Climate Policies Failure

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Edmonton one winter night.

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

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

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

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

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

Which benefits would be achieved by incurring such costs?

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

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

A Tangled Pile of Wasteful Climate Programs

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

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

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

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

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

Carbon Taxes Pound Canada Economy

 

Canadian Inflation Jumps As Carbon Taxes Come Into Force

Globe and Mail:
Canadian inflation spiked to its highest rate in more than two years in January, as new carbon taxes in Alberta and Ontario fuelled a surge in gasoline prices.

Statistics Canada reported that the consumer price index was up 2.1 per cent year over year in January, the fastest pace since October, 2014, and up sharply from 1.5 per cent in December. It said gasoline prices were up 20.6 per cent from a year earlier, the biggest increase since September, 2011. The increase reflected the introduction of a carbon tax in Alberta and a cap-and-trade carbon pricing system in Ontario, both of which came into effect on Jan. 1, as well as higher crude-oil prices, which lifted fuel costs nationwide.

From StatsCan April Report:

Transportation costs rose 4.2% over the 12-month period ending in April, after increasing 4.6% in March. This deceleration was led by the purchase of passenger vehicles index, which rose less on a year-over-year basis in April than in March. Gasoline prices posted a 15.9% year-over-year increase in April, slightly larger than the 15.2% rise registered in March.

Losses persist in oil and gas

The oil and gas extraction industry reported an operating loss of $2.2 billion in the fourth quarter, down from the $3.3 billion loss in the third quarter. This was the eighth consecutive quarterly loss for the oil and gas extraction industry.

And that is just for starters.

Get ready for Trudeau’s carbon tax on everything

Toronto Sun, May 19, 2017:
The Trudeau Liberals are moving forward with their national carbon tax scheme, or, what Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall calls “one of the largest tax increases in Canadian history.”

In typical governing fashion, the Liberals are trying to downplay the devastating economic consequences of the tax. They’re trying to disguise the very fact that this is a tax hike.

It’s not a carbon tax, it’s a “behaviour-changing measure,” said one government official.

His plan will force the provinces to tax each tonne of carbon emitted, as well as to hike taxes on gasoline by at least 11 cents per litre. Keep in mind that taxes on gasoline already make up 36% of the existing price at the pump.

That isn’t enough for our tax-hungry government, so they want to impose a 25% tax hike on fuel.

The whole scheme is designed to subsidize so-called clean energy.

But compared to the world’s largest sources of carbon emissions, places that coincidentally have the lowest environmental standards – China, Russia, India – Canada’s entire economy would be considered “clean energy.”

Next to the world’s biggest emitters, we’re an environmental marvel.

Despite being an advanced and developed country, and having some of the world’s largest proven oil reserves, Canada only makes up 1.6% of global emissions.

Any reductions in Canadian emissions caused by the Trudeau tax grab will immediately be erased by China’s booming coal industry and its refusal to impose the kind of job-killing carbon tax schemes being sold by the Trudeau Liberals.

There will be no positive impact on the environment, but the effect on our pocketbook will be concrete and measurable.

Figures vary by household and province, but by 2022, it’s estimated the average Canadian family will face a carbon tax bill of about $2,500 per year.

There’s a reason a carbon tax is called ‘a tax on everything.’

Escape the Green Box

 

Steve Goreham has published a new primer that unmasks “sustainable development” fallacies. Outside the Green Box is previewed at Master Resource. Excerpts below:

Green Doctrine of Sustainable Development

Modern society is beset by green ideology, possibly the greatest delusion in recent history. Schools teach children that carbon dioxide is a pollutant, that polar bears are endangered, that population growth is harmful, that pesticides cause cancer, that energy use is destroying the environment, that warm climate is bad for humanity, and that crude oil is all but exhausted. Further, we can save the planet if we change our light bulbs, plant a tree, forego eating meat, and drive a Prius.

Green ideology is embodied in the doctrine of environmental sustainable development. Sustainable development contends that the growth in human population, production, consumption, and energy use over the last 200 years is “unsustainable.” For 30 years, proponents of sustainable development have warned that without radical changes to modern society, our planet’s environment will be destroyed, with the resultant decline of human civilization. To avoid the coming catastrophe, companies are told that they must adopt sustainable business practices

Climate Change Ideology

Over the last 30 years, climate change ideology became the core of sustainable development and the green movement. Most scientific organizations, most leading universities, most of the Fortune 500 companies, faith-based organizations, and the majority of the news media have publicly endorsed this theory.

Climatists call carbon dioxide a “dirty pollutant,” call coal trains “death trains,” and brand those who don’t accept the ideology “climate deniers.” Thousands of energy and climate laws across hundreds of nations aim to reduce CO2 emissions from transportation, industry, agriculture, and even light bulbs.

But from Chapter 5, scientific data shows that natural forces, not human emissions, dominate Earth’s climate. Water vapor, not carbon dioxide or methane, is Earth’s dominant greenhouse gas. Human industry contributes less than two percent to the greenhouse effect. Earth’s temperatures 1,000 years ago were naturally warmer than today and have been gently cooling over the last 8,000 years.

Contrary to warnings, history shows that today’s storms, floods, and droughts are neither more frequent nor more intense than in past centuries. According to satellite data, surface temperatures show no significant warming over the last eighteen years, evidence that the world’s climate models are in error.

Summary

Much of government policy, academic thought, and public opinion stands on fears created and promulgated by environmental sustainable development. The philosophy that humans are too many, too polluting, climate destroying, and profligate wasters of natural resources holds today’s society in a powerful psychological grip. Thousands of energy and environmental laws are justified on these misconceptions.

Energy consumption is not a villain. Nations that consume the most energy per person discharge the lowest level of air and water pollutants per person. Low-cost energy provides economic growth and generates capital for pollution control. Carbon dioxide is not a pollutant. Hundreds of peer-reviewed studies show that increased levels of CO2 result in faster and larger plant growth. The recent rise in atmospheric CO2 is actually greening the Earth.

Steve Goreham is a speaker, author, and researcher of environmental issues and public policy. He holds an MBA from the University of Chicago and a BS/MS in Electrical Engineering from the University of Illinois. More at his website stevegoreham.com.  For example, he provides a synopsis of Climate Facts including these topics:

Temperature in Perspective
The Greenhouse Effect
Icecap Melting and Sea Level Rise?
Stronger Hurricanes and Storms?
Droughts and Floods?
Polar Bear Extinction?
Heat Waves?

The Sky is not our limit.

Climate Confusion and Clarity

Christelle Lagace-Babim, left, and Elise Lagace walk along Rue Jacques-Cartier Friday, after checking out their home in Gatineau, Que., as significant rainfall continues to cause flooding. (Justin Tang/Canadian Press)

A lot of verbage about global warming/climate change is worse than useless because the parties are using terms whose meaning is vague or equivocal, and thus no meaningful interaction occurs. Alarmists/activists claim climate change is real, man-made, and dangerous (Obama tweet). Skeptics/doubters respond that climate is always changing, has been both warmer and cooler in the past, long before humans did anything.

In addition, climate confusion causes statements like this one recently in the CBC: Gatineau flooding ‘tip of the iceberg,’ climate scientist warns

Swollen rivers and streams have threatened hundreds of homes in the Outaouais thanks to recent heavy rainfall — three times the normal amount since April 1.

University of Ottawa climate scientist Paul Beckwith says that’s due to a changing climate, and says we’re seeing its effects “on a day-to-day basis” in weather patterns.

Beckwith points to an increase in extreme weather events across North America as proof. “We’ve changed the chemistry of the atmosphere and the oceans with our greenhouse gases, so we’re seeing the consequences of this now,” he added. “It’s only the tip of the iceberg, so to speak.”

Such reports mislead people to think of the climate acting like some kind of agent causing the weather to change in ways unfavorable to us. That confuses the relation between climate and weather, as we shall see below.

What is “Weather”?

Fortunately in science things get defined not theoretically but by observations and measurements. In science, weather is defined as the behavior we measure on a daily basis. In fact today’s automated weather equipment monitors the weather constantly. Let us consider an operational definition of weather to be the variables for which data is reported into global databases.

Each National Weather Service has its own additional particulars they track, but the common global definition of weather can be seen in the defined elements from the ECA&D weather data dictionary (European Climate Assessment & Dataset)

Weather Measurement Elements

What is weather: Eight variables are measured globally–Sunshine, Sea Level Pressure, Humidity, Cloud cover, Wind, Precipitation, Snow Depth, Temperature. With multiple measures of some variables, weather datasets consist of 13 common elements.

Sunshine (SS) in units of 0.1 hour. Total daily SS plus measures of hours for intervals during the day.

Sea Level Pressure (PP) in units of 0.1hPa Daily average PP plus measures for specific times and parts of the day.

Humidity (HU) in units of 1% of relative humidity. Daily average HU plus measures for specific times and parts of the day.

Cloud Cover (CC) in oktas (0 being clear sky, 8 being completely overcast). Daily average CC plus measures for specific times and parts of the day.

Wind Direction (DD) in degrees azimuth for the wind source (that is, a southerly wind comes from 180 degrees.) Daily average DD plus measures for different times of day, and the direction of maximum gust.

Wind Speed (FG) in units of 0.1 m/s. Daily average FG plus measures for speeds at different times and parts of the day.

Wind Gust (FX) in units of 0.1m/s.  Daily average FX (24 hourly gusts) plus measures for maximums of different durations. (2 to 15 minutes).

Precipitation Amount (RR) in units of 0.1 mm. Daily total RR plus measures of amounts for intervals during the day.

Maximum Hourly Precipitation (MXR) in units of 0.1 mm. MXR for the day plus measures of amounts for intervals during the day.

Snow Depth (SD) in units of 1 cm. Mean daily SD plus measures of depths for intervals during the day.

Mean Temperature (TG) in units of 0.1C. Daily TG plus measures of various ways of calculating TG.

Minimum Temperature (TN) in units of 0.1C. Daily TN plus measures for different times and parts of the day.

Maximum Temperature (TX) in units of 0.1C. Daily TX plus measures for different times and parts of the day.

What is “Climate”?

Change in Frequency of Frost Days in Europe in the Period 1976-2006

To sort out the confusion between “weather” and “climate”, we can also look at how climate is measured and thereby defined. From the same ECA&D source is a climate indices database which is termed Indices of Extremes.

There is one datafile for each index. Each datafile gives information for all available stations in the ECA&D database. The indices are aggregated over the year, the winter-half (ONDJFM), the summer-half (AMJJAS), winter (DJF), spring (MAM), summer (JJA), autumn (SON) and each of the calendar months.

There are 74 indices grouped into twelve categories corresponding with different aspects of climate change. Some categories come directly from weather elements, while others are derivations.

The 74 indices are statistics built upon weather data, adding patterns of interest to humans. For example, temperature is greatly emphasized by adding various concerns with heat and cold on top of temperature records. Also, a compound category focuses on temperature and precipitation combinations and their favorability to humans.

What is Climate: Categories and Indices

 

Note that climate is operationally defined as statistical patterns of weather data. Some indices are simply averages of daily weather over long term periods. By convention, a 30-year average is used to define a climate baseline for a location.

Other climate indices are based on value judgments according to human interests. For example, heat and cold include many examples like growing days, good tourism days, heating degree days. In fact, a feature of climate is the imposition of human expectations upon nature, other examples being the sunshine indices Mostly Sunny and Mostly Cloudy days.

Andrew John Herbertson, a British geographer and Professor at Oxford, wrote in a textbook from 1901:

By climate we mean the average weather as ascertained by many years’ observations. Climate also takes into account the extreme weather experienced during that period. Climate is what on an average we may expect, weather is what we actually get.

Mark Twain, who is often credited with that last sentence, actually said:

Climate lasts all the time and weather only a few days.

The point is, weather consists of events occurring in real time, while climate is a statistical artifact. Weather is like a baseball player swinging in the batter’s box, climate is his batting average, RBIs, bases on balls, etc.

What is “Climate Change”?

The usefulness of climate indices is suggested by the last category called compound, where temperature and precipitation patterns are combined. In fact those two factors are sufficient to define distinctive local climate zones..

Based on empirical observations, Köppen (1900) established a climate classification system which uses monthly temperature and precipitation to define boundaries of different climate types around the world. Since its inception, this system has been further developed (e.g. Köppen and Geiger, 1930; Stern et al., 2000) and widely used by geographers and climatologists around the world.

 

Köppen climate zones as they appear in the 21st Century.

As an example, consider how the island of Hawaii looks with its climate zones indicated:

Note: This image comes from an interactive tool and uses a different color scheme than the global map above.  The table below shows the thresholds by which zones are defined.

Zones Zones Description Thresholds
A Tropical climates Tmin ≥ +18 °C
Af Tropical rain forest Pmin ≥ 60 mm
Am Tropical monsoon Pann ≥ 25(100 – Pmin) mm
As Tropical savannah with dry summer Pmin < 60 mm in summer
Aw Tropical savannah with dry winter Pmin < 60 mm in winter
B Dry climates Pann < 10 Pth
BW Desert (arid) Pann ≤ 5 Pth
BS Steppe (semi-arid) Pann > 5 Pth
C Mild temperate -3 °C < Tmin < +18 °C
Cs Mild temperate with dry summer Psmin < Pwmin, Pwmax > 3 Psmin, Psmin < 40 mm
Cw Mild temperate with dry winter Psmax > 10 Pwmin, Pwmin < Psmin
Cf Mild temperate, fully humid Not Cs or Cw
D Snow Tmin ≤ -3 °C
Ds Snow with dry summer Psmin < Pwmin, Pwmax > 3 Psmin, Psmin < 40 mm
Dw Snow with dry winter Psmax > 10 Pwmin, Pwmin < Psmin
Df Snow, fully humid Not Ds or Dw
E Polar Tmax < +10 °C
ET Tundra Tmax ≥ 0 °C
EF Frost Tmax < 0 °C

Köppen and Climate Change

The focus is on differentiating vegetation regimes, which result primarily from variations in temperature and precipitation over the seasons of the year. Now we have an interesting study that considers shifts in Köppen climate zones over time in order to identify changes in climate as practical and local/regional realities.  The paper is: Using the Köppen classification to quantify climate variation and change: An example for 1901–2010 By Deliang Chen and Hans Weiteng Chen Department of Earth Sciences, University of Gothenburg, Sweden

Hans Chen has built an excellent interactive website (here): The purpose of this website is to share information about the Köppen climate classification, and provide data and high-resolution figures from the paper Chen and Chen, 2013:  For more details on Chen and Chen see the post: Data vs. Models 4: Climates Changing

Summary:  Climate Change Defined

Chen and Chen provide a data-based definition of “climate change”. Climate zones are defined by past temperature and precipitation ranges observed by humans. The weather datasets and climate indices inform us whether or not the patterns in a place are moving outside the norm for that location. Climate change appears as a shift in zonal boundaries so that one place starts to resemble a neighboring zone with a different classification.  The table above shows the defined zones and thresholds.

The Chen and Chen analysis shows that almost half of climates around the world will get a year of weather outside of their normal ranges. Getting a decade of abnormal weather is much rarer. True climate change would be a shift enduring over a 30 year period which has been observed in less than 10% of all climate zones.

Summary: The Myth of “Global” Climate Change

Climate is a term to describe a local or regional pattern of weather. There is a widely accepted system of classifying climates, based largely on distinctive seasonal variations in temperature and precipitation. Depending on how precisely you apply the criteria, there can be from 6 to 13 distinct zones just in South Africa, or 8 to 11 zones only in Hawaii.

Each climate over time experiences shifts toward warming or cooling, and wetter or drier periods. One example: Fully a third of US stations showed cooling since 1950 while the others warmed. It is nonsense to average all of that and call it “Global Warming” because the net is slightly positive. Only in the fevered imaginations of CO2 activists do all of these diverse places move together in a single march toward global warming.

For more on measurements and science see Data, Facts and Information

Footnote:

This post was focused on the distinction between weather and climate, so extreme weather events were not discussed, since by definition such events are weather. Still the quote at the beginning shows that activists are working hard to attribute attention-grabbing events as proof of global warming/climate change.

Mike Hulme wrote a series of articles describing the unsuccessful effort to link extreme weather to climate change and said this:
In recent decades the meaning of climate change in popular western discourse has changed from being a descriptive index of a change in climate (as in ‘evidence that a climatic change has occurred’) to becoming an independent causative agent (as in ‘climate change caused this event to happen’). Rather than being a descriptive outcome of a chain of causal events affecting how weather is generated, climate change has been granted power to change worlds: political and social worlds as much as physical and ecological ones.

More at X-Weathermen are Back 

Climatists Wrong-Footed

Trolling: The art of deliberately, cleverly, and secretly pissing people off, usually via the internet, using dialogue.

Update May 4 at the end

People may not have noticed that subtly, without fanfare, the climate battleground has shifted from the science to the policy. Like everyone else climatists were caught unawares by the election of US policymakers skeptical of the need to “fight climate change.”

But the surprising development is how activist tactics are still geared mainly to push on the claim of “settled science”, when that is not any more the focal point for the opposition. I don’t know who created the strategy for nominees, but in confirmation hearings, to a man and woman they all refrained from denying the science. Sanders and the other true-believing senators pressed hard to get heretical statements, but failed.

Now the activists have turned up the heat with science marches every weekend. Activists keep pushing on the science because their policy agenda is even less believable.

The marchers’ signs show they depend on three suppositions, like a three-legged stool:

  • Humans are making the planet warmer.
  • The warming is dangerous.
  • Government can stop it.

The first point is what alarmists claim is settled science, and where others have doubts about the data, the models and the theories. Expressing those doubts gets you labeled a denier. After years of alarmists refusing to debate that first point, they now want to talk about nothing else.  Apparently they think that only the first point matters; once that is admitted, everything else follows.

To their surprise, policymakers, and now even some journalists are shifting the ground to the other two wobbly legs, where the assertions have even less support.

A perceptive journalist writing for the LA Times sees how the game is changing.  Jonah Goldberg wrote yet another piece of independent thought coming from a previous uncritically warmist newsroom. Bret Stephens just trolled the left with his supposed climate change denialism. Excerpts below.

The most amusing show over the weekend was the collective case of the vapors across the liberal left establishment over Bret Stephens’ first column at the New York Times on the perils of certainty, particularly on the topic of climate change.

When someone says that he is not denying climate change and concedes that it is real, that is “classic climate change denialism”? Huh. What words do we have left for people who call the whole thing a “hoax”? In civil debates, when someone concedes much of your premise, the proper reaction is not to scream “liar!” or “heretic!”

And that brings me to the second, and more amusing, thing about all of this. You’ve been trolled, people.

As a fellow columnist, I doff my cap to you, sir.

It wasn’t hard to trick liberals into going off-sides. In the past, Stephens was a more acid-tongued critic of climate change research. But the column in question was a model of restraint that, when read by non-ideologues and non-combatants, must seem utterly reasonable, even a tad banal. Stefan Rahmstorf, a prominent German climate scientist, wrote a lengthy, sanctimonious letter explaining why he was cancelling his subscription to the New York Times. Nothing in the letter addressed anything Stephens wrote in his column.

The Washington Post’s Eric Wemple found it hard to constrain his dismay. “May it suffice to say, however, that the many, many people who care passionately for the planet found it an exercise in climate-change denialism.”

Wemple’s a clever fellow. I’m sure he understands Stephens’ point about the dangers of certainty, particularly based on sophisticated mathematical models that have been proven wrong in the past.

What I think sailed past Wemple and so “many, many people” was Stephens’ subtler point about the sanctimonious condescension of people who claim to be motivated solely by their passionate care for the planet.

Stephens’ heresy here isn’t in denying climate change; it’s in refusing to concede that one group of people has a total monopoly on defining not just the problem but the acceptable responses to it. Such dissent is not a crime against science; it’s a threat to a guild. And the guild took the bait.

Update May 4

Bret Stephens published a new post today that digs into the policy failures, specifically biofuels with references to other shortcomings, such as emissions trading. Climate of Unintended Consequences

In other words, the three central claims made in the Department of Energy paper quoted at the top of this column were misleading or wrong. Factually wrong. Wrong for the environment. Wrong for taxpayers. Wrong for the allocation of government funding and scientific research. Wrong for our energy mix. Wrong politically: Whatever else we conclude about ethanol, the one thing that won’t soon go away is the biofuel lobby in Washington.

And wrong for the reputation of climate science.

In recent years, some climate activists — Al Gore notably among them — have owned up to their biofuels mistake. More recently, we’ve seen some acknowledgment of other errors, having more to do with policy than science.

Thus, today there’s a keener appreciation that cap-and-trade regimes such as Europe’s ambitious Emissions Trading System have been costly failures, with one study suggesting the E.T.S. had “limited benefits and embarrassing consequences” in terms of emissions — at an estimated cost to consumers of some $280 billion.

There’s also been some acknowledgment that Germany’s Energiewende — the uber-ambitious “energy turn” embarked upon by Angela Merkel in 2010 — has been less than a model for others. The country is producing record levels of energy from wind and solar power, but emissions are almost exactly what they were in 2009. Meanwhile, German households pay nearly the highest electricity bills in Europe, all for what amounts to an illusion of ecological virtue.

Still, what acknowledgment there’s been has generally been belated, grudging and rarely self-reflective. What’s missing is an understanding of the harm that can be done when do-something impulses and eco-cure boosterism become turbocharged by government power and subsidized business.

The lessons are legion but, more often than not, unlearned. We need to make policy choices based less on moral self-regard and more on attention to real-world results.

Inside a True Believer’s Mind

At Slate Susan Matthews writes Bret Stephens’ First Column for the New York Times Is Classic Climate Change Denialism  It doesn’t outright reject the facts—which makes it all the more insidious.

Key Paragraphs (my bolding for emphasis)

But in reality, the goal of this column is not to help readers learn how to reason with people who are skeptical about climate change. Instead, the column reinforces the idea that those people might have a point. The New York Times push notification that went out Friday afternoon about the column said as much—“reasonable people can be skeptical about the dangers of climate change,” it read. That is not actually true, and nothing that Stephens writes makes a case for why it might be true. This column is not a lesson for people who want to advance good climate policy. Instead, it is a dog whistle to people who feel confused about climate change. It’s nothing more than textbook denialism.

The institutions Stephens questions in his column are not singular entities but entire ideas—scientists who may not see their biases, statistical models that might be skewed, liberals who may be so swayed by their ideology. His argument is convincing because the institutions he mentions can make mistakes. It’s true, there are some problems with how we use probabilities in science. We tend to be bad at distinguishing between correlation and causation. Sometimes our biases do get in the way. Stephens knows this, and he taps into it in his piece. “Much else that passes as accepted fact is really a matter of probabilities,” he suggests. You have to be an idiot or a zealot to believe climate change is certain, whispers the subtext.

The Credo

Regardless of what Stephens says in this column, and regardless of Clinton’s modeling failures, climate change is a terrible threat to life as we know it on this planet. Anyone who wants to honestly investigate the data will come to the same conclusion that the scientific establishment has—climate change is real, and dangerous. Our failures elsewhere—even in the disturbing wake of the election of Donald J. Trump—do not negate that. The questions are no longer whether and how but how soon and how bad. Climate change is happening, and “claiming total certainty about the science” does not “traduce the spirit of science.” Instead, it is a reasonable interpretation of the science at hand.

Don’t Give an Inch

What he is suggesting here is that the rational way to go forward with a conversation about climate change is to admit that climate change might not be certain. This is similar to the torturous logic he puts forward throughout the rest of the piece—the only way to be reasonable about this topic is to give in to those who are unreasonable about it. While he calmly insists he is the only logical person around, he is spewing complete bullshit.

Stephens article itself is excerpted at  NYT Opens Climate Can of Worms

 

Counting Climate Dollars: Who Controls the Debate?

 

Thanks to an opinion piece in Washington Post, I discovered the work of a serious skeptical thinktank called Capital Research Center. This short video explains how global warming/climate change activists have repeatedly distorted how public communications on the issue are funded, and how dominant are the alarmist dollars.

The full study and numerous other resources are at Climate Dollars

The WP article is A Climate Hysteric’s Fake Enemies List which can also be accessed at Climate Dollars org. link above.

 

NYT Opens Climate Can of Worms

 

Fishermen often discovered how easy it was to open a can of bait worms, and how difficult it was to close them. Once the worms discovered an opportunity to escape, it became nearly impossible to keep them contained. Some experts say the metaphor is a modern extension of Pandora’s Box.

In a previous post NYT Readers Face Diversity I provided a background for New York Times newest columnist Bret Stephens, with emphasis on his climate change commentary.

Now his first column published in NYT appears Climate of Complete Certainty, an invitation to examine the facts about climate change. Excerpts below.

We live in a world in which data convey authority. But authority has a way of descending to certitude, and certitude begets hubris. From Robert McNamara to Lehman Brothers to Stronger Together, cautionary tales abound.

We ought to know this by now, but we don’t. Instead, we respond to the inherent uncertainties of data by adding more data without revisiting our assumptions, creating an impression of certainty that can be lulling, misleading and often dangerous. Ask Clinton.

With me so far? Good. Let’s turn to climate change.

Last October, the Pew Research Center published a survey on the politics of climate change. Among its findings: Just 36 percent of Americans care “a great deal” about the subject. Despite 30 years of efforts by scientists, politicians and activists to raise the alarm, nearly two-thirds of Americans are either indifferent to or only somewhat bothered by the prospect of planetary calamity.

Why? The science is settled. The threat is clear. Isn’t this one instance, at least, where 100 percent of the truth resides on one side of the argument?

Well, not entirely. As Andrew Revkin wrote last year about his storied career as an environmental reporter at The Times, “I saw a widening gap between what scientists had been learning about global warming and what advocates were claiming as they pushed ever harder to pass climate legislation.” The science was generally scrupulous. The boosters who claimed its authority weren’t.

Anyone who has read the 2014 report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change knows that, while the modest (0.85 degrees Celsius, or about 1.5 degrees Fahrenheit) warming of the Northern Hemisphere since 1880 is indisputable, as is the human influence on that warming, much else that passes as accepted fact is really a matter of probabilities. That’s especially true of the sophisticated but fallible models and simulations by which scientists attempt to peer into the climate future. To say this isn’t to deny science. It’s to acknowledge it honestly.

By now I can almost hear the heads exploding. They shouldn’t, because there’s another lesson here — this one for anyone who wants to advance the cause of good climate policy. As Revkin wisely noted, hyperbole about climate “not only didn’t fit the science at the time but could even be counterproductive if the hope was to engage a distracted public.”

Let me put it another way. Claiming total certainty about the science traduces the spirit of science and creates openings for doubt whenever a climate claim proves wrong. Demanding abrupt and expensive changes in public policy raises fair questions about ideological intentions. Censoriously asserting one’s moral superiority and treating skeptics as imbeciles and deplorables wins few converts.

None of this is to deny climate change or the possible severity of its consequences. But ordinary citizens also have a right to be skeptical of an overweening scientism. They know — as all environmentalists should — that history is littered with the human wreckage of scientific errors married to political power.

Conclusion

I’ve taken the epigraph for this column from the Polish poet Czeslaw Milosz, who knew something about the evils of certitude. Perhaps if there had been less certitude and more second-guessing in Clinton’s campaign, she’d be president. Perhaps if there were less certitude about our climate future, more Americans would be interested in having a reasoned conversation about it.

New York Post (here) covers the nastiness of responses to Stephens’ first column. Stephens compares the blowback to what he got from Trump fans: “After 20 months of being harangued by bullying Trump supporters, I’m reminded that the nasty left is no different. Perhaps worse,” Stephens tweeted Friday afternoon, as the hateful messages kept rolling in.  New York Times used to be a “safe space”, maybe now not so much.

Bret Stephens

Update April 30

A response to Stephens article at Slate  Inside a True Believer’s Mind

Footnote:

Whenever I see those graphs of climate models projections, it reminds me of worms escaping.

Climate Evangelists Are Taking Over Your Local Weather Forecast

The battle by alarmists for hearts and minds is extending to many fronts, including recruiting family doctors, and in the case of this post, media weather reporters. Surveys have shown the meteorologists are not more convinced of global warming/climate change than is the American public (a slight majority). But efforts have been underway to convert them and use their telecasts and columns to promote climatism.

A balanced and analytical report appears in Bloomberg (an interesting place for such independent thinking).  Climate Evangelists Are Taking Over Your Local Weather Forecast Excerpts below.

Amber Sullins gets a minute or two to tell up to two million people about some extremely complicated science, using the tools of her trade: a pleasant voice, a green screen, and small icons denoting sun, clouds, rain, and wind. She is the chief meteorologist at ABC15 News in Phoenix, so her forecasts mostly call for sunshine. Within this brief window, however, Sullins sometimes manages to go beyond the next five days. Far beyond.

Amber Sullins, weather reporter at ABC15 News in Phoenix.

“We know climate change could affect everything about the way we live in the future, from agriculture and tourism to productivity and local business,” she once noted. “But at what cost?”

It was a 35-second segment in a nightly newscast, a mundane moment preceding reports about three fallen firefighters in Washington state and a dangerous development for air travelers. But that climate-focused scene, and hundreds of others like it playing out at local news stations across the country, marks a major shift in the way Americans hear about climate change. The safe and familiar on-air meteorologist, with little notice by viewers, has become a public diplomat for global warming.

There are about 500 broadcasters like Sullins and Morales, who each receive regular data dumps and ready-to-use graphics from Climate Matters, an organization whose mission is to turn TV meteorologists into local climate educators. The program was founded in 2010 by Climate Central, a research-and-journalism nonprofit, with help from George Mason University, the American Meteorological Society, and others. Newscasters who participate are sent possible topics for climate-related segments every week, with TV-ready data and graphics pegged to large-scale meteorological events, such as unusually high heat or precipitation, local trends, or seasonal themes.

Two-thirds of 18- to 64-year-olds in the U.S. watch a news broadcast, either on TV or a digital device, at least once a week, according to 2015 research by the market research company SmithGeiger LLC. Nearly 40 percent of people within this wide age group watch broadcast news on daily basis, and the reliable presence of an on-air meteorologist is a huge part of the draw.

“Local TV news wouldn’t exist any more if it weren’t for the weathercasts,” says Ed Maibach, director of George Mason University’s Center for Climate Change Communication.

Part of meteorologists’ reluctance to talk about the climate stems from the treacherous tools of their trade. Meteorologists learn very quickly that weather models are messy. Some no doubt sour on finicky climate models because of this experience. If short-term weather models make mistakes, it may seem reasonable to assume that a model projecting into the next century is ridiculous.

“Meteorologists are used to looking at models and being burned,” says Paul Douglas, a former TV weatherman-turned-serial entrepreneur, who recently published a book on climate change and faith.

Sullins, 34, knows there’s tension in telling her viewers about conditions in the 22nd century when she is reluctant to commit to a two-week forecast. “I can’t tell you what the high temperature is going to be on July 4 of this year, today,” Sullins says. “I can’t possibly tell you that. But I can tell you, based on climate, that in July, here in Phoenix, it’s going to be over 100 degrees. That’s easy.”

Her point is that weather and climate are “two entirely different beasts.” It’s like the difference between someone’s mood and disposition, Sullins says. She wants viewers of the nightly news to spend more time thinking about the planet’s disposition.

Summary

The PR campaign continues and intensifies with simplistic soundbites to persuade people to fear the future, in order to advance the anti-fossil fuel agenda. It is a Chinese water torture program well-funded and essential to the climate crisis industry.

But note the logical fallacy in Sullins’ statement above. She says: “I can tell you, based on climate, that in July, here in Phoenix, it’s going to be over 100 degrees.” That’s not climate change, that’s climate stability, something we depend on despite the fear-mongering.

How will viewers respond to this?  Will ratings improve by watching weather people jumping the shark? (It didn’t work for “Happy Days” TV show).  Or will people resent the attempted brainwashing and switch channels?

Footnote:

The hottest temperatures ever reported in Phoenix came in January 2015, when Fox 10 weatherman Cory McCloskey faced a malfunctioning temperature map on live television. “Wow, 750 degrees in Gila Bend right now,” he said, without breaking a sweat. “And 1,270 in Ahwatukee. Now, I’m not authorized to evacuate, but this temperature seems pretty high.” More than 6 million people have watched the blooper on YouTube.

 

Mind-Blowing Science

Cometh the man; Francis Bacon’s insight was that the process of discovery was inherently algorithmic. Photo courtesy NPG/Wikipedia

In a refreshing relief from Science Marches promoting slogans and tenets of climate dogma, we have an insightful look into a fruitful future for the scientific endeavor.

The article is Science has outgrown the human mind and its limited capacities by Ahmed Alkhateeb, a molecular cancer biologist at Harvard Medical School. (bolded text is my emphasis)

It starts with a great quote:

The duty of man who investigates the writings of scientists, if learning the truth is his goal, is to make himself an enemy of all that he reads and … attack it from every side. He should also suspect himself as he performs his critical examination of it, so that he may avoid falling into either prejudice or leniency.
– Ibn al-Haytham (965-1040 CE)

First the author reminds readers of the current sorry state of scientific research:  overwhelming quantity of papers with diminishing quality (bogus findings, unreplicable studies, sloppy methodology, etc.). He then raises an intriguing question:

One promising strategy to overcome the current crisis is to integrate machines and artificial intelligence in the scientific process. Machines have greater memory and higher computational capacity than the human brain. Automation of the scientific process could greatly increase the rate of discovery. It could even begin another scientific revolution. That huge possibility hinges on an equally huge question: Can scientific discovery really be automated?

Alkhateeb gets to the point of Bacon’s forming the scientific process:

The Baconian method attempted to remove logical bias from the process of observation and conceptualisation, by delineating the steps of scientific synthesis and optimizing each one separately. Bacon’s vision was to leverage a community of observers to collect vast amounts of information about nature and tabulate it into a central record accessible to inductive analysis. In Novum Organum, he wrote: ‘Empiricists are like ants; they accumulate and use. Rationalists spin webs like spiders. The best method is that of the bee; it is somewhere in between, taking existing material and using it.’

The Baconian method is rarely used today. It proved too laborious and extravagantly expensive; its technological applications were unclear. However, at the time the formalization of a scientific method marked a revolutionary advance. Before it, science was metaphysical, accessible only to a few learned men, mostly of noble birth. By rejecting the authority of the ancient Greeks and delineating the steps of discovery, Bacon created a blueprint that would allow anyone, regardless of background, to become a scientist.

Bacon’s insights also revealed an important hidden truth: the discovery process is inherently algorithmic. It is the outcome of a finite number of steps that are repeated until a meaningful result is uncovered. Bacon explicitly used the word ‘machine’ in describing his method. His scientific algorithm has three essential components:

  • First, observations have to be collected and integrated into the total corpus of knowledge.
  • Second, the new observations are used to generate new hypotheses.
  • Third, the hypotheses are tested through carefully designed experiments.

If science is algorithmic, then it must have the potential for automation. This futuristic dream has eluded information and computer scientists for decades, in large part because the three main steps of scientific discovery occupy different planes. Observation is sensual; hypothesis-generation is mental; and experimentation is mechanical. Automating the scientific process will require the effective incorporation of machines in each step, and in all three feeding into each other without friction. Nobody has yet figured out how to do that.

Experimentation has seen the most substantial recent progress. For example, the pharmaceutical industry commonly uses automated high-throughput platforms for drug design.

Automated hypothesis-generation is less advanced, but the work of Don Swanson in the 1980s provided an important step forward. He demonstrated the existence of hidden links between unrelated ideas in the scientific literature; using a simple deductive logical framework, he could connect papers from various fields with no citation overlap. In this way, Swanson was able to hypothesise a novel link between dietary fish oil and Reynaud’s Syndrome without conducting any experiments or being an expert in either field.

The most challenging step in the automation process is how to collect reliable scientific observations on a large scale. There is currently no central data bank that holds humanity’s total scientific knowledge on an observational level. Natural language-processing has advanced to the point at which it can automatically extract not only relationships but also context from scientific papers. However, major scientific publishers have placed severe restrictions on text-mining. More important, the text of papers is biased towards the scientist’s interpretations (or misconceptions), and it contains synthesised complex concepts and methodologies that are difficult to extract and quantify.

Summary

Nevertheless, recent advances in computing and networked databases make the Baconian method practical for the first time in history. And even before scientific discovery can be automated, embracing Bacon’s approach could prove valuable at a time when pure reductionism is reaching the edge of its usefulness.

Such an approach would enable us to generate novel hypotheses that have higher chances of turning out to be true, to test those hypotheses, and to fill gaps in our knowledge. It would also provide a much-needed reminder of what science is supposed to be: truth-seeking, anti-authoritarian, and limitlessly free.