The Week That Was: 2013-01-05 (January 5, 2013) Brought to You by SEPP (www.SEPP.org) The Science and Environmental Policy Project
Quote of the Week: It is a truism that almost any sect, cult, or religion will legislate its creed into law if it acquires the political power to do so. -Robert A. Heinlein, science-fiction author (1907-1988)
Number of the Week: A 10 percent certainty of 10,000,000 is equal to a 100 percent certainty of 1,000,000.
By Ken Haapala, Executive Vice President, Science and Environmental Policy Project (SEPP)
Annual 2012 Temperatures: According to Roy Spencer and John Christy, based on comprehensive satellite measurements, 2012 was the ninth warmest year since the satellite record began 34 years ago. It was the warmest year for the continental US (Alaska included). No doubt alarmists will proclaim that this is proof of human caused global warming. However, the US comprises less than 2% of the earth’s surface, hardly global. There are indications the NOAA will announce that 2012 was the warmest for the US since surface-air record keeping began about 1890. However, the statistical manipulation that has taken place in the historic record, particularly a later day calculated cooling of the 1930’s, makes the historic record somewhat questionable. Of course, none of this goes to cause. Please see link under Challenging the Orthodoxy.
Greenhouse Skeptics: On his web site, Roy Spencer posted a provocative essay on some misconceptions by those who reject the greenhouse theory, as compared with those who are skeptical of the claim that humans are causing unprecedented and dangerous global warming. Among the misconceptions Spencer discusses are: the greenhouse effect violates the second law of thermodynamics; energy input alone determines temperatures; and that the rate of infrared absorption in the atmosphere equals the rate of infrared emission.
On his web site, Lubos Molt fully agrees with Spencer and restates Spencer’s points somewhat differently. Molt also addresses some of the early criticism of Spencer’s post. Both are an excellent follow-up on Fred Singer’s provocative essay, “Climate Deniers Are Giving Us Skeptics a Bad Name,” published in American Thinker on February 29, 2012.
As to the greenhouse effect violating the second law of thermodynamics, it is useful to recall Vincent Gray’s reminder that the laws of thermodynamics were articulated before the discovery of energy transfer by radiation, thus initially applied only to conduction and convection. The timing has resulted in a confusion lasting for generations. Please see links under Challenging Greenhouse Skeptics and http://www.americanthinker.com/2012/02/climate_deniers_are_giving_us_skeptics_a_bad_name.html
IPCC AR5 WGI: New Zealander Vincent Gray has been an expert reviewer on all five of the Assessment Reports by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) is due out in 2013 – 14. The second draft of the scientific section, called Working Group I (WGI), was posted on the internet by Alec Rawls. Subsequently, Vincent Gray provided SEPP with his comments on WGI. Gray’s general comments are in this TWTW and a summary of his specific comments will be in next week’s TWTW. Please see Article # 2.
Bridging the Political Divide: Nature published a provocative essay by Daniel Sarewitz calling for scientists, regardless of political affiliation or ideology, to work together to prevent politicians, particularly conservative politicians, from attacking science. To Sarewitz, the US community must decide if it wishes to be an independent national asset or a special interest group supporting the Democratic Party.
In commenting on the essay, Roger Pielke Jr, points out that scientific institutions, such as the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and the American Geophysical Union (AGU), have taken political positions. Pielke further points out that the journal for AAAS, Science, has taken political positions as well. [One could also add that the journal of the AGU, EOS, published a highly misleading survey supposedly showing that scientists support the claim that human emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) are causing dangerous global warming.] Pielke buttresses his arguments by stating that scientific integrity appears to be an issue to the scientific community only when a Republican is president.
As Pielke states, “our scientific institutions are far too important to be allowed to become pawns in the political battles of the day.” The issues go not only to the scientific community, but also to the funding authorities and their administrators. Many government funded studies contain lax scientific standards. For example, numerous studies are based on long term projections from climate models used by the IPCC. But the models have never been verified and validated, thus the results are purely speculative. In the past, members of SEPP have suggested to senior administrators of the National Science Foundation that a small portion of the climate science funding be allocated to global warming skeptics, but to no avail. Please see links under Seeking a Common Ground.
Another “Nature Trick?” A number of articles appeared reporting that the West Antarctic ice sheet shows one of the strongest warming trends on the globe. On Watts Up With That, David Middleton exposes the study in Nature on which these reports are based. According to Middleton, the data cover two separate time frames: 1957 to 1975 and 1980 to 2012. The first set show a moderately significant warming trend and the second set show an insignificant warming trend, with no warming after 1991. The researchers just stitch the data together to provide a long term warming trend. Please see links under Communicating Better to the Public – Exaggerate, or be Vague?
Lisa Jackson: The first recipient of the SEPP April Fools Award, a lump of coal named in her honor, Lisa Jackson announced she is leaving as administrator of the EPA after President Obama’s inauguration. The announcement came shortly after the Inspector General of the EPA announced that the office is investigating Ms. Jackson’s use of private email accounts to conduct government business – some 7100 emails. EPA has agreed to begin releasing the emails after the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) successfully sued under the Freedom of Information Act. One can only speculate if the events are related.
Under Ms. Jackson, the EPA has greatly expanded the regulation of many industries, particularly the coal-fired electricity utility industry. Many of the EPA scientific claims, such as the toxic effect of mercury emissions from coal-fired plants, are highly questionable at best. TWTW considers the EPA’s ruling that greenhouse gases, particularly CO2, endangers public health and welfare is without scientific merit. At this time, it is not known who will replace Ms. Jackson and if that person would be an improvement or not. Please see Article # 3 and links under EPA and other Regulators on the March.
Wind Subsidies: This week Congress passed a tax and spending bill to prevent the so called “fiscal cliff.” The bill provided for increasing income tax rates to high income households, and extending certain tax benefits to selected groups such as the production tax credit for the wind industry. The extension is for projects that are started in 2013, even though they do not come on line. Past TWTWs have articulated at least five reasons why wind is inferior to traditional methods of generating electricity. The new bill demonstrates the hypocrisy that underlines many of Washington’s actions. Only households or corporations with high taxable income can take advantage of a tax credit. It is of no benefit for those who pay little or no income taxes. Many of those politicians who demanded high income groups be taxed more, were among the most strident in demanding tax credits for wind, which benefit high income groups. Please see link under Subsidies and Mandates Forever
Changing Climate: Several controversial articles have appeared on climate change. One article suggested that rapid climate change, namely in precipitation, in Africa two million years ago triggered cognitive development in early humans. A second study suggested that changes in the El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) resulted in the demise in an artistically advanced culture in Australia some 7,000 years ago. On her web site, Jo Nova has some striking examples of the aboriginal art.
Number of the Week (Actually the Logic of the Week): A 10 percent certainty of 10,000,000 is equal to a 100 percent certainty of 1,000,000. Professor of Musicology Richard Parncutt of the University of Graz, in Austria, proposed on a University web site that global warming deniers (skeptics) be tried and subject to the death penalty. Normally, TWTW does not bother discussing such rants but there are two points that are illuminating: 1) his logic; and 2) how he, and others who use similar reasoning, would apply this reasoning to those who have promoted misguided policies that resulted in the preventable deaths of millions.
One, the professor states: “If ten million people are going to die with a probability of 10%, that is like one million people dying with a probability of 100%.” Apply this logic to a 10% chance of receiving $10,000,000. Yet, similar logic underlies the EPA linear, no threshold model in determining health hazards – if a massive dose is toxic to humans, than a tiny dose applied to many humans will be toxic to some.
Two, by the early 1950s British colonial doctors demonstrated that the indoor spraying of native dwellings with DDT about every six months was very effective in controlling malaria in the tropics. In 1972, EPA Administrator William Ruckelshaus banned the use of DDT on the scientifically unsupported claim that it may cause cancer in humans. By then, malaria was no longer a health issue in the US. Using this claim, certain US government agencies and environmental nongovernment organizations (NGOs) demanded the banning of all use of DDT in other countries, including indoor spraying, as a condition for receiving US governmental aid. In countries that did so, malaria rates soared, millions died, and hundreds of millions suffered from preventable malaria. Please see links under Below the Bottom Line.
For the numbered articles below please see this week’s TWTW at: http://www.sepp.org. The articles are at the end of the pdf.
1. Climate Science vs Politics: The Road Ahead
By S. Fred Singer, American Thinker, Dec 27, 2012
[SEPP Comment: Please note that the Supreme Court did not specifically require independent review, but EPA procedures do.]
2. Expert Review of IPCC Assessment Report (AR5WGI), Reviewer of All Five Reports
By Vincent Gray, New Zealand, Nov, 2012
3. The Jackson Damage
The economic harm the EPA chief wrought.
Editorial, WSJ, Dec 27, 2012
4. Silicon Valley’s Green Energy Mistake
Political venture capital turns out to be a loser.
Editorial, WSJ, Dec 27, 2012
[SEPP Comment: The Silicon Valley investors are realizing the folly of green energy while Washington promotes it.]
NEWS YOU CAN USE:
Challenging the Orthodoxy
Comments on US Atmospheric Temperatures
By Roy Spencer and John Christy, Roy Spencer’s Blog, Jan 3, 2012 [H/t Gordon Fulks]
Op-Ed: EPA’s carbon regs not based on sound science
By Joe D’Aleo, Washington Examiner, Dec 27, 2012
Is Weather More Extreme In A Warmer World? The Answer is in the Ice
By Art Horn, Energy Tribune, Dec 26, 2012
German Scientists Shoot Down Recent Claims Of “Rapid Warming” In Antarctica – Overall Continent Is Cooling!
By P. Gosselin, No Tricks Zone, Dec 28, 2012
Translated from Western Antarctica warms more quickly than thought – however, hardly at all in the last 25 years
By Sebastian Lüning and Fritz Vahrenholt
Defending the Orthodoxy
US science: The Obama experiment
Nearly four years after US President Barack Obama pledged to put science in its rightful place, Nature asks if he kept his word.
By Jeff Tollefson, Nature, Sep 26, 20112
Time to Confront Climate Change
Editorial, NYT, Dec 27, 2012
Challenging Greenhouse Skeptics
Misunderstood Basic Concepts and the Greenhouse Effect
By Roy Spencer, His Blog, Jan 1, 2012
Greenhouse effect doesn’t contradict any laws of physics
By Lubos Motl, Reference Frame, Jan 1, 2012
Questioning the Orthodoxy
Global Climate Planning: Down But Not Out (Doha’s ‘bitter defeat’ does not mean it’s over)
By Craig Rucker, Master Resource, Dec 31, 2012
Welcome to a Kyoto-free-world: Best use was to show how bad a nanny-state-unfree-market is.
By Jo Nova, Her Blog, Jan 1, 2013
This Is Called Cheating (Part 2)
By Donna Laframboise, NFC, Dec 22, 2012
Time for an Adult Approach to Climate Change
By Tom Harris, Caribarena Antigua, Dec 29, 2012
Questioning European Green
Poland and Czech Republic Ban German Green Energy
By Daniel Wetzel, Die Welt, via GWPF, Dec 29, 2012
Growing Criticism: Germany’s Transition To Renewable Energy Is Leading To All Pain And No Gain
By P. Gosselin, No Tricks Zone, Dec 31, 2012
Greenest Government Ever: ‘Bribes’ to Halt Wind Farm Opposition
By Jonathan Leake, Sunday Times, via GWPF, Dec 30, 2012
[SEPP Comment: Everyone wins except those who use electricity.]
Questioning Green Elsewhere
Ottawa must get real on climate change
From trying to reduce CO2 emissions to throwing money away on wind and solar power, the federal government is on the wrong track
By Tom Harris, Vancouver Sun, Dec 26, 2012
A Running Leap Off the Green Energy Cliff
By Keith Kohl, Energy & Capital, Jan 4, 2013 [H/t Cooler Heads]
Problems in the Orthodoxy
Russia will not renew its commitment to the Kyoto Protocol.
By Staff Writers, Voice of Russia, Dec 31, 2012 [H/t GWPF]
Kyoto climate change treaty sputters to a sorry end
Kyoto Protocol aimed for 5% cut in carbon emissions — instead, we got a 58% increase
By Max Paris, CBC News, Dec 31, 2012
As the Kyoto Protocol Dies, Remember Those Who Called It (Part II)
By Robert Bradley Jr., Master Resource, Dec 27, 2012
“This Agreement Will be Good for Enron Stock!!” (Enron’s Kyoto memo turns 15)
By Robert Bradley Jr, Master Resource, Dec 24, 2012
Seeking a Common Ground
Science must be seen to bridge the political divide
Scientists in the United States are often perceived as a Democratic interest group. For science’s sake this has to change,
By Daniel Sarewitz, Nature, Jan 2, 2013
A New Year’s Resolution for Scientists
By Roger Pielke Jr, His Blog, Jan 2, 2013
There is of course nothing wrong with partisanship or with scientists participating in politics, they are after all citizens. However, our scientific institutions are far too important to be allowed to become pawns in the political battles of the day.
[SEPP Comment: See link immediately above.]
The Misunderstood Greenhouse effect.
By Geoff Brown, NCTCS, Jan 3, 2013
German/Austrian Academia Descends Into Madness – A Reaction To Parncutt’s Death Penalty Calls For Science Critics
By P. Gosselin, Dec 27, 2012
Dire tones from the University of Graz: music professor calls for the death penalty for climate science dissenters
By Sebastian Lüning and Fritz Vahrenholt
Trans: P. Gosselin
Climate fast attack plan
By Judith Curry, Climate Etc, Feb 18, 2012
[SEPP Comment: Judith Curry’s choice of the most important climate story of the year.]
Link for other lists: http://judithcurry.com/2012/12/30/year-in-review/#more-10817
Communicating Better to the Public – Exaggerate, or be Vague?
Antarctic warming courtesy of Mr. Fix-it
By David Middleton, WUWT, Dec 27, 2012
Link to Article: Central West Antarctica among the most rapidly warming regions on Earth
W. Antarctic warming among world’s fastest
By Staff Writers, Columbus, Ohio (UPI), Dec 24, 2012
AR5 Chapter 11; Hiding the Decline (Part II)
By David Hoffer, WUWT, Dec 30, 2012
Updated: Normalized Hurricane Losses 1900-2012
By Roger Pielke Jr, His Blog, Dec 31, 2012
What does the reinsurance market say about all this? Willis Re explains:
“most reinsurers are still within their annual catastrophe budgets for 2012 and not facing any capital impact… In the absence of Superstorm Sandy, reinsurers would have found it difficult to resist buyer pressure for further concessions. As such, Sandy’s impact has helped to stabilize market pricing on an overall basis and reinsurers have largely delivered to their clients in terms of capacity and continuity.”
In other words, thank goodness for Sandy.
The Political Superstorm that Devastated New York
By Paul Driessen, Townhall, Dec 29, 2012
Jan. 1 snow cover set U.S. record
By Staff Writers,State College, Pa. (UPI) Jan 3, 2012
[SEPP Comment: A ten year record.]
Fluctuating Environment May Have Driven Human Evolution
By Staff Writers, Science Daily, Dec 24, 2012
Link to study: Water, plants, and early human habitats in eastern Africa
Evidence of ENSO mega-drought triggered collapse of prehistory Aboriginal society in northwest Australia
By McGowan, et al, Geophysical Research Letters, Nov 23, 2012
Two million years of climate change made us what we are
By Jo Nova, Her Blog, Jan 3, 2013
Changing Sea Ice
The great Arctic cyclone of August 2012
By Ian Simmonds & Irina Rudeva, University of Melbourne, GRL, Dec 15, 2012 [H/t WUWT]
Record Arctic Storm Melted Sea Ice
By Just the Facts, WUWT, Dec 27, 2012
Trees worldwide a sip away from dehydration
Plumbing systems operate on a razor’s edge, leaving forests vulnerable
By Susan Milius, Science News, Dec 29, 2012 [H/t Clyde Spencer]
Link to letter in Nature: http://people.fas.harvard.edu/~eebutler//Homepage/Plants_and_Climate_files/Choat_etal_2012.pdf
[SEPP Comment: Not one word about increased atmospheric carbon dioxide increases the ability of plants to survive stress.]
NTU’s ground-breaking study warns of more great quakes in the Himalayas
By Staff Writers, Singapore (SPX) Jan 01, 2013
Review of Recent Scientific Articles by NIPCC
For a full list of articles see www.NIPCCreport.org
Sea Surface Temperatures of the Southern Okinawa Trough
Reference: Wu, W., Tan, W., Zhou, L., Yang, H. and Xu, Y. 2012. Sea surface temperature variability in the southern Okinawa Trough during last 2700 years. Geophysical Research Letters 39: 10.1029/2012GL052749.
Cyanobacteria of the Subtropical North Atlantic Ocean
Reference: Lomas, M.W., Hopkinson, B.M., Losh, J.L., Ryan, D.E., Shi, D.L., Xu, Y. and Morel, F.M.M. 2012. Effect of ocean acidification on cyanobacteria in the subtropical North Atlantic. Aquatic Microbial Ecology 66: 211-222.
“ocean acidification [reduction of alkalinity] would likely result in a positive feedback on the growth and physiology of natural populations, resulting in a positive change in their role in ocean carbon and nitrogen cycles,” which is, of course, great news for the biosphere!
Just How Icy was the Little Ice Age?
Reference: Osborn, G., Menounos, B., Ryane, C., Riedel, J., Clague, J.J., Koch, J., Clark, D., Scott, K. and Davis, P.T. 2012. Latest Pleistocene and Holocene glacier fluctuations on Mount Baker Washington. Quaternary Science Reviews 49: 33-51.
Earth’s Land and Water Surfaces: Net Sources or Sinks for CO2?
Reference: Ballantyne, A.P., Alden, C.B., Miller, J.B., Tans, P.P. and White, J.W. 2012. Increase in observed net carbon dioxide uptake by land and oceans during the past 50 years. Nature 488: 70-72.
The Political Games Continue
Election over, administration unleashes new rules
By Matthew Daly, AP, Dec 13, 2012
Will the Supreme Court Review EPA’s Greenhouse Gas Regulations?
By Marlo Lewis, Global warming.org, Jan 4, 2013
Subsidies and Mandates Forever
Wind PTC Extension Approved as Lawmakers Strike Fiscal Cliff Package Deal
By Staff Writers, Power News, Jan 3, 2013
EPA and other Regulators on the March
Did EPA Chief Lisa Jackson resign because emails she sent from a secret alias account will go public next month?
It was revealed in November that EPA Chief Lisa Jackson, 50, had sent thousands of emails tied to coal regulation from a secret alias account
The EPA chief announced on Thursday that she will resign after four years on the job for ‘new challenges, time with my family and new opportunities to make a difference’
Chris Horner, of the Competitive Enterprise Institute, said the scrutiny over the alias emails regarding the Obama administration’s alleged ‘war on coal,’ is clearly a factor behind Jackson’s decision to step down
Jackson’s resignation is effective following the President’s State of the Union address next month
By Damian Ghigliotty, Daily Mail, UK, Dec 27, 2012
EPA Finalizes Standards for Industrial Boilers, Certain Incinerators
By Sonal Patel, Power News, Jan 3, 2013
Is The EPA’s Lisa Jackson Trying To Dodge A Federal Probe?
Editorial, IBD, Dec 27, 2012
Lisa Jackson leaving EPA and path of economic destruction
By Steve Goreham, Washington Times, Jan 2, 2012
EPA’s illegal human experiments could break Nuremberg Code
Agency claims unfettered discretion in treatment of test subjects
By Steve Milloy, Washington Times, Dec 31, 2012
Lisa Jackson’s Destructive Crusade
By Henry Payne, National Review, Dec 28, 2012 [H/t ICECAP]
Energy Issues – Non-US
The New Era of Oil Renaissance
By EconMatters, NASDAQ, Dec 30, 2012
US, Canada, and Oz Prepare for the Asian Gas Wars
By Walter Russell Mead, Via Media, Dec 29, 2012 [H/t GWPF]
Don’t Fall for the Shale Boom Hype – Chris Martenson Interview
An interview by James Stafford for oilprice.com, London, UK (SPX) Dec 31, 2012
Energy Issues — US
Assessing Energy Policy
By Donn Dears, Power for USA, Jan 2, 2013
[SEPP Comment: The US energy policy is highly distorted by the fear that CO2 causes unprecedented and dangerous global warming.]
Trains carry more oil across U.S. amid boom
By Matthew Brown and Josh Funk, AP, Dec 30, 2012
Oil and Natural Gas – the Future or the Past?
Fracking and Elizabeth Barrett Browning
By Donn Dears, Power for USA, Dec 28, 2012
New York State Health Department: Fracking is safe, but don’t tell anyone
By Staff Writers, ACSH, Jan 3, 2013
Saudis Sweat Bullets As Energy Revolution Changes the Rules
By Walter Russell Mead, Via Meadia, Dec 29, 2012 [H/t Timothy Wise]
Exxon Mobil moves ahead with $14-billion Hebron oil field off Newfoundland
Jeffrey Jones, Reuters, Jan 4, 2013
Washington’s Control of Oil and Gas
Obama’s Energy Dilemma: Back Energy-Fueled Growth or Please Green Lobby
By Joel Kotkin, New Geography, Dec 7, 2012 [H/t Timothy Wise]
Don’t Kill The Economically Beneficial Shale-Gas Boom
By Robert J. Samuelson, IBD, Dec 24, 2012
Even With Bipartisan Push, Is Keystone XL Still A Pipe Dream?
By Larry Bell, Forbes, Dec 30, 2012
Keystone XL pipeline reroute avoids most ecological areas: Nebraska report
By Staff Writers, Reuters, Jan 4, 2013
Return of King Coal?
By Dennis Ambler, SPPI, Jan 1, 2013
In fact, the world will burn around 1.2 billion more tonnes of coal per year by 2017 compared to today – equivalent to the current coal consumption of Russia and the United States combined.
Oil Spills, Gas Leaks & Consequences
Transocean to pay $1.4 billion in civil, criminal fines for 2010 Gulf spill
By Zack Colman, The Hill, Jan 3, 2013
Alternative, Green (“Clean”) Solar and Wind
Wind farms vs wildlife
The shocking environmental cost of renewable energy
By Clive Hambler, The Spectator, UK, Jan 5, 2013 [H/t GWPF]
Wind Power’s Negative Externalities: Here Come the Lawsuits (Part II)
By Sherri Lange, Master Resource, Jan 3, 2013
[SEPP Comment: Will wind farms become the new asbestos in providing incomes to lawyers?]
Alternative, Green (“Clean”) Vehicles
Fisker Failures May Prevent Delaware From Getting Its Money Back
By Paul Chesser, NIPC, Dec 28, 2012 [H/t Cooler Heads]
The GM Reactionaries
By Henry Miller, Project Syndicate, Dec 31, 2012
[SEPP Comment: “Pathological science” is on the rise.]
Gore Takes Big Oil Cash From Anti-Semitic Al Jazeera
Editorial, IBD, Jan 3, 2013
Other Scientific News
Did the PBSG game the polar bear listing process?
By Susan Crockford, Polar Bear Science, Dec 26, 2012 [H/t GWPF]
“…for the sake of polar bear conservation, views that run counter to human induced climate change are extremely unhelpful.”
Other News that May Be of Interest
New York State Health Department: Fracking is safe, but don’t tell anyone
By Staff Writers, ACSH, Dec 17, 2012
[SEPP Comment: The dangers of misleading studies trumpeted by alarmists.]
BELOW THE BOTTOM LINE:
Death threats anyone? Austrian Prof: global warming deniers should be sentenced to death
By Jo Nova, Her Blog, Dec 24, 2012
Parncutt Death Threat: Uni of Graz “shocked”, Monckton gets it withdrawn with apology. John Cook says nothing.
By Jo Nova, Her Blog, Dec 28, 2012
2012: Global warming became reality
Record melting of Arctic Ocean ice. Record heat and droughts. New York under water. Believe climate change now?
By Seth Borenstein, AP, Dec 26, 2012