The Scientific Case for Vacating the EPA’s Carbon Dioxide Endangerment Finding

From The Competitive Enterprise Institute

Patrick J. Michaels • April 21, 2020

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Executive Summary

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) 2009 “Endangerment Finding” from carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gases grants the agency a legal mandate that can have profound and far-reaching effects. The Finding is based largely on a Technical Support Document that relies heavily upon other mandated reports, the so-called National Assessments of global climate change impacts on the United States.

The extant Assessments at the time of the Endangerment Finding suffered from serious flaws. We document that using the climate models for the first Assessment, from 2000, provided less quantitative guidance than tables of random numbers—and that the chief scientist for that work knew of this problem.

All prospective climate impacts in the Endangerment Finding are generated by computer models that, with one exception, made systematic and dramatic errors over the climatically critical tropics. Best scientific practice would be to emphasize the working model, which has less warming in it than all of the others.

Instead, the EPA relied upon a community of wrong models.

New research compares what has been observed to what is forecast, and finds that warming in this cen- tury will be modest—near the lowest extreme of the prospective range given by the United Nations.

The previous administration justified its policy choices by calculating the Social Cost of Carbon [dioxide]. We interfaced their model with climate forecasts consistent with the observed history and enhanced the “fertilization” effect of increasing atmospheric concentrations of CO2. We find that making the warming and the vegetation response more consistent with real-world observations yields a negative cost under almost all modeled circumstances.

This constellation of unreliable models, poor scientific practice, and exaggerated estimates of the Social Cost of Carbon argue consistently and cogently for the EPA to reopen and then vacate its endangerment finding from carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases.


The Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) 2009 “Endangerment Finding” is the basis for comprehensive regulations of carbon dioxide emissions under the Clean Air Act.1 It is based on another EPA report called a Technical Support Document (TSD), which, as this paper will show, is seriously flawed because it is based upon climate models that are making large systematic errors. Therefore, the subsequent impact models based on them are also unreliable. These project, among other things, changes in crop yields, ecosystems, and social systems caused by changes in climate. Further, the EPA did not follow best scientific practices in determining either the course of future climate or the cost of current and future carbon dioxide emissions.

Subsequent to the Endangerment Finding, the Obama administration justified its interventionist policies with its calculation of a figure known as the Social Cost of Carbon (SCC). The SCC is a monetary estimate of the damages supposedly caused by an incremental ton of carbon dioxide (CO2), the principal contributor to human-induced climate change, emitted in a given year. Discernible in neither economic nor meteorological data, social cost values are guesstimates produced by computer programs called “integrated assessment models” (IAMs). What IAMs “integrate” is a speculative model of how carbon dioxide emissions will change the climate with a speculative model of how climate change will affect consumption, GDP, and health. Only one of these models, known as FUND (for Framework for Uncertainty, Negotiation, and Distribution), contains an explicit term to account for the fertilization effects of increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide. All of the IAMs are based upon a warming that is too great—in which sensitivity to carbon dioxide is too high—based upon recently observed data.

Here, we will see that more realistic values for climate sensitivity and the fertilization effect of carbon dioxide, along with realistic discount rates, can produce a SCC that is negative, or something that could be considered a net benefit, certainly calling the concept of “endangerment” into question.

We will show that multiple and internally consistent lines of evidence, such as an inability to define serious costs with realistic model parameters, and two tragic flaws in the supporting “science summary” documents that underpin the original finding, should compel the EPA to reconsider and then vacate its 2009 Endangerment Finding.

History of the Endangerment Finding

The Endangerment Finding was produced in response to a 2007 Supreme Court decision, Massachusetts v. EPA, that the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1992 empowered the EPA to regulate emissions of carbon dioxide, if the agency found that they endangered human health and welfare.

The case against the EPA was originally brought by 12 states and several environmental advocacy organizations. It eventually came before the District of Columbia appellate court, which upheld an original decision in favor of the EPA’s choice not to regulate CO2, on the grounds of scientific uncertainty as to the amount and effects of climate change actually caused by increasing atmospheric concentrations.

The appellate court decision was split 2-1, with a vigorous dissenting opinion by Judge David S. Tatel. The Supreme Court granted a writ of Certiorari to Massachusetts v. EPA on June 26, 2006. Judge Tatel’s dissent was highly influential when the case came before the Court, argued on November 29, 2006. The decision, a narrow 5-4 verdict, was announced on April 2, 2007. The majority held that the Clean Air Act did grant the EPA authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions as “air pollutants.”

The timing was late in President George W. Bush’s second term, which deferred substantive action. Incoming President Barack Obama did not, placing global warming as his second highest priority in his first inaugural address (behind national health care). His EPA issued a preliminary “finding of endangerment” less than three months later, on April 17, 2009, and a final finding was announced on December 7, 2009.2 That date coincided with the opening of the 15th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations 1992 Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), also known as the Rio Climate Treaty. The 2009 meeting was supposed to adopt a new emissions reduction protocol to replace the failed 1997 Kyoto Protocol, but it failed to do so.

The Endangerment Finding is backed by a Technical Support Document, which itself was largely based on the Fourth Assessment Report (AR4) of global warming by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)3 and the second National Assessment of climate change impacts on the United States by the U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP).4

Both of the foundational documents for the TSD have only one method to predict future climate—a large series of computer simulations of global climate with enhanced greenhouse gases, known as general circulation models (GCMs) or Earth system models (ESMs). The output of these models is then used to drive “impact” models, which apply to the many aspects of life, projecting changes in migration, death, nutrition, mental illness, among others. 

If the GCM/ESMs can be shown to be fatally flawed, then their prospective climate forecasts are useless. Therefore, any forecasts of changed impacts are worse then useless; they may even have negative utility, because impact models have their own error terms and those interact multiplicatively with the errors in the GCM/ESMs. The application of this error cascade to policy can provoke unneeded suffering and impose grotesque and gargantuan opportunity costs. In this eventuality, the Endangerment Finding becomes an exercise in expensive rhetoric.

Are The National Assessments Tainted?

The final version of the Technical Support Document, published on December 7, 2009, relied heavily upon a document published by the U.S Global Change Research Program, “Global Climate Change Impacts in the United States”, also known as the Second National Assessment (NA-2) report. Since then, it has become clear that the models used for prospective climate in that report made significant systematic errors in the three-dimensional tropical atmosphere with significant implications concerning the reliability of subsequent forecasts for temperature and precipitation over large expanses of the planet.

The first National Assessment (NA-1) was published in 2000. Thomas Karl, Director of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) National Climatic Data Center (NCDC), Jerry Melilo of the Marine Biological Laboratory, and Thomas R. Peterson, also of NCDC led the National Assessment Synthesis Team (NAST). Like the subsequent NA-2, it had a fatal flaw.

The design of the NA-1 was similar to the succeeding Assessments. All future impacts were generated from the output of general circulation climate models. At the time NA-1 was under development, NAST had eight GCMs to choose from to describe 21st century climate. They chose two: a) the Canadian Climate Centre model, which produced the greatest temperature changes over the U.S. of all eight, and b) the model from the U.K. Hadley Center, a part of the Meteorological Office, which produced the largest precipitation changes.

In our peer review of the draft NA-1, my then-colleague Chip Knappenberger and I looked at how well those two models could do the simplest of tasks—simulating 10-year running means of coterminous U.S. temperature averages over the 20th century, such as, for example, 1900-1909, 1901-1910, and so on. They could not do it. The answers the models gave were worse than simply assuming the 20th century average value. In other words, the models added errors to the raw data. What they did was ex- actly analogous to a student taking a four-option multiple choice test and getting less than 25 percent correct. The NA-1 models actually supplied “negative knowledge”. You knew less about 20th century U.S. climate by using them.

I emailed Karl my result, as we were on good professional terms. He responded that indeed we were correct and that further, the models exhibited the same failure on running means of one, five, 10 (which we analyzed), 20, and 25 years. Using climate models that do not work to assess the effects of climate change (with subsequent policy recommendations) is a scientific malpractice.5 (Karl and Melilo were also on the team that assembled NA-2, along with Anthony Janetos of the environmental advocacy group World Resources Institute. NA-2 also had systematic problems.)

Patrick Michaels

Systemic Flaws in the Second National Assessment

The 2009 Second National Assessment of climate change impacts in the United States (NA-2) is the principal U.S-specific reference in the Technical Support Document for the Endanger- ment Finding. The weakness of NA-2 was apparent in its draft form. As one of these authors (Michaels) and Chip Knappenberger noted in public comments submitted on behalf of the Cato Institute:

Of all of the “consensus” government or intergovernmental documents of this genre that [we] have reviewed in [our] 30+ years in this profession, there is no doubt that this is the absolute worst of all. Virtually every sentence can be contested or does not represent a complete survey of a relevant literature. 

There is an overwhelming amount of misleading material in the CCSP’s [Climate Change Science Program’s] “Global Climate Change Impacts in the United States.” It is immediately obvious that the intent of the report is not to provide an accurate scientific assessment of the current and future impacts of climate change in the United States, but to confuse the reader by a loose handling of normal climate events (made seemingly more frequent, intense, and damaging simply by our growing population) presented as climate change events. Additionally, there is absolutely no effort made by the CCSP authors to include any dissenting opinion to their declarative statements, despite the peer-reviewed literature being full of legitimate and applicable reports that provide contrasting findings. Yet, quite brazenly, the CCSP authors claim to provide its readers—“U.S. policymakers and citizens” with the “best available science.” This proclamation is simply false.

The uniformed reader (i.e., the public, reporters, and policy-makers) upon reading this report will be [led] to believe that a terrible disaster is soon to befall the United States from human- induced climate change and that almost all of the impacts will be negative and devastating. Of course, if the purpose here is really not to produce an unbiased review of the impact of climate change on the United States, but a political document that will give cover for EPA’s decision to regulate carbon dioxide, then there is really no reason to go through the ruse of gathering comments from scientists knowledgeable about the issues, as the only science that is relevant is selected work that fits the au- thors’ preexisting paradigm.6

In 2012 we published an addendum in the form of a palimpsest that featured a point-by-point rebuttal of specific faulty statements in the NA-2.7 For example, under “Key Finding” #7, NA-2 says:

7. Risks to human health will increase. Harmful health impacts are related to increasing heat stress, waterborne diseases, poor air quality, extreme weather events, and diseases transmitted by insects and rodents. Reduced cold stress provides some benefits. Robust public health infrastructure can reduce the potential for negative impacts. (p.89)8 

Our addendum notes:

7. Life expectancy and wealth are likely to continue to increase. There is little relationship between climate and life expectancy and wealth. Even under the most dire climate scenarios, people will be much healthier and wealthier in the year 2100 than they are today. (pp. 139-45, 158-61)9

We urge readers interested in documenting the problems between NA-2 and the endangerment finding to do their own side-by side comparisons of both NA-2 and our response, shown in Appendix 1.

Despite all of the problems noted above, the Endangerment Finding was declared final on December 7, 2009. The next section looks at some critical findings subsequent to its publication, which will be important to any attempt to vacate it.

Read the rest of the article here.

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May 5, 2020 6:06 am

I will be livestreaming an interview with the two authors of this study, Dr. Michaels and Kevin Dayaratna today, May 5th at 7:00 PM here:

We will be discussing this important new study and their findings.

Reply to  Gregory Wrightstone
May 5, 2020 6:21 am

7:00 PM what time zone?

Reply to  Gregory Wrightstone
May 5, 2020 6:30 am

In which time zone, please?

Reply to  badEnglish
May 5, 2020 6:32 am

That is 7:00 PM Eastern (NY)

Joseph Zorzin
Reply to  Gregory Wrightstone
May 6, 2020 8:54 am

Then, it would be nice if you could put it on YouTube.

Reply to  Joseph Zorzin
May 6, 2020 9:01 am

Joseph: here is the link:
Unfortunately we had some technical issues with Dr. Michaels’ audio, but still very interesting.

Joseph Zorzin
Reply to  Gregory Wrightstone
May 6, 2020 9:29 am


Thanks. I’m in constant battle with climate alarmists in Mass. I recently read a book by Dr. Michaels and I mention this to the alarmists here. I’ll also pass along his PDF file and the YouTube video.

Steve Case
May 5, 2020 6:34 am

The Endangerment Finding was produced in response to a 2007 Supreme Court decision, Massachusetts v. EPA, that the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1992 empowered the EPA to regulate emissions of carbon dioxide,The Endangerment Finding was produced in response to a 2007 Supreme Court decision, Massachusetts v. EPA, that the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1992 empowered the EPA to regulate emissions of carbon dioxide, if the agency found that they endangered human health and welfare.

…if the agency found that they endangered human health and welfare.

And wonder of wonders, that’s exactly what they did!

Reply to  Steve Case
May 5, 2020 7:21 am

Why did my BS meter go off long before this decision ? You wonder if these politicians, supreme court judges, main stream media, etc. have any common sense, logic, smart brains or whatever. But I, and probably most here on WUWT, knew that the decision was complete BS.


Pat from kerbob
Reply to  Jon P Peterson
May 5, 2020 8:14 am

The ultimate example of “decision based evidence making”.

Reply to  Pat from kerbob
May 5, 2020 9:43 am

Jon P P:

…if the agency found that they endangered human health and welfare.

And wonder of wonders, that’s exactly what they did!

Jon, “did” is the past tense of the verb “do”. So you can not use DID to describe what happens inside a non validated climate model extrapolating 100 years into the future.

That’s like saying , I won’t be going fishing next Friday if it is going to rain. I watched the weather forecast this evening and it DID.

Most of the evidence provided by EPA was not admissible in US law since it was prepared by non US sources. Why Trump has not got this to the SCOTUS already escapes me.

Reply to  Greg
May 5, 2020 10:13 am

What ? – That is exactly what they do ?
It’s what they did – I don’t get your point.

Reply to  Steve Case
May 5, 2020 8:12 am

“And wonder of wonders, that’s exactly what they did!”

There can be no doubt that the endangerment finding has undermined the human health and welfare of every American and by proxy, everyone in the world. That alone is sufficient reason to vacate this nonsense. Throw in the indisputable fact that the IPCC’s science it was based on defies the laws of physics, it’s unfathomable that the Supreme Court, which ostensibly is a politically neutral body, would cave in to these idiots who’s motivation is undeniably radical left politics, science be damned.

Like the IPCC, the Supreme Court lacks the legitimacy and jurisdiction to ‘settle’ controversial science by delegating it to a political cabal (the Obama administration executive branch) and for all intents and purpose, that’s exactly what they did. Even worse, the cabal overrode the science in such a way to make it extremely difficult to unravel by turning fake science into the law of the land without Congressional approval, rather than by an easily overturned excutive order. This is nothing more than legislating from the bench by executive proxy and counter to both Article II and Article III of the Constitution, as well as the scientific method which I hold in even higher esteem than the US Constitution.

Joseph Zorzin
Reply to  Steve Case
May 6, 2020 8:59 am

Massachusetts is the most fanatic state when it comes go climate change alarmism. I happen to live here and see it everyday in every MSM. They never even suggest that there are skeptics so they don’t even need to bother trying to challenge the skeptics. Yet, as the climate is slightly warmer than decades ago- this 70 year old loves it and everyone else I know who lives here in this cold, damp climate. I hope it goes up another few degrees. But I don’t think it will. This spring has been colder than “normal”.

Reply to  Steve Case
May 6, 2020 11:36 am

There is a mistake in that paragraph that has since been corrected. The court held that the Clean Air Act of 1970 (not the 1990 (1992) Amendments empowered EPA once it determined that CO2 is a “pollutant”.

There is also a sign missing in one figure in Table 1 (The Social Cost of Carbon). The cost for LC18 +30% ag enhancement at 2050 is given as $2.87. The correct figure is $-2.87 (i.e. a benefit).


May 5, 2020 6:39 am

The cost of carbon is negative.
The slight amount of anthropogenic warming will be net beneficial.
The value of burning hydrocarbons in improving human society with cheap energy is huge.
The anthropogenic greening is amazing, possibly now feeding an extra billion people.
This madness of the crowd,built on fear and guilt, is exactly backward and for what?
Better, and for whom?
It is certainly not for the benefit of our grandchildren.
An awesomely damaging scientific and societal scandal.
It cannot be sustained.

Richard (the cynical one)
Reply to  kim
May 5, 2020 7:44 pm

I think when it is desirable to keep the focus on the cost, even when on balance there is no cost, the oxy-moronic phrase ‘negative cost’ allows one to avoid the word ‘profit’, with all the unacceptable free enterprise capitalist nuances that hang about them like a miasma.

Reply to  Richard (the cynical one)
May 6, 2020 5:13 am

What a benefice hydrocarbons have been, are, and will forever be.
Eventually our descendents will recognize this.

Curious George
May 5, 2020 7:21 am

Please correct “the uniformed reader”.

Richard (the cynical one)
Reply to  Curious George
May 5, 2020 7:47 pm

I’m sure there must be a few readers in uniform. We could do a study of computer simulations!

Reply to  Richard (the cynical one)
May 6, 2020 5:18 am

Heh, as if 97 percent weren’t uniform enough.

Curious George
May 5, 2020 7:25 am

“The Endangerment Finding was declared final on December 7, 2009.”
Obama wasted no time. And the FBI and the CIA are just like the EPA.

Reply to  Curious George
May 5, 2020 12:00 pm

Ditching this should be top-dead-center of Trump’s “to-do” list, SECOND TERM!!

Honest truth, after this 60-day free demo of what the oppos have in mind, I think Trump could win running on the ticket with a Pangolin!

Bryan A
Reply to  Curious George
May 5, 2020 12:16 pm

Dec. 7th 2009, a date which will live in infamy

Reply to  Bryan A
May 5, 2020 2:34 pm

“Infamy” in the sense that FDR failed to warn those at Pearl Harbor of the attack that he knew was coming. IOW, FDR sacrificed 3000 US servicemen in order to advance his war agenda.
That’s not all:
– Collusion: Franklin Roosevelt, British Intelligence, USSR, and the Secret Campaign to Push the US Into War:

– Roosevelt with USSR Instigated World War II in Europe:

– FDR Fomented World War II and Let Communist USSR Infiltrate the U.S. Government

Joseph Zorzin
Reply to  Bryan A
May 6, 2020 9:03 am

thumbs up on that one!

Joseph Zorzin
Reply to  Joseph Zorzin
May 6, 2020 9:31 am

What I meant was- thumbs up on Bryan A for noticing the Dec. 7 reference.

John Shotsky
May 5, 2020 7:27 am

You might as well assign an endangerment finding to oxygen. It makes as much sense. That is, it does not, and never has made sense – 95% of the emitted Co2 is from the earth itself.

Reply to  John Shotsky
May 5, 2020 8:09 am

Since humans don’t emit or cause to be emitted oxygen, such a finding presents no opportunities for the government to regulate people.

Reply to  MarkW
May 5, 2020 11:05 am

Of course they do, its called agriculture. Willfully planting O2 emitters, oh the humanity!

Ron Long
May 5, 2020 7:28 am

What nonsense, to calculate the Social Cost of Carbon, as if it were an actual number, then ignore the millions of dead birds, some of them protected raptors, beneath wind turbines! These conflicting ideas quickly and clearly show that the EPA finding is a political event, and not based on any reality. Let’s hope the Trump Administration fixes this mess, and quickly. Stay sane and safe (just back from walk with dogs, all working on the sane part).

Gregory Woods
Reply to  Ron Long
May 5, 2020 8:34 am

Don’t get your hopes up…

Joseph Zorzin
Reply to  Ron Long
May 6, 2020 1:29 pm

In very tiny Massachusetts- about 8,000 acres of forests have been utterly destroyed to convert those acres into solar “farms” in the past several years- with many more under construction. That “ecosystem services” loss is never perceived by those who continue to push for “clean and green” energy.

May 5, 2020 7:48 am

I have been informed by an astute observer that the correct time for our interview w/ Dr. Michaels today is 7:00 PM EDT (not EST), reflecting Daylight Savings being the rule in spring and summer in the NH.

Reply to  Gregory Wrightstone
May 5, 2020 10:19 pm

GMT -4?

May 5, 2020 7:55 am

For weather forecasting, the most accurate models are preferred — for climate forecasting, the only accurate model (Russian) is ignored, or averaged with dozens of inaccurate models.

May 5, 2020 8:05 am

All life on Earth is dependent on photosynthesis.
Atmospheric CO2 is the basic substrate material,
Sunlight is captured to provide the energy for the chemical reaction.

Photosynthetic cell structures in many types of plants have been evolving for millions of years to improve the ability to capture atmospheric CO2. This was due to consistent depletion of atmospheric CO2 concentrations over time, at least since the Cenozoic.
The reason for the evolution of more efficient CO2 capture (ex. C4 grasses) is that global atmospheric CO2 concentration had fallen to the point where CO2 had become the limiting component in the reaction.
Plants were gasping for more CO2. They evolved to survive.

Since the beginning of science, countless people have tested the controlled addition of CO2 to plant growth.
CO2 addition to the atmosphere always produces enhanced growth. An example from 1920

Global plant growth and agriculture will always benefit from more CO2 in the air.

Reply to  bwegher
May 5, 2020 8:11 am

99.999999% of life on earth depends on photosynthesis.
Obligatory mention of deep sea vents.

May 5, 2020 8:30 am

The Endangerment Finding continues to have an impact. EPA has rescinded the “Clean Power Plan” from the previous administration, but replaced it with the “Affordable Clean Energy” Act from the current one. This flawed ACE rule is an attempt by lawyers to regulate something they know nothing about, power plant efficiency. It is supposed to “help” coal plants, but it attempts to put under regulation the very heart and soul of a power plant, its efficiency. And this is all due to having to replace the CPP with something else due to the endangerment finding. If not replaced, courts would mandate it. So the Endangerment Finding still marches on, EPA should have had the cojones to rescind it entirely.

Jeffery P
May 5, 2020 8:30 am

Only Congress can pass laws. Agencies should not be able to expand their mission except by going through legislative channels. Clearly, CO2 emissions do not fall under the purview of the Clean Air Act.

Tom in Florida
Reply to  Jeffery P
May 5, 2020 1:11 pm

Most laws are written with clauses that say something like “the appropriate agency shall develop regulations as required to implement this law”, or words to that effect.

Rick C PE
Reply to  Jeffery P
May 5, 2020 1:13 pm

Ha ha ha ha… (sorry, couldn’t help it). From the moment congress creates a regulatory agency and the president signs it into law, the agency’s primary goal is to expand its power and budget. The Clean Air Act passed by congress runs something over 450 pages. The regulations based on the CAA created by EPA run into the 100s of thousands of pages. Many have tenuous to non-existent justification in the actual legislation. The agency even takes the position that they get to interpret Congress’s intent in writing the legislation even when congress people disagree. EPA also created and utilized the “sue and settle” process to make it appear that the courts were forcing them to create regulations that they could not readily claim were required by the actual legislation.

May 5, 2020 8:31 am

If/when Trump is reelected removing the CO2 endangerment finding should be a top priority. Unfortunately (or not) CC is not high on the list of voter demands. I don’t see any politicians willing to take on the fight.

May 5, 2020 8:40 am

As if it was EVER about *science*.

David Yaussy
May 5, 2020 8:43 am

Don’t blame the Supreme Court. The Bush Administration conceded that greenhouse gases caused some degree of global warming, but argued that there wasn’t much to be done about it by the US. With that, the SCOTUS sent it back to EPA to determine the extent to which GHGs were a danger, in accordance with the Clean Air Act. A stronger position by the Bush Administration in the litigation, and a more coherent policy and evidence development in the Bush EPA prior to the Supreme Court’s ruling, might have saved the day.

May 5, 2020 8:53 am

” … on the grounds of scientific uncertainty as to the amount and effects of climate change actually caused by increasing atmospheric concentrations.”

There’s little uncertainty in the effects dictated by the laws of physics, however; the effects per those laws are no where near large enough to justify the green agenda, so they add fake uncertainty to justify their position.

That fake uncertainty is the size of the ‘feedback’,. Based on the undeniable fact that the way feedback analysis was shoe horned into climate science is completely wrong, the resulting uncertainty is infinitely large which is about how large they needed it to be to support their conclusions.

Reply to  co2isnotevil
May 5, 2020 10:19 am

Feedback is negative (converging), at least it has usually been such in the past. So, size does not matter.

The only true concern would be a complete change of state, a JUMP that bypasses the negative feedback. A converging feedback would still be there, but at a different level (colder or warmer).

Iceball earth was a change of state, obviously to colder … don’t know how it happened … hope it doesn’t happen again (at least not within the next 45 years).

A warmer permanent change of state jump to an ‘average” earth temp of 10 or 20 degrees warmer would be a silly fantasy discussion; based on historic record (and tentative observed record of vegetation response to global CO2 change) the feedback is negative, big, and converging toward something that lets us sit on the porch in the evening.

Reply to  DonM
May 5, 2020 11:30 am


There’s no such thing as climate feedback, positive or negative. The concept, as defined by Bode, was horribly misapplied to the climate by Hansen, Schlesinger and more recently Roe who simply echoed Schlesinger’s faulty analysis by making the same mistake of conflating the feedback factor with the feedback fraction which can only be the same when the open loop gain is unity.

The convergent nature of the climate has nothing to do feedback, it’s the just the forward response of a passive system to stimulus based on COE applied to matter absorbing and radiating energy. The Earth’s climate is certainly a dynamic system, but this is not the same as the formal definition of an active system. Passive systems become dynamic when a time varying stimulus is applied, but this doesn’t make them active. An active system has an implicit internal source of power while a passive system does not. Feedback requires an active amplifier which the Earth’s atmosphere is not per Bode’s book which is the definitive reference on active feedback amplifiers.

The temperature dependence of attributes of the Earth’s system, for example, ice coverage, is not properly modeled as feedback either. In it’s canonical form, surface reflectivity is simply a step function of temperature with one value above 0C and another below 0C (the X axis is the temperature converted into W/m^2 by the SB Law).

Interestingly enough, the average albedo doesn’t really reflect this, although it has it’s own unique temperature dependence:

This is because the system is constrained by other factors, the most important of which is that the bulk behavior of the planet must obey the laws of physics everywhere, where clouds chaotically adapt the system to meet that goal locally.

It’s more like a feedback control system converging to ideal behaviors which is can not be modeled with the linear feedback amplifier analysis that’s been applied to the climate system. An important distinction is that the ideal behavior being converged to, that is the goal, can be computed independent of how that goal is achieved.

Pat Frank
May 5, 2020 11:12 am

The scientific case for ending the CO2 endangerment finding is that there is no scientific case for the CO2 endangerment finding.

No one knows what they’re talking about.

The whole case is artful pseudo-science.

Pat Frank
Reply to  David L Hagen
May 5, 2020 8:46 pm

Hi David — thanks for your interest. 🙂

I haven’t posted any pdf links. The first link is to the Propagation of Error paper at Frontiers. They provide a pdf download button on the upper right of the page.

The other is to the abstract page of my Negligence, Non-Science and Consensus Climatology paper. If you’d like a pdf of that paper, email me at pfrank-eight-three-zero AT earthlink-dot-net.

I don’t own the copyright of the Negligence paper, though. Permission from Sage will probably be required if someone wants to make a pdf generally available.

I don’t see my paper anywhere at the CEI links you provided.

Rud Istvan
May 5, 2020 11:26 am

As pointed out elsewhere, an EPA effort to roll back the endangerment finding on these grounds via the regulatory procedures act of 1946 would produce years of endless litigation. The core problem is not the bad science. It is the bad policy politics created by the CAGW movement.

Far cleaner is to recapture the House, increase the Senate majority, and then in Trump’s second term amend the Clean Air Act circulatory ‘definition’ of a pollutant as that which pollutes. Do three things. 1. Eliminate the nonsense linear no threshold presumption incentive for ever more regulation. 2. Strengthen the cost benefit requirement weighting among the 8 tests currently specified for any endangerment finding. 3. Declare indirectly that some things are by the new CAA legal definition not polluting (CO2) by defining pollutants as things that artificially cause harmful air chemistry changes above some threshold. Or better yet, a list like SO2, mercury, fly ash,… but not O2, N2, CO2, H2O….

Pat Frank
Reply to  Rud Istvan
May 5, 2020 1:12 pm

Rather far cleaner is to recapture the House, increase the Senate majority, and then in Trump’s second term rescind EPA Order 1110.2, close and disband the EPA forever and return all regulatory authority to the states, where it belongs.

Centralized authority is a magnet for power-mad demagogues, collectivist tyranny-addicts, and socialist utopia-at-any-cost-including-mass-murder wannabes. Best to have none of it.

Reply to  Pat Frank
May 5, 2020 7:30 pm

The environment is not in the US constitution. Therefore the 10th amendment applies.
The creation of the EPA (at the federal level) was unconstitutional.

Amendment X
The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.

Pat Frank
Reply to  bwegher
May 5, 2020 8:50 pm

I suspect that your view, bwegher, is what motivated the Supreme Court to declare unconstitutional all of Franklin Roosevelt’s early initiatives.

He cowed them into silence. But I suspect they were right.

Bill Rocks
May 5, 2020 11:32 am

Dr. Michaels,

Thanks for your good work.

The endangerment finding is invalid and damaging. An intentional product of zealots, not dispassionate rational thinkers. I especially note your diagram showing data vs computer predictions for the now famous mid troposphere “hot spot” above the tropics.

The CAGW hypothesis and hence the endangerment finding is disproved. One would think that before destroying the infrastructure of a society, extreme care would be taken. At one time, that would have been a cultural norm for our society.

Rather than being distracted and hobbled by bogus CAGW, what if we we had made the appropriate effort to be prepared for the next pandemic which was very likely to happen given recent human history?

I recall a significant paper, perhaps 10 years ago, concerning the economics of proposed climate change policies. The major conclusion was that if we spend trillions of dollars chasing the CAGW chimera, we will not have the ability to deal with clearly foreseeable needs such as infrastructure, education, medical, poverty, defense. That was the only certain outcome of the proposed agenda. Now we are a long way down the CAGW road. I hope we can change direction by invalidating the endangerment finding. It is bogus.

Reply to  Bill Rocks
May 5, 2020 7:19 pm

Bill the endangerment finding for CO2 is bogus, no argument there. Nonetheless they see renewables as the ‘cure’ by way of reducing CO2.

Given that we already had different sources of ‘reliable’ energy, that would mean that renewables are superfluous, they are in fact unnecessary. These unnecessary sources of energy are causing immense environmental damage globally. I understand that SF6 has essential uses but given that we have established that ‘renewables’ are not necessary then additional and substantial amounts of SF6 are ending up in the atmosphere unnecessarily. This would be adding manmade green house gasses, unnecessarily.

CO2 was never scientifically proven to be a danger to anyone, politicians have given ‘consensus scientists’ free reign, anything goes.

Renewables offer no benefit and are unnecessary, the ‘finite’ resources they use are all for nothing, the millions of hectares of land they take up globally is displacing the very ecosystems they claim to want to save, not to mention arable farmland. The mental health of populations that are confronted by this infrastructure is not even taken into consideration, trust me it has massive ramifications to those whom are affected, a big one is that you don’t have a say in it. It’s for the greater good! Totalitarianism is already here.

They are pushing ahead with all this destruction and they haven’t even properly considered end of life for this infrastructure. No one talks about what happens to the wind turbines and solar panels at end of life. The truth is that very little renewables infrastructure is being fully recycled. Much of it is going to landfill, we’re talking toxic materials in the mix too and that isn’t easily separated. Who has researched to risks to the population in all of this? You read about toxic chemicals leaching into soils and waterways from damaged panels. What happens to the tank (drinking) water in the country when the panels on the shed roof get shredded by hail?

Isn’t it obvious that renewables fall into the ‘endangerment’ category. Surely there could be a case of endangerment against renewable energy?

Bill Rocks
Reply to  Megs
May 6, 2020 10:11 am

Thanks for educating me about SF6. I have seen the steel pressurized gas cylinders connected to buried telephone cable along county road in this area and wondered about that but never bothered to investigate. After reading your words, I made the effort to learn.

I agree that “renewable”energy projects create many environmental and health threats. I, too, wonder what happens to the wind and solar machines when they poop out.

May 5, 2020 5:01 pm

Note to Anthony Watts: Please consider adding an “upvote/downvote option to the comments section. I am not shy about sharing my opinion, but sometimes I cannot improve on what some of the commenters have to say.

Pat Frank
Reply to  Kpar
May 5, 2020 6:59 pm

Kpar, just reply with an affirmation, e.g., ‘what s/he said’ or, following David Middleton, ‘+42^42’

May 5, 2020 7:46 pm

HI Pat,

Good job.

Best, Allan

Pat Frank
May 5, 2020 8:51 pm

Thanks, Allan. 🙂

Bill Everett
May 6, 2020 7:17 am

The EPA action is a result of too much dependence on modelling and not enough on observation. The same is true for the whole human induced climate change argument. I am surprised that I do not see much discussion of the use of the temperature record from 1880 until the present as a predictor of future temperature levels. If the temperature record revealed random or chaotic temperature change then its use as a predictor would be impossible. But instead the temperature record reveals that the temperature change has occurred in a patterned manner. Equal length periods of about thirty years duration of continuous warming and pause in warming have alternated throughout the period from 1880 until the present according to the record. It would seem entirely feasible to use a continuation into the future of the past record as a predictor. If that were done it would be seen that there will be only forty years of warming in the current century. At present some are making a strong effort to argue that we are not presently in a period of pause and that the Earth’s air temperature continues to rise. The way I read the temperature charts the previous continuous warming period ended in 2003. When I draw a horizontal line from the temperature for 2003 forward through the present I observe more temperature activity below that line than above it. If the distracting influence of the 2015-2017 El Nino period is ignored the difference is greater. One other thought. If the result of an occurrence is patterned then it would seem that the occurrence would share the same pattern.

Bill Everett
May 6, 2020 7:49 am

I am surprised at how little the Earth’s temperature history is made part the discussion of the human effect upon that temperature. Those that espouse the idea that the temperature rise is human induced appear to place a high level of dependence upon human produced computer models to predict future global air temperature levels. The results of such predictions have been grossly inaccurate. If the record of the Earth’s temperature change had shown temperature change that was random or even chaotic it would not be a useful predictor of future Earth air temperature. But that is not the case. The record of the Earth’s air temperature change shows that the change has occurred in a patterned manner. Equal length periods (of about thirty years) of continuous warming and pause in warming have alternated since measurement began in 1880 until the present. Absent any information to the contrary it would appear that this same pattern will continue into the future and can be used for reasonably accurate prediction. In that regard it could be concluded that there will only be forty years of continuous warming in this century which should result in a temperature rise of about one degree centigrade.

John Shotsky
Reply to  Bill Everett
May 6, 2020 8:13 am

Bill, the answer to that question lies in the mandate given the IPCC in its charter. I used to have a link to it but no longer find the charter. But, the IPCC was charged with finding the HUMAN impact on climate, NOT how the climate itself works. So, instead of leaning how the earth’s climate system works, they simply used CO2 causes warming and ran with it. No need to work out natural earth – it is bypassed because all they need is increasing CO2 and their computer models.

May 6, 2020 7:52 am

Here is a link to my interview last evening with the authors of this important study:

Bill Everett
May 8, 2020 1:38 pm

I also think there better be another look taken at the idea that nature is in balance as regards CO2 and that humans are upsetting that balance. The data being obtained by the new CO2 measuring satellite brings the natural balance idea into question in my opinion. Recently, NASA published a description of a Finnish study that used the new satellite data to map the presence of the “excess” CO2 above the level in balance. This was stated to be the human induced CO2 . The map of the United States showed no particular correlation with human concentration and the “excess” CO2 but a close correlation between the “excess” CO2 and concentrations of broadleaf vegetation particularly forests containing broadleaf trees. The comments contained in the description took no notice of the fact that the semi-arid western states west of the 100th meridian appeared, on the study’s map of the United States, to be making no significant contribution of “excess CO2. In fact, the three states of California, Oregon and Washington, whose governors have been the most vocal in calling for reduction of human induced CO2, showed almost no contribution to the “excess” CO2. I was surprised that the extensive forests of the Pacific Northwest and Northern California did not appear to make a significant CO2 contribution but when I consulted the World Atlas it became clear that these were needle leaf forests rather than broadleaf.

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