Weekly Climate and Energy News Roundup #256

Brought to You by SEPP (www.SEPP.org) The Science and Environmental Policy Project
THIS WEEK: By Ken Haapala, President

TWTW: Due to other commitments requiring refraining from public comments that may be misconstrued as suggesting policy, this TWTW will be short and comments restrained. Responses to correspondence will be limited. Thank you.


Appropriate Science? Senator Sheldon Whitehouse and Representative Raul Grijalva have written to President Trump objecting to Ken Haapala’s unpaid, temporary position on the Department of Commerce transition, landing team. They correctly state Haapala has no advanced degree in natural sciences. Afterwards, the letter contains numerous errors, such as Haapala “has made a career out of denying the science behind climate change.”

Born in Massachusetts, immediately north of Senator Whitehouse’s home state of Rhode Island, Haapala learned in elementary school that many of the geographic features of New England and the northern US were formed by ice sheets and the subsequent melt. The last ice sheets began melting about 18,000 to 20,000 years ago, raising sea levels by about 120 meters (400 feet), as discussed in last week’s TWTW. Certain maps show deep canyons cut in the eastern continental shelf by rivers such as the St. Lawrence and the Hudson.

These ice sheets created numerous lakes such as the Great Lakes, Finger Lakes, etc. in the northern US. There are few such natural lakes in the southern US. Also, evidence of scouring of bedrock by glaciers can be found in Central Park in Manhattan.

When teaching economics at Arizona State University, in Representative Grijalva’s home state, Haapala observed the impact of water vapor, the major greenhouse gas, on climate. The largely uninhabited parts of the Sonoran Desert were hotter during the day, but cooled more rapidly at night than areas in Southeastern US of similar latitude and elevation, during the same months.

Also, areas with extensive irrigation or urbanization cool much more slowly at night than rural areas without irrigation, showing a human influence on climate. Evidence of changing climate and its causes has long fascinated Haapala.

When engaged under federal contract to review the US energy models, particularly the natural gas model, Haapala became disturbed by the lack of proper testing of the numerical models – so called “state-of-the-art” computer models. Although many of the studies he reviewed were impressive, Haapala reported major issues with the models, and why they were unsuitable for short-tern prediction and not useful for long-term policy. The report was largely ignored. The conventional thinking in Washington at the time was that the world would run out of oil around the end of the 20th century. Policies based on these models continue to cost taxpayers, without benefits.

Messrs. Whitehead and Grijalva misstate that “SEPP is a project of the Heartland Institute”. It is not. SEPP is its own entity formed in 1990 by distinguished scientists such as S. Fred Singer and Fredrick Seitz. It is funded by private contributions, not by companies in energy, chemicals, or tobacco industries, as falsely stated in the Washington Post. When Haapala joined SEPP, he resigned as a long-time member of the board of the oldest science society formed in Washington, because he knew he would be subject to political attacks and did not wish to have these attacks reflect on that organization. Daring to confront conventional thinking has its own responsibilities and penalties.

A great influence on Haapala’s willingness to question conventional thinking are the writings of Bertrand Russell, a British philosopher and mathematician. With no advanced degree in natural sciences, Russell wrote very clearly on many scientific issues of the day. As an objector to World War I, Russell was convicted under “The Defense of the Realm Act”. For that reason, he was dismissed from his position at Trinity College, Cambridge. He was jailed for speaking out against British efforts to entice the US to join the War. One of Russell’s major objections to Britain’s entry into the War was that the treaties and agreements used to justify Britain’s entry were not publicly discussed by the legislature, the Parliament. Is this similar with the U.S. involvement in Paris Agreement to limit CO2 emissions?

In 1940, Russell’s appointment to City College of New York was thwarted by legal action. Due to his writings on religion and morals, a New York court found him “morally unfit” to teach – mathematics and logic? Intolerance of those who disagree with conventional thinking is not limited by political party or ideology. See links under Suppressing Scientific Inquiry.


Quote of the Week. Science is a way of thinking much more than it is a body of knowledge. – Carl Sagan


Number of the Week: Less than 40%


Arctic Refreeze: In January, Arctic sea ice is expanding rapidly. The Siberian Times reports that two Russian icebreakers, the Kapitan Dranitsyn and Admiral Makarov, are “marooned” for the remainder of the winter – until May or early June. It may be premature to book a winter pleasure cruise of the Arctic. See links under Changing Cryosphere – Land / Sea Ice.


Hurricane Activity: The web site, CO2 Science, reviewed an interesting paper by Mexican scientists on hurricane activity in the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea. These scientists developed a chart estimating hurricane activity from 1749 to 2012. Based on their chart, the number of hurricanes varies annually, with a sharp peak about 1840 with 13 hurricanes. However, the general trend is a decline in frequency. The researchers attribute the general decline to an increase in sunspot activity. See links under Review of Recent Scientific Articles by CO2 Science.


Attributing Blame? Writing in Energy Matters, Roger Andrews reports an interesting analysis performed for the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The US is a party to the UNFCCC.

The analysis was performed by an ad-hoc group for modelling and assessment of contributions of climate change (MATCH) to evaluate a proposal by Brazil. The report gives a pie chart of an estimate of temperature increases from 1890 to 2000 based on estimates of greenhouse gas emissions (CO2, CH4, and N2O). [Assuming greenhouse gas emissions are the cause.] Andrews writes:

“Assuming that the sum of the contributions from the USA, OECD Europe, Oceania (Australia and New Zealand), Japan and Canada represents the warming contribution of the developed countries we find that these countries were responsible for only 41% of the global temperature increase between 1890 and 2000. The remaining 59% was caused by emissions from Latin America, Africa, the Middle East and Asia less Japan, which with the exception of Singapore and arguably South Korea include all the world’s developing countries, along with the Former Soviet Union and East European countries, which at the time had nowhere near reached developed country income levels and mostly still haven’t.”

See links under Questioning the Orthodoxy.


Number of the Week: Less than 40%. Roger Andrews updates the 2000 estimates of possible temperature rise from greenhouse gas emissions and concludes that if the analysis is correct, “developed countries have caused less than 40% of the global warming to date and the developing countries more than 60%.” Then, why are developed countries expected to make the bulk of the contributions to the Green Climate Fund run by the UNFCCC? The UNFCCC goal is $100 Billion per year. See links under Questioning the Orthodoxy.




Suppressing Scientific Inquiry

Letter to President Donald Trump

By Raul Grijalva and Sheldon Whitehouse, Members of Congress, Jan. 24, 2017


Dems Urge Donald Trump To Remove Climate Change Denier From Post Overseeing NOAA Transition

“Climate science denial ‘will put American businesses at a disadvantage and make our country a more dangerous place to live,’ the letter reads.”

By Ryan Grenoble, Huffington Post, Jan 24, 2017


Challenging the Orthodoxy — NIPCC

Robert Merlin Carter: 9 March 1942 – 19 January 2016

By Geoff Brown, Australian Climate Sceptics, Jan 24, 2017


Link to web site: Why Scientists Disagree about Global Warming

By Robert M. Carter (1942-2016), Craig Idso, S. Fred Singer, Heartland Institute, Nov 30, 2015



Nature, Not Human Activity, Rules the Climate

S. Fred Singer, Editor, NIPCC, 2008


Overcoming Chaotic Behavior of Climate Models

By S. Fred Singer, SEPP, July 2010


Climate Change Reconsidered II: Physical Science

Idso, Carter, and Singer, Lead Authors/Editors, 2013


Summary: http://www.nipccreport.org/reports/ccr2a/pdf/Summary-for-Policymakers.pdf

Climate Change Reconsidered II: Biological Impacts

Idso, Idso, Carter, and Singer, Lead Authors/Editors, 2014


Summary: https://www.heartland.org/media-library/pdfs/CCR-IIb/Summary-for-Policymakers.pdf

Why Scientists Disagree About Global Warming

The NIPCC Report on the Scientific Consensus

By Craig D. Idso, Robert M. Carter, and S. Fred Singer, NIPCC, Nov 23, 2015


Download with no charge


Challenging the Orthodoxy

You Ought to Have a Look: Interview with Will Happer

By Patrick J. Michaels and Paul C. “Chip” Knappenberger, Cato, Jan 25, 2017


Link to William Happer interview and flow chart: Focused Civil Dialogue on Global Warming

TBS, No Date


Vahrenholt rails against the ‘climate priests’

By Diarmaid Williams, PEI, Jan 25, 2017


The Urgency of Revoking the USEPA’s GHG Endangerment Finding

By Alan Carlin, Carlin Economics and Science


Danish Think Tank: $9B Cloud Project Could Prevent All 21st Century Global Warming

By Barbara Hollingsworth, CNS News, Jan 24, 2017


Defending the Orthodoxy

Trump nominee pledges to shield NOAA climate scientists from intimidation, censorship

By Andrew Freedman, Marshable, Jan 24, 2017


Questioning the Orthodoxy

Attributing the blame for global warming

By Roger Andrews, Energy Matters, Jan 25, 2017


Link to report: Summary report of the ad-hoc group for modelling and assessment of contributions of climate change (MATCH)

By Niklas Höhne, et al. MATCH, Nov 7, 2008


Change in US Administrations

The Trump shift

By Judith Curry, Climate Etc. Jan 25, 2017


Lord Monckton’s Ten for Trump and America (climate disengagement at hand)

By Robert Bradley Jr. Master Resource, Jan 27, 2017


Seeking a Common Ground

A crisis of trust is looming between scientists and society – it’s time to talk

It’s vital to improve public trust in science and expertise. But science is increasingly complex, and getting harder to explain. Things need to change

By Helen Czerski, The Guardian, Jan 27, 2017


Why You Should Never, Ever Stop Challenging Conventional Wisdom

The experts are usually wrong.

By Quora, Inc. Jan 23, 2017 [H/t Clyde Spencer]


Review of Recent Scientific Articles by CO2 Science

A Twenty-Six Decade Record of Atlantic Hurricanes

Rojo-Garibaldi, B., Salas-de-León, D.A., Sánchez, N.L. and Monreal-Gómez, M.A. 2016. Hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea and their relationship with sunspots. Journal of Atmospheric and Solar-Terrestrial Physics 148: 48-52. Jan 27, 2017


Elevated CO2 and Warming Reduce the Abundance of Plant-Feeding Nematodes in a Wyoming Grassland

Mueller, K.E., Blumenthal, D.M., Carrillo, Y., Cesarz, S., Ciobanu, M., Hines, J., Pabst, S., Pendall, E., de Tomasel, C.M., Wall, D.H. and Eisenhauer, N. 2016. Elevated CO2 and warming shift the functional composition of soil nematode communities in a semiarid grassland. Soil Biology & Biochemistry 103: 46-51. Jan 25, 2017


A Five-Century Streamflow Reconstruction for the Missouri River Basin

Ho, M., Lall, U. and Cook, E.R. 2016. Can a paleodrought record be used to reconstruct streamflow? A case study for the Missouri River Basin. Water Resources Research 52: 5195-5212. Jan 24, 2017


Changing Weather

Weather Satellite Imagery Now in Color!

By Cliff Mass, Weather Blog, Jan 24, 2017


The Winter Of 1947

By Paul Homewood, Not a Lot of People Know That, Jan 27, 2017


Changing Cryosphere – Land / Sea Ice

Blow to Northern Sea Route as voyages of two icebreakers are… broken by ice

By The Siberian Times reporter, Jan 24, 2017


Arctic Ice Takes Revenge

By Ron Clutz, Science Matters, Jan 26, 2017 [H/t GWPF]


[SEPP Comment: Graph showing Arctic ice extent in January is expanding rapidly.]

Larsen C Ice Shelf Crack Not Related To Climate Change …Ice “More Stable Than Previously Thought”

No climate change: Huge iceberg threatens to break off from Larsen C Ice Shelf

By Dr. Sebastian Lüning and Prof Fritz Vahrenholt (German text translated/edited by P Gosselin), No Tricks Zone, Jan 24, 2017


Questioning European Green

[Mayor] Sadiq Khan issues “very high” air pollution alert in London

By Caitlin Morrison, City A.M. Jan 23, 2017


“Pollution levels have also been heightened by ‘an unusually high amount of domestic wood burning’ on Sunday afternoon and evening.”

Wood Burning Fad Blamed For Urban Air Pollution

By David Sanderson, The Times, Via GWPF, Jan 26, 2017


[SEPP Comment: The use of natural wood, that is not properly seasoned, dried, is a problem.]

Germany’s Energiewende — A Disaster In The Making

By Fritz Vahrenholt, GWPF, 2017


Questioning Green Elsewhere

‘Green Champion’ China Is Building Europe’s New Coal Power Plants

By Maja Zuvela, Reuters, Via GWPF, Jan 25, 2017


[SEPP Comment: Includes map of coal-fired plants in south-eastern Europe.]

Did the Coal Phase-out Reduce Ontario Air Pollution?

By Ross McKitrick and Elmira Aliakbari, Fraser Institute, Jan 17, 2017


“Overall, we conclude that the coal phase-out yielded small improvements in air quality in some locations, consistent with projections done prior to the plant closures, which were comparable in size to projected air quality improvements that could have been achieved through installation of new pollution control systems rather than closing the plants.”

[SEPP Comment: Links to Executive Summary and full report given.]

If SA [South Australia] gets any more free energy everyone will go broke

By Jo Nova, Her Blog, Jan 24, 2017


EPA and other Regulators on the March

Rearguard Obstructionism

By Donn Dears, Power For USA, Jan 27, 2017


The EPA just delayed 30 environmental regulations created under Obama — here’s what that means

By Rafi Letzter and Dave Mosher, Business Insider, Jan 26, 2017


Washington’s Control of Energy

The Dakota Access Pipeline is the Best Way to Move Bakken Crude Oil to Market.

Dakota Access – Pipeline Facts, Web Site promoting the pipeline, Accessed Jan 27, 2017


[SEPP Comment: Good graphics of the pipeline which is almost entirely on private land, often used for other utility easements. The crossing of the Missouri River (Lake Oahe) is at least 95 feet below the river / lake bed.]

Return of King Coal?

Vastly Improved Modern Coal-Fired Power Plants

By Donn Dears, Power For USA, Jan 24, 2017


The New Coal Boom?

By Graham Lloyd, The Australian, Via GWPF, Jan 27, 2017


“The Minerals Council of Australia says there are more than 725 high-efficiency, low-emissions plants already in operation in East Asia alone.

“A further 1100 plants are under construction or in the pipeline.”

[SEPP Comment: Under regulations by the Obama Administration, new high-efficiency ultra-supercritical coal-fired power plants could not be built in the US.]

Big win: Turnbull wasted billions, but now backs super critical coal, copies skeptics 5 years later

By Jo Nova, Her Blog, Jan 24, 2017


Nuclear Energy and Fears

Britain Quits Euratom

By Sam Coates and Emily Gosden, The Time, Via GWPF, Jan 27, 2017


Alternative, Green (“Clean”) Vehicles

Why do people think hydrogen-powered cars are sustainable?

By Martin Livermore, The Scientific Alliance, Jan 21, 2017




Another secret report!

By Staff Writers, Climate Change Predictions.org, Jan 24, 2017


“A secret report, suppressed by US defence chiefs and obtained by The Observer, warns that major European cities will be sunk beneath rising seas as Britain is plunged into a ‘Siberian’ climate by 2020. Nuclear conflict, mega-droughts, famine and widespread rioting will erupt across the world.

“The document predicts that abrupt climate change could bring the planet to the edge of anarchy as countries develop a nuclear threat to defend and secure dwindling food, water and energy supplies.

“The threat to global stability vastly eclipses that of terrorism, say the few experts privy to its contents.

“Climate change ‘should be elevated beyond a scientific debate to a US national security concern’, say the authors, Peter Schwartz, CIA consultant and former head of planning at Royal Dutch/Shell Group, and Doug Randall of the California-based Global Business Network.”

Link to the Guardian article: Now the Pentagon tells Bush: climate change will destroy us

By Mark Townsend and Paul Harris, The Guardian, Feb 21, 2004




1. Trump Administration Aims to Reverse Obama’s Climate Agenda

Anticipated actions would come on top of other commitments to repeal environmental regulations issued over past eight years

By Amy Harder, WSJ, Jan 22, 2017


SUMMARY: The reporter states: “The Trump administration is looking to take action within days to reverse former President Barack Obama’s climate agenda and show its commitment to promoting fossil-fuel infrastructure, according to people familiar with the plan.


“The anticipated actions would come on top of other commitments President Donald Trump has made to repeal a raft of environmental regulations issued by Mr. Obama over the past eight years, especially a high-profile measure cutting carbon emissions from power plants and a water-pollution rule. Presidential directives ordering the Environmental Protection Agency, which issued both regulations, to begin work to repeal them are likely within days, although the actual repeal could take years.


“The additional moves include actions to advance the Keystone XL oil pipeline and a push to remove greenhouse-gas emissions as an element of environmental reviews of new projects.”

However, the timing and method of repealing policy items has not been set.

Also: “The Trump administration also is looking to squash guidance the White House issued last August on climate change and is weighing suspension of a metric, called the social cost of carbon, that seeks to incorporate the monetary impact of climate change into government actions.


“That guidance, which has no legal impact, calls on federal agencies to consider greenhouse-gas emissions as part of regular reviews required under the National Environmental Policy Act, a federal law that lays out the environmental reviews required for a host of different infrastructure projects, including pipelines.


Eliminating the guidance and the metric is a way for Mr. Trump to show he is working to promote American energy and infrastructure, a staple of his campaign rhetoric, according to people close to the administration.”


2. No More Keystone Capers

Trump liberates two pipelines but could kill them with new demands.

Editorial, WSJ, Jan 24, 201


SUMMARY: After praising Trump for executive orders for reviving the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines, the editorial states:

“Keystone is predicted to spin off 20,000 construction and manufacturing jobs, many of them to be filled by union workers, and add $3 billion to GDP. The pipeline could move 830,000 barrels a day along the route from Alberta to Nebraska; up to 100,000 would come from North Dakota, where a glut of crude has to travel by rail to reach refineries built to process it. The efficiencies will ripple across the oil and gas industry.


“The Keystone order directs the State Department to make a recommendation within 60 days for a prompt approval, though environmental groups will file lawsuits in every eligible jurisdiction. The objections are specious: President Obama’s State Department concluded on several occasions that Keystone would have no meaningful effect on climate or emissions. Moving oil by pipeline emits less carbon and is safer than trains.


“As for Dakota Access, you may have noticed the months-long media rally around Standing Rock Sioux protests. The tribe claims the pipeline will harm its land and water, but this is fake news: Dakota Access does not run beneath the reservation. The route, which was altered 140 times in North Dakota to protect cultural resources, cuts along private land where other pipelines run. The tribe lost in federal court but has vowed to fight President Trump’s order.


“One danger here is President Trump’s campaign promise to “renegotiate some of the terms” that included bromides about how “we’ll build our own pipes, like we used to in the old days.” He floated royalty payments during the campaign, and a separate order on Tuesday directed the Commerce Department to develop a plan to use U.S. steel and iron in all new pipelines. TransCanada has said in past months that it’s “fully committed” to Keystone XL, but the company may not be eager for another politician to direct its investment decisions.


“White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said Mr. Trump is looking to ensure taxpayers the best possible deal. Reminder: Taxpayers pay nothing. The State Department estimated that when Keystone is finished and pumping oil, local governments will collect more than $55 million a year in property taxes. About 70% of the resulting refined products from Keystone would stay in the U.S., which will push down gas prices as another benefit, according to a study from IHS. That already sounds like a good deal.


“Meanwhile on the livefeed for “The Resistance,” Senate Democrats are proposing a trillion dollars in direct federal spending on public works—and no doubt hoping to persuade President Trump to go along and divide the GOP. But Republicans in Congress should not agree to a dollar of new such spending without more streamlining in permitting.


“Private investment projects like Keystone and Dakota Access are the superior route to creating jobs and boosting incomes, which President Trump has long said is his first priority. Mr. Trump’s best move would be to ditch his floated Keystone conditions and enjoy taking credit for the resulting economic growth. He could even attend the next ground-breaking ceremony.”


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January 29, 2017 11:11 pm

Ken Haapala has deftly corrected the letter’s errors and I trust he’ll see this letter as hard evidence that the President has chosen well.

Mickey Reno
January 30, 2017 6:16 am

In the grassland nematode study, appears this interesting statement by the authors:

“the lower abundance of plant-feeding nematodes could facilitate positive effects of elevated CO2 and warming on plant productivity” (emphasis added). And that they apparently did, as the authors note elsewhere in their paper that “warming and elevated CO2 tended to have positive, but sub-additive effects on the number and length of fine roots,” citing the work of Carrillo et al. (2014) and unpublished data from their study.

From the headline, one might draw the conclusion that more CO2 and more warmth is universally bad. This experiment showed that for plants, it’s very good.

January 30, 2017 8:46 am

“A great influence on Haapala’s willingness to question conventional thinking are the writings of Bertrand Russell, a British philosopher and mathematician.”
I’ve always like this quote, myself…
The fact that an opinion has been widely held is no
evidence that it is not utterly absurd; indeed in view
of the silliness of the majority of mankind, a widespread
belief is more often likely to be foolish than sensible.
– Bertrand Russell, in A History of Western Philosophy

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