Three Wise Men Talking Climate

Everyone is entitled to their opinion on climate change, although renowned theoretical physicists may be especially persuasive. This post compares quotes from 3 of the most distinguished: Stephen Hawking (much in the news lately since Trump’s election), Freeman Dyson and Richard Feynman. Hawking is an alarmist, Dyson a skeptic and Feynman concerned about scientific integrity.

Stephen Hawking is a phenomenal human being, original thinker on grand design and genuinely concerned about humanity and our planetary home. His own battle with frailty gives weight to his opinions and observations. Thus when he meets with the Pope or Al Gore and warns about future global warming, many people will take his words seriously.

Comments on Climate Change by Stephen Hawking

On May 31, 2016 he said: “A more immediate danger is runaway climate change,” Hawking said. “A rise in ocean temperature would melt the ice-caps, and cause a release of large amounts of carbon dioxide from the ocean floor. Both effects could make our climate like that of Venus, with a temperature of 250 degrees.”

“Six years ago I was warning about pollution and overcrowding, they have gotten worse since then,” Hawking said. “The population has grown by half a billion since our last meeting with no end in sight. At this rate, it will be 11 billion by 2100. Air pollution has increased by 8 percent over the past five years.”

Elsewhere he has said, “I don’t think we will survive another 1,000 years without escaping beyond our fragile planet,” going on express concerns about consuming earth’s natural resources, nuclear war, climate change, genetically-engineered viruses and the rise of artificial intelligence spelling planetary doom.

Those are his opinions, not shared by other equally distinguished theoretical physicists, two examples being Freeman Dyson and Richard Feynman.

Freeman Dyson is best known for his contribution to Quantum Electrodynamics. Quantum Electrodynamics is the field where scientists study the interaction of electromagnetic radiation with electrically charged matter within the framework of relativity and quantum mechanics. Dyson has wrote two books on the subject of Quantum Electrodynamics. His books influence many branches of modern day theoretical physics.

In his quest to expand our world of knowledge, properly control nuclear power, and discover more information on quantum electrodynamics, Freeman Dyson has written a large collection of books that explains how he believes that the world should grow more efficiently.

Comments on Climate Change by Freeman Dyson

I was in the business of studying climate change at least 30 years ago before it became fashionable. The idea that global warming is the most important problem facing the world is total nonsense and is doing a lot of harm. It distracts people’s attention from much more serious problems.

When I listen to the public debates about climate change, I am impressed by the enormous gaps in our knowledge, the sparseness of our observations and the superficiality of our theories.

We simply don’t know yet what’s going to happen to the carbon in the atmosphere.

We do not know how much of the environmental change is due to human activities and how much [is due] to long-term natural processes over which we have no control.

Computer models of the climate….[are] a very dubious business if you don’t have good inputs.

To any unprejudiced person reading this account, the facts should be obvious: that the non-climatic effects of carbon dioxide as a sustainer of wildlife and crop plants are enormously beneficial, that the possibly harmful climatic effects of carbon dioxide have been greatly exaggerated, and that the benefits clearly outweigh the possible damage.

The people who are supposed to be experts and who claim to understand the science are precisely the people who are blind to the evidence. Those of my scientific colleagues who believe the prevailing dogma about carbon dioxide will not find Goklany’s evidence convincing. . .That is to me the central mystery of climate science. It is not a scientific mystery but a human mystery. How does it happen that a whole generation of scientific experts is blind to obvious facts?

Richard Feynman revolutionized the field of quantum mechanics through conceiving the Feynman path integral,and by inventing Feynman diagrams for doing relativistic quantum mechanical calculations. Further he won the Nobel prize for his theory of quantum electrodynamics, and finally in particle physics he proposed the parton model to analyze high-energy hadron collisions.  He died in 1988 before global warming obsession was popularized, and so his comments apply mainly to how scientific theories should be treated with integrity.

Comments on Scientific Integrity by Richard Feynman

How Science Works: “In general, we look for a new law by the following process. First, we guess it (audience laughter), no, don’t laugh, that’s really true. Then we compute the consequences of the guess, to see what, if this is right, if this law we guess is right, to see what it would imply and then we compare the computation results to nature, or we say compare to experiment or experience, compare it directly with observations to see if it works. 

If it disagrees with experiment, it’s wrong. In that simple statement is the key to science. It doesn’t make any difference how beautiful your guess is, it doesn’t matter how smart you are, who made the guess, or what his name is… If it disagrees with experiment, it’s wrong. That’s all there is to it.”

It’s a kind of scientific integrity, a principle of scientific thought that corresponds to a kind of utter honesty–a kind of leaning over backwards. For example, if you’re doing an experiment, you should report everything that you think might make it invalid–not only what you think is right about it: other causes that could possibly explain your results; and things you thought of that you’ve eliminated by some other experiment, and how they worked–to make sure the other fellow can tell they have been eliminated.

Details that could throw doubt on your interpretation must be given, if you know them. You must do the best you can–if you know anything at all wrong, or possibly wrong–to explain it. If you make a theory, for example, and advertise it, or put it out, then you must also put down all the facts that disagree with it, as well as those that agree with it. There is also a more subtle problem. When you have put a lot of ideas together to make an elaborate theory, you want to make sure, when explaining what it fits, that those things it fits are not just the things that gave you the idea for the theory; but that the finished theory makes something else come out right, in addition.


Hawking has gone to the dark side, foreseeing disaster from numerous modern developments, and includes climate change without challenging the precepts with his considerable critical intelligence. Dyson has analyzed radiative activity in quantum electrodynamics and sees clearly that effects from humanity’s minuscule addition to the trace gas CO2 does far more good for the biosphere than it does harm. Feynman encourages us not to accept answers claimed to be unquestionable.

This post was inspired by Lubos Motl, who blogged similarly on another issue (here), and Ivar Giaever who has long spoken out against alarmist claims. Two more outstanding physicists who have actually examined global warming claims and found them wanting.

Pipeline Facts vs. Fears

This week Canadian PM Justin Trudeau announced federal approval for 2 pipeline projects:  Trans Mountain and Line 3 expansions.  From a press report (here):

Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain expansion has become a lightning rod for climate protests from coast to coast, with opponents from among Trudeau’s own caucus of Liberal MPs and his political ally, Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson.

Climate campaigners and indigenous groups immediately attacked the government decision as a betrayal, while B.C. Environment Minister Mary Polak issued an anodyne statement noting the province’s own environmental assessment of Trans Mountain continues.

The fight overshadowed quieter deliberations about Enbridge’s proposed replacement of Line 3, a half-century-old pipeline from Alberta to the United States that Trudeau approved Tuesday, effectively doubling its current working capacity.

Between the Trans Mountain and Line 3 expansions, the Liberals have approved the export of almost a million additional barrels of oil per day — and the production of between 23 and 28 million tonnes of additional greenhouse gases annually. Line 3 can actually handle another 155 million barrels per day, but Enbridge would have to apply for a new permit.

Trans Mountain Pipeline

Description of Trans Mountain project is from NEB (National Energy Board) here

The Trans Mountain Expansion Project (TMX) is a proposal to expand the existing Trans Mountain pipeline system between Edmonton, AB and Burnaby, BC. It would include approximately 987 km of new pipeline, new and modified facilities, such as pump stations and tanks, and the reactivation of 193 km of existing pipeline.

The Westridge Marine Terminal would also be expanded. New pipeline segments would be added between Edmonton and Hinton, AB, Hargreaves, BC and Darfield, BC and Black Pines, BC and Burnaby, BC.

Some existing, but currently deactivated pipeline segments between Hinton, AB and Hargreaves, BC and Darfield and Black Pines, BC would be reactivated.

Line 3 pipeline

Line 3 would replace a decades-old conduit that runs from Hardisty, Alta., to Superior, Wisc., and double its capacity. (BNN Graphics)

Line 3 would replace a decades-old conduit that runs from Hardisty, Alta., to Superior, Wisc., and double its capacity. (BNN Graphics)

What you need to know about Enbridge’s Line 3 pipeline project

From BNN news (here):
The Line 3 crude oil pipeline replacement project proposed by Calgary-based Enbridge Inc. has attracted little attention despite its potential to increase Canadian exports to the United States. Here are some facts about the plan:

— The $7.5-billion, 1,660-kilometre pipeline replacement project would be the most expensive in Enbridge history.
— The line is almost half a century old and its regulated maximum throughput has been reduced through pressure restrictions to about 390,000 barrels of oil per day.
— The replacement of the aging 34-inch diameter pipe with new 36-inch pipe will restore the original regulated capacity of 760,000 barrels per day, nearly doubling oil shipping potential.
— In April, the National Energy Board recommended approval of the Canadian part of the project with 89 conditions.
— Line 3 already has a U.S. presidential permit, unlike the higher-profile Keystone XL pipeline project which was rejected by the Obama administration a year ago. Line 3 still requires state regulator approvals.
— On the Canadian side of the border, Enbridge intends to spend $4.9 billion to replace Line 3 between Hardisty, Alta., and the Canada-U.S. border at Gretna, Man.
— On the U.S. side, it will spend US$2.6-billion to replace pipe between Neche, N.D., and its terminal in Superior, Wis., from which crude can be transported to refinery markets in Chicago, the U.S. Gulf Coast and the eastern U.S. and Canada.
— Decommissioning of the existing Line 3 pipe will begin after the replacement pipeline is in service. Product will be removed and the line will be cleaned but the pipe itself is to be left in the ground.

Pipelines Are Environmentally Friendly

Going under: New trenchless technology means pipelines are installed without construction activity in the watercourse.

Going under: New trenchless technology means pipelines are installed without construction activity in the watercourse.

In both Canada and the United States, the oil pipeline industry has a remarkably good record of avoiding spills. Of the total volume of oil moved annually on federally regulated pipelines in Canada in 2015, 99.999% of the oil was delivered safely with no spills. Of the 1.4 billion barrels of oil transported, less than 400 were spilled. In the United States, the same 99.999% record of safe delivery applies. The number of accidents and incidents on crude oil pipelines has been declining for many years. Similarly, in Alberta, where most of the intra-provincial oil pipeline capacity is located, the number of pipeline incidents and spills has been stable or declining for at least 20 years.

Of course, it is not possible to entirely eliminate the risk of a spill, any more than it is possible in every other aspect of life to reduce risks to zero. This paper describes the consequences of a major spill near Marshall, Michigan in 2010. In one of the worst cases in twenty years, there were no injuries to people. The use of surface waters affected by the spill for drinking, irrigation and watering of livestock was interrupted for one month. 52 birds, 40 muskrats, 106 turtles and snakes and 42 fish died. The company responsible was required to pay almost $900 million in fines and other expenses to ensure that this does not happen again. From Friends of Science (here)

Pipeline Economics

The financial benefits to governments and the economy of the Trans Mountain expansion include the development and planning of the project and the anticipated first 20 years of operation from 2018-38. The figures also include calculations such as the construction and operations of the pipeline, economic benefits of increased tanker activity, and oil company reinvestment.

The financial benefits to governments and the economy of the Trans Mountain expansion include the development and planning of the project and the anticipated first 20 years of operation from 2018-38. The figures also include calculations such as the construction and operations of the pipeline, economic benefits of increased tanker activity, and oil company reinvestment.

The vast majority of oil from Alberta and Saskatchewan is exported to the United States, instead of being transported to a coast and exported to other countries at world prices.

“We produce a very valuable resource and we don’t get full value for that resource,” he said. “It’s absolutely unconscionable that we don’t take the actions we need to move it so that Canadians receive the full value for the product.” – David Dodge former Bank of Canada Governor

‘We may like to think we can survive off making solar panels and medical devices, but we can’t.’- John Manley, Business Council of Canada

Millions of people depend upon the supply of refined oil products for transportation, industrial production, petrochemicals and the thousands of products and services that people use in our modern industrialized society. Further, hundreds of thousands of people work very hard to ensure that the transportation of crude oil and refined oil products moves across our lands with the utmost care given to oil spill prevention, preparedness and response. Comprehensive liability, compensation and governance regimes are in place to make sure that companies have a strong financial incentive to avoid spills and to clean them up as soon as possible if they do occur. Decisions about the permitting or construction of pipelines should be based on facts, not fear.

Anti-Pipeline Activism

None of these facts matter to unhinged people who fear fossil fuels must be left in the ground. And US funders are largely responsible for their activity. From National Post: The cash pipeline opposing Canadian oil pipelines

In 2015, Tides paid $4 million to 50 anti-pipeline groups. Of that, $750,000 went to U.S. organizations while $3.3 million was paid out in Canada. A total of $615,000 went to the four environmental groups involved in the development of the Notley government’s climate plan: STAND, formerly Forest Ethics; The Pembina Institute; Environmental Defence; and Equiterre. The largest single grant from Tides to a Canadian environmental organization was US$700,000 paid to The Sisu Institute, a low-profile non-profit based in Sointula, B.C. That was for an initiative called “Canada’s Road To Paris: Changing The Narrative.”

If the activists marching in protests and storming NEB hearings make the anti-pipeline campaign look like an amateur, grassroots movement, the reality is it’s anything but. Anti-pipeline activists say they’re protesting pipelines to “keep oil in the ground.” And yet, against Texas, where oil production has doubled, there’s no multi-million-dollar campaign.




Tornados: Blame them on La Niña

A tornado brews near El Reno, Okla., May 2013. A new study links the frequency of tornadoes and hailstorms in parts of the southern United States to ENSO, a cyclic temperature pattern in the Pacific Ocean. Credit: John Allen

Reported in Science Daily Frequency of tornadoes, hail linked to El Niño, La Niña

“We can forecast how active the spring tornado season will be based on the state of El Niño or La Niña in December or even earlier,” said lead author John Allen, a postdoctoral research scientist at the International Research Institute for Climate and Society (IRI).

Allen and his coauthors show that moderately strong La Niña events lead to more tornadoes and hail storms over portions of Oklahoma, Texas, Kansas and other parts of the southern United States. El Niño events act in the opposite manner, suppressing both types of storms in this area.

While the information can’t pinpoint when and where storms will wreak havoc, it will nevertheless be useful for governments and insurance companies to prepare for the coming season, Allen said.

The Tornado statistics are available from the Storm Prediction Center (here).

El Niño was in effect for 2015 and most of 2016.  2015 had 36 deaths, all but 10 of them between Dec. 23 and 26. This year there have been 17 deaths recorded. An average year is 80 tornado deaths.


1) 1925 794
2) 2011 553
3) 1936 552
4) 1917 551
5) 1927 540

In 2011–a La Niña year– tornadoes killed more than 550 people, higher than in the previous 10 years combined. Hail storms and tornadoes cause an average estimated $1.6 billion in insured losses each year in the United States, according to the insurer Munich RE. Powerful, isolated events such as the 2011 Joplin, Missouri, tornado can smash that average. That storm alone caused several billion dollars in damage and killed 158 people.

Image: La Niña is characterized by unusually cold ocean temperatures in the central equatorial Pacific. The colder than normal water is depicted in this image in blue. During a La Niña stronger than normal trade winds bring cold water up to the surface of the ocean. Credit: NASA

Image: La Niña is characterized by unusually cold ocean temperatures in the central equatorial Pacific. The colder than normal water is depicted in this image in blue. During a La Niña stronger than normal trade winds bring cold water up to the surface of the ocean. Credit: NASA

Past studies that have relied on eyewitness records alone have had limited success, said Allen. “For example, previous work has shown a clear linkage between ENSO and winter activity, but spring–the season when most of tornadoes occur in the southern U.S.–remained an enigma until now,” Allen said.

To get around these challenges, the Columbia University team created indices derived from environmental conditions such as wind shear, temperature and moisture. Each is a key ingredient in severe storm formation, and each is influenced by ENSO. The scientists then verified the indices using available observational records.


If La Niña strengthens beyond its present near-neutral condition, look for more killer tornados in the SE United States.  But it is not the fault of CO2 or fossil fuels.

Footnote December 4

I want to be as careful as the authors not to overstate the certainty of their findings. (h/t comment by Les Johnson).  Tornados are mesoscale events with multiple contributing factors.  Researchers have concluded that ENSO sets environmental conditions that favor or disfavor tornado formation, i.e. increase or decrease the probabilities.

Michon Scott provides a more detailed description of the mechanism entitled El Niño and La Niña affect spring tornadoes and hailstorms at (here).

In these maps, purple indicates higher storm event frequency, and brown indicates lower storm event frequency. Specifics vary, but in general, springtime tornadoes and hailstorms are less frequent in the southern central United States during El Niño, and more frequent during La Niña.

The research showed that ENSO affects tornado and hailstorm frequency by influencing the position of the jet stream over North America. El Niño weakens the surface winds that carry warm, most air from the Gulf of Mexico over Texas and neighboring states. La Niña, in contrast, concentrates hot, humid air over the region. The heat and humidity over the southern Plains states sets up a strong north-south temperature gradient, which in turn favors storm formation.

El Niño/La Niña conditions often persist from winter into spring, the researchers found, so the ENSO state seen in December, January, and February can be used to predict tornado and hailstorm frequency for March, April, and May.

Tornado season and hail season don’t have set beginnings and endings. In general, tornado season peaks in Gulf Coast states in the spring, in the southern Plains in May and June, and in upper Midwest in June and July. . . But tornadoes can strike at any time of year. Severe hailstorms often strike between May and July, but can also occur at any time of year.

Climate Costs in Context


A recent publication by the Manhattan Institute looks at the costs of proposed climate change policies versus the estimated benefits.  Note that positive effects from warming are not included, only the benefits of reduced damages from assumed future warming.  Even on that narrow basis, the costs of “fighting” climate change are vastly greater than simply adapting to a changing climate.  The paper is entitled: Climate Costs in Context (here).  Excerpts below

Uncertain Greenhouse Effects

.The chain of causation from greenhouse gas emissions to human impacts is lengthy: economic growth, the energy intensity of economic activity, and the emissions profile of energy use all combine to determine emissions levels. Those emissions then produce a concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, from which climate models can offer projections of temperature increase. Other models must translate any given temperature increase into estimates of natural-world effects, such as sea-level rise, drought, or ecosystem disruption. And another set of models and qualitative analyses must try to estimate how those changes in the natural world will affect the society that emitted the greenhouse gases in the first place.

Scientific assessments vary widely at each of these steps. However, climate researchers have settled broadly on an expected temperature increase of 3 to 4 degrees Celsius by the year 2100 if efforts are not made to reduce emissions.

Climate Costs According to IPCC

To estimate the economic cost of warming, researchers use “Integrated Assessment Models” (IAMs), which translate a given level of warming into estimates of natural-world impacts and then economic costs. Such analysis requires as much art as science, and, especially for larger temperature increases, the results are highly speculative. Still, they offer the best available estimates and should indicate at least the relative magnitude of the threat.

These models indicate that for 3°–4°C of warming, global GDP in the year 2100 will be 1%–4% lower than in a world with no warming.

These are large costs—all three models estimate that global GDP will have grown to at least $500 trillion by 2100 versus a 2015 total of approximately $75 trillion. So if climate change reduces GDP in 2100 by 3%, that would represent $15 trillion—nearly the size of the entire American economy today. But by the standards of 2100, the cost is manageable.

Exaggerated Popular Notions of Climate Impacts

Such modest economic estimates seem incompatible with the severe disruptions popularly assumed to accompany climate change. However, it is generally the popular assumption rather than the detailed economic research that is in error. For instance, while descriptions of sea-level rise often depict large scale melting in Greenland and Antarctica producing several meters of sea-level rise, such scenarios are forecast to play out only over the course of several centuries or even millennia.

The IPCC itself offered an estimate of what this might cost: “Some low-lying developing countries and small island states are expected to face very high impacts that, in some cases, could have associated damage and adaptation costs of several percentage points of GDP.”In other words, even for those poorest and most vulnerable countries, damage still amounts to only the small share of future wealth forecast in the economic models.

The pattern repeats itself across other potential effects of climate change. For instance, researchers call attention to the prospect of widespread ecosystem disruption and species extinction. The IPCC emphasizes: “With 4°C warming, climate change is projected to become an increasingly important driver of impacts on ecosystems.” But the actual magnitude of these impacts will only “becom[e] comparable with land-use change”—the disruption the world is already experiencing from human development. That disruption has not been costless—in either economic or less tangible terms—but neither has it produced widespread or insurmountable challenges to continued growth and prosperity.

Conclusion: Adapt Rather than Fight

Analyses consistently show that the costs of climate change are real but manageable. For instance, the prosperity that the world might achieve in 2100 without climate change may instead be delayed until 2102.

All these costs—both economic and noneconomic—are substantial and have the potential to cause significant damage and disruption. Policymakers should take them seriously and seek to reduce or prepare for them when the expected benefit of action exceeds the cost. However, none are outside the range of other challenges facing society, and none support the apocalyptic rhetoric of many politicians and activists.


The world is currently spending a lot fighting climate change:

  • UN and governmental agencies and conferences;
  • Research funding to claim alarming impacts;
  • Advocacy by foundations and NGOs;
  • Subsidies for renewable energy and low carbon technologies.

This climate alarm industry, Climate Crisis Inc., is estimated to cost at least 1.5 trillion US$ each year.  That is 2% of present global GDP, and alarmist leaders say it isn’t making a difference.

Looking into the future, IEA expects additional spending just in the energy sector to meet climate change targets on the order of $35-trillion over the period 2015 to 2030. All this remarkable growth comes in a market for non-solutions to the non-problem of global warming.

For more on Uncertainties of Integrated Assessment Models:

Further comments by Oren Cass, author of the Mannhatton paper:

Surging Arctic Ice Nov. 30

The growth of Arctic ice extent has been slower than usual this year.  After showing resilience in September, ending higher than 2007, ice growth lagged in October, and is only now ramping up toward the averages.  The map above shows the lack of ice is mainly in Hudson Bay, and the slow freezing of Kara and Barents Seas.  Everything else is locked in ice, except for some open water in Bering and Chukchi.


In the last five weeks, 2016 ice growth has surged twice, firstly from day 303 to 314, and then the current surge the last 10 days starting day 325.  The chart also shows the variability of ice extent over the years during this season.  2015 was the highest ice recovery rate in the last decade, while 2006 was the lowest.  The chart also shows Sea Ice Index (SII) from NOAA is lagging over 300k km2 behind.

There is no need to panic over Arctic ice this year, or any year.  It fluctuates according to its own ocean-ice-atmospheric processes and we can only watch and be surprised since we know so little about how it all works.  Judah Cohen at AER thinks the much greater snowfall in October will make for a very cold winter.  We shall see.




On Warming Holes (Global Warming Gaps)


Animation showing the 25-year and 40-year trends in surface air temperature in the Cowtan and Way v2.0 dataset, with plots to the right showing the fraction of the earth surface in a cooling trend (the blue areas in maps).

Ed Hawkins at his blog provides above the display of variability of warming and cooling across the globe. The post is entitled Regional Temperatures This Century (here).

We found that some regions experience periods of cooling at this timeframe even when global temperature is increasing rapidly. Cooling periods of 25 years duration occurred in 13 to 74 % of the earth surface through the observed record, and cooling periods of 40 years occurred in 6 to 71% of the earth surface, including in the most recent decades. Cooling periods are more prevalent where the long-term trend is low such as in the Southern Ocean, and/or where decadal variability is high such as Pacific Ocean regions influenced by the Inter-Decadal Pacific Oscillation (IPO). However, there are cases where low trend or high variability due to the IPO (or Atlantic Multi-decadal Oscillation) are not the only factors, and there may be a role for forcings and other regional effects. These cases include the well-known ‘warming hole’ in the south east US through the last half of the 20th Century (noting this ‘hole’ has an important seasonal aspect to it) and the recent cooling in northern Australia linked to increasing cloud and rainfall.

He refers to the cooling regions as “warming holes”. Since there are periods where cooling dominates globally, we could also refer to exceptional regions as “warm spots.” This shows dynamically how regional climate trends differ over time. For example, over the last century in the continental US, about a third of land stations showed cooling trends contrary to the slightly warming average overall.

Cautionary note regarding the Cowtan and Way 2.0 Dataset

This dataset is controversial in its use of “krieging” to spread temperature readings from a handful of land stations across the full extent of the Arctic (and Antarctic) including surfaces of ocean, ice and mixtures of the two. As the charts show, this results in extra warming in the Arctic, double the trend shown by UAH (satellite) dataset.

Another example of the inconsistency of “global warming” is provided by NOAA’s presentation of continental temperatures. (here) The table below is for October 2016, and shows not only variability, but also how land temperatures are falling following El Nino’s disappearance.

CONTINENT ANOMALY (1910-2000) TREND (1910-2016) RANK
°C °F °C °F YEAR(S) °C °F
North America +1.33 +2.39 +0.05 +0.09 Warmest 7ᵗʰ 1963 +2.16 +3.89
Coolest 101ˢᵗ 1919 -1.94 -3.49
South America +0.85 +1.53 +0.17 +0.30 Warmest 15ᵗʰ 2014 +1.60 +2.88
Coolest 92ⁿᵈ 1922 -1.04 -1.87
Ties: 1994
Europe +0.40 +0.72 +0.11 +0.20 Warmest 41ˢᵗ 2006, 2001 +1.96 +3.53
Coolest 67ᵗʰ 1912 -1.99 -3.58
Africa +1.35 +2.43 +0.09 +0.16 Warmest 2ⁿᵈ 2015 +1.59 +2.86
Coolest 106ᵗʰ 1910 -0.65 -1.17
Asia -0.15 -0.27 +0.10 +0.18 Warmest 69ᵗʰ 2011 +1.76 +3.17
Coolest 39ᵗʰ 1912 -2.22 -4.00
Oceania +0.21 +0.38 +0.13 +0.23 Warmest 44ᵗʰ 2015 +2.71 +4.88
Coolest 64ᵗʰ 1910 -1.15 -2.07


Today’s Arctic Compares with 150 years ago

Imagery date refers to Google Earth capture of land forms. Ice extent is for August 31, 2016 from MASIE. Serenity is docked at Devon Island. Click to zoom in.

Imagery date refers to Google Earth capture of land forms. Ice extent is for August 31, 2016 from MASIE. Serenity is docked at Devon Island. Click to zoom in.

Researchers found that ice conditions in the 19th century were remarkably similar to today’s, observations falling within normal variability. The study is Accounts from 19th-century Canadian Arctic Explorers’ Logs Reflect Present Climate Conditions (here) by James E. Overland, Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory/NOAA, Seattle,Wash., and Kevin Wood, Arctic Research Office/NOAA, Silver Spring, Md.   H/t GWPF


This article demonstrates the use of historical instrument and descriptive records to assess the hypothesis that environmental conditions observed by 19th-century explorers in the Canadian archipelago were consistent with a Little Ice Age as evident in proxy records.  We find little evidence for extreme cold conditions.

It is clear that the first-hand observations of 19th-century explorers are not consistent with the hypothesized severe conditions of a multi-decadal Little Ice Age. Explorers encountered both warm and cool seasons, and generally typical ice conditions, in comparison to 20th-century norms.


There were more than seventy expeditions or scientific enterprises of various types dispatched to the Canadian Arctic in the period between 1818 and 1910. From this number, we analyzed 44 original scientific reports and related narratives; many from expeditions spanning several years. The majority of the data come from large naval expeditions that wintered over in the Arctic and had the capacity to support an intensive scientific effort. A table listing the expeditions and data types is located at The data cover about one-third of the possible number of years depending on data type, and every decade is represented.

Our analysis focuses on four indicators of climatic change: summer sea ice extent, annual sea ice thickness, monthly mean temperature, and the onset of melt and freeze as estimated from daily mean temperature. Historical observations in these four categories were compared with modern reference data; the reference period varied, depending on data availability.  Both sea ice extent and the onset of melt and freeze were compared to the 30- year reference period 1971–2000; monthly means are compared to the 50-year period 1951–2000. Modern sea ice thickness records are less continuous, and some terminate in the 1980s; the reference period is therefore based on 19 to 26 years of homogeneous record.



(a) Proxy record of standardized summer air temperature variation derived from ice cores taken on Devon Island. This proxy record suggests that a significantly colder climate prevailed in the 19th century. Shading indicates temperatures one standard deviation warmer or colder than average for the reference period 1901–1960 [Overpeck,1998].

(b) Historical monthly mean temperature observations compared to the 20th-century reference period 1951–2000. Sixty-three percent of 343 monthly mean temperatures recorded on 19th-century expeditions between 1819 and 1854 fall within one standard deviation of the reference mean at nearby stations (reference data from Meteorological Service of Canada,2002; and National Climatic Data Center,2002).

(c) Onset of melt observed by expeditions between 1820 and 1906 expressed as departures from the mean for the reference period 1971–2000. The period of melt transition observed by 19th century explorers is not inconsistent with modern values.

(d) Onset of freeze observed between 1819 and 1905 compared to the reference period 1971–2000. The onset of freeze transition is frequently consistent with modern values,but in some cases occurred earlier than usual. The incidence of an early onset of freeze represents the largest departure from present conditions evident in the historical records examined in this study. Melt and freeze transition dates for the reference period 1971–2000 were calculated from temperature data extracted from the Global Daily Climatology Network data base (National Climate Data Center, 2002).


Fig.2. The ship tracks and winter-over locations of Arctic discovery expeditions from 1818 to 1859 are surprisingly consistent with present sea ice climatology (contours represented by shades of blue). The climatology shown reflects percent frequency of sea ice presence on 10 September which is the usual date of annual ice minimum for the reference period 1971–2000 (Canadian Ice Service,2002). On a number of occasions,expeditions came within 150 km of completing the Northwest Passage, but even in years with unfavorable ice conditions, most ships were still able to reach comparatively advanced positions within the Canadian archipelago. By 1859, all possible routes comprising the Northwest Passage had been discovered.


As stated here before, Arctic ice is part of a self-oscillating system with extents expanding and retreating according to processes internal to the ocean-ice-atmosphere components. We don’t know exactly why 19th century ice extent was less than previously or less than the 1970s, but we can be sure it wasn’t due to fossil fuel emissions.


Explorers encountered both favorable and unfavorable ice conditions. This drawing from the vicinity of Beechey Island illustrates the situation of the H.M.S.Resolute and the steam-tender Pioneer on 5 September 1850 [from Facsimile of the Illustrated Arctic News,courtesy of Elmer E.Rasmuson Library,Univ.of AlaskaFairbanks].

Speaking Truth About Power

Recent Headlines have reported the Canadian federal government intends to eliminate coal for electrical production, replacing it with renewables. For example: Ottawa to phase out coal, aims for virtual elimination by 2030

Ontario is not part of this because they have already done it. How is that working out for Ontario? A cautionary tale follows.

Arrogant Ontario politicians thought they knew better than engineers how to manage the supply of electricity to the citizenry. Pursuing their dream of “green” energy, they enacted policies that have failed in every possible way: power costs are skyrocketing for businesses and residents, emissions reductions are outrageously expensive, and worst of all, more future renewables will increase CO2 emissions.

The Ontario Society of Professional Engineers (OSPE) are speaking the truth about power (not for the first time), and maybe finally the powers that be will wake up or be voted out of office. From OSPE presentation, Ontario’s Electricity Dilemma – Achieving Low Emissions at Reasonable Electricity Rates

The outline includes everything that a reasonable person needs to know.  Two of the most important sections are excerpted below

Why Are Electricity Rates Rising So Fast in Ontario?

The major drivers of rapidly rising rates in Ontario:

  • Incremental cost of wind/solar energy compared to displaced generation.
    Over 1 B$ in 2014, rising to over 3 B$ in 2021
  • Loses for curtailment and exporting at very low price.
  • Conservation and demand management programs have reduced financial value during periods of excess capacity (2013 Long Term Energy Plan predicts excess capacity will persist from 2009 to 2019).
  • Higher costs for refurbishment of older plants.
  • Higher costs for power system upgrades to accommodate renewables and Bruce A restart.

In the GTA (Greater Toronto Area) residential “energy” rates have risen about 70 to 90% in the 7 years since 2008 depending on when the utility switched you to TOU rates.


Why Will Emissions Double as We Add Wind and Solar Plants?

Wind and Solar require flexible backup generation.

  • Nuclear is too inflexible to backup renewables without expensive engineering changes to the reactors.
  • Flexible electric storage is too expensive at the moment.
  • Consequently natural gas provides the backup for wind and solar in North America.
  • When you add wind and solar you are actually forced to reduce nuclear generation to make room for more natural gas generation to provide flexible backup.
  • Ontario currently produces electricity at less than 40 grams of CO2 emissions/kWh.
    Wind and solar with natural gas backup produces electricity at about 200 grams of CO2 emissions/kWh.
  • Therefore adding wind and solar to Ontario’s grid drives CO2 emissions higher.
    From 2016 to 2032 as Ontario phases out nuclear capacity to make room for wind and solar, CO2 emissions will double (2013 LTEP data).

In Ontario, with limited economic hydro and expensive storage, it is mathematically impossible to achieve low CO2 emissions and reasonable electricity prices without nuclear generation.

Truth about power falls on deaf ears

From Terence Corcoran at the Financial Post  Boondoggle: How Ontario’s pursuit of renewable energy broke the province’s electricity system

Paul Acchione, an OSPE engineer with long experience in the electricity industry, said the government was “hiring political scientists and environmentalists because they thought they were the experts.” As a result, the government has issued more than 100 ministerial directives that ignored the dramatic decline in demand and the realities of managing an electrical grid where new expensive supply was mushrooming all over the province.

Expensive wind and solar supply needs to be backed up by expensive new gas plants that in turn operate at a fraction of optimal capacity. The new capacity came at the wrong time of day or season, forcing curtailment in which producers were paid for electricity that wasn’t needed.

The result, Acchione said, is “everything costs more.”

Through the years, escalating government control was cheered on by a growing industrial complex of wind and solar promoters backed by a large contingent of financial firms, big name consultants, fee-collecting law firms and major corporations. All were anxious to play a lucrative role fulfilling renewable objectives.

The provincial auditor general last year delivered a devastating report on the Liberal green electricity campaign. The report estimated that by 2014, electricity consumers had “already paid a total of $37 billion, and they are expected to pay another $133 billion in Global Adjustment fees from 2015 to 2032.” That’s $170 billion over 30 years.

As for job creation, Rick Smith and company promised hundreds of thousands of new jobs. The government now claims 42,000, although it is widely conceded that job creation is minimal. The auditor general said the jobs appear to be mostly short-term subsidized jobs for workers installing wind turbines and solar panels.


The Ontario green electricity regime is a monumental failure. The costs to consumers are prohibitive and damaging the economy. The environmental and health benefits are debatable and likely non-existent. Worst of all, while the few jobs that have been created are mostly temporary, the high prices it foisted on consumers are permanent.



Damages Averted by Hillary’s Loss


Since the US election there has been much consternation and hand-wringing over what Trump may or may not do as President. Little has been said about what Hillary was promising and the ruinous effects directly upon the US and indirectly Canada, whose economic prospects would have suffered collateral damages. Kevin Libin corrects that omission in his National Post article: Cheer up, Canada — President Donald Trump just might be good for you (here)

It’s still impossible to tell which of Trump’s often-wild promises he will actually keep, given how unpredictable he has demonstrated himself to be. But the risk with Clinton was always the opposite. It was her political determination. Had she been allowed to govern as she was resolved to, Canada would have paid the price for as long as eight more difficult years — probably more than they will under even a loose-cannon amateur like Trump. A president Hillary Clinton would have implemented policies that would have been sure to drag down the economic growth of an economy upon which Canada overwhelmingly relies for its own.

She has been unapologetic about her plan to increase taxes, promising to raise the estate tax and capital gains taxes (where she planned to hike the top rate from 23.8 to 43.4 per cent) and she had proposed to tax high-frequency stock-market trades. She had said she was open even to new payroll taxes, which would have injured American competitiveness yet further. And her campaign said she would “take a look at” a carbon tax, if Congress had proposed one. Congress, still firmly in the hands of the Republicans, will now entertain no such thing.

Throughout her campaign, Clinton also distinguished herself as the candidate of multiplying regulations to rein in Wall Street, and more spending on entitlements: Where Trump said only he would not cut social security, Clinton went further and said she would “expand it.” She showed no interest in tax relief for corporations or personal incomes, focusing instead on raising tax revenues, $1.4 trillion over 10 years, another trillion dollars the following decade, in an attempt to reduce inequality through redistributionist schemes.

All of these were growth-killing policies overlooked by Canadian pundits who prioritized their distaste for Trump’s vulgarity and jingoism over the prospect of a robust American economy that could help Canada enhance its own prosperity. The U.S. GDP has been growing at not much more than two per cent a year for over a decade, much to Canada’s economic detriment; under Clinton, that seemed bound to continue.

The U.S. economy is nearly six years into its current economic expansion cycle and overall economic numbers continue to disappoint. From the US Money Reserve 


Will a Trump administration, as unhinged as some might fear it will be, prove more propitious for Canada? There is at least now some reason for optimism.

A Republican House and Senate are even more apt to stand firm for continued free trade with Canada than a Democratic Congress would have. And in the most probable scenario, if our exporters can maintain open trade with the U.S., Trump’s preference for economic growth looks far more likely to benefit Canada than Clinton’s preference for an expanded welfare state ever would have. It is too early yet to be certain whether these promising economic changes come to pass under Trump. But on Tuesday night, Canadians at least won some hope of finally escaping from the last 11 years of more muddling along, with our largest export market politically fated to remain underperforming and torpid.