Friday, March 23, 2018

The Flawed Methodology Behind Studies Measuring the Cost of Climate Change

Many prominent studies used by the federal government to measure the costs of climate change rely on a flawed methodology that incorporates faulty economic models and fails to account for human adaption, according to a new report.

A new report released by the Manhattan Institute, a domestic policy and urban affairs think tank, sheds light on how the doom and gloom climate change scenarios painted by the federal government and those in academia are actually the result of  "laughably bad economics."

For instance, a study conducted by researchers from Stanford University and the University of California, Berkeley estimated that countries such as Mongolia would experience unbridled economic growth because of climate change, resulting in the average Mongolian earning four times more than the average American by 2100.

The Manhattan Institute's report, written by Oren Cass, outlines how studies attempting to gauge the economic and social costs of climate change are inherently speculative. Cass, a former domestic policy director for the Romney campaign, explains these studies require the difficult translation of forecasted temperature increases into measurable effects on weather, such as rising sea tides. Those effects must then be translated into societal impacts, such as depleted freshwater sources, which must be further translated to determine fiscal impact.

This process results in the over-reliance on statistics analyzing variations in temperature, and it creates a correlation-based approach rather than one based on causation.

The linking of rising temperatures to increased mortality rates and lower economic output, on the basis of historical correlations, is flawed and provides results that vastly exceed those "from more traditional analyses of climate change's expected effects on the physical world."

The aforementioned Berkley-Stanford study found warm countries experienced lower economic growth in abnormally warm years, while cold countries experienced higher levels of growth. The economic model designed by the California academics concluded unmitigated climate change would decrease gross domestic product (GDP) by more than 20 percent by 2100. The study did not take into account a country's existing resources, but rather only drew estimations by looking at the "historical relationship between temperature and a country's economic output."

The authors of the Berkley-Stanford study did not return requests from the Washington Free Beacon for comment.

Cass notes studies that rely upon historical correlations to portray dystopian consequences have become increasingly ascendant in the ever-polarizing conversation on climate change. "These studies have gained rapidly in prominence," Cass wrote. "They now account for the overwhelming share of costs in climate assessments."

In his report, Cass also offers a searing indictment of studies conducted by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Government Accountability Office (GAO), citing the often made mistake of not accounting for the variable of human adaption. While Cass himself notes that human adaption is difficult to predict, the willful avoidance of it by climatologists casts doubt on the accuracy of their doomsday-like prognostications.

A study conducted by the EPA in 2015 attempted to estimate the number of heat-related mortalities that will result from climate change-related temperature increases. The study, incorporating data from 33 cities across the United States, operated under the assumption that a day considered unusually hot in 2000 will cause a similar mortality rate in 2100. The study projected that abnormally warm weather in northern cities by 2100 will result in nearly 12,000 heat-related deaths annually.

Cass notes the EPA study does not, however, account for the fact that "southern cities such as Phoenix, Houston, and New Orleans, were already hotter in 2000 than northern cities are predicted to be in 2100." The EPA's predicted heat-related mortality rates in 2100 for northern cities is nearly 50 times higher than the actual heat-related mortality rates that southern cities experienced in 2000.

The EPA study estimates that by 2100, climate change will cost the U.S. economy between $1.3 trillion and $1.5 trillion annually. As Cass notes, at least 89 percent of this sum was derived from economic models utilizing temperature studies that do not account for human adaption and blend the line between correlation and causation.

The Manhattan Institute report finds attempts to extrapolate future costs from present realities, often without taking into account a region's ability to adapt to changing temperatures, lead to "absurd estimates."

The irony, Cass points out, is studies that attempt to understand the qualitative costs of climate change often–however inadvertently–fail to account for future change and adaption.


In the courtroom

CHEVRON WOULD LIKE you to know that it believes in climate change. It also believes people cause it by burning carbon-based fuel—the kind Chevron extracts from the ground, refines, and sells. In fact, Chevron believes all this so hard that today its lawyer said so, in a federal court in San Francisco. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change? Yup. They’re right.

That’s not as up-is-down as it might sound; Chevron representatives have said as much before. The follow-up questions, though, will be the tricky part. Because what was at stake in that courtroom was not whether the effects of climate change—sea level rise, ocean acidification, weather extremes, wildfires, disease outbreaks—are people’s fault. It was whether a lawsuit could show that specific effects (floods) are specific people’s fault. Specifically, the people at Chevron.

...and BP and ExxonMobil, because San Francisco and Oakland are suing those companies for money to build seawalls and other protective infrastructure. The idea isn’t just that petrochemical transnationals extract, produce, and sell the fuel that puts carbon into the atmosphere. It’s that they knew that was bad, kept doing it anyway, and cut ads and marketing that tried to convince people it wasn’t a problem.

But before they could really dig into that, the judge in the case, William Alsup, asked for what he termed a “tutorial.” On March 6, he sent the lawyers on both sides a list of nine questions digging into the basic history and science of climate change (Number two: What is the molecular difference by which CO2 absorbs infrared radiation but oxygen and nitrogen do not?), with a special eye on sea level rise. Which is as odd as it sounds.

Outside the usual procedural kabuki of the courtroom, the truth is no one really knew what to expect from this court-ordered “tutorial.” For a culture based in large measure on precedent, putting counsel and experts in a room to hash out climate change for a trial—putting everyone on the record, in federal court, on what is and is not true about climate science—was literally unprecedented.

What Alsup got might not have been a full on PowerPoint-powered preview of the trial. But it did reveal a lot about the styles and conflicts inherent in the people who produce the carbon and the people who study it.

The other petrochemists put forth Theodore Boutrous, an AC-130 gunship of a lawyer who among other things got the US Supreme Court to overturn the California law against same-sex marriage. Here, retained specifically by Chevron, Boutrous argued what seemed to be climate change’s chapter-and-verse. He extolled the virtues of the several IPCC reports, 2013 most recently, and quoted them liberally. Boutrous talked about how the reports’ conclusions have gotten more and more surefooted about “anthropogenic” causes of climate change—it’s people!—and outcomes like sea level rise. “From Chevron’s perspective, there’s no debate about climate science,” Boutrous said. “Chevron accepts what this scientific body—scientists and others—what the IPCC has reached consensus on.”

Still, over the course of the morning, Boutrous nevertheless tried to neg the IPCC in two specific ways. One was a classic: He challenged the models that climate scientists use to attempt to predict the future. These computer models, Boutrous said, are “increasingly complex. That can make the modeling more powerful.” But with great power comes great potential wrongness. “Because it’s an attempt to represent things in the real world, the complexity can bring more risk.” He assured the court that Chevron agreed with the IPCC approach—posting up a slide pulled from an IPCC report that showed the multicolored paths of literally hundreds of models, using different emissions scenarios and essentially describing the best case and worst case (and a bunch of in-between cases). It looked like a blast of fireworks emerging from observed average temperature, headed chaotically up and to the right.

So here comes the crux of the thing—a question not of whether climate change is real, but whether you can ascribe blame for it. Leaning heavily on more IPCC quotes, Boutrous showed slides and statistics saying that climate change is a global problem that doesn’t differentially affect the West Coast of North America and isn’t caused by any one emitter. Or even any one source of emissions. Anthropogenic emissions are driven by things like population size, economic activities, lifestyle, energy use, land use patterns, and technology and climate policy, according to the IPCC. “The IPCC does not say it’s the extraction and production of oil,” Boutrous said. “It’s economic activity that creates the demand for energy and that leads to emissions.”

If that seems a little bit like the “guns don’t kill people; people kill people” of petrochemical capitalism, well, Judge Alsup did start the morning by saying today was a day for science, not politics.

So what knives did the representatives of the state of California bring to this oil-fight? Here’s where style is interesting. California didn’t front lawyers. For the science tutorial, the municipalities fronted scientists—people who’d been first authors on chapters in the IPCC reports from which Boutrous quoted, and one who’d written a more recent US report and a study of sea level rise in California. They knew their stuff and could answer all of Judge Alsup’s questions … but their presentations were more like science conference fodder than well-designed rhetoric.

For example, Myles Allen, leader of the Climate Research Program at the University of Oxford, gave a detailed, densely-illustrated talk on the history and science of climate change...but he also ended up in an extended back and forth with Alsup about whether Svante Arrhenius’ 1896 paper hypothesizing that carbon dioxide in Earth’s atmosphere warmed the planet explicitly used the world “logarithmic." Donald Wuebbles, an atmospheric scientist at the University of Illinois and co-author of the Nobel Prize-winning 2007 IPCC report, mounted a grim litany of all the effects scientists can see, today, of climate, but Alsup caught him up asking for specific things he disagreed with Boutrous on—a tough game since Boutrous was just quoting the IPCC.

Then Alsup and Wuebbles took a detour into naming other renewable power sources besides solar and wind. “Nuclear would not put out any CO2, right? We might get some radiation as we drive by, but maybe in retrospect we should have taken a hard look at nuclear?” Alsup interrupted. “No doubt solar is good where you can use it, but do you really think it could be a substitute for supplying the amount of power America used in the last 30 years?”

“I think solar could be a significant factor of our energy future,” Wuebbles said. “I don’t think there’s any one silver bullet.”

In part, one might be tempted to put some blame on Alsup here. You might remember him from such trials as Uber v. Waymo, where he asked for a similar tutorial on self-driving car technology. Or from Oracle v. Google, a trial for which Alsup taught himself a little of the programming language Java so he’d understand the case better. Or from his intercession against the Trump administration’s attempt to cancel the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, protecting the immigration status of so-called Dreamers. “He’s kind of quirky and not reluctant to do things kind of outside the box,” said Deborah Sivas, Director of the Environmental and Natural Resource Law & Policy Program at Stanford Law School. “And I think he sees this as a precedent-setting case, as do the lawyers.”

It’s possible, then, to infer that Alsup was doing more than just getting up to speed on climate change on Wednesday. The physics and chemistry are quite literally textbook, and throughout the presentations he often seemed to know more than he was letting on. He challenged chart after chart incisively, and often cut in on history. When Allen brought up Roger Revelle’s work showing that oceans couldn’t absorb carbon—at least, not fast enough to stave off climate change, Alsup interrupted.

“Is it true that Revelle initially thought the ocean would absorb all the excess, and that he came to this buffer theory a little later?” Alsup asked.

“You may know more of this history than I do,” Allen said.

But on the other hand, some of what the litigators seemed to not know sent the scientists in the back in literal spasms. When Boutrous couldn’t answer Alsup’s questions about the specific causes of early 20th-century warming (presumably before the big industrial buildup of the 1950s), Allen and Wuebbles, sitting just outside the gallery, clenched fists and looked like they were having to keep from shouting out the answer. Later, Alsup acknowledged that he’d watched An Inconvenient Truth to prepare, and Boutrous said he had, too.

All of which makes it hard to tell whether bringing scientists to this table was the right move. And maybe that has been the problem all along. The interface where utterly flexible law and policy moves against the more rigid statistical uncertainties of scientific observation has always been contested space. The practitioners of both arts seem foreign to each other; the cultural mores differ.

Maybe that’s what this “tutorial” was meant for. As Sivas says, the facts aren’t really in doubt here. Or rather, most of them aren’t, and maybe Alsup will use today as a kind of discovery process, a way to crystalize the difference between uncertainty in science and uncertainty under the law. “That’s what judges do. They decide the credibility of one expert over another,” Sivas says. “That doesn’t mean it’s scientific truth. It means it’s true as a legal claim.”

Now things might get even more real. If a court attaches culpability for sea level rise in California to petrochemical companies, that might establish causation for a planet’s worth of damage, any disaster someone can plausibly connect to climate change. That’s wildfires, drought, more intense hurricanes. Attribute it to climate, and it could attribute all the way to fossil fuel companies’ bank accounts.


Trump’s EPA Chief says Open Debate about Climate Change is still on

It was “absolutely false” the White House shot down plans for a public debate on global warming science, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt said Monday.

“Don’t believe everything you read,” Pruitt told The Daily Caller News Foundation.

White House chief of staff John Kelly [NOT the EPA] “killed” the effort before any public announcements could be made, The New York Times reported March 9. Kelly “considered the idea ‘dead’ and not to be discussed further,” White House officials said at a mid-December 2017 meeting, The Times reported.

White House officials derailed a public red-blue team exercise, while they suggested alternate routes, an E&E News follow up report claimed. The exercise has indeed “evolved,” Pruitt told TheDCNF.

“The red team, blue team exercise has evolved a little bit,” Pruitt explained to TheDCNF. “We’ve been working diligently over the last several months to determine the best way forward to encourage this open, honest, transparent debate about these very important issues. The American people deserve that, frankly, they deserve it.”

“If some believe that CO2 poses an existential threat to mankind, they think it’s more important than North Korea — they do, don’t they?” Pruitt asked. “If that’s the case, I want to know it.”

“Let us make sure that there’s an honest discussion about that,” Pruitt continued. “Let’s go into this and actually have an open mind about what we know and what we don’t know. That’s something we’re working on, we’ll continue to work on, and preferably have some answers on that soon as well.”

Pruitt suggested a red-blue team-style exercise to debate climate science last year, echoing former Obama Energy Department official Steven Koonin, who advocated for such an exercise in The Wall Street Journal.

The military uses red-blue team exercises to expose vulnerabilities in strategic plans. President Donald Trump embraced Pruitt’s call for such debates, according to reports, as well as scientists skeptical of catastrophic global warming.

Scientists claiming to be part of the “consensus” and environmentalists oppose red-blue team debates, arguing they will be used to discredit climate science.

Pruitt did not go into detail on how exactly the red-blue team exercise had “evolved,” but E&E’s report suggested EPA could take comments on the endangerment finding.

White House officials told EPA staffers they could review the 2009 endangerment finding, taking public comments on the state of climate science, E&E reported. The endangerment finding was issued under the Obama administration and gives EPA legal cover to regulate greenhouse gas emissions.

In fact, Pruitt had concerns over how the Obama administration finalized the 2009 endangerment finding so quickly, utilizing United Nations assessments instead of EPA-generated studies, he said. “I think the process most definitely was a process that was abused,” Pruitt told TheDCNF.

“Anytime that this agency, or any agency, that would go to a third party, like the UN — in that case the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change — and took the work product of the IPCC and then transferred it to this agency and used that as the basis by which the decision was made, that’s a breach of process, in my view,” Pruitt added.

The George W. Bush administration began the endangerment finding in 2008 but dragged its feet, allowing the Obama administration to take it up in 2009 and quickly turn around a finding carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases threatened public health.

Conservative groups have petitioned Pruitt to reconsider the endangerment finding, citing reports from independent researchers arguing global warming is overblown and relies on flawed climate models.

Pruitt did not say whether or not he would reconsider the finding but tied the matter to the larger issue of transparency in science EPA relies on to issue regulations.

“I think what’s important there — and that’s what drives this discussion that I’ve been focused on over the last four or five or six months on ensuring that there’s an objective, transparent discussion on what do we know and what don’t we know with respect to CO2,” Pruitt said.

“How do we know what the ideal surface temperature should be in the year 2100, looking out 82 plus years, right? It’s a fair question, right? Particularly if you’re basing policy on it now,” Pruitt noted.


Contra Climate Alarmists, Tuvaluans’ Homes Secure As Island Nation Grows

Climate alarmists have hyped the Pacific Island nation of Tuvalu as a prime example of the dangers posed by rising sea levels caused by anthropogenic climate change. They warn Tuvalu’s islands will soon be underwater, creating thousands of climate refugees. Science is once again confounding the alarming climate projections: new research published in the journal Nature Communications shows Tuvalu is actually growing as sea levels rise.

Researchers from the University of Auckland used aerial photographs and satellite imagery to examine changes in Tuvalu’s nine atolls and 101 reef islands between 1971 and 2014. They found eight of the nine atolls and 75 percent of the islands grew during the time period, increasing Tuvalu’s land area by 2.9 percent. Among other factors, the researchers found wave patterns and sediment dumped by storms seem to be more than offsetting the rising sea levels, adding to Tuvalu’s land base.

According to coauthor Paul Kench, Ph.D., a coastal geomorphologist, the researchers’ findings indicate Tuvaluans should be planning for a long-term future on the islands instead of preparing to migrate in flight from rising seas.

“We tend to think of Pacific atolls as static landforms that will simply be inundated as sea levels rise, but there is growing evidence these islands are geologically dynamic and are constantly changing,” Kench said. “The study findings may seem counter-intuitive, given that (the) sea level has been rising in the region over the past half century, but the dominant mode of change over that time on Tuvalu has been expansion, not erosion. … [As a result,] loss of land is unlikely to be a factor in forcing depopulation of Tuvalu.”


Australia: Greens claim Dutton has ‘racist’ views on white Sth African farmers

The Green/Left run over with sympathy for disadvantaged minorities -- unless the minority is white.  In that case no abuse is off the table towards anybody who wants to help the minority concerned

The Greenie spokesman said minister Dutton is racist for wanting to rescue endangered white farmders in South Africa while making no effort to help the Rohingya.  But the Rohingya are largely illiterate Muslims and nobody wants them.  Even in their ancestral homeland of Bangladesh nobody wants them

Liberal Democrats leader David Leyonhjelm has slammed comments from Greens senator Nick McKim, who claimed that the Liberal Party “still has a White Australia policy”, and accused Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton of being “racist”, “fascist” and “regurgitating speaking points from neo-Nazis”.

Mr Dutton has sparked controversy and diplomatic tensions when he last week argued the “persecuted” farmers needed help from a “civilised country” like Australia, following disturbing reports of extreme violence, land theft and murders.

Senator Leyonhjelm said Senator McKim was “living in the past”.

“South Africa used to be a thoroughly obnoxious, racist society,” he told Sky News.

“I lived there for a little while and I saw it. It was totally abhorrent, but it’s not any more, and it’s a multicultural society, it’s not racist at all, it has an anti-racist constitution, and yet here we have a group of people who are being persecuted, murdered, chucked off their farms because they are white.

“That is racism. That is plain and simple racism. The fact that the racism used to work the other way 20-odd years ago does not justify racism in the opposite direction today.  “(Nick McKim) is totally up the creek on this whole issue.”

Greens leader Richard Di Natale meanwhile defended Senator McKim.  “What we do know is he certainly holds, I think, racist views,” Senator Di Natale said.

“We’ve got 700,000 people fleeing the border from Myanmar to Bangladesh at the moment, this crisis that is the ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya people, and yet what does Peter Dutton say about any of those things?

“He doesn’t say anything about the crisis in Myanmar, no, he goes in to bat for South African farmers. What’s the difference here? The difference is that they are white and that the other communities who are suffering, and we’re talking about an ethnic cleansing in Myanmar right now, that they’re not white.”

Asked whether he believed it was reasonable to suggest the Liberal Party “still has a White Australia policy”, Senator McKim stuck by his claim. “Absolutely. It’s naked, and it’s transparent and it’s out in the open,” Senator McKim told Sky News.

“I mean basically we’ve got Peter Dutton who is regurgitating speaking points from neo-Nazi or Nazi or fundamentalist white nationalist websites around the world who are now out there bragging that they’ve captured Peter Dutton and they’re very happy that he’s repeating the speaking points that they’ve been putting on their websites,” he said.

“You’ve got Mr Dutton and others supporting him now nakedly and clearly suggesting that Australia’s immigration policy should be conducted on the basis of the colour of somebody’s skin, and it’s a simple reversion to the White Australia policy which was actually adopted by both the Labor and Liberal Parties back in the day, and I thought we’d gone past that and I think most Australians thought we’d gone past it.”

Senator McKim claimed Australia’s offshore detention policy was motivated by skin colour. “Of course it’s got things to do with skin colour. I’ve been to Manus Island many times as you know and I can assure you there’s no white people locked up on Manus or Nauru,” he said.

“Those people are exclusively from races and countries that they’re non-white people.

“I can be absolutely certain that if a South African person arrived by boat to seek asylum in Australia, they would not end up on Manus Island and Nauru under Peter Dutton’s regime. I can give you that guarantee 100 per cent.”

Asked whether he was accusing Mr Dutton of being a “closet neo-Nazi”, Senator McKim said he had “exhibited racism right through his public career”.

“When he boycotted the apology to the stolen generation and walked out of the house of assembly in a huff just before that apology was given, his regime in terms of Manus Island and Nauru is clearly race based, and he’s also exhibited some of the things that we know through human history are associated with fascists, I mean for example, setting up an enemy to try and scare the Australian people, and he’s done that with Muslim people, and then seeking to undermine the rule of law on that basis,” he said.

“I’m mean it’s fascism 101 that we’re seeing from Peter Dutton.”

Asked whether he was disputing that white South African farmers were being violently attacked and murdered, Senator McKim said: “I don’t know the issue on the ground. I’m not the one advocating on their behalf.” “I’m not saying they shouldn’t be accepted,” he said.

“I’m saying let’s assess them on the basis of need and let’s prioritise on the basis of need in a way that doesn’t take into account the colour of somebody’s skin.”

‘ABC lefties are dead to me’

Peter Dutton earlier said he was staring down fierce criticism from “crazy lefties” at the ABC as he pushes on with plans to bring white South African farmers into Australia.

The Home Affairs Minister said he was unperturbed by “mean cartoons” and negative media coverage.

“I think the ABC and others report these things how they want to report them, and how they want to interpret them,” Mr Dutton told 2GB. “Some of the crazy lefties at the ABC, and on The Guardian, Huffington Post, can express concern and draw mean cartoons about me and all the rest of it. They don’t realise how completely dead they are to me.

“We just get on with making decisions that we need to.”

Mr Dutton said he was blind to skin colour and would continue to bring in migrants based on the national interest.

“It concerns me that people are being persecuted at the moment — that’s the reality — the numbers of people dying or being savagely attacked in South Africa is a reality,” he said.

Mr Dutton likened the latest backlash to the reaction over his comments on African gangs in Melbourne over summer. “Stick to the facts and you’re on safe grounds so all of the criticism over the last week has meant nothing to me,” he said.

“We’re looking at ways we can help people to migrate to Australia if they’re finding themselves in that situation.”




Preserving the graphics:  Most graphics on this site are hotlinked from elsewhere.  But hotlinked graphics sometimes have only a short life -- as little as a week in some cases.  After that they no longer come up.  From January 2011 on, therefore, I have posted a monthly copy of everything on this blog to a separate site where I can host text and graphics together -- which should make the graphics available even if they are no longer coming up on this site.  See  here or here


Thursday, March 22, 2018

When will the US feel the heat of global warming? For the Great Plains, natural variability will dominate until late this century

Even Warmists are noting that the USA hasn't warmed significantly

By increasing the energy stored in our atmosphere, climate change is expected to generate more severe storms and heat waves. Severe storms and heat waves, however, also happen naturally. As a result, it's tough to figure out whether any given event is a product of climate change.

A corollary to that is that detecting a signal of climate change using weather events is a serious challenge. Are three nor'easters in quick succession, as the East Coast is now experiencing, a sign of a changing climate? Or is it simply a matter of natural variability?

A team of researchers has now looked at heat waves in the US, trying to determine when a warming-driven signal will stand out above the natural variability. And the answer is that it depends. In the West, the answer is "soon," with climate-driven heat waves becoming the majority in the 2020s. But for the Great Plains, the researchers show that a specific weather pattern will push back the appearance of a warming signal until the 2070s.

Finding the heat

The study, performed by researchers at three different institutions in Florida, focuses on what they term the Time of Emergence, which they define as the point when "the signal of anthropogenic climate change will emerge against the background natural variability." For this work, they focused on heat waves, which they defined as an extended period of time with temperatures 5 degrees Celsius or more above the typical temperature.

They started out by analyzing historic events, using the temperature records from 1920-2000. They found that there were regions where heat waves tended to cluster. These included the West Coast, Southern Great Plains, Northern Great Plains, and the Great Lakes (they found eight in total). While many of these regions partially overlap, a heat wave that affected one of them typically did not affect any of the others, suggesting they were driven by independent weather patterns. The four mentioned above affect the largest portions of the US population and so were chosen for further analysis.

From here, the analysis is pretty straightforward. The authors used a collection of climate models to examine the frequency of heat waves for the remainder of the present century (2020-2100) under a high emissions scenario. While nations have committed to reducing emissions, this scenario would reflect a continuation of our current trajectory. The frequency of extreme events that showed up in the models was then compared to their frequency in the historic record.

For areas like the Great Lakes and the US West, the results were about what you'd expect: with continued climate change, both the frequency and severity of heat waves went up. For the Great Plains, this was also true, but the effect was much more moderate and emerged only gradually.

To quantify this difference, the authors developed a simple measure: the year in which half of the heat waves wouldn't have qualified as heat waves if it weren't for the influence of climate change. For the US West, that point was crossed in 2028. The West was followed by the Great Lakes, which crossed the threshold a decade later in 2037. But the Great Plains were on a completely different schedule. In the Northern Plains, the 50-percent threshold wasn't crossed until 2056, while the Southern Plains didn't have a clear signal of climate change until 2074.

Explaining the Plains

So why is internal variability so significant in the Great Plains? The researchers suggest two potential causes of these regional differences. One is a difference in the flow of air across the continental US, something that may be changing with our warming climate. If the prevailing winds become more erratic, then it's possible that they would bring cooler air across the Plains more often. The alternative is soil moisture. This takes up heat from the air and ground as it evaporates, which would counteract some of the heating caused by greenhouse gases.

Harsh winter weather in eastern US could be due to warmer Arctic
For the West Coast, the two appear to be related. Our warming climate is expected to produce wind patterns that reduce the frequency of storms and thus lower the amount of moisture in the soil. This, in turn, would reduce evaporation, leading to enhanced heat—which may explain why the climate signal appears there earliest.

For the Great Plains, however, the researchers identified a specific weather pattern that prevailed during the summer months called the Great Plains Low-Level Jet. The LLJ draws moist air up from the Gulf of Mexico, allowing it to fall as rain over the Plains. The evaporation of this rain would then offset some of the heat.

As a bit of science, this is some nice work, as the researchers have not only identified a case where natural variability has large influence on climate change, but they've identified the source of that variability. But they also point out that the findings could be helpful for policy. Over the last three decades, they note, heat-related fatalities have been the biggest weather-related cause of death in the US. Identifying the areas most at risk of increased heat would help us prepare for a future where that's looking increasingly inevitable.

And, in the case of the West Coast, it may be arriving in as little as a decade.


Clean Power Plan: Just Repeal, Don't Replace

Marlo Lewis

Yesterday I submitted comments on the Environmental Protection Agency’s advance notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPRM), which discusses options for replacing the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan (CPP) with some other regulation to control carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from existing power plants. The EPA is in the process of repealing the CPP, which was President Obama’s marquee domestic climate policy and principal regulatory component of his Paris Climate Treaty emission-reduction pledge. My comments make the case that the EPA should simply repeal the Clean Power Plan without replacing it.

In this post, I first discuss—and supplement—the ANPRM’s statutory argument for repealing the CPP. I then summarize three reasons why any CPP replacement rule would also be unlawful.   

Why the CPP is unlawful

The EPA promulgated the CPP under section 111(d) of the Clean Air Act (CAA). According to the ANPRM, the CPP exceeds EPA’s authority under that provision. CAA section 111(d) emission performance standards are supposed to reflect the “best system of emission reduction” (BSER) that has been “adequately demonstrated,” taking into account “cost” and the “remaining useful life” of each “source.” The statute defines “stationary source” as “any building, structure, facility, or installation which emits or may emit any air pollutant.” Consequently, all previous CAA section 111 performance standards were based on technologies and practices that could be applied by and at the source.

Abruptly departing from the text and the agency’s historic practice, the CPP requires states to establish performance standards more stringent than any individual fossil-fuel power plant can meet through measures implemented by and at the source. For example, the CPP establishes an emission performance goal for existing coal power plants of 1,305 lbs. CO2/MWh. That is beyond the capability of even new highly efficient super critical pulverized coal power plants, which typically emit about 1,720 lbs. CO2/MWh.

To comply with unattainable standards, the CPP expects power plant owners or operators to reduce grid-wide emissions in their capacity as actors in the electricity marketplace. CPP compliance options include purchasing power from lower-emitting facilities, investing in new renewable generation, buying emission credits from other facilities that over-comply, or simply reducing output, which cedes market share to lower-emitting facilities.

In effect, the CPP regulates the “U.S. power sector” as if it were a single source, with individual power plants—the actual sources as defined in CAA section 111—conceived as mere cogs in a vast machine. However, the power sector cannot be a “source” because it is not a building, structure, facility, or installation. The power sector is a market process comprised of hundreds of sources, hundreds of non-emitting generating units that are not sources, and millions of customers who do not produce power.

Or, as the ANPRM sums up the issue, a valid best system of emission reduction “must be based on a physical or operational change to a building, structure, facility, or installation at that source, rather than measures that the source’s owner or operator can implement on behalf of the source at another location.”

The ANPRM requests information on how EPA might replace the CPP with a new regulation “limited to [CO2] emission reduction measures that can be applied to or at an individual stationary source.”

Why EPA should not replace the Clean Power Plan

While I completely concur that lawful CAA section 111(d) emission performance standards must be based on measures that can be applied to individual sources, even a replacement rule based on such measures would still be unlawful. Four separate statutory reasons lead to that conclusion.

Section 112 Exclusion. CAA section 111(d) excludes from its regulatory purview “any air pollutant . . . emitted by a source category regulated under CAA section 112.” CAA section 112 requires EPA to list and regulate categories of industrial sources of hazardous air pollutants, such as arsenic, mercury, and cyanide. Coal- and oil-fueled power plants have been regulated as hazardous air pollutant sources under section 112 since 2012, and NGCC combustion turbines since 2004. Therefore, EPA may not regulate power plants under CAA section 111(d). The CPP is unlawful under the very provision that purportedly authorizes it. Any CPP replacement rule would be unlawful for the same reason.

Historic practice. The ANPRM suggests that BSER for existing power plants could be based on “equipment upgrades” and “good practices” that increase the efficiency by which those facilities convert heat into electricity. The improvement in thermal efficiency would, in turn, reduce CO2 emission rates. Such measures would be applied by and at the source. Nonetheless, such a BSER is inconsistent with the EPA’s practice of more than 40 years.

Until the Clean Power Plan, the EPA always based Clean Air Act performance standards for both new and existing sources on specific emission control technologies, not recipes to improve the source’s operating efficiency. It would be ridiculous, for example, to define BSER for primary aluminum plants in terms of incremental efficiency gains rather than in terms of technologies that can actually control fluoride emissions. The ANPRM’s suggested BSER is inconsistent with the statutory understanding reflected in EPA’s historic regulatory practice under Clean Air Act section 111.

Non-existent BSER. The Obama EPA claimed carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) is the “adequately demonstrated” BSER for new coal power plants. That was highly dubious, because no utility-scale CCS power plant has ever been built without hefty government subsidies. Even with subsidies, CCS power plants are not economical unless they can sell the captured CO2 to firms engaged in enhanced oil recovery. A BSER must be “broadly applicable,” but many coal power plants are not located near enhanced oil recovery operations. Besides, even the Obama EPA acknowledged that retrofitting existing power plants with CCS technology is too costly to pass muster as BSER.

The Trump EPA should acknowledge the reality that its predecessor refused to face: An adequately demonstrated best system for reducing CO2 emissions from existing power plants does not exist. Absent a bona fide BSER, Clean Air Act section 111(d) may not be used to regulate CO2 emissions from those facilities.

Contrary to congressional intent. As EPA’s 1975 implementing rule explains, one of Congress’s major purposes in enacting CAA section 111(d) was to enable EPA to control air pollutants ineligible for regulation under the national ambient air quality standards (NAAQ) program. Such pollutants may not be regulated under the NAAQ program because they are not emitted by “numerous or diverse sources.” However, carbon dioxide is emitted by both numerous and diverse sources. It is exactly the type of ubiquitous “air pollutant” Congress did not intend to be addressed by CAA section 111(d).

As the 1975 implementing rule also explains, CAA section 111(d) was designed to address air pollutants with “highly localized” effects. For such pollutants, proximity to the source chiefly determines the associated health risks. In contrast, the CO2-greenhouse effect is global, not local. Whatever the impacts of CO2 emissions on global climate, or climate change on particular communities, the potential health and welfare risks are not affected by proximity to the source.

In short, carbon dioxide and CAA section 111(d) are a total mismatch.


Pompeo, Trump and the Paris climate agreement

John Stossel

President Trump's pick to be the new secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, is not a fan of the Paris climate agreement, the treaty that claims it will slow global warning by reducing the world's carbon dioxide emissions. Politicians from most of the world's nations signed the deal, and President Obama said "we may see this as the moment that we finally decided to save our planet."

That's dubious.

Trump wisely said he will pull America out of the deal. He called it a "massive redistribution of United States wealth to other countries."

Unfortunately, Trump often reverses himself.

The climate change lobby has been trying to change Trump's mind. Al Gore called his stance "reckless and indefensible." Most of the media agree. So do most of my neighbors in New York.

That's why it's good that Pompeo opposes the Paris deal. Such treaties are State Department responsibilities. Pompeo is more likely to hold Trump to his word than his soon-to-be predecessor Rex Tillerson, who liked the agreement.

The Paris accord is a bad deal because even if greenhouse gases really are a huge threat, this treaty wouldn't do much about them.

I'll bet Al Gore and most of the media don't even know what's in the accord. I didn't until I researched it for this week's YouTube video.

Manhattan Institute senior fellow Oren Cass is the rare person who actually read the Paris accord.

Cass tells me it's "somewhere between a farce and a fraud." I interviewed him for a video project I am doing with City Journal, a smart policy magazine that often makes the case for smaller government. "You don't even have to mention greenhouse gases in your commitment if you don't want to. You send in any piece of paper you want."

The Paris accord was just political theater, he says. "They stapled it together and held it up and said, 'This is amazing!'"

The media announced that China and India made major commitments.

In truth, says Cass, "They either pledged to do exactly what they were already going to do anyway, or pledged even less. China, for instance said, 'we pledge to reach peak emission by about 2030.' Well, the United States government had already done a study to guess when Chinese emissions would peak, and their guess was about 2030."

In other words, China simply promised to do what was going to happen anyway.

"China was actually one of the better pledges," says Cass. "India made no pledge to limit emissions at all. They pledged only to become more efficient. But they proposed to become more efficient less quickly than they were already becoming more efficient. So their pledge was to slow down."

It's hard to see how that would help the planet.

"My favorite was Pakistan, whose pledge was to 'Reach a peak at some point after which to begin reducing emissions,'" says Cass. "You can staple those together, and you can say we now have a global agreement, but what you have is an agreement to do nothing."

However, Cass says one country did make a serious commitment. "The one country that showed up in Paris with a very costly, ambitious target was the United States. President Obama took all the zero commitments from everybody else but threw in a really expensive one for us."

Obama pledged to reduce emissions by 26 percent. If that ever happened, it would squash America's economy.

Nevertheless, when Trump said he was leaving the Paris accord, he was trashed by politicians around the world.

The UK's Theresa May was "dismayed," and Obama said, "This administration joins a handful of nations that reject the future."

Cass counters that if "the future is worthless climate agreements ... we should be proud to reject."

Don't get me wrong: The Earth has been warming, and humans probably contribute to it.

But the solution isn't to waste billions by making emissions cuts in America while other countries do nothing.

Trump was right to repudiate this phony treaty. It's good that Pompeo is around to remind him of that.


Greenie versus Greenie in Massachusetts

NAHANT — Since 1967, scientists at Northeastern University’s Marine Science Center have quietly gone about their work, studying ocean life from East Point, a spectacular rocky bluff that juts into the Atlantic Ocean and was once home to Henry Cabot Lodge’s estate and a World War II bunker.

But that scenic outpost has turned into a bitter battleground. Neighbors are fighting Northeastern’s proposal to build a 60,000-square-foot addition to the center as part of an ambitious plan to turn it into a nationally regarded coastal sustainability institute.

In an ironic twist, residents assert the institute dedicated to protecting vulnerable coastal communities will instead ruin the natural beauty of East Point — one of Nahant’s most cherished spots — and make the state’s smallest town feel more like a heavily traveled college campus.

“No matter how you design it, a 60,000-square-foot building on what we call Nahant’s last wild area will destroy it,” said Jim Walsh, a former selectman.

Jim Dolan, a retired high-tech worker who raised five children in Nahant, said he is so angry at Northeastern’s “total disrespect and total disregard” for the town he’s ready to set fire to the master’s degree he earned from the university in the 1970s.

“How about if we get everyone from Nahant who has a Northeastern degree to go to the board of directors meeting and burn them all?” Dolan said. “I don’t do that lightly. I’m a big education guy. But having a university take a position to not honor its neighbors is unconscionable.”

Such is the intensity of the opposition in Nahant, a one-square-mile peninsula that is home to 4,000 residents and has been a haven for wealthy families since the 19th century.

Hundreds of signs on front lawns in town declare, “Love Nahant, No Northeastern Expansion.” Residents have picketed outside the gates of the center and packed a Town Hall meeting last month, booing when Northeastern officials presented their expansion plans.

Last week, the bad blood reached a boiling point when Northeastern canceled a lecture at the center titled, “Nitrogen: Friend or Foe? Effects of Fertilization on a New England Salt Marsh.” University officials feared that residents who had been posting hostile messages on social media would disrupt the talk.

“It’s been really hard coming through town, the town that I’ve been driving through for 30 years, seeing such hostility,” said Geoffrey Trussell, the center director, who has worked there for three decades, studying ocean predators.


Green/Left governments want us to use public transport

But that puts us in the hands of bureaucrats who don't give a sh*t about us.  The story below is from the Australian city of Brisbane.  The Brisbane train system is actually one of the best in Australia's capital cities.  Sydney commuters have it much worse.  So it is interesting to see what counts as a good system below.  Nobody gives a sh*t in Brisbane either

SCHEDULED maintenance has caused public transport chaos on the night of Ed Sheeran’s first concert at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane.

Passengers leaving from the city on the Caboolture/Sunshine and Redcliffe lines were being moved on to buses at Northgate station and being told to expect delays of up to an hour on their journey.

Buses replaced trains between Northgate and Petrie stations for the remainder of the evening.

As reported by The Courier-Mail, TransLink announced the works – maintenance on overhead powerlines – two months ago, warning commuters that buses would be used from 9.30pm onwards, before tracks reopened in the morning. That particular maintenance work was only scheduled for last night and will not impact tonight’s show.

Concert goer Katherine Lameree didn’t arrive home at Dakabin until after 1am due to the maintenance work. The gig finished at 10.30pm. Ms Lameree said it took her 30 minutes to reach the station.

Ms Lameree and her partner got off the train at Northgate where they were forced to join the que to the waiting bus.

“The lines were up the ramp for the overpass to get to the busses,” she said. “There was one waiting and they couldn’t keep up with the demand.”

Ms Lameree ended up calling a friend from the station and instead got a lift home, but was left disappointed that the maintenance went ahead despite the event.

“They knew the event was on, they were partnered with it offering free transport. Surely it could’ve waited until Thursday or be done in off peak during the day,” she said.

“A lot of people voiced it (frustration) on the train… but we all were like do we expect any better from Queensland Rail.”

A TransLink spokesman last week told The Courier-Mail last week of the track closure from Northgate to Petrie affecting the Redcliffe Peninsula and Sunshine Coast lines, encouraging Ed Sheeran fans to plan ahead. They did not give a reason as to why the closure was scheduled for that particular night.

Despite the warning many Ed Sheeran fans were angry TransLink chose the night of a major Brisbane event to conduct the maintenance.

In a Facebook comment, concert goer Ashley Darrenkamp called Queensland Rail “utterly ridiculous” for scheduling maintenance on the same night as the the 52,000-capacity sellout gig.

“They really messed up! I had to end up finding another way home, costing heaps of money!,” she wrote.

“Having to wait for buses to then stop at every station then to catch another train... very upset. I was fully aware and expecting delays due to high volumes but this was unacceptable.”

Another fan, Jessica Hopwood, said she too was also caught off guard by the maintenance.

“Traffic to Roma street station from the concert took 40 minutes then been told at the platform to get off the train at Northgate, then waiting in line for 20 minutes for a bus,” she said.




Preserving the graphics:  Most graphics on this site are hotlinked from elsewhere.  But hotlinked graphics sometimes have only a short life -- as little as a week in some cases.  After that they no longer come up.  From January 2011 on, therefore, I have posted a monthly copy of everything on this blog to a separate site where I can host text and graphics together -- which should make the graphics available even if they are no longer coming up on this site.  See  here or here


Wednesday, March 21, 2018

An amusing sermon from a true believer, Peter Kraai

He seems to be a passionate believer in global warming but shows zero familiarity with science.  Science depends on numbers and he offers not a single number in support of anything he says. And the things he does say are so vaguely put that you would need a book to critique them all

But one of his assertions that is unambiguously wrong is his claim that only a small part of the Antarctic is melting. Zwally's 2015 study showed that the Antarctic as a whole is cooling, not warming.  And since the Antarctic holds 96% of earth's glacial ice those rising sea levels beloved of Warmists are just not going to happen.  Zwally's findings and many others like them are statistics enough to discredit the whole global warming theory but Mr. Kraai is ignorant of them.  He just believes what suits him.

The way he puffs up his chest as someone concerned for the future of "the children" shows what his motivation is.  He wants to be seen as on the side of the angels and damn the facts.  He is doing virtue signalling, not any serious discussion of the evidence.  His confidence in the truth of his delusions is remarkable, though

To the Editor:

I trust that you have defaulted into printing op-eds from Cal Thomas because you have paid for a contract to do so -- even if the content is tripe or a fable. However, consider the moral of his recent fable ("Apocalypse now and the $6,000 Costco meal," March 15,2018) -- that, despite the decades of massive, peer-reviewed support for anthropogenic climate change, we should listen to charlatans funded by fossil fuel companies and ignore the corrections necessary (and readily available) to provide our offspring with a healthy future. This is indeed immoral.

The book he cites, Marc Morano's "Politically Incorrect Guide To Climate Change," is also scientifically incorrect. Not because there is no truth within, but because it is at least 10,000 respected studies away from the whole truth, and does not contain "nothing but the truth." To say Morano's pamphlet rises to the intellectual rigor of a comic book is to insult comic books; they try to get the science right. Thomas is neither stupid nor uneducated (so he can understand the basic science if he chooses), therefore he must be complacent or venal enough to allow our children's planet to fall further into disrepair.

No competent scientist has ever believed climate change (which, by the way, Cal, includes global warming -- they're not the same) "will destroy all life on Earth." However, neither will any of us deny that, through our obscene and opulent overuse of the world's resources, we have entered into the sixth mass extinction event. Yes, life will continue, but lacking many if not most of the algae, plants, animals and ecosystems that keep our lives viable, beautiful and awe-inspired.

As for climatologists (who interpret multi-year, -century, and -millennia trends rather than tell us what may happen in the sky tomorrow, as Thomas'  meteorologist source John Coleman does), and their predictions, "none of which have materialized":

Ocean acidification, dilution by fresh water, and altered flow of climate-determining currents have materialized.

More flooding from bigger hurricanes (note, Cal, I didn't say more frequent storms) has materialized.

Progressive melting of the great majority of mountain range ice- and snow-caps, glaciers, permafrost and poles (except, Cal, as you stated, a small part of Antarctica) has materialized.

Wars over dwindling water, soil and food have materialized.

Drastically mutated terrestrial growth zones (normally stable for thousands of years) have materialized.

Perhaps most paradoxical about Thomas' indifference to Earth's (and its life forms') chronic degradation is his frequently revisited self-identification as a God-fearing Christian. As God views the destruction perpetrated by fossil fuel apologists on this used-to-be-Eden he created, the Almighty must surely be dusting off his smiting instruments. And I think even Thomas would agree with what Jesus wouldn't do; pat the egocentric and materialistic on the back while suggesting they continue their consumptive ways as the poorest and those least contributory to the global mayhem suffer the most.

But then, I'm only a "climate change fanatic," according to Thomas, willing to set aside my nonessential desires so that subsequent human generations and the other 2 million species can reclaim the unsullied life they also deserve. At least this fanatic can look his children and students in their eyes and truthfully say, "I'm on your side."


Scott Pruitt Will End EPA’s Use Of ‘Secret Science’ To Justify Regulations

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt will soon end his agency’s use of “secret science” to craft regulations.

“We need to make sure their data and methodology are published as part of the record,” Pruitt said in an exclusive interview with The Daily Caller News Foundation. “Otherwise, it’s not transparent. It’s not objectively measured, and that’s important.”

Pruitt will reverse long-standing EPA policy allowing regulators to rely on non-public scientific data in crafting rules. Such studies have been used to justify tens of billions of dollars worth of regulations.

EPA regulators would only be allowed to consider scientific studies that make their data available for public scrutiny under Pruitt’s new policy. Also, EPA-funded studies would need to make all their data public.

“When we do contract that science out, sometimes the findings are published; we make that part of our rule-making processes, but then we don’t publish the methodology and data that went into those findings because the third party who did the study won’t give it to us,” Pruitt added.

“And we’ve said that’s fine — we’re changing that as well,” Pruitt told TheDCNF.

Conservatives have long criticized EPA for relying on scientific studies that published their findings but not the underlying data. However, Democrats and environmental activists have challenged past attempts to bring transparency to studies used in rule making.

Texas Republican Rep. Lamar Smith pushed legislation to end the use of what he calls “secret science” at EPA. Pruitt instituted another policy in 2017 backed by Smith against EPA-funded scientists serving on agency advisory boards.

“If we use a third party to engage in scientific review or inquiry, and that’s the basis of rulemaking, you and every American citizen across the country deserve to know what’s the data, what’s the methodology that was used to reach that conclusion that was the underpinning of what — rules that were adopted by this agency,” Pruitt explained.

Pruitt’s pending science transparency policy mirrors Smith’s HONEST Act, which passed the House in March 2017. Smith’s office was pleased to hear Pruitt was adopting another policy the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology chairman championed.

“The chairman has long worked toward a more open and transparent rule-making process at EPA, and he looks forward to any announcement from Administrator Pruitt that would achieve that goal,” committee spokeswoman Thea McDonald told TheDCNF.

Junk science crusader Steve Milloy also called on EPA to end its use of “secret science” in rule making, especially when it comes to studies on the toxicity of fine particulates in the air.

EPA has primarily relied on two 1990s studies linking fine particulate pollution to premature death. Neither studies have made their data public, but EPA used their findings to justify sweeping air quality regulations.

Reported benefits from EPA rules are “mostly attributable to the reduction in public exposure to fine particulate matter,” according to the White House Office of Management and Budget report. That’s equivalent to billions of dollars.

In fact, one of EPA’s most expensive regulation on the books, called MATS, derived most of its estimated benefits from reducing particulates not from reducing mercury, which the rule was ostensibly crafted to address.

EPA estimated MATS would cost $8.2 billion but yield between $28 billion to $77 billion in public health benefits. It’s a similar story for the Clean Power Plan, which EPA estimated would cost $8.4 billion and yield from $14 billion to $34 billion in health and climate benefits.

Democrats and environmentalists have largely opposed attempts to require EPA rely on transparent scientific data. Said data would restrict the amount of studies EPA can use, but a major objection is making data public would reveal confidential patient data, opponents argue.

“A lot of the data that EPA uses to protect public health and ensure that we have clean air and clean water relies on data that cannot be publicly released,” Union of Concerned Scientists representative Yogin Kothari told E&E News.

“It really hamstrings the ability of the EPA to do anything, to fulfill its mission,” Kothari said.

Milloy, however, countered and argued it’s a “red herring” to claim that forcing regulators to use public science data would harm patient privacy.

“The availability of such data sets is nothing new,” said Milloy, publisher of and senior fellow at the Energy and Environmental Legal Institute.

“The state of California, for example, makes such data available under the moniker, ‘Public Use Death Files,'” Milloy said. “We used such data in the form of over two million anonymized death certificates in our recent California study on particulates and death.”

“Opponents of data transparency are just trying to hide the data from independent scrutiny,” Milloy added. “But the studies that use this data are taxpayer-financed, and they are used to regulate the public.”


Can climate litigation save the world?

Global moves to tackle climate change through lawsuits are poised to break new ground this week, as groups and individuals seek to hold governments and companies accountable for the damage they are causing.

On Tuesday, action by 12 UK citizens reaches the high court for the first time, while on Wednesday in San Francisco, the science of climate change will effectively be on trial at a key moment in a lawsuit.

The litigation represents a new front of climate action, with citizens aiming to force stronger moves to cut carbon emissions, and win damages to pay the costs of dealing with the impacts of warming.

They are inspired by momentous cases from the past, from the defeat of big tobacco to the racial desegregation of schools in the US. Big oil is fighting back hard, but though victories have been rare to date wins are more likely in future, as legal experts say the attitudes of judges often shift with the times.

A flurry of billion-dollar cases against fossil fuel companies brought by New York city and communities in California over the rising seas has pushed climate litigation into the limelight. But cases are being brought across the globe, with more than 1,000 suits now logged by the Sabin Center for Climate Change Law at Columbia law school in New York.

The UK government is now facing its first major climate change lawsuit, brought by 12 citizens through a legal group called Plan B and which already has the support of the government’s former chief scientific adviser, Prof Sir David King.

“The UK carbon target for 2050 does not match the Paris agreement goal and the government knows that,” says Tim Crosland, a barrister at Plan B. He says the purpose of the case is to make the government live up to its responsibilities: “It is about closing the accountability deficit which is one of the biggest problems with climate change – if everybody is responsible, nobody is responsible.”

The UK has had climate laws in place for a decade and is seen by some as a leading nation, but Crosland argues the great dangers of global warming make this irrelevant. “Either we don’t want to fall off the climate cliff edge or we do. Who is doing better than others is the wrong question.”

On Wednesday meanwhile, a landmark case in California, in which the cities of San Francisco and Oakland are suing major oil companies for damages, reaches an unprecedented moment with a day-long hearing on the science of climate change itself.

Further cases are under way from India to Uganda, and across Europe including the UK, Ireland, Belgium, Portugal and Norway, where campaigners are seeking to block oil drilling in the Arctic. In Colombia, 25 young plaintiffs are taking to the courts to halt deforestation.

Lawyers won a rare victory – now under appeal – in the 2015 Urgenda case in the Netherlands, with the court ruling the Dutch state must increase its cuts to emissions.

A Pakistani farmer has also won a ruling that the “lethargy of the state in implementing [climate policies] offends the fundamental rights of the citizens”.

And a Peruvian farmer is suing German energy company RWE over its alleged contribution to the melting glaciers near his Andean hometown.

But it is in the US, the world’s most litigious nation, that the greatest number of cases have been brought. The most high-profile suit against the government is the Juliana case, filed by 21 teenagers in Oregon, which saw off a Trump administration attempt to halt it earlier in March.

The basis of the case, says Julia Olson, lead counsel for Our Children’s Trust which is fighting the case, is failure of US administrations to protect its citizens by tackling global warming. “The US government has put these plaintiffs and other young people in a dangerous situation. First and foremost it is about personal security and the danger that exists presently. Beyond that, it is about protecting other fundamental rights under the US constitution – basic liberties such as to be able to decide where to live and to raise a family safely.

“I can’t convey how egregious and incredible this story is across every presidential administration of our government going back 60 years,” Olsen says. “This is not a Republican versus Democrat issue. Every president made those choices.”

While lawsuits against governments seek stronger action, those against the fossil fuel industry seek a simpler remedy – money. The argument is that these companies knowingly sold products that caused damage and a financial settlement is required, drawing parallels with the titanic legal battle fought and won against the tobacco industry.

Michael Burger, at the Sabin Center, says there is a similarity in that these growing cases threaten a level of legal and reputational risk to the companies that might eventually force them to settle or face financial oblivion.

“The other obvious similarity with tobacco is you have a long history of corporate obfuscation and attempts to blur the science and public understanding,” he says. Some of the characters involved are even the same – on both sides – with the same scientists defending both tobacco and oil companies and the same lawyers prosecuting them.

“But there is also a key difference,” says Burger. “Tobacco is a product individual people inhale and it gives them cancer. Fossil fuel production is the beginning of a long chain of causation that includes numerous corporate actors and individual consumers, as well as government licensing and permitting schemes. The causal chain is much longer.”

Scientists are now confident they can quantify the emissions resulting from each big company’s fossil fuels – just 90 firms are responsible for two-thirds of all emissions. But lawyers for the fossil fuel companies are robust in their response, saying a causal link to damages is “unprovable”.

The oil giants are also fighting back, with ExxonMobil in January seeking court permission to “investigate potential claims of abuse of process, civil conspiracy, and constitutional violations” by the Californian officials suing them. One of these, Serge Dedina mayor of Imperial Beach, says: “This appears to be the same kind of bullying tactic that the industry uses again and again to avoid accountability.”

Industry lobby groups are also mobilising against climate litigation in the US, with the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) launching a campaign against “politically motivated legal attacks” in November. “It has become clear that these activist plaintiffs’ attorneys, sympathetic academics and agenda-driven media outlets are distorting the use of tort litigation to advance their narratives with the ultimate objective of undermining manufacturers and the engine of the American economy,” said Linda Kelly, NAM general counsel.

However, an international panel of senior judges concluded in January that many companies around the world may well already be in breach of existing laws in relation to their impact on climate change. “Very, very few enterprises currently meet their obligations – if they did [climate change] would mostly be solved,” said Jaap Spier, who was advocate general in the Dutch supreme court until 2016 and part of the panel that published the assessment.

Spier says judges are influenced by growing concerns in society, such as worries over climate change, and are increasingly likely to look favourably on climate litigation in coming years. “If you assume companies don’t [change] at some stage, I have not the slightest doubt that courts will understand that they must step in.”

More and more climate cases are being filed, with lawyers suggesting a range of factors, from the election of Donald Trump to more extreme weather events, to revelations about what fossil fuel companies knew about climate change dangers, and a growing awareness of the urgent need to act.

Despite this, major victories at a supreme court level still appear years off. But Burger says even wins along the way to the highest court add to the pressure for change: “There is a victory here which is just surviving the initial motions to dismiss. Having courts advance these cases towards a trial could itself move fossil fuel companies to want to start to seek some other solution.”

Nick Butler, who spent 29 years at BP and is now at King’s College London, says the companies do not believe the point has been reached where they are likely to lose cases but the pressure is real nonetheless: “The legal actions add a further dimension to the pressure for change in an industry that has begun to accept the need to reinvent itself.”

Olson argues that the courts are starting to recognise the urgency and highlights that the district judge in the Juliana case, Ann Aiken, said climate change needs to be addressed with “all deliberate speed”. That is a potent phrase in the US, taken from the 1955 supreme court judgment on the Brown v Board of Education case that ordered the end of racial segregation of schools.

“We need a decision that says you cannot discriminate against young people and deprive them of a climate system that will sustain their lives,” she says.

“[Aiken] very much understands that constitutional rights are at stake and that speed is the critical factor here. I think we will be on a very fast track.”


Environmentalist Publishes Op-Ed on Climate Change… Covers it With Blatant Lies

An anti-fossil fuel movement proponent dubiously claimed Tuesday natural gas development’s methane emissions are hitting catastrophic levels.

Activist are failing to impress upon people the dangers associated with the fracking industry, according to Vermont’s Middlebury College Professor Bill McKibben. He also suggested most research shows methane emissions from natural gas are pitching above a safe level, yet many studies show the antithesis.

“When I think about my greatest failing as a communicator — and one of the greatest failings of the climate movement — it’s not that global warming still continues,” McKibben wrote Wednesday for Yale Environment 360.

The movement’s biggest moral failing, he said, was not selling people on the danger unchecked methane emissions pose to the climate.

Democrats, Republicans and the public have generally accepted the idea natural gas is a fine alternative to other forms of fossil fuel production, but the general population is unaware methane emissions from such energy put the climate in a precarious spot, McKibben added.

“It turns out that there are lots of places for leaks to happen — when you frack a field, when you connect a pipe, when you send gas thousands of miles through pumping stations — and so most studies show that the leakage rate is at least three percent and probably higher,” he noted without citing any specific study buttressing his claim.

McKibben relied on data from Cornell University Ecology Professor Bob Howard’s studies to conclude methane emission leakage rates were nearly three percent, he told The Daily Caller News Foundation.

Howard’s work has been criticized in the past for using too short a time frame. He uses a 20-year window to study the global warming potential of methane emissions in the atmosphere as opposed to the more common 100-year horizon.

Environmental groups have also scrutinized Howard’s work.

“While I can see an argument for using a time horizon shorter than 100 years, I personally believe that the 20-year GWP is too short a period to be appropriate for policy analysis,” former National Resources Defense Council director Dan Lashof said in 2011 of McKibben’s chronological methodology.

Environmental Protection Agency research and other studies, meanwhile, paint a much different story.

Actual emissions from gas power plants were “nearly 50 times lower than previously estimated by the Environmental Protection Agency,” a 2013 University of Texas study availed. Researchers at UT concluded methane emissions from the supply chain’s upstream portion are 0.38 percent of production.

EPA’s latest methane emissions data from 2017 show very low methane leakage rates of approximately 1.2 percent. The agency and UT’s data and research were concluded, using the more reliable 100-year time frame. McKibben has spent several years thrashing Democratic leaders for promoting the natural gas industry.

McKibben was singing a different tune in 2009 when he felt so strongly about power plants switching to natural gas he was willing to be jailed in support of the cause. He was one of several celebrities who protested on Capitol Power Plant’s front steps in Washington, D.C.

“There are moments in a nation’s — and a planet’s — history when it may be necessary for some to break the law … We will cross the legal boundary of the power plant, and we expect to be arrested,” McKibben told reporters prior to the March 3, 2009, protest.

“(I)t would be easy enough to fix. In fact, the facility can already burn some natural gas instead, and a modest retrofit would let it convert away from coal entirely. … It would even stimulate the local economy,” he added.

A version of this article appeared on The Daily Caller News Found


Trudeau’s carbon tax plan is close to blowing up in his face

The carbon-tax system isn’t a tax grab. It’s an economic bulldozer. A carbon tax in a low pollution country with endless forests like Canada is ludicrous. The idea that it is to be collected by the provincial government, sent to the Federal government, and then returned to the provinces makes absolutely NO sense

Things have turned very much Jim Karahalios’s way lately, and they might not be done yet. If you haven’t heard of Karahalios, he was the noisy member of the Ontario Progressive Conservatives persecuted by his own party for refusing to let former leader Patrick Brown get away with making carbon taxes an official policy. Although Karahalios clearly spoke for most members, Brown was determined to stick with his carbon tax — and to muzzle Karahalios and his “Axe the Tax” campaign, which has since expanded to every province. Karahalios was even tossed out of PC events and stripped of his PC membership.

With Doug Ford now leading the party into a spring election, the Ontario PC party looks less like Brown’s than it does Karahalios’s, who got his official apology (and the lawsuit appeal dropped) earlier this month from the party. And with Canada’s largest province looking like it might soon be on the same warpath as other provinces against the federal Liberals over the carbon tax, the whole country could soon look more like Karahalios’s sort of place than Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s.

Until now, most pundits have taken the federal Liberals’ word that the carbon tax is going to happen, whether provinces sign on to it or not. No one’s really questioned the legitimacy of Trudeau’s threat to use a “backstop” power that would see Ottawa collecting a price-fixed carbon tax within a particular province if the province itself will not. Even the National Post’s estimable Andrew Coyne suggested not long ago that the Ontario PC leadership candidates’ “declaration of opposition to a carbon tax is… meaningless”: Since Ottawa will levy the tax itself if it has to, “the tax will be collected” whether they liked it or not. In reality, though, a growing number of provinces are girding for battle in what could be a federal-provincial showdown for the ages. Far from being certain of getting its way, the federal government likely lacks the weapons it needs to win.

Federal Environment Minister Catherine McKenna’s tough talk this week warning the Saskatchewan government she was coming to get their carbon taxes (while revoking their $62-million low-carbon grant) could be a bluff. In a few months, she might be trying the same bluff on Ontario, if polls hold up and the next premier ends up being Ford. He has been fiercely decrying the carbon tax, insisting the “reckless” and “job-killing” tax would “do great damage to Ontario.” He promises to “take Justin Trudeau to court” to stop it.

And by next year, Ford could be teaming up in that fight not just with Saskatchewan’s Premier Scott Moe, but likely Jason Kenney in Alberta, who is remarkably popular and currently on track for a landslide victory to become the province’s first United Conservative Party premier in 2019, with a campaign built almost entirely on a promise to axe Alberta’s carbon tax. Heck, even before then, Alberta’s NDP Premier Rachel Notley said Thursday that she’s now refusing to raise Alberta’s carbon taxes to meet Trudeau’s minimum rates if he doesn’t stop B.C. from blocking the Trans Mountain pipeline.

Together, the provinces representing half the Canadian population now are or soon might be arming for a carbon-tax war with Ottawa. That doesn’t even count Manitoba, which is still refusing to align its own less-burdensome carbon-tax plan with Ottawa’s pricing scheme. Or New Brunswick, whose plan is also at odds with federal requirements. Or Nova Scotia, whose cap-and-trade scheme doesn’t come close to meeting McKenna’s stipulations. (Newfoundland and P.E.I. haven’t revealed their plans yet.)

So how many provinces exactly do Trudeau and McKenna think they can successfully fight? And if they thought trying to force wildly unpopular small-business taxes down peoples’ throats was a fiasco, wait till they see how ugly things get trying to force a carbon tax on hostile Canadians who loathe it even more than their premiers, who at least are tempted by the potential cash grab.

Yet McKenna sounded positively blithe this week about the ease with which she plans to deploy her “backstop” weapon, in responding to a letter from Saskatchewan’s Environment Minister Dustin Duncan, who said the province could not accept her carbon tax. McKenna’s response: If Duncan’s government didn’t start taxing carbon at the minimum price she requires, “we would have no choice but to ensure that a price on pollution applies …. We would do so by applying the federal carbon pricing system in Saskatchewan.” It sounds so simple. Except the closer you examine her position, the weaker it seems.

There is already the matter of the constitutional clash that will form the basis of the Ford court case, over whether the feds even have the power to tax carbon, especially connected to resources. University of Saskatchewan constitutional law expert Dwight Newman thinks the provinces have “more of a case than a lot of people are giving them credit for.”

More to the point, no one has explained the logistics that would let McKenna make good on her ultimatum. The ability of a Canadian government to implement policy has always relied on the co-operation of provincial governments, notes Newman. Indeed, B.C.’s current NDP government, with its pipeline-stalling mischief, is right at this moment revealing just how powerless the federal government can appear when a province refuses to play along with it. Besides that, Newman points out that the federal government has never tried exercising the power to levy a specific tax on Canadians of one province but not another. Even if this one were willing to try, in the face of so many obvious constitutional problems, does it really have the tools and the stomach to monitor and bill for the carbon use of every farmer, factory, fuel pump and furnace in Saskatchewan?

McKenna makes it all sound so simple and straightforward, from her perch there on the edge of a minefield of untold and unprecedented legal and logistical difficulties. But this is a government that has yet to succeed in executing on anything remotely this complicated. At least it will be entertaining watching McKenna trying to collect carbon bills from ill-disposed farmers in Melfort, without an ounce of help from the province or municipalities.




Preserving the graphics:  Most graphics on this site are hotlinked from elsewhere.  But hotlinked graphics sometimes have only a short life -- as little as a week in some cases.  After that they no longer come up.  From January 2011 on, therefore, I have posted a monthly copy of everything on this blog to a separate site where I can host text and graphics together -- which should make the graphics available even if they are no longer coming up on this site.  See  here or here


Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Thanks To Global Warming We May Run Out Of Cities To Host Future Winter Olympic Games

This is just modelling rubbish. There are many large cities in the North of the world where winter temperatures fall way below zero.  A 2 degree rise in global temperature would hardly touch them.  They would still be way below zero

If you’ve been enjoying the 2018 Winter Olympic Games, we have bad news for you. Climate change could be jeopardizing the future of this popular quadrennial sporting event.

Competitions such as ski jumping, bobsleigh racing, and snowboarding require a lot of snow and ice, which means host countries should really have average daily temperatures of below freezing.

Sadly, thanks to global warming, locations that have traditionally been perfect for the Games may not be up to scratch by the mid-century. This is the conclusion of researchers at the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada, who published their initial findings in 2015 in the journal Current Issues in Tourism. The study has recently been updated to include Pyeongchang (2018) and Beijing (2022).

The team, led by geography professor Daniel Scott, analyzed climate data from the former host locations and used models to predict the effect climate change will have on February temperatures in throughout the next century. First, they considered a low-emission model, where average global temps increase by 2.6°F by 2100. Then, they considered a high-emission model, where average global temps rise by 8.5°F.

Shockingly, nine former sites would be considered “unreliable” or "high risk" hosts by 2080 under the low-emission model. This rises to 13 under the high-emission scenario. By 2050, between eight (low-emission) and nine (high-emission) locations would already be judged “unreliable” or "high risk".

So, what can be done about it?

Well, one solution is to use artificial snow. This is done by pumping highly-pressurized water through tiny nozzles, which freezes in cold air and transforms into "snow". There is one little problem, however.

“You’re relying on cold air to do the refrigeration for you,” Scott told the New York Times. This won’t happen if the air is above sub-zero.

Alternatively, you could bank snow from an earlier winter or cover bales of straw with a combination of artificial snow and natural snow excavated from somewhere colder. This is what they did in Sochi (2014) and Vancouver (2010) respectively, when temperatures were above freezing.

However, both times athletes complained of poor conditions.

There is the option to bring competitions inside, though this might work a little better for figure skating than it does for alpine skiing.

More likely, we'll see the list of possible locations shrink and the same sites will take it in turns to hold the Winter Olympic Games.


FEMA is preparing for the future. “Climate change” isn’t part of it

The United States is still reeling from last year’s megadisasters. Puerto Rico lingers in the longest blackout in US history after Hurricane Maria tore through the island, and the scorched earth left behind from record-breaking fires in California is now causing floods and mudslides.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency, which was on the front lines of many of these calamities, had to go back to Congress last September to ask for billions more dollars to handle the gargantuan relief efforts.

With some of the dust settled, it’s clear that the events in 2017 fit the pattern of extreme weather we expect as average global temperatures go up, with strong climate change signals emerging in fires and rainfall.

FEMA has, and will continue to, respond to climate change-influenced disasters. But the agency’s new strategic plan for 2018-2022, released Thursday, doesn’t mention climate change or global warming at all. That’s despite the fact that the 38-page document projects more frequent and more expensive disasters. This is a glaring omission from an agency that deals with anticipating and responding to weather extremes driven in part by a changing climate.

The damages from the hurricanes, heat waves, wildfires, and tornadoes in 2017 cost at least $306 billion.

“Disaster costs are expected to continue to increase due to rising natural hazard risk, decaying critical infrastructure, and economic pressures that limit investments in risk resilience,” according to the document.

FEMA did signal that it wants to invest more in “pre-disaster mitigation,” which may or may not include climate change. But it wasn’t so coy in its previous 2014-2018 strategic plan, which noted that the agency “will also ensure that future risks, including those influenced by climate change, are effectively integrated into the Agency’s risk assessment resources and processes.”

Dropping climate change from FEMA’s strategic plan is just the latest part of the Trump administration’s long pattern of erasing climate change as a public policy issue across the federal government. Agencies including the Department of Energy, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Department of the Interior have removed climate change language from many of their websites. Other agencies have limited access to policy and technical documents dealing with climate change. And some government research grant applications faced extra scrutiny and rejection for mentioning the “double C-word.”

It’s not just rhetoric. President Trump wants the United States to back out of the Paris climate agreement, and the EPA is working to undo the main policy for restricting greenhouse gases, the Clean Power Plan. The White House’s latest budget proposal seeks a 72 percent cut to clean energy research and reduces FEMA’s budget by almost $600 million from $16.1 billion.


The bias towards bad news is getting worse, and affecting how we act

‘Deadly new epidemic called Disease X could kill millions, scientists warn,” read one headline at the weekend. “WHO issues global alert for potential pandemic,” read another. Apparently frustrated by the way real infectious diseases keep failing to wipe us out, it seems that the nannies at the World Health Organisation have decided to invent a fictitious one.

Disease X is going to be a virus that jumps unexpectedly from an animal species, as happens from time to time, or perhaps a man-made pathogen from a dictator’s biological warfare laboratory. To be alert for such things is sensible, especially after what has happened in Salisbury, but to imply that the risk is high is irresponsible.

No matter how clever gene editors get, the chances that they could beat evolution at its own game and come up with the right combination of infectiousness, lethality and viability to spread a disease through the human race are vanishingly small. To do so in secret would be even harder.

I fear the only effect of the WHO’s decision could be to cause unnecessary alarm and damage public confidence in the very technology that brings more effective cures and vaccines for known and unknown diseases. It also feeds our appetite for bad news rather than good. Almost by definition, bad news is sudden while good news is gradual and therefore less newsworthy. Things blow up, melt down, erupt or crash; there are few good-news equivalents. If a country, a policy or a company starts to do well it soon drops out of the news.

This distorts our view of the world. Two years ago a group of Dutch researchers asked 26,492 people in 24 countries a simple question: over the past 20 years, has the proportion of the world population that lives in extreme poverty

1) Increased by 50 per cent?

2) Increased by 25 per cent?

3) Stayed the same?

4) Decreased by 25 per cent?

5) Decreased by 50 per cent?

Only 1 per cent got the answer right, which was that it had decreased by 50 per cent. The United Nations’ Millennium Development goal of halving global poverty by 2015 was met five years early.

As the late Swedish statistician Hans Rosling pointed out with a similar survey, this suggests people know less about the human world than chimpanzees do, because if you had written those five options on five bananas and thrown them to a chimp, it would have a 20 per cent chance of picking up the right banana. A random guess would do 20 times as well as a human. As the historian of science Daniel Boorstin once put it: “The greatest obstacle to discovery is not ignorance — it is the illusion of knowledge.”

Nobody likes telling you the good news. Poverty and hunger are the business Oxfam is in, but has it shouted the global poverty statistics from the rooftops? Hardly. It has switched its focus to inequality. When The Lancet published a study in 2010 showing global maternal mortality falling, advocates for women’s health tried to pressure it into delaying publication “fearing that good news would detract from the urgency of their cause”, The New York Times reported. The announcement by Nasa in 2016 that plant life is covering more and more of the planet as a result of carbon dioxide emissions was handled like radioactivity by most environmental reporters.

What is more, the bias against good news in the media seems to be getting worse. In 2011 the American academic Kalev Leetaru employed a computer to do “sentiment mining” on certain news outlets over 30 years: counting the number of positive versus negative words. He found “a steady, near linear, march towards negativity”. A recent Harvard study found  that 87 per cent of the coverage of the fitness for office of both candidates in the 2016 US presidential election was negative. During the first 100 days of Donald Trump’s presidency, 80 per cent of all coverage was negative. He is of course a master of the art of playing upon people’s pessimism.

This is a human susceptibility and one that is open to exploitation. Even while saying that they would prefer good news, subjects in a subtle psychology experiment in Canada who were told to choose and read a newspaper article while waiting for the “experiment” to begin in fact “chose stories with a negative tone — corruption, setbacks, hypocrisy and so on — rather than neutral or positive stories”. Financial journalists have been found to report rising financial market indices with declining enthusiasm as rises continue, but falling ones with growing enthusiasm as the falls continue. As the Financial Times columnist John Authers said: “We are far more scared of encouraging readers to buy and ushering them into a loss, than we are of urging them to be cautious, and leading them to miss out on a gain.”

That is one reason for the pervasive negativity bias that afflicts the public discourse. Humans are loss-averse, disliking a loss far more than they like an equivalent gain. Such a cognitive bias probably kept us safe amid the dangers of the African savannah, where the downside of taking risks was big. The golden-age tendency makes us remember the good things about the past but forget the bad, with the result that the present seems worse than it is. For some reason people sound wiser if they think things are going to turn out badly. In fiction, Cassandra’s doom-mongering proved prescient; Pollyanna was punished for her optimism by being hit by a car.

Thus, any news coverage of the future is especially prone to doom-mongering. Brexit is a splendid example: because it has not yet happened, all sorts of ways in which it could go wrong can be imagined. The supreme case of unfalsifiable pessimism is climate change. It has the advantage of decades of doom until the jury returns. People who think the science suggests it will not be as bad as all that, or that humanity is likely to mitigate or adapt to it in time, get less airtime and a lot more criticism than people who go beyond the science to exaggerate the potential risks. That lukewarmers have been proved right so far cuts no ice.

Activists sometimes justify the focus on the worst-case scenario as a means of raising consciousness. But while the public may be susceptible to bad news they are not stupid, and boys who cry “wolf!” are eventually ignored. As the journalist John Horgan recently argued in Scientific American: “These days, despair is a bigger problem than optimism.”


Mystery solved: Rain means satellite and surface temps are different. Climate models didn’t predict this…

A funny thing happens when you line up satellite and surface temperatures over Australia. A lot of the time they are very close, but some years the surface records from the Australian Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) are cooler by a full half a degree than the UAH satellite readings. Before anyone yells “adjustments”, this appears to be a real difference of instruments, but solving this mystery turns up a rather major flaw in climate models.

Bill Kininmonth wondered if those cooler-BOM years were also wetter years when more rain fell. So Tom Quirk got the rainfall data and discovered that rainfall in Australia has a large effect on the temperatures recorded by the sensors five feet off the ground. This is what Bill Johnston has shown at individual stations. Damp soil around the Stevenson screens takes more heat to evaporate and keeps maximums lower. In this new work Quirk has looked at the effect right across the country and the years when the satellite estimates diverge from the ground thermometers are indeed the wetter years. Furthermore, it can take up to six months to dry out the ground after a major wet period and for the cooling effect to end.

In Australia rainfall controls the temperature, which is the opposite of what the models predict, but things are different in the US.

In Australia maximum rainfall occurs in the summer but it is highly variable, whereas in the US, while the summer rain is heavier, it’s the winter precipitation where the big variations occur. This seasonal pattern makes a big difference. Both the Australian pattern and the US pattern appear in other places around the world, but the models only have the one scenario. It appears the modelers figured out the situation in New Jersey and programmed it in for the rest of the world, but whole zones of the world are behaving quite differently.

Models predict that temperature affects rainfall — but in Australia the rainfall affects the temperature. No wonder these models are skillless at predicting  temperature and on rainfall — they are even worse.

As far as I know this is new and original research. Tom Quirk has run it past a few people, including John Christy of UAH who notes that this has been seen elsewhere. Let’s keep up with the peer review…


Australian PM 'disappointed' the Greens linked destructive wildfire to climate change

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has expressed his "disappointment" that the Greens linked the catastrophic bushfire that ripped through Tathra overnight to climate change.

"I'm disappointed that the Greens would try to politicise an event like this," the Prime Minister told reporters, speaking from the fire-ravaged town this afternoon.

“You can’t attribute any particular event, whether it’s a flood or fire or a drought or a storm – to climate change."

As Tathra residents waited to hear if they'd lost their homes, businesses, and or livelihoods, Greens leader Richard Di Natale rose in the Senate and linked the catastrophic bush fires to climate change.

"We are seeing climate change in our every day lives have an impact on the risk of bush fires in our communities," he said.

"We can't any longer be complacent about risk of bush fires once the end of summer comes around. "And yet here we are with bush fires racing through my home state and indeed my community."

But Malcolm Turnbull said such intense fires are part and parcel of life in Australia.

“We are the land of droughts and flooding rains, we're the land of bushfires,” he said. “Nature hurls her worst at Australians – always has and always will."

“We saw from the air how the fire had not just leapt over a river, but had leapt over streets of houses, apparently without any damage, and then landed on a group of houses which had been burnt out. So, you can see how unpredictable it is.

“We have an environment which has extremes. Bushfires are part of Australia, as, indeed, are droughts and floods.”

Coalition Senator, Ian Macdonald, called the speech "hypocritical and a fraud". "These events happened before. They will happen in the future," he said.

The official New South Wales bush fire season ends at the end of March.




Preserving the graphics:  Most graphics on this site are hotlinked from elsewhere.  But hotlinked graphics sometimes have only a short life -- as little as a week in some cases.  After that they no longer come up.  From January 2011 on, therefore, I have posted a monthly copy of everything on this blog to a separate site where I can host text and graphics together -- which should make the graphics available even if they are no longer coming up on this site.  See  here or here