Business Climate Advice

Climate Activists storm the bastion of Exxon Mobil, here seen without their shareholder disguises.

It’s not only big oil companies under siege from anti-fossil fuel activists. All businesses, small and large, private and publically traded are in the crosshairs.

Robert Bradley has a recent post directed at leaders of businesses, both large and small with respect to global warming/climate change. The article is Climate Alarmism and Corporate Responsibility at Master Resource. It is important advice since the large majority of business people are ethical and want to do the right thing, but their good intentions can be used against them in the current feverish media and political environment.

Everyone including business leaders needs to distinguish between two related but different threats from global warming/climate change. The first is the direct impacts upon one’s business and livelihood from natural conditions. The second is the indirect threat to prosperity from misguided public policies to “fight climate change.”

Climate Science: Where’s the Alarm?

On the outlook for the climate, of course there are both risks and opportunities to anticipate. Corporate plans typically involve assumptions and projections considered to be believable to a “reasonable person.” And as Bradley points out, no reasonable person can be expected to go beyond IPCC science, which is premised on concerns about global warming/climate change. Bradley:

Climate alarmism is not supported by the scientific reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) on close inspection. There is no direct linkage between the IPCC finding that “the balance of evidence suggests a discernible human influence on climate” and climate alarmism. In fact, there is ample evidence in the scientific literature that the enhanced greenhouse effect is benign. Top climate economists have gone further to conclude that a warmer and wetter world predicted by climate models would produce net benefits in future decades for the United States and other areas of the world with the free market means to adapt. (my bold)

Corporate policymakers can discount climate alarmism by understanding several key arguments and facts:

  • Increasing atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide (CO2), the preeminent anthropogenic greenhouse gas, benefit plant life and agricultural productivity and are not a direct human health issue. It will be centuries before the plant optimum concentration is reached and exceeded, creating a long potential glide path for hydrocarbon energies to “green” planet earth.

  • The surface warming (“greenhouse signal”) of recent decades shows a relatively benign distribution. Minimum (night, winter) temperatures have been increasing twice as much as maximum (daytime, summer) temperatures.[9] Higher nighttime temperatures and longer growing seasons reinforce the aforementioned carbon fertilization effect to aid plant growth and agricultural productivity.

  • Model-estimated warming from anthropogenic effects has fallen over time. . .The chart above shows IPCC (2007) projecting warming at 0.38C per decade and the last report (2013) dropped to 0.17 C per decade. With a more than 50 percent drop in the IPCC estimate in six years, there is clear evidence that model revision and more realistic forcing scenarios have weakened the alarmist scenario.
  • Today’s lower model-predicted warming estimates may still be too high. At the half way point of the feared doubling of the warming potential greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, the model scenarios are over predicting warming by a factor of two or more.
  • The two global temperature measurements from satellites and balloons in their two decades of existence have not picked up the “greenhouse signal” where it should be most pronounced or at least discernible—the lower troposphere. This suggests that surface thermometers may be overestimating warming and/or the surface warming is primarily the result of other factors than just the enhanced greenhouse effect (such as increased solar radiation). A natural warming trend neuters the case for climate alarmism.
  • The reduced growth rate of greenhouse gas buildup in the atmosphere in the last decade, as much as half the rate of some alarmist scenarios, extends the warming timetable to facilitate adaptation under any scenario. The reduced buildup is primarily related to greater carbon dioxide intake—the “greening of planet earth” phenomenon of robust carbon sinks.
  • Scientists who are confident about pinpointing the greenhouse signal from the surface temperature record have not substantiated a greenhouse signal with weather extremes. “Overall,” concluded the IPCC, “there is no evidence that extreme weather events, or climate variability, has increased, in a global sense, through the 20th century, although data and analyses are poor and not comprehensive.”


Business leaders have to balance the needs and interests of various stakeholders in the enterprise: principally the customers, the employees and the investors, as well as the larger society. Today’s social context presents the hazards of misguided public policies and regulations against fossil fuels, despite the unconvincing science case for them. The main risks are more expensive and unreliable power, more costly energy of all kinds, and a sluggish economy burdened with unnecessary expenses. To cope, Bradley makes some “no regrets” suggestions:

“No regret” policies—policies that are economical whether or not GHG emissions are worth addressing—should be pursued in their own right to help defuse the climate change issue. A prominent example is for businesses to profitably lower their energy usage wherever possible. Energy service companies in recent years have executed long-term contracts with guaranteed savings to completely manage the energy function of commercial and industrial users. Total energy outsourcing improves the allocation of core competencies and creates new incentives for optimal energy usage to benefit each party to the agreement.  (my bold)

Other pro-market “no regret” public policies that would have the effect of profitably reducing greenhouse gas emissions over time include:

  • Reducing criteria air pollutants in urban areas not in compliance with the Clean Air Act.

  • Modernizing and simplifying the tax code to provide more incentives for capital-intensive businesses to modernize their physical capital, thus lowering energy usage and related GHG emissions.

  • Maintaining incentives (or removing disincentives) for hydroelectric and nuclear power generation facilities that produce carbon-free electricity.Increasing energy conversion efficiencies of new electric generation capacity and a growing market share of natural gas-fired power relative to coal are natural market processes that will complement the above public policy reforms. Together, they will ensure that GHG emissions are not greater than their free market levels and will continue to fall per unit of output (the decarbonization phenomenon).

Summary

Agenda-driven climate alarmism should be rejected by corporate America on pragmatic and social responsibility grounds. Not only does the balance of evidence point toward net social benefits from a carbon dioxide enriched and moderately warmer and wetter world. Energy reality concludes that any short-term regulatory approach is futile and wasteful compared to perfecting business-as-usual strategies and using the wealth of energy abundance and free global markets to adapt to any weather and climate conditions in the future.

 

Climate Biorhythms

Human Biorhythms

The question–whether monitoring biorhythm cycles can actually make a difference in people’s lives–has been studied since the 1960s, when the writings of George S. Thommen popularized the idea.

Several companies began experimenting and although the Japanese were the first nation to apply biorhythms on a large scale, the Swiss were the first to see and realize the benefits of biorhythms in reducing accidents.

Hans Frueh invented the Bio-Card and Bio-Calculator, and Swiss municipal and national authorities appear to have been applying biorhythms for many years before the Japanese experiments. Swissair, which reportedly had been studying the critical days of its pilots for almost a decade previously, did not allow either a pilot or a co-pilot experiencing a critical day to fly with another experiencing the same kind of instability. Reportedly, Swissair had no accidents on those flights where biorhythm had been applied.

Most biorhythm models use three cycles: a 23-day physical cycle, a 28-day emotional cycle, and a 33-day intellectual cycle.[8] Each of these cycles varies between high and low extremes sinusoidally, with days where the cycle crosses the zero line described as “critical days” of greater risk or uncertainty.

The numbers from +100% (maximum) to -100% (minimum) indicate where on each cycle the rhythms are on a particular day. In general, a rhythm at 0% is crossing the midpoint and is thought to have no real impact on your life, whereas a rhythm at +100% (at the peak of that cycle) would give you an edge in that area, and a rhythm at -100% (at the bottom of that cycle) would make life more difficult in that area. There is no particular meaning to a day on which your rhythms are all high or all low, except the obvious benefits or hindrances that these rare extremes are thought to have on your life.

Human Biorhythms are not proven

Various attempts have been made to validate this biorhythm model with inconclusive results. It is fair to say that this particular definition of physical, emotional, and intellectual cycles has not been proven. I do not myself subscribe to it nor have ever attempted to follow it. My point is mainly to draw an analogy. What if fluctuations in global temperatures are the combined results from multiple cycles of varying lengths?

What About Climate Biorhythms

At the longer end, we have astronomical cycles on millennial scales, and at the shorter end, we have seasonal cycles. In between there are a dozen or so oceanic cycles, such as ENSO, AMO, and AMOC, that have multi-decadal phases. Then there are solar cycles, ranging from basic quasi-11 year sunspot cycles, to other centennial maxs and mins. AARI scientists have documented a quasi-60 year cycle in Arctic ice extents. ETH Zurich has a solar radiation database showing an atmospheric sunscreen that alternatively dims or brightens the incoming sunshine over decades (see Nature’s Sunscreen).

It could be that observed warming and cooling periods occur when several more powerful cycles coincide in their phases. For example, we are at the moment anticipating an unusually quiet solar cycle, a Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO) negative phase, a cooler North Atlantic (AMO), and possibly a dimming period. Will that coincidence result in temperatures dropping? Was the Little Ice Age caused and then ended after 1850 by such a coincidence of climate biorhythms?

Summary

Our knowledge of these cycles is confounded by not yet untangling them to see individual periodicities, as a basis for probing into their interactions and combined influences.  Until that day, we should refrain from picking on one thing, like CO2, as though it were a control knob for the whole climate.

Climate Policies Failure, the Movie

 

H/T GWPF for pointing (here) to this documentary film on how climate change policies are threatening modern civilization.  Trailer can be viewed above.  My recent post on this subject is below.

The Failure of Climate Policies

Primum non nocere” means “First, Do No Harm.”

Medical practitioners know this principle, the closest approximation in the Hippocratic corpus coming from Epidemics: “The physician must be able to tell the antecedents, know the present, and foretell the future – must mediate these things, and have two special objects in view with regard to disease, namely, to do good or to do no harm.”

Every intervention has consequences by which its success is measured. Effectiveness regards the quality of outcomes: Good things happened, Nothing happened, or Bad things happened. Of course, it may be a mixed bag in which the net must be weighed.

In addition, efficiency is considered (“evidence-based” in today’s jargon): It was worth it, It was not worth it, or It was worse than doing nothing. Both attainment of intended consequences, and collateral, unintended damages bear on the judgment.

More and more in the nations “leading on climate change” people are starting to question the actions of policymakers. Recently Robert Lyman, Ottawa Energy policy analyst presented on the theme: Can Canada Survive Climate Change Policy? From Friends of Science

It must indeed seem strange that someone would wonder about the effects of the policies now proposed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions as though the policies themselves are the threat. And yet they are.

I am not here to address the issue of how much human-related greenhouse gas emissions are contributing to increased concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere nor on the sensitivity of global temperatures and climate to the increases in those concentrations over time. There are others here far more qualified than I to discuss that.

Instead, I want to discuss the policy and program measures that the people of Canada and other countries, especially in the industrialized world, are being urged to adopt and what will be the implications of those policies and programs.

Edmonton one winter night.

Canada is the second largest country in the world, sparsely populated,
with vast transportation needs. We withstand long, cold winters featuring
short days, extremely low temperatures and lots of snow. Our energy and
resource industries would be penalized for providing the 
valuable materials
the rest of the world demands and uses.

The article goes into the history of how we all, including Canada got to this point. Then comes this.

Ladies and gentlemen, these commitments are just the beginning, the mere “foot in the door” for the more radical demands that lie ahead. We are still bound in principle to reduce Canadian GHG emissions by 50% from 2005 levels by 2050. The U.N still wants us to “show leadership” by reducing emissions by 80% from 2010 levels by 2050. A number of environmental groups in Canada and other countries have recently endorsed the Wind, Water and Sunlight, or WWS, vision. This vision seeks completely to eliminate the use of all fossils fuels – coal, oil, and natural gas – in the world by 2050. The New Democratic Party’s LEAP Manifesto endorses this vision, as does the Green Party and most of Canada’s influential environmental organizations. The government of Ontario also has formally committed the province to this vision. So have a number of large Canadian municipal governments.

In practice, consumers pay twice, once for the (expensive) renewable
generation and then for the capital costs of the backup thermal plants.

How can we even begin to understand the magnitude of the changes being proposed? One way is to look at the sources of energy consumption and related emissions today. In 2005, Canadian emissions were 738 megatonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent. In 2014, after six years of the worst recession since the Great Depression, Canadians emitted less, 722 megatonnes. Twenty-six per cent of those emissions were from oil and gas production, 23 per cent were from transportation, and roughly equal portions of around 10 per cent were from electricity generation, buildings, industry and agriculture, with waste and other sources making up a residual 7 per cent. Assuming that emissions do not grow one bit over the next 32 years as a result of increased economic activity or increased population, achieving a 50 per cent emissions reduction from 2005 levels would mean reducing emissions to 369 megatonnes CO2 equivalent. That is comparable to completely eliminating the current emissions from oil and gas production, electricity generation, and all emissions-intensive industries like mining, petrochemicals, auto and parts manufacturing, iron, steel and cement. Gone. Achieving the aspirational goal of 80 per cent reduction recommended by the IPCC would mean reducing emissions to 147 megatonnes CO2 equivalent. That would be comparable to reducing Canada’s per capita emissions and our energy economy to the current levels of Bolivia, Sudan or Iraq. (original bold)

Which benefits would be achieved by incurring such costs?

Despite all the rhetoric about reducing world carbon dioxide emissions from fuel combustion and gas flaring, according to the U.S. Carbon dioxide information analysis center, they rose steadily from 16.6 Gigatonnes carbon dioxide equivalent in 1973 to 34.1 Gigatonnes in 2014. So, they more than doubled over that timeframe. Importantly, though, the origins of the emissions changed significantly. In 1973, the countries of the organization for economic cooperation and development, or OECD, accounted for two-thirds of global CO2 emissions from fuel combustion; by 2014, the OECD share had declined to just over a third. So all, or almost all, of the emissions growth occurred outside of the OECD.

So, we have two sharply different perspectives of the future, the EIA’s projections of what probably will happen and the aspirations of the U.N. and many environmental groups as to what in their view should happen. Reducing emissions by 50% by 2050 to meet the U.N.’s vision would mean a global total of about 16 Gigatonnes, in contrast to the EIA’s projection of 43 Gigatonnes (Gt). The OECD countries – the United States, Canada, most of Europe, Japan, Australia and others – could eliminate 100% of their projected emissions of 14 Gt, and the world would still be over its target by 13 Gt.

A Tangled Pile of Wasteful Climate Programs

There is not in Canada a comprehensive list of the measures that have been implemented by all orders of government to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. They have been increasing in number, reach and cost since 1988. I counted 37 different generic types of measures now in use. Large bureaucracies exist to design, implement, and (less frequently) evaluate these measures. They stretch like the tentacles of some vast octopus across every aspect of the Canadian economy and touch everyone’s life. As no one has ever established an inventory of the measures now in place or of those under consideration, no one knows how much these measures already cost Canadians. Two things are certain – they cost billions of dollars annually, and they are not going away soon, regardless of the taxes imposed on carbon. I might add a third certainty, which is that the government will continue to develop and implement more and more programs and regulations as time goes on.

Let me remind you of the conclusions reached by the federal government’s own monitor of program effectiveness, the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development.  Starting in 1998, the commissioner began to critique the government’s approach to managing emission reduction measures. In the seven reports that followed, there were five consistent themes.

  • First, the government has not created effective governance structures for managing climate change activities. In fact, there have been weaknesses in horizontal governance across departments, accountability and coordination.
  • Second, there has been, and remains, no overall implementation plan. The government has produced no estimate of the emission reductions expected from each sector. Without an implementation plan, industry, consumers and other levels of government lack a solid basis for knowing how to apply technology or make investment decisions.
  • Third, as a result, Canada cannot determine whether the targets for emissions reduction already announced will be met or how much it will cost to do so.
  • Fourth, there are few mechanisms in place to measure the performance of the emission-reduction measures that have been implemented so far.
  • Fifth, the federal and provincial governments do poorly in coordinating their approaches to emissions reduction.

I agree that we need an honest dialogue about climate change mitigation. It should start with the recognition that governments to date have publicly embraced emission reduction targets that are unachievable with present technology and at acceptable economic costs. We should acknowledge that we as a society have multiple goals of which environmental quality, however important one might think it is, represents only one. If we value our prosperity and unity as a federal, geographically diverse country, we must approach the climate change issue with a respect for all our collective goals.

Much of Canada’s current political elite favours the pursuit of international goals over the steadfast promotion of the Canadian interest, whether on issues of trade, security or the environment. Never before, however, have we faced a situation in which commitment to an international objective may well impose enormous and divisive costs on Canada for no discernable global environmental benefit. Climate change thus offers a clear dichotomy between the Canadian national interest and the global environmental agenda.

See also Trump Did the Right Thing in the Right Way

Updated: Climates Don’t Start Wars, People Do

Update July 14

A new study has looked into the Syrian civil war, which has been the poster child for those claiming climate causes  human conflict.  h\t to Mike Hulme who posted Climate Change and the Syrian Civil War Revisited The study concluded:

“For proponents of the view that anthropogenic climate change will become a ‘threat multiplier’ for instability in the decades ahead, the Syrian civil war has become a recurring reference point, providing apparently compelling evidence that such conflict effects are already with us. According to this view, human-induced climatic change was a contributory factor in the extreme drought experienced within Syria prior to its civil war; this drought in turn led to large-scale migration; and this migration in turn exacerbated the socio-economic stresses that underpinned Syria’s descent into war. This article provides a systematic interrogation of these claims, and finds little merit to them. Amongst other things it shows that there is no clear and reliable evidence that anthropogenic climate change was a factor in Syria’s pre-civil war drought; that this drought did not cause anywhere near the scale of migration that is often alleged; and that there exists no solid evidence that drought migration pressures in Syria contributed to civil war onset. The Syria case, the article finds, does not support ‘threat multiplier’ views of the impacts of climate change; to the contrary, we conclude, policymakers, commentators and scholars alike should exercise far greater caution when drawing such linkages or when securitising climate change.”  (my bold)

Original Post

Once again the media are promoting a link between climate change and human conflicts. It is obvious to anyone in their right mind that wars correlate with environmental destruction. From rioting in Watts, to the wars in Iraq, or the current chaos in Syria, there’s no doubt that fighting degrades the environment big time.

What is strange here is the notion that changes in temperatures and/or rainfall cause the conflicts in the first place. The researchers that advance this claim are few in number and are hotly disputed by many others in the field, but you would not know that from the one-sided coverage in the mass media.

The Claim

Lately the fuss arises from this study: Climate, conflict, and social stability: what does the evidence say?, Hsiang, S.M. & Burke, M. Climatic Change (2014) 123: 39. doi:10.1007/s10584-013-0868-3

Hsiang and Burke (2014) examine 50 quantitative empirical studies and find a “remarkable convergence in findings” (p. 52) and “strong support for a causal association” (p. 42) between climatological changes and conflict at all scales and across all major regions of the world. A companion paper by Hsiang et al. (2013) that attempts to quantify the average effect from these studies indicates that a 1 standard deviation (σ) increase in temperature or rainfall anomaly is associated with an 11.1 % change in the risk of “intergroup conflict”.1 Assuming that future societies respond similarly to climate variability as past populations, they warn that increased rates of human conflict might represent a “large and critical impact” of climate change.

The Bigger Picture

This assertion is disputed by numerous researchers, some 26 of whom joined in a peer-reviewed comment: One effect to rule them all? A comment on climate and conflict, Buhaug, H., Nordkvelle, J., Bernauer, T. et al. Climatic Change (2014) 127: 391. doi:10.1007/s10584-014-1266-1

In contrast to Hsiang and coauthors, we find no evidence of a convergence of findings on climate variability and civil conflict. Recent studies disagree not only on the magnitude of the impact of climate variability but also on the direction of the effect. The aggregate median effect from these studies suggests that a one-standard deviation increase in temperature or loss of rainfall is associated with a 3.5 % increase in conflict risk, although the 95 % highest density area of the distribution of effects cannot exclude the possibility of large negative or positive effects. With all contemporaneous effects, the aggregate point estimate increases somewhat but remains statistically indistinguishable from zero.

To be clear, this commentary should not be taken to imply that climate has no influence on armed conflict. Rather, we argue – in line with recent scientific reviews (Adger et al. 2014; Bernauer et al. 2012; Gleditsch 2012; Klomp and Bulte 2013; Meierding 2013; Scheffran et al. 2012a,b; Theisen et al. 2013; Zografos et al. 2014) – that research to date has failed to converge on a specific and direct association between climate and violent conflict.

The Root of Climate Change Bias

The two sides have continued to publish and the issue is far from settled. Interested observers describe how serious people can disagree so frequently about such findings in climate science.

Modeling and data choices sway conclusions about climate-conflict links, Andrew M. Linke, and Frank D. W. Witmer, Institute of Behavioral Science, University of Colorado, Boulder, CO 80309-0483 here

Conclusions about the climate–conflict relationship are also contingent on the assumptions behind the respective statistical analyses. Although this simple fact is generally understood, we stress the disciplinary preferences in modeling decisions.

However, we believe that the Burke et al. finding is not a “benchmark” in the sense that it is the scientific truth or an objective reality because disciplinary-related modeling decisions, data availability and choices, and coding rules are critical in deriving robust conclusions about temperature and conflict.

After adding additional covariates (models 4 and 6), the significant temperature effect in the Burke et al. (1) model disappears, with sociopolitical variables predicting conflict more effectively than the climate variables. Furthermore, this specification provides additional insights into the between- and within-effects that vary for factors such as political exclusion and prior conflict.

Summary

Sociopolitical variables predict conflict more effectively than climate variables. It is well established that poorer countries, such as those in Africa, are more likely to experience chronic human conflicts. It is also obvious that failing states fall into armed conflicts, being unable to govern effectively due to corruption and illegitimacy.

It boggles the mind that activists promote policies to deny cheap, reliable energy for such countries, perpetuating or increasing their poverty and misery, while claiming such actions reduce the chances of conflicts in the future.

Halvard Buhaug concludes (here):

Vocal actors within policy and practice contend that environmental variability and shocks, such as drought and prolonged heat waves, drive civil wars in Africa. Recently, a widely publicized scientific article appears to substantiate this claim. This paper investigates the empirical foundation for the claimed relationship in detail. Using a host of different model specifications and alternative measures of drought, heat, and civil war, the paper concludes that climate variability is a poor predictor of armed conflict. Instead, African civil wars can be explained by generic structural and contextual conditions: prevalent ethno-political exclusion, poor national economy, and the collapse of the Cold War system.

Footnote:  The Joys of Playing Climate Whack-A-Mole

Dealing with alarmist claims is like playing whack-a-mole. Every time you beat down one bogeyman, another one pops up in another field, and later the first one returns, needing to be confronted again. I have been playing Climate Whack-A-Mole for a while, and if you are interested, there are some hammers supplied below.

The alarmist methodology is repetitive, only the subject changes. First, create a computer model, purporting to be a physical or statistical representation of the real world. Then play with the parameters until fears are supported by the model outputs. Disregard or discount divergences from empirical observations. This pattern is described in more detail at Chameleon Climate Models

This post is the latest in a series here which apply reality filters to attest climate models.  The first was Temperatures According to Climate Models where both hindcasting and forecasting were seen to be flawed.

Others in the Series are:

Sea Level Rise: Just the Facts

Data vs. Models #1: Arctic Warming

Data vs. Models #2: Droughts and Floods

Data vs. Models #3: Disasters

Data vs. Models #4: Climates Changing

Climate Medicine

Beware getting sucked into any model.

The Alarmist Beehive

This post is about bees since they are also victims of science abuse by environmental activists, aided and abetted by the media. The full story is told by Jon Entine at Slate Do Neonics Hurt Bees?  Researchers and the Media Say Yes. The Data Do Not.
A new, landmark study provides plenty of useful information. If only we could interpret it accurately. Synopsis below.

Futuristic Nightmare Scenarios

“Neonicotinoid Pesticides Are Slowly Killing Bees.”

No, there is no consensus evidence that neonics are “slowly killing bees.” No, this study did not add to the evidence that neonics are driving bee health problems. And yet . . .

Unfortunately, and predictably, the overheated mainstream news headlines also generated a slew of even more exaggerated stories on activist and quack websites where undermining agricultural chemicals is a top priority (e.g., Greenpeace, End Times Headlines, and Friends of the Earth). The takeaway: The “beepocalypse” is accelerating. A few news outlets, such as Reuters (“Field Studies Fuel Dispute Over Whether Banned Pesticides Harm Bees”) and the Washington Post (“Controversial Pesticides May Threaten Queen Bees. Alternatives Could Be Worse.”), got the contradictory findings of the study and the headline right.

But based on the study’s data, the headline could just as easily have read: “Landmark Study Shows Neonic Pesticides Improve Bee Health”—and it would have been equally correct. So how did so many people get this so wrong?

Bouncing off a database can turn your perspective upside down.

Using Data as a Trampoline rather than Mining for Understanding

This much-anticipated two year, $3.6 million study is particularly interesting because it was primarily funded by two major producers of neonicotinoids, Bayer Crop Science and Syngenta. They had no involvement with the analysis of the data. The three-country study was led by the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, or CEH, in the U.K.—a group known for its skepticism of pesticides in general and neonics in particular.

The raw data—more than 1,000 pages of it (only a tiny fraction is reproduced in the study)—are solid. It’s a reservoir of important information for entomologists and ecologists trying to figure out the challenges facing bees. It’s particularly important because to date, the problem with much of the research on neonicotinoids has been the wide gulf between the findings from laboratory-based studies and field studies.

Some, but not all, results from lab research have claimed neonics cause health problems in honeybees and wild bees, endangering the world food supply. This has been widely and often breathlessly echoed in the popular media—remember the execrably reported Time cover story on “A World Without Bees.” But the doses and time of exposure have varied dramatically from lab study to lab study, so many entomologists remain skeptical of these sweeping conclusions. Field studies have consistently shown a different result—in the field, neonics seem to pose little or no harm. The overwhelming threat to bee health, entomologists now agree, is a combination of factors led by the deadly Varroa destructor mite, the miticides used to control them, and bee practices. Relative to these factors, neonics are seen as relatively inconsequential.

The Bees are all right. Carry on.

Disparity between Field and Lab Research (sound familiar?)

Jon Entine addressed this disparity between field and lab research in a series of articles at the Genetic Literacy Project, and specifically summarized two dozen key field studies, many of which were independently funded and executed. This study was designed in part to bridge that gulf. And the devil is in the interpretation.

Overall, the data collected from 33 different fields covered 42 analyses and 258 endpoints—a staggering number. The paper only presented a sliver of that data—a selective glimpse of what the research, in its entirety showed.

What patterns emerged when examining the entire data set? . . . In sum, of 258 endpoints, 238—92 percent—showed no effects. (Four endpoints didn’t yield data.) Only 16 showed effects. Negative effects showed up 9 times—3.5 percent of all outcomes; 7 showed a benefit from using neonics—2.7 percent.

As one scientist pointed out, in statistics there is a widely accepted standard that random results are generated about 5 percent of the time—which means by chance alone we would expect 13 results meaninglessly showing up positive or negative.

Norman Carreck, science director of the International Bee Research Association, who was not part of either study, noted, the small number of significant effects “makes it difficult to draw any reliable conclusions.”

Moreover, Bees Are Not in Decline

The broader context of the bee health controversy is also important to understand; bees are not in sharp decline—not in North America nor in Europe, where neonics are under a temporary ban that shows signs of becoming permanent, nor worldwide. Earlier this week, Canada reported that its honeybee colonies grew 10 percent year over year and now stand at about 800,000. That’s a new record, and the growth tracks the increased use of neonics, which are critical to canola crops in Western Canada, where 80 percent of the nation’s honey originates.

Managed beehives in the U.S. had been in steady decline since the 1940s, as farm land disappeared to urbanization, but began stabilizing in the mid-1990s, coinciding with the introduction of neonicotinoids. They hit a 22-year high in the last count.

Global hive numbers have steadily increased since the 1960s except for two brief periods—the emergence of the Varroa mite in the late 1980s and the brief outbreak of colony collapse disorder, mostly in the U.S., in the mid-2000s.

Conclusion

So the bees, contrary to widespread popular belief, are actually doing all right in terms of numbers, although the Varroa mite remains a dangerous challenge. But still, a cadre of scientists well known for their vocal opposition to and lobbying against neonics have already begun trying to leverage the misinterpretation of the data. Within hours of the release of the study, advocacy groups opposed to intensive agricultural techniques had already begun weaponizing the misreported headlines.

But viewing the data from the European study in context makes it even more obvious that sweeping statements about the continuing beepocalypse and the deadly dangers to bees from pesticides, and neonicotinoids in particular, are irresponsible. That’s on both the scientists, and the media.

Summary

The comparison with climate alarmism is obvious. The data is equivocal and subject to interpretation. Lab studies can not be replicated in the real world. Activists make mountains out of molehills. Reasonable balanced analysts are ignored or silenced. Media outlets proclaim the end of life as we know it to capture ears and eyeballs for advertisers, and to build their audiences (CNN: All the fear all the time”). Business as usual for Crisis Inc.

 

 

 

Climate Scare in US South

A recent study published in Science predicts there will be no comfort for US southerners in the future.  As reported in the Atlantic

The American South Will Bear the Worst of Climate Change’s Costs
Global warming will intensify regional inequality in the United States, according to a revolutionary new economic assessment of the phenomenon.

The study, published Thursday in Science, simulates the costs of global warming in excruciating detail, modeling every day of weather in every U.S. county during the 21st century. It finds enormous disparities in how rising temperatures will affect American communities: Texas, Florida, and the Deep South will bleed income in the broiling heat, while some chillier northern states gain moderate benefits.

“We are really sure the South is going to get hammered,” says Solomon Hsiang, one of the authors of the paper and a professor of public policy at the University of California, Berkeley. “The South is really, really negatively affected by climate change, much more so than the North. That wasn’t something we were expecting going in.”

First of all, this comes from model projections, not from observed temperatures and precipitation.

The graph shows daily maximums, averaged annually for the southern region as defined by the National Weather Service (NWS). The rise since 1895 is less than 1F, not even noticeable. You can also clearly see a quasi-60 year cycle, and that we are coming off the warmer phase with a cooler phase likely ahead.

Precipitation over the same period of 120 years shows a slight rise, nothing dramatic, and also oscillating with scattered peaks and valleys.

Secondly, all forecasting was done using the worst-case scenario

Out of five scenarios in IPCC report RCP8.5 is the most extreme. Neither AR5 nor the paper describing RCP8.5 call it a “business as usual” scenario, because it is not. Such a scenario would assume continuation of existing trends through 2100. A worst-case scenario assumes trends change for the worse. RCP8.5 assumes population growth at the 90th percentile of the probability forecast for 2100 (i.e., not considering real-world factors) and near-stagnation of technological progress.

Thirdly the models show no skill at all at regional forecasting, never mind their deficiencies at the global scale.

Roger Pielke Sr. repeatedly points to the elephant in the room about these papers — the ignored assumption that climate models’ predictions about global climate (when fed accurate predictions about emissions) are a sufficiently skillful basis for public policy — and that downscaling these models produces regional forecasts also useful for making public policy. There is little evidence of either. See here for a discussion of the literature about model validation (see the end section here for links to the literature). He says there is even less evidence for their skill at regional levels. He reviewed the literature validating regional downsizing five years ago, and relatively little progress has been made since then.
From Larry Kummer, US Economic Damage from Climate Change

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, Adaptation by humans is not allowed.

The projections presume that humans will not adapt in response to changing conditions, even though we have always done so, and presently have unprecedented capacities.

Matthew Kahn explains this clearly in Climate Change Adaptation Economics

An econometric research team follows the following recipe. First, it takes historical data and estimates how weather conditions correlate with economic conditions. For example, when it is extremely hot in a county — do we observe based on past data that the county’s per-capita income is lower than usual. The research team takes these past correlations and takes a climate change model (that tells you a guess of what will be future climate conditions by county) to predict future economic outcomes under the assumption that the historical correlation between weather and economic outcomes persists into the future.

This bold writing violates the Lucas Critique. Robert Lucas is one of the University of Chicago’s greatest economists. I was not one of his greatest students but I learned from him that as the “Rules of the Game” change that forward looking decision makers re-optimize. He studied this issue in the context of government counter-cyclical macro policy (i.e tax cuts during recessions) but the same point applies in the case of climate change. (my bold)

Let me explain;

Suppose it has always been 90 degrees in Phoenix in April but moving forward it will now be 105 degrees on average in Phoenix in April because of climate change. This is what I mean by a change in the Rules of the Game. The key stochastic process’ core parameters have changed. The climate scientists estimate such relationship using geocoded time series data. They spread their findings (through the New York Times and through wild bloggers such as Joe Romm).

Investors (those who invest in durable buildings, businesses, families) who live and work in a specific area such as Phoenix have strong incentives to take pro-active actions to reduce their exposure to hotter Aprils. They have thousands of adaptation strategies (and richer people have even more). One of the points I argue in Climatopolis is that induced innovation will take place because of Paul Revere style forecasts of hotter summers. Demand creates supply! I haven’t even mentioned government at the local, state or federal level. While many adaptation strategies are private goods (think of air conditioners), there are also public goods (sea walls, air cooling centers). If government changes its investments because of the new “Rules of the Game”, then the poor’s well being can improve in the face of a changing climate even if they can’t afford any of the private adaptation strategies. We are not passive victims here. The greatness of capitalism is that the set of alternatives we have to choose from keeps growing due to innovation and product differentiation. Each of these private and public goods helps us to individually and collective adapt.

As these changes takes place, the historical correlations between climate and economic losses are attenuated. This is why I don’t have much confidence in the predictions reported in the new Science Paper.

Summary

Alarmist blinders could not be more obvious. Their only solution is spending many trillions of dollars attempting to prevent future warming and climate change by reducing CO2 emissions (so-called “Mitigation”). The much more rational and time-honored policy of Adaptation would mean watching for changes and challenges to actually appear then mobilizing resources in response. But that would mean waiting because nothing is yet happening outside the normal range of temperatures and precipitation.   Unacceptable to true believers.

See also Climate Gloom and Doom

Climate Commandments (short list)

 

Bill Mckibben is founder of the 350.com movement and a leading prophet of climate doom. He has noticed all the virtue signaling by politicians and celebrities declaring “We are still in”, and is concerned that activists will mistake words for actions. His recent Rolling Stone article is:
How to Tell If Your Reps Are Serious About Climate Change
In the wake of Trump pulling the U.S. out of the Paris Agreement, how serious are your elected leaders about fighting back?

McKibben provides Three Commandments for true believer climatists:

1.  Thou shalt commit to converting to 100 percent renewable energy.

Gail Tverberg, Our Finite World:

In fact, I have come to the rather astounding conclusion that even if wind turbines and solar PV could be built at zero cost, it would not make sense to continue to add them to the electric grid in the absence of very much better and cheaper electricity storage than we have today. There are too many costs outside building the devices themselves. It is these secondary costs that are problematic. Also, the presence of intermittent electricity disrupts competitive prices, leading to electricity prices that are far too low for other electricity providers, including those providing electricity using nuclear or natural gas. The tiny contribution of wind and solar to grid electricity cannot make up for the loss of more traditional electricity sources due to low prices.

See also: Climateers Tilting and Windmills,

Renewables Devilish Details

2. Thou shalt work to keep remaining fossil fuels in the ground.

G20 total energy usage including thermal generation illustrating the magnitude of the problem the G20 countries still face in decarbonizing their energy sectors. (thermal refers to burning of fossil fuels)

Roger Andrews at Energy Matters:

While governments fixate on cutting emissions from the electricity sector, the larger problem of cutting emissions from the non-electricity sector is generally ignored. In this post I present data from the G20 countries, which between them consume 80% of the world’s energy, summarizing the present situation. The results show that the G20 countries obtain only 41.5% of their total energy from electricity and the remaining 58.5% dominantly from oil, coal and gas consumed in the non-electric sector (transportation, industrial processes, heating etc). So even if they eventually succeed in obtaining all their electricity from low-carbon sources they would still be getting more than half their energy from high-carbon sources if no progress is made in decarbonizing their non-electric sectors.

3. Thou shalt resist natural gas as the most dangerous fuel of all.

Methane Facts:

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.

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.

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

See More Methane Madness

An additional commandment comes from former UN climate chief Christiana Figueres:

4. Thou shalt bring emissions permanently lower by 2020.

Former UN climate chief: Only three years left to save the planet

The United Nation’s former global warming czar has published a paper claiming humanity only has three years left to avert dangerous global warming and meet the goals of the Paris climate accord.

To do that, Christiana Figueres says governments and businesses need to pony up $1.3 trillion a year by 2020 earmarked for “climate action” to decarbonize the global economy. That’s on top of boosting green energy and phasing out fossil fuels, mostly coal:

Clever as it is to substitute a 450 ppm target for 2C, the mathematics are daunting. Joe Romm:

We’re at 30 billion tons of carbon dioxide emissions a year — rising 3.3% per year — and we have to average below 18 billion tons a year for the entire century if we’re going to stabilize at 450 ppm. We need to peak around 2015 to 2020 at the latest, then drop at least 60% by 2050 to 15 billion tons (4 billion tons of carbon), and then go to near zero net carbon emissions by 2100.

And according to the IEA, the clock has already run out. From the 2011 IEA World Energy Outlook:

“If internationally co-ordinated action is not implemented by 2017, we project that all permissible CO2 emissions in the 450 Scenario will come from the infrastructure then existing, so that all new infrastructure from then until 2035 would need to be zero-carbon. This would theoretically be possible at very high cost, but probably not practicable in political terms.”

“If we do not change course, by 2015 over 90% of the permissible energy sector emissions to 2035 will already be locked in. By 2017, 100%.”

Maria van der Hoeven
Executive Director
International Energy Agency.
World Energy Outlook 2011

Background at How Climate Law Depends on Paris

Summary

These initiatives are outrageous to reasonable people, but are perfectly consistent with the agenda of people like McKibben and Figueres. A synopsis of the plan is in a post called The 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

Sucking Green Monster

 

Draining the swamp is one thing, difficult enough to do and then contend with the alligators nesting there. Caleb Rossiter is even more concerned about the infiltration of climate change activists into every branch of federal bureaucracy.  His POV is explained in a Washington Examiner article Trump’s agenda faces climate deep state by John Siciliano | Jun 25, 2017.

Background

Rossiter, whose left-liberal credentials included a stint as counsel to former Rep. Bill Delahunt, D-Mass., who was one of Nancy Pelosi’s lieutenants after she swept to power in 2006, is a fervent supporter of clean fossil fuel development, and is sympathetic to Trump’s agenda. He made a name for himself for being a Democrat who is also a fervent critic of alarmist climate policy. His willingness to reject an article of faith in leftist and Democratic circles got him ousted a few years back from the Institute for Policy Studies, a progressive think tank, where he was an associate fellow.

The Herculean Challenge

“So, there wasn’t much change at EPA this year, not much change at [the] State” Department, Rossiter says. People say Trump will “get it right next time” when it comes to the budget, Rossiter adds, but he isn’t convinced.

“It’s going to be hard … and this stuff is really deeply embedded in the budget. People are doing National Science Foundation studies, transportation studies based on the assumption that carbon dioxide is a clear and present danger to our country.”

Another long-term problem is that Obama planted climate change offices in Cabinet agencies all over the federal government. These climate offices are meant to direct, advise on, and recommend actions that have climate change as their guiding star. Their whole point is to ensure that federal agencies only approve projects that consider the climate consequences of government action.

Deep Green Climate Network

Tentacles are attached everywhere, but Rossiter provides examples of some the most obvious larger and more developed suckers.

The State Department‘s Office of the Special Envoy for Climate Change, or the SECC, which is responsible for negotiating climate deals and implementing U.S. policy on climate change.

The State Department also has an Office of Global Change, which represents the nation in any negotiations under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, which is the same convention that handled the Paris negotiations with 194 other countries. It also handles negotiations with other international organizations that handle climate change policymaking, including the International Civil Aviation Organization and the International Maritime Organization.

The U.S. Agency for International Development also has its own specialized Office of Climate Change. USAID is the nation’s primary distributor of foreign aid, and climate change is seen by the agency as one of the primary reasons its services are in greater need than ever before. USAID spends more than $300 million per year in 50 countries for “climate-smart development,” according to the agency.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has its Climate Change Program Office, which also guides the agency’s response by focusing on how global warming will affect agriculture, forests, grazing lands, and rural communities. It works to ensure that climate change is recognized and “fully integrated” into research, planning, and “decision-making processes,” according to the USDA website.

The Energy Department has at least two climate change or climate-related offices within its Office of International Affairs, overseen by the deputy assistant secretary for International Climate and Technology.  First, there is the Office of International Climate and Clean Energy, which coordinates clean energy development programs to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.  Second, there is the Office of International Science and Technology Collaboration, which oversees a number of programs with other countries to develop clean energy programs.

The Department of Transportation is another big Cabinet level agency with climate change policy strewn through it. One of its main initiatives is the Transportation and Climate Change Clearinghouse, which is designed as a “one-stop source of information on transportation and climate change issues,” according to the agency. “It includes information on greenhouse gas (GHG) inventories, analytic methods and tools, GHG reduction strategies, potential impacts of climate change on transportation infrastructure, and approaches for integrating climate change considerations into transportation decision making.”

The list goes on, according to Rossiter. The Department of Justice has its own programs, as does the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Department of Education, he said.

Another large organization that the U.S. government is a part of is the World Bank. It is set up to fund projects all over the world, but has been known to hold up coal-fired power plant projects because of the threat of “climate catastrophe,” Rossiter said.

“A big one is at the bottom of your list at the Department of Transportation,” Rossiter said. “They put a lot of limitations on public transport, what can be approved, and they are very fixated on the greenhouse gas hypothesis.”

Tree growth in Queens sewer.

Next steps for Trump

Trump has taken some actions to disconnect the climate network, primarily by rolling back climate change regulations, land management decisions and international agreements such as the Paris climate change agreement. But all of these actions just scratch the surface, according to critics of Obama’s policies.

They say Trump hasn’t even begun to address the real grip that climate change alarmism had put in place within the government. Trump can turn off the engine, but other presidents can just as easily turn them on again if they are still there, which would leave Trump’s climate agenda in tatters.

Trump is attempting to strike out climate regulations painstakingly one at a time, which will take years, with no guarantee that a new president wouldn’t reverse all Trump’s actions. Revoking the endangerment finding would be a more secure method, because it would eliminate the raison d’etre for carbon dioxide regulation. At least, that’s what climate skeptics hope.

Rossiter said one of the weaknesses in Trump’s decision to leave Paris was that he failed to mention global warming science. “I wish Mr. Trump would have really cut the Gordian Knot by saying for scientific reasons it’s way too premature to restrict our economy on the basis of fears of climate catastrophe,” he said.

Rossiter believes the science isn’t as strong as most people say it is for taking action to stop global warming. “The 98 percent consensus is carbon dioxide is a warming gas. And it has, probably, some impact on the temperature,” but that “doesn’t mean you are immediately creating floods, hurricanes and droughts and locusts.

“This creates a problem because what we are trying to do, what we need to do, is defang the concept that has spread through the federal government. Once it’s defanged, it’s much easier to go through the executive branch agencies and say ‘look, our goal here is clean as possible generation of electricity for the wealth of the United States and the world.'”

Washington’s Future?

Angkor Wat Ta Prohm Temple overgrown with tree roots.

Climate Risky Business

A new theme emerging out of the IPCC Fifth Report was the emphasis on selling the risk of man-made climate change. The idea is that scientists should not advocate policy, but do have a responsibility to convince the public of the risks resulting from burning fossil fuels.

An article illustrates how this approach shapes recent public communications in support of actions on global warming/climate change.  Treading the Fine Line Between Climate Talk and Alarmism (Op-Ed)  By Sarah E. Myhre, Ph.D. | June 23, 2017.  Excerpts:

What is our role in public leadership as scientists? I would suggest a few action items: Work to reduce risk and cost for the public; steward the public’s interest in evidence; and be steady and committed to the scientific process of dissent, revision and discovery. This means communicating risk when necessary. We would never fault an oncologist for informing patients about the cancer risks that come with smoking. Why would we expect Earth scientists to be any different, when we’re just as certain?

As a public scholar with expertise in paleoclimate science, I communicate alarming, difficult information about the consequences to Earth and ocean systems that have come with past events of abrupt climate warming. As the saying goes, the past is the key to the future. 

We are living through a crisis of trust between the American public and climate scientists, and we must extend ourselves, as scientists and public servants, to rebuild transparency and trust with the public. I will start: I want the global community to mitigate the extreme risk of the warmest future climate scenarios. And, I want my kid to eat salmon and ski with his grandkids in the future. I am invested in that cooler, safer, more sustainable future — for your kids and for mine. Just don’t call me an alarmist.

This provides a teachable moment concerning the rhetorical maneuver to present climate as a risky business. The technique typically starts with a particular instance of actual risk and then makes a gross generalization so that the risk is exaggerated beyond reason.  From the article above:

Climate scientists are just as certain as oncologists are.

Herein lies the moral of this tale. The particular risk is the convincing epidemiological evidence linking lung cancer to smokers. The leap was claiming second-hand smoke puts non-smokers at risk of cancer. The statistical case was never conclusive, but the public was scared into enacting all kinds of smoke-free spaces.

Very few passive smoking/lung cancer studies are published these days compared to the glut of the 1980s and 1990s, but the handful that have appeared in recent years continue to support the null hypothesis. For all the campaigners’ talk of “overwhelming evidence”, the link between secondhand smoke and lung cancer has always been very shaky. It tends to be the smaller, case-control studies which find the associations while the larger, cohort studies do not (and, as the JNCI report notes, case-control studies “can suffer from recall bias: People who develop a disease that might be related to passive smoking are more likely to recall being exposed to passive smoking.”)

Gerard Silvestri, MD, of the Medical University of South Carolina, a member of NCI’s PDQ Screening and Prevention Editorial Board said (here):

“We’ve gotten smoking out of bars and restaurants on the basis of the fact that you and I and other nonsmokers don’t want to die,” said Silvestri. “The reality is, we probably won’t.”

To be clear, I don’t want smokers fouling my space in restaurants, and the policies are beneficial to me esthetically. But there was never any certainty about my risk of cancer, just the spoiling of clean air around me.  What was a matter of opinion and personal preference was settled politically by asserting scientific certainty of my health risk.

To draw the point finely, secondhand smoke shows how science is used by one group (anti-smoking activists) against another group (smokers) by mobilizing support for regulations on the basis of a generalized risk, raising concerns among the silent majority who otherwise were not particularly interested in the issue.

Climate as a Risky Business

Environmentalists have often employed risk exaggeration, beginning with Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring full of innuendo about DDT without any actual epidemiological proof. Currently Junk Science provides a list of EPA exaggerations about environmental pollution, for example The scientific fraud that claims air pollution is killing people

In the climate field, any flat Polynesian island is of course at risk of flooding, and thus by extension they produce images of Manhattan under water. Global risk is trumpeted, ignoring all the local particularities of land subsidence, tidal gauge records, terrain drainage features, infrastructure, precipitation patterns, etc.

Any storm, drought, flood, or unusual weather likewise presents a particular risk in the locale where it occurs. The gross exaggeration is to claim that we are increasing the risk of all these events, and by stopping burning fossil fuels we can prevent them from happening.

Sarah Myhre’s research focuses on ocean dead zones (oxygen-depleted waters), which is a real and long-studied risk. Then comes her leap into the fearful future:

The surface and deep ocean will continue to absorb heat and CO2 from the atmosphere. The heating of the ocean will increase the stratification of water (i.e. ocean mixing will be reduced, as will the strength of thermohaline circulation). Ocean heating will also drive the thermal expansion of the interior of the ocean – this is one of the primary contributors to sea level rise.

The absorption of CO2 from the atmosphere will drive changes in the chemistry of surface and deep waters – there are significant biological consequences to acidifying the global surface ocean. Basically, we are looking at the fundamental reorganization of biological communities and ecological provinces in the ocean. These physical drivers (warming, stratification, acidification) all area associated with significant biological consequences.

This is a continuation of a scare called Climate Change Is Suffocating The Oceans.  Once again climate alarmists/activists have seized upon an actual environmental issue, but misdirect the public toward their CO2 obsession, and away from practical efforts to address a real concern. Some excerpts from scientific studies serve to put things in perspective.  See Ocean Oxygen Misdirection

As a paleoclimate expert the author knows the climate and sea levels have changed many times in the past, and often shifted quickly in geological terms.

And yet the evidence shows clearly that CO2 follows as an effect of changing temperatures, not the cause.

Summary

Warmists are of the opinion that because of burning fossil fuels, our modern climate no longer compares to paleoclimates, a claim in fact that humans are overriding natural forces. But the message from the ice cores is clear: Through the ages, CO2 responds to temperatures and not the other way around.

The other message is also clear: Climates change between warm and cool, and warm has always been good for humans and the biosphere. We should concern ourselves with Adaptation, preparing for the cold times with robust infrastructure and reliable, affordable energy.

See also CO2 and Climate Change for the Ages

See also Claim: Fossil Fuels Cause Global Warming
Updated 2017  Fossil Fuels ≠ Global Warming

Footnote:

Actuaries are accountants specialized in risk statistics like morbidity and mortality, usually working in the insurance industry.

Question:  What is the difference between an Actuary and an Auditor?
Answer:  The Auditor is the one with a sense of humor.
(Old joke from days working at KPMG)

Renewables Devilish Details

 

Matthew E. Kahn , Professor of Economics at USC provided this insightful post:

What Does Energy Economics Teach Us About a Zero Carbon Electricity Grid by the year 2050?

Energy engineers are having an interesting fight over whether the US electricity grid can “easily” be 100% renewables (and thus create 0 GHG emissions) in the next 30 years. A prominent Stanford Engineer and his team says “yes” while some important critics say no. In Today’s NY Times (“Economics Scene”) Eduardo Porter sides with the critics. The interesting thing here is that no empirical microeconomists who study energy are part of either research team or are quoted in the NY Times. Yet, at the end of the day — this is a microeconomics issue.

Here are some of the key issues that both the original study and the critique ignore;

1. The land markets?
It would be terrific if wind and solar and hydro are so low cost by the year 2050 that we can generate all of our power using them. Assuming constant returns to scale, how much land would need to be allocated to each of these to generate our expected power demand in 2050? In a world where land is very valuable close to cities, what land would be set aside for this? Would current property owners be compensated for this land? Or would this be “roof top solar”? I do not believe there is any discussion of land markets in the original 2015 PNAS paper or the new critique. So the opportunity cost of land should be included in all of these calculations.

2. Transmission lines?
Assuming the renewables generation is far from cities, where will the transmission lines be built to bring the power to the cities? How will NIMBY issues be solved? How will potential veto power be bought out here? Or will engineers make a breakthrough such that power can be “emailed” without transmission capacity?

3. Comparative Energy Costs?
How much induced innovation will be needed to make the green energy production technologies cheaper than natural gas in the year 2050? So, we need an estimate of dynamic innovation in the dirty sector vs. the clean sector (see the recent work of Daron Acemoglu and co-authors on the “great race”).

4. Flexible power demand?
What will be aggregate electricity demand in 2050? How many consumers in the residential, industrial, commercial sectors will be signed up for dynamic pricing? How elastic will their demands be for power such that if the price of power rises will they in aggregate reduce their consumption by 2% or by 34% This plays a key role in determining the feasibility of the green grid! If demand is highly responsive to higher prices then the green grid is much more viable! So, now we are back to fundamental issues of the microeconomic determinants of the aggregate demand for electricity.

5. Electric vehicles demand?
Building on #4; what will be the aggregate demand of the transportation sector for energy and electricity in 2050? What % of the fleet will be EVs and how many miles will they drive and how many miles per kwh will they achieve? Some of these are micro-economic questions!

6. Air Conditioning Demand?
Building on #4, what will be aggregate demand for air conditioning during hot summers? What thermostat level will businesses and households cool to? How efficient will air conditioners be then (see the 1999 QJE by Newell, Jaffee and Stavins on induced innovation; see point #3 above).

7. Resistence from Vested Interests?
I appreciate that the engineers want to debate what is feasible but this overlooks important implementation issues that may raise the cost of introducing their valuable ideas. For example,
which interest groups would seek to veto the Stanford “vision”? Coal miners will not favor Jacobson’s equilibrium. If Progressives need to buy out West Virginian Senator support for coal, this cost should be added to the full cost of the green economy. Is it included? I doubt it.

“Pie In The Sky”

From the day of your birth
It’s bread and water here on earth
To a child of light, to a child of light

But there’ll be pie in the sky
By and by when I die
And it’ll be alright, it’ll be alright