Monday, March 18, 2019

Climate science requires acceptance, not belief or full understanding: Climate change is like gravity, only accessible to lay-people at the top levels (?)

An amusing article below by Michael Barnard off the pseudo-intellectual "Medium" site.  He is badly in need of a bit of philosophical sophistication. A reading of Erich Fromm on authority might generate some thought in him.

He says that you need to accept authority to accept global warming.  I sort of agree with that.  It is only blind trust in authority that is behind most global warming belief as far as I can see.

What he is doing is overlooking Erich Fromm's distinction between rational and irrational authority.  In Fromm's terms, Leftism is a case of irrational authority.  Leftists want to impose their will on us "by means of rifles, bayonets and cannon", as Friedrich Engels put it. It is authority exercised by fear and pressure on the basis of emotional submission. It is the authority of blind obedience.

But there is another kind of authority, rational authority, by which we mean any authority which is based on competence and knowledge, which permits criticism, which by its very nature tends to diminish, but which is not based on the emotional factors of submission and masochism, but on the realistic recognition of the competence of the person for a certain job.

So Barnard claims that global warmists are rational authorities and should therefore be believed.  But they are not.  They behave just like irrational authorities, trying to shut up dissent and getting anyone fired who disagrees with them and refusing debate with knowledgeable opponents.  They do NOT permit criticism. They expect submission only.

And their claim to competence and knowledge is totally deficient.  They have made numerous prophecies over the years and none have come true.  The Arctic is supposed to be ice free by now, English children are not supposed to know what snow is by now etc.

Far from being rational authorities, Warmists are false prophets

There’s a problematic question in journalism and science communication. Various people are asking journalists to stop asking politicians whether they “believe in climate change” and to start asking whether they understand it.

The problem is that outside of the odd politician who was actually a climate scientist, the vast majority of people can’t claim to understand climate change or global warming with any degree of sincerity or completeness. At best, the average layperson or even well-educated layperson will have a superficial understanding of anything beyond the basics.

Let’s take an analogy that might be useful. Do you understand gravity, or just believe in it? Let’s test this out.

Lowest level of understanding

Can you perform an experiment that demonstrates gravity’s existence? Yes, anyone can drop something.

Moderate level of understanding

Can you perform an experiment that quantifies gravitational pull? Yes, drop a ball from two meters and time it until it hits the ground. Some simple math gives you ~9.8 meters per second squared. That math is beyond some people. It was beyond everyone until Newton.

Can you perform an experiment which assesses the impact of other forces to isolate gravitational pull? Yes, drop a ball and a feather from two meters and time them. The ball hits first telling you that air resistance slows down the feather more than the ball. Then you can isolate the impact of air resistance on the ball and refine the estimation of the acceleration due to gravity.

High level of understanding

Can you generalize the effect to any two large objects? That requires an understanding of how far gravity reaches and how it changes with distance. It’s very doable, but this was beyond everyone for a long time. It’s beyond most people today.

Can you perform an experiment to determine whether gravity stays the same regardless of distance? Sure, you could perform the ball dropping experiment at sea level and at the top of a mountain. But you would have to account for the squished ball shape of the earth and the various places where there’s a bit more mass leading to a bit more gravity. And then you’d have to account for the variance in air resistance between sea level and 3 or 4 kilometres up. It’s very doable, but the variance is still tiny. Most people couldn’t perform the experiment with sufficient rigour, deal with the confounding factors, or do the math.

Could you calculate the trajectory of asteroids based on gravity? Well, we can observe the orbital periods of the moon, the sun, and the earth. We can start figuring out from there and a whack of observations their masses. We can figure out from our experiments how rapidly gravitational forces fall off. But most people couldn’t calculate the orbital mechanics of anything even with all of the data and formulas provided.

But the GPS in people’s cell phones works regardless of them being able to do the math, which explains why the GPS satellite doesn’t fall out of the sky. And planes fly regardless of whether the passenger in them can explain how the force of gravity is being counteracted.

This is a lengthy way of saying that something which everyone can interact with directly by dropping something becomes so increasingly arcane that even very smart and educated people end up in situations where they just accept the science. In other words, where they assert belief, not understanding.

This does turn into an appeal to authority, but not the logical fallacy of appeal to false authority. That’s a rhetorical trick played by ‘skeptics’. They claim that any appeal to authority is a logical fallacy, when it’s actually only referencing the statements of the unqualified that is the logical fallacy.

What does this have to do with climate change?

The vast majority of people have never seen any evidence of climate change; they just see weather. They haven’t looked at historical temperature records for the globe and crunched the numbers. They haven’t compared surface to satellite temperature data. They haven’t personally gone to multiple glaciers every year for 30 years to compare their rates of disappearance. They haven’t looked at 20,000 year old ice cores to assess CO2 isotopes. They haven’t leveraged existing and proven climate models to assess specific impacts. They haven’t amassed data on weather events and done statistical analysis that would show the impacts of climate change or not.

At best, some people see that spring is earlier than in their childhood, but most people would probably question their memories rather than the seasons.

Climate change is diffuse. Climate change is happening incredibly quickly by geological standards, but incredibly slowly by human standards. We can’t easily see it.

Most of climate science is beyond most people. For the majority of people, they just accept that, like GPS, the scientists are right. They accept the authority of peer-reviewed science, the scientific consensus, and the reports of the IPCC. They believe it to be true.

Most people don’t understand climate change at more than the simplest of levels, and even then they aren’t able to define and perform experiments which could assess it.

Climate change skeptics and deniers look at this and their brains melt and run out of their ears. They accept that GPS works, that planes fly, and that people have walked on the moon, stuff that they have a pretty equal lack of understanding of. But then they turn around and reject the science of climate change, something that they understand just as poorly.

They will happily point to inexpert experts such as Nobel Laureates in solid-state electronics who are skeptical about global warming, but will claim that citing the IPCC and actual climate scientists is the logical fallacy of appeal to false authority. In other words, they are guilty of the thing that they claim you are guilty of (a familiar pattern).

So what do we do?

Well, don’t demand that people understand it all and don’t ask that they believe in it, just ask that they accept the science as they accept GPS or gravity.

Or reframe the problem entirely and talk about pollution or sensible risk policies or health. As the major political groups which are skeptical about climate change are conservative, and conservatives dominate the ranks of skeptics, it’s worth looking at this guidance on how to talk to conservatives about the subject.

Personally, I don’t argue with skeptics or deniers about the basics of global warming and climate change. It’s not that I haven’t read through a ton of the evidence and can counter most of their arguments, or that I don’t have online resources such as Skeptical Science to find the refutations quickly. It’s just a futile exercise. In a complex space, there is a tremendous amount of scope for Gish Galloping and whataboutism, two annoying debating tactics commonly used by skeptics. I’d rather spend my time on advancing solutions and I’m not the right person to convince most skeptics to shift their views. I’m more focused on solutions.


Make America Greater: Approve the PCCS!

America absolutely needs outside expert review of climate claims used to oppose fossil fuels

John Droz

Should the United States conduct a full, independent, expert scientific investigation into models and studies that say we face serious risks of manmade climate change and extreme weather disasters?

As incredible as it may seem, US government climate science has never been subjected to any such examination. Instead, it has been conducted by government agencies and assorted climate, environmental, history, psychology and other “experts” paid by the same government agencies – to the tune of literally billions of dollars per year.

Moreover, all that time, effort and money has been spent on studies that claim carbon dioxide and other “greenhouse gases” are causing unprecedented climate and weather cataclysms, requiring the immediate and total elimination of fossil fuels that supply 82% of all US energy. Virtually none of it has been spent on studies of the powerful natural forces that have driven global warming and cooling, other climate changes and innumerable extreme weather events throughout Earth and human history.

Replacing all that energy – under the Green New Deal we hear so much about lately, or some similar schemes – would cost this country up to $93 trillion by 2030! That’s $65,000 per family per year!

Even worse, those same agencies and government contractors have actively prevented any independent review of their work. They have intimidated, silenced and vilified anyone who attempted to question or examine their data, computer models, assumptions, algorithms and conclusions.

They are adamantly opposed to any such review now. So are some 97% of all Democrats, environmentalists and “mainstream” news media.

You have to wonder: If their work is as solid, above-board and honest as they claim – wouldn’t they be delighted to defend it in public, and prove their detractors wrong?

Since they so totally opposed to any independent review – what are they trying to hide?

President Trump’s proposed investigation would be conducted by a brand new Presidential Committee on Climate Science (PCCS), led by physicist and presidential advisor Dr. Will Happer. It would be carried out by climate scientists and experts who did not participate in the original (alarmist) studies.

A decision about launching the PCCS will be made very soon. Support for the PCCS is urgently needed.

Many who oppose the PCCS claim human responsibility for climate change and extreme weather has already been resolved scientifically. That is simply not so. A genuine scientific assessment has four necessary components. It must be comprehensive, objective, transparent and empirical.

There has never been a true scientific assessment of global warming claims, anywhere on the planet.

In fact, even repeatedly referenced reports by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change have faced no such review – and would fail at least three of those four criteria! That is largely because the IPCC computer models and claims of climate disasters are supported by virtually no real-world evidence.

PCCS opponents also say President Trump is acting irrationally on global warming. In reality, he is taking a far more scientific position than his critics are. Skepticism is the primary pillar of Real Science. So being labeled a “skeptic” is high praise to real scientists.

If it’s Real Science, questions, skepticism and constant reexamination are essential. Consensus is out.

If it’s consensus – and questions and skepticism are prohibited – it’s not Real Science.

PCCS opponents are telling us we have to accept their “consensus science” without question. Eliminate the fossil fuels that make our factories, healthcare, jobs, heating, lighting, food, internet and living standards possible. And put the federal government in control of all future energy and personal choices.

Certainly, the “science” that supposedly supports those demands should be examined carefully and scientifically before we rush to judgment on 82% of our energy. Not according to PCCS opponents.

The bottom line is very simple. President Trump should be applauded for proposing the PCCS, and for being open-minded enough to reconsider global warming claims – before he or we accept them as gospel.

Americans need to support him against the very vocal (and self-interested) people and organizations that oppose the PCCS.

We need to take immediate action to support President Trump on this vitally important initiative.

Use the link. Send him a quick note. Real, evidence-based climate science demands that we have this PCCS review. So does the future of our country and our children.

Via email

States Abusing Federal Provision to Block Critical Projects

There are seemingly endless regulatory obstacles for critical infrastructure projects.

One of these obstacles is starting to get some much-needed attention: abuse of Section 401 of the Clean Water Act.

The Congressional Research Service has explained that Section 401 “requires that an applicant for a federal license or permit provide a certification that any discharges from the facility will comply with the act, including state-established water quality standard requirements.”

This provision is a good example of the cooperative federalism that characterizes the Clean Water Act. Under this federal statute, states can use the Section 401 certification process to ensure that state water quality will not be harmed through federally permitted activities.

But some states may be abusing this important power.

Last year, during a hearing that addressed Section 401 abuse and considered a potential legislative remedy, Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., pointed out that some states have abused the Section 401 certification process:

Recently, a few states have hijacked the water quality certification process in order to delay important projects. The state of Washington has abused their authority to block the export of coal mined in Wyoming, Utah, Colorado, and Montana. The state of Washington has refused to grant a water quality certification for the Millennium Bulk Terminal project.

That Millennium Bulk Terminal project is a proposed large coal export facility along the Columbia River that would help export coal to Asia.

The state of Washington’s decision to block the project might have significant economic implications and may even harm foreign commerce. But this, by itself, is not evidence of Section 401 abuse. After all, states are afforded significant power under Section 401.

Here’s the abuse: In order to deny the Section 401 certification, the state of Washington heavily relied upon factors that have nothing to do with water, such as vehicle traffic, train noise, and rail safety. This section of the Clean Water Act does not give states a green light to veto projects for whatever reasons they desire.

The Water Quality Certification Improvement Act of 2018, sponsored by Barrasso, would have clarified that Section 401 reviews are limited to water quality issues.

Some organizations, such as the Western Governors’ Association, have expressed concerns about altering the Section 401 process in a manner that would limits the states’ ability to manage their water resources. Those concerns are understandable.

Any legislation to address this specific abuse should be drafted narrowly so that it only prohibits the consideration of non-water factors under Section 401, and in no way affects existing authority to directly address water concerns.

The Water Quality Certification Improvement Act of 2018, as Barrasso pointed out, would also have clarified that “states, when evaluating water quality, can only consider discharges from the federally permitted or licensed activity itself—not from other unrelated sources.” 

In addition to this important clarification, any legislation should also address a closely related Section 401 abuse in which states are not merely considering unrelated discharges, but also expecting a federal permit applicant to take action to address pollution arising from unrelated discharges.

For example, in Maryland, Exelon is seeking to renew its Federal Energy Regulatory Commission license for its hydroelectric power plant. As a condition of securing a 401 certification, Maryland is allegedly requiring Exelon to remove water pollution that is not coming from the project, but instead coming from other sources.

The Section 401 certification process is not supposed to be a scheme for states to compel permit applicants to fix the state’s water problems. There are likely many other Section 401 abuses that Congress should address, including unnecessary delays imposed by states. But at a minimum, Congress should make these commonsense clarifications to existing law.


Why The Real Climate Threat Is Global Cooling

Climate alarmists constantly warn us that man-made global warming is making our world less habitable and that climate doomsday is fast approaching.

But a closer look at our climate reveals a surprising climate discovery that our mainstream media have conveniently ignored for decades: the role of the sun in determining Earth’s climate.

For the first time in humanity’s history, our leaders could be actively devising policies — based on their defiant and biased obsession with global warming — that will render us highly vulnerable to even the slightest cooling in our climatic system.

“We are causing irreversible damage to our environment,” “We are headed for a climate doomsday due to excessive warming,” “Climate change may wipe out humanity” — these are our everyday news headlines.

As a climate scientist, I find these headlines, and the stories they introduce, vague and full of hasty generalizations.  The repeated, one-dimensional doomsday cry about carbon dioxide’s role in global temperature blinds the public to other causes.

Indeed, there is a poor correlation between CO2 emissions and global temperature.

Between 2000 and 2018, global temperature showed no significant increase despite a steep increase in carbon dioxide emissions from anthropogenic sources.

The same was the case between the years 1940 and 1970. When carbon dioxide concentration increases at a constant and steady rate and temperatures don’t follow the pattern, we can be certain that carbon dioxide is not the primary driver of global temperature.

If not CO2, what?

Life on Earth is possible because of Earth’s perfect positioning in the solar system: not too close to the sun and not too far. For centuries, academicians have acknowledged this, and climate scientists today know that the sun is the biggest influencer and driver of global temperature.

NASA’s page on solar influence clearly states that changes in the sun largely determine Earth’s atmospheric and surface temperatures. Astrophysicists and climatologists measure these changes in the sun in terms of quantifiable phenomena such as sunspot activity and solar cycles.

However, in recent times, NASA has succumbed to pressure from climate doomsday proponents.  NASA’s original page on the sun’s impact on our climate system is now hidden from the public domain.

With the advent of dangerous man-made global warming theory, CO2 has taken the limelight, and the sun has been relegated to a mere spectator.

This could be warming-obsessed alarmists’ biggest mistake ever.

In central Europe, for example, temperature changes since 1990 coincided more with the changes in solar activity than with atmospheric CO2 concentration. The same has been true globally, and across centuries.

The Maunder Minimum (1645–1715) and Dalton Minimum (1790–1830) — periods of low solar activity — were responsible for the coldest periods of the Little Ice Age. England’s River Thames froze.

Whole civilizations collapsed as people starved because cold-induced poor harvests led to malnutrition that made people too weak to resist disease.

Likewise, increased solar activity in the Roman Warm Period (~250 B.C. to A.D. 400) and Medieval Warm Period (~A.D. 950–1250) brought warmer temperatures on Earth, and thriving crops led to greater nutrition and lower mortality rates.

Hundreds of peer-reviewed scientific papers affirm the overwhelming impact of solar activity on Earth’s temperature.

But will there be cooling?

Observations of sunspot activity at the Space Weather Prediction Center of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) indicate that there has been a lull in solar activity during the past 18 years — the same period during which there has been no significant warming, confirming a direct correlation between solar activity and global average temperature.

Some climate scientists say another major cooling is likely soon. Their claims are not outlandish.

Evidence for the lull in solar activity is so clear that even NASA admits the cooling trend. Martin Mlynczak of NASA’s Langley Research Center commented, “We see a cooling trend[.] … High above Earth’s surface, near the edge of space, our atmosphere is losing heat energy. If current trends continue, it could soon set a Space Age record for cold.”

Most recent scientific studies on solar cycles suggest that the next solar cycles (25 and 26) could be similar to the Maunder and Dalton minima that plunged much of the world into a disastrous cold.

An article in the peer-reviewed scientific journal Astrophysics and Space Science last month warns that the solar minimum might already have begun. Its authors also say there is a high possibility that it will be even colder than those of the Little Ice Age.

That is disturbing news.

Most of our current efforts — including the choice of our renewable energy technologies and our anti-fossil fuel developmental policies — are incompatible with fighting off the impacts of severe cold weather (localized and short-term), let alone long-lasting and global cooling like what happened with the solar minima of the Little Ice Age.

In the event of global cooling, people all over the world — the poor, especially — will be vulnerable. Our vulnerability will largely be because of global warming alarmists’ neglect of climate reality and the power-hungry climate agenda currently dominating national and international politics.


EPA's carbon emissions backflip after West Australian Premier's intervention

After days of anger over a decision that big businesses warned would jeopardise tens of billions of dollars of resources projects, the boss of WA's environmental watchdog was firmly sticking with his new policy.

"We stand by our guidelines," Environmental Protection Authority [EPA] chairman Tom Hatton told the ABC on Tuesday. "We feel the guidelines are necessary because emissions have been rising in WA and nationally for some time.

"And we are concerned the federal mechanisms to drive those down … are not something we can rely on."

But Dr Hatton admitted defeat just two days after that firm defence of his board's decision, which had recommended major projects be required to entirely offset their carbon emissions.

"Our guidelines and our advice would benefit from further consultation and we are going to do that," he said on Thursday.

"There are significant issues that have emerged."

How industry heavyweights exerted pressure

To understand how such an emphatic 180-degree turn took place in 48 hours, it pays to look at what is known to have occurred in between.

Oil and gas giants, already fuming, stepped up their fight significantly.

Full-page advertisements were plastered across Perth's daily newspaper, as big business splashed the cash in an effort to convince the public that the EPA's decision would inflict an enormous economic blow on WA.

They took their public relations effort up a notch, with top executives warning across a range of interviews that devastating impacts loomed, and the Premier's dismissal of the EPA's decision was far from enough to restore stability and confidence.

"There's thousands of jobs at stake, it is not just our business," Woodside chief operating officer Meg O'Neill said.

The fight was taken directly to State Parliament, with top brass from Woodside, Shell, Chevron and Santos called in for crisis talks with the Premier, during which they stressed what they saw as enormous risk and uncertainty had stemmed from the EPA's decision.

Action makes way for consultation

Just four hours later, the EPA's policy was no more — replaced by an indefinite period of "consultation".

"After the meeting I was in contact with Dr Hatton and explained the concerns that industry expressed," Premier Mark McGowan said.

"He and I agreed that something needed to be done."

Woodside chief executive Peter Coleman credited the Government "for acting quickly", while the Chamber of Minerals and Energy hailed it as a "win for common sense".

Less impressed though were environmental campaigners, who were left questioning who was actually running the state.

"Mr McGowan clearly does not understand the emergency we are in and would rather placate the big donors of the major parties than take tangible action on climate change," Greens MP Tim Clifford said.

For Mr McGowan, the EPA's backdown removed an enormous headache that had seriously threatened to further undermine his mantra as a Premier focused on job creation.

But with the EPA having so quickly and dramatically reversed its policy after his intervention, questions are likely to linger for some time about how autonomous WA's supposedly independent environmental watchdog really is.



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