Thursday, August 09, 2018

Alarmists Now Argue Global Warming Makes Heat Waves AND Cold Spells Even Worse

When the eastern U.S. plunged into a deep freeze last winter, some scientists blamed Arctic ice melt from man-made global warming for the anomalously cold weather in the eastern part of the country.

Now, those same scientists are blaming Arctic warming for weakening the jet stream and exacerbating extreme summer weather across the northern hemisphere.

Global warming makes cold spells and heat waves more extreme, they contend.

Penn State University climate scientist Michael Mann is out telling media the heat waves, wildfires, droughts, and floods are made worse because global warming is making the jet stream less stable.

“Climate change is literally making the jet stream more wild,” Mann told PBS NewsHour on Monday. “It undulates more, so you get those weather extremes, and it’s causing the jet stream to slow down, so those extreme weather events stick around.”

“And that’s when you get unprecedented damage and threat,” Mann said.

The basic idea is that the fast-warming Arctic is causing the jet stream to become weaker and wobblier, creating blocking patterns that keep weather patterns in place.

Cold spells and heat waves, for example, become more prolonged under this theory. It’s not a well-accepted theory.

Mann is not the only one perpetuating this theory. Rutgers University scientist Jennifer Francis, probably the theory’s greatest proponent, suggested there was a link between Arctic warming and wildfires and heat waves across the northern hemisphere.

“We can’t finger point directly at the Arctic to say that this summer’s crazy weather is directly related to the rapid warming up there, but it certainly fits the story that we’ve been putting together over the last several years,” Francis told CBC News in July.

Cato Institute climate scientist Ryan Maue criticized Mann’s blaming of a wobbly jet stream for summer weather, tweeting “that’s typical of ‘summer’ in Northern Hemisphere regardless of climate change.”

These jet stream "slow downs" or blocking events are actually poorly understood features of the climate system.

Indeed, the latest National Climate Assessment special report found that “confidence is low regarding whether or by what mechanisms observed Arctic warming may have influenced midlatitude circulation and weather patterns over the continental United States.”

Jetstream hysteria peaked in 2014 when former White House science czar John Holdren put out a video where he claimed record cold weather was actually a sign of global warming.

Holdren later admitted that his video was based on his “personal opinion” of the science, but environmental activists still fall back on it every time frigid weather shakes Americans’ faith in global warming.

As cold and snow pummeled the northeast in early 2018, former Vice President Al Gore claimed it was the product of man-made warming. Mann wrote a blog post for Gore’s environmental group on the subject.

At the time, Mann wrote it is “precisely the sort of extreme winter weather we expect because of climate change.” However, climate scientists challenged Mann’s assertion that warming was making it colder in the eastern U.S.

“Such claims make no sense and are inconsistent with observations and the best science,” University of Washington climatologist Cliff Mass said in January.

“The frequency of cold waves have decreased during the past fifty years, not increased. That alone shows that such claims are baseless,” Mass said.


Trump Rules Make Driving Safer and Cheaper

A few years ago, I spoke at my son's fifth-grade class about all of the wonderful things that we have today in our great country that weren't around 100 years ago, including inventions like cars. A ponytailed girl in the front of the room raised her hand and, with a solemn look on her face, scolded me: "Cars are bad. They cause pollution." Wow. These were 11-year-olds! It was one of my first encounters with the green indoctrination that goes on in public schools starting in the first grade.

There wasn't time to explain to her that when Henry Ford started rolling his black Model T's off the assembly lines in Michigan, the mass production of automobiles was heralded as one of the greatest environmental and health advances in the history of mankind. It replaced one of the prodigious polluters: the horse. The average 1,000-pound horse dumps 30 pounds of feces and 2 gallons of urine a DAY. Can anyone imagine what Washington, D.C., or Pittsburgh or New Orleans smelled like on a hot, sweltering summer day or what all that feces did to our water supply? Oh, and watch where you step!

Yet, many liberals still seem to agree with Al Gore, a Nobel Peace Prize winner, who says that the combustion engine is one of the worst inventions of all time.

This explains why the ascendant green movement in America has for decades been trying to force Americans out of their cars. They think like that fifth-grader despite being supposedly rational adults.

The war on driving includes calls for carbon and gas taxes, tens of billions of gas tax money diverted to inefficient and little-used mass transit projects, and opposition to building new roads and highways. One of the most nefarious initiatives has been the Obama administration's draconian increases to the Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards — a giant and hidden tax on American drivers.

Donald Trump announced last week he wants to ease those regulations. Under the Obama mandates, CAFE requirements would rise from about 35 mpg today to 54 mpg by 2025. This would raise the cost of many new cars by almost $3,000, and the hit to the economy from these rules is expected to reach a cool $500 billion over the next 50 years.

Under Trump's proposed changes, mileage requirements would still rise every year to 42 mpg by 2025 (way too high for my liking). And yet the left is seething in protest, complaining this means the end of our planet. The difference between the Trump and the Obama standards will mean a 31-hundredth degree higher global temperature in 80 years.

The Department of Transportation has found that the best way to get cleaner air is to incentivize families to buy new cars and get the older and higher polluting gas-guzzlers off the road. But because CAFE standards raise car prices, they delay the purchase of new cars, which increases pollution levels.

Perhaps the biggest benefit of the new Trump standards is that they are expected to save about 1,000 lives a year due to lower highway deaths. The Competitive Enterprise Institute has found that CAFE standards kill people for two reasons: first, they induce the car companies to build lighter cars in order to meet the fuel standards. Second, because the regulations keep old cars on the road longer, Americans are more likely to be driving in less safe vehicles. The Trump administration has science firmly on its side here.

It wasn't so long ago liberals opposed military intervention in the Middle East by chanting "no blood for oil." But with higher CAFE standards, they are willing to tolerate more blood on the highways to save on oil.

Hearty congratulations to Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao and EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler for a new rule that can save lives, reduce pollution, grow the economy, and let people buy the cars they want — including SUVs, minivans and sports cars. This is a great victory for common sense and a windshield against the left's war on cars. As for those misguided fifth-graders, they will figure out the virtues of cars once they are old enough to get their driver's licenses. But when will liberals grow up?


NYTimes Hosted Soirée With Activists The Night Before A Massive Climate Piece Ran

The author of a highly criticized article arguing that oil companies get too much of the blame for climate change met with environmentalists and scientists the night before publishing the lengthy piece.

The New York Times publisher A.G. Sulzberger and writer Nathaniel Rich hosted a dinner with activists hours before the newspaper published a 30,000-word piece arguing oil companies are not the primary villain in the climate battle, E&E News reported Thursday.

Rich’s comments at the soirée appear to contradict elements of his article’s main thesis — human nature is the main obstacle to enacting climate policy.

“I wouldn’t let the fossil fuel industry off for anything. I think that they’ve committed crimes against humanity, and I think that’s how they’ll be seen in the future,” he said at the event, which gathered 50 people to a snazzy New York City restaurant to dine on Maine scallops and farm-raised chicken.

The meeting was designed to discuss the merits and demerits of Rich’s piece, “Losing Earth: The Decade We Almost Stopped Climate Change.”

But he did tell those gathered at the restaurant that heaping the blame on ExxonMobil and others was not a good way to approach the history of climate change.

“In fact, it’s almost a form of self-flattery to think that ‘Well, if it wasn’t for this villain, we would have solved this.’ And that seems to me to be a very limited way of looking at the issue, which I don’t think excuses [the fossil fuel industry] at all,” he said, adding that “there’s a false safety in blaming them for this entire crisis,” he said.

Rich’s narrative focuses around the failed efforts of “a handful of people, among them a hyperkinetic lobbyist and a guileless atmospheric physicist who, at great personal cost, tried to warn humanity of what was coming.”

Climate scientists did their level-best in the early 1980s to give “shrewd, passionate,” and “robust” arguments for acting, he wrote. But “they failed.”

His article follows the historical actions of former Friends of the Earth lobbyist Rafe Pomerance and former NASA climate scientist James Hansen, who worked to sound the alarm on catastrophic global warming and convince world leaders to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

Former Vice President Al Gore even makes an appearance in Rich’s retelling of how scientists almost defeated global warming in the 1980s.

The piece received criticism from climate skeptics and activists who have long-argued propaganda from Exxon and Chevron were the biggest obstacles for climate scientists.

Pennsylvania State University academic Michael Mann argued that Rich’s piece, while unique in some ways, ultimately gave Exxon and others a “free pass.”

“Frankly, I think a lot is missing,” Mann told reporters at E&E. “The article feels tone-deaf to me. Its message, to quote the great and powerful Oz, seems to be ‘pay no attention to that billion-dollar fossil fuel industry disinformation campaign behind the curtain.’” Dark money from Exxon’s financial backers is mostly responsible for the impasse, he added.

Rich’s arguments also got pushback from academics who are skeptical about some of the scientific models showing man-made global warming could lead to calamitous weather events in the future.

“By the time Reagan came along, conservatives were already against EPA because it already had gotten out of control,” Myron Ebell, who led President Donald Trump’s EPA transition team, told reporters. “This romance that somehow Republicans went sour … that isn’t what happened.”

Roger Pielke, Jr., a University of Colorado professor who has been involved in climate policy discussions for decades, mirrored much of Ebell’s point.

“This NYT article on climate policy history brings together alternative history with a disaster movie plot (brave scientists warns the world),” Pielke Jr. wrote in a tweet Wednesday to his followers. “The world was not on the brink of rapid decarbonization in the 1980s. It’s a fun story though.”

The narrative that Exxon knew about climate change in the 1970s and 1980s has become a central focus for many environmentalists.

A Harvard report conducted in August 2017, for instance, accused the oil company of producing troves of research affirming the existence of global warming, while using advertorials to cast doubt on climate change.

Researchers tossed cold water on the study, though. A report from research group Energy in Depth (EID) found that more than 90 percent of the advertorials acknowledged that climate change was caused in part by human action.

Rich’s piece supports EID’s research — that the oil company became more hesitant to push climate policies after activists began targeting them as the enemies.

Politicians eventually used the narrative to create a full-on assault against Exxon. Former New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, for instance, spent more than a year probing the oil company based on claims that Exxon downplayed for decades the severity of global warming to investors.

Much of his probe was based on reports from the liberal-leaning media outlet InsideClimate News, which alleged in a report in 2017 that Exxon has spent decades shelving evidence of climate change.


EPA decides to keep and defend Obama's strict smog rules

The Trump administration said Wednesday that it will maintain and defend in court the Obama administration’s 2015 national air quality standards for smog-forming ozone.

Justice Department attorneys working for the Environmental Protection Agency told a federal court that the agency could not justify rejecting the Obama-era ozone standard, because of past court rulings and its aversion to a drawn-out legal battle that would bring uncertainty to states needing to comply.

“While EPA officials in the current administration may have supported making different judgments about the significance of background concentrations of ozone and how to judge what standards are requisite to protect public health and welfare, the agency at this time does not intend to revisit the 2015 rule,” the attorneys wrote in a filing to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.

The Obama-era ozone regulations lowered the level of ozone allowed in a particular area from 75 parts per billion to 70 parts per billion. Ozone is a smog-causing gas that forms when chemical emissions are exposed to heat and sunlight. The Obama EPA said the tougher rules would prevent thousands of premature deaths.

But many areas of the country had not complied with the previous 75 parts per billion standard, set in 2008, before the Obama administration decided to make the standard more strict, critics said.

When Scott Pruitt led the EPA, he tried to delay implementing the Obama administration's ozone rule, but later backed off after 16 Democratic state attorneys general sued. Pruitt was one of the litigants who sued the EPA trying to overturn the 2015 rule when he was Oklahoma's attorney general.

Under the ozone rules, states must ascertain which areas can comply and which cannot, called areas of "nonattainment."

Once the non-attainment areas are designated, states must develop and submit plans for meeting the standards.

Manufacturing and business groups had argued the original version of the updated ozone regulations would place much of the country in non-attainment, hurting heavy industry and stifling energy development.

Congressional Republicans had introduced legislation to block the 2015 rules from going into effect until states have met the previous rules. President Trump promised during the campaign to repeal the rule.

But Andrew Wheeler, the new acting EPA administrator, issued a report Tuesday on the nation's air quality finding that ozone pollution is 22 percent lower since 1990, and credited the 2015 rule with helping to bring down emissions levels.

Jeff Holmstead, a former deputy administrator of the EPA in the George W. Bush administration, said Wheeler is right to not challenge the 2015 rule, because it would have lost in court. Holmstead expects the EPA to make its own ozone standard in the future.

“The EPA has said they are planning to do the next ozone review on time, meaning in less than two years. They can change it then," Holmstead told the Washington Examiner. "I wouldn’t say this means we will have a standard of 70 parts per billion forever going forward.”


Maybe this heatwave is just a heatwave


Why climate alarmists see all extreme weather as a portent of doom.

The routine is drearily familiar. Any deviation from weather norms brings on a Biblical torrent of apocalyptic green fearmongering. And so it was with the heatwaves experienced in the Northern Hemisphere this June and July.

It seemed to be the heatwave that climate alarmists have long promised us. June and July certainly brought unusual temperatures to many places, prompting alarmist copy. The BBC’s North America correspondent, James Cook, tweeted: ‘Climate change. It’s here, it’s catastrophic.’ He then cited a list of tragedies from the Greek wildfires to lemon shortages in the US that had unfolded under the summer sun. As usual, though, the climate-change narrative precedes the facts.

For instance, the wildfires in Greece cited by Cook were not the result of high temperatures. Temperatures in Athens – close to the location of the fires – were only slightly higher than the average for this time of year, and not much hotter than in the UK. Worse still for Cook, Greek authorities suspect that the fires were caused by arson, not SUVs and unnecessary flights. And even if temperatures have risen in Europe, wildfires across the continent, and globally, have diminished in this era now described mawkishly as the ‘anthropocene’. Perhaps global warming prevents wildfires?

Cook was not alone in putting the climate narrative before the weather facts. In the Observer, Andrew Rawnsley proclaimed that, ‘Our scorched Earth needs voters to put more heat on their politicians’. He continued: ‘The offices, factories, homes, roads and railways of Britain were designed on the assumption that it is a country of blessedly temperate conditions, immune to extremes of heat and cold.’ These claims are almost comedic in their departure from the reality of Britain’s weather, and from the history of Britain’s housing stock.

Slum clearances in urban centres lasted well into the 1970s, as was well documented by photographer Nick Hedges. And to claim that much of what replaced the slums was ‘designed’ at all, let alone designed to precise temperature ranges, would be to flatter the ‘designers’. Nonetheless, the UK’s population is now far better protected from hot and cold extremes than it has ever been. The 1911 July-September heatwave in Britain caused thousands of deaths in London alone; thousands of children perished from diarrhoea caused by consuming food and milk that had fouled in the heat. Refrigerators are as vital to surviving the weather as walls and roofs.

The news that technological and economic development and improvements in housing have massively reduced the impact of extreme weather has yet to reach parliament, it seems. ‘Regular heatwaves “will kill thousands”’, said the BBC’s environmental analyst, Roger Harrabin, reporting on a warning issued by the Environmental Audit Committee. The maths underpinning this miserable forecast is simple enough: estimate the number of excess deaths per degree of excess temperature, and then multiply by the predicted degree of climate change. But such banal arithmetic is historically blind and deaf to debate, and completely dumb to informing policy.

The addition of air conditioning units to vulnerable homes – or perhaps to everybody’s homes – would massively reduce excess deaths and illnesses now, never mind in the future. There is no natural correlation between heatwaves and deaths; there are only thick policymakers who would rather energy was more expensive, so as to discourage the use of things like air-conditioners, on the basis that such energy usage contributes to climate change. Enter the technocrat head of adaptation at the UK Committee on Climate Change (CCC), Kathryn Brown. She appeared on Channel 4 News to suggest that people install tinted window film, and grow plants up the walls of their homes, to help defer the apocalypse.

The fact that institutions such as the CCC have so little to offer the public suffering in the heatwave should not be a surprise. The CCC was established under the Climate Change Act 2008, with a mandate to issue carbon budgets and policy advice to parliament. MPs were unable to decide for themselves how to ration carbon, and so, much as with the independence given to the Bank of England, they appointed technocrats to do the job rather than risk having the public influence such an important decision. Climate politics epitomises the gulf between the public and politicians, and the latter’s disdain for the interests, wants and needs of the former.

Similarly, the FT’s lofty opinion is that ‘unprecedented heat cannot be ignored’, and ‘extreme weather must spur action against global warming’. But the truth is that this heat is not unprecedented – the UK has suffered hotter. What is unprecedented is the protection we now have against extreme weather. From Spain to the US, populations have become less vulnerable to heatwaves, not more, as the climate alarmists claim. Wealth, it seems, not the ecological austerity that greens prefer, is the best defence against a changing climate.

The problems caused by heatwaves should be taken seriously, but not under the dangerously misleading rubric of climate change. It may be possible that global warming will increase the frequency and intensity of above-average temperatures. But the evidence shows us that resilience to extreme weather requires no armies of climate technocrats, no virtue-signalling zombie politicians, no vapid hacks at the BBC, FT and Guardian – it just requires progress. Indeed, it is the political class’s green ascetism that is now the main barrier to ensuring that extreme weather doesn’t have a dramatic impact on our lives.




Preserving the graphics:  Most graphics on this site are hotlinked from elsewhere.  But hotlinked graphics sometimes have only a short life -- as little as a week in some cases.  After that they no longer come up.  From January 2011 on, therefore, I have posted a monthly copy of everything on this blog to a separate site where I can host text and graphics together -- which should make the graphics available even if they are no longer coming up on this site.  See  here or here


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