Friday, March 31, 2017

U.S. House Committee on Science, Space & Technology, 29 Mar 2017, Testimony of John R. Christy

John Christy's Congressional testimony today on data vs climate models: cogent and forcefully presented


Science” is not a set of facts but a process or method that sets out a way for us to discover information and which attempts to determine the level of confidence we might have in that information. In the method, a “claim” or “hypothesis” is stated such that rigorous tests might be employed to test the claim to determine its credibility. If the claim fails a test, the claim is rejected or modified then tested again. When the “scientific method” is applied to the output from climate models of the IPCC AR5, specifically the bulk atmospheric temperature trends since 1979 (a key variable with a strong and obvious theoretical response to increasing GHGs in this period), I demonstrate that the consensus of the models fails the test to match the real-world observations by a significant margin. As such, the average of the models is considered to be untruthful in representing the recent decades of climate variation and change, and thus would be inappropriate for use in predicting future changes in the climate or for related policy decisions. The IPCC inadvertently provided information that supports this conclusion by (a) showing that the tropical trends of climate models with extra greenhouse gases failed to match actual trends and (b) showing that climate models without extra greenhouse gases agreed with actual trends. A report of which I was a co-author demonstrates that a statistical model that uses only natural influences on the climate also explains the variations and trends since 1979 without the need of extra greenhouse gases. While such a model (or any climate model) cannot “prove” the causes of variations, the fact that its result is not rejected by the scientific method indicates it should be considered when trying to understand why the climate does what it does. Deliberate consideration of the major influences by natural variability on the climate has been conspicuously absent in the current explanations of climate change by the well-funded climate science industry. One way to aid congress in understanding more of the climate issue than what is produced by biased “official” panels of the climate establishment is to organize and fund credible “Red Teams” that look at issues such as natural variability, the failure of climate models and the huge benefits to society from affordable energy, carbon-based and otherwise. I would expect such a team would offer to congress some very different conclusions regarding the human impacts on climate.


Interpreting the polls

Most Americans really aren't sure what to think about climate change. Yes, levels of concern are high right now, but that seems to be in large part a partisan reaction to who is in the White House. Just as climate-change skeptics grew in number in the early years of Barack Obama's presidency, climate worriers are coming out of the woodwork with Trump.

Over the past couple of decades, about 25 percent of Americans have consistently worried about climate change, and about 15 percent consistently dismissed it. The other 60 percent of the adult populace appears to be open to persuasion. Also, very few Americans see addressing climate change as their top priority. It shows up nowhere on Gallup's regular tally of what people think is the most important issue facing the country, while environmental and pollution-related topics were named by only 2 percent of those polled in February.

Here's another interesting polling result, from the Pew Research Center: Only 27 percent of U.S. adults agree with the statement that "almost all climate scientists agree that human behavior is mostly responsible for climate change." Now I guess we could quibble a little over the meaning of "almost all," but it is a well-established fact that about 97 percent of active climate scientists believe that human activity is the cause of recent global warming. This is in part testimony to the success of Ebell and his allies in deliberately sowing doubt. But it could also be a sign that the "scientific consensus" framing just intrinsically isn't all that persuasive. I'll admit, I'm biased here: I wrote a book about a scientific consensus that has largely unraveled, and I have watched with fascination (and eaten with satisfaction) as the scientific consensus over the merits and demerits of carbohydrates and fats has pretty much reversed itself. So the fact that 97 percent of the scientists in a field believe something is not in itself all that persuasive to me.


Lawmakers Can Make America Great Again by Unlocking Our Oil and Gas Supply

American lawmakers would be wise to embrace the ongoing energy revolution.  The Baker Hughes oil rig count for the United States increased on Friday for the 10th consecutive week to 809 operating rigs, resulting in a 20-rig increase from the week before and a 345-rig addition in the past 12 months.

While OPEC countries have done their best to keep oil prices high by cutting back on production, America’s energy wealth and free markets have frustrated these efforts. The Energy Information Administration pegs current gasoline prices at $2.32 per gallon—down 36 percent from the 2014 high of $3.64 per gallon.

At the Nov. 30 OPEC meeting, member countries agreed to production cuts of 1.2 million barrels per day with the goal of decreasing global inventories and increasing prices.

However, the biggest obstacle between OPEC and its goal of higher prices is American oil production. American producers have taken advantage of elevated oil prices, bringing more rigs online. As a result, American oil inventories have increased by over 41 million barrels since the OPEC announcement.

Greater oil supplies induce downward pressure on prices, which is OPEC’s greatest nightmare as doing so severely limits its ability to raise prices while holding onto market share. In fact, the American shale revolution has fundamentally changed the scene for oil price changes as well as the economy as a whole.

Horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing have unlocked vast resources locked up in tight formations, such as shale.

In addition to reducing average production costs, the shale revolution is a classic example of the free market at its best. It is creating work not only for people directly associated with extraction—including engineers and data scientists, among many others—but also for people not directly associated with the work; in industries such as manufacturing, restaurants, repair, travel, and more.

Heritage Foundation research has estimated that unlocking substantial portions of federal land to industry development will create a peak employment differential of 1.5 million jobs by 2035.

The most advantageous effect of the shale revolution is the stimulus to American energy consumption. Stephen Moore, a Heritage Foundation fellow in economics, writes with Kathleen White, a senior fellow at the Texas Public Policy Foundation, in their new book, “Fueling Freedom”: “The rule of thumb is that a 1-cent reduction in the price of gas at the pump saves consumers $1 billion a year.”

As energy is the fundamental building block of civilization, a reduction in energy costs would be evident all across the country. These cost reductions coupled with the vast job creation described above, would result in a stronger economy and a significantly higher standard of living.

Washington policymakers should, therefore, embrace the prominence of the American oil and gas industry in the world market and enable American ingenuity to take advantage of our immense resources.


Judicial Watch Sues for Records between Key Obama Administration Scientists Involved In Global Warming Controversies

Judicial Watch today announced it filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia asking the court to compel the U.S. Department of Commerce to turn over all records of communications between a pair of federal scientists who heavily influenced the Obama administration's climate change policy and its backing of the Paris Agreement (Judicial Watch v. Department of Commerce (No. 1:17-cv-00541)).

The suit was filed after the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration ("NOAA"), a component of the Department of Commerce, failed to respond to a February 6 FOIA request seeking

    All records of communications between NOAA scientist Thomas Karl and Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy John Holdren.

    The FOIA request covers the timeframe of January 20, 2009 to January 20, 2017.

Karl, who until last year was director of the NOAA section that produces climate data, the National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI), was the lead author of a landmark paper that was reported to have heavily influenced the Paris Agreement.

Holdren, a former director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, director of the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, and long-time proponent of strong measures to curb emissions.

According to The Daily Mail, a whistleblower accused Thomas Karl of bypassing normal procedures to produce a scientific paper promoting climate alarmism:

    A high-level whistleblower has told this newspaper that America's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) breached its own rules on scientific integrity when it published the sensational but flawed report, aimed at making the maximum possible impact on world leaders including Barack Obama and David Cameron at the UN climate conference in Paris in 2015.

    The report claimed that the ‘pause' or ‘slowdown' in global warming in the period since 1998 - revealed by UN scientists in 2013 - never existed, and that world temperatures had been rising faster than scientists expected. ...

    But the whistleblower, Dr. John Bates, a top NOAA scientist with an impeccable reputation, has shown The Mail on Sunday irrefutable evidence that the paper was based on misleading, ‘unverified' data.

    It was never subjected to NOAA's rigorous internal evaluation process - which Dr. Bates devised.

    His vehement objections to the publication of the faulty data were overridden by his NOAA superiors in what he describes as a ‘blatant attempt to intensify the impact' of what became known as the Pausebuster paper.

"This new lawsuit could result in the release of emails that will help Americans understand how Obama administration officials may have mishandled scientific data to advance the political agenda of global warming alarmism," said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton.

Separately, Judicial Watch is suing for records of communications from NOAA officials regarding methodology for collecting and interpreting data used in climate models to justify the controversial findings in the "Pausebuster" study.  The data documents had also been withheld from Congress. (Judicial Watch v. U.S. Department of Commerce (No 1:15-cv-02088)).


Riders protest as EPA gravy train is derailed

Six nonprofit groups that criticized President Donald Trump’s proposed budget cuts failed to mention the nearly $179 million in Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) grants they’ve received since 2009, according to a Daily Caller News Foundation Investigative Group (TheDCNF) analysis of federal spending data.

The agency has funded thousands of such groups since former President Barack Obama’s 2009 inauguration, but TheDCNF focused only on six of the largest nonprofit recipients in its analysis of grant data compiled by the watchdog Open The Books.

Those nonprofits also received additional funding from other federal agencies across the government. It’s possible some or all of these groups will see their federal funding slashed or eliminated all together if Trump’s budget proposal is approved.

 The six nonprofits have varying missions and represent EPA’s widespread use of taxpayer funds to advance the environmental agency’s legislative, public relations and regulatory agenda. For example, the largest recipient – Senior Service America Inc. – provides low-paying jobs to senior citizens.

Not surprisingly, Trump’s proposed budget cuts “would be absolutely devastating,” Senior Service America research manager Bob Harootyan told NBC News on March 16. The group has taken more than $533 million from federal agencies, including EPA, since 2009, mostly through a Department of Labor program Trump has proposed to eliminate.

Additionally, 99.6 percent of Senior Service America’s revenue in 2015 was government funded, according to the group’s 990 tax form.

The remaining five groups analyzed advocate for aggressive EPA regulatory action to ensure clean water, clean air, conservation and support for environmental science research. They, like Senior Service America, railed against Trump’s proposed budget cuts, but omitted the fact that they received millions in federal funding.

“Rather than making public health a priority, it places the health and safety of all Americans at risk,” American Lung Association President and CEO Harold P. Wimmer claimed in a statement, for example.

Wimmer listed ways he believes the budget cuts would hurt the country, but hid the fact that his organization and its local affiliates have taken $16.3 million in EPA funding since Obama’s inauguration, TheDCNF’s analysis found.

The remaining four nonprofits made similar criticisms in statements while neglecting to publicize their financial stake in the budget cuts.

Meanwhile, it’s likely that state agencies – typically among the largest EPA grant recipients – gave the nonprofits and their state and regional affiliates additional funds, which were not included in TheDCNF’s analysis.

The American Lung Association of the Southwest, for example, received just over $386,000 from federal agencies in fiscal year 2015. But the group reported that it received more than $1.9 million in government grants, according to its 990 tax form, meaning more than $1.5 million likely came from state and local grants.



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