Wednesday, September 14, 2016
Another false prophecy
The excerpt below is from a 2007 article. It correctly predicts that global CO2 levels will hit 400 ppm by 2015. Unlike temperature, CO2 has been rising fairly steadily so that was easy. What is amusing is what was predicted to happen when we got to 400ppm. Southern Spain was to be emptied out by the extreme heat, for instance. Someone tell the Gibraltarians!
Warmists are very attached to their prophecies. It's a good thing. The failure of a prediction is the normal scientific criterion for the theory that generated it being wrong. In that way, Warmist theories have repeatedly been shown as wrong. So a continued belief in anthropogenic global warming is a rejection of science.
One failed prediction might be just an aberration but the slew of uniformly wrong predictions we have seen from Warmists would be enough to kill any other theory stone dead. Warmist models have zero predictive skill, meaning that a rational person would ignore them
Environmentalist writer Mark Lynas’ new book about global warming takes for its metaphor Dante’s descent through the circles of hell. But while Dante was guided by the poetics of Virgil, Lynas follows the research findings of scientists; and while Dante plotted a route down through the unbaptised, gluttonous, slothful and treacherous, Lynas descends through one, two, three or even six degrees rise in global warming (we’re spared Dante’s final three circles of hell because the Intergovernmental Planet on Climate Change (IPCC) only estimated a rise in temperature of up to six degrees).
Dante dealt in moral failings such as betrayal and faithlessness; Lynas deals with the more anodyne stuff of car journeys to work and buying tropical fruit at the supermarket. Regardless, we will be visited with the results of our sinful actions, as daily energy usage is repaid in the rising of the planet’s mercury. The events described in the book will be our future, says Lynas, unless we ‘repent’ and cut back on energy consumption. His predictions go like this:
At one degree rise in temperature, the western USA is wracked by droughts: powerful dust and sandstorms ‘turn day into night across thousands of miles of former prairie’, while ‘farmsteads, roads and even entire towns will find themselves engulfed by blowing sand’. At two degrees, southern Spain will empty, with a ‘mass scramble to abandon barely habitable temperatures, as Saharan heatwaves sweep across the Med’. At three degrees, Texas is hit by ‘Super-Hurricane’ Odessa: ‘the winds from the storm’s eyewall slam into Houston, the gleaming towers of the central business district begin to sway ominously’. Four and five degrees are worse still. Then at six degrees there will be mass extinction, something approaching ‘global apocalypse and doom’ (it is ‘unlikely’ that humanity will be wiped out completely, but there will not be many of us left).
Each of these outcomes corresponds to a carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions scenario. A two degrees rise corresponds to a CO2 concentration of 400 parts per million, which means peaking global emissions by 2015 – eight years’ time – and cutting emissions to 90 per cent by 2050. A three degrees rise corresponds to peaking global emissions by 2030; four degrees to peaking by 2050. But in actual fact, says Lynas, if we want to avoid global apocalypse and doom we would have to keep within the ‘magic two-degree threshold’.
This is because environmental feedback systems will mean that the temperature will tip upwards, irrespective of our carbon dioxide outputs. As temperature rises, says Lynas, some ecosystems increasingly stop absorbing CO2 and they start to release it (or other greenhouse gases) instead. At three degrees, says Lynas, there is the collapse of the Amazon ecosystem, and soils start to release stored CO2; at four degrees, there is the release of methane from Siberia. ‘If we reach three degrees, therefore, that leads inexorably to four degrees, which leads inexorably to five.’ And at five there is an even more powerful feedback mechanism, the release of methane hydrate from the sea. The result is ‘runaway global warming’, against which ‘humanity would be powerless to intervene’. So it’s two degrees – 90 per cent cuts in carbon emissions by 2050 – or it’s apocalypse.
More nukes for South Africa
The Nuclear Industry Association of South Africa (NIASA) has welcomed the request for proposal (RFP) start date for procurement of new nuclear power plants. It called for localization to be a key factor in the selection of a vendor through a "fair and transparent" procurement process.
South Africa's Integrated Resource Plan for 2010-2030 calls for construction of 9.6 GWe of new nuclear capacity - supplying 23% of the country's electricity - with the first reactor to come online by 2023. Energy minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson told parliament on 7 September the long-awaited RFP for procurement will be issued on 30 September.
"Nuclear is an efficient and environmentally safe way to generate sufficient baseload power for our rapidly growing energy demands and necessary to grow our economy. It is not the only solution, but a critical component of the entire energy mix," NIASA said in response to Joemat-Petterson's announcement.
The South African cabinet gave the Department of Energy permission to issue the RFP in December 2015. Five reactor vendors are expected to be invited to submit proposals: China's SNPTC, France's EDF/Areva, Russia's Rosatom, South Korea's KEPCO, and the USA's Westinghouse. South Africa has signed intergovernmental agreements with all five countries concerned. Proposals are to specify reactor design, the degree of localization, financing and price.
NIASA said it supported calls for transparency in the nuclear new build program "in its entirety", but further called for an emphasis on local content and skills development as "founding principals" for selection of the winning vendor, or vendors, in order to secure "tangible development and meaningful employment" in the communities where the plants will be built and in the country as a whole.
"The nuclear project will not only support industry and create much needed employment, it will also create a platform upon which our economy can grow and develop," Knox Msbenzi, NIASA managing director, said.
The association also called for a "more robust debate" and "meaningful public participation in all key decision making milestones" throughout the procurement and construction process, taking into account lessons learned from previous large-scale South African infrastructure projects. "As a country we have experience of large-scale projects and we have varied experts to advise and guide us towards the successful delivery of the project over the next 20 years. We can draw valuable insights from both our successful projects, and the not so successful ones, and improve on our performance accordingly," Msebenzi said.
A final funding model for the project will be developed after the RFP process has been completed. NIASA said RFP and the responses of vendors would indicate the cost of the project and inform the debate on financing and risk mitigation models. "Whichever model is chosen, it should ideally have sufficient flexibility to allow for adjustments to the timing of construction of the fleet over the planned horizon.’ Msebenzi said.
Earlier this year South African utility Eskom, operator of the country's existing nuclear capacity at Koeberg, submitted site applications for nuclear installations at Thyspunt, in the Eastern Cape, and Duynefontein, in the Western Cape, to the country's National Nuclear Regulator. The applications are now undergoing public comment as part of the regulator's public participation process.
Eleven State Attorneys General Side With ExxonMobil in Climate Change Case
Attorneys general in 11 states have filed an amicus brief siding with ExxonMobil in a climate change case brought against the company by Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey.
Healey, a member of AGs United for Clean Power, attended a March 29 press conference in New York with other attorneys general and former Vice President Al Gore.
At the press conference, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced that “an unprecedented coalition” of state attorneys general from 18 states, the District of Columbia, and the Virgin Islands were taking legal action against companies like ExxonMobil that opposed President Obama’s Clean Power Plan and challenged the idea that human activity is causing catastrophic global warming.
Healey then issued a civil investigative demand (CID) for 40 years’ worth of ExxonMobil’s records to determine whether the company had violated her state’s consumer protection laws by not informing consumers and shareholders about the alleged dangers of global warming.
ExxonMobil responded in June by filing a complaint in federal district court in Fort Worth, Texas asking the court to stop Healey’s office from enforcing the CID.
“The statements by the attorneys general at the press conference, their meetings with climate activists and a plaintiffs’ attorney, and the remarkably broad scope of the CID unmask the investigation launched by the Massachusetts Attorney General for what it is: a prextextual use of law enforcement power to deter ExxonMobil from participating in ongoing public deliberation in the hope of finding some ammunition to enhance the Massachusetts Attorney General’s position in the policy debate concerning how to respond to climate change,” the court document stated.
It added that “Healey is abusing the power of government to silence a speaker she disfavors.”
On August 8, Healey countered that “the CID is premised on the Attorney General’s reasonable belief that Exxon violated or is violating Chapter 93A by making false, misleading, and fraudulent statements about climate change to Massachusetts consumers and investors.”
However, the 11 state attorneys general agreed with ExxonMobil that the CID is an encroachment on the company’s First Amendment rights.
“The authority attorneys general have to investigate fraud does not allow them to encroach on the constitutional freedom of others to engage in an ongoing public policy debate of international importance,” said the amicus brief, which was signed by the attorneys general of Alabama, Arizona, Louisiana, Michigan, Nebraska, Nevada, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas, Utah and Wisconsin.
“At the “AGs United for Clean Power” press conference, a coalition of liberal state attorneys general announced they were going to use their official authority to go after one side of the policy debate on climate change. This overt use of governmental power to shut down particular viewpoints is a blatant violation of the Constitution,” said Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, who filed the amicus brief Thursday in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas.
“The Constitution was written to protect citizens from government witch-hunts that are nothing more than an attempt to suppress speech on an issue of public importance, just because a government official happens to disagree with that particular viewpoint,” Paxton said.
Citing the First Amendment as “a bulwark against Government action designed to suppress ideas or information, or to manipulate the public debate through coercion rather than persuasion,” the amicus brief argues that “Massachusetts labeling its so-called investigation (into an unsettled area of science and public policy) as related to ‘fraud’ certainly ‘raises the specter that the Government may effectively drive certain ideas or viewpoints from the marketplace’.
“Massachusetts presumes that the scientific debate regarding climate change is somehow settled, along with the related and equally important public policy debate on how to respond to what science has found. Yet, neither is true,” the brief states.
“Using law enforcement authority to resolve a public policy debate undermines the trust invested in our offices and threatens free speech,” the 11 AGs argued.
“As most must recognize, vigorous debate exists in this country regarding the risks of climate change and the appropriate response to those risks. Both sides are well-funded and sophisticated public policy participants. Whatever our country’s response, it will affect people, communities, and businesses that all have a right to participate in this debate. Thus, attorneys general should stop policing viewpoints,” the amicus brief concludes.
In July, House Science, Space and Technology Chairman Lamar Smith (R-TX) subpoenaed documents from Healey and other members of the group after emails surfaced indicating a “coordinated” attack on climate change skeptics.
Healey cited various legal privileges as state attorney general in her refusal to comply with the congressional subpoena. But in an August 24 letter, Smith informed her that “the Committee finds these objections without merit and rejects your claims of privilege.”
The EPA Uses New Math to Justify Costly Global Warming Regulation
When calculating the future impacts of government action, the federal government has very specific rules about how the calculation should be done. The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) clearly states that when calculating the cost of future impacts a standard “discount rate” of 7% should be used (a discount rate is used to take account of the fact that $10 today is worth more than $20 10 years from now). But when it comes to global warming regulation, that 7% rate is a problem for bureaucrats. With a 7% discount rate, the present cost of future global warming is virtually zero, even using the federal government’s excessively alarmist models. What’s a radical federal bureaucrat to do when math says that global warming will have virtually no negative economic effect? Well, they take a page from Common Core and change how they do the math.
In 2010, global warming alarmists in the Obama administration set out to find a way to justify the huge costs of the global warming regulations they wanted to pursue. This effort focused on creating a “social cost of carbon,” which purports to put a dollar figure on the alleged future economic harms of global warming. The bureaucrats could then take this theoretical “cost” and use it to claim that their regulations were actually saving the economy from future damage.
To estimate future costs, the government selected three integrated assessment models which try to project the economic future. Not surprisingly, all three tend to estimate substantial harms from global warming, even though there is still a great deal of debate over both how much warming might happen in the future and whether any such warming will be harmful (but for the purposes of this discussion that can be left aside). When the federal government’s standard 7% discount rate was applied to these theorized future harms, the present value of those costs dwindled to insignificance. Indeed, applied to one of the models, the present “cost” is actually negative, implying that taking no action to reduce carbon dioxide could actually be economically beneficial. In other words, more economic growth today will be more beneficial to future Americans than restrictive regulation, even if we assume significant future harm from global warming.
Of course this result could not be allowed to stand. The whole point of a social cost of carbon is to artificially inflate the benefits of global warming regulation. So the bureaucrats do what they do best: change the rules to get the outcome they wanted. In this case, the Obama administration used different, much smaller discount rates. The administration publicized a calculated social cost of carbon for discount rates of 5%, 3% and 2.5%, completely disregarding the required 7%. Then they chose the “mid-range” of their new three lower rates, and announced a social cost of carbon of $36 per ton of carbon dioxide (in contrast to close to $0 per ton at a 7% rate).
The upshot is that now for every global warming regulation that claims to reduce carbon dioxide (a colorless, non-toxic, non-polluting gas that is necessary for plant life on earth) is considered to be providing benefits of $36 for every ton of reduction. Given that virtually every human activity, including breathing, generates carbon dioxide, the federal government can now claim “climate benefits” for almost any regulatory action it undertakes. And just last month, a federal court deferred to the federal government’s decision to use this value for social cost of carbon.
The dishonesty and inside-dealing here is obvious. A group of global warming alarmists, using exaggerated models, disregarded federal guidelines and cooked the books until they got an outcome they liked. And there are even some radical environmentalists that say that this inflated number they manufactured is still too low! Talk about rigging the system.
In new book, scholar peels back layers of deception on global warming
Michael Hart is a former official in Canada’s Department of Foreign Affairs and now emeritus professor of international affairs at the Norman Paterson School of International Affairs at Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada, where he has taught courses on the laws and institutions of international trade, Canadian foreign policy, and the politics of climate change. He held the Fulbright-Woodrow Wilson Center Visiting Research Chair in Canada-U.S. Relations and was Scholar-in-Residence in the School of International Service, Senior Fellow at American University in Washington, and is the founder and director emeritus of Carleton University’s Centre for Trade Policy and Law. In addition, he has taught courses in several other countries. He is the author, editor, or co-editor of more than a dozen books and several hundred articles.
LifeSiteNews interviewed him during a conference on Catholic Perspectives on the Environment, sponsored by the Wojtyla Institute for Teachers, held at Our Lady Seat of Wisdom in Barry’s Bay, Ontario, August 4-6, 2016.
1) Professor Hart, your book Hubris: The Troubling Science, Economics, and Politics of Climate Change, has recently been published. In it, you challenge a worldwide project that has become something of a sacred cow. Can you tell our readers what motivated you to begin your research into the subject?
I was initially motivated by questions from my students – and my wife – about the policy implications of climate change. The more I looked into it, however, the more I learned the extent to which it fit with one of my research interests: the extent to which modern health, safety, and environmental regulatory activity relies on poor science advanced by activists to push an agenda. I learned that both domestic and international actors had succeeded in using the poorly understood science of climate change to advance an ambitious environmental agenda focused on increasing centralized control over people’s daily lives.
2) How long did the research and writing stages take?
I started researching the issue 10 years ago, and found myself engaged in a project that was both challenging and critical to understanding a movement determined to use the climate issue to advance a utopian agenda.
3) Your critique of the problems involved in climate change theory is wide ranging. Your approach is lucid and fastidiously documented, an eminently reasonable assessment of the scientific data that have been used and misused to support the theory. How is the “science” being misused?
The global climate is one of the most complex, chaotic, non-linear natural systems we know. It is in a constant state of flux due to such factors as changes in the output of the sun, changes in Earth’s orbit around the sun, and oscillations in ocean heat uptake. The alarm movement has taken one such factor – growth in the minor atmospheric greenhouse gas carbon dioxide – to claim that human activity is changing the atmosphere to an alarming degree, leading inexorably to a much warmer climate. While increased atmospheric carbon dioxide – from .03 to .04 percent of the atmosphere – should lead to some warming, the extent of that warming within the context of a complex system that is in a constant state of flux due to numerous forcings and feedbacks is highly exaggerated. As UK science journalist Matt Ridley points out, “Environmental researchers are increasingly looking for evidence that fits their ideology rather than seeking the truth.” The best evidence indicates that the mild warming at the end of the 20th century was well within historical and geologic experience. Over the first decade and a half of the 21st century, there has been no net warming. The alarmist movement relies extensively on flawed computer models to make its case.
4) Equally important is your in-depth analysis of the sociological pressures, and one might say, the psychological pressures and manipulation brought to bear upon scientists. In the chapter titled “Science and its Pathologies,” we read about how this is done on numerous levels in the academic and scientific communities. Why is a theory that is supported by so little empirical data being promoted as fact?
More than one motivation drives the abuse of science. Among scientists, the primary reasons are money, career advancement, and prestige. In order to pursue their research programs, scientists need money from governments and foundations. They have learned that satisfying the agenda of both helps funds to flow. As a result, they have learned to adapt their research to the desired outcomes. Related to money and careers is the need to publish in so-called prestige journals on the basis of peer review of their work. As I explain in my book, over the years, much of peer review has degenerated into pal review that maintains the dominant perspective. Views that challenge that perspective are ruthlessly weeded out. Additionally, a significant amount of published research fails numerous tests of reliability due to sloppy methods, misuse and abuse of statistics, ignored negative findings, and other failings in scientific integrity. Climate change science has been particularly prone to these failings. Nobel Prize winners such as Robert Jastrow and Freeman Dyson have become increasingly critical of the course of modern science. Many indicate that the insights that led to their Nobel Prize would never have passed current peer review.
5) In addition, there are very disturbing propaganda techniques being used to promote the theory to the general public. Who is behind this?
The leaders driving the climate change movement come from a variety of persuasions. The environmental movement found in the alarm about global warming – now climate change – a potent new way in which to raise funds and increase awareness of its broader concerns about the state of the environment. UN officials learned that concern about climate change could be harnessed to bolster support for UN social and economic programs and to advance the UN’s goal of world governance by experts. Left-wing politicians discovered in climate change renewed ways to press their agenda of social and economic justice through coercive government programs. As John Sununu, the former governor of New Hampshire, sees it, “The alarmists have learned well from the past. They saw what motivates policy makers is not necessarily just hard science, but a well-orchestrated symphony of effort … announce a disaster; cherry pick some results; back it up with computer modeling; proclaim a consensus; stifle the opposition; take over the process and control the funding; and roll the policy makers.” In their more candid moments, movement leaders agree, as did Timothy Wirth, former U.S. Senator and chief climate envoy during the Clinton administration: “We’ve got to ride the global warming issue. Even if the theory of global warming is wrong, we will be doing the right thing.”
6) Obviously, throughout history climate has always been in a state of change. Is the current obsession with it symptomatic of something deeper in contemporary human consciousness?
Alarm over a changing climate leading to malign results is in many ways the product of the hunger for stability and direction in a post-Christian world. Humans have a deep, innate need for a transcendent authority. Having rejected the precepts of Christianity, people in the advanced economies of the West are turning to other forms of authority. Putting aside those who cynically exploit the issue for their own gain – from scientists and politicians to UN leaders and green businesses – most activists are deeply committed to a secular, statist, anti-human, earth-centric set of beliefs which drives their claims of a planet in imminent danger from human activity. To them, a planet with fewer people is the ultimate goal, achievable only through centralized direction and control. As philosopher of science Jeffrey Foss points out, “Environmental science conceives and expresses humankind’s relationship to nature in a manner that is – as a matter of observable fact – religious.” It “prophesies an environmental apocalypse. It tells us that the reason we confront apocalypse is our own environmental sinfulness. Our sin is one of impurity. We have fouled a pure, ‘pristine’ nature with our dirty household and industrial wastes. The apocalypse will take the form of an environmental backlash, a payback for our sins. … environmental scientists tell people what they must do to be blameless before nature.”
7) Is it a case of over-focus on one aspect of life on this planet to the detriment of other aspects? Or is it purely a device being used for political purposes?
I think it is both. For some, such as movement leaders, UN officials, and many politicians, the issue is being cynically exploited to advance their agenda of greater control over human lives. For others, particularly rank and file environmental activists, climate change serves to reinforce and validate their broader concerns to the exclusion of many other dimensions of human life.
8) Those of us who are older recall the “urban legend” (or global myth), one might say, created by books such as Future Shock and The Population Bomb, which swept the world in the late 1960s and 70s, fostering a sense of panic regarding the future of mankind. At the very least, they spread an atmosphere of alarmism, forcing people to look for radical solutions to the human condition. They were based on questionable science and yet were promoted as authentic. Is our current favorite cause the same kind of passing phenomenon, or is something more serious happening?
I believe it is a similar phenomenon, but one that has captured the imagination and concerns of more people and has more support among elites. In my view, it is potentially more troubling and damaging than these earlier alarms.
9) You state that “official science,” the alliance of governments and bogus science, is a form of immorality pretending to be virtue. You conclude the book with a warning: The apparently idealistic combat against climate change, you assert, may well prove to be the mechanism for ushering in a Utopia. You maintain that utopian dreams may appear in the beginning to be about freedom and quality of life and yet will degenerate into what you and other thinkers have called “totalitarian democracy” — which means the destruction of authentic liberal democracy. Is this inevitable?
I am optimistic. I do not think its long-term success is inevitable, but it will take a determined effort by people of faith and conscience to point to its darker motives and its sinister exploitation of populist fears. We know from history that such movements have a predictable life cycle: They emerge with much enthusiasm among intellectual elites, they gain a broad following by focusing on alarmist predictions before becoming part of the political mainstream, and then decline into a minor movement among fringe intellectuals as a new alarm movement takes its place. The problem is that such movements can do a lot of damage and remain embedded within the intellectual community with the ability to rise, phoenix-like, as a new alarm. Former adherents of the eugenics movement and its successor, population control, for example, are now an integral part of the climate change alarm movement.
10) Numerous thinkers, as diverse as the atheist Aldous Huxley and the Catholic philosopher Josef Pieper, have warned that this kind of totalitarianism is the most dangerous of all, because it can always argue that it is not what, in fact, it is. Are we there yet? Or is the process still reversible?
I remain cautiously optimistic. Popular support for climate change action peaked a few years ago. In Europe, which has gone furthest in implementing climate change policies, politicians are beginning to look for ways to moderate earlier initiatives. In North America, rhetoric has far outstripped actions while the Obama administration has relied on stealth to implement its climate change agenda. At the same time, climate change has added to the momentum of the broader secularization of society and the pursuit of anti-human policies and programs. We are, sadly, farther down that road than we have ever been before.
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Posted by JR at 12:15 AM