Andrew Dessler: Climate Alarmist as Energy Expert (Part II)

Reposted from Master Resource

By Robert Bradley Jr. — May 28, 2020

“The popular climate discussion … looks at man as a destructive force for climate livability … because we use fossil fuels. In fact, the truth is the exact opposite; we don’t take a safe climate and make it dangerous; we take a dangerous climate and make it safe. High-energy civilization, not climate, is the driver of climate livability.” (Alex Epstein, The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels, pp. 126–127).

The Houston Chronicle‘s favorite climate scientist, Andrew Dessler of Texas A&M’s Department of Atmospheric Sciences, a leading climate alarmist (see Part I yesterday) fancies himself as an energy and public policy expert. And so the Chronicle takes Dessler at face value well outside of his areas of expertise.

Dessler’s Latest

Here is Dessler’s latest Opinion piece for the Houston Chronicle, A Just Transition from Fracking to Renewable Energy is Possible [February 28, 2020] His op-ed (in yellow) is interspersed with my critical comments.

One of the hot-button issues in this presidential campaign is fracking. All of the Democratic candidates for president support either limiting or outright banning the process. Rather than a knee-jerk tribal response, this is an issue that deserves serious consideration as it pits the uncompromising laws of physics against the conventional wisdom of politics.

Comment: Politics, politics …. Dessler’s “uncompromising laws of physics” assume what is under debate. It asserts that the human influence on climate is unequivocally pronounced and of the worst kind. And both suppositions are not open to scientific debate!

Yet the “laws of physics” driving high-sensitivity warming in climate models (ugh!) is precisely what is unsettled, as I have documented elsewhere. To share one quotation therein [“The Scientific Challenge of Understanding and Estimating Climate Change” (Palmer/Stevens, PNAS: 12-3-2019)]:

The idea that the science of climate change is largely “settled,” common among policy makers and environmentalists but not among the climate science community, has congealed into the view that the outlines and dimension of anthropogenic climate change are understood and that incremental improvement to and application of the tools used to establish this outcome are sufficient to provide society with the scientific basis for dealing with climate change.

As a drilling technique that allows extraction of natural gas and oil locked up in shale rocks that would otherwise be inaccessible, fracking has allowed the U.S. to become one of the world’s dominant energy producers.

Comment: But much more than this, fracking had made the US the world’s leading producer and is fueling an export boom to compete against coal globally (via LNG).

Dessler’s university, Texas A&M, parenthetically, has been in the forefront of horizontal fractionation by educating George Mitchell and thousands of others whose labors have supplied the US and world with huge quantities of hydrocarbons. Since resources come from the mind, not the ground, TAMU is a global center of for carbon-based energy and thus CO2 emissions.

While many people are making money from fracking today, it comes with a high environmental costs that must be eventually paid — by us now and later by future generations. But the sooner we transition to clean energy, the lower the bill will be when it arrives.

Comment: Dessler assumes climate alarm, and he does not understand (or want to understand) energy density, reliability, portability, scalability, and cost. His term “clean energy” is a misnomer, as evidenced by Michael Moore’s Planet of the Humans. The environment, in fact, is growing much cleaner with the increase in the production and usage of mineral energies.

Fracking causes many problems, such as earthquakes and air pollution. But the most serious environmental impact of fracking is climate change. Fracking often vents methane (natural gas) directly to the atmosphere, where it’s a powerful greenhouse gas — 20 times as powerful at heating the planet as carbon dioxide. Because of this, it is an important contributor to climate change: methane released from all human activities contribute about 25 percent as much warming as carbon dioxide.

Comment: To the extent that earthquakes are linked to drilling, that is a tort issue. Air pollution has been declining for decades and in recent years. Tort damages apply to wind turbine health effects as well. Air pollution from fracking is subsumed under existing air-quality rules too.

Methane as a global warming gas begs the question of climate change as a major problem. Dessler also should have noted that methane has a relatively short atmospheric lifespan and is controllable (and declining) at the drill site. This is not a CO2 issue, but watch out meat eaters.

While we have yet to feel the full impact of rising levels of pollution, climate change is costing us a lot of money. Damages from Hurricane Harvey, for example, cost at least $125 billion.

Comment: Alarmists are now assuming that unusual events are tied to anthropogenic warming, whether it be large hurricanes, heavy rain, or droughts. Buyer beware of recent statistics of extremes that have a propensity to wax and wane. In any case, this brings up the issue of adaptation, not mitigation. Fossil-fueled capitalism is the tonic for bad weather and extreme events from any source–check the statistics of human betterment.

Not all of this came from climate change, but climate change made the storm worse by increasing the rainfall by about 15 percent. So conservatively at least 15 percent of those damages can be attributed to climate change — corresponding to at least $600 per resident of Texas.

Comment: “Not all” … thank you for this slight concession. How much assumes what needs to be debated (and what is under debate). The $600 per resident might also have something to do with urbanization and water runoff, right Professor? Expect private and public actions in response to Harvey, not stasis. Entrepreneurship internalizes externalities.

And this is just one storm. Now factor in the extra expense from Harris County having to invest in flood infrastructure ($2.5 billion), or the expense from having to build our houses up off the ground to account for more severe future floods, and you see that we’re already paying a steep cost.

Comment: That is called adaptation, which should occur as wealth affords preparation for extremes. For example, I am building a new house in the Texas Hill Country that is 18 inches higher than normal to guard against a 1935-level flood in the region.

And this is just one impact (more severe rainfall) in one place (Houston). Add in the expenses from hotter temperatures — running your air conditioner more, outdoor workers suffering from more heat injuries, agricultural decline, livestock deaths, etc — and then multiply this by millions of locations, and you can see how unchecked climate change will be an existential economic threat.

Comment: Shame on this climatologist-trying-to-be-an-economist. At a minimum, the lower energy costs from warmer winters offset incremental summer charges. And what about the positive externality, the unpriced benefit, of carbon dioxide fertilization?

Addressing climate change cannot be done as long as we are reliant on fossil fuels. The science on this has been crystal clear for decades, so it is well past time we start planning for how to phase out fossil fuels over the next few decades.

Comment: Is climate alarm settled science? I have gathered quotations over the past decades disputing this very claim, including from Dessler’s distinguished senior colleague at Texas A&M, Gerald North, arguing the opposite.

Based on this, the Democratic candidates all agree that some limits on fracking make sense. The debate among them is on what schedule and with what policy to carry out the policy. Among the Democratic frontrunners, Sen. Bernie Sanders, Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Pete Buttigieg have backed a total ban on new fracking. Joe Biden, Michael Bloomberg and Sen. Amy Klobuchar support continuing fracking on a limited basis.

Comment: Politics, politics. Dessler is a political operative, not a sober scientist, with his public pronunciations of the science, economics, and policy of climate change. He is “all in” with alarm and government planning and will not debate his opponents in person or in a side-by-side analysis of the issues. (I have tried.)

There are lots of potential ways to go about this, each with its own sets of benefits and drawbacks. A carbon tax is favored by many across the political spectrum, and indeed will likely be a component of any comprehensive climate plan. But if enacted alone, without other policies to buffer the associated rise in energy costs, it can mean those with the fewest resources end up paying the largest share of their income.

Comment: Politics trumping science. What is a “comprehensive climate plan”? Dessler is a Green New Dealer (“Why the Green New Deal Makes Me Hopeful about Climate Change,” February 15, 2019) so central planning here we come.

Other policies can make a more just transition by providing assistance for not only those hurt most by climate change, but also those in the fossil fuel sector who will need to find new sources of employment.

Comment: A lot of folks in the oil and gas industry, tens of thousands Texas A&M educated, might be offended with this conceit.

Those who are employed by the industry are just as beholden to our fossil-fuel-driven economic system as those suffering its consequences, and policies to address climate change should treat both groups fairly.

Comment: Hundreds of thousands demeaned by one Texas A&M Professor. Bad Aggie….

When the debate over fracking and fossil fuels gets serious, special interests and other alarmists will scream bloody murder. They will try to scare you by overstating the costs, trying to convince you that we cannot transition to a climate-safe future. Don’t listen to them. Their concerns are not based in reality.

Comment: Nice try! Dessler wants to claim that alarmist science is not alarmist because it is ‘mainstream,’ but he wants to dismiss mainstream economics because it is, to him, alarmist.

The reality is that innovation has been rapidly driving down the price of renewables — at this point, they are competitive with fossil fuel energy in many locations. So we’re almost there, and it seems certain that the cleverness of American business can get us the rest of the way to the point where the transition is seamless. To believe the alarmists is to not believe in the ability of the market to innovate to a stable climate. This is something we can absolutely do.

Comment: James Hansen, the scientist who started the climate crusade that Dessler and others are desperately trying to keep alive, has set the record straight on renewables (here and here):

Suggesting that renewables will let us phase rapidly off fossil fuels in the United States, China, India, or the world as a whole is almost the equivalent of believing in the Easter Bunny and Tooth Fairy.

Yes, a few scientists assert that renewables alone are sufficient, a position that gets applause. As for me, I would prefer to stick to science and tend my orchard.

Wind and solar are not scalable to meet a modern economy, and hydro and biomass are off the list to the energy planners.

Whichever approach to solving the problem you prefer, make no mistake: the science of climate change does not compromise. Lofty campaign promises, constant TV commercials and carefully crafted catchphrases may sway political opinions, but they can’t change physics.

Comment: As he began this op-ed, Dessler ends by assuming what must be debated. He is not being a scientist but a lawyer arguing for one side for a client.

Who is Dessler’s “client”? It is deep ecology and a fundamental personal animus toward free-market capitalism. This professor, an outlier, simply does not like the self-interested actions of almost everyone else who do not see things the way he does.

Professor Dessler is a one-world-government totalitarian in his climate crusade. And in one of the hydrocarbon meccas of the world. Expect him to grow more shrill as the debate continues to leave his views behind. Dense mineral energies are the future, not the past, at home and abroad.

25 thoughts on “Andrew Dessler: Climate Alarmist as Energy Expert (Part II)

  1. “Dense mineral energies are the future, not the past, at home and abroad.”

    And it is organic too. Clean up real pollution over most of the planet, (we are fairly clean now in the 1st World) since CO2 is really a metaphor for real pollution that the ignoramus class represented by the likes of Professor Dessler think that the CO2 is the pollution and driving long term climate. There is a long way to go to cleaning up real pollution in the 3rd World, which really includes most of China too.

  2. “asserts that the human influence on climate is unequivocally pronounced and of the worst kind. And both suppositions are not open to scientific debate!”

    That is a good thing for climate science because if it WERE open to scientific debate they’d have messy things like these to resolve.

    1. Claiming a causal relationship between time series data in the absence of the assumed correlation.
    https://tambonthongchai.com/2020/05/18/12479/

    2. Interpreting uncertainty in a perverse way to claim empirical support for extreme values.
    https://tambonthongchai.com/2020/04/22/climate-science-uncertainty/

    3. Reliance on climate models to the point of trying to resolve statistical errors by adding more variables and increasing the complexity of the model.
    https://tambonthongchai.com/2020/04/09/climate-statistics/

    I have more but not sure how many links I am allowed. So maybe later.

  3. It is clear to me that the dear professor has never been on location for a frack job. His comments on air pollution and methane releases are ridiculous.

  4. The climate idiots want zero economic growth, and lower of human population, and lowering of “human CO2 emissions”.
    And say they want this because of their fears of increasing global average temperature.
    But we are in an Ice Age.
    Ice Ages have cold oceans. Our ocean is 3.5 C, so it’s a cold ocean.
    It claimed that 90% of the imagined warming caused by humans activity warms the ocean.
    Or vast amount of their delusional warming is warming a 3.5 C average temperature ocean.
    And they seems to think warming the ocean to say 4 C, would be dangerous.
    There is no hope of warming the ocean to average temperature of 4 C would be dangerous.
    And an ocean with average temperature of 4 C is still a cold ocean.
    And we would be still an an Ice Age.
    And if ocean were 5 C, it’s still a cold ocean, and 5 C can make “hot weather”. BUT a 5 C ocean would certainly increase global average air temperature. But an average global air of 15 C is a cold, or lots of areas which spent a lot time well below 5 C. Canada for example has average yearly surface air temperature of about minus 4 C.
    And since -4 is colder than 5 C, it is possible Canada could warmed by an ocean with average temperature of 5 C. But warmer ocean is most effective of warming is polar sea ice. So even if average ocean average was just 4 C, it probably will result in ice free arctic ocean during summer.
    And if it’s the end of world if don’t polar sea ice in summer, then we have had many “end of worlds” in relatively recent part. And somehow polar bear {or walruses} lived thru it. Anyways, since stop shooting as many polar bears, presently, the polar bears are fat and happy and overly abundant.

    Anyhow, it bad idea to have low economic growth, and declining population. And looks like China going to have both these pretty soon. And it’s not going to be pretty.

  5. Could the article be edited such that the alarmist comments are clearly shown and clearly separate from the response?
    I’m getting a headache reading it on my mobile phone

  6. “… the uncompromising laws of physics …”.
    That appeal to authority is common as if the IPCC pronouncement “It is extremely likely that human influence has been the dominant cause of observed warming since 1950” etc. has the axiomatic power of for instance Newton’s Law of Universal Gravitation.
    The physics of increasing atmospheric CO2 concentration is governed by the Stefan-Boltzmann law viz. doubling of the concentration -> ~1C temperature increase, that’s it as far as I know, effective climate sensitivity can only be estimated because little is known of natural climate variation and then only by observation.

  7. What Climate Science really needs to call their studies is Climate Stability, not Climate Change.

    During the Holocene in which mankind has prospered and spread across the globe, with productivity enhancing grain agriculture and pastoral ways, we have conquered climates previously unlivable. And most recently, fossil fuels of coal and now petroleum and natural gas have been key in the last 120 years to continuing that advancement.

    No matter where one looks, the role of fossil fuels is there. Ocean going ships bringing commerce and trade with steady reliable delivery, fossils fuels. Modern aviation’s reach around the world in a single day’s travel, fossil fuels. Modern agriculture pushing crop yields to ever higher levels with fertilizers, chemicals to control pests, and then harvest, fossil fuels. And then the vast overland transport via train and truck, fossil fuel.

    Indeed our even our studies at the US’s South Pole research station depends exclusively on the fossil fuel storage of diesel/kerosene brought in every summer on aircraft for their station’s livability through the -80F winter of darkness.

    Dessler is thus a complete moron and utter IYI for thinking we can somehow get rid of fossil fuels. Poor Dessler will be a laughing stock one day in the future, if he is even remembered at all. As ridiculed and scorned then aswe do today the Vatican priests of 1620’s who blasted Galileo’s blasphemy of a sun-centric solar system.

  8. Thanks for Eric.
    Isn’t it a “never ending story”?

    Wind and solar are not scalable to meet a modern economy…

    Denmark has the most windmills per capita, I believe, bu most import a substantial part of their electricity:

    When we have nice weather, onshore mills tend to provide only 70MW, while the offshore mills draw 10MW:

    So if fossil fuels are to be abolished, then we are back to:

  9. Another man with stupid facial hair that makes his mouth look like the reproductive part of a skunkess.
    Its almost a badge of a failed left wing wannabe academic.

    • Leo, I understand where your remark comes from, but it is still unfair, impolite and presumptuous.

      • True enough Carl, but there is a school of thought that the self-annointed high priests of “climate” church is a dork-cloning experiment gone horribly wrong.

        Even if it isn’t, it certainly resembles one.

  10. A thought, on the back of a fag packet!

    How easy would it be to accommodate the wishes of Climate Alarmists and their disciples and allow them to use ‘only’ Green energy from the grid (possibly backed up by a solar panel on their roof) in their factories, businesses and homes and ‘cut them off’ from the filthy, highly polluting normal fossil fuel grid? (I see it something like; X MW green electrical power produced by solar/wind divided by Y number of users is the maximum available per household/business. Shared out, of course, equally (especially in an extremely cloudy and still winter). That would leave the horrible fossil fuel (and nuclear) energy for ‘us heathens’!

    Just a thought!

  11. Thank you Joel O’B..
    Climate Stability ..with your consent I will start using it!

    ..and Dessler, well, he brings to mind a rare pearl of wisdom from my Irish friend Chuck Coughlin who once observed : ” Ultimately, inevitably and inexorably most men’s morals are tied to their mortgages”
    Cheers
    Mike

  12. This looks like another weak attempt by Big Green to shore up the crumbling image of fashionable renewable energy, which were so demonstratively crushed by Moore’s latest film. Where’s the popcorn?

  13. “While we have yet to feel the full impact of rising levels of pollution…”
    Boom. Notice the blatant and lame trick of using the wild, Alarmist claim that CO2 is “pollution” as an aside, as if it’s something everyone “knows”.

  14. Dessler is an imbecile simpleton.

    All simpletons obsess about 1 variable.

    Imbeciles believe matter can produce more energy than that supplied to it, i.e. the greenhouse effect.

    It’s OK to be rude to these low lifes because they don’t have a single experiment to back them up.

  15. EXAMPLE OF AN AUSTRALIAN “CLIMATE EXPERT”
    From the Facebook page of Michael Darby
    27 May 2020 at 12:33 AM ·
    MORE FRAUD FROM THE ABC
    11pm AEST 26 May 2020, on ABC Radio’s Nightlife Program, an “expert” named Dr Will Grant asserted that we should be very concerned about temperature increases in the deep ocean, without telling us by how many degrees (or by what tiny fraction of a degree) temperatures have allegedly increased. The thrust of his message was that even if we cease industrial carbon dioxide emissions immediately (his goal) then it will take a hundred years for the deep sea to recover.
    There is no scientific basis for the claim that an increase in carbon dioxide increases air temperature, and it is utterly impossible for any increase in carbon dioxide to cause an increase in water temperature.
    There is a scientific basis for the easily demonstrable fact that a slight increase in sea temperature liberates more carbon dioxide. If it were also true that an increase in carbon dioxide warms the oceans, then a cause-and-effect loop would be created and the oceans would in due course boil dry.
    Dr Grant was introduced by the ABC Presenter as Senior Lecturer in Science Communication at the Australian National Centre for the Public Awareness of Science at ANU, which is indeed his role.
    Dr Grant has a BA, an MA and a PhD from the School of Political Science and International Studies. The subject of his PhD thesis, which I have not bothered to read, was “A Certain India: An enquiry into a claim to national territory”.
    The record of Dr Grant’s research outputs, almost all with collaborators, is risible. Examples are: ‘The Space of the Nation: An Examination of the Spatial Productions of Hindu Nationalism’, ‘Digital Dialogue? Australian Politicians’ use of the Social Network Tool Twitter’, ‘Social evidence of a changing climate: Google Ngram data points to early climate change impact on human society’, ‘The role of student academic beliefs in perceptions of instructor ideological bias’, ‘The use of machine learning to analyze job advertisements for doctoral employability’, ‘Can video improve grant review quality and lead to more reliable ranking?’, ‘Exploring the YouTube science communication gender gap: A sentiment analysis’, and ‘Learning from the climate change debate to avoid politicisation and polarisation on negative emissions’. [What are negative emissions?]
    This fellow is a wonderful example of a snout-in-the-trough “academic” with no discernible scientific qualifications. From the ANU website, here is an extract of funding budgets he has shared with a range of collaborators (all figures in A$):
    2010: ‘Long Conversations: A proposal for a Listening based Communication Project with Climate Scientists and Communicators in Regional and Remote Australia’ Funded by the SCOPE Sustainable Science Outreach Grants. $55,000.
    2010: ‘Communicating the Transformational Biology Capability Platform’. Contract to provide research services to CSIRO. $43,800.
    2011: ‘Living with floods: key lessons from Australia and Abroard (sic.)’. Funded by the National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility $100,000.
    2012: ‘Up Stream’. Successfully crowdfunded $11,366
    2012c: ‘Kinda Thinky’. Seed funding from Inspiring Australia. $14,000
    2015. ‘Tracking Trends in Industry Demand for Australia’s Advanced Research Workforce’: Pilot Study (BCS 06-2015-1-SEEK)’. $99,000.
    2017 ‘Tracking Trends’, Discovery Translation Fund 2.0. $50,000 plus $25,000 extension.
    2018. ‘Crafted Machines’, acceptance and performance bonus in the ON Prime Pre-Accelerator program $5,000
    2018. ‘Fighting fake news by replicating the motivated numeracy effect’. Crowdfunded $10,225
    2020. ‘PostAc Individual’, Discovery Translation Fund 2.0 $75,000
    What auditing has taken place? At the very least the people who sign away tens of thousands of dollars should insist on knowing whether the text they have paid for with unwilling taxpayers’ funds is read by two people or five people. Even the willing crowd funders deserve to know how many people read what they pay for.
    By any objective standard of judgement, this fellow the typical hardworking hairdresser, truck driver or stacker of supermarket shelves contributes much more to society than this fellow. Yet his salary is vastly higher, and he is wholly insulated from any risk of unemployment caused by natural disasters.
    The Australian National Centre for the Public Awareness of Science at ANU is revealed as a source of political propaganda bereft of any relevance to science. It should be closed.
    The ABC, by trotting out this outrageous political propagandist as if he were a scientist, is simply doing what it has been trained to do.
    WHY SHOULD AUSTRALIANS PUT UP WITH THIS?
    michael@michaeldarby.net

  16. If there is anyone who is demonstrating how the CAGW narrative is actually a religious, spiritual and political one, it is this guy Andrew Dressler (along with Katherine Hayhoe). The subscribers to and believers in religious and other non-scientific doctrines accept their doctrine as infallible and unquestionable. No dissent is allowed. Anyone who dares to question the doctrine is a heretic or thought-criminal, and the dissenters deserve to be condemned and dismissed in the eyes of the believers.

    This of course is nothing new, it is common in life and human history. The average lay person, unfortunately, will have a difficult time really understanding what he or she is seeing when a scientific hypotheses (CAGW in this case) morphs into a religious and political doctrine while still passing itself off a science–or at least sound science. Questions are supposed to be asked and beliefs challenged in science. When it is no longer allowed, it is no longer science. The mass media and politicians, among others, do not fully understand this, and this is why and how the CAGW narrative survives. If the CAGW narrative fits in nicely with the media’s and the politicians’ preconceived notions, they have little or no reason to question it.

    By treating the CAGW narrative as an unquestionable and infallible quasi-religious doctrine, Dressler and his ilk have abandoned science to a significant degree. It is quite convenient for individuals like him and Katherine Hayhoe that they can get away with doing this these days and still call themselves scientists. The corruption of science which results from seeing this happen can and will produce bad government policy which can cost the country dearly. It perhaps already has.

    With a president in the White House who has chosen not to launch a significant challenge to the CAGW status quo, it is difficult to know if and when this will all come to an end. Because of the coronavirus scare, CAGW may be down, but it is not out. The true believers will not let it die.

  17. Subconsciously the dems appear to have lost all hope of winning the next presidential election before it has even begun. That’s why they’re flying these ludicrous kites of extremist climate-alarmist policies such as the (suicidal) end to fossil fuel use. The time for flying such ideological kites is where there is no prospect of political power. Following covid19, there will be no democratic president until the party abandons it’s flagship policy of climate-alarmist extremism.

  18. Robert Bradley Jr. does a good job of highlighting Dessler’s weaknesses. Dessler is an embarrassment to my alma mater and to the college that employs him. In my personal encounter with him, he came across as an arrogant young activist professor, lecturing me as if I were a schoolboy but simply spouting the IPCC party-line rather than any of his own, original analysis or thoughts. Had it not been for the respectful presence of Dr. Gerald North, I would have paid Dessler no mind as he urged me (to my shame and regret) to disinvite Dr. John Christy from presenting at an upcoming conference.

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