Sunday, December 18, 2016

Greenies never give up: "attribution analyses" used to tie global warming to extreme weather

We see below that the latest toy of the Warmists is attribution analysis, a technique originally devised to analyse movements in share prices on the stock exchange.  And we all know how well modelling predicted the big financial crash of 2008, don't we?  They were caught with their algebraical pants down and a lot of smarties got badly burnt.  I construct my share portfolio according to very simple rules and it survived largely unscathed.

And once again it is modelling crap below.  I quote from the journal abstract: " Confidence in results and ability to quickly do an attribution analysis depend on the “three pillars” of event attribution: the quality of the observational record, the ability of models to simulate the event, and our understanding of the physical processes that drive the event and how they are being impacted by climate change. "

So it's just fancy guesswork.   When any of their models show predictive skill will be the time to take their  modelling seriously, but there is no sign of that on the horizon

A new scientific report finds man-made climate change played some role in two dozen extreme weather events last year but not in a few other weird weather instances around the world.

An annual report released Thursday by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration found climate change was a factor, however small or large, in 24 of 30 strange weather events.

They include 11 cases of high heat, as well as unusual winter sunshine in the United Kingdom, Alaskan wildfires and odd 'sunny day' flooding in Miami.

The study documented climate change-goosed weather in Alaska, Washington state, the southeastern United States, Canada, Europe, Australia, China, Japan, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, the western north Pacific cyclone region, India, Pakistan, Egypt, Ethiopia and southern Africa.

'There has to be evidence for it and that's what these papers do,' said NOAA scientist Stephanie Herring, co-editor of the report.

In six cases — including cold snaps in the United States and downpours in Nigeria and India — the scientists could not detect climate change's effects.

Other scientists, though, disputed that finding for the cold snap that hit the Northeast.

Herring highlighted the Miami flooding in September 2015. Because of rising sea levels and sinking land, extremely high tides flooded the streets with 22 inches of water.

'This one is just very remarkable because truly, not a cloud in the sky, and these types of tidal nuisance flooding events are clearly become more frequent,' she said.

The report also found an increase in tropical cyclone activity and strength in the western Pacific can be blamed partly on climate change and partly on El Nino, the now-gone natural weather phenomenon.

But similar storm strengthening hasn't increased noticeably around the United States yet, said study co-editor Martin Hoerling, a NOAA scientist.

The report was published in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society.

Using accepted scientific techniques, 116 scientists from around the world calculated whether the odds of the extreme weather events were increased by global warming.

They based their calculations on observed data, understanding of the physics of the climate and computer simulations — techniques that the National Academy of Sciences said were valid earlier this year.

Columbia University meteorology professor Adam Sobel, who was on the national academy panel but not part of this report, praised the NOAA study but noted it wasn't comprehensive.

It picked only certain but not all weather extremes to study.

For the February 2015 Northeast cold snap, other scientists have connected the polar vortex pushing south to shrinking ice in the Arctic Ocean.

Judah Cohen, seasonal forecasting chief at Atmospheric Environmental Research in Lexington, Massachusetts, said he even predicted the 2015 polar vortex because of the low sea ice.

He said the same thing is happening with the bitter cold hitting the U.S. this week.

NOAA's Hoerling said the research found a connection between the shrinking ice and the polar vortex but didn't see one causing the other.


Obama EPA Digs for Strife in Fracking Farewell

What do the EPA and OPEC have in common? Not much, but they do share at least one goal: Doing whatever it takes to quash America’s shale bonanza. In May this year, the U.S. Energy Information Administration reported that “[t]he United States remained the world’s top producer of petroleum and natural gas hydrocarbons in 2015,” a trend that began in 2012 thanks in large measure to hydraulic fracturing. This has put the historically market-dominating OPEC in a conundrum.

That’s not to say the fracking industry isn’t facing its own trials. Shale manufactures have had to either reduce oil extraction or shut down altogether due to the years-long spiral in global oil prices. And OPEC has a strategy for keeping it that way. According to Emmanuel Kachikwu, the oil minister for Nigeria, “Sixty [dollars per barrel] I think would be ideal. Once you begin to trend past the mid-$60s, you’re going to have a surfeit of shale producers jump back into the market. Technology is improving with shale every day, and so the cost of production is continuing to drop.”

Fair enough. That’s just business, though the strategy isn’t necessarily a long-term lock because of the evolution of shale machinery. But what isn’t fair is the EPA’s gerrymandering on the issue.

A June 2015 EPA draft report shot down some of the environmental concerns over fracking when it declared, “We did not find evidence that [various] mechanisms have led to widespread, systemic impacts on drinking water resources in the United States.” The final iteration was finally unveiled Tuesday. This time, however, the language is noticeably less amiable.

“EPA identified cases of impacts on drinking water at each stage in the hydraulic fracturing water cycle,” the report now claims. “Impacts cited in the report generally occurred near hydraulically fractured oil and gas production wells and ranged in severity, from temporary changes in water quality, to contamination that made private drinking water wells unusable.”

In fairness, the report does say, “Because of these data gaps and uncertainties, as well as others described in the assessment, it was not possible to fully characterize the severity of impacts, nor was it possible to calculate or estimate the national frequency of impacts on drinking water resources from activities in the hydraulic fracturing water cycle.” Regardless, The New York Times jumped on the news quickly, warning that Trump “must contend with scientific findings that urge caution in an energy sector that Mr. Trump wants to untether.” You mean the scientific findings that showed a different outcome just last year? How convenient.

The EPA is trying to inflict as much damage as possible to the conservative agenda before Obama vacates the White House. The EPA’s change of mind is very similar to the stunt the Army Corps of Engineers pulled when it retracted its Dakota Access Pipeline approval. Fortunately, it’s nothing more than rhetoric. And working class America longs for Jan. 20 — when the government will stop playing games and get the economy moving.


Go Big: Eliminate the Energy Department

The Department of Energy (DOE) traces its roots to the energy crisis of 1973, which was made worse by misguided government policy.  The Arab embargo of 1973 was short lived but it lead to a series of actions that distorted energy policy and created a bureaucracy that now, thanks to the oil and gas renaissance we are experiencing, is in search of a mission.  In addition to the effects of the embargo and price and allocation controls, there was, at the time, a firm belief that the world was going to run out of oil by the end of the century.

Not only does the world have plenty of oil, but the United States is now a net exporter of natural gas--and would be exporting more if DOE was faster with its approvals.

When created in 1977, DOE was given the responsibility for “the design, constructing, and testing of nuclear weapons, and … a loosely knit amalgamation of energy-related programs scattered throughout the Federal Government.”

Prior to DOE, the federal government played a very limited role in energy policy and development.  Presumed scarcity, excessive dependence on OPEC nations, distrust in markets, and the search for energy independence became the foundation for what is now a $32.5 billion bureaucracy in search for relevance.  A series of energy policies have done little to contribute to the abundance of affordable energy that fuels a growing economy.

What DOE has done is squander money on the search for alternative energy sources. In the process, it enabled Bootlegger and Baptist schemes that enriched crony capitalists who are all too willing to support the flawed notion that government can pick winners and losers.  For 2017, a large chunk of DOE spending--$12.6 billion, or 39 percent—is earmarked to “support the President’s strategy to combat climate change.” This is not a justifiable use of taxpayer dollars.

Over 36 years, DOE’s mission has morphed from energy security to industrial policy, disguised as advanced energy research and innovation.  There is a long and failed history of industrial policy by the federal government.  It has failed because it has attempted to decide what energy consumers and industry should want and use.

In contrast, government R&D that has proved successful is that carried out by the Pentagon’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).  It has been successful for one overriding reason.  It is focused on known clients, the military services, and their specific technology needs.  Lacking specific clients, DOE has become the Department of Pork.  The late Senator William Proxmire once observed that a characteristic of interventionist industrial policy is that “government money will go where the political power is, regardless of economic considerations.”

Energy firms do not need government subsidies to innovate and develop new technologies.  Horizontal drilling and fracking came from the private sector because the incentives to develop shale oil and gas were stronger than the illusions driving alternative energy sources.  Entrepreneurial firms that want to develop new energy technology can go to private markets, which can judge the chances of success.

Abolishing DOE would punish only the crony capitalists who have become addicted to its support.  The nuclear weapons role could be assigned to a new Atomic Energy Commission.  Research to the extent that government wants to fund it could go through the National Science Foundation to centers of excellence for basic research, creating new knowledge for the benefit of our economic and social well-being.  The Energy Information Administration to the extent that its continued existence can be justified could be transferred to the Commerce Department.

If the Trump administration and Congress can muster the courage of its convictions to end DOE, they would then have a basis for creating a new Hoover Commission to re-examine the justification for all government departments and programs.  With the last review in 1947, a top to bottom reorganization is long overdue.


Clean Power Plan Is Dead

David Bookbinder, formerly chief climate counsel for the Sierra Club and now a consultant with the Niskanen Center, is one of the sharpest policy experts I know. Bookbinder was a lead attorney for environmental groups in Massachusetts v. EPA, the landmark case in which the Supreme Court ruled that greenhouse gases are air pollutants for regulatory purposes under the Clean Air Act.

During the past two years, the Niskanen Center has warned there is no plausible scenario in which "conservative political force" rolls back the rising tide of greenhouse gas regulation. Hence, the Center argues, conservatives’ only hope of averting decades of regulatory excess is to advocate an alternative climate policy acceptable to the greens—a carbon tax.

Indeed, in March 2016, Niskanen President Jerry Taylor predicted Donald Trump would "get slaughtered" in the presidential contest. Had that happened and Hillary Clinton’s coattails put the Senate back under Democratic control, the carbon tax crowd would no doubt be proclaiming the election results as proof that resistance to coercive climate policy is futile.

But Trump won and now many experts say the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Clean Power Plan and the Paris Agreement are in big trouble.

What’s the political lesson for conservatives? The EPA’s regulatory overreach might still loom large had the Republican establishment in Washington, D.C. taken the Center’s advice and endorsed a carbon tax. The clear distinction between a party that is pro-tax and anti-energy and a party that is pro-energy and anti-tax is a product differentiator of immense political value for the GOP. Carbon tax advocacy would have frittered away that asset. Worse, including carbon taxes in the platform would have divided the GOP on an issue of longstanding national controversy and demoralized the party’s activist base.

Bookbinder and Taylor now make the case that, despite Trump’s victory, conservatives should advocate a carbon tax. I’m unpersuaded. What impresses me, though, is Bookbinder’s candor. Even though fear of the Power Plan was useful in pitching conservatives on carbon taxes as the lesser evil, Bookbinder and his colleague David Bailey now pronounce EPA’s marquee policy to be dead:

All that being said, the Clean Power Plan is dead. Regardless of whether the Trump EPA waits for the D.C. Circuit decision, the easiest thing for it to do is first amend the rule to provide that, once the judicial stay of the CPP is lifted, the states will have an extended period (say, 5-7 years) to submit their implementation plans, which effectively kills the CPP. The timing of the steps in a regulatory process is as close to an unreviewable agency action as there is, and no court would overturn it.

Even assuming that the D.C. Circuit then upholds the Rule, EPA could then withdraw the CPP for reconsideration, and thereafter issue a new rule based only on modest inside-the-fence actions. Environmental NGOs and the states supporting the CPP would challenge this, but since there is a legitimate legal argument that EPA’s authority ends at the fence-line (and with 27 states supporting this new interpretation) the D.C. Circuit would, in our view, likely defer to EPA’s new reading.


The green autism

Michael Davis writes from Australia

Dear Leader slayed it on The Bolt Report the other day:

"With the same force we said ‘Stop the Boats’, we have to say ‘Stop the Climate Con’. And by ‘Stop the Climate Con’, we mean ‘Stop lying to the people of Australia on both sides of politics that you can have clean and green energy without destroying the economy. Stop lying. Choose between the two. You either go the Left route and say, ‘We don’t care about the cost, we don’t care how high electricity bills go, we don’t care who goes out of business, we don’t care what happens to the economy or manufacturing. We’re going to pursue our climate change agenda.’ Fine."

He’s right, of course. As it’s oft been noted, environmentalism is a bizarre ideology. On the surface, it makes sense: if we have to suffer a bit now in order to achieve sustainability, future generations will thank us for it. It’s just utilitarianism; the goal is to minimize harm, because we can’t abolish it altogether. But that doesn’t quite explain the greenies’ outright sociopathy. Environmentalists don’t regret the economic damage they cause working- and middle-class Aussies. When they happen upon some uneducated boob who’d rather not sacrifice himself and his family to Mother Gaia, their response tends to be one of mixed annoyance and scorn.

We could chalk this up to the greater hypocrisy of Leftism: just as the partisans of tolerance make the most exacting censors, and the champions of the proletariat are the most unselfconscious elitists, so too our humanist friends tend to value the lives of ferns above those of flesh-and-blood people, let alone unborn babies.

But I couldn’t help but think it was something more than that.

I was still mulling over Rowan’s words when I finally started reading Ryszard Legutko’s new book Totalitarian Temptations in Free Societies. As it happens, my ‘something more’ was right there in the introduction. Legutko writes, ‘Although today’s ideology of environmentalism fashioned idolatrous reverence for the earth and its fauna and flora, it did not change the [Lefty] enthusiasm for treating human nature and society in a dangerously technological manner.’

That’s exactly right: it’s the progressives’ unflinchingly materialist view of the world. They see human beings as equal parts producers and consumers – cogs in an economic machine that must be carefully managed, from their work habits to their diet to their recreation. Climate change sceptics, therefore, aren’t to be empathized with, because any harm that comes to them is scientifically irrelevant. This is why climate change denialism is so often likened to creationism. It doesn’t matter that the adoption of Darwin’s theories never led to a tax hike, a wave of unemployment, or skyrocketing utilities bills. That has nothing to do with proper execution of the scientific method.

Seriously, next time an SJW compares climate change to evolution, ask them what the human cost of adopting Darwinism was. The cleverer, more insidious ones will point out that climate change has tremendous human cost. (It set off the Syrian Civil War, after all!) But mostly you’ll get blank stares, like they don’t understand the question. Because they don’t. They are – and I’m trademarking this one – empathetically autistic. They can only ape compassion. It doesn’t come to them spontaneously. And even at that they can only empathize according to predetermined formulae. Refugees, yes; battlers, no. Blacks, yes; whites, no. Gays, yes; straights, no. Eco-terrorists, yes; climate denalists… well.

Admittedly I have my share of greenie sympathies. I think it’s generally a sound idea to not pollute the air, considering how much breathing we do between us. And I’m opposed to deforestation because I was raised on a heavily wooded rural property and I like forests. They’re nature’s playground, minus the dirty needles (usually). But isn’t that incentive enough? Do we really need to approach conservation like balancing a giant carbon-emissions chequebook? Do we need to scare people into thinking their ute’s going to tear a hole in the ozone layer, through which the Whore of Babylon will ride a seven-headed beast and usher in the End Times? I’d think it’d be far easier and more sensible to say, ‘Hey, don’t dump those chemicals in the ocean – we need that water for fish!’



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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