Friday, February 16, 2018

A rather clever paper below shows that there is NO specifiable effect of CO2 on temperature

Just the abstract below.  Jamal Munshi uses temperature changes after 1850 and known CO2 levels to test whether one influences the other.  He shows that there is no correlation and that any effect of CO2 on temperature is therefore at least unknown.  We have all been able to see that there is no correlation just by looking at the graphs but Munshi does the numbers

Uncertainty in Empirical Climate Sensitivity Estimates 1850-2017

Jamal Munshi


Atmospheric CO2 concentrations and surface temperature reconstructions in the study period 1850-2017 are used to estimate observed equilibrium climate sensitivity. Comparison of climate sensitivities in the first and second halves of the study period and a study of climate sensitivities in a moving 60-year window show that the estimated values of climate sensitivity are unstable and unreliable and that therefore they may not contain useful information. These results are not consistent with the existence of a climate sensitivity parameter that determines surface temperature according to atmospheric CO2 concentration.


It’s weather, not climate change, Governor Brown

Weather, not human-caused CO2-fueled global warming, is responsible for California wildfires

Robert W. Endlich

2017 featured incredibly intense, damaging wildfires in California: first the Wine Country fires of October, and later the massive Thomas Fire in December. Each destroyed hundreds of homes, the latter in many of the affluent suburbs and enclaves northwest of Los Angeles and Hollywood.

The Thomas Fire is the largest in modern California history, with over 1000 structures destroyed. The fires and subsequent mudslides killed over 60 people and left many others severely burned or injured.

California Governor Jerry Brown almost predictably blamed human-caused, carbon dioxide-fueled global warming and climate change, specifically droughts, as the cause of these conflagrations. During a December 9 visit to Ventura County, he again insisted that the drought conditions were the “new normal.” While acknowledging that California has experienced “very long droughts” throughout its history, he claimed that the returning dry spells of recent decades were “very bad” and would be “returning more often” because of manmade climate change.

It’s a nice attempt to deflect blame from his state’s ultra-green policies and poor forest management practices. Moreover, Governor Brown is just wrong about the alleged role of manmade climate change, as an examination of meteorological and climate data demonstrates. NOAA’s rainfall records for California show rainfall slightly increasing in California over the 125-year period since rainfall records began.

Meteorological conditions, as they develop over the course of a year, and during the multi-year El-Niño to La Niña cycles known as ENSO (El Niño Southern Oscillation), result in conditions that favor wildfires in California. Fire is a part of nature, much to the consternation of those who blame manmade climate change, and much to the dismay of those whose lives are disrupted by wildfire events such as these.

Of course, they can be – and are – worsened and even made catastrophic by failures to manage forests properly, especially when hundreds of homes are built near forests, and when weather and climate cycles intersect with those failures and incidents that start a wildfire.

In the United States, the “Sun Belt” from California to Florida receives that name because a feature of global circulation causes descending air about 30 degrees north and south of the equator. At the surface, this “Hadley cell” is evident in high pressure monthly and annual means (or averages); it’s also called the subtropical high and subtropical ridge.

In the northern hemisphere, the position and strength of the subtropical ridge changes over the course of the year, getting stronger and moving further north in the summertime.

In California that poleward migration of the subtropical ridge diverts rain-producing storm systems poleward to the north, resulting in an almost complete loss of rainfall in the summer. The annual Los Angeles climatology illustrated in Figure 1 helps tell the story of the California wildfire season.

With this information, if we think critically, the usual situation is for vegetation to sprout in wet winter months, grow – and then dry out because of the lack of summer rainfall, causing vegetation to be driest in late summer and early fall.

This is exactly the situation described in a recent article that mentions October as the worst month for wildfires and quotes University of California fire expert Max Moritz, who says “By the time you get to this season, right when you’re starting to anticipate some rain, it’s actually the most fire prone part of the year.” Power line and other management failures increase the likelihood of disaster.

Yet another factor is the failure or refusal of government agencies to permit the removal of dead, diseased and desiccated trees and brush from these woodlands – especially in the broad vicinity of these communities. In fact, California forests have 129 million dead trees, according to the US Forest Service. Together, these factors all but ensure recurrent conflagrations and tragic losses of property and lives.

As autumn sets in, the first cold frontal passages and cold air masses build into Nevada and adjacent states, and a northeasterly pressure gradient develops over California. Because of atmospheric physics, a process called adiabatic compression causes hot, dry winds to develop, often quickly and dramatically.

The Wine country fires of 2017 began suddenly during the evening of October 8, with development of the first fierce Diablo Winds of the season. Contemporary news accounts link the onset of ten fires within ninety minutes to PG&E power poles falling, many into dry trees. In one account, a Sonoma County resident said “trees were on fire like torches.”

The Mercury News carried a story saying that Governor Brown had vetoed a unanimously-passed 2016 bill to fund power line safety measures. But the governor wants to spend still more money combating manmade climate change and compelling a major and rapid shift from fossil fuels to expensive, unreliable, weather-dependent wind and solar power for electricity generation

There was a significant cooling of Pacific Ocean temperatures from the peak of the 2015-16 El Niño to December 2017, such that La Niña conditions have developed in recent months. This distinct pattern shift  brought distinctly drier conditions from southern California and Arizona to Florida and South Carolina.

This pattern shift is part of the evolution of temperature and precipitation change areas characteristic of the ENSO sequence of events. Contrary to Governor Brown’s politically inspired assertions, it clearly is not the result of human-caused, CO2-fueled global warming.

This brings us to the devastating Thomas Fire, which began on the evening of 4 December 2017, and was not completely contained by New Year’s Eve, 31 December. Behavior of this fire was controlled by a large-in-extent and long-in-duration Santa Ana Wind event, and like the previous Wine Country Fire, was dominated by high pressure over Nevada and persistent hot, dry, strong down-slope winds that commonly occur during such meteorological conditions.

In short, it is meteorological conditions which create the environment for the spread of such fires. This year’s changeover from wet El Niño to dry La Niña conditions played a significant part in the atmospheric set-up for the 2017 fires.

In Australia, it is widely accepted that fuel reduction actions are an accepted practice in fire management.

This is not the case in the USA, where considerable debate still rages over the issue, and where environmentalists, politicians, regulators and courts have united to block tree thinning, brush removal and harvesting of dead and dying trees. The resulting conditions are perfect for devastating wildfires, which denude hillsides and forest habitats, leaving barren soils that cannot absorb the heavy rains that frequently follow the fires – leading to equally devastating, equally deadly mudslides.

In fact, environmental regulations associated with ill-fated attempts to help the spotted owl have eliminated logging and clearing throughout California and most of the Mountain West – with catastrophic results. Special legislation has been drafted to begin to address this problem.

However, it is uncertain whether the legislation will be enacted and whether timber harvesting and/or fuel reduction strategies can be implemented in time to address the fuel excesses that exacerbate these dangerous conditions, setting the stage for yet another round of infernos and mudslides that wipe out wildlife habitats, destroy homes and communities, and leave hundreds of people dead, injured or burned horribly. When will the responsible parties be held accountable, and compelled to change their ways?

Via email.  Robert W. Endlich has a bachelor’s degree in geology and a master’s in meteorology and served as US Air Force Weather Officer for 21 Years. He has provided toxic corridor and laser propagation support to the High Energy Laser Systems Test Facility at White Sands Missile Range, published in the technical literature and worked as software test engineer at New Mexico State University

More Evidence the Ethanol Mandate Hurts the Economy

Much of the trouble has to do with a regulatory requirement known as renewable identification numbers (RINs).   

Oil refinery Philadelphia Energy Solutions (PES) has a serious beef with the George W. Bush-era biofuel mandate that it says has forced the company into bankruptcy. Unfortunately, other companies face a similar plight absent major regulatory changes. It’s been more than a decade now since Congress stipulated that ethanol be blended with gasoline before hitting the market. It’s a boon for farmers, but it hurts both consumers and refineries like Philadelphia Energy Solution. Much of that has to do with a regulatory requirement known as renewable identification numbers (RINs).

According to The Washington Times, “RINs work to ensure that refiners — who hold the ‘point of obligation’ under law, meaning they are responsible for blending ethanol with gas — meet the yearly biofuels quotas set by the EPA. But many refiners, such as Philadelphia Energy Solutions, don’t have the infrastructure to blend the fuels. In such circumstances, companies use a system that somewhat resembles a cap-and-trade approach: buying unused RINs from larger refineries that have blending capacity and have extra credits to spare. The price of those RINs fluctuates wildly. Just a few years ago, RINs were sold for just a few cents, but they have skyrocketed to well over $1 recently.”

This process is unfair and elicits corruption from major industry players that have better resources and can sell credits for their own benefit. As one energy-sector official explained it: “It’s picking and choosing winners within the oil industry in a way that’s causing some to go bankrupt.” Moreover, when used to support large-scale operations, that money adds up quickly. In fact, PES says crude oil accounts for its biggest expense, but, amazingly, that’s followed in second place by RIN compliance costs. Yet Renewable Fuels Association CEO Bob Dinneen asserts, “If refiners truly want lower RIN prices, the answer is really quite simple: blend more ethanol.” He added, “The very purpose of the [mandate] is to drive expanded consumption of renewable fuels, and the RIN provides a powerful incentive to do just that.”

This is a baffling and self-defeating position to take. Anyone who owns an older vehicle or lawn care equipment knows the mechanical damage that ethanol causes. Despite this, congressional leaders like Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) remain diehard fans of the mandate. According to Grassley, “I’m confident that the Renewable Fuel Standard isn’t harming refineries, that other factors are at work and that the RFS law is working as Congress intended. Once these facts are known, there ought to be an end to the misleading rhetoric blaming the RFS.” Grassley is so invested in this ruse that last October he threatened to sideline Trump’s nominees unless they left the mandate alone.

Unfortunately, Grassley’s support is shared by the Trump administration. Last May, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue announced the mandate would stay intact. At least EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt recognizes the RIN catastrophe. He recently said, “We need RIN reform. It’s something I’ve talked to Congress about. We have to take steps to address this, and I think there are many that understand that.”

But even he went on to explain, “This isn’t getting rid of the ethanol requirement; this is the accounting mechanism to ensure that a certain percentage of our fuel actually has ethanol. So it truly is an enforcement mechanism that is being used in ways that it really wasn’t intended. We need to get reform around that.” What all of them miss is that the RIN situation is just a symptom of a very bad law. The U.S. is awash in oil, but that production can’t be maximized unless the biofuel mandate is repealed in its entirety. At least the Philadelphia Energy Solutions ordeal provides another good reason to keep trying.


Update: libel cases and the ‘climate wars’

by Judith Curry

Big news in the world of ‘climate wars’ – the libel case of Andrew Weaver versus Tim Ball has been dismissed by the judge —  for a rather surprising reason.

Some context on all this is provided in a WUWT post by Tim Ball — Tim Ball’s Victory in the First Climate Lawsuit Judgement – The Backstory.   The text of the judgment is available online [here]. 

A post at DeSmog blog — Climate Denier Tim Ball: Trump Approved, But Not Credible Enough to Stand Accountable For Libel — makes an interesting point that is the main focus of my comments:

Justice Skolrood found that “… despite Dr. Ball’s history as an academic and a scientist, the Article is rife with errors and inaccuracies, which suggests a lack of attention to detail on Dr. Ball’s part, if not an indifference to the truth.” The judge further accepted that Ball was committed to damaging Weaver’s reputation. Justice Skolrood wrote: “These allegations are directed at Dr. Weaver’s professional competence and are clearly derogatory of him. Indeed, it is quite apparent that this was Dr. Ball’s intent.”

From Justice Skolrood’s Reasons for Judgment: “The Article is poorly written and does not advance credible arguments in favour of Dr. Ball’s theory about the corruption of climate science. Simply put, a reasonably thoughtful and informed person who reads the Article is unlikely to place any stock in Dr. Ball’s views, including his views of Dr. Weaver as a supporter of conventional climate science.”

Having admitted that his client was guilty of defamation, Scherr demanded that Weaver should have to prove that the defamatory comments actually caused damage. In the judge’s words, Scherr was seeking “a threshold of seriousness,” and arguing, in effect, that his client’s work didn’t meet that threshold.

The notion arose from a case in another Canadian province (Vellacott v. Saskatoon Star Phoenix Group Inc. et al, Saskatchewan, 2012). In that case, the court found that certain published comments were not defamatory because they were so ludicrous and outrageous as to be unbelievable and therefore incapable of lowering the reputation of the plaintiff in the minds of right-thinking persons. Against that standard, Justice Skolrood wrote, “the impugned words here are not as hyperbolic as the words in Vellacott, (but) they similarly lack a sufficient air of credibility to make them believable and therefore potentially defamatory.”

Weaver’s lawyer, Roger McConchie, is already preparing the appeal.

So did Tim Ball libel Andrew Weaver?  Yes.  Did Tim Ball’s libelous statements damage Andrew Weaver in any way?  No.  Was the judge’s argument of ‘lacking a sufficient air of credibility’ an appropriate rationale for his decision? Is making a libelous statement canceled out if your argument lacks credibility?

Well, application of this kind of reasoning takes you into some interesting directions in Mann’s libel lawsuits

Mann’s lawsuits

Weaver vs Ball is a sideshow to the main events of Michael Mann’s lawsuits against Tim Ball, Rand Simberg, National Review and Mark Steyn. 

The suits involving Simberg, Steyn and National Review seem hopelessly mired in delays in DC courts.  The Mann vs Ball case will also be tried in the Canadian court system, and presumably will move forward (somewhat) more quickly.

If the same reasoning in the Weaver versus Ball case prevails, then I would expect  a similar outcome in Mann versus Ball.

How would this reasoning play out in the Mann versus Steyn et al. lawsuits?  Steyn and Simberg (who are not scientists) made comments about Mann that were intended to be humorous and clever in the context of political satire, rather than seriously argued professional assessments of Mann’s research.

Under this ruling, it seems that carefully argued statements against an individual or an argument are required for damage? Even mores if the statements are made by an expert?

I have made this point before:  Mann’s libelous statements about me (because he is a scientist with many awards) are far more serious than say Rand Simberg’s statements about Mann.

Mark Jacobsen’s lawsuit against scientists and PNAS who published a rebuttal of his paper definitely meets the requirement of damage to his reputation, but it isn’t libel if the statements are correct or at least justified by evidence and arguments.

It seems that the following reasoning should apply to these lawsuits:

assess whether there was any reputational or financial damage incurred by the litigant

assess whether the statement in question is well argued and/or ‘true’

assess whether the defendant in the litigation has sufficient reputation or standing to influence public opinion on the topic of the litigation.

The instinct of the defendants in these cases has been to address #2.  It is arguably more important and effective defense to address #1 and #3.

Mann’s AAAS Award

It is becoming very hard for Mann to claim damages from such ‘insults’ and alleged libel, given the awards, big lecture fees and book fees.

The latest award bestowed upon Mann:   the AAAS has decided in 2018 to give him its prestigious award for Public Engagement with Science.

More HERE 

Exxon Sues the Suers in Fierce Climate-Change Case

As climate-change lawsuits against the oil industry mount, Exxon Mobil Corp. is taking a bare-knuckle approach rarely seen in legal disputes: It’s going after the lawyers who are suing it.

The company has targeted at least 30 people and organizations, including the attorneys general of New York and Massachusetts, hitting them with suits, threats of suits or demands for sworn depositions. The company claims the lawyers, public officials and environmental activists are “conspiring” against it in a coordinated legal and public relations campaign.

Exxon has even given that campaign a vaguely sinister-sounding name: “The La Jolla playbook.” According to the company, about two dozen people hatched a strategy against it at a meeting six years ago in an oceanfront cottage in La Jolla, Calif.

"It’s an aggressive move,” said Howard Erichson, an expert in complex litigation and a professor at Fordham University School of Law in New York. “Does Exxon really need these depositions or is Exxon seeking the depositions to harass mayors and city attorneys into dropping their lawsuits?”

At Stake

Experts say Exxon’s combative strategy -- an extraordinary gambit to turn the tables -- is a clear sign of what’s at stake for the fossil-fuel industry. So far, New York City and eight California cities and counties, including San Francisco and Oakland, have sued Exxon and other oil and gas companies. They allege that oil companies denied findings of climate-change scientists despite knowing that the use of fossil fuels posed “grave risk” to the planet.

Attorneys general Eric Schneiderman of New York and Maura Healey of Massachusetts, are investigating whether Exxon covered up information on climate change, defrauding shareholders and consumers.

Exxon, the world’s 10th biggest company, has denied the allegations and says its defense is intended to show that it’s being punished for not toeing the line on climate change, even though it agrees with the scientific consensus.

“The attorneys general have violated Exxon Mobil’s right to participate in the national conversation about how to address the risks presented by climate change,” said Dan Toal, a lawyer who represents Exxon. “That is the speech at issue here -- not some straw man argument about whether climate change is real.”

‘Scare Tactic’
Plaintiff lawyers and legal experts contend the oil giant’s tactics are meant to intimidate while shifting the spotlight away from claims of environmental damage. And they say there’s nothing improper with lawyers discussing legal strategies together.

"It’s crazy that people are subpoenaed for attending a meeting," said Sharon Eubanks, a lawyer who was at the La Jolla gathering. "It’s sort of like a big scare tactic: reframe the debate, use it as a diversionary tactic and scare the heck out of everybody."

Exxon has focused on the La Jolla meeting as ground zero for its conspiracy claim. Ironically, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, a nonprofit run by descendants of John D. Rockefeller who are pressing Exxon to address climate change issues, has funded organizations that led the La Jolla conference (Exxon, which grew out of John D.’s Standard Oil, also subpoenaed the fund to testify.)

At the gathering, participants met to discuss litigation strategies that could be applied to climate change, according to a 35-page summary that was later made public. Eubanks, a former Justice Department lawyer, talked about how the U.S. government used the racketeering law against cigarette makers, for example.

More than four years after the meeting, Eubanks got a subpoena from Exxon to testify about it. The subpoena is pending.

Document Request

Exxon has also aimed its legal firepower at Matthew Pawa, whose firm represents Oakland, San Francisco and New York in their suits against Exxon. Last month, Exxon asked a state judge in Fort Worth, Texas, to order Pawa to turn over documents and testify under oath about the La Jolla conference and other conversations with lawyers and activists. He’s also been subpoenaed to testify in a federal action Exxon has brought against the state attorneys general.

Pawa declined to comment.

The company is also seeking testimony from 15 municipal lawyers and officials in California. Exxon said it’s seeking evidence for “an anticipated suit” claiming civil conspiracy and violation of its First Amendment and other Constitutional rights.

Routine Meetings

Experts in litigation say that lawyers in big lawsuits, including those targeting tobacco, guns and pharmaceuticals, routinely meet to share information and coordinate strategy.

“I don’t think there’s anything wrong with plaintiffs’ lawyers and attorneys general strategizing together,” said Fordham professor Erichson, ”just as I don’t think there’s anything wrong with lawyers for oil companies strategizing together.”

But Linda Kelly, general counsel of the National Association of Manufacturers, said the climate litigation is really a play for money and votes.

“It’s a coming together of plaintiffs’ lawyers who have a profit motive and a liability theory, environmental activists who have a political agenda and politicians who are looking to make a name for themselves with this issue,” Kelly said.

Contingent Fees

San Francisco has promised 23.5 percent of any settlement to its lawyers. New York is working on a contingent-fee deal like San Francisco’s, according to a spokesman for the city’s Law Department.

In recent years, the most notable attack on a plaintiff lawyer came in 2011 when Chevron Corp., claiming it was target of an extortion scheme, successfully pursued a civil racketeering suit against Steven Donziger, the attorney behind a $9.5 billion Ecuadorian judgment against the company over pollution in the Amazon.

Some experts say Exxon’s strategy goes beyond mere litigation tactics.

"People often try to use litigation to change the cultural conversation," said Alexandra Lahav, a professor at the University of Connecticut School of Law, pointing to litigation over guns and gay rights as examples. "Exxon is positioning itself as a victim rather than a perpetrator."




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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