Monday, December 18, 2017

A mechanical engineer tries to use commonsense to discredit  climate skepticism

His name is Rich Brager.  His effort is below and shows how shallow his understanding of the issues is.

My first smile was his credulous belief that scientific fraud is "pretty rare".  I wonder how he explains that in both psychology and medicine up to two thirds of all findings have recently been found to be unreplicable?  The level of fraud may vary but its frequency shows that treating scientists as an authority is naive.  The only authority is the facts.

And his idea of how scientists work is also idealized.  He says:

"They learn by failure. They formulate new ideas based on their previous test results. They hone and fine tune their ideas until they can achieve success"

But Warmists don't do that. They have a theory they stick to come hell or high water.  Take their basic theory that increasing levels of atmospheric CO2 lead to increasing global temperatures.  So from 1945 t0 1975 when CO2 levels rose strongly, global temperatures rose strongly too.  Right?  But they didn't.  They were effectively static for all of those 30 years.  Some people call it the "long hiatus".  So how do warmists explain that stark contradiction of their theory?  They don't.  They just mumble "special factors" and go on as if nothing to disturb their theory had happened.

Mr Brager goes on to compare the science that goes into his beloved motor cars with climate science and says that because motor cars work well, climate science must be right too.  That is a rather large non-sequitur for starters but its basic error is to assume that climate scientists proceed the way other scientists do.  They don't.  I have just pointed out an example of that but let me give another one:

It is a normal scientific courtesy for scientists to make their raw data available to other scientists so other scientists can re-analyse it and (hopefully) show that the analyses done by the original author were correct and adequate.  New analyses could even reveal new insights not picked up by the original author.

But Warmists NEVER do that. They refuse point blank to make their data available to others.  That immediately evokes supicion that their data may not show what they say it shows. And on one occasion when some very important data was left lying around where skeptics could access and analyse it, the whole "hockeystick" edifice built on it collapsed.  They have good reasons to hide their data.

Mr Brager clearly needs to do some reading.  He could start by googling "unreplicable findings"

Science deniers seem to be everywhere. You can read about them in the papers virtually every day. They are in the news all the time. Unfortunately, the Trump administration has assigned a disproportionate number of jobs requiring scientific knowledge to science deniers. Very sad, very dangerous.

What are they denying? The topics include climate change, evolution, vaccination as well as a number of other topics. So why are the deniers deniers? Of course, there is no single reason. They often cite instances where scientists were fraudulent with their scientific information. Since scientists are also human, this does happen sometimes but fortunately, it is pretty rare.

Sometimes they say that the scientists have just made errors in their scientific analysis. This can also happen, but many non-scientists just don’t really understand how science works. Scientists learn by pushing the envelope of knowledge and by testing their ideas. They learn by failure. They formulate new ideas based on their previous test results. They hone and fine tune their ideas until they can achieve success.

I think many science deniers are very selective in their denials, almost hypocritical. They agree with and love science every time they go to their garage and start their modern car. The science that goes into designing and manufacturing a modern car is borderline unbelievable. You name it, it is there: material science, chemistry, thermodynamics, electronics, robotics, anatomy (think driving position, location of controls), physics, etc., etc. And they all work together so seamlessly that you don’t give it another thought while you commute to work.

And you science deniers could care less about the science that goes into your cell phones, GPS’s and microwave ovens. They all work “like magic”, but they are not magic. They are science at work. And work they do.

So do scientists of different stripes (physicists, chemists, weather scientists, biologists, etc.) go about their work in completely different ways?

Although their fields of study may differ wildly, their scientific methods are remarkably the same. They design their tests, gather their data, review their data, rerun tests as necessary, use statistical methods in analyzing their data, search for similar research by others, present their finding to other experts. Final reports are peer reviewed and critiqued. New and amazing findings are made.

So let’s pick on climate change deniers for a second. Do you think climate scientists are dumber than automotive scientists? Do you think their techniques are inferior to cell phone scientists? Or is your own understanding of climate science just not as good as your understanding of how your cell phone works? Or just because your political party needs to support big energy, climate change shouldn’t be real? Or what? Please help me understand.

So you deniers, make sure you have some real good scientific knowledge before you deny. Think about what Isaac Asimov (scientist and science fiction writer) said about anti-intellectualism. He stated that anti-intellectualism is “nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that ‘my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.’”

It is not.


Comment from a reader:

This has got to be one of the screwiest posts that I have every read ....and to think it was published by a Mechanical Engineer.

He truly misses a single most important point....the people promoting man-made Global warming have not performed a single scientific experiment that demonstrates that CO2 will cause the temperature of the atmosphere to rise and if one should take a look at the last 50 years a true scientist would conclude that CO2 either has little or no effect.

All that I have seen is the pointing at all kinds of false findings and claiming these to be evidence of global warming.....rising sea levels, glaciers melting, loss of polar ice, polar bear demise, more violent storms, droughts, crop failure, insect migration, disease, correlation of temperature to CO2 concentrations, and on and on.

Any scientist would take a step back at the failure of any of these prediction to come true.

Germany To Open Another New Coal Power Plant

German utility Uniper will start up its Datteln IV hard-coal fired power station in the fourth quarter of 2018, it said in slides for an analyst and investor call on Thursday, having previously planned to start it in the first half 2018.

The 1,050 megawatts plant in western Germany has been held up for years by intense legal battles with environmentalists as Germany seeks to move away from coal-fired electricity long-term.


Revisiting the EPA Endangerment finding

Obama’s EPA used semantic tricks to avoid rigorous scientific evaluation. Is Trump’s EPA more honest?

Environmental Protection Agency administrator Scott Pruitt is mulling over how, or whether, to respond to demands from climate skeptics that he reexamine the science that obligates the EPA to issue costly carbon-emission regulations. While he has recently acknowledged that agency staff short-circuited the science review early in the regulatory process, he may not realize that the EPA inspector general’s office flagged this problem years ago, and the agency staff blew him off by means of a preposterous legal fiction that has long been in need of correction

In 2009 the EPA issued the Endangerment Finding, which created a statutory obligation to regulate carbon emissions. In the lead-up to this decision the EPA had published its Technical Support Document. Numerous petitions for reconsideration were subsequently filed with the administrator citing evidence of bias and cherry-picking in this report, but all of them fell on deaf ears

In April 2010, Senator James Inhofe (R., Okla.) asked the EPA’s Office of the Inspector General to review the adequacy of the peer-review process behind the Technical Support Document. The EPA was not happy with what he unearthed

It turns out that the federal government has rules in place governing how the scientific basis for regulations should be reviewed. Guidelines from the Office of Management and Budget issued under the Information Quality Act impose varying requirements depending on the uses to which a scientific assessment will be put. The most rigorous process is for so-called Highly Influential Scientific Assessments (HISA). These are scientific assessments that will, among other things, lead to rules that have an annual economic impact exceeding $500 million.

The inspector general issued a lengthy report in 2011 concluding (pp. 15–22) that the EPA’s science assessment for the Endangerment Finding was highly influential, but the peer-review process fell short of the required standard. It even violated internal EPA guidelines, by failing to publicly report the review results and cutting corners in ways that potentially hindered the work of reviewers.

The EPA argued back, rather brazenly, that their report was not an assessment at all, merely a summary of previous findings by the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the National Climate Assessment, and other reports, and these documents — not any original research by the EPA — underpinned the Endangerment Finding.

The inspector general rejected this argument for several reasons. First, the EPA study clearly was an assessment, since it selected certain lines of evidence for emphasis or exclusion and used data not found in the underlying reports. Second, the guidelines do not allow an agency such as the EPA to rely on peer reviews conducted by outside groups such as the IPCC or the National Climate Assessment team. Third, the inspector general noted (p. 53) numerous occasions when the EPA cited the Technical Support Document as the basis of its Endangerment Finding

The EPA then argued that even if it was an assessment, it was not “highly influential.” Since the Endangerment Finding was being issued on a “stand-alone” basis with no specific regulations attached, the investigation ended without resolution.

Thereafter the EPA proceeded to issue rules like the Clean Power Plan with impacts far exceeding $500 million annually. By declining to designate its science assessment as highly influential, the EPA skirted the need to conduct the required peer review, but in so doing it thwarted the intent of the statutory guidelines and undermined the ethical basis of its actions.

While the courts may not demand that this situation be rectified, Pruitt himself should. Administrative honesty demands it, especially since the determination has large potential economic ramifications. Specifically Pruitt needs to declare that the Technical Support Document was a Highly Influential Scientific Assessment that should have been reviewed as such in the first place, and he should see to it that such a review now takes place

While climate activists may object, they have also spent years insisting that the science is settled, so if they are right, they have no reason to worry about the outcome. And if they are unhappy that this might delay the next round of rule-making, they should direct their ire at Pruitt’s predecessor, who ought to have undertaken the review back in 2011 rather than playing semantic games to justify evading statutory peer-review requirements

Regardless of Pruitt’s views on climate science, he should agree that the regulatory process needs to be honest and procedurally sound. This alone gives him sufficient grounds to initiate the review that was supposed to have been done years ago.


The Renewable Fuel Standard is broken beyond repair

The EPA recently served up its annual reminder of an energy policy we would be thankful to see chucked out with the spoiled leftovers.

The Nov. 30 release of the 2018 biofuels quotas under the federal Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) provides an opportunity to examine the mandate’s failures.

The RFS entered our political discourse during the George W. Bush presidency. American petroleum production was in decline, gas prices were climbing and Al Gore was clogging the airwaves to promote his film, “An Inconvenient Truth.”

First introduced by the Energy Policy Act of 2005 and later entrenched by the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, the RFS mandated that by 2022 36 billion gallons of biofuel be produced nationwide and imposed upon fuel refiners a minimum required volume of biofuel — mostly corn ethanol — to be blended into their products. This maze of regulations and directives was crafted with the nominal purposes of disentangling our economy from the volatile Middle East petrostates and weaning us off of greenhouse gas-emitting fuels.

Now, 10 years later our dependence on foreign oil has been thoroughly mitigated — but the RFS doesn’t deserve the credit. Compelled by the high gas prices of the 2000s, American energy producers deployed techniques like hydraulic fracturing and directional drilling to tap enormous stores of oil and natural gas in states as diverse as Pennsylvania, Texas and North Dakota. Prices plummeted and the global market has been so upended that the Energy Information Agency (EIA) projects America will soon be a net energy exporter.

Advocacy for biofuel mandates has persisted despite the sea change in global energy production. The fallback argument is that biofuel is a smarter environmental choice than traditional gasoline because upon burning it emits a lesser volume of greenhouse gases. But even if we grant that an emissions reduction is a laudable goal, this argument doesn’t pass muster. According to the Congressional Budget Office, “available evidence suggests that replacing gasoline with corn ethanol has only limited potential for reducing emissions (and some studies indicate that it could increase emissions).”

Though greenhouse gas emissions from ethanol itself are indeed lower than those from gasoline, that doesn’t tell the whole story. What’s missing is an account of the environmental costs of ethanol’s production.

According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), “(S)ince for some biofuels, indirect emissions — including from land use change — can lead to greater total emissions than when using petroleum products, policy support needs to be considered on a case by case basis.” As the IPCC suggests, ethanol isn’t an obvious emissions winner. Even the Sierra Club has called the biofuel mandate “unsustainable,” describing it as “unconscionable that the EPA continues to turn a blind eye to this burgeoning environmental crisis.”

With both the energy independence and emissions arguments proven untenable, what motivation remains for RFS advocates?

By pulling back the husk, we see that the RFS’s staunchest supporters tend to hail from corn-producing states like Nebraska and Iowa. Corn growers in America’s heartland have much to gain from the increased demand that the RFS creates. The rest of us, on the other hand, hardly give it a second thought. Ethanol’s enduring presence on our energy landscape is a classic example of concentrated benefits and dispersed costs. But across the country the RFS burdens each of us in subtle ways.

One example is through taxpayer-funded grants for ethanol infrastructure. Ethanol’s corrosiveness whittles away at gasoline holding tanks and, to cushion the fuel suppliers who would otherwise bear the cost, the Department of Energy doles out cash to upgrade their equipment.

Another unseen burden is that ethanol is a less efficient fuel than traditional gasoline, meaning we can’t make it as far per gallon. According to the EIA, “In general, vehicle fuel economy may decrease by about 3 percent when using E10 relative to gasoline that does not contain fuel ethanol.” This inefficiency means we have to fill up more often and, ultimately, spend more at the pump.

Despite the clear drawbacks of the RFS, the deep-pocketed corn ethanol lobby continues to influence policy in Washington, as the recent EPA announcement shows. Government incursions into energy markets often yield nonsensical results, and the RFS is a prime example. This mandate is costly, unnecessary and corrupt. After more than a decade of RFS distortion, it’s time for us to finally say “no thanks.”


Trump Environmental Nominee Fires Back At Dems Accusing Her Of Plagiarism

Kathleen Hartnett White, nominee to head the White House’s environmental office, has fired back at Democratic lawmakers accusing her of plagiarizing written responses to confirmation questions.

“[I]t should not be a surprise that I share the views of my fellow nominees on a number of issues. In preparing my responses, I sought to reiterate positions already stated that are reflective of my own,” White wrote in response to Senate Democrats.

Democrats on the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works accused White of plagiarizing answers in written responses from “received from EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, and EPA’s Assistant Administrator for Air and Radiation, Bill Wehrum,” they wrote on Tuesday.

Democrats claim to have found 18 instances White “cut and pasted from the written answers of other nominees,” and asked her to respond. President Donald Trump nominated White to head the White House Council on Environmental Quality.

She fired back, saying two Obama administration officials also used the same verbatim answers to written questions during the confirmation process.

“My understanding is that this is not unusual and was the case for CEQ Chair Nancy Sutley and EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson in responses provided to you and other senators in their confirmation proceedings,” White wrote in her response letter, a copy of which was obtained by Axios.

Lisa Jackson headed EPA from 2009 to 2013, when she resigned amid uproar over her use of a secret email account. Nancy Sutley headed CEQ from 2009 to 2014. After stepping down, she became chief sustainability office at the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power.

Nominees often work with the White House and other federal officials to answer questions in a way that reflects the administration’s policies. It’s not surprising parts of answers are shared between nominees.

Democrats oppose White’s nomination on the grounds she’s a global warming skeptic who worked at a conservative think tank that’s taken money from the fossil fuels industry. Lawmakers grilled White during a November confirmation hearing.

White is an unabashed proponent of fossil fuels, and has contested the notion that carbon dioxide is a “pollutant,” which the Obama EPA determined in 2009. Carbon dioxide is essential to plant life and has actually greened much of the world, she’s argued.




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


No comments: