Published: Mon, 27 Feb 2017 00:00:00 -0500
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Wed, 08 Feb 2017 13:40:00 -0500The Climate Leadership Council, a group of conservative stalwarts, has just released its carbon dividends proposal as a way to address the man-made climate change problem. They accept that man-made global warming could become a significant problem for humanity later in this century. In order to mitigate that risk, they propose a carbon dividends plan that rests upon four pillars: (1) a gradually increasing carbon tax, (2) carbon dividends for all Americans, (3) border carbon tax adjustments, and (4) the elimination of all current top-down climate change regulations. The CLC folks envision the carbon dividend plan as collecting a carbon tax beginning at about $40 per ton at the wellhead, minehead, or import terminal. The tax would gradually and predictably increase over time enabling innovators, businesses and consumers to take future energy prices into account as they make their plans. The CLC group calculates that the tax would initially garner $200 and $300 billion which they estimate would yield about $2,000 annually in dividends for a family of four. All of the tax proceeds would be distributed on an equal and quarterly basis via dividend checks, direct deposits or contributions to their individual retirement accounts. The CLC cites a Treasury Department estimate that the bottom 70 percent of Americans would come out ahead under their proposal. "Carbon dividends would increase the disposable income of the majority of Americans while disproportionately helping those struggling to make ends meet," they calculate. Border adjustments to prevent free-riding would be made to goods imported from countries without comparable carbon taxes and rebates made to American exporters whose goods are subject to comparable foreign carbon taxes. Border adjustment proceeds would be added to the quarterly carbon dividends paid to Americans. The carbon tax and dividend program would entirely replace the EPA's current tangle of intrusive, burdensome, and expensive regulations on carbon emissions. Specifically what regulations would be eliminated? The CLC group argues for getting rid of the Obama Administration's Clean Power Plan that would have required electric power generation companies to cut their carbon dioxide emissions an average 30 percent by 2030. Adopting the carbon dividend proposal would also justify eliminating all green energy subsidies and tax preferences and all energy efficiency standards. In addition, the Corporate Average Fuel Economy Standards (CAFE) and state renewable energy portfolio standards could be dumped. As result, the CLC folks argue that their carbon dividend proposal will shrink the overall size of government and steamline the regulatory state. Recognizing the vexed politics concerning climate change, the CLC folks note that all four pillars of their proposal must be adopted. They state: For the elimination of heavy-handed climate regulations to withstand the test of time and not prove highly divisive, they must be replaced by a market-based alternative. Our policy is uniquely suited to building bipartisan and public support for a significant regulatory rollback. It is essential that the one-to-one relationship between carbon tax revenue and dividends be maintained as the plan's longevity, popularity and transparency all hinge on this. Allocating carbon tax proceeds to other purposes would undermine popular support for a gradually rising carbon tax and the broader rationale for far-reaching regulatory reductions. According to The New York Times, CLC member James Baker who served as Reagan's Treasury Secretary is scheduled to discuss the plan today with Vice President Mike Pence, Jared Kushner, the senior adviser to the president, and Gary D. Cohn, director of the National Economic Council, as well as Ivanka Trump.[...]
Wed, 08 Feb 2017 11:15:00 -0500Did National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration researchers rush and manipulate data back in 2015 in order to publish a high-impact study in Science disproving the notion that the rate of man-made global warming has slowed significantly after 2000? That is certainly the way that an explosive article at the Daily Mail portrayed the claims by prominent and just retired NOAA data slinger John Bates against his former (also now retired) colleague Tom Karl. Characterizing Bates as a whistleblower, the Mail reported that Bates ... ...accused the lead author of the paper, Thomas Karl, who was until last year director of the NOAA section that produces climate data – the National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI) – of 'insisting on decisions and scientific choices that maximised warming and minimised documentation… in an effort to discredit the notion of a global warming pause, rushed so that he could time publication to influence national and international deliberations on climate policy'. Specifically, Karl and his colleagues in their "pausebuster" 2015 study used improperly archived and vetted data on sea surface and land temperature trends that showed considerably more warming than other datasets did at the time. "The central estimate for the rate of warming during the first 15 years of the 21st century is at least as great as the last half of the 20th century. These results do not support the notion of a 'slowdown' in the increase of global surface temperature," concluded the study. Bates' claims have reignited the debate over just how "settled" the science of man-made climate change is. Interestingly, Energy & Environment News reports that in an interview with Bates that he expressed a "significantly more nuanced take" about what happened with the NOAA data than the one found in the Mail. According to E&E News: Bates accused former colleagues of rushing their research to publication, in defiance of agency protocol. He specified that he did not believe that they manipulated the data upon which the research relied in any way. "The issue here is not an issue of tampering with data, but rather really of timing of a release of a paper that had not properly disclosed everything it was," he said. On the other hand, it is the plain fact that Bates did assert in a his February 4 post "Climate scientists versus climate data" over at the invaluable Climate Etc. website run by climate researcher Judith Curry that Karl had put his thumb on the scale by urging colleagues to make adjustments to the temperature data that maximized warming. So what claim is Bates really making? Did Karl and colleagues purposedly manipulate the data to get the result they wanted or were they just irresponsibly sloppy and less transparent than they should have been about what they had done? Or is Bates saying he thinks that the sloppiness and lack of transparency was deliberately used to hide data manipulation? All too predictably, this contretemps has most everyone rushing to find data that confirms what they already think. "No Data Manipulation in 2015 Climate Study, Researchers Say," headlines The New York Times. "As planet warms, doubters launch a new attack on famous climate change study," reports The Washington Post. "House Committee to 'Push Ahead' With Investigation Into Alleged Climate Data Manipulation at NOAA," reports The Daily Caller, citing claims from Committee on Science, Space and Technology aides that other unnamed NOAA whistleblowers are coming forward. Fox News headlines, "Federal scientist cooked the climate change books ahead of Obama presentation, whistle blower charges." Defenders of Karl's 2015 NOAA article rightly point to an independent Science Advances study just published in January that basically concluded that the study's temperature adjustments were properly done and that the increase in sea surface temperatures had not slowed down after 2000. That being said, it is a bit puzzling that the Science Advances study does not cite another prominent study from Nature Climate Chang[...]
Mon, 06 Feb 2017 13:20:00 -0500The Daily Mail reports that climate scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration manipulated temperature data to make it look like the rate of global warming is speeding up after 2000. Their study published in 2015 in Science called into question the existence of the 17-year long "hiatus" during which the increase in global average temperature had significantly slowed. In its 2013 comprehensive Fifth Assessment Report, even the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change noted, "The rate of warming of the observed global mean surface temperature over the period from 1998 to 2012 is estimated to be around one-third to one-half of the trend over the period from 1951 to 2012." The NOAA study instead found that the oceans are warming at 0.12 degrees Celsius (0.22 degrees Fahrenheit) per decade since 2000, which is nearly twice as fast as earlier estimates of 0.07 degrees Celsius per decade. This rate is similar to the warming that occurred between 1970 and 1999. The goal of 2015 Science study, according to the Mail, was to convince policy makers and the public of the need to adopt what would become the Paris Agreement on climate change that aims to keep global temperature from rising beyond 2 degrees Celsius above the pre-industrial average. This goal would be achieved chiefly by curbing the emissions of carbon dioxide produced by burning oil, gas, and coal. The Mail's reporting relies chiefly on claims being made by now-retired NOAA climate scientist John Bates whose expertise is verifying and archiving data. In an interview with the Mail, Bates is quoted as accusing.... ...the lead author of the paper, Thomas Karl, who was until last year director of the NOAA section that produces climate data – the National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI) – of 'insisting on decisions and scientific choices that maximised warming and minimised documentation… in an effort to discredit the notion of a global warming pause, rushed so that he could time publication to influence national and international deliberations on climate policy'. According to Bates, both the sea surface and land temperature data were adjusted at the insistence of now retired NOAA researcher Tom Karl in ways that created specious warming trends and that both are now being reviewed to see if corrections are warranted. Bates also asserts that the data on which the 2015 study was based were not properly archived such that other researchers would be able to check what was done to the data. So settled science? Not hardly. In February 2016, Nature Climate Change published an article by a prominent group of researchers led by Canadian climate scientist John Fyfe that concluded that global warming hiatus is real and thus strongly contradicted Karl's 2015 Science study: It has been claimed that the early-2000s global warming slowdown or hiatus, characterized by a reduced rate of global surface warming, has been overstated, lacks sound scientific basis, or is unsupported by observations. The evidence presented here contradicts these claims. The above figure by Fyfe and his colleagues compares three different surface temperature records with 124 simulations from 41 different climate models. As you can see the models are running hotter than the actual temperature trends and the pace of warming did slow down after 2000. As Nature News reported: "There is this mismatch between what the climate models are producing and what the observations are showing," says lead author John Fyfe, a climate modeller at the Canadian Centre for Climate Modelling and Analysis in Victoria, British Columbia. "We can't ignore it." Next in this saga of data slinging is a new study published in Science Advances just last month by the researchers from the Berkeley Earth group that concludes that the adjustments made under the direction of Karl at NOAA are basically correct. Today over at Carbon Brief, lead Berkeley Earth researcher Zeke Hausfather notes that the Daily Mail article failed to mention his study whic[...]
Fri, 03 Feb 2017 15:00:00 -0500
(image) Every month climatologists John Christy and Roy Spencer from the University of Alabama in Huntsville report global temperature trends based on satellite-based instruments that measure the temperature of the atmosphere from the surface up to an altitude of about eight kilometers above sea level. The based on th latest data, they report that while temperatures in the tropical atmosphere continued to drop in January as temperatures there moved closer to their long-term averages, the composite temperatures over both hemispheres bumped slightly warmer in January, especially in the higher latitudes.
Global Temperature Report: January 2017
Tropics cool in January; globe doesn't
Global climate trend since Nov. 16, 1978: +0.12 C per decade
January temperatures (preliminary)
Global composite temp.: +0.30 C (about 0.54 degrees Fahrenheit) above 30-year average for January.
Northern Hemisphere: +0.27 C (about 0.49 degrees Fahrenheit) above 30-year average for January.
Southern Hemisphere: +0.33 C (about 0.59 degrees Fahrenheit) above 30-year average for January.
Tropics: +0.07 C (about 0.13 degrees Fahrenheit) above 30-year average for January.
The researchers add that in the Northern Hemisphere, pockets of warmer than normal air were especially pronounced over the eastern U.S., Canada and the North Atlantic. In the Southern Hemisphere, Australia and a large area of southern ocean between South America and New Zealand were warmer than normal. the month of January, 2017.
Wed, 25 Jan 2017 01:10:00 -0500
(image) As of midnight January 24, the Environmental Protection Agency's climate change webpage and links were still up and operating. Among the important data that the agency collects and maintains is the inventory of greenhouse gas emissions trends in the United States. It is true that the EPA website is reporting the consensus view that climate change in recent decades is largely the result of increases in atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases generated from burning fossil fuels. But slashing and burning data that both skeptics and alarmists use would be stupid.
U.S. President Donald Trump's administration has instructed the Environmental Protection Agency to remove the climate change page from its website, two agency employees told Reuters, the latest move by the newly minted leadership to erase ex-President Barack Obama's climate change initiatives.
The employees were notified by EPA officials on Tuesday that the administration had instructed EPA's communications team to remove the website's climate change page, which contains links to scientific global warming research, as well as detailed data on emissions. The page could go down as early as Wednesday, the sources said.
Climate science is politicized from top-to-bottom. Of course, the current holdover EPA website is promoting Obama administration policies aimed at cutting greenhouse gases that President Trump has vowed to overturn. Obviously, those webpages will change as the new administration develops its own plans and policies. In contrast to views of those advising the Trump administration, the Obama administration also argued that climate model projections are sufficiently robust to guide policy.
If Reuters' sources are accurate, it's pretty clear that the haste with which Trump and his minions are acting is meant to send a strong signal to the permanent bureaucracy that there's a new sheriff in town. Presumably the actual data on things such as sources and amounts of greenhouse gases are not being erased and access to them will be restored quickly. It will be interesting to see how "alternative" the new Trump administration's EPA climate change webpages will turn out to be.
Fri, 20 Jan 2017 13:30:00 -0500"Donald Trump is a climate menace, no doubt about it," asserts Greenpeace U.K. spokesperson John Sauven. "President-elect Donald Trump threatens our environment and we vow to fight him every step of the way," declares Kate Colwell from Friends of the Earth. The Union of Concerned Scientists Research Director Gretchen Goldman warns, "It is hard to imagine a Trump administration where science won't be politicized." It is the case that in a 2014 tweet Trump notoriously asked, "Is our country still spending money on the GLOBAL WARMING HOAX?" In 2012, Trump tweeted that the concept of global warming had been created by the Chinese to make American manufacturing noncompetitive. During the presidential campaign, he vowed that he would "cancel" the Paris Agreement on climate change. Being his usual consistently inconsistent self, Trump claimed during a Fox News interview last year that the Chinese tweet was a "joke," and he told The New York Times after the election that he would keep an "open mind" about the Paris Agreement. Yet none of Trump's cabinet picks seem to agree that man-made climate change is hoax. In the hearings for various cabinet nominees, Democrats have sought valiantly to unmask them as "climate change deniers." So far, not one has questioned the scientific reality of man-made global warming. On the other hand, they have tended not to be as alarmed as their interlocutors, and/or have failed to endorse the climate policies that Democrats prefer. Take Scott Pruitt. The Oklahoma attorney-general, nominated to run the Environmental Protection Agency, stated flatly: "I do not believe that climate change is a hoax." He added, "Science tells us the climate is changing and human activity in some manner impacts that change. The ability to measure and pursue the degree and the extent of that impact and what to do about it are subject to continuing debate and dialogue." Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) was particularly annoyed that Pruitt pointed to uncertainties about the future course of warming. But those uncertainties are real. The latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) argues that warming will continue unless GHG emissions are curbed, but it also notes that "the projected size of those changes cannot be precisely predicted." IPCC further observed that "some underlying physical processes are not yet completely understood, making them difficult to model." Pruitt is one of the 27 state attorneys-general that are challenging the legality of President Obama's Clean Power Plan (CPP), which would require electric utilities to cut their emissions of carbon dioxide by 30 percent below their 2005 levels by 2030. The Supreme Court stayed the implementation of the CPP last February, which indicates that Pruitt and his fellow attorneys-general have substantial legal grounds to challenge that EPA regulation. In November, the eco-modernist think tank the Breakthrough Institute released a study that suggested that the U.S. could well speed up its GHG reduction trends if the CPP was abandoned. Other nominees asked about their views on climate change include former ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson (nominated to run the State Department), Montana Rep. Ryan Zinke (Interior Department); Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions (Justice Department); businessman Wilbur Ross (Commerce Department); and former Texas governor Rick Perry (Energy Department). Tillerson testified, "I came to the decision a few years ago that the risk of climate change does exist and the consequences could be serious enough that it warrants action." Zinke similarly declared that he does not believe climate change is "hoax." Sessions offered, "I don't deny that we have global warming. In fact, the theory of it always struck me as plausible, and it's the question of how much is happening and what the reaction would be to it." Ross would head the department in charge of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration t[...]
Fri, 20 Jan 2017 13:30:00 -0500
(image) In a 2014 tweet Donald Trump notoriously asked, "Is our country still spending money on the GLOBAL WARMING HOAX?" In 2012, Trump tweeted that the concept of global warming had been created by the Chinese to make American manufacturing noncompetitive. During the presidential campaign, he vowed that he would "cancel" the Paris Agreement on climate change. Being his usual consistently inconsistent self, Trump claimed during a Fox News interview last year that the Chinese tweet was a "joke," and he told The New York Times after the election that he would keep an "open mind" about the Paris Agreement.
Yet none of Trump's cabinet picks seem to agree that man-made climate change is hoax.
In the hearings for various cabinet nominees, Democrats have sought mightily to unmask them as "climate change deniers." So far, not one has questioned the scientific reality of man-made global warming. On the other hand, they have tended not to be as alarmed as their interlocutors, and/or have failed to endorse the climate policies that Democrats prefer.
Wed, 18 Jan 2017 14:00:00 -0500During the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works hearing today on Oklahoma State Attorney-General Scott Pruitt's nomination to become administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency various Democratic senators focused on his understanding of the science behind climate change. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) was the most impassioned in his questioning. For the most part, Pruitt reiterated each time he was questioned that "science tells us that the climate is changing and that human activity in some manner impacts that change." He added, "The ability to measure with precision the degree and extent of that impact and what to do about it are subject to continuing debate and dialogue, and well it should be." Asked if he agreed President-elect Donald Trump's 2014 tweet that climate change is "a hoax," Pruitt replied, "I do not believe that climate change is a hoax." As The Hill reported: Sanders kept pushing, saying that there is no scientific debate, and eventually asking Pruitt what his personal opinion on the matter is. "My personal opinion is immaterial to the job I'm carrying out," said Pruitt, the current attorney general of Oklahoma. With regard to Pruitt's nomination, Niskanen Center libertarian policy shop president Jerry Taylor observes: With Republicans in charge of the White House and Congress, conservatives no longer need to fear that acknowledging climate change will usher in a parade of policy horribles. They now control the parameters of the debate, which provides them a tremendous opportunity to address one of the greatest threats mankind faces over the next century in an economically responsible manner. Mr. Pruitt's confirmation should ride on whether he's interested in that project or not. Pruitt is right that there is some debate among researchers with regard to the degree and impact that man-made climate change is having now and in the future. Just last year, one group of researchers reported that the global warming hiatus is real while another one found earlier this month that the hiatus never happened. Sounds suspiciously like a debate, doesn't it? Sen. Sanders tried to get Pruitt to endorse the notion that climate scientists all back the goal of deeply cutting the emissions of greenhouse gases. In fact, most climate scientists probably do favor such policies, and they are entitled to their opinions on the economic and energy technology tradeoffs implied, but their views are certainly not dispositive. In other words, there is a debate about how best to address the problem of man-made climate change.[...]
Wed, 18 Jan 2017 11:30:00 -0500The folks at the University of Alabama in Huntsville who are in charge of the satellite temperature dataset that starts in 1979 declared 2016 as the warmest year in that record earlier this month. Now the researchers at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and NASA have released their data and both also report that 2016 is the hottest year in their land and sea datasets stretching back to the 19th century. From NOAA: During 2016, the average temperature across global land and ocean surfaces was 1.69°F (0.94°C) above the 20th century average. This was the highest among all 137 years in the 1880–2016 record, surpassing the previous record set last year by 0.07°F (0.04°C). The first eight months of the year had record high temperatures for their respective months. Since the start of the 21st century, the annual global temperature record has been broken five times (2005, 2010, 2014, 2015, and 2016). The record warmth in 2016 was broadly spread around the world. During 2016, the globally-averaged land surface temperature was 2.57°F (1.43°C) above the 20th century average. This was the highest among all years in the 1880–2016 record, surpassing the previous record of 2015 by 0.18°F (0.10°C). ... During 2016, the globally-averaged sea surface temperature was 1.35°F (0.75°C) above the 20th century average. This was the highest among all years in the 1880–2016 record, surpassing the previous record of last year by 0.02°F (0.01°C). From NASA: Earth's 2016 surface temperatures were the warmest since modern recordkeeping began in 1880, according to independent analyses by NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Globally-averaged temperatures in 2016 were 1.78 degrees Fahrenheit (0.99 degrees Celsius) warmer than the mid-20th century mean. This makes 2016 the third year in a row to set a new record for global average surface temperatures. The 2016 temperatures continue a long-term warming trend, according to analyses by scientists at NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) in New York. NOAA scientists concur with the finding that 2016 was the warmest year on record based on separate, independent analyses of the data. Because weather station locations and measurement practices change over time, there are uncertainties in the interpretation of specific year-to-year global mean temperature differences. However, even taking this into account, NASA estimates 2016 was the warmest year with greater than 95 percent certainty. ... Not only was 2016 the warmest year on record, but eight of the 12 months that make up the year — from January through September, with the exception of June — were the warmest on record for those respective months. October, November, and December of 2016 were the second warmest of those months on record — in all three cases, behind records set in 2015. According to their data, the NASA researchers report most of the warming occurred in the past 35 years, with 16 of the 17 warmest years on record occurring since 2001. While now all three U.S. temperature records show this past year as the hottest, researchers disagree on its significance. For example, in a statement NOAA researcher Gavin Schmidt observes: "2016 is remarkably the third record year in a row in this series. We don't expect record years every year, but the ongoing long-term warming trend is clear." On the other hand, in a press release satellite temperature UAH researcher John Christy asserted, "The question is, does 2016's record warmth mean anything scientifically? I suppose the answer is, not really. Both 1998 and 2016 are anomalies, outliers, and in both cases we have an easily identifiable cause for that anomaly: A powerful El Niño Pacific Ocean warming event. While El Niños are natural climatic events, they also are transient. In the study of c[...]
Tue, 10 Jan 2017 12:30:00 -0500Most environmental activist groups are resolutely opposed to allowing experiments that aim to test and develop various geoengineering ideas as an emergency backup cooling plan for the earth. For example, the Friends of the Earth want a global moratorium on any such experiments. Why? Geoengineering conflicts with sustainable and just solutions to the climate crisis," declares FOE. "Real climate justice requires dealing with root causes of climate change, not launching risky, unproven and unjust schemes." One of the more intriguing ideas is to reflect sunlight back into space as way to cool the planet. In one proposal the stratosphere is seeded with reflective sulfur dioxide particles. The eruption of the Mt. Pinatubo volcano that injected millions of tons of sulfur dioxide into the stratosphere in 1992 functioned as a natural experiment that lowered global average temperature by around 0.7 degree Celsius for several months. Another proposal is to have specially designed ships spray seawater into the air so that salt particles functioning as cloud nuclei can whiten, and thus make more reflective, low-level maritime clouds. At the Marrakech United Nations climate change conference in November, Cambridge University researchers Hugh Hunt and Peter Wadhams expressed their frustration with environmentalist obstructionism with regard to geoengineering experiments to test the feasibility of cooling the climate. Neither is in favor of geoengineering as the first resort, but that humanity should have some idea if it would work should global average temperature rise faster and produce worse consequences than currently projected. They discussed one possible experiment in which maritime clould whitening might be tried at a relatively small scale at the edge of the Arctic sea ice to see if it could reverse the recent steep decline in Arctic summer sea ice. Protests from Green activists in 2011 managed to derail the SPICE experiment (Stratospheric Particle Injection for Climate Enginieering) in which researchers would hoist a hose using balloons a kilometer into the air to spray water vapor. The goal was merely to see if such a pipeline would work. Amusingly, some activists have scheduled a Global March Against Geoengineering (and Chemtrails) for April 23 this year. Cowed by activists and beholden to the misbegotten precautionary principle, the U.S. government has not sanctioned research on an emergency backup cooling system. That may change. As President Obama is departing, U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP) has just issued it National Global Change Research Plan 2012–2021: A Triennial Update that opens the door a tiny crack to such research. The USGCRP is not endorsing experiments but does note: While climate intervention cannot substitute for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and adapting to the changes in climate that occur, some types of deliberative climate intervention may someday be one of a portfolio of tools used in managing climate change. The need to understand the possibilities, limitations, and potential side effects of climate intervention becomes all the more apparent with the recognition that other countries or the private sector may decide to conduct intervention experiments independently from the U.S. Government. An immediate next step for USGCRP is defining the scale and scope of observations and modeling capabilities necessary to detect the signal of any future field experiments above baseline conditions and natural variability, and to evaluate their consequences. Such research would also define the smallest scale of intervention experiments that would yield meaningful scientific understanding. USGCRP will use its scientific understanding of natural processes, such as natural carbon sequestration or dynamics of atmospheric particulates, to inform potential pathw[...]
Mon, 09 Jan 2017 16:40:00 -0500President Barack Obama declared that "one of the reasons I ran for this office was to make America a leader in this mission" to address the problem of man-made climate change. He made this claim to a legacy last October when the Paris Agreement on climate change achieved enough signatories to come into effect. Also in his statement hailing the Paris Agreement, Obama noted that "the skeptics said these actions would kill jobs." Yet, he noted that even as U.S. carbon dioxide levels fell to their lowest levels in two decades, more jobs were created. Now, as a parting shot, President Obama writes an article today, "The irreversible momentum of clean energy," in the journal Science. In his article, President Obama apparently believes that the irreversible momentum of clean energy is all gain and no pain. First, he correctly notes the decoupling over the past 8 years of energy and carbon emissions from economic growth in the U.S. economy. He writes: Since 2008, the United States has experienced the first sustained period of rapid GHG emissions reductions and simultaneous economic growth on record. Specifically, CO2 emissions from the energy sector fell by 9.5% from 2008 to 2015, while the economy grew by more than 10%. In this same period, the amount of energy consumed per dollar of real gross domestic product (GDP) fell by almost 11%, the amount of CO2 emitted per unit of energy consumed declined by 8%, and CO2 emitted per dollar of GDP declined by 18%. These figures are from the Economic Report of the President 2017, but comparing them with the preceding 8 years (2000 to 2007) shows a somewhat less rosy picture. For example, according to St. Louis Federal Reserve Bank U.S. real GDP grew by 15 percent between 2000 and 2007 and by 13.5 percent between 2008 and 2015. According to the Energy Information Administration (EIA) energy use per dollar of real GDP declined by around 15 percent between 2000 and 2007 while falling by only 13 percent between 2008 and 2015. Also according the EIA, CO2 emitted per dollar did fall slightly faster (18 percent) than it did in the preceding period (14 percent between 2000 and 2007); most likely as the result of the recent switch from coal to cheap fracked natural gas and more wind power production to generate electricity. Interestingly, the president's article notes that lower CO2 emissions occurred as power plants switched from coal to natural gas which was "brought about primarily by increased availability of lower-cost gas due to new production techniques." Just couldn't bring himself to mention the f-word, fracking. Given the economic chaos generated by the financial crisis, it would be hard to draw any firm conclusions from comparing U.S. job creation between 2000-2007 period and the 2008-2015 period. Nevertheless, just as background, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that employment rose by 6.5 million in the first period and by 2.2 million in the second period. To be fair, U.S. employment rose from its 2010 nadir by 10.8 million by 2015. In his Science article, the president cites various studies that suggest in an increase of 4 degrees Celsius by 2100 would lower global GDP by as much as 5 percent below what it would otherwise have been without any man-made warming. To get some idea of what that would mean consider what would happen if current U.S. GDP of $16 trillion were to grow at the 2 percent per year rate experienced during the Obama administration from 2015 until 2100 in the absence of warming. By then U.S. GDP would exceed $86 trillion dollars. If global warming were to lower GDP by 5 percent that would mean that GDP in 2100 would be a little more than $4 trillon dollars lower at $82 trillion. Now if the U.S. economy were to grow at the historical average of 3 percent per year, GDP in 2100 would stand a[...]
Thu, 05 Jan 2017 07:30:00 -0500A new study bolsters the controversial 2015 study by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) researchers that adjusted sea surface temperatures in an attempt to take account of measurement changes from ships to scientific buoys. After the adjustments were made to the record, the researchers reported: Here we present an updated global surface temperature analysis that reveals that global trends are higher than reported by the IPCC, especially in recent decades, and that the central estimate for the rate of warming during the first 15 years of the 21st century is at least as great as the last half of the 20th century. These results do not support the notion of a "slowdown" in the increase of global surface temperature. The NOAA researchers concluded that the oceans are warming at 0.12 degrees Celsius (0.22 degrees Fahrenheit) per decade since 2000, which is nearly twice as fast as earlier estimates of 0.07 degrees Celsius per decade. This rate is similar the warming that occurred between 1970 and 1999. As I noted at the time: "It could be that everyone else is wrong and the new study is right; but it could be also that it is an exercise in confirmation bias. Only time and more research will tell." Interestingly, a February 2016 article by prominent proponents of man-made climate change in the journal Nature Climate Change essentially contradicted the NOAA study and reported: It has been claimed that the early-2000s global warming slowdown or hiatus, characterized by a reduced rate of global surface warming, has been overstated, lacks sound scientific basis, or is unsupported by observations. The evidence presented here contradicts these claims. As I noted at the time, Nature News reported: An apparent slowing in the rise of global temperatures at the beginning of the twenty-first century, which is not explained by climate models, was referred to as a "hiatus" or a "pause" when first observed several years ago. Climate-change sceptics have used this as evidence that global warming has stopped. But in June last year, a study in Science claimed that the hiatus was just an artefact which vanishes when biases in temperature data are corrected. Now a prominent group of researchers is countering that claim, arguing in Nature Climate Change that even after correcting these biases the slowdown was real. Now comes a new study in Science Advances by the independent group of researchers associated with Berkeley Earth which parses the sea surface data and finds that the adjustments made in the NOAA study are largely correct. The study notes that the modern buoys tend to have a cold bias compared to those made earlier by oceangoing ships. Once this bias is taken into account sea surface temperatures have been rising steadily which suggests that there has been no "hiatus" in global warming. The press release from the University of California, Berkeley notes: The new study, which uses independent data from satellites and robotic floats as well as buoys, concludes that the NOAA results were correct. The paper will be published Jan. 4 in the online, open-access journal Science Advances. "Our results mean that essentially NOAA got it right, that they were not cooking the books," said lead author Zeke Hausfather, a graduate student in UC Berkeley's Energy and Resources Group. ... "Only a small fraction of the ocean measurement data is being used by climate monitoring groups, and they are trying to smush together data from different instruments, which leads to a lot of judgment calls about how you weight one versus the other, and how you adjust for the transition from one to another," Hausfather said. "So we said, 'What if we create a temperature record just from the buoys, or just from the satellites, or just from the Argo fl[...]
Wed, 04 Jan 2017 12:05:00 -0500Climatologist and former chair of the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at the Georgia Institute of Technology Judith Curry has announced her resignation effective immediately on her blog, Climate, Etc. I have long found Curry to be an honest researcher and a fair-minded disputant in the ongoing debates over man-made climate change. She excelled at pointing out the uncertainties and deficiencies of climate modeling. Given the thoroughly politicized nature of climate science her efforts to clarify what is known and unknown by climate science caused her to be pilloried as "anti-science" by other researchers who are convinced that man-made global warming is leading toward catastrophe. In her blog annoucement Curry explains her resignation: A deciding factor was that I no longer know what to say to students and postdocs regarding how to navigate the CRAZINESS in the field of climate science. Research and other professional activities are professionally rewarded only if they are channeled in certain directions approved by a politicized academic establishment — funding, ease of getting your papers published, getting hired in prestigious positions, appointments to prestigious committees and boards, professional recognition, etc. How young scientists are to navigate all this is beyond me, and it often becomes a battle of scientific integrity versus career suicide (I have worked through these issues with a number of skeptical young scientists). Let me relate an interaction that I had with a postdoc about a month ago. She wanted to meet me, as an avid reader of my blog. She works in a field that is certainly relevant to climate science, but she doesn't identify as a climate scientist. She says she gets questioned all the time about global warming issues, and doesn't know what to say, since topics like attribution, etc. are not topics that she explores as a scientist. WOW, a scientist that knows the difference! I advised her to keep her head down and keep doing the research that she thinks interesting and important, and to stay out of the climate debate UNLESS she decides to dig in and pursue it intellectually. Personal opinions about the science and political opinions about policies that are sort of related to your research expertise are just that – personal and political opinions. Selling such opinions as contributing to a scientific consensus is very much worse than a joke. Curry adds that with her resignation her "fall from the ivory tower that started in 2005 is now complete." Curry continues, "At this point, the private sector seems like a more 'honest' place for a scientist working in a politicized field than universities or government labs — at least when you are your own boss." The good news is that Curry is not bowing out climate research and the climate change debate; she plans to continue and increase her blogging on climate research and climate policy. As she notes, "Once you detach from the academic mindset, publishing on the internet makes much more sense, and the peer review you can get on a technical blog is much more extensive. But peer review is not really the point; provoking people to think in new ways about something is really the point. In other words, science as process, rather than a collection of decreed 'truths.'" I advise everyone concerned about climate change research to attend to her blog. I certainly will continue to do so.[...]
Tue, 03 Jan 2017 17:15:00 -0500
(image) "Globally, 2016 edged out 1998 by +0.02 C to become the warmest year in the 38-year satellite temperature record," notes Dr. John Christy, director of the Earth System Science Center in a press release from The University of Alabama in Huntsville. Christy adds, "Because the margin of error is about 0.10 C, this would technically be a statistical tie, with a higher probability that 2016 was warmer than 1998. The main difference was the extra warmth in the Northern Hemisphere in 2016 compared to 1998." Globally, the atmopshere in 2016 was +0.505 C° warmer than the 30 year average (1981-2010) whereas 1998 was +0.484 C° warmer than that average.
Given that the satellite data trend tends to be lower than the trends based on thermometer readings from around the globe it is likely that other groups will also be declaring 2016 to be the warmest year in their records stretching back to the late 19th century. I'll report their results when they become available.
Global Temperature Report: December 2016
Global climate trend since Nov. 16, 1978: +0.12 C per decade
December temperatures (preliminary)
Global composite temp.: +0.24 C (about 0.43 degrees Fahrenheit) above 30-year average for December.
Northern Hemisphere: +0.19 C (about 0.34 degrees Fahrenheit) above 30-year average for December.
Southern Hemisphere: +0.30 C (about 0.54 degrees Fahrenheit) above 30-year average for December.
Tropics: +0.21 C (about 0.38 degrees Fahrenheit) above 30-year average for December.
"The question is, does 2016's record warmth mean anything scientifically?" Christy said in the press release. "I suppose the answer is, not really. Both 1998 and 2016 are anomalies, outliers, and in both cases we have an easily identifiable cause for that anomaly: A powerful El Niño Pacific Ocean warming event. While El Niños are natural climatic events, they also are transient. In the study of climate, we are more concerned with accurately identifying long-term temperature trends than we are with short-term spikes and dips, especially when those spikes and dips have easily identified natural causes.
"Some records catch our attention because we usually struggle to cope with rare events. For example, the Sept.-Nov. record heat and dryness in the southeastern U.S. (now a thing of the past) will be remembered more than the probability that 2016 edged 1998 in global temperatures. So, from the long-term perspective, 2016's record may be less noteworthy than where the month-to-month temperature settles out between warming and cooling events."
Mon, 19 Dec 2016 00:01:00 -0500Judging from the reaction to some of Donald Trump's Cabinet choices, there are two types of businesspeople Democrats distrust: those who behave as you would expect businesspeople to behave and those who don't. Neither Andrew Puzder nor Rex Tillerson has found many champions in the opposition party. Puzder, chosen to head the Department of Labor, is head of CKE Restaurants, parent company of the Hardee's and Carl's Jr. fast-food chains. In that job, he has learned a lot about hiring and managing employees—the "labor" that is the focus of the department's activities. For some reason, it comes as a shock to many people that Trump would nominate someone who opposes big increases in the minimum wage. "Instead of creating a living wage," Puzder wrote last year, "the fight for dramatic minimum-wage increases could leave millions with no wage at all." This happens to be standard economic theory. No less a liberal authority than Nobel laureate Paul Krugman, in 1998, mocked those "who very much want to believe that the price of labor—unlike that of gasoline, or of Manhattan apartments—can be set based on considerations of justice, not supply and demand." Puzder deserves credit for creating jobs: CKE and its franchisees employ some 90,000 people. Not surprisingly, he doesn't like government dictates that raise his outlets' costs and reduce their profitability. He is candid about the advantages of machines, which, he has pointed out, never show up late or file lawsuits. His background gives him a different perspective than a labor activist would offer. But union champions rarely join Republican Cabinets. Unlike some Trump appointees—I'm looking at you, Ben Carson—Puzder won't need a crash course on the issues his department handles. Nor is he hostile to compromise. Based on an interview in March, the Los Angeles Times reported that "he's not against a minimum wage higher than today's federal level of $7.25 an hour, or even to indexing the minimum to inflation." Puzder could mitigate some of Trump's worst impulses. During the presidential campaign, he argued that "every candidate should support a path to legal status—short of citizenship—for illegal immigrants." Tillerson, picked for secretary of state, is not a cartoon version of the Texas oilman. As president of the Boy Scouts of America, he pushed to allow gay troop leaders. Exxon Mobil has donated to Planned Parenthood. The right-wing Family Research Council warns that Tillerson "may be the greatest ally liberals have in the Cabinet for their abortion and LGBT agendas." Most notably, he endorsed a carbon tax to combat global warming—and Exxon Mobil has lobbied Congress to pass one. Having someone with that viewpoint in the most important foreign policy job could be helpful to the planet. Critics think he will put the interests of big oil above those of the American public. But CEOs are not free agents. They are used to serving the interests of shareholders while catering to customers. As head of Exxon Mobil, Tillerson profited from high oil prices. But had he gone to Ford, he would have acquired a new preference for cheap fuel. There's no obvious reason that Tillerson can't similarly shift his allegiance to serving the public interest (to the extent his boss allows). Besides, his background invites merciless scrutiny of any decision that affects his old industry. He can expect to be held to a tougher standard on such matters than anyone else would be. Tillerson came to the president-elect's attention at the suggestion of Robert Gates, who served ably as defense secretary under George W. Bush and Barack Obama and endorsed Hillary Clinton. Gates' recommendation ought to carry bipartisan wei[...]