Category — Climate Change
Draft National Assessment on Climate Change: Politicization of the Scientific Method ("1,200 horror-studded pages … of pseudoscience")
“The draft assessment continue[s] to miss the positive externalities associated with climate change, like the fact that we have doubled our life spans in societies that were largely powered by fossil fuels that have slightly raised mean global temperature.
Doubling the lifespan of, say, two billion people, is equivalent to saving one billion lives. This dwarfs any negative effects of climate change. Me, I’ll take 85 quality years versus 43 with a price of one degree Celsius, which I can counter simply by moving from the city into the burbs.”
- Patrick Michaels (et al), Cato Institute Center for the Study of Science, “The Missing Science from the Draft National Assessment on Climate Change,” April 15, 2013.
“Power corrupts; absolute power corrupts absolutely,” Lord Acton wrote in 1887. The current scandals in Washington, DC remind the entire political spectrum about how dangerous concentrated power is with THE institution that possesses a legal monopoly on the initiation of force.
Power has corrupted Big Government Climate Science too. In our country, Exhibit A is the multi-agency U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP) whose periodic reports on the impact of manmade climate change on America are one-sided alarmism with policy activism and bigger budgets being the goal. Reports issued in 2000 and 2009 will be joined by a third report this year.
The Cato’s relatively new Center for the Study of Science submitted formal comments on the draft report last month. Some of the more salient criticisms of politicized science are reprinted below.
The USGCRP report is due out later this year. Will the draft report be altered to reflect the other side of the peer-reviewed (and Internet-corrected) science? The answer is just months away. [Read more →]
May 21, 2013 3 Comments
“No matter whose carbon dioxide emissions estimate is used, the climate impact of the oil transported by the pipeline is too small to measure or carry any physical significance. In deciding the fate of the Keystone XL pipeline, it is important not to let symbolism cloud these facts.” 
Climate change results from a variety of factors, both human and natural. The primary concern raised over the pipeline involves the carbon dioxide emissions that will result from the production and use of the oil that the pipeline will carry. It is the potential climate change from these emissions that will be the focus of my testimony.
In its Draft Environmental Impact Statement, the State Department finds, and I think that there is broad agreement on this point, that a barrel of oil produced from the Canadian tar sands carries about a 17 percent carbon dioxide emissions premium compared to the average barrel of oil finding its way into the U.S. market.
Disagreement: EPA vs. State Department
The disagreement between the State Department, the Environmental Protection Agency, and several environmental groups, involves how many new carbon dioxide emissions this 17 percent premium results in when considering the 830,000 barrels of oil that the pipeline will carry each day when operating at full capacity. [Read more →]
May 8, 2013 1 Comment
“‘Environmentalism is properly the ideology of controlling everything, which is called totalitarianism.’ Thankfully, it is difficult to squash human ingenuity, and industrialization will be a hard beast to slay, though it is neither impossible nor even complicated.”
While debate still swirls around climate change, recent reporting shows the debate’s hot and cold episodes cycle pretty in tune with changes in weather. Perhaps it will help to stand back and take a broad view.
Climate realists have long been aware that global average surface temperature had stopped sometime around 2000, and even a few years before. Lately alarmists had to admit it. The period with no warming is now as long as was period of warming on which fears were based—17 years according to a leaked draft of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) Fifth Assessment Report (AR5)—despite continued rise of atmospheric carbon-dioxide concentration.
Observed global average temperatures (GAT) are, in fact, below IPCC’s 2007 Assessment Report’s lowest—and most confident—temperature predictions. The new view in the leaked AR5 shows a complete reversal of the AR4 view, which still touted catastrophic, anthropogenic global warming.
Prominent climate alarmists had to respond. Some, like Michael “Hockey-Stick” Mann, remain stalwart. Others, like James Hansen, first admitted the global temperature standstill was real, then, in what may have been a faux pas, said the lack of increased warming was due to an increase in global coal consumption.
IPCC Chairman Rajendra Pachauri acknowledged the “stalled” climate trend but employed the usual alarmist tactic and asked for more time to prove his predictions, thus kicking the can forty years down the road. [Read more →]
April 18, 2013 11 Comments
“As the level of scientific understanding is increasing, so too is the level of understanding that global warming probably isn’t going to be overly harmful to our health and welfare. Consider … the Gallup question ‘Do you think that global warming will pose a serious threat to you or your way of life in your lifetime?’ … Since 2008, an increasing percentage of respondents (64% in the latest poll) have answered ‘no’.”
Every so often the pollsters at Gallup gather information about Americans’ feelings about global warming. They have a new release. And while each new set of numbers is perhaps interesting on its own, the real insight comes from seeing how attitudes have changed over time. And from the historical trends, it appears that more and more Americans are becoming global lukewarmers–as they should be, given the evidence.
The percentage of American’s polled that worry “a great deal” or “a fair amount” about global warming tends to bounce around based on current events (Figure 1: click for clarity). In the past decade, for example, there was a rise in “worry” from 2006–2008 corresponding to hurricane Katrina and Gore’s push of “An Inconvenient Truth.” [Read more →]
April 16, 2013 6 Comments
“Government interventions are problematic, so intervene only when the case is fully proven.”
- Margaret Thatcher, Statecraft: Strategies for a Changing World. New York: HarperCollins, 2002, p. 453.
“An Inconvenient Truth About Margaret Thatcher: She Was a Climate Hawk,” declares Will Oremus in Slate. In “The Iron Lady’s Strong Stance on Climate Change” (Daily Climate, reposted at Climate Progress), author Douglas Fischer notes “how seriously [Margaret Thatcher] viewed the threat of climate change and the robustness, more than 20 years ago, of climate science and United Nations body tasked with assessing state of that science.”
True, UK Prime Minister Thatcher was the first and most important international figure to champion the cause of climate alarmism. But the above authors conveniently stop their discussion with her pronouncements in the early 1990s. For possessing an open mind, and coming to see the climate propaganda machine in action, she changed her mind quickly and completely. And the last 20 years gave her little reason to doubt her skepticism.
Early Alarmism (1988–93)
Thatcher “broke quite new political ground,” in her words, by “speaking ominously on climate change to the Royal Society (U.K. Academy of Science) in September 1988, just several months after James Hansen’s U.S. Senate testimony on the same subject. 
“It is possible … we have unwittingly begun a massive experiment with the system of this climate itself,” she said.  This would require more, not less, government “for energy production, for fuel efficiency, for reforestation,” she concluded.  [Read more →]
April 11, 2013 9 Comments
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) recently published a report urging the world’s governments to “reform” energy subsidies estimated at $1.9 trillion in 2011. Eliminating government policies designed to rig markets in favor of particular energy companies or industries is a worthy goal. Unfortunately, that’s not the agenda the IMF is pushing.
The IMF seeks to shame U.S. policymakers into enacting a carbon tax. Assuming $25 per ton as the “social cost of carbon” (SCC), the IMF claims the U.S. massively subsidizes coal, gas, and oil — simply by not taxing the carbon content of fuels. Our total energy subsidy is estimated to be $502 billion a year, making America the world’s biggest energy subsidizer!
Not Taxing = Subsidizing?
Some may find the IMF’s terminology counter-intuitive, even Orwellian — as if not taxing carbon is a subsidy on a par with cash payments to politically-preferred companies or industries funded at direct taxpayer or ratepayer expense. If we consider just those wealth transfers accomplished by specific acts of government intervention, fossil fuels are among the least subsidized energies in the U.S.
According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), in 2010, federal energy subsidies (including cash grants, targeted tax breaks, R&D support, and preferential loans) totaled $37.1 billion. Renewables ($14.674 billion), end-use subsidies such as LIHEAP ($8.241 billion), and conservation programs ($6.597 billion) received substantially more than coal ($1.358 billion), natural gas and petroleum liquids ($2.820 billion), and nuclear power ($2.499 billion).
More pertinently, observes the Institute for Energy Research, per unit of energy produced, subsidies for renewable energy vastly exceed those for fossil fuels. In the electric sector, for example, ”solar is being subsidized by over 1200 times more than coal and oil and natural gas electricity production, and wind is being subsidized over 80 times more than the more conventional fossil fuels on a unit of production basis.”
Source: IER (based on EIA data)
Carbon-taxers disclaim any intent to pick energy-market winners and losers, but that is in fact the core function of a carbon tax. As with cap-and-trade, the policy objective is to handicap fossil energy and, thereby, ”finally make renewable energy the profitable kind of energy in America,” as President Obama charmingly put it. [Read more →]
April 9, 2013 8 Comments
“Our real manmade climate crisis takes four closely related forms…. Influence peddling…. Politicized science, markets, and ethics… Climate eco-imperialism that impoverishes and kills…. Ready-made excuses for incompetence.”
In his first address as Secretary of State, John Kerry said we must safeguard “the most sacred trust” we owe to our children and grandchildren: “an environment not ravaged by rising seas, deadly superstorms, devastating droughts, and the other hallmarks of a dramatically changing climate.”
But hyperbole is getting stale even for a politician. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and British Meteorological Office now recognize that average global temperatures haven’t budged in almost 17 years. Little evidence suggests that sea level rise, storms, droughts or other weather and climate events or trends display any statistically significant difference from what Earth and mankind have experienced over the last 100-plus years. So Mr. Kerry’s dire warnings are on thin polar ice.
The middle-of-the-road view, in fact, is shifting toward global lukewarming, as Chip Knappenberger has documented at MasterResource. And courageous climatologists such as Judith Curry are asking the hard questions that are redefining the mainstream.
However, we do face imminent climate disasters. Global warming is the greatest moral issue of our time. We must do all we can to prevent looming climate catastrophes.
But those cataclysms have nothing to do with alleged human contributions to planetary climate systems that have always been chaotic, unpredictable and often disastrous: ice ages, little ice ages, dust bowls, droughts and monster storms that ravaged and sometimes even toppled cities and civilizations. [Read more →]
March 4, 2013 9 Comments
”While we await global temperatures to start rising again, there are signs that the overall rise won’t be as fast as we have once been led to believe…. [A] future characterized by modest rather than extreme climate change elevates the role of adaptation relative to mitigation in most discussions.”
As global temperatures in 2012 further cement a modest warming rate in response to anthropogenic climate influences, the light burns ever brighter for the “lukewarmers”—those intrepid souls who accept that human activities are impacting the character of the world’s climate, but hold the opinion that, when taken together, these influences are–and will be–relatively modest.
While lukewarmers’ individual opinions of whether or how to do “something” about anthropogenic climate change vary, a future characterized by modest rather than extreme climate change elevates the role of adaptation relative to mitigation in most discussions.
A year ago, in this space, I highlighted some positive lukewarmer developments in 2011. These included findings that the observed temperature trends over (and within) the past 3 decades are lower than climate model projections and that the climate sensitivity—that is, how much the average global temperature will rise under conditions of a doubled atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide—has likely been overestimated.
Here, I review some significant events from 2012. Many continue these same themes. I am sure that there are others that did not make my list. If your favorite is not here, please feel free to include a brief description of it in the Comments section below.
Temperatures in 2012
First, let’s have a look at the global average temperature for 2012. [Read more →]
February 4, 2013 11 Comments
In the wake of “Superstorm” Sandy, the political spin and distractions reached hurricane proportions. “It’s global warming, stupid,” declared Bloomberg BusinessWeek after monster winds and waves pounded New York and New Jersey. This storm should “compel all elected leaders to take immediate action” on climate change, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg claimed.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo added:
Anyone who says there’s no change in weather patterns is denying reality. The storms we’ve experienced in the last year or so are much more severe than before.
Former New Jersey Governor Christine Todd Whitman echoed:
We’ve had two 100-year storms in 14 months in this state, with a couple of nor’easters thrown in between for good measure. The climate is changing, whether people want to talk about it or not.”
And just when you think politicians could not get any worse, there is Chuck Schumer (D-NY). In 2006, he complained:
Allstate is the poster child for terrible corporate citizenship. They won’t write new policies for fear of hurricanes, when the odds of a severe hurricane hitting New York City is one in every 500 years.”
As Sandy wreaked its havoc, Schumer went into spin mode. “We want NOAA to keep it classified as a tropical storm, to save homeowners in New York and Long Island thousands of dollars,” he said, given that “Hurricane” Sandy would trigger higher deductibles. [Read more →]
January 31, 2013 13 Comments
“More than 7,000 environmental NGO activists attended the Doha confab … won’t forget who sent them…. They and the official delegates will be there [next time] for specific objectives: more money, more power, more control.”
The eighteenth Conference of Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (COP-18) has ended. It was the latest chapter in the interminable negotiations over wealth redistribution and control of energy use and economic growth – in the name of preventing “dangerous manmade global warming.” Next year in Warsaw!
For people who believe humans can prevent “catastrophic climate change” by adjusting atmospheric carbon dioxide levels by a few parts per million – or are determined to crave control of “destructive” fossil fuels and “unsustainable” economic systems – Doha was a failure.
Only 37 of 194 nations signed the treaty that replaces the Kyoto Protocol, which expires December 31 – and several countries may withdraw their consent. That means the new agreement is legally non-binding and covers only at best 15% of global carbon dioxide emissions.
While the European Union joined in and remains committed to “carbon trading” (making former UNFCC chair Yvo DeBoer happy in his new role as a carbon trader, á la Al Gore), the United States, Brazil, Russia, India, China, Canada, Japan and other major emitters refused to sign, and the new treaty sets no binding emission limits. Atmospheric CO2 levels will thus continue to climb – and climate campaigners will remain distraught over allegedly disastrous weather events, imminent habitat devastation, species extinctions, injustice for the world’s poor, and the disappearance of island nations beneath the waves.
For those who say computer models are meaningless, climate change and weather extremes are natural, and economic growth should be sustained to lift more billions out of poverty – Doha represents a partial success. Few nations signed the treaty, even the Obama Administration did not commit to it, the document is not binding, and countless billions of dollars will be available for continued economic development and disaster relief – instead of being squandered on fruitless attempts to control Earth’s infinitely complex climate and weather. [Read more →]
December 31, 2012 3 Comments