Climate Change Weekly #185
In remarks bordering on the apocalyptic, President Barack Obama spoke in Anchorage at the beginning of a three-day Alaskan junket, part of his year-long “The World Is Burning” tour. Obama warned, “Climate change is no longer some far-off problem; it is happening here, it is happening now.” He said, “We’re not acting fast enough.” I’ve come to expect this kind of over-heated and under-researched rhetoric from the president.
As The New York Times noted, Obama’s trip to Alaska was carefully choreographed, with visits to glaciers, Inuit villages, and the like to provide an alarming context to his message on the urgent need to address climate change. Obama argued in no state are the effects of climate change more visible than in Alaska, with rising temperatures, melting glaciers, and drowning polar bears.
Lost in the coverage of this litany of purported human-induced climate ills was the fact almost none of what is reported concerning the Arctic is accurate. In addition, the president’s attempt to gin up support for international action to prevent warming was an abject failure.
As detailed by biologist and ecologist Jim Steele, among others, glaciers have retreated and expanded numerous times since the end of the last ice age. Polar bear numbers are at record highs with approximately 25,000 bears. And Arctic sea ice, which had precipitously declined from the mid-2000s to 2013, has had a reversal since then, now equaling historically levels considered normal.
Concerning temperatures, Steele details how tree-ring data scientists use to extrapolate historical climate trends and temperature estimates do not show unusual warming since the 1950s. Most tree-ring data indicate the Arctic temperature average has modestly declined since the ’50s. Unable to explain why tree-ring data don’t reflect temperature readings from the relatively recently established land-based thermometer array, Arctic researchers have “homogenized” the tree-ring data, adjusting it upward to match the thermometers. Yet is it likely the thermometer data are biased. Most of the readings come from locations experiencing rapid urbanization – and urban areas absorb heat and retain it longer. In addition, as previous issues of Climate Change Weekly have noted, the homogenization process seems politically driven, consistently altering past temperatures lower and present temperatures higher than actually recorded.
Not only does the science not support the president’s alarmist claims, important world leaders decided not to support a climate change statement coming out of a meeting the Arctic Council nations held August 30–31, during Obama’s trip. The president spoke at the meeting concerning the need to act now to prevent climate harm. The Conference on Global Leadership in the Arctic: Cooperation, Innovation, Engagement, and Resilience (GLACIER) was attended by all eight Arctic Council members (Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, Sweden, and the United States) plus a dozen states with permanent observer status, including China, India, Japan, Singapore, and South Korea. At the end of the meeting, GLACIER issued a joint statement signed by foreign ministers affirming “our commitment to take urgent action to slow the pace of warming in the Arctic.” That “commitment” is unlikely to have any impact on climate change whatsoever: China, the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases, and Russia and India, in a virtual tie for the fourth largest share of human greenhouse gas emissions, declined to sign the statement.
–H. Sterling Burnett
IN THIS ISSUE …
New research published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences has found a causal relationship between cosmic rays and global temperature variations. The authors find a “robust” cosmic ray–global temperature relationship, corroborating the solar/cosmic ray theory of Svensmark et al. that variations in cosmic rays affect the formation of clouds impacting temperatures. Using four global temperature time series and multiple sampling methods, the PNAS paper shows a strong causal relationship between changes in the amount of cosmic rays entering the atmosphere and temperature.
SOURCE: The Hockeyschtick blog
A new study by researchers at the Haas School of Business at the University of California at Berkeley shows tax credits to improve homes’ energy efficiency, expand the sales of green vehicles, and increase the use of renewable power have proven to be a very expensive form of welfare for the well-to-do. According to the study, U.S. households have since 2006 received more than $18 billion in federal income tax credits for weatherizing their homes, purchasing energy-efficient appliances, installing solar panels, buying hybrid and electric vehicles, and making other “clean energy” investments. The tax benefits have gone almost entirely to the highest-income Americans – those most able to make energy-efficient purchases without government support. The study found Americans in the top income quintile received 60 percent of all energy-efficiency-related tax credits, while those in the bottom three income quintiles combined received only about 10 percent of all credits. The program encouraging the purchase of electric vehicles was by far the most regressive subsidy, with people in the top quintile garnering approximately 90 percent of all credits.
SOURCE: Energy Institute at Haas
The Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI) investigated carbon credits used to offset greenhouse gas emissions under a United Nations (UN) program and determined the program resulted in increased carbon dioxide emissions. Commenting on the findings, one of the co-authors said issuing the credits “was like printing money.” Under the UN “Joint Implementation” program, some countries (Russia, for example) were allowed to create carbon credits from such activities as curbing coal waste fires or restricting gas emissions from petroleum production, and they were permitted to sell those credits to the European Union’s carbon market. Companies bought the offsets rather than making their own more expensive emissions cuts.
SEI found the vast majority of such credits were “hot air,” resulting in no actual emissions reductions. In a random sample of 60 purported carbon reduction projects, SEI found 80 percent were bogus. According to Anja Kollmuss, a lead researcher for the study, “[T]he poor overall quality of [Joint Implementation] projects may have undermined the EU’s emission reduction target by some 400 million tons of CO2.”
SEI also found the credit exchange program created perverse incentives that encouraged countries selling credits to increase emissions. SEI cited a study in the journal Nature Climate Change that found power plants in Russia “increased waste gas generation to unprecedented levels once they could generate credits from producing more waste gas,” resulting in up to 600 million additional tons of carbon dioxide emissions, equaling approximately half the amount the EU intended to reduce from 2013 to 2030 via emissions trading.
SOURCE: American Interest
Furthering recent efforts to prioritize affordable energy over cutting greenhouse gas emissions, British ministers announced they would dramatically cut subsidies for people installing solar panels on their homes. Under the plan, the amount paid to homeowners beginning in 2016 will be reduced by nearly 90 percent, avoiding nearly £192 million a year in new payments to households. The previous coalition government had introduced a generous subsidy scheme to encourage households to install solar panels, and nearly 700,000 families – far more than the program’s supporters expected – did so. The annual cost of the government-induced solar boom is in excess of £800 million a year, nearly twice the spending estimated. Subsidies won’t be cut for households with existing panels. Critics of the plan claim the new policy will destroy the domestic renewables industry.
Elsewhere in Europe, the Climate Action Network reports Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia, Kosovo, Montenegro, and Serbia, all non-EU European countries, get more than 50 percent of their electricity from coal. Coal’s share of electric power is expected to grow as those countries anticipate building a minimum of 6 gigawatts of additional coal power capacity by 2030. Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia are leading the way with each planning on adding over 2 GW of new coal capacity. Previously, the EU tried to induce Balkan nations to reduce coal use to cut carbon dioxide emissions by offering the hope of accession to the EU, but the EU’s enthusiasm for accepting additional poor former communist countries into the bloc has faded. At the same time, Balkan states recognize several EU member states are dramatically slashing their own renewable energy subsidies and showing nascent signs of embracing fracking and expanded coal use.
For the Balkans the choice is easy, as a senior official from the federal energy and mining ministry in Bosnia and Herzegovina said recently, “Coal is needed to ensure the energy balance and guarantee power.” In the still-impoverished Balkans, “keeping jobs, power prices low and influential miners and heavy industries happy are all top priorities for politicians, making energy reform a risky political gamble,” reports Politico‘s Kalina Oroschakoff.
David Dilley, a 40-year meteorology veteran of the Air Force and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), contends NOAA has been suppressing internal research into natural factors affecting climate and directing research grants almost exclusively to alarmists researchers. Dilley writes,
For over 15 years an inordinate proportion of government and corporate research grants have been awarded to universities for a single specific purpose: to prove human activities and the burning of fossil fuels are the main driving mechanisms causing global warming. In the mid-1990s government grants were typically advertised in such a way to indicate that conclusions should show a connection to human activity as the cause for anthropogenic global warming. The result: most of the research published in journals became one-sided and this became the primary information tool for media outlets.
Dilley reports former heads of university climate research departments have told him if grant proposals even mentioned exploring natural cycles as an avenue of research, they were either denied future grants or lost grants. Dilley and his colleagues at NOAA were cautioned not to talk about natural cycles.
SOURCE: No Tricks Zone
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