Climate Change Weekly #210
Just two of the five presidential candidates remaining in the Democratic and Republican primaries – billionaire developer Donald Trump and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) – completed a questionnaire from the American Energy Alliance. Trump’s response to the survey is his most comprehensive statement to date on energy and environment issues and thus, in the words of Thomas Pyle, president of the American Energy Alliance, it “give[s] us a sense of the way he is thinking about these things.” Cruz, by contrast, has a record of votes, statements in Senate hearings, and legislation introduced concerning energy and environmental policy in addition to his response to the survey.
Both Trump and Cruz are skeptical of the policies implemented by the Obama administration to prevent purported dangerous anthropogenic climate change. Both candidates reject imposing a carbon tax, complain of the Obama administration’s regulatory “overreach,” and promise to scale back or rescind the Clean Power Plan. Both also promise to review the administration’s conclusion carbon dioxide endangers public health and welfare and to evaluate the social cost of carbon calculation used to justify climate regulations. Cruz went a step further than Trump, directly disputing the Obama administration’s science claims, stating in a survey response, “the observed temperature evidence does not support the claims that carbon dioxide is dangerous.”
While Trump and Cruz agree energy subsidies distort the market and eventually all of them should be ended, Trump believes some subsidies, including the renewable fuel mandate, should be maintained until America “achieve[s] energy independence.” By contrast, Cruz would end all energy subsidies and mandates “so that all energy sources compete on an even playing field.”
Trump’s responses show a great deal of concern for the impact of regulations on businesses, saying, “Over-regulation presents one of the greatest barriers to entry into markets and one of the greatest costs to businesses that are trying to stay competitive.” Trump said he would review all EPA regulations and eliminate any imposing undue burdens on businesses. However, Trump’s responses show little concern for the legality of regulations imposed by Obama or their impacts on states or private property owners.
By contrast, Cruz several times stated Obama’s regulations were illegal and unconstitutional and should be rescinded. Cruz calls the administration’s Waters of the United States rule unconstitutional and illegal, saying the rule seeks to expand federal control over waters properly under the control of individual states. Cruz notes he introduced legislation to nullify it and joined a Senate resolution of disapproval of the rule.
In addition, Cruz says the federal government owns too much land and should divest most of this land either to the states or to private individuals. Until divestiture happens, he supports giving individual states authority to manage resource development on federal lands within their state.
Trump shows more faith in the federal government’s ability to manage natural resources, including public lands and waters, than Cruz. Trump says the federal government should “share governance” of public lands and waters within states in order to generate revenue for both levels of government.
With decades of mismanagement in evidence, whence Trump’s faith in the federal government’s ability to manage energy markets, waters, and public lands? I don’t know and don’t share it.
— H. Sterling Burnett
IN THIS ISSUE …
Study shows climate forecasts flawed … Paris agreement is post-modern science, politics at work … No correlation between glacier melting and carbon dioxide increases … Pachauri blames climate skeptics for sexual harassment charges … Environmental drawbacks of wind and solar power
A new study published in Nature by an international team of researchers led by scientists at Sweden’s Stockholm University shows climate model predictions of extreme rainfall events and extended droughts in the twentieth century driven by human-caused climate change are wrong, raising doubts concerning model projections of future climate change.
Using data covering the past 1,200 years, the scientists discovered wet-dry weather extremes were greater in earlier centuries, before purported human-caused climate change. For instance, the research shows, drought was most severe in the 1100s, a relatively warm century, and in the 1400s, a relatively cold century.
“In the past, on a longer timescale, there have been even larger variabilities,” says the study’s lead author, Fredrik Ljungqvist of Stockholm University. “[M]uch of the change is not only driven by temperature, but some internal, more random variability.” As a result, Ljungqvist says, “It might be more difficult than often assumed to project into the future.”
In a special issue of the Journal of Environmental Risk dedicated to the Paris climate agreement, Lucas Bergkamp argues politics has led climate science, rather than being led by science, since the earliest pronouncements of global warming. Rather than summarize, I quote extensively from the paper since Bergkamp states the case far more eloquently than I could:
In an early stage, an activist policy community, operating under the weak democratic controls of the international policy-making system and outside national structures for policy-making and judicial review, has set the objective that climate science “had to” support. Their thinking was driven by the precautionary principle and the reversal of the burden of proof. … [T]he default assumption has been that anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions cause dangerous climate change. … Through the use of these default assumptions and predictive models, climate science is able to supply “helpful” information to policy-makers. Consequently, rather than the policy being science-based, the science has become policy-based.
As the issue of the global temperature “hiatus” illustrates, the ability of climate science to self-correct and properly inform policy-making is hampered by an inability to reexamine the fundamental assumptions driving the scientific enterprise and its relation to policy-making. Given climate policy’s objectives, funding agencies, scientists, and scientific advisors, in turn, are encouraged to provide ‘policy-relevant’ science supporting the policies pursued by the politicians.
Bergkamp notes climate models may be useful for purposes of research, but that does not mean they should be used to shape public policy.
In our post-modern world, climate science is not powerful because it is true: it is true because it is powerful.
The Paris Agreement … almost perfectly illustrate[s] the contradictions of the post-modern industrialized world risk society, characterized by perceived threats confirmed by politicized science and governed by sub-politics beyond democratic control. Climate change is the ultimate precautionary, distributive justice issue. There is a tendency to subsume all policy issues in the climate change movement, so climate justice can be pursued as holistic, global, social justice. Indeed, climate change is deemed to penetrate all areas of social policy- making, from energy to agriculture, and from immigration to personal choices, such as how to travel and what to eat.
SOURCE: Climate Etc.
While many glaciers melted some in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries, a survey of recent literature finds glaciers were melting faster and contributing to sea level rise more in the early part of the century, in particular the 1920s and 1930s, when human greenhouse gas emissions were flat.
For example, according to a 2013 study in the Journal of Climate, melting glaciers contributed as much as 2 mm/year sea level rise equivalent during the 1920s and 1930s. Studies in Science Magazine and Nature show the combined contribution from melting ice sheets in the Antarctic, Greenland, and all other land sources combined from 1992 to 2011, during a period of rapidly rising greenhouse gas levels, to be just 1 mm per year.
Once again, climate reality confounds climate model projections.
SOURCE: No Tricks Zone
Rajendra Pachauri, who resigned in disgrace as head of the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in 2015 under a cloud of sexual misconduct charges in his native India, is blaming climate skeptics for his legal woes.
Pachauri says he suspects strongly, but cannot prove, there has been a coordinated attempt to destroy him professionally and personally possibly by “climate skeptics and rightwing free-market thinktanks, often known to have been funded by powerful fossil-fuel interests.” Pachauri is claiming his emails and computers had been hacked or misused. The Guardian says this would have been a “sophisticated sting,” and the Delhi police have found no evidence Pachauri’s computer or e-mail accounts were tampered with.
Denying any conspiracy on her part or that his emails were tampered with, Pachauri’s accuser says he besieged her with offensive messages, emails, and texts in the 16 months she spent working with him. She delivered a cache of several thousand electronic messages to the police as evidence.
SOURCE: The Guardian
A forthcoming e-book excerpted on the Daily Kos website argues wind and solar power plants are much worse for the environment than previously recognized … because they require natural gas backup.
Wind and solar plants produce far less energy than promised, and in the current energy environment natural gas is the primary “supplement” for renewable power generation. E-book authors Mike Conley and Tim Maloney say if the amount of natural gas leaking into the atmosphere increases even modestly from its current low rate of loss of 1.6 percent, the widespread use of wind and solar will have a harmful greenhouse gas impact.
They write, “A one-gigawatt solar farm with a 23% CF (capacity factor) is actually a 770-megawatt gas plant enhanced by 230 megawatts of sunshine.” The wind plants and solar plants being built today are really natural gas plants, they say. They acknowledge natural gas produces less than half the amount of carbon dioxide as coal and is less polluting than even the cleanest coal plants. However, natural gas plants produce methane, which the authors say has significantly higher “global warming potential” than carbon dioxide. They speculate if the natural gas leakage rate were to more than double, reaching 4 percent, using natural gas to supply electricity when wind and solar are offline is the same, from a greenhouse gas perspective, as using a coal-fired power plant.
Methane emissions are low and falling, but the threat of leakage remains. Conley and Maloney say nuclear power is superior to other sources for carbon-dioxide-free electricity generation. They write, “Nuclear is even more reliable than coal, and it’s carbon-free. … While contamination is serious stuff, fear and paranoia are the two most common forms of radiation sickness.”
SOURCE: Daily Kos
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