By Ken Haapala, Executive Vice President, Science and Environmental Policy Project (SEPP)
Today marks the re-launch the SEPP web site, www.sepp.org. The web site is on a new server with an exceptional software system that allows great flexibility and features that were not available on the previous system, to include advanced search options. One can now view current and past TWTWs on www.sepp.org. These will be updated consistently.
Significant work remains to be done so parts of the site will be under construction for some time. Please bear with us. Within a few months we expect to build a reliable and current search tool for all. For the next month TWTWs will be listed in the new site and the temporary site http://www.haapala.com/sepp/index.cfm. The temporary site will be phased out in February.
While many people were on their holidays, or stranded in snow bound air or ground traffic, the Obama Administration was advancing its goal of controlling use of carbon based energy. On January 2, the US EPA will start enforcing a new regulatory system that requires special permits for new facilities or ones significantly improved. These permits severely restrict greenhouse gas emissions (GHG). Of course, the main GHG that is being regulated is carbon dioxide. Currently, the main targets are power plants, refineries, iron and steel, pulp and paper, and cement plants. Subsequent regulations are forthcoming for existing facilities, boilers, etc. and new trucks, and automobiles.
It is useful to re-cap how the EPA obtained its position to declare that, under the Clean Air Act (CAA), it has powers to regulate carbon dioxide (CO2) a trace gas that is so necessary for life.
The CAA contains no rigorous definition of pollutant or toxicity. Its language is vague. Massachusetts sued EPA claiming CO2 emitted by automobiles was a pollutant under CAA, which EPA has the power to regulate. Joining Massachusetts were California, Connecticut, Illinois, Maine, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington, the cities of New York, Baltimore ,and Washington, DC, the territory of American Samoa, and the Center for Biological Diversity, Center for Food Safety, Conservation Law Foundation, Environmental Advocates, Environmental Defense ,Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace, International Center for Technology Assessment, National Environmental Trust, Natural Resources Defense Council, Sierra Club, Union of Concerned Scientists, and U.S. Public Interest Research Group.
The following is from an EPA Fact Sheet: http://www.epa.gov. [H/t Richard Trzupek]
On April 2, 2007, the Supreme Court found that GHGs, including carbon dioxide, fit within the definition of air pollutant in the CAA. Massachusetts v. EPA, 549 U.S. 497 (2007). The Court found that when responding to a rulemaking petition under section 202(a) of the CAA, EPA was required to determine whether or not GHG emissions from new motor vehicles cause or contribute to air pollution which may reasonably be anticipated to endanger public health or welfare, or whether the science is too uncertain to make a reasoned decision.
On December 7, 2009, the EPA Administrator signed two distinct findings regarding GHGs under section 202(a) of the CAA:
Endangerment Finding: The Administrator found that the current and projected atmospheric concentrations of the six, key, well-mixed GHGs-CO2, CH4, N2O, HFCs, PFCs, and SF6 –threaten the public health and welfare of current and future generations. (Emphasis added.)
Cause or Contribute Finding: The Administrator found that the combined emissions of these well-mixed GHGs from new motor vehicles and new motor vehicle engines contribute to the greenhouse gas pollution which threatens public health and welfare.
To expand its power that was limited to a Supreme Court decision on new motor vehicles, the EPA used a well-honed technique. EPA entered into consent agreements (privately negotiated) with friendly litigants. These consent agreements were endorsed by Federal courts. These agreements, not contested, require that EPA expand its powers to include power plants, refineries, large boilers, cement plants, etc. Thus, EPA now claims many companies and states are now subject to its powers even though those so regulated had no clear opportunity to protest.
According to EPA documents, the litigants with whom it reached consent agreements are: New York, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington, Massachusetts, the District of Columbia, and the City of New York; Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), Sierra Club, Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) and Environmental Integrity Project.
These events are a stark example how significant environmental policy is all too frequently established in Washington – certain agencies expand their powers by consent agreements with friendly litigants using vague laws. There is little actual scientific evidence establishing the need for such policy, or public discussion, or any clear responsibility by the publicly elected representatives.
There are at least three courses of action to defeat EPA’s expansion of power: 1) litigation; 2) Congress removing from the EPA the power to regulate CO2, and 3) Congress removing funding of sections of EPA. Each method has its weaknesses.
A number of parties including Texas, Alabama, and Virginia have filed litigation challenging the Endangerment Finding (EF) that CO2 threatens human health and welfare. SEPP is one of the parties claiming the EF has no scientific basis. The EF is based on the 2007 IPCC report which contains great inaccuracies and false scientific claims. At most, EPA should have declared the science is too uncertain to make a scientific finding.
The litigation is proceeding very slowly and the courts have denied the petitions that EPA’s rulemaking should not go into effect until after the courts have decided on the scientific merit of EPA’s EF. The weakness of this approach is that all too frequently the courts defer to the “expertise” of the bureaucracy and do not fully consider the merits of the statements by plaintiffs. It is noteworthy that, generally, media articles that advocate expansion of EPA power fail to mention the scientific issue.
A second course of action is Congress removing from the EPA the power to regulate CO2. Will such an action pass both the significantly revised House of Representatives and the somewhat revised Senate and obtain the signature of President Obama?
A third course of action requires that the significantly revised House of Representatives remove from EPA the funding to enforce its regulations. Will it have the audacity to do so?
Please see Articles # 4 and 5 and the articles under “EPA and Other Regulators on the March” including the articles that Texas is intensely fighting the EPA. (In the near future, EPA documents quoted above will appear on the web site www.sepp.org.)
The Department of Homeland Security has now added climate change as a priority. What this means is unclear. The Department of Agriculture, once known for establishing policy based on the best available science, has announced that it will accept environmental activists and critics of genetically modified crops to participate in regulatory decisions. This may be another blow to environmental policy based on science. (Please see articles under “EPA and Other Regulators on the March.”
In addition, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has come up with a scheme on how to deliver expensive, unreliable electricity from wind farms in the Midwest to the East that wants such electricity but is unwilling to pay for the long distance, high voltage lines necessary to obtain it. (Even T. Boone Pickens now recognizes wind farms do not work.) FERC’s solution is to require all utilities in the path of these lines to pay for them even if these utilities prefer to obtain electricity from affordable, reliable, traditional sources. Of course, this scheme is directly contrary to the long held legal principle of regulated utilities that the user pays. (Please see Articles # 7 and 8.)
Extreme weather is the focus of many political commentators and some policy makers. Northern Europe and eastern US has suffered from extreme cold and heavy snowfall. Unusual cold and snow have occurred in central China and in Australia as well. Unfortunately, many people are dying or suffering from these winter events.
Of course, we are being treated by the usual winter chorus of those who correctly declare that weather is not climate and we cannot assume extreme cold events, in themselves, are proof of cooling climate. Unfortunately, many in this chorus are in the summer chorus that declares that hot weather events are proof of global warming.
In their apparent efforts “to communicate better with the public”, advocates of human-caused global warming have created a number of explanations for this cold. It appears as if the advocates are seeking the explanation which the public finds most plausible. For example, human-caused global warming is causing the Arctic ice to melt, which causes heavy snows to fall early in Siberia. The snow reflects sunlight, causing heat to escape into space, thus causing winter cooling. This explanation, and many others, requires that the planet has a negative feedback to human-caused warming, which advocates refuse to admit.
In the UK, the Met Office is under severe attack for predicting three mild winters in a row when the UK is now experiencing a third severe winter in a row. Why have these climate experts and their exceedingly expensive computer models performed so poorly? A reader provided an April 2007 press release from the UN Environmental Programme (one of the two parent organizations of the UN IPCC) which may provide the answer: “Europe set for warmer northern winters …” If UN press releases so state it, shouldn’t the computer models do so as well?
TWTW Note: Several readers have asked why comments in TWTW suggest that government expenditures and subsidies in wind generated electrical power do not necessarily create growth in jobs and the economy. This issue will be addressed, briefly, in the next TWTW.
NUMBER OF THE WEEK: 3. Three US Federal government agencies have recently announced they are expanding their regulatory powers under the rubric of human-caused global warming or climate change, or actions these beliefs entail – EPA, Homeland Security, and Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). Some government agencies will do whatever is necessary to their expand power.
SEPP Science Editorial #2011-1
By S. Fred Singer, Chairman, Science and Environmental Policy Project (SEPP)
Uncertainty in Climate Modeling
I recently read an interesting discussion on ‘uncertainty in climate modeling’ by Tebaldi, Schmidt, Murphy, and Smith in the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, http://www.thebulletin.org/print/web-edition/roundtables/the-uncertainty-climate-modeling But the authors ignore some of the central problems that plague climate models that try to predict the development of future climate. I am referring here to three major issues:
1) Uncertainties of the scenarios that determine the emission of greenhouse gases, principally economic growth, which is closely tied to the use of energy. Economic growth in turn, is a function of population and economic development and may be roughly approximated by GDP growth. The IPCC lists a wide spectrum of what they consider to be plausible scenarios and calculates global temperatures for the year 2100 with an uncertainty spread of an order of magnitude [IPCC 2007, Fig. SPM.5, p.14].
2) Structural uncertainties. I include here uncertainties in climate forcing, both anthropogenic and natural; in climate feedbacks; and in the hundred or so parameters that go into constructing a model, mainly concerned with clouds. While the IPCC uses fairly precise numbers for the various greenhouse gases, it omits the most important one, namely water vapor. Its contribution is encompassed within the models in terms of a positive feedback that amplifies the forcing of anthropogenic greenhouse gases by a factor of about 3.
The uncertainties listed for aerosols are quite large, particularly for the indirect effects of aerosols in providing condensation centers for cloud formation. [IPCC-AR4 2007, Fig. TS-5, p.32]. In addition, aerosols come in different flavors, ranging from reflecting sulfates to absorbing soot particles. Unlike well-mixed GH gases, like CO2, aerosols show particular geographic and temporal distributions, which also affect climate projections significantly. Given the realistic range of aerosol compositions used here, it is not possible for global models to correctly calculate the cloud albedo effect if composition is ignored [Roesler and Penner 2010].
James Hansen, a leading climate modeler, called attention to our inadequate knowledge of radiative forcing from aerosols when he stated, “the forcings that drive long-term climate change are not known with an accuracy sufficient to define future climate change” [Hansen 1998].
Parameterization is a vexing issue for climate modelers. James Murphy [Nature 2004] lists some 100 or more parameters that must be chosen, using the modelers.”best judgment.” Varying just six of these parameters related to clouds can change the climate sensitivity from 1.5 up to 11.5 degC [Stainforth et al 2005].
Even more important, the feedbacks (from WV and from clouds) may actually be negative rather than positive (as assumed in all climate models). This possibility follows from the analyses of satellite data [by Lindzen and Choi 2010 and by Spencer and Braswell 2010].
3) Chaotic Uncertainty. It is well understood that climate is a chaotic object and climate models reflect that property. The outcome of a particular model run (“simulation”) depends sensitively on the initial conditions; even minute changes can lead to greatly differing outcomes. For example, the five runs of a Japanese MRI model show temperature trends that differ by almost a factor of 10, an order of magnitude. (If more runs had been performed, the spread would have been even greater.) One can show [Singer and Monckton 2011] that taking the mean of an ensemble of more than 10 runs leads to an asymptotic value for the trend. However, most modelers face constraints on time and money and are not able to carry out so many runs. For example, of the 22 models in the IPCC compilation of “20 CEN” [an IPCC term for a group of climate models] there are 5 single run models, 5 two-run models, and only 7 models with four or more runs.
Clearly, models cannot be used to predict future global temperatures reliably. (Note that variability and uncertainty of models is even greater for regional temperatures and for quantities other than temperature, such as precipitation.) The chief value of models, I believe, derives from their use to test sensitivity of outcome to variations in specific forcings or input parameters.
Hansen, J.E., et al. 1998. Climate forcings in the industrial era. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 95: 12753-12758.
IPCC-AR4 2007. Climate Change 2007: The Physical Science Basis. Contribution of Working Group I to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Cambridge University Press.
Murphy, J.M., et al. 2004. Quantification of modeling uncertainties in a large ensemble of climate change simulations. Nature 429: 768-772.
Roesler, E.L. and J.E. Penner. 2010. Can global models ignore the chemical composition of aerosols? GRL 37: doi:10.1029/2010GL044282
Singer, S.F. and C.W. Monckton. 2011. Chaotic behavior of climate models. (Submitted)
Stainforth, D.A., et al. 2005. Uncertainty in predictions of the climate response to rising levels of greenhouse gases. Nature 433: 403-406.
ARTICLES: For the numbered articles below please see: www.sepp.org.
1. Secondhand Smoke, Lung Cancer, and the Global Warming Debate
By S. Fred Singer, American Thinker, Dec 19, 2010
2. CARB’s Carbon Capers
By S. Fred Singer, American Thinker, Dec 27, 2010
3. No proof man causes global warming
Natural variation fits facts more closely
By S. Fred Singer, Washington Times, Dec 28, 2010
4. How Congress Can Stop the EPA’s Power Grab
Courts have yet to decide if the agency’s proposed controls on carbon emissions are even legal.
By Fred Upton (US Rep.) and Tim Phillips, WSJ, Jan 2, 2010 [H/t Moorad Alexanian]
5. EPA Rules Will Trump Your Rights
Editorial, IBD, Dec 30, 2010
6. A Wind Power Boonedoggle
T. Boone Pickens badly misjudged the supply and price of natural gas
By Robert Bryce, WSJ, Dec 22, 2010
7. The Midwest Wind Surtax
The latest scheme to socialize the costs of renewable energy
Editorial, WSJ, Dec 30, 2010 [H/t Randy Randol]
8. The Wind Subsidy Bubble
Green pork should be a GOP budget target
Editorial, WSJ, Dec 20, 2010
NEWS YOU CAN USE:
Challenging the Orthodoxy
The Abiding Faith Of Warm-ongers
Editorial, IBD, Dec 22, 2010 [H/t Tom Sheahen]
Time for global warming lobby to admit they could be wrong, says meteorologist
By Alex Singleton, Telegraph, UK, Dec 29, 2010 [H/t Marc Morano, Climate Depot]
Potsdam Climate Institute Now Says To Expect “Warmer Colder” Winters!
By P. Gosselin, No Tricks Zone, Dec 23, 2010 [H/t Anne Debeil]
[“Hard winters do not refute global warming, instead they more so confirm it.”]
Bundle Up, It’s Global Warming
By Judah Cohen, NYT, Dec 25, 2010
[SEPP Comment: “Annual cycles like El Niño/Southern Oscillation, solar variability and global ocean currents cannot account for recent winter cooling.” A break through discovery, El Niño/Southern Oscillation, solar variability and global ocean currents are annual cycles.]
Biting winters driven by global warming: scientists
By Marlow Hood, AFT, Dec 21, 2010, [H/t Marc Morano, Climate Depot
How a freak diversion of the jet stream is paralyzing the globe with freezing conditions
By Niall Firth, Daily Mail, Dec 22, 2010
Why is it so cold? Simple… it’s the North Atlantic Oscillation – and it’s got a bit stuck
By Fred Pearce, Mail, UK, Dec 28, 2010 [H/t Brad at Prescott]
[SEPP Comment: But the IPCC dismisses such cycles.]
Heaviest December Snows in Six Decades to Further Disrupt New York Commuters,
Bloomberg, Dec 28, 2010
Brace yourselves for a ‘mini ice age’: This winter set to be coldest in 300 YEARS
By Fiona Macrae, Mail Online, Dec 30 2010 [H/t Brad at Prescott]
Holiday Blizzard: More Signs of Global Warming
By Bryan Walsh, Time, Dec 28, 2010 [H/t Best on the Web]
Europe set for warmer northern winters, hotter southern summers and worsening droughts and floods
Press Release, UN Environmental Programme, April 2007 [H/t Robert Sheaffer]
[SEPP Comment: An April 2007 prediction from the IPCC – the true reason why the UK Met predicts mild winters three years in a row?]
GWPF Calls For Independent Inquiry Into Met Office’s Winter Advice
By Benny Peiser, GWPF, Dec 21, 2010 [H/t ICECAP]
The Winner of This Year’s ‘Best Climate Predictor” Award (Clue: It Wasn’t Al Gore!)
By Howard Richman & Raymond Richmond, American Thinker, Dec 27, 2010
BP Oil Spill and Aftermath
Small producer raises its voice over permits, ATP Oil & Gas frustration grows as deep-water project awaits OK
By Tom Fowler, Houston Chronicle, Dec 27, 2010 [H/t Cooler Heads Digest]
EPA and other Regulators on the March
Obama’s regulators kowtow to Big Green, imperil the economy Editorial, Washington Examiner, Dec 26, 2010
E.P.A Limit on Gases to Pose Risk to Obama and Congress
By John Broder, NYT, Dec 30, 2010
EPA’s carbon-cutting power
Editorial, Washington Post, Dec 30, 2010 [H/t David Manuta]
EPA Agrees to Limit Emissions From Power Plants, Refineries
By Gabriel Nelson, Greenwire, NYT, Dec 23, 2010 [H/t Cooler Heads Digest]
EPA blows off Congress, voters
Editorial, Orange County Register, Dec 27, 2010
Messing With Texas
Editorial, IBD, Dec 28, 2010
Texas fiercely resists EPA air, water standards
By Ramit Plushnick-Masti, AP, Dec 30, 2010
Wilderness Policy Sparks Western Ire
By Stephanie Simon, WSJ, Dec 30, 2010
[May be behind a paywall.]
Obama’s Energy Power Grab
By Rich Trzupek, Front Page, Dec 30, 2010
Regs for Rigs: Update, EPA’s Diesel Truck Fuel Economy Standards
By Marlo Lewis, Master Resource, Dec 28, 2010
[SEPP Comment: A three part series describing how EPA’s changing emission standards on heavy trucks lead to a decline in fuel economy which the EPA then used to justify establishing fuel economy standards. Of course, EPA does not admit that emissions standards reduce fuel economy. Instead it claims truckers and truck companies do not know how to best invest in order to reduce their fuel costs.]
Ag Department Uproots Science
Vilsack seeks out politically congenial scientific opinion
Editorial, WSJ, Dec 27, 2010
[May be behind a paywall.]
Napolitano Makes Global Warming a Homeland Security Priority
By Rory Cooper, Heritage.org, Dec 21, 2010 [H/t Bud Bromley]
Subsidies and Mandates Forever
Dealing in Hot Air
The Pitfalls of Europe’s New Emission Trading System
By Alexander Jung, Der Spiegel, Dec 30, 2010
[SEPP Comment: A lengthy commentary of troubles with Europe’s carbon trading system.]
The Chicago Climate Club Gets Capped
By Larry Bell, Forbes, Dec 22, 2010
Massachusetts Sets Targets to Slash Carbon Emissions
By Felicity Barringer, NYT, Dec 29, 2010 [H/t Michael Schlesinger]
China Fuels Its Ravenous Appetite for Coal
By George Will, Newsmax, Dec 30, 2010
[SEPP Comment: Another example of what China is actually doing rather than what political leaders and promoters of alternative sources of electricity would have us believe it is doing.]
From greenhouse gases to green agenda: 5 energy issues to watch
By Andrew Restuccia and Ben Geman, The Hill, Dec 27, 2010
African Huts Far From the Grid Glow With Renewable Power
By Elisabeth Rosenthal, NYT, Dec 24, 2010
[SEPP Comment: Valuable uses for solar and wind.]
Whistling in the Wind
Turbines and turbulence
Editorial, Nature, 468, Dec 23, 2010
[SEPP Comment: Do wind farms cause climate change?]
US challenges Chinese wind power subsidies at WTO
By Andrew Beatty, Yahoo, Dec 22, 2010 [H/t Toshio Fujita]
[SEPP Comment: Doesn’t the US subsidize wind power?]
U.S. Seeks to Lease Federal Waters for Wind Energy
By Tennille Tracy, WSJ, Dec 28, 2010
[May be behind a paywall.]
A Wind Farm in Deep Water off the U.S. Coast
A new type of wind-turbine platform can be placed much farther from shore.
By Phil McKenna, Technology Review, Dec, 20, 2010
[SEPP Comment: Those making a cost comparison with a nuclear plant forget that nuclear plants deliver over 90% of the time (except when humans shut them down for maintenance) and wind farms deliver when nature permits.)
Review of Recent Scientific Articles by NIPCC
For a full list of articles see www.NIPCCreport.org
Chinese Dust Storms
Reference: Zhu, C., Wang, B. and Qian, W. 2008. Why do dust storms decrease in northern China concurrently with the recent global warming? Geophysical Research Letters 35: 10.1029/2008GL034886.
Reality Check: Empirical Trends vs. global Warming Hype
A frequent claim of the climate alarmists and the IPCC is that CO2-induced global warming will negatively affect livelihoods and reduce well-being in the developing world. However, as shown in the material below, decades-long empirical trends of various climate-sensitive parameters related to human well-being suggest otherwise. The topics are; Agricultural Productivity and Hunger; Disease; Poverty; Extreme Weather Events; and Water Shortages
Effects of Habitat on Coral Bleaching
Reference: Grimsditch, G., Mwaura, J.M., Kilonzo, J. and Amiyo, N. 2010. The effects of habitat on coral bleaching responses in Kenya. Ambio 39: 295-3-4.
Africa’s Vegetative future in a CO2-Enriched and Warmer World
Reference: Scheiter, S. and Higgins, S.I. 2009. Impacts of climate change on the vegetation of Africa: an adaptive dynamic vegetation modeling approach. Global Change Biology 15: 2224-2246.
Other Scientific Issues
The Continuing Recovery From The Little Ace Age” By Syun-Ichi Akasofu, Pielke Research Group, Dec 27, 2010
Other Issues that May Be Of Interest
China shrinks rare earths export quota
By Associated Press, Washington Times, Dec 28, 2010
[SEPP Comment: Trouble for turbines.]
China calls on other countries to develop their own rare earth resources
By Andrew Restuccia, The Hill, Dec 30, 2010
Mainstream media helps to brainwash
By William Gray, Coloradoan, Dec 21, 2010 [H/t ICECAP]
BELOW THE BOTTOM LINE:
Global Warming has Gone Downhill Best on the Web
By James Taranto, Best on the Web,WSJ, Dec 30, 2010
[SEPP Comment: How the Natural Resources Defense Council and the National Ski Areas Association saved skiing. May be behind a paywall.]
Behavioral Frontiers: Can Social Science Combat Climate Change?
Scientists remove some of the guesswork about how individuals will use energy in 2050 by looking at past campaigns to induce personal change and their effectiveness
By Lisa Palmer, Scientific American, Dec 28, 2010 [H/t Best on the Web]
Broken Glass Yields Clues to Climate Change
Press Release, National Science Foundation, Dec 27, 2010 [H/t WUWT]
[SEPP Comment: An annual budget of $6.9 Billion must show something.]
Climate Change and ‘Balanced’ Coverage,
By Justin Gillis, NYT, Dec 23, 2010 [H/t Marc Morano, Climate Depot]
[SEPP Comment: According to Richard Alley of Penn State University, the worst case from a doubling of CO2 will be an increase of 16 degrees! No wonder Alley was an expert witness at the last hearing of the sub-committee on Energy and the Environment of the last Congress.]