Sunday, August 27, 2023

The "extreme events" issue

The very gradual process of global warming that we have seen so far has produced no direct ill-effects that we can see. Crops are more abundant than ever and some Pacific islands are growing rather than shrinking. So "extreme events" are the last refuge of the warmists. Bad weather generally is routinely branded as an extreme event and is attributed to global warming without any shred of evidence for the link.

Any causal statement requires controls. You have to show that the "caused" event would not have happened without the "cause" specified. But that would require you to show what would have happened WITHOUT global warming -- and that is impossible.

Single events might or might not be due to some influence or other but you have no way of showing what the influence was. It is known as the "attribution" problem and is in principle unsolvable where the event is a "one-off", a hurricane, for instance. You have to have variations in the causal condition to correlate with the alleged caused condition. Would this hurricane have happened in the absence of global warming? We cannot know. We can only surmise. And a surmise is no proof.

So the attribution of individual extreme events to global warming is LOGICALLY false. It CANNOT be shown as be fact. But science is at ease with hypotheses so it remains a hypothesis that COULD be true even if proving it is currently impossible.

And an hypothesis can be tested in various ways. It is commonly tested by asking if it generates accurate predictions. And it could be held as preliminary support for an hypothesis that the incidence of extreme events has systematically increased as the globe has warmed. Is there a correlation? So has it? There are some claims to that effect but how well-founded are they? Have extreme events in fact become more frequent?

A recent study has addressed that hypothesis. They have looked at a big range of reports about extreme events and asked are such events becoming more frequent. For each of a range or event extremes they have gathered published information about whether such events are increasing in frequency over time. An abstract of the report concerned is given below. It finds no evidence that any extreme event has become more frequent. So the claimed connections are not only logically false but they are empirically false too.

The study was published 18 months ago and various climate skeptics have quoted it approvingly. That approval has eventually got under the skin of the Warmists so they have tried to discredit the research concerned. And their antagonism to the paper has borne fruit. The paper was "withdrawn" by its publisher, which counts as evidence that it is faulty.

But is it faulty? A much quoted attack on the paper in "The Guardian" lists a whole array of orthododox Warmists who say it is faulty but detailed evidence of the faults is conspicuously missing. No detailed numbers are quoted and the issue is entirely a matter of numbers. The Guardian makes clear that orthodox scientists disagree with the paper but does not give chapter and verse why. Link to The Guardian below:

Note that some of the attacks from Warmists are of the most intellectually discreditable kind: "Ad hominem" attacks -- attacking the motives of the authors rather than the evidence they put forward

And that none of the critics quote the detailed numbers is a major scientific fault. If a scientist disagrees with the conclusions of a particular paper -- as I have often done -- he goes over the ground covered by the paper and shows where it went wrong. In this case the paper at issue is a meta-analysis so the data behind it is readily available. Its conclusions are readily tested by repeating the meta-analysis in some more cautious way. Nobody seems to have attempted that. "Do better" is the obvious retort to the Warmists but none seem even to have attempted that.

The next link takes you to an extensive discussion of whether the paper deserved withdrawal:

The abstract of the deplored paper follows:

A critical assessment of extreme events trends in times of global warming

Gianluca Alimonti et al.


This article reviews recent bibliography on time series of some extreme weather events and related response indicators in order to understand whether an increase in intensity and/or frequency is detectable. The most robust global changes in climate extremes are found in yearly values of heatwaves (number of days, maximum duration and cumulated heat), while global trends in heatwave intensity are not significant. Daily precipitation intensity and extreme precipitation frequency are stationary in the main part of the weather stations. Trend analysis of the time series of tropical cyclones show a substantial temporal invariance and the same is true for tornadoes in the USA. At the same time, the impact of warming on surface wind speed remains unclear. The analysis is then extended to some global response indicators of extreme meteorological events, namely natural disasters, floods, droughts, ecosystem productivity and yields of the four main crops (maize, rice, soybean and wheat). None of these response indicators show a clear positive trend of extreme events. In conclusion on the basis of observational data, the climate crisis that, according to many sources, we are experiencing today, is not evident yet. It would be nevertheless extremely important to define mitigation and adaptation strategies that take into account current trends.


More polar bears than ever but they are still "endangered"

Like Mussolini, Warmists are always right

The Canadian town of Churchill has already had more than four times as many polar bear visitors this year compared with the same time last year, and many more could soon be on the way.

The world's unofficial polar bear capital, could see a record number of the white-furred visitors this year. Residents of Churchill, Canada, have already spotted an unusually high number of the bears in and around town, likely because of low sea ice.

Around 900 people live in the Manitoba town. But every year, between July and November, several hundred polar bears (Ursus maritimus) descend on the town and the surrounding Hudson Bay area, which also brings in thousands of tourists hoping to catch a glimpse of the Arctic predators.

Conservation officers from the town's government-funded Polar Bear Alert Program (PBAP) respond to calls from people who spot bears by either shooing the bears away or capturing them and holding them in Churchill's polar bear holding facility, commonly referred to as the "polar bear jail," before later releasing them into the wild.

As of Aug. 16, PBAP officers had received 76 calls from residents about polar bears, which have led to three bear detentions. By comparison, the officers had received only 18 calls and captured zero bears by the same time last year, CBC News reported.

"There are so many polar bears in and around the town of Churchill," Chantal Maclean, a Manitoba conservation officer with the PBAR, told CBC News. It's going to be a "very busy bear season," she added. "We are [potentially] looking at record numbers this year."

On average, officers receive around 250 calls from residents and detain around 50 bears every year, according to statistics provided to Live Science by the Manitoba government. The record number of bears captured in a single year was 176, in 2003. Most sightings occur in October and November, which means the number of sightings this year could easily surpass the average if the current trend continues.

Two people in Churchill have been killed by polar bears — one in 1968 and another in 1983. The last polar bear attack was in 2013, when two people were severely injured but survived. The rise in polar bear numbers does not necessarily mean chances of attacks increase, especially if people follow polar bear guidelines, officers said.

Polar bears spend the winter hunting for seals on Hudson Bay's frozen surface. When the ice melts during spring, the bears head inland to mate and search for alternative food sources. In the fall, the bears head back out to sea. Normally, around half of the roughly 600 bears that live along Hudson Bay's western coastline pass through Manitoba as they return to the frozen waters in fall — and a majority of those make a pit stop in Churchill to look for food. The rest pass through Ontario and Nunavut.

But this year, almost all of the Hudson Bay bears that conservation officers monitor are in Manitoba, which may be why so many bears are being spotted in Churchill.

The likely cause of the change in behavior is the way sea ice is forming and melting, which has been impacted by human-caused climate change. Experts believe that the sea ice near Churchill is now freezing earlier than other parts of Hudson Bay, which makes it the best place to start hunting when winter arrives, CBC News reported.

Polar bear numbers in Churchill may be on the rise, but in general polar bear numbers are declining. The species is currently listed as vulnerable on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species. Studies have predicted that polar bears could be wiped out by the end of the 21st century if current warming trends continue.

Over the last five years, Hudson Bay's population of polar bears has declined by around 27% after falling by around 11% in the five years before that, according to Polar Bears International.


Why Has Biden Declared War on Natural Gas?

Natural gas is the world's wonder fuel: cheap, abundant, made in America, reliable AND clean burning.

So why are the Biden administration and environmental groups against it? There's really no good answer.

What makes the Left's war against natural gas inexplicable is that the single biggest factor in reducing carbon emissions into the atmosphere has been the increased reliance on natural gas for electric power generation as we transition slowly away from coal. (By the way, emissions from coal plants have been dramatically reduced as well, which is one reason why the air that we breathe today is much cleaner than the air 20 or 50 or 100 years ago.)

No country produces more natural gas than America. Latest reserve forecasts predict we have nearly 100 years of natural gas with existing drilling technologies, and hundreds of years of potential supply. We're not running out. We are the Saudi Arabia of natural gas.

The two innovations that spurred the natural gas shale revolution of the last 15 years were horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing. These drilling technologies tripled our supply and output almost overnight.

No single person is more responsible for this energy revolution than Harold Hamm of Continental Resources. His new book "Game Changer" documents how drilling in places like the Bakken Shale in North Dakota and the Marcellus Shale in Pennsylvania and West Virginia helped triple U.S. oil and gas supplies while lowering the price we pay for energy.

He tells me that "U.S. natural gas price has fallen by more than half while the rest of the world has seen their prices double or triple." This means that our energy costs are a fraction of the costs that Europe and Asia pay. That is an immeasurable economic and geopolitical advantage America has.

All we need to be the world energy superpower is liquefied natural gas terminals, pipelines and drilling permits. We also need states to redefine natural gas as a "clean" and "net zero" form of energy so that utilities can use it. Why isn't this happening?

The main reason is radical environmentalists want to end all natural gas and oil production, and force utilities and consumers to get our power and transportation fuels from unreliable and expensive wind and solar power. In pursuing this agenda, and moving away from the Trump pro-drilling policies, they are killing one of the cleanest forms of energy and costing the U.S. over $150 billion a year. For that amount of money, we could modernize every school in America.

Biden's strategy appears to put America last. This explains why gas prices are back up to $4 a gallon.

If we don't get smart and soon, those prices will be rising even more. Who benefits the most? Vladimir Putin and the Saudi oil sheikhs.


Spinning the myth of Global Warming for corporate gain

The myth of human-induced global warming has always been a mixture of scientific chicanery and businesses, seeking to leverage a competitive advantage over their rivals.

For scientists – at least those in the public sector – global warming provided the opportunity to be listened to by politicians and the public, to attend international gatherings, and be shown the respect they felt was previously lacking.

For businesses, the possibility of subsidies and imposts on rival suppliers was irresistible. Indeed, the nuclear industry was among the early proponents of the greenhouse myth, seeing it as an opportunity to ride renewable energy’s coattails and gain regulatory advantages over its fossil fuel competitors.

But the main commercial impetus came from the renewable industry, which was confident that the declining costs of the energy produced from wind farms and solar systems would fall over time, and eventually be cheaper than energy derived from coal and gas. All that was needed was a bit of a nudge from the government to get the technology over the edge.

That competitive price parity never came about. Agencies like CSIRO produce data, which indicates wind might be as cheap as coal. However, this can only be so if others build the transmission lines to get that wind power into the market, provide the balancing mechanisms within the electricity system to allow it to avoid disrupting the entire network, and, above all, supply the means by which it could be ‘firmed up’ by energy supplies not dependent on the wind and sun.

These costs rise exponentially with the forced increased penetration of renewables. A full renewable system is unfeasible at any cost.

The Australian Energy Market Operator, long supportive of the Net Zero agenda, is now alarmed by it and is calling for subsidies for transmission, subsidies that would increase the cost of the network from its current $23 billion to $100 billion. Similarly, to shore up supply the Victorian government is taking steps to subsidise coal generation that is becoming insolvent as a result of the subsidies to wind/solar that it supports.

An early estimate of the direct costs imposed by regulations and by budgetary support to renewables was a 2014 submission from the IPA to the 2014 Warburton review. This projected the annual costs by 2020 at $6-7 billion. The assessment was refined for the Australian Environment Foundation’s (AEF) response to the 2017 Finkel Review.

In his 2017 report, Finkel claimed that the transition to wind and solar PV ‘is reflected in a fall in their costs’ – even though wholesale prices doubled that year. The AEF compiled the support costs for 2016 at $4.9 billion.

The costs were updated to $6.9 billion for 2019, in a report commissioned by Senator Malcolm Roberts; that estimate was also published in Chapter 22 of Pinto et al Local Electricity Markets, Elsevier 2021.

Updated for price and budget changes, annual current renewable program costs are now over $10 billion

Initially greeted with hostility by vested interests, who recognised such analysis as a threat to their ongoing subsidies, recent reaction has been subdued. The methodology is followed by the Productivity Commission in its latest Trade and Assistance Review, though the Commission declines to put an aggregate value on the subsidies.

This cost is imposed at various points of the economy: on taxpayers and on electricity consumers but the major impact is upon the generation component – overwhelmingly on coal that formerly comprised 85 per cent of supply (and now comprises 63 per cent). Before the policies started to bite, national electricity generation cost less than $11 billion a year or about $40 per Megawatt hour. Contrary to ministerial statements, the coal supplying this remains both abundant and largely non-tradeable, while plant costs are fundamentally unchanged. Hence without government interference, coal-based generation supply would be less than half the $100 plus we pay today and to deliver it to customers, we could dispense with many of the additional system, subsidy, and transmission costs that we are incurring.

How have the costs and implications of policies designed to replace low-cost, controllable coal-generated electricity by high-cost intermittent wind and solar taken so long to be recognised and even now are officially judged to be affordable? More than anything else reversion to policies that provide cheap energy could drive the cost reductions and productivity increases are vital for increased wages. But while both the Business Council and Treasury, in its Intergenerational Report claim to understand this, their prescriptions involve subsidising energy sources (renewables, green hydrogen) that will raise costs.




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