Sunday, January 17, 2021

Statistical politics: Prof. Mike Hulme on ‘politically charged’ climate baseline changes from 1961-1990 to 1991-2020

I had to laugh as soon as I read this. It changes nothing of course but it is going to look like it does. And Greenies will certainly pretend it does. It is just a statistical trick. Comments from distinguished meteorologists that appeared in my email summarize the matter well:

"The only temperature plot that isn't a slave to baseline choices is absolute temperature. Anomaly based temperature is a statistical construct relying on the assumptions and choices of the statistician."

"Trends in fact don't change with changes in baseline, but any time there is a step up, it will be used for political and propaganda purposes without ever acknowledging that it is a statistical up-tick, and not real."

"It doesn't change temperature trends over ANY time period. What it will do is make temperature anomalies cooler, since the new 30 year baseline is warmer than the old."

Hulme: "January 1, 2021, a new World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) climatological standard normal came into effect. The ‘present-day’ climate will now formally be
represented by the meteorological statistics of the period 1991-2020, replacing those from 1961-1990.

National Meteorological Agencies in member states are instructed to issue new standard normals for observing stations and for associated climatological products. Climate will ‘change’, one might say, in an instant; today, the world’s climate has ‘suddenly’ become nearly 0.5°C warmer. It is somewhat equivalent to re-setting Universal Time or adjusting the exact definition of a metre." ...

"So, what is the significance of the move to a new 1991-2020 WMO normal in January 2021? On the one hand, it is a pragmatic move to redefine ‘present-day’ climate for operational applications to that of the most recent 30-year period. On the other hand, it puts into play a third climatic baseline. Already existing is the ‘pre-industrial’ climate of the late nineteenth century and the ‘historic’ climate’ of 1961-1990, the latter about 0.3°C warmer than the former. And now there is the new ‘present-day’ climate of 1991-2020, in turn about 0.5°C warmer than the ‘historic climate’ of 1961-1990." ...

"Combining a climatic tolerance of 2°C—or indeed 1.5°C—with a pre-industrial baseline yields a very different climate target than, say, using a 1986-2005 baseline, the period widely adopted by IPCC AR5 Working Group I as their analytical baseline. The choices of both baseline and tolerance are politically charged. They carry significant implications for historic liability for emissions (La Rovere et al., 2002), for policy design (Millar et al., 2017) and for possible reparations (Roberts & Huq, 2015)."

Environmental Extremism Is Creeping Into Every Domain of Public Policy

Many on the left continue to place their ideology of environmental extremism above all other considerations, including economic growth, individual freedom, and the welfare of low-income Americans.

This worldview ignores critical trade-offs and places environmental interests above even basic principles that have long served as a foundation of this nation. Further, this extreme environmental movement has crept into almost every issue area imaginable.

There are certainly environmental issues that need attention, but sensible environmental policy doesn’t address those issues in a vacuum without regard for other important concerns. Yet, this extreme movement acts in such a manner.

The following examples highlight how environmental extremism is skewing public policy:


To environmental extremists, it’s more important for the government to force radical changes to how we generate electricity and fuel our vehicles than it is to have reliable and affordable energy or to remove barriers to innovation.

It doesn’t matter how unrealistic their objectives are, or the fact that their climate change efforts would have no meaningful effect on global temperatures.

This virtue-signaling may make the extremists feel better about themselves, but it certainly won’t make low-income households feel better when they are disproportionately impacted by higher energy prices. Nor will it make Americans feel better to pay more of their hard-earned money for less reliable energy.

Food and Agriculture

Some extremists would prioritize their environmental agenda over efficiently producing safe and affordable food for Americans.

Instead of simply addressing specific environmental issues, some want to develop a national food policy, which is just another way of saying a federally centralized approach to dictate food and agricultural production, distribution, and consumption.

One of the primary goals of this envisioned national food and agricultural policy would be advancing environmental objectives. What is ignored in this movement is affordable food and consumer choice.

To see how such a philosophy would be applied in practice, the 2015 Dietary Guidelines process is instructive.

In developing its recommendations for the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Health and Human Services, the influential Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee decided it would take into account non-dietary issues, such as climate change and sustainability, and not focus solely on the nutritional health of Americans—which is the purpose of the guidelines. Fortunately, the agencies rejected this extremism.

Housing, Land Use, and Transportation

The extreme environmental agenda has long been entrenched in urban policy, primarily through “smart growth,” which is a pleasant name given to an unpleasant centralized planning philosophy.

Some of the key components of this philosophy are restricting development through land use regulations, which drives up housing prices, and limiting the use of cars by promoting higher density development and transit. The ability of Americans to afford their own homes and live where they would like is ignored.

Financial Regulation

Environmental extremists are currently pushing for Janet Yellen, President-elect Joe Biden’s nominee for treasury secretary, to take drastic action to address climate change, such as by forcing oil and gas companies to sell off fossil fuel assets.

This is yet another effort to create a government mandate for environmental, social, and governance risks to play a primary role in banking and investing.

These efforts are a backdoor way to try and accomplish environmental objectives and simultaneously to try and radically change the very purpose of American businesses, and as a result, the entire economy.

The Left Does Not Have a Monopoly on Environmentalism

Environmental policy should be debated in an open and transparent fashion. Using every issue imaginable as a pretext to push an environmental agenda is both not transparent and minimizes other critical concerns, from higher prices of basic needs to ensuring a stable food supply.

There should be a proactive environmental policy agenda that doesn’t ignore the costs and trade-offs of seeking to achieve positive environmental outcomes.

The left likes to claim a monopoly about caring for the environment. But nobody, either on the left or right, has such a monopoly.

Placing the environment over individual rights and freedom, and even humanity itself, as some extremists do, may make some feel better about their commitment to the environment, but they do so at the expense of the well-being of the American people.

Global cooling?

Europe was in the grip of snow chaos today as power went out in Sweden and Finland, footage emerged of looters ransacking a food truck in Spain and one person died as cars swerved off ice-covered roads in Germany.

In Madrid, footage showed dozens of looters emptying a lorry full of vegetables, yoghurts and milkshakes after it was stranded in the heavy snow in the Spanish capital, with detectives today trying to identify the culprits.

Parts of Sweden were buried under 24 inches of snow while 3,000 homes were without power in the country as well as 4,000 households in Finland, with temperatures set to drop as low as -40C in Arctic regions.

As snow and ice descended across the continent, Swiss traffic police reported 50 road accidents in the space of six hours in Bern while an 18-year-old motorist died after swerving off a road and hitting a tree in Germany.

The extreme cold is expected to get even worse in the coming days, as Switzerland warns of avalanches and Poland faces -20C (-4F) temperatures with Friday likely to be the worst of the cold snap - and Spain set to impose emergency measures after Storm Filomena swept through the country.

Forecasters in Britain have raised fears of a second 'Beast from the East' to match the dramatic weather in February 2018 when a 'sudden stratospheric warming' brought freezing winds from Siberia.

The bad weather arrived in Spain at the end of last week and has since spread across Europe, with temperatures expected to drop further before this weekend.

In Madrid, the lorry thieves made their move after the driver was forced to abandon his vehicle near a supermarket which he was unable to reach because of blizzards.

While the driver was offered a room for the night at a Good Samaritan's nearby home, he later returned to his lorry to find locals ransacking the trailer - stealing an estimated 20,000kg of vegetables, yoghurt and drinks.

Footage of the extraordinary scene showed one man running through the snow with his arms laden with stolen goods as half a dozen women nearby walked away carrying heavy boxes.

At the end of last week Madrid suffered its heaviest snowfall since 1971 and sub-freezing temperatures from Sunday onwards have continued to cause chaos. The temperature at Madrid's Barajas Airport dropped to -13C (8F) in the early hours of Tuesday morning, the lowest for 75 years.

Some drivers were trapped in their vehicles for more than 24 hours before they were rescued by an army unit called in to deal with the fallout from the extreme weather.

It came after at least three people died when Storm Filomena swept through the country at the weekend, and on Tuesday Barcelona officials confirmed another two people, both homeless, had been found dead, with signs suggesting they died of hypothermia.

Madrid politicians have called on Spanish government to declare the nation's capital a disaster zone, which Spanish media says is likely to happen.

In Sweden, the snow was still piling up today after 24 hours of snowfall in the north of the country - although forecasters said it was finally slowing down.

Electricity provider Eon said around 3,000 homes were without power, adding that the blackouts may go on longer than usual because it is too risky to send out maintenance workers.

The Swedish Meteorological and Hydrological Institute reported snow accumulation of up to 24 inches in the north of the country.

In neighbouring Finland, snow blanketed the south and warnings of poor road conditions have been issued across large swathes of the country.

About 4,000 people lost power in Finland, according to broadcaster YLE, which said temperatures would drop as low as -25C (-13F) in the south and -40C (-40F) in the Arctic.

In Germany, an 18-year-old man died at the roadside near the town of Süderholz last night after his vehicle swerved on the icy road, crashed into guardrails and finally into a tree.

Another passenger was badly injured in the crash - while several others were hurt in separate accidents around Germany, according to local media.

Americans Supposedly Just Voted For Only Electric Vehicles

The election of Joe Biden, Kamala Harris and their ultra-progressive cabinet will hasten the death of the internal combustion engine in the United States, despite the nearly even party split in the House and Senate. They will just take their narrow victory as a license to implement all manner of decisions in the name of saving the planet. Or so we’re told. And maybe they’re right.

President-elect Biden has promised his $2-trillion “climate change” plan will include “rigorous new fuel economy standards aimed at ensuring that 100% of new sales for light- and medium-duty vehicles will be zero emission vehicles (ZEVs).” VP-elect Harris has called for beginning this ban by 2035, perhaps even sooner, if they can maintain their momentum for fundamentally transforming America.

Once the sale of new gasoline engine vehicles is banned, the only question remaining is, How long before driving such vehicles is also outlawed? Harris has promised that, under “my plan, by 2045 we will have basically zero emission vehicles only. 100% by 2045.”

Of course, that means zero emissions in the USA, assuming all electricity generation is also zero-emission for charging batteries – despite enormous emission increases in places where battery minerals are mined and processed, and batteries are manufactured (which likely won’t be in America).

To jumpstart the government-mandated transformation of the 99.5% of US vehicles that are not yet ZEVs, Biden ally Sen. Chuck Schumer plans to introduce legislation authorizing $454 billion “cash for clunkers” incentives or rebates, to help people replace gasoline-powered vehicles with super-expensive all-electric vehicles (EVs). Schumer’s plan also includes building a half million new EV battery charging stations, and replacing the entire US government vehicle fleet with EVs.

That’s almost one-quarter of Biden’s $2-trillion climate plan right there. The rest of the massive Green New Deal (GND) will likely cost at least Bernie Sanders’ $16-trillion scheme, if not far more.

Not since Henry Ford introduced the assembly line for his Model T in 1913 has America faced such a transportation transformation. The Big Switch to an all-EV fleet will bring equally massive changes to American society, create new winners and new losers, make owning any vehicle a near impossibility for poor and even middle class families, and shift the balance of world power away from countries that ensure “the free flow of oil at market prices” to those that mine GND minerals (mostly China and Russia).

The Big Switch has been in the works for years. As early as 2017, many countries had already announced dates for banning internal combustion engines (ICEs). Norway said its 2025 date was just a “suggestion,” but Germany, France and the United Kingdom set “firm” dates of 2040, while the Netherlands pushed the funeral to 2030. Austria, Denmark, Ireland, Japan, Portugal, South Korea and Spain also set dates, as did India – and several American states, such as (naturally) California.

Major automakers also pledged to end ICE vehicle production soon, even though 2017 polls show that only 30% of millennials (and much lower percentages of older drivers) were willing to “invest” in an electric vehicle. That’s even before considering studies by economist Tilak Doshi and others that even after 50,000 miles on the road, the typical EV has effectively emitted some 76% as much carbon dioxide as a gasoline-powered vehicle.

That’s because, as economist Bjorn Lomborg explained, EV batteries are the product of emission-intensive mining, mineral processing and manufacturing operations, and because the electricity for recharging the batteries often involves additional CO2 emissions.

The term “zero emission vehicles” is obviously a deliberate misnomer, since emissions are just transferred from wealthy Western countries to other nations, where they go steadily upward.

The Big Switch will create jobs in some sectors. But it will also cause major declines in jobs in the oil and gas industry, declining revenues for convenience stores that profit from gasoline sales, and significant manufacturing cost increases for petrochemicals, automobile and truck tires, roof shingles, plastics, pharmaceuticals and a host of other consumer products that rely on oil and gas for raw materials.

All that also means huge decreases in lease bonus, rent, royalty and tax revenues for fossil fuel states.

Electric vehicle mandates will also harm auto repair and insurance industries. An EV drivetrain has around 20 moving parts, compared with up to 2,000 for ICE vehicles. However, these parts tend to be more expensive and (at least in the near term) less readily available. This means EVs needing repairs or new parts will sit longer in garages and repair shops, and delays in parts availability will increase the overall cost of EV maintenance and ownership. Will insurers cover these added costs?

The Big Switch will also mandate major shifts in tax policy for local and state governments and the federal government, all of which rely heavily on gasoline taxes to pay for highway maintenance and repair. The 18.4-cents-per-gallon federal excise tax goes to the Highway Trust Fund that pays for much of this (with a separate small tax covering remediation of leaking underground fuel storage tanks).

As gasoline sales continue to decline, will Washington find a way to replace this lost revenue?

(A related question: As we enter the era of driverless vehicles, how will computer-driven cars handle all the proliferating, expanding and deepening potholes?)

Highways maintained by state and local gasoline taxes are already threatened by declining revenues, thanks to EVs, hybrids and higher-mileage ICE vehicles – and to the 2020 pandemic, which cut highway driving by 64% in April 2020 and significantly ever since. Some states are adding or increasing electric vehicle registration fees: Alabama’s is now $200 for EVs and $100 for plug-in hybrids (a quarter of which will fund EV charging stations), while California began imposing a $100 annual EV fee last July.

That’s not all. People today can purchase an older gasoline-powered vehicle that will pass inspection for well under $2,000. Batteries for these vehicles cost under $200, and many really older vehicles can be repaired by amateur mechanics. By contrast, replacing an EV battery can cost up to $6,000, making even used electric vehicles unaffordable for tens of millions of Americans in a nation where half of all vehicles are over ten years old.

Meanwhile, China, India and dozens of other countries are building thousands of new coal and gas-fired electrical generating plants – and putting millions of new ICE vehicles on their roads. So there will be no reduction in global emissions, which means all this pain and disruption in the USA will bring absolutely no benefits, even if CO2 does drive climate change.

Moreover, as recently as 2017, industry experts said EVs will likely reach only 25% of all vehicles worldwide by 2050. People in other countries don’t want and cannot afford them, either.

Equally significant, the Biden-Harris plan also includes a total phaseout of fossil fuels for producing electricity – along with the major increase in electricity needed to keep EVs moving. Even if Biden, Harris, Democrats and Greens accept nuclear energy as a “renewable” (or at least zero-emission) fuel, building enough new nuclear power plants will take decades.

But then, when did Moscow or Beijing ever meet all, most or even some objectives of their Five-Year Plans? Does anyone really think centralized government planning will work better here? More critically:

Will We the People be able to raise and discuss these issues in public forums? Will Republican Members of Congress have any meaningful opportunities to do so during committee hearings or floor debates?

Or will we all just be canceled, censored, silenced and browbeaten into submission in the newly progressive, intolerant and Divided States of America, amid more phony calls for unity and comity?




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