Alberta Set to Imitate Ontario’s Electrical Mess

Albertans pay around five cents a kilowatt hour — compared to the up to 18 cents Ontarians experienced, but for how long?Postmedia News

Kevin Libin writes in Financial Post: Alberta’s now copying Ontario’s disastrous electricity policies. What could go wrong?  Get ready, Albertans, a new report reveals that all the thrills and spills that follow when politicians start meddling in a boring, but well-functioning electricity market are coming your way.  Excerpts in italics below with my bolds.

A report released Thursday by the University of Calgary’s School of Public Policy gives a sneak peek of how the Alberta script could play out. It begins once again with a “progressive” government convinced that its legacy lies in climate activism, out to redesign an electricity grid from something meant to provide affordable, reliable power into a showpiece of uncompetitive solar and wind power. And like Ontario, the Alberta NDP is determined to turn its provincial electricity grid into not just a green project that ignores economics, but an affirmative-action diversity project that sets aside certain renewable deals for producers owned by First Nations.

Alberta Premier Rachel Notley’s plan, like McGuinty’s, is to phase out all of Alberta’s cheap, abundant but terribly uncool coal-fired power (by 2030, in Alberta’s case) and force onto the grid instead large amounts of unreliable, expensive solar and wind power. Albertans have been so preoccupied fighting through a barrage of energy woes since Notley’s NDP was elected — the oil-price crash, government-imposed carbon taxes and emission caps, blocked and cancelled pipelines and the Trudeau government’s wholesale politicization of energy regulation — that they probably haven’t realized yet how vast an overhaul Notley was talking about when she began revealing this plan in 2015. But the report’s author, Brian Livingston, an engineer and lawyer with deep experience in the energy business in Alberta, runs through the shocking numbers: As of last year, Alberta’s grid had a capacity of roughly 17,000 megawatts, but the envisioned grid of 2032 will require nearly 13,000 megawatts that do not currently exist. Think of it as rebuilding 75 per cent of Alberta’s current grid in less than 15 years. Hey, what could go wrong?

Alberta Electricity System Operator is planning for so much wind power that the province will blow past Ontario, a province three times its size. Postmedia News

And if Ontarians thought their government was obsessed with green power, Livingston notes that the Alberta Electricity System Operator is planning for so much wind power that the province will blow past Ontario, a province three times its size, with 5,000 megawatts of wind compared to Ontario’s 4,213 megawatts, and nearly twice as much solar power, 700 megawatts, compared to Ontario’s 380 megawatts.

Learning from McGuinty’s mistake, the Alberta NDP is smart enough to ensure the extra cost of all this uneconomic power won’t show up printed in black and white on consumers’ power bills, likely hoping that spares them the political fallout that now threatens the Ontario Liberals. Rather than ratepayers shouldering the pain, it will be taxpayers — largely the same people — who pay most for any additional costs through added deficits and debts, at least for the next few years. That’s because Notley has ordered a temporary cap on household electricity rates of 6.8 cents per kilowatt hour (which is still significantly higher than the current rate). When wholesale rates rise higher than that, the government will use carbon-tax revenues to pay the difference. But businesses pay full freight from the get go.

Hiding from the real costs of using energy is a curious move for a government that gives away energy-efficient light bulbs and other products designed to conserve while imposing carbon taxes to try suppressing energy use. It’s also a costly move. Estimates from the C. D. Howe Institute estimate it will cost Alberta taxpayers up to $50 million this year alone; a recent report from electricity consultants at EDC Associates estimates that by 2021, the extra costs moved off electric bills and onto tax bills will total $700 million. That’s when the price cap expires and costs could start showing up on power bills, instead.

Of course, Ontario has proven that it’s easy to underestimate how expensive these political experiments can get, but the Alberta redesign is already getting pricey. First, Notley accidentally stuck Alberta consumers with nearly $2 billion in extra surcharges when she rewrote carbon policies without realizing that gave producers the right to cancel unprofitable contracts. Her plan also requires the government to create a new “capacity” payment system for electricity producers, who will able to charge substantial sums even if they don’t produce a single watt. Livingston shows that many producers can earn almost as much just for offering capacity to the grid as they do for producing. Meanwhile, since solar power is perennially and embarrassingly uncompetitive economically, even with expensive wind power, the government plans to let solar providers sell electricity at premium rates to government facilities, with taxpayers covering that cost, too, just as they’ll cover the cost of overpriced wind power, which doesn’t approach the affordability of fossil fuels.

In his report, Livingston drily notes that the way Albertans think of the future of their electricity system could probably be summed up as: “Whatever we do here in Alberta, please let us not do it like they did it in Ontario.” They have reason to fear, since Livingston shows Ontario households have faced rates as much as four times higher than those in Alberta. Even if it doesn’t look exactly like the way they did things in Ontario, that doesn’t mean it still can’t go very wrong. Whenever progressive politics infests the electrical grid, people always pay for it in the end.

Background:  Climate Policies: Real Economic Damage Fighting Imaginary Problem



US State Attorneys Push Back on Climate Lawsuits

A friend of the court brief has been filed by Attorneys for States of Indiana, Alabama, Arkansas, Colorado, Georgia, Kansas, Louisiana, Nebraska, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.  They urge the federal Ninth District Court to dismiss the lawsuit against five major oil companies for claimed climate damages.  Previous posts discussed the scientific briefs against these lawsuits, and this post adds the legal reasons why these court actions are unreasonable.

An article in Forbes summarizes: As Boulder Sues, 15 States – Including Colorado – Oppose Global Warming Lawsuits

On April 19, Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman joined 14 colleagues in a friend-of-the-court brief filed in the California litigation that finds fault with the idea of using public nuisance lawsuits to address climate change. The text of the pleading is AMICUS BRIEF OF INDIANA AND FOURTEEN OTHER STATES IN SUPPORT OF DISMISSAL  Excerpts in italics below from Forbes with my bolds.

“Plaintiffs’ theory of liability involves nothing more specific than promoting the use of fossil fuels,” the brief says.

“As utility owners, power plant operators and generally significant users of fossil fuels (through facilities, vehicle fleets and highway construction, among other functions), States and their political subdivisions themselves may be future defendants in similar actions.”

For now, those political subdivisions are plaintiffs – and the newest are the city and county of Boulder and San Miguel County. Their lawsuit was filed April 17 by two environmental firms and a Denver environmental/personal injury lawyer.

According to the Boulder County website, private attorneys will charge up to a 20% contingency fee. The City of Boulder has not yet produced a copy of its contract with these attorneys. Legal Newsline requested it April 18.

The City of Boulder was tight-lipped in the months leading up to the lawsuit, saying only that the City Council had approved a plan to hire a Washington, D.C., firm on a pro bono basis.

Like the California cases, Boulder’s makes a claim under the public nuisance theory. Climate change has caused a nuisance in the Boulder area, and the plaintiffs have to mitigate its impacts, the suit alleges.
The states, led by Indiana, say that theory isn’t good enough. Federal judges should not be asked to establish emissions policy, the brief says.

“But the questions of global climate change and its effects – and the proper balance of regulatory and commercial activity – are political questions not suited for resolution by any court,” the states say.
“Indeed, such judicial resolution would trample Congress’ carefully calibrated process of cooperative federalism where States work in tandem with EPA to administer the federal Clean Air Act.”

Background Is Global Warming A Public Nuisance?

Footnotes:  Notable quotes in italics from the State Attorneys’ brief (with my bolds):

To permit federal adjudication of claims for abatement fund remedies would disrupt carefully calibrated state regulatory schemes devised by politically accountable officials. Federal courts should not use public nuisance theories to confound state and federal political branches’ legislative and administrative processes by establishing emissions policy (or, as is more likely, multiple conflicting emissions policies) on a piecemeal, ad hoc, case-bycase basis under the aegis of federal common law.

As utility owners, power plant operators, and generally significant users of fossil fuels (through facilities, vehicle fleets and highway construction, among other functions), States and their political subdivisions themselves may be future defendants in similar actions.

Similarly, they request relief in the form of an “abatement fund remedy” rather than outright abatement, but the Ninth Circuit has already said that the remedy requested is irrelevant to the displacement issue. Ultimately, neither stratagem changes the essential nature of Plaintiffs’ claim or of the liability that they are asking the court to impose—liability that could serve as the predicate for myriad remedies in future cases or even in this one.

Plaintiffs are asking the court to order Defendants to pay to build sea walls, raise the elevation of low-lying property and buildings, and construct other infrastructure projects necessary to combat the effects of global climate change for the major cities of Oakland and San Francisco. Such a remedy could cost several billion dollars and seriously impact Defendants’ ability to provide energy to the rest of the country.

As the weight of authority demonstrates, Plaintiffs claims in this case may be styled as torts, but they are in substance political, and thus nonjusticiable.

To determine liability, the court would need to determine that plaintiffs have a “right” to the climate—in all of its infinite variations—as it stood at some unspecified time in the past, then find not only that this idealized climate has changed, but that Defendants caused that change through “unreasonable” action that deprived Plaintiffs of their right to the idealized climate.

Plaintiffs’ desired remedies are nothing more than a form of regulatory enforcement and creation of policy through the use of judicial remedies. Plaintiffs seek to inject their political and policy opinions into the national regulatory scheme of energy production, promotion, and use. Yet all States play a critical regulatory role within their borders, and Congress has leveraged and augmented that authority by way of the Clean Air Act, a cooperative federalist program designed to permit each State to achieve its optimal balance of regulation and commercial activity. Cooperative federalism in the environmental and energy production policy arena underscores the political nature of this case.

Thus, through the cooperative federalism model, States use their political bodies to secure environmental benefits for their citizens without sacrificing their livelihoods, and each does so in a different fashion—a natural result of the social, political, environmental, and economic diversity that exists among States. A plan to modify greenhouse gas emissions that is acceptable to California or Vermont may be unacceptable to Indiana, Georgia, or Texas, for example.

Plaintiffs are worried not about national climate change, but about global climate change. And, indeed, the global nature of concerns over anthropogenic climate change has spawned a variety of treaties and other international initiatives aimed at addressing air emissions. This activity has been multifaceted, balancing a variety of economic, social, geographic, and political factors and emphasizing multiparty action rather than arbitrarily focusing on a single entity or small group of entities.

The past two decades have thus seen four Presidencies with widely divergent views of what the United States’ foreign policy on climate change and greenhouse gas emissions should be. These shifts in direction further demonstrate the political nature of environmental and fossil fuel regulation and reaffirm the need for such decisions to be the subject of political debate and accountability.

Focusing on energy production rather than emissions does not make this case any less inherently political. If anything, it underscores the political nature of the global climate change problem by casting a spotlight on yet more political choices that bear on the issue. In some instances States themselves promote the very energy production and marketing targeted in this case. For example, the California State Oil and Gas Supervisor is charged with “encourag[ing] the wise development of oil and gas resources” and “permit[ing] the owners or operators of the wells to utilize all methods and practices known to the oil industry for the purpose of increasing the ultimate recovery of underground hydrocarbons[.]” Cal. Pub. Res. Code §§ 3004, 3106(b).

California cannot evade the application of the Commerce Clause by using common law rather than state statutory law to regulate commerce occurring outside its borders. The constitutional restrictions on California’s ability to regulate out-of-state commerce “reflect the Constitution’s special concern both with the maintenance of a national economic union unfettered by state imposed limitations on interstate commerce and with the autonomy of the individual States within their respective spheres.” Healy v. Beer Inst., Inc., 491 U.S. 324, 335–36 (1989).

At the most basic level, such remedies represent an effort by one state to occupy the field of environmental and energy production regulation across the nation, and to do so by superseding sound, reasonable, and longstanding standards adopted by other states in a system of cooperative federalism and by the federal government. Indeed, even if the Plaintiffs’ desired remedies do not directly conflict with other states’ existing laws and regulatory framework, it nonetheless would “arbitrarily . . . exalt the public policy of one state over that of another” in violation of the Commerce Clause.

By asking a single federal judge to impose energy production penalties on defendant companies, each of which is presumably compliant with the regulations of each state in which it operates, Plaintiffs are attempting to export their preferred environmental policies and their corresponding economic effects to other states. Allowing them to do so would be detrimental to state innovation and regional approaches that have prevailed through the political branches of government to date. California’s attempt to regulate out-of-state production of fossil fuels and by suing producers with common law cause of action implicates the constitutional doctrine against extraterritorial regulation. This is yet another reason to reject Plaintiffs’ novel theory of liability.

Alarmists Fret, while Farmers Adapt


Update April 18 at End

This latest alarm is about the eastward shift of the above climate zone boundary, which historically was located upon the 100th meridian. The narrative by alarmists is along the lines of “OMG, we are screwed because drylands are replacing wetlands. There goes our food supply.” Some of the story headlines are these:

As World Warms, America’s Invisible ‘Climate Curtain’ Creeps East

The arid US midwest just crept 140 miles east thanks to climate change

America’s Arid West Is Invading the Fertile East

A major climate boundary in the central U.S. has shifted 140 miles due to global warming

From USA Today

Both population and development are sparse west of the 100th meridian, where farms are larger and primarily depend on arid-resistant crops like wheat, the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies said. To the more humid east, more people and infrastructure exist. Farms are smaller and a large portion of the harvested crop is moisture-loving corn.

Now, due to shifting patterns in precipitation, wind and temperature since the 1870s — due to man-made climate change — the boundary between the dry West and the wetter East has shifted to roughly 98 degrees west longitude, the 98th meridian.

For instance, in Texas, the boundary has moved approximately from Abilene to Fort Worth.

According to Columbia University’s Earth Institute, Seager predicts that as the line continues to move farther East, farms will have to consolidate and become larger to remain viable.

And unless farmers are able to adapt, such as by using irrigation, they will need to consider growing wheat or another more suitable crop than corn.

“Large expanses of cropland may fail altogether, and have to be converted to western-style grazing range. Water supplies could become a problem for urban areas,” the Earth Institute said.

The studies appeared in the journal Earth Interactions, a publication of the American Meteorological Society.

What They Didn’t Tell You:  Context Makes All the Difference

This is another example of misdirection to push FFF (Fear of Fossil Fuels) by ignoring history and human ingenuity, while kowtowing to climate models as infallible oracles. The truth is, we didn’t get here by being victims, and lessons from the past will serve in the future.

First, the West Was Settled by Adaptive Farmers

One of the best researchers and historians is Geoff Cunfer, who with Fridolin Krausmann wrote Adaptation on an Agricultural Frontier: The Socio-Ecological Metabolism of Great Plains Settlement, 1875-1936.  Excerpts with my bolds.

The most important agricultural development of the nineteenth century was a massive and rapid expansion of farmland in the world’s grasslands, a process that doubled global land in farms. Displacing indigenous populations, European settlers plowed and fenced extensive new territories in North America’s Great Plains, South America’s campos and pampas, the Ukrainian and Russian steppes, and parts of Australia and New Zealand. Between 1800 and 1920 arable land increased from 400 million hectares to 950 million, and pasture land from 950 to 2,300 million hectares; much of that expansion occurred in grasslands. These regions became enduring “breadbaskets” for their respective nations and fed the nineteenth century’s 60 percent increase in world population. Never had so much new land come into agricultural production so fast. This episode was one of the most extensive and important environmental transformations in world history.

Most agro-ecologists and sustainability scientists focus on the present and the future. This article adapts their approach in order to understand agricultural change in the past, integrating socio-economic and physical-ecological characteristics that reveal both natural and cultural drivers of change. Socio-ecological profiles embrace land use, soil nitrogen, and food energy as key characteristics of agricultural sustainability. Ten descriptive measures link biophysical and socio-economic processes in farm communities to create socio-ecological profiles revealing human impacts on nature as well as environmental endowments, opportunities, constraints, and limitations that influenced settlers’ choices.

Tracing these characteristics from the beginning of agricultural colonization through sixty years reveals a pattern of expansion and growth, maturity, and adaptation. Agricultural systems are seldom static. Farmers interact with constantly varying natural forces and with social processes always in flux. The Kansas agricultural frontier reveals adjustments and readjustments to an ever-changing world and, especially, to environmental  forces beyond settlers’ control. Three distinct socio-ecological profiles emerged in Kansas: a) high productivity mixed farming; b) low productivity ranching; and c) market-oriented dryland wheat farming. The following narrative addresses each profile in chronological order and from east to west across the state, revealing settlers’ rapid adaptation to environmental constraints; accompanying figures allow simultaneous spatial comparison.

Second, Farming was Sustained through Environmental Changes

Cunfer wrote a book On the Great Plains: Agriculture and Environment review here).  Some excerpts with my bolds.

Though it may seem inconceivable to characterize the history of Great Plains land use as stable, Cunfer uncovers a persistent theme in his research: Great Plains farmers surprisingly found an optimal mix between agricultural uses (in particular, plowing vs. pasture) quickly and maintained this mix within the limits of the natural environment for a surprisingly long period of time. Only occasionally, in particular during the mid 1930s, did farmers push the boundaries of this regional environment; however, they quickly returned to a “steady-state” land-use equilibrium.

In particular, Cunfer blends together these two extreme approaches and summarizes Great Plains agricultural history in three components: (1) the rapid build-up of farm settlements from 1870-1920, which substantially altered the surrounding environment; (2) relative land-use stability from 1920 to 2000; and (3) the occasional transition in agricultural techniques which resulted in a quick shift away from this land-use equilibrium.

The Dust Bowl still remains an important environmental crisis and it is often a rallying point for federal government conservation programs. Cunfer adds to this literature by applying GIS maps to the entire Great Plains and interpreting comparative sand, rainfall, and temperature differential data to conclude that “human land-use choices were less prominent in creating dust storms than was the weather” (p. 163).[1] The localized portion of the Great Plains where dust storms were magnified contained substantially more sandy soil, only a small percentage of land devoted for crops, and the greatest degree of rainfall deficits from past trends. This non-exploitative argument contradicts the conventional wisdom which maintains that a massive plow-up followed the trail of increasing wheat prices and low cost of farming.

Our Ancestors Prevailed and We have Additional Advantages

Just as pioneer colonization inscribed a new cultural signature onto a plains landscape constructed by Native Americans, industrial agriculture began to over-write the settlement-era landscape. Fossil fuel-powered technologies brought powerful new abilities to deliver irrigation water, apply synthetic fertilizers, control pests, and reconstruct landscapes with tractors, trucks, and mechanical harvesters. A new equilibrium between environmental alteration and adaptation emerged. Industrial agriculture’s remarkable ability to alter and manage natural systems depends on a massive mobilization of fossil fuel energy. But until the early twentieth century farmers accommodated and adapted to natural constraints to a considerable extent.

Fig. 1 An energy model of agroecosystems, optimized for estimation based on historical sources (adopted from Tello et al. 2015)


It is disrespectful and demeaning for the activist media types to pretend we are unprepared and incapable of adapting to changing environmental and climate conditions.  Present day knowledge of agroecosystems is highly advanced, supported by modern technologies and experience with crop selections and choices for diverse microclimates.  Confer and colleagues discuss the possibilities in a paper Agroecosystem energy transitions: exploring the energy-land nexus in the course of industrialization

A previous post at this blog was Adapting Works! Mitigating Fails. discussing how farmers pushed the extent of wheat production 1000 km north through adaptation and innovation.

Warming has produced bumper crops most everywhere.

Update April 18

Dr. Roy Spencer has also weighed in on these scare stories, and adds considerable perspective.  He challenges the claim that the eastward shift has happened.

Since I’ve been consulting for U.S. grain interests for the last seven or eight years, I have some interest in this subject. Generally speaking, climate change isn’t on the Midwest farmers’ radar because, so far, there has been no sign of it in agricultural yields. Yields (production per acre) of all grains, even globally, have been on an upward trend for decades. This is fueled mainly by improved seeds, farming practices, and possibly by the direct benefits of more atmospheric CO2 on plants. If there has been any negative effect of modestly increasing temperatures, it has been buried by other, positive, effects.

And so, the study begs the question: how has growing season precipitation changed in this 100th meridian zone? Using NOAA’s own official statewide average precipitation statistics, this is how the rainfall observations for the primary agricultural states in the zone (North and South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, and Oklahoma) have fared every year between 1900 and 2017:


What we see is that there has been, so far, no evidence of decreasing precipitation amounts exactly where the authors claim it will occur (and according to press reports, has already occurred).

Spencer’s post is The 100th Meridian Agricultural Scare: Another Example of Media Hype Exceeding Reality




Why People Rely on Pipelines

The Trans-Alaska Pipeline system’s 420 miles above ground segments are built in a zig-zag configuration to allow for expansion or contraction of the pipe.

In their near-religious belief about demonic CO2, activists are obstructing construction or expansion of pipelines delivering the energy undergirding our civilization.  The story is explained by James Conca in a recent Forbes article Supersize It! Building Bigger Pipelines Over Old Ones Is A Good Idea Excerpts below with my bolds.

The idea of replacing an older small pipe with a wider new pipe is not new. But it really makes a difference when applied to the oil and natural gas pipelines that crisscross North America.

The concept of supersizing pipelines is taking hold in the United States and Canada to address the growing dearth of pipelines in areas where oil production is increasing but can’t get to the refineries in the Gulf.

At the same time, natural gas use is increasing in places that don’t have many pipelines and where the public is strongly against building new pipelines.

A bigger pipeline along the same route as the older smaller one is cheaper to build than a bunch of new small ones. It also falls under the existing permits and rights-of-way of the old pipe. And the public doesn’t have to approve any new pipeline routes.

Supersizing also increases safety and ensures less environmental impact since you’re not building additional lines, but replacing an old one with a new one, and older lines are more likely to leak or fail completely, like the Colonial Pipeline Spill.

Not only do we need more crude oil pipelines, the ones we have quite old. But they can be supersized without finding and permitting new routes, which saves a lot of money and time and doesn’t increase their environmental footprint. Of course, if there are no pipelines to supersize, like in much of New England and New York, that’s a whole other problem. Photo is of a section of the Alaska Pipeline.

Increasing the diameter of a pipe increases the flow within it much more than you might think. In fact, the volume of flow per minute goes as the fourth power of the change in diameter. This means, if you double the diameter, you increase the flow by 16 times – (2^4 = 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 = 16).

Enbridge is a good example. The company has replaced a 26-inch-diameter shale gas line running from Pennsylvania into New England with a 42-inch line. That doesn’t seem like much, it’s only 1.6 times as big. But raised to the power of four, this new pipeline can carry six times as much gas as the old one.

‘Once the pipe is in the ground, you can do a lot of things: reverse flows, expand it, optimize it,’ said Al Monaco, President and Chief Executive of Enbridge.

These types of upgrades have essentially made the controversial portion of the Keystone XL pipeline unnecessary.

Of course, if you don’t have old pipelines to begin with, supersizing doesn’t help. Parts of the U.S. simply need more pipelines, especially where fracking has unleashed huge amounts of oil and gas in areas that didn’t have a lot pipelines to begin with.

New England is a good example.

New England is closing their nuclear plants faster than you can say “who cares about science.” They are replacing them with natural gas and renewables. But there are hardly any gas pipelines in the region. They are forced to import liquefied natural gas from places like Russia or use dirty oil plants when demand is high, like this last winter. When this happens the customers in New England pay a high price for their electricity, sometimes ten times the normal price.

Yet, the people of New England do not want more gas pipelines.

The citizens of New England also want more renewables, whose electricity has to be imported into the northeast from other regions, especially hydropower from Canada. But this requires installing high voltage transmission lines which the public keeps voting down.

When the public does not listen to scientists and experts, things don’t go well. This problem is engulfing the energy sector. The public seems to care about climate change, but don’t want to do what the climate scientists advise – to increase nuclear and renewables – because they reject them, or their infrastructure requirements, out of ignorance.

And they aren’t putting solar panels on their roofs very much either.

So next year, they will wonder why electricity costs keep going up, their carbon emissions keep going up, and their black-outs keep getting longer.

Natural gas requires the least steel and concrete of any energy source, is cheap and quick to build, has cheap fuel, and is beloved by state legislatures. But you need pipelines to deliver it, and no one wants them in their backyard. Supersizing helps with this problem.

Natural gas is the fastest growing energy source in America. Replacing coal plants with gas plants is the only reason our carbon emissions are at a 27-year low. It’s the easiest power plant to build, requires the least amount of steel and concrete (see figure above), is the easiest to permit, will have cheap fuel for decades, and is vastly preferred over coal.

However, it requires pipelines to deliver the gas and no one seems to like them. You can ship gas as liquefied natural gas (LNG), which is what happens a lot in the New England, but that’s three times more expensive and we have very limited LNG facilities.

This is a classic case of the public misunderstanding how the real world works. These issues are somewhat complex and you have to juggle a lot of conflicting issues. Our oil pipelines themselves are generally old (see figure above). Half of them are older than 40 years. Some date from before World War One.

They need to be replaced, and new ones built, or we risk the very environmental damage feared by those who don’t want them at all. Just supersizing the oldest half would be tremendous, and remove most of the need for additional pipelines.

Our pipelines, refineries and transmission lines are all at capacity. When problems occur, there’s no back-up plan. We have over 3,000 blackouts a year, the highest in the developed world. It’s why the American Society of Civil Engineers gave America a D+ on our 2017 Infrastructure Report Card.

Somewhere around 1985, we became the world’s richest, most powerful, greatest nation in the history of the world. But we still have to work hard to remain the best. It doesn’t just maintain itself. And infrastructure is where long-term neglect first shows, often catastrophically.

So we need to upgrade our transmission lines and transformers, build new non-fossil power plants and supersize our pipelines.

We can’t afford not to.

Dr. James Conca is an expert on energy, nuclear and dirty bombs, a planetary geologist, and a professional speaker.


Dr. Conca is writing from an American perspective, while in Canada a major pipeline supersizing project is being resisted by one province, British Columbia, despite the pipeline gaining federal approval after a long, tortuous environmental assessment process.

The BC Premier is holding power in a coalition government beholden to a few Greens, who are adamant about “keeping it in the ground.”

Latest news at The many ways B.C. Premier John Horgan is wrong about Trans Mountain.

“The current developments are a real test of Canada’s commitment to the rule of law and the ability of any resource company to rely on the legal approval process for projects,” said Dwight Newman, one of Canada’s top constitutional scholars and Munk senior fellow at the Macdonald-Laurier Institute.

To diminish the importance to Alberta and Canada of the Trans Mountain project, Horgan refers to it as a Texas project, adopting the pejorative jargon of eco-activists dependent on U.S. funding and organizational support to run their campaigns.

“The interest of the Texas boardrooms are not the interests of British Columbians,” Horgan said. In fact, Kinder Morgan Canada has been publicly traded since last year and is 77-per-cent owned by Canadians, with Manulife and TD the biggest shareholders. Its shippers are predominantly Canadian oilsands producers and Canada as a whole benefits from the pipeline’s opening of the Asian market.

Horgan’s actions have already triggered a trade war with Alberta, fomented irrational fears about oil spills, put the spotlight on B.C. for all the wrong reasons, and exposed his province to potentially hard retribution from both from Alberta and from Ottawa. If Horgan doesn’t see that, he’s not looking.

Gender Optioning Runs Amok

NYC recognizes 31 different gender choices. Details at end.

First a thoughtful reflection by Margaret Wente in the Globe and Mail The brave new age of gender-neutral kids, followed later by the Brave New World of New York City. Excerpts with my bolds.

When Storm was born seven years ago in Toronto, he or she became the most famous baby in the city. That’s because Storm’s parents announced that they were going to raise the baby as gender neutral. “If you really want to get to know someone, you don’t ask what’s between their legs,” Storm’s father, David Stocker, told The Toronto Star. In an e-mail, Storm’s parents told their friends, “We’ve decided not to share Storm’s sex for now – a tribute to freedom and choice in place of limitation.”

Storm’s parents, it turns out, weren’t oddballs. They were pioneers. More and more progressive parents have decided to liberate their children from the chains of gender. They give their children gender-neutral names such as Zoomer or Scout. They refer to them using gender-neutral pronouns. They buy them gender-neutral toys and scrupulously avoid pink and blue. They tell people that it’s up to the child theirself to decide what gender they identify with.

These parents don’t like the term gender-neutral, explains New York magazine. They prefer gender-open, gender-creative or gender-affirming. For them, the gender binary is a trap constructed by society to imprison their children and restrict their human potential. Gender is a spectrum, not a binary, they argue. They hope that freeing our children from the shackles of arbitrarily imposed gender norms will be the first steps in a sweeping cultural change to create a better, fairer, more egalitarian society.

Progressive parents are not alone in this Utopian project. Sweden is also engaged in a deliberate experiment in social engineering. Instead of “boys” and “girls,” teachers are urged to call the children “friends.” Many Swedish preschools have dropped gendered pronouns in favour of the newly invented gender-neutral term “hen.”

As The New York Times reports, Swedish teachers encourage boys to play in the kitchen and girls to shout “no.” Some boys show up in dresses; no one cares. Sweden’s national curriculum requires preschools to “counteract traditional gender roles and gender patterns” and encourage children to explore “outside the limitations of stereotyped gender roles.” In one pilot project, boys and girls were split up and coached to behave in gender-non-conforming ways. Boys were instructed to massage each other’s feet. Girls were taken on on barefoot walks in the snow.

More and more progressive parents have decided to liberate their children from the chains of gender. They give their children gender-neutral names such as Zoomer or Scout. They refer to them using gender-neutral pronouns.

Will all these efforts create a more egalitarian, less gendered world? I’m skeptical. Gender-neutral parenting is the latest example of blank-slatism run amok. The blank-slate theory is the romantic belief that environment and culture are wholly responsible for human behaviour. If only we stopped stereotyping little people as girls or boys, they’d stop behaving in stereotypical ways.

This is not to say that it’s useless to try to socialize kids. But we also need to admit that human beings are also profoundly shaped by their genes. Gender is far more influential than many people are willing to acknowledge. Men and women exhibit significant behavioural differences not (or not only) because they’re socialized differently, but because they’re wired differently. Give a girl a pot and she’ll play house. Give a boy a pot and he’ll beat it like a drum. And forget about the gender “spectrum.” Although there are lots of tender boys and lots of aggressive girls, more than 99 per cent of people identify with their birth sex.

Large-scale studies show that men and women differ not only in size and strength but also in personality traits. Across dozens of diverse cultures, women consistently rate themselves as warmer, friendlier, more anxious, and more sensitive to feelings than men. Men rate themselves as more assertive and more open to new ideas.

For most of human evolution – when the differentiation in gender roles was extreme – these differences made sense. (They also help explain the dominance of men in the corridors of power, although you’re not supposed to say that.)

I do feel a bit uneasy for children such as Storm (who, for the record, is now identifying as a girl). Most kids like a bit of structure in their lives, especially, I imagine, on the existential question of whether they’re a boy or a girl. It seems like a lot to ask them to sort it out for themselves. Is it really fair to make your kid the subject of a social experiment, no matter how righteous you think it is? And do you really think they’ll thank you for it? I have my doubts.

The Brave New World of New York City Where Anything Goes

According to NYC Commission on Human Rights, Gender Identity is one’s internal, deeply-held sense of one’s gender as male, female,or something else entirely.

primer for business owners and employees on how to respectfully treat all the gender expressions includes prescribed behavior and punishments.  They may encounter a list of 31 identities and expressions that the city officially recognizes.

  1. Bi-Gendered
  2. Cross-Dresser
  3. Drag-King
  4. Drag-Queen
  5. Femme Queen
  6. Female-to-Male
  7. FTM
  8. Gender Bender
  9. Genderqueer
  10. Male-To-Female
  11. MTF
  12. Non-Op
  13. Hijra
  14. Pangender
  15. Transexual/Transsexual
  16. Trans Person
  17. Woman
  18. Man
  19. Butch
  20. Two-Spirit
  21. Trans
  22. Agender
  23. Third Sex
  24. Gender Fluid
  25. Non-Binary Transgender
  26. Androgyne
  27. Gender-Gifted
  28. Gender Bender
  29. Femme
  30. Person of Transgender Experience
  31. Androgynous


So it goes with the intense modern preoccupation to achieve distinction (recognition and maximum friends) by acquiring a set of diversity options, then claiming to belong to various categories. Adding value to society is not a consideration.


In California Everything Causes Cancer, So Labels Say

Best attempt at a scary cup of coffee.

An update on left coasters freaking out about cancerous items is provided by Sara Chodosh in Popular Science California needs to stop saying everything causes cancer

Unsurprisingly, it is the nanny state doing the fear mongering. Excerpts below with my bolds.

You may have heard that coffee gives you cancer. Or that everything gives you cancer—if you live in California.

The reason: Proposition 65. It’s a California state law that requires businesses with 10 or more employees to provide reasonable warning about the use of any chemicals the state has decided could cause cancer, birth defects, or other reproductive harm. One of these chemicals is acrylamide, which a rodent study pinned as a possible carcinogen. It’s found in almost everything that’s cooked at a high temperature. And because a particularly litigious law firm recently sued the state for not properly warning residents about acrylamide in coffee, California is now on the verge of requiring all coffee shops and manufacturers to include a warning on the beverage that it may cause cancer.

The problem, of course, is that coffee doesn’t cause cancer. Acrylamide might cause cancer at very high doses, but the amount that you’ll find in your food is harmless. You’ve actually been unintentionally eating it for your whole life, because it’s in everything from potato chips to roasted asparagus.. .No human studies suggest it’s carcinogenic at any realistic dose.

But coffee is only the beginning.

By California’s logic, all sorts of things should have warning labels. We wanted to make a joking list of ridiculous items that would need a cautionary sign according to Prop 65—but then we did our research. Turns out the state of California already slaps a warning on just about everything. Here’s just a small sample of things that could kill you out west:

Tiffany lamps
In order to abide by Prop 65’s rule on lead in furniture, Tiffany-style lamps have to have a warning label. The ornate lampshades have lead in them, and since lead is carcinogenic (weakly, but still!), they have to get a label. We do worry about lead paint in houses, because the flakes can get onto the floor and babies love putting stuff on the floor into their mouths, but lead in a lamp is usually encased or otherwise pretty solid. All the same, don’t let your kid (or your spouse) lick a lampshade or an electrical wire.

Amusement parks
The metal dust and diesel fumes given off by your favorite amusement park rides could give you cancer, and the state of California needs you to know. Also, the food you eat there might be fried, which could give you more cancer, and you might drink a beer there which also could give you cancer. The whole park is basically a death trap. Spending a day in Disneyland isn’t likely to expose you to enough of any of the worrisome chemicals to cause harm, but the warning does make one wonder why, if amusement parks are so hazardous, Californians aren’t jumping to protect the people who work there every day.

Sometimes people smoke in hotels. They also drink alcoholic beverages. Both of these things can give you cancer, and so whenever you enter a hotel (or “other lodging establishment”) you must be warned. California hotels now often carry an actual warning label advising you about these dangers (yes, seriously), lest you wander into one unwittingly.

Engine exhaust from your “recreational vehicle”—along with the carbon monoxide and other engine-related chemicals—poses you a threat. Therefore, your boat must carry a warning label that advises you to avoid exposure to everything the boat does. If you’re thinking “but cars do that too,” don’t worry: passenger vehicles also carry the warning.

Wooden furniture and flooring
When wooden furniture is made, from sofas to bed frames there tends to be some wood dust. You know, because it’s made of wood. But wood dust is dangerous, and it doesn’t matter that it’s really only a problem if you regularly inhale the levels of wood dust that sawmill workers are exposed to. Furniture that might still contain wood dust has to carry a label all the same.

Mercury can cause birth defects, and therefore all fish high in mercury (like tuna, but also swordfish, marlin, king mackerel, and tilefish) falls under the Prop 65 guidelines. You definitely shouldn’t be eating a ton of fish while pregnant, but most of us should be more worried about mercury poisoning, which anyone can get from consuming too much fish—not that Prop 65 warns you about that.

Pumpkin puree
Apparently there’s acrylamide in your pumpkin pie and you’ve been eating it for years. California’s got your back.

According to the state of California, we should all be soaking our potatoes in water for 15 to 30 minutes before cooking them, and we should never fry or roast them to a deep golden brown. We should carefully make them a light brown so as to avoid the acrylamide produced in the cooking process. So… have fun with that.

All alcohol
It’s well-known that consuming lots of alcohol on a regular basis increases your risk of cancer. Alcohol doesn’t give you cancer, but it can make you more likely to get it. A few beers a week—or maybe even a glass of wine a day—isn’t going to do you in, but high daily consumption can certainly push a person’s risk of getting cancer higher. Studies suggest that increased alcohol consumption might even be (partly) to blame for the rise in colorectal cancer in young people. So if we’re going to applaud California for any of their labels, it’ll be for this one. Licking lamps and driving boats probably won’t give you cancer, but a life of alcoholism might. Will a label on alcohol do more than teach people to tune out cancer risk warnings? Unclear. But it’s true we should all try to keep our drinking in moderation.

Look: no lifestyle can protect you from every kind of cancer. Genetic mutations are an inevitability, and cancer can strike anyone. You can certainly decrease your risk, mainly by not smoking or being overweight, since those two factors contribute to many cancer cases. You can exercise regularly, eat a balanced diet, and try not to drink too much. But at the end of the day, you shouldn’t be making every tiny decision based on whether it might contribute to your cancer risk—because simply being alive and having cells that continue to replicate puts you at risk of developing the disease. So sit back, relax, and do the best you can with the body you’ve got. And have a nice cup of coffee while you’re at it.

Climate Change Movement Retreats to California Courts

The title comes from this article by Richard O. Faulk in RealClearPolitics
March 30, 2018.  Text below with my bolds.

After failing in every American political forum since the Paris climate accord was reached two years ago, the climate change movement has once again retreated to the courts. Not surprisingly, these advocates selected California’s federal courts as the forum of choice, counting on their comparatively liberal dispositions to breathe new life into their agenda. Pursuant to this initiative, several California counties and cities have sued numerous defendants, including major oil and gas companies, for emitting and exacerbating emissions of greenhouse gases.

In doing so, the plaintiffs based their claims on the tort of public nuisance, the broadest and vaguest remedy available. Public nuisance has been condemned by legal scholars as “notoriously contingent and unsummarizable” and a “wilderness of law.” William Prosser, one of America’s most famous law professors, wrote that nuisance was an “impenetrable jungle” and a “legal garbage can” full of “vagueness, uncertainty and confusion.”

Richard Epstein, another noted legal authority, concluded that nuisance “does not work on a moral or deductive principle.” U.S. Supreme Court Justice Harry Blackmun famously remarked that “one searches in vain for anything resembling a principle in the law of nuisance,” and even the California Supreme Court has rejected the remedy when it threatened to impose “standardless liability.”

Given this history, it is especially alarming that the climate change movement now seeks legal judgments in the absence of objective standards derived from the legislative or regulatory process. Even more incredibly, this persistent excursion has already been rejected by not only the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals – the reviewing court that will decide any appeal from these judgments – but also by the Supreme Court of the United States.

Controversies such as climate change concern policy choices and value determinations that are constitutionally reserved to the executive branch or Congress and are especially ill-suited for judges. The Supreme Court has held that courts are fundamentally unequipped to formulate national polices or develop standards for matters, such as climate change, that are not legal in nature. As Justice Felix Frankfurter cautioned, “A court is likely to lose its way if it strays outside the modest bounds of its own special competency” and adjudicates only the legal phases of a broad social problem into an “opportunity for formulating judgments of social policy.” Although such “political questions” cannot be resolved constitutionally by judges, the climate movement seeks that precise result in California.

Even more curiously, the movement seeks monetary judgments for the California cities’ and counties’ own pockets – judgments supposedly intended to pay for adaptation and abatement of the alleged worldwide nuisance. Such money, if awarded as damages, would comprise gigantic windfalls allocated by unelected federal judges and spent at each plaintiff’s discretion. The judgments could never be implemented in a manner reasonably calculated to reverse global warming unless they were accompanied by a bureaucracy created, elected and funded to supervise the work internationally and ensure against waste and abuse. Since neither Congress, the California legislature, the county and city governments, nor any other elected bodies are willing to serve in these roles, the plundering of America’s energy enterprises is entirely unwarranted.

Under controlling Supreme Court authority, even when the political branches have not acted, common law courts are not necessarily free to “fill the void.” Irrespective of whether the executive or legislative branches have spoken, due respect for their constitutional responsibilities – combined with awareness of the judiciary’s own limitations – should motivate judicial restraint. Although the ancients concluded that “nature abhors a vacuum,” there are circumstances in the law, as here, where uncharted voids should be eschewed. In the absence of guiding principles, errors are as likely to fill the jurisprudential void as wisdom.

Richard Faulk is a lawyer at Davis Wright Tremaine in Washington, D.C.

Mixed Judicial Rulings on Pipeline Protests

Since Feb. 26, two protesters have been on platforms in two trees on Peters Mountain with hopes of preventing the Mountain Valley Pipeline from moving forward.

Boston Judge Goes Easy on Protesters

Green activists are extremely excited to hear a Boston judge yesterday acquitted 13 protesters who attempted to block construction of a fracking gas pipeline in 2015. Posts at various activist sites repeat an article from the Independent which says:

More than a dozen protesters who clambered into holes dug for a high pressure gas pipeline said they had been found not responsible by a judge after hearing them argue their actions to try and stop climate change were a legal “necessity”.

Karenna Gore, the daughter of former Vice President Al Gore, was among more than 198 people who were arrested because of their 2015 actions protesting the pipeline in West Roxbury, Massachusetts, a suburb of Boston. Thirteen people were to go on trial this week, though prosecutors downgraded their original criminal charges to one of civil infraction.

On Tuesday, Judge Mary Ann Driscoll of West Roxbury District Court, found all 13 defendants not responsible, the equivalent of not guilty in a criminal case. She did so after each of the defendants addressed the judge and explained why they were driven to try and halt the pipeline’s construction.

Roanoke Judge Declares Protesters Acting Illegally

Earlier this month in Roanoke West Virginia, a judge issued a restraining order against protesters lodged in trees trying to prevent logging for constructing a gas pipeline. From the Roanoke Times:

Judge issues restraining order against pipeline protesters sitting in trees

A West Virginia judge has granted a temporary restraining order against pipeline protesters sitting in trees, leaving unanswered the question of how to remove them.

The protesters are “temporarily restrained from impeding … access” to a section of the Jefferson National Forest where construction of a natural gas pipeline is planned, the order from Monroe County Circuit Court Judge Robert Irons states.

In seeking the order, Mountain Valley Pipeline said in court papers that the “tree sit” protest could prevent it from cutting trees along the pipeline’s path in time to meet a March 31 deadline imposed by federal wildlife protections.

That is just what the protesters intend. If members of the group, assisted by a network of supporters, remain perched on wooden platforms in two trees about 60 feet above the ground, law enforcement officials could be asked to get them down.

“It’s a very good question,” Monroe County Sheriff Ken Hedrick said. “I’ve been puzzling over the answer myself. How in the world would you get them out of the trees?”

Hedrick said his office has received no instructions from the judge to serve or enforce the order — leaving matters up in the air for now.

The temporary restraining order, dated Thursday, is effective for 10 days. Additional details could come out Tuesday, when a hearing is scheduled on Mountain Valley’s request for a preliminary injunction, which could carry more weight and last longer.

Hedrick said it’s possible that the U.S. Forest Service — essentially the landowner that granted Mountain Valley a right of way through about 3.5 miles of woods — could take the lead in enforcing the order.

Forest Service officials have said only that they are monitoring the situation.

Meanwhile, the loosely organized group of protesters says it has no plans to back down from stands in two trees along the ridgeline of Peters Mountain, where the pipeline would pass under the Appalachian Trail.


Some points should be considered. Unlike the valve turners, the Boston protesters did not vandalize private property and equipment. Also, the pipeline was built anyway. These facts may have led to the leniency.

In the West Virginia case, the main concern seems to be conserving the forest and water purity, rather than claiming to stop global warming. Still that state may be less tolerant of obstruction by greens.

Update: May 21

Judge lifts restraining order against pipeline protesters

News outlets report Judge Robert Irons denied the injunction, reversing course less than two weeks after granting Mountain Valley Pipeline a 10-day restraining order against the protesters.

Mountain Valley Pipeline had sought the order, saying the protest could prevent cutting trees along the pipeline’s path in time to meet a March 31 federal wildlife protection deadline. A licensed surveyor testified the protesters were outside of the no-cut zone and inside the company’s right of way, but the protesters’ attorney, William DePaulo, pointed out mapping inconsistencies.

In his ruling, Irons highlighted concerns over the map data’s accuracy and questioned the urgency to reach a decision over two trees along the 300-mile (480-kilometer) pipeline.


Speaking of leaving matters up in the air, the pipeline protesters have been in the trees for a month, which is impressive.  But they are far from setting a record for moral pedestals.  That honor goes to Simeon the Stylite (390-459), an ascetic saint who achieved notability for living 37 years on a small platform on top of a pillar near Aleppo, Syria.

Rise and Fall of the Modern Warming Spike


The first graph appeared in the IPCC 1990 First Assessment Report (FAR) credited to H.H.Lamb, first director of CRU-UEA. The second graph was featured in 2001 IPCC Third Assessment Report (TAR) the famous hockey stick credited to M. Mann.

A previous post Rise and Fall of CAGW described the process that began with Hansen’s flashy Senate testimony in 1988, later supported by Santer’s flashy paper in 1996. This post traces a second iteration that ensued following Michael Mann’s production of the infamous Climate Hockey Stick graph in 1998. The image at the top comes from the 2001 IPCC TAR (Third Assessment Report) signifying the immediate embrace of this alarmist tool by consensus climatists.  The message of the graph was to assert a spike in modern warming unprecedented in the last 1000 years.  This claim of a “Modern Warming Spike” required a flat temperature profile throughout the Middle Ages (since 1000 AD).

The background to the process steps (image below) from Ross Pomeroy’s paper is provided followed by text and references for the rise and fall of the theory intended to erase Medieval Warming comparable to the present day. Sources of material are listed at the end and  included here with my bolds.

How Theories Advance and Collapse

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

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

Stage 1 Modern Warming Spike Theory


Figure 2.20: Millennial Northern Hemisphere (NH) temperature reconstruction (blue) and instrumental data (red) from AD 1000 to 1999, adapted from Mann et al. (1999). Smoother version of NH series (black), linear trend from AD 1000 to 1850 (purple-dashed) and two standard error limits (grey shaded) are shown. Source: IPCC Third Assessment Report

Since the IPCC believes that the warming from 1975 to 1998 was mainly man-made, but not the warming in earlier centuries, it would like to be able to demonstrate that recent warming is ‘unprecedented’. But it isn’t. Temperatures in many parts of the world appear to be lower than they were in the Medieval Warm Period (MWP, c. 900-1400), and also in the earlier Roman Warm Period (c. 200 BC – 600 AD). During the MWP the Vikings tilled now-frozen farms in Greenland and were buried there in ground that is now permafrost ( Hundreds of peer-reviewed articles show that the MWP was a global phenomenon (Idso & Singer, 2009, 69-94;;, and was not confined to parts of the northern hemisphere, as the IPCC likes to assert.

Those wanting to “get rid of” the MWP run into the problem that it shows up strongly in the data. Shortly after Deming’s article appeared, a group led by Shaopeng Huang of the University of Michigan completed a major analysis of over 6,000 borehole records from every continent around the world. Their study went back 20,000 years. The portion covering the last millennium is shown in Figure 4.


The similarity to the IPCC’s 1995 graph is obvious. The world experienced a “warm” interval in the medieval era that dwarfs 20th century changes. The present-day climate appears to be simply a recovery from the cold years of the “Little Ice Age.”

Huang and coauthors published their findings in Geophysical Research Letters 6 in 1997. The next year, Nature published the first Mann hockey stick paper, commonly called “MBH98.”7 Mann et al. followed up in 1999 with a paper in GRL (“MBH99”) extending their results from AD1400 back to AD1000.8 In early 2000 the IPCC released the first draft of the TAR. The hockey stick was the only paleoclimate reconstruction shown in the Summary, and was the only one in the whole report to be singled out for repeated presentation. The borehole data received a brief mention in Chapter 2 but the Huang et al. graph was not shown. A small graph of borehole data taken from another study and based on a smaller sample was shown, but it only showed a post-1500 segment, which, conveniently, trended upwards.


Figure 2.19: Reconstructed global ground temperature estimate from borehole data over the past five centuries, relative to present day. Shaded areas represent ± two standard errors about the mean history (Pollack et al., 1998). Superimposed is a smoothed (five-year running average) of the global surface air temperature instrumental record since 1860 (Jones and Briffa, 1992). Source: IPCC Third Assessment Report WG 1

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

Stage 2 Modern Warming Spike Theory

As the hockey stick began to appear in the scientific literature, it emerged that 1998 was the warmest year in Phil Jones’s 150-year record of thermometer data. The length of the hockey stick blade just grew. Those in charge of publicizing the work of climate scientists and making the case for man-made climate change were understandably excited. Controversial science swiftly morphed into a propaganda tool.

The World Meteorological Organization put the hockey stick on the cover of its 1999 report on climate change. Then IPCC chiefs decided to give it pride of place in their 2001 IPCC report. Moreover, based on the hockey stick, they stated that “it is likely that the 1990s was the warmest decade and 1998 the warmest year during the past thousand years”. That attracted attention — and trouble. The doubts expressed in that paper title about “uncertainties and limitations” were melting away.


1999 WMO statement on the Climate.

An article in the Guardian (here) describes the struggle leading to victory for the Hockey Stick.

Emails exchanged in September 1999 reveal intense disagreement about whether Mann’s hockey stick should go into the IPCC summary for policymakers – the only bit of the report that usually gets read outside the scientific community – or whether other reconstructions using tree ring data alone should get priority. One of the main tree-ring constructions was by Briffa. The emails also expose major tensions between a desire for scrupulous honesty about uncertainties, and the desire for a simple story to tell the policymakers. The IPCC’s core job is to present a “consensus” on the science, but in this critical case there was no easy consensus.

The tensions were summed up in an email sent on 22 September 1999 by Met Office scientist Chris Folland, in which he alerted key researchers that a diagram of temperature change over the past thousand years “is a clear favourite for the policy makers’ summary”

But there were two competing graphs – Mann’s hockey stick and another, by Jones, Briffa and others. Mann’s graph was clearly the more compelling image of man-made climate change. The other “dilutes the message rather significantly,” said Folland. “We want the truth. Mike [Mann] thinks it lies nearer his result.” Folland noted that “this is probably the most important issue to resolve in chapter 2 at present.”

Mann, Jones and Briffa eventually settled their differences. And the hockey stick was given pride of place in the IPCC report. Folland says: “My recollection is that the final version [of the IPCC summary], which contains the hockey stick, satisfied Keith and everyone else in the end — after the usual vigorous scientific debate.” And after the three came under attack from climate sceptics, all reference to these past spats disappeared from the emails as they faced a common foe.

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

Stage 3 Modern Warming Spike Theory

In its 2001 Third Assessment Report, the IPCC used the iconic ‘hockey stick’ graph to try and show that modern warming was indeed ‘unprecedented’. The graph was produced by Michael Mann (now at Penn State University in the US), Ray Bradley and Malcolm Hughes (MBH), and published in Nature and Geophysical Research Letters in 1998 and 1999. At that time, the standard view was that the Medieval Warm Period and subsequent Little Ice Age (c. 1400-1850) were global events. But some climatologists saw the MWP as an embarrassment and spoke of the need to ‘get rid of it’. MBH’s temperature reconstruction did exactly that: it showed 900 years of gradually declining temperatures followed by a dramatic increase in the 20th century. The hockey stick played a central role in mobilizing political and public opinion in favour of drastic action to curb greenhouse gas emissions.

Al Gore with a version of the Hockey Stick graph in the 2006 movie An Inconvenient Truth

“As soon as the IPCC Report came out, the hockey stick version of climate history became canonical. Suddenly it was the “consensus” view, and for the next few years it seemed that anyone publicly questioning the result was in for a ferocious reception.” Ross McKitrick.What is the ‘Hockey Stick’ Debate About?  

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

Stage 4 Modern Warming Spike Theory

The hockey stick was based on historical temperature proxies (mainly tree rings), with the 20th-century instrumental temperature record tacked on the end. Incredibly, although the MBH articles were peer reviewed, nobody tried to replicate and verify the work, even though it overturned well-established views on climate history. It was only several years later that Steve McIntyre, a Canadian mathematician and retired mining consultant, began to investigate the matter. Mann did his best to obstruct him; he refused to release his computer code, saying that ‘giving them the algorithm would be giving in to the intimidation tactics that these people are engaged in’.

McIntyre, with the help of economist Ross McKitrick, went on to write several articles in 2003 and 2005, exposing the flaws in the hockey-stick reconstruction. They showed that the shape of the graph was determined mainly by suspect bristlecone/foxtail tree-ring data, and that Mann’s computer algorithm was so biased that it could produce hockey sticks even out of random noise; in short, Mann’s statistical methods ‘mined’ for hockey-stick signals in the proxy data, which were then assigned exaggerated weight in the reconstruction – thereby giving a whole new meaning to the term ‘Man(n)-made warming’!

In 2006 McIntyre & McKitrick’s criticisms were upheld by two expert committees in the US – the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) panel and a congressional panel headed by statistician Edward Wegman. Wegman pointed out that the palaeoclimate field is dominated by ‘a tightly knit group of individuals who passionately believe in their thesis’, and that ‘the work has been sufficiently politicized that they can hardly reassess their own public positions without losing credibility’.

McKitrick wrote in 2005:

Since our work has begun to appear we have enjoyed the satisfaction of knowing we are winning over the expert community, one at a time. Physicist Richard Muller of Berkeley studied our work last year and wrote an article about it:

“[The findings] hit me like a bombshell, and I suspect it is having the same effect on many others. Suddenly the hockey stick, the poster-child of the global warming community, turns out to be an artifact of poor mathematics.”

In an article in the Dutch science magazine Natuurwetenschap & Techniek, Dr. Rob van Dorland of the Dutch National Meteorological Agency commented “It is strange that the climate reconstruction of Mann passed both peer review rounds of the IPCC without anyone ever really having checked it. I think this issue will be on the agenda of the next IPCC meeting in Peking this May.”

In February 2005 the German television channel Das Erste interviewed climatologist Ulrich Cubasch, who revealed that he too had been unable to replicate the hockey stick (emphasis added):

He [Climatologist Ulrich Cubasch] discussed with his coworkers – and many of his professional colleagues – the objections, and sought to work them through… Bit by bit, it became clear also to his colleagues: the two Canadians were right. …Between 1400 and 1600, the temperature shift was considerably higher than, for example, in the previous century. With that, the core conclusion, and that also of the IPCC 2001 Report, was completely undermined.

Recently Steve MacIntyre and I received an email from Dr. Hendrik Tennekes, retired director of the Royal Meteorological Institute of the Netherlands. He wrote to convey comments he wished to be communicated publicly: “The IPCC review process is fatally flawed. The behavior of Michael Mann is a disgrace to the profession.”

The original MBH graph compared to a corrected version produced by MacIntyre and McKitrick after undoing Mann’s errors.

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

Stage 5 Modern Warming Spike Theory

The IPCC dealt with the devastating rebuttal by hiding the hockey stick within a spaghetti graph of various paleo proxies to diffuse the issue, while still claiming unprecedented modern warming.

In the IPCC’s 2007 Fourth Assessment Report, the hockey stick was included in a ‘spaghetti diagram’ alongside six other temperature reconstructions, which showed greater variability in the past but still no pronounced MWP. These ‘independent’ studies are the work of Mann’s colleagues and make use of the same flawed proxies as well as dubious statistical techniques (Montford, 2010, 266-308). The data were carefully cherry-picked to exclude tree-ring series that showed a prominent MWP ( Palaeoclimatologist Rosanne D’Arrigo actually told the NAS panel that cherry-picking was necessary if you wanted to make cherry pie (i.e. hockey sticks). And Jan Esper has stated: ‘The ability to pick and choose which samples to use is an advantage unique to dendroclimatology’ – a statement that would make any reputable scientist shudder (Montford, 236, 288-9).

Sixteen of the articles cited in AR4 failed to meet the IPCC’s own publication deadlines for cited references; all of them were written by IPCC contributing authors in support of the AGW cause. The most notable case is a paper by Eugene Wahl and Caspar Ammann. The authors of chapter 6 desperately needed this paper to counter McIntyre & McKitrick’s criticisms of the hockey stick, as the authors claimed to have validated Mann’s results. The leaked emails show that members of the Team pressurized Climatic Change editor Stephen Schneider to ensure that the paper was processed quickly enough to meet IPCC deadlines, though this was not entirely successful. Wahl and Ammann referred to arguments in another unpublished paper they had written, which was not even submitted until well after the first paper had gone forward for IPCC review. Jones advised the authors to be dishonest: ‘try and change the Received date! Don’t give those skeptics something to amuse themselves with’ (1189722851). Both papers finally appeared in September 2007. The authors conceded that the hockey stick failed a key test for statistical significance, but claimed it passed another test and promised to provide details in their Supplementary Information. When this was finally made available a year later, it became clear that torturous statistical manipulations were required to enable the test to be passed (Montford, 2010, 201-19, 338-42, 424-6; The shenanigans involved in the Wahl & Ammann saga are quite breathtaking.

But the credibility of the hockey stick claims was attacked repeatedly:

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

Stage 6 Modern Warming Spike Theory

There are still hardcore alarmist blogs that defend the hockey stick graph, but IPCC itself has dropped it without explicitly disowning it.

About 1000 years ago, large parts of the world experienced a prominent warm phase which in many cases reached a similar temperature level as today or even exceeded present-day warmth. While this Medieval Warm Period (MWP) has been documented in numerous case studies from around the globe, climate models still fail to reproduce this historical warm phase. The problem is openly conceded in the most recent IPCC report from 2013 (AR5, Working Group 1) where in chapter 5.3.5. the IPCC scientists admit (pdf here):

“Continental-scale surface temperature reconstructions show, with high confidence, multi-decadal periods during the Medieval Climate Anomaly (950 to 1250) that were in some regions as warm as in the mid-20th century and in others as warm as in the late 20th century.”  pg.386

“The timing of warm and cold periods is mostly consistent across reconstructions (in some cases this is because they use similar proxy compilations) but the magnitude of the changes is clearly sensitive to the statistical method and to the target domain (land or land and sea; the full hemisphere or only the extra-tropics; Figure 5.7a). Even accounting for these uncertainties, almost all reconstructions agree that each 30-year (50-year) period from 1200 to 1899 was very likely colder in the NH than the 1983–2012 (1963–2012) instrumental temperature NH reconstructions covering part or all of the first millennium suggest that some earlier 50-year periods might have been as warm as the 1963–2012 mean instrumental temperature, but the higher temperature of the last 30 years appear to be at least likely the warmest 30-year period in all reconstructions (Table 5.4). However, the confidence in this finding is lower prior to 1200, because the evidence is less reliable and there are fewer independent lines of evidence. There are fewer proxy records, thus yielding less independence among the reconstructions while making them more susceptible to errors in individual proxy records. The published uncertainty ranges do not include all sources of error (Section, and some proxy records and uncertainty estimates do not fully represent variations on time scales as short as the 30 years considered in Table 5.4. Considering these caveats, there is medium confidence that the last 30 years were likely the warmest 30-year period of the last 1400 years.” Pg.410

Meanwhile a multitude of studies confirm that medieval warming was widespread and not limited to regions in the Northern Hemisphere, as Mann and others have claimed. For example the  MWP Mapping Project  led by Dr. Sebastian Luening, Prof. Dr. Fritz Vahrenholt (authors of ‘The neglected sun‘).

red: MWP warming
blue: MWP cooling (very rare)
yellow: MWP more arid
green: MWP more humid
grey: no trend or data ambiguous

Most of western North America and Africa were experiencing drought conditions during the MWP (except some areas in Southwest Africa). In contrast, Australia and the Carribean was more humid. Globally, 99% of all paleoclimatic temperature studies compiled in the map so far show a prominent warming during the MWP. This includes Antarctica and the Arctic.


“Regarding the Hockey Stick of IPCC 2001 evidence now indicates, in my view, that an IPCC Lead Author working with a small cohort of scientists, misrepresented the temperature record of the past 1000 years by (a) promoting his own result as the best estimate, (b) neglecting studies that contradicted his, and (c) amputating another’s result so as to eliminate conflicting data and limit any serious attempt to expose the real uncertainties of these data.” – John Christy, Examining the Process concerning Climate Change Assessments,  Testimony 31 March 2011



Presentation to the National Academy of Sciences Expert Panel, “Surface Temperature Reconstructions for the Past 1,000-2,000 Years   Stephen Mcintyre and Ross McKitrick  2006

Climategate and the Inquiries,Ken Gregory

Climategate and the Corruption of Climate Science David Pratt

IPCC TAR and the hockey stick Judith Curry 2014

Global Warming Bombshell Richard Mueller 2004

When the IPCC ‘disappeared’ the Medieval Warm Period Frank Lansner 2010


Todays temperatures are cooler than the Medieval Warming Period, which was preceded by an even warmer Roman Warm Period, which followed an even warmer Minoan Warm Period.  We are in an Interglacial age about 11,500 years old, and the overall trend is cooling.

Figure 37. Holocene global temperature change reconstruction. a. Red curve, global average temperature reconstruction from Marcott et al., 2013, figure 1. The averaging method does not correct for proxy drop out which produces an artificially enhanced terminal spike, while the Monte Carlo smoothing eliminates most variability information. b. Black curve, global average temperature reconstruction from Marcott et al., 2013, using proxy published dates, and differencing average. Temperature anomaly was rescaled to match biological, glaciological, and marine sedimentary evidence, indicating the Holocene Climate Optimum was about 1.2°C warmer than LIA. c. Purple curve, Earth’s axis obliquity is shown to display a similar trend to Holocene temperatures. Source: Marcott et al., 2013.
Source:Judith Curry Nature Unbound III: Holocene climate variability (Part A)

Backlash Building Against Progressives

A previous post (Feel Good Climatism) pointed to the controlling power of progressive PC institutions in today’s societies.

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

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

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

The Masses Push Back

Recent events suggest a rise of libertarian views among the masses, portending a growing backlash against the progressive, post-modern views of ruling elites around the world. From Brexit to Trump to Germany, and now Italian voters are trashing the establishment.

Italy’s voters choose populists, deliver stinging rebuke to Europe (CNN)

Italy was plunged into political uncertainty Monday after parliamentary elections delivered victories for populist, euroskeptic parties but left no clear path forward for a new government.

No party or coalition received enough votes to rule alone, and Italy now faces a hung parliament, in what European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker described last month as the “worst-case scenario” for Europe.

Cultural Exploitation Unmasked

Apart from electoral results, there are more voices ready, willing and able to speak out against the PC narrative and the bullying behavior that goes with it. For weeks, Parkland school survivors were adored as celebrities, but now some realism and analysis shows the political and social exploitation that has occurred.

Dear Annoying Parkland Kids: We Gave You A Pretty Awesome World, Try Not To Mess It Up By Robert Tracinski in the Federalist MARCH 6, 2018.  Excerpts below with my bolds

All the reasons for refusing to allow ourselves to be led by children were summed up in the latest coronation of the Parkland kids, this time by ancient leftist Bill Maher. He invited David Hogg and Cameron Kasky on his show so Hogg could boast about hanging up on the President of the United States, and so Kasky could give us this sanctimonious little lecture: “I mean this sincerely, I really do, to all the generations before us, we sincerely accept your apology. We appreciate that you are willing to let us rebuild the world that you f—ed up.”

This sums up everything that’s wrong with these kids’ astroturfed ride to fame. They get flown around the country, they get invited on TV, they get puffball interviewers like Bill Maher, all because they are willing to repeat in a cloyingly self-righteous manner the message favored by their adult handlers. But not because they actually know what they’re talking about.

Let’s look at their arrogant presumption that previous generations messed up the world, so that today’s kids, in their superior wisdom, have to “rebuild” it.

Start with the issues most directly at hand here. School shootings are actually down over the last 20 years. Northeastern University Professor James Alan Fox analyzed the data and concluded that mass school shootings are “extremely rare events” and that “there is not an epidemic of school shootings.”

Moreover, Fox adds that “over the past 35 years, there have been only five cases in which someone ages 18 to 20 used an assault rifle in a mass shooting,” meaning that the most common proposed new gun control measure would have little effect.

Speaking of guns, you might think that without gun control, we’re living in a lawless post-apocalyptic hellscape. In fact, crime is down. Murders are down. Violent crimes committed with guns are way down.

But cite these statistics and you will be told that you cannot contradict the Parkland kids because being present at the scene of a mass shooting makes them unquestionable experts on the topic. No, really. Kasky tells us, “We’ve seen our friends text their parents goodbye. We are the experts.” I can hear Tom Nichols grinding his teeth from here. Obviously, being an expert on guns, crime, and mass shootings requires actual knowledge and research, including the ability to read and understand crime statistics.

This presumption that we adults have ruined the world has wider roots. Today’s young people are bombarded with a lot of doom and gloom that tells them everything is getting worse, pushed onto them by people who have an interest in recruiting them as activists.

They may be surprised to learn, for example, that in addition to crime being down, war has decreased across the globe. The number of wars and the number of deaths in wars decreased dramatically after World War II, of course, but it decreased dramatically again when the Soviet Union collapsed, almost as if Communism was an engine of global conflict.

And so on. The world we older generations have given today’s kids is actually pretty awesome. We can’t protect them from every danger and every risk, and we can’t stop every tragedy like the Parkland shooting. But by historical standards, our kids will be safer, healthier, and wealthier, and they can expect to live longer and more untroubled lives than we did, or than our parents did, or than our grandparents did.

I can see, though, why they wouldn’t realize any of this, because there are some who have a political interest in making things look worse. If you want young people to think capitalism is the cause of war — a view they hear often — you don’t want them to find out that the triumph of the capitalist countries in the Cold War led to a decrease in war. If you want them to rail against “global capitalism” — I can’t decide if this is a cause of the left or of the right these days — you can’t have them realizing that capitalism and trade are wiping out global poverty. If you want them to think free markets are inferior to socialism, you don’t want them to understand the massive increases in prosperity in free market societies, or to question the latest environmentalist panic. And if you want them to become televised activists for gun control, you have to create the impression that there is an epidemic of gun crimes and mass shootings.

The Parkland kids have swallowed all of this, and hence their ignorant ranting to us about how the older generations have messed everything up.

To be sure, the kids we’re seeing on TV are not representative of their peers. We don’t hear much about the Parkland students who don’t fit the left’s narrative. Instead, we’re mostly getting a couple of the high-school debate club types. Once I found out that detail, it all fell into place, because we all remember the guys from high-school debate club. They weren’t the smartest kids, just the most preening and self-important.

The important point is that too many of today’s young people are not being taught to see and appreciate what has made the world as good a place as it really is for them. They have no idea who designed the large and complex systems that produce the peace and prosperity they enjoy, no idea how those systems work, and no idea how much they can foul them up by knocking out pins and levers and constitutional amendments just because they’re angry.

So the lesson from this is to show a little humility, kids. You’re still learning, and you would be well served not to be content to repeat what you learn at school, but to go do your own reading and research and listen to people who disagree with you. It’s not as traumatic an experience as you have been led to believe. When you can show that you understand what’s good about the world we are giving you, and you have some idea of how it got to be that way — then we’ll listen to your ideas for changing it.

Waking Up to Social Thought Control

At a deeper and more personal level, people are waking up to the oppressive cultural regime attempting to control individual thoughts and behavior.

The Backlash Is Building By Rod Dreher • March 5, 2018.

This post by Dreher contains thoughtful emails from people realizing how mobbing done by PC twitter gangs threatens the roots of liberal social democracies. Just a few paragraphs to show why you should read the whole thing (my bolds).

In the near future, a lot of us are going to be James Damore.

A reader writes:

I read what you said about having spoken with four people recently who didn’t vote for Trump in 2016 but are considering it now because of the left’s recent behavior. I’m not quite in that camp, but am close to it; I suspect my progress on the issue largely resembles those of your friends and (I suspect) a substantial minority of other Americans as well.

The firing of James Damore back in August was what really made me start hesitating about my previous view that “political correctness” was, as Vox, the New Yorker, and all the other right-thinking people say, a Fox News attempt to discredit politeness. Here was a guy who was making a calm, carefully reasoned argument that some of Google’s diversity initiatives might not be the best way to achieve diversity, and that Googlers should be free to criticize such policies. In response, not only was he fired (and with a publicity that basically guarantees he’ll never work for a Silicon Valley firm again), but he was subjected to a regularly scheduled bout of Two Minutes’ Hate every day for weeks.

That got me paying more attention to the way the Left handles speech, and it made me realize that “political correctness” was most definitely alive and well, and hardly restricted to trivialities like whether the Washington Redskins should be named something else. In Europe, as Douglas Murray has documented, people who raised concerns prior to 2015 about the influx of immigration were silenced with accusations of racism, until things finally reached a boiling point and spilled out with the growth in populist fascist movements. 20 years ago, Theodore Dalrymple was already writing about how the police in the UK were already growing hesitant to investigate Muslim immigrants’ tendency to keep their daughters out of school for fear of being called racist, and more recent data indicate that such social problems (and the continued fear of being labeled racist for trying to address them) are hardly going away. Things that ought to be the subject of legitimate debate in the United States are being categorically ruled out in the same way: could innate biological differences affect, even if only in a small way, the pay gap between men and women? Sexist. Is it really a good idea to let in a large influx of Muslim immigrants in light of the problems Europe has had in that regard? Islamaphobe. Does IQ vary, on average, by race, and does this create the risk of widening the inequality gap because society increasingly rewards high IQ? Racist. Is Obamacare actually as successful as is claimed? You want poor people to die. Is letting in lots of low-skilled immigrants good for the economy? Racist, nationalist, white supremacist.

The fact is, I don’t want to live in a country where the only views permitted in public debates (if they can be termed “debates” at all) are the ones deemed acceptable by enraged Twitter mobs, and where expressing a perfectly reasonable, measured claim (“America should prioritize its own working class over that of illegal immigrants, while still doing what we can to help the Dreamers”) publicly can put you at quite reasonable fear of getting doxxed and subsequently losing your job and health insurance. It’s bad enough that people like Zack Ford are on social media. The last thing I want is for candidates people like him favor to get political power on top of the formidable socio-cultural power the Left already possesses.


What a strange twist. Marx gave us the notion of ideology, which he understood to be the system of beliefs and values that the ruling class used to control the working class and ensure continued power and privileges. Today’s Marxist wannabes who are mostly in the entitled class are employing the ideology of environmentalism to mount an anti-capitalist crusade under the banner of Climate Change, advocating policies which will further the misery of the downtrodden.

For more on how we got here

Warmists and Rococo Marxists.

Disturbing: Legal Social Justice Warriors

Coercive PC Discourse Redux