Carbon Pricing Angst

Climate stool

Context: As the image shows, alarmist/activists understand Climate Change (man made assumed) as a concept that depends on three assertions being true.  The first one is the science bit, being the unproven claim that humans make the planet warmer by burning fossil fuels.  The second one is the claim from billions of dollars invested into researching any and all negative effects from global warming, from Acne to Zika virus. The third and also necessary leg is the assertion that governments can act to prevent future warming

From time to time it is instructive to hear from those who buy into the first two, but have lost confidence in the policies proposed as remedies. Jeffrey Ball writes at Science Direct, not questioning climate science or feared impacts, but distraught about the failed efforts to do something to reduce emissions.  His article is Hot Air Won’t Fly: The New Climate Consensus That Carbon Pricing Isn’t Cutting It Excerpts in italics with my bolds.

Jeffrey Ball, a writer whose work focuses on energy and the environment, is the scholar-in-residence at Stanford University’s Steyer-Taylor Center for Energy Policy and Finance and a lecturer at Stanford Law School. He also is a nonresident senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. His writing has appeared in Foreign Affairs, Fortune, Mother Jones, The Atlantic, New Republic, The New York Times, and The Wall Street Journal, among other publications. Ball, previously The Wall Street Journal’s environment editor, focuses his Stanford research on improving the effectiveness of clean-energy investment, particularly in China.

Carbon Pricing Isn’t Cutting It

In the history of climate change, 2018 will go down as a year when certain facts finally hit home, truths inconvenient for partisans on all sides. Those on the right, at least those who have been arguing that greenhouse-gas emissions aren’t a significant problem, were forced to recognize that those emissions are causing real harm to real people right now. Those on the left, at least those who have put their faith in the promise of renewable energy to cool the planet, had to reckon with the reality that, even as those technologies boomed, carbon emissions continued to grow. And those across the political spectrum who had been calling for what seemed in theory a sensible climate policy—putting a price on carbon emissions—had to concede that their supposed solution isn’t helping much at all.

(My comment: Like so many true believers, Ball casts climate change as a political issue between left and right wings.  Note he does think we can all agree that policies are not working.)

No single event can be attributed to climate change, but scientists cite a lengthening list of unfolding events, from wildfires in California to drought in Europe to rising waters along Bangladesh, as evidence of the effects of a warming world. Even the administration of US President Donald Trump, which has rolled back myriad climate policies, noted in a November report, the latest legally mandated US National Climate Assessment, that the effects of climate change “are already being felt in communities across the country”—from intensifying flooding in the nation’s northeast region, to worsening drought in the southwestern part of the country, to rising temperatures and erosion that are damaging buildings in Alaska.

(My comment:  Ball does not acknowledge rebuttals and challenges to the recent NCA document that merely repeated claims from previous editions, and echoed the feverish exhortations from IPCC SR15.  But this  paragraph was aimed at the skeptical on the right, while soothing the believers on the left.  Let’s now get into the meat of it: Is the government stopping it?)

Renewable energy isn’t stopping that. It represented 70% of net new power-generating capacity installed globally in 2017, a stunning share that reflects falling costs and rising penetration.  Yet for all that growth, renewable energy still provided only an estimated 14% of total global energy in 2017, up about 1 percentage point from its share in 2000, because fossil-fuel energy capacity also has been increasing. Indeed, even as renewable-energy capacity hit an all-time high, energy-related carbon emissions did too. They rose 1.6% in 2017, following three years in which they were flat, and they are expected to have risen further in 2018.

Emissions are increasing even though more governments than ever before have imposed prices on carbon emissions, either levying a carbon tax or instituting a cap-and-trade system of pollution permits so that those who emit greenhouse gases have a financial incentive to reduce them. That is little wonder, given that less than 1% of global carbon emissions are subject to a price that economists peg as high enough to meaningfully curb them.

This past June, in an essay in Foreign Affairs, “Why Carbon Pricing Isn’t Working,” I cataloged evidence that carbon pricing is failing to meaningfully reduce carbon emissions around the world—from Europe, where the policy took significant hold, to California, where leading policymakers have embraced it, to China, which is in the early stages of ramping up what will be by far the biggest carbon-pricing regime on the planet. I argued that, though in theory carbon pricing makes sense, in practice it is failing, for two reasons: structurally, carbon pricing tends to constrain emissions mostly in the electricity sector, leaving the transportation and building sectors largely unaffected; and politically, even those governments that have imposed carbon prices have lacked the fortitude to set them high enough to significantly curb even electricity emissions. As a result, I wrote, “a policy prescription widely billed as a panacea is acting as a narcotic. It’s giving politicians and the public the warm feeling that they’re fighting climate change even as the problem continues to grow.” Not just ineffective, carbon pricing is proving counterproductive, because “it is reducing the pressure to adopt other carbon-cutting measures, ones that would hit certain sectors harder and that would produce faster reductions.” Among those other needed measures: phasing out coal as a power source except where it is burned with carbon-capture- and -sequestration technology, which minimizes its emissions; maintaining, rather than closing, nuclear plants; making renewable energy cheaper; and mandating greater energy efficiency.

Would that the half year since that essay was published had proven its assessment too harsh. Unfortunately, recent events and analyses have only bolstered it. Since the summer, and in the lead-up to the latest global climate-policy conference, this month in Poland, studies exploring carbon pricing’s shortcomings have begun piling up. They now amount to a new and sobering climate-literature genre.

Belief in carbon pricing was strong in 2015, when policymakers from some 190 countries issued the Paris Agreement, calling for measures to keep the increase in the average global temperature “well below” 2°C above preindustrial levels and for “pursuing efforts” to keep the rise below 1.5°C.6 Unlike prior climate agreements, notably the Kyoto Protocol, which nearly two decades earlier had pressed for emission cuts only from developed countries, the Paris Agreement included specific emission-reduction pledges even by China, India, and other developing countries, which now produce the bulk of global emissions. But the pledges countries made in Paris were voluntary rather than mandatory, and most were relatively weak. Even if countries made good on them, it was clear, the world would not cut emissions anywhere near enough to avoid crashing through the 2°C threshold.

Coming out of Paris, carbon pricing was a presumption. In 2017, a group of leading economists backed by the World Bank and called the High-Level Commission on Carbon Prices announced that meeting the Paris temperature targets would require carbon prices of US$40 to $80 per metric ton of carbon dioxide by 2020 and of $50 to $100 per ton by 2030.  But in May the World Bank reported that, though the percentage of global greenhouse-gas emissions subject to carbon prices had risen to 20%, only 3% of those emissions were priced at or above the important $40 level.  In other words, fewer than 1% of all global greenhouse-gas emissions are priced at a level likely to constrain them.

Carbon-pricing regimes are spreading, and some are being toughened, but neither is happening quickly enough to make much environmental difference. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), parsing the numbers somewhat differently than does the World Bank, calculates that 76.5% all energy-related carbon dioxide emissions in OECD and Group of 20 (G20) countries either aren’t priced at all or are priced below 30 euros per metric ton of carbon dioxide, a level the OECD calls “a low-end estimate of the damage that carbon emissions currently cause.” That “carbon gap,” in OECD parlance, has narrowed by just 1 percentage point in each of the past three years—hardly a relevant climate win.

It is against this backdrop that critiques of carbon pricing have begun to accumulate. One of the more notable was published in August by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), whose head, Christine Lagarde, has been an enthusiastic supporter of carbon pricing. She called in 2017 for this response to carbon dioxide: “Price it right, tax it smart, do it now.” As the IMF’s new working paper makes clear, most carbon prices thus far imposed haven’t been right, relying on carbon taxes hasn’t been terribly smart, and, if “it” means a serious response to climate change, the world isn’t doing it now.

The authors of the IMF study used a model to project how carbon prices at two levels by 2030—$35 per metric ton of carbon dioxide and $70 per ton—would affect emissions in the G20 economies. (Few countries have imposed a carbon price anywhere near even the lower of those numbers.) The IMF model clarifies why the world’s largest economies find it so economically and politically difficult to impose a robust price on carbon, just how inadequate were the pledges most countries made in Paris, and how wrenching it will likely be even for countries that made relatively significant Paris pledges to follow through on those promises.

Carbon pricing, as I noted in Foreign Affairs in June, “works well for industries that use a lot of fossil energy, that have technologies available to them to reduce that energy use, and that can’t easily relocate to places where energy is cheaper.” That is why it tends to bite first in the electricity sector. The IMF model underscores this, concluding that the major determinant of how significantly a given carbon price will curb emissions in a given country is the extent to which that country’s electricity sector relies on coal. A $70 carbon tax, the IMF model projects, would cut emissions by significantly more than 30% in coal-dependent China, India, and South Africa; by some 15%–25% in such countries as the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom; and by less than 15% in coal-light France and Saudi Arabia.9 (That helps explain why, among all these countries, only France has imposed a carbon price above $40 per ton. And even France has difficulty raising the effective price on carbon, as the recent Yellow Vest protests, which led France to suspend a proposed fuel-tax increase, show.)

That carbon pricing hits hardest in coal-reliant places helps explain its political difficulties. The IMF’s modeled carbon tax is particularly regressive—meaning its cost falls particularly heavily on the poorest—in China and the United States, the world’s two top carbon emitters.  (Electricity access in these two coal-heavy nations is broad, meaning the poor there tend to spend a greater portion of their income on carbon-intense power than do the rich.) Although both countries are experimenting with carbon pricing, it is little surprise that the prices in both remain low. In California, carbon prices are higher than in other parts of the United States that have implemented them, but California gets only a small amount of its electricity from coal—and most of that is imported from other states—which bolsters the point. The IMF analysis also helps clarify why China, the world’s top coal burner, proffered a relatively weak Paris pledge. Some governments are trying to counteract the regressive nature of carbon pricing by layering on structures to return all or some of the resulting revenue to consumers—a worthwhile idea. But even those structures have faced opposition in coal-reliant jurisdictions.

Even some countries whose Paris pledges were more robust are likely to have difficulty following through on them. Those pledges “might imply increases in energy prices (and burdens on vulnerable groups) that push the bounds of political acceptability,” the IMF paper notes. A meaningful reduction in carbon emissions, the IMF concludes, would require backstopping countries’ Paris pledges in two ways: by imposing carbon-price floors—levels below which countries decree that their carbon prices will not fall—and by imposing policies other than carbon pricing that force deeper cuts. Inoffensive carbon pricing alone won’t cut it.

Even extraordinarily high carbon prices are failing in important ways to spur significant carbon cuts. A piece published in Energy Policy in late June by Endre Tvinnereim and Michael Mehling explores the uninspiring example of Sweden. The small Scandinavian country has, according to the World Bank, the highest carbon price in the world, at $126 per ton, based on current currency-exchange rates.4 Yet in the quarter century between 1990, when Sweden introduced its carbon tax, and 2015, carbon emissions from Swedish road transportation fell only 4%. Meanwhile, sales in Sweden of new internal-combustion vehicles continue to rise, imposing what the authors call “carbon lock-in” from vehicles likely to remain on the road a decade or more. What’s needed, they argue, are bans on the sale of new internal-combustion cars, bans of the sort that have been proposed in such countries as China, India, France, the United Kingdom, and Norway. Pricing carbon “is useful,” they write, “but far from sufficient to achieve deep decarbonization.”

The authors are right that policies beyond carbon pricing are needed. But clarity about the goal of such policies is key. Some recent critiques of carbon pricing, at least implicitly, construe success in fighting climate change as requiring the near-total replacement of fossil fuels with renewable energy. Plenty of evidence, however, suggests that structuring the climate fight primarily as a pursuit of renewables is neither realistic nor particularly smart.

The goal in fighting climate change is not to end the use of fossil fuels. The goal is to fuel the world while cutting carbon emissions essentially to zero. That will require dramatically lowering the cost and thus boosting the penetration of renewable and other non-fossil energy sources. It also will mean ensuring that the large quantities of fossil fuels that are all but certain to continue to be burned for decades to come are burned using technologies that slash the amount of carbon dioxide their combustion coughs into the atmosphere.

The policies necessary to achieve these twin ends will be complex. A meaningful carbon price would help them, but in most of the world there is little evidence policymakers have the stomach to impose one. Climate change is real. Fighting it demands—from everyone involved—more than rhetoric. That this message is getting across is a good sign.

My Concluding Comment

The graph illustrates the problem very clearly. Since 1994 there have been 24 Conferences of the Parties (COP), along with numerous other meetings. These UNFCCC discussions have utterly failed to reduce CO2 emissions. Yet from 2020, emissions have to drop dramatically, if we are to stand a chance of keeping global warming below 1.5°C.

According to IPCC SR15 this will require an annual average investment of around US$2.4 trillion (at 2010 prices) between 2016 and 2035, representing approximately 2.5% of global gross domestic product (GDP). The cost of inaction and delay, however, will be many times greater. (sic).  Note:  This is referring to increasing investments in renewable energy from current US$335B per year to $2.4T.  Present global spending on Climate Crisis Inc. is estimated at nearly US$2T, not limited to renewables.  So this would double the money wasted spent on this hypothetical problem.

cop planes

After reading Ball’s assessment it is obvious that carbon pricing will only reduce emissions by crashing national economies.  The fear of CO2 leads directly to discussion of stopping modern societies in their tracks.  Talking about policies that “bite” this or that sector equates to intentionally dictating economic decline, industry by industry.  And Ball suggests that ever more intrusive bans and regulations must be added on top of higher carbon prices in order to save the planet from our way of life.

This analysis has been preceded by numerous doomsday deadlines over the decades which we have passed and not suffered in the least.  Can we finally dismiss the illusion that we humans control the temperature of the planet?  Can we stop the crazy schemes to cut our CO2 emissions, and appreciate instead the greening of the biosphere?

Rational public policymakers can not presume the climate will be unchanging in the future.  Our experience teaches that there will be future periods both warmer and cooler than the present.  History also shows that cold periods are the greater threat to human health and prosperity.  Instead of wasting time and resources trying to control the future weather, we should be preparing to adapt to whatever nature brings.  The priorities should be to ensure affordable and reliable energy and robust infrastructure.

See Also IPCC Freakonomics



Pacific Ice See Saw Returns


As we have seen in past winters, ice in the Pacific Arctic tends to grow in fits and spurts, often alternating between Bering and Okhotsk Seas.  This see saw began late December with Bering adding ice to surpass 2018 maximum in that basin, while Okhotsk paused.  The above image of the first two weeks of 2019 shows Okhotsk on the left growing ice while Bering pulled back a bit.  Then in the last two days both basins added extents to set new highs for the season.  Combined the two seas ice extents are slightly above the 12 year average at this time. With the disappearance of the Blob of warm water in the North Pacific, both basins appear to be in ice recovery mode.


seesawSee Also:Snowing and Freezing in the Arctic


Pssst. Trump is Winning the China Trade Dispute

Car sales in China, the world’s largest car market, plummeted by 19 per cent in December.AFP Getty file photo

Keep it under your hat, but Trump is getting the best of China in the trade confrontation.  Lawrence Solomon explains in a Financial Times article Remember Trump’s supposedly ‘lose-lose’ trade war? He’s winning. China’s losing. Excerpts in italics with my bolds.

The tariffs clearly hurt China’s economy more than America’s

Not that long ago, China’s economy was seen as a juggernaut that would soon overtake America’s to become the world’s largest. “Made in China 2025,” the Chinese government’s blueprint to take over manufacturing, was seen as an existential threat to U.S. technological leadership. Speculation had the Chinese yuan replacing the United States dollar as the world’s reserve currency.

What a difference a trade war makes. No one marvels at the Chinese economy today.

Car sales in China, the world’s largest car market, plummeted by 19 per cent in December, capping a six-per-cent decline in sales for the 2018 year, the industry’s first fall in 20 years. Goldman Sachs predicts the decline will steepen to seven per cent in 2019. More broadly, China’s private and public manufacturing sectors both contracted in December.  China’s mainland stock markets, which declined 25 per cent in 2018, aren’t doing well either. Neither is growth in consumer spending, which is at a 15-year low. The government is backpedalling on its targets for “Made in China 2025,” and its other high-profile initiatives — the much-ballyhooed Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank and the Belt and Road Initiative — are falling short.

In fact, the entire Chinese economy may not only be falling short, it may never have performed as well as claimed. Many believe that China’s official economic growth rate, a fabulous 6.5 per cent, is more a fable. A World Bank estimate for 2016 put China’s economic growth at 1.1 per cent, with other estimates showing low or even negative growth. Also worrying is the potentially catastrophic hidden debt that fuelled China’s growth — as much as US$6 trillion by China’s local governments alone, according to S&P Global Ratings, which called it “a debt iceberg with titanic credit risks.”

Many authorities point to the trade war to explain in part these poor metrics, typically adding that trade wars are always lose-lose. Yet while China clearly seems a loser, the same can’t be said for the U.S., whose economy is on fire.

In contrast to the 15- and 20-year lows logged by China’s economic indicators, the U.S. is racking up 20-, 30-, 40- and 50-year highs.

Wages are up, especially for those traditionally worse off, while unemployment rates for blacks, Hispanics and women are at lows not seen in decades. The U.S. economy has added 4.8 million jobs since Donald Trump was elected president, with U.S. manufacturers last year adding 284,000 jobs, the most in more than 20 years. Americans are ditching food stamps and disability payments for well-paying jobs. “Put it together, and this is the best time for the American labor market in at least 18 years and maybe closer to 50,” The New York Times noted in November.

So much for the claims of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which warned that Trump’s tariff policy on imported products “endangers the jobs of millions of workers”; of the Tax Foundation, which predicted that Trump’s tariffs would decrease Americans’ wages; of Bank of England Governor Mark Carney, who stated the trade war with China would reduce U.S. GDP; and of the Heritage Foundation, which called Trump’s tariffs “ineffective and dangerous”.

While China’s demise and America’s rise can’t all or even mostly be attributed to Trump’s tariffs, the tariffs clearly hurt China’s economy more than America’s. For one thing, the “tax” that tariffs represent has mostly been paid by China. According to a recent policy brief from EconPol Europe, a network of researchers in the European Union, U.S. companies and consumers will pay only 4.5 per cent of the 25-per-cent tariffs on US$250 billion of Chinese goods, with the other 20.5 per cent falling on Chinese producers. The EconPol report found that the Trump administration selected easily replaced products, forcing China’s exporters to cut selling prices to keep buyers. “Through its strategic choice of Chinese products, the U.S. government was not only able to minimize the negative effects on U.S. consumers and firms, but also to create substantial net welfare gains in the U.S.,” the authors determined, adding that the tariffs will accomplish Trump’s goals of lowering the trade deficit with China.

More importantly, the tariffs have spurred investment confidence in the U.S., not only in steel and aluminum, where dozens of plants are either being built or reopened, but in the broader economy, too. A UBS Wealth Management Americas survey found that 71 per cent of American business owners support additional tariffs on imports from China, with only one-third believing tariffs would hurt them. A Bloomberg Businessweek article in October bore out the view that tariffs hitting steel and aluminum imports would be beneficial: “Employment in metal-using industries has risen since the tariffs went into effect last spring, (more than) the increase for overall manufacturing.”

The American public likes tariffs, too: According to a Mellman Group and Public Opinion Strategies poll in October, nearly 60 per cent of likely voters deem it important for Trump and Congress to “place trade restrictions on countries that violate trade agreements.” When the tariffs apply to China, the public doubtless also likes them for non-economic factors — to rein in one of the world’s worst human rights offenders and America’s chief military threat.

Contrary to the conventional wisdom, this trade war is anything but lose-lose. This one is a big win for the U.S.

• Lawrence Solomon is a policy analyst with Toronto-based Probe International.

MMT: Magical Money Theory

Pardon me for mixing up acronyms.  Somehow the increasing mention of MMT (Modern Monetary Theory) made me think of the classic Beatles trip album.  Perhaps that association was triggered by today’s suddenly fashionable socialists relying on MMT to pay for their “everything free for everybody” political visions.  (Maybe one of the Ms could stand for ‘mushrooms”.)

A primer on what MMT is and is not, is an article by Karl Smith (descendant of Adam?) in National Review The Uses and Abuses of Modern Monetary Theory.  Excerpts in italics with my bolds.

MMT advocates overlook its flaws.

Newly elected representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D., N.Y.) argued on Monday that Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) ought to be a part of the conversation when it comes to funding major social-policy initiatives, such as her proposed Green New Deal. Stephanie Kelton, former economic advisor to Bernie Sanders, has likewise insisted that MMT should replace our current thinking about government finance. Yet what is MMT? And is it really as revolutionary as its proponents claim?

At its heart, MMT is a way of describing the federal budget and the Federal Reserve as if they were unified under a single executive authority. In describing the system so, the dangers of federal deficit spending are no longer that it crowds out private investment and slows economic growth, but that it leads potentially to excess inflation.

Yet Modern Monetary Theorists then invariably argue that inflation is not, and indeed could not be, a major problem for the United States. Many hard-core adherents go so far as to propose a job-guarantee program paid for by the federal government, which, they argue, will virtually eliminate both unemployment and the possibility of runaway inflation.

The tenets of MMT should be familiar to an older generation of fiscal conservatives. Before the 1980s, central banks such as the Federal Reserve were controlled far more directly by their governments. As a result, they could — and often did — bail out profligate governments by simply printing more money to cover the government’s debt.

This led to massive currency devaluation, runaway inflation, or both. In the early 1980s, however, central banks in the developed world were granted independence in the hopes that doing so would stop the spiraling inflation of the late 1960s and 1970s.

In the U.S., Fed chairman Paul Volcker was spectacularly successful at this. So were, to varying degrees, most central banks in the developed world. Some holdouts existed, notably in Southern Europe — a situation that would come back to haunt them decades later.

But MMT waves away the significance of these developments, instead focusing attention on several technical facts. First, when the federal government wants to spend money, it does so by having the Treasury issue checks. These checks are processed by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York (FRBNY). Second, the FRBNY does this literally by marking up the value of digital reserves in an account belonging to the check recipients’ bank and marking down the account of the Treasury by an equal amount.

These two operations are, in theory, separate. There is no technical reason why the FRBNY has to mark down the Treasury account. It only does so because laws require the federal government to meet all of its obligations. Such laws, argue Modern Monetary Theorists, cannot bind Congress, which after all has the power to alter them.

MMT advocates argue that Congress should ask the Treasury to sell Treasury bonds to cover any of its outstanding obligations. This is not, however, because they think it is necessary to fulfill the government’s obligations, but because doing so would help stabilize the macroeconomy.

All well and good. But at some point, won’t the debt become so large that merely paying interest on it will require issuing additional debt? Won’t this process feed on itself until all the borrowing capacity in the economy is soaked up?

No, MMT advocates reply, because the government can simply stop issuing debt — meeting its obligations instead by having the Federal Reserve simply create money on its behalf.

Indeed, this is what distressed governments have traditionally done when their liabilities add up — and the result has typically been hyperinflation. Modern Monetary Theorists argue that this need not be the case. Their exact reasoning differs.

At times, they argue that hyperinflation only occurs in countries that borrow from abroad in debt denominated in a foreign government’s currency. I don’t know enough about every single instance of hyperinflation to verify this claim, but it is true that the worst incidences of hyperinflation are typically associated with borrowing from abroad.

When a country prints money in an attempt to fund the government, the international exchange value of its currency collapses. If the country owes debt denominated in a foreign currency, that debt becomes more difficult to pay down as its own currency falls. Then the country has to print even more money to meet its debt payments, which of course causes the exchange value of its currency to fall further, creating a vicious circle that ends in hyperinflation.

Modern Monetary Theorists argue that this can’t happen to the United States because all of our debt is in the form of Treasury bonds that are denominated in dollars. If the international exchange value of the dollar falls, that does not change the value of our debt.

It does, however, mean that foreigners will be repaid in a currency that will be worth much less to them. Foreign bondholders are not stupid; they would regard this as a type of unofficial default. After experiencing this type of default through currency devaluation, they would be much less willing to buy Treasury bonds or indeed any type of American security again. This is precisely the situation that Italy, Spain, and Greece found themselves in during the 1980s.

Both countries had regularly devalued their currency as a way to get out from underneath foreign debts and were increasingly locked out of international markets. The euro was created, at least in part, in an effort to solve this. It could ultimately be printed only with the authority of the European Central Bank, meaning that neither Italy, Spain, Greece, nor any other member country could avert a debt crisis by devaluing its currency. Instead, they would have to raise taxes to meet their obligations.

That brings us to the second argument MMT advocates invoke when arguing that we should not worry about excessive debt leading to inflation: If inflation becomes a problem, the federal government can simply raise taxes, slowing down the economy which, in turn, will cool inflation.

But there are two problems with this approach. First, it is political suicide. At a time when consumers are facing ever-rising prices, it would seem cruel beyond measure to slap them with a tax increase. Very few governments would have the nerve to do this. If anything, history shows us that governments will instead resort to spending money on subsidies to ease the burden of rapidly rising prices.

Second, committing to this approach would risk an economic calamity. In 1973, OPEC placed an embargo on the United States that resulted in the price of oil quadrupling overnight. The sharply rising price of oil led both to a slowing economy and an increase in inflation — a dangerous mix.

A slowing economy lowers tax revenues, making it more difficult for the government to meet its debt payments. Suppose, at a time when the economy was slowing but inflation was rising, the U.S. government had firmly committed itself to MMT principles and refused to waver. In that case, it would not be able to resort to money printing because inflation was rising. Instead, it would be obligated to raise taxes both to meet its debt payments and to slow the rate of inflation.

Sharp increases in taxes during a recession, however, can be self-defeating. This is exactly the situation that Greece, and to a lesser extent Italy and Spain, found themselves in during the Great Recession. The crises lowered revenue, which worsened their budget deficits.

As a result, the government was forced to raise taxes and lower spending during the recession. This caused the economy to contract further, which caused tax revenue to fall so much that the budget deficit actually rose. In the case of Greece, this self-defeating cycle of higher taxes and lower revenues caused the government to ultimately default on its debts anyway. That, of course, worsened the economic crisis the country was already facing.

In the face of such a calamity, no sovereign government would or perhaps even should refrain from devaluing its currency and inflating away at least some of its debts. For that reason, governments have designed institutions to avoid falling into this trap.

In the United States, that means both making the Federal Reserve independent and not subject to the direct authority of the Treasury, and requiring the Treasury to meet all of its obligations with cash raised from tax revenues or Treasury-bond sales. In effect, we’ve outlawed the methods of Modern Monetary Theory — and with good reason.

KARL SMITH — Karl Smith is a senior fellow at the Niskanen Center. He was previously Assistant Professor of Economics and Government at the University of North Carolina (UNC) School of Government.

Footnote: (h/t Mark Krebs)

For more on Cortez see Why Cortez Can’t Be Wrong

For more on how MMT plays out when applied in a nation, see a short review of the Brazil experiment:

Climate Derangement in NYC

Jude Clemente writes at Real Clear Energy One Year Later, NYC’s Climate Lawsuit Wastes Taxpayer Money Excerpts below in italics with my bolds.

On January 10, 2018, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that he was suing five energy companies, seeking damages to pay for harm the city has faced as a result of climate change. In conjunction, the city also announced that it planned to divest its pension fund from fossil fuels. A year later, the city is seeking to revamp its legal strategy after the lawsuit’s swift dismissal in federal court and is no closer to divesting than it was before its big announcement.

While New York City has failed to achieve actionable results on these fronts, Mayor de Blasio has succeeded in one regard: boosting his liberal credentials as he contemplates a 2020 presidential run, a goal that may have been the motivation behind both announcements in the first place.

U.S. District Judge John Keenan dismissed New York City’s lawsuit shortly after it was filed, in part citing the hypocrisy of the city suing companies for producing a product it continues to rely on. “Does the city have clean hands?” Judge Keenan asked the city’s attorney, noting that Mayor de Blasio’s government, too, produces the emissions they say are responsible for the city’s climate change-related impacts.

Judge Keenan was not the first to rule in favor of the energy companies either. Less than one month before the New York City judge made his decision, U.S. District Court Judge William Alsup dismissed nearly identical lawsuits brought in California by the cities of San Francisco and Oakland. All three lawsuits are now being heard on appeal. Although, a recent change of counsel in California suggests that the New York case could stand less of chance now than it did the first time around.

In late November, the plaintiffs’ firm representing all three cities when they first filed their cases, Hagens Berman, was fired by San Francisco and Oakland and replaced with Sher Edling, Hagens Berman’s direct competitor in the climate litigation space. Mayor de Blasio, meanwhile, has continued to retain Hagens Berman, perhaps unconcerned with the final result of his case, so long as it attracts positive headlines praising his “climate leadership.”

That’s the take of at least one group who issued a statement critical of Mayor de Blasio on the anniversary of his announcement. “City officials, including Mayor de Blasio, have made clear that the true purpose of the lawsuit is to attack manufacturers and manufacturing workers,” said Linda Kelly, Senior Vice President and General Counsel of the National Association of Manufacturers.

Indeed, shortly after the city filed its climate lawsuit, Mayor de Blasio appeared as a guest on U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders’s (D-VT) podcast where he spoke about the case. “Let’s help bring the death knell to this industry that’s done so much harm,” Mayor de Blasio said of the recent announcements. His sentiments were echoed by New York City’s chief environmental lawyer, Susan Amron, who told a friendly crowd at last year’s Climate Week NYC, “[R]eally what we’re trying to do is affect the bottom line – the financial equation for the use of fossil fuels.”

This language – both from Mayor de Blasio and Amron – would seem to contradict the language of the city’s lawsuit. The case’s complaint reads, “The City does not seek to impose liability on Defendants for their direct emissions of greenhouse gases, and does not seek to restrain Defendants from engaging in their business operations.” New York City’s lawsuit explicitly denies that the city is seeking to restrict ongoing business operations, but Mayor de Blasio and Amron have both made comments publicly that imply otherwise.

Speculation that Mayor de Blasio has larger political aspirations – including a run for the White House – in his sights has been a through line throughout his tenure- a fact New Yorkers were quick to note at the time that his lawsuit was filed, calling it “more posturing than substance.” Before he seeks out Pennsylvania Avenue, however, Mayor de Blasio reportedly has room to focus on fulfilling the duties of his current office.

A recent article from The New York Times slammed “New York’s Vanishing Mayor” for being absent from work, finding that he averaged ten days in City Hall per month in 2018 and consequently “the practical mechanics of government are running less smoothly.” De Blasio responded by saying he has a “huge, ambitious agenda,” which he was working “at a great level of intensity…to get it done.”

There’s no doubt about the mayor’s ambitions, but attacking the energy companies that will keep his constituents warm through the winter and fuel his caravan of SUVs is a misguided approach to tackling climate change. There are many actions that can be taken to mitigate and address its effects. Spending taxpayer money to boost Mayor de Blasio’s national profile surely isn’t one of them.

Jude Clemente is the Editor at RealClearEnergy.

At this rate we are all going to freeze in the dark.

Scare of the Day: Ocean Heat Content

What is Argo? Argo is a global array of 3,800 free-drifting profiling floats that measures thetemperature and salinity of the upper 2000 m of the ocean. This allows, for the first time, continuous monitoring of the temperature, salinity, and velocity of the upper ocean, with all data being relayed and made publicly available within hours after collection. Positions of the floats that have delivered data within the last 30 days :

Scientists deploy an Argo float. For over a decade, more than 3000 floats have provided near-global data coverage for the upper 2000 m of the ocean.

Here is a sample of yesterday’s coordinated reports from CCN- Climate Crisis Network captured by my news aggregator, listed by the most recent first. Note the worldwide scope and editorial poetic license on the titles.

Ocean warming accelerating to record temperatures, scientists warn Engineering and Technology Magazine
Scalding seas? Oceans boil to hottest temp on record USA Today EU
World’s oceans heating up at quickening pace: study Egypt Independent
Ocean warming ‘accelerating’ The London Economic
Oceans warming faster than we thought: Study
Ocean temperatures rising faster than thought in ‘delayed response’ to global warming, scientists say The Japan Times
Oceans warming much faster than previously thought: Study The Hindu Business Line
The Oceans Are Warming Faster Than We Thought, a New Study Says TIME
Oceans Warming Even Faster Than Previously Thought Eurasia Review
The Ocean Is Warming Much Faster Than We Thought, According To A New Study BuzzFeed
Pacific: New research proves ocean warming is accelerating ABC Online – Radio Australia
We’re Boiling the Ocean Faster Than We Thought New York Magazine
Oceans warming faster than expected SBS
Ocean temperatures are rising far faster than previously thought, report says TVNZ
Ocean Temps Rising Faster Than Scientists Thought: Report HuffPost (US)
World’s oceans are heating up at a quickening pace Bangkok Post
The Warming of the World’s Oceans Is Set to Increase Dramatically Over the Next 60 Years Pacific Standard
New Climate Change Report Says Ocean Warming Is Far Worse Than Expected Fortune
Oceans Are Warming Faster Than Expected, Research Says
World’s oceans are heating up at a quickening pace: study AFP
Oceans Warming Faster Than Predicted, Scientists Say gCaptain

So the message to the world is very clear: Ocean Heat Content is rising out of control, Be Very Afraid!
The trigger for all of this concern comes from this paper How fast are the oceans warming? by Lijing Cheng, John Abraham, Zeke Hausfather, Kevin E. Trenberth. Science 11 Jan 2019 Excerpts from paper in italics with my bolds.

Climate change from human activities mainly results from the energy imbalance in Earth’s climate system caused by rising concentrations of heat-trapping gases. About 93% of the energy imbalance accumulates in the ocean as increased ocean heat content (OHC). The ocean record of this imbalance is much less affected by internal variability and is thus better suited for detecting and attributing human influences (1) than more commonly used surface temperature records. Recent observation-based estimates show rapid warming of Earth’s oceans over the past few decades (see the figure) (1, 2). This warming has contributed to increases in rainfall intensity, rising sea levels, the destruction of coral reefs, declining ocean oxygen levels, and declines in ice sheets; glaciers; and ice caps in the polar regions (3, 4). Recent estimates of observed warming resemble those seen in models, indicating that models reliably project changes in OHC.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s Fifth Assessment Report (AR5), published in 2013 (4), featured five different time series of historical global OHC for the upper 700 m of the ocean. These time series are based on different choices for data processing (see the supplementary materials). Interpretation of the results is complicated by the fact that there are large differences among the series. Furthermore, the OHC changes that they showed were smaller than those projected by most climate models in the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project 5 (CMIP5) (5) over the period from 1971 to 2010 (see the figure).

Since then, the research community has made substantial progress in improving long-term OHC records and has identified several sources of uncertainty in prior measurements and analyses (2, 6–8). In AR5, all OHC time series were corrected for biases in expendable bathythermograph (XBT) data that had not been accounted for in the previous report (AR4). But these correction methods relied on very different assumptions of the error sources and led to substantial differences among correction schemes. Since AR5, the main factors influencing the errors have been identified (2), helping to better account for systematic errors in XBT data and their analysis.

Multiple lines of evidence from four independent groups thus now suggest a stronger observed OHC warming. Although climate model results (see the supplementary materials) have been criticized during debates about a “hiatus” or “slowdown” of global mean surface temperature, it is increasingly clear that the pause in surface warming was at least in part due to the redistribution of heat within the climate system from Earth surface into the ocean interiors (13). The recent OHC warming estimates (2, 6, 10, 11) are quite similar to the average of CMIP5 models, both for the late 1950s until present and during the 1971–2010 period highlighted in AR5 (see the figure). The ensemble average of the models has a linear ocean warming trend of 0.39 ± 0.07 W m−2 for the upper 2000 m from 1971–2010 compared with recent observations ranging from 0.36 to 0.39 W m−2 (see the figure).

MISSION ACCOMPLISHED: “The recent OHC warming estimates are quite similar to the average of CMIP5 models.”

What They are Not Telling You

The Sea Surface Temperature (SST) record is a mature dataset, not without issues from changing measurement technologies, but providing a lengthy set of observations making up 71% of the surface temperature history.  Sussing out temperatures at various depths in the ocean is a whole nother kettle of fish.

The Ocean Heat Content data is sparse, both in time and space.

The Ocean is vast, 360 million square kilometers with an average depth of 3700 meters, and we have 3900 Argo floats operating for 10 years. In addition we have some sensors arrayed at depths in the North Atlantic. As the text above admits, there are lots of holes in the data, and only a short history of the recently available reliable data. Other publications by some of the same authors admit: Large discrepancies are found in the percentage of basinal ocean heating related to the global ocean, with the largest differences in the Pacific and Southern Ocean. Meanwhile, we find a large discrepancy of ocean heat storage in different layers, especially within 300–700 m in the Pacific and Southern Oceans. Source: Consensuses and discrepancies of basin-scale ocean heat content changes in different ocean analyses, Gongjie Wang, Lijing Cheng, John Abraham.

Modelers Make OHC Reconstructions by Adding Guesstimates to Observations

Again climate science alarms are raised after “reanalysis” of the data. No one should be surprised that after computer manipulations and data processing, the “reanalyzed” data has changed and now favors warming and confirms the climate models. The Argo data record by itself is too short to make any such claim. In previous studies, scientists were more circumspect and refrained from “jumping the shark.” Apparently, with the Paris Accord on the ropes in 2019, caution and nuance has been thrown to the wind, as witnessed by the recent SR15 horror show, and now this.

Methodological Problems Bedevil These Reconstructions

One of the studies cited in support of revising OHC upward is the study Quantification of ocean heat uptake from changes in atmospheric O2 and CO2 composition, L. Resplandy et al. Published in Nature 31 October 2018.  From the Media Release:

The world’s oceans have absorbed far more heat than we realized, shortening our timeline to stop the causes of global warming, and foreboding some of the worst case scenarios put forth by climate experts, according to new findings.

A novel study by researchers from Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California San Diego and Princeton University, published on Wednesday in Nature, implies that officials have underestimated the amount of heat retained by Earth’s oceans.

Between 1991 and 2016, oceans warmed an average 60 percent more than estimates by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) originally calculated, the study claims. That amount equalled 13 zettajoules, or eight times the world’s annual energy consumption.

Something didn’t look right to climate statistician Nic Lewis so he deconstructed the study, finding several methodological mistakes along the way. He explained and communicated with the authors in a series of 4 posts at Climate Etc. Nov. 6 through 23, 2018.

Nic Lewis, Nov. 6 (here):

The findings of the Resplandy et al paper were peer reviewed and published in the world’s premier scientific journal and were given wide coverage in the English-speaking media. Despite this, a quick review of the first page of the paper was sufficient to raise doubts as to the accuracy of its results. Just a few hours of analysis and calculations, based only on published information, was sufficient to uncover apparently serious (but surely inadvertent) errors in the underlying calculations.

Moreover, even if the paper’s results had been correct, they would not have justified its findings regarding an increase to 2.0°C in the lower bound of the equilibrium climate sensitivity range and a 25% reduction in the carbon budget for 2°C global warming.

Because of the wide dissemination of the paper’s results, it is extremely important that these errors are acknowledged by the authors without delay and then corrected.

Authors Respond:

On November 14, 2018 this paper’s authors announced key errors to the two week-old study that made claims about the amount of heat that Earth’s oceans have absorbed. The errors stem from “incorrectly treating systematic errors in the O2 measurements and the use of a constant land O2:C exchange ratio of 1.1,” co-author Ralph Keeling said in an update from Scripps Institution of Oceanography, which is affiliated with the study. More simply, the team’s findings are too uncertain to conclusively support their statement that Earth’s oceans have absorbed 60 percent more heat than previously thought. Keeling claims the errors “do not invalidate the study’s methodology or the new insights into ocean biogeochemistry on which it is based.”

Subsequent posts by Lewis found other differences between the stated method and the analysis actually applied, adding to the uncertainty of the study and its finding. Lewis is not done yet, and the paper has not been reissued. Unfortunately, it has not been retracted and is still cited in reference to unsupported claims of runaway ocean heat content.

Meanwhile, other measurements, such as those in North Atlantic and Indian Ocean show slight cooling rather than warming, with researchers suspecting natural cyclical activity.


So anxious are alarmists/activists to cry wolf that they are running the computers flat out to manipulate and extrapolate from precious but incomplete limited data to confirm their suppositions.  All to keep alive a deflating narrative that the public increasingly finds offensive.


Oceanographers know that deep ocean temperatures can vary on centennial up to millennial time scales, so if some heat goes into the depths, it is not at all clear when it would come out.

Beware getting sucked into any model, climate or otherwise.

More at Putting Climate Models in Their Place

Climate activists versus affordable housing

Susan Shelley writes an article with the same title at Los Angeles Daily News Climate activists versus affordable housing.  Excerpts below in italics with my bolds.. I also added some pertinent cartoons by the irrepressible Californian Lisa Benson.

In what may signal the beginning of the end of alarmism over climate change, a group of civil rights activists is suing the California Air Resources Board. The issue is CARB’s plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by effectively limiting new housing construction. The lawsuit says this is driving up the cost of housing, worsening poverty and particularly victimizing minority communities.

The Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006 (Assembly Bill 32), signed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, committed California to a goal of reducing statewide greenhouse gas emissions. The California Air Resources Board was required by AB 32 to write “scoping” plans every five years detailing how the specified GHG reduction targets would be met.

The 2017 scoping plan includes “guidelines” for new housing that the lawsuit calls “staggering, unlawful and racist.”

The group that is suing is called The Two Hundred. It’s a Bay Area organization made up of longtime civil rights advocates who have spent decades fighting against discrimination. They say CARB’s new GHG housing provisions have a “disparate effect on minority communities,” which is illegal and unconstitutional.

CARB’s provisions “increase the cost and litigation risks of building housing,” intentionally worsen traffic congestion and raise fuel and electricity costs, the activists contend.

The lawsuit says CARB’s scoping plan calls for new housing in “California’s existing communities (which comprise 4 percent of California’s lands).” The idea is to reduce “vehicle miles traveled” by limiting sprawl. But the civil rights activists say this is leading to resegregation of California’s urban areas as older affordable housing is demolished to make way for high-density housing that is unaffordable.

A better solution, the group says, is to build homes on land that is outside the current urban boundaries, but CARB’s 2017 scoping plan is preventing that. Its “guidelines” are helping to block new housing developments.

CARB tried unsuccessfully to get the lawsuit thrown out. Fresno County Superior Court Judge Jane Cardoza issued an order in October allowing it to go forward.

Unless there’s a settlement, the courts will decide whether “California’s climate change policies, and specifically those policies that increase the cost and delay or reduce the availability of housing, that increase the cost of transportation fuels and intentionally worsen highway congestion to lengthen commute times, and further increase electricity costs, have caused and will cause unconstitutional and unlawful disparate impacts to California’s minority populations.”

Not to mention their impact on everybody else.

There are four “GHG Housing Measures” at issue. They attempt to limit “vehicle miles traveled,” set a “net zero” GHG standard for new housing developments and add a “CO2 per capita” measurement to local “climate action plans.” There’s also a set of policies to encourage “vibrant communities.”

CARB says these “GHG Housing Measures” are only “guidelines,” but the lawsuit calls them “unlawful underground regulations” that were imposed without a formal rulemaking process.

Something else that CARB skipped, the lawsuit charges, is the legally required economic analysis that “accounts for the cost of these measures on today’s Californians.”

Yes, civil rights activists are demanding that climate regulations meet the law’s required standard of cost-effectiveness.

But California’s climate regulations can’t meet any standard of cost-effectiveness.

As the lawsuit explains it, “California’s reputation as a global climate leader is built on the state’s dual claims of substantially reducing greenhouse gas emissions while simultaneously enjoying a thriving economy. Neither claim is true.”

The statewide economic growth numbers are misleading, the lawsuit says, because the averages are boosted by capital gains in the wealthy Bay Area tech sector, while most of the state struggles with low wages and high costs. And while Californians were paying too much for housing, fuel and electricity in order to achieve greenhouse gas reductions, other states actually had greater GHG reductions without doing anything.

“California’s climate policies guarantee that housing, transportation and electricity prices will continue to rise while ‘gateway’ jobs to the middle class for those without college degrees, such as manufacturing and logistics, will continue to locate in other states,” the lawsuit states.

This is something new in California. Civil rights activists are attempting to hold climate activists accountable for worsening the housing crisis and increasing poverty.

Maybe it’s the political climate that’s changing.

Susan Shelley is an editorial writer and columnist for the Southern California News Group. Twitter: @Susan_Shelley.

Why More USA CO2 is a Good Thing

A new editorial at Investor’s Business Daily explains: Don’t Join The Media Freak Out Over Recent Jump In CO2 Emissions — It Won’t Last. Excerpt in italics with my bolds.

CO2 Emissions: For the first time in years, U.S. carbon dioxide output rose last year, a new report says. The jump has set off alarms in all the predictable media quarters. Relax. It’s a great sign for the economy, and will mean nothing long term for the environment.

CO2, the main greenhouse gas that global warming advocates most fear, happens to be rising around the world right now. It has been for decades.

But in recent years the U.S. has been the big exception to that trend, with declining amounts of CO2 spewed into the air from its industry. The reason for this is that, thanks to fracking, companies and utilities around the country are replacing coal with natural gas.

At least, that is, until 2016. But in 2018, U.S. carbon dioxide output jumped by 3.4%, according to Rhodium Group, a research firm.

It’s not hard to understand why. Thanks to a booming economy set off by President Trump’s new trade deals, tax cuts and deregulation, in the past two years the U.S. has seen manufacturing jobs surge.

CO2 Emissions Vs. Factory Jobs
Indeed, since Trump entered office, the number of manufacturing jobs has jumped by close to half a million. Once-moribund industrial areas around the country, many of which voted for Trump, are coming back to life. Minority unemployment rates are at or near record lows. Meanwhile, wages rose 3.2% last year, the fastest in a decade.

These are good things. This is prosperity.

Sources: US Federal Reserve Board and MAPI Foundation.

All those people going back to work in refurbished factories in America’s Heartland — you remember, the ones Hillary Clinton called “deplorables” — helped push emissions from manufacturing up 5.7% last year alone.

Transportation also contributed, of course, in the surging economy, with jet fuel (up 33.1%) and diesel fuel (up 3%) posting solid gains. A growing economy also means more electricity demand. Emissions in the electricity producing sector jumped 1.9%.

Then there’s the irony of ironies: some of the increase in greenhouse gas emissions, which activists fear are causing runaway global warming, was due to an unusually cold winter last year. That’s right: Businesses and homes used more fuel for heat than they have in years. Rhodium noted that CO2 from this winter effect rose 10% in 2018.

A Cold, Cold Winter
Are these bad things? No. Not at all.

First off, people need to heat their homes and businesses in winter. That’s a given. Anyone who doubts that deserves the scorn and ridicule that surely would come their way for suggesting otherwise.

Second, those who have regained their jobs in factories across America should be cheered after living through years of steady, unremitting industrial decline. That some media outlets are now treating the very recent rise in CO2 output as some epic tragedy, please.

A healthy economy always produces more CO2 when its growing fast than otherwise. Our current growth rate is roughly 50% higher than it was under President Obama. If it didn’t produce more CO2, that would be surprising.

“The boom in manufacturing is good news for American workers,” said The Daily Caller, “however, major media outlets sounded the alarm on global warming.” Both Washington Post and Bloomberg .

The Post was worst, claiming the “world has only about a decade to make the ‘unprecedented changes necessary” to stave off climate disaster.

Of course, such predictions of doom are based on statistical models that have proven wrong repeatedly in the past. That’s not science; it’s little better than a Ouija Board. And yet, these prophets of climate doom would have us slash CO2 output and destroy hundreds of thousands of jobs just to satisfy the demands of the green socialist movement.

Nothing’s Forever — Not Even CO2
By the way, those gains in CO2 won’t go on forever. The next slump or slowdown will take care of that, by causing many companies to close and many people to lose their jobs. And fracking will continue to chip away at our CO2 emissions.

Meanwhile, around the world, countries are abandoning their restrictions on CO2 emissions that have impoverished them and angered voters. They’re also throwing aside the idea of punitive carbon taxes. People want jobs. They want incomes. They want better lives. And taxing them and the businesses they work for so that they’ll be poorer and pollute less creates resentment, even rage.

Just ask France’s Gilets Jaunes, who have nearly paralyzed President Emmanuel Macron’s administration over his proposal for higher energy taxes. It should be a warning to U.S. Democrats, who hope to parlay fear of a changing climate into total control of the U.S. government.

As Nancy Pelosi said earlier this month, on becoming House speaker again, “We must… face the existential threat of our time: the climate crisis — a crisis manifested in natural disasters of epic proportions.” This is nonsense on steroids.

Capitalism Cleans Up
The truth is, the world is getting much cleaner, when measured by CO2 output per dollar of GDP. So is the U.S. It’s decarbonizing. And as the world population begins to decline later this century and new energy technologies come on line — everything from new battery technology to ultra-safe nuclear power designs — CO2 emissions won’t be a problem, real or imagined.

The real problem? Having enough people working and paying taxes to support all the retirees around the world and pay off hundreds of trillions of dollars of global debt.

What is a problem is the nonstop fear-mongering, demands for more taxes, and dangerous socialist experiments in expanding government control of the economy, all in the name of warding off the threat of global warming.

So don’t worry about this jump in CO2. It won’t last. But the damage from bad green policies foisted on the economy will.

What Proof Our Climate is Warming?

This is a reblog of a post at Manhattan Contrarian How Do You Tell If The Earth’s Climate System “Is Warming”? Excerpts in italics with my bolds

Back in August I had a post by the title of “How Do You Tell If The Earth’s Climate System “Is Warming”? The post took note of the fact that, with a time series (like for temperature) that fluctuates up and down, you can always give a presentation that makes the trend look to be whatever you want it to be, so long as you get to pick the start date. If you want to make it look like the trend is up, you pick a start date where the value of the series is low; and if you want to make it look like the trend is down, you pick a start date where the value of the series is high. Nothing to it! With the earth’s climate system, you have nearly infinite numbers of years that you can go back to get the result you want. Those who want to convince you that the earth’s climate system “is warming” typically pick as their start date either the 1880s or the 1970s, both of which were notable low points in the temperature times series. The trick is so obvious that you would think that nobody could be fooled. But, among others, they seem to have bamboozled Google, which as that August post noted, had taken to including on YouTube videos involving climate skeptics a legend stating “Multiple lines of scientific evidence show that the climate system is warming.”

“Multiple lines of evidence”? Really Google, is there any “line of evidence” that matters as to whether something “is warming” or “is cooling” other than the temperature time series? They don’t enlighten us as to what that other “line of evidence” might be.

Anyway, enough months have now passed for another year to end, so we now have three full years since the most recent temperature peak, which occurred in January 2016. Here is the latest UAH satellite temperature graph for the lower troposphere, going from the time the satellites were launched (1979) to December 2018:

The 0.25 deg C temperature anomaly of the latest value represents a decline of some 0.61 deg C from the peak anomaly of 0.86 deg C in January 2016. That 0.61 deg C decline is not small in the context of this series. The whole range on this chart from coldest month (-0.51 deg C in 1984) to warmest month (+ 0.86 deg C in 2016) is only 1.37 deg C; and the 0.61 deg C drop represents close to half of that.

According to Dr. Roy Spencer of UAH (publisher of the graph), 2018 came in as the 6th warmest in the 40 years of the satellite time series. That would still put 2018 among the warmer years. But it also means that five previous years were warmer, one of them being 1998 — a full 20 years ago.

A number of questions occur to me, as I’m sure they do to you:

To support the assertion that the earth’s climate system “is warming,” shouldn’t the temperature be higher each year over the preceding year?

CO2 emissions have been increasing year by year, and the amount of cumulative CO2 in the atmosphere has been increasing year by year. Isn’t that supposed to be the driving mechanism behind global temperature? How is it possible for temperature to decline, and by a rather significant amount, when CO2 has increased?

Obviously, there must be some force at work sufficient to overcome the increase in CO2. What is that force? How do you know that that force will not continue to overcome the influence of the CO2? Indeed, how do you know that that force, alone or in combination with some other forces known or unknown, will not so completely overcome the influence of CO2 as to bring on the next ice age?

How many years of temperature decline does it take before it is no longer appropriate to assert that the climate system “is warming”? I mean, we’re using the present tense here. Since when do we use the present tense in our language to mean “something that occurred more than three years ago but has not occurred for the last three years”?

You might be interested in the take of our various highly prestigious “scientific societies” on the question of whether the earth’s climate system “is warming.” You can find a compilation of summary statements on that subject at the NASA web site at this link. NASA’s page is titled “Scientific consensus: Earth’s climate is warming.” (Side question: What is a page with that title still doing up two years into the Trump administration?). A few examples:

American Association for the Advancement of Science: “The scientific evidence is clear: global climate change caused by human activities is occurring now, and it is a growing threat to society.”

American Medical Association: “Our AMA … supports the findings of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s fourth assessment report and concurs with the scientific consensus that the Earth is undergoing adverse global climate change and that anthropogenic contributions are significant.”

American Physical Society: “The evidence is incontrovertible: Global warming is occurring.”

OK, these guys are a little more slippery with the wording than just saying (along with Wikipedia, Google and NASA) that “the climate system is warming.” But clearly NASA wants you to think that the phrase “climate change is occurring” is functionally the same thing.

Unfortunately for these societies, the question of whether the earth “is warming” is really not a scientific question, but rather only one of appropriate use of the English language. I don’t know where the temperatures may go from here — and neither do they. But a full three years into an obvious cooling cycle, isn’t it time to recognize that this awkward use of language is no longer appropriate?

See Also:  Man Made Warming from Adjusting Data

Pacific Arctic Ice Recovering

Open image in new tab to enlarge.

The image shows ice extents on January 7 for the last three years.  The two Pacific basins are Bering Sea on the right and Okhotsk on the left.  In recent years they had less ice coinciding with the warm Blob in the North Pacific, but it is obvious how strongly Bering is freezing this year. Together they are tracking the combined 12 year average, and Okhotsk is growing ice strongly along the Kamchatka peninsula dividing the two seas.

An updated outlook for the NH winter comes on January 7, 2019 from Dr. Judah Cohen of AER Arctic Oscillation and Polar Vortex Analysis and Forecasts  Excerpts with my bolds.

I have once again received some attention for a forecast of a PV (Polar Vortex) disruption to be followed by widespread severe winter weather. After the winter of 2005/06, I know that I cannot guarantee an outcome no matter how tantalizing close it seems to the finish line. That winter, all six steps in our model verified and yet the forecast busted, at least for the Eastern US. And I think the lessons from that winter are applicable to this winter. There has been a lot of discussion, at least on Twitter, will the stratospheric PV split couple to the surface. I don’t think the question is whether the stratosphere and troposphere will couple, there is already strong evidence that they are coupling. The stratospheric and troposphere PVs are vertically stacked as I showed in a tweet earlier today and can be seen from plots below. Furthermore, the most anomalous cold and snowfall across the NH are currently co-located with those PVs.

Looking forward it looks like the coupling will strengthen over time. The GFS is predicting the first “drip” of warm polar cap geopotential height anomalies from the stratosphere to the troposphere at the end of the week and this weekend which is reflected in a short term drop in the AO. The GFS is predicting more “dripping” for the following weekend though more uncertainty exists with any event beyond a week. But regardless how robust the stratosphere-troposphere coupling currently looks, the magnitude and duration on the NH weather is still highly uncertain. And in an attempt to troll me, Mother Nature has delivered a PV split that is very much reminiscent of the PV split in winter 2006 (see Figure iii).

Figure iii. a) Observed 10 mb geopotential heights (contours) and geopotential height anomalies (m; shading) for 1 – 3 February 2006 and b) Observed 500 mb geopotential heights (contours) and geopotential height anomalies (shading) for 1 – 28 February 2006.

I believe that for a robust tropospheric and weather response to the stratospheric PV split a warm Arctic in the lower to mid-troposphere is critical. If I were to make a winter forecast for winter 2005/06, I would still make the same forecast and I still don’t understand what went wrong with the forecast that winter. In Figure iii I also include the 500 mb geopotential height pattern from that winter and in contrast to the stratosphere the mid-troposphere remained cold in the Central Arctic with low pressure right over the North Pole. Surprisingly, to me at least, the Arctic in the low to mid-troposphere has been relatively cold this winter and for the most part, the forecasts are for that to continue. I think the warmer the Arctic relative to normal over the coming weeks the more likely severe winter weather including cold and snow to be widespread across the NH.

Troughing/negative geopotential height anomalies previously centered near Alaska and the Gulf of Alaska are predicted to continue to drift towards the Dateline supporting ridging/positive geopotential height anomalies downstream over western North America centered over Western Canada with more troughing/negative geopotential height anomalies across eastern North America (Figure 5b). This will favor normal to above normal temperatures across Western Canada and the Western US with normal to below normal temperatures for the Eastern US and especially Eastern Canada (Figure 8). The ECMWF model is predicting less amplified ridging in western North America with milder temperatures in the Eastern US.

Currently the stratospheric PV has broken into several pieces or daughter vortices. The major daughter vortex is centered near Scandinavia and a minor daughter vortex is centered over Quebec and New England with a possible third daughter vortex over the North Pacific with ridging and accompanying warming centered in the Beaufort Sea (Figure 12). The daughter vortex over Scandinavia is predicted to drift west and further split into two with one vortex over Northwest Russia and another over Western Europe with the other vortex over Quebec and New England drifting west into Central Canada.

Figure 12. (a) Analyzed 10 mb geopotential heights (dam; contours) and temperature anomalies (°C; shading) across the Northern Hemisphere for 7 January 2019. (b) Same as (a) except forecasted averaged from 13 – 17 January 2019. The forecasts are from the 00Z 7 January 2019 GFS operational model.

The predicted details of the stratospheric PV disruption are showing better consistency among the weather models. An MMW (Major Mid-winter Warming) has occurred as well as a PV split. Instead there still remains much uncertainty with the impacts of the stratospheric warming on the weather. Following the peak of the stratospheric warming, I would expect the warm/positive PCHS to “drip” down into the troposphere, which is now predicted by at least the GFS. A sudden stratospheric warming not only leads to a warm Arctic in the stratosphere but also at the surface as well. And a warmer Arctic favors more severe winter weather in the NH midlatitudes including the Eastern US. I do think there is uncertainty how warm much the Arctic warms in the lower troposphere and surface and could play a major role in the duration and magnitude of the weather impacts of the PV split.

Figure 9. Forecasted snowfall anomalies (mm/day; shading) from 18 – 22 January 2019. The forecasts are from the 00Z 7 January 2019 GFS ensemble.

Once again additional snowfall is possible across much of northern Eurasia including Siberia, Western Asia, Scandinavia, Central and even possibly Western Europe (Figure 9). Seasonable to cold temperatures across Eastern Canada and even the Northeastern US will also support potentially new snowfall (Figure 9). Mild temperatures could result in snowmelt across Southeastern Europe, Turkey, Alaska, Western Canada and the Western US (Figure 9).

See Also:Snowing and Freezing in the Arctic