Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Longtime Climate Science Denier Hired At NOAA

And NPR is frantic

David Legates, a University of Delaware professor of climatology who has spent much of his career questioning basic tenets of climate science, has been hired for a top position at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Legates confirmed to NPR that he was recently hired as NOAA's deputy assistant secretary of commerce for observation and prediction. The position suggests that he reports directly to Neil Jacobs, the acting head of the agency that is in charge of the federal government's sprawling weather and climate prediction work.

Neither Legates nor NOAA representatives responded to questions about Legates' specific responsibilities or why he was hired. The White House also declined to comment.

Legates has a long history of using his position as an academic scientist to publicly cast doubt on climate science. His appointment to NOAA comes as Americans face profound threats stoked by climate change, from the vast, deadly wildfires in the West to an unusually active hurricane season in the South and East.

Global temperatures have already risen nearly 2 degrees Fahrenheit since the late 19th century as a result of greenhouse gas emissions from burning fossil fuels. Warming is happening the fastest at the Earth's poles, where sea ice is melting, permafrost is thawing and ocean temperatures are heating up, with devastating effects on animals and humans alike.

In 2007, Legates was one of the authors of a paper that questioned previous findings about the role of climate change in destroying the habitat of polar bears. That research was partially funded by grants from Koch Industries, the American Petroleum Institute lobbying group and ExxonMobil, according to InsideClimate News.

The same year, Delaware Gov. Ruth Ann Minner sent a letter to Legates expressing concern about his opinions on climate change, given that he was the state climatologist at the time. Minner asked him to refrain from casting doubt on climate science when he was acting in his official role. Legates stepped down in 2011.

Legates also appeared in a video pushing the discredited theory that the sun is the cause of global warming. In testimony before the U.S. Senate in 2014, Legates argued that a climate science report by the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change erroneously stated that humans are causing global warming.

Legates is a professor in the Department of Geography and Spatial Sciences at the University of Delaware. He is also affiliated with the Heartland Institute, a think tank that has poured money into convincing Americans that climate change is not happening and that the scientific evidence — including evidence published by the agency that now employs Legates — is uncertain or untrustworthy.

Advocates who reject mainstream climate science, such as those at Heartland, have had a leading role in shaping the Trump administration's response to global warming, including the decision to exit the Paris climate accord.

Steve Milloy, a Heartland board member and part of Trump's Environmental Protection Agency transition team, says he welcomes the Legates appointment. "David Legates is a true climate scientist and will bring a great deal of much-needed science to NOAA," Milloy writes in an email to NPR.

But climate researchers slammed NOAA's decision to appoint Legates to a key scientific position.

"He's not just in left field — he's not even near the ballpark," says Jane Lubchenco, a professor of marine biology at Oregon State University and head of NOAA under President Barack Obama.

Contrarians in science are welcome, Lubchenco says, but their claims have to be scientifically defensible. That's why official groups like the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change review the entire range of scientific research before reaching a conclusion.

Over the last 20 years, in his work and public statements, Legates has rejected the overwhelming peer-reviewed research that shows human activity is the main driver of a dangerously changing climate.

Michael Mann, professor of atmospheric science at Pennsylvania State University, says in an email to NPR that Legates has, throughout his career, "misrepresented the science of climate change, serving as an advocate for polluting interests as he dismisses and downplays the impacts of climate change."

Mann adds: "At a time when those impacts are playing out before our very eyes in the form of unprecedented wildfires out West and super-storms back East, I cannot imagine a more misguided decision than to appoint someone like Legates to a position of leadership at an agency that is tasked with assessing the risks we face from extreme weather events."


The Social Cost of Carbon Fantasy

The climate activists’ frustration with something called the social cost of carbon (SCC) reached a breaking point recently.  In their recent article in Nature Climate Change, Kaufman et al. admit that the estimates for the SCC are so divergent as to be useless for policy making.  They overcame their frustration by, in essence, simply assuming the SCC is infinity.

My coauthors and I found also found SCC estimates to be useless for policy making, years ago.  (For example, see here, here, and here.)  It is fine to not use it, but it isn’t fine to not use it and act like you did.   In the Kaufman et al. world, the economics start after you have already decided to zero-out all CO2 emissions by 2040 (or 2050 or 2060).

A little history can help explain what games are going on, here.  For a century, economists have made a living finding examples where one person’s activity has some impact on other people.  They call the impacts “externalities” and they think they can fix them with taxes or subsidies that exactly offset the value of these other-people impacts.  Pigouvian (named after the early-Twentieth-Century economist, Arthur Pigou) taxes or subsidies are imposed to correct “market failures.”

The SCC is the purported measure of one such externality.  It is the estimate of the negative impact on others per ton (actually, usually tonne) of CO2 emissions.  This negative impact takes many forms—impacts from incrementally higher storm surges, incrementally worse storms, floods, tornadoes, other adverse weather impacts, and anything else they can think of.  The calculators of damage are undeterred by the lack of increases in hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, and droughts, so far.  You see, they are looking into the future—way into the future.  The models used for these calculations sum up the estimated damage per ton of CO2, which is assumed to persist for years or centuries or, even millennia.  However, let us look backward about a decade.

Early in its mission to “slow the rise of the oceans,” the Obama Administration was intent on using regulation (in lieu of a Pigouvian tax) to correct the alleged market failure in energy markets.  Their tool would be the SCC.  In what is best interpreted as an attempt to sneak the novel use of SCC into the regulatory cost-benefit world, the maiden case for SCC was in the August 31, 2009 edition of the Federal Register with this rule: “Energy Conservation Program: Energy Conservation Standards for Refrigerated Bottled or Canned Beverage Vending Machines.”  Yes, the Department of Energy regulatory juggernaut did not miss anything.  New standards for the efficiency of compressors in soda pop vending machines was the tip of the green spear that would save us from another degree of global warming.

It turns out this regulation did, indeed, fall pretty much under the radar.  After all, it was a rule to regulate the efficiency of compressors in Coke machines, but it was also a disappointment for the climate crusaders.  The $19 most-likely estimate for the SCC would not justify killing energy jobs fast enough or drive up energy prices high enough.  It was no fun.

A couple of years later, while ignoring their previous rule to use only publications cited in an Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Assessment Report, the believers in science at the Interagency Working Group on the Social Cost of Carbon were able to juice the SCC to $41/ton.  It was duly integrated into the Department of Energy’s regulatory tool kit with another below-the-radar regulation.  This rule, “Energy Conservation Program: Energy Conservation Standards for Standby Mode and Off Mode for Microwave Ovens,” set tough new standards on the amount of energy a microwave oven can use when it is not being used. 

That was not a joke, at least not beyond the normal self-parody that is DC.  Untold hours of analysis, tests, comments and responses were devoted to mandating which technologies would be allowed for the digital displays on microwave ovens. All of it to save an average of two watts.  According to the numbers, the avoided climate damage, summed for every year between 2013 and 2300 (yes, nearly three centuries in total), by using the more efficient digital display worked out to $0.50 per year per for the lifetime of an oven.  That is about $5 total per microwave for avoiding 300 years of theoretical damage.  Go, here, for a more thorough expose of this tragic comedy.  (Spoiler alert: The DoE buried the fact that half of the new efficient-tech displays failed in testing.)

This SCC of $41/ton was eventually used in more substantial energy regulations, but it was never enough to justify any of them.  The climate regulations required co-benefits (of dubious legitimacy) to make them pass cost-benefit tests.

Those who want to look like rational and data-driven Cassandras as they make ten-years-to-act proclamations are totally frustrated by the economics.  Even the SCC calculations from Nobel Laureate, William Nordhaus, cannot justify 1.5- or 2.0-degree caps that are the de rigeur targets of the climate establishment.

So, what can you do?  Assume the answer (the SCC is whatever it takes to totally eliminate CO2 emissions by whatever year sounds good) and then work the regulations and taxes backwards from there.  When you are done, pretend it is economically justified.


Upstate Forests Being Sacrificed on An Altar of Solar Fiction

Right down the bottom of my road is an 80+ acre property that used to be Murphy’s Campground and Diner.  There were woods and fields and a place to park your camper for the weekend or season. It had a babbling brook and a restaurant where campers could get a hot breakfast. There was also a great hall for dancing, weddings and parties of most sorts. It’s all over now and the land is being converted into a solar facility that is destroying numerous acres of our Upstate forests; sacrificing them on an altar of solar fiction.

Like many other businesses in Upstate New York, though, the owner confessed to me over 20 years ago that campers couldn’t afford the cost increases he was forced to impose due to ever rising taxes and ever-growing New York State fees and regulations. He went out of business and the property sold in 2008 to a speculator on natural gas development. It has been 12 years and now a land investor has made good on his investment by leasing to a solar company who is busy denuding our Upstate forests. Who can blame him after New York absconded with all our mineral rights via its moratorium?

It starts with cutting a road, but let me word this as if it were Sandra Steingraber narrating as I adopt her voice:

Mother Nature, unsuspecting, lay peacefully amongst her children, ever so young. From 10 to 80 years old they stood tall, each one worshiped the mother by removing up to 40 lbs of carbon from the air. The deer roamed freely eating the acorn harvest from under the oaks and the walnuts and hickory, too. Sweet were the apples providing nourishment to beast and man alike.

Taller trees found by the once peaceful brook, now filled with broken hydraulic hoses, empty cans, broken branches and other debris. Man has entered this Upstate forest home to birds and beast. With machines bigger than dump trucks, tires as tall as two men, the saws cut through the flesh of old growth trees as they fell by the dozen. You can hear them scream as the trees crashed to the ground, now dead, not as they were found; Upstate forests sacrificed on an altar of solar fiction and making all so very sad; sad to the knowing, the educated, the beast and the bird —the Earth forever scarred by in the name of solar dreams that turned out to be nightmares.

As the deforestation moves forward and with each day, trucks coming in and out, carrying the remains of 80 acres of trees, they can not keep up with the chain saws, funded by subsidies and taxes we pay to abort these children of mother nature. All this in the name of “clean energy,” the lie the left spins as green romance, promising to save the planet they themselves are destroying.

Where once deer fed, turkey gobbled, and the American Eagle nested, there is now only barren land to populated by hundreds of metallic solar panels no one knows what to do with once they stop producing electricity. Some 80-100 years of nature destroyed for 15-20 years of uneconomical solar energy that requires ever higher electricity prices, all to make a tribute to Governor Cuomo.

Our Upstate forests are falling for this and I can hear the sound, can’t you? Visit the project site, where this rape of wooded life and its inhabitants is taking place, and you’ll search in vain for posted permits or any documentation of approvals, approvals or anything else. There are no NO TRESPASSING signs and no DANGER KEEP OUT signs. I thought of New York State Health Commissioner Howard Zucker and his concern for his non-existent kids. I thought of how Cuomo said he wouldn’t want a kid falling down a 4 inch pipe. As I left to write this I looked back at the piled logs 20 feet high and thought…. KIDS.

That’s the truth of what’s happening; New York State is picking winners and losers and choosing poorly, very poorly. Taxpayers are being cheated, ratepayers are being robbed and our Upstate forests are being obliterated.


PM claims Australia will hit 2030 emissions targets in 'canter'

Mr Morrison made the claim during a national energy address, where he encouraged accelerated development of gas fields and the continued use of coal for decades to come.

Under the Paris Agreement, Australia has committed to reducing emissions by 26-28 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030.

Despite further investment into gas and coal, a move which environmentalists will likely criticise, Mr Morrison said his government was committed to reducing emissions.

Mr Morrison said $30 billion invested in renewables between 2017 and mid-2020 would help Australia hit its 2030 targets.  "We remain committed to (the 2030 target) and we will meet it in a canter."

"In Australia, you cannot talk about electricity generation and ignore coal," Mr Morrison said. "Coal will continue to play an important part of our economy for decades to come."

Some environmental groups have complained Australia will need controversial "carry-over" credits from previous agreements to meet the 2030 target.

Mr Morrison also announced Australia was boosting its national fuel storage capacity to protect against "low probability, high impact events". At a minimum, this means the national stockpile of petrol and jet fuel will cover 24 days, and diesel stocks to increase from 20 to 28 days.

The COVID-19 pandemic had highlighted supply chain threats, Mr Morrison said. Mr Morrison used his address to call on the gas industry to supply energy to Australia customers at cheaper prices.



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.  

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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