Tag Archives: climate change

Ignoring science to convince the public that we’re doomed by climate change

Summary: The news has become stranger since the climate policy debate has decoupled from the IPCC. Ludicrous claims of certain doom and nightmarish futures splash across the headlines, seldom with rebuttals (climate scientists are complicit in their silence). This one-sided flow of “news” will shape public opinion slowly but surely, creating support for bold measures by President Clinton. Activists are panicking the public for political gain.

“I think looking at grief is quite appropriate, as I believe we are facing human extinction”
— Comment by a reader on the FM website.

Earth as inferno

“The more immediate danger is runaway climate change. A rise in ocean temperatures will melt the ice caps and cause the release of large amounts of carbon dioxide from the ocean floor. Both effects could make our climate like that of Venus, with a temperature of 250 degrees.”

— Nobel laureate physicist Stephen Hawking on “Good morning Britain on NBC News’ U.K. news partner, ITV News in May 2016.

This was reported as “Earth DOOMED by climate change which could burn us alive, warns Stephen Hawking” by Sean Martin in The Daily Express, 31 May 2016.

We have heard this story before. The BBC hinted at it last year; Hawking has said it before. There is no support for this in the IPCC’s reports and little (perhaps none) in the peer-reviewed literature. There are papers clearly saying the opposite, such as “Low simulated radiation limit for runaway greenhouse climates” by Colin Goldblatt el al, Nature Geoscience, August 2013 — Gated. See the press release here. Excerpt…

“The so-called `hothouse’ climate of the Eocene is the most useful constraint for anthropogenic change. With the solar constant 1% less than today and a few thousand ppmv CO2, the mean temperature was 10 K warmer than today. With CO2 and temperature both higher then than we expect in the foreseeable future, this implies that an anthropogenic runaway greenhouse is unlikely.

“…As the solar constant increases with time, Earth’s future is analogous to Venus’s past. We expect a runaway greenhouse on Earth 1.5 billion years hence if water is the only greenhouse gas, or sooner if there are others.”

While peer-reviewed analysis is good, it is obvious that Earth cannot become Venus in any policy-relevant time. See the NASA fact sheets for Venus and for Earth. They explain that…

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Nassim Nicholas Taleb warns us about climate change

Summary:  This is the second post looking at statistician Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s insights about “ruin” risks, and what they tell us about climate change. Here we look at his warning about climate change and two factors he ignores: the duration of the climate risk window and the odds of a climate disaster. The danger is real but the stories that we face certain doom are wild exaggerations, which make rational preparation more difficult. The previous post was Nassim Nicholas Taleb looks at the risks threatening humanity.

Cover of "Turning the Tide On Climate Change" by Robert Kandel

Cover of “Turning the Tide On Climate Change” by Robert Kandel (2009).

Yesterday’s post examined a methodology developed by a team including Nassim Nicholas Taleb for identifying “ruin” risks, where the result is non-recoverable for global civilization — or even the biosphere (described in “Mathematical Foundations for the Precautionary Principle“).

They wrote a note applying their method to one of the major risk debates of our time: “Climate models and precautionary measures” in Science and Technology, in press. The authors are brilliant, and it states with unusual clarity common arguments for radical and immediate action to fight climate change. Here’s the core of their analysis (it’s worth reading in full).

“Those who contend that models make accurate predictions argue for specific policies to stem the foreseen damaging effects; those who doubt their accuracy cite a lack of reliable evidence of harm to warrant policy action. These two alternatives are not exhaustive. One can sidestep the “skepticism” of those who question existing climate-models, by framing risk in the most straight-forward possible terms, at the global scale. That is, we should ask ‘what would the correct policy be if we had no reliable models?’

“We have only one planet. This fact radically constrains the kinds of risks that are appropriate to take at a large-scale. Even a risk with a very low probability becomes unacceptable when it affects all of us –– there is no reversing mistakes of that magnitude.

“…While some amount of pollution is inevitable, high quantities of any pollutant put us at a rapidly increasing risk of destabilizing the climate, a system that is integral to the biosphere. Ergo, we should build down CO2 emissions, even regardless of what climate-models tell us.

“…This leads to the following asymmetry in climate policy. The scale of the effect must be demonstrated tube large enough to have impact. Once this is shown, and it has been, the burden of proof of absence of harm icon those who would deny it.”

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Good news from America about climate change, leading the way to success

Summary: Journalists live by the rule “if it bleeds, it leads”, sound business advice which buries important good news. Such as the new data from the EIA about US CO2 emissions. It’s another small step away from CAGW, especially the coal-driven RCP8.5 climate nightmare scenario. It’s one of many such during the past few years — with the potential for even better news in the future.

“This is not the end, it is not even the beginning of the end, but it is perhaps the end of the beginning.”
— Speech by Churchill on 10 November 1942 after a key defeat of the Africa Corps by Britain.

U.S. energy-related CO2 emissions in 2015 are 12% below their 2005 levels

US CO2 emissions

“Adjusted for inflation, the economy in 2015 was 15% larger than it was in 2005, but the U.S. energy intensities and carbon intensities have both declined. On a per-dollar of gross domestic product (GDP) basis, in 2015, the United States used 15% less energy per unit of GDP and produced 23% fewer energy-related CO2 emissions per unit of GDP, compared with the energy and emissions per dollar of GDP in 2005.”

The big driver of this change is the shift from coal to natural gas (per the EIA). Coal use peaked in 2008, and declined 32% by 2015 (per the EIA), resulting from the collapse in natural gas prices (fracking!) — predating any effects from the Clean Power Plan.

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An eminent climate scientist explains what caused the record rains in Texas

Summary:  The heavy rains hitting Texas last May were record-breaking extreme weather evens. But were they natural (records routinely break as time passes) or the result — partially or mostly — the result of anthropogenic effects? Here an eminent climatologist gives a preliminary answer, based on solid evidence (not modeling). There is no visible trend to rainfall in Texas, but its distribution has changed — more concentrated in large storms.

“With the lack of a positive trend in monthly springtime precipitation, there is no direct observational evidence that the record-setting May 2015 statewide rainfall total in Texas had an anthropogenic component.”

Preparing for Extreme Weather

From the NCAR-Wyoming Supercomputing Center.

The mainstream news media have become more cautious in their coverage of extreme weather, unlike their previous uncritical reporting of everything as climate change. For example, see this by USA Today: “Wild weather shifts in Texas spark concern about “new normal’.” And “Climate Change May Have Souped Up Record-Breaking Texas Deluge” by Elizabeth Harball and Scott Detrow at Scientific American on 27 May 2015 — “Deadly downpours flooded Texas and Oklahoma and may have been exacerbated by global warming.” The link to climate change is strongly implied, but not stated as definite. The text reports climate scientists’ uncertainty about attribution of events to climate change.

Activists ignore the science, preferring simple narratives. Bill Nye, the children’s science guy, says on CNN: “The floods in Texas, the strengthening storms… these things are a result of human activity making things worse.”  As usual, the most over-the-top story comes from fantasy writer – climate activist Robert Marston Fanney (bio here) at his blog RobertScribbler: “The Merciless Rains of Climate Change Hammer Houston, Southeast Texas.”

Eventually scientists will produce papers with more definitive information. Here’s an excerpt from an early analysis (click on the link to read it in full)…

The faucet: Informal attribution of the May 2015 record-setting Texas rains

By John W. Nielsen-Gammon (see his bio)
Texas state climatologist and professor of atmospheric sciences at Texas A&M
From NOAA’s Annual Climate Diagnostics and Prediction Workshop, Oct 2015

(1) Introduction

Texas received its all-time wettest month of rainfall in May 2015, with an average of 9.05″ (230 mm) across the state… The purpose of this talk is to put the extreme rainfall events in Texas in 2015 in a historical perspective and to consider the possible role of contributing factors, including anthropogenic climate change …

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Good news from China about climate change!

Summary: The headlines report almost nothing but bad news about climate change as journalists exaggerate much of the bad news and mute much of the good news. Here is an example of wonderful news — from China, the top source of global pollution growth — about another step in the world’s shift away from coal. It deserves attention.

World in A Forest

Those horrific forecasts of our future climate describe different effects, but have a common source: the RCP8.5 scenario, worst of the four used in the IPCC’s AR5 report. It describes a future in which many things go wrong, especially rapid population growth and slow tech progress, so that coal become the major fuel of the late 21st century — as it was of the late 19th C.

Much of the world has been shifting away from coal at an accelerating rate, so that coal prices are collapsing and coal companies are going bankrupt. Even in China, long the top coal growth story. There are indications that coal use has begun to decline in China. They’re rapidly closing older plants, major sources of the toxic clouds over their cities (Beijing has shut all of its coal-fired plants) — and the mines that feed them (1,000 in 2016, 4300 over 3 years). Now comes even better news about policy changes China’s government has made to further this wonderful trend.

Excerpt from an article at the World Resources Institute
by and

China has emerged as a leader in renewable energy. Investment soared from $39 billion to $111 billion in just 5 years, while electric capacity for solar power grew 168-fold and wind power quadrupled.  Actual renewable energy utilization also grew. The total share of non-fossil fuels in primary energy consumption increased from 8.3% in 2010 to 12% in 2015, beating the country’s target of 11.4% and putting China well on track to meet its Copenhagen pledge to reach 15% by 2020 and Paris commitment to reach 20% by 2030.

In the last two months, China’s government has thrown three punches to tackle the problem.

Punch 1: An emergency ban on new coal power construction

The central government has ordered 13 provinces to suspend coal-fired power plant approvals in the current pipeline, and another 15 provinces to delay new construction of projects that have already been approved, according to media reports.

The government has also set up an on-going early warning mechanism to anticipate and discourage local decisions that may exacerbate coal power plant overcapacity in the future. Projecting to 2019, the government has issued a “red alert” for 28 provinces (in Chinese), asking local authorities to suspend approval and companies to reconsider investment.

By curbing the development of new coal power plants, the dominant source of fossil fuel electricity in China, the government aims to prevent destructive competition with renewables.

Punch 2: Rules to guarantee sale of renewable energy generation on the grid …

Punch 3: Consumption and generation targets for renewables …

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Matt Ridley: “The climate change lobby wants to kill free speech”

Summary: This powerful article by Matt Ridley strikes at the heart of public debate about the public policy response to climate change. First, he describes the obvious and massive imbalance in financial resources: the skeptics have a pittance compared to the alarmists (e.g., compare their websites, standard templates with amateur writers vs. beautiful custom work with pro writers). Second, he describes how the alarmists are slowly applying their superior institutional power to limit the range of allowable public speech about climate. For these and other reasons I predict that the skeptics will lose (details here).

Pravda

 

The climate change lobby wants to kill free speech

By Matt Ridley
Excerpt from The Times on 25 April 2016
Posted with his generous permission

The editor of this newspaper received a private letter last week from Lord Krebs and 12 other members of the House of Lords expressing unhappiness with two articles by its environment correspondent. Conceding that The Times’s reporting of the Paris climate conference had been balanced and comprehensive, it denounced the two articles about studies by mainstream academics in the scientific literature, which provided less than alarming assessments of climate change.

Strangely, the letter was simultaneously leaked to The Guardian {who wrote about it on 21 April}. The episode gives a rare glimpse into the world of “climate change communications”, a branch of heavily funded spin-doctoring that is keen to shut down debate about the science of climate change.

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Science into agitprop: “Climate Change Is Strangling Our Oceans”

Summary:  The public policy debate about climate science shows the dysfunctional nature of the US media. It’s one reason why making effective public policy has become difficult or impossible. Here’s another example of how propaganda has contaminated the news reporting of this vital subject, looking at stories about a new study of our oceans.

Oxygen loss in the oceans

Image courtesy Matthew Long, NCAR. It is freely available for media use.

NCAR’s press research accurately describes the paper: “Widespread loss of ocean oxygen to become noticeable in 2030s” (although it omits a crucial detail, mentioned below). Phil Plait at Slate turns this into agitprop:  “Climate Change Is Strangling Our Oceans“. His conclusion: ““messing with {the ocean} habitat is like setting fire to your own house. Which is pretty much what we’re doing.” Maddie Stone at Gizmodo also has a sensational headline “The Oceans Are Running Low on Oxygen” (the paper says nothing like that; for example, “detectable change” does not imply a “low” level).

To see how science becomes sensational propaganda let’s start by looking at the paper — “Finding forced trends in oceanic oxygen” by Matthew C. Long et al, Global Biogeochemical Cycles, February 2016. Ungated copy here. It is interesting and valuable research about climate dynamics. The abstract…

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