Six Reasons to Rescind Social Cost of Carbon

 

A consise summary is provided by Paul Driessen and Roger Bezdek
in this article Anti-fossil fuel SCC relies on garbage models, ignores carbon benefits and hurts the poor. Excerpts below.

The UN Development Program also calls energy “central to poverty reduction.” And International Energy Agency Executive Director Dr. Fatih Birol notes that “coal is raising living standards and lifting hundreds of millions of people out of poverty.” In fact, all fossil fuels are doing so.

Indeed, fossil fuels created the modern world and the housing, transportation, other technologies and living standards so many of us take for granted. They are essential for electricity and life, and over the past 250 years they more than doubled average life expectancy in countries that took advantage of them.

But the Obama Administration and radical environmentalists despise fossil fuels and used every tactic they could devise to eliminate them. One of their most important schemes was the “social cost of carbon.”

Six Things Wrong with Social Cost of Carbon

1. Each ton of U.S. emissions averted would initially have prevented a hypothetical $25/ton in global societal costs allegedly resulting from dangerous manmade climate change: less coastal flooding and tropical disease, fewer droughts and extreme weather events, for example. But within three years regulators arbitrarily increased the SCC to around $40/ton.

That made it easier to justify the Clean Power Plan, Paris climate agreement, and countless Obama Era actions on electricity generation, fracking, methane, pipelines, vehicle mileage and appliance efficiency standards, livestock operations, carbon taxes, and wind, solar and biofuel mandates and subsidies.

2. The supposed bedrock for the concept is the now rapidly shifting sands of climate chaos theory. New questions are arising almost daily about data quality and manipulation, the degree to which carbon dioxide affects global temperatures, the complex interplay of solar, cosmic ray, oceanic and other natural forces, and the inability of computer models to predict temperatures, sea level rise or hurricanes.

3. The SCC scheme blames American emissions for supposed costs worldwide (even though U.S. CO2 emissions are actually declining). It incorporates almost every conceivable cost of oil, gas and coal use on crops, forests, coastal cities, property damage, “forced migration,” and human health, nutrition and disease. However, it utterly fails to mention, much less analyze, tremendous and obvious carbon benefits.

4. CC schemes likewise impute only costs to carbon dioxide emissions. However, as thousands of scientific studies verify, rising levels of this miracle molecule are “greening” the Earth – reducing deserts and improving forests, grasslands, drought resistance, crop yields and human nutrition. No matter which government report or discount rate is used, asserted social costs of more CO2 in Earth’s atmosphere are infinitesimal compared to its estimated benefits.

5.  Government officials claim they can accurately forecast damages to the world’s climate, economies, civilizations, populations and ecosystems from U.S. carbon dioxide emissions over the next three centuries. They say we must base today’s energy policies, laws, and regulations on those forecasts. The notion is delusional and dangerous.

6. Finally, the most fundamental issue isn’t even the social cost of carbon. It is the costs inflicted on society by anti-carbon regulations. Those rules replace fossil fuel revenues with renewable energy subsidies; reliable, affordable electricity with unreliable power that costs two to three times as much; and mines, drill holes, cropland and wildlife habitats with tens of millions of acres of wind, solar and biofuel “farms.”

Summary

Anti-carbon rules are designed to drive energy de-carbonization and modern nation de-industrialization. Perhaps worst, their impacts fall hardest on poor, minority and blue-collar families. . . Worldwide, billions of people still do not have electricity – and the SCC would keep them deprived of its benefits.

It’s time to rescind and defund the SCC – and replace it with honest, objective cost-benefit analyses.

Roger Bezdek is an internationally recognized energy analyst and president of Management Information Services, Inc. Paul Driessen is senior policy analyst for the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow and author of books and articles on energy, climate change and human rights.

Additional posts:

Social Cost of Carbon: Origin and Prospects

The Social Benefits of Carbon

Skeptical Journalist Spotted, Species Feared Extinct

Just spotted this article:

A Skeptic’s View on Climate Models
By Ross Pomeroy January 23, 2017 in Real Clear Science

I like to think that I’m a good skeptic. I’ve read every word of Carl Sagan’s timeless Demon Haunted World. I almost always ask for evidence. I employ the scientific method to guide my actions. I try to think critically. I’m willing to admit when “I don’t know”. I question bold and crazy claims. And most importantly, I try not to let my ideology sway which claims I question. That’s why, as a skeptic, and as a firm advocate of science, I simply cannot accept the following claims without some level of incredulity:

“The next few decades offer a brief window of opportunity to minimize large-scale and potentially catastrophic climate change that will extend longer than the entire history of human civilization thus far.”

“The forest as we know it would effectively be gone.”

“We will have very few humans on the planet because of lack of habitat.”

Each of the preceding statements are bold, apocalyptic claims concerning climate change, and there are many more like them littered across the Internet. But just because they are widespread and originate from respectable, legitimate scientists, that does not mean I can simply switch off my skepticism. I must subject these claims to the same scrutiny that I would acupuncture, chiropractic, or demons. And when I do, I can only conclude that most claims of catastrophic, apocalyptic climate change are bogus.

But when it comes to portending doom and gloom, the tools scientists use — namely atmosphere and oceanic general circulation models — are woefully insufficient to render specific predictions about the future. The Earth is big, with so many moving parts it would make your head spin. Modeling its climate is a monumental task, and frankly, it’s impossible to do so with complete and total accuracy. Climate scientists try their best, taking into account variables such as cloud cover, albedo, water movement, radiation, and surface pressure. Unfortunately, as climate scientists alter their models to take into account more variables, some of which are poorly understood or difficult to measure, they introduce more sources of uncertainty.

To see if their models work, climatologists validate them against past data, figuring that if they match the past, they can predict the future. But there probably has never been a situation in the history of our planet where carbon dioxide has been the primary culprit of climate change. In other situations (most commonly volcanic eruptions) numerous other greenhouse gases also greatly increased the rate of heating. It’s really hard to build a model for a situation for which there is little historical precedent.

What does all of this mean? It means that anyone who says they know that climate change will result in (insert apocalyptic scenario here) is not making claims based on solid evidence.

Summary

The whole article is worth a read. He comes out at the end a lukewarmist while skeptical of climate models and dismissive of alarmist claims.


Steven “Ross” Pomeroy is Chief Editor of RealClearScience. A zoologist and conservation biologist by training, Ross has nurtured a passion for journalism and writing his entire life. Ross weaves his insatiable curiosity and passion for science into regular posts and articles on RealClearScience’s Newton Blog. Additionally, his work has appeared in Science Now and Scientific American.

For more on how climate models work see Climate Models Explained, an extended comment by Dr. R.G. Brown of Duke University.

 

 

The Weathermen vs. EPA’s Scott Pruitt

This week the AMS (American Meteorological Society) sent a letter chastising Scott Pruitt for keeping an open mind on the question of man-made global warming/climate change. The letter (here) referred to the AMS institutional statement on the matter, and summarized their position in this paragraph:

In reality, the world’s seven billion people are causing climate to change and our emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases are the primary cause. This is a conclusion based on the comprehensive assessment of scientific evidence. It is based on multiple independent lines of evidence that have been affirmed by thousands of independent scientists and numerous scientific institutions around the world. We are not familiar with any scientific institution with relevant subject matter expertise that has reached a different conclusion.

Background on AMS and Climate Science

Firstly, not all the weathermen are contrary to EPA Chief Scott Pruitt.  The statement announced in 2012 can only be seen as a Council Statement resulting from a process initiated and controlled by AMS council.

The Council puts out a call for volunteers for the writing teams, and approves the make-up of those teams. A Council member serves as a liaison to the team. The writing team’s initial draft is put out to the entire membership for a comment period. The writing team responds to those comments and executes a redraft. The Council, meeting in person or in teleconference, may make final edits before voting to approve or disapprove the statements.  With some over-simplification the process is driven by the AMS Council; the resulting products are Council statements.

Secondly, a subsequent survey showed that the views expressed by the AMS Council have mixed support among AMS members. Respondents numbered 1827 and 52% said “Yes, Most of the warming since 1850 is due to humans.” The other responses included: Insufficient Evidence, Equally Human and Natural, Not Sure It is Happening, and Mostly Natural (in order of frequency). Clearly almost half of the membership sample do not agree with the IPCC position endorsed by AMS Council.

A more recent 2016 survey got a higher number of agreeable members (67%), but it is still the case that 47% of 4092 members contacted did not respond to the questionnaire.

Further, these surveys are now being conducted in the context of the Council already committing the society prior to seeking the views of members. Finally, the whole exercise demonstrates that global warming/climate change is clearly a matter of opinion, not knowledge.

Of course, the questionnaires are superficial and geared to produce a “consensus” support for policy action and for project funding. In depth surveys show much more the complexity of the issues and range of opinions.

Climate Etc. Has several posts going into the details of the AMS maneuvers.

AMS Statement on Climate Change

The 52% Consensus

New AMS Survey on Climate Change

For another assessment including a comment and references by Roger Pielke Sr. See:
AMS Letter to Pruitt,How Ideologues Abuse Power in Professional Associations

Spreading Climatephobia

 

Depression, anxiety, PTSD: The mental impact of climate change is an article from CNN (“All the Fear All the Time”). It starts with a compelling human interest story about a woman suffering emotional problems due to flooding of her home in Shropshire UK.

Two years later, not long after work was completed on their rural home, they got a sign of what it really meant to live in their new village: It was prone to flooding.

They were almost struck by the extreme weather seen in the UK in 2014, which saw major storms hit the country at levels not seen in the country for over 20 years.

The family of four lived in a recreational vehicle on the surrounding farmland for more than a year after the flood, while they dealt with insurers and builders who would eventually restore their home.

Their finances were hit hard, and daily life was a challenge. “All that we had worked for was completely destroyed,” Shepherd said.

According to Shepherd, her village was also flooded in 2001, 2002, 2003 and 2005, though her house was not directly affected in those years. She also now has a flood plan that outlines everything she needs to do if this were to happen again.

“One of the major health effects of flooding seems to be the mental health aspects,” said James Rubin, a psychologist at Kings College London whose recent research looked into the psychological impact of people both directly and indirectly effected by floods. “There are a whole host of stressors around it,” he said.

These types of natural disasters are expected to rise in frequency due to climate change, and Rubin feels that the mental health aspect deserves more attention.  “Preventing (climate change) from happening, from worsening and intervening is really important,” he said.

Climate change is predicted to bring more than just floods: There could be heat waves, sea level rises causing loss of land, and forced migration and droughts affecting agriculture and the farmers producing it. And with these concerns comes a plethora of issues plaguing the human mind, such as depression, worry, anxiety, substance abuse, aggression and even suicide among those who cannot cope.

Climate Activists/Alarmists  Are to Blame for Climatephobia

In their push for “saving the planet” they strive to portray nature in the role of the Big Bad Wolf, who scared the three little pigs by threatening to “Huff and Puff and Blow Your House Down.” Of course in the fable, the adaptive solution was to build a brick house not on a flood plane.

The false claims of future bad weather due to human activity do cause people to be anxious beyond reason.  Natural disasters have always done damage and required efforts to recover. What is new is the added doomsday predictions without a shred of evidence.

Droughts and Floods are not showing any particular trend: Data vs. Models; Droughts and Floods

This is your brain on climate alarm.

Climatephobia is addictive. Just say No!

Footnote: The post Climate Medicine describes the larger effort by medical scientists to cash in on climate funding.

Reservoirs and Methane: Facts and Fears

 

A previous post explained how methane has been hyped in support of climate alarmism/activism. Now we have an additional campaign to disparage hydropower because of methane emissions from dam reservoirs. File this under “They have no shame.”

Here’s a recent example of the claim from Asia Times Global hydropower boom will add to climate change

The study, published in BioScience, looked at the carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), and nitrous oxide (N2O) emitted from 267 reservoirs across six continents. In total, the reservoirs studied have a surface area of more than 77,287 square kilometers (29,841 square miles). That’s equivalent to about a quarter of the surface area of all reservoirs in the world, which together cover 305,723 sq km – roughly the combined size of the United Kingdom and Ireland.

“The new study confirms that reservoirs are major emitters of methane, a particularly aggressive greenhouse gas,” said Kate Horner, Executive Director of International Rivers, adding that hydropower dams “can no longer be considered a clean and green source of electricity.”

In fact, methane’s effect is 86 times greater than that of CO2 when considered on this two-decade timescale. Importantly, the study found that methane is responsible for 90% of the global warming impact of reservoir emissions over 20 years.

Alarmists are Wrong about Hydropower

Now CH4 is proclaimed the primary culprit held against hydropower. As usual, there is a kernel of truth buried beneath this obsessive campaign: Flooding of biomass does result in decomposition accompanied by some release of CH4 and CO2. From HydroQuebec:  Greenhouse gas emissions and reservoirs

Impoundment of hydroelectric reservoirs induces decomposition of a small fraction of the flooded biomass (forests, peatlands and other soil types) and an increase in the aquatic wildlife and vegetation in the reservoir.

The result is higher greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions after impoundment, mainly CO2 (carbon dioxide) and a small amount of CH4 (methane).

However, these emissions are temporary and peak two to four years after the reservoir is filled.

During the ensuing decade, CO2 emissions gradually diminish and return to the levels given off by neighboring lakes and rivers.

Hydropower generation, on average, emits 50 times less GHGs than a natural gas generating station and about 70 times less than a coal-fired generating station.

The Facts about Tropical Reservoirs

Activists estimate Methane emissions from dams and reservoirs across the planet, including hydropower, are estimated to be significantly larger than previously thought, approximately equal to 1 gigaton per year.

Activists also claim that dams in boreal regions like Quebec are not the problem, but tropical reservoirs are a big threat to the climate. Contradicting that is an intensive study of Brazilian dams and reservoirs, Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Reservoirs: Studying the Issue in Brazil

The Itaipu Dam is a hydroelectric dam on the Paraná River located on the border between Brazil and Paraguay. The name “Itaipu” was taken from an isle that existed near the construction site. In the Guarani language, Itaipu means “the sound of a stone”. The American composer Philip Glass has also written a symphonic cantata named Itaipu, in honour of the structure.

Five Conclusions from Studying Brazilian Reservoirs

1) The budget approach is essential for a proper grasp of the processes going on in reservoirs. This approach involves taking into account the ways in which the system exchanged GHGs with the atmosphere before the reservoir was flooded. Older studies measured only the emissions of GHG from the reservoir surface or, more recently, from downstream de-gassing. But without the measurement of the inputs of carbon to the system, no conclusions can be drawn from surface measurements alone.

2) When you consider the total budgets, most reservoirs acted as sinks of carbon in the short run (our measurements covered one year in each reservoir). In other words, they received more carbon than they exported to the atmosphere and to downstream.

3) Smaller reservoirs are more efficient as carbon traps than the larger ones.

4) As for the GHG impact, in order to determine it, we should add the methane (CH4) emissions to the fraction of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions which comes from the flooded biomass and organic carbon in the flooded (terrestrial) soil. The other CO2 emissions, arising from the respiration of aquatic organisms or from the decomposition of terrestrial detritus that flows into the reservoir (including domestic sewage), are not impacts of the reservoir. From this sum, we should deduct the amount of carbon that is stored in the sediment and which will be kept there for at least the life of the reservoir (usually more than 80 years). This “stored carbon” ranges from as little as 2 percent of the total carbon output to more than 25 percent, depending on the reservoirs.

5) When we assess the GHG impacts following the guidelines just described, all of FURNAS’s reservoirs have lower emissions than the cleanest European oil plant. The worst case – Manso, which was sampled only three years after the impoundment, and therefore in a time in which the contribution from the flooded biomass was still very significant – emitted about half as much carbon dioxide equivalents (CO2 eq) as the average oil plant from the United States (CO2 eq is a metric measure used to compare the emissions from various greenhouse gases based upon their global warming potential, GWP. CO2 eq for a gas is derived by multiplying the tons of the gas by the associated GWP.) We also observed a very good correlation between GHG emissions and the age of the reservoirs. The reservoirs older than 30 years had negligible emissions, and some of them had a net absorption of CO2eq.

Keeping Methane in Perspective

Over the last 30 years, CH4 in the atmosphere increased from 1.6 ppm to 1.8 ppm, compared to CO2, presently at 400 ppm. So all the dam building over 3 decades, along with all other land use was part of a miniscule increase of a microscopic gas, 200 times smaller than the trace gas, CO2.

 

Background Facts on Methane and Climate Change

The US Senate is considering an act to repeal with prejudice an Obama anti-methane regulation. The story from activist source Climate Central is
Senate Mulls ‘Kill Switch’ for Obama Methane Rule

The U.S. Senate is expected to vote soon on whether to use the Congressional Review Act to kill an Obama administration climate regulation that cuts methane emissions from oil and gas wells on federal land. The rule was designed to reduce oil and gas wells’ contribution to climate change and to stop energy companies from wasting natural gas.

The Congressional Review Act is rarely invoked. It was used this month to reverse a regulation for the first time in 16 years and it’s a particularly lethal way to kill a regulation as it would take an act of Congress to approve a similar regulation. Federal agencies cannot propose similar regulations on their own.

The Claim Against Methane

Now some Republican senators are hesitant to take this step because of claims like this one in the article:

Methane is 86 times more potent as a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide over a period of 20 years and is a significant contributor to climate change. It warms the climate much more than other greenhouse gases over a period of decades before eventually losing its potency. Atmospheric carbon dioxide remains a potent greenhouse gas for thousands of years.

Essentially the journalist is saying: As afraid as you are about CO2, you should be 86 times more afraid of methane. Which also means, if CO2 is not a warming problem, your fear of methane is 86 times zero. The thousands of years claim is also bogus, but that is beside the point of this post, which is Methane.

IPCC Methane Scare

The article helpfully provides a link referring to Chapter 8 of IPCC AR5 report by Working Group 1 Anthropogenic and Natural Radiative Forcing.

The document is full of sophistry and creative accounting in order to produce as scary a number as possible. Table 8.7 provides the number for CH4 potency of 86 times that of CO2.  They note they were able to increase the Global Warming Potential (GWP) of CH4 by 20% over the estimate in AR4. The increase comes from adding in more indirect effects and feedbacks, as well as from increased concentration in the atmosphere.

In the details are some qualifying notes like these:

Uncertainties related to the climate–carbon feedback are large, comparable in magnitude to the strength of the feedback for a single gas.

For CH4 GWP we estimate an uncertainty of ±30% and ±40% for 20- and 100-year time horizons, respectively (for 5 to 95% uncertainty range).

Methane Facts from the Real World
From Sea Friends (here):

Methane is natural gas CH4 which burns cleanly to carbon dioxide and water. Methane is eagerly sought after as fuel for electric power plants because of its ease of transport and because it produces the least carbon dioxide for the most power. Also cars can be powered with compressed natural gas (CNG) for short distances.

In many countries CNG has been widely distributed as the main home heating fuel. As a consequence, methane has leaked to the atmosphere in large quantities, now firmly controlled. Grazing animals also produce methane in their complicated stomachs and methane escapes from rice paddies and peat bogs like the Siberian permafrost.

It is thought that methane is a very potent greenhouse gas because it absorbs some infrared wavelengths 7 times more effectively than CO2, molecule for molecule, and by weight even 20 times. As we have seen previously, this also means that within a distance of metres, its effect has saturated, and further transmission of heat occurs by convection and conduction rather than by radiation.

Note that when H20 is present in the lower troposphere, there are few photons left for CH4 to absorb:

Even if the IPCC radiative greenhouse theory were true, methane occurs only in minute quantities in air, 1.8ppm versus CO2 of 390ppm. By weight, CH4 is only 5.24Gt versus CO2 3140Gt (on this assumption). If it truly were twenty times more potent, it would amount to an equivalent of 105Gt CO2 or one thirtieth that of CO2. A doubling in methane would thus have no noticeable effect on world temperature.

However, the factor of 20 is entirely misleading because absorption is proportional to the number of molecules (=volume), so the factor of 7 (7.3) is correct and 20 is wrong. With this in mind, the perceived threat from methane becomes even less.

Further still, methane has been rising from 1.6ppm to 1.8ppm in 30 years (1980-2010), assuming that it has not stopped rising, this amounts to a doubling in 2-3 centuries. In other words, methane can never have any measurable effect on temperature, even if the IPCC radiative cooling theory were right.

Because only a small fraction in the rise of methane in air can be attributed to farm animals, it is ludicrous to worry about this aspect or to try to farm with smaller emissions of methane, or to tax it or to trade credits.

The fact that methane in air has been leveling off in the past two decades, even though we do not know why, implies that it plays absolutely no role as a greenhouse gas.

More information at THE METHANE MISCONCEPTIONS by Dr Wilson Flood (UK) here

Summary:

Natural Gas (75% methane) burns the cleanest with the least CO2 for the energy produced.

Leakage of methane is already addressed by efficiency improvements for its economic recovery, and will apparently be subject to even more regulations.

The atmosphere is a methane sink where the compound is oxidized through a series of reactions producing 1 CO2 and 2H20 after a few years.

GWP (Global Warming Potential) is CO2 equivalent heat trapping based on laboratory, not real world effects.

Any IR absorption by methane is limited by H2O absorbing in the same low energy LW bands.

There is no danger this century from natural or man-made methane emissions.

Conclusion

Senators and the public are being bamboozled by opaque scientific bafflegab. The plain truth is much different. The atmosphere is a methane sink in which CH4 is oxidized in the first few meters. The amount of CH4 available in the air is miniscule, even compared to the trace gas CO2, and it is not accelerating. Methane is the obvious choice to signal virtue on the climate issue since governmental actions will not make a bit of difference anyway, except perhaps to do some economic harm.

Give a daisy a break (h/t Derek here)

Daisy methane

Footnote:

For a more thorough and realistic description of atmospheric warming see:

Fearless Physics from Dr. Salby

Greenland Viking Science

Eric the Red slept here: Qassiarsuk features replicas of a Viking church and longhouse. (Ciril Jazbec)

It is refreshing to come across scientists researching a question without the corrupting need to scare the public or to confirm some personal, professional or moral fear of the future. In this case I refer to a wonderful Smithsonian article on the question: Why Did Greenland’s Vikings Vanish? Newly discovered evidence is upending our understanding of how early settlers made a life on the island — and why they suddenly disappeared.

Some excerpts below give the flavor of this persistent effort by researchers unrewarded by the availability of huge grants that now flow to the once-lowly climatologists.  The whole article is fascinating to anyone with curiosity.

The Mystery of Greenland Vikings

But the documents are most remarkable—and baffling—for what they don’t contain: any hint of hardship or imminent catastrophe for the Viking settlers in Greenland, who’d been living at the very edge of the known world ever since a renegade Icelander named Erik the Red arrived in a fleet of 14 longships in 985. For those letters were the last anyone ever heard from the Norse Greenlanders.

They vanished from history.

Europeans didn’t return to Greenland until the early 18th century. When they did, they found the ruins of the Viking settlements but no trace of the inhabitants. The fate of Greenland’s Vikings—who never numbered more than 2,500—has intrigued and confounded generations of archaeologists.

Those tough seafaring warriors came to one of the world’s most formidable environments and made it their home. And they didn’t just get by: They built manor houses and hundreds of farms; they imported stained glass; they raised sheep, goats and cattle; they traded furs, walrus-tusk ivory, live polar bears and other exotic arctic goods with Europe. “These guys were really out on the frontier,” says Andrew Dugmore, a geographer at the University of Edinburgh. “They’re not just there for a few years. They’re there for generations—for centuries.”

So what happened to them?

The Conventional Wisdom

Thomas McGovern used to think he knew. An archaeologist at Hunter College of the City University of New York, McGovern has spent more than 40 years piecing together the history of the Norse settlements in Greenland. With his heavy white beard and thick build, he could pass for a Viking chieftain, albeit a bespectacled one. Over Skype, here’s how he summarized what had until recently been the consensus view, which he helped establish: “Dumb Norsemen go into the north outside the range of their economy, mess up the environment and then they all die when it gets cold.”

Thomas McGovern (with Viking-era animal bones); The Greenlanders’ end was “grim.” (Reed Young)

Accordingly, the Vikings were not just dumb, they also had dumb luck: They discovered Greenland during a time known as the Medieval Warm Period, which lasted from about 900 to 1300. Sea ice decreased during those centuries, so sailing from Scandinavia to Greenland became less hazardous. Longer growing seasons made it feasible to graze cattle, sheep and goats in the meadows along sheltered fjords on Greenland’s southwest coast. In short, the Vikings simply transplanted their medieval European lifestyle to an uninhabited new land, theirs for the taking.

But eventually, the conventional narrative continues, they had problems. Overgrazing led to soil erosion. A lack of wood—Greenland has very few trees, mostly scrubby birch and willow in the southernmost fjords—prevented them from building new ships or repairing old ones. But the greatest challenge—and the coup de grâce—came when the climate began to cool, triggered by an event on the far side of the world.

In 1257, a volcano on the Indonesian island of Lombok erupted. Geologists rank it as the most powerful eruption of the last 7,000 years. Climate scientists have found its ashy signature in ice cores drilled in Antarctica and in Greenland’s vast ice sheet, which covers some 80 percent of the country. Sulfur ejected from the volcano into the stratosphere reflected solar energy back into space, cooling Earth’s climate. “It had a global impact,” McGovern says. “Europeans had a long period of famine”—like Scotland’s infamous “seven ill years” in the 1690s, but worse. “The onset was somewhere just after 1300 and continued into the 1320s, 1340s. It was pretty grim. A lot of people starving to death.”

Amid that calamity, so the story goes, Greenland’s Vikings—numbering 5,000 at their peak—never gave up their old ways. They failed to learn from the Inuit, who arrived in northern Greenland a century or two after the Vikings landed in the south. They kept their livestock, and when their animals starved, so did they. The more flexible Inuit, with a culture focused on hunting marine mammals, thrived.

An aerial photograph of southern Greenland. (Ciril Jazbec)

New Evidence Overturns Past Conceptions

But over the last decade a radically different picture of Viking life in Greenland has started to emerge from the remains of the old settlements, and it has received scant coverage outside of academia. “It’s a good thing they can’t make you give your PhD back once you’ve got it,” McGovern jokes. He and the small community of scholars who study the Norse experience in Greenland no longer believe that the Vikings were ever so numerous, or heedlessly despoiled their new home, or failed to adapt when confronted with challenges that threatened them with annihilation.

“It’s a very different story from my dissertation,” says McGovern. “It’s scarier. You can do a lot of things right—you can be highly adaptive; you can be very flexible; you can be resilient—and you go extinct anyway.” And according to other archaeologists, the plot thickens even more: It may be that Greenland’s Vikings didn’t vanish, at least not all of them.

A New Understanding How Vikings Lived on Greenland

The Vikings established two outposts in Greenland: one along the fjords of the southwest coast, known historically as the Eastern Settlement, where Gardar is located, and a smaller colony about 240 miles north, called the Western Settlement. Nearly every summer for the last several years, Konrad Smiarowski has returned to various sites in the Eastern Settlement to understand how the Vikings managed to live here for so many centuries, and what happened to them in the end.

“Probably about 50 percent of all bones at this site will be seal bones,” Smiarowski says as we stand by the drainage ditch in a light rain. He speaks from experience: Seal bones have been abundant at every site he has studied, and his findings have been pivotal in reassessing how the Norse adapted to life in Greenland. The ubiquity of seal bones is evidence that the Norse began hunting the animals “from the very beginning,” Smiarowski says. “We see harp and hooded seal bones from the earliest layers at all sites.”

A seal-based diet would have been a drastic shift from beef-and-dairy-centric Scandinavian fare. But a study of human skeletal remains from both the Eastern and Western settlements showed that the Vikings quickly adopted a new diet. Over time, the food we eat leaves a chemical stamp on our bones—marine-based diets mark us with different ratios of certain chemical elements than terrestrial foods do. Five years ago, researchers based in Scandinavia and Scotland analyzed the skeletons of 118 individuals from the earliest periods of settlement to the latest. The results perfectly complement Smiarow­ski’s fieldwork: Over time, people ate an increasingly marine diet, he says.

Judging from the bones Smiarowski has uncovered, most of the seafood consisted of seals—few fish bones have been found. Yet it appears the Norse were careful: They limited their hunting of the local harbor seal, Phoca vitulina, a species that raises its young on beaches, making it easy prey. (The harbor seal is critically endangered in Greenland today due to overhunting.) “They could have wiped them out, and they didn’t,” Smiarowski says. Instead, they pursued the more abundant—and more difficult to catch—harp seal, Phoca groenlandica, which migrates up the west coast of Greenland every spring on the way from Canada. Those hunts, he says, must have been well-organized communal affairs, with the meat distributed to the entire settlement—seal bones have been found at homestead sites even far inland. The regular arrival of the seals in the spring, just when the Vikings’ winter stores of cheese and meat were running low, would have been keenly anticipated.

The Vikings Were Players in the Ivory Trade

The Norse harnessed their organizational energy for an even more important task: annual walrus hunts. Smiarowski, McGovern and other archaeologists now suspect that the Vikings first traveled to Greenland not in search of new land to farm—a motive mentioned in some of the old sagas—but to acquire walrus-tusk ivory, one of medieval Europe’s most valuable trade items. Who, they ask, would risk crossing hundreds of miles of arctic seas just to farm in conditions far worse than those at home? As a low-bulk, high-value item, ivory would have been an irresistible lure for seafaring traders.

After hunting walruses to extinction in Iceland, the Norse must have sought them out in Greenland. They found large herds in Disko Bay, about 600 miles north of the Eastern Settlement and 300 miles north of the Western Settlement. “The sagas would have us believe that it was Erik the Red who went out and explored [Greenland],” says Jette Arneborg, a senior researcher at the National Museum of Denmark, who, like McGovern, has studied the Norse settlements for decades. “But the initiative might have been from elite farmers in Iceland who wanted to keep up the ivory trade—it might have been in an attempt to continue this trade that they went farther west.”

A bishop’s ring and top of his crosier from the Gardar ruins. (Ciril Jazbec)

A bishop’s ring and top of his crosier from the Gardar ruins. (Ciril Jazbec)

How profitable was the ivory trade? Every six years, the Norse in Greenland and Iceland paid a tithe to the Norwegian king. A document from 1327, recording the shipment of a single boatload of tusks to Bergen, Norway, shows that that boatload, with tusks from 260 walruses, was worth more than all the woolen cloth sent to the king by nearly 4,000 Icelandic farms for one six-year period.

Archaeologists once assumed that the Norse in Greenland were primarily farmers who did some hunting on the side. Now it seems clear that the reverse was true. They were ivory hunters first and foremost, their farms only a means to an end. Why else would ivory fragments be so prevalent among the excavated sites? And why else would the Vikings send so many able-bodied men on hunting expeditions to the far north at the height of the farming season? “There was a huge potential for ivory export,” says Smiarowski, “and they set up farms to support that.” Ivory drew them to Greenland, ivory kept them there, and their attachment to that toothy trove may be what eventually doomed them.

A New Theory Why Viking Greenland Settlements Failed

For all their intrepidness, though, the Norse were far from self-sufficient, and imported grains, iron, wine and other essentials. Ivory was their currency. “Norse society in Greenland couldn’t survive without trade with Europe,” says Arneborg, “and that’s from day one.”

Then, in the 13th century, after three centuries, their world changed profoundly. First, the climate cooled because of the volcanic eruption in Indonesia. Sea ice increased, and so did ocean storms—ice cores from that period contain more salt from oceanic winds that blew over the ice sheet. Second, the market for walrus ivory collapsed, partly because Portugal and other countries started to open trade routes into sub-Saharan Africa, which brought elephant ivory to the European market. “The fashion for ivory began to wane,” says Dugmore, “and there was also the competition with elephant ivory, which was much better quality.” And finally, the Black Death devastated Europe. There is no evidence that the plague ever reached Greenland, but half the population of Norway—which was Greenland’s lifeline to the civilized world—perished.

The Norse probably could have survived any one of those calamities separately. After all, they remained in Greenland for at least a century after the climate changed, so the onset of colder conditions alone wasn’t enough to undo them. Moreover, they were still building new churches—like the one at Hvalsey—in the 14th century. But all three blows must have left them reeling. With nothing to exchange for European goods—and with fewer Europeans left—their way of life would have been impossible to maintain. The Greenland Vikings were essentially victims of globalization and a pandemic.

Summary

So there is a climate angle to the story of Greenland Vikings. Unlike climate alarmists, these scientists looked deeper and found a more complicated truth. Of course, even this explanation is provisional, because we are talking about science, after all.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

More Methane Madness

The US Senate is considering an act to repeal with prejudice an Obama anti-methane regulation. The story from activist source Climate Central is
Senate Mulls ‘Kill Switch’ for Obama Methane Rule

The U.S. Senate is expected to vote soon on whether to use the Congressional Review Act to kill an Obama administration climate regulation that cuts methane emissions from oil and gas wells on federal land. The rule was designed to reduce oil and gas wells’ contribution to climate change and to stop energy companies from wasting natural gas.

The Congressional Review Act is rarely invoked. It was used this month to reverse a regulation for the first time in 16 years and it’s a particularly lethal way to kill a regulation as it would take an act of Congress to approve a similar regulation. Federal agencies cannot propose similar regulations on their own.

The Claim Against Methane

Now some Republican senators are hesitant to take this step because of claims like this one in the article:

Methane is 86 times more potent as a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide over a period of 20 years and is a significant contributor to climate change. It warms the climate much more than other greenhouse gases over a period of decades before eventually losing its potency. Atmospheric carbon dioxide remains a potent greenhouse gas for thousands of years.

Essentially the journalist is saying: As afraid as you are about CO2, you should be 86 times more afraid of methane. Which also means, if CO2 is not a warming problem, your fear of methane is 86 times zero. The thousands of years claim is also bogus, but that is beside the point of this post, which is Methane.

IPCC Methane Scare

The article helpfully provides a link referring to Chapter 8 of IPCC AR5 report by Working Group 1 Anthropogenic and Natural Radiative Forcing.

The document is full of sophistry and creative accounting in order to produce as scary a number as possible. Table 8.7 provides the number for CH4 potency of 86 times that of CO2.  They note they were able to increase the Global Warming Potential (GWP) of CH4 by 20% over the estimate in AR4. The increase comes from adding in more indirect effects and feedbacks, as well as from increased concentration in the atmosphere.

In the details are some qualifying notes like these:

Uncertainties related to the climate–carbon feedback are large, comparable in magnitude to the strength of the feedback for a single gas.

For CH4 GWP we estimate an uncertainty of ±30% and ±40% for 20- and 100-year time horizons, respectively (for 5 to 95% uncertainty range).

Methane Facts from the Real World
From Sea Friends (here):

Methane is natural gas CH4 which burns cleanly to carbon dioxide and water. Methane is eagerly sought after as fuel for electric power plants because of its ease of transport and because it produces the least carbon dioxide for the most power. Also cars can be powered with compressed natural gas (CNG) for short distances.

In many countries CNG has been widely distributed as the main home heating fuel. As a consequence, methane has leaked to the atmosphere in large quantities, now firmly controlled. Grazing animals also produce methane in their complicated stomachs and methane escapes from rice paddies and peat bogs like the Siberian permafrost.

It is thought that methane is a very potent greenhouse gas because it absorbs some infrared wavelengths 7 times more effectively than CO2, molecule for molecule, and by weight even 20 times. As we have seen previously, this also means that within a distance of metres, its effect has saturated, and further transmission of heat occurs by convection and conduction rather than by radiation.

Note that when H20 is present in the lower troposphere, there are few photons left for CH4 to absorb:

Even if the IPCC radiative greenhouse theory were true, methane occurs only in minute quantities in air, 1.8ppm versus CO2 of 390ppm. By weight, CH4 is only 5.24Gt versus CO2 3140Gt (on this assumption). If it truly were twenty times more potent, it would amount to an equivalent of 105Gt CO2 or one thirtieth that of CO2. A doubling in methane would thus have no noticeable effect on world temperature.

However, the factor of 20 is entirely misleading because absorption is proportional to the number of molecules (=volume), so the factor of 7 (7.3) is correct and 20 is wrong. With this in mind, the perceived threat from methane becomes even less.

Further still, methane has been rising from 1.6ppm to 1.8ppm in 30 years (1980-2010), assuming that it has not stopped rising, this amounts to a doubling in 2-3 centuries. In other words, methane can never have any measurable effect on temperature, even if the IPCC radiative cooling theory were right.

Because only a small fraction in the rise of methane in air can be attributed to farm animals, it is ludicrous to worry about this aspect or to try to farm with smaller emissions of methane, or to tax it or to trade credits.

The fact that methane in air has been leveling off in the past two decades, even though we do not know why, implies that it plays absolutely no role as a greenhouse gas.

More information at THE METHANE MISCONCEPTIONS by Dr Wilson Flood (UK) here

Summary:

Natural Gas (75% methane) burns the cleanest with the least CO2 for the energy produced.

Leakage of methane is already addressed by efficiency improvements for its economic recovery, and will apparently be subject to even more regulations.

The atmosphere is a methane sink where the compound is oxidized through a series of reactions producing 1 CO2 and 2H20 after a few years.

GWP (Global Warming Potential) is CO2 equivalent heat trapping based on laboratory, not real world effects.

Any IR absorption by methane is limited by H2O absorbing in the same low energy LW bands.

There is no danger this century from natural or man-made methane emissions.

Conclusion

Senators and the public are being bamboozled by opaque scientific bafflegab. The plain truth is much different. The atmosphere is a methane sink in which CH4 is oxidized in the first few meters. The amount of CH4 available in the air is miniscule, even compared to the trace gas CO2, and it is not accelerating. Methane is the obvious choice to signal virtue on the climate issue since governmental actions will not make a bit of difference anyway, except perhaps to do some economic harm.

Give a daisy a break (h/t Derek here)

Daisy methane

Footnote:

For a more thorough and realistic description of atmospheric warming see:

Fearless Physics from Dr. Salby

Time Mag Misreads Science

 

This blog is dedicated to science as a process of discovery, rather than a catechism of truths to be embraced.  This article in the Washington Times discussed that issue in relation to a recent Time Magazine essay that comes down on the catechism side.

Time’s Misreading of Science, The magazine would rather settle than search

As demonstrated by the confirmation hearings of Scott Pruitt for new Environmental Protection Agency chief, all-out war is being waged against the Trump administration by leftists who believe science is under attack from the evil empire.

Belief that this new administration puts science in jeopardy is not surprising given the fact that so many are confused about what science is, how it is practiced, and what it can tell us about the future.

The popular press adds to the confusion about science. Take the Feb. 13 issue of Time magazine, for example. In an article titled “How a war on science could hurt the U.S. — and its citizens,” the authors open with this assessment of science: “The discipline of science is one where the facts, once they are peer-reviewed and published in scientific journals, are fixed. They’re not open to interpretation, or at least not much.”

There are numerous problems with this confused understanding of science. Regardless, the authors continue by contrasting “science” with politics “in which nearly everything can be negotiated. But as the first days of the Trump administration have shown, many of those seemingly settled scientific facts — the ones that have informed countless policies from previous U.S. administrations — are once more up for debate.”

tall-stack-booksrev

Science can be defined at its most basic level as “knowledge,” or what we think we know about a given topic. Since absolute truth on a subject is elusive, science is tentative, adjusted as additional information is accumulated through more research and wider perspective and, yes, even debate.

In practice, science can certainly be influenced by politics or, essentially, ideology. Those on the left apparently do not see a leftist ideology permeating certain areas of contemporary scientific practice and so equate scientific conclusions that endorse their beliefs as being absolutely irrefutable.

This blinkered perception manifests itself as “settled science” and is apparent in climate change science, and especially the power of this science to ascertain Earth’s future climate.

Accurate prediction is one of the biggest challenges in scientific practice, and indeed an accurate prediction for the right reasons is one of the conditions for a scientific assertion to be correct.

Here’s where climate science has fallen woefully short in recent decades.

The prediction that man-made carbon-dioxide emissions drive catastrophic climate change beginning with mounting global temperatures has been proven paltry at best. Yet, the dire global warming prediction, years ago, evolved into a belief and brandished as a proselytizing mantra by climate change crusaders.

Now the current climate change hypothesis is struggling and can use some insight from qualified, skeptical scientists to broaden the ambient landscape.

That broadening is difficult with a Time-skewed understanding of science and scientific practice. To say that the discipline of science is where facts are fixed once they are peer-reviewed and published is confused at best. Scientists use facts (like those associated with the fundamental principles of physics) as they observe natural events, propose hypotheses, and test their explanations of what they observe. Hypotheses are submitted to peer-reviewed scientific journals for critique.

The peer-review process is assumed to be rigorous, fair and balanced; however, that is not always the case. Documented instances have occurred where data in published reports were discovered to be falsified, or when work described was never actually performed, or when only friendly reviewers were chosen to assure acceptance of the conclusions, and the like. So, facts cannot be determined by peer review any more than real truth can be decide by an ad hoc committee. And published results are always open to further review, challenges and certainly interpretation.

True believers trust that their concept of science is rock-solid, especially when the science they choose to believe conforms to their preconceived notions.

But, the current world of climate science has been astutely branded by some challengers as a “climate-industrial complex.” The moniker may be well suited to describe the seemingly enormous political and monetary influence of this particular field by left-leaning vested interests.

Perhaps, with the arrival of the pragmatic Trump team, including Scott Pruitt, the climate world of “seemingly settled scientific facts” is about to be rocked by a bit more conservative assessment.

• Anthony J. Sadar is a Certified Consulting Meteorologist and author of “In Global Warming We Trust: Too Big to Fail” (Stairway Press, 2016).

Bertrand Russell makes a related point with his solar teapot.

To enlarge image, open it in new tab.

More on the Climate Crisis industry

Climate Crisis Inc.

For more on belief related to science and religion:

Head, Heart and Science

Meet Richard Muller, Lukewarmist

Richard Muller, head of the Berkeley Earth project, makes a fair and balanced response to a question regarding the “97% consensus.”  Are any of the US Senators listening?  Full text below from Forbes 97%: An Inconvenient Truth About The Oft-Cited Polling Of Climate Scientists including a reference to Will Happer, potentially Trump’s science advisor.

Read it and see that he sounds a lot like Richard Lindzen.

What are some widely cited studies in the news that are false?

Answer by Richard Muller, Professor of Physics at UC Berkeley, on Quora:

That 97% of all climate scientists accept that climate change is real, large, and a threat to the future of humanity. That 97% basically concur with the vast majority of claims made by Vice President Al Gore in his Nobel Peace Prize winning film, An Inconvenient Truth.

The question asked in typical surveys is neither of those. It is this: “Do you believe that humans are affecting climate?” My answer would be yes. Humans are responsible for about a 1 degree Celsius rise in the average temperature in the last 100 years. So I would be included as one of the 97% who believe.

Yet the observed changes that are scientifically established, in my vast survey of the science, are confined to temperature rise and the resulting small (4-inch) rise in sea level. (The huge “sea level rise” seen in Florida is actually subsidence of the land mass, and is not related to global warming.) There is no significant change in the rate of storms, or of violent storms, including hurricanes and volcanoes. The temperature variability is not increasing. There is no scientifically significant increase in floods or droughts. Even the widely reported warming of Alaska (“the canary in the mine”) doesn’t match the pattern of carbon dioxide increase–it may have an explanation in terms of changes in the northern Pacific and Atlantic currents. Moreover, the standard climate models have done a very poor job of predicting the temperature rise in Antarctica, so we must be cautious about the danger of confirmation bias.

My friend Will Happer believes that humans do affect the climate, particularly in cities where concrete and energy use cause what is called the “urban heat island effect.” So he would be included in the 97% who believe that humans affect climate, even though he is usually included among the more intense skeptics of the IPCC. He also feels that humans cause a small amount of global warming (he isn’t convinced it is as large as 1 degree), but he does not think it is heading towards a disaster; he has concluded that the increase in carbon dioxide is good for food production, and has helped mitigate global hunger. Yet he would be included in the 97%.

The problem is not with the survey, which asked a very general question. The problem is that many writers (and scientists!) look at that number and mischaracterize it. The 97% number is typically interpreted to mean that 97% accept the conclusions presented in An Inconvenient Truth by former Vice President Al Gore. That’s certainly not true; even many scientists who are deeply concerned by the small global warming (such as me) reject over 70% of the claims made by Mr. Gore in that movie (as did a judge in the UK; see the following link: Gore climate film’s nine ‘errors‘).

The pollsters aren’t to blame. Well, some of them are; they too can do a good poll and then misrepresent what it means. The real problem is that many people who fear global warming (include me) feel that it is necessary to exaggerate the meaning of the polls in order to get action from the public (don’t include me).

There is another way to misrepresent the results of the polls. Yes, 97% of those polled believe that there is human caused climate change. How did they reach that decision? Was it based on a careful reading of the IPCC report? Was it based on their knowledge of the potential systematic uncertainties inherent in the data? Or was it based on their fear that opponents to action are anti-science, so we scientists have to get together and support each other. There is a real danger in people with Ph.D.s joining a consensus that they haven’t vetted professionally.

I like to ask scientists who “believe” in global warming what they think of the data. Do they believe hurricanes are increasing? Almost never do I get the answer “Yes, I looked at that, and they are.” Of course they don’t say that, because if they did I would show them the actual data! Do they say, “I’ve looked at the temperature record, and I agree that the variability is going up”? No. Sometimes they will say, “There was a paper by Jim Hansen that showed the variability was increasing.” To which I reply, “I’ve written to Jim Hansen about that paper, and he agrees with me that it shows no such thing. He even expressed surprise that his paper has been so misinterpreted.”

A really good question would be: “Have you studied climate change enough that you would put your scientific credentials on the line that most of what is said in An Inconvenient Truth is based on accurate scientific results? My guess is that a large majority of the climate scientists would answer no to that question, and the true percentage of scientists who support the statement I made in the opening paragraph of this comment, that true percentage would be under 30%. That is an unscientific guestimate, based on my experience in asking many scientists about the claims of Al Gore.

This question originally appeared on Quora. the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world.

Compare Muller’s statement with a short video by Lindzen.

 

Update: EU Leads in Climate Blame and Shame

Update February 15, 2017

The EU is already loading climate reporting requirements onto pension funds.

On December 8th, 2016 the EU adopted a new regulation regarding Pension Funds, the IORP II Directive — the successor of the Institutions for Occupational Retirement Provision Directive adopted in 2003.

A key feature of the directive is the consideration of environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors as part of pension providers’ investment. In particular, pension providers are now required to carry out their own risk assessment, including climate change-related risks, as well as risks caused by the use of resources and regulatory changes.

IORP II applies to all the 14,358 registered EU pension funds, among which 160 have cross-border activities.

Member States (EU countries) have until January 13, 2019 to transpose IORP II into their national law, which was published early January in the Official Journal of the European Union. According to current projections, the implementation deadline should therefore fall before Brexit, an important fact considering that the UK accounts for 50 percent of the EU occupational pension fund sector, followed by the Netherlands (33 percent).

New EU Directive Requires Pension Funds to Assess Climate-related Risks

The Climate Disclosure Standards Board provides an insight into the expanding bureaucracy working to impose climatism on financial and business institutions around the world. Since Paris COP agreement is not legally binding, the effort is on forcing reporting on national commitments and pointing fingers at laggards.

At the microeconomic level, the mission is to load regulatory requirements onto corporations and investors to force them into statements of belief and responsibility for mythical changes in future weather and climate.

The Mission is presented in Making Climate Disclosure the New Norm in Business

In short, the Task Force Recommendations report encourages all financial organizations, ranging from banks, insurance companies, to asset managers and asset owners, and companies with public debt or equity, to disclose in a transparent and consistent way their financial risks and opportunities associated with climate change.

Image: Recommendations of the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures

The report is the result of one year of work by the Task Force on climate-related financial disclosures, a business and investors-led initiative, launched at the COP21 climate negotiations in Paris, and convened by the Financial Stability Board.

The aim of the initiative is to drive the adoption of the recommendations across the G20 countries, as the final version of the report will be released in July and presented to the G20 leaders gathering in Hamburg. Having the support of the governments of the largest economies in the world would be the ultimate step to make climate disclosure the new norm.

The CDSB Board of Directors (all carrying climate activist resumes)

Pankaj Bhatia Director of GHG Protocol Initiative, World Resources Institute

Henry Derwent Honorary Vice President, International Emissions Trading Association

Dr Rodney Irwin Managing Director, Redefining Value & Education, World Business Council for Sustainable Development

Mindy S. Lubber JD, MBA President, Ceres Director, Investor Network on Climate Risk

David Rosenheim Executive Director, The Climate Registry

Damian Ryan Acting CEO, The Climate Group

Richard Samans (Chairman) Managing Director and Member of the Managing Board, World Economic Forum

Paul Simpson Chief Executive Officer, CDP (formerly Carbon Disclosure Project)

Gordon Wilson Senior Manager PwC, Chairman, Technical Working Group, Climate Disclosure Standards Board

Rough seas ahead for Captains of Industry