Minnesota Valve Turners Case Dismissed Without Necessity Defense

“Stunning”: State Court Silences Climate Experts Set to Testify in Valve Turners’ Necessity Defense Trial  “Four days before trial, for no apparent reason, the court eviscerated our defense, and essentially overruled itself.” Excerpts below in italics with my bolds.

Minneapolis October 8, 2018 In an eleventh hour decision, a Minnesota court “eviscerated” the defense of three activists—whose landmark trial began Monday for their 2016 multi-state #ShutItDown action that temporarily disabled tar sands pipelines crossing the U.S.-Canada border—by barring experts from testifying that their civil disobedience was necessary because fossil fuels are driving the global climate crisis.

While all charges against Steve Liptay, who filmed the Minnesota action, have been dropped, valve turners Emily Nesbitt Johnston and Annette Klapstein, along with their support person, Benjamin Joldersma, are still facing felony charges under Minnesota state law. Their legal team will now have to present their “necessity defense” without the slate of experts who had agreed to explain the climate crisis and the impact of civil disobedience to the jury.

This “stunning” reversal came after an appeals court ruled in April that they could present a necessity defense, a decision upheld by the Minnesota Supreme Court in June. The rulings were celebrated by climate activists and experts nationwide as courts in Washington, North Dakota, and Montana blocked requests from fellow valve turners’ on trial for the 2016 action to present such a defense.

“We were looking forward to entrusting this case to a Minnesota jury of our peers to decide after hearing expert scientists and social scientists discuss the facts of climate change and public policy,” said Klapstein, a retired attorney.

“By requiring us to establish the necessity defense, without allowing us to use our planned expert testimony to do so, the court has placed an overwhelming burden on us,” she added. “I’m baffled by the surreal nature of this court’s decision and timing.”

“Four days before trial, for no apparent reason, the court eviscerated our defense, and essentially overruled itself,” said Johnston. “It is impossible for us to properly defend ourselves without expert testimony.”

Experts that had planned to testify include climate scientists Dr. Jim Hansen, Dr. Mark Seeley, and Dr. Peter Reich; public health expert Dr. Bruce Synder; Princeton professor Dr. Martin Gilens; Harvard Law professor Lawrence Lessig; nonviolent direct action historian and Albert Einstein Institution executive director Jamila Raqib; 350.org co-founder Bill McKibben; and oil infrastructure expert Dr. Anthony Ingraffea.

Minnesota District Court Judge Robert Tiffany claimed their testimonies would be confusing to the jury, Climate Direct Action said in a statement on Monday.

“The irony is that the judge may be proving our point—we acted as we did because we know that the paralysis and myopia of the executive and legislative branches with regard to climate change mean that the political system itself must be shaken up if there is to be any hope for all of us,” Johnston noted. “We were hoping that the judiciary might show the way.”

Minnesota judge tosses charges midtrial against 3 activists 
Excerpts in italics with my bolds.

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) October 9, 2018 A Minnesota judge abruptly dismissed charges against three climate change activists during their trial on Tuesday, saying prosecutors failed to prove that the protesters’ attempt to shut down two Enbridge Energy oil pipelines caused any damage.

Clearwater County District Judge Robert Tiffany threw the case out after prosecutors rested their case and before the protesters could use their defense: that the threat of climate change from using crude oil drilled from Canadian tar sands was so imminent that the activists’ actions were not only morally right, but necessary.

The attorneys had long fought to use a “necessity defense” during the trial of the three Seattle-area residents, two of whom admitted turning the emergency shut-off valves on the northwest Minnesota pipelines in 2016 as part of a coordinated action in four states. Such a defense has been used by other activists protesting pipelines.

Their attorney, Lauren Regan, acknowledged outside the courthouse in Bagley that she and her clients were surprised that the judge granted their motion to dismiss the case. The three defendants faced felony charges involving criminal damage to critical public service facilities. They could have faced up to a year in jail, according to prosecutors.

“I’m very relieved the state of Minnesota acknowledged that we did no damage and intended to do no damage,” defendant Emily Johnston said. “I also admit that I am disappointed that we did not get to put on the trial that we hoped for.”

Clearwater County Attorney Alan Rogalla declined to comment afterward.

Climate change activists have increasingly turned to direct actions against oil and gas pipelines, with mixed legal success . Valve-turner cases in other states resulted in convictions that are under appeal. A Massachusetts judge in March cleared 13 gas pipeline protesters who used a necessity defense. While the cases generally have not set binding legal precedents, activists are hoping they help legitimize direct action as a tactic against climate change.

In the Minnesota case, Johnston and Annette Klapstein readily acknowledged turning the emergency shut-off valves on two Enbridge Energy pipelines on Oct. 11, 2016, near Leonard, about 210 miles (338 kilometers) northwest of Minneapolis. A third defendant, Ben Joldersma, called in a warning to Enbridge. Charges were earlier dropped against a fourth defendant.

They did it as part of a coordinated action by Climate Direct Action activists to shut down five Canadian tar sands crude pipelines in Minnesota, North Dakota, Montana and Washington state. A total of 11 activists were charged in the four states.

Calgary, Alberta-based Enbridge temporarily shut down the two pipelines as a precaution before any damage occurred. The company issued a statement Tuesday saying the protest was “reckless and dangerous.”

“The individuals involved in these activities claimed to be protecting the environment, but they did the opposite and put the environment and the safety of people at risk — including themselves, first responders and neighboring communities and landowners,” the company said.

The defendants insisted there was never any danger.

“We did everything in our power to make sure this was a safe action, and we did this to protect our children and all of your children from the devastating effects of climate change,” Klaptstein said at the activists’ news conference afterward.

While the judge took the unusual step of allowing allowed the necessity defense in a ruling last October, he said the defendants had to clear a high legal bar to succeed. He said the defense applies “only in emergency situations where the peril is instant, overwhelming, and leaves no alternative but the conduct in question.”

The valve turners had hoped to put climate change itself on trial by presenting expert witnesses who would have backed up their claims that climate change was making natural disasters worse, and that the threat of climate change from Canadian tar sands crude — which generates more climate-damaging carbon dioxide than other forms of oil — was so imminent that they had no legal alternatives. But they never got the chance.


I am not sure what to make of this.  The rejection of expert climatists is encouraging since the courts are in no position to judge scientific positions.  The dismissal of the charges in a way avoided a messy situation for the court.  If no damage was done, it was the easy way out to dismiss the charges before going through a show trial before a jury, and as an additional benefit preventing grandstanding by professional activists.


N. Atlantic Still Cooling in 2018

RAPID Array measuring North Atlantic SSTs.

For the last few years, observers have been speculating about when the North Atlantic will start the next phase shift from warm to cold.

Source: Energy and Education Canada

An example is this report in May 2015 The Atlantic is entering a cool phase that will change the world’s weather by Gerald McCarthy and Evan Haigh of the RAPID Atlantic monitoring project. Excerpts in italics with my bolds.

This is known as the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (AMO), and the transition between its positive and negative phases can be very rapid. For example, Atlantic temperatures declined by 0.1ºC per decade from the 1940s to the 1970s. By comparison, global surface warming is estimated at 0.5ºC per century – a rate twice as slow.

In many parts of the world, the AMO has been linked with decade-long temperature and rainfall trends. Certainly – and perhaps obviously – the mean temperature of islands downwind of the Atlantic such as Britain and Ireland show almost exactly the same temperature fluctuations as the AMO.

Atlantic oscillations are associated with the frequency of hurricanes and droughts. When the AMO is in the warm phase, there are more hurricanes in the Atlantic and droughts in the US Midwest tend to be more frequent and prolonged. In the Pacific Northwest, a positive AMO leads to more rainfall.

A negative AMO (cooler ocean) is associated with reduced rainfall in the vulnerable Sahel region of Africa. The prolonged negative AMO was associated with the infamous Ethiopian famine in the mid-1980s. In the UK it tends to mean reduced summer rainfall – the mythical “barbeque summer”.Our results show that ocean circulation responds to the first mode of Atlantic atmospheric forcing, the North Atlantic Oscillation, through circulation changes between the subtropical and subpolar gyres – the intergyre region. This a major influence on the wind patterns and the heat transferred between the atmosphere and ocean.

The observations that we do have of the Atlantic overturning circulation over the past ten years show that it is declining. As a result, we expect the AMO is moving to a negative (colder surface waters) phase. This is consistent with observations of temperature in the North Atlantic.

Cold “blobs” in North Atlantic have been reported, but they are usually a winter phenomena. For example in April 2016, the sst anomalies looked like this

But by September, the picture changed to this

And we know from Kaplan AMO dataset, that 2016 summer SSTs were right up there with 1998 and 2010 as the highest recorded.

As the graph above suggests, this body of water is also important for tropical cyclones, since warmer water provides more energy.  But those are annual averages, and I am interested in the summer pulses of warm water into the Arctic. As I have noted in my monthly HadSST3 reports, most summers since 2003 there have been warm pulses in the north atlantic.
AMO September 2018The AMO Index is from from Kaplan SST v2, the unaltered and untrended dataset. By definition, the data are monthly average SSTs interpolated to a 5×5 grid over the North Atlantic basically 0 to 70N.  The graph shows warming began after 1992 up to 1998, with a series of matching years since.  September is the second hottest month in the dataset, and note the considerable drop from 2017 to August 2018.  Because McCarthy refers to hints of cooling to come in the N. Atlantic, let’s take a closer look at some AMO years in the last 2 decades.

AMO decade 092018

This graph shows monthly AMO temps for some important years. The Peak years were 1998, 2010 and 2016, with the latter emphasized as the most recent. The other years show lesser warming, with 2007 emphasized as the coolest in the last 20 years. Note the red 2018 line is at the bottom of all these tracks.  Most recently September 2018 is 0.29C lower than September 2016, and is the coolest September since 2011.

With all the talk of AMOC slowing down and a phase shift in the North Atlantic, we expect that the annual average for 2018 will confirm that cooling has set in.  Through September the momentum is certainly heading downward, despite the band of warming ocean  that gave rise to now receding European heat waves.


Climate Science, Ethics and Religion

Thanks to an insightful post at Climate Scepticism (here), we have a recent quote from former US President Obama:

“You have to believe in facts. Without facts there’s no basis for cooperation. If I say this is a podium and you say this is an elephant, it’s going to be hard for us to cooperate…I can’t find common ground if somebody says climate change is just not happening, when almost all of the world’s scientists tell us it is.”

This statement is the starting point for that poster to explore ways that even the most accomplished scientists have in the past shared beliefs that were valid only as fashionable at the time.  In this post, I want to consider first why a lawyer like Obama gets science wrong, and secondly to consider the moral and religious confusion regarding our climate.

Science is Trial And Error, not Case Law

In the legal world, cases are judged and rulings become precedent for later cases that arise.  Thus principles become established, settled facts for jurists to follow.  Scientists operate in a different world, one where experiments provide evidence that an assumption successfully predicts how things work in nature.  But that premise can be overturned by subsequent experiments, so scientific laws are always tentative.

In short, lawyers proceed by deduction, going from the accepted generality to the particular instance.  Scientists refer to generalities, but induction is their primary method of discovery.  Science proceeds from the particular to arrive at general conclusions, sometimes overturning a previous generality.

A previous post Degrees of Climate Truth was based upon work by Andy May in discussing how climate assertions can be seen in various stages of development toward scientific truth.


In Table 1 we can see that the comparison of man-made climate change and the possibility of a man-made climate catastrophe are not really comparable to the theories of gravity and evolution. Man-made climate change is more than an idea, it is based on some observations and reasonable models of the process have been developed and can be tested. But, none of the models have successfully predicted any climatic events. Thus, they are still a work-in-progress and not admissible as evidence supporting a scientific theory.

Ethical and Religious Dimensions

Climate assertions come from people based on moral and religious frameworks.

This post is background to exploring the ethical and religious dimensions of the climate change movement. It is also important to recognize the human journey regarding morality.

Moral Models

The ethic of Good vs. Evil is a teleological paradigm, going all the way back to Plato, but still a reference for some today. This model asserts that values can be determined as eternal truths, applicable in all times and places.

Most people have moved to an ethic of Right vs. Wrong, a legal paradigm. Here morality is relative to a society that determines what is morally acceptable or not. And of course, there are variations both among different places, and within a single society over time.

Modern ethics has taken an additional step to an ethic of Responsibility vs. Irresponsibility, a contextual paradigm. Now moral behavior seeks the largest possible context: “the greatest good for the greatest number.” This can lead to some strange choices, such as suicide bombers or pro-life advocates who justify murdering abortion clinic doctors.  The perversion arises when an actor excludes some living things, or whole classes of creatures from the context of responsibility.

Summary: Climate Morality

Some climate activists/alarmists are operating with a good vs. evil model, in which their understanding of good separates people into sheep and goats.  Describing others as “deniers” shows this clearly.  And in the recent US senate supreme court nomination hearings we have an additional stark reminder that members of even advanced societies can seek to disqualify others as human beings, not simply block them from positions of responsibility.

Obama is clearly operating in the right vs. wrong model, as expected given his legalistic education.  Since laws and legal principles are relative to a social framework and heritage, social proof is all that is required for him to accept climate assertions as true.  At the same time, that mentality requires dismissing and demeaning the viewpoints contrary to the consensus. Such tribalism is contrary to scientific discourse, and in the extreme case like Rwanda the others can be considered “cockroaches” and exterminated.

It should be clear that when climate alarmists appeal to saving the planet for future generations, they are applying contextual ethics. Less obvious is the ancient religious notion that by making sacrifices, we humans can assure more favorable weather. These days, fossil fuels have become the sacrificial lamb required by Mother Nature to play nice with human beings.  In the past, people made images and worshiped them, thinking that they could control nature in that way.  These days, we make computer models whose projections are sure to scare the bejesus out of us.

See also: What’s wrong with the legal brief on climate change Facts Omitted by Climatists


Preview of Minnesota Pipeline Trial


Previous posts reported on the series of trials of climate activist “valve turners” who sabotaged pipelines transporting crude oil from Canada.  The last remaining trial proceeds on October 8, 2018 in Minnesota, and it is one where defendants will be allowed to mount a “necessity defense.”  For insight into the implications, here is a timely article Invoking the ‘Necessity Defense’ in Pipeline Sabotage Prosecutions. It was written by Troutman Sanders Pipeline Practice.  Excerpts below in italics with my bolds.

Opposition to new pipeline construction has grown in recent years, moving from public comment to litigation to physical protest and vandalism. In 2016 alone, several coordinated actions led to trespass and vandalism of pipelines and pipeline facilities in multiple states, some of which were prosecuted as felony criminal acts. The defendants in several of these cases have raised a “necessity defense” to their actions, and two courts have now allowed that defense to proceed.

The necessity defense derives from old common law (i.e., not established by statute, although many states have now codified the defense by statute). A necessity defense is not often invoked, in part because the initial element of the defense is to admit that a crime was committed. A defendant must then persuade the court that the otherwise criminal act was required to prevent a greater harm. The requisite showing is typically that (1) there was a significant threat of imminent hazard; (2) there was an immediate need to act; (3) no other alternative was available to prevent the harm; and (4) no greater harm was caused by the prohibited act(s). Examples of successful invocations of the necessity defense include commandeering a private car to carry victims to a hospital, taking food to keep a child from starving, escaping jail because it was on fire, etc. In order to use the defense successfully, the defendant bears a heavy burden to show that no practical alternative to the criminal act was available, and that the criminal act did not create a greater harm.

In a Minnesota case, four individuals were criminally charged for turning valves on a crude oil pipeline, in an attempt to stop the flow of crude oil. The defendants admitted that their acts violated state law, but then claimed the necessity defense. The trial court allowed the defendants to assert the defense and present evidence at trial of the ‘greater harm’ presented by oil pipelines, in the form of climate change. Prosecutors appealed that ruling, and on April 23, 2018, the Minnesota Court of Appeals in a split decision rejected the prosecution’s challenge and agreed that the defendants should be allowed to present the defense. Minnesota v. Klapstein, No. A17-1649 (Minn. Ct. App. Apr. 23, 2018). The dissenting judge stated that ‘there is no direct, causal connection between defendants’ criminal trespass and global warming.’ A court in Massachusetts has similarly allowed defendants who trespassed and/or vandalized pipeline property to present a necessity defense. Other courts in Montana, North Dakota and Washington have rejected the defense. See, e.g., Montana v. Higgins, DC-16-18 (Mont. Dist. Ct. Nov. 22, 2017).

Allowing defendants to present evidence in support of a necessity defense does not mean the defendants have been excused from criminal conduct; they are simply allowed to make that argument at trial. No case has yet accepted the necessity defense to exonerate criminal acts involving pipelines, although some cases have been downgraded to civil fines and resolved after a necessity defense was presented. The burden on the defense remains high, not only to show that no other practical alternative existed, but also to establish a causal connection between a specific pipeline and global climate change. The same week that the Minnesota Court of Appeals allowed a necessity defense to proceed, API and AOPL released their “2018 Annual Liquids Pipeline Report”, documenting the continuing reduction in number and scope of incidents releasing oil to the environment. Similarly, as natural gas pipelines continue to replace coal for electric generation, the amount of greenhouse gas emissions has gone down.

Pipeline opponents have turned to direct acts of vandalism targeting pipelines in the past few years, although those actions present the risk of causing an incident and may result in criminal convictions. Federal law enforcement agencies are monitoring these activities under laws related to Homeland Security and terrorism, beyond state laws for criminal trespass [see prior Pipelaws.com post on November 27, 2017]. In furtherance of that approach, the same week that Minnesota allowed pipeline activists to proceed with a necessity defense, the adjacent State of Iowa signed into law a more strict felony provision applicable to interference with pipelines and other ‘critical energy infrastructure.’ The new law is called the ‘Critical Infrastructure Sabotage’ act, and carries potential penalties of up to 25 years in prison and fines of $100,000.

Sabotage or vandalism of pipelines presents a significant risk of causing substantial harm that could result in killing or injuring people or damaging the environment. Admitting to a crime – particularly a felony criminal act – is a steep price to pay for a defense to those acts. The stakes are high, as are the consequences

Background:  Wheels of Pipeline Justice Grind 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.


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.


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)


Cooling by Land, or Cooling by Sea?


With apologies to Paul Revere, this post is on the lookout for cooler weather with an eye on both the Land and the Sea.  UAH has updated their tlt (temperatures in lower troposphere) dataset for September.   Previously I have done posts on their reading of ocean air temps as a prelude to updated records from HADSST3. This month I will add a separate graph of land air temps because the comparisons and contrasts are interesting as we contemplate possible cooling in coming months and years.

Presently sea surface temperatures (SST) are the best available indicator of heat content gained or lost from earth’s climate system.  Enthalpy is the thermodynamic term for total heat content in a system, and humidity differences in air parcels affect enthalpy.  Measuring water temperature directly avoids distorted impressions from air measurements.  In addition, ocean covers 71% of the planet surface and thus dominates surface temperature estimates.  Eventually we will likely have reliable means of recording water temperatures at depth.

Recently, Dr. Ole Humlum reported from his research that air temperatures lag 2-3 months behind changes in SST.  He also observed that changes in CO2 atmospheric concentrations lag behind SST by 11-12 months.  This latter point is addressed in a previous post Who to Blame for Rising CO2?

The August update to HadSST3 will appear later this month, but in the meantime we can look at lower troposphere temperatures (TLT) from UAHv6 which are already posted for August. The temperature record is derived from microwave sounding units (MSU) on board satellites like the one pictured above.

The UAH dataset includes temperature results for air above the oceans, and thus should be most comparable to the SSTs. There is the additional feature that ocean air temps avoid Urban Heat Islands (UHI).  The graph below shows monthly anomalies for ocean temps since January 2015.

UAH Oceans 201809The anomalies over the entire ocean dropped to the same value, 0.12C  in August (Tropics were 0.13C).  Warming in previous months was erased, and September added very little warming back.

Taking a longer view, we can look at the record since 1995, that year being an ENSO neutral year and thus a reasonable starting point for considering the past two decades.  On that basis we can see the plateau in ocean temps is persisting. Since last October all oceans have cooled, with offsetting bumps up and down.

Monthly Ocean
Average Since 1995 Ocean 9/2018
Global 0.13 0.15
NH 0.16 0.18
SH 0.11 0.13
Tropics 0.12 0.22

As of September 2018, Global ocean air temps as well as SH and SH are nearly the average since 1995.  The Tropics bumped upward last month. Globally,  in NH and the Tropics, 2018 is the coolest September since 2014. The SH ocean air temps are the coolest September since 2013

Land Air Temperatures Plunged in September.

We sometimes overlook that in climate temperature records, while the oceans are measured directly with SSTs, land temps are measured only indirectly.  The land temperature records at surface stations record air temps at 2 meters above ground.  UAH gives tlt anomalies for air over land separately from ocean air temps.  The graph updated for September is below.
UAH Land 201809

The greater volatility of the Land temperatures is evident, and also the dominance of NH, which has twice as much land area as SH.  Note how global peaks mirror NH peaks.  Thus the importance of the recent drops in NH and SH driving global land temps downward.  A table for Land temperatures is below, comparable to the one for Oceans.

Monthly Land
Average Since 1995 Land 9/2018
Global 0.21 0.13
NH 0.23 0.10
SH 0.12 0.14
Tropics 0.14 0.24

In the longer term since 1995, Globally and in NH land temps are well below the average anomalies, while SH is nearly average, and the Tropics above average (though comprising limited surface area).


TLTs include mixing above the oceans and probably some influence from nearby more volatile land temps.  It is striking to now see NH and Global land temps dropping rapidly.  TLT measures started the recent cooling later than SSTs from HadSST3, but are now showing the same pattern.  It seems obvious that despite the three El Ninos, their warming has not persisted, and without them it would probably have cooled since 1995.  Of course, the future has not yet been written.


UN “Stretches” CO2 Goals

Several articles are in the media discussing UN meetings in progress to move the climate change goal posts from preventing 2C of warming to a goal of 1.5C additional warming. The US have questioned the plausibility of such an ambition, and this post goes into some of the reasons why. At the bottom I shall raise several skeptical points about this whole enterprise, but first we should look at the data UN uses as a trampoline for leaps of faith.

Data on Annual CO2 Concentrations

The annual average concentrations of atmospheric CO2 are reported from Mauna Loa in a dataset accessed from NOAA here. The graph below shows the record.
Note that in 1959 there was 316 ppm of CO2 according to this dataset, and in 2017 the annual average CO2 was 407 ppm. So the rise of 91 ppm over 59 years is a rate of 1.53 ppm per year. Of course the actual interannual differences vary from that average rate, and as we shall see, many recent years have exceeded 2 ppm per year additional CO2. The table below shows all years in the record that added more than 2 ppm of CO2.

Year Added ppm
1973 2.23
1988 2.38
1998 2.97
2003 2.52
2005 2.28
2006 2.1
2010 2.47
2012 2.2
2013 2.67
2014 2.13
2015 2.18
2016 3.38
2017 2.32

Note that as warming increased so also did CO2 in ppm. You can pick out El Nino years in the list, suggesting that ocean outgassing has a large impact on atmospheric CO2.

The larger point is that, for whatever reasons, the annual addition of CO2 has increased this century to a rate of 2.14 over the last 20 years.

UN Aspirational Goalposts

UN insiders have been making a simple case for some years preceding the Paris 2015 accord. IPCC has claimed that in their judgement keeping atmospheric CO2 less than 450 ppm ensures future warming will not exceed 2C. I don’t buy it, but that has been sold to Paris signatories. Now comes increasing the ambition to limit warming to 1.5C, and the same authorities translate that into a limit of 430 ppm of CO2.

These numbers and their logic can be seen in a document from Climate Analytics: Timetables for Zero emissions and 2050 emissions reductions  Excerpts in italics with my bolds.

This briefing note outlines suggested time frames for reaching zero global CO2 and total greenhouse gas emissions for the ‘below 2 °C’ and ‘below 1.5 °C by 2100’ limits based on the findings of the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC AR5) and the 2014 UNEP Emissions Gap Report.

Emissions scenarios leading to GHG concentrations in 2100 of about 450 ppm CO2eq or lower are likely to maintain warming below 2 °C over the 21st century relative to pre-industrial levels. These scenarios are characterized by 40% to 70% global anthropogenic GHG emissions reductions by 2050 compared to 2010, and emissions levels near zero or below in 2100.” (IPCC AR5 SYR) Information in Table SPM.1 of the IPCC AR5 SYR

“A limited number of studies provide scenarios that are more likely than not to limit warming to 1.5 °C by 2100; these scenarios are characterized by concentrations below 430 ppm CO2eq by 2100 and 2050 emission reduction between 70% and 95% below 2010.” (IPCC AR5 SYR)

UN Goals Stretch Beyond Credibility

So let’s look at these two scenarios in relation to observed CO2 in the atmosphere.

The blue line is CO2 in ppm observed at Mauna Loa.  The linear regression line shows the continuation of the 1.53 ppm per year rate projected to the end of this century.  As noted above the blue line is already exceeding the earlier rate.  The orange line shows CO2 hitting 430 ppm in 2032 at the 1.53 rate, or earlier if more recent rates continue.  For example, if the 2.14 ppm per year rate continues, 430 ppm is reached by 2028. The red 450 scenario is reached in 2045. Both scenarios presume zero additional CO2 after those dates.

UN Piles Supposition on Top of Supposition

Previous posts here have taken issue with UN IPCC assertions that rising CO2 causes temperatures to rise and that human fossil fuel emissions cause CO2 to rise.

See: Who to Blame for Rising CO2

CO2 Fluxes, Sources and Sinks

How Climate Law Relies on Paris

Ontario has to Launder $1B in cap-and-trade money

CBC has the story: Ford government sitting on $1B in cap-and-trade money
Excerpts in italics with my bolds.

Environmental commissioner says by law it can only be spent on reducing greenhouse gases

Context: No one is talking about the reason Ford canceled cap and trade the first day on the job. It was to eliminate the 4.3 cents/liter gasoline tax. At the same time, spending on schemes to “fight climate change” was stopped.  By skimming a few cents off every liter sold, pretty soon you have billions of dollars in the pot. The law ending cap and trade did not reimburse gasoline retailers who had bought carbon allowances in the past, because they already passed on the cost to customers. Those who bought in advance to avoid higher carbon prices later are now caught and want the government to reimburse them, since they lost the opportunity to stick it to their customers. What a great idea is cap and trade: A market to sell a non-good at arbitrary prices paid by other people’s money. What could go wrong?

As much as $1 billion in Ontario’s cap-and-trade fund is sitting unspent, and questions are swirling about what Premier Doug Ford’s government will do with it.

The money was brought into provincial coffers under a law that says it can only be spent on measures that reduce greenhouse gas emissions. However, Ford has dismissed the money as a “slush fund,” and his government is pushing forward legislation to use some of it to cover the costs of cancelling the cap-and-trade program.

The dedicated fund for reducing greenhouse gases had a balance of $553 million at the end of March, when the last fiscal year ended, according to the province’s newly released public accounts. Another $476 million was added in May from the final cap-and-trade auction of carbon allowances, before Ford’s PCs won the election and quickly scrapped the Liberals’ climate-change plan.

That would put the account at more than $1 billion. What remains unclear is how much of that has been spent in the past six months, and how much will be used to wind up cap-and-trade.

CBC News asked the Environment Ministry for the current balance of the greenhouse gas fund, but officials did not provide an answer.

Ontario’s environmental commissioner Dianne Saxe believes there’s still $1 billion in the account because she has seen no evidence that money has been dispersed since the end of March.

Saxe — an independent officer of the Legislature like the auditor general and ombudsman — says the costs of winding up cap-and-trade ought to be small enough that the bulk of the $1 billion will remain.

“They will have quite a bit of money left,” said Saxe in an interview. “That can be money they can use to invest in [climate-change] solutions.”

She is warning the government that it cannot spend the money however it wishes, but only on initiatives to reduce carbon emissions. “That was the legal basis on which the money was collected, and that remains the law,” she said.

Liberal MPP Nathalie Des Rosiers said Monday she fears the government will not spend the money on cutting greenhouse gases but on lawsuits arising from cancelling cap-and-trade.

That fear is unfounded, said Environment Minister Rod Phillips.

“The money will be used for the purpose it was collected,” said Phillips in an interview Monday at Queen’s Park.

He declined to estimate how much of the $1 billion will remain in the fund once the cap-and-trade program is wound up. Nor did he agree that the figure will be in the hundreds of millions of dollars.

“I don’t think it would be fair to speculate at this point,” said Phillips. “We will make it clear how much money was spent and where it was spent.”

Ford made cancelling the cap-and-trade program a central election promise, calling it the “cap-and-trade carbon tax” during and after the campaign. Within days of taking power, his government shut down rebates to homeowners for making energy efficiency improvements, such as installing new windows, and ended rebates for buying electric cars. Those rebates came from the greenhouse gas reduction fund.

The government won’t be able to say how much remains in the greenhouse gas fund until all the programs wind up, said Phillips. He also said the government is allocating $5 million to compensate companies that bought cap-and-trade allowances, which are now worthless.

Phillips is promising a plan to tackle climate change this fall, including an “emissions-reductions fund” but says it will not come from a carbon-tax model.

The province is challenging Ottawa in court over the Trudeau government’s plan to impose a carbon tax on Ontario in the absence of a provincial carbon-pricing program.

Meanwhile, environmental groups led by Greenpeace are suing the province over cancelling cap-and-trade, alleging that the Ford government broke the law by failing to consult Ontarians on the move.

No Mention of climate or warming in New NA Trade Accord 

Hats off to all for arriving at an agreement for economic transactions unburdened by obsessions with CO2 and unfounded claims of humans controlling the weather. A survey of the text shows the terms “climate” and “warming” do not appear even once. Good job!

Of course, greens are up in arms. Imagine signing a trade agreement that does nothing to destroy our economies in order to save the planet from CO2.

The deal does have a chapter on the environment, but critics such as the Council of Canadians call it weak and unenforceable.

It mentions pollution, marine traffic, endangered animals and ozone, but ignores what many call the world’s largest environmental challenge.

“The deal doesn’t even mention climate change,” Stewart said.

What has been thrown out is a provision in the old North American Free Trade Agreement that allowed corporations to sue governments for lost profits if they were injured by public-interest regulations such as environmental laws. The Council of Canadians pointed out that Canada was sued 37 times, mostly by American companies, under the old clause.

Update October 2, 2018

The new NA trade accord also strengthens energy security and trade. From offshore-technology.com:

The US oil and gas industry has urged Congress to approve the Trump administration’s renegotiated North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), saying that the deal will support US oil and gas exports across North and South America.

American Petroleum Institute president and CEO Mike Sommers said: “We urge Congress to approve the United States-Mexico-Canada-Agreement (USMCA). Having Canada as a trading partner and a party to this agreement is critical for North American energy security and US consumers. Retaining a trade agreement for North America will help ensure the US energy revolution continues into the future.”

There were concerns in the industry that Trump would scrap the NAFTA, which was pivotal in making Mexico the largest exporter of US oil, transportation fuel, and natural gas.

Meanwhile, with support from the trade agreement, Canada is the largest supplier of foreign oil and a significant exporter of electricity to the US.

The deal also makes Canada’s heavier crude oil more attractive to refiners in the Mexican Gulf, especially at a time when Venezuela’s production has reduced amid political and financial worries. Fracked US crude oil is lighter, and refineries in the Gulf, which traditionally deal with heavier crude, are still adjusting their processing practices.

The new NAFTA deal ensures a ‘zero-tariff’ on energy products traded between the US, Mexico and Canada.


Try to Remember: There’s Ice in September

Arctic Sept 2007 to 2018

With ten years of hyped claims about Arctic sea ice declining, it takes effort to remember that ice in the Northern Hemisphere isn’t going away.  This year’s monthly average for September (the annual minimum) is slightly lower than 2017, but still well above 2007.  MASIE shows a surplus of 300k km2 and SII shows 450k km2.  As a result, both linear trends are slightly positive, though I would call it a “plateau, ” as opposed to a “death spiral.”


Twelve Days in Nunavut

Previous posts described how the Northwest Passage was treacherously laden with ice this year.  The image above shows the flash freezing in this region over the last twelve days.  Sept. 18 the CAA ice extent (Canadian Arctic Archipelago) was 321k km2, close to its annual minimum.  Yesterday MASIE showed 606k km2,  a increase of 90% in that region.


The graph shows MASIE reporting Arctic ice extents totalling 4.93M km2 yesterday,  35k km2 below the 11 year average (2007 to 2017 inclusive).  NOAA’s Sea Ice Index is the same as MASIE, 2007 was 845k km2 lower, and 2012 1.1M km2 less ice extent.  A dip on day 252 to  4.43M km2 was an early daily minimum for the year.  As shown in the first graph, the September monthly average exceeded 2007 by 300k in MASIE and  400k km2 in SII.

The table below shows ice extents in the regions comprising the Arctic in September.

Region 2018273 Day 273 
2018-Ave. 2007273 2018-2007
 (0) Northern_Hemisphere 4931836 4966893 -35057 4086883 844953
 (1) Beaufort_Sea 622520 527098 95422 498743 123777
 (2) Chukchi_Sea 134120 210769 -76649 51 134069
 (3) East_Siberian_Sea 378263 329380 48884 311 377952
 (4) Laptev_Sea 19790 186004 -166214 235245 -215455
 (5) Kara_Sea 235 30387 -30152 15367 -15132
 (6) Barents_Sea 0 18890 -18890 4851 -4851
 (7) Greenland_Sea 242190 235559 6631 353210 -111020
 (8) Baffin_Bay_Gulf_of_St._Lawrence 70138 51991 18148 42247 27891
 (9) Canadian_Archipelago 606394 367879 238515 307135 299259
 (10) Hudson_Bay 4611 4458 153 1936 2674
 (11) Central_Arctic 2852432 3003376 -150944 2626511 225921

The total extent is down 35k km2 (less than 1%) below the 11 year average.  The deficit in Chuckchi is more than offset by surpluses in Beaufort and East Siberian.  On the European side are deficits in Laptev, Kara and Central Arctic, almost covered by the huge surplus in Canadian Arctic Archipelago (CAA).

It’s all good.  It’s natural.

Try To Remember lyrics by Tom Jones from “The Fantasticks”  1960




On the Motion of the Ocean

The image shows what is known about how ocean currents flow under the influence of the earth’s rotation. A recent article adds another level of complexity and insight by examining smaller scale effects. From the American Institute of Physics Researchers challenge our assumptions on the effects of planetary rotation Excerpts in italics with my bolds.

Coriolis effect can influence eddies in wakes as small as 10 meters

The Coriolis effect impacts global patterns and currents, and its magnitude, relative to the magnitude of inertial forces, is expressed by the Rossby number. For over 100 years, scientists have believed that the higher this number, the less likely Coriolis effect influences oceanic or atmospheric events. Recently, however, researchers found that smaller ocean disturbances with high Rossby numbers are influenced by the Coriolis effect. Their discovery challenges assumptions of theoretical oceanography and geophysical fluid dynamics.

A 2-D image of the velocity in an internal jet with the Rossby number of 100 that shows how planetary rotation leads to the destabilization and dispersion of an initially coherent flow pattern. Credit: Timour Radko and David Lorfeld

Earth’s rotation causes the Coriolis effect, which deflects massive air and water flows toward the right in the Northern Hemisphere and toward the left in the Southern Hemisphere. This phenomenon greatly impacts global wind patterns and ocean currents, and is only significant for large-scale and long-duration geophysical phenomena such as hurricanes. The magnitude of the Coriolis effect, relative to the magnitude of inertial forces, is expressed by the Rossby number. For over 100 years, scientists have believed that the higher this number, the less likely Coriolis effect influences oceanic or atmospheric events.

Recently, researchers at the Naval Postgraduate School in California found that even smaller ocean disturbances with high Rossby numbers, like vortices within submarine wakes, are influenced by the Coriolis effect. Their discovery challenges assumptions at the very foundation of theoretical oceanography and geophysical fluid dynamics. The team reports their findings in Physics of Fluids, from AIP Publishing.

“We have discovered some major — and largely overlooked — phenomena in fundamental fluid dynamics that pertain to the way the Earth’s rotation influences various geophysical flows,” Timour Radko, an oceanography professor and author on the paper, said.

Radko and Lt. Cmdr. David Lorfeld originally focused on developing novel submarine detection systems. They approached this issue by investigating pancake vortices, or flattened, elongated mini-eddies located in the wakes of submerged vehicles. Eddies are caused by swirling water and a reverse current from waterflow turbulence.

Last year, a team led by Radko published a paper in the same AIP journal on the rotational control of pancake vortices, the first paper that challenged the famous “Rossby rule.” In this most recent paper, the researchers showed, through numerical simulations, that internal jets of the wake can be directly controlled by rotation. They also demonstrated that the evolution of a disorganized fine-scale eddy field is determined by planetary rotation.

“Here is where our discovery could be critical,” Radko said. “We find that cyclones persist, but that anticyclones unravel relatively quickly. If the anticyclones in the wake are as strong as the cyclones, this means that the wake is fresh — the enemy passed through not too long ago. If the cyclones are much stronger than the anticyclones, then the sub is probably long gone.”

The algorithm that the researchers developed is based on the dissimilar evolution of cyclones and anticyclones, which is a consequence of planetary rotation. “Therefore,” Radko concluded, “such effects must be considered in the numerical and theoretical models of finescale oceanic processes in the range of 10-100 meters.”

The computer model is detailed enough to resolve eddies that are important for ocean circulation. The triangle-shaped island of Newfoundland, center, is at the eastern edge of the study area, the mouth of the Gulf of St. Lawrence. This graphic shows oxygen at the surface, where red shows more oxygen. Credit: Mariona Claret/University of Washington

Background:  Ocean Physics in a Cup of Coffee