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Global Warming



All Reason.com articles with the "Global Warming" tag.



Published: Thu, 17 Aug 2017 00:00:00 -0400

Last Build Date: Thu, 17 Aug 2017 17:25:20 -0400

 



The Administrative State Strikes Back: Federal Climate Change Draft Report Leaked

Tue, 08 Aug 2017 14:25:00 -0400

A draft version of the U.S. Global Change Research Program Climate Science Special Report has been leaked to The New York Times. Notwithstanding the Times' alarmist headline suggesting "drastic" climate impacts on the U.S., a glance through the 545-page report finds that it is essentially an aggregation of climate change studies that support the scientific consensus that man-made global warming is occurring. According to the report, the global annual average temperature has increased by more than 1.6°F (0.9°C) from 1880 to 2015; the average annual temperature of the contiguous U.S. has increased by about 1.2°F (0.7°C) between 1901 and 2015. Climate models project increases of at least 2.5°F (1.4°C) over the next few decades, which means that recent record-setting years in the U.S. will be relatively "common" in the near future. The report concurs with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's conclusion that it is "extremely likely that most of the global mean temperature increase since 1951 was caused by human influence on the climate." The report also finds that extremely cold days in the U.S. have become fewer while the number of extremely hot days has increased. In addition, extreme percipitation events have become more common in the U.S. The report notes that there is still considerable controversy among researchers when it comes to future trends in hurricane frequency and intensity. Politicians, like most people, don't want to hear bad news that appears to contradict their views. The saga of how the the first National Climate Assessment fared under the George W. Bush administration is cautionary tale. Basically, Bush administration officials edited the report in ways that suggested greater uncertainty about scientific findings than the researchers who put together the report thought were warranted. That effort backfired when the administration's artful editing was leaked to and reported by the media. The new report states that "it does not include an assessment of the literature on climate change mitigation, adaptation, economic valuation, or societal responses, nor does it include policy recommendations." This appears to be accurate, though the report does note that "significant reductions in global CO2 emissions relative to present-day emission rates" would be needed to meet the Paris Agreement on Climate Change's goal of limiting future warming to below 2°C. Scientific data can identify a problem, but they do not tell policy makers the right way to handle a problem. Maybe the best thing to do is to let emissions increase while growing the economy as fast possible, so as to create the wealth and technologies that will enable future generations to deal with whatever problems climate change may generate. Or perhaps more research needs to be directed toward developing cheap low-carbon energy technologies. The report was no doubt leaked by someone with an agenda, and I don't blame anyone in the Trump administration who thinks a shadow science group of Obama leftovers is trying to thwart what it perceives as the president's climate and energy policies. In any case, since that the draft report is available to anyone with an internet connection, it would be ridiculous for officials to try to "suppress" it now. Update: Climate report found over at Internet Archive. Fox News cites several researchers who assert that that means it's been public for months. When the National Academy of Sciences released its report evaluating the process for how the draft Special Report was put together, I did a fairly extensive online search for the draft report and could not find it. Even now over at the official federal U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP) website the link to any copy of the report appears to be absent - maybe because the comment period is over? Even so, why not leave the report available on the website for interested members of the public to read? The final report is supposed to be released by August 18. Assuming that the deadline is met, it will be interesting to see what changes have been made in t[...]



Why the Left Can't Solve Global Warming

Fri, 28 Jul 2017 09:55:00 -0400

Environmentalists have been waxing apocalyptic about global warming for several decades now. But what do they have to show for it? America's president just pulled out of the Paris climate accord, leaving a rudderless and bereft global movement. And even if he hadn't, the nation has little appetite for meaningful political action on climate change. Why have environmentalists failed so utterly to push their cause forward after all this time? Because they've gone about it all wrong. Instead of treating global warming like a problem that needs to be addressed regardless of what caused it, the green left has been more obsessed with establishing humanity's culpability and embracing ever more extreme and painful mitigation steps, as if they were more concerned with punishing the perpetrators than solving the problem. Global warming guru Al Gore in 1992 called for the elimination of the internal combustion engine from the planet in 25 years. But the accursed engine is nowhere close to going away given that auto sales (and not hybrids and electrics) are projected to grow for decades to come. Many environmentalists want to eradicate fossil fuels. This will never happen—or at least won't happen for a long, long time—especially in emerging economies that need cheap fuel to spur development and deliver decent living standards. Undeterred, liberals are now saying that we should save the planet by having fewer kids, each of whom creates 58 tons of carbon dioxide each year (more for American parents). This is a ludicrous suggestion that will further drive a wedge between middle-class Americans who live for their families and yuppie, green Americans who live for the enviroment. But the further problem with all these remedies is that they suffer from what's called the collective action problem. Take, for example, forgoing children: If some people forgo but others don't, the former will suffer a deep personal loss and the planet will be no better off. Hence everyone waits for someone else to go first and the "solution" doesn't even get off the ground. If environmentalists want to succeed, they'll have to begin by transforming their own attitudes, focusing less on asking people to sacrifice to save the planet, and focusing much more on smart technological solutions that solve our climate problem without asking so much from us. Morally shaming people into voluntary action doesn't work. And the more attached people are to the things that they are being shamed into giving up, the less effective this strategy. Environmentalists' other strategy to overcome the collective action problem is government coercion to force polluters to cease and desist. But governments, especially democratic ones, don't have carte blanche to inflict endless pain on their citizens without being booted out. That's why Europe's cap-and-trade scheme—under which each industry got a free carbon quota beyond which it had to buy offsets from less polluting companies with permits to spare—has shown pathetic results. Countries simply gamed the program to give their industries a reprieve. A global carbon tax, though in theory a less messy solution, has even less chance of ever being embraced for all kinds of reasons, including that poor countries will expect rich countries to impose a higher tax because they caused the problem in the first place, while rich countries will expect poor countries to shoulder more of the burden as they are currently the bigger polluters. (Given that many global warming warriors fancy themselves to be progressives fighting for the underdog, they should bear in mind that in this battle, might will prevail over right and poor countries will have to face the brunt.) If the environmental movement is serious about addressing climate change, it will have to forget about the fact that humans caused (and are causing) the warming and think of our problem like a meteor strike—a catastrophic event that humanity did not cause but from which it has to be saved. In other words, enviros will have to look for technological fixes[...]



What the Left Is Doing Wrong in Fighting Global Warming: New at Reason

Fri, 28 Jul 2017 09:55:00 -0400

After three decades of trying, the environmental left is nowhere close to solving global warming. For reasonable people that would be time enough to(image) fundamentally rethink their strategy.

But not for this movement, notes Reason Foundation Senior Analyst Shikha Dalmia.

It keeps demanding ever more outrageous sacrifices on the part of its fellow humans, the latest being that they should have fewer children. But if the movement hasn't succeeded in forcing people to give up their cars and ACs, how in the name of Gaia will it ever get them to give up kids? It's whole approach is riddled with the collective action problem.

There are ways to overcome it and avert planetary catastrophe. But that'll require the greens to give up the blame game and think of global warming more like a meteor strike: An event humanity didn't cause but from which it has to be saved.




Why Does the Left Keep Losing Its Fight Against Global Warming?

Mon, 24 Jul 2017 10:40:00 -0400

For three decades, environmentalists have been claiming that if we don't do something—and fast—to fight global warming, we'll all turn into pumpkins by(image) the end of the century or so. Yet they've made very little headway in getting humanity to act on their suggested remedies. Their latest recommendation is that people should have fewer children.

But I note in my morning column at The Week, the problem with all their "solutions" is that they suffer from the collective action problem, namely getting people to make painful sacrifices without knowing if others will follow suit. For example, if some people forgo children but others don't, the former will suffer a deep personal loss and the planet will be no better off. Hence everyone waits for someone else to go first and the "solution" doesn't even get off the ground.

I note:

If the environmental movement is serious about addressing climate change, it will have to forget about the fact that humans caused (and are causing) the warming and think of our problem like a meteor strike — a catastrophic event that humanity did not cause but from which it has to be saved. In other words, enviros will have to look for technological fixes that don't depend on the environmental equivalent of Mao's cultural revolution to get people to embrace carbon-free lifestyles.

Go here to read the whole thing.




Apocalypse Abuse and 'Climate Doomism'

Thu, 13 Jul 2017 14:00:00 -0400

"There is a seduction in apocalyptic thinking. If one lives in the Last Days, one's actions, one's very life, take on historical meaning and no small measure of poignance," Eric Zencey wrote in 1988. "Apocalypticism fulfills a desire to escape the flow of real and ordinary time, to fix the flow of history into a single moment of overwhelming importance." Lawrence Buell has called apocalypse "the single most powerful master metaphor that the contemporary environmental imagination has at its disposal." The seduction of apocalyptic thinking is on full and lurid display in David Wallace-Wells' article "The Uninhabitable Earth," published in New York magazine earlier this week. The subtitle says it all: "Famine, economic collapse, a sun that cooks us: What climate change could wreak—sooner than you think." Wallace-Wells is engaging in "apocalypse abuse," a term I believe I first encountered in Edith Efron's magnificent and prescient book The Apocalyptics. As I wrote in my 1993 book Eco-Scam, "'apocalypse abusers' typically extrapolate only the most horrendous trends, while systematically ignoring any ameliorating or optimistic ones, offering worst-case scenarios in the guise of balanced presentations." "It is, I promise, worse than you think," Wallace-Wells begins. "Indeed, absent a significant adjustment to how billions of humans conduct their lives, parts of the Earth will likely become close to uninhabitable, and other parts horrifically inhospitable, as soon as the end of this century." Instead of relying on more mainstream projections, Wallace-Wells cherry-picks the worst-case scenarios for melting glaciers, rising sea levels, temperature increases, crop failures, species extinctions, and more. Reacting in a Facebook post, the Penn State climatologist Michael Mann—not a man who's known to underplay the dangers of man-made climate change—declared: "Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. The article fails to produce it." Mann followed up today with a Washington Post op-ed. Wallace-Wells, he writes, "paints an overly bleak picture, arguing that climate change could render the Earth uninhabitable by the end of this century." He cites several examples of how the New York piece misleads readers, including its misrepresentations about the dangers posed by methane trapped arctic permafrost and recent adjustments to satellite temperature records. Mann is not alone in his criticisms. Another Washington Post article today, this one by Chris Mooney, cites a tweet from the University of Washington glaciologist Eric Steig: "What's written's actually beyond worst possible case. THIS is the 'alarmism' we get accused of. It's important to speak out against it." Many climate scientists object to the article because they fear that such doomism will induce a sense of fatalism in the public and among policy makers. If the end is nigh, why not just sit back and enjoy our time before the apocalypse? In 1989, the Stanford climatologist Stephen Schneider notoriously argued, "We have to offer up scary scenarios, make simplified, dramatic statements, and make little mention of any doubts we might have. This 'double ethical bind' we frequently find ourselves in cannot be solved by any formula. Each of us has to decide what the right balance is between being effective and being honest. I hope that means being both." Some climatologists evidently think that Wallace-Wells has gotten the balance badly wrong. In Eco-Scam, I wrote that apocalypse abusers offer "lurid scenarios of a devastated earth, overrun by starving hordes of humanity, raped of its precious nonrenewable resources, poisoned by pesticides, pollution, and genetically engineered plagues, and baked by greenhouse warming. The new millenarians no longer expect a wrathful God to end the world in a rain of fire or overwhelming deluge. Instead humanity will die by its own hand." Wallace-Wells is just the latest in a long line.[...]



The Fatal Flaw in the Fights Against Global Warming and Global Terrorism

Sat, 17 Jun 2017 10:00:00 -0400

Donald Trump and Al Gore would no doubt cringe at the thought that politically speaking, they are brothers from different mothers. After all, what do the Republican president and the Democratic presidential wannabe have in common besides the fact that they are both old, white, pompous dudes who live in mansions and hate Hillary Clinton? Whether they realize it or not, they both believe in the precautionary principle—the notion that even a small chance of a catastrophic event requires sweeping measures to avert it. Nor do they care about the costs of these "sweeping measures"—both in terms of money and individual liberty. Their only disagreement is about the events in question: Trump invokes this principle in his crusade against Islamist terrorism—and Gore and his fellow global warming warriors against climate change. Dick Cheney famously declared that if there was even a "1 percent chance" of another 9/11-style attack by al Qaeda, "we have to treat it as a certainty in our response." For all of Trump's criticisms of the Iraq War, he has a natural instinct for this kind of excess. No sooner did the dastardly Manchester attack occur than Trump reiterated, as he had in his inaugural address, that this "wicked ideology must be obliterated." To that end, Trump, who has never explicitly rejected pre-emptive strikes against states that harbor terrorists, has significantly escalated America's military offensive against ISIS. He has eagerly embraced—and grown—the massive surveillance state he inherited from his predecessors to snoop and spy on Americans. He rejects basic due process rights not just for enemy combatants captured in the theater of war, but even domestic terror suspects such as the New York dumpster bomber. And then there is his plan to subject prospective refugees to "extreme vetting" to ensure with 100 percent certainty that no terrorist enters the country. (Not to be outdone, incidentally, after the London Bridge attack, British Prime Minister Theresa May demanded the authority to censor and control speech on the internet and has also suggested that human rights laws be scrapped if they come in the way of fighting terrorism.) Given that the odds that Americans will perish in any terrorist attack—not just those involving Islamists—on U.S. soil is 1 in 3.6 million per year—if the trends of the last four decades are any indication, such draconian steps to avert another 9/11-style event won't make Americans substantially safer. But they will make them substantially less free. Liberals understand this when it comes to dealing with global terrorism. Al Gore himself gave a great speech in 2006 lamenting all the constitutional protections that the war on terrorism was claiming and expressed alarm that the executive branch had been conducing warrantless surveillance of telephone calls, emails and other internet communication inside America. But when it comes to global warming, Gore's ideological blind spots are more dazzling than the sun. He condemned Trump's pullout from the Paris agreement as "indefensible" and "reckless." Likewise, the ACLU, which has been heroically fighting Trump's travel ban and other constitution-busting moves, bizarrely tweeted that the withdrawal would be a "massive step back for racial justice." But the fact of the matter is that a pre-emptive strike against climate change will be no less damaging for justice, racial or otherwise. The goal of the Paris agreement was to keep global temperatures from rising more than 2 degrees Centigrade by 2100. But the most optimistic assessments suggest that even if all the signatories live up to their Paris pledges, it's still a Pollyannaish assumption that won't be met. To exceed the agreement and actually meet its goal would require nothing short of the climate change equivalent of Mao's Cultural Revolution to socially engineer a complete global lifestyle shift. What will this entail? Certainly something far[...]



'Atomic Humanism' and the Eco-Modernist Campaign to Promote Nuclear Power

Tue, 13 Jun 2017 11:40:00 -0400

"Only nuclear can lift all humans out of poverty while saving the natural environment," Michael Shellenberger said in his keynote address at yesterday's annual meeting of the American Nuclear Society. "Nothing else—not coal, not solar, not geo-engineering—can do that." This, he declared, was one of the first principles of "atomic humanism." Shellenberger is the founder of the pro-nuclear green group Environmental Progress, which argues that the best tool for fighting climate change is the no-carbon power generated by nuclear reactors. His speech offered a tour through the sorry history of environmentalist falsehoods and exaggerations about nuclear power. He began with Ralph Nader, who started training activists on how to stop new nuclear plants in the 1960s. (At one inflammatory moment, Nader declared: "A nuclear plant could wipe out Cleveland, and the survivors would envy the dead.") The Sierra Club soon jumped on board the anti-nuclear campaign. Shellenberger quoted a secret 1974 memo from then-executive director Michael McCloskey: "Our campaign stressing the hazards of nuclear power will supply a rationale for increasing regulation...and add to the cost of the industry." Unfortunately, this strategy worked to perfection. What was the activists' alternative to nuclear power? Fossil fuels. For example, Nader argued that we didn't "need nuclear power" because we "have a far greater amount of fossil fuels in this country than we're owning up to...the tar sands...oil out of shale...methane in coal beds." In 1976 Sierra Club consultant Amory Lovins declared that coal "can fill the real gaps in our fuel economy with only a temporary and modest (less than twofold at peak) expansion of mining." That same year, California Gov. Jerry Brown actually advocated the construction of coal-fired plants in place of nuclear power stations. The results? According to Shellenberger, California's carbon dioxide emissions are now two and a half times higher than they would have been had the planned nuclear plants been allowed to go forward. Meanwhile, vastly more people have died as a result of pollution from fossil fuel power generation than from nuclear power. It gets worse. Many prominent environmentalists, worried that abundant nuclear power would lead to overpopulation, endorsed strong anti-human sentiments. As Shellenberger noted: "Giving society cheap and abundant energy would be the equivalent of giving an idiot child a machine gun," said Paul Ehrlich. "It'd be little short of disastrous for us to discover a source of cheap, clean and abundant energy because of what we would do with it [emphasis original]," said Amory Lovins in 1977. "I didn't really worry about the accidents because there are too many people anyway....I think that playing dirty if you have a noble end is fine," confessed Martin Litton, the Sierra Club member who led the campaign to kill Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant in California. Shellenberger concluded by arguing for pro-nuclear activism including mass protests and sit-ins: There is no short-cut around political engagement. Nuclear energy's opponents are well-financed and well-organized. But they have this huge achilles heel: Their entire agenda rests on a rejection of simple physics and basic ethics. They are in the wrong factually and morally. As such, when they are confronted with the truth—when it is pointed out that the emperor is wearing no clothes—they lose their power.... It's time for action. We have to move. We must confront the truth, and confront the threat. By standing up to Sierra Club, NRDC, and other anti-nuclear greenwashers, we saved nuclear plants in Illinois and New York. A new grassroots movement, Generation Atomic, is backing measures to keep current nuclear power plants operating and also advocating the deployment of new advanced reactors. For example, Generation Atomic activists are now going door-to-door in Ohio u[...]



The Progressive Left Devours Its Own [Reason Podcast]

Mon, 05 Jun 2017 16:15:00 -0400

"What we're witnessing now is the progressive left eating its own," says Reason's Nick Gillespie. "They've gotten everything they want in terms of political correctness from the right, and now they're going after Bernie Sanders' supporters."

On today's podcast, Gillespie joins Andrew Heaton, Katherine Mangu-Ward, and Matt Welch to discuss topics in the news, including the responses to the London terrorist attack; the Trump administration's decision to pull out of the Paris climate accord; the fallout from Bill Maher's use of the n-word; Kathy Griffin's picture with Trump's severed, bloodied head (and claim that he had successfully destroyed her career); and the meltdown at Evergreen State College after activists asked white students and faculty to leave campus for the school's annual "Day of Absence."

"The incident at Evergreen is a perfect example of how a lack of understanding of the difference between negative liberty and positive liberty puts you into a weird political place," says Mangu-Ward. "'I should be allowed to do what I want as long as I don't hurt other people,' is not the same thing as saying, 'other people have to do what I want.'"

Produced by Ian Keyser.

Mentioned in the podcast

Reason Science Correspondent Ron Bailey on why the Paris Agreement was never a "treaty"

Nick Gillespie's Q&A with Bjorn Lomborg on why the U.S. was right to withdraw.

Video of the student takeover at Evergreen State College

Subscribe, rate, and review the Reason Podcast at iTunes. Listen at SoundCloud below:

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Trump Announces Withdrawal From Paris Climate Deal. What Happens Now?

Thu, 01 Jun 2017 15:50:00 -0400

President Donald Trump is withdrawing the U.S. from the Paris Agreement on climate change, announcing today that he hopes to negotiate a new and "fair" climate deal. What will the withdrawal mean for the climate? Following the Paris agreement, the Obama administration pledged to cut the country's greenhouse gas emissions to 26-28 percent below their 2005 levels. According to Climate Interactive, that would account for 21 percent of the world's greenhouse gas reductions by 2030. In the unlikely scenario that the U.S. adopts no climate policies at all, Climate Interactive estimates that American emissions would amount to 6.7 gigatons of CO2 equivalents per year by 2025, compared to emissions of 5.3 gigatons per year if the U.S. follows through on its Paris commitments. Global annual emissions would be 57.3 gigatons per year instead of 55.8 gigatons per year, a difference of nearly 3 percent: In March, the Rhodium Group consultancy calculated what would happen to U.S. greenhouse gas emissions if President Trump's executive order rolling back most Obama-era energy and climate regulations were fully implemented: Basically, emissions would stabilize at around 14 percent below their 2005 levels—nowhere near Obama's 28 percent Paris pledge. So what would happen to global temperatures' trajectory if Trump repudiates the Paris Agreement and stops trying to cut U.S. greenhouse gas emissions? Climate Interactive calculates that implementing every country's carbon-reduction pledges made under the Paris Agreement would result in a global average temperature increase of 3.3 degrees Celsius: Humanity would have to stop emitting greenhouse gasses entirely by around 2065, if the goal is to keep the future temperature increase below 1.5 degree Celsius. The folks at the Climate Action Tracker basically concur that the Paris pledges would limit warming to about 2.8 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels—or in probabilistic terms, that they would likely limit warming below 3.1 degrees Celsius. In the November 2016 issue of Global Environmental Change, a group of European climate researchers modeled the impact of the policies implied by the Paris Agreement on future global average temperatures: The researchers considered (1) all climate policies announced before the Paris Agreement; (2) each country's pledged emission reductions after Paris; and (3) the reductions it would actually take to keep the average global temperature increase below 2 degrees Celsius by 2100. As you can see, merely implementing the Paris pledges would implies a global average temperature increase of 3 degrees Celsius. In a November 2015 article published in Global Policy, Copenhagen Consensus Center head Bjorn Lomborg calculated that implementing just the Paris pledges over the course of the entire century would reduce future warming by 0.17 degree Celsius by 2100: Clearly all climate modelers calculate that much deeper cuts in greenhouse gas emissions would have to be made in order to meet the Paris targets. Make the heroic assumption that the climate models are right: What should be done? In an article for Foreign Affairs, the eco-modernists over at the Breakthrough Institute advocate policies encouraging the innovation that would make carbon-free energy cheaper than that provided by burning fossil fuels. This might include, among other things, the entrepreneurial development of radically safer and cheaper nuclear power. My own solution for any problems that might arise from man-made climate change (and for most other challenges faced by humanity) is to adopt policies that boost technological innovation and wealth creation. For details on what that would entail, go here.[...]



Scott Pruitt Refuted on 'Leveling Off' of Global Temperature Trends?

Wed, 31 May 2017 10:15:00 -0400

A new study purports to refute new Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt's claim that "over the past two decades satellite data indicates there has been a leveling off of warming, which some scientists refer to as the 'hiatus'." According to the paper, which was published last week in Nature Scientific Reports, "Satellite temperature measurements do not support the recent claim of a 'leveling off of warming' over the past two decades." The researchers, led by Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory climate modeler Benjamin Santer, draws on the global temperature trends of three different satellite datasets for the mid-troposphere—the troposphere being the lowest, densest part of Earth's atmosphere, where most weather changes occur—from 1979 (when the records begin) to December 2016. One dataset, from the University of Alabama at Huntsville (UAH), shows temperatures rising 0.09 degree C per decade; adjusting for measurements that are distorted by falling lower stratospheric temperatures, Santer and his colleagues calculate that the figure should actually be 0.142. The second dataset, from Remote Sensing Systems, seems to show a hike of 0.094 degrees C per decade; with the paper's adjustments, that becomes 0.199. And the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration appears to indicate an increase of 0.128 degree C per decade; the paper adjusts that to 0.202. UAH climatologist John Christy argues in an email response that Santer's adjustment process "actually exaggerates the tropospheric warming rate (which is why we do not use it)." But his biggest problem with the study involves how those numbers are used, not how they're generated. In their paper, Santer and his colleagues compare those real (although adjusted) temperature data with 36 climate model outputs that are supposed to show how global temperatures would have evolved during the past 38 years in the absence of accumulating greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Such a comparison only works if the models are right about how much the climate would naturally vary in the absence of extra greenhouse gases. In Christy's words, it "depends on climate model natural variability being correct." That could be a problem: "Model-generated natural variability is known to be less than real variability - this makes it easier for small trends in the observations to appear to be significant when in fact Mother Nature can produce large trends on her own. It's a real apples and oranges comparison - real data being tested against model-generated variability." Earlier this month, another study in Nature recognized that the global warming hiatus that purportedly occurred from 1998 to 2015 has been defined differently in different sections of the scientific literature: It has been variously described as (1) no discernible increase in global average temperature, (2) a dramatic slowdown in the increase in warming, or (3) a slower increase than projected by climate computer models. If the Santer team's conclusions are correct, they have actually confirmed the second definition. Take a look at this chart from their paper: As Christy points out, the Santer team's tropospheric "trends ending in 2004 were two to four times the value for trends ending in 2015 - i.e. supporting Pruitt's statement that trends were 'leveling off' compared with earlier periods." The upturn in temperatures at the end is the result of the natural boost in global average temperatures following a big El Niño in 2015 and 2016. What about that third definition—the idea that global average temperature increases are lower than the climate models project? Oddly, another team of researchers led by Santer published a study in the January Journal of Climate that reached exactly that conclusion. That paper found that once temperature data are adjusted, the climate mod[...]



Should President Trump Keep His Promise to Cancel the Paris Agreement on Climate Change?

Thu, 04 May 2017 15:45:00 -0400

Presidential candidate Donald Trump promised to "cancel" the Paris Agreement on climate change during the campaign last year. Last week, during a rally to celebrate his first 100 days in office at Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, Trump declared that a "big decision" would be forthcoming in the next two weeks on the Paris Agreement. A big fight has apparently broken out among Trump administration denizens over the question of leaving or staying in the accord. The Clexiters include strategic nationalist Steve Bannon and EPA administrator Scott Pruitt and the stayers are First Daughter Ivanka Trump and Secretary of State of Rex Tillerson. During his confirmation hearing, Tillerson told lawmakers, "It's important that the U.S. maintains its seat at the table about how to address the threat of climate change, which does require a global response. No one country is going to solve this on its own." The opponents and proponents are focusing on a narrow and a broader issue. The narrow issue involves determining whether or not the agreement allows signatories to lower their nationally determined contributions, that is, the commitments that each country has made under the agreement with respect to their future emissions of greenhouse gases. Under the Paris Agreement, the Obama administration committed to reducing U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by 26-28 percent below their 2005 levels in 2025. At issue is the Article 4.11, which states that a nation "may at any time adjust its existing nationally determined contribution with a view to enhancing its level of ambition." Ambition means doing more to mitigate climate change. Does this mean that a country's commitments can only be ratcheted upwards and never reduced? In the New York Times, legal analyst Christopher Horner of the free-market think tank the Competitive Enterprise Institute, asserted, "Despite the mad rush to insist that plain language means either the opposite of what it says, or else nothing at all, under any canon of construction, Article 4 does not permit revisions downward." It's a ratchet. Contrariwise, Todd Stern who was the Obama administration's chief climate negotiator claimed that the flexibility to reduce targets was written into the agreement by careful design. "It wasn't like, 'Boy, nobody thought of that,'" he said to the Times. The plain language of the agreement does imply an upward ratchet, but since there are no explicit enforcement mechanisms in the accord, nothing would happen to a country that formally lowered its ambition, or even just ignored its nationanlly determined contribution commitments. The Bottom-Up Structure of the Paris Agreement The Paris Agreement might be thought of as a non-zero-sum bottom-up exercise. Countries are not being told what to do, but each one gets to propose for itself what it plans to do about man-made global warming. In addition, thousands of states, provinces, regions, cities, and businesses have piled on to make voluntary pledges to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. (This is not to say their electorates agree with the decisions being made by their governors and mayors.) This pledging process avoids the divisive zero-sum gaming that characterized previous climate negotiations. Both the 1997 Kyoto Protocol and the successor agreement that was supposed to be approved at the Copenhagen climate conference in 2009 were conceived as top-down legally binding regulatory systems. Both failed spectacularly. In any case, would nothing happen really happen if Trump were to submit lower U.S. greenhouse gas reduction commitments under the agreement? Opponents worry that the Paris Agreement would be interpreted as having the force of law by U.S. courts. This brings us the broader issue: Is the Paris Agreement a treaty? The United States Senate approved the United Natio[...]



Climate Computer Models Right After All: What Global Warming Hiatus?

Wed, 03 May 2017 16:50:00 -0400

"We are now much more confident than ever that human influence is dominant in long-term warming," declares a team of climate researchers from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology led by Iselin Medhaug. Why? Because, among other things, they claim to have reconciled the differences between the computer model projections and observational temperature records. The article, "Reconciling controversies about the 'global warming hiatus'" appears today in Nature. First they note that there are definitional problems in the scientific literature. The global warming hiatus can describe the period between 1998 and 2015 in which there was (1) no discernible increase in global average temperature, (2) a dramatic slow-down in the increase warming from the prior late 20th century trend, and (3) a slower increase than projected by climate computer models. They also explore the proposed causes for the hiatus including external drivers such as solar variability and aerosols from volcanic eruptions; the possibility of a lower equilibrium climate sensitivity in response to added carbon dioxide; and internal variability, especially periodic long-term shifts in regional ocean temperatures. Another important concern is how the observational temperature records are measured and adjusted over time. For example, the U.K.'s Met Office's HadCRUT4 surface temperature data set was adjusted to take into account that the Met Office's previous datasets had used sea surface temperatures rather than air temperature measurements over the oceans. Overall, this adjustment resulted in higher global mean surface air temperatures. They also took note of the fact that the observational temperature records have poor coverage in remote areas like the poles, central Asia, and central Africa. Interestingly, the researchers used observational surface temperature datasets in their analysis, ignoring the satellite and weather balloon temperature datasets. Medhaug and his colleagues adjusted the computer climate model runs by taking into account factors like changes like variations in solar radiation. In addtion, they applied results from computer models that best mimicked the observed internal variability of ocean temperature changes to estimate their effects on global air temperature to update the overall projected model trends. They do reanalysis of the HadCRUT4 dataset using model outputs to estimate temperatures in regions that are not adequately covered by observations. This produces a new dataset with higher global average temperatures. They then compare the results of 84 simulations from 36 different climate models with the orginal HadCRUT4 and their adjusted HadCRUT4 data. Once the researcher make all of these adjustments they find that there is ... ... excellent agreement between models and observations (Fig. 5, dark blue versus dark orange lines). Most discrepancies between models and observations can therefore be explained by the state of the natural variability, incomplete or biased forcings, and observational limitations; a complete explanation requires a combination of all of these (Fig. 5). When the effects of short-term temperature variations such as the El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO), of volcanic aerosols and of solar variability are removed, the anthropogenically forced global warming signal has not decreased substantially. This supports the current scientific understanding that long-term global warming is extremely likely to be of anthropogenic origin. One point that the Swiss researchers stress is that climate models cannot and should not be expected to make projections encompassing relatively short periods such as a decade. Consequently, they argue that when climate variability from whatever source slows (or presumably) speeds up the rat[...]



Climate Change, Scientism, and the Politics of Certitude

Mon, 01 May 2017 12:30:00 -0400

The balance of the scientific evidence supports the claim that man-made climate change is happening. That being said, there are many uncertainties with regard to how fast the climate might warm over the course of this century, how much it might warm, how fast sea level will rise, and so forth. Climate scientists try to get a handle on the trajectory of climate change using computer climate models. When compared to observational temperature trends, the models' outputs have been somewhat less than robust. University of Alabama at Huntsville climatologist John Christy, who is a long-time skeptic of projections of future catastrophic warming, finds that computer model temperature increases average about 3 times greater than the actual temperature trends. A January 2017 paper in the Journal of Climate by researchers who unquestionably represent mainstream climate science corrected for satellite data trends and the inclusion of stratospheric cooling and also found that the models are warming 1.7 times faster than the observational temperatures. In his column "Climate of Complete Certainty," New York Times opinion writer Bret Stephens sought to account for the skepticism of high percentage of Americans toward the dire warnings from environmentalists about impending catastrophic climate change. Stephens accepts that man-made warming is real; however, he observes that much else is still a matter of probabilities. From his column: 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.... 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. As it happens, hundreds of thousands of climate activists this past weekend participated in the Peoples Climate March in Washington, D.C., along with subsidiary marches in 300 other cities. It is evident that many progressive marchers would eschew Stephens' warning against marrying uncertain science to political power and are entirely certain that climate change requires the complete transformation of the U.S. economy and society along more communitarian lines. It is not too much to say that environmentalists' apocalyptic climate rhetoric helped elect our current president. The New York Post is reporting the nasty progressive backlash against Stephens who aim to get him fired from the Times. For more background on the human wreckage of scientific errors made by political environmentalists see my book, The End of Doom: Environmental Renewal in the 21st Century. I also reprise failed predictions of impending environmental catastrophe from the first Earth Day in 1970.[...]



Peoples Climate March This Saturday: New at Reason

Fri, 28 Apr 2017 13:30:00 -0400

(image) Tomorrow around 100,000 Americans are expected to join the Peoples Climate March, which plans to stream from the Capitol up Pennsylvania Avenue while demanding jobs, justice, and—oh, yes—action on climate change. The plan is to "literally" surround the White House, then stage a 100-second sit-in, symbolizing the first 100 days of Donald Trump's administration. (Perhaps President Trump will hear the protests tomorrow afternoon, but he plans to hold a rally in Pennsylvania that evening.) It's another example of social justice movements hijacking the problem of climate change and using it as a pretext for attacking our system of market-tested betterment and innovation.




Earth Day Dopes

Wed, 19 Apr 2017 00:15:00 -0400

Expect more craziness this weekend. Earth Day is Saturday. This year's theme: Government must "do more" about climate change because "consequences of inaction are too high to risk." They make it sound so simple: 1) Man causes global warming. 2) Warming is obviously harmful. 3) Government can stop it. Each claim is dubious or wrong. This weekend at a movie, I was surprised to be assaulted again by former Vice President Al Gore. In a preview, a puffy-looking Gore suddenly appeared, attacking Donald Trump and mocking critics of his previous movie, An Inconvenient Truth, the deceitful documentary that spreads fear in classrooms today. Yes, teachers play it in class. Now Gore claims "the most criticized" part of the film was his assertion that the 9/11 memorial site would flood. Then, during Hurricane Sandy, it did But Gore creatively misremembers his own movie. He had claimed the World Trade Center would flood because of a permanent 20-foot sea-level rise. Actual scientists called that nonsense. It would take hundreds of years for such a thing to possibly happen. But since the area flooded, briefly, Gore spins that as confirmation of his exaggerations. This preview was the first I learned that theaters will soon show a sequel to Gore's film. Google tells us that An Inconvenient Sequel got a standing ovation at the Sundance Film Festival. Trendy Hollywood is so dumb. At least critics who've watched it gave it poor reviews. Let's go back to points 1, 2 and 3: 1) Man's greenhouse gases contribute to warming, but scientists don't agree on how much. Of 117 climate models from the 1990s, 114 overpredicted warming. 2) Warming is harmful. Maybe. But so far it's been good: Over the last century, climates warmed, but climate-related deaths dropped. Since 1933, they fell by 98 percent. Life expectancy doubled. Much of that is thanks to prosperity created by free markets. But some is due to warming. Cold kills more people than heat. Carbon dioxide is also good for crop growth. Even The New York Times admits, "Plants have been growing at a rate far faster than at any other time in the last 54,000 years." But what if Al Gore is right? Maybe our greenhouse gases will eventually cause Greenland's icecaps to melt and flood our cities. Shouldn't government act now? No. 3) Nothing we do today will stop global warming. The Obama regulations that Trump recently repealed, horrifying the Earth Day crowd, had a goal that amounted to a mere one percent reduction in global carbon dioxide. And that was just the goal. Of course, some think any cut is better than nothing. But cuts are costly. They kill jobs, opportunity. All to accomplish... nothing the Earth will notice. If warming does become a problem, we're better off if our economy is very strong when the science tells us clearly that action will make a difference. We should be especially wary of expensive government projects given how often alarmists were wrong in the past. As Cato's Pat Michaels says, "I've lived through eight environmental apocalypses... overpopulation... resource depletion... Silent Spring... global cooling... acid rain... the ozone hole... global warming... the next one is going to be ocean acidification." In the '70s, environmentalist Paul Ehrlich won fame with his book The Population Bomb. Ehrlich predicted: "I would take even money that England will not exist in the year 2000." Oops. Ehrlich now admits: "When you predict the future, you get things wrong." But he says there's a grain of truth in his prediction, because: "If you look closely at England, what can I tell you? They're having all kinds of problems." Give me a break. Saturday's Earth Day nonsense will include a "March for Science." The m[...]