Friday, April 15, 2022

Empirical observations show no sign of ‘climate crisis’

A systematic review of climate trends and observational data by an eminent climate scientist has found no evidence to support the claim of a climate crisis.

In his annual State of the Climate report, Ole Humlum, emeritus professor at the University of Oslo, examined detailed patterns in temperature changes in the atmosphere and oceans together with trends in climate impacts.

Many of these show no significant trends and suggest that poorly understood natural cycles are involved.

And while the report finds gentle warming, there is no evidence of dramatic changes, with snow cover stable, sea ice levels recovering, and no change in storm activity.

Professor Humlum said:

“A year ago, I warned that there was great risk in using computer modelling and immature science to make extraordinary claims. The empirical observations I have reviewed show very gentle warming and no evidence of a climate crisis.”

GWPF director, Dr Benny Peiser said:

“It’s extraordinary that anyone should think there is a climate crisis. Year after year our annual assessment of climate trends document just how little has been changing in the last 30 years. The habitual climate alarmism is mainly driven by scientists’ computer modelling rather than observational evidence.”


Climate-Change ‘Solutions’ That Are Worse Than the Problem

If you can afford a Tesla, you probably find it hard to imagine that there are some 3.5 billion people on Earth who have no reasonably reliable access to electricity. Even less obvious may be the way rich countries’ pursuit of carbon neutrality at almost any cost limits economic opportunities for the world’s poor and poses serious geopolitical risks to the West.

Anyone on an investment committee has likely spent untold amounts of time discussing ways to mitigate the impact of climate change, but they’ve likely never heard anyone state one simple and incontrovertible fact: The widespread exploration and production of fossil fuels that started in Titusville, Pa., not quite 170 years ago, has done more to benefit the lives of ordinary people than any other technological advance in history.

Before fossil fuels, people relied on burning biomass, such as timber or manure, which was a far dirtier and much less efficient source of energy. Fossil fuels let people heat their homes in the winter, reducing the risk of death from exposure. Fossil-fuel-based fertilizers greatly increased crop yields, reducing starvation and malnutrition. Before the advent of the automobile, the ability for many people to venture far from their hometown was an unfathomable dream. Oil- and coal-burning transportation opened up access to education, commerce, professional opportunities, and vital services such as medicine. There has been, and remains, a strong correlation between the use of fossil fuels and life expectancy.

Limiting the availability of fossil fuels in the name of climate activism would cut off many of the world’s poor from these benefits. Climate activists worry about a potential “existential crisis” decades down the road, but poor people, really poor people, face an existential crisis every day. Even for those who aren’t among humanity’s most unfortunate, rising energy prices force serious economic trade-offs. Purposely eschewing America and Europe’s own natural resources increases costs to consumers, raises the cost of doing business, and limits economic growth. Viewed with this in mind, the debate over emissions seems like an upper-class problem.

If Chinese belligerence and increasing authoritarianism over the past two years have taught us anything, it is that no amount of trade and international cooperation will instill what are generally considered to be Western values in other civilizations who have no real desire to adopt them. Trusting China to do anything other than what is directly in its own best interests, especially when it comes to the trade-offs between economic development and climate issues, would seem to be in direct conflict with history and common sense—and it poses serious geopolitical risks to the international democratic order. The war in Ukraine has emphasized how leaving European and American fossil fuels in the ground can put the West at the will of dictators, increasing the risk of atrocities, war or even the use of weapons of mass destruction. An easing of regulations on drilling in the U.S. and easier regulations on liquefied natural gas exports to flood the global market with oil and natural gas would do far more than any sanctions to stop Vladimir Putin’s barbarism.

The climate-change solutions the West is pursuing also pose a danger to the environment. The lodestar of the environmental movement today appears to be electric vehicles. One would be hard-pressed to find a product more dependent on resources from extractive materials. An electric car requires almost four times as much copper as an automobile powered by an internal combustion engine. The widely accepted goal of having 30% of the world’s vehicle sales be electric by 2030 would require enormous investments in mining industries that are decidedly not eco-friendly.

And whatever emission cuts America and Europe manage to make by forcing electric vehicles and other inefficient technology on consumers will be negated by emissions from other nations. Regimes like Russia and China won’t put aside their geopolitical ambitions for climate activism; developing countries like India won’t sacrifice economic development and their peoples’ well-being in the hope it’ll slow global warming.

Sadly, environmentalism has grown into a secular religion in which reasonable debate is regarded as heresy. But if politicians and voters can approach climate change with an open mind, they’ll see that economic growth is likely to solve the issue without heavy-handed government intervention. History has shown that free markets produce incredible leaps in human ingenuity. The greater access the world has to all sorts of energy sources, the faster humanity will discover new technologies that are more environmentally friendly. Rationing fossil fuels would only retard the process of decreasing carbon emissions and cost lives in the process.


America Needs Proactive Energy Solutions, Not False Allegations

Political grandstanding against “Big Oil” continues to grab headlines as the House Energy and Commerce Committee called on oil and gas company executives yesterday to testify on the latest unfounded claim alleging their companies are price gouging and taking advantage of the high gas prices to the detriment of the American people.

The hearing attempted to divert public attention away from the Biden administration’s anti-fossil fuel policies, which threaten our country’s energy security and largely are responsible for rising energy prices.

The Biden administration seems wholly ignorant regarding how retail gas prices are determined. He revealed his ignorance in tweeting recently that “Oil prices are decreasing, gas prices should too. Last time oil was $96 a barrel, gas was $3.62 a gallon. Now it’s $4.31. Oil and gas companies shouldn’t pad their profits at the expense of hardworking Americans.”

Prices in the global market for crude hover north of $100 per barrel. Even if those prices were to fall dramatically, it takes time for prices at the pump to adjust downward. Many factors, including transporting oil from the field to the refinery, from the refinery to distributors, and then on to the pump, must be taken into account.

The Biden administration created a bottleneck in the crude oil supply chain by canceling the Keystone XL pipeline that would have carried oil from fields in Canada and the Dakotas to refineries on the Gulf Coast. It’s far too late in the current crisis for restarting that project to have any immediate effect. Nor will releasing 180 million barrels of crude oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve do much to lessen the pain caused by Biden’s green energy policy agenda.

Soon after coming into office, the president paused the Interior Department’s leasing program for energy exploration and drilling rights both onshore, on federal lands, and in the Gulf of Mexico. Although a federal court in Louisiana granted an injunction against the offshore leasing moratorium and leasing has continued while the administration’s appeal is pending, Biden has not signaled when the five-year leasing program will resume.

Blocking access to known oil and gas reserves, onshore or off, contributes to reductions in supply and to higher wholesale and retail energy prices. Reality will bite wallets even more forcefully in June of this year when the Interior Department’s current five-year offshore leasing plan is set to expire.

If not renewed, opportunities for securing any new offshore drilling leases will end abruptly. Combined with ongoing opposition from environmental groups and other possible legal challenges, large fractions of the domestic energy resources needed to power the U.S. economy for the foreseeable future will be placed out of reach. Americans will become more dependent on energy supplies from unreliable trading partners in the Middle East and other corners of the globe. And our ability to support western European allies by exporting energy supplies, especially liquefied natural gas, to counter Russian geopolitical hostility will be compromised.

Ironically, environmental interest groups also will feel the pinch. The economies of Gulf Coast states depend heavily on the tax revenue generated by oil exploration and recovery both onshore and off, which helps fund programs like the Land and Water Conservation Fund, which helps finance maintenance projects on public lands.

A recent study by Energy and Industrial Advisory Partners estimates that renewing Interior’s five-year leasing program would allow Gulf Coast states to produce an average of 2.6 million barrels of oil and natural gas per day from 2022 to 2040. If the leasing program is canceled, or even if it is delayed, nearly a third of the energy now being recovered offshore will be lost. So, too, will be about $1.5 billion per year in governmental revenue and an estimated $5 billion in U.S. GDP.

Leasing is only the first step in recovering energy resources. Leases, which are acquired in competitive auctions, grant exploration rights to the highest bidder and, if oil and gas deposits are discovered underneath the leased ground, permits for drilling must be secured. Such investments are not sure things. So, the administration’s attempt to blame high oil prices on 9,000 unused leases is not accurate. The number of producing wells on federal lands is at a two-decade high and the idle leases represent an extremely small fraction of the producing-well total.

Instead of shifting blame to energy companies and disingenuous attempts to distract with political grandstanding, the Biden administration should be finding long-term solutions by taking advantage of our robust energy resources here at home.


Anti-Pesticide Researchers May Have Committed Serious Ethics Breaches

A recent public release from a graduate student at George Washington University claimed insights from old data answers new questions in newly published research. These new insights claimed they found “high” herbicide exposures which were associated with serious negative health outcomes in women and children – extraordinary and serious claims from a prestigious institution published in a peer-reviewed journal.

However, a review – that both the institution and publisher should have done – shows bias, undisclosed conflicts, clear violations of institutional and publishing ethical standards, and lack of evidence as the hallmarks for these claims. This research does raise new questions – questions for George Washington University and the journal Environmental Health.

When academics lend their names, and that of their institutions, to special interest group campaigns, they put their employers’ reputations on the line. So, it is curious why the George Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health would choose to lend its prestige to the research arm of a notorious anti-pesticide campaign.

In a study published in the journal Environmental Health last month [Feb 10, 2022], GW researchers claimed they had discovered three in five Americans tested positive for “high” levels of herbicide residues, which they represented as a human health risk. The publication’s ethics disclosures stated the work received “no funding,” and the GW authors denied any conflicts of interest. The same couldn’t be said be said of another co-author, not from GW, whose name raised eyebrows among watchdog groups and academics who follow pesticide health risk claims.

Charles Benbrook is an economist and consultant to the organic food industry and pesticide class action lawyers. He was a listed co-author representing the Heartland Health Research Alliance (HHRA). And, shortly after GW’s press release hit the wires, Benbrook was promoting the research as the work product of an ongoing HHRA campaign called The Heartland Study – for which he serves as executive director.

Benbrook’s project lists GW as a partner organization, and Milken School professor Melissa J. Perry was the project’s co-lead investigator. Perry and HHRA have previously acknowledged her lab is funded by HHRA for this herbicide-related research. Like the published article, GW’s press release made no mention of HHRA or their researchers’ affiliations with and funding from the so-called Heartland Study.

Benbrook’s reputation has yet to recover from Washington State University’s decision to terminate his last academic contract in the wake of the revelation that Benbrook’s research was solely funded (without disclosure) by organic food industry interests who also happened to be clients of Benbrook’s for-profit consulting firm. In this new GW study, Benbrook fell into old habits. In prior work, Benbrook represented himself as solely affiliated with Washington State without disclosing that organic industry donors and clients were responsible for 100 percent of his university salary and research expenses.

Multiple mainstream media outlets, including The New York Times, the Huffington Post, The Hill, and other academic publishing sources noted the ethical lapse, some suggesting Benbrook was offering “science for hire” to those willing to pay. Reasonable observers might think academics and institutions agreeing to partner with Benbrook would apply a modicum of diligence to any new endeavor.

The latest GW study’s lead author is a graduate student who formerly served as board secretary for HHRA and her research position at GW is funded by Benbrook. Her boss, GW professor Perry, is the listed co-lead investigator at HHRA’s Heartland Study whose lab also receives funding for this specific pesticide research project from HHRA. HHRA’s fundraising materials and website list GW as a formal institutional partner of the NGO. All of this undermines the denial of external funding and conflicts made by Perry and her other colleagues.

Where does HHRA get money for this research? According to news reports and Heartland Study promotional materials (some since removed from their website), the study’s top donors include Benbrook’s organic industry and pesticide litigator clients. These clients profit handsomely from claims that pesticides harm human health. 

Even in the presence of such conflicts, readers might expect that GW’s internal institutional review process and the publisher’s peer review would be enough to ensure the published findings bearing their names meet rigorous standards of proof. Institutional standards and peer review are supposed to prevent conflicted individuals from publishing unfounded claims. Yet, this appears to be not the case.

Nobody at GW appears to have flagged this research, which was previewed in a university showcase event eight months prior to publication as a joint project with the HHRA campaign. This campaign collaboration and partnership with the HHRA NGO was omitted from GW’s press release and final paper.   

The paper’s peer reviewers, Susan Kegley and Michael Antoniou, insisted they adhered to the ethics policy of the Environmental Health journal. Yet neither appear qualified under the publication’s rules requiring that “independent experts” without conflicts review the work. They are both frequent participants in anti-pesticide campaigns with an interest in the paper’s findings.

Reviewer Michael Antoniou is a listed “partner” of HHRA for the herbicide-research Heartland Study. Antoniou is also a recent (and frequent) co-publisher with Benbrook on other papers – including a recent paper in which HHRA funding for the research by Antoniou was acknowledged. Antonio’s HHRA research partner Robin Mesnage, like Benbrook, is a paid consultant to pesticide litigators, and has had prior herbicide-related published research retracted.

Even more disturbing is the fact that Antoniou has a history of collaborating directly with a known Russian disinformation source, which funded the translation of his book on GMO myths as well as his travel to Russia to promote it. He and co-author Clair Robinson were in fact hosted by Elena Sharoykina, a Putin-appointed member of the Civic Chamber of the Russian Federation. She is currently spreading disinformation about the Russia/Ukraine conflict, alleging that it’s tied to multinational agribusiness spreading of GMOs and the U.S. military supply of genetically modified bio-weapons to Ukraine.

The second reviewer, Susan Kegley, is the former chief scientist for the Pesticide Action Network (PAN) who runs a for-profit pesticide testing company. Her clients include NGOs like PAN and joint Benbrook affiliated and organic industry-funded projects. Like Antoniou, Kegley has also published recent papers with Benbrook which acknowledged HHRA funding of the work.




1 comment:

Anonymous said...

“Empirical observations show no sign of ‘climate crisis’.”

I.e., reality isn’t supported by the models.