Thursday, May 31, 2018

Racial attitudes are related to climate skepticism

New research by Salil Benegal finds a link between racial attitudes and climate skepticism.  I attach the journal abstract to the bottom of the article below. The article below draws conclusions that go beyond what was found in the research so I will confine my comments to what is said in the academic journal article.

His finding that racial and environmental attitudes became more closely allied during the Obama regime is interesting but much caution is needed in looking at what the causal chain might be.  Mr Benegal appears to see a straight causal relationship between the two but the correlation could be merely coincidental.  Correlation is not causation.

But if Mr Benegal can theorize so can I.  I suspect that the repeated failures of Warmist prophecies gradually got through to those who were willing to hear it but not to the Warmists, to whom Warmism is an item of faith. And conservatives have always been much more interested in the facts than in theory.  And given its status as a prophecy about the future, Warmism can be nothing but a theory at this stage.

Mr Benegal thinks that Obama was somehow involved in the causal chain but that is just an assumption.  I am inclined to think that Obama just happened to be there at a time of change.

But it is beyond dispute that attitude to climate studies is now heavily polarized politically.  Conservatives worldwide think it is a lot of hokum. So skepticism about Leftist racial urgencies (Affirmative action, white privilege) among conservatives are simply conservative continuities unrelated to climate beliefs.

And I think the correlation is because the Left back Warmism so heavily while conservatives don't see anything much happening now  or any likelihood of much happening to the climate in the foreseeable future.

It really does come down to the facts.  Warmism is a prophecy so can in principle have no facts to back it.  We can't see the future. Even if we conceded that there has been some recent warming we have no warrant that the warming will continue.  There have been both warming and cooling periods in the past so to identify a few years as part of a trend that will continue for many decades is egregious

There is of course the CO2 theory but that was from the outset disconfirmed.  The theory is that CO2 emissions leaped after WWII and that caused a rapid rise in global temperatures.  The CO2 levels certainly did leap in that period but temperatures did not.  There was a global temperature plateau between 1945 to 1975:  A full 30 years of NO warming.  So CO2 and temperature clearly go their separate ways without any effect on one another. That is the science of the matter.

So I think Mr Benegal still has some thinking to do.

After Barack Obama took office, white Americans were less likely to see climate change as a serious problem, according to a recent paper published in the journal Environmental Politics. The study further finds evidence of a link between racial resentment and climate change denial. This is not to suggest that all climate deniers are racists, merely that racial resentment may, in part, be driving climate denial.

“There has been increasing polarization on this issue — and this is one thing my own research has been examining for a while — trying to figure out what are some of the root causes of this polarization,” said study author Salil Benegal, a political scientist at DePauw University.

Researchers have thoroughly investigated the link between ideology and attitudes toward climate change, finding that conservatives are significantly more likely to reject climate science, not because they misapprehend the facts, but because they are taking their cues from conservative elites, many of whom have close ties to the fossil fuel industry. Thus, while scientists have grown more certain about the causes and perils of climate change, attitudes toward the carbon crisis have become more and more polarized. While Democrats have grown more concerned about climate change, among Republicans, climate denial has become increasingly calcified.

Separately, researchers have studied how racial resentment among white Americans has worsened economic anxiety and driven opposition to welfare, Medicaid and other government initiatives. (As it happens, white Americans are the largest beneficiaries of these programs.) Writing in the Washington Post, political scientists Adam Enders and Jamil Scott explained that, while racial resentment has remained stable over time, “More and more, white Americans use their racial attitudes to help them decide their positions on political questions such as whom to vote for or what stance to take on important issues including welfare and health care.” They added, “Barack Obama’s rise to the presidency further strengthened the relationship between racial resentment and political attitudes.”

Benegal’s study links these two fields of research by asking if, and to what extent, racial resentment has fueled climate change denial. He began by examining the views of black and white Americans on climate change before and during Obama’s presidency, comparing Pew surveys taken between 2006 and 2008 with surveys taken between 2009 and 2014. Obama, who named climate change a top priority on the campaign trail, tried and failed to pass cap and trade in 2009.

Before the 2008 election, Benegal said, there was no significant difference between white and black Americans on climate change, when controlling for partisanship, ideology, education, church attendance and employment. In the years after Obama took office, the views of black Americans stayed roughly the same. White Americans, however, were 18 percent less likely to see climate change as a very serious problem.

For the second part of his study, Benegal investigated the relationship between racial resentment and climate denial using data from the 2012 and 2016 American National Election Studies. First, he created an index of racial resentment based on how much people agreed or disagreed with statements like, “It’s really a matter of some people not trying hard enough, if blacks would only try harder they could be just as well off as whites,” and, “Over the past few years, blacks have gotten less than they deserve.” Then, he looked at how racial prejudice interacted with views about climate change.

“I found that the racial resentment scale was incredibly significant in predicting whether or not people agreed with the scientific consensus,” Benegal said. Controlling for age, ideology and education, he found that white Republicans who scored high on racial resentment were significantly more likely than those who scored low to say that climate change isn’t happening or that humans aren’t the cause.

“It is not so much that elites would highlight Obama’s race specifically and then bring up climate or other health policies,” Benegal said. “It’s more that when certain voters associated Obama with an issue, they inherently saw Obama through this racial lens and immediately viewed almost anything he was associated with as some kind of racial issue.” And Obama did a lot on climate change — setting ambitious fuel standards, creating the Clean Power Plan, joining the Paris Agreement.

None of this is to say that racial resentment is the sole driver of climate denial. Rather, this study shows that racial resentment could be one of several factors shaping views about climate change. Benegal suggested future research could investigate how political elites talk about climate change — how they may be tapping into racial resentment to stoke climate denial, just as they have capitalized on resentment against black and, increasingly, Hispanic Americans to court white voters.

While Benegal’s research makes an important contribution to understanding attitudes toward climate change, political scientists Adam Enders and Jamil Scott, who were not affiliated with the study, noted its limitations. Enders, an assistant professor at the University of Louisville, said that it is difficult to separate racial resentment from partisanship as climate change is highly politicized, and people are more likely to hear about the issue from politicians than from scientists.

Scott, a Phd candidate at Michigan State University, noted how polarized the issue has become. “Climate change is an issue that is ‘owned’ by the Democratic Party. Thus, Democrat identifiers tend to buy into the message of climate change and Republican identifiers do not,” she said, explaining that “a stronger test of the racialization hypothesis would tease out the difference between negative attitudes toward climate change as a partisan concern, which by extension includes Obama as the head of the party, versus negative attitudes toward climate change as a racial concern because of its association with Obama. There is subtle, but important difference there.”

Benegal said he intends this study as first step in understanding this relationship, explaining that “we need to examine other elements of partisanship or factors that may amplify or intensify partisan values or behaviors” — including racial resentment. He added, “I’m hoping this paper acts as a step in that direction to start exploring some of those interactions, specifically those between race and party ID.”

Benegal worries that, as some have suggested, the political parties are sorting according to feelings of about race. “Maybe we need to look at race or racial resentment much more critically,” he said. “The concern for me is that if climate change as an issue has become more racialized… it may make it harder to actually persuade individuals to shift their views.”


The spillover of race and racial attitudes into public opinion about climate change

By Salil D. Benegal


The relationship between racial attitudes and public opinion about climate change is examined. Public opinion data from Pew and American National Election Studies surveys are used to show that racial identification and prejudices are increasingly correlated with opinions about climate change during the Obama presidency. Results show that racial identification became a significant predictor of climate change concern following Obama’s election in 2008, and that high levels of racial resentment are strongly correlated with reduced agreement with the scientific consensus on climate change. These results offer evidence for an effect termed the spillover of racialization. This helps further explain why the public remains so polarized on climate change, given the extent to which racial grievances and identities have become entangled with elite communication about climate change and its related policies today.


Three New Papers: Permian Mass Extinction Coincided With Global Cooling—Not Global Warming

Warmth encourages life.  Cold threatens it

In the past, it has been widely reported that high and abruptly changing CO2 concentrations during the Permian led to climate conditions that were “too hot for complex life to survive” on the planet.

Today, scientists have determined that the opposite may be true: the Permian mass extinction event occurred during a period of global cooling, expansive ice sheet growth, relatively low CO2 levels, and a marine-habitat-destroying sea level drop of 100 meters.

A year ago, the press release for a paper published in Scientific Reports argued that during the Permian mass extinction event, “the majority of marine species” were killed off by an “extreme cold” period that coincided with widespread glaciation and a dramatic drop in global sea levels.

“Analysis of the newly dated layers showed a significant reduction of seawater levels during the [Permian] extinction event. The only explanation for such a dramatic decrease in water levels is a sudden increase in ice. The ice age lasted just 80,000 years, but the extreme cold was enough to kill off the majority of marine species.”

Within the last few months, at least two more papers have been published that also affirm that the Permian mass extinction event that annihilated up to 90% of marine species and 70% of land-dwelling species coincided with extreme global cooling, ice sheet expansion over land, and dramatically-falling sea levels — 100 meters lower than they were in previously warmer climates.

The lowering of sea levels alone may have been enough to destroy a substantial percentage of marine habitats, and the expansion of ice sheets may have austerely limited the habitat ranges for land-dwelling fauna.

Further analysis reveals that, contrary to commonly popularized claims, neither the Ordovician mass extinction event nor the Permian mass extinction event had a clear causal link to atmospheric CO2 concentrations.

Indeed, it has long been documented that CO2 concentrations may have fluctuated between about 280 ppm and 2800 ppm during the Permian, with the low CO2 values coinciding with cool periods and the high values coinciding with warm periods (Saunders and Reichow, 2009).

While both extinction events occurred during global cooling periods accompanied by significantly lowered sea levels, the CO2 concentrations were relatively high (“over 2000 ppm”) during the Ordovician but relatively low (~300 ppm) during the Permian extinction event.

The latter CO2 values would appear to undermine the contention that CO2-driven ocean “acidification” and too-high CO2 concentration levels were causally connected to the extinction of marine species during the Permian.

And the relatively high CO2 values during the Ordovician are not compatible with the accompanying global cooling, glaciation, and plummeting sea levels of that period.

In sum, a growing body of evidence suggests that commonly-held assumptions about a direct causal link between CO2 concentration flux and mass extinction events may not be as clear as previously thought.


Activist Behind ESA Listing Of Polar Bears Says It Didn’t Achieve Her ‘Political Goals’

The activist lawyer primarily responsible for polar bears being listed as ‘threatened’ on the US Endangered Species List (ESA) in 2008 is frustrated that those efforts have not generated her preferred political action.

Kassie Siegel also claims in another 10 years it will be too late to save polar bears from extinction — despite clear evidence to the contrary.

In an emotional rant over at The Hill with a predictably hysterical headline, Siegel perhaps reveals more than she should about her motivation (“Keeping fossil fuels in the ground is the only way to save polar bears ravaged by climate change,” 26 May 2018).

Siegel takes a lot of credit for the ESA listing, as well she should, although she couldn’t have done it without the speculation provided by a couple of Canadian polar bear researchers (Derocher and Stirling 2004; Stirling and Derocher 1993).

She also seems to admit her three-year-long legal efforts to make polar bears the first species to be classified as ‘threatened’ by climate change were motivated more by a desire to have stringent curbs put on fossil fuel use than to protect the bears:

“Ten years ago this month, I was anxiously awaiting a decision that could change environmental policy forever. I was in my office with butterflies in my stomach and a film crew in the next room ready to record my reaction.

Then the news hit. The polar bears won protection throughout their range as a “threatened” species under the U.S. Endangered Species Act. It was one of the proudest moments of my life.

As an attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity, I fought for that protection for more than three years.

The polar bear’s listing was a watershed decision. It was the first time a species was protected solely because of the threat from global warming. It was an acknowledgment from the federal government that climate change is real, urgent and dangerous enough to wipe out a species.

But today, I’m more worried than ever about polar bears and other climate-threatened wildlife — and it’s not just because President Trump has turned the White House into the capital of climate denial.

Our hope a decade ago was that the listing would help spur swift and aggressive action to curb fossil fuel pollution, the largest climate culprit.

The science was clear: Keeping the vast majority of the world’s fossil fuels in the ground is critical not only to save the polar bear, but to preserve a livable planet for all of us.

Fossil fuels are still being extracted and burned at a furious rate. And the polar bear’s habitat is melting away even faster than predicted....

Keeping fossil fuels in the ground now is the only way to save the polar bear’s icy Arctic home. It is the only way to address the health and justice crisis caused by dirty oil extraction in our communities.

That’s why Brown must act now — on the 20-year anniversary of the polar bear’s listing, it will be far too late. ”

Read the entire piece here. The headline claim that polar bears are being “ravaged by climate change” is without foundation.

Even Environment Canada has acknowledged that polar bears are doing fine (Environment Canada 2018, see slide with map below) — as have Russian scientists working in the Chukchi Sea (Feb 2018 announcement) and Norwegian scientists working in the Barents Sea (Aars et al. 2017) — despite the fact that summer sea ice has declined faster than expected (Amstrup et al. 2007; Crockford 2017, 2018; Crockford and Geist 2018; York et al. 2016).

Siegel’s parting shot is that it will be too late to save polar bears by 2028 (10 years from now) without action on climate change, but that’s just political theatre. Don’t forget Siegel is a lawyer for a well-funded lobby organization, not a scientist. No polar bear researcher has published any such prediction.

However, Siegel’s rant does echo the sentiments expressed by former USGS biologist Steven Amstrup (Amstrup et al. 2007) a few weeks ago (11 May 2018) on the website of another activist organization, Polar Bears International.

It includes a similarly over-the-top headline — including a claim that polar bears are “more at risk than ever” — even though no one is quoted making that such a statement and no reference is made to any study that does:

“I never would have predicted that a decade after the listing, we would not have taken the actions necessary to save polar bears,” said Dr. Steve Amstrup, chief scientist at Polar Bears International. “In fact, with 10 years of inaction, we’ve lost another million square kilometers of summer sea ice. Polar bears rely on sea ice to hunt, breed, and sometimes to den. With 10 more years of continued warming and sea ice loss, the need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions is more urgent than ever.” ....

Prior to joining PBI, Amstrup was the head of polar bear research in Alaska for 30 years. One of his last major tasks as a government scientist was to lead the U.S. Geological Survey team that produced the series of reports convincing the U.S. Secretary of the Interior to grant the polar bear threatened status.

“We’ve learned much about polar bears in the intervening years,” Amstrup said, “and the new information has only corroborated the information we provided 10 years ago.”

The lack of action on climate led Amstrup to retire from his government job in 2010 to become chief scientist at Polar Bears International.

“I left the USGS not because I’d lost my interest in research, but because I knew that inspiring action to halt global warming was the only way to save polar bears,” he said. “Now, as the U.S. government works to derail recent climate progress, inspiring action within the general public is more important than ever,” he emphasized. “

In my current role, I can speak freely, without government-imposed restrictions, about the need for all of us to minimize our personal greenhouse gas footprints and vote for leaders concerned about the world we are leaving our children and grandchildren.”

Read the entire piece here. No other major news outlet picked up the PBI piece, hence (I assume) Siegel’s attempt yesterday to get some media traction as the 10 year anniversary of the ESA decision on the polar bear (14 May 20108) passed without notice (see original news reports here and here) as the predicted catastrophe failed to materialize.


B.C. Files Legal Challenge Law Limiting Alberta Oil In Trans-Mountain Pipeline

The British Columbia government filed a constitutional lawsuit Tuesday countering an Alberta government bill that would limit fuel being sent to the province.

It comes weeks after the B.C. government asked its highest court to decide if it has the right to limit the flow of bitumen in the Trans Mountain pipeline.

Alberta Premier Rachel Notley saw some irony in B.C.’s position.

“It’s very interesting, on one hand, they don’t want our oil and on the other hand they’re suing us to give them our oil,” she told a news conference in Edmonton on Tuesday.

The latest legal action further strains an acrimonious relationship between the two provinces over the expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline.

Attorney General David Eby said B.C. is prepared to ask for an injunction and financial damages against Alberta if it restricts the flow of fuel.

Notley said the lawsuit is just one of several tactics to create uncertainty over the Kinder Morgan pipeline project.

“They must think everybody was born yesterday,” Notley said. “They are still reserving the right to play legal rope-a-dope until the cows come home. That is not a thing we are going to let happen.”

Plans to triple the capacity of Kinder Morgan’s existing Trans Mountain pipeline from Edmonton to Burnaby have pitted Alberta and the federal government against B.C., which says the risk of a bitumen spill is too great for the province’s environment and economy.

Eby said the Alberta and the federal government are causing delays by refusing to accept B.C.’s invitations to join legal cases, or take legal arguments straight to the Supreme Court of Canada where the outcomes are final.

The B.C. government has filed a reference case in the provincial Court of Appeal to determine if it has jurisdiction to regulate heavy oil shipments. It also joined two other lawsuits launched by Indigenous groups opposed to the $7.4-billion pipeline project.

Eby said the lawsuit filed Tuesday in Alberta’s Court of Queen’s Bench challenges the constitutionality of Alberta’s law because it is intended to punish B.C.

“We believe it would be reckless in the extreme and therefore highly unlikely that Alberta will actually attempt to use the powers they granted themselves in Bill 12,” he told a conference call. “If Alberta did take the remarkable step of attempting to use this law, we are prepared to immediately file an injunction. We will not hesitate.”

Notley bowed out of a Western premier’s meeting on Wednesday in Yellowknife, saying she could not discuss issues like a national prescription drug plan in the presence of B.C. Premier John Horgan while his government is trying to stop the pipeline project.

“Pharmacare does not grow on trees,” Notley said. “In order to protect and improve the things that matter to people, like pharmacare, we need a strong, functioning national economy.”

Before he left for the meeting, Horgan said he didn’t expect tensions over the pipeline to dominate discussions among the premiers.

Kinder Morgan has ceased all non-essential spending on the project until it receives assurances it can proceed without delays, setting a May 31 deadline for those guarantees.


The love of government power trumps concern for the environent in SF

Bay City bureaucrats are uncomfortable with permissionless innovation

San Francisco has given e-scooter companies an ultimatum: Get your vehicles off our streets by June 4 or risk fines of $100 per day per scooter. And we just might take the scooters too.

Some companies might be allowed to rent out their electric dockless scooters again, but not until they secure permits from the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Authority (SFMTA), which won't be issuing them until late June at the earliest.

The announcement comes a month after the city issued cease-and-desist letters to several e-scooter companies and began impounding improperly parked vehicles. (Austin, Texas, chased e-scooter companies off the streets earlier this year too.)

The permits themselves were unveiled yesterday. They come with numerous new requirements for the e-scooter companies, whose dockless vehicles—rentable via smartphone app—started cropping up in San Francisco earlier this year.

The application costs alone are $5,000. Once approved, scooter companies such as Lime, Bird, and Spin will have to pay another $35,000 to the city. The number of rentable e-scooters available for all companies will be capped at 1,250 city-wide for six months (then rising to 2,500), and companies will have to provide service area plans, which will be subject to city approval.

These rules are necessary, city officials say, to combat the threat e-scooters pose to some deeply held San Francisco values.

"We can have convenience, but it can't sacrifice privacy and equity along the way," City Attorney Dennis Herrera informed everyone in a Thursday press release. "Everyone needs to play by a set of rules for cities to function efficiently, safely and equitably—even corporations," added San Francisco Supervisor Aaron Peskin, the author of the city's new e-scooter regulations.

To achieve this end, the city's new permits will also require scooter companies to offer their website and apps in multiple languages (including but not limited to Chinese and Spanish), to make their customer interface technology accessible to the disabled, and to offer discounts and cash payment options to low-income people.

If officials' primary concern is ensuring more people can have access to e-scooters, it seems a counter-productive strategy to demand that all scooters be taken off the road. So does capping the total number of scooters. And piling on a lot of new regulations that raise the costs of providing the vehicles.

Costs come down and accessibility increases when service providers can respond and grow with demand, not when they are artificially constrained by regulatory caps and costs.

Uber is a great example of this, starting as essentially a luxury town car provider before evolving into a popular transit service used by all kinds of people.

The deeper motivation behind these new restrictions appears to be a discomfort about any innovation that is not pre-planned, pre-approved, or in conformance with pre-established city goals.

SFMTA chief Ed Reiskin summed up the attitude when he said, "Just because something is innovative doesn't mean it's good for our city."




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


Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Cities Suing Big Oil Over Climate Change Forced To Answer About The Benefits Of Fossil Fuels

California cities suing over climate change must examine the benefits fossil fuels have had on civilization, per an assignment from a federal judge.

San Francisco and Oakland have initiated a lawsuit against five major oil companies in an attempt to hold them financially responsible for climate change.

The case is being heard in the United States District Court in San Francisco. The oil companies being targeted — Chevron, BP, ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobil and Royal Dutch Shell — have urged U.S. District Judge William Alsup to dismiss the case.

Environmentalists have increasing taken to the judicial branch to wage war against energy companies, with a similar lawsuittaking place in Colorado.

On Thursday, Judge Alsup gave attorneys for Oakland, San Francisco and Chevron Corp. an interesting homework assignment: create a 10-page legal analysis on whether the benefits of years of U.S. dependence on fossil fuels were worth the climate change it caused. (RELATED: An Oil Company Just Earned A Huge Settlement After Environmentalists Brought False Charges)

“We needed oil and fossil fuels to get from 1859 to the present,” Judge Alsup stated. “Yes, that’s causing global warming. But against that negative, we need to weigh-in the larger benefits that have flowed from the use of fossil fuels. It’s been a huge, huge benefit.”

Judge Alsup centered his questions on the “broader sweep of history” and the role fossil fuels played in both World Wars and the economic boom the U.S. experienced afterward. All five oil companies are seeking dismissal, but only Chevron will respond to the judge’s assignment since the other defendants are seeking dismissal on jurisdictional grounds.

“You’re asking for billions of dollars for something that hasn’t happened yet,” Alsup said during a back-and-forth with Steve Berman, the plaintiff’s attorney. “We’re trying to predict how bad global warming will be in 75 years.”


Did the Church of Scotland just dodge a climate change bullet?

YESTERDAY, the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland debated a motion on the subject of climate change and, more specifically, how quickly to divest themselves of investments in fossil fuels.

In the event, wisdom prevailed, the motion falling with only 24 per cent support, but it may be that the Assembly just dodged a bullet. The harms that the motion’s proposers were seeking to avert are hypothetical, and pencilled in for a timeslot that is far in the future – but lack of access to fossil fuels causes harms that are immediate, and very, very ugly.

Here at the Global Warming Policy Foundation, we have recently published a pair of briefing papers written by Dr Mikko Paunio, an eminent Finnish epidemiologist. Paunio’s powerfully worded case is that for millions of people around the world, getting their hands on fossil fuels is their onlyhope of escape from lives that are nasty, polluted, and short.

For instance, one of the biggest causes of premature death in the developing world is diarrhoea, and the best way to fix this is to improve domestic hygiene. For that, you need convenient and abundant water supplies, which in turn depend on the availability of a reliable electricity supply. For the time being, that almost certainly means fossil fuels.

In the same countries, untold millions of lives are also blighted by indoor air pollution, mostly caused by having to cook on open stoves fuelled by crude biofuels – wood or animal dung – or by coal. The resulting death toll runs into millions every year. A decision to divest would have hindered these poor people’s chance of following the well-trodden path to cleaner air: from biofuels, to coal, to kerosene, and ultimately to grid-based energy, either electricity or natural gas.

Of course, some will object to this analysis. The other day, the BBC’s Roger Harrabin wondered why people like me don’t support the expansion of solar power in Africa. However, once you have considered the cost and the lack of availability at night, the idea becomes a bit silly. And once you further consider the cost of adding battery storage, it borders on the ridiculous.

Similarly, the “what about modern cookstoves” objection that is often bandied about is given short shrift by Mikko Paunio. In the second of his papers, he notes that “No large-scale cookstove program to date has achieved reductions in [indoor air pollution] or provided any health benefits”.

There are no simple choices here, but only a trade-off, between, on the one hand, deaths that are happening here and now, can be quantified, and for which there is a well-understood path to prevention, and on the other, a vague idea of future trouble that emerges from a series of computer simulations of the climate of the distant future.

A decision to sacrifice all those millions who are suffering in the here and now, in order to avert some hypothetical harm a century hence would have been nothing short of inhuman. Fortunately, sanity – or rather humanity – prevailed.


Is environmental damage in the eye of the beholder?

OVER more than a decade the Scientific Alliance has tried to provide a voice of reason on some important matters, often being critical of mainstream environmentalism, but hopefully supported by evidence. When it comes to something as important (and divisive) as climate change, for example, there is a very fine line to tread in keeping people reading. Preaching to the converted is ultimately futile, but engaging with the undecided, lukewarm or agnostic can help to open minds.

The fact that such pieces have continued to be quite widely read I hope means that the balance is about right. Even with this in mind, it is difficult to get approval from fellow sceptics while not alienating those who subscribe more closely to mainstream views. For me, sceptics is a word that I see in a very positive sense, all those who claim to be scientists should act as professional sceptics.

There are others whose faith will never be shaken by reasoned criticism. They are best described as Deep Greens, and for them protecting species other than our own and minimising human influence on the environment has effectively become a religion. Moderate environmentalists will hopefully continue to influence policy more than such extremists.

The environmentalist movement is in essence a campaigning one, so strong and eye-catching messages are the norm. It is easy to forget when we hear a stream of what is wrong that, by and large, the environment is now much better cared for than a few decades ago. Many of the issues highlighted in the early days of Greenpeace have now been incorporated into mainstream public policy.

Admittedly, a number of wildlife species are under pressure, often still because of changes to how we manage landscapes. Evolving arable and livestock farming are perhaps the most important factors in this overall, but it is easy to forget that farming in any form has transformed landscapes worldwide. Forests have been cleared, but this has created habitat for a wide variety of other flora and fauna.

The fall in numbers of farmland birds is often highlighted as a problem, but we are in fact comparing current numbers with those nurtured more intensively by earlier forms of farming, not with the relatively low biodiversity levels in the ancient woodlands cleared by our ancestors to provide farmland.

The very concept of environmental damage is to an extent in the eye of the beholder. What we should more accurately talk about is environmental change. Whether or not we find such changes to our liking is a matter of choice, although this does presuppose that any changes do not wipe out other species or, say, create deserts.

Politicians continue to at least pay lip service to big environmental issues, the overarching one at present being climate change. However, it is difficult not to think that the international effort to control climate – including the Paris agreement – is losing momentum as the sheer difficulty of slashing emissions without compromising our way of life becomes increasingly apparent.

The rhetoric from both Greens and politicians will remain essentially unchanged, but climate change will continue to drop down the list of priorities for the great majority of voters. At some stage, a breakthrough in energy generation or storage technology may provide an economic and secure way to decarbonise economies, in which case societies will undoubtedly follow that route. Oil will not continue to be the mainstay of the global economy ad infinitum.

But, barring that, words will continue to speak louder than action. China and India will not compromise their economic growth in the name of reducing global emissions. Action in the USA during this presidential term will be largely from the private sector (and therefore necessarily economically viable) and even the EU cheerleaders will probably disappoint campaigners by the (voluntary) action they take under the Paris agreement. In a decade or two, whatever has been achieved will probably still be claimed as at least a partial triumph for environmental activism even if (as I think likely) temperatures continue to rise more slowly than the models predict.


Due To China’s Participation, Global Warming Industry Tops $82 Billion For 2018
The global warming industry has become a big business. With China now participating, the World Bank estimates that the worldwide value of carbon pricing has reached $82 billion this year – a stunning 56 percent increase from 2017.

The World Bank released a report showing how the once-moribund carbon markets are rebounding. More states are levying carbon taxes on their people, following the example of China. The world’s top polluter unveiled a comprehensive carbon tax plan late last year.

A long-time investor and proponent of these so-called carbon markets is former US Vice President Al Gore, who applauded Chinese participation in the scheme that he has been promoting for many years.

“China’s carbon trading system is yet another powerful sign that a global sustainability revolution is underway,” Al Gore said.

“With the top global polluter enacting policies to support the Paris Agreement and transition to a low carbon economy, it is clear that we’re at a tipping point in the climate crisis”, he said.

According to the World Bank, 51 carbon pricing initiatives – comprised of 25 emissions trading schemes and 26 carbon taxes – currently exist throughout the world. It is estimated that this covers up to 20 percent of all global greenhouse gas emissions, and the World Bank hopes to increase that number next year with Singapore and Argentina planning to levy a carbon tax on their people in 2018.

“Governments at all levels are starting to see the effectiveness of carbon pricing in their efforts to cut harmful carbon pollution while also raising revenues for climate and other policies, including environmental action,” said John Roome, who works as Senior Director for Climate Change for the World Bank. “As countries take stock of their Paris Agreement commitments and set a path towards increased ambition, carbon pricing mechanisms with robust pricing levels are proving to be essential elements of the toolkit.”

While the World Bank and other globalist entities push global warming and urge nations to sign onto the Paris accords and enact carbon tax schemes to combat this supposed menace, President Donald Trump is taking a different approach. He wants to bring jobs back to the United States and believes that is more important than bolstering an international carbon market at the behest of globalists.

“The Paris Climate Accord is simply the latest example of Washington entering into an agreement that disadvantages the United States to the exclusive benefit of other countries, leaving American workers — who I love — and taxpayers to absorb the cost in terms of lost jobs, lower wages, shuttered factories, and vastly diminished economic production,” Trump said last year when he officially pulled America out of the Paris agreement.


Betty Crocker: Pro-GMO And Proud Of It

There's a lot of money to be made in kowtowing to the latest dietary fads and unsubstantiated health scares. As a result, organic products -- which are sold to people based on the myths that they are safer, healthier, and tastier than conventional products -- are now a nearly $50-billion-industry in the U.S.

Other companies have noticed and jumped aboard the bandwagon. If there is money to be made, they are eager to throw science under the bus in order to prey on a scientifically illiterate populace. The proliferation of ridiculous labels -- from "non-GMO" salt to "gluten-free" water -- serves as a case-in-point. They believe the average person is ignorant enough to fall for that sort of nonsense... and they're right.

Consider Panera Bread, a company that shamelessly launched a full-frontal assault on chemistry. Last year, they ran an ad bragging that their food didn't contain scary sounding chemicals, taking a page straight out of the Food Babe's playbook. Then, they boasted that their food didn't contain artificial preservatives, apparently unaware that food waste -- something that preservatives help prevent -- is a gigantic problem that needs to be solved*.

Or consider all the money that can be made by accusing and suing food companies over perfectly safe products. An entire industry has been built around California's Proposition 65, a gold mine for unethical activists and lawyers. The latest travesty forces manufacturers to place cancer warning labels on coffee.

Given the thoroughly unscientific and litigious milieu in which we live, companies find themselves scrambling to appease the uneducated Twitter mob and apologizing for being in business. That's why it's such a breath of fresh air when a company stands up to the hysteria.

Betty Crocker: Pro-GMO and Proud of It

In response to a critic who was unhappy that one of its labels said, "partially produced with genetic engineering," Betty Crocker responded:

Fantastic response! A full-throated endorsement of biotechnology is a beautiful thing.

May Betty Crocker live long and prosper. And may companies like Panera Bread learn that honesty is a far better marketing strategy than deceitful fearmongering.

*Note: As it so happens, karma struck. Panera had to issue a recall over possible Listeria contamination.




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


Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Last week a group of climate scientists published a paper that admitted the estimates of global warming used for years were, er, wrong

IN February 2016, climate scientist Dr. John Christy presented testimony to Congress demonstrating that the UN IPCC’s CMIP5 climate models grossly exaggerate and over estimate the impact of atmospheric CO2 levels on global temperatures. Dr. Christy noted in his testimony that “models over-warm the tropical atmosphere by a factor of approximately three″.

Dr. Christy was 100% correct …

A landmark paper by warmist scientists in Nature Geoscience now concedes the world has indeed not warmed as predicted, thanks to a slowdown in the first 15 years of this century. One of its authors, Michael Grubb, professor of international energy and climate change at University College London, admits his past predictions of runaway warming were too alarmist.

“When the facts change, I change my mind. We are in a better place than I thought.”

ANOTHER author, Myles Allen, professor of geosystem science at Oxford, confessed that too many of the mathematical models used by climate scientists to predict future warming “were on the hot side” — meaning they exaggerated.

“We haven’t seen that rapid acceleration in warming after 2000 that we see in the models.”

“We haven’t seen that rapid acceleration in warming after 2000 that we see in the models. We haven’t seen that in the observations.” Myles Allen – professor of geosystem science at the University of Oxford

SO, the sceptics – the “climate deniers” – were spot-on, again.

AND yet we have spent literally trillions of dollars of other peoples’ (taxpayers) money on alarmist global warming climate change policies, schemes and rent-seeking scams (windmills, solar panels, mothballed desal plants, pink bats, carbon taxes etc) on the advice of overheated, predictive computer models that do not even observe real-world reality!?

DON’T expect an apology or your money back anytime soon. The climate juggernaut will keep digging at your hip pocket a little while longer – too much money is on the line and too many reputations are now at stake.


Some desert animals can weather climate change better than expected

Ecologists have no doubt that climate change will affect animals and plants on Earth. Just how exactly? That's often hard to predict. There are already indications that some species shift their distribution area. On the other hand, much less is known about how individual animals and populations react to the changes. Scientists of the UFZ in Leipzig have now investigated this with nocturnal desert geckos. In the journal Ecological Monographs they come to encouraging findings. Therefore, with the heat alone, the animals will probably not get into trouble so quickly. And the negative consequences of the increasing drought can compensate them to some extent. The same could apply to other desert reptiles.

In the world of reptiles there are certainly more spectacular species than Gehyra variegata . And yet, this small, nocturnal gecko has managed to add a whole new dimension to the discussion about the ecological consequences of climate change. The approximately five-centimeters large animals with the gray or brownish skin live in the deserts of Australia. For them, the hollow trunks of eucalyptus trees are the perfect refuges. After hunting insects overnight, they spend the hot days there, when temperatures can easily climb to more than 40 degrees Celsius.

Especially in such hot deserts climate scientists expect even more extreme conditions in the future. It's supposed to get hotter and drier all over the world. But how will the unique flora and fauna of these ecosystems respond to these new challenges? Using the example of the small gecko, which is representative of other nocturnal desert inhabitants, the researchers have pursued this question.

Prof. Klaus Henle, who heads the Department of Conservation Research at the UFZ, began in the 1980s with data on Gehyra variegatagather. In the Kinchega National Park in eastern Australia, he and his colleagues have been capturing reptiles for over 30 years, measuring them, photographing them for identification purposes and then releasing them with a marker. The UFZ researchers have now placed this information in relation to the weather conditions on site, but also to global climatic phenomena - and have come to surprising results. "We had expected that both higher temperatures and greater drought would adversely affect the animals and their stocks," says biologist Annegret Grimm-Seyfarth. After all, reptiles need a certain amount of moisture so that, for example, egg development and skinning work properly. When the animals dry out, it becomes life-threatening for them. And the same applies if they overheat due to high temperatures.

"But with our geckos we have found that they grow and survive particularly well in hot years," says the researcher. "So you are in better shape and the stock is increasing rather than decreasing." But why can that be? To find out, Annegret Grimm-Seyfarth has observed the behavior of the reptiles and measured their body temperature. At night, she has targeted the hunting animals with an infrared thermometer that can determine the temperature from a distance. In order to be able to detect the geckos also in their day resting places, small passive transmitters were used, as they are used for example also as identification chips for dogs. Usually these are implanted under the skin. But a five-centimeter-long reptile dwarf just is not big enough for that. So the researchers made the animals small backpacks in which the chip was close to the body. He then had himself targeted with a radio frequency antenna. He betrayed not only the whereabouts, but also the temperature of each candidate.

It showed that geckos do not choose particularly cool spots despite the heat of the desert. 30 to 35 degrees Celsius should already have the refuge. "These high temperatures need the animals to properly digest their food," explains the researcher. So sometimes they crawl specifically into particularly sun-exposed branches. In a rather chilly year, the UFZ employee even noticed to her surprise that the geckos left their tree and took sunbaths. This search for enough heat costs energy. And if it is not successful, digestion will not work optimally. That could be the reason that cool years have a negative effect on the geckos.

Even the most pleasant temperatures are of no use if it is too dry. Because then the animals not only get physical problems. There are also fewer insects in those phases that could eat them. As expected, the geckos actually experience hard times during periods of drought. Decisive are not only the precipitation on site. Every few years, the climate anomaly La Niña brings torrential rains to the Australian East Coast. Months later, the water also reaches the desert via the rivers - where it ensures higher humidity and plenty of insects. "In addition to the local conditions, global climate phenomena also play a role for the animals," emphasizes the researcher. One must therefore look beyond the rim of the respective area,

So far, everything speaks for the fact that the geckos probably will not get a heat, but rather a drought problem. However, they can obviously compensate for this to a certain extent. The study also shows that the animals are emaciated in dry years. But their stocks do not shrink anyway. "That's because in bad times they reduce their growth and reproduction," explains Annegret Grimm-Seyfarth. Then they focus on surviving until next year. As these reptiles grow unusually old at the age of 28, they can easily afford one or the other lost breeding season. And when the times are better again, they catch up on the missed.

Even if climate change worsens the living conditions for the geckos, they are unlikely to die out right away. And according to the UFZ researchers, this optimistic message should also apply to other long-lived desert animals. However, that is not a license to make climate change easy. "If several very dry years follow each other, the animals can not buffer this," says Annegret Grimm-Seyfarth. At some point, even the most hardened survivor will end up.

SOURCE  (Translated)

Let's Celebrate Engines and Electricity

Viv Forbes

Most chapters of human history are defined by the tools and machines that were used.

In the Stone Age, the first tools were “green tools” – digging sticks, spears, boomerangs, bows and arrows made of wood; and axes, clubs, knives and grinders made of stone. These were all powered by human energy.

Then humans learned how to control fire for warmth, cooking, warfare and hunting.

Another clever person invented the wheel and we harnessed animal power using donkeys, horses, mules and oxen, and made better tools like bridles, saddles and yokes from wood, fibre and leather.

All of these tools made hunting, gathering and trade easier and more reliable.

Then wooden ploughs revolutionised the cultivation of wild grasses for food for animals and humans. Farming started.

Trade and exchange was made easier with money using rare commodities like gold, silver, gems and shells.

Tool-making made a huge advance in the Bronze Age with the discovery of how to extract metals like copper, lead, zinc and tin from natural ores using charcoal. Brass, bronze and pewter made many useful tools. These were then replaced with better tools when man discovered how to smelt iron and make steel.

Then along came the game-changers – engines and electricity.

The steam engine, running on wood and then on coal or oil, revolutionised life with steam-driven pumps, traction engines and locomotives releasing millions of draught animals from transport duty.

Then came electricity when steam engines were used to drive generators. All the windmills, coaches, sailing ships, lamps, stoves and dryers powered by green energy (wind, water, wood, animal energy, whale oil and beeswax) became obsolete.

Mankind made another leap forward with the invention of internal combustion engines using petroleum liquids and gases for fuel.

An even bigger leap was the harnessing of nuclear power to produce almost unlimited clean energy from controlled reactions using tiny amounts of fuel.

Nothing in life is without risk, and every tool or engine can be misused. On balance, however, tools, engines and electricity have allowed humans to live better from less land and natural resources per person than ever before. Societies with an abundance of capital equipment are richer, have lower population growth and have the leisure and resources to provide far more environmental protection.

Therefore we should spend “Earth Day” celebrating “Engines and Electricity”.


Sea Level Rise: Human Portion is Small

By Roy W. Spencer, Ph. D.

There is a continuing debate over sea level rise, especially how much will occur in the future. The most annoying part of the news media reporting on the issue is that they imply sea level rise is all the fault of humans.

This is why the acceleration of sea level rise is what is usually debated, because sea level has been rising naturally, for at least 100 years before humans could be blamed. So, the two questions really are (1) Has sea level rise accelerated?, and (2) how much of the acceleration is due to humans?

Yesterday’s spat between Gavin Schmidt and Willis Eschenbach dealt with the question of whether sea level rise has accelerated or not. Gavin says it has. Willis says not, or at least not by a statistically significant amount.

I’m going to look at the data in a very simple and straightforward manner. I’ll use what I believe are the same data they did (Church & White, from CSIRO, updated through 2013 here), and plot a trend line for the data before 1950 (before humans could reasonably be blamed), and one for the data after 1950:

If we assume that the trend prior to 1950 was natural (we really did not emit much CO2 into the atmosphere before then), and that the following increase in the trend since 1950 was 100% due to humans, we get a human influence of only about 0.3 inches per decade, or 1 inch every 30 years.

Even though it looks like there is some evidence of even stronger acceleration more recently, sea level has varied naturally on multi-decadal time scales, and it is dangerous to extrapolate any short term trends far into the future. Climate models aren’t of much help in determining the human contribution because we have no idea how much of recent warming and glacial melt was natural versus human-caused. Models still can’t explain why glaciers started melting in the mid-1800s, just like they can’t explain why it warmed up so much from the mid-1800s to the mid-1900s.

The bottom line is that, even if (1) we assume the Church & White tide gauge data are correct, and (2) 100% of the recent acceleration is due to humans, it leads to only 0.3 inches per decade that is our fault, a total of 2 inches since 1950.

As Judith Curry mentioned in her continuing series of posts on sea level rise, we should heed the words of the famous oceanographer, Carl Wunsch, who said,

“At best, the determination and attribution of global-mean sea-level change lies at the very edge of knowledge and technology. Both systematic and random errors are of concern, the former particularly, because of the changes in technology and sampling methods over the many decades, the latter from the very great spatial and temporal variability. It remains possible that the database is insufficient to compute mean sea-level trends with the accuracy necessary to discuss the impact of global warming, as disappointing as this conclusion may be.”


Do Tourists Cause Global Warming?

The scientific journal Nature Climate Change yesterday published a study measuring the “carbon footprint of global tourism.” It’s big. Taking into account all tourism-related expenditures for transport, shopping, and food, it adds up to 4.5 gigatons of carbon dioxide-equivalent greenhouse gases a year, or 8 percent of global emissions. Here’s the study’s abstract:

Tourism contributes significantly to global gross domestic product, and is forecast to grow at an annual 4 percent, thus outpacing many other economic sectors. However, global carbon emissions related to tourism are currently not well quantified. Here, we quantify tourism-related global carbon flows between 160 countries, and their carbon footprints under origin and destination accounting perspectives. We find that, between 2009 and 2013, tourism’s global carbon footprint has increased from 3.9 to 4.5 GtCO2e, four times more than previously estimated, accounting for about 8 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. Transport, shopping and food are significant contributors. The majority of this footprint is exerted by and in high-income countries. The rapid increase in tourism demand is effectively outstripping the decarbonization of tourism-related technology. We project that, due to its high carbon intensity and continuing growth, tourism will constitute a growing part of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions.

“The majority of this footprint is exerted by and in high-income countries.” So you might suppose people in rich countries should eschew or at least dramatically cut back on cruises, jet-setting, and tourism in foreign lands. But the economic fallout for many poor countries would be nasty. As a review article in today’s Climatewire points out, for “small islands popular among travelers . . . the footprint of international visitors . . . may account for as much as 80 percent of their national emissions.” But that means tourism accounts for most of their national incomes. For example, in 2017, the Maldives got 76.6 percent of its national income from tourism.

Maldives and other members of the Association of Small Island States are among the most aggressive advocates of penalizing and restricting fossil fuel consumption in industrialized nations. Have they thought things through?

According to the Nature study, the association between personal wealth and travel is so strong that in countries where per capita income exceeds $40,000, a 10 percent increase in per capita income yields a 13 percent increase in carbon footprint. Even a “modest” carbon tax like that advocated by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) would have significant negative impacts on U.S. economic growth, household purchasing power, and employment. That would put a damper on many U.S. households’ vacation plans.

The Nature study looks only at tourism-related emissions, but the carbon footprint for all forms of travel is larger still. In a 2009 report, Beyond Transport Policy, the European Environment Agency (EEA) fretted that despite high motor fuel taxes and tough fuel economy mandates, European Union transport sector emissions had increased by 26 percent during 1990-2006. Here (lightly edited) is how I summarized the agency’s angst at the time:

Why have taxes and mandates failed to reduce transport sector emissions? The EEA report spotlights the unheard-of fact that the “key drivers” of demand for transport services are “external” to the transport sector. So despite what you’ve been told, people don’t drive just for the heck of it, buy airplane tickets for the sheer thrill of flying, ship products or order deliveries just to keep things moving. No, most people use transport vehicles to shop, work, educate their children, vacation, or supply products to customers. And—horrors—they do these things “without considering the consequences on transport demand and greenhouse gas emissions”!

What this implies, of course, is that we cannot have what the EEA calls a “sustainable transport system” until politicians and bureaucrats control those pesky “external drivers”—the other economic sectors that generate the demand for transport services.

The EEA report provides detailed case studies on how three external drivers—food production and consumption, short-haul air travel for business and leisure travel, and education—increase emissions by increasing the demand for transport. Each study reveals what every sober adult should already know. Work causes emissions. Play causes emissions. Education causes emissions.

In short, life causes emissions, especially where people are prosperous, free to come and go as they please, and seek to work, play, and learn.

While acknowledging that transport demand comes from “external drivers” on which transport policies have had little impact, the EEA report fails to go “beyond transport policy.” Despite promising a new approach, the EEA’s solution to the alleged problem of too many people driving, flying, shipping, and importing turns out to be imposing taxes on fuels, imports, passengers, and vehicles.

Both the recent Nature study and the older EEA report miss the big picture. A tourism industry big enough to account for 8 percent of global emissions is a big contributor to human well-being. Here’s how the World Travel & Tourism Council describes the sector in its 2017 annual report:

Despite the ever-increasing and unpredictable shocks from terrorist attacks and political instability, to health pandemics and natural disasters, Travel & Tourism continued to show its resilience in 2016, contributing direct GDP growth of 3.1 percent and supporting 6 million net additional jobs in the sector. In total, Travel & Tourism generated US$7.6 trillion (10.2 percent of global GDP) and 292 million jobs in 2016, equivalent to 1 in 10 jobs in the global economy. The sector accounted for 6.6 percent of total global exports and almost 30 percent of total global service exports.

For the sixth successive year, growth in Travel & Tourism outpaced that of the global economy (2.5 percent). Additionally in 2016, direct Travel & Tourism GDP growth not only outperformed the economy-wide growth recorded in 116 of the 185 countries covered by the annual economic impact research (including in major Travel & Tourism economies such as Australia, Canada, China, India, Mexico and South Africa), but it also was stronger than the growth recorded in the financial and business services, manufacturing, public services, retail and distribution, and transport sectors.

So by all means, let’s tax fuels, passengers, and vehicles—it won’t harm anyone except a few oil barons and coal magnates! And if climate campaigners really believe that, I’ve got some bridges in Brooklyn I’d like to sell them.




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


Monday, May 28, 2018

Spurious Correlations in Climate Science

Naive statistics underlie many causal claims in climate "science"

You know who Charles Darwin is of course but you may not have heard of his mad cousin Francis Galton who did the math for Darwin’s theory of evolution. Two of the many procedures Sir Galton came up with to help him make sense of the data are still used today and are possibly the two most widely used tools in all of statistics. They are ordinary least squares (OLS) linear regression and OLS correlation. [Soon after these amazing mathematical innovations, Sir Galton retired from the evolution business and devoted the rest of his life to making the perfect cup of tea.]

Both of these statistics are measures of a linear relationship between two variables X and Y. Linear regression coefficient B of Y against X is a measure of how much Y changes on average for a unit change in X and the linear correlation R is a measure of how close the observed changes are to the average. The regression and correlation metrics are demonstrated below with data generated by Monte Carlo simulation used to control the degree of correlation.

In the HIGH (R=0.94) and VERY HIGH (R=0.98) correlation charts, linear regression tells us that on average, a unit change in X causes Y to change by about B=5 and this assessment is very consistent. The consistency in this case derives from a low variance of the regression coefficient implied by high correlation. The strong correlation also implies that the observed changes in Y for a unit increases in X is close the the average value of B=5 over the full span of the data and for any selected sub-span of the time series.

In the LOW (R=0.36) and MID (R=0.7) correlation charts, the regression coefficients are correspondingly less precise varying from B=1.8 to B=7.1 for LOW-R and B=3.5 to B=5.6 for MID-R in the five random estimates presented. The point here is that without a sufficient degree of correlation between the time series at the time scale of interest, though regression coefficients can be computed, the computed coefficients may have no interpretation. The weak correlations in these cases also imply that the observed changes in Y for a unit increases in X would be different in sub-spans of the time series. The so called “split-half” test, which compares the first half of the time series to the second half, may be used to examine the instability of the regression coefficient imposed by low correlation.

Correlation is a necessary but not sufficient evidence of causation. Although correlation may imply causation in controlled experiments, field data do not offer that interpretation. If Y is correlated  with X in field data, it may mean that X causes Y, or that Y causes X, or that a third variable Z causes both X and Y, or that the correlation is a fluke of the data without a causation interpretation. However, because correlation is a necessary condition for causation, the absence of correlation serves as evidence to refute a theory of causation.

An issue specific to the analysis of time series data is that the observed correlation in the source data must be separated into the portion that derives from shared long term trends (that has no interpretation at the time scale of interest) from the responsiveness of Y to changes in X at the time scale of interest. If this separation is not made, the correlation used in the evaluation may be, and often is spurious. An example of such a spurious correlation is shown in the graphic below. It was provided by the TylerVigen collection of  spurious correlations.

As is evident, the spurious correlation derives from a shared trend. The fluctuations around the trend at an appropriate time scale (whether annual or decadal) are clearly not correlated. The separation of these effects may be carried out using detrended correlation analysis. Briefly, the trend component is removed from both time series and the residuals are tested for the responsiveness of Y for changes in X at the appropriate time scale. The procedure and its motivation are described quite well in Alex Tolley’s Lecture  available on Youtube.

The motivation and procedure for detecting and removing such spurious correlations in time series data are described in a short paper available for download at this link: Spurious Correlations in Time Series Data . The abstract of this paper follows: Unrelated time series data can show spurious correlations by virtue of a shared drift in the long term trend. The spuriousness of such correlations is demonstrated with examples. The SP500 stock market index, GDP at current prices for the USA, and the number of homicides in England and Wales in the sample period 1968 to 2002 are used for this demonstration. Detrended analysis shows the expected result that at an annual time scale the GDP and SP500 series are related and that neither of these time series is related to the homicide series. Correlations between the source data and those between cumulative values show spurious correlations of the two financial time series with the homicide series.

It is for these reasons the argument that “the theory that X causes Y is supported by the data because X shows a rising trend and at the same time we see that Y has also been going up” is specious because for the data to be declared consistent with causation theory it must be shown that Y is responsive to X at the appropriate time scale when the spurious effect of the shared trend is removed. Some examples from climate science are presented in the papers below along with the URL to their download sites.

Are fossil fuel emissions since the Industrial Revolution causing atmospheric CO2 levels to rise? Responsiveness of Atmospheric CO2 to Fossil Fuel Emissions

Can sea level rise be attenuated by reducing or eliminating fossil fuel emissions? A Test of the Anthropogenic Sea Level Rise Hypothesis

Can ocean acidification be attenuated by reducing or eliminating fossil fuel emissions? An Empirical Study of Fossil Fuel Emissions and Ocean Acidification

Is surface temperature responsive to atmospheric CO2 levels? #1 Validity and Reliability of the Charney Climate Sensitivity Function

Is surface temperature responsive to atmospheric CO2 levels? #2 Uncertainty in Empirical Climate Sensitivity Estimates 1850-2017

Is surface temperature responsive to atmospheric CO2 levels? #3 The Charney Sensitivity of Homicides to Atmospheric CO2: A Parody

A further caution needed in regression and  correlation analysis of time series data arises when the source data are preprocessed prior to analysis. In most cases, the effective sample size of the preprocessed data is less than that of the source data because preprocessing involves using data values more than once. For example taking moving averages involves multiplicity in the use of the data that reduces the effective sample size (EFFN) and the effect of that on the degrees of freedom (DF) must be taken into account when carrying out hypothesis tests. The procedures and their rationale are described in this freely downloadable paper Illusory Statistical Power in Time Series Analysis.

Failure to correct for this effect on DF may result in a false sense of statistical power and faux rejection of the null in hypothesis tests as shown in this analysis of Kerry Emmanuel’s famous paper on what he called “increasing destructiveness” of North Atlantic hurricanes: Circular Reasoning in Climate Change Research.

An extreme case of the effect of preprocessing on degrees of freedom occurs when a time series of cumulative values is derived from the source data as in the famous Matthews paper on the proportionality of warming to cumulative emissions [Matthews, H. Damon, et al. “The proportionality of global warming to cumulative carbon emissions.” Nature 459.7248 (2009): 829].

It has been shown in these downloadable papers that the time series of cumulative values has an effective sample size of EFFN=2 and therefore there are no degrees of freedom and no statistical power.

Degrees of freedom lost in moving window preprocessing Effective Sample Size of the Cumulative Values of a Time Series

Degrees of freedom lost in a time series of the cumulative values of another time series #1 Limitations of the TCRE: Transient Climate Response to Cumulative Emissions

Degrees of freedom lost in a time series of the cumulative values of another time series #2 From Equilibrium Climate Sensitivity to Carbon Climate Response

Degrees of freedom lost in a time series of the cumulative values of another time series #3 The Spuriousness of Correlations between Cumulative Values


Extinction of Puffins premature

The Telegraph sent its science reporter up to the Farne Islands in Northumbria to write up a story it dramatically headlined ‘UK puffins may go the way of the dodo with fears of extinction in 50 years.’ It claimed:

    So far the news has been bleak. The puffins arrived four weeks later than usual and initial estimates suggest the number of breeding pairs has fallen by 12 per cent.  A combination of climate change, overfishing, plastic pollution and extreme weather has left the little seabirds struggling for survival.

This was followed up by BBC Radio 4’s Today programme and also by the Daily Mail.

But the story is #fakenews.

First, as one reader pointed out, puffin colony numbers go up and down all the time.

Second, as Paul Homewood notes, all that stuff about “climate change, overfishing, plastic pollution and extreme weather” is just pabulum. It’s like a catechism that true believers are required to chant – a ritual demonstration of faith, not the thorough examination of facts that you might hope for from a responsible specialist reporter.

Yes, there seems to be evidence that industrial fishing of sand eels has had a deleterious impact on puffin colonies. But definitely not climate change.

    If numbers rose from 3000 in 1939, to 55000 in 2003, when supposedly we have had global warming, how can it now be responsible for a decline?

Well indeed.

You might argue there’s no harm when the legacy media runs stories like this: all they’re trying to do is sex up a nice nature pic with a bit of attention-grabbing doom and gloom scribble underneath, and it all helps to raise awareness of environmental issues.

But I’d disagree.

#Fakenews environmental crisis stories like this, repeated day in day out, have a cumulative impact in generating precisely the kind of mass hysteria which has led to the great climate change scare.

People feel in their bones that something needs to be done – and urgently – because why would newspapers and the BBC be running this stuff if it weren’t true and a real problem?

Politicians, in turn, feel compelled to respond to this apparent crisis. The resultant policies are invariably disastrous.


Climate change should HELP Midwest corn production

Climate change and global warming put some forms of life at risk, but researchers found one instance that might not feel the heat – corn.

Contrary to previous analyses, research published by Michigan State University shows that projected changes in temperature and humidity will not lead to greater water use in corn. This means that while changes in temperatures and humidity trend as they have in the past 50 years, crop yields can not only survive – but thrive.

“There is a lot of optimism looking at the future for farmers, especially in the Midwest,” said Bruno Basso, lead author of the study and University Distinguished professor.

Basso and his colleague Joe Ritchie, co-author on the study, calculated how much energy crops receive from the sun and how it is converted to evaporative loss from the crop, known as evapotranspiration.

“Think of the energy balance like a bank account. There are additions and subtractions,” Basso said. “The energy coming from the sun is a known, measured quantity that adds to the bank account. The primary subtraction is liquid water from the crop, and soil using the solar energy to convert the water to vapor.”

The researchers used the energy balance to calculate the evaporative water loss for 2017, which set a world record yield of 542 bushels per acre. They found that the water loss was the same as it was for lower yielding crops because the energy balance was about the same.

The trend for the past 50 years of a slightly more humid environment decreases the energy for the crops’ water use.

“Our analysis, and that of other climate researchers, shows that the amount of water vapor in the air is gradually increasing in the summers because the daily low temperatures are getting gradually warmer, but the daily high temperatures are cooling – or staying the same – in many areas of the Midwest,” Basso said. “This causes more humidity and slightly decreases how much energy is used for evaporation.”

Basso also tested a water balance calculation on the crop models that, similar to the energy balance, has additions from rainfall and irrigation and subtractions from evaporation from the crop.

“A water balance is just like the bank account of an energy for crops,” Basso said. “There must be a balance to make crops ‘happy’ so that all the energy reaching the crop surface is evaporated.”

In the United States, as a result of improved hybrids and agronomic practices, corn production has steadily increased by an average of two bushels per acre every year for the past 40 years.

Basso explained that data from the National Corn Growers Association competition for high yields shows the potential for continued higher yields in the future. His findings support that climate change won’t hinder its production if the trend of the past 50 years continues into the next 50 years.

“The energy for evaporation is changing little, so if the number of days the crop grows and uses water is the same now and, in the future, the evaporation loss will be the same and slightly less,” Basso said. “In fact, the warmer temperatures allow the use of longer season hybrids that will make for even greater yield possibilities.”


The German wind energy market is threatened by a sharp downturn after years of continuous growth. Ten thousand jobs have already been cut last year

Düsseldorf: When Volker Malmen sat on stage in a hotel in Bremerhaven just over a week ago, the head of Orsted Germany could not help laughing when the moderator asked him which countries were important for the wind industry as a growth market. “Well, Germany probably not,” replied the managing director. And Malmen’s statement has weight in the industry – the Danish company is one of the world’s leading wind farm operators. The Orsted boss is not alone in his opinion.

According to a survey by the market research institute Windresearch, together with WindEnergy Hamburg, the largest wind fair in the world, the mood in the industry is basically positive – but in Germany the surveyed project planners, operators and manufacturers are not so optimistic about the situation, in some cases even consider it “very negative”. The survey is exclusively available to Handelsblatt.

Germany is the most important sales market for wind power in Europe; last year alone, more wind turbines were installed here than ever before. But while the global wind industry is booming, the German market is threatened by a sharp downturn after years of continuous growth.

In 2017, around 1800 new wind turbines with an output of 5330 megawatts were added in Germany, but in the worst case scenario it could only be 1100 megawatts in 2019. The German Wind Energy Association warns against the loss of thousands of jobs. Ten thousand jobs had already been cut last year.

On the one hand, the industry is facing enormous price erosion due to the worldwide reduction in subsidies and the switch to tenders. On the other hand, Germany is considered a particularly difficult market. Here, the demand for wind turbines had almost collapsed due to the auction system introduced only in 2017.

Over 1200 companies from all over the world were surveyed in the WindEnergy Trend Index 2018, both in the onshore and offshore wind sectors. In both cases, the interviewees assess the situation in Germany as significantly worse than for the rest of Europe, Asia or North America. The onshore industry seems to be particularly concerned, with 38 percent rating the current situation as negative to very negative.

Dirk Briese, Managing Director of windresearch, attributes this to the tenders. “In other countries such auction systems have existed for some time. In addition, the lowest results to date were achieved in Germany. And in the shortest time,” Briese explains.

The operators Orsted, EnBW, Vattenfall and also the Spanish energy supplier Iberdrola won part of the projects with zero-cent bids in two tender rounds. They then want to market their electricity completely without EEG compensation at the price traded on the stock exchange. To date a novelty in the wind industry. According to Briese, this is a very rapid and radical change.

Nevertheless, the majority of people believe that they have grown at this turn of time. They are already expecting a more optimistic mood in the offshore sector this year. It is hoped that the situation could brighten further from 2020. Only half of twenty percent currently believe that the German market is in a negative starting position. The prospects for onshore wind energy are not quite as bright. Here, 19 percent do not believe in an improvement in two years either. However, more than forty percent even assess the situation as positive to very positive in two years’ time.

One reason for this optimism could be further cost reductions in the construction of wind turbines. There’s still potential down here. All those surveyed agree that the biggest leap in offshore wind energy is imminent. Almost seventy percent of those surveyed estimate the chances of saving even more at high to very high levels.

Siemens offshore CEO Andreas Nauen recently called in an interview with the Handelsblatt newspaper for politicians to improve the general conditions in order to prevent Germany from falling behind. “If Germany wants to stay at the top and not fall behind other countries, something has to change. We hope that the expansion corridor for offshore wind energy will widen considerably,” said Nauen. According to the government’s targets, this is 15,000 megawatts (MW) by 2030, Nauen says, which is too little.

The operators Orsted, EnBW, Vattenfall and also the Spanish energy supplier Iberdrola won part of the projects with zero-cent bids in two tender rounds. They then want to market their electricity completely without EEG compensation at the price traded on the stock exchange. To date a novelty in the wind industry. According to Briese, this is a very rapid and radical change.

In the results of the second tender round for onshore wind energy last week, the tendered volume was not reached for the first time. Of 670 MW, only 111 bids with a volume of 604 MW were received.

Companies see markets such as China, India or Taiwan as more promising. The respondents see the best opportunities for the onshore sector from 2020 onwards in Asia, while in the offshore sector they see better conditions for Europe.

In principle, however, growth is increasingly shifting from Europe to Asia and is becoming smaller. This also became clear at the Windforce trade fair in Bremerhaven. The assessment of the industry experts: New projects are being implemented in Asia, while the German market is sluggish.


How 19 Wealthy Foundations Control The Anti-Fossil Fuel Agenda And Escape Scrutiny

Nearly 20 wealthy foundations funneled hundreds of millions of dollars between 2011 and 2015 into a network of environmental organizations to attack the fossil fuel industry, according to a new study published this week by Matthew Nisbet, Ph.D., a Professor of Communication Studies at Northeastern University.

The study, which only analyzed a subset of the organizations active on climate issues, provides a glimpse at the massive funding apparatus behind the anti-fossil fuel echo chamber – and the lack of scrutiny that this big money campaign has faced.

Energy In Depth has previously exposed how wealthy anti-fossil fuel foundations like the Rockefeller Brothers Fund and Rockefeller Family Fund are financing a wide range of activist groups.

These foundations have admitted to funding studies that attack the oil and gas industry, media outlets that provide favorable coverage of those studies, and activist groups to trumpet their anti-fossil fuel agenda online and in the press.

Nisbet’s paper notes that there has been relatively little scrutiny of the presumed independence of these voices in the media:

“When left‐of‐center and progressive foundations are covered in the U.S. press, coverage tends to be predominantly positive and uncritical, deepening a lack of public scrutiny relative to their philanthropic activities, successes, and failures.

“These grantmakers are also among the major patrons for academics and their work and are the main supporters of the rapidly growing nonprofit journalism sector. Many scholars and journalists, therefore, have reason to be cautious in their assessment (Reckhow, 2013).” (emphasis added)

Nisbet emphasizes how the 19 foundations examined in his study, including the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, Bloomberg Foundation, and Hewlett Foundation, have shaped the conversation on climate change, due to the immense concentration of grant money:

“Far from being passive supporters of actions to address climate change, major U.S. foundations for several decades have played an active role in defining a common roadmap for their grantees and partners.

“By framing the challenges, defining the priorities, and promoting specific ideas, philanthropists have actively shaped common ways of thinking that have bound together otherwise disconnected organizations and leaders into shared approaches and strategies.” (emphasis added)

Nisbet cited other literature that described the impact of the foundation approach as an “outsize megaphone, both actively shaping how people view social problems and championing specific methods through which these problems can be addressed.”

The largest of these foundations is the Energy Foundation, and the study describes how its size allows philanthropists to exert major control over the environmental community to focus work on its preferred policies:

“Launched in 1991, the Energy Foundation has been the main instrument that a network of influential U.S. philanthropists has used to define a portfolio of policy options, political strategies, and energy technologies to address climate change.

“Set up by way of large block grants from the Rockefeller Foundation, Pew Charitable Trusts, and MacArthur Foundation, and supported in later years by the Hewlett Foundation, Packard Foundation, and other funders, the principal function of the Energy Foundation has been to leverage money in a highly concentrated pattern on behalf of policies that shift markets, industry, and consumers in the direction of renewable energy technologies and energy efficiency practices.” (emphasis added)

The outsized influence exerted by a small number of wealthy foundations has led to group-think in the climate change conversation and has increased political polarization around the issue by focusing on divisive, anti-fossil fuel policies.

Nisbet cited a few specific strategies supported by the foundations that have had this impact:

“Yet related to these strategies, campaigns opposing the Keystone XL oil pipeline and natural gas fracking along with new causes related to racial, gender, and identity‐based justice have also likely contributed to deepening political polarization, serving as potent symbols for Republican donors and activists to rally voters around.

“These issues also divide liberal and centrist Democrats, and were a major point of contention during the Democratic primaries.” (emphasis added)

The efforts to support the agendas of these foundations is all-encompassing and includes communications, promotion of renewable technologies, and efforts to limit fossil fuel development.

In fact, the “Park Foundation and Rockefeller Brothers Fund…are notable for supporting strategies that directly target the fossil-fuel industry by way of communication, media, and mobilization campaigns,” Nisbet writes.

Meanwhile, the analysis of foundation spending shows alternative ways of reducing greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change remain largely ignored or even attacked.

For example, the study found that $6,834,000 was spent specifically to “oppose, limit natural gas development,” even though increased use of natural gas has allowed for a significant reduction in greenhouse gas emissions in the United States

Emissions of carbon dioxide in the United States have decreased 13 percent from 2005-2016 while natural gas consumption increased 25 percent over the same period.

The study breaks down the attack on natural gas:

“Specific to natural gas fracking, $6.8 million was provided to restrict or ban drilling, $2.1 million to protect drinking water supplies; and $3.9 million for research on health and environmental impacts.

“To support efforts to ban/restrict fracking, Schmidt ($3.3 million), Hewlett ($1.5 million), Park ($1.1 million), and Heinz ($1 million) were the leading funders. Schmidt gave to a mix of national‐ and state‐based groups. Hewlett gave primarily to the Colorado Conservation Fund ($1.3 million).

“Park gave primarily to groups working in New York state, and Heinz to groups in Pennsylvania. Relative to protecting drinking water supplies, major funders included Heinz ($1 million) for efforts in Pennsylvania; and Park ($760,000) for work in North Carolina and New York.

“Major funders of research on fracking’s health and environmental impacts included Heinz ($2.7 million), Park ($780,000), and Schmidt ($390,000). These funds were given to a mix of universities and environmental groups.”

The foundations only granted $1.3 million to support work on carbon capture and sequestration and just $55,000 to promote “fossil fuel industry innovation to limit emissions.”

Nisbet concludes his paper by predicting the next steps in the anti-fossil fuel campaign and the public’s ability to hold these wealthy foundations and their political allies accountable:

“In coming years, as the endowments of major foundations continue to grow, providing philanthropists with ever greater resources, they are likely to play an even more active and strategic role in funding actions to address climate change in the United States and elsewhere.

“In 2017, the Hewlett Foundation, for example, announced it would spend $600 million over the next decade to combat the problem (Gunther, 2018). By framing the challenges and defining the solutions to climate change, as they did in the years following the defeat of the cap and trade bill, Hewlett and other major philanthropies are likely to deepen their ability to bind together organizations and leaders into shared approaches and strategies.

“In an era of political dysfunction and diminished public spending, many will look to philanthropy and their resources for answers. Yet in contrast to elected officials and government agendas, there are few channels to hold funders accountable for their decisions or to a shine a light on their actions…

“Financial support for efforts restricting fossil fuel development and for turning public opinion against the industry is also likely to expand. Examples include municipal lawsuits filed against fossil fuel companies to recover damages for climate change impacts; and decisions by states and cities to divest their pension plans of energy-related stocks.

“To aid these efforts, some funders will also deepen their support for journalistic investigations of the fossil fuel industry. Such strategies, however, are likely to intensify controversy over the ties between funders, advocacy groups, and journalists.” (emphasis added)




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