Friday, August 20, 2021

UN Climate Report Reveals the Crisis Is About Truth, Not Climate

The United Nations’ latest climate change report sparked predictable hyperventilating. You’ve seen the headlines crying, “Code Red for Humanity” and clamoring about “extreme” and “unprecedented” warming likely to be “irreversible”—accompanied by fear-mongering images of raging wildfires and flooded towns.

Fortunately, the true state of our climate is far from disastrous. In fact, both climate science and thousands of years of human history show this is the best time yet to be alive. The U.N. is continually moving the goalposts when its apocalyptic predictions fail to come true.

The problem with climate science today isn’t so much the science as shoddy reporting that over-simplifies and over-dramatizes—and a toxic political climate (pun intended) that forbids deviation from the politically correct narrative.

The computer models used by the U.N. and every other climate-focused entity around the world are statistical projections, not precise calculations. The specific models cited in the latest U.N. report are designed to offer a broad range of possible outcomes and formulated using highly suspect and outdated criteria. Yet the report focuses heavily on the model scenarios known to be extremely unlikely—garnering over 40 percent of mentions and almost 100 percent of media coverage.

These same models show that even totally eliminating fossil fuel consumption would have a microscopic influence on global temperatures—less than two-tenths of a degree Celsius even if the full Green New Deal was enacted immediately.

In reality, we know remarkably little about the effect of human activity on the climate. What the vast majority of us know about climate change we get from the news, and it sure seems like natural disasters such as floods, wildfires, and the recent heat waves in the Pacific Northwest are getting more common. But perception does not equal reality.

Global weather data shows hurricane activity and frequency have not increased over the long term. News articles fueling climate anxiety usually cite spurious graphs that start the timeline in the 1980s. But the world didn’t begin in the 1980s, and there have been several periods in history that saw the same, or worse, hurricane activity as we’re experiencing now.

Similarly, although you wouldn’t know it from the news, wildfires and floods are on the decline, and recent heat waves in the Pacific Northwest are small potatoes compared to the 180- and 240-year megadroughts the planet experienced between 800 and 1400 A.D.

The even better news? You and I are 99 percent less likely to die in a severe weather event than our great grandparents. In 1920, global climate-related disasters killed almost 500,000 people every year. Today, even though the world’s population has quadrupled, fewer than 20,000 die from climate-related disaster. In fact, cold-related deaths are over 40 times more common than heat-related deaths in the United States and Canada.

If we’re becoming more resilient to disasters that are happening less often, what’s the crisis? It’s not a climate crisis, but a crisis of truth.

The climate activists who demand “follow the science” appear remarkably uninterested in the nuances and uncertainties of the research they believe supports their ideology.

Science has never been about marching in lockstep with the mainstream. Its purpose has always been curiosity, testing new ideas, and striving to understand more about how the world works—even, and especially, if it proves a previous theory wrong. Even schoolchildren know to shake their heads in disdain at the politicians who persecuted Galileo for having the audacity to publish his theory about the solar system. Yet the same abuse of science is occurring every day as the left exploits misunderstandings of climate research (deliberately or not) to push a political agenda.

While activists march against fossil fuels and let their children believe their future has no hope amid rising seas and dying rainforests, they’ve turned a blind eye to the fact that humanity is better off now than it ever has been. Extreme poverty is at its lowest rate in recorded history, and people are living longer, healthier, freer, and more comfortable lives than ever before. Climate change or no climate change, the future is bright if we only look past the hysteria and seek to truly understand the world around us.

As former Obama-era undersecretary for science Steve Koonin explains in his book “Unsettled,” climate reporting is like a game of telephone. The U.N.’s Sixth Assessment Report is a 3,949-page PDF. It’s easy to understand why reporters on deadline fail to meticulously comb through the entire document or the catalog of research it cites. They simply don’t have time to dig past the simplistic talking points, so they select the most shocking and click-inducing claims without delving into the methodology or scientific uncertainties. It’s understandable, but it’s also a disservice to the public. Something needs to change.

Instead of fixating on our climate, which is likely to remain mild and manageable as our resilience continues to improve, we should focus on sharing the affordable, reliable energy resources our nation is blessed with to fight poverty, improve environmental quality, and spread prosperity around the world.


Fox news on the latest climate panic

Good coverage of skeptical scientists

In the first release of a three-part report, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) warned this week of the consequences of a rapidly warming world spurred largely by human-influenced climate change.

"The alarm bells are deafening, and the evidence is irrefutable: greenhouse‑gas emissions from fossil-fuel burning and deforestation are choking our planet and putting billions of people at immediate risk," United Nations General Secretary Antonio Guterres said. "Global heating is affecting every region on Earth, with many of the changes becoming irreversible."

But, not everyone agrees with Guterres and the panel’s nearly 4,000-page Sixth Assessment Report.

"The IPCC is an excellent source for climate science, but we tend to focus very selectively on the worst news, often overstating the effects of climate change on extreme weather events. Often adaptation is ignored, although it can alleviate much or sometimes almost all of climate damages," Bjorn Lomborg, president of the Copenhagen Consensus and visiting fellow at Stanford University's Hoover institution, said in an emailed statement to Fox News on Wednesday.

"Although climate change in total has negative impacts, we rarely hear about the positive impacts, such as a profound global greening of the planet, equivalent to two more continents of green, each the size of Australia."

Lomborg wrote in a New York Post article on Monday urging readings not to buy alarmism and "scare stories on climate impacts," and that the U.N. has "a long history of claiming catastrophe is right around the corner," writing about problems related to "one-sided" and negative thinking on climate change. Lomborg said that while climate change is a "real problem that we should fix smartly," it won’t be as catastrophic as some present it to be and that humans’ adaptive capacities are not properly being taken into account.

The IPCC report is compiled by more than 200 of the world’s leading climate scientists from 66 countries, including research from thousands of papers. The last one was released in 2013.

It says global temperatures have reached their highest level in more than 100,000 years, rising by 1.1 degrees Celsius since the 19th century, with almost all warming since pre-industrial times caused by the release of heat-trapping gases like carbon dioxide and methane.

As temperatures rise, the scientists note that ice melt and sea level rise have been accelerating, with extreme weather events like rainfall and drought also expected to worsen and become more frequent as further warming is "locked in."

The 2015 Paris climate accord target of limiting global warming to an increase of 2 degrees Celsius by the year 2100 – ideally, an increase of no more than 1.5 degrees Celsius – is practically unattainable according to five scenarios in which scientists all concluded that the world would see an increase of 1.5 degrees Celsius in the 2030s. Three of the scenarios saw temperatures rise by 2 degrees Celsius.

"The whole notion is just built on this assumption that warming is bad to start with," former Trump/Pence EPA Transition Team member and founder Steve Milloy told Fox News on Wednesday, calling the report’s extreme weather claims "very unlikely."

"This new report, number one, there’s nothing new in it. There’s no new science, the alarm is just, you know, it’s more ‘code red’ than it was five, six years ago – the last time they came out with one of these things," the IPCC was "backing off their most extreme projections because none of that – obviously – is going to happen."

Speaking with Fox News the same day, Competitive Enterprise Institute Center for Energy and Environment senior fellow and ICPP reviewer Patrick J. Michaels said he believes the report and its conclusions were "mired in the atmosphere of unreality."

"The U.N. has been pushing the climate story since 1988 – that’s a long time ago – when it established the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. And, that panel was established specifically to provide what they call the basis for a possible treaty on climate. Any committee that is assigned such a specific assignment will do exactly as it was told. And, therefore, the composition of the [IPCC] – the authors – are selectively chosen because they know the results they are going to get," he said.

"The real reason this report is so extreme is that the previous reports have not elicited the actions that its proponents wanted," Michaels noted. "And, in fact, people are becoming increasingly tired of stories about the end of the world."

Michaels, a past president of the American Association of State Climatologists and program chair for the Committee on Applied Climatology of the American Meteorological Society, took issue with the report’s Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP6) modeling.

Michaels, who says he is not a climate change skeptic, said if the report had used best practice models instead the issue would have "fallen apart."

That said, the report states that CMIP6 modeling includes "new and better representation of physical, chemical and biological processes, as well as higher resolution, compared to climate models considered in previous IPCC assessment reports."

David Legates, a professor of climatology at the University of Delaware and a policy expert at the Heartland Institute, took issue with what he says is the political nature of the report.

"So, it’s a panel of government officials who have been selected by the various governments. And, of course, they all have axes to grind," the former Trump-era National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) senior official said.

"So, [there are] certain things they want to say. [There are] certain things they want to guarantee. Many of these nations want to make sure that carbon dioxide is an evil gas because ‘if we can tax it we can make sure that we can get our cut of the money that they’re taking away from other people.' And so, they have a vested interest in not the science – whatever that may be – but in stating that carbon dioxide is sort of an evil gas and therefore has to be regulated and has to be controlled."

For those looking to find a glimmer of hope in the new IPCC report, researchers found that majorly catastrophic disasters or "tipping points" were of "low likelihood," including ice sheet collapses and the abrupt slowdown of ocean currents.

The report suggested that warming could be reversed through "negative emissions" – extracting more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere than is added – though the term "fossil fuels" is not included in the summary or a Monday press release.

Man-made CO2 removal "leading to net negative emissions" would lower CO2 in the atmosphere, a 42-page summary of the report for policymakers said. And even if this were achieved and sustained, increases in temperature would be reversed but other climate changes would continue in the "current direction for decades to millennia."

However, the panel doesn’t explain how this could be achieved and many scientists remain skeptical of its plausibility.

Michael Shellenberger, the author of "Apocalypse Never" and founder and president of Environmental Progress, told Fox News that most of the important trends regarding climate change are currently headed in the right direction."

"Climate change is real. It’s caused by human emissions – at least a significant amount of it is. And, we should try to do something about it because – all else being equal – it’s better for temperatures to not change. But, of course, not all else is equal," he said.

"Climate change is being caused by human emissions, which are caused by humans trying to improve lives for themselves and their children. Not just through fossil fuel use but also through land-use change," he continued. "And so, you’re always looking to balance the benefits of energy consumption with the downsides. But, the trends are mostly going in the right direction."

Shellenberger said the IPCC report’s "scary" scenarios were inaccurate because there is "no possibility" that they could occur due to the usage of natural gas over coal across the world.

The environmental journalist said that while the IPCC science is "mostly fine," he highlighted that there are "some games that get played" in the panel’s reports, including "a bunch of scenarios that basically everybody acknowledges [are] not going to happen because we’re not going to increase coal use sixfold."

The report’s claim that the world is seeing more extreme weather is misleading, Shellenberger says, because it leads people to think that disasters are getting worse.

Droughts can be worsened by warmer temperatures but are explained by natural variability and high-intensity fires can be avoided by better forest management, he argued – though allowing that climate scientists can point to longer fire seasons over larger geographic areas.

Nevertheless, he said human beings are more resilient to extreme weather events and carbon emissions would go down globally over the coming decade.

"The takeaway is that climate change is not what people think it is. It is significantly outweighed by things like droughts, which are still determined by natural variables and by economic development and preparedness, and we’re just so much better prepared," he told Fox News.

"We’re more resilient to changing temperatures than we’ve ever been and it’s just not the end of the world."


Economists and the environment

What does the average economist know about environmental science? Probably no more than any other reasonably educated person.

Yet economists have three talents that are sorely missing from most discussions of environmental policy—particularly policies related to climate change. They understand (1) the scientific method, (2) cost-benefit analysis and (3) how costs and benefits affecting different generations can be evaluated over time.

Here is how these skills matter.

* The Scientific Method. During the Trump administration it became common for critics to accuse the president of being anti-science. In fact, New York Times columnist Paul Krugman accused the entire Republican Party of being anti-science.

Yet the Times routinely tells readers that wildfires in California, flooding in Europe, and worldwide deaths from heat are caused by climate change. Writing in the Wall Street Journal, Bjorn Lomborg notes that:

- “In 2021 the burned area to date is the fourth-lowest of the past 11 years. The area that burned in 2020 was only 11% of the area that burned in the early 1900s. Contrary to climate clichĂ©s, annual global burned area has declined since 1900 and continues to fall.”

- “A new study of more than 10,000 rivers around the world shows that most rivers now flood less.”

- “According to another study, climate change annually causes almost 120,000 additional heat deaths but avoids nearly 300,000 cold deaths.”

Here are some more conclusions of real science. Heat waves across the United States today are no more common than they were in 1900. The sea level is rising no faster today than it was 90 years ago. The latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report says that the most likely warming over the remainder of the century (1.5) is likely to have minimal economic impact.

* Cost-Benefit Analysis. Why do we care if there is global warming? For the same reason we would care if there were global cooling. The key question in both cases would be: are the costs of climate change greater than the benefits?

Writing in the Wall Street Journal in 2015, Matt Ridley noted that actual warming has been below almost all the predictions of the climate models. Ridley doesn’t deny that there has been some warming or even that humans have contributed to it.

Yet, looking forward, he says moderate warming (up to 3.5°C over the next century) can be beneficial for the world on net. For example, carbon dioxide causes crops and wild ecosystems to grow greener and become more drought-resistant.

If there is a case for doing something about climate change, what should we do? On this, economists are virtually unanimous—regardless of their other political views. The best solution is a carbon tax. If the revenue from such a tax were refunded, say by a cut in income or payroll taxes, total private sector income and assets would be unchanged. But everyone would have an economic incentive to reduce carbon emissions.

With a U.S. carbon tax, 331 million people would have an incentive to reduce their use of carbon. With a worldwide carbon tax, up to 8 billion people would have that incentive. Families would reorganize their lives to make the cost of the change as painless as possible. And that is something no government mandate could ever do.

Unfortunately, almost every political figure who wants some sort of government action is opposed to a carbon tax. Instead, they prefer command and control and subsidies—using the power of government to reduce carbon use in ways that are invisible to people who fill their gas tanks at the pump.

Economists estimate that these solutions would have a social cost six times as high as the carbon tax, under the best of circumstances. Once lobbyists got their hands on the process, the social cost could be many times that amount. The costs would be paid by the consumers of virtually every product. Instead of incentives to reduce their use of carbon, people would have an incentive to reduce their consumption of everything else.

To be fair, the U.S. public right now is unwilling to pay higher gasoline taxes to avert global warming. (Carbon taxes poll worse than defunding the police.) But that just means the advocates of carbon reduction haven’t made a persuasive case. The case would be more believable, however, if writers like Paul Krugman quit trying to deceive people into believing that carbon mitigation is a free lunch.

* Intergenerational Equity. In the standard scenario, we are told we should sacrifice today so that our grandchildren (say, 100 years from now) will have a better life. Why would we want to do that? A hundred years from now people will have a much higher income and standard of living than we have today. Why would we want to take from the poor and give to the rich?

Economists can’t answer that question. But they can tell us what the trade-offs are.

Boston University economist Laurence Kotlikoff and his colleagues have taken a midstream estimate of predicted warming and Yale economist William Nordhaus’s estimate of the economic effects of warming over time. They used those predictions to estimate the economic impact of warming and its mitigation on different generations. Kotlikoff then used the model to construct a mitigation plan that makes every generation better off.

In the Kotlikoff model, long-term warming is harmful. So, his suggested carbon tax of $70 a ton (about 70 cents per gallon of gasoline) makes future generations better off. Kotlikoff would not only refund the carbon tax in the form of other tax cuts; he would cut additional taxes as well—in effect borrowing from future taxpayers. The upshot: every generation comes out ahead.

If we heard more from economists like Kotlikoff and his colleagues, and less from people who tell us to go buy a Tesla, public discussion about climate change would be far more rational.


Australia: ’Seven-year witch hunt’: Linc Energy case sensationally dropped

The Crown has dropped its case against four former Linc Energy directors accused of serious environmental breaches.

The Crown has sensationally dropped its case against four former Linc Energy directors accused of serious breaches of the Environmental Protection Act.

Director of Public Prosecutions Carl Heaton QC wrote to the four defendants saying he was no longer satisfied there was “sufficient prospects of convictions”. He instructed Ralph Devlin QC to enter a nolle prosequi “at the earliest opportunity”.

Former Linc chief Peter Bond said the marathon case was a waste of $50m of taxpayers’ money. He said it was a witch hunt from the start and called for a commission of inquiry.

Mr Bond said compensation should be paid to farmers whose land values fell and whose incomes suffered when they were prohibited from certain farming activities after an emergency was declared in March 2015.

“I’m still in shock,” Mr Bond said in an exclusive interview.

“This has gone on for seven years. I said from day one it was a witch hunt. It has cost me a lot and I’m still trying to get over it.”

Linc Energy’s activities were publicly criticised by then environment minister Steven Miles, who said pollution from the firm’s underground coal gasification plant at Hopeland, 300km west of Brisbane, was potentially the biggest environmental disaster in Queensland history.

Linc Energy’s fall from grace was spectacular because premier Peter Beattie declared the project one of state significance in 2007, hailing it as a Smart State “clean-coal technology”. The process involved igniting coal underground and drawing off the gas through a series of wells. Linc told investors it also wanted to produce gas-to-liquid fuels, including diesel and aviation fuel.

Director Stephen Dumble said he was glad it was over.

“I’m relieved, but I can’t say I’m happy about it,” he said.

“I’ve had my life destroyed by it.”

Grazier Toby Trebilco, who lives next door to Linc’s plant, said he wept when he heard the decision. He describes it as “the disaster that never was” and wants a public apology from Mr Miles, who he believes was manipulated by green activists.

“They got it all wrong and gave our district a bad name,” he said. “We have suffered a great injustice.”

Mr Trebilco was critical of reports on the ABC on March 16, 2015, suggesting groundwater was contaminated and hundreds of thousands of tonnes of soil would have to be removed.

Grazier Max Thompson said 150 landholders had suffered. “It’s hard to put a figure on it, but the talk of an environmental disaster has had a negative impact on land prices.”

The initial underground gasification trials were bankrolled by state-owned power station operator CS Energy, not Linc.

Linc purchased the facility and was given a licence by the Mines Department to escalate the underground tests.

District Court judge Leanne Clare SC she had difficulty understanding the case brought by the Crown.

The summary of the essential facts presented by the DPP was gobbledygook, she told the court.

Judge Clare struck out the particulars presented by Mr Devlin.

A spokesman for Environment Minister Meaghan Scanlon said the government would consider its options.




1 comment:

Norse said...

Climate change hysteria is the global phenomenon created predominately by irrational people who have collectively divorced themselves from their heads.

The idea is basically the same, only the dates keep being pushed back.