Sloppy Science + Bad Reporting = Fake Scare

 

Abusing science to incite fear is not confined to global warming/climate change. Medical science has also been debased by taking up the appeal to public alarm. The current example being exploitation of ovarian cancer, as explained by Warren Kindzierski writing in Financial Post How weaselly science and bad reporting consistently find cancer links that don’t exist  (Weaselly: Stretching facts with the use of such words as ‘this could,’ ‘can,’ ‘may,’ ‘might,’ ‘probably,’ ‘likely’ cause cancer)

Last month, the Quebec court authorized a class-action suit against two brands of baby powder that alleges that regular use of talc powder by women in their genital area is linked to a higher risk of ovarian cancer. Part of the allegations relate to claims that an ovarian cancer risk from powdered talc use is demonstrated by nearly four decades of scientific studies. Cosmetic talc has certainly been the subject of much scientific debate, study and, increasingly, legal challenge.

However, the cosmetic talc-ovarian cancer link is commonly misunderstood. Published biomedical studies cover both sides, suggesting a talc-ovarian cancer link and showing no link. Even today in prominent journals, letters to the editor — penned by scientists — rage back and forth, defending their studies or attacking the other side’s studies.

Now this is civilized, real science.

This bouncing back and forth of positive versus negative effects between talc and ovarian cancer is referred to as “vibration of effects” by John Iaonnidis, a professor of medicine and of health research and policy at Stanford University. Studies vary depending on how they are done. Why is this? Well, getting scientists to agree on important things like methods, what data to use and how to analyze and interpret effects from subtle human exposures is next to impossible. It would be no problem if one were studying cancer risks in populations receiving large exposures over long durations; but such situations are non-existent.

The truth is that the ability of any biomedical method, epidemiology included, to discriminate cancer risks in people from small exposures to a physical or chemical agent does not exist.

Most cancers are caused by a number of factors. As a result, establishing cancer causation is complex — unless a particular risk factor is overwhelming. Epidemiology studies cannot and do not realistically replicate this complexity, at least not very well. That is why the U.S. National Institutes of Health and the National Cancer Institute lists a number of key risk factors for ovarian cancer and talc is not one of them.

The institute states that it is not clear whether talc affects ovarian cancer risk. An expert U.S. cosmetic-ingredient review panel assessed the safety of cosmetic talc in 2015. It thoroughly analyzed numerous studies investigating whether or not a relationship exists between cosmetic use of talc in the perineal area and ovarian cancer. The panel determined that these studies do not support a causal link. They also agreed that there is no known physiological mechanism by which talc can plausibly migrate from the perineum to the ovaries. The news coverage of the lawsuit has been silent on that evidence.

Part of the public’s misunderstanding about talc comes from scientists offering opinions about cancer from small exposures. Too many scientists use weasel words to stretch facts: “This could,” “can,” “may,” “might,” “probably,” “likely” cause cancer. Flimsy so-called evidence from their studies that suffer from vibration of effects and their speculations are voraciously inhaled by naïve journalists. Stretched facts miraculously get reported as facts to the public — or worse, misused for litigation purposes.

The woman’s bathroom is a chemical exposure chamber with literally dozens of cosmetic products used at various times. Both skin contact and inhalation regularly occur with grooming products. However, repeated uses of small amounts of cosmetic talc or any other cosmetic product do not amount to overwhelming exposures despite the claims of some scientists and media. Overwhelming exposures — the ones that cause effects — are those that occur with laboratory rats and mice. Underwhelming exposures are what occur to people in the real world.

It is highly speculative that repeated use of small amounts of cosmetic talc is a definitive cause of ovarian cancer. It is not a definitive cause; it is only suggestive. Prominent organizations such as the U.S. National Cancer Institute and expert panels should make clear statements about such cancer risks, but they do not. Selective methods in epidemiology studies, speculation by scientists and inaccurate reporting by news media are ingredients used to transform weak suggestive evidence from underwhelming cosmetic talc exposure into something that is mistakenly claimed to be harmful for the public.

And that is why we end up with class action suits against cosmetic companies.

Warren Kindzierski is an associate professor in The School of Public Health at the University of Alberta.

Advertisements

Perverse Green Capitalists


Politicians and media pundits like to say that Climate Change is the biggest threat to modern society. I am coming around to agree, but not in the way they are thinking. I mean there is fresh evidence that we can defeat radical Islam, but we are already losing to radical climatism.  I refer to climate alarm and activism, which has come to dominate the environmental movement and impose an agenda for social re-engineering.  And now we have fresh evidence that even capitalists are working to undermine the infrastructure supporting modern civilization.

As we approach the year 2020, we confront the spectacle of financiers raiding shareholder wealth in order to cripple the Energy Industry, seen as threatening the climate.  2020 used to indicate perfect eyesight, so that perceptions could be trusted.  This is the opposite:  People who should know better have drunk climatist koolaid and are now running the asylum.

Dan Eberhart exposes this latest twist in his Forbes article Corporate Resolutions On Social Issues Serve Activists, Not Shareholders  Excerpts in italics with my bolds.

America’s growing energy dominance is helping transform our economy and revitalize the forgotten parts of our nation.

Through innovation and free-market principles, America’s oil and natural gas sector have moved us from an age of scarcity to a future of abundance. As a nation, we are once again the world’s biggest producer, with all of the economic, trade and national security benefits that portends.

But there is a move afoot by wealthy investment firms and environmental activists to undermine that success and turn back to a time of scarcity by making climate change an issue in the boardrooms of energy producers big and small. Under the guise of socially responsible investing or ESG – environmental, social and governance – they are attempting to “decarbonize” our economy one corporation at a time.

America’s success in the energy sector is directly attributable to the strength of our economic freedom and competitive markets – just look at Venezuela, Angola, Mexico, Iran, Libya or Russia for the grim alternative.

The numbers are astounding. Domestic oil production reached 10.9 million barrels a day this month and is expected to continue its ascent to record-setting levels well into next year, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA). By 2019, surging domestic production is expected to drive down our use of imported oil to the lowest level since 1959.

The use of hydraulic fracturing to squeeze ever more oil and gas from tight shale rock is a key driver of the energy boom. Production from America’s seven major shale formations is forecast to hit 7.2 million barrels a day by the end of this month, according to EIA.

It’s the communities in and around these formations – located almost exclusively in what are often derided as “fly-over states”– that are seeing the everyday benefits of jobs, rising wages and increasing confidence in the economy. The resurrection of the energy sector is turning small towns once on the verge of becoming ghost towns into bustling centers of activity.

There’s no guarantee the good times will continue, though, especially if companies stop searching for new supplies of oil and gas. For those who subscribe to the ideas of socially responsible investing, the end of energy dominance can’t come soon enough.

Proxy advisory firms Glass Lewis, ISS and others are increasingly advising their large shareholder clients to turn America’s boardrooms into a battleground over climate change. In the process, they are undermining the financial stability of traditional energy companies by attempting to force directors to invest in renewable energy instead of fossil fuels.

Shareholders are, of course, within their rights to propose resolutions and pursue changes to the way corporations are governed. But, increasingly, the aim of these resolutions has shifted from securing better returns to achieving political change when our political leaders have disagreed with the direction these activists wish to go.

From the perspective of corporate leaders, this new frontier of so-called social responsibility looks more like the age of proxy pirates, who unfurl the Jolly Roger and swing aboard the boardroom deck intent on striking fear in the hearts of the captains of industry.

These attacks on corporate governance and fiduciary responsibility were once rare but are growing in frequency. In the early 2000s during the era of “peak oil” – when many believed our oil supplies were running out on their own – less than 200 shareholder proposals each year focused on environmental or social factors, according to Proxy Preview.

Over the past decade, the number of shareholder proposals motivated purely by political aims has increased in lockstep with our growing energy security. And the trend is growing. According to the Institutional Shareholder Services, more than two-thirds of the proposals filed this year were related to social or environmental pet causes.

The rising prevalence of climate-risk resolutions threatens to destabilize America’s energy sector, reversing the benefits of energy dominance and forcing change regardless of the economic and security costs to society.

Oil and gas projects take years, sometimes decades, to develop. If companies don’t invest today, consumers may find themselves paying more for imported energy.

The efforts of investment firms like BlackRock, Vanguard and State Street are distorting the market and scaring off investment that will, if allowed to continue unanswered, result in future supply shortages and higher prices for consumers.

Dan Eberhart Bio
I am CEO of Canary, one of the largest privately-owned oilfield services companies in the United States. I’ve served as a consultant to the energy industry in North America, Asia and Africa. My commentaries have been published in The Hill, Real Clear Energy, and the Economist. I have appeared on Fox News, CNN and CNBC. I am the author of The Switch. I was honored to be named to Hart Energy’s “30 Under 40” list and to be included on several U.S. trade missions to sub-Saharan Africa. I have undergraduate degrees in economics and political science from Vanderbilt University and a law degree from Tulane Law School. A Georgia-native, I currently live in Phoenix, Arizona, with my wife and daughter.

Comment:  I am all for Corporate Responsibility, which used to mean doing due diligence to get the facts and act accordingly as a reasonable good citizen.  Instead, people are falling prey to ideologues and investors are being steered toward con artists.  Behind all of this are the Climatists, true believers in the unproven notion that humans control the climate and not in a good way.

The Climatist Game Plan (From Previous post Climatist Manifesto)

Mission: Deindustrialize Civilization

Goal: Drive industrial corporations into Bankruptcy

Strategy: Cut off the Supply of Cheap, Reliable Energy

Tactics:

  • Raise the price of fossil fuels
  • Force the power grid to use expensive, unreliable renewables
  • Demonize Nuclear energy
  • Spread fear of extraction technologies such as fracking
  • Increase regulatory costs on energy production
  • Scare investors away from carbon energy companies
  • Stop pipelines because they are too safe and efficient
  • Force all companies to account for carbon usage and risk

Progress:

  • UK steel plants closing their doors.
  • UK coal production scheduled to cease this year.
  • US coal giant Peabody close to shutting down.
  • Smaller US oil companies going bankrupt in record numbers.
  • Etc.

Collateral Damage:

  • 27,000 extra deaths in UK from energy poverty.
  • Resource companies in Canada cut 17,000 jobs in a single month.
  • Etc.

For more info on progress see: http://business.financialpost.com/fp-comment/terence-corcoran-clean-green-and-catastrophic

Summary:

Radical climatism is playing the endgame while others are sleeping, or discussing the holes in the science. Truly, the debate is over (not ever having happened) now that all nations have signed up to the Paris COP doctrine. Political leaders are willing, even enthusiastic dupes, while climatist tactics erode the foundations of industrial society.  Deaths and unemployment are unavoidable, but then activists think the planet already has too many people anyway.

ISIS was an immediate threat, but there is a deeper and present danger already doing damage to the underpinnings of Life As We Know It. It is the belief in Climate Change and the activists executing their game plan.  Make no mistake: they are well-funded, well-organized and mean business.  And the recent behavior of valve-turners, acting illegally to shut off supplies of fossil fuel energy, shows they are willing to go very far to impose their will upon the rest of us.

 

 

Canadian Climate Turns Against Activists

 

In olden days kings ruled by fiat, but nowadays you need the people’s consent,
disappointing to Obama and now Trudeau.

The Liberal federal government led by Justin Trudeau is running up against a deeply ingrained and widespread skepticism in the population.  In a previous post Uncensored: Canadians View Global Warming  I noted that the principle finding in a recent survey was buried in the report and hidden by the media.  Belief in man made global warming is a minority view in Canada, as shown below:
The political implications of that lack of support for climate activism are starting to become manifest.  Ed Whitcomb writes in the Ottawa Citizen Climate change politics are undermining federalism  Excerpts in italics below with my bolds and images

Prime Minister Trudeau between BC Premier John Horgan and Alberta Premier Rachel Notley. The 2 provinces are at war over expanding the oil pipeline.

Canada’s largest province is about to reject the federal climate change policy. Saskatchewan never accepted it and Alberta could reject it in 2019. Maybe it’s time for reflection.

The current policy calls for the provinces to implement a federal government plan. That, however, is a contradiction of federalism, a system which reflects the fact that the feds and the provinces have different interests. Policies to deal with pollution in Ontario may be inappropriate for Newfoundland or Saskatchewan. The current federal government overlooked such differences when it decided that there was only one solution to global warming, a carbon tax, and only two acceptable ways to implement it, cap-and-trade or a carbon levy. Unfortunately, not all Canadians and provinces accept these assumptions, and the consensus is shrinking.

In 2015, Saskatchewan’s then-premier Brad Wall pointed out that his economy was far more dependent on fossil fuels than were other provinces. A carbon tax would be disproportionately costly, which was unacceptable. That dispute is going to court and no one knows what the outcome will be.

Alberta’s NDP government endorsed the federal scheme, providing the federal government got a pipeline built. That linked dealing with climate change to increasing energy production, linked reducing gas emissions to raising them. But the pipeline has not been built, and bitumen is unlikely to flow before a provincial election which could empower the United Conservative Party. The UCP is strongly opposed to the federal climate plan. It, and the incoming Ontario Conservative government, oppose carbon taxes because everyone will pay them whether or not that reduces their consumption of carbon. The two parties believe governments always spend any money that is available (and in fact Alberta, British Columbia and Ontario have not returned all their carbon tax revenue to taxpayers).

Federal Environment Minister Catherine McKenna preaching with Justin Trudeau in the choir.

In challenging Ontario’s upcoming withdrawal from cap-and-trade, the federal government is introducing a new and very dangerous interpretation of federalism. No one questioned that Ontario’s program was within its jurisdiction. Now the federal government is saying that if Ontario repeals its own law, it will be replaced by the imposition of a federal tax exclusively within Ontario’s borders. In effect it will be a “provincial” tax, not a “national” or “federal” one applied to all Canadians.

But the federal government has no mandate to force Ontario to retain one of its own programs if its government wants to repeal it. In effect, the federal level is trying to use its taxation power to make the environment an exclusive federal responsibility.

The courts might uphold the federal government’s right to collect such a tax but the political battle could be fatal. If it can prevent Doug Ford repealing an existing Ontario law, then it can prevent other provinces repealing other provincial laws. In that case, there is no federalism, no division of power, and no independent provincial jurisdiction. Quebec could not repeal its cap-and-trade law – just the threat the separatists need to rise from their death-bed.

The federal government can forge ahead with a series of political and court battles, or it can go back to the drawing board, in which case there seem to be two options. One is co-operative federalism – namely, call a heads-of-government meeting and confirm Canada’s Paris goals; each provinces’ share of those goals; the federal right to implement policies within its jurisdiction; each province’s right to implement their own policies as they wish; and confirm that they will all co-operate to avoid duplication or contradictory policies.

The second option is for the federal government to raise its existing national carbon tax on gasoline and other forms of fossil fuel. It has full constitutional power to do so, can do it any time, the revenue can be returned to taxpayers, and it could be completely transparent. Actually, if it had done this in 2016, Canada would already be on the way to meeting its Paris goals, rather than locked in an increasingly ugly and unnecessary federal-provincial, regional, political and ideological battle.

It’s not too late to get it right but that does mean going back to the drawing board.

Ed Whitcomb is the author of Rivals for Power: Ottawa and the Provinces, the contentious history of the Canadian federation, and of short histories of all 10 provinces.

Comment:  Whitcomb does not question the climate change ideology or see the uselessness of the Paris Accord.  In the event Trudeau imposes a widely unpopular federal tax on carbon emissions, the backlash could overturn his administration.

USCS Warnings of Coastal Floodings

Be not Confused. USCS is not the US Coastal Service, but rather stands for the Union of Super Concerned Scientists, or UCS for short. Using their considerable PR skills and budgets, they have plastered warnings in the media targeting major coastal cities, designed to strike terror in anyone holding real estate in those places. Example headlines include:

Sea level rise could put thousands of homes in this SC county at risk, study says The State, South Carolina

Taxpayers in the Hamptons among the most exposed to rising seas Crain’s New York Business

Adapting to Climate Change Will Take More Than Just Seawalls and Levees Scientific American

The Biggest Threat Facing the City of Miami Smithsonian Magazine

What Does Maryland’s Gubernatorial Race Mean For Flood Management? The Real News Network

Study: Thousands of Palm Beach County homes impacted by sea-level rise WPTV, Florida

Sinking Land and Climate Change Are Worsening Tidal Floods on the Texas Coast Texas Observer

Sea Level Rise Will Threaten Thousands of California Homes Scientific American

300,000 coastal homes in US, worth $120 billion, at risk of chronic floods from rising seas USA Today

That last gets the thrust of the UCS study Underwater: Rising Seas, Chronic Floods, and the Implications for US Coastal Real Estate (2018)

Sea levels are rising. Tides are inching higher. High-tide floods are becoming more frequent and reaching farther inland. And hundreds of US coastal communities will soon face chronic, disruptive flooding that directly affects people’s homes, lives, and properties.

Yet property values in most coastal real estate markets do not currently reflect this risk. And most homeowners, communities, and investors are not aware of the financial losses they may soon face.

This analysis looks at what’s at risk for US coastal real estate from sea level rise—and the challenges and choices we face now and in the decades to come.

The report and supporting documents give detailed dire warnings state by state, and even down to counties and townships. As example of the damage projections is this table estimating 2030 impacts:

State  Homes at Risk  Value at Risk Property Tax at Risk  Population in 
at-risk homes 
AL  3,542 $1,230,676,217 $5,918,124  4,367
CA  13,554 $10,312,366,952 $128,270,417  33,430
CT  2,540 $1,921,428,017 $29,273,072  5,690
DC  – $0 $0  –
DE  2,539 $127,620,700 $2,180,222  3,328
FL  20,999 $7,861,230,791 $101,267,251  32,341
GA  4,028 $1,379,638,946 $13,736,791  7,563
LA  26,336 $2,528,283,022 $20,251,201  63,773
MA  3,303 $2,018,914,670 $17,887,931  6,500
MD  8,381 $1,965,882,200 $16,808,488  13,808
ME  788 $330,580,830 $3,933,806  1,047
MS  918 $100,859,844 $1,392,059  1,932
NC  6,376 $1,449,186,258 $9,531,481  10,234
NH  1,034 $376,087,216 $5,129,494  1,659
NJ  26,651 $10,440,814,375 $162,755,196  35,773
NY  6,175 $3,646,706,494 $74,353,809  16,881
OR  677 $110,461,140 $990,850  1,277
PA  138 $18,199,572 $204,111  310
RI  419 $299,462,350 $3,842,996  793
SC  5,779 $2,882,357,415 $22,921,550  8,715
TX  5,505 $1,172,865,533 $19,453,940  9,802
VA  3,849 $838,437,710 $8,296,637  6,086
WA  3,691 $1,392,047,121 $13,440,420  7,320

The methodology, of course is climate models all the way down. They explain:

Three sea level rise scenarios, developed by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and localized for this analysis, are included:

  • A high scenario that assumes a continued rise in global carbon emissions and an increasing loss of land ice; global average sea level is projected to rise about 2 feet by 2045 and about 6.5 feet by 2100.
  • An intermediate scenario that assumes global carbon emissions rise through the middle of the century then begin to decline, and ice sheets melt at rates in line with historical observations; global average sea level is projected to rise about 1 foot by 2035 and about 4 feet by 2100.
  • A low scenario that assumes nations successfully limit global warming to less than 2 degrees Celsius (the goal set by the Paris Climate Agreement) and ice loss is limited; global average sea level is projected to rise about 1.6 feet by 2100.

Oh, and they did not forget the disclaimer:

Disclaimer
This research is intended to help individuals and communities appreciate when sea level rise may place existing coastal properties (aggregated by community) at risk of tidal flooding. It captures the current value and tax base contribution of those properties (also aggregated by community) and is not intended to project changes in those values, nor in the value of any specific property.

The projections herein are made to the best of our scientific knowledge and comport with our scientific and peer review standards. They are limited by a range of factors, including but not limited to the quality of property-level data, the resolution of coastal elevation models, the potential installment of defensive measures not captured by those models, and uncertainty around the future pace of sea level rise. More information on caveats and limitations can be found at http://www.ucsusa.org/underwater.

Neither the authors nor the Union of Concerned Scientists are responsible or liable for financial or reputational implications or damages to homeowners, insurers, investors, mortgage holders, municipalities, or other any entities. The content of this analysis should not be relied on to make business, real estate or other real world decisions without independent consultation with professional experts with relevant experience. The views expressed by individuals in the quoted text of this report do not represent an endorsement of the analysis or its results.

The need for a disclaimer becomes evident when looking into the details. The NOAA reference is GLOBAL AND REGIONAL SEA LEVEL RISE SCENARIOS FOR THE UNITED STATES NOAA Technical Report NOS CO-OPS 083

Since the text emphasizes four examples of their scenarios, let’s consider them here. First there is San Francisco, a city currently suing oil companies over sea level rise. From tidesandcurrents comes this tidal gauge record
It’s a solid, long-term record providing a century of measurements from 1900 through 2017.  The graph below compares the present observed trend with climate models projections out to 2100.

Since the record is set at zero in 2000, the difference in 21st century expectation is stark. Instead of  the existing trend out to around 20 cm, models project 2.5 meters rise by 2100.

New York City is represented by the Battery tidal gauge:
Again, a respectable record with a good 20th century coverage.  And the models say:
The red line projects 2500 mm rise vs. 284 mm, almost a factor of 10 more.  The divergence is evident even in the first 17 years.

Florida comes in for a lot of attention, especially the keys, so here is Key West:
A similar pattern to NYC Battery gauge, and here is the projection:
The pattern is established: Instead of a rise of about 30 cm, the models project 250 cm.

Finally, probably the worst case, and well-known to all already is Galveston, Texas:
The water has been rising there for a long time, so maybe the models got this one close.
The gap is less than the others since the rising trend is much higher, but the projection is still four times the past.  Galveston is at risk, all right, but we didn’t need this analysis to tell us that.

A previous post Unbelievable Climate Models goes into why they are running so hot and so extreme, and why they can not be trusted.

Unbelievable Climate Models

It is not just you thinking the world is not warming the way climate models predicted. The models are flawed, and their estimates of the climate’s future response to rising CO2 are way too hot. Yet these overcooked forecasts are the basis for policy makers to consider all kinds of climate impacts, from sea level rise to food production and outbreaks of Acne.

The models’ outputs are contradicted by the instrumental temperature records. So a choice must be made: Shall we rely on measurements of our past climate experience, or embrace the much warmer future envisioned by these models?

Ross McKitrick takes us through this fundamental issue in his Financial Post article All those warming-climate predictions suddenly have a big, new problem Excerpts below with my bolds, headers and images

Why ECS is Important

One of the most important numbers in the world goes by the catchy title of Equilibrium Climate Sensitivity, or ECS. It is a measure of how much the climate responds to greenhouse gases. More formally, it is defined as the increase, in degrees Celsius, of average temperatures around the world, after doubling the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and allowing the atmosphere and the oceans to adjust fully to the change. The reason it’s important is that it is the ultimate justification for governmental policies to fight climate change.

The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) says ECS is likely between 1.5 and 4.5 degrees Celsius, but it can’t be more precise than that. Which is too bad, because an enormous amount of public policy depends on its value. People who study the impacts of global warming have found that if ECS is low — say, less than two — then the impacts of global warming on the economy will be mostly small and, in many places, mildly beneficial. If it is very low, for instance around one, it means greenhouse gas emissions are simply not worth doing anything about. But if ECS is high — say, around four degrees or more — then climate change is probably a big problem. We may not be able to stop it, but we’d better get ready to adapt to it.

So, somebody, somewhere, ought to measure ECS. As it turns out, a lot of people have been trying, and what they have found has enormous policy implications.

The violins span 5–95% ranges; their widths indicate how PDF values vary with ECS. Black lines show medians, red lines span 17–83% ‘likely’ ranges. Published estimates based directly on observed warming are shown in blue. Unpublished estimates of mine based on warming attributable to greenhouse gases inferred by two recent detection and attribution studies are shown in green. CMIP5 models are shown in salmon. The observational ECS estimates have broadly similar medians and ‘likely’ ranges, all of which are far below the corresponding values for the CMIP5 models. Source: Nic Lewis at Climate Audit https://climateaudit.org/2015/04/13/pitfalls-in-climate-sensitivity-estimation-part-2/

Methods Matter

To understand why, we first need to delve into the methodology a bit. There are two ways scientists try to estimate ECS. The first is to use a climate model, double the modeled CO2 concentration from the pre-industrial level, and let it run until temperatures stabilize a few hundred years into the future. This approach, called the model-based method, depends for its accuracy on the validity of the climate model, and since models differ quite a bit from one another, it yields a wide range of possible answers. A well-known statistical distribution derived from modeling studies summarizes the uncertainties in this method. It shows that ECS is probably between two and 4.5 degrees, possibly as low as 1.5 but not lower, and possibly as high as nine degrees. This range of potential warming is very influential on economic analyses of the costs of climate change.***

The second method is to use long-term historical data on temperatures, solar activity, carbon-dioxide emissions and atmospheric chemistry to estimate ECS using a simple statistical model derived by applying the law of conservation of energy to the planetary atmosphere. This is called the Energy Balance method. It relies on some extrapolation to satisfy the definition of ECS but has the advantage of taking account of the available data showing how the actual atmosphere has behaved over the past 150 years.

The surprising thing is that the Energy Balance estimates are very low compared to model-based estimates. The accompanying chart compares the model-based range to ECS estimates from a dozen Energy Balance studies over the past decade. Clearly these two methods give differing answers, and the question of which one is more accurate is important.

Weak Defenses for Models Discrepancies

Climate modelers have put forward two explanations for the discrepancy. One is called the “emergent constraint” approach. The idea is that models yield a range of ECS values, and while we can’t measure ECS directly, the models also yield estimates of a lot of other things that we can measure (such as the reflectivity of cloud tops), so we could compare those other measures to the data, and when we do, sometimes the models with high ECS values also yield measures of secondary things that fit the data better than models with low ECS values.

This argument has been a bit of a tough sell, since the correlations involved are often weak, and it doesn’t explain why the Energy Balance results are so low.

The second approach is based on so-called “forcing efficacies,” which is the concept that climate forcings, such as greenhouse gases and aerosol pollutants, differ in their effectiveness over time and space, and if these variations are taken into account the Energy Balance sensitivity estimates may come out higher. This, too, has been a controversial suggestion.

Challenges to Oversensitive Models

A recent Energy Balance ECS estimate was just published in the Journal of Climate by Nicholas Lewis and Judith Curry. There are several features that make their study especially valuable. First, they rely on IPCC estimates of greenhouse gases, solar changes and other climate forcings, so they can’t be accused of putting a finger on the scale by their choice of data. Second, they take into account the efficacy issue and discuss it at length. They also take into account recent debates about how surface temperatures should or shouldn’t be measured, and how to deal with areas like the Arctic where data are sparse. Third, they compute their estimates over a variety of start and end dates to check that their ECS estimate is not dependent on the relative warming hiatus of the past two decades.

Their ECS estimate is 1.5 degrees, with a probability range between 1.05 and 2.45 degrees. If the study was a one-time outlier we might be able to ignore it. But it is part of a long list of studies from independent teams (as this interactive graphic shows), using a variety of methods that take account of critical challenges, all of which conclude that climate models exhibit too much sensitivity to greenhouse gases.

Change the Sensitivity, Change the Future

Policy-makers need to pay attention, because this debate directly impacts the carbon-tax discussion.

The Environmental Protection Agency uses social cost of carbon models that rely on the model-based ECS estimates. Last year, two colleagues and I published a study in which we took an earlier Lewis and Curry ECS estimate and plugged it into two of those models. The result was that the estimated economic damages of greenhouse gas emissions fell by between 40 and 80 per cent, and in the case of one model the damages had a 40 per cent probability of being negative for the next few decades — that is, they would be beneficial changes. The new Lewis and Curry ECS estimate is even lower than their old one, so if we re-did the same study we would find even lower social costs of carbon.

Conclusion

If ECS is as low as the Energy Balance literature suggests, it means that the climate models we have been using for decades run too hot and need to be revised. It also means that greenhouse gas emissions do not have as big an impact on the climate as has been claimed, and the case for costly policy measures to reduce carbon-dioxide emissions is much weaker than governments have told us. For a science that was supposedly “settled” back in the early 1990s, we sure have a lot left to learn.

Ross McKitrick is professor of economics at the University of Guelph and senior fellow at the Fraser Institute.

Famine Forecasts Foiled: Climate Increasing Food Production

Gregory Whitestone has the story at CNS Famine Forecasts Foiled: Climate’s Projected Food Production to Increase  Excerpts below with my bolds.

The latest dose of “fake news” about global warming comes from two forecasts of famine due to human activity. Both drew on estimates of extremely high temperatures predicted by the same flawed climate models used by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) to predict other climate calamities. The climate models used in the studies are estimated to overpredict temperature by 2.5 to 3 times as compared to actually measured temperatures, and both rely on the highest estimates of maximum temperature increase.

The first of the reports warned that future production of vegetables and legumes would decrease by more than 30 percent with an expected rise of 4C. Even the alarmist IPCC says that the most likely case is a rise of about half that.

The primary reason for the prediction of famine is a sharp decrease in water availability, even though recent reports indicate that previously arid portions of the Earth are experiencing a significant net increase in soil moisture due to a combination of increasing precipitation and CO2 fertilization — both effects of our changing climate.

Buried in the report is an admission that contradicts the hysteria engendered by the headlines. According to the authors, a 250-ppm increase in CO2, without the exaggerated temperature increase, would boost crop production by an average of 22 percent! That’s correct, more food as a result of increasing CO2.

The second report projects decreases in corn (maize) production due to increasing heat waves. This increase in extreme heat was based on the same exaggerated 4oC increase in temperature as the first study.

According to the USDA, corn is the largest component of the global grain trade, and the United States is the world’s largest producer. Corn is thus one of the country’s most important agricultural products, processed as sweet corn, cornmeal, tortillas and, thankfully, bourbon. It also is the primary feedstock to fatten cattle, chickens and hogs.

Fortunately, despite a continuing rise in temperatures, the world and America have set new corn records on an annual basis. The world’s remarkable ability to increase food production year after year is attributable to mechanization, agricultural innovation, CO2 fertilization and warmer weather. World grain production figures show that crop and food production has steadily increased, with only positive effects from our changing climate.

World grain production, consumption (LHS) and stocks (RHS) IGC (International Grain Council) data, Momagri formatting

Historically, crop growth has ballooned in times of high temperatures and declined drastically during cold periods. Over the last 4,000 years we find that previous periods of much warmer temperatures coincided with increasing food and prosperity leading to the rise of great civilizations that were relatively rich and well fed. Prosperous periods were interrupted by times of great despair as the Earth plunged into global cooling. With names like the Greek Dark Ages, the Dark Ages and the Little Ice Age, intervening cool periods featured crop failure, famine and mass depopulation.

Corn production in the U.S. presents a conundrum for environmental activists. On the one hand, they engage in fear mongering with predictions of famine based on questionable climate models. On the other hand, as enemies of fossil fuels, the activists promote ethanol production to replace our oil-based transportation fuels. Every acre of corn diverted to ethanol production is an acre that is no longer feeding the world’s hungry. In 2008, Herr Jean Ziegler, the United Nations’ Rapporteur for the Right to Food, claimed that “to divert land from food production to biofuels is a crime against humanity.”

In 2000, the United States imposed the first ethanol mandate, dictating the level of ethanol that must be incorporated into American fuels. At that time, 90 percent of corn production was used for food. Today, only 60 percent of corn produced is used for food, driving up the cost of corn as food. The climate alarmists who claim to care about the world’s hungry could improve their lot overnight by simply canceling the ethanol mandate.

Rising temperatures and increasing carbon dioxide are leading to multiple benefits and perhaps the most important of those is increasing crop production. Sleep well users of fossil fuels; you aren’t causing famine.

Gregory Wrightstone is author of the new book, “Inconvenient Facts: The Science That Al Gore Doesn’t Want You To Know.” Wrightstone is a geologist with more than 35 years of experience researching and studying various aspects of the Earth’s processes. He is a member of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the Geological Society of America.

See also:  Adapting Plants to Feed the World

UK Farmers Foot Climate Bill

The Farmer’s Weekly advises UK farmers: Don’t miss out on climate change tax discounts Excerpts below with my bolds.

 

 

The NFU has warned farmers they face rises in climate change taxes unless they register for a discount scheme before the 31 July deadline.

The Climate Change Levy (CCL) is a tax charged on gas, electricity, LPG, coal and coke used by UK businesses.

In April 2019, CCL rates levied on energy bills will increase by about 3% for electricity and 7% for gas for any businesses that do not register for a discounted rate under an NFU scheme.

Under the CCL scheme, eligible businesses can receive a discount in return for meeting energy-efficiency or carbon-saving targets. Achieving these targets will enable the business to receive a discount until March 2023, the NFU says.

The NFU CCL scheme gives up to 93% levy reductions on electricity and 78% on gas to qualifying businesses in the pig, poultry and protected horticulture sectors. It is therefore imperative to sign up to the scheme before the deadline of 31 July, the union warns.

Example of annual CCL savings for poultry farm using 350,000 kWh of import electricity and 45,000 litres of LPG

Year Non-member pays CCL member pays Member saving
2012-13 £3,615.50 £1,265.43 £2,350.08
2017-18 £4,608.10 £605.71 £4,002.39
2019-20 £6,907.75 £630.36 £6,277.40

More Good News: Ontario Reversing Carbon Tokenism

The story comes from Bloomberg, where they regard the event as lamentable: Ontario Scraps Carbon-Reduction Plan as It Expands Elsewhere.  Excerpts below with my bolds.

Ontario will scrap the province’s cap-and-trade program and pull out of the carbon-trading market with Quebec and California even as pollution pricing expands in other regions of the world.

Ontario’s Progressive Conservatives will follow through on a campaign promise to withdraw from the environmental program that required companies to buy credits to offset pollution blamed for global warming. Premier-designate Doug Ford also said he will challenge Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s authority to make local governments put a price on greenhouse-gas emissions.

The move comes as carbon-pricing programs are expanding in the U.S. even as President Donald Trump seeks to ease restrictions on coal companies. Europe already has a large regional cap-and-trade system while China, the world’s biggest polluter, has committed to a national pollution program that could open by 2020.

Ontario’s election results were largely priced into California’s carbon market. Despite Friday’s announcement, emitters in Ontario remain obligated to manage their carbon pollution until the province formally withdraws from the system, said John Battaglia, head of carbon markets at BGC Environmental Brokerage Services LP.

“The market is stable here,” Battaglia said in an interview. “We expect a bit of short-term volatility, but long term, the show will go on.” (Comment:  It is all about the show, isn’t it?)

Ontario’s PCs will be sworn in June 29 after defeating the Liberals in an election earlier this month. Ending what Ford called a job-killing carbon tax was one of his major commitments during the campaign. Ontario will also quit the Western Climate Initiative, Ford said Friday from Toronto.

Trudeau Plan

Eliminating the carbon tax and cap-and-trade is the right thing to do and is a key component in our plan to bring your gas prices down by 10 cents per liter,” Ford said in a statement.

But the move may not spare Ontario from a carbon price. Trudeau’s government is bringing in carbon pricing rules to cover all provinces and a “backstop” for local governments that don’t come up with their own plans this year.

“Ontario is going to still have an obligation under the federal architecture and the cost of meeting that obligation could be higher,” said Dallas Burtraw, a senior fellow at Resources for the Future. “The costs of the cap-and-trade program are small on retail gasoline rates.”

Another wheel comes off the Ontario Green Energy bus.

Frackingphobia: Facts vs. Fears

Hydraulic fracturing (AKA “fracking”) is in the news every day, and often in a disparaging way, despite the great benefits bestowed on nations applying the process, especially the US.

On a recent river cruise I found myself at a table with a couple from California, and the woman began spouting about the dangers and horribleness of fracking. My civility censor was suppressed by the wine I’d consumed, and I interrupted to say she was talking Bullshit. She halted, then asked her husband, a retired geologist, to comment, and he stated that fracking is a risky business. The geologist husband did not present any evidence for his view, IMO he was only speaking to support his spouse. I said I respected his opinion but still disagreed. The next day I apologized for my rudeness but said I still think she has been misled. We shared a congenial dinner later on, but avoided the subject.

The experience revealed I had been unprepared to engage on the details of the fracking issue. So this post is to summarize some research to assemble persuasive facts and resources to counter the fear mongering on this subject.

1.Obama’s EPA Found Fracking Has Not Contaminated Drinking Water

(Source: EPA Has Not Actually Changed Its Conclusion On Risks Of Fracking To Drinking Water by Robert Rapier for Forbes) Excerpts in italics with my bolds.

First, let me provide a bit of background on hydraulic fracturing. I find that most people who are against fracking don’t actually know what it is. The EPA report goes out of its way to blur the lines as well by lumping it all into “activities in the hydraulic fracturing water cycle.” By doing this, if a guy driving a truck filled with fracking chemicals has a wreck, it’s a “fracking issue.” So let’s define some terms.

Hydraulic fracturing has been around since the late 1940s, and has now been used in the U.S. more than a million times to increase production from oil and gas wells. Fracking involves pumping water, chemicals and a proppant down an oil or gas well under high pressure to break open channels (fractures) in the reservoir rock trapping the deposit. Oil and gas do not travel easily through these some formations, which is why they need to be fractured. The proppant is a granular material (usually sand) designed to hold those channels open, allowing the oil (or natural gas) to flow to the well bore.
While fracking has been around for decades, two developments in recent years are responsible for thrusting the technique into the public eye. The first is the fairly recent development in which fracking was combined with horizontal drilling, another common technique used in the oil and gas industry.

Like fracking, horizontal drilling was invented decades ago, and has been widely used in the oil and gas industry since the 1980s. As its name implies, horizontal drilling involves drilling down to an oil or gas deposit and then turning the drill horizontal to the formation to access a greater fraction of the deposit.

The marriage of these two techniques of hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling enabled the shale oil and gas boom in the U.S.

But the second development is what primarily thrust the technique(s) into the public spotlight. Some of the shale oil and gas formations are in areas that had never experienced significant fossil fuel development. Many locals resented this intrusion into their lives, and anti-fracking sentiments fed into a great deal of misinformation around the technique.

The movie Gasland is a perfect example. Director Josh Fox, whose family farm lies atop the Marcellus Shale in Pennsylvania, relied on misinformation and appeals to emotion instead of scientific data. Nevertheless, it was embraced by anti-fracking activists, and many who had never heard of fracking became convinced the technique was regularly polluting water supplies.

The concern among anti-fracking activists was that the fractures that allowed oil and gas to reach the well bore could also allow oil, gas, and chemicals to seep into the water supplies. But the reason this is a remote possibility is that a mile or more of rock will separate an oil and gas formation that is being fractured and an underground water resource. The fractures themselves extend for a few hundred feet, thus unsurprisingly there has never been a proven case where chemicals migrated from a fracked zone into water supplies.

That hasn’t stopped some from claiming that fracking has contaminated water supplies. However, those cases have always been a result of some activity peripheral to fracking. For example, if a well is improperly cemented it can leak. That in fact has happened, leading to the charge that “fracking contaminated the water.” There is an important distinction, however, and that is that this is not a result of the fracking process. A well may leak regardless of whether it was fracked. But activists (and now the EPA) seem bent on blurring the lines to the greatest extent possible by lumping lots of peripheral activities into the “fracking process.”

In 2010, Congress asked the EPA to investigate the safety of fracking. In 2015, the EPA issued a draft report. The bombshell statement from that report was that there was no evidence that fracking had “led to widespread, systemic impacts on drinking water resources in the United States.” This report was cheered by the fossil fuel industry, but caused a backlash with environmentalists, and spawned many counterclaims that the “fracking process” had led to contaminated water.

In December 2016 the EPA released its final report on the topic: Hydraulic Fracturing for Oil and Gas: Impacts from the Hydraulic Fracturing Water Cycle on Drinking Water Resources in the United States. Environmentalists were quick to note that the EPA had deleted its previous claim of no evidence of widespread water contamination, and were now reporting that “hydraulic fracturing activities can impact drinking water resources under some circumstances.” This story from The New York Times, for instance, was pretty typical of the reporting on the issue: Reversing Course, E.P.A. Says Fracking Can Contaminate Drinking Water.

But did the EPA actually reverse course? No. They gave examples where fracking could contaminate water. For instance they state that “Injection of hydraulic fracturing fluids directly into groundwater resources” can cause contamination. Yeah, no joke. Likewise, filling your car with gasoline can contaminate drinking water, because if you spill the gasoline all over the ground, it can get into the drinking water.

The EPA’s final report on hydraulic fracturing wasn’t that much different from the draft report. As in the previous report, the EPA noted that activities related to — but not exclusive to — fracking, have contaminated water supplies. Chemical spills happen all the time, but if the chemicals in question are for fracking, it becomes a “fracking issue.” Note that if the chemicals in question are to be used for fighting fires, we don’t say “firefighting contaminates water.” We should properly identify and address the actual problem, which in this instance would be the cause of the chemical spill.

Ultimately, the final report deleted a phrase from the draft report that there was no evidence of widespread impact on water supplies, and selectively used hypotheticals to show how fracking “could” contaminate water supplies. This is the Obama Administration laying down one more speed bump for the oil and gas industry while it still can.

Shale gas drilling rig in Ohio.

2. Discredited Fracking Studies are used to Target School Children
(Source: New Activist Report Rehashes Discredited Fracking Studies to Target School Children by Seth Whitehead for EnergyinDepth

A new Environment America “report” uses a couple old anti-fracking tactics — exploitation of children and blatant misinformation from activist studies — to try to stoke fears and rally support for its extremist call to ban fracking nationwide.

The ominously-titled “Dangerous and Close: Fracking Puts the Nation’s Most Vulnerable People at Risk” finds there are nearly 2,000 child care facilities, better than 1,300 schools, nearly 250 nursing care providers and more than 100 hospitals within a one-mile radius of fracked wells in the nine states examined, stating:

“Given the scale and severity of fracking’s impacts, fracking should be prohibited wherever possible and existing wells should be shut down beginning with those near institutions that serve our most vulnerable populations.”

Here are the report’s most egregious claims, followed by the facts.

Environment America Claim: “Fracking creates a range of threats to our health, including creating toxic air pollution that can reduce lung function even among healthy people, trigger asthma attacks, and has been linked to premature death. Children and the elderly are especially vulnerable to fracking’s health risks.”

A pumpjack works in the Bakken shale of North Dakota.

REALITY: There is actually ample evidence that fracking is improving overall air quality and health by reducing major pollutants such as fine particulate matter, sulfur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide. Furthermore, all three studies EA singles out as “evidence” close proximity to fracking sites can lead to the myriad of adverse health effects have been thoroughly debunked.

EA even cites an Earthworks study that claims “A series of 2012 measurements by officials of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) found VOCs levels so high at one fracking location that the officials themselves were forced to stop taking measurements and leave the site because it was too dangerous for them to remain.”

EA fails to mention TCEQ responded to Earthworks’ report by saying the agency has collected “several millions of data points for volatile organic compounds” in the Barnett Shale and Eagle Ford Shale and “Overall, the monitoring data provide evidence that shale play activity does not significantly impact air quality or pose a threat to human health.”

EA also conveniently ignores that the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and the Colorado Department of Public Health (CDPH) have conducted air monitoring near well sites as well and found no credible risk to public health.

Environment America Claim: “Currently, oil and gas companies are exempt from key provisions in the Safe Drinking Water Act, the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, and the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act.”

REALITY: The notion that the oil and natural gas industry is under-regulated is absolutely absurd narrative activists such as EA continue to push. Oil and gas production activities are subject to eight federal laws: including all relevant provisions of the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA); Clean Water Act (CWA); Clean Air Act (CAA); Resources Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA); Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA); the EPCRA; Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA); and Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA). Additionally, the oil and gas production sector is also heavily regulated at the state level.

A drilling rig works  in the Eagle Ford shale, South Texas region.

Environment America Claim: “Exposure to low levels of many of the chemicals used in or generated by oil and gas extraction activities can contribute to a variety of health effects, including asthma, cancer, birth defects, damage to the reproductive system and impaired brain development. For example, children’s long-term exposure to low levels of benzene, generally classified as a carcinogen, also harms respiratory health.”

REALITY: It is essential to understand that toxicity is completely dependent on dose level and exposure. The mere presence of benzene, for example, does not mean that it is present in toxic levels, as the numerous studies air monitoring studies referred to earlier illustrate. EA insinuates that even low-level benzene exposure is harmful. But benzene is actually present in countless everyday products such as shampoo, tooth paste, paint, PVC pipes and countless plastic products.

Environment America Claim: “Fracking targets the oil and gas trapped in shale formations… Sometimes that means wells are drilled in rural areas, such as portions of Colorado or North Dakota, and sometimes that wells are in densely populated areas, such as Los Angeles…”

REALITY: There are no fracking or unconventional oil production operations in the city of Los Angeles — none. EA attempts to justify this claim by employing the common activist tactic of expanding the definition of fracking to encompass all oil and gas related activity:

“Throughout this report, we refer to “fracking” as including all of the activities needed to bring a well into production using high-volume hydraulic fracturing. This includes drilling the well, operating that well, processing the gas or oil produced from that well, and delivering the gas or oil to market. The oil and gas industry often uses a more restrictive definition of “fracking” that includes only the actual moment in the extraction process when rock is fractured – a definition that obscures the broad changes to environmental, health and community conditions that result from the use of high-volume hydraulic fracturing in oil and gas extraction.”

Fracking is not used as a completion technique at any of the urban drill sites in the city. All of the facilities recover oil through traditional water flood operations. The report’s attempt to shoehorn fracking and unconventional production into its report proves that it is not engaged in an honest attempt to inform the public.

Environment America Claim: “Because of the health hazard created by radon, Pennsylvania has a long record of radon measurements in homes. An analysis of those radon measurements by researchers at Johns Hopkins School of Public Health found that radon levels have increased in counties with extensive fracking since 2004, and also found elevated radon levels on the first floor of houses located within 12.5 miles of a fracked well.”

REALITY: The Johns Hopkins study EA is referring to actually found the highest concentrations of radon were in areas with no shale development and direct sampling found radon not linked to fracking. As is the case with so many of the studies EA uses as evidence, the authors merely speculated fracking was the cause.

Environment America Claim: “Oil and gas production at fracked wells releases volatile organic compounds and nitrogen oxides that contribute to the formation of smog.”

REALITY: Oil and gas production is not a major contributor to ground-level ozone.

As EID has emphasized before, publicly available information demonstrates oil and gas production is not the significant contributor to ozone levels. Vehicle exhaust adds far more non-methane volatile organic compounds (NMVOCs) and nitrogen oxides (NOx) — both precursors to ground-level ozone — to the atmosphere than oil and gas production, as data from the EPA’s 2016 Greenhouse Gas Inventory clearly demonstrates.

Not only do oil and gas activities account for just six percent of total NOx emissions, which play more of a role in ground-level formation than VOCs, another recent NOAA report found that “The increased use of natural gas has…led to emissions reductions of NOx (40%) and SO2 (44%).”

Environment America Claim: “Contaminants can reach water supplies through faulty well construction, through surface spills, through improper wastewater disposal, or potentially through migration from the shale layer itself.”

REALITY: The EPA’s landmark five-year study confirmed, “hydraulic fracturing activities have not led to widespread, systemic impacts to drinking water resources,” and at least 15 other studies say the fracking process, specifically, have not contaminated groundwater.

Conclusion

EA’s claims in this report — aimed at generating headlines — are quite profound.

“Schools and day care centers should be safe places for kids to play and learn,” said Rachel Richardson, director of Environment America’s Stop Drilling program and co-author of the report. “Unfortunately our research shows far too many kids may be exposed to dirty air and toxic chemicals from fracking right next door.”

The problem is EA’s “research” merely found that there are some schools, nursing homes and hospitals near oil and natural gas development. It made no effort to collect its own data to support their claim that this is leading to adverse health effects.

Instead, it relied on long-debunked studies and tired fear tactics. Maybe that’s why the report’s hyperbolic claim that it “serves as a reminder of the unacceptable dangers of fracking, its potential to harm, and the need to bring this risky form of drilling to an end” was virtually ignored by the media.

3. Extensive research Study Found No link between groundwater pollution and fracking.
(Source: National Science Foundation and Duke University study summarized by Jeffrey Folks for American Thinker The science is settled, fracking is safe.)

Among the 130 wells studied, the researchers found only a subset of cases, including seven in Pennsylvania and one in Texas, in which faulty well construction or cementing was to blame for the seepage of gases into groundwater. According to Professor Avner Bengosh of Duke University, “[t]hese results appear to rule out the migration of methane up into drinking water aquifers from depth because of horizontal drilling or hydraulic fracturing.” That is to say, in the rare cases where it occurs, gases are entering the water supply from outside the borehead as a result of faulty well construction or poor cementing, both of which are manageable problems.

While the new report answers the most important question, proving beyond doubt that fracking itself does not cause gas to seep into the water supply, it does not address several other important questions. One of these is the frequency of contamination of water supplies by naturally occurring petroleum, methane, and other gases.

Natural pollution of this kind would seem to be extremely common, and in fact this natural process has been known for millennia. At sites where petroleum seeped to the surface, as in the vicinity of the 19th-century Drake oil field in Pennsylvania, Native Americans had made use of the oily substance as a lubricant for hundreds if not thousands of years. That oil, flowing naturally to the surface, was “contaminating” nearby streams and groundwater.

What humans add to natural emisions as a result of drilling is so minor as to be of little consequence. If some future study confirmed this fact, it would help to counter the myth that oil and gas drilling is polluting an otherwise pure land and sea environment. The reality is that wherever shale and other carbon-rich formations occur, natural leakage of petroleum and/or methane is inevitable. Oil and gas are naturally occurring features that are constantly interacting with the environment and entering the water supply through natural processes. As is so often the case, the idea that there once existed an environment free of all that modern intellectuals might consider unpleasant is simply a fantasy.

The NSF/Duke report is crucial to the debate over the safety of hydraulic fracturing. The oil and gas industry has already achieved a near perfect safety record, given the handful of failed wells in proportion to more than one million that have been fracked. The industry needs to continue working to achieve certainty that wells do not fail. It also needs to do a better job of communicating its intention to do so to a skeptical public.

4. Is Fracking Safe? The 10 Most Controversial Claims About Natural Gas Drilling by Seamus McGraw Popular Mechanics 2016

Members of Congress, gas companies, news organization, drilling opponents: They’ve all made bold claims about hydraulic fracturing (fracking) and the U.S. supply of underground natural gas. We take on 10 controversial quotes about natural gas and set the record straight.

WE ARE THE SAUDI ARABIA OF NATURAL GAS.” SEN. JOHN KERRY, D-MASS., MAY 2010

Less than a decade ago, industry analysts and government officials fretted that the United States was in danger of running out of gas. No more. Over the past several years, vast caches of natural gas trapped in deeply buried rock have been made accessible by advances in two key technologies: horizontal drilling, which allows vertical wells to turn and snake more than a mile sideways through the earth, and hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. Developed more than 60 years ago, fracking involves pumping millions of gallons of chemically treated water into deep shale formations at pressures of 9000 pounds per square inch or more. This fluid cracks the shale or widens existing cracks, freeing hydrocarbons to flow toward the well.

These advances have led to an eightfold increase in shale gas production over the past decade. According to the Energy Information Administration, shale gas will account for nearly half of the natural gas produced in the U.S. by 2035. But the bonanza is not without controversy, and nowhere, perhaps, has the dispute over fracking grown more heated than in the vicinity of the Marcellus Shale. According to Terry Engelder, a professor of geosciences at Penn State, the vast formation sprawling primarily beneath West Virginia, Pennsylvania and New York could produce an estimated 493 trillion cubic feet of gas over its 50- to 100-year life span. That’s nowhere close to Saudi Arabia’s total energy reserves, but it is enough to power every natural gas—burning device in the country for more than 20 years. The debate over the Marcellus Shale will shape national energy policy—including how fully, and at what cost, we exploit this vast resource.

HYDRAULIC FRACTURING SQUANDERS OUR PRECIOUS WATER RESOURCES.” Green Party of Pennsylvania, April 2011

There is no question that hydraulic fracturing uses a lot of water: It can take up to 7 million gallons to frack a single well, and at least 30 percent of that water is lost forever, after being trapped deep in the shale. And while there is some evidence that fracking has contributed to the depletion of water supplies in drought-stricken Texas, a study by Carnegie Mellon University indicates the Marcellus region has plenty of water and, in most cases, an adequate system to regulate its usage. The amount of water required to drill all 2916 of the Marcellus wells permitted in Pennsylvania in the first 11 months of 2010 would equal the amount of drinking water used by just one city, Pittsburgh, during the same period, says environmental engineering professor Jeanne VanBriesen, the study’s lead author. Plus, she notes, water withdrawals of this new industry are taking the place of water once used by industries, like steel manufacturing, that the state has lost. Hydrogeologist David Yoxtheimer of Penn State’s Marcellus Center for Outreach and Research gives the withdrawals more context: Of the 9.5 billion gallons of water used daily in Pennsylvania, natural gas development consumes 1.9 million gallons a day (mgd); livestock use 62 mgd; mining, 96 mgd; and industry, 770 mgd.

NATURAL GAS IS CLEANER, CHEAPER, DOMESTIC, AND IT’S VIABLE NOW.” OILMAN TURNED NATURAL-GAS CHEERLEADER T. BOONE PICKENS, SEPTEMBER 2009

Burning natural gas is cleaner than oil or gasoline, and it emits half as much carbon dioxide, less than one-third the nitrogen oxides, and 1 percent as much sulfur oxides as coal combustion. But not all shale gas makes it to the fuel tank or power plant. The methane that escapes during the drilling process, and later as the fuel is shipped via pipelines, is a significant greenhouse gas. At least one scientist, Robert Howarth at Cornell University, has calculated that methane losses could be as high as 8 percent. Industry officials concede that they could be losing anywhere between 1 and 3 percent. Some of those leaks can be prevented by aggressively sealing condensers, pipelines and wellheads. But there’s another upstream factor to consider: Drilling is an energy-intensive business. It relies on diesel engines and generators running around the clock to power rigs, and heavy trucks making hundreds of trips to drill sites before a well is completed. Those in the industry say there’s a solution at hand to lower emissions—using natural gas itself to power the process. So far, however, few companies have done that.

“[THERE’S] NEVER BEEN ONE CASE—DOCUMENTED CASE—OF GROUNDWATER CONTAMINATION IN THE HISTORY OF THE THOUSANDS AND THOUSANDS OF HYDRAULIC FRACTURING [WELLS]” SEN. JAMES INHOFE, R-OKLA., APRIL 2011

The senator is incorrect. In the past two years alone, a series of surface spills, including two blowouts at wells operated by Chesapeake Energy and EOG Resources and a spill of 8000 gallons of fracking fluid at a site in Dimock, Pa., have contaminated groundwater in the Marcellus Shale region. But the idea stressed by fracking critics that deep-injected fluids will migrate into groundwater is mostly false. Basic geology prevents such contamination from starting below ground. A fracture caused by the drilling process would have to extend through the several thousand feet of rock that separate deep shale gas deposits from freshwater aquifers. According to geologist Gary Lash of the State University of New York at Fredonia, the intervening layers of rock have distinct mechanical properties that would prevent the fissures from expanding a mile or more toward the surface. It would be like stacking a dozen bricks on top of each other, he says, and expecting a crack in the bottom brick to extend all the way to the top one. What’s more, the fracking fluid itself, thickened with additives, is too dense to ascend upward through such a channel. EPA officials are closely watching one place for evidence otherwise: tiny Pavillion, Wyo., a remote town of 160 where high levels of chemicals linked to fracking have been found in groundwater supplies. Pavillion’s aquifer sits several hundred feet above the gas cache, far closer than aquifers atop other gas fields. If the investigation documents the first case of fracking fluid seeping into groundwater directly from gas wells, drillers may be forced to abandon shallow deposits—which wouldn’t affect Marcellus wells.

“THE GAS ERA IS COMING, AND THE LANDSCAPE NORTH AND WEST OF [NEW YORK CITY] WILL INEVITABLY BE TRANSFORMED AS A RESULT. WHEN THE VALVES START OPENING NEXT YEAR, A LOT OF POOR FARM FOLK MAY BECOME TEXAS RICH. AND A LOT OF OTHER PEOPLE—ESPECIALLY THE ECOSENSITIVE NEW YORK CITY CROWD THAT HAS SETTLED AMONG THEM—WILL BE APOPLECTIC AS THEIR PRISTINE WEEKEND SANCTUARY IS CONVERTED INTO AN INDUSTRIAL ZONE, CRISSCROSSED WITH DRILL PADS, PIPELINES, AND ACCESS ROADS.” New York magazine, Sept. 21, 2008

Much of the political opposition to fracking has focused on the Catskill region, headwaters of the Delaware River and the source of most of New York City’s drinking water. But the expected boom never happened—there’s not enough gas in the watershed to make drilling worthwhile. “No one has to get excited about contaminated New York City drinking water,” Penn State’s Engelder told the Times Herald-Record of Middletown, N.Y., in April. The shale is so close to the surface that it’s not concentrated in large enough quantities to make recovering it economically feasible. But just to the west, natural gas development is dramatically changing the landscape. Drilling rigs are running around the clock in western Pennsylvania. Though buoyed by the economic windfall, residents fear that regulators can’t keep up with the pace of development. “It’s going to be hard to freeze-frame and say, ‘Let’s slow down,’?” Sen. Robert P. Casey Jr., D-Pa., said last fall. “That makes it more difficult for folks like us, who say we want to create the jobs and opportunity in the new industry, but we don’t want to do it at the expense of water quality and quality of life.”

“NATURAL GAS IS AFFORDABLE, ABUNDANT AND AMERICAN. IT COSTS ONE-THIRD LESS TO FILL UP WITH NATURAL GAS THAN TRADITIONAL GASOLINE.” REP. JOHN LARSON, D-CONN., CO-SPONSOR OF H.R. 1380, A MEASURE THAT WOULD PROVIDE TAX INCENTIVES FOR THE DEVELOPMENT AND PURCHASE OF NATURAL GAS VEHICLES, MARCH 2011

That may be true. Plus, there’s another incentive: Vehicles powered by liquefied natural gas, propane or compressed natural gas run cleaner than cars with either gasoline or diesel in the tank. According to the Department of Energy, if the transportation sector switched to natural gas, it would cut the nation’s carbon-monoxide emissions by at least 90 percent, carbon-dioxide emissions by 25 and nitrogen-oxide emissions by up to 60. But it’s not realistic: Nationwide, there are only about 3500 service stations (out of 120,000) that offer natural gas—based automotive fuel, and it would cost billions of dollars and take years to develop sufficient infrastructure to make that fuel competitive with gasoline or diesel. And only Honda makes a car that can run on natural gas. That doesn’t mean natural gas has no role in meeting the nation’s short-term transportation needs. In fact, buses in several cities now rely on it, getting around the lack of widespread refueling opportunities by returning to a central terminal for a fill-up. The same could be done for local truck fleets. But perhaps the biggest contribution natural gas could make to America’s transportation picture would be more indirect—as a fuel for electric-generation plants that will power the increasingly popular plug-in hybrid vehicles.

“DO NOT DRINK THIS WATER” HANDWRITTEN SIGN IN THE DOCUMENTARY GASLAND, 2010

It’s an iconic image, captured in the 2010 Academy Award—nominated documentary GasLand. A Colorado man holds a flame to his kitchen faucet and turns on the water. The pipes rattle and hiss, and suddenly a ball of fire erupts. It appears a damning indictment of the gas drilling nearby. But Colorado officials determined the gas wells weren’t to blame; instead, the homeowner’s own water well had been drilled into a naturally occurring pocket of methane. Nonetheless, up to 50 layers of natural gas can occur between the surface and deep shale formations, and methane from these shallow deposits has intruded on groundwater near fracking sites. In May, Pennsylvania officials fined Chesapeake Energy $1 million for contaminating the water supplies of 16 families in Bradford County. Because the company had not properly cemented its boreholes, gas migrated up along the outside of the well, between the rock and steel casing, into aquifers. The problem can be corrected by using stronger cement and processing casings to create a better bond, ensuring an impermeable seal.

“AS NEW YORK GEARS UP FOR A MASSIVE EXPANSION OF GAS DRILLING IN THE MARCELLUS SHALE, STATE OFFICIALS HAVE MADE A POTENTIALLY TROUBLING DISCOVERY ABOUT THE WASTEWATER CREATED BY THE PROCESS: IT’S RADIOACTIVE.” ProPublica, November 2009

Shale has a radioactive signature—from uranium isotopes such as radium-226 and radium-228—that geologists and drillers often measure to chart the vast underground formations. The higher the radiation levels, the greater the likelihood those deposits will yield significant amounts of gas. But that does not necessarily mean the radioactivity poses a public health hazard; after all, some homes in Pennsylvania and New York have been built directly on Marcellus shale. Tests conducted earlier this year in Pennsylvania waterways that had received treated water—both produced water (the fracking fluid that returns to the surface) and brine (naturally occurring water that contains radioactive elements, as well as other toxins and heavy metals from the shale)—found no evidence of elevated radiation levels. Conrad Dan Volz, former scientific director of the Center for Healthy Environments and Communities at the University of Pittsburgh, is a vocal critic of the speed with which the Marcellus is being developed—but even he says that radioactivity is probably one of the least pressing issues. “If I were to bet on this, I’d bet that it’s not going to be a problem,” he says.

“CLAIMING THAT THE INFORMATION IS PROPRIETARY, DRILLING COMPANIES HAVE STILL NOT COME OUT AND FULLY DISCLOSED WHAT FRACKING FLUID IS MADE OF.” Vanity Fair, June 2010

Under mounting pressure, companies such as Schlumberger and Range Resources have posted the chemical compounds used in some of their wells, and in June, Texas became the first state to pass a law requiring full public disclosure. This greater transparency has revealed some oddly benign ingredients, such as instant coffee and walnut shells—but also some known and suspected carcinogens, including benzene and methanol. Even if these chemicals can be found under kitchen sinks, as industry points out, they’re poured down wells in much greater volumes: about 5000 gallons of additives for every 1 million gallons of water and sand. A more pressing question is what to do with this fluid once it rises back to the surface. In Texas’s Barnett Shale, wastewater can be reinjected into impermeable rock 1.5 miles below ground. This isn’t feasible in the Marcellus Shale region; the underlying rocks are not porous enough. Currently, a handful of facilities in Pennsylvania are approved to treat the wastewater. More plants, purpose-built for the task, are planned. In the meantime, most companies now recycle this water to drill their next well.

“THE INCREASING ABUNDANCE OF CHEAP NATURAL GAS, COUPLED WITH RISING DEMAND FOR THE FUEL FROM CHINA AND THE FALL-OUT FROM THE FUKUSHIMA NUCLEAR DISASTER IN JAPAN, MAY HAVE SET THE STAGE FOR A ‘GOLDEN AGE OF GAS.” WALL STREET JOURNAL SUMMARIZING AN INTERNATIONAL ENERGY AGENCY REPORT, JUNE 6, 2011

There’s little question that the United States, with 110 years’ worth of natural gas (at the 2009 rate of consumption), is destined to play a major role in the fuel’s development. But even its most ardent supporters, men like T. Boone Pickens, concede that it should be a bridge fuel between more polluting fossil fuels and cleaner, renewable energy. In the meantime, the U.S. should continue to invest in solar and wind, conserve power and implement energy-efficient technology. Whether we can effectively manage our natural gas resource while developing next-gen sources remains to be seen. Margie Tatro, director of fuel and water systems at Sandia National Laboratories, says, “I think natural gas is a transitioning fuel for the electricity sector until we can get a greater percentage of nuclear and renewables on the grid.”

 

5.Compendium of Studies Demonstrating the Safety and Health Benefits of Fracking

The United States has made massive improvements in air quality over the past decade
and study after study has shown that the increased use of natural gas for electricity
generation – made possible by the shale revolution – is the reason we’ve achieved this
feat.

This progress is the centerpiece of Energy In Depth’s new report – Compendium of
Studies Demonstrating the Safety and Health Benefits of Fracking – which includes data
from 23 peer-reviewed studies, 17 government health and regulatory agencies and
reports from 10 research institutions that clearly demonstrate:
• Increased natural gas use — thanks to hydraulic fracturing —has led to dramatic
declines in air pollution. The United States is the number one oil and gas producer in
the world and it has some of the lowest death rates from air pollution in the world.
Numerous studies have shown that pollution has plummeted as natural gas production
has soared.
Emissions from well sites and associated infrastructure are below thresholds
regulatory authorities consider to be a threat to public health – that’s the conclusion of
multiple studies using air monitors that measure emissions directly.
• There is no credible evidence that fracking causes or exacerbates asthma. In fact,
asthma rates and asthma hospitalizations across the United States have declined as
natural gas production has ramped up.
• There is no credible evidence that fracking causes cancer. Studies that have directly
measured emissions at fracking sites have found emissions are below the threshold
that would be harmful to public health.
• There is no credible evidence that fracking leads to adverse birth outcomes. In fact,
adverse birth outcomes have decreased while life expectancy has increased in areas
that are ramping up natural gas use.
Fracking is not a credible threat to groundwater. Study after study has shown that
there are no widespread, systemic impacts to drinking water from hydraulic fracturing.
It is well known that the shale revolution has been a boon to our nation’s economy,
its geopolitical position, and the millions of consumers and manufacturers who
continue to benefit from historically low energy costs. But the case in support of
shale’s salubrious effect on air quality and health continues to be an underreported
phenomenon – this new report puts the health benefits of our increased use of natural
gas in the spotlight.

Conclusion
To be clear, no form of energy development, whether we’re talking about fossil fuels or
renewables, is risk free. But the data clearly show, time and time again, that emissions
from fracking are not a credible risk to public health.

In fact, the data show that enormous reductions in pollution across the board are
attributable to the significant increases in natural gas consumption that hydraulic
fracturing has made possible.

They show power plant emissions of SO2 declining by 86 percent, emissions of NOx
declining by 67 percent, and emissions of mercury by 55 percent. They also show
hospitalizations for asthma declining as natural gas ramps up. At the same time life
expectancy and birth outcomes have improved.

And, of course, all these positive health outcomes can be largely traced back to
significantly cleaner air, thanks to fracking.

Head, Heart and Science Updated

A man who has not been a socialist before 25 has no heart. If he remains one after 25 he has no head.—King Oscar II of Sweden

H/T to American Elephants for linking to this Jordan Peterson video:  The Fatal Flaw in Leftist Thought.  He has an outstanding balance between head and heart, and also applies scientific analysis to issues, in this case the problem of identity politics and leftist ideology.

As usual Peterson makes many persuasive points in this talk.  I was struck by his point that we have established the boundary of extremism on the right, but no such boundary exists on the left.  Our society rejects right wingers who cross the line and assert racial superiority.  Conservative voices condemn that position along with the rest.

We know from the Soviet excesses that the left can go too far, but what is the marker?  Left wingers have the responsibility to set the boundary and sanction the extremists.  Peterson suggests that the fatal flaw is the attempt to ensure equality of outcomes for identity groups, and explains why that campaign is impossible.

From Previous Post on Head, Heart and Science

Recently I had an interchange with a friend from high school days, and he got quite upset with this video by Richard Lindzen. So much so, that he looked up attack pieces in order to dismiss Lindzen as a source. This experience impressed some things upon me.

Climate Change is Now Mostly a Political Football (at least in USA)

My friend attributed his ill humor to the current political environment. He readily bought into slanderous claims, and references to being bought and paid for by the Koch brothers. At this point, Bernie and Hilliary only disagree about who is the truest believer in Global Warming. Once we get into the general election process, “Fighting Climate Change” will intensify as a wedge issue, wielded by smug righteous believers on the left against the anti-science neanderthals on the right.

So it is a hot label for social-media driven types to identify who is in the tribe (who can be trusted) and the others who can not.  For many, it is not any deeper than that.

The Warming Consensus is a Timesaver

My friend acknowledged that his mind was made up on the issue because 95+% of scientists agreed. It was extremely important for him to discredit Lindzen as untrustworthy to maintain the unanimity. When a Warmist uses: “The Scientists say: ______” , it is much the same as a Christian reference: “The Bible says: _______.” In both cases, you can fill in the blank with whatever you like, and attribute your idea to the Authority. And most importantly, you can keep the issue safely parked in a No Thinking Zone. There are plenty of confusing things going on around us, and no one wants one more ambiguity requiring time and energy.

Science Could Lose the Delicate Balance Between Head and Heart

Decades ago Arthur Eddington wrote about the tension between attitudes of artists and scientists in their regarding nature. On the one hand are people filled with the human impulse to respect, adore and celebrate the beauty of life and the world. On the other are people driven by the equally human need to analyze, understand and know what to expect from the world. These are Yin and Yang, not mutually exclusive, and all of us have some of each.

Most of us can recall the visceral response in the high school biology lab when assigned to dissect a frog. Later on, crayfish were preferred (less disturbing to artistic sensibilities). For all I know, recent generations have been spared this right of passage, to their detriment. For in the conflict between appreciating things as they are, and the need to know why and how they are, we are exposed to deeper reaches of the human experience. If you have ever witnessed, as I have, a human body laid open on an autopsy table, then you know what I mean.

Anyone, scientist or artist, can find awe in contemplating the mysteries of life. There was a time when it was feared that the march of science was so advancing the boundaries of knowledge that the shrinking domain of the unexplained left ever less room for God and religion. Practicing scientists knew better. Knowing more leads to discovering more unknowns; answers produce cascades of new questions. The mystery abounds, and the discovery continues. Eddington:

It is pertinent to remember that the concept of substance has disappeared from fundamental physics; what we ultimately come down to is form. Waves! Waves!! Waves!!! Or for a change — if we turn to relativity theory — curvature! Energy which, since it is conserved, might be looked upon as the modern successor of substance, is in relativity theory a curvature of space-time, and in quantum theory a periodicity of waves. I do not suggest that either the curvature or the waves are to be taken in a literal objective sense; but the two great theories, in their efforts to reduce what is known about energy to a comprehensible picture, both find what they require in a conception of “form”.

What do we really observe? Relativity theory has returned one answer — we only observe relations. Quantum theory returns another answer — we only observe probabilities.

It is impossible to trap modern physics into predicting anything with perfect determinism because it deals with probabilities from the outset.
― Arthur Stanley Eddington

Works by Eddington on Science and the Natural World are here.

Summary

The science problem today is not the scientists themselves, but with those attempting to halt its progress for the sake of political power and wealth.

Eddington:
Religious creeds are a great obstacle to any full sympathy between the outlook of the scientist and the outlook which religion is so often supposed to require … The spirit of seeking which animates us refuses to regard any kind of creed as its goal. It would be a shock to come across a university where it was the practice of the students to recite adherence to Newton’s laws of motion, to Maxwell’s equations and to the electromagnetic theory of light. We should not deplore it the less if our own pet theory happened to be included, or if the list were brought up to date every few years. We should say that the students cannot possibly realise the intention of scientific training if they are taught to look on these results as things to be recited and subscribed to. Science may fall short of its ideal, and although the peril scarcely takes this extreme form, it is not always easy, particularly in popular science, to maintain our stand against creed and dogma.
― Arthur Stanley Eddington

But enough about science. It’s politicians we need to worry about:

Footnote:

“Asked in 1919 whether it was true that only three people in the world understood the theory of general relativity, [Eddington] allegedly replied: ‘Who’s the third?”

Postscript:  For more on how we got here see Warmists and Rococo Marxists.