Monday, April 15, 2019

How to Have a Useful Conversation About Climate Change in 11 Steps

There is an article under the title above here.  It is aimed at convincing people about the danger of anthropogenic global warming.  So is it from some high-powered Warmist source?  No.  Rather curiously, it is by a professor at a Tibetan Buddhist college located in Portland, Oregon.

Even more curiously, it actually says nothing about global warming. It is a manual telling how to persuade anybody of anything.  And it is a pretty good one.  The steps outlined make sense in any discussion of a sensitive topic.

So for once I see nothing to criticize in it


I read the article. It is a focus on a method of persuasion. It was not a method of finding the truth. The person seeking to discuss the issue with another goes about it with the assumption that he is right and the only objective is to change the mind of the other. Interesting that no where does the exercise promote the idea of seeking the truth through an exchange of ideas, scientific information and observation.  It will not work on a neighbor while helping him clear his drive of 12 inches of snow in mid April.

The exchange may work on a closed mind if true facts are the basis of the discussion. The exchange will easily fix the opinion of someone that enters the discussion with no opinion and any logical set of information is used to make the persuasion. I see it as a trick to be used on indifferent, unsuspecting, persuadable individuals. The method is a one on one approach and will not work as group therapy. One on One will be an extremely slow message unless you can also convince the audience of one to now also spread the gospel.

Can wind turbines cause cancer?

John Droz writes:

President Trump caused quite a stir in a recent speech when he said that wind turbine noise could cause cancer. Of course the press immediately attacked him as being ignorant, dishonest, anti-wind, etc.  Since I wasn’t sure about the facts, I decided to look into it and to talk to some experts.

The conclusion is that there is good scientific evidence that he is right! 

(Note: any competent, honest journalist could have found what I discovered online.)

Droz gives the evidence here

The Invalidation of Future Sea Level Rise Projections

Paper Reviewed: Watson, P.J. 2018. How well do AR5 sea surface-height model projections match observational rates of sea-level rise at the regional scale? Journal of Marine Science and Engineering 6: 11, doi:10.3390/jmse6010011.

In providing the rationale for his paper published in the Journal of Marine Science and Engineering, Watson (2018) writes that "despite the increasing complexity and resolution of [climate] models, their utility for future projections will always be conditional on their ability to replicate historical and recent observational global and regional data trends of importance (such as temperature, sea level, CO2 trends, etc.)."

Indeed, model projections must always be evaluated by observations, regardless of their assumed complexities and abilities. Without such validation, and a thorough understanding of a model's predictive limitations, its output should never be utilized in the formation of policy. And so it is a welcomed exercise that Watson set out to compare model predictions versus observations for one of the key parameters in the climate change debate -- sea level rise.

In his words, Watson's work "provides a snapshot of how closely current rates of sea-level rise from observational data records (tide gauges) are represented by the ensemble mean of the [IPCC's] AR5 model-projection products at the regional scale, considering 19 sites across the global ocean over the period of common coverage (2007-2016)." And to accomplish this comparison, Watson applied singular spectrum analysis to "efficiently isolate the externally (or climate-change) forced signal from all other contaminating dynamic influences (including internal climate modes)" for both types of data, i.e., model projections and observations. The results can be summarized in the figure below.

Figure 1 presents the average rates of sea level rise over the period 2007-2016 for each of the 19 globally-distributed stations with associated error bars in the upper, middle and lower panel. It also displays the AR5 ensemble model-predicted average rates of sea level rise for three different greenhouse gas emission and future temperature scenarios (RCP2.6, RCP4.5 and RCP 8.5 in the upper, middle and lower panel, respectively). Two important points can be summarized from this image: (1) the error margins of the IPCC's model predictions of future sea level rise are quite large and (2) those wide margins "[mask] the fact that the mean velocity for the model-projection products exceed observational records for nearly all stations and Representative Concentration Pathway (RCP) [scenarios]." And with respect to how great in magnitude the model projections of sea-level rise are from reality, Watson reports that when all station records are considered across all RCP experiments the average gap is between 1.6-2.5 mm/year. To put this difference in perspective, over the past decade the ensemble model-mean projections of future sea level rise are approximately twice the magnitude of that which is observed in the tide gauge observations.

Commenting on these important findings, Watson understates the obvious by stating "evidence suggests the AR5 projection-model outputs for sea surface height appear to be rising at a faster rate than the observational (tide gauge) records over the decade of common coverage," adding that his work provides "an early warning sign that the evaluation of ocean model components with respect to projected mean sea level could be relevantly improved."

Or, in plain English, this work demonstrates that the model projections of future sea level rise are garbage, invalidated by real-world observations despite their large error bars. Consequently, another phantom pillar of the climate alarmist movement is swept away by truth. How long is it going to take for the real climate deniers to acknowledge these and other observational facts that falsify their narrative of dangerous future climate change due to rising CO2 emissions?


Forcing the Theory to Work

Charles Kettering, a former head of General Motors Research once observed, ( in theory)“There is no difference between theory and practice. ( in practice) There is one difference. Practice won’t let you forget anything or leave anything out. In theory, problems are easily solved because you can leave something out.”

While he made that statement at least 72 years ago, climate advocates have latched onto the part about problems being easily solved by leaving something out. What they leave out is observational data that conflicts with their preferred assumptions.

Those who rely on the climate orthodoxy to promote their agenda are wedded to the results of complex computer models that have been constructed to demonstrate that the increase in CO2 emissions inevitably leads to dangerous warming. What they leave out is the fact that their model projections overstate warming. This is shown in the following graph produced by Professor John Christy.

The explanation for this difference is that the models assume a greater climate sensitivity than is demonstrated by the climate itself. According to the National Academy of Sciences, climate sensitivity is “the equilibrium global mean surface temperature change that occurs in response to a doubling of atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) concentration. Climate sensitivity is a function of numerous feedbacks among clouds, water vapor, and many other components of the earth’s climate system. It is presently one of the largest sources of uncertainty in projections of long-term global climate change.” The NAS went on to say that some uncertainties could be reduced or removed if there were better temperature records and better estimates of past radiative forcing. That falls into the category of wishful thinking because the records and estimates cannot be rehabilitated. There are too many variables involved with past temperature records to significantly improve their accuracy.

Analysis by Professor J. Ray Bares, University College Dublin, concludes that models underestimate the amount of heat radiated into space from the tropics. This conclusion is consistent by Dick Lindzen’s research demonstrating an “iris” effect in the tropics. In addition, Pat Michaels’ work on climate sensitivity shows that studies since 2011 estimate a lower sensitivity than the IPCC or the models that are used to project warming.

So, why do advocates of the climate orthodoxy cling to predictions of catastrophic warming when more recent research confirms a lower climate sensitivity as does the climate itself? There are several plausible explanations. One is that many are very risk adverse and believe in the Precautionary Principle which in Dick Lindzen’s words, “Everything is uncertain, thus anything may cause anything, and thus we should do something about it.” This is taking an abundance of caution to the extreme.

Another explanation is that some environmentalists have strong objections to economic progress and the way in which it is achieved. They want to control the means of production and how the economy evolves. Of course, they also happen to be high up on the economic ladder, so they can be cavalier in wanting to deny the benefits of economic growth to others.

In the end, if extreme energy policies are the mechanism for responding to climate change, resources will be wasted and the impact on warming and its climate effects will be imperceptible.


Compromise is possible

If protecting us from increased levels of CO2 really is what they want

More and more businesses and industries are buying into the climate orthodoxy that human activities are the primary cause of climate change .  And, democratic candidates for President are making it a wedge issue that will put further pressure on business and industry to get on board.

While a large number of scientists support this hypothesis, for a variety of reasons, it still is only a hypothesis that relies on complex computer models that have been built using a large number of assumptions that attempt to fill gaps in knowledge.  While short term business objectives may justify going along to get along, there is an unexplored alternative that would not compromise the business community and damage our economic system.

Instead of being politically correct and accepting the climate orthodoxy and the actions that flow from it, industries and businesses should lay out an action oriented agenda that neither accepts or rejects the orthodoxy.

The United States is making more progress than most developed countries in reducing greenhouse gas emissions, some of which is the natural evolution of technology and some due to wrong headed policies that suppress fossil fuel use.

Instead of accepting renewable standards biased in favor of wind and solar, a focus on incentives to shift to natural gas and revive the nuclear option would be more cost-effective.  Nuclear has two big hurdles—fear and cost.  The fear that has resulted from nuclear accidents that did not result in any casualties can be addressed by a well developed communication initiative that focuses on why nuclear should be the preferred option for reducing emissions and why it is in consumers interests to support it.  The cost issue is more difficult but it is not an insurmountable hurdle.  Two major cost drivers are the regulatory approval process and the lack of reactor standardization.  The progress being made with smaller modular reactors holds promise in lowering costs, increasing public comfort and, in competing with wind and solar.  The case needs to be made for a level playing field in power generation benefits consumers so that alternatives can be judged fairly.

The unneeded and wasteful subsidies for ethanol should be eliminated by demonstrating that tail pipe emission standards can be met without an ethanol mandate and that the production process actually leads to an increase in CO2.  Ethanol manufacturers should not be given a free ride.

Sea level rise, independent of the human component, is a serious problem but one for which near term solutions are readily available.  Coastal regions need to revise building codes so that new structures are not allowed so close to the waters’ edge that damage from sea rise and coastal storms is almost inevitable.  Currently, flood insurance is subsidized by the Federal Government, lowering the true cost of insuring coastal structures.  This subsidy should be eliminated.  Most of the Netherlands is below sea level and yet the Dutch have developed technology for mitigating the effects of flooding, Industry should support a vigorous program to adopt some of that technology.

While the natural process of decarbonization is taking place, industry ought to support and participate in research to better clarify and define the extent of human influence on climate as well as of other factors identified by the IPCC. The  IPCC identified uncertainties provide a solid basis for a collaborative research program for demonstrating that the science is not settled and developing a better understanding of factors beyond CO2 that influence the climate system.

For over 20 years, estimates of climate sensitivity have varied by a factor of three. Research should be pursued to make that estimate more precise.  Over the same time period, Danish scientist, Henrick Svensmark has been conducting research to better understand the effect of solar activity on climate and to demonstrating how solar related mechanisms affect cloud cover and cloud formation. Additional solar related research should make clear that the effect of solar activity on warming has been underestimated in making attribution determinations.

A recent audit of temperature data by Dr. John Mclean has raised serious questions about the data bases that are the foundation for models and projections of future climate catastrophes.  The data bases from the Hadley Center and NOAA should be independently audited to validate or refute McLean’s findings.  We already know from work by Professor John Christy that US temperature measurements have seriously over estimated actual temperatures.

 Collaborative research on natural variability, the actual impact of increasing CO2 levels since the warming effect is not linear, and on improving models in order to add to our state of knowledge and demonstrate that industry is being part of the solution and not the problem.

Americans are sorely in need of being educated on what is realistic in terms of emission reduction impacts.  If the US adopted all measures that are minimally economically plausible, the effect on global warming and climate would be marginal because the sources of emissions and increased atmospheric levels of CO2 are China, India, and developing nations that show no real inclination to reduce their use of coal or to accept lower levels of economic growth.

The alternative to taking a stand on principle and engaging in a constructive, realistic action agenda is to get rolled and rolled often.  The threat to the capitalist economic model is growing as evidenced by the percentage of people who believe socialism is preferable and by the support for the Green New Deal.  Proponents of the Green New Deal and similar programs must be challenged to show the cost of these programs, their effect on the economy, as well as on global warming.  That information would be sobering.

Past business strategies for confronting the climate orthodoxy have not worked. They have resulted in losing but losing gradually.  It is time to try a third way that is based on challenging climate advocates to join in a collaborative research and policy initiative.  They will most likely reject such an approach because they are winning. But that would demonstrate that they are more interested in scoring points than in developing cost-effective solutions.  That would put then on the defensive.



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.  

Preserving the graphics:  Most graphics on this site are hotlinked from elsewhere.  But hotlinked graphics sometimes have only a short life -- as little as a week in some cases.  After that they no longer come up.  From January 2011 on, therefore, I have posted a monthly copy of everything on this blog to a separate site where I can host text and graphics together -- which should make the graphics available even if they are no longer coming up on this site.  See  here or here


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