Persistent Myths

The Washington Post recently ran an article by Jason Samenow (washingtonpost) that cavalierly dismissed EPA Administrator Pruitt’s call for a Red Team approach to refine what we know about climate science.  While the author accurately summarized the justification offered by Steven Koonin, who was a senior DOE official in the Obama Administration  and a highly regarded physicist, most of the article was an attempt at discrediting the value of a Red Team exercise.  Given the certitude of the climate establishment, they should welcome the opportunity to shame climate skeptics.

The writer uses remarks by David Titley, a climate scientist Penn State, “Science already has a red team: peer review, to make the case that peer review has already settled the argument over climate science. Is it a coincidence that Titley is a colleague of Hockey Stick slick Michael Mann?  Perhaps but don’t bet on it.

Claiming that science is settled because of “peer review” is at best disingenuous.  For peer review to be a credible standard, reviewers should be anonymous to authors and reviewed research should be replicated.  That is rarely the case, and especially not the case for articles on climate change where authors often suggest or pick reviewers.  In 2010, (The Guardian in response to Climategate published an article, Climate change emails between scientists reveal flaws in peer review, that exposed how the peer review process was being manipulated.   Flaws in peer review are not limited to climate science. The  Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine published a broader critique–Peer review: a flawed process at the heart of science and journals.  In this article, the point was made that peer review is like “democracy: a system full of problems but the least worst we have”.  The evidence is clear toparaphrase Samuel Johnson, parroting peer review is the last refuge of scoundrels.

The claim that 97% of climate scientists believe that humans are mainly responsible for warming over the past 50 plus years has been shown over and over to be a myth.  But, the climate establishment has kept repeating it until the media and public accept it as fact.  As a result, journalists have gotten lazy and don’t bother to do the hard work that follows from the view, “I’m not convinced”.  If they did, they would easily find that the papers purporting to show that this overwhelming consensus have been thoroughly debunked, not just one or two times but dozens. In 2014, Roy Spencer and Joe Bast published an insightful article in the Wall Street Journal (spencer and bast) that concluded, “There is no basis for the claim that 97% of scientists believe that man-made climate change is a dangerous problem”.  Friends of Science (friends of science ) also published a detailed study titled 97% CONSENSUS? NO! GLOBAL WARMING MATH MYTHS & SOCIAL PROOFS that provided a detailed critique of the consensus meme.

Rather than denigrate the call for a Red Team exercise, Mr. Samenow and the Post should spend some time looking at the evidence that supports Dr. Koonin’s proposal.  As the late Daniel Patrick Moynihan once observed, we are all entitled to our own opinions, just not our own facts.  The Red Team review would go a long way to making clear what is opinion and what is fact.







Carbon Dioxide Facts Versus Alternative Facts

The reaction of hard core environmentalists and their allies in Congress, and the main stream media to the President’s statement that the US “will continue to be cleanest and most environmental friendly country on Earth” demonstrates the lengths they will go to mislead and distort in pursuing their agenda.  An Associated Press article claims that “the US is among the dirtiest countries when it comes to … carbon pollution.”  That statement is a clear example of fake news and alternative facts.

Why is this the case?

Most important, CO2 is not a pollutant.  It is a nutrient that is essential for the growth of plants, crops, and trees.  According to a NASA study, “From a quarter to half of Earth’s vegetated lands has shown significant greening over the last 35 years largely due to rising levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide.  And, the notion that current CO2 levels in the atmosphere constitute a health risk is countered by the fact that the US Navy allows up to 5000 ppm in submarines, more than an order of magnitude higher than current atmospheric levels.

The classification of CO2 as a pollutant is the result of a poorly reasoned Supreme Court decision in 2007 that relied on the “Chevron doctrine” that gives deference to regulatory agencies in cases of legislative ambiguity.  However, the Court ignored the fact that in passing the 1990 amendments to the Clean Air Act, Congress explicitly denied EPA the authority to regulate CO2.  There was no ambiguity.

Contrary to the impression created by the climate establishment, CO2 is not the dominant or primary atmospheric greenhouse gas.  The atmosphere is comprised primarily of nitrogen and oxygen—99%.  Argon is 0.9%, CO2 is 0.03%, and water vapor which varies from 0.0 to 4.0% is the more potent greenhouse gas. According to the International Environmental Data Rescue Organization, “Water vapor accounts for 60-70% of the greenhouse effect while CO2 accounts for 25%.

Climate advocates have created the image of ever increasing levels of CO2 leading to ever increasing global temperatures.  That implies that there is a linear relationship between atmospheric levels and increases in temperature.  In fact, the warming potential of CO2 is non-linear.  This means that the warming caused by the next increment of CO2 is less than the increment that preceded it.  There is reason to believe that the world is on the flat end of the curve.

Although advocates point out the increase in CO2 levels and temperatures since the Industrial Revolution, they conveniently omit the fact that in the earth’s history, CO2 levels have been significantly higher.  Geologists estimate that 200 million years ago, average CO2 concentrations were about 1800 ppm, almost 5 times greater than today’s level. The highest concentrations of CO2 are estimated to have reached nearly 7000 ppm.  And earlier, over 400 million years ago, earth experienced an ice age with CO2 concentrations at 4400 ppm. The original “hockey stick” graph in Al Gore’s Earth in the Balance was revealing when plotted objectively and not to prove a point.  It showed over a 160,000 year time period that there were times when CO2 preceded warming, followed warming, and coincided with warming.

Today’s global temperatures are not unprecedented.  Within the past millennium, temperature was warmer during the Medieval Warming period (800-1400) and during the Little Ice Age (1400–1850), it was colder.  Tracing modern warming from the end of the Little Ice Age creates an erroneous picture of warming.

The effect of CO2 concentrations on warming is a function of climate sensitivity—the temperature effect from doubling CO2.  Absent positive feedback, a doubling of CO2 is estimated by most scientists to be 1 degree C.  The IPCC in its most recent report estimates that climate sensitivity ranges from 1.5C to 4.5C.  In 1985, UNEP put out a statement on greenhouse gases and climate.  It estimated that a doubling of CO2 would lead to a temperature increase of 1.5C to 4.5C.  Since research is intended to expand knowledge and reduce uncertainty it is telling that in spite of spending well over $100 billion, we seem to know no more about the effect of CO2 on warming than we did over 30 years ago.  Curious indeed.

EPA has set standards for air quality and records over the past 40 years show that there has been steady and continuing improvement. Between 1980 and 2010, major pollutants defined by EPA were reduced between 27% and 82%.  Ozone and particulates had the smallest reductions but their reductions continue as new technology is developed.  It is grossly misleading to challenge the global leadership in US air quality by focusing on an emission that is not a pollutant and not a major component of the air we breathe.

The fact that the scary predictions made over the past 30 years have not come true along with the advancement of knowledge should lead thoughtful people to realize that we do not face a climate catastrophe.  Pretending to know more than we really do and pretending that we can control a complex system by controlling one variable is what Frederich Hayek termed the fatal conceit.


Much Ado About Nothing

The liberal media, environmental organizations, crony capitalists, and some members of Congress are in a hand wringing dither at the prospect that President Trump will withdraw from the 2015 Paris Accord.  Rarely is so much air time, print space, and rhetoric been devoted to something that so irrelevant .

In the early 90s, when Al Gore was pushing for mandatory emission reduction actions, a number of individuals and organizations called for a voluntary program to address what was then called global warming.  Bob Reinstein, a climate negotiator under George H. W. Bush, was the leading proponent for what he called a Pledge and Review approach.  The Clinton Administration rejected voluntary measures out of hand and went all out in support of the Kyoto Treaty.  The Senate unanimously passed SR-98 which rejected any treaty like Kyoto.

Since 1997, the climate club has tried every year at its annual Conference of the Parties (COP) to build on Kyoto with tougher goals and mandates.  And each year, it has failed, although each COP always finds a way to claim victory.  The 2015 Paris meeting became the occasion for achieving the grand illusion.  The adopted accord is just another version of Pledge and Review.  The notion that it will have any affect on climate is a fraud.

The Agreement maintains the fiction that emission reductions will keep global temperatures 2 degrees C above preindustrial levels or lower, commits to zero net emissions by achieving a balance between emissions and absorption in the second half of the century, commits to assist developing countries in adapting and in reducing emissions, and sets a long term goal of a low carbon future.  It is always easy to set long term goals for a time horizon that is far distant.

Since Al Gore’s Earth in the Balance we have learned that the assumed correlation between CO2 emissions and temperature increases isn’t all that simple.  Global emissions have continued to rise but global temperatures peaked in 1998 even though climate models have them continuing to increase.  And, none of the scary scenarios involving extreme weather and flooding caused by global warming have materialized.

Proponents of the Paris Accord point to the fact that 195 countries, virtually the entire world, have accepted it.  They conveniently neglect to point out that developing country participation was bought with a $100 billion a year bribe.  As long as money will be thrown at them to deal with the climate problem, why not go along?

The climate establishment needed a victory and Paris was turned into one.  In fact, it is an illusion.  As the late historian Daniel Boorstin pointed out events like Paris are synthetic novelties called pseudo-events.  In today’s jargon, they are false news and alternative facts.

Environmentalist Bjorn Lomborg’s analysis of the agreement concluded, “if every nation fulfills every promise by 2030, and continues to fulfill these promises faithfully until the end of the century, and there is no ‘CO₂ leakage’ to non-committed nations, the entirety of the Paris promises will reduce temperature rises by just 0.17°C (0.306°F) by 2100”.  An analysis by American Enterprise Institute scholar, Ben Zycher, reached a similar conclusion, a whopping 0.17 degree reduction, a reduction that could even be smaller since the measurement error is 0.1.

Believing that all nations will do what they promised is like second marriages, a triumph of hope over experience.  Rhetoric will be far greater than performance and participating nations will be extremely creative in explaining away their performance.  During Kyoto, cheating became an art form.  Countries importing coal fired electricity omitted the emissions from its reports because another country produced the emissions.  Producing countries also omitted the emissions because the importing country should own them.  Companies accumulated emission credits by investing in offsets in developing countries under the Clean Development Mechanism but many of those credits were the result of creative accounting.  The same kind of game playing will take place under the Paris Accord with the participants willingly engaging in wink and nod compliance.

Single minded pursuit of reducing CO2 emissions will cause serious economic harm while doing nothing to affect climate change.  The charade that the Paris Agreement represents needs to be exposed for what it is, a full employment act for those who believe in “global governance” and who profit from marketing environmental doom.