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Category — Climate debate issues

Is the Environmental Movement Net CO2 Positive? (James Hansen wants to know)

“Has Big Environmentalism increased net CO2 emissions by retiring existing or discouraging new nuclear (and hydro) capacity that would have produced more kilowatt hours than that being generated by new wind and solar capacity? It is time to do the hard math. Let the games begin!”

James Hansen is an energy realist amid his climate alarmism. And fortunately, we can use the analysis of the former to debunk the politics of the latter. And even more fortunately, the physical science of man-made climate change is moving away from Hansen’s high-sensitivity estimates to “global lukewarming” (the analysis of Chip Knappenberger, Roy Spencer, John Christy, and others—seconded by the very influential Judith Curry in numerous blogs for the mainstream.

In his just released analysis, “Renewable Energy, Nuclear Power and Galileo: Do Scientists Have a Duty to Expose Popular Misconceptions?, Hansen once again speaks energy/political truth to Big Environmentalism. This is at least the fourth time he has done so.

Inconvenient Truths: 2009, 2011, 2012

 In 2009, Hansen eviscerated Big Green for supporting the Waxman-Markey cap-and-trade bill with the memorable words: [Read more →]

February 24, 2014   3 Comments

‘Climate Change’: Unpacking a Political Term (looking through the looking glass)

Climate Change. A term, which attempts to take the natural weather pattern and attribute it to the activities of humans. Heavily adopted recently for use to promote cave living, the idea that humans are a noxious virus on planet Earth, and the practice of greater separation between the rich and the poor. I know the weather pattern is natural and everything we’re experiencing now has been experienced before, but I still feel all warm, fuzzy knowing that electricity companies are responsible for Climate Change and are being taxed accordingly because of it.”

- Excerpt, UrbanDictionary.com (satirical).

A Wall Street Journal editorial earlier this month, “It Isn’t Climate Change”, makes a valid point that recent “polar vortex” of subzero temperatures in the Midwest, East Coast, and Southern U.S. is not “climate change.” But this begs the question: what is climate change?

The term is used with such vagueness that it could never be used in a scientific experiment to meet Karl Popper’s test of falsifiability. The term has been made so politically correct that it has become Orwellian doublespeak.

In elementary school I learned that areas of the world that once were tropical jungles are now deserts and vice versa. So there is “climate change.” That no one denies, not even so-called climate- change “deniers.” James Hansen, himself associated with the alarmist wing of climate science, made this point clearly: [Read more →]

January 15, 2014   18 Comments

Cooling Trends in Climate Model Credibility

“Given the current state of climate science, I don’t see evidence that these and other complex interacting factors stand a reasonable chance of being predicted, beyond what is possible through a basic understanding of historical variability.”

The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change recently released its first major global warming manifesto since 2007. Once again, the IPCC makes dramatic predictions of future warming and catastrophic consequences due to manmade carbon dioxide emissions. Typically, these predictions are reported as proven “findings” that have the same status as the readings of a thermometer.

But predictions are fundamentally different from measurements, and the more complex the system, the more difficult the prediction. The climate is a complicated combination of atmospheric, land, and ocean systems whose dynamics must be pieced together on scales from the size of a single cloud to wind streams spanning continents. Common sense should make us suspicious of any individual or group who claims a high degree of confidence in predicting it decades into the future–especially when that group doesn’t seem to acknowledge what kind of scientific breakthroughs would be necessary for such a task.

Industrial progress over the last 75 years has increased the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere from 0.03% to the current value of 0.04%. It is very difficult to determine the exact impact of this change as it melds into the swirl of constant natural variability of the climate system, including changes in the intensity of solar radiation, poorly understood short and long-term thermal phenomena in the oceans, changes in the growth trends of carbon dioxide-sucking vegetation, and fluctuating volcanic emissions. 

Given the current state of climate science, I don’t see evidence that these and other complex interacting factors stand a reasonable chance of being predicted, beyond what is possible through a basic understanding of historical variability.

[Read more →]

November 12, 2013   7 Comments

Climate Desperadoes: The Real ‘Deniers’ (Part I)

“The real climate change ‘deniers’ are the alarmists who deny that natural forces still dominate weather and climate events, and refuse to acknowledge that thousands of scientists do not agree with IPCC proclamations and prescriptions.”

The old saws of climate alarmism getting increasingly desperate and intolerant in the face of contrary theoretical evidence and empirical anomalies.

The ad hominem attacks seem strange. Shouldn’t all good citizens of the earth be buoyed by the fact that yet another Malthusian-like alarm is becoming more and more implausible?

Shrilling, If Not Shilling

Al Gore is in full attack model, employing his “Climate Reality Project” to “Draw the Line on Denial,” even as he laid off 90% of the staff at his “Alliance for Climate Protection.” Greenpeace has joined the fray, launching a “Dealing in Doubt” campaign that blames ExxonMobil for funding the “global warming denial machine.”

ClimateProgress.org blogger Joe Romm faithfully echoes Greenpeace hysterics and blame-casting, even though the climate cataclysm cabal outspends the “deniers” by at least $1,000 to $1, and ExxonMobil hasn’t supported ‘skeptic’ groups for years. [Read more →]

September 23, 2013   3 Comments

Is the Carbon Tax Seance Over? (A reality check for a trumped-up ‘conservative’ cause)

When asked if a carbon tax was preferable to EPA regulations on greenhouse gases, David Kreutzer, a research fellow with the Heritage Foundation who sat on yesterday’s panel, described the question as a trap.

It’s like asking me what’s the most humane way to execute innocent people …. When conservatives talk about a carbon tax, the headline says, “Conservative supports carbon tax,” So I’m not going to be drawn into this fantasy world where we speculate on what might happen when we know it won’t, when it gives people ammo to misrepresent what I said.

So no, a carbon tax is not preferable to EPA regulations.

- Evan Lehmann, “Conservatives Attack Each Other Over Carbon Tax Plans,” ClimateWire, July 18, 2013.

“[Ken] Green delighted his mostly conservative audience by comparing a carbon tax to a vampire who must be staked, beheaded and sprinkled over water — ‘preferably holy water’.”

- Jean Chemnick, “Panel Urges Conservatives to ‘Just Say No’ to Carbon Tax,” Energy & Environment Daily, July 18, 2013.

Last week, the Institute for Energy Research (IER) held a panel event in Washington, “A U.S. Carbon Tax: The Rest of the Story,” featuring four critics of such a levy:

Robert Murphy, Senior Economist, Institute for Energy Research

Ross McKitrick, Professor of Economics at the University of Guelph, Ontario;

Kenneth Green, Senior Director of Energy and Natural Resource Studies at the Fraser Institute; and

David Kreutzer, Research Fellow in Energy Economics and Climate Change, Heritage Foundation.

Opening Comments

I moderated the panel for IER (I am founder and CEO of the organization). My comments attempted to put the current tax debate in perspective: [Read more →]

July 22, 2013   4 Comments

‘The Greening of Planet Earth’ (the 1992 video, updated in 1998, needs another update)

“[M]any industry groups have maintained that putting carbon dioxide in the air would produce a general ‘greening’ of the planet. In fact, that’s the thesis of a famous 1992 video, “The Greening of Planet Earth,” which riled the environmental community more than just about anything else [because] … big-name scientists were willing to appear and argue that carbon dioxide will enhance global plant growth.”

- Patrick Michaels, Global Warming Produced a Greener, More Fruitful Planet, September 13, 2001.

Today, President Obama sounds the climate alarm and calls for more regulation of carbon dioxide (CO2). Throwing bad regulation after bad in the name of climate change is all about costs without commensurate benefits. Simple math shows that unilateral action by California or the U.S. or North American will not have a discernible influence on climate decades out.

With the “pause” of global warming, it is time to consider the non-temperature effects of higher, growing atmospheric concentrations of CO2. [Read more →]

June 25, 2013   7 Comments

The Free Market Energy Movement: Strong Theory, Rich History, Real-World Momentum

“It’s not unlawful to run an ad hominem presidency. It’s merely shameful. The great rhetorical specialty of this president has been his unrelenting attribution of bad faith to those who disagree with him. He acts on principle; they from the basest of instincts.”

- Charles Krauthammer, “There’s a Fly in My Soup,” Washington Post, May 23, 2013.

The alarmist/statist side of the energy/environmental debate is losing intellectually and now politically. The agenda of inferior energies simply cannot stand up to a combination of analytic failure, government failure, and real-world realities. The oil and gas boom … the cessation of global warming; improving air and water quality … alternative energy busts ….

And as the alarmists have become ever more argumentative and shrill, even (former) allies and sympathizers are seeing a quasi-religious, nonintellectual, even ugly aspect to the Climate Progress view of the world.

In short, climate alarmism and government-forced energy transformation is in real trouble.

Smears and Jeers: All You Got?

Guilt-by-association and ad hominem argumentation are in full force (as in a recent professor-versus politician debate on climate-change public policy). And so it was when Elliott Negin of the Union of Concerned Scientists portrayed the Institute for Energy Research (IER) and its advocacy arm, the American Energy Alliance (AEA), as “a front organization for the oil and gas industry.” His Huffington Post piece was titled: “Unreliable Sources: How the Media Help the Kochs and ExxonMobil Spread Climate Disinformation.”

I responded at IER’s website as follows: [Read more →]

June 7, 2013   1 Comment

Rex Tillerson (Exxon Mobil) on Climate Change (energy/climate realism trumps alarmism)

At the May 29, 2013, annual meeting of Exxon Mobil in Dallas, CEO Rex Tillerson adroitly responded to questions concerning the human influence on climate and energy choices in light of climate science. His points? The science is uncertain as to the magnitude of change; there has not been warming in the last decade; and fossil fuels are necessary for the masses, particularly the energy poor. As he asked a questioner:

How do you want to deal with that great social challenge to what good is it to save the planet if humanity suffers in the process of those efforts when you don’t know exactly what your impacts are going to be?

Friendly Floor Comments

Some statements from the floor were friendly. “It’s funny,” said one. “You have helped to find enough oil and gas in this country so that the protestors here [could] leave their heated and air conditioned homes and fly and drive here so they can protest the way Exxon runs their business.” Said another:

We wish to commend the company’s management in this regard for not surrendering and for standing up for what not only is good for this company but quite literally to the United States itself. We urge our fellow shareholders to stand up for liberty lower taxes, government accountability and free markets….

In this regard, Tillerson did not state any need or preference for a unilateral U.S. carbon dioxide emissions tax (carbon tax) as a way to address emissions. Resting his case on climate realism, he defused a controversy and made his opponents look like a fringe, religious group in the court of public opinion.

Climate Views

These comments (emphasis added) are taken from the entire transcript of the May 29th meeting. [Read more →]

June 4, 2013   5 Comments

Rice’s Baker Institute Climate Embarrassment (Sass’s ad hominem response to Rep. Smith)

“The Baker Institute has some truing up to do in the multi-disciplinary field of climate change. Playing to its strengths, Rice University and Baker should host its third climate conference, titled something like ‘New Developments in the Physical Science of Climate Change.’

[Professor] Ronald Sass in his recent op-ed called for an ‘open, national debate on climate change.’ May Rice University and the Baker Institute lead the way.”

The Houston Chronicle this week ran opposing opinion-page editorials on the climate-change issue, one by Lamar Smith of the U.S. House of Representatives and the other by Ronald Sass, Fellow in Global Climate Change at Rice University’s James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy.

Politician Smith politely makes multi-disciplinary arguments assuming the best intentions of his opponents. Academic Sass goes ad hominem on the Keystone XL pipeline issue and refers vaguely to a scientific consensus for his position.

This, unfortunately, is not atypical. Under gatekeeper Neal Lane, the Baker Institute has refused to allow fair, open debate about natural versus anthropogenic climate forces and has championed sky-is-falling government activism. For example, Lane/Baker:

  1. Killed publication of the proceedings of a fair climate-change conference held in 2000 with, for example, Patrick Michaels and James Hansen participating;
  2. Held a high-priced, widely publicized, assume-alarmist-science conference in 2008, Beyond Science: The Economics and Politics of Responding to Climate Change, featuring John Kerry and John Holdren.
  3. Refused to host a climate forum/debate in 2010 between Gerald North (Texas A&M) and Richard Lindzen (MIT), which ended up being co-sponsored by Rice’s Shell Center for Sustainability and the Center for the Study of Environment and Society.

Given Rice University’s prominence in the physical science fields, it is time to update developments in climate science to build upon their 2000 conference and correct their 2008 conference. But will Neal Lane admit to the current “stand-still” (Hansen) and “pause” in warming? Will he acknowledge what Georgia Tech’s Judith Curry calls “new perspectives on climate sensitivity“?  One hopes so for every good reason. [Read more →]

May 31, 2013   8 Comments

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   4 Comments