help her.


Britain: The Heathrow 13 are far from heroic

They aren't political activists, they're climate snobs

A group of 13 climate protesters, who broke into Heathrow airport and occupied a runway to stop planes from taking off, have narrowly avoided jail. The six women and seven men were given suspended jail terms of six weeks, meaning they will avoid prison completely if they stay out of trouble for 12 months. In a video on the court steps, the protesters, known as the Heathrow 13, promised they ‘would be back’, and suggested they were victims of a miscarriage of justice, even though the group had tweeted photographs of themselves in the act of committing the crime.

One thing that was immediately noticeable was just how posh they all were. Almost all of them had master’s degrees and PhDs. One was a lawyer working for a climate charity, who managed to obtain a character reference from Natalie Bennett, the leader of the Green Party. These were well-connected, educated people who made a decision to cause a major disruption that affected a large number of people. Their demonstration meant that 25 flights had to be cancelled.

Now, I would not have celebrated if the protesters had been jailed. But I do think that this contemptuous, sneering expression of elite climate snobbery was criminal. These were not downtrodden political prisoners being abused by the system – they were foppish middle-class climate snobs who thought that the law should not apply to them.

They did not want to accept responsibility for what they had done. They thought that their particular mode of politics was so important, so vital, that it had to be imposed on ignorant holidaymakers for their own good. And they even argued during their trial that their actions were ‘reasonable, proportionate and necessary to prevent death and serious injury via air pollution and climate change’. In other words, their defence was that they should be able to do what they think is right no matter how it impacts on the nasty people who want to go on holiday.

So if these protesters had been jailed, this would not have been any kind of miscarriage of justice. They were guilty. And this was not the first time some of the protesters had been up before the courts in relation to climate protesting: one had a previous conviction for aggravated trespass and others had cautions and warnings relating to climate protesting. While Oxfam announced that the sentences were ‘harsh’, they were in fact remarkably lenient. This is especially true given that many of the group had previous convictions.

The contemptuous nature of the protest made it all the more galling that the protesters received high-profile support. Bennett tweeted that avoiding jail was ‘justice’. Others called the 13 ‘heroic’, and said we should all be grateful for their ‘sacrifice’. Considering the demonstrations of this tedious middle-class mob were aimed squarely at us, the cheap-flight-hopping masses, it’s hard to imagine a more brash expression of contempt.

No doubt this won’t be the last we see of the Heathrow 13, who will probably continue to find new and equally stupid ways to disrupt the lives of normal people. No doubt they will continue to rely on their posh mates and gangs of earnest supporters to bail them out of trouble. No doubt they will continue to try to avoid taking responsibility for their actions. So, as a society, perhaps we should impose our own punishment: to become stronger in our resolve to defend the things these people despise. We should fly more, and fight for the right for more people to be able to fly more. Maybe then the Heathrow 13 will finally get the punishment they deserve.



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.  

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