By Ken Haapala, Executive Vice President Science and Environmental Policy Project (SEPP)
On Thursday, The French Academy of Sciences released a report declaring the global warming exists and is unquestionably due to human activity. The academy president declared the debate is over. Former education minister Claude Allegre, who questioned the orthodoxy, signed off on what he considered a compromise report stating: “I have not evolved, I still say the same thing, that the exact role of carbon dioxide in the environment has not been shown.”
The report recognized uncertainties in solar influence, clouds, oceans and atmosphere. Those who believe that human carbon dioxide emissions may have some warming effect, but are not the dominant driver of climate change, may find the report acceptable except that it gives carbon dioxide a principal role in climate change. We await the translation of the full report, but apparently there is no precision in the report. A vague statement, no matter how forcefully made, remains vague. Please see Article # 1
In an article published on October 12, Bjorn Lomborg discusses the change in the vocabulary of the global warming alarmists. No longer is global warming, or climate change, the major theme. Instead, it has been replaced by clean energy, clean jobs – a green economy. Lomborg also discusses how much a green economy is costing his native country, Denmark. He believes that drastic carbon cuts are a poor response to global warming. Please see Article # 2.
In another article for the Investors’ Business Daily (IBD), Lomborg advocates committing streams of money to technical improvements in new wind and solar energy, as well as other technical innovations. Lomborg’s comments are rebutted in a follow-up article in IBD by Willie Soon, Bob Carter, and David Legates who bring up a seldom mentioned issue: the benefits of increased CO2 Much is made of what economists call the external costs of carbon dioxide emissions, namely global warming which is always considered bad. But increased CO2 in the atmosphere stimulates more vigorous growth of plant life that benefits humanity and the environment.
The Department of Interior has approved the building of what is called the world’s largest solar-thermal power plant on 7,000 acres of Federal land in the desert of Southern California. The project is a venture by two German companies. The first half of the project could be eligible for a cash subsidy of $900,000,000 from the stimulus bill. The cash subsidy program ends on December 31, 2010. Also, the companies are seeking Federal loan guarantees and, no doubt, an array of benefits from the state.
To put the cash subsidy perspective, it is useful to calculate the employment benefits. The administration claims this project will provide up to 300 new permanent jobs. This calculates out to $3,000,000 per permanent job. At that rate it would cost about $20.27 Trillion to reduce the current unemployment rate (9.2% est. by US Bureau of Labor Statistics) to the rough average over the past 15 years of 5%. $20.27 Trillion is about 1.4 times the entire gross domestic product of the US in 2009 (estimated to be $14.26 Trillion by the US Bureau of Economic Analysis). The expenditure is enormous, but does it benefit the citizens of California by providing affordable electricity?
As seen in other reports (Article # 3 and articles under California Dreaming) there are additional solar projects in California which promoters are trying to start before December 31. These stories indicate that even after subsidies, the cost of the electricity generated will be 30 to 70 percent more expensive than electricity generated by natural gas, the dominant electricity generating fuel in California. The promoters of the projects consider a 30 to 70 percent increase in cost to be competitive – a clear consequence of the state’s renewable energy mandates. Only in California!
THE NUMBER OF THE WEEK: 24 to 1 – the number of nuclear power plants under construction in China (as reported by the World Nuclear Association) compared to the number of nuclear power plants under construction in the US.
Green energy promoters stridently insist that we are in a race with China to develop green energy, namely solar and wind. Spain and Germany were in the race but dropped out and their green energy firms are suffering as the subsidies stopped.
The question seldom asked is China really in the same race? Over the next several weeks, The Number of the Week will explore that question. If China is in a nuclear power race it is clearly winning. Please see Nuclear Power in China under Energy Issues.
[Please note that the 104 nuclear power plants in the US have a very high average capacity factor of over 90%.]
SEPP SCIENCE EDITORIAL #32-2010 (Oct. 30, 2010)
S Fred Singer Chairman, and President, Science and Environmental Policy Project (SEPP)
No one denies that the Earth has warmed in the past century. So of course, the past decade must be the warmest – even though there has been no upward trend since the 1998 temperature peak. [Note the important distinction between temperature level (measured in deg C or deg F) and trend (expressed in deg C per year).] The dispute is (and always has been) about the cause of the warming. In fact, the major warming during the first 50 years of the 20th century and the latter part of the 19th century is generally accepted to be natural – a recovery from the Little Ice Age. But there’s no credible evidence that identifies the most recent warming as human-caused. On the contrary, while the UN’s IPCC claims to be quite certain that it is anthropogenic, the independent NIPCC (Non-governmental International Panel on Climate Change) concludes that “Nature – Not Human Activity – Rules the Climate.” See http://www.sepp.org/publications/NIPCC_final.pdf
In this connection note the obfuscatory language used by the EPA in turning down all of the ‘Petitions for Reconsideration’ of its Endangerment finding on CO2: “The scientific evidence supporting EPA’s finding is robust, voluminous, and compelling. Climate change is happening now, and humans are contributing to it. Multiple lines of evidence show a global warming trend over the past 100 years. Beyond this, melting ice in the Arctic, melting glaciers around the world, increasing ocean temperatures, rising sea levels, altered precipitation patterns, and shifting patterns of ecosystems and wildlife habitats all confirm that our climate is changing.”
Yet there is no evidence at all that humans are indeed contributing to warming in a significant way. We’ll see you in court, dear EPA, and gladly examine your “compelling” evidence!
ARTICLES: For the numbered articles below please see:
The Week That Was
1. Global warming ‘unquestionably’ linked to humans: France
By Claire Snegaroff, APF, Oct 28, 2010
2. What Have Climate Activists Learned
By Bjorn Lomborg, Project Syndicate, Oct 12, 2010 [H/t Berol Robinson]
[SEPP Comment: The new hype is green energy, green jobs but the purpose is the same - control of carbon dioxide emissions.]
3. Huge Solar-Plant Project Approved
By Cassandra Sweet and Siobhan Hughes, WSJ, Oct 26, 2010
4. Disputing The Skeptical Environmentalist
By Willie Soon, Robert Carter, and David Legates, IBD, Oct 29, 2010
5. Observe Other’s Past Energy Experiences
By Charles Battig, Letter, Richmond Times Dispatch, Oct 21, 2010
NEWS YOU CAN USE:
Challenging the Orthodoxy
Cabal of climate skeptics to descend on parliament
By Leo Hickman, Guardian, UK, Oct 26, 2010
Defending the Orthodoxy
Climate Change May Alter Natural Climate Cycles of Pacific
Science Daily, Oct 18, 2010 [H/t Toshio Fujita]
[SEPP Comment: The IPCC and other advocates have ignored the influence of natural cycles in the Pacific on global warming. Now some claim global warming will change these cycles.]
Why Can’t We Innovate Our Way To A Carbon-Free Energy Future?
By Bjorn Lomborg, IBD, Oct 22, 2010
Arctic Temperatures and Ice – Why it is All About Natural Variability
By Joseph D’Aleo, ICECAP, Oct 24, 2010
Warmer Arctic Temps Tied to U.S. Snowstorms
CBS News, Oct 22, 2010, [H/t Joe D'Aleo ICECAP]
NOAA: “Arctic Report Card: Update for 2010″
By Arnd Bernaerts, Digging In the Clay, Oct 25, 2010 [H/t ICECAP]
2010 Hurricane Factoids
Roger Pielke, Jr, Blog, Oct 25, 2010 [H/t Marc Morano, Climate Depot]
[SEPP Comments: Another disappointing season for those hyping hurricanes.]
BP Oil Spill and Aftermath
Panel Says Firms Knew of Cement Flaws Before Spill
By John Broder, NYT, Oct 28, 2010
Another Drilling Smackdown
Editorial, WSJ, Oct 25, 2010
Nuclear Power in China
World Nuclear Association, Oct 22, 2010
Half The Productivity, Twice The Carbon
By Staff Writers, Energy Daily, Oct 26, 2010 [H/t Catherine French]
[SEPP Comment: The IT industry needs affordable, reliable electricity. This is news?]
Can Solar Shield Protect The North American Power Grid
By Tony Phillips, Science News, [H/t Toshio Fujita]
Is Wind the Next Ethanol?
By Ben Lieberman, CEI, Oct 26, 2010 [H/t Cooler Heads Digest]
German grid aching under solar power
UPI, Oct 19, 2010 http://www.upi.com/Science_News/Resource-Wars/2010/10/19/German-grid-aching-under-solar-power/UPI-13471287518368/
Time To Remove The Roadblocks To A National Transmission Grid
By Gilbert Metcalf, IBD, Oct 26, 2010
Hydrogen-generating technology might power boats, store energy from wind, solar sources
By Emil Venere, Press Release, Purdue University, Oct 7, 2010 [H/t Toshio Fujita]
Subsidies and Mandates Forever
Spending Review: Honesty is the best policy before the bigger fuel bills start to bite.
By Charles Moore, Telegraph, UK, Oct 22, 2010 [H/t Bob Ferguson, SPPI]
Perplexing energy policy
By Steen Syre, Boston Globe, Oct 26, 2010 [H/t Randy Randol]
Remember Renewable Energy?
Editorial, NYT, Oct 27, 2010
The Race for Future Clean-Energy Jobs
By Terry McAuliffe, Richmond Times Dispatch, Oct. 27, 2010
Solar Power Project Face Potential Hurdles
By Todd Woody, NYT, Oct 28, 2010
DOI Approves 1,000-MW Rated Parabolic Trough Project
Power News, Oct 27, 2010
EPA and other Regulators On the March
NERC: EPA Regulations Could Impact System Reliability
Power News, Oct 27, 2010
Cuccinelli Demands Called ‘Governmental Intrusion’ Into Climate Science
By Eli Kintisch, Science Insider, Oct 21, 2010 [H/t Toshio Fujita]
[SEPP Comment: Climate science is largely dependent on government support. Now an investigation of possible inappropriate application of such funds is a governmental intrusion?]
Review of Recent Scientific Articles by NIPCC
For a full list of articles see NIPCC Report
Flocks of Birds Coping with Climate Change
Reference: Van Buskirk, J., Mulvihill, R.S. and Leberman, R.C. 2010. Declining body sizes in North American birds associated with climate change. Oikos 119: 1047-1055.
Amphibian Population Declines
Reference Rohr, J.R., Raffel, T.R., Romansic, J.M., McCallum, H. and Hudson, P.J. 2008. Evaluating the links between climate, disease spread, and amphibian declines. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA 105: 17,436-17,441.
Effects of Elevated CO2 on Longevity and Fecundity of an Invasive Weevil Feeding on Aspen, Birch and Maple Foliage
Reference: Hillstrom, M.L., Vigue, L.M., Coyle, D.R., Raffa, K.F. and Lindroth, R.L. 2010. Performance of the invasive weevil Polydrusus sericeus is influenced by atmospheric CO2 and host species. Agricultural and Forest Entomology 12: 285-292.
Unexpected Biological Resilience to Climate Change
Reference: Bell, R.C., Parra, J.L., Tonione, M., Hoskin, C.J., Mackenzie, J.B., Williams, S.E. and Moritz, C. 2010. Patterns of persistence and isolation indicate resilience to climate change in montane rainforest lizards. Molecular Ecology 19: 2531-2544.
Other Scientific Issues
Introducing the A-Train
By Adam Voiland, NASA Press Release, Oct 27, 2010 [H/t Anthony Watts, WUWT]
[SEPP Comment: An explanation of a train of satellites measuring the earth's changes.]
Changing Our Understanding Of Atmospheric Aerosol Properties And Climate Effects
By Staff Writers, Terra Daily, Oct 18, 2010 [H/t Toshio Fujita]
[SEPP Comment: The influence of aerosols on the earth's climate is largely unknown. Better understanding of the physical nature of some aerosols is an important step.]
Bees’ tiny brains beat computers, study finds
Bees can solve complex mathematical problems which keep computers busy for days research has shown
Guardian, UK, Oct 24, 2010 [H/t A.J. Meyer]
BELOW THE BOTTOM LINE:
Al Gore compares human heart to hydrological cycle
By Rance Leroy, French Tribune, Oct 21, 2010 [H/t Best on the Web]
Space tourism to accelerate climate change
By Adam Mann, Nature News, Oct 22, 2010 [H/t A.J. Meyer]