Sunday, December 27, 2009

The Climate Change Scam: A Concise Summary

In the wake of Climategate, common sense deniers like to say that there is lots of other evidence for global warming, in addition to that which has been debunked by the East Anglia whistleblower. Actually, however, the scientific evidence for AGW is remarkably weak. At Icecap, Lee Gerhard, geologist and reviewer for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, sums up the key scientific evidence with admirable brevity:

It is crucial that scientists are factually accurate when they do speak out, that they ignore media hype and maintain a clinical detachment from social or other agendas. There are facts and data that are ignored in the maelstrom of social and economic agendas swirling about Copenhagen. Greenhouse gases and their effects are well-known. Here are some of things we know:

• The most effective greenhouse gas is water vapor, comprising approximately 95 percent of the total greenhouse effect.

• Carbon dioxide concentration has been continually rising for nearly 100 years. It continues to rise, but carbon dioxide concentrations at present are near the lowest in geologic history.

• Temperature change correlation with carbon dioxide levels is not statistically significant.

• There are no data that definitively relate carbon dioxide levels to temperature changes.

• The greenhouse effect of carbon dioxide logarithmically declines with increasing concentration. At present levels, any additional carbon dioxide can have very little effect.

We also know a lot about Earth temperature changes:

• Global temperature changes naturally all of the time, in both directions and at many scales of intensity.

• The warmest year in the U.S. in the last century was 1934, not 1998. The U.S. has the best and most extensive temperature records in the world.

• Global temperature peaked in 1998 on the current 60-80 year cycle, and has been episodically declining ever since. This cooling absolutely falsifies claims that human carbon dioxide emissions are a controlling factor in Earth temperature.

• Voluminous historic records demonstrate the Medieval Climate Optimum (MCO) was real and that the "hockey stick" graphic that attempted to deny that fact was at best bad science. The MCO was considerably warmer than the end of the 20th century.

• During the last 100 years, temperature has both risen and fallen, including the present cooling. All the changes in temperature of the last 100 years are in normal historic ranges, both in absolute value and, most importantly, rate of change.

Contrary to many public statements:

• Effects of temperature change are absolutely independent of the cause of the temperature change.

• Global hurricane, cyclonic and major storm activity is near 30-year lows. Any increase in cost of damages by storms is a product of increasing population density in vulnerable areas such as along the shores and property value inflation, not due to any increase in frequency or severity of storms.

• Polar bears have survived and thrived over periods of extreme cold and extreme warmth over hundreds of thousands of years extremes far in excess of modern temperature changes.

• The 2009 minimum Arctic ice extent was significantly larger than the previous two years. The 2009 Antarctic maximum ice extent was significantly above the 30-year average. There are only 30 years of records.

• Rate and magnitude of sea level changes observed during the last 100 years are within normal historical ranges. Current sea level rise is tiny and, at most, justifies a prediction of perhaps ten centimeters rise in this century.

The present climate debate is a classic conflict between data and computer programs. The computer programs are the source of concern over climate change and global warming, not the data. Data are measurements. Computer programs are artificial constructs.

Public announcements use a great deal of hyperbole and inflammatory language. For instance, the word "ever" is misused by media and in public pronouncements alike. It does not mean "in the last 20 years," or "the last 70 years." "Ever" means the last 4.5 billion years.

For example, some argue that the Arctic is melting, with the warmest-ever temperatures. One should ask, "How long is ever?" The answer is since 1979. And then ask, "Is it still warming?" The answer is unequivocally "No." Earth temperatures are cooling. Similarly, the word "unprecedented" cannot be legitimately used to describe any climate change in the last 8,000 years.


Historical background: IPCC’s Second Assessment Report (IPCC-AR-2, 1995, published in 1996)

IPCC assessment reports, and particularly their Summaries for Policymakers (SPM), are noted for their selective use of information and their bias to support the political goal of control of fossil fuels in order to fight an alleged anthropogenic global warming (AGW).

Perhaps the most blatant example is IPCC’s Second Assessment Report (SAR), completed in 1995 and published in 1996. Its SPM contains the memorable phrase “the balance of evidence suggests a discernable human influence on global climate.” You may recall that this 1996 IPCC report played a key role in the political deliberations that led to the 1997 Kyoto Protocol.

This ambiguous phrase suggests a group of climate scientists, examining both human and natural influences on climate change, looking at published scientific research, and carefully weighing their decision. Nothing of the sort has ever happened. The IPCC has consistently ignored the major natural influences on climate change and has focused almost entirely on human causes, especially on GH gases and more especially on carbon dioxide, which is linked to industrial activities and therefore ‘bad’ almost by definition.

How then did the IPCC-SAR arrive at “balance of evidence”? It was the work of a then-relatively-junior scientist, Dr Benjamin D. Santer of the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL), who has recently re-emerged as a major actor in ClimateGate. As a Convening Lead Author of a crucial IPCC chapter, Santer carefully removed any verbiage denying that human influences might be the major or almost exclusive cause of warming and substituted new language. There is no evidence that he ever consulted any of his fellow IPCC authors, nor do we know who instructed him to make these changes and later approved the text deletions and insertions that fundamentally transformed IPCC-SAR.

The event is described by Nature [381(1006):539] and in a 1996 WSJ article by the late Professor Frederick Seitz (See also my Science Editorial #2-09). Seitz compared the draft of IPCC Chapter 8 (Detection and Attribution) and the final printed text. He noted that, before printing, key phrases had been deleted from the draft that had earlier been approved by its several scientist-authors. For a full account of these text changes see my Hoover Essay in Public Policy No. 102 [2000] “Climate Policy: From Rio to Kyoto”

Exec Summary

Essay pdf

Essay Notes

Seitz wrote [WSJ, Aug 13, 1996]:
“Last week the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a United Nations organization regarded by many as the best source of scientific information about the human impact on the earth's climate, released "The Science of Climate Change 1995," its first new report in five years. The report will surely be hailed as the latest and most authoritative statement on global warming. Policy makers and the press around the world will likely view the report as the basis for critical decisions on energy policy that would have an enormous impact on U.S. oil and gas prices and on the international economy.

This IPCC report, like all others, is held in such high regard largely because it has been peer-reviewed. That is, it has been read, discussed, modified and approved by an international body of experts. These scientists have laid their reputations on the line. But this report is not what it appears to be--it is not the version that was approved by the contributing scientists listed on the title page. In my more than 60 years as a member of the American scientific community, including service as president of both the National Academy of Sciences and the American Physical Society, I have never witnessed a more disturbing corruption of the peer-review process than the events that led to this IPCC report.

A comparison between the report approved by the contributing scientists and the published version reveals that key changes were made after the scientists had met and accepted what they thought was the final peer-reviewed version. The scientists were assuming that the IPCC would obey the IPCC Rules--a body of regulations that is supposed to govern the panel's actions. Nothing in the IPCC Rules permits anyone to change a scientific report after it has been accepted by the panel of scientific contributors and the full IPCC.

The participating scientists accepted "The Science of Climate Change" in Madrid last November; the full IPCC accepted it the following month in Rome. But more than 15 sections in Chapter 8 of the report--the key chapter setting out the scientific evidence for and against a human influence over climate--were changed or deleted after the scientists charged with examining this question had accepted the supposedly final text.

Few of these changes were merely cosmetic; nearly all worked to remove hints of the skepticism with which many scientists regard claims that human activities are having a major impact on climate in general and on global warming in particular.

The following passages are examples of those included in the approved report but deleted from the supposedly peer-reviewed published version:

· "None of the studies cited above has shown clear evidence that we can attribute the observed [climate] changes to the specific cause of increases in greenhouse gases." "No study to date has positively attributed all or part [of the climate change observed to date] to anthropogenic [man-made] causes." "Any claims of positive detection of significant climate change are likely to remain controversial until uncertainties in the total natural variability of the climate system are reduced."

The reviewing scientists used this original language to keep themselves and the IPCC honest. I am in no position to know who made the major changes in Chapter 8; but the report's lead author, Benjamin D. Santer, must presumably take the major responsibility.

IPCC reports are often called the "consensus" view. If they lead to carbon taxes and restraints on economic growth, they will have a major and almost certainly destructive impact on the economies of the world. Whatever the intent was of those who made these significant changes, their effect is to deceive policy makers and the public into believing that the scientific evidence shows human activities are causing global warming.

If the IPCC is incapable of following its most basic procedures, it would be best to abandon the entire IPCC process, or at least that part that is concerned with the scientific evidence on climate change, and look for more reliable sources of advice to governments on this important question.”

But in addition to these text changes there are also two key graphs that were doctored in order to convey the impression that anthropogenic influences are dominant. Again, my Hoover essay gives the details.

1. According to all climate models, GH warming shows a characteristic ‘fingerprint’: a ‘hot spot’ in temperature trend values in the tropical upper troposphere. Michaels and Knappenberger [Nature 384 (1996):522-523] discovered that the IPCC’s claimed agreement with observations was spurious and obtained by selecting a convenient segment of the radiosonde temperature data and ignoring the rest.

2. Santer also claimed that the modeled and observed patterns of geographic surface temperatures were correlated, with the correlation coefficient increasing over time (suggesting to the reader that a growing human component gradually emerged from background noise). I found, however, that Santer had obtained this result by simply deleting from a published graph all the trend lines that disagreed with his desired outcome [Eos 80 (1999):372]. In fact, the original paper had Santer himself as lead author and did not appear in print until after the IPCC report was completed – in contravention of IPCC rules.

It is interesting that these several documented falsifications went largely unreported and had little impact on scientists and politicians, who went on to support the passage of the Kyoto Protocol -- in spite of the absence of any scientific support. A wide-ranging investigation of ClimateGate may yet serve to bring this IPCC triple-malfeasance to light.

SEPP SCIENCE EDITORIAL #41-2009 (Dec 26, 2009)

APS Appeals to Authority

There are no authorities in science. Experts, yes. Brilliant, well educated experts, yes. Mistaken, brilliant, well-educated experts, yes. (The only people who never make mistakes are those who never do anything.) But there are no authorities.

It is therefore distressing to find that an ad-hoc committee of the American Physical Society (APS) has asserted on no uncertain terms that authority rules.

The background is this. The Executive Committee of the APS issued a statement in November 2007 saying:
"Emissions of greenhouse gases from human activities are changing the atmosphere in ways that affect the Earth's climate. Greenhouse gases include carbon dioxide as well as methane, nitrous oxide and other gases. They are emitted from fossil fuel combustion and a range of industrial and agricultural processes. "The evidence is incontrovertible: Global warming is occurring. If no mitigating actions are taken, significant disruptions in the Earth's physical and ecological systems, social systems, security and human health are likely to occur. We must reduce emissions of greenhouse gases beginning now.

"Because the complexity of the climate makes accurate prediction difficult, the APS urges an enhanced effort to understand the effects of human activity on the Earth's climate, and to provide the technological options for meeting the climate challenge in the near and longer terms. The APS also urges governments, universities, national laboratories and its membership to support policies and actions that will reduce the emission of greenhouse gases."

The second and third lines of the first paragraph are reasonable statements of fact, and the only other reasonable part is "the APS urges an enhanced effort to understand the effects of human activity on the Earth's climate." Would that they had followed their own counsel, and even broadened the sentence to include natural effects on the climate.

About 100 APS members, including many Fellows and Distinguished Professors have signed a petition submitted by Robert H. Austin [1] challenging the APS 2007 Statement on Climate Change. One very good reason for issuing the challenge was not in the petition: the executive board has no business pretending that they speak for the membership. A second is that the board itself has no expertise in climate science.

The petition drive was initiated because the Statement is riddled with unproven assertions. The petition did not seek to discard the Statement, but instead to supplant it, using phrases like, "[M]easured or reconstructed temperature records indicate that 20th - 21st century changes are neither exceptional nor persistent." Later, "The APS supports an objective scientific effort to understand the effects of all processes-natural and human- on the Earth's climate and the biosphere's response to climate change."

Accordingly, the APS cobbled together an ad-hoc committee to consider the petition. The Chairman was Dan Kleppner (MIT) who has expertise in laser cooling and trapping [TEA January 2009, "Optical Molasses"], a topic that relates to precisely one component of climate. Robert Adair (Yale) has written some nice books about the physics of baseball. I am unacquainted with the others, David M. Ceperley (theoretical physics, U. of Illinois) Alexander L. Fetter (bosonic gases, Stanford), Helen R. Quinn (missing antimatter, CP violation, Stanford), and Ellen D. Williams (surface physics, U. of Maryland).

This is obviously a group of brilliant people-but where is the expertise in anything related to climatology? Anybody who has followed the global-warming discussions would know that skeptics challenge the data, methodology, and conclusions of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Accordingly, it would be reasonable to do some independent investigation of those topics. Apparently the ad-hoc committee did no such thing. I quote:
"To review these issues we have relied primarily on the 4th Assessment Report [AR4] of the International Panel on Climate Change, in particular its first volume: Climate Change 2007: The Physical Science Basis. Contribution of Working Group 1 to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [Solomon et al, Cambridge University Press]. (PSB). We have also turned to the NRC report Surface Temperature Reconstructions for the Last 2,000 Years, Committee on Surface Temperature Reconstructions for the Last 2,000 Years, (National Research Council, 2006). (STR).

It may come as a surprise to the ad-hoc committee, but skeptics have also read those reports-thoroughly-and still disagree. (By its vocabulary, the NC's STR seems to have been lifted uncritically from AR4.) It adds no intellectual or scientific content to the two reports merely to read and parrot them. To put it fairly but bluntly, the ad-hoc committee of the APS said that the reports are true because the reports say they are true.

[1] Robert H. Austin, Professor of Physics, Princeton University, Fellow APS, AAAS; APS Council: 1991-1994, 2007-2010, Member National Academy of Sciences, American Association of Arts and Sciences


Cheap Natural Gas and Its Enemies

A vast reservoir of clean-burning natural gas could be available at reasonable cost in the coming years, freeing us from some of our dependence on imported energy. Yet there are those who consider such a development a threat.

A small group of billionaires (and mere multimillionaires), formed under the aegis of the Democracy Alliance, has amassed a great deal of political influence in America on behalf of the Democratic Party and Democratic politicians. Among the more important members of this "club" are George Soros and his liberal allies, Herbert and Marion Sandler. The latter two are billionaire beneficiaries of the mortgage bubble who timed their exit from the savings and loan industry before the bubble popped. They went on to fund (with George Soros) the Center for American Progress -- otherwise known as Obama's "idea factory."

One other venture that the Sandlers started is a media group called Pro Publica -- an outfit supposed to "engage in investigative journalism" and provide its findings to larger media outlets for greater impact. These "exposés" are provided at no cost to newspapers (and others), who, in an era of cutbacks, are happy to have good copy written by respected journalists. Free material is a no-brainer.

But why would the politically active Sandlers suddenly enter the media world? Perhaps it's because they realize the political and financial benefits that can flow from influencing the news. We may be seeing a sample of this type of handiwork now.

Among the first "exposés" Pro Publica undertook was an attack on energy companies for developing the Marcellus Shale, a vast natural gas reservoir stretching across several states. The "exposé" focused on putative environmental effects that might result from tapping these reserves. The technology used to unleash this natural gas from the shale in which it is trapped is called "fracking." Energy companies inject water, sand, and drilling fluids into the rock to "crack" it and release the natural gas. The potential for this technology is huge: America is a vast storehouse of this type of gas. Much of this is located not just in the Marcellus formation, but throughout the Rocky Mountain states. Also, the Barnett Shale region of Texas and the Bakken Shale region of North Dakota are rich with this type of natural gas.

Fracking is a proven technology. Energy experts are now predicting this technology will help free us from dependency on foreign sources of natural gas. The quantity is so vast that there is even potential for substituting natural gas for petroleum in cars and trucks. Natural gas is a clean-burning fuel that can replace coal in electric power plants. Already, the impact of this technology is beneficial. The prospect of this huge resource being tapped for years to come has brought down the price of natural gas, both in the spot market (where it is priced now) and in the futures market (where it is priced for future delivery). Indeed, the price has come down so much that the publicly held exploration and production companies that focus on natural gas have seen their share prices weaken.

Exxon Mobil was so entranced with the prospects of this technology that it has offered $31 billion dollars for XTO Energy, an energy company that has vast reserves of shale gas that can be tapped at a relatively small cost through fracking.

But there is one potential snag in the deal: Exxon can walk away if laws are passed that restrict the use of fracking. These laws would be a response to claims that fracking can harm the environment. Already, Representative Ed Markey (D-Massachusetts), Chairman of the House Energy and Environmental Subcommittee (of the Energy and Commerce Committee -- the Russian-doll nature of Congressional committees and subcommittees can be mind-boggling) has called hearings into the Exxon-XTO deal. He will focus on the environmental concerns related to air pollution and water contamination (fracking uses water).

Now how coincidental is it that the Sandler-funded Pro Publica focuses on "fracking" as their inaugural topic? The Sandlers have no apparent experience in or knowledge of the energy industry. Why not have Pro Publica focus on other investigative topics -- say, the savings and loan crisis and the malefactors of great wealth who made out like the proverbial bandits? We know the answer to that question, but maybe we have an inkling of why Pro Publica has been pushing the "fracking" story, and why Democrats in Congress are going along with the media/political campaign.

George Soros is a pal and ally of the Sandlers. He also owns major stakes in energy companies that don't rely on shale gas for their revenue. These companies would be harmed and become less profitable if shale gas were released onto the market in the vast quantities industry experts believe are available through fracking. He also owns a major interest in InterOil, an energy company that has discovered a vast natural gas find in Papua New Guinea. The potential of that find is enormous and could lead to a very profitable export of liquefied natural gas to the American market.

However, the potential value of InterOil and Soros's other investments would suffer if the vast reserves of shale natural gas that lie below much of America are tapped. Furthermore, Soros operates through a hedge fund domiciled overseas. We cannot know who his investors are. They are rumored to include some of the world's petrocrats, who also have a vested interest in ensuring that America's own energy resources remain undeveloped so that we can send our billions to them...but of course, only Soros insiders know.

Did Soros foresee the problem that shale natural gas might pose? He is a legendary investor who sees risks and reward years before anyone else. That is how he made his billions. Did he ask the Sandlers to have Pro Publica focus on fracking? Is he now using his vast influence with the liberal wing of the Democratic Party (symbolized by Congressman Markey, also a pal of one of those petrocats, Hugo Chavez) to derail the potential of fracking? Will Soros use his influence with Barack Obama to command the Environmental Protection Agency to focus on the environmental consequences of fracking? Is he behind efforts by Senator Feingold (D-WI) to give the EPA more power over water resources throughout America?

Of course, this is all conjecture. After all, George Soros and company are not the type of people who leave e-mails on servers or fingerprints on their plans.


No Substitute For Fossil Fuels

Earlier this year, Congress approved a scheme to pour $80 billion — on top of the tens of billions already spent — into renewables. A government report released last week indicates the money will be wasted.

Renewable energy is the shiny gem that everyone wants but no one can have. Not even a president. Campaigning last year in Lansing, Mich., President Barack Obama said that it was his goal for the U.S. to generate 10% of its electric power from renewable sources by 2012 and 25% by 2025. But he cannot, by the force of will or executive order, change the laws of physics and economics.

America has long relied on fossil fuels to power its economy. Oil, natural gas and coal provide about 84% of the nation's energy. And for good reason. They are plentiful and typically easy to retrieve, and, consequently, cheap.

At the other end of the spectrum are renewable sources such as solar, wind, biomass and geothermal. They supply only about 4% of our energy, the remainder coming from hydro and nuclear power.

An axis of environmentalists and Democrats want to change this ratio, because, according to the usual complaint, we depend too heavily on the fossil fuels that emit carbon dioxide. Trouble is, the market for renewables is poor. Few want to use the inefficient, unreliable and expensive sources. But that hasn't slowed the renewable energy campaign, which has succeeded in persuading the public that renewables are a sensible energy source and convincing Congress to fund supporters' daydreams.

The government can continue to "invest" in renewables, and the dreamers will keep using public money to find the magic formula. But little will change over the next 25 years. The federal Energy Information Administration's Annual Energy Outlook says in 2035, demand for liquid fuels will increase by almost 10% over 2008 levels, natural gas by nearly 7% and coal by 12%. While use of renewables will increase as well — by 81%, including hydropower — they will still be unable to unseat our dominant energy source. Fossil fuels' share of consumption will fall by only six percentage points, from 84% to 78% by 2035. Renewables will provide about 8%.

It's clear that renewables, which have benefited from government subsidies far in excess of what fossil fuels have received, can't compete in today's market and won't be faring much better a quarter century from now, according to the government's own reckoning. It's just as clear that throwing taxpayers' dollars at renewables has produced little progress.

Spain provides perhaps the best lesson. The government there has spent $43 billion on solar energy projects, yet solar provides less than 1% of the country's electric power. It was a bad investment.

Chasing the wind is just as ineffective. When Congress temporarily eliminated wind power credits in 1999, 2001 and 2003, the number of new turbine projects fell sharply. The Texas Public Policy Foundation says that providing a modest level of wind power in that state would cost taxpayers at least $60 billion through 2025.

Biomass is also a poor substitute. It's both primitive — its sources are wood and trash — and an environmental nightmare, devouring in some cases as much as 10 times the land mass than needed to create a wind farm. And wind farms themselves are big land eaters.

Geothermal energy, considered "free" energy from the earth, is also a space eater that requires heavy capital investment, which is often hard to recoup. In California earlier this month, a geothermal project was abandoned, despite a $6 million grant from the Energy Department and roughly $30 million in venture capital. Geothermal has, as well, some environmental drawbacks. The day before the California project was closed, Swiss government officials permanently shut down a geothermal project in Basel because, the New York Times reports, "of the damaging earthquakes it produced in 2006 and 2007."

Maybe some of these renewables will one day be cheap and reliable. Technological advances will help. But today they are neither cheap nor reliable, and, based on the government's report, won't be for another generation. Until they can compete, the country has to rely on proven sources: fossil fuels and nuclear power. To force cutbacks on these so that renewables can get a bigger market share, and to continue to fund projects with public money, is foolish and irresponsible.


What’s Next? Fish for Fidos

Since the United Nations Copenhagen Climate Change Conference ended in complete failure, some on the eco-left are engaging in a bit of gallows humor including Head of Research for Oxfam Duncan Green who writes on his blog:
The BBC’s ‘Ethical Man’ (probably another cat lover) has done the numbers. Keeping a medium-sized dog has the same ecological impact as driving a 4.6 litre Land Cruiser (I assume that’s some kind of car) 10,000km a year.

Using a unit known as a ‘global hectare’ – a measure of the land area needed to support a certain ecological footprint, growing and manufacturing the 164kg of meat and 95kg of cereals a border collie or cocker spaniel eats every year takes about 0.84 gha. A bigger dog such as a German shepherd consumes even more – its carbon pawprint is more like 1.1 gha. That is more than the environmental footprint of the average Indian person, who uses just 0.8 gha of resources. If you are a multiple dog owner you are in even more trouble. Two big dogs are responsible for more carbon emissions than some British citizens.

By contrast a cat (hah!) needs 0.15 gha, a hamster 0.014 gha, and a canary 0.007 gha. The most carbon efficient pet is a goldfish. Its carbon finprint requires just 0.00034 gha. That’s over 3,000 fish per pooch.

So if you care about climate change, join my new campaign. Our key demand is a ‘fish for fidos’ scheme, loosely based on Cash for Clunkers, whereby people trade in their dogs in return for goldfish. It makes at least as much sense to promote this as a solution to climate change as human population control in poor countries.



For more postings from me, see DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here


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