Marlo Lewis

Post image for Satellites and Global Warming: Dr. Christy Sets the Record Straight

Earlier this week, University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH) atmospheric scientist John Christy testified at a House Science Committee hearing on the Paris climate treaty. Christy’s testimony covers several important topics including the “low effectiveness” of surface temperature records for detecting anthropogenic global warming, the “curious” procedure NOAA scientist Tom Karl used in his “pause-busting” adjustment of sea-surface temperatures, the “tiny” impact the Paris Agreement is likely to have on global temperatures, and the insufficient empirical basis for claims that climate conditions are worsening.

Today’s post focuses on Christy’s rebuttal of a Yale Climate Connections video designed to discredit satellite data as a reality check on the models used by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) to forecast global warming and the associated climate impacts.

What’s got the climate establishment in a tizzy is a chart–Figure 1 in Christy’s testimony–that shows a growing divergence between model predictions and observed temperatures in the mid-troposphere (the layer of air from the surface up to 50,000 feet).

Christy modeled versus observed temperatures mid troposphere just trends 1979-2015, Jan 2015

 

 

 

 

 

Figure 1: Five-year averaged values of annual mean (1979-2015) global bulk (termed “mid-tropospheric” or “MT”) temperature as depicted by the average of 102 IPCC CMIP5 climate models (red), the average of 3 satellite datasets (green – UAH, RSS, NOAA) and 4 balloon datasets (blue, NOAA, UKMet, RICH, RAOBCORE)

Mid-troposphere (MT) data are a valid test of the models’ accuracy because the MT “overlaps with the region of the tropical atmosphere that has the largest anticipated signature of the greenhouse response by bulk mass – between 20,000 and 50,000 feet.”

Christy notes that in science, the test of whether we understand a natural system is whether we are able to predict its behavior. Thus, “If we are unable to make accurate predictions, then at least some of the factors in the system are not well defined or perhaps even missing.” Hind-casting is no substitute for prediction, because complex hypotheses such as climate models can be adjusted to produce results similar to what has already occurred. Yet Figure 1 shows that the models do not “even reproduce the past climate.”

Indeed, the models “clearly overcook the atmosphere,” overshooting observed warming in the MT by 250%. “The issue for congress here is that such demonstrably deficient model projections are being used to make policy.”

The remainder of this post excerpts Christy’s defense of the satellite data and summarizes his rebuttal of a common criticism of Figure 1.

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Post image for Mandating 100% Renewable Energy: It’s About Jobs?

Over at Energy in Depth, Steve Everley posts a detailed rebuttal of Stanford professor Mark Jacobson’s widely-cited study, which claims that building a 100% renewable U.S. energy system will more than justify the costs. Even if we care little about the potential climate and air quality benefits, Jacobson and his allies contend, we should demand a rapid transition away from conventional (fossil and nuclear) energy, because that will create millions of jobs.

Everley summarizes the views of other researchers who argue that Jacobson underestimates the cost and feasibility of replacing fossil and nuclear energy with wind, solar, geothermal, and other renewable technologies. But he also makes an original contribution to the debate.

Everley shows that according to Jacobson’s own data, transitioning to a 100% renewable energy system by 2050 would destroy more than 3.7 million permanent jobs. That exceeds by more 1.1 million the 2.6 million permanent jobs Jacobson estimates would be created.

Jacobson Job Losses 100 Percent Renewables

 

 

 

 

 

 

Source: Mark Jacobson

The proper goal of economic policy is to foster wealth creation, not job creation. Consider, for example, that replacing mechanized agriculture with subsistence agriculture would create lots of farm labor jobs, but it would also produce lots of poverty, hunger, sickness, and death.

Nonetheless, when renewable-energy advocates claim their agenda is “about jobs,” examining the net employment impacts of their schemes is fair game. See, for example, economist Gabriel Calzada’s study finding that Spain’s renewable energy subsidies destroyed about 2.2 jobs for every 1 job created.

Everley’s entire post is worth reading. Below is a summary in his own words. [click to continue…]

Post image for Paris Agreement: Recycled “Process” Socialism

At the Paris climate conference, President Obama got exactly what he wanted: the framework for a multi-decade, global campaign of political pressure directed chiefly against Republicans and their fossil-fuel industry allies.

The Paris Agreement does not directly impose “legally binding” emission-reduction and “climate finance” commitments on the United States. But both conservative gloating and green grousing about the treaty being “toothless” overlook what matters most in climate policy: politics.

Obama will use the Agreement to claim that EPA’s Clean Power Plan and other elements of his climate agenda are promises America has made to the world. The Agreement, moreover, will establish the institutional framework for a global coalition of 190+ foreign leaders, legions of UN bureaucrats, scores of green pressure groups, and hundreds of corporate rent-seekers. The coalition will demand that future Congresses and the next president enact and adopt whatever additional laws and regulations are needed to meet Obama’s emission-reduction pledge — known in bureaucratic parlance as the U.S. “Nationally Determined Contribution” (NDC).

The Agreement contemplates that Parties will submit ever-more “ambitious” NDCs every five years. So the global coalition will be poised to demand that future U.S. NDCs also be turned into laws and regulations. No chains are as binding as those we forge for ourselves!

The Paris pressure cooker is recycled process socialism. There’s an old joke that socialism (spending other people’s money) would be fun if it weren’t for all the committee meetings. Actually, socialist leaders got their jollies at such meetings, which employed a confessional exercise called criticism and self-criticism to cure “false consciousness,” inculcate doctrinal conformity, and enhance understanding of and allegiance to “the plan.”   

The parallel to the Paris regime is striking. The Agreement and accompanying “Decision of the Parties” envision endless rounds of meetings and reports. The incessant bureaucratic activity will facilitate the naming and shaming of Parties who doubt the so-called consensus of scientists, deviate from their five-year plans, or fail to demonstrate the desired climate “ambition.”  [click to continue…]

Post image for Paris Agreement Is a Real Tiger: Lock and Load

Summary: The Paris climate agreement is “non-binding, underfunded, and unenforceable,” as one conservative commentator put it. However, Paris is a “paper tiger” only on paper. The treaty’s core purpose is not to impose legal obligations but to establish the multi-decade framework for a global political pressure campaign. The pressure will be directed chiefly at those who oppose EPA’s unlawful Clean Power Plan and other elements of the President’s climate agenda. Republicans will get rolled unless GOP leaders organize a political counter-offensive centered around a Byrd-Hagel 2.0 resolution. Key message point: Contrary to President Obama, the Paris agreement is a treaty, hence it is not a policy of the United States until the Senate ratifies it.

Dismissing the Paris Climate Agreement as a paper tiger because America’s emission-reduction and foreign-aid commitments are not “legally binding” is whistling past the graveyard. The Paris agreement is first and foremost a device for mobilizing political pressure against U.S. opponents of President Obama’s climate policies. Those would be Republicans and their fossil-fuel industry allies.

At the 21st Conference of the Parties (COP21) meeting in Paris, President Obama wanted, and got, an agreement in which each nation’s core commitments are “politically binding.” Those who laugh about the phrase being an oxymoron, because politicians break their promises all the time, miss the point. What chiefly determines climate policy is not science or law but politics. [click to continue…]

Post image for Climate Change Hearing: Lessons from Data vs. Dogma

I finally got around to watching the Dec. 8 Senate Commerce Subcommittee hearing “Data or Dogma? Promoting Open Inquiry over the Magnitude of Human Impact on Earth’s Climate.” Chairman Ted Cruz (R-Texas) spoke with clarity and rigor. Mark Steyn was spellbinding. John Christy’s data were awesome. Nonetheless, as an effort to reframe the public conversation on climate change, the hearing was, all in all, disappointing.

One problem is there were four majority witnesses (John Christy, Judith Curry, Will Happer, Mark Steyn) and only one minority witness (David Titley). You might suppose that would give the Republicans an advantage. Not so.

Coordinating questions and answers in advance with one witness is easier than with four witnesses. In addition, one witness can more easily reiterate a simple set of talking points.

Limiting the expert panel to just one majority and one minority witness would have facilitated genuine debate and non-evadable scrutiny of competing assumptions and data. When former Senator Jim Talent (R-Mo.) was chairman of the House Small Business Committee, he held a pair of hearings during the 105th and 106th Congresses that had only one and two witnesses, respectively. In each hearing he was able to pursue a single line of inquiry from start to finish. The results were spectacular. He thoroughly discredited the Clinton administration’s Kyoto Protocol economic analysis.

Another problem hindering Chairman Cruz at the “Data or Dogma” hearing is that all the other Republican senators left after the first round of questions. Result: Titley got more questions than all the majority witnesses combined. He alone had enough time to make, defend, and embellish his case. He also had more opportunities to rebut the other witnesses than they had to rebut him.

That allowed Titley to pull some fast ones. [click to continue…]

Post image for Is the Paris Climate Agreement a Treaty?

Is the Climate Change Agreement adopted in Paris by the 21st Conference of the Parties (COP21) a treaty? In other words, is it the type of international agreement to which the United States is a party only if the U.S. Senate ratifies it?

It is indeed, as this post will show.

Are the treaty’s emission-reduction and climate-finance “commitments” binding on the United States as a matter of international law? No.

From day one, Obama administration negotiators pushed to make the treaty’s core elements non-binding to encourage “participation” and “ambition.” That is, nations are more likely to participate, and promise more than they can deliver, if there are no legal consequences for broken promises.

The treaty’s emission-reduction and climate finance “commitments” might be compared to a non-binding Sense of Congress resolution, but for the fact that all Members of Congress can legitimately claim to represent people who elected them. In stark contrast, the 25,000 official delegates at COP21 do not represent peoples but rather “government, intergovernmental organisations, UN agencies, NGOs and civil society” (i.e., environmental pressure groups). Only a small minority of participating governments are full democracies.

Also from day one, the Obama administration envisioned the treaty to be “politically binding.” That’s simply an obfuscatory way of saying that once adopted at COP21, the treaty will put political pressure on governments — first and foremost U.S. leaders after 2016 — to honor the treaty’s non-binding promises.

As President Obama opined in Paris, his successor, regardless of party affiliation, will have to abide by the agreement because COP21 demonstrates that “99% of world leaders think this is really important.”

Nice try. COP21 demonstrates that political elites in developing countries want U.S. and other First World taxpayers to fork over $100 billion to $450 billion annually in wealth transfers, dubbed the “Green Climate Fund.”

COP 21 also demonstrates that political elites everywhere want to expand their power to rig energy markets and control trillions of dollars in energy-infrastructure investments — from now until 2050 and beyond.

Those are not honorable motivations, and Obama’s successor should promptly submit the treaty to the Senate for its advice and consent.

The real reason Obama insists the Paris agreement is not a treaty is obvious. Under the U.S. Constitution, the United States does not become a party to a treaty until “two thirds of Senators present” vote to ratify it (Article II, Section 2, Clause 2). There was no prospect of that happening even when Democrats held a majority of Senate seats.

What should GOP leaders do? They should pass resolutions explaining why the Paris agreement is a treaty, why the President must therefore submit the agreement to the Senate for its advice and consent, and why until ratified the treaty is no more politically-binding on the people and Congress of the United States than the long lists of never-to-be-enacted proposals in presidential state of the union speeches. The concurrent resolution introduced by Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Rep. Mike Kelly (R-Penn.) is exactly the kind of action needed to frame the debate.

House and Senate leaders should also use the power of the purse to block agency expenditures for activities related to the Paris treaty as long as the President works to circumvent the Constitution.

Finally, congressional leaders should continue their efforts to overturn EPA’s so-called Clean Power Plan, which constitutes the largest part of the U.S. COP21 emission-reduction pledge (known in bureaucratic parlance as our Intended Nationally Determined Contribution, or INDC).

Let’s now examine why, contrary to President Obama, the Paris climate agreement is a treaty.

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Post image for Should GOP Leaders Trade Renewal of the Wind Production Tax Credit for Repeal of the Crude Oil Export Ban?

It is widely reported (New York TimesThe HillWall Street Journal) that GOP leaders in Congress are pushing to include, in must-pass tax and spending legislation, repeal of the more than 40-year-old crude oil export ban, and that Democrat leaders are demanding in return a five- or ten-year renewal of the wind production tax credit (PTC).

I am a staunch advocate of abolishing the crude oil export ban and oppose all restrictions on energy exports.

As Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) rightly points out, banning oil exports is what we do to scofflaw regimes and wartime adversaries. The United Nations banned Iranian oil exports to punish the mullahs for developing illicit nuclear weapons technology. The U.N. also embargoed Iraqi oil exports in 1990 to punish Saddam Hussein for invading Kuwait, and restricted Iraqi oil exports until May 2003 after Saddam’s removal from power.

Why should we sanction ourselves? The crude export ban takes “we have met the enemy and he is us” self-flagellation to absurd extremes.

Nonetheless, renewing the wind PTC carries serious risks for America’s economic and political future — risks GOP leaders may not fully appreciate. [click to continue…]

Post image for House Ds Demand Fossil Energy CEOs Confess Funding “Denial and Disinformation”

Summary: Thirty-two House Democrats this week sent a letter to the CEOs of Chevron, ExxonMobil, ConocoPhillips, BP, Shell, and Peabody Energy posing 15 questions about the companies’ (alleged) funding of a “massive campaign of [climate] denial and disinformation.” The gist of the letter, which presumes guilt and demands confessions, is captured by the old joke question: “When did you stop beating your wife?”

In a letter sent this week to the CEOs of Chevron, BP, ExxonMobil, Shell, ConocoPhillips, and Peabody Energy, Reps. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.), Peter Welch (D-Vt.), and 30 other House Democrats ask numerous questions about the companies’ (alleged) role in funding a “massive campaign of denial and disinformation” to hide the terrible “truth” about global warming from policymakers and the public.

I reproduce the questions below and provide model answers the companies are welcome to use or adapt at their pleasure.

Q1: When did your company first become aware that using fossil fuels could result in climate change and warming of the planet?

A: The question assumes the idea of anthropogenic global warming is of recent vintage. In fact, the potential of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions to warm the Earth was first estimated by Swedish scientist Svante Arrhenius in 1896. English engineer Guy Callendar made more observationally-constrained estimates in his 1938 study, “The Artificial Production of Carbon Dioxide and its Influence on Temperature.” Unlike many scientists (and non-scientists) today, Callendar did not assume anthropogenic climate change is inherently dangerous:

In conclusion it may be said that the combustion of fossil fuel, whether it be peat from the surface or oil from 10,000 feet below, is likely to prove beneficial to mankind in several ways, besides the provision of heat and power. For instance the above mentioned small increases of mean temperature would be important at the northern margin of cultivation, and the growth of favourably situated plants is directly proportional to the carbon dioxide pressure (Brown and Escombe, 1905): In any case the return of the deadly glaciers should be delayed indefinitely.

Since your letter refers to recent journalistic exposés of “what Exxon knew” about climate change, we assume you’re asking what our scientists knew in the 1970s and 1980s. Our answer (h/t David Middleton) is that some of our scientists knew then what NASA scientist James Hansen knew in 1988 — that CO2 emissions would cause two-to-three times more warming than actually occurred.

Christy Hansen_1988_Predictions through 2014

 

 

 

 

 

Figure explanation. Red: Hansen’s business-as-usual (no climate policy) scenario. Orange: Hansen’s emission freeze at 1980s level scenario. Yellow: Hansen’s drastic emission-reduction scenario. Light blue: Remote Sensing System (RSS) satellite temperature record. Dark blue: University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH) satellite temperature record. Although emissions increased as much as in Hansen’s BAU scenario, observed temperatures are lower than in Hansen’s drastic emission-reduction scenario. Source: John Christy

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Post image for Clean Power Plan Litigation: Stern Tries Some Climate Diplomacy on the Judges

U.S. Climate negotiator Todd Stern has filed a Declaration with the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals on behalf of EPA in State of West Virginia et al. v. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Twenty-seven States and three major industry groups have petitioned the Court to stay (suspend) the Clean Power Plan (CPP) while the rule is litigated on the merits. I discussed the coal industry’s petition here.

Petitioners argue the CPP will do irreversible harm to coal producers and coal state economies even if the Court later overturns the rule as unlawful. To implement the CPP, State legislatures and public utility commissions will have to start revising their electricity laws and regulations immediately, and the CPP has already begun to drive capital out of the coal industry. In contrast, delaying the CPP will not harm public health or welfare since the rule’s potential climatological impacts even in 2100 will be too small to detect, and States that want to cut carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from their power sectors will still be free to do so.

Stern argues that because the CPP constitutes the biggest piece of the U.S. emission-reduction pledge (Intended Nationally Determined Contribution, or INDC) in the ongoing climate treaty negotiations in Paris, granting the stay could undermine U.S. climate leadership and, thus, other countries’ climate “ambitions.” Putting the CPP on ice could weaken the trust relationships on which the last best hope of earth allegedly depends:

UNFCCC [UN Framework Convention on Climate Change] Parties have previously noted the need for urgent action to hold the increase in the global average temperature below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, in order to lessen the impacts of climate change. . . .Based on my experience as the lead U.S. climate negotiator, I believe that the ambition and implementation of many other countries’ current and future emission control actions depends significantly on the understanding by their leaders of the seriousness of the U.S. commitment to address emissions. For many countries, willingness to take action depends on collective trust that the major emitters are taking action. If a stay of the Clean Power Plan is granted, there is a real threat that some other countries, including major emitters, might reduce the intensity or pace of their actions or even fail to achieve their commitments.

Melodramatic twaddle. As Manhattan Institute scholar Oren Cass explains in recent testimony, under COP21, nations’ INDCs are unverifiable and unenforceable, and the major developing countries — China, India, and Brazil — have essentially promised to achieve emission reductions that are projected to occur anyway. All INDCs combined would theoretically avert only 0.1ºC-0.2ºC of warming by 2100.

Besides, what the overwhelming majority of delegates at COP21 care about is not the Clean Power Plan but getting commitments from the United States and other industrialized nations to fork over $100 billion to $450 billion annually in foreign aid (renamed “climate finance”).

But it’s the legal theory implicit in Stern’s Declaration that the judges should find most interesting.

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Post image for EPA Increases Renewable Fuel Blending Targets: Corporate Welfare Clients Demand More

Overview: EPA for the first time has set an overall Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) blending target below the statutory target. The biofuel lobby threatens to sue. If they win and courts rule EPA may not consider market constraints (a.k.a. the blend wall) when setting RFS blending requirements, harsh consequences could ensue for consumers, the economy, and, ironically, biofuel manufacturers themselves.

EPA yesterday announced final volume obligations (RVOs) under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) program for the years 2014, 2015 and 2016, and final volume requirements for biomass-based diesel for 2014 to 2017. EPA was two years late setting RVOs for 2014 and one year late setting RVOs for 2015.

RFS Final RVOs 2014-2017

 

 

 

 

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