Feel Good Climatism

A recent post by Ace of Spades rang a chord. He was talking about partisan politics but I saw another example in the global warming/climate change issue. I was reminded of an email exchange with a relative after I pointed out that some scientists think we are on the brink of global cooling. She replied: “It is confusing, but we have decided that humans are making it warmer.”

Ace provides some insight into this sort of behavior. His post is in fact a comment triggered by Joe Katzman writing in the Daily Caller(here):

A good friend of mine wrote me recently. He complained about smug leftist neighbors who are “making decisions to ‘feel good’ with virtually no regard for true factual input or testing.”

I get this a lot.

“Feel good” about what?

Not about being right, which is best described as “useful, to a point.” Aristotle noticed over 2,000 years ago that many people aren’t persuadable by logical arguments. So what’s the “feeling good” all about?

So what is going on? Ace summarizes (here).  Excerpts with my bolds.

Short version: The right attempts political persuasion. The left, on the other hand, attempts social persuasion — basically seizing the commanding heights of culture-making institutions and then deciding that espousing some political claims (being pro-gay-marriage) increase social status and that espousing other political claims (being against gay marriage) decrease social status and, indeed, make one a social pariah, fit for ostracism, mass mockery, and internal exile.

The left’s method works much better than the right’s. It always has and it always will. Because most people don’t care about politics all that muchbut nearly everyone (except for the crankiest of contrarians, including some of the current assembled company) cares about their social status.

Having higher social status gets you invites to the Cocktail Party Circuit, which is a real thing, defined broadly (and metaphorically) enough. It makes you datable, it makes you “clubbable,” as the old term went.

It can get you promoted at work, particularly if the sort of job you do is a bit vague as far as definite, tangible outputs and thus advancement depends more on how upper management feels about you.

While the left wing continues winning arguments by not even having arguments at all, instead simply demonizing those who espouse any contrary position, the #SmartSet (citation required) of the establishment right continues believing, apparently earnestly and definitely ridiculously, that if they just out argue their political competitors, they’ll change minds.

They won’t. Or not enough to actually matter. Because most people don’t really care enough about these issues to really engage with them on an intellectual level; they just want to know what to claim to believe so that other people won’t think they’re weird, and deem them unfriendable, undatable, and poor candidates for promotion inside The Corporation.

How This Applies to Global Warming

When it comes to global warming/climate change, of course the alarmist notion is embraced by the left, and skeptics (“deniers”) are banished to associate with others mostly on the right. I recently commented to a friend who won’t discuss this topic with me that I used to be a liberal, but have become a libertarian. (BTW my friend is a successful entrepreneur engineer but does not delve into climate science intentionally. Why pick a family fight over something like that?)

Contemporary socio-political orientations no longer fit traditional liberal/conservative definitions. The left is now committed to “post-modern” philosophy and “progressive” political action, deriving from identity politics and cultural warfare. Traditionalists are now on the far right sideline and “conservatives” are tarred with that same brush. People in the middle are a mix of classical liberals and conservatives who still embrace the western rational, free enterprising democracy frame. Progressives want to overturn that heritage with tactics from social class conflict, supercharged in the age of Internet, social media and 24/7 buzz. The middle alternative on the right is more properly termed “libertarian” since the focus is on individual liberty, free enterprise and limited government. The same concerns motivated those drafting the US Constitution.

Whatever you think of Trump, he is the first libertarian to take the fight to the progressive post-modernists. Anti-Trumpism started in the media beginning with his candidacy, and it has only ramped up since, becoming a kind of derangement. Trump recognized early in his term that the media had become the defacto opposition party, and would be willing and eager to say anything to discredit him. So he responded in kind, resulting in public approval of mass media at an all time low, while his own approval ratings remain stuck in the 40% range. The whole circus is at the same time amusing and dangerous. Like watching a train wreck in slow motion, just try looking away.

Global warming/climate change is a football kicked around in this game. During the campaign I didn’t know what to make of Trump.  If it weren’t for some perceptive and prescient posts by Scott Adams of Dilbert fame,  I would have written off his chances.  As one pundit put it: “His detractors take him literally, and not seriously; while his supporters take him seriously, but not literally.”

As a CAGW skeptic, I do credit Trump for the guts to pull out of Paris and to point out the nakedness of the climate emperor. And at least so far, he seems to use the culture wars to keep his enemies distracted while quietly doing important libertarian things, like deregulating the economy and reforming the judiciary. It seems the left is claiming incompetence to get him out, while actually they really fear him delivering on his promises.

Just for fun, here is a video of his recently released First Annual Fake News Awards:

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Oceans Cool Off Previous 3 Years

The best context for understanding these three years comes from the world’s sea surface temperatures (SST), for several reasons:

  • The ocean covers 71% of the globe and drives average temperatures;
  • SSTs have a constant water content, (unlike air temperatures), so give a better reading of heat content variations;
  • A major El Nino was the dominant climate feature these years.

HadSST is generally regarded as the best of the global SST data sets, and so the temperature story here comes from that source, the latest version being HadSST3.

The chart below shows SST monthly anomalies as reported in HadSST3 starting in 2015 through December 2017.
HadSST122017
After a bump in October the downward temperature trend has strengthened. As will be shown in the analysis below, 0.4C has been the average global anomaly since 1995 and December has now gone lower to 0.325C.  NH dropped  sharply along with the Tropics.  SH held steady erasing the Oct. bump.  All parts of the ocean are clearly lower than at any time in the past 3 years.

For Reference:
Global SSTs are the lowest since 3/2013
NH SSTs are the lowest since 3/3014
SH SSTs are the lowest since 1/2012
Tropics SSTs are the lowest since 3/3012

A longer view of SSTs

The graph below  is noisy, but the density is needed to see the seasonal patterns in the oceanic fluctuations.  Previous posts focused on the rise and fall of the last El Nino starting in 2015.  This post adds a longer view, encompassing the significant 1998 El Nino and since.  The color schemes are retained for Global, Tropics, NH and SH anomalies.  Despite the longer time frame, I have kept the monthly data (rather than yearly averages) because of interesting shifts between January and July.

HadSST1995to122017

Open image in new tab for sharper detail.

1995 is a reasonable starting point prior to the first El Nino.  The sharp Tropical rise peaking in 1998 is dominant in the record, starting Jan. ’97 to pull up SSTs uniformly before returning to the same level Jan. ’99.  For the next 2 years, the Tropics stayed down, and the world’s oceans held steady around 0.2C above 1961 to 1990 average.

Then comes a steady rise over two years to a lesser peak Jan. 2003, but again uniformly pulling all oceans up around 0.4C.  Something changes at this point, with more hemispheric divergence than before. Over the 4 years until Jan 2007, the Tropics go through ups and downs, NH a series of ups and SH mostly downs.  As a result the Global average fluctuates around that same 0.4C, which also turns out to be the average for the entire record since 1995.

2007 stands out with a sharp drop in temperatures so that Jan.08 matches the low in Jan. ’99, but starting from a lower high. The oceans all decline as well, until temps build peaking in 2010.

Now again a different pattern appears.  The Tropics cool sharply to Jan 11, then rise steadily for 4 years to Jan 15, at which point the most recent major El Nino takes off.  But this time in contrast to ’97-’99, the Northern Hemisphere produces peaks every summer pulling up the Global average.  In fact, these NH peaks appear every July starting in 2003, growing stronger to produce 3 massive highs in 2014, 15 and 16, with July 2017 only slightly lower.  Note also that starting in 2014 SH plays a moderating role, offsetting the NH warming pulses. (Note: these are high anomalies on top of the highest absolute temps in the NH.)

What to make of all this? The patterns suggest that in addition to El Ninos in the Pacific driving the Tropic SSTs, something else is going on in the NH.  The obvious culprit is the North Atlantic, since I have seen this sort of pulsing before.  After reading some papers by David Dilley, I confirmed his observation of Atlantic pulses into the Arctic every 8 to 10 years as shown by this graph:

The data is annual averages of absolute SSTs measured in the North Atlantic.  The significance of the pulses for weather forecasting is discussed in AMO: Atlantic Climate Pulse

But the peaks coming nearly every July in HadSST require a different picture.  Let’s look at August, the hottest month in the North Atlantic from the Kaplan dataset.Now the regime shift appears clearly. Starting with 2003, seven times the August average has exceeded 23.6C, a level that prior to ’98 registered only once before, in 1937.  And other recent years were all greater than 23.4C.

Summary

The oceans are driving the warming this century.  SSTs took a step up with the 1998 El Nino and have stayed there with help from the North Atlantic, and more recently the Pacific northern “Blob.”  The ocean surfaces are releasing a lot of energy, warming the air, but eventually will have a cooling effect.  The decline after 1937 was rapid by comparison, so one wonders: How long can the oceans keep this up?

uss-pearl-harbor-deploys-global-drifter-buoys-in-pacific-ocean

USS Pearl Harbor deploys Global Drifter Buoys in Pacific Ocean

 

Natural Climate Cycles: Fresh Insights

Multiple aspects of nature cycle and interact over various time scales, frustrating attempts to discern human influence upon the climate. To demonstrate the challenge, consider one simple physical example: The compound pendulum shown in operation below:

Recently a comment (H/T tom0mason) alerted me to the science demonstrated by the double compound pendulum, that is, a second pendulum attached to the ball of the first one. It consists entirely of two simple, well understood objects functioning as pendulums, only now each is influenced by the behavior of the other.

Lo and behold, you observe that a double pendulum in motion produces chaotic behavior. In a remarkable achievement, complex equations have been developed that can and do predict the positions of the two balls over time, so in fact the movements are not truly chaotic, but with considerable effort can be determined. The equations and descriptions are at Wikipedia Double Pendulum.

But here is the kicker, as described in tomomason’s comment:

If you arrive to observe the double pendulum at an arbitrary time after the motion has started from an unknown condition (unknown height, initial force, etc) you will be very taxed mathematically to predict where in space the pendulum will move to next, on a second to second basis. Indeed it would take considerable time and many iterative calculations (preferably on a super-computer) to be able to perform this feat. And all this on a very basic system of known elementary mechanics.  More at Climate Chaos

Fresh Study of Antarctic Oscillation

Many of the cycles driving the climate system are circulations with the ocean and air interacting. A 2018 study looks in more detail at one of the more important ones: The Antarctic Oscillation (AAO), also known as Southern Annular Mode (SAM).  The Antarctic Centennial Oscillation: A Natural Paleoclimate Cycle in the Southern Hemisphere That Influences Global Temperature  W. Jackson Davis, Peter J. Taylor and W. Barton Davis, Santa Cruz USA Published: 8 January 2018
H/T Kenneth Richard NoTricksZone.  Excerpts from paper in italics with added images and bolds.

We report a previously-unexplored natural temperature cycle recorded in ice cores from Antarctica—the Antarctic Centennial Oscillation (ACO)—that has oscillated for at least the last 226 millennia. Here we document the properties of the ACO and provide an initial assessment of its role in global climate. We analyzed open-source databases of stable isotopes of oxygen and hydrogen as proxies for paleo-temperatures. We find that centennial-scale spectral peaks from temperature-proxy records at Vostok over the last 10,000 years occur at the same frequencies (±2.4%) in three other paleoclimate records from drill sites distributed widely across the East Antarctic Plateau (EAP), and >98% of individual ACOs evaluated at Vostok match 1:1 with homologous cycles at the other three EAP drill sites and conversely.

Superimposed upon these multi-millennial climate cycles are numerous shorter global and regional climate cycles ranging in period from several millennia down to a few weeks. Included among these faster oscillations are millennial-scale cycles, particularly the Bond cycle and centennial-scale cycles, notably the Antarctic Oscillation (AAO) known also as the Southern Annular Mode (SAM) and tracked quantitatively by means of the Southern Oscillation Index (SOI). These interdependent Southern Hemisphere (SH) temperature-proxy oscillations exhibit both centennial and decadal frequency components. Similar periodicity appears in independent reconstructions of more contemporary temperature proxies from James Ross Island and snow accumulation in stacked records from snowpits at Vostok.
Figure 3. Spectral power density periodogram of temperature-proxy records from Vostok over the Holocene. Arrows and associated numerals designate spectral peaks at the indicated periods in years (y) that are discernible within the indicated confidence limits. Discernible peaks at p < 0.005 are labeled 1–6 for reference to the same peaks portrayed in subsequent figures. The confidence limits are represented by best-fit exponential curves fitted to stepwise forward regression data over the whole frequency spectrum represented in the periodogram (Methods and SM). Fisher’s Kappa and the corresponding probability that the periodogram results from white noise are 17.34 and p < 8.7 × 10−7, respectively.

Periodograms of the remaining three AICC2012 climate records during the Holocene are similar to the periodogram of the Vostok record (Figure 4). All are bounded near the low end by a peak corresponding approximately to the mean period of the TOC350V cycles and near the high end by a peak corresponding to the Bond cycle in the NH and ranging from 825 to 1027 years. Between these extremes lie at least four additional centennial-scale peaks in all AICC2012 climate records evaluated.

Interannually the AAO shifts between phases, designated here as positive and normal (or negative.)

The null hypothesis that TOC350V cycles comprise random variation in cycle structure was tested by means of cyclic autocorrelation coefficients. We find that autocorrelation coefficients alternate between positive and negative at the same periodicity as the corresponding TOC350V cycle frequency (Figure 5). Near peaks and troughs, nearly all of these autocorrelation coefficients are discernibly different from zero at low alpha levels (at least at p < 0.05). These autocorrelation results supplement and extend spectral periodograms to confirm that TOC350V cycles comprise nonrandom periodic sequences. Such positive autocorrelation results would not be possible unless the short time series evaluated represent relatively stationary time series over the time periods evaluated.

Modern measures of AAO showing the positive anomalies compared to slightly negative normally in this time frame.

Discussion and Conclusions
Centennial-scale climate cycles reported previously by several investigators and in this paper are significant in at least three contexts.

First, centennial-scale climate cycles demonstrate “an important role of natural multicentennial variability that is likely to continue”. When both the mean and variance of any centennial-scale climate cycle are known, as is the case for the TOC350V cycles documented here (Table 1), then the future behavior of such cycles can be projected within well-defined confidence limits. Understanding centennial-scale temperature cycles can therefore contribute to precise climate projections over timelines that are most pertinent to human and civilizational life cycles, decades to centuries. This approach to the projection of future climate change has been pioneered by Liu and colleagues based on analysis of tree ring data from the Tibetan Plateau. From past centennial-scale temperature oscillations, they project a steep decline of temperature on the Tibetan Plateau of ~3 °C between 2006 and 2068, followed by a weaker warming trend and continuing on a cyclic basis into the future.

JMA refers to Japan El Nino index. The graph shows that often a peak in one index coincides with a valley in the other one. This suggests a teleconnection between AAO and ENSO cycles.

Second, centennial-scale paleoclimate cycles comprise a “natural” source of temperature forcing, i.e., one that is free from anthropogenic influences. Human impact on global climate from agriculture and land clearing may have begun as early as the mid-Holocene, but earlier climate change was presumably devoid of anthropogenic influences. Characterizing past cycles of temperature fluctuation can therefore help inform the distinction between natural (non-anthropogenic) and anthropogenic forcing of climate in the present, as discussed further below.

Emperor penguins at the South Pole.

Third, Antarctic temperature fluctuations on several time scales are reflected worldwide and in the NH after a delay of 0.5 to 3.0 millennia. These delays were measured for older time periods, however, generally before the LGT, and may be shorter for more recent climate events in a warmer environment (see below). Given the close association between AIMs (Antarctic Isotope Maxima) in the Antarctic and D-O events in the NH, as demonstrated repeatedly by previous investigators, the discovery here that AIMs are composed of summated TOC350V cycles constitutes strong evidence that ACOs manifest globally. The centennial-scale climate cycles identified in the NH may be northerly manifestations of the Antarctic TOC350V climate cycle documented here, a hypothesis that remains to be tested. In the meantime, the present findings demonstrate that the ACO and its potential modern counterpart (the AAO; see below) influence the temperature of the NH. This finding suggests a potentially-fruitful research direction aimed at assessing the impact of the contemporary AAO on global climate and weather. Our study raises the possibility that the ACO/AAO entrains global temperature and serves as the primary pacemaker of centennial fluctuations in temperature in both hemispheres while simultaneously modulating shorter cycles.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Is Global Warming A Public Nuisance?

Several posts have discussed activist attempts to use legal actions to press their agenda.  Now we have a fine article by Richard A. Epstein of Hoover Institution, published January 15, 2018
Is Global Warming A Public Nuisance?  Text below in italics with my bolds and images.
H/T Jeffrey Taylor

New York City and a number of California municipalities, including San Francisco and Oakland, have filed law suits against five major oil companies—BP, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, Exxon Mobil, and Royal Dutch Shell—for contributing to the increased risk of global warming. These complaints cite recent scientific reports that project that sea levels will rise from 0.2 meters to 2.0 meters (or 0.66 to 6.6 feet) by 2100, with a major loss of land surface area and serious climate disruptions. They further allege that the “Defendants had full knowledge that the fossil fuels would cause catastrophic harm.” The complaints rely chiefly upon public nuisance law, which prohibits unreasonably interfering with public rights in air and water through discharges of dangerous substances—in this instance, carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. These cities are demanding that each oil company named in the complaint contribute to an abatement fund to counteract the perceived future threats to the environment from global warming.

In this essay, I confine my attention to the soundness of the public nuisance theory offered by San Francisco and New York in order to explain why private lawsuits are the wrong instrument for dealing with the global warming threat. In full disclosure, in this essay, I provide my own independent legal analysis of these complaints, which I prepared for the Manufacturer’s Accountability Project, an organization that focuses on the impact of litigation on the manufacturing industry.

The basic law of nuisance is divided into two parts, public and private, which complement each other. Private nuisances require at a minimum “an invasion of another’s interest in the private use and enjoyment of land.” The defendant must release, emit, or discharge the offensive materials—such as filth, odors, or noise—onto the plaintiff’s property. The relevant causal connection has to be so tight that there are no intervening forces between the discharge and the ensuing physical invasion of the plaintiff’s property. So, for example, the supplier of various materials and chemicals is not responsible for the waste that a manufacturer emits from their use.

The typical private nuisance dispute usually involves one party (or a very few) who either makes the discharges or suffers consequences from them. The basic intuition behind this limitation on private suits is that administrative costs balloon out of control when the number of parties who suffer some degree of harm increases, as happens when pollution is discharged into a public waterway used by hundreds of different people. Yet it is a mistake to ignore large pollution discharges simply because private law suits are an ineffective instrument to secure damages, an injunction, or both. As early as 1536, the English judges filled this gap by developing the law of public nuisances that rested, both then and now, on the key distinction between general and special damages. Thus, if the defendant erected an obstruction along a public road, none of the parties delayed by the blockage had a private right of action. But any individual who ran into the obstacle and suffered physical injuries or property damage could recover in tort. Now, the shortfall in deterrence attributable from not compensating the delayed travelers was offset by a fine against the wrongdoer, the money from which could be used to remove the obstacle or placed in the public treasury.

Woman on a ducking stool. Historical punishment for ‘common scold’ – woman considered a public nuisance. (Welsh/English heritage)

It is important to understand the enormous stretch in moving from traditional public nuisances to the modern global warming cases. The first point of difference is that only five companies—but no other carbon-dioxide-emitting polluter in the world—are joined as defendants. That is to say, the cities are apparently seeking to recover virtually all of their alleged abatement costs from the five named oil companies, instead of holding each only for its pro rata share of total emissions from all sources. But just what fraction of total carbon dioxide emissions can be traced to the named defendants? Note first that any release of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere has the same impact on global warming regardless of its source.

These five oil companies are responsible at most for a tiny fraction of the global total of carbon dioxide emissions. First, just looking at the American scene, some good chunk of the carbon dioxide releases are from other oil companies not named in the complaint. Another, probably larger, chunk comes from burning coal, making cement, and human and animal respiration. Carbon dioxide is also released in large quantities by forest fires, including those that recently overwhelmed Northern and Southern California. And that’s just in America; vast amounts of carbon dioxide are released from a similar range of human activities all across the globe.

Global Greenhouse Gas Emissions by Source 2013

Here are some numbers: As of 2015, all carbon dioxide emissions from the United States comprised 14.34 percent of the global total, while China’s emissions stood at 29.51 percent. Even if the five oil companies were somehow responsible for, say, 10 percent of the United States’ carbon dioxide emissions, that would be less than one percent of the total human releases. Under standard tort rules, the liability of each defendant must be limited to its own pro rata share of the total harm given that under Section 433A of the Restatement of Torts, there is a “reasonable basis for determining the contribution of each cause to a single harm,” in this instance measured by market shares.
Indeed, these public nuisance lawsuits are especially dubious, given that the oil companies did not by their sales emit any carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. The dangerous releases came from many different parties, both private and public, including the municipalities bringing these lawsuits. These numerous parties used these products in countless different ways, with as much knowledge of their asserted effects on global warming as these five defendants. How could the oil companies have known about the anticipated course of global warming forty years ago when key government studies done today are uncertain about the magnitude of the effects of emissions on sea levels and the economic consequences?

The first paragraph of the New York City complaint ducks these factual complexities by insisting, falsely, that crude oil was “a product causing severe harm when used exactly as intended.” But the end uses of crude oil are so varied (including, for example, the creation of various plastics in common use today) that the effective control of emissions is best done through the regulation of these end users and not the oil companies. Indeed, even for gasoline, the level of carbon dioxide emissions critically depends on the operation and maintenance of the many different types of facilities, equipment, and vehicles, all of which are beyond the direct control of the oil companies. Yet all these end users are already subject to extensive emissions controls under the Clean Air Act and countless other environmental directives, both at the state and federal level.

This sensible distribution of regulatory authority rests on the superior ability of government agencies (at least compared to the courts), often in cooperation with each other, to formulate and maintain coherent policies to regulate the emissions of carbon dioxide, as well as methane, nitrous oxide, and fluorinated gases, which the EPA calculates account for 18 percent of greenhouse gas emissions.

The issues here are especially complex for many technical and logistical reasons. One critical task is to decide the optimal level of emissions. The implicit assumption of the New York and San Francisco lawsuits is that the world would become a better place if all emissions of carbon dioxide were stopped. But that position ignores the enormous benefits that come from the use of fossil fuels, which continue to supply over 80 percent of the nation’s energy needs. No other fuel source could keep manufacturing, transportation, and commerce alive. And it is just exaggeration to claim, as the city plaintiffs do, that these oil companies “have done nearly all they could to create [the] existential threat” of global warming when in fact energy efficiency in the United States has consistently improved, particularly in generating electrical power.

No public nuisance suits for global warming can solve a problem that must be addressed by a coherent regulatory program. Instead, chaos will follow if hundreds of different states, counties, and cities are allowed to bring separate actions under state law. It bears emphasis that in 2011, a unanimous Supreme Court decision in American Electric Power Co. v. Connecticut held that the combination of the Clean Air Act and actions by the Environmental Protection Agency “against carbon-dioxide emitters . . . displace the claims that the plaintiffs seek to pursue” under a public nuisance theory brought under federal law. The Court left open the question of whether the federal regulation at the time preempted any state law cause of action for public nuisance.

Summary

But, as I argued at the time, the only viable solution was for the federal government and the EPA to “orchestrate” the effort to control emissions. The point is doubly true against these remote, upstream defendants who have not emitted anything themselves. The standard analysis of federal preemption has long held that states may not engage in their own remedial efforts, even by actions in tort, when extensive federal regulation occupies the field, or when state activity either frustrates federal action or is in conflict with it. If anything, the scope of federal oversight, actual and prospective, is far more comprehensive than it was when American Electric Power was decided. And so federal preemption alone should block a set of dubious public nuisance claims that should never have been brought in the first place.

Background:  Critical Climate Intelligence for Jurists (and others)

How’s Your CCIQ?

 

H/T David Wojick and CFACT

Doctors for Disaster Preparedness are concerned to be ready for real disasters and not be distracted by irrational fears like global warming/climate change. They have provided a useful resource for people to test and deepen their knowledge of an issue distorted for many people by loads of misinformation and exaggerations.

From David Wojick:

A new lesson set called the Climate Change IQ (CCIQ) provides a good skeptical critique of ten top alarmist claims. The format is succinct and non-technical. Each alarmist claim is posed as a question, followed by a short skeptical answer, which is highlighted with a single telling graphic.

Then there is a link to a somewhat longer answer, which in turn includes links to a few online sources of more information. Each lesson is also available in a printable PDF version, suitable for classroom use. This compact format is potentially very useful.

CCIQ comes from a long-standing skeptical group called the Doctors for Disaster Preparedness (DDP). Despite the name, DDP gives attention to pointing out scares that are not disasters waiting to happen. Not surprisingly climate alarmism gets a lot of this attention.

The ten topic questions are wide ranging, including the following. Each speaks to a popular pro-alarmist news hook.

Is climate change the most urgent global health threat?

Are government-sponsored climate scientists the only credible sources of information relating to climate-change policy?

Is the increase in atmospheric CO2 making wildfires worse?

Why can’t all States emulate California’s proposed “clean” energy standards?

What would happen if atmospheric CO2 concentration dropped by half, say to less than 200 ppm?

Are human CO2 emissions acidifying the oceans and endangering shell-making animals?

Will Manhattan and Florida soon be under water if humans do not curtail use of “fossil fuels”?

Do 97% of climate scientists agree that catastrophic climate change will result if humans do not curtail use of “fossil fuels”? (This one includes the dynamite John Christy graph showing the rapidly growing divergence of climate model global temperature forecasts with real world observations.)

Is Arctic ice disappearing?

And the number 1 CCIQ question: Would lowering atmospheric CO2 prevent or mitigate hurricanes?

Check it out. Inquiring minds want to know.

 

This is the January of our ice extent

Click on image to enlarge

Apologies to Shakespeare and Richard III for the title to this post.

The Arctic ice beast is slouching toward mid-March maximum with some peculiarities from the meandering polar vortex.  More on that from Dr. Judah Cohen later on.

A week ago the ice watch post noted the recovery in Okhotsk which has continued and is now above average for the date.  Bering sea ice is below normal and the main reason for lower overall extent this year.

Ice extents for January appear in the graph below; 2018 is shown to January 15, other years for the full month.  11 year average is 2007 to 2017 inclusive.

Click on image to enlarge.

Note that 2007 caught and exceeded the 11 year average ending the month tied.  2018 has now matched 2017 though both lag behind average having started the year in deficit. SII 2018 is running about 200k km2 less than MASIE for the month.

Below is the analysis of regions on day 015.  Average is for 2007 to 2017 inclusive.

Region 2018015 Day 015 
Average
2018-Ave. 2017015 2018-2017
 (0) Northern_Hemisphere 13250556 13887982 -637426 13250750 -194
 (1) Beaufort_Sea 1070445 1070178 267 1070445 0
 (2) Chukchi_Sea 965971 965842 129 964251 1720
 (3) East_Siberian_Sea 1087120 1087134 -14 1087137 -18
 (4) Laptev_Sea 897845 897842 3 897845 0
 (5) Kara_Sea 918904 911229 7675 866224 52680
 (6) Barents_Sea 329631 545176 -215546 334131 -4500
 (7) Greenland_Sea 492704 625241 -132536 544015 -51311
 (8) Baffin_Bay_Gulf_of_St._Lawrence 1181843 1184801 -2957 1284241 -102397
 (9) Canadian_Archipelago 853109 853028 81 853214 -106
 (10) Hudson_Bay 1260838 1252263 8575 1260887 -49
 (11) Central_Arctic 3182898 3216678 -33780 3164223 18676
 (12) Bering_Sea 256467 558895 -302428 253648 2819
 (13) Baltic_Sea 18186 51436 -33249 29954 -11768
 (14) Sea_of_Okhotsk 701953 615696 86257 617141 84813

The core of the Arctic is frozen solid and for the date 2018 is 4.6% below average.  The difference is mainly due to Bering Sea 64% below average and Barents 40% down. The recovering ice in Okhotsk is now above both the average and the extent last year at this time.

Background:  Updated Winter Forecast by Dr. Judah Cohen, January 15, 2018

Dr. Judah Cohen of AER published his current Arctic Oscillation and Polar Vortex Analysis and Forecast on January 15, 2018. His comments are always enlightening, and particularly so this time. Excerpts in italics with my bolds.

In previous blogs, I have often discussed winter 2013/14 as possibly the best analog for this winter so far. I do believe that the stratospheric PV disruption that occurred in late December and the subsequent response in the tropospheric circulation are similar to what occurred repeatedly in winter 2013/14. However, I think the two winters are now diverging. The single large-scale weather feature that signals to me a divergence from this winter and 2013/14 is the widespread area of below normal temperatures across northern Eurasia beginning this week but predicted to become dominant across the continent next week. The last winter where persistent extensive below normal temperatures where observed across Northern Eurasia was winter 2012/13. That is also the last winter that a mid-winter major warming was observed (where the mean zonal wind reverses at 60°N and at 10hPa), which occurred the second week in January. I do consider that a major warming occurred in 2015/16 but that was in March and subsequently dovetailed into a final warming.

There are signs that a disruption of the stratospheric PV will occur but the timing and magnitude remains uncertain. But based on the anticipated widespread area of below normal temperatures across Northern Eurasia I do believe that the most significant stratospheric PV disruption of the winter is likely in the coming weeks. Our polar vortex forecast model predicts that the PV disruption will peak the second week of February. The model is speculative but a marker to watch. This anticipated stratospheric disruption is likely to differ from the stratospheric PV disruption in late December where the resultant below normal temperatures were focused across North America while much of Eurasia remained relatively mild. If I am correct that a subsequent stratospheric PV disruption will be more significant than the one in December, then I expect the focus of the resultant cold temperatures to be across northern Eurasia, especially Siberia. Temperatures would likely average below normal across much of Siberia and likely elsewhere across northern Eurasia, possibly through the end of February.

The impacts of a more significant stratospheric PV disruption would be less certain across North America. Still I would consider such a PV disruption to increase the probability of cold temperatures following the disruption across eastern North America. Following the mid-winter major warming in January 2013 temperatures initially turned cold across the Western US but the core of below normal temperatures migrated east as the winter progressed. The Global Forecast System (GFS) is predicting the core of below normal temperatures to be focused in Western Canada during the second half of January. However, my expectation would be for the core of the below normal temperatures to slowly migrate southeastward with time and as of now I favor a relatively cold February in southeastern Canada and the Eastern US.

A wild card in North American weather all winter has been ridging/blocking in the North Pacific. For the first half of the winter it was centered in the Gulf of Alaska and along the west coast of North America, contributing to warm temperatures in western North America but cold temperatures in eastern North America. Latest weather model runs are predicting a westward retrogression of this blocking closer to the Aleutians. This position favors cold temperatures in western North America but warm temperatures in eastern North America. And cold temperatures may be focused in western North America for the remainder of the winter if the ridging remains near the Aleutians but I expect that an eventual PV disruption will at least partially offset or cancel warming forced by the central North Pacific ridging.

 

Whichever fork of the road the ice takes, the Polar Bears had a very happy New Years Day.

 

 

The Children’s Climate Lawsuit Harms The Children

When launching a boomerang, watch out when it comes back on you.

This post provides further perspective and some legal background regarding the lawsuit campaign by Hansen et al fronted by idealistic children.  First an article at Investor’s Business Daily points out how the lawsuit is not in the best interest of present or future generations: The Children’s Climate Lawsuit Against The Children  Excerpts with my bolds below from Benjamin Zycher Jan. 12, 2018

Litigation may be as American as apple pie, but some lawsuits are so destructive that they stand out even among the hugely expensive wreckage wrought by our legal system. The most prominent current example is the “children’s” climate lawsuit (Juliana v U.S.): A group of kids, including “future generations, through their guardian Dr. James Hansen,” claim that the government’s actions and failures to act have caused climate change, thus violating the youngest generation’s constitutional rights to life, liberty and property, and have failed to protect essential public trust resources.

First the Policy Concerns the People’s Interest not the Judges

I leave the numerous legal issues to the lawyers (see backgrounder further on), although precisely how the ineffable Hansen came to be the “guardian” for future generations is a question both fascinating and amusing. Instead, it is crucial to recognize first that the fundamental policy assumption underlying this lawsuit — we can make “the children” better off by making them poorer — is preposterous.

More generally, the lawsuit is a blatant attempt to circumvent democratic processes, in terms of both the Congressional power to make policy and the authority of the president to implement it.

Climate policies — mandated reductions in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions — by and large are energy policies, and the constitution is silent on which such policies would serve the interests of future generations, or on the appropriate tradeoffs between the interests of “the children” and the adults alive in the here and now.

Those are policy questions, and this attempt to induce judges to interfere with Congress’ legislative powers is deeply destructive of our constitutional institutions. Should “the children” not be concerned about that? Why are “the children” not suing about, say, the national debt?

Second CO2 is Not a Pollutant

The claim about the protection of “essential public trust resources” boils down to an assertion that carbon dioxide is a “pollutant.” No, it is not: A certain minimum atmospheric concentration of it is necessary for life itself. (Merely look at NASA’s time-lapse photo of the earth’s greening over the last 30-plus years.) By far the most important GHG is water vapor; does anyone claim that it is a “pollutant?” Obviously not, and not because ocean evaporation is a natural process; so are volcanic eruptions, and the massive amounts of effluents emitted by volcanoes are pollutants by any definition.

Third Energy Poverty Shortens Lives 

Consider a homo sapiens baby born in a cave some tens of thousands of years ago, in a world with environmental quality effectively untouched by mankind. That child at birth would have had a life expectancy on the order of ten years; had it been able to choose, it is obvious that it willingly would have given up some environmental quality in exchange for better housing, food, water, medical care, safety, ad infinitum. That is, it is obvious that people willingly choose to give up some environmental quality in exchange for a life both longer and wealthier.

The Lawsuit Will Make Future Generations Worse Off

In other words, the children’s lawsuit is inconsistent with actual interests of future generations, as the obvious underlying assumption is that future generations would prefer the purest possible environmental quality. That is not correct: Future generations want to inherit the most valuable possible capital stock in all of its myriad dimensions, among which environmental quality is one important component among many, and among all of which there are tradeoffs that cannot be avoided.

Is it the position of the attorneys representing “the children” that making energy more rather than less expensive unambiguously would make future generations better off? In order for future generations to receive the most valuable possible capital stock, the current generation must consume and invest resources most productively.

If regulatory and other policies implemented by the current generation yield less wealth now and a smaller total capital stock for future generations, then more resource consumption and more emissions of effluents currently would be preferred from the viewpoint of those future generations.

Lawsuit Asserts Facts Not in Evidence

That is only the beginning of the problematic factual assertions and assumptions underlying the children’s lawsuit. The measurable effects of increasing GHG concentrations are far smaller than the climate models would lead one to believe. The degree to which recent warming has been anthropogenic is unsettled in the scientific literature; and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in its fifth assessment report (AR5) has reduced its estimated range of the effect in 2100 of a doubling of GHG concentrations from 2.0–4.5 to 1.5–4.5 degrees C.

There actually is little evidence of strong climate effects attendant upon increasing GHG concentrations, in terms of sea levels; Arctic and Antarctic sea ice; tornado activity; tropical cyclones; U.S. wildfires; drought; and flooding. IPCC in the AR5 is deeply dubious (Table 12.4) about the various severe effects often hypothesized (or asserted) as future impacts of increasing GHG concentrations.

One might assume that the facts underlying a lawsuit ought to be consistent with its central claims; one would be wrong. And wrong again if one assumes that the policy objective would make an actual difference: The Paris agreement with full U.S. participation would reduce temperatures by 2100 by seventeen one-hundredths of a degree. The U.S. contribution would be fifteen one-thousandths of a degree. Add another one one-hundredth of a degree if you believe that the Obama pseudo-agreement with China is meaningful. (It is not.)

Children Used by Environmental Ideologues

Precisely what is the children’s climate lawsuit trying to achieve? It cannot be protection of our constitutional principles, or protection of future generations, or environmental improvement. Only one possibility remains: It is part of the long-term effort by the environmental left to use any means possible to exert control over other people’s property, economic choices, and lifestyles. The plaintiff attorneys are happy to participate in a litigation process in which “the children” are irrelevant.

Legal Context

For those interested in the legalities Andrew Varcoe provides a Legal Backgrounder published at the Washington Legal Foundation Does the Constitution Provide a Substantive Due-Process Right to a Stable Climate System?  Excepts below with my bolds.

Americans have many views on the causes and severity of climate change—and on the pros and cons of conceivable policy responses. But most Americans would likely react with some measure of surprise to one suggested solution—the notion that individual citizens have a constitutional right, enforceable by judicial diktat, to a stable climate system. Surprising or no, this suggestion has landed in the lap of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. In June, the Department of Justice (DOJ) filed a mandamus petition in that court in Juliana v. United States, a lawsuit pending in federal district court in Oregon.

The Juliana plaintiffs claim a substantive due-process right— a fundamental, unenumerated right—to a stable climate. They also argue that the federal government has an enforceable public-trust duty to protect the atmosphere and other resources from climate change. DOJ’s mandamus petition asks the Ninth Circuit to direct the district court to dismiss the Juliana case. Although the Trump Administration filed the mandamus petition, the Obama Administration had asserted the same basic jurisdictional and merits arguments before the district court.

The Ninth Circuit may rule on the petition soon. While this litigation presents several important questions, this Legal Backgrounder focuses only on the core merits question whether there is a fundamental, unenumerated right to a stable climate system protected by the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment.

1. It seems unlikely that a Ninth Circuit panel would recognize a constitutional right to a stable climate system.

A mandamus petition is a request for extraordinary relief. The Ninth Circuit has various options for ruling on the government’s petition without reaching the merits. That said, if the court were to reach the merits now, it seems likely that the court would hold that there is no fundamental right to be protected against climate change. As a general matter, federal courts are rightly reluctant to create or recognize new fundamental rights protected by substantive due process. As the Supreme Court has said, judges must “exercise the utmost care whenever we are asked to break new ground in this field, lest the liberty protected by the Due Process Clause be subtly transformed” into judges’ “policy preferences,” and place great public questions “outside the arena of public debate and legislative action.

Older lower court decisions are consistent with the view that interests related to pollution and climate change are not protected by substantive due process. See Nat’l Sea Clammers Ass’n v. City of New York, 616 F.2d 1222, 1238 (3d Cir. 1980) (Constitution protects no “right to a pollution-free environment”), vacated in part on other grounds sub nom. Middlesex Cty. Sewerage Auth. v. Nat’l Sea Clammers Ass’n, 453 U.S. 1 (1981).

Prudential factors militate against crafting a new constitutional right in the air pollution context. Congress has already enacted a comprehensive statute to regulate air pollution—the Clean Air Act (CAA)—and has amended it over several decades. After the Supreme Court held that the Act authorizes federal regulation of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, see Massachusetts v. EPA, 549 U.S. 497, 532 (2007), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) began regulating such emissions. Despite recent political changes, EPA has not proposed to stop regulating GHG emissions.

Congress is free to override federal common law, but not a constitutional precedent. For example, the plaintiffs want the district court to determine “the minimum safe level of atmospheric CO2 concentrations” and the “timeframe” for achieving that level. But what if the court misses the mark in doing so? Congress and the President would have no power to override such an error.

2. It also seems unlikely that the Ninth Circuit would extend the state-created danger doctrine to climate change.

The Juliana plaintiffs invoke a different strand of substantive due process when they rely on the state-created danger doctrine. Under that doctrine, a governmental entity takes on a constitutional duty to an individual whom it places in peril in deliberate indifference to his or her safety.5 The Juliana plaintiffs argue that the defendants or their predecessors assumed such a duty when they “authorized, permitted, and promoted the extraction, transportation, and combustion of fossil fuels for decades with full knowledge that such activities would manifest unique and personalized injuries to individuals.” This argument could be seen as an extrapolation from the constitutional rights to life, liberty, and property. Nonetheless, as applied to climate change, the argument is fundamentally problematic for several reasons.

First, the state-created danger doctrine covers dangers attributable to government actions, not to government omissions. See DeShaney v. Winnebago County Dept. of Social Services, 489 U.S. 189, 195, 197-203 (1989). The doctrine provides no remedy for failures to regulate private activity. Second, even when limited to government actions, the plaintiffs’ argument would expand the state-created danger doctrine so radically as to make it unrecognizable and unworkable. The argument proves too much. Courts have applied the doctrine to government actions that cause direct physical harm to individuals— typically, actions by law enforcement officers or other government agents. But climate change is immeasurably more complex than such incidents. Climate change is a kind of global mass tort, with diffuse and innumerable causes and impacts, involving a very large number of potential wrongdoers and victims.

Andrew R. Varcoe is a Partner with Boyden Gray & Associates, PLLC, in Washington, D.C. The firm’s clients and lawyers have a mix of views on climate change policy issues. Mr. Varcoe thanks his colleagues, and Professor Douglas A. Kysar, for their contributions to the ideas in this Legal Backgrounder; he alone is responsible for any errors.

Footnote:  More on Children’s Trust and Lawsuits see Climate War Human Shields

Pipeline Justice Grinding Slowly

Wheels of justice grind slow but grind fine — Sun Tzu, Art of War

An update on pipeline disruption cases is provided by Blake Nicholson, Associated Press, January 9, 2018, in Great Falls Tribune: Court cases from coordinated 2016 pipeline protest delayed. Excerpts below with my bolds.

BISMARCK, N.D. — Several court cases stemming from a coordinated pipeline protest in four states have been delayed, including one where an appeals court is deciding whether to allow two women to argue their law-breaking was necessary to prevent a greater harm.

Eleven activists with the group Climate Direct Action were arrested on Oct. 11, 2016, when they tried to either shut down pipelines in North Dakota, Minnesota, Montana and Washington state or film the attempts. The activists said they were protesting fossil fuels and supporting people demonstrating against the Dakota Access oil pipeline, which was still under construction.

The activists broke into private property and turned shutoff valves at five pipelines that moved oil from Canada to the U.S.

In Minnesota, prosecutors have asked a state appeals court to reverse a judge’s ruling that would allow two women to use the so-called necessity defense. The defense is popular among environmental activists who argue that global warming caused by fossil fuels is the greater harm, though legal experts say it’s a long-shot defense.

The appeal delayed the December trial of Seattle-area residents Emily Johnston and Annette Klapstein, who are accused of closing valves on two pipelines in northwestern Minnesota. The trial hasn’t been rescheduled, and their attorney said he doesn’t expect a resolution on the appeal until spring.

Sentencing has been delayed for two men who were barred from using necessity-defense arguments. Leonard Higgins of Portland, Oregon, was convicted in November of criminal mischief and trespassing in Montana; his January sentencing was pushed to March 20 after his attorneys asked for more time, according to court documents. Seattle resident Michael Foster also was set for sentencing this month in North Dakota but the hearing was moved to February because of a timing conflict.

A Washington state case was resolved last year when Ken Ward, of Corbett, Oregon, was convicted of burglary and sentenced to two days in jail plus community supervision and community service. He, too, wasn’t allowed to use the necessity defense.

The six other arrested activists were accused of filming the vandalism. Prosecutors dropped charges against two of them in Washington. Trials are pending for two others in Minnesota and one in Montana, and one activist is to be sentenced in North Dakota the same day as Foster.

Summary

Actually, I don’t mind them taking it slow, so long as they get it right.  Still, putting global warming on trial during this winter weather would have provided at least poetic justice, less so in springtime.

Background:

On civil disobedience by climate activists:

A Valve Turner’s Trial: Mostly guilty

Minnesota judge allows ‘necessity defense’ in pipeline case

On the Judiciary unprepared for such cases: Critical Climate Intelligence for Jurists (and others)

 

Rise and Fall of CAGW

 

On January 8, 2018 Ross Pomeroy published  at RealClearScience an interesting article The Six Stages of a Failed Psychological Theory

The Pomeroy essay focuses on theories in the field of psychology and describes stages through which they rise, become accepted, challenged and discarded. It has long seemed to me that global warming/climate change theory properly belongs in the field of social studies and thus should demonstrate a similar cycle.

Formerly known as CAGW (catastrophic anthropogenic global warming), the notion of “climate change” is logically a subject of social science rather than physical science. “Climate Change” is a double abstraction: it refers to the derivative (change) in our expectations (patterns) of weather. Thus studies of “Climate Change” are properly a branch of Environmental Sociology.

As a social psychology theory, CAGW/climate change bundles together three interdependent assertions.

From the beginning the claimed science, impacts and policies were bundled, which makes CAGW theory unusual. Psychological theories do not typically give rise to activism for changes in social and political policies. Thus the six stages above focus on the rise and fall of a scientific conclusion, with little or no reference to impacts and policies. At the end of this post are links to resources regarding these latter two points.

Examples of Failed Psychology Theories: The “Backfire Effect” and others

Ross Pomeroy (my bolds):
With the publication of his exhaustingly researched and skillfully reported article, “LOL Something Matters,” science writer Daniel Engber convincingly demonstrated that the “backfire effect,” the notion that contradictory evidence only strengthens entrenched beliefs, does not hold up under rigorous scientific scrutiny. Bluntly stated, the “backfire effect” probably isn’t real.

The debunking of this longstanding psychological theory follows similar academic takedowns of ego depletion, social priming, power posing, and a plethora of other famous findings. Indeed, much of what we “know” in psychology seems to be false.

There’s a good reason for this: psychology, as a discipline, is a house made of sand, based on analyzing inherently fickle human behavior, held together with poorly-defined concepts, and explored with often scant methodological rigor. Indeed, there’s a strong case to be made that psychology is barely a science.

How Theories Advance and Collapse

Seeing how disarray defines psychology, it makes perfect sense that the field’s leading theories are vulnerable to collapse. Having watched this process play out a number of times, a clear pattern has emerged. Let’s call it the “Six Stages of a Failed Psychological or Sociological Theory.”

Stage 1: The Flashy Finding. An intriguing report is published with subject matter that lends itself to water cooler conversation, say, for example, that sticking a pen in your mouth to force a smile makes things seem funnier. Media outlets provide gushing coverage.

Stage 1 CAGW Theory

For Climate Change, by many accounts the flashy finding was James Hansen’s famous 1988 testimony in the US Senate. Hansen’s claim to detect global warming was covered by all the main television network news services and it won for him a New York Times front page headline: “Global warming has begun, expert tells Senate.”

While Hansen’s appearance was a PR coup, he actually jumped the gun.  By 1995 IPCC scientists had not yet agreed that humans are causing global warming.  The story of that problem and the subsequent claim of first detection by John Houghton and Ben Santer is described in detail in Bernie Lewin’s fine historical account. (My synopsis is linked at the end.)

So in this sense, the actual Flashy Finding was published by Santer et al. just before Rio COP in Nature July 1996 entitled: A search for human influences on the thermal structure of the atmosphere
B. D. Santer, K. E. Taylor, T. M. L. Wigley, T. C. Johns, P. D. Jones, D. J. Karoly, J. F. B. Mitchell, A. H. Oort, J. E. Penner, V. Ramaswamy, M. D. Schwarzkopf, R. J. Stouffer & S. Tett  From the abstract:

The observed spatial patterns of temperature change in the free atmosphere from 1963 to 1987 are similar to those predicted by state-of-the-art climate models incorporating various combinations of changes in carbon dioxide, anthropogenic sulphate aerosol and stratospheric ozone concentrations. The degree of pattern similarity between models and observations increases through this period. It is likely that this trend is partially due to human activities, although many uncertainties remain, particularly relating to estimates of natural variability.

An article published the same month in World Climate Report was entitled:“Clearest Evidence” For Human “Fingerprint?” Results clouded if more complete data used  The WCR essay concluded:

We are frankly rather amazed that this paper could have emerged into the refereed literature in its present state; that is not to say that the work is bad, but that there are serious questions—similar to ours—that the reviewers should have asked.

The inescapable conclusions:

1. The vast majority of the “fingerprints” of the greenhouse effect are found way up in the atmosphere, especially in the stratosphere.

2. The “detection” models that were used either don’t predict very much future warming or were run with the wrong greenhouse effect and produce absurd results when the right numbers are put in.

3.And finally, down here in the lower atmosphere, the evidence is much more smudged and is based upon a highly selected set of data that, when viewed in toto, shows something dramatically different than what the paper purports.

The period that Santer et al. studied corresponds precisely with a profound warming trend in this region. But when all of the data (1957 to 1995) are included, there’s no trend whatsoever! We don’t know what to call this, but we believe that at least one of the 13 prestigious authors on this paper must have known this to be the case.

Stage 2: The Fawning Replications. Other psychologists, usually in the early stages of their careers, leap to replicate the finding. Most of their studies corroborate the effect. Those that don’t are not published, perhaps because the researchers don’t want to step on any toes, or because journal editors would prefer not to publish negative findings.

Stage 2 CAGW Theory

Following the human detection claim, the media increasingly filled its time and pages with reports of “multiple lines of evidence” proving CAGW.  Typically these consisted of :

Global temperature rise
Warming oceans
Shrinking ice sheets
Glacial retreat
Decreased snow cover
Sea level rise
Declining Arctic sea ice
Extreme events
Ocean acidification

However, all of these are equivocal, involving signal and noise issues.  And in any case, the fact of any changes does not in itself prove human causation.

Overview of the structure of a state-of-the-art climate model. From the NOAA website.

As suggested by the Santer et al. flashy finding, the claim of human causation was based upon climate models.  And the effort to substantiate that claim was primarily a campaign to construct and experiment with GCMs.  From History of climate modeling by Paul N. Edwards .

Like ripples moving outward from the three pioneering groups (GFDL, UCLA, and NCAR), modelers, dynamical cores, model physics, numerical methods, and GCM computer code soon began to circulate around the world. By the early 1970s, a large number of institutions had established new general circulation modeling programs. In addition to those discussed above, the most active climate modeling centers today include Britain’s Hadley Centre, Germany’s Max Planck Institute, Japan’s Earth Simulator Centre, and the Goddard Institute for Space Studies in the United States..

How many GCMs and climate modeling groups exist worldwide? The exact number can be expanded or contracted under various criteria. About 33 groups submitted GCM output to the Atmospheric Model Intercomparison Project (AMIP) in the 1990s.A few years later, however, only about 25 groups contributed coupled AOGCM outputs to the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP)—reflecting the greater complexity and larger computational requirements of coupled models.  Notably, while the AMIP models included entries from Russia, Canada, Taiwan, China, and Korea, all of the CMIP simulations came from modeling groups based in Europe, Japan, Australia, and the USA, the historical leaders in climate modeling.

The difficulties and uncertainties with climate models have been long understood, and have not been overcome  through the decades, as indicated by the failure to reduce the range estimates of climate sensitivity to CO2.  From Modeling climatic effects of anthropogenic carbon dioxide emissions: unknowns and uncertainties Willie Soon et al.

Specifically, we review common deficiencies in general circulation model (GCM) calculations of atmospheric temperature, surface temperature, precipitation and their spatial and temporal variability. These deficiencies arise from complex problems associated with parameterization of multiply interacting climate components, forcings and feedbacks, involving especially clouds and oceans. We also review examples of expected climatic impacts from anthropogenic CO2 forcing.

Given the host of uncertainties and unknowns in the difficult but important task of climate modeling, the unique attribution of observed current climate change to increased atmospheric CO2 concentration, including the relatively well-observed latest 20 yr, is not possible. We further conclude that the incautious use of GCMs to make future climate projections from incomplete or unknown forcing scenarios is antithetical to the intrinsically heuristic value of models. Such uncritical application of climate models has led to the commonly held but erroneous impression that modeling has proven or substantiated the hypothesis that CO2 added to the air has caused or will cause significant global warming.

Stage 3: A Consensus Forms. The finding is now taken for granted, regularly appearing in pop psychology stories and books penned by writers like Malcolm Gladwell or Jonah Lehrer. Millions of people read about it and “armchair” explain it to their friends and family.

Stage 3 CAGW Theory  

The Claims of 97% Consensus of scientists on the question of CAGW stem from five papers, conveniently referenced on NASA’s website.

The first claim of 97% came from a survey sample of 77 climate scientists who said “Yes” to 2 statements: “It has warmed since 1850.”; “Human activity has contributed to the warming.” That survey questionnaire was deliberately not sent to those known to be skeptical: scientists not employed by government or universities; astronomers; solar scientists; physicists; meteorologists.

Another paper noted by NASA on their website is by W. R. L. Anderegg, at the time a PhD student in the department of Biology at Stanford University. He went on to become a professor at Princeton and Utah Universities in the field of ecology and biological sciences, studying the effects of global warming on forests.

Two papers were produced by John Cook  who has an undergraduate education in physics from the University of Queensland and a post-graduate honors year studying solar physics, worked as a self-employed cartoonist before founding a website pushing climate alarmism. For this he was given the title of the Climate Communication Fellow for the Global Change Institute at the University of Queensland. He is currently completing a PhD in cognitive psychology, researching how people think about climate change.

Finally, a key paper was from Naomi Oreskes who received her PhD degree in the Graduate Special Program in Geological Research and History of Science at Stanford in 1990. Her fields are History of Science and Economic Geology, and she is a prominent activist for IPCC activities.

All five of these papers have been extensively criticized in the peer-reviewed literature for their poor quality. For example:

Regarding Anderegg et al. and climate change credibility, PNAS, Dec. 28, 2010 by Lawrence Bodenstein

The study by Anderegg et al. (1) employed suspect methodology that treated publication metrics as a surrogate for expertise.

In the climate change (CC) controversy, a priori, one expects that the much larger and more “politically correct” side would excel in certain publication metrics. They continue to cite each other’s work in an upward spiral of self-affirmation.

Here, we do not have homogeneous consensus absent a few crackpot dissenters. There is variation among the majority, and a minority, with core competency, who question some underlying premises. It would seem more profitable to critique the scientific evidence than count up scientists, publications, and the like.

Regarding purely scientific questions, it may be justified to discount nonexperts. However, here, dissenters included established climate researchers. The article undermined their expert standing and then, extrapolated expertise to the more personal credibility. Using these methods to portray certain researchers as not credible and, by implication, to be ignored is highly questionable. Tarring them as individuals by group metrics is unwarranted.

Publication of this article as an objective scientific study does a true disservice to scientific discourse. Prominent scientific journals must focus on scientific merit without sway from extracurricular forces. They must remain cautious about lending their imprimatur to works that seem more about agenda and less about science, more about promoting a certain dogma and less about using all of the evidence to better our understanding of the natural world.

A more complete list of published papers refuting these studies is here: All “97% Consensus” Studies Refuted by Peer-Review

More inclusive surveys with more pointed questions show much more diverse opinions. Most scientists agree it has warmed since 1850, the end of the Little Ice Age. Geologists have evidence that the earth was warmer than now during the Medieval Warm Period, more warm during the Roman Warm Period, warmer still in the Minoan period. So the overall trend is a cooling over the last 11,500 years.

Most agree that human land use, such as making dams, farming, building cities, airports and highways, all affect the climate in those locations. The idea that rising CO2 is causing dangerous warming is controversial, with dissenters a large minority.

Stage 4: The Rebuttal. After a few decades, a new generation of researchers look to make a splash by questioning prevailing wisdom. One team produces a more methodologically-sound study that debunks the initial finding. Media outlets blare the “counterintuitive” discovery.

Stage 4 CAGW Theory  

There have been many rebuttals of CAGW theory and in the blogosphere they are proclaimed and shared among skeptics.  But it is still rare for mass media outlets to acknowledge any finding that contradicts the prevailing “consensus” view of CAGW.  On the multiple lines of evidence, the NIPCC series of reports provide references to a trove of peer-reviewed literature that do not support CAGW.  The most recent report is Climate Change Reconsidered II and the list of scientists, authors and reviewers includes people who have objected to CAGW over the years.

An important proof against the CO2 global warming claim was included in John Christy’s testimony 29 March 2017 at the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology. The text below is from that document which can be accessed here.

Figure 5. Simplification of IPCC AR5 shown above in Fig. 4. The colored lines represent the range of results for the models and observations. The trends here represent trends at different levels of the tropical atmosphere from the surface up to 50,000 ft. The gray lines are the bounds for the range of observations, the blue for the range of IPCC model results without extra GHGs and the red for IPCC model results with extra GHGs.The key point displayed is the lack of overlap between the GHG model results (red) and the observations (gray). The nonGHG model runs (blue) overlap the observations almost completely.

Main Point: IPCC Assessment Reports show that the IPCC climate models performed best versus observations when they did not include extra GHGs and this result can be demonstrated with a statistical model as well.

More discussion on this rebuttal is at Warming from CO2 Unlikely

But the mass media is still in thrall of the catastrophic theory (bad news is good for business).

Stage 5: Proper Replications Pour In. Research groups attempt to replicate the initial research with the skepticism and precise methodology that should’ve been used in the first place. As such, the vast majority fail to find any effect.

Stage 5 CAGW Theory

In the case of climate change, the rewards are all skewed in favor of CAGW.  Not only is that bundle of beliefs politically correct, the monopoly of research funding for consensus projects leaves contrarian scientists high and dry.  And to the degree that the case rests on complex and expensive computer climate models, few centers are in a position to challenge the conventional wisdom, and almost none would be rewarded for doing so.

Despite this, every year there are hundreds of new research papers published challenging CAGW.  Kenneth Richard at No Tricks Zone has done yeoman work compiling and summarizing and linking to such studies. His most recent review is  485 Scientific Papers Published In 2017 Support A Skeptical Position On Climate Alarm

The papers are sorted into four categories of views questioning climate alarm.

N(1) Natural mechanisms play well more than a negligible role (as claimed by the IPCC) in the net changes in the climate system, which includes temperature variations, precipitation patterns, weather events, etc., and the influence of increased CO2 concentrations on climatic changes are less pronounced than currently imagined.

N(2) The warming/sea levels/glacier and sea ice retreat/hurricane and drought intensities…experienced during the modern era are neither unprecedented or remarkable, nor do they fall outside the range of natural variability, as clearly shown in the first 150 graphs (from 2017) on this list.

N(3) The computer climate models are not reliable or consistently accurate, and projections of future climate states are little more than speculation as the uncertainty and error ranges are enormous in a non-linear climate system.

N(4) Current emissions-mitigation policies, especially related to the advocacy for renewables, are often ineffective and even harmful to the environment, whereas elevated CO2 and a warmer climate provide unheralded benefits to the biosphere (i.e., a greener planet and enhanced crop yields).

As for climate models, there is a single center (the Russian Institute of Numerical Mathematics), working on GCMs that produce unalarming results.  Out of 33 CMIP5 generation models the INMCM4 appears in the earlier graph above as the only one tracking close to temperature observations.  And reports of the upgrade to INMCM5 appear promising.  For more on this topic:

Climate Model Upgraded: INMCM5 Under the Hood

Stage 6: The Theory Lives On as a Zombie. Despite being debunked, the theory lingers on in published scientific studies, popular books, outdated webpages, and common “wisdom.” Adherents in academia cling on in a state of denial – their egos depend upon it.

Stage 6 CAGW Theory 

Clearly, we are still a long ways from CAGW going to zombie status.  There is still way too much money and fame attached to climate advocacy. But it is fair to say that the position of CAGW has become more precarious.  The presence of a skeptical US President, and the withdrawal of funding and political support for alarmists makes it possible for others to express doubts and explore flaws in the consensus theory.  The collapse of green energy schemes in places like Germany and Australia may also portend the onset of stage six.

Of course, the only sure sign of a theory’s failure is when it becomes the butt of jokes and ridicule in mainstream media.  For that I do appreciate the work of cartoonist Rick McKee of the Augusta Chronicle:

More humor at Cavemen Climate Comics for Sunday

Background Articles

The Flashy Finding: Progressively Scaring the World (Lewin book synopsis)

The Fawning Replications: Climate Models Explained

A Consensus Forms: Talking ClimateNASA and Climate Dogma

The Rebuttal: Fossil Fuels ≠ Global Warming

Proper Replications: Climate Reductionism

Zombie CAGW:  Climate Policies Failure, the Movie

Postscript: Charles MacKay on Collective Delusions

Of course the classical masterwork in this field is the book Extraordinary Popular Delusions And The Madness Of Crowds By Charles MacKay 1841.  Title is link to full pdf text.  Excerpts below with my bolds.

In the present state of civilization, society has often shown itself very prone to run a career of folly from the last-mentioned cases. This infatuation has seized upon whole nations in a most extraordinary manner. France, with her Mississippi madness, set the first great example, and was very soon imitated by England with her South Sea Bubble. At an earlier period, Holland made herself still more ridiculous in the eyes of the world, by the frenzy which came over her people for the love of Tulips. Melancholy as all these delusions were in their ultimate results, their history is most amusing. A more ludicrous and yet painful spectacle, than that which Holland presented in the years 1635 and 1636, or France in 1719 and 1720, can hardly be imagined.

Some delusions, though notorious to all the world, have subsisted for ages, flourishing as widely among civilized and polished nations as among the early barbarians with whom they originated, — that of duelling, for instance, and the belief in omens and divination of the future, which seem to defy the progress of knowledge to eradicate entirely from the popular mind. Money, again, has often been a cause of the delusion of multitudes. Sober nations have all at once become desperate gamblers, and risked almost their existence upon the turn of a piece of paper. To trace the history of the most prominent of these delusions is the object of the present pages. Men, it has been well said, think in herds; it will be seen that they go mad in herds, while they only recover their senses slowly, and one by one.

MacKay’s study was exhaustive for its time, comprising three volumes;

VOL I. Considered National Delusions, including:
THE MISSISSIPPI SCHEME
THE SOUTH SEA BUBBLE
THE TULIPOMANIA.
RELICS.
MODERN PROPHECIES.
POPULAR ADMIRATION FOR GREAT THIEVES.
INFLUENCE OF POLITICS AND RELIGION ON THE HAIR AND BEARD.
DUELS AND ORDEALS
THE LOVE OF THE MARVELLOUS AND THE DISBELIEF OF THE TRUE.
POPULAR FOLLIES IN GREAT CITIES
THE O.P. MANIA.
THE THUGS, or PHANSIGARS.

VOL. II described Peculiar Follies, including:
THE CRUSADES
THE WITCH MANIA.
THE SLOW POISONERS.
HAUNTED HOUSES.

VOL. III compiled more general popular madnesses under three categories:
BOOK I: Philosophical Delusions, down through history with particular recent attention to Alchemists
BOOK II: Fortune Telling
BOOK III: The Magnetisers, a fad only subsiding when the book was written.

Okhotsk Shuffle Jan. 9

Click on image to enlarge.

Coinciding with the Siberian air freezing Niagara Falls and extending frigid temperatures as far south as Carolina, Arctic ice extent got quite variable in the North Pacific, especially in Okhotsk on the left.  The image above shows how ice in that basin shuffled forward, backward and forward again.

Mid-December Okhotsk Sea on the left began growing ice steadily to reach half of 2017 March max, then inexplicably lost over 300k km2 of ice in just four days. In the last nine days it more than gained back the loss.  Meanwhile, Chukchi (upper right) was frozen completely, then retreated, and now closed again.  Bering Sea on the right has been advancing steadily but more slowly than average.

Ice extents for January appear in the graph below; 2018 is shown to date, other years for the full month.  11 year average is 2007 to 2017 inclusive.

Note that 2007 catches and exceeds the 11 year average ending the month tied.  2017 and 2018 are adding ice at nearly average rate but started with deficits to average. SII 2018 has fallen further behind.

Below is the analysis of regions on day 008.  Average is for 2007 to 2017 inclusive.

Region 2018008 Day 008 
Average
2017-Ave. 2017008 2018-2017
 (0) Northern_Hemisphere 13019244 13560397 -541153 13194225 -174981
 (1) Beaufort_Sea 1070445 1070178 267 1070445 0
 (2) Chukchi_Sea 965971 966005 -34 966006 -35
 (3) East_Siberian_Sea 1087120 1087136 -16 1087137 -18
 (4) Laptev_Sea 897845 897842 3 897845 0
 (5) Kara_Sea 888549 920916 -32367 917704 -29156
 (6) Barents_Sea 343580 486463 -142883 306884 36696
 (7) Greenland_Sea 551915 599604 -47690 518372 33543
 (8) Baffin_Bay_Gulf_of_St._Lawrence 1044045 1063947 -19902 1199200 -155154
 (9) Canadian_Archipelago 853109 853040 69 853214 -106
 (10) Hudson_Bay 1260838 1241598 19240 1260887 -49
 (11) Central_Arctic 3202818 3207336 -4518 3125131 77687
 (12) Bering_Sea 212150 544302 -332152 165702 46449
 (13) Baltic_Sea 18026 42662 -24636 22885 -4859
 (14) Sea_of_Okhotsk 593649 537888 55760 783663 -190014

Note that 2018 deficit to average comes mostly from Bering and Barents Seas. The recovering ice in Okhotsk is now above average but still below last year, when Okhotsk accounts for the difference.

Background:  Updated Winter Forecast by Dr. Judah Cohen, January 8, 2018

Dr. Judah Cohen of AER published his current Arctic Oscillation and Polar Vortex Analysis and Forecast on January 8, 2018. His comments are always enlightening, and particularly so this time. Excerpts in italics with my bolds.

A minor but regionally very impactful stratospheric PV disruption promoted persistent cross polar flow that emptied Siberia of its cold air and carried it on a direct route to Southeastern Canada and the Northeastern US over the past two weeks. The historic cold of the past two weeks has placed the Eastern US in a position to finish with a cold winter but in no way, has guaranteed the outcome. I am of the opinion that for the winter in the Eastern US to finish with an overall cold solution then at least one other stratospheric PV is necessary but still may not be sufficient. Given the magnitude of the most recent cold air outbreak either a minor or major PV disruption could be enough to ensure a cold winter in aggregate over the three months from December through February.

I would argue that whether the winter will finish in the warm or cold column is science vs. art (at least my own artistic rendition). The science says that the second half of winter will be warm across the Eastern US including the remainder of January and all of February. All dynamical forecasts including most climate forecast system (CFS) forecasts, the national multi-model ensemble (NMME) and the European models all forecast warm see Figure i).

My own instinct tells me the winter will end in the cold column. Of course, the AER winter forecast predicts a cold winter based on Siberian snow cover, Arctic sea ice and tropospheric precursors. But my instinct or gut feeling is based on different metrics – the period of cold, northeastern snowfall and temperature records.

There have been some famously cold Decembers followed by a relatively mild remainder of winter. The two that most readily come to my mind are winters 1983/84 and 1989/90. One more recent but not as dramatic was winter 2005/06. And if my recollection is correct, those cold Decembers transitioned from cold to mild around the holiday season. I cannot recall a mild winter when the cold from December extended into January.

The second is significant snowfall in the I95 corridor. Again, I can’t recall a snowstorm this early in the season of the magnitude of this week’s blizzard occurring during mild winters. I certainly can’t recall any in 1983/84, 1989/90 or 2005/06, though in that last winter there was significant snowfall in February.

Finally, are record temperatures mostly in January. It seems to me that record cold or warm temperatures are an early indication of the overall winter anomaly. Record warm temperatures occur in an overall warm winters and record cold temperatures in an overall cold winter and less so vice versa. I do believe fairly strongly that Nature likes to foreshadow and those are some of the foreshadowing markers that I follow.

Interestingly below normal or convergence of vertical Wave Activity Flux (WAFz) is predicted in the troposphere for next week. This actually favors increased high latitude blocking and may explain the return of strong Alaska ridging with downstream eastern North America troughing and cold weather. But rather than a committed turn to the cold path this appears to be more of a head fake and more mild weather is predicted for the third week of January. Therefore, the return to mild weather in the Eastern US makes me believe we still remain situated at the fork in the road without a full commitment to either the mild or warm path. Though if the GFS forecast of cold reloading in Canada is correct, I think that it is almost inevitable for that cold to slide down into the lower 48 with time.

Put in other words the fork can be represented by the divergence in the polar cap geopotential heights (PCHs) between the troposphere and the stratosphere. PCHs are overall warm/positive in the troposphere while PCHs are overall cold/negative in the stratosphere. In probably overly simplistic terms I am waiting for convergence of either warm or cold PCHs throughout the troposphere and the stratosphere before claiming winter has fully committed to a cold (universal warm PCHs) or mild (universal cold PCHs) winter.

Whichever fork the ice takes, the Polar Bears had a very happy New Years Day.