Monday, March 25, 2019

Climate change's fingerprints are on U.S. Midwest floods: scientists

It's just speculation.  There is no way you can show a causal link. A good comment received from Patrick Moore:  

"I am so sick of what are supposed to be sane people claiming that climate change has "fingerprints". That is in Sherlock Holmes and FBI cases, not in rainfall and hurricanes. Fingerprints are real things that one can observe with their eyes. What do the "fingerprints of climate change" look like? Are they "invisible"? If so how did the "scientists" see them?

Also "I don't think it's a starring role, but it's a strong supporting role," is a completely ridiculous metaphor for a grown scientist to be mouthing about a weather event."

Scientists speak in numbers that can be checked.  How do you check "supporting role"?

And a good comment from Tony Heller:

"The reason the atmosphere is saturated, is because of the cold air – which can hold less moisture. This is something most science students learn in high school, but apparently our top PhD climate scientists are unaware of it.

Sea surface temperatures are also mostly below normal west of the US.  The claims by the climate scientists have no basis in reality, which is standard practice for their profession"

Climate change played a hand in the deadly floods in the U.S. upper Midwest that have damaged crops and drowned livestock, scientists said on Thursday, while a Trump administration official said more homework was needed before making that link.

The "bomb cyclone" that dumped rain on Nebraska, Iowa and Missouri and killed at least four people now threatens a wider region downstream of swollen rivers and smashed levees.

Manmade greenhouse gases trap heat in the atmosphere, warming the oceans and making the air above them more humid, scientists said. When a storm picks up and eventually spits out that moisture, it can be devastating for people caught below.

"The atmosphere is pretty close to fully saturated, it's got all the water it can take," said Michael Wehner, a senior scientist at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

Big storms like the bomb cyclone and Hurricane Harvey, which smacked Houston in 2017 with record downpours, are where the impact of climate change can most clearly be seen, he said, adding that climate change's fingerprints were all over the recent storm.

"I don't think it's a starring role, but it's a strong supporting role," said Kevin Trenberth, a senior scientist at the U.S. National Center for Atmospheric Research, a federally-funded office, of climate change's role in the Midwest floods.

He said the bomb cyclone was carrying vast amounts of moisture from the Pacific up to 1,500 miles (2,400 km) away.

Wehner said the flooding was consistent with projections in a government report issued last November, the National Climate Assessment Volume II, that said climate change would boost costs in industries from farming to fisheries and energy production by increasing the frequency of powerful storms.

That report, mandated by Congress, was compiled by 13 federal departments and agencies, but was called inaccurate by the White House.

President Donald Trump has cast doubt on mainstream climate change science and announced his intention to withdraw the United States from the 2015 Paris agreement, an international accord to fight climate change, saying it is too costly.

The White House National Security Council has also been considering the formation of a panel to assess science used in military and intelligence reports, which have angered Trump by concluding climate change poses a national security threat.

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment about the link between climate change and the storm.


Deke Arndt, chief of climate monitoring at the National Centers for Environmental Information, an arm of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, said that the type of heavy precipitation that immediately led to the upper Midwest floods is generally increasing over time.

But trying to link the role of climate change to an individual event is a "fool's errand" akin to trying to determine the cause of a car crash while the wheels are still spinning, he told reporters on a conference call.

More research needs to be done to find a definitive answer on climate's link to the floods, Arndt said.

NOAA officials said on the call they expect the floods to continue through May and get more dire as snow melts and water continues to flow downstream.

Donald Wuebbles, a professor of atmospheric sciences at University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, agreed that climate change likely made the Midwest floods worse.

But he said that investments in levees and other infrastructure to deal with changes have not kept up, making communities more vulnerable.

"People have developed infrastructure for the way the climate was in the past, and haven't really been able to evolve to the climate of now and the future," said Wuebbles.


Time running out to prevent the Green New Deal

One of the centerpieces of the Trump administration’s deregulation agenda is the rescission of the Clean Power Plan that was put into place by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in 2015 under former President Barack Obama. Comprising in part the new and existing power plant rules by the EPA, the Obama plan was to reduce carbon emissions by retrofitting existing coal power plants and making the costs of building new ones so onerous that nobody would dream of it.

By and large, the Obama policy was a “success,” if by success we mean that existing coal plants were taken off-line and replaced with natural gas, and the new plants being built run on natural gas.

In 2007, coal-generated electricity made up 49 percent of the total U.S. grid, while natural gas was just 21 percent, according to the Energy Information Administration.

In 2018, after Obama, now natural gas makes up 35 percent of the grid, and coal is down to 27 percent.

What made this overreach possibility — a de facto ban on new coal power plants and a major incentive to convert existing ones to natural gas — was the 2009 carbon endangerment finding by the EPA, defining carbon dioxide as a harmful pollutant under the terms of the Clean Air Act.

To address this war on coal, the EPA has now come back with a plan to modify the standards under the new power plant rule, while still imposing emissions reductions, doing so in a manner that is actually technically feasible and achievable. Instead of limiting new larger power plants to 1,400 pounds of carbon dioxide per megawatt hour, which the agency said was too onerous to be met, it will make it 1,900 pounds.

As for existing plants, the EPA proposes for states to decide for themselves how to reduce carbon emissions. If states fail to produce a plan, then the EPA will give them one.

Both of these proposals would certainly be a step in the right direction and afford more latitude to meet emission reduction targets but they still accept the central premise that carbon dioxide is a harmful pollutant and must be addressed under the Clean Air Act. They leave the carbon endangerment finding in place, creating an opening for future administrations to come back and just do the same thing again — or worse, implement something like the Green New Deal, which ambitiously contemplates getting to net zero carbon emissions within 10 years.

This minimal progress being made is not unexpected. It is a lot harder to rescind regulations and have courts sustain that rescission than it is to water them down a bit via a modification. In 1983, the Supreme Court unanimously decided in Motor Vehicle Manufacturers Association v. State Farm Mutual that in rescinding a regulation, the agency must provide a reasoned analysis, “for the change beyond that which may be required when an agency does not act in the first instance.”

This leaves every rescission subject to judicial review, where you have to prove not only that rescinding the regulation in question is rational based on the statutory scheme, but prove that enacting it was irrational to begin with. The problem in this case is that the Supreme Court already decided in Massachusetts v. EPA in 2007 that carbon dioxide could be regulated under the terms of the Clean Air Act even though the law never contemplated doing so.

In other words, it was “reasonable” based on the 2007 Supreme Court ruling to implement the carbon endangerment finding and so too were the Obama rules that sought to reduce carbon emissions within the statutory scheme. If the Trump administration simply rescinded the regulations, it would likely face an uphill battle in court, since ultimately the question would boil down to persuading the Supreme Court to second-guess itself in the 2007 ruling or not.

If the courts were to block an attempt to rescind the regulations, it could be argued the Trump administration had squandered an opportunity to clarify them instead into something that would at least allow for new coal plants to be built and save a dying industry.

On the other hand, it is a good question whether it would be worth the risk of losing to rescind the regulations in this case. Justice Anthony Kennedy was the swing vote in the majority opinion in the 2007 case, a 5 to 4 decision, and is no longer on the Supreme Court. This might be the best, last opportunity to revisit the carbon endangerment finding.

Other avenues of potential remedy appear to be cut off at the moment. Congress could have addressed this issue in 2017 and 2018 when Republicans controlled majorities in both chambers of Congress, and clarified the terms of the Clean Air Act either by reforming the statute or by defunding implementation of the Obama era regulations but that was not even attempted — it would have likely stalled in the Senate failing to get to 60 votes and the GOP Senate had already foreclosed the possibility of eliminating the filibuster — and so President Trump is left with what he can do under limited discretion the agencies have to modify the existing regulations.

Unfortunately, what that means is that to prevent something like the Green New Deal from being implemented via regulation, Republicans will have to win every election from now on. In the least, the GOP would need to win back the House in 2020 and hold the Senate and White House. To prevent the Green New Deal, the Clean Air Act needs to be reformed to rule out carbon emissions regulations or else the Supreme Court needs to go back on its 2007 decision.

What it really comes down to is even with these new regulations, will investors want to risk building a new coal power plant, knowing that it’s just one election away from being shut down again? The coal industry may need more permanent protections via law. The regulations keep changing.

Also, the President’s Commission on Climate Security is an important step to addressing whether such onerous regulations are even necessary, as it will take a second-look at the science behind man-made climate change. But it is Congress that really needs to act.

Arguably, under the existing statutory and regulatory scheme and judicial precedent, Democrats already have everything they need to one day implement the Green New Deal via regulation, effectively banning carbon emissions by making carbon capture requirements so onerous nobody can comply with them. Do we really want to sit around and wait and see if they are successful in jamming it through the regulatory process and the courts — and consigning the U.S. to economic oblivion?


The ‘Green New Deal’ Is Breaking the Left Apart

Since the time of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, working-class union members have been the backbone of the Democratic Party. The left claimed to advocate workers’ rights and was seen, rightly or wrongly, as the party who fought for the little guy.

Well if it wasn’t clear before, it’s clear now—times have changed.

The election of Donald Trump to the presidency, aided by tens of thousands of Obama voters in states like Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Michigan, was the first sign of a political realignment.

Now, the “Green New Deal” is highlighting these cleavages in stark terms, with the nation’s largest union organization forcefully coming out against it.

Last week, the AFL-CIO sent a letter to the bill’s lead sponsors—Sen. Edward Markey, D-Mass., and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y.—expressing its opposition to the proposal on behalf of the 13 million workers the union represents.

“The Green New Deal resolution is far too short on specific solutions that speak to the jobs of our members and the critical sections of our economy. It is not rooted in an engineering-based approach and makes promises that are not achievable or realistic,” wrote the AFL-CIO’s energy committee.

“We will not accept proposals that could cause immediate harm to millions of our members and their families. We will not stand by and allow threats to our members’ jobs and their families’ standard of living go unanswered.”

The AFL-CIO is absolutely right. The $93 trillion Green New Deal would bankrupt this country while throwing millions of Americans out of work. Unemployment and deficits would skyrocket, and energy shortages would plague our electric grid. These socialist policies would wreak havoc on our freedom and way of life, as they have done throughout history.

Proponents of the Green New Deal argue that all of these jobs will be replaced by “green” energy jobs, but it is unreasonable to expect these magical “green” jobs to even come close to replacing the millions of quality jobs we have in the energy industry right now.

This letter will not soon be forgotten. It represents a major shot across the bow of the far left by the working class of the traditional left. It’s made even more significant by the fact that Ocasio-Cortez has made a concerted effort to woo the labor movement.

Included in the Green New Deal resolution is a pledge to create “high-quality union jobs that pay prevailing wages.” Ocasio-Cortez also called for “strengthening and protecting the right of all workers to organize, unionize, and collectively bargain.” In other words, she took great pains to pre-emptively appeal to labor unions.

But the AFL-CIO correctly realized that her pledge is nothing more than hollow words. You cannot throw millions of people out of work and expect new jobs to fall from the sky.

That the AFL-CIO would attack her signature policy proposal with such critical language signals just how deeply workers feel threatened by it. And it is more evidence that big labor’s influence on the left is waning.

Major Democratic figures are lining up behind the Green New Deal, even as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and billionaire Michael Bloomberg express unease about it. It’s clear where the left is moving—and who’s being left out.

The union’s 13 million members are a vital grassroots asset for the left. In previous years, locking down this support would have been near the top of any Democrat’s priority list. Democrats still need their support. The question is whether they care enough about retaining that support to pull back from Ocasio-Cortez’s climate extremism.

If they choose the path of the Green New Deal, they will likely be rudely awakened to find that their once-reliable base has left them behind for a president who speaks to their needs.

Time will tell if major Democratic figures buckle on their support of the Green New Deal, but one thing is clear—we are living in fluid, ever-changing political times.


Bill Expanding Electric Vehicle Tax Credits Would Mean $99 Million Less for Colorado’s General Fund

Legislation expanding Colorado’s tax incentives for electric vehicles could mean over $99 million less in revenue for the state’s general fund at a time when Democratic lawmakers are looking for ways to raise tax revenue.

The current electric vehicle tax credits offered for purchase or lease of electric or hybrid vehicles is scheduled to be reduced, then phased out by 2022. House Bill 1159 would increase the tax credits offered for 2021, the last year the credits are offered under current law, and extend the credits through 2025.

But the tax credits offered in HB 1159 would mean the state’s general fund loses out on $99.2 million in revenue, according to the estimate in the bill’s fiscal note.

The fiscal note, prepared by the nonpartisan Legislative Council Staff, estimates the credits offered through the bill will average more than $4,500 in 2021 and 2022 and more than $2,800 in 2023 through 2025.

The Independence Institute called the legislation "fiscally irresponsible" in a blog post, considering that Democrats in the state are looking for ways to raise tax revenue to fund several policy proposals.

Colorado Democrats have proposed overhauling oil and gas regulations in the state, a move that opponents say would hurt one of the state’s top industries and a key source of tax revenue.

Governor Jared Polis signed an executive order in January mandating that more electric vehicles be made available in the state.

Steve Pociask, president and CEO of the American Consumer Institute, questioned the effectiveness of electric vehicles in an email.

"When compared to conventional vehicles, the empirical evidence shows the reduction in electric vehicle greenhouse gas emissions to be greatly overstated," he said. "In addition, these vehicles are more costly to purchase than conventional vehicles, and they produce other sources of pollution, such as increased toxicity to humans, as well as terrestrial and freshwater life, due to the mining and production of nickel, graphite and cobalt used in batteries."

The bill passed the House Finance Committee last week and was referred to the Appropriations Committee.


Climategate +10 Years: Global Warming Scare On Life Support

The global warming hysteria was reaching a crescendo in the lead up to the climate confab in Copenhagen in 2009 when a civic-minded person released the Climategate emails, deflating the whole thing. Those emails were concocted from the fevered imaginations of the scientists involved.

Nigh on 10 years have passed since then and we are currently experiencing another peak in the hysteria that seems to be coordinated worldwide. But why? Why now?

The global warming scientists have plenty of time on their hands and plenty of money. Idle curiosity would have got some to have a stab at figuring out what is going to happen to climate.

Do they see an imminent cooling and they have to get legislation in place before that is apparent?

The passage of those ten years has given us another lot of data points on global warming. There are now 40 years of satellite measurements of atmospheric temperature and this is how that plots up for the Lower 48 States:

What the graph shows is the departure from the average for the 30 years from 1981 to 2010. The last data point is February 2019 with a result of -0.03 degrees C.

So we have had 40 years of global warming and the temperature has remained flat. In fact, it is slightly cooler than the long term average.

Is it possible to believe in global warming when the atmosphere has cooled? No, not rationally. Is it possible for global warming to be real if the atmosphere has cooled? Again no.

Now let’s look at carbon dioxide, which was supposed to be driving global warming, if it’s even happening.

A lab high up on Mauna Loa in Hawaii has been measuring the atmospheric concentration since 1958. As it is the annual change in concentration that is supposed to be driving global warming, let’s see how that plots up:

What it shows is that the driving effect has been in a wide band from 1979 when the satellites to measure temperature went up but the trend is flat. Think about that – No trend since 1979 in CO2 levels.  Level just fluctuate up and down in rough balance. If CO2 increase was ever going to happen it would have happened by now.

The opposite of global warming is global cooling. What are the chances of that? Pretty good in fact.

Only one graph is needed to show the potential for that – the aa Index which is a measure of the Sun’s magnetic field strength. Records of that have been kept since 1868:

The second half of the 20th century had a solar magnetic field strength that was 50% higher than that of the last 60 years of the Little Ice Age. That ended in 2006.

We are now back to the solar activity levels of the 19th century and that will bring the sort of climate our forbears had then.

And so it has come to pass. January-February had record cold over North America. Seemingly the polar vortex was everywhere because Japan also had record cold.

Waiting for global warming to happen is like Waiting for Godot. It is never going to happen and the wait is getting beyond tedious.

In the meantime, there is no evidence for global warming and the opposite is happening, as shown by the record cold we have just experienced.

It is time to stop giving global warmers the benefit of doubt – they are loons. That includes Rick Perry [Energy Secretary].



For more postings from me, see  DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC and AUSTRALIAN POLITICS. Home Pages are   here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here.  

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