The Groucho Marx Explanation for Climate Change

The late comedian is known for a number of one liners.  One that is often repeated is “who are you going to believe, me or your lying eyes”.  That question is often the approach taken by climate advocates.

A case in point is the annual ritual of claiming that the latest year’s temperature is one of the highest on record even though satellite records since 1998 show that temperatures have not risen.

Advocates are quick to criticize satellite temperature measurements because they don’t conform to their orthodoxy, cover too short a time period, and are only an indirect way of estimating surface temperature.  And, they have readymade explanations for the adjustments that they routinely make to surface measurements that always make the surface temperatures warmer.

In the past few months, two analyses have shown how these advocates engage in scientific and statistical manipulation to bolster their argument that human activities are the primary cause of warming that has occurred over the past 50 years and that the warming hiatus is a mirage.

Climate scientists, James Wallace, Joe D’Aleo, and Craig Idso, have prepared a report—On The Validity of NOAA, NASA, & HADLEY SURFACE TEMPRATURE DATA— that examined the surface data adjustments in three data sets—NOAA, NASA, and the Hadley Center in the UK.  In their study, they make the point that “ the notion that some “adjustments” to historical data might need to be made is not challenged.”  They go on to make the logical observation that it would be expected that sometimes the adjustments would raise temperatures while others times they would lower them.  Instead, what they found was the adjustments were consistently to increase temperatures and had the result of “removing the previously existing cyclical temperature pattern.”  Clearly, climate advocates at these agencies know what they want temperature record should look like—keep going up—and adjustments are the way to get the desired result.

John Brignell has written a wonderful book—Sorry, Wrong Number, that covers in great depth the abuse of measurement, which has been going on for a very long time and is far broader than climate.  Conclusions don’t flow from data; data are arranged to confirm conclusions.

The steady increase in temperatures reported, generally with great fanfare, by these three organizations is used as a way of validating climate models, which on their face should be viewed with a healthy dose of skepticism.  As John Christy showed in recent testimony before the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology the models that predict ever increasing temperatures require the addition of “extra GHGs.” When the extra GHs are removed, model results “overlap the observations almost completely”.

Examples like this provide a strong justification for the Red Team exercise proposed by Steve Koonin and embraced by the EPA Administrator.



A Gift to Environmentalists

President Trump’s Unleashing American Energy speech, especially the portion dealing with the OCS will no doubt unleash a fundraising blitz by environmental organizations who will use scare tactics about OCS development off the Atlantic coast to fill their coffers.

The Five-Year plan that the Interior Department has prepared, and which is open for comment, would not go into effect until 2022.  If leases were offered there is no guarantee that companies would bid on them or that oil and gas would be found.  Much depends on the outlook for natural gas and crude oil prices, advances in technology as well as the positions on leases taken by coastal states.  For decades, coastal states, and communities on the Atlantic coast, have opposed any drilling because of fears of spills that would impose severe economic costs because many rely on tourism.

The Coastal Zone Management Act(CZMA) provides a mechanism for states to be actively involved in the leasing process.  Under a reauthorization to the CZMA in 1990, Congress gave states greater authority by eliminating the requirement that there had to be a “direct” effect on a state’s coastal zone for requiring a consistency determination that a proposed lease sale will not impact its land or water use or natural resources in its coastal zone.  If the state disagrees with the consistency determination, Interior must follow certain procedures to achieve resolution before holding the lease sale. In addition to requiring compliance with CZMA, there are other environmental laws could limit natural gas and oil activities by imposing additional requirements. These include: The National Environmental Policy Act, the Clean Air Act, the Endangered Species Act, the Clean Water Act, and the National Fishing Enhancement Act.

The fears expressed by coastal communities are not  grounded on a solid foundation.  Since the Santa Barbara accident in 1969, there has only been one major production accident, The Deep Water Horizon in the Gulf of Mexico.  The fact that 40 years lapsed between major production accidents with more than 50,000 wells drilled in US waters is testament to the technology and safety of offshore drilling.  Oil spills cause damage but it is not permanent and there are few things in the modern world that are risk free.

Seismic testing to determine the resource base of the Atlantic offshore, which occurs before leasing, does not translate into lease sales and drilling.  The abundance of onshore oil and gas made available through fracking technology combined with coastal politics, and the cost of offshore platforms affects the decision calculus of companies when considering whether to bid on an offshore lease.

So, while environmental organizations will make money from the decision about the next five-year plan, the reality is that the outburst of opposition is at least premature and not well informed.  Coastal communities own interests will best be served by emotion free analysis and an honest consideration of trade-offs.