Sunday, April 17, 2022

Methane emissions surged by a record amount in 2021, NOAA says

Methane levels may well have surged but what does that imply for global warming? Nothing. The electromagnetic frequencies obstructed by methane are all also blocked by water vapor so methane does not add any extra obstruction

Global emissions of methane, the second-biggest contributor to human-caused climate change after carbon dioxide, surged by a record amount in 2021, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said on Thursday.

Methane, a key component of natural gas, is 84 times more potent than carbon dioxide but doesn't last as long in the atmosphere before it breaks down. Major contributors to methane emissions include oil and gas extraction, landfills and wastewater, and farming of livestock.

"Our data show that global emissions continue to move in the wrong direction at a rapid pace," Rick Spinrad, the NOAA administrator, said in a statement. "The evidence is consistent, alarming and undeniable."

NOAA said the annual increase in atmospheric methane last year was 17 parts per billion, the largest amount recorded since systematic measurements began in 1983. The increase in methane during 2020 was 15.3 parts per billion. In 2021, atmospheric methane levels averaged 1,895.7 parts per billion, or roughly 162% greater than preindustrial levels, NOAA said.

The report comes after more than 100 countries joined a coalition to cut 30% of methane gas emissions by 2030 from 2020 levels. The Global Methane Pledge of 2021 includes six of the world's 10 biggest methane emitters — the U.S., Brazil, Indonesia, Nigeria, Pakistan and Mexico. China, Russia, India and Iran did not join the pledge.

Last year, a landmark United Nations report declared that drastically slashing methane is necessary to avoid the worst outcomes of global warming. The report said if the world could cut methane emissions by up to 45% through 2030, it would prevent 255,000 premature deaths and 775,000 asthma-related hospital visits on an annual basis.

Kassie Siegel, director of the Center for Biological Diversity's Climate Law Institute, said reducing methane is a relatively cheap and easy way to achieve significant climate benefits.

"Methane reductions have to be one part of a transformative global effort to phase out deadly fossil fuels in favor of truly clean renewable energy," Siegel said in a statement. "Anything less puts us on a catastrophic path to an unrecognizable world."

A study published in the journal Environmental Research Letters also found that slashing methane emissions from the oil and gas industry, agriculture and other human sources could slow climate change by as much as 30%.

NOAA also warned that carbon dioxide is continuing to rise at historically high rates.

The global surface average for carbon dioxide last year was 414.7 parts per million, an increase of 2.66 parts per million over the 2020 average, the agency said. The measurement marks the 10th consecutive year that carbon dioxide rose by more than two parts per million, the fastest rate of increase since monitoring began 63 years ago.


The ESG movement is even worse than you think

The ideas behind the Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) movement have been around for quite some time. However, until recently, they have remained mostly out of the public eye.

So, what is the purpose of the ESG movement? Initial ESG efforts were aimed at fossil fuels (coal, oil, and natural gas), in a push to decarbonize our economy and transition to “clean” energy.

Yet, what if there is more to the transition? What if it goes beyond energy? After all, the “E” in ESG deals with more than just “Environmental.” Issues such as land use and production agriculture must be evaluated for climate risk. What if the transition envisioned by ESG backers includes food production and consumption, mining, and timber? And that is just the “E” in ESG.

It is important to understand that the transition envisioned by ESG backers goes far beyond the source of energy, and it truthfully has little, if anything, to do with the environment. The transition being engineered by ESG backers seeks to remake our society in the vision of our utopian betters.

Most large global corporations, central banks, and Wall Street investment firms are aligned in their support of ESG and NetZero 2050. The Biden administration, through numerous executive orders, has directed all federal agencies to develop ESG goals, policies, and regulations. This unholy alliance controls nearly every sector of our economy. And if you thought the “E” in ESG is bad, wait until they get to the “S.”

Even a casual observer of the news over the past several years has seen the things that form the foundation of our society under attack. The family, parental rights, public education, the Constitution, the free market, free speech, freedom of assembly, man, woman, everything.

Which brings us to Disney. If you do not believe that the goal of ESG is to fundamentally change our society, our individual rights and freedoms, how do you explain Disney’s latest actions? For instance, Disney recently eliminated the greeting “Ladies and Gentlemen, Boys and Girls” at the Magic Kingdom to promote inclusivity. Diversity and inclusivity are very important in the “S” of ESG. Now, who can argue against diversity and inclusivity? Well, the tricky thing about ESG is that the transition also applies to the meaning and intent of words.

Disney’s “transition” started much earlier and goes much deeper, as shown in recent videos and statements. I grew up watching Walt Disney on Sunday nights. Yes, I am that old. And I have to wonder how things got to this point with such an iconic brand. When did the magic leave the kingdom? And why?

In a recent article in the Washington Examiner, Vivek Ramaswamy, author of the bestseller Woke, Inc. pointed to the role that Disney’s three largest shareholders may have played in picking the fight over Florida’s Parental Rights in Education bill. Who are the three largest shareholders in Disney? BlackRock, Vanguard, and State Street—do these names sound familiar? Together, these three firms own 15.3 percent of Disney stock. In a publicly traded company that is a lot.

Need proof. Much was made of the news that Elon Musk acquired a 9.2 percent stake in Twitter to become the company’s single largest shareholder. Mr. Musk was even offered a seat on the Board at Twitter. Yes, shareholders owning 15 percent of your stock have your attention.

You may question Mr. Ramaswamy’s assertion, but it is consistent with the ESG movement. As BlackRock CEO Larry Fink said, “Behaviors are going to have to change and this is one thing we are asking companies, you have to force behaviors and at BlackRock we are forcing behaviors.”

If BlackRock and the other ESG movers and shakers are into forcing behaviors, do you think they simply sat by and watched Disney’s halting efforts over the past year before going all in against the Florida legislation? Or is it more likely that there was a phone call or two? As any CEO of a publicly traded company can attest, you take that call. Disney’s actions show that if these large financial institutions were not pushing those decisions, they certainly weren’t opposed.

Now, you may wonder why BlackRock and other Wall Street firms would weigh in on social issues, parents’ rights, and public education. It will not come as a surprise if you go to their websites and read about their policies and initiatives, in their own words. It is all there, and it is time to take this very seriously.

For more proof, a recent column in Politico’s newsletter, The Long Game, discussed SOC Investment group’s latest shareholder activism efforts to require companies to undergo a civil rights audit focusing on social justice and related issues. They are having some success with companies like BlackRock, Citigroup, and Apple agreeing to conduct the audits. There’s that BlackRock again.

On their face, it can be hard to understand the intent and outcome of these shareholder resolution efforts. On one hand, this could improve accountability for money that public corporations have given to popular causes. On the other hand, the audit results can be used to push ideology through publicly traded companies. Given everything we are seeing, which is more likely?

One thing we do know is that as the ESG movement gains momentum large corporations will be the tool to “force behaviors” and complete the transition of our society. Shareholders in these public companies must be involved and educated. I should add that Blackrock, Vanguard, and State Street are not the actual shareholders of Disney stock. The true owners are the participants in state pension plans, 401(k)s, and individual investors who employ these money management firms to buy, hold, and vote shares with their money.

Large corporations are being pushed by financial institutions to adopt ESG policies that you may not agree with or that run counter to your values and beliefs, and they are largely using your money to do it.

Several states are taking steps to exercise the voting rights under state pension plans and other state funds. These policymakers and state financial officers should be supported in this effort as they face tremendous pushback. They are accused of “meddling in the free market,” but the idea of a free market has gone the way of Disney’s innocence.

How bad is the ESG movement? Judge a tree by its fruit.


Climate Change is Not Causing More Power Outages

The Columbian ran an article claiming extreme weather, exacerbated by climate change, is causing an increase in power outages across the United States. This claim is false. Data clearly show that there has been no increasing trend in almost any extreme weather condition. The best evidence indicates poor grid maintenance of an aging system, and the increasing imposition of intermittent sources of energy onto the grid, without regard to maintaining adequate baseload generation and infrastructure are to blame the increasing number of outages.

The article, ‘Storms batter aging power grid as climate disasters spread,’ describes results from a handful of studies focusing on damages to infrastructure due to weather coming to the faulty conclusion that climate change is to blame.

“Power outages from severe weather have doubled over the past two decades across the U.S., as a warming climate stirs more destructive storms that cripple broad segments of the nation’s aging electrical grid, according to an Associated Press analysis of government data,” The Columbian writes.

In fact, extreme weather has not been increasing alongside modest warming, as we have covered in Climate Realism many times, including here, here, and here.

Hurricanes are among the extreme weather events The Columbian claims are becoming more frequent and powerful. Data refutes this claim. Data assembled by Ryan Maue, Ph.D., formerly the chief scientist the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration, shows Accumulated Cyclone Energy from hurricanes in the United States has not increased

Both datasets are discussed in greater detail in this Climate Realism article by meteorologist Anthony Watts. Confirming the U.S. data, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s recent Sixth Assessment Report, released in July reported it could find no evidence tropical cyclone patterns, numbers or intensities had increased during the recent period of modest warming, nor could it attribute any changes in hurricane activity to human causes.

In a transparent effort to hype claims the world faces a climate crisis, a false but common refrain in the mainstream media this century, The Columbian buried the lede. Although the article repeatedly claims climate change is to blame for increasing numbers of power outages in Maine, Louisiana, and California, it mentions only in passing that the electric power grid in each of these states is out of date and poorly maintained. The Columbian writes:

In Maine: “As with much of the nation, Maine’s electrical infrastructure was built decades ago and parts are more than 50 years old, according to the American Society of Civil Engineers. “

Louisiana: “Much of the grid was built decades ago, and the majority of power transmission facilities are now at least 25 years old.”

Also in California: “Almost 200 California wildfires over the past decade were traced to downed power lines that ignited trees or brush, including a record 41 blazes in 2021.”

The Associated Press article that The Columbian uses as its source argues you can tell the weather is getting worse because the costs related to weather damage are rising. This claim is both unscientific and false. Data clearly indicates that the costs of natural disasters are increasing because of demographic changes: Population growth and the expansion of dwellings, businesses, and infrastructure into areas historically prone to natural disasters means, of necessity, the costs related to extreme weather events will be higher when inclement weather strikes

Increases in coastal homebuilding and luxury resorts along the coasts necessarily result in more, more expensive, properties being put at risk from hurricane strikes. Climate Realism has discussed this fact on multiple occasions, for example, here.

Despite the author of The Columbian story acknowledging many of the California’s blackouts were due to Pacific Gas and Electric Company intentionally shutting down power because of the possibility of their aging power lines setting fires, the paper still tried to link the outages to climate change induced wildfires.

In reality, between the aging lines and proximity to flammable brush, California has their own unique power grid problems due to state-encouraged “transition” to electric powered vehicles and the banning of gas utilities in new homes. Not only are Californians adding pressure to the grid that way, but the state also is seeking to replace reliable fossil fuel electricity generation with “green” sources like wind and solar, which are totally dependent on the very weather they claim is already causing blackouts. The absurdity of these policies is well documented at Climate Realism, in articles like these here, and here.

Meteorologist Anthony Watts writes in ‘Thanks to Climate-Driven Green Energy Mandates, California’s Electric Grid Is Near Collapse,’ that “Solar power has a thorny problem: It disappears after sunset. And California’s electric grid is highly dependent on it now thanks to the political mandate known as the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006 (AB 32).”

AB 32 made it so that 50 percent of all California’s electricity is mandated to be powered by sources like wind and solar by 2025, ramping up every few years until it gets to 100 percent “green” energy by 2045.

Concerning California wildfires, as explored in Climate Realism, here, here, and here, for example, the modest recent increase in recent years is not outside of the historic norm for the arid region and is directly attributable to changed forestry and wildfire fighting policies at the federal and state level, more people moving into areas naturally prone to wildfires, and arson.

Had The Columbian not jumped on the climate crisis bandwagon and tried to wrongly link increasing numbers of power outages to climate change, it could have done its readers a good service. Describing the dangers of poor grid infrastructure is a worthy pursuit, and an important issue. Improving fundamental infrastructure is critical to continued economic progress and to ensuring people are better insulated from the impacts of natural disasters when they occur. Downplaying the real problem of aging infrastructure and population and policy shifts, as The Columbian did, in favor of preventing climate change, which is impossible, puts people at risk, especially those in regions that are naturally vulnerable to bad weather. If you focus on the wrong problem, one is more likely than not to develop the wrong solutions.


The SEC Climate Change Proposal isn’t Grounded in Science

On March 22, 2022, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) released a new rule for public comment (File Number S7-10-22) that would require public companies to report the climate-related impact of their businesses. Since it has been well established in multiple IPCC reports that the human impact on climate has never been observed, only modeled, this seems unnecessary. The climate models, used by the IPCC and NOAA to “compute” the human impact on climate have already been invalidated by Dr. Ross McKitrick and Dr. John Christy in their well-known Earth and Space Science peer-reviewed paper. McKitrick and Christy’s previous 2018 paper is cited numerous times in the latest IPCC report (AR6), and the report acknowledges that their paper is correct on page 3-24, where they also admit that one likely reason is the models are overestimating the sensitivity of the climate to CO2. They also admit on the same page that the models are overestimating warming relative to observations in both the atmosphere and the oceans. Page 10 of the SEC proposed rule states:

“In particular, the impact of climate-related risks on both individual businesses and the financial system as a whole are well documented.10”

While “climate-related” risks do exist, as they always have, it is well documented that they are decreasing with time, both in terms of frequency, financial impact, and severity. Figure 1 is a plot of the number of climate related disasters from 2000 through 2019 from EM-DAT.

The database goes further back in time, but reliable reporting of disasters did not start until 2000, according to Regina Below and Prof. D.Guha-Sapir of EM-DAT. The decrease is logical since summers and days are warming at a lower rate than winters and nights. The tropics are hardly warming at all while the North Polar region[1] is warming quite a lot. Thus, the climate is becoming milder as it warms, with fewer extremes and therefore, fewer severe storms.

Climate is usually defined as a change in average weather over a period of 30 years or more. The footnote above specifies “climate-related disasters” that have $1 billion in damages in 2020 and notes they surpass previous highs from nine years before and three years before. The value of one billion dollars is corrected for the consumer price index (CPI) but not corrected for population or GDP. All the cited years are within one climate period of 30 years; thus they are considering weather events, not climate. It is well established that weather damages, as a percentage of GDP, are declining over climate periods of time. Figure 2, from Professor Roger Pielke Jr. shows the recent trend in disasters as a percent of GDP.

The SEC document claims that: “the impact of climate-related risks on both individual businesses and the financial system as a whole are well documented.” This does not seem to be the case. Recent research by Professor Roger Pielke Jr., Dr. Bjorn Lomborg, and data from the EM-DAT disaster database all show the impact of climate change, whether of natural or human origin, is declining.

The costs in the NOAA “Summary Stats” document are adjusted for the consumer price index, but they are not adjusted for population or GDP, and these are critical factors. The document they cite about the 4th warmest year on record, critically does not document why warming since the 20th century is a bad thing. There were many very cold and deadly years in the 20th century and cold kills many more people than heat. The coldest years in the U.S. were 1985, 1899, 1977, and 1983. In the U.K. 1963, 1947, 1940 and 1979 stand out. Our current climate is much nicer.

Particularly, when considering the horrible suffering of people in the Northern Hemisphere during the Little Ice Age, due to cold and drought, one should not assume that a warmer climate is worse than a colder one. The Little Ice Age is now considered the “preindustrial period,” which the IPCC normally defines as 1850-1900, although sometimes they define it as 1750 to 1900[2]. The end of the Little Ice Age is normally taken as 1850. It was far from an ideal climate and during its colder periods, glaciers advanced in the Alps and destroyed entire towns. It was a time of perpetual war, famines, and plagues. Horrible persecutions of Jews and “witches” were common.

Society was suffering from the cold and lack of food, and they needed to blame someone. They chose Jews and older unmarried women unfortunately. Over 50,000 witches were burned alive. Tens of thousands of Jews were massacred. Not because there was any proof, just because someone had to suffer for the bad climate. Some people, the masses mainly, seemed to need to blame someone or humanity’s sins for natural disasters. Behringer notes that in the Little Ice Age: “In a society with no concept of the accidental, there was a tendency to personalize misfortune.” We should not make the mistake of blaming humans or human “sins” for natural disasters. Clear proof is needed first that human actions are significantly contributing to climate change. Such proof does not exist, the claim comes from computer models that have now been falsified.

It seems the SEC is accepting the politically correct dogma that warmer is bad, without demanding evidence that it is. This is no way to make policy.




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