Tag Archives: climate change

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).



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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Paul Krugman sees the tactics of the Left, with horror!

Summary: In his column today Paul Krugman makes an important observation, although he’s oddly unaware of its full significance.

Paul Krugman

Paul Krugman. Creative Commons license.


Paul Krugman explains “Why I Haven’t Felt The Bern” — He complains about Team Sanders.

“In each case the story runs into big trouble if you do a bit of homework; if not completely wrong, it needs a lot of qualification. But the all-purpose response to anyone who raises questions is that she or he is a member of the establishment, personally corrupt, etc.. Ad hominem attacks aren’t a final line of defense, they’re argument #1.

“…It’s about an attitude, the sense that righteousness excuses you from the need for hard thinking and that any questioning of the righteous is treason …When you see Sanders supporters going over the top about “corporate whores” and such, you’re not seeing a mysterious intrusion of bad behavior into an idealistic movement; you’re seeing the intolerance that was always just under the surface of the movement, right from the start.”

He complains about unfair tactics of the Left, the same tactics that the Left’s climate activists have used to all who challenge their apocalyptic news stories — which go far beyond anything in the IPCC’s reports. He describes them quite accurately, showing (again) that although he is a brilliant economist, he is lacks self-awareness.

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