Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Extreme weather events have NOT become more frequent in recent times

Warmists never tire of claiming that global warming is causing more extreme weather events, particularly of the windy variety.  Skeptics in turn  point to statistics showing (for instance) that hurricane landfalls on the USA have in fact been much reduced in the last 10 or so years.

The authors below however rightly argue that if you are going to detect trends, you need as long a time series as possible.  What has happened over the last 10 or 20 years may not be typical.  So they go back to 1872 to get their data for analysis. And they devise methods of statistical analysis that take account of the relative rarity of such events.

So they divide their data into two halves, an early half and a later half.  And they find that there has been no change in the frequency of extreme events between the first half and the second half.  From 1872 to 2011, there was no  change in the frequency of extreme weather events

The prophecy that global warming would bring on more extreme weather events was always on fairly shaky theoretical ground  anyway.

The opening clause in their Abstract below would have been needed to get their article published

Need for Caution in Interpreting Extreme Weather Statistics

Prashant D. Sardeshmukh and Gilbert P. Compo


Given the reality of anthropogenic global warming, it is tempting to seek an anthropogenic component in any recent change in the statistics of extreme weather. This paper cautions that such efforts may, however, lead to wrong conclusions if the distinctively skewed and heavy-tailed aspects of the probability distributions of daily weather anomalies are ignored or misrepresented. Departures of several standard deviations from the mean, although rare, are far more common in such a distinctively non-Gaussian world than they are in a Gaussian world. This further complicates the problem of detecting changes in tail probabilities from historical records of limited length and accuracy.

A possible solution is to exploit the fact that the salient non-Gaussian features of the observed distributions are captured by so-called stochastically generated skewed (SGS) distributions that include Gaussian distributions as special cases. SGS distributions are associated with damped linear Markov processes perturbed by asymmetric stochastic noise and as such represent the simplest physically based prototypes of the observed distributions. The tails of SGS distributions can also be directly linked to generalized extreme value (GEV) and generalized Pareto (GP) distributions. The Markov process model can be used to provide rigorous confidence intervals and to investigate temporal persistence statistics. The procedure is illustrated for assessing changes in the observed distributions of daily wintertime indices of large-scale atmospheric variability in the North Atlantic and North Pacific sectors over the period 1872–2011. No significant changes in these indices are found from the first to the second half of the period.


An Inconvenient Truth: Liberal Climate Inquisition Can’t Explain Past Temperature Changes

In the week prior to the administration signing what should constitute an international climate treaty, one think tank, the Competitive Enterprise Institute, was subpoenaed for casting doubt on the agreement’s associated science of climate catastrophe.

As disturbing as such thuggery from state attorneys general would be in any case, the premise of the subpoena is faulty. The Competitive Enterprise Institute did not cast doubt on the dubious climate science. The actual data cast the doubt. The think tank and others have simply pointed out what the data show.

It looks like thoughtcrime has now moved from George Orwell’s novel “1984” to the twisted reality of our judicial system. Pointing out facts should never be a real crime.

The Heritage Foundation’s new Paris-bubble-popping science summary is also a case of letting the numbers tell a story. A story many never hear in the media-hyped spectacle that is international climate policy.DS-climate-science-termperatures-700

For instance, the chart above shows reconstructed average world temperature data for the past 500,000 years. Depending on the magnification and size of your monitor, each pencil dot would span something on the order of 1,000 years. The myriad 10-degree Celsius temperature flips all happened before man-made carbon dioxide could have had any impact—the final temperature spike started at the end of the last ice age.

Now see if you can follow this: The “science thought police” insist that even though none of the temperature variations for the first 499,950 years had anything to do with human activity, virtually none of the temperature increases of the past 50 years had anything to do with nature. Got it?

A question some overzealous attorneys general might be asking right now is, “Where did this ‘denier’ data come from?” The answer is: the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Climatic Data Center website (to be very clear, it is part of the federal government).

If those who merely point to data that are inconsistent with an imminent climate crisis are thought criminals, how much more subpoena worthy would be those who actually created the data? This expands the thoughtcrime conspiracy to an entirely new set of perps.

Should the hyperventilating attorneys general subpoena the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in its entirety or just the researchers? If donors to think tanks are subpoenaed simply because the think tanks pointed to this data, should not the U.S. Treasury be subpoenaed for actually funding these doubt-creating data?

In any event, it seems disingenuous to wave off huge past temperature changes as entirely natural while branding as science-denying fraudsters those who assert that natural forces are likely still to be playing a significant role. This is a problem for the U.N. Climate Agreement and its signers.

If natural forces have played a significant role in the moderate and unsteady temperature increases of the past 60 years, then what’s the climate hysteria about? If there is no need for hysteria, there is no need for the Paris climate agreement.


A Few Facts For Climate Alarmists Waging War Against Astrophysicist Willie Soon

Dr. Willie Soon is an astrophysicist in the Solar, Stellar and Planetary Sciences Division of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He began as a post-doctoral fellow in 1991 and took his scientist position in 1997. His subsequent career is a textbook example of speaking truth to power and bravely facing the consequences.

Dr. Soon produced an important series of astrophysics papers on the sun-climate connection beginning in 1994 and received positive discussion in the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s second and third assessment reports (1996 and 2001). In that era, the IPCC still admitted uncertainties about human influence, despite green NGO pressure and U.S. State Department insistence on finding a “smoking gun” in weak data.

Even Bert Bolin, co-creator and first chairman of the IPCC (1988-1997), deplored the denial of uncertainty he saw rising. In his 2007 History of the Science and Politics of Climate Change (page 112), Bolin wrote, “It was non-governmental groups of environmentalists, supported by the mass media who were the ones exaggerating the conclusions that had been carefully formulated by the IPCC.” In 1997 Bolin went so far as to tell the Associated Press, “Global warming is not something you can ‘prove.’ You try to collect evidence and thereby a picture emerges.”

Dr. Soon’s study of solar influence on climate behavior made him a target for alarmists, but he had defenders. In 2013, the Boston Globe acknowledged his guts and sound science with a quote from iconic science leader, Freeman Dyson: “The whole point of science is to question accepted dogmas. For that reason, I respect Willie Soon as a good scientist and a courageous citizen.”

In February of 2015, Greenpeace agent Kert Davies, a vocal critic since 1997, falsely accused Dr. Soon of wrongfully taking fossil-fuel company grants by failing to disclose “conflicts of interest” to an academic journal. The journal’s editors and the Smithsonian Institution found no violation of their disclosure or conflict of interest rules. However, the Greenpeace accusation caused a clamor around the world as lazy liberal reporters repeated it for major media with no fact-checking for accuracy.

The Greenpeace ruckus brought high-level Obama administration pressure on the Harvard-Smithsonian Center to silence climate skeptics – Vice President Joe Biden is a member of Smithsonian’s Board of Regents. The Institution responded with an elaborate new Directive on Standards of Conduct that forced its employees to wade through bureaucratic rules replete with an Ethics Counselor and a “Loyalty to the Smithsonian” clause of a sort not seen since the McCarthy Red Scare.

The Institution announced an Inspector General investigation of Soon, combing his emails and announcing that he had broken no rules. That seriously stung the NGO-Media-Politician coalition, which launched more attacks.

Ten days apart in the Spring of 2016, two outlets published stories scurrilously demonizing Dr. Soon. Both articles were long on bias and bogus claims but short on facts. The two activist/writers, David Hasemyer of the controversial Rockefeller-funded InsideClimateNews and Paul Basken of the for-profit Delaware corporation, The Chronicle of Higher Education, seem to have forgotten journalistic ethics and the facts.

Basken’s March 25 item, “A Year After a Climate-Change Controversy, Smithsonian and Journals Still Seek Balance on Disclosure Rules,” bemoans the fact that last year’s load of Greenpeace false accusations hadn’t caused the Institution to impose harsh enough rules to get rid of all scientists with climate skeptic views. Any fact checking didn’t show.

Hasemyer’s April 5, 2016 piece, “Smithsonian Gives Nod to More ‘Dark Money’ Funding for Willie Soon,” bewails the fact that Soon’s employer didn’t follow their playbook but approved a $65,000 grant from the non-profit Donors Trust, which is despised by greens because it uses anonymous “donor-advised-funds.” Such “dark money” grants are an IRS-approved shield pioneered decades ago by the far-left Tides Foundation for its $1.1 billion worth of grants to radicals, much of it “dark,” which Hasemyer didn’t seem to recall.

Hasemyer also neglected to note that even if Donors Trust’s “dark” grant came from ExxonMobil Foundation, the fossil-fuel philanthropy also gave universities $64,674,989; museums $2,771,150; the Red Cross $2,549,434; the Conservation Fund, Nature Conservancy and similar groups $1,210,000; Habitat for Humanity $798,000, Ducks Unlimited, $402,000 and many more from 1998 to 2014 according to IRS records. Will they be demonized as shills too?

Neither Hasemyer nor Basken displayed any familiarity with what scientists have to go through in order to do science in the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics or how it works, which is the bedrock of sound, ethical journalism on the topic.

The Center combines the Harvard College Observatory and the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory under a single director to pursue studies of the universe. It is comprised of six divisions, and Dr. Soon is listed in the Solar, Stellar, and Planetary Sciences (SSP) Division.

About one-third of the Center’s scientists, including Willie Soon, are employed in what are called “Smithsonian Trust positions.” These positions are held mostly by PhD specialists, unlike Federal civil service. According to the Smithsonian Employee Handbook, Federal position paychecks are paid from the Smithsonian’s annual Federal appropriation and Trust position paychecks are paid from the Smithsonian’s Trust Fund. Scientists in Trust positions are paid by the hour with a Smithsonian paycheck.

Scientists in Trust positions must find donors who will give the Smithsonian grants that pay for the science. An employee information document states, “Obtaining competitive funding is an important part of the scientists’ jobs and a measure of their career success.” The grants always go directly to the Smithsonian for the science project with a 30 to 40 percent cut off the top for the Institution’s management and overhead, but never go directly to the scientist. Media attacks on Dr. Soon misrepresenting his success at this duty as nefarious are either ignorant or disingenuous.

Scientists in Trust positions must follow exacting procedures in order to obtain grants for their science according to the rules in the elaborate Contract and Grant Administration document.

The prescribed steps most relevant to Dr. Soon’s position are: First, the scientists must prepare a draft of their proposed scientific project or work. The draft then goes for pre-approval to the Director’s Office, held since 2004 by distinguished astronomer Charles Alcock. The scientists must give the Director suggestions for potential funders, but all decisions are the Director’s.

If the Director approves the draft proposal, he signs it and gives it to the Grant Office, which prepares the presentation package, including a budget, the approved proposal, and a cover letter formally requesting a grant. The Director signs the cover letter and the grant officer sends it to the potential donor.

The donor replies to the Director saying yes or no. If yes, the reply may contain a pledge to be paid when invoiced by the Center or direct payment to Smithsonian, which handles all of the Center’s money. The scientist who performs the project may not know and has no need to know who gave the grant.

When scientists perform an “off the clock” (unpaid) study to be published in a peer-reviewed journal and pays for it out of personal funds, as Willie Soon has on numerous occasions over the years, all Smithsonian approvals and checkpoints must still be passed. Claims that Dr. Soon has pocketed any off-the-clock grant money have all been shown false.

Writers who accuse Dr. Soon of wrongdoing despite firm evidence to the contrary are violating the Code of Ethics of the Society of Professional Journalists, which states, among many other points: “Ethical journalism should be accurate and fair. Journalists should examine the ways their values and experiences may shape their reporting. Journalists should support the open and civil exchange of views, even views they find repugnant.”

The hostile coverage attacking Dr. Soon could hardly be considered ethical journalism by these professional standards. The writers and publishers of such unethical journalism should be brought to account.


Feds Offer $25 Million in Grants for Solar Energy Projects; Solar Has Increased ‘23-Fold’ Under Obama

The U.S. Department of Energy announced on Monday that $25 million in grant funding is available for solar power projects through the “Enabling Extreme Real-Time Grid Integration of Solar Energy (ENERGISE) effort.

The money will be awarded to software developers, solar companies and utilities to “accelerate the integration of solar energy into the grid.”

“Since President Obama took office, the amount of solar power installed in the U.S. has increased 23-fold—from 1.2 gigawatts in 2008 to an estimated 27.4 gigawatts in 2015, with one million systems now in operation,” the announcement said.

DOE acknowledged the challenge of “balancing” solar with “traditional utility generation,” but said this funding “will help support companies working to meet that challenge,” although the way in which this will be done is not explained.

“Our ongoing grid modernization work will help accelerate the widespread adoption of the clean energy resources that will define our low-carbon future,” Lynn Orr, Energy Department under secretary for science and energy, said in a statement. “This funding will help that mission by supporting industry partners working to integrate, store, and deploy solar energy throughout our electric grid.

“In doing so, we hope to drive down costs and encourage even more American homeowners and businesses to install solar systems,” Orr said.

The funding announcement is part of the Obama administration’s ongoing effort to promote solar energy while at the same time putting more regulations in place for other traditional energy resources, despite the federal Energy Information Administration statistics that show only 10 percent of energy was generated by renewable sources like solar in the U.S. in 2014, while petroleum (35 percent), natural gas (28 percent) and coal (18 percent) supply the most energy in the United States.

“The SunShot Initiative, which is managed by DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), will oversee the projects associated with this funding opportunity,” the announcement said, noting that SunShot is a collaborative national effort launched in 2011 that “aggressively drives innovation to make solar energy cost competitive – without subsidies – with traditional energy sources before the end of the decade.”

The funding description stated that SunShot “expects to make between 10 and 15 awards ranging between $500,000 and $4,000,000” for near-term projects and “between $500,000 and $2,000,000” for long–term challenge projects.

The Grid Modernization Initiative (GMI), announced in March 2015, represents “a comprehensive effort to help shape the future of our nation’s grid and solve the challenges of integrating conventional and renewable sources with energy storage and smart buildings, while ensuring that the grid is resilient and secure to withstand growing cybersecurity and climate challenges.”


Hillary Clinton Will Continue Obama’s War on Coal

Following Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton’s comments about the decline of the coal industry in the United States, FreedomWorks CEO Adam Brandon responded:

“The reason the coal industry is suffering in this country is because of the policies of the Obama administration. When he first ran for president, Barack Obama made it clear that he intended to bankrupt the coal industry. When he couldn’t get his destructive cap-and-trade plan through Congress, he used the EPA to promulgate regulations on the coal industry that will cost our economy between $29 billion and $39 billion annually.”

“If Hillary Clinton was serious about helping the economies of coal states, she would pledge to reverse the regulatory onslaught of the Obama administration. Unfortunately, she has already indicated that she plans to continue waging the war on coal and double down on radical environmental policies that are devastating coal states and destroying jobs.”

FreedomWorks aims to educate, build, and mobilize the largest network of activists advocating the principles of smaller government, lower taxes, free markets, personal liberty and the rule of law.


"Green" subsidies kill off a coal-fired electricity generator in South Australia

The coal furnaces at Alinta Energy's Port Augusta power station in South Australia's north will go cold today as it goes offline.

Less than a year ago, Alinta Energy announced the station — which is the city's bigger employer — would close after the company struggled to compete with government-backed renewable energy.

The company closed its coal mine at Leigh Creek, which fuelled its Playford A power station late last year, but trainloads of coal have been making the journey to the power station several times a week until only recently. The mine had employed more than 250 people.

Alinta chief executive Jeff Dimery said the closure was sad for workers but inevitable. "The reality is, the technology we are using here is old, the cost structures are high and there's no longer a place for us in the market," Mr Dimery said. "It was inevitable. It is inevitable that more coal-fired power stations will close into the future."

He said some families had three generations who worked in energy production at the site, which started with the State Electricity Company.

Port Augusta's mayor Sam Johnson said the power station helped diversify the city's economy when it was a rail hub in the 1940s and 50s. "It gave a significant economic injection into Port Augusta both then and over its 62-year history," he said.

"[It's] a bit of a mixed feeling in Port Augusta at the moment and we've all known this now for the last 11 months that it is coming to an end. "It will have a big impact on Port August, big impact on the region and a big impact on the state."

Decommissioning to take up to two years

Mr Johnson said people had already left the area to find work elsewhere, but some had kept their houses with the intention to "return home". About 140 employees at the site will leave over the next fortnight, but some will stay on for decommissioning.

The decommissioning process could take about 18 months to two years to complete. The Playford B power station was mothballed in 2012.

Alinta Energy worker Gary Rowbottom said the mood at the station had been "fairly sombre". "I think everyone's feeling that sadness and wondering what comes next for them," Mr Rowbottom said.

SA Treasurer Tom Koutsantonis said the old coal-fired generator "was past its day". "The truth is, the reason it is closing is it couldn't make money in this market. The reason it can't make money in this market is even though it does pour in relatively cheap power into the grid, renewable energy is cheaper [due to subsidies]".



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