Climate Change Weekly #181
With great fanfare James Hansen, former head of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies and the godfather of global warming alarmism, pre-released in late July a paper warning, once again, of the dire consequences of impending, runaway, human-induced climate change. And once again, Hansen is out of touch with the evidence and the science – but this time, even Michael “hockey stick” Mann and Kevin Trenberth are saying so.
The new paper by Hansen and 16 co-authors, in perhaps a first for “climate research,” is being promoted by a PR/lobbying firm Glover Park, complete with a press release. The paper was touted by some of the less careful media outlets, even before it was made available by the journal publishing it, Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics Discussions. More importantly, all of this PR is taking place before the paper makes it through peer review – a process underway and likely to take months. Hansen admitted circumventing the normal peer- review process in order to affect the international climate treaty expected to be finalized in Paris in December.
Hansen and his coauthors argue the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and other adherents of anthropogenic global warming theory have been too cautious. They say a warming of 2 degrees Celsius, often mentioned as the “limit” for how much warming Earth and its inhabitants can handle, is “highly dangerous” temperature territory. In contrast to IPCC’s high-end estimate of sea-level rise of 2.7 feet by 2100, Hansen and his colleagues project seas could rise by 10 feet by 2100, with a rise of six feet more within a few decades thereafter. The paper also suggests future climate change could result in superstorms wreaking havoc on low-lying islands, coastlines, and even far inland.
Sounds like a promising disaster film, right? An enterprising director could title it, “The Day Before the Day After Tomorrow” (with a nod to South Park).
The most interesting thing to me about Hansen’s new paper is the reaction of his alarmist colleagues. The Washington Post quoted Mann saying, “Their climate model scenario wherein Greenland and Antarctic meltwater caused by warming poles, leads to a near total shutdown of ocean heat transport to higher latitudes, cooling most of the globe (particularly the extratropics), seems rather far-fetched to me.”
Trenberth wrote, “The question is how relevant [Hansen et al.‘s estimates] are to the real world and what is happening as global warming progresses? They do not seem at all realistic to me. There are way too many assumptions and extrapolations for anything here to be taken seriously other than to promote further studies.” He continued, “The new Hansen et al. study is provocative and intriguing but rife with speculation and ‘what if’ scenarios. It has many conjectures and huge extrapolations based on quite flimsy evidence …”
Concerning the evidence for impending superstorms, Hansen relies primarily on a single controversial paper using methodologies, “rarely used in Quaternary Sciences and generally not accepted without verification by other methods,” according to University of Koln geologist Max Engels, who sums up saying, “… in my opinion, chapter 2.2 [the section on superstorms] seems to represent a slightly one-sided perspective on geological evidence for … mega-storms.”
The best Hansen’s friends can muster in defense of his paper is, as Mann says, “Whether or not all of the specifics of the study prove to be correct, the authors have initiated an absolutely critical discussion.”
Long before he left NASA, Hansen had ceased to be a neutral climate researcher and became an environmental activist. With his new paper, he has further cemented his title of “Climate Chicken Little in Chief.” He continues to be an unsurpassed climate crank.
— H. Sterling Burnett
IN THIS ISSUE …
Minimal role seen for climate change in presidential election … Former UN climate director loses another job … States appeal climate decision … Too much ice halts global warming research … Plankton’s role in climate
According to a National Journal poll of approximately 144 Democratic and 144 Republican “political insiders,” neither group believes climate change will play a significant role in the 2016 presidential election. In response to the question, “How much of a role will climate change play in the 2016 presidential race?,” just 22 percent of Democratic insiders thought it would play a major role, with 71 percent believing it would play a minor role and 7 percent thinking it would play no role at all. Among the Democrats polled, one responded, “Alas, it’s the most important thing in the world and will be among the least important things in the election,” while a second remarked, “Climate change does not help get swing voters in swing states.”
Republican political insiders were even more skeptical climate change would play a role in the election. Just 4 percent thought climate change will play a major role in the 2016 election, while 66 percent thought it will play a minor role and 30 percent believe it will play no role at all. Republican comments included, “Unless something weird happens, it is hard to see how this issue becomes significant” and “Voters don’t care.”
SOURCE: National Journal
Rajendra Pachauri, the disgraced former head of the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), has lost another job due to sexual harassment allegations lodged against him. The governing council of The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI), a top energy institute in India, announced it had removed Pachauri from his director-general position. The Associated Press reports, “the council said the decision was taken keeping in view the interests of the private institute and its 1,200 employees working in different parts of the world.” Pachauri resigned from IPCC in February after a 29-year-old female coworker filed a complaint with police alleging assault and criminal intimidation. TERI’s internal complaints committee launched its own investigation and concluded the sexual harassment allegations were valid. Pachauri had headed the think tank for 34 of its 40 years.
SOURCES: Fort Worth Star Telegram
Fourteen states are asking the District of Columbia Circuit Court of Appeals to revive their challenge to the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan, its signature regulatory proposal on climate change. In June, a three-judge panel of that court rejected the lawsuit against the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as premature, given that the rule has yet to be finalized and courts have never before reviewed a proposed rule. In arguing for the court to reopen the case the states argue, “Under the panel majority’s decision, an agency can repeatedly threaten regulated parties to make immediate expenditures to comply with an unlawful but not-yet-final rule, and evade legal accountability for this misconduct.” The states referred to the U.S. Supreme Court’s June decision blocking another EPA regulation concerning power-plant emissions to argue if the court does not rehear the Clean Power Plan case, “this powerful tool will only further enable agencies to make their policy goals a practical reality before the courts can review their legality – a tactic EPA brazenly touted after losing in Michigan v. EPA.” This appeal may soon be moot, as EPA expects to finalize the Clean Power Plan in August.
SOURCE: The Hill
Thick, unusually extensive summer ice conditions stalled an expedition to study the effects of “the impacts of climate change and modernization in the coastal Canadian Arctic.” The National Snow and Ice Data Center reports summer ice melt got off to a slow start due to an unusually cold spring: 5 degrees Fahrenheit below the 1981–2010 average for west Greenland. The extensive lingering ice forced the Canadian Coast Guard to reroute the CCGS Amundsen, a combination icebreaker and Arctic research vessel scheduled to sail throughout the Hudson Bay collecting data for researchers from ArcticNet who were aboard. The Amundsen was forced to reroute to break ice for resupply ships. The Daily Caller reports a Coast Guard officer “said the conditions were the ‘worst he’s seen in 20 years.'”
Plankton plays a little-studied and even less-understood role in cloud formation and ocean temperatures, and thus climate change. Most sea life ultimately depends on photosynthetic plankton, the tiny organisms living near the surface, taking their energy from the sun and serving as the basis for much of the marine food chain.
A new study in Science Advances shows plankton play a significant climate role as well, helping to control ocean cloud formation. Clouds bounce the sun’s energy back into space, regulating Earth’s climate and keeping temperatures cooler than they would otherwise be. The research shows over the oceans plankton provide nuclei to which water vapor attaches to form clouds.
To investigate the link between plankton and clouds, the researchers examined the Southern Ocean encircling Antarctica. Despite being far from any man-made sources of particles, it is one of the cloudiest places on Earth. The researchers found a causal connection between greater numbers of cloud droplets forming above areas of the ocean with more plankton. Thus, plankton influence cloud albedo and the amount of energy from the sun that is reflected to space. The researchers conclude climate models routinely underestimate the amount of sunlight reflected back into space by clouds in the Southern Ocean, leading to errors in regional sea surface temperature predictions and flawed modeling of large-scale global ocean circulation patterns.
SOURCE: The Conversation