PSEUDO SCIENCE ON CLIMATE

WASHINGTON POST

How climate change makes the world more violent

By Alex Bollfrass and Andrew Shaver May 21, 2015

Dry cracked earth is visible on what used to be the bottom of Hensley Lake on April 23, 2015 in Raymond, California. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

The following is a guest post from Princeton University political science Ph.D. candidates Alex Bollfrass and Andrew Shaver.

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Natural scientists agree that the climate is changing and that humans bear some of the blame. Social scientists are now attempting to assess the economic and political price societies are likely to pay for turning up our planet’s thermostat. The security policy community is especially eager for an answer.

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In the academy, the debate over climate change and its security implications gained momentum after researchers from Stanford, the University of California Berkeley, New York University, and Harvard observed that civil wars were more prevalent during years that experience hotter temperatures. The chief explanation for this relationship is that higher temperatures affect crop yields. Diminished agricultural output, in turn, as economist Ted Miguel and co-authors explain in a separate study, affects young men who are “more likely to take up arms when income opportunities are worse for them in agriculture [. . . ] relative to their expected income as [fighters].”

The “farmhands-to-fighters” argument linking reduced economic opportunity in agriculture to increased violent activity is consistent with other research results. Scholars at the University of California, Santa Barbara and Columbia University argue that recent drought in Syria produced “widespread crop failure and a mass migration of farming families,” resulting in in political unrest that ultimately contributed to the outbreak of civil war in the country. Research on modern-day piracyviolence in Colombia, and contemporary conflict throughout Africa is similarly consistent with this theory.

It is possible to extrapolate from this research and imagine how conflict resulting from decreased agricultural employment could threaten U.S. national security interests. But changing climate trends can produce security risks in other ways.

In research published Wednesday in PLOS ONE, we raise further questions about the relationship between conflict and variation in meteorological variables. Our first major finding is that warmer ambient temperatures indeed promote violent conflict in all parts of the world.

The second main discovery is that heat drives violence by something more than turning farmhands into fighters. Our clearest evidence that there is more to the temperature-conflict link than disaffected farm workers is that heat and violence are correlated even in areas of the world that do not produce crops (see the two figures below). Without farms, there are no farmers who would beat their plowshares into swords.

Predicted Probability of Conflict and Yearly Average Temperature, with 95% Confidence Intervals – Agricultural and Non-Agricultural Provinces Compared
Data: European Space Agency; Peace Research Institute Oslo; Figure: Alex Bollfrass; Andrew Shaver

Predicted Probability of Conflict and Yearly Average Temperature, with 95% Confidence Intervals – Agricultural and Non-Agricultural Provinces Compared (Sub-Saharan/Sahelian African countries excluded)
Data: European Space Agency; Peace Research Institute Oslo; Figure: Alex Bollfrass; Andrew Shaver

The implication is that the debate has been missing a scholarly foundation for other avenues through which climate change may threaten states’ security. One leading possibility is the well-established patterns of humans behaving more violently at higher temperatures. Another way for climate change to link to violent instability is through macroeconomic transmitters like food prices in years of lower farm production. The list of plausible alternatives is long and has received little scrutiny.

To date, there is enough preliminary evidence to suggest that a real security problem may be developing. Focusing research on the drivers of this temperature-violence should be a priority for academic and government researchers.

HUNGRY SEA LION OF CLIMATE CHANGE

By CHRISTINE HAUSERFEB. 5, 2016

Continue reading the main storyVideo

Sea Lion Found in California Restaurant

A starving sea lion pup was rescued on Thursday after it wandered into a booth in a San Diego restaurant.

By SeaWORLD on  Publish Date February 5, 2016. Photo by Mike Aguilera/SeaWorld, via Associated Press.Watch in Times Video »

 A hungry sea lion pup wandered off the beach and into a fancy seaside San Diego restaurant Thursday morning, took one of the best seats in the house and peered out the window at the waves as if preparing to order a big plate of sardines.

Alas, it was too early to be served. The restaurant, the Marine Room, does not open for dinner until 5:30 p.m. — unless it is offering one of its special “high-tide breakfasts.”

Bernard Guillas, the executive chef at the restaurant, posted photos of the pup, curled up or looking out the window, on his Facebook page Thursday. “We found this little guy in The Marine Room restaurant this morning,” he wrote. “He was a little bit early for his high tide breakfast reservation.

The pup was eventually rescued and taken to San Diego’s SeaWorld. But it was the latest reported sighting of a stranded sea lion in California, where the mammals are increasingly being found on land in places they were never meant to be, partly because of changing weather conditions driving them ashore.

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A sea lion wandered into La Jolla’s Cave Store, a souvenir shop, last month. An employee said she lured it outside with salmon.

“It was very, very gentle,” Jim Allen, the store owner, told a local TV station.

Experts are seeing a higher number of reports of stranded sea lions, particularly in San Diego through Santa Barbara Counties, according to data published by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Many of the stranded mammals have been emaciated pups.

In the first five months of 2015, there were 3,340 young sea lions found stranded, compared with 862 in the same period in 2014 and 1,262 in 2013, the agency said.

El Niño, the weather condition that causes temperatures in the Pacific Ocean to become unusually warm, is believed to be a reason behind the increased strandings because of its impact on the food supply web, according to the oceanic group. It can also generate algal blooms and infectious disease outbreaks.

The Marine Room, a high-end restaurant belonging to the La Jolla Beach & Tennis Club in the wealthy San Diego enclave of La Jolla, has for 75 years offered diners a view of crashing waves from its dining room built straight into the ocean.

About 8 a.m. Thursday, Leslie Tovar, a manager for the Shores Restaurant, another of the club’s restaurants, was on the grounds when she got a call from a custodian at the Marine who was “vacuuming up the floor and happened to come across a baby sea lion that matched the interior very well.”

Photo

The sea lion pup looking out the window at the Marine Room restaurant in San Diego. He also curled up in a booth and took a nap. CreditBernard Guillas 

“He said there was a sea lion in the dining room,” Ms. Tovar said in a telephone interview Friday. “Booth 65. Which happens to be one of the best seats in the house, on the waterfront next to the window.”

Ms. Tovar went to the room and saw the pup napping. It was not clear how it got into the dining room, leaving the china and cutlery undisrupted in table settings, and nestled into the booth. But the staff suspects it went through a back door that the cleaner had propped open to take in equipment at 6 a.m.

Ms. Tovar called SeaWorld, which sent a team with a net and roused it from sleep. The team identified it as female, about 8 months old and weighing about 20 pounds — about half the weight it should be at that age.

“It was also a little bit shocking to see how small the pup was,” said Jody Westberg, one of SeaWorld’s animal coordinators, who went to the rescue.

“A micro-pup. Very small in body length, and very malnourished.”

On Friday morning, the pup was getting rehydration fluids in a critical care unit in “guarded” condition. She was spending days at a pool with other pups, and the plan was to get her back to the water, Ms. Westberg said.

Thursday night, after the pup left the Marine Room, dinner went on as usual in the restaurant after a thorough cleaning, Mr. Guillas, the chef, said in a telephone interview.

At one point, he said, the sea lion pup looked out the window toward the ocean, as if to say, “Can I go back now?”

Correction: February 5, 2016
An earlier version of this article misidentified one of the California counties where experts have noticed a rise in the number of stranded sea lions. It is Santa Barbara, not San Bernardino.

SYRIAN WAR IS RESULT OF CLIMATE CHANGE

SURE : WARS WERE UNHEARD OF BEFORE CLIMATE CHANGE TS

Prince Charles blames the Syrian war on climate change. He has a point.

By Niraj Chokshi November 24, 2015

Britain’s Prince Charles on a visit to the Biodiversity Conservation Center in Perth, Australia, on Nov. 15. (Richard Wainwright/Agence France-Presse via Getty Images)

Britain’s Prince Charles has blamed climate change in part for the Syrian war and warned that global warming could exacerbate similar conflicts worldwide.

Charles’s comments — in an interview broadcast Monday — came exactly one week before the start of a United Nations climate change conference in Paris, where he plans to deliver a keynote address. Unless world leaders take action to slow the impact of climate change, “it’s going to get so much worse,” Charles warned in the interview with Sky News, which was recorded before the Nov. 13 terrorist attacks in Paris.

“Some of us were saying 20 something years ago that if we didn’t tackle these issues you would see ever greater conflict over scarce resources and ever greater difficulties over drought, and the accumulating effect of climate change, which means that people have to move,” he said. “And, in fact, there’s very good evidence indeed that one of the major reasons for this horror in Syria, funnily enough, was a drought that lasted for about five or six years, which meant that huge numbers of people in the end had to leave the land.”

Charles, a longtime environmentalist, is the latest person to blame the Syrian conflict on climate change. Various leading politicians, academics and military officials have made similar claims in recent years.

“It’s not a coincidence that immediately prior to the civil war in Syria, the country experienced its worst drought on record,” Secretary of State John F. Kerry said in a speech at Virginia’s Old Dominion University on Nov. 10. “As many as 1.5 million people migrated from Syria’s farms to its cities, intensifying the political unrest that was just beginning to roil and boil in the region.”

Climate change was “obviously” not the main reason for the crisis, Kerry added, but the drought “exacerbated instability on the ground.”

[There’s a surprisingly strong link between climate change and violence]

Democratic presidential candidates Martin O’Malley and Bernie Sanders have made similar claims. And although the fact-checker PolitiFact found thatSanders overstated a direct link between climate change and terrorism, it rated O’Malley’s description of the “cascading effects” of climate change on instability as “mostly true.”

O’Malley based his claim on a substantial March study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The study found that the drought “had a catalytic effect with dire consequences for Syrians” — and that there is “strong evidence” that the drought was connected to climate change, lead author Colin P. Kelley wrote in a related article for the International Peace Institute at the time.

The drought drove an “unprecedented rise” in Syrian food prices, leading to a “dramatic increase” in nutrition-related diseases among children in Syria’s northeastern provinces, the authors found. That led to the internal displacement of as many as 1.5 million Syrians, swelling the country’s urban centers.

“The rapidly growing urban peripheries of Syria, marked by illegal settlements, overcrowding, poor infrastructure, unemployment, and crime, were neglected by the Assad government and became the heart of the developing unrest,” they contend.

Models they developed suggest that severe droughts such as the one in Syria were two to three times more likely “to occur under the effects of climate change than in its absence,” Kelley wrote.

Other researchers have predicted increased armed conflict in Africa driven by climate change.

And a 2013 academic review of the literature found “that there is more agreement across studies regarding the influence of climate on human conflict than has been recognized previously.”

[Is it too late to solve the mess in the Middle East?]

But these concerns aren’t limited to academics or politicians. In its 2014 Quadrennial Defense Review, the Defense Department described the effects of climate change as “threat multipliers” that could worsen the conditions that facilitate terrorism.

Here’s how the report describes the chain of events (emphasis added):

Climate change poses another significant challenge for the United States and the world at large. As greenhouse gas emissions increase, sea levels are rising, average global temperatures are increasing, and severe weather patterns are accelerating. These changes, coupled with other global dynamics, including growing, urbanizing, more affluent populations, and substantial economic growth in India, China, Brazil, and other nations, will devastate homes, land, and infrastructure. Climate change may exacerbate water scarcity and lead to sharp increases in food costs. The pressures caused by climate change will influence resource competition while placing additional burdens on economies, societies, and governance institutions around the world. These effects are threat multipliers that will aggravate stressors abroad such as poverty, environmental degradation, political instability, and social tensions — conditions that can enable terrorist activity and other forms of violence. 

Then-Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel used the same phrase — “threat multiplier” — in a speech last year, warning that the glacial melt could set off a chain of events wreaking havoc worldwide.

“Destruction and devastation from hurricanes can sow the seeds for instability,” he said at the Conference of Defense Ministers of the Americas. “Droughts and crop failures can leave millions of people without any lifeline and trigger waves of mass migration.”

A year earlier, Navy Adm. Samuel J. Locklear III — who was the top military official monitoring threats from the likes of North Korea, along with conflicts between China and Japan — called climate change the biggest long-term security threat in the Pacific region.

Climate change “is probably the most likely thing that is going to happen … that will cripple the security environment, probably more likely than the other scenarios we all often talk about,” he told the Boston Globe.

Related stories:

Drought helped cause Syria’s war. Will climate change bring more like it?

What the ruins of Kobane tell us about the destruction of Syria

How climate change makes the world more violent

Whether or not global warming leads to more war, it hurts vulnerable people

 

WHAT DOES NOT CAUSE CLIMATE CHANGE

Is the Christmas tree to blame for global warming? Researchers say Europe’s shift to dark green forests of conifers such as pine and spruce has ‘stoked’ global warming

  • Conifers such as pines and spruce dark colour traps the sun’s heat
  • Lighter-coloured trees such as oak or birch reflect more sunlight

By REUTERS

PUBLISHED: 14:04 EST, 4 February 2016 | UPDATED: 16:52 EST, 5 February 2016

 

An expansion of Europe’s forests towards dark green conifers has stoked global warming, according to a study on Thursday at odds with a widespread view that planting more trees helps human efforts to slow rising temperatures.

Forest changes have nudged Europe’s summer temperatures up by 0.12 degree Celsius (0.2 Fahrenheit) since 1750, largely because many nations have planted conifers such as pines and spruce whose dark colour traps the sun’s heat, the scientists said.

Lighter-coloured broad-leafed trees, such as oak or birch, reflect more sunlight back into space but have lost ground to fast-growing conifers, used for everything from building materials to pulp.

Experts say Forest changes have nudged Europe's summer temperatures up by 0.12 degree Celsius (0.2 Fahrenheit) since 1750, largely because many nations have planted conifers such as pines and spruce  (pictured) whose dark colour traps the sun's heat.

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Experts say Forest changes have nudged Europe’s summer temperatures up by 0.12 degree Celsius (0.2 Fahrenheit) since 1750, largely because many nations have planted conifers such as pines and spruce  (pictured) whose dark colour traps the sun’s heat.

THE GOOD AND BAD OF TREES

conifers such as pines and spruce whose dark colour traps the sun’s heat 

Lighter-coloured broad-leafed trees, such as oak or birch, reflect more sunlight back into space but have lost ground to fast-growing conifers, used for everything from building materials to pulp. 

Overall, the area of Europe’s forests has expanded by 10 percent since 1750.

‘Two and a half centuries of forest management in Europe have not cooled the climate,’ the team led by France’s Laboratoire des Sciences du Climat et de l’Environnement wrote in the journal Science.

They said the changes in the make-up of Europe’s forests outweighed trees’ role in curbing global warming. Trees absorb carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas from burning fossil fuels, from the air as they grow.

‘It’s not all about carbon,’ lead author Kim Naudts told Reuters, saying government policies to favour forests should be re-thought to take account of factors such as their colour and changes to moisture and soils.

A Paris agreement among 195 nations in December, meant as a turning point from fossil fuels, promotes forests to help limit a rise in temperatrues, blamed for causing more floods, heatwveas and rising sea levels.

Average world temperatures have risen by 0.9C (1.6F) since the Industrial Revolution.

Cows eat pine needles in a snow covered forest in the Basque mountain port of Opakoa, northern Spain, in this November 23, 2015 file photo. An expansion of Europe's forests towards dark green conifers has stoked global warming, according to a study on February 4, 2016, at odds with a widespread view that planting more trees helps human efforts to slow rising temperatures.

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Cows eat pine needles in a snow covered forest in the Basque mountain port of Opakoa, northern Spain, in this November 23, 2015 file photo. An expansion of Europe’s forests towards dark green conifers has stoked global warming, according to a study on February 4, 2016, at odds with a widespread view that planting more trees helps human efforts to slow rising temperatures.

Since 1750, Europe’s forests have gained 196,000 sq kms (76,000 sq miles) – an area bigger than Greece – to reach 2.13 million sq kms in 2010, the study said.

In the same period, conifer forests expanded by 633,000 sq kms while broad-leaved forests shrank by 436,000 sq kms. Over the period, Europeans have harvested ever more wood from the forests, reducing their role in storing carbon.

Thursday’s study was restricted to Europe but said similar effects were likely in other parts of the world with big forest planting programmes such as China, the United States and Russia.

Another study in Science, by experts at a European Commission research centre in Ispra, Italy, also linked a loss of forests worldwide to an increase in average and maximum temperatures, especially in arid and tropical regions.

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A mixed forest on a sunny autumn day in Recklinghausen, Germany showing the colours of the forest

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A mixed forest on a sunny autumn day in Recklinghausen, Germany showing the colours of the forest

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NO GLOBAL WARMING FOR 18 YEARS 8 MONTHS

Satellites: No global warming at all for 18 years 8 months

The RSS satellite dataset shows no global warming at all for 224 months from May 1997 to December 2015 – more than half the 444-month satellite record.

There has been no warming even though one-third of all anthropogenic forcings since 1750 have occurred since 1997.

Related: It’s Official – There are now 66 excuses for Temp ‘pause’ – Updated list of 66 excuses for the 18-26 year ‘pause’ in global warming

Flashback 1974: ’60 theories have been advanced to explain the global cooling’

By:  – Climate DepotJanuary 12, 2016 9:55 PM with 20 comments

No global warming at all for 18 years 8 months

By Christopher Monckton of Brenchley

The Paris agreement is more dangerous than it appears. Though the secession clause that this column has argued for was inserted into the second draft and remained in the final text, the zombies who have replaced the diplomatic negotiators of almost 200 nations did not – as they should have done in a rational world – insert a sunset clause that would bring the entire costly and pointless process to an end once the observed rate of warming fell far enough below the IPCC’s original predictions in 1990.

It is those first predictions that matter, for they formed the official basis for the climate scam – the biggest transfer of wealth in human history from the poor to the rich, from the little guy to the big guy, from the governed to those who profit by governing them.

Let us hope that the next President of the United States insists on a sunset clause. I propose that if 20 years without global warming occur, the IPCC, the UNFCCC and all their works should be swept into the dustbin of history, and the prosecutors should be brought in. We are already at 18 years 8 months, and counting. The el Niño has shortened the Pause, and will continue to do so for the next few months, but the discrepancy between prediction and reality remains very wide.

clip_image002

Figure 1. The least-squares linear-regression trend on the RSS satellite monthly global mean surface temperature anomaly dataset shows no global warming for 18 years 8 months since May 1997, though one-third of all anthropogenic forcings have occurred during the period of the Pause.

It is worth understanding just how surprised the modelers ought to be by the persistence of the Pause. NOAA, in a very rare fit of honesty, admitted in its 2008 State of the Climatereport that 15 years or more without global warming would demonstrate a discrepancy between prediction and observation. The reason for NOAA’s statement is that there is supposed to be a sharp and significant instantaneous response to a radiative forcing such as adding CO2 to the air.

The steepness of this predicted response can be seen in Fig. 1a, which is based on a paper on temperature feedbacks by Professor Richard Lindzen’s former student Professor Gerard Roe in 2009. The graph of Roe’s model output shows that the initial expected response to a forcing is supposed to be an immediate and rapid warming. But, despite the very substantial forcings in the 18 years 8 months since May 1997, not a flicker of warming has resulted.

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Figure 1a: Models predict rapid initial warming in response to a forcing. Instead, no warming at all is occurring. Based on Roe (2009).

The current el Niño, as Bob Tisdale’s distinguished series of reports here demonstrates, is at least as big as the Great el Niño of 1998. The RSS temperature record is now beginning to reflect its magnitude. If past events of this kind are a guide, there will be several months’ further warming before the downturn in the spike begins.

However, if there is a following la Niña, as there often is, the Pause may return at some time from the end of this year onward.

The hiatus period of 18 years 8 months is the farthest back one can go in the RSS satellite temperature record and still show a sub-zero trend. The start date is not cherry-picked: it is calculated. And the graph does not mean there is no such thing as global warming. Going back further shows a small warming rate. The rate on the RSS dataset since it began in 1979 is equivalent to 1.2 degrees/century.

And yes, the start-date for the Pause has been inching forward, though just a little more slowly than the end-date, which is why the Pause has continued on average to lengthen.

The UAH satellite dataset shows a Pause almost as long as the RSS dataset. However, the much-altered surface tamperature datasets show a small warming rate (Fig. 1b).

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Figure 1b. The least-squares linear-regression trend on the mean of the GISS, HadCRUT4 and NCDC terrestrial monthly global mean surface temperature anomaly datasets shows global warming at a rate equivalent to 1.1 C° per century during the period of the Pause from May 1997 to September 2015.

Bearing in mind that one-third of the 2.4 W m–2 radiative forcing from all manmade sources since 1750 has occurred during the period of the Pause, a warming rate equivalent to little more than 1 C°/century (even if it had occurred) would not be cause for concern.

As always, a note of caution. Merely because there has been little or no warming in recent decades, one may not draw the conclusion that warming has ended forever. The trend lines measure what has occurred: they do not predict what will occur.

The Pause – politically useful though it may be to all who wish that the “official” scientific community would remember its duty of skepticism – is far less important than the growing discrepancy between the predictions of the general-circulation models and observed reality.

The divergence between the models’ predictions in 1990 (Fig. 2) and 2005 (Fig. 3), on the one hand, and the observed outturn, on the other, continues to widen. If the Pause lengthens just a little more, the rate of warming in the quarter-century since the IPCC’sFirst Assessment Report in 1990 will fall below 1 C°/century equivalent.

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Figure 2. Near-term projections of warming at a rate equivalent to 2.8 [1.9, 4.2] K/century, made with “substantial confidence” in IPCC (1990), for the 311 months January 1990 to November 2015 (orange region and red trend line), vs. observed anomalies (dark blue) and trend (bright blue) at just 1 K/century equivalent, taken as the mean of the RSS and UAH v.6 satellite monthly mean lower-troposphere temperature anomalies.

clip_image010

Figure 3. Predicted temperature change, January 2005 to September 2015, at a rate equivalent to 1.7 [1.0, 2.3] Cº/century (orange zone with thick red best-estimate trend line), compared with the near-zero observed anomalies (dark blue) and real-world trend (bright blue), taken as the mean of the RSS and UAH v.6 satellite lower-troposphere temperature anomalies.

The Technical Note explains the sources of the IPCC’s predictions in 1990 and in 2005, and also demonstrates that that according to the ARGO bathythermograph data the oceans are warming at a rate equivalent to less than a quarter of a Celsius degree per century. In a rational scientific discourse, those who had advocated extreme measures to prevent global warming would now be withdrawing and calmly rethinking their hypotheses. However, this is not a rational scientific discourse.

Key facts about global temperature

These facts should be shown to anyone who persists in believing that, in the words of Mr Obama’s Twitteratus, “global warming is real, manmade and dangerous”.

Ø The RSS satellite dataset shows no global warming at all for 224 months from May 1997 to December 2015 – more than half the 444-month satellite record.

Ø There has been no warming even though one-third of all anthropogenic forcings since 1750 have occurred since 1997.

Ø The entire UAH dataset for the 444 months (37 full years) from December 1978 to November 2015 shows global warming at an unalarming rate equivalent to just 1.14 Cº per century.

clip_image012

Ø Since 1950, when a human influence on global temperature first became theoretically possible, the global warming trend has been equivalent to below 1.2 Cº per century.

Ø The global warming trend since 1900 is equivalent to 0.75 Cº per century. This is well within natural variability and may not have much to do with us.

Ø The fastest warming rate lasting 15 years or more since 1950 occurred over the 33 years from 1974 to 2006. It was equivalent to 2.0 Cº per century.

Ø Compare the warming on the Central England temperature dataset in the 40 years 1694-1733, well before the Industrial Revolution, equivalent to 4.33 C°/century.

Ø In 1990, the IPCC’s mid-range prediction of near-term warming was equivalent to 2.8 Cº per century, higher by two-thirds than its current prediction of 1.7 Cº/century.

Ø The warming trend since 1990, when the IPCC wrote its first report, is equivalent to little more than 1 Cº per century. The IPCC had predicted close to thrice as much.

Ø To meet the IPCC’s original central prediction of 1 C° warming from 1990-2025, in the next decade a warming of 0.75 C°, equivalent to 7.5 C°/century, would have to occur.

Ø Though the IPCC has cut its near-term warming prediction, it has not cut its high-end business as usual centennial warming prediction of 4.8 Cº warming to 2100.

Ø The IPCC’s predicted 4.8 Cº warming by 2100 is well over twice the greatest rate of warming lasting more than 15 years that has been measured since 1950.

Ø The IPCC’s 4.8 Cº-by-2100 prediction is four times the observed real-world warming trend since we might in theory have begun influencing it in 1950.

Ø The oceans, according to the 3600+ ARGO buoys, are warming at a rate of just 0.02 Cº per decade, equivalent to 0.23 Cº per century, or 1 C° in 430 years.

Ø Recent extreme-weather events cannot be blamed on global warming, because there has not been any global warming to speak of. It is as simple as that.

Technical note

Our latest topical graph shows the least-squares linear-regression trend on the RSS satellite monthly global mean lower-troposphere dataset for as far back as it is possible to go and still find a zero trend. The start-date is not “cherry-picked” so as to coincide with the temperature spike caused by the 1998 el Niño. Instead, it is calculated so as to find the longest period with a zero trend.

The fact of a long Pause is an indication of the widening discrepancy between prediction and reality in the temperature record.

The satellite datasets are arguably less unreliable than other datasets in that they show the 1998 Great El Niño more clearly than all other datasets. The Great el Niño, like its two predecessors in the past 300 years, caused widespread global coral bleaching, providing an independent verification that the satellite datasets are better able than the rest to capture such fluctuations without artificially filtering them out.

Terrestrial temperatures are measured by thermometers. Thermometers correctly sited in rural areas away from manmade heat sources show warming rates below those that are published. The satellite datasets are based on reference measurements made by the most accurate thermometers available – platinum resistance thermometers, which provide an independent verification of the temperature measurements by checking via spaceward mirrors the known temperature of the cosmic background radiation, which is 1% of the freezing point of water, or just 2.73 degrees above absolute zero. It was by measuring minuscule variations in the cosmic background radiation that the NASA anisotropy probe determined the age of the Universe as 13.82 billion years.

The RSS graph (Fig. 1) is accurate. The data are lifted monthly straight from the RSS website. A computer algorithm reads them down from the text file and plots them automatically using an advanced routine that automatically adjusts the aspect ratio of the data window at both axes so as to show the data at maximum scale, for clarity.

The latest monthly data point is visually inspected to ensure that it has been correctly positioned. The light blue trend line plotted across the dark blue spline-curve that shows the actual data is determined by the method of least-squares linear regression, which calculates the y-intercept and slope of the line.

The IPCC and most other agencies use linear regression to determine global temperature trends. Professor Phil Jones of the University of East Anglia recommends it in one of the Climategate emails. The method is appropriate because global temperature records exhibit little auto-regression, since summer temperatures in one hemisphere are compensated by winter in the other. Therefore, an AR(n) model would generate results little different from a least-squares trend.

Dr Stephen Farish, Professor of Epidemiological Statistics at the University of Melbourne, kindly verified the reliability of the algorithm that determines the trend on the graph and the correlation coefficient, which is very low because, though the data are highly variable, the trend is flat.

RSS itself is now taking a serious interest in the length of the Great Pause. Dr Carl Mears, the senior research scientist at RSS, discusses it at remss.com/blog/recent-slowing-rise-global-temperatures.

Dr Mears’ results are summarized in Fig. T1:

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Figure T1. Output of 33 IPCC models (turquoise) compared with measured RSS global temperature change (black), 1979-2014. The transient coolings caused by the volcanic eruptions of Chichón (1983) and Pinatubo (1991) are shown, as is the spike in warming caused by the great el Niño of 1998.

Dr Mears writes:

“The denialists like to assume that the cause for the model/observation discrepancy is some kind of problem with the fundamental model physics, and they pooh-pooh any other sort of explanation.  This leads them to conclude, very likely erroneously, that the long-term sensitivity of the climate is much less than is currently thought.”

Dr Mears concedes the growing discrepancy between the RSS data and the models, but he alleges “cherry-picking” of the start-date for the global-temperature graph:

“Recently, a number of articles in the mainstream press have pointed out that there appears to have been little or no change in globally averaged temperature over the last two decades.  Because of this, we are getting a lot of questions along the lines of ‘I saw this plot on a denialist web site.  Is this really your data?’  While some of these reports have ‘cherry-picked’ their end points to make their evidence seem even stronger, there is not much doubt that the rate of warming since the late 1990s is less than that predicted by most of the IPCC AR5 simulations of historical climate.  … The denialists really like to fit trends starting in 1997, so that the huge 1997-98 ENSO event is at the start of their time series, resulting in a linear fit with the smallest possible slope.”

In fact, the spike in temperatures caused by the Great el Niño of 1998 is almost entirely offset in the linear-trend calculation by two factors: the not dissimilar spike of the 2010 el Niño, and the sheer length of the Great Pause itself. The headline graph in these monthly reports begins in 1997 because that is as far back as one can go in the data and still obtain a zero trend.

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Fig. T1a. Graphs for RSS and GISS temperatures starting both in 1997 and in 2001. For each dataset the trend-lines are near-identical, showing conclusively that the argument that the Pause was caused by the 1998 el Nino is false (Werner Brozek and Professor Brown worked out this neat demonstration).

Curiously, Dr Mears prefers the terrestrial datasets to the satellite datasets. The UK Met Office, however, uses the satellite data to calibrate its own terrestrial record.

The length of the Pause, significant though it now is, is of less importance than the ever-growing discrepancy between the temperature trends predicted by models and the far less exciting real-world temperature change that has been observed.

Sources of the IPCC projections in Figs. 2 and 3

IPCC’s First Assessment Report predicted that global temperature would rise by 1.0 [0.7, 1.5] Cº to 2025, equivalent to 2.8 [1.9, 4.2] Cº per century. The executive summary asked, “How much confidence do we have in our predictions?” IPCC pointed out some uncertainties (clouds, oceans, etc.), but concluded:

“Nevertheless, … we have substantial confidence that models can predict at least the broad-scale features of climate change. … There are similarities between results from the coupled models using simple representations of the ocean and those using more sophisticated descriptions, and our understanding of such differences as do occur gives us some confidence in the results.”

That “substantial confidence” was substantial over-confidence. For the rate of global warming since 1990 – the most important of the “broad-scale features of climate change” that the models were supposed to predict – is now below half what the IPCC had then predicted.

In 1990, the IPCC said this:

“Based on current models we predict:

“under the IPCC Business-as-Usual (Scenario A) emissions of greenhouse gases, a rate of increase of global mean temperature during the next century of about 0.3 Cº per decade (with an uncertainty range of 0.2 Cº to 0.5 Cº per decade), this is greater than that seen over the past 10,000 years. This will result in a likely increase in global mean temperature of about 1 Cº above the present value by 2025 and 3 Cº before the end of the next century. The rise will not be steady because of the influence of other factors” (p. xii).

Later, the IPCC said:

“The numbers given below are based on high-resolution models, scaled to be consistent with our best estimate of global mean warming of 1.8 Cº by 2030. For values consistent with other estimates of global temperature rise, the numbers below should be reduced by 30% for the low estimate or increased by 50% for the high estimate” (p. xxiv).

The orange region in Fig. 2 represents the IPCC’s medium-term Scenario-A estimate of near-term warming, i.e. 1.0 [0.7, 1.5] K by 2025.

The IPCC’s predicted global warming over the 25 years from 1990 to the present differs little from a straight line (Fig. T2).

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Figure T2. Historical warming from 1850-1990, and predicted warming from 1990-2100 on the IPCC’s “business-as-usual” Scenario A (IPCC, 1990, p. xxii).

Because this difference between a straight line and the slight uptick in the warming rate the IPCC predicted over the period 1990-2025 is so small, one can look at it another way. To reach the 1 K central estimate of warming since 1990 by 2025, there would have to be twice as much warming in the next ten years as there was in the last 25 years. That is not likely.

But is the Pause perhaps caused by the fact that CO2 emissions have not been rising anything like as fast as the IPCC’s “business-as-usual” Scenario A prediction in 1990? No: CO2 emissions have risen rather above the Scenario-A prediction (Fig. T3).

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Figure T3. CO2 emissions from fossil fuels, etc., in 2012, from Le Quéré et al. (2014), plotted against the chart of “man-made carbon dioxide emissions”, in billions of tonnes of carbon per year, from IPCC (1990).

Plainly, therefore, CO2 emissions since 1990 have proven to be closer to Scenario A than to any other case, because for all the talk about CO2 emissions reduction the fact is that the rate of expansion of fossil-fuel burning in China, India, Indonesia, Brazil, etc., far outstrips the paltry reductions we have achieved in the West to date.

True, methane concentration has not risen as predicted in 1990 (Fig. T4), for methane emissions, though largely uncontrolled, are simply not rising as the models had predicted. Here, too, all of the predictions were extravagantly baseless.

The overall picture is clear. Scenario A is the emissions scenario from 1990 that is closest to the observed CO2 emissions outturn.

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Figure T4. Methane concentration as predicted in four IPCC Assessment Reports, together with (in black) the observed outturn, which is running along the bottom of the least prediction. This graph appeared in the pre-final draft of IPCC (2013), but had mysteriously been deleted from the final, published version, inferentially because the IPCC did not want to display such a plain comparison between absurdly exaggerated predictions and unexciting reality.

To be precise, a quarter-century after 1990, the global-warming outturn to date – expressed as the least-squares linear-regression trend on the mean of the RSS and UAH monthly global mean surface temperature anomalies – is 0.27 Cº, equivalent to little more than 1 Cº/century. The IPCC’s central estimate of 0.71 Cº, equivalent to 2.8 Cº/century, that was predicted for Scenario A in IPCC (1990) with “substantial confidence” was approaching three times too big. In fact, the outturn is visibly well below even the least estimate.

In 1990, the IPCC’s central prediction of the near-term warming rate was higher by two-thirds than its prediction is today. Then it was 2.8 C/century equivalent. Now it is just 1.7 Cº equivalent – and, as Fig. T5 shows, even that is proving to be a substantial exaggeration.

Is the ocean warming?

One frequently-discussed explanation for the Great Pause is that the coupled ocean-atmosphere system has continued to accumulate heat at approximately the rate predicted by the models, but that in recent decades the heat has been removed from the atmosphere by the ocean and, since globally the near-surface strata show far less warming than the models had predicted, it is hypothesized that what is called the “missing heat” has traveled to the little-measured abyssal strata below 2000 m, whence it may emerge at some future date.

Actually, it is not known whether the ocean is warming: each of the 3600 automated ARGO bathythermograph buoys takes just three measurements a month in 200,000 cubic kilometres of ocean – roughly a 100,000-square-mile box more than 316 km square and 2 km deep. Plainly, the results on the basis of a resolution that sparse (which, as Willis Eschenbach puts it, is approximately the equivalent of trying to take a single temperature and salinity profile taken at a single point in Lake Superior less than once a year) are not going to be a lot better than guesswork.

Unfortunately ARGO seems not to have updated the ocean dataset since December 2014. However, what we have gives us 11 full years of data. Results are plotted in Fig. T5. The ocean warming, if ARGO is right, is equivalent to just 0.02 Cº decade–1, equivalent to 0.2 Cº century–1.

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Figure T5. The entire near-global ARGO 2 km ocean temperature dataset from January 2004 to December 2014 (black spline-curve), with the least-squares linear-regression trend calculated from the data by the author (green arrow).

Finally, though the ARGO buoys measure ocean temperature change directly, before publication NOAA craftily converts the temperature change into zettajoules of ocean heat content change, which make the change seem a whole lot larger.

The terrifying-sounding heat content change of 260 ZJ from 1970 to 2014 (Fig. T6) is equivalent to just 0.2 K/century of global warming. All those “Hiroshima bombs of heat” of which the climate-extremist websites speak are a barely discernible pinprick. The ocean and its heat capacity are a lot bigger than some may realize.

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Figure T6. Ocean heat content change, 1957-2013, in Zettajoules from NOAA’s NODC Ocean Climate Lab: http://www.nodc.noaa.gov/OC5/3M_HEAT_CONTENT, with the heat content values converted back to the ocean temperature changes in Kelvin that were originally measured. NOAA’s conversion of the minuscule warming data to Zettajoules, combined with the exaggerated vertical aspect of the graph, has the effect of making a very small change in ocean temperature seem considerably more significant than it is.

Converting the ocean heat content change back to temperature change reveals an interesting discrepancy between NOAA’s data and that of the ARGO system. Over the period of ARGO data, from 2004-2014, the NOAA data imply that the oceans are warming at 0.05 Cº decade–1, equivalent to 0.5 Cº century–1, or rather more than double the rate shown by ARGO.

ARGO has the better-resolved dataset, but since the resolutions of all ocean datasets are very low one should treat all these results with caution.

What one can say is that, on such evidence as these datasets are capable of providing, the difference between underlying warming rate of the ocean and that of the atmosphere is not statistically significant, suggesting that if the “missing heat” is hiding in the oceans it has magically found its way into the abyssal strata without managing to warm the upper strata on the way.

On these data, too, there is no evidence of rapid or catastrophic ocean warming.

Furthermore, to date no empirical, theoretical or numerical method, complex or simple, has yet successfully specified mechanistically either how the heat generated by anthropogenic greenhouse-gas enrichment of the atmosphere has reached the deep ocean without much altering the heat content of the intervening near-surface strata or how the heat from the bottom of the ocean may eventually re-emerge to perturb the near-surface climate conditions relevant to land-based life on Earth.

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Figure T7. Near-global ocean temperatures by stratum, 0-1900 m, providing a visual reality check to show just how little the upper strata are affected by minor changes in global air surface temperature. Source: ARGO marine atlas.

Most ocean models used in performing coupled general-circulation model sensitivity runs simply cannot resolve most of the physical processes relevant for capturing heat uptake by the deep ocean.

Ultimately, the second law of thermodynamics requires that any heat which may have accumulated in the deep ocean will dissipate via various diffusive processes. It is not plausible that any heat taken up by the deep ocean will suddenly warm the upper ocean and, via the upper ocean, the atmosphere.

If the “deep heat” explanation for the Pause were correct (and it is merely one among dozens that have been offered), the complex models have failed to account for it correctly: otherwise, the growing discrepancy between the predicted and observed atmospheric warming rates would not have become as significant as it has.

In early October 2015 Steven Goddard added some very interesting graphs to his website. The graphs show the extent to which sea levels have been tampered with to make it look as though there has been sea-level rise when it is arguable that in fact there has been little or none.

Why were the models’ predictions exaggerated?

In 1990 the IPCC predicted – on its business-as-usual Scenario A – that from the Industrial Revolution till the present there would have been 4 Watts per square meter of radiative forcing caused by Man (Fig. T8):

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Figure T8. Predicted manmade radiative forcings (IPCC, 1990).

However, from 1995 onward the IPCC decided to assume, on rather slender evidence, that anthropogenic particulate aerosols – mostly soot from combustion – were shading the Earth from the Sun to a large enough extent to cause a strong negative forcing. It has also now belatedly realized that its projected increases in methane concentration were wild exaggerations. As a result of these and other changes, it now estimates that the net anthropogenic forcing of the industrial era is just 2.3 Watts per square meter, or little more than half its prediction in 1990 (Fig. T9):

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Figure T9: Net anthropogenic forcings, 1750 to 1950, 1980 and 2012 (IPCC, 2013).

Even this, however, may be a considerable exaggeration. For the best estimate of the actual current top-of-atmosphere radiative imbalance (total natural and anthropo-genic net forcing) is only 0.6 Watts per square meter (Fig. T10):

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Figure T10. Energy budget diagram for the Earth from Stephens et al. (2012)

In short, most of the forcing predicted by the IPCC is either an exaggeration or has already resulted in whatever temperature change it was going to cause. There is little global warming in the pipeline as a result of our past and present sins of emission.

It is also possible that the IPCC and the models have relentlessly exaggerated climate sensitivity. One recent paper on this question is Monckton of Brenchley et al. (2015), which found climate sensitivity to be in the region of 1 Cº per CO2 doubling (go to scibull.com and click “Most Read Articles”). The paper identified errors in the models’ treatment of temperature feedbacks and their amplification, which account for two-thirds of the equilibrium warming predicted by the IPCC.

Professor Ray Bates gave a paper in Moscow in summer 2015 in which he concluded, based on the analysis by Lindzen & Choi (2009, 2011) (Fig. T10), that temperature feedbacks are net-negative. Accordingly, he supports the conclusion both by Lindzen & Choi (1990) (Fig. T11) and by Spencer & Braswell (2010, 2011) that climate sensitivity is below – and perhaps considerably below – 1 Cº per CO2 doubling.

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Figure T11. Reality (center) vs. 11 models. From Lindzen & Choi (2009).

A growing body of reviewed papers find climate sensitivity considerably below the 3 [1.5, 4.5] Cº per CO2 doubling that was first put forward in the Charney Report of 1979 for the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, and is still the IPCC’s best estimate today.

On the evidence to date, therefore, there is no scientific basis for taking any action at all to mitigate CO2 emissions.

Finally, how long will it be before the Freedom Clock (Fig. T12) reaches 20 years without any global warming? If it does, the climate scare will become unsustainable.

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Figure T12. The Freedom Clock edges ever closer to 20 years without global warming

#

Related Links: 

It’s Official – There are now 66 excuses for Temp ‘pause’ – Updated list of 66 excuses for the 18-26 year ‘pause’ in global warming

Flashback: 1990 NASA Report: ‘Satellite analysis of upper atmosphere is more accurate, & should be adopted as the standard way to monitor temp change.’

April 1990 – The Canberra Times: ‘A report Issued by the U.S. space agency NASA…’

‘The [NASA] report’s authors said that their satellite analysis of the upper atmosphere is more accurate, and should be adopted as the standard way to monitor temperature change.’

ScreenHunter_1303 Jan. 07 11.06

Real Science website analysis: ‘Twenty-four years later, NASA and NOAA ignore the more accurate satellite data – and report only useless, tampered surface temperatures.’

Flashback 1974: ’60 theories have been advanced to explain the global cooling’ – In the 1970’s scientists were predicting a new ice age, and had 60 theories to explain it.: – Ukiah Daily Journal 0 November 20, 1974 – “The cooling trend heralds the start of another ice age, of a duration that could last form 200 years to several milenia…Sixty theories have been advanced, he said, to explain the global cooling period.”

Read more: http://www.climatedepot.com/2016/01/12/satellites-no-global-warming-at-all-for-18-years-8-months/#ixzz3zVi4s7KY

THE CLIMATE SNOW JOB

SCIENCE VS POLITICS

A big storm nowadays is bound to trigger media discussion of the alleged role of greenhouse gases in extreme weather events. But Patrick Michaels writes, “As data from the world’s biggest reinsurer, Munich Re, and University of Colorado environmental-studies professor Roger Pielke Jr. have shown, weather-related losses haven’t increased at all over the past quarter-century. In fact, the trend, while not statistically significant, is downward.”

But what about the impact of those gases on global temperatures? “Until last June, most scientists acknowledged that warming reached a peak in the late 1990s, and since then had plateaued in a ‘hiatus.’ There are about 60 different explanations for this in the refereed literature,” writes Mr. Michaels. “That changed last summer, when the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) decided to overhaul its data, throwing out satellite-sensed sea-surface temperatures since the late 1970s and instead relying on, among other sources, readings taken from the cooling-water-intake tubes of oceangoing vessels. The scientific literature is replete with articles about the large measurement errors that accrue in this data,” he adds.

THE CLIMATE SNOW JOB
By 

PATRICK J. MICHAELS

Jan. 24, 2016 2:45 p.m. ET

An East Coast blizzard howling, global temperatures peaking, the desert Southwest flooding, drought-stricken California drying up—surely there’s a common thread tying together this “extreme” weather. There is. But it has little to do with what recent headlines have been saying about the hottest year ever. It is called business as usual.

Surface temperatures are indeed increasing slightly: They’ve been going up, in fits and starts, for more than 150 years, or since a miserably cold and pestilential period known as the Little Ice Age. Before carbon dioxide from economic activity could have warmed us up, temperatures rose three-quarters of a degree Fahrenheit between 1910 and World War II. They then cooled down a bit, only to warm again from the mid-1970s to the late ’90s, about the same amount as earlier in the century.

Whether temperatures have warmed much since then depends on what you look at. Until last June, most scientists acknowledged that warming reached a peak in the late 1990s, and since then had plateaued in a “hiatus.” There are about 60 different explanations for this in the refereed literature.

That changed last summer, when the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) decided to overhaul its data, throwing out satellite-sensed sea-surface temperatures since the late 1970s and instead relying on, among other sources, readings taken from the cooling-water-intake tubes of oceangoing vessels. The scientific literature is replete with articles about the large measurement errors that accrue in this data owing to the fact that a ship’s infrastructure conducts heat, absorbs a tremendous amount of the sun’s energy, and vessels’ intake tubes are at different ocean depths. See, for instance, John J. Kennedy’s “A review of uncertainty in in situ measurements and data sets of sea surface temperature,” published Jan. 24, 2014, by the journal Reviews of Geophysics. 

NOAA’s alteration of its measurement standard and other changes produced a result that could have been predicted: a marginally significant warming trend in the data over the past several years, erasing the temperature plateau that vexed climate alarmists have found difficult to explain. Yet the increase remains far below what had been expected.

It is nonetheless true that 2015 shows the highest average surface temperature in the 160-year global history since reliable records started being available, with or without the “hiatus.” But that is also not very surprising. Early in 2015, a massive El Niño broke out. These quasiperiodic reversals of Pacific trade winds and deep-ocean currents are well-documented but poorly understood. They suppress the normally massive upwelling of cold water off South America that spreads across the ocean (and is the reason that Lima may be the most pleasant equatorial city on the planet). The Pacific reversal releases massive amounts of heat, and therefore surface temperature spikes. El Niño years in a warm plateau usually set a global-temperature record. What happened this year also happened with the last big one, in 1998. 

Global average surface temperature in 2015 popped up by a bit more than a quarter of a degree Fahrenheit compared with the previous year. In 1998 the temperature rose by slightly less than a quarter-degree from 1997.

When the Pacific circulation returns to its more customary mode, all that suppressed cold water will surge to the surface with a vengeance, and global temperatures will drop. Temperatures in 1999 were nearly three-tenths of a degree lower than in 1998, and a similar change should occur this time around, though it might not fit so neatly into a calendar year. Often the compensatory cooling, known as La Niña, is larger than the El Niño warming.

There are two real concerns about warming, neither of which has anything to do with the El Niño-enhanced recent peak. How much more is the world likely to warm as civilization continues to exhale carbon dioxide, and does warming make the weather more “extreme,” which means more costly? 

Instead of relying on debatable surface-temperature information, consider instead readings in the free atmosphere (technically, the lower troposphere) taken by two independent sensors: satellite sounders and weather balloons. As has been shown repeatedly by University of Alabama climate scientist John Christy, since late 1978 (when the satellite record begins), the rate of warming in the satellite-sensed data is barely a third of what it was supposed to have been, according to the large family of global climate models now in existence. Balloon data, averaged over the four extant data sets, shows the same. 

It is therefore probably prudent to cut by 50% the modeled temperature forecasts for the rest of this century. Doing so would mean that the world—without any political effort at all—won’t warm by the dreaded 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit by 2100 that the United Nations regards as the climate apocalypse.

The notion that world-wide weather is becoming more extreme is just that: a notion, or a testable hypothesis. As data from the world’s biggest reinsurer, Munich Re, and University of Colorado environmental-studies professor Roger Pielke Jr. have shown, weather-related losses haven’t increased at all over the past quarter-century. In fact, the trend, while not statistically significant, is downward. Last year showed the second-smallest weather-related loss of Global World Productivity, or GWP, in the entire record.

Without El Niño, temperatures in 2015 would have been typical of the post-1998 regime. And, even with El Niño, the effect those temperatures had on the global economy was de minimis.

Mr. Michaels, a climatologist, is the director of the Center for the Study of Science at the Cato Institute.

The Climate Snow Job

A blizzard! The hottest year ever! More signs that global warming and its extreme effects are beyond debate, right? Not even close.

 

The Climate Snow Job

A blizzard! The hottest year ever! More signs that global warming and its extreme effects are beyond debate, right? Not even close.

On the National Mall in Washington, D.C., Jan. 23.
On the National Mall in Washington, D.C., Jan. 23. PHOTO: BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE/GETTY IMAGE

 

CLIMATE SLOWS DOWN EARTH’S SPIN :)

INSULTING OUR INTELLIGENCE BY USING PSEUDOSCIENCE TS

1.7 MILLISECONDS SLOWING IN HUNDRED YEARS ; MEASURED BY USING ANCIENT ECLIPSE RECORDS :)

Melting glaciers, rising sea level slow down Earth’s rotation

Ancient eclipse records used to calculate changes in speed of Earth’s spin

By Emily Chung, CBC News Posted: Dec 11, 2015 3:35 PM ET Last Updated: Dec 11, 2015 4:08 PM ET

The new study shows that the Earth's rotation is slowing down as a result of melting glaciers and rising sea levels.The new study shows that the Earth’s rotation is slowing down as a result of melting glaciers and rising sea levels. (NASA)

With human-caused climate change, we puny creatures are having some powerful effects on our entire planet, including one you might not imagine was possible — making it spin more slowly.

The melting of glaciers near the Earth’s poles and the resulting rise in sea level is slowing down the Earth’s rotation and making each day a little longer, a new study confirms.

Scientists had predicted it would happen, but to their puzzlement, they couldn’t measure much of an effect.

Glaciers contain a huge amount of mass near the poles, close to the Earth’s axis of rotation, which runs from pole to pole. When glaciers melt, the meltwater ends up in the oceans, which have most of their volume near the equator, farther away from the Earth’s axis.

Mathieu DumberryScientists measure changes in the speed of the Earth’s rotation over thousands of years by looking at records of ancient eclipses recorded by civilizations such as the Babylonians, says Mathieu Dumberry, a physics professor at the University of Alberta. (John Ulan)

Just as a spinning figure skater slows down as she extends her arms out from her chest, moving mass away from the Earth’s axis of rotation should slow the Earth down, says Mathieu Dumberry, a physics professor at the University of Alberta who co-authored the paper published today in the journal Science Advances.

Scientists measure changes in the speed of the Earth’s rotation over thousands of years by looking at records of ancient eclipses recorded by civilizations such as the Babylonians, Dumberry said.

Because astronomers know the Earth’s orbit very precisely, they can predict exactly what date and time eclipses should have been visible if the Earth were always rotating at the same rate as it is today. But if the Earth were rotating at a slightly different speed, the part of the Earth facing the moon at a given point during the eclipse would be different.

FIGURE-SKATING-WORLD/Just as a spinning figure skater slows down as she extends her arms away from her chest, moving mass away from the Earth’s axis of rotation should slow the Earth down. (Lucy Nicholson/Reuters)

The eclipse records showed the Earth just wasn’t slowing down as much as scientists expected as the glaciers melted, based on our most recent understanding of different factors that affect the Earth’s rotation. Those include:

  • The rise in the Earth’s crust near the poles once it was no longer pressed down by the weight of ice sheets from the last ice age – a phenomenon called post-glacial rebound that tends to speed up the Earth’s rotation.
  • The pull of the moon, which tends to slow down the rotation.

The numbers just didn’t add up, and scientists couldn’t explain why.

‘Like a hamster in a wheel’

The new study, led by Jerry Mitrovica, a professor of geophysics at Harvard University, found there was a piece missing. We only directly observe the rotation of the Earth’s surface, but the Earth’s liquid core doesn’t rotate at the same rate.

“It’s like a hamster in a wheel,” Dumberry said. “The hamster runs in one direction and the wheel [turns] in the other.”

COP21 Argentina Perito Moreno glacier Nov 29 2015Glaciers such as Argentina’s Perito Moreno contain a huge amount of mass near the poles, close to the Earth’s axis of rotation. When glaciers melt, the meltwater ends up in the oceans, which have most of their volume near the equator, farther away from the Earth’s axis. (Mario Tama/Getty)

Changes in the rotation of the Earth’s core can be detected by changes in the Earth’s magnetic field.

“Earth’s core has accelerated,” Dumberry said. “It has been moving slightly faster in the past 3,000 years.”

The researchers added that missing piece of information to their calculations, along with the latest tide gauge and satellite data about the amount of sea-level rise and post-glacial rebound. They found glacier melt due to climate change since the industrial revolution has caused the Earth to slow down exactly as they had predicted.

How much? Don’t expect too much extra time on your hands — researchers predict that a century from now, Earth’s slower rotation will make each day 1.7 milliseconds longer.

CLIMATE IN PARIS

 

PARIS

The moment to be wariest of political enthusiasms is precisely when elite opinion is all lined up on one side. So it is with the weekend agreement out of Paris on climate policy, which President Obama declared with his familiar modesty “can be a turning point for the world” and is “the best chance we have to save the one planet that we’ve got.”

Forgive us for looking through the legacy smoke, but if climate change really does imperil the Earth, and we doubt it does, nothing coming out of a gaggle of governments and the United Nations will save it. What will help is human invention and the entrepreneurial spirit. To the extent the Paris accord increases political control over human and natural resources, it will make the world poorer and technological progress less likely.

***
The climate confab’s self-described political success is rooted in a CONCEIT and a BRIBE. The conceit is that the terms of the agreement will have some tangible impact on global temperatures. The big breakthrough is supposed to be that for the first time developing and developed countries have committed to reducing carbon emissions. But the commitments by these nations are voluntary with no enforcement mechanism.

China (the No. 1 CO2 emitter) and India (No. 3 after the U.S.) have made commitments that they may or may not honor, depending on whether they can meet them without interfering with economic growth. If the choice is lifting millions out of poverty or reducing CO2, poverty reduction will prevail—as it should.

Germany’s high energy costs in particular have been driving companies offshore thanks to its renewable energy costs and mandates.

But no one is happier than President Obama, who would have to submit a binding treaty to the Senate for ratification.

Mr. Obama’s U.S. CO2-reduction targets are fanciful in any case, short of a major technological breakthrough. The President promises that the U.S. will reduce carbon emissions by 26% to 28% from 2005 levels by 2025, but the specific means he has proposed to get there would only yield about half that. And that’s assuming none of Mr. Obama’s unilateral regulatory policies are declared illegal by U.S. courts.

As for the BRIBE, rich countries in Paris bought the cooperation of the developing world by promising to send $100 billion a year in climate aid. So the governments of the West are now going to dun their taxpayers to transfer money to the clean and green governments run by the likes of Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe. We can’t wait to see New York’s Chuck Schumer make the case on the Senate floor for American aid to China so it can become more energy efficient and economically competitive.

The world’s poor can best cope with climate harm if they are richer, which requires faster economic growth. Yet everything we know about economic development is that foreign aid retards growth when it expands the reach of Third World governments. Poor countries won’t be helped by subsidies for solar cells delivered through the World Bank.

Which brings us to the development on the fringes of Paris that might do some good. Bill Gates is hitting up his fellow billionaires to pay for research into energy alternatives to fossil fuels. This is a tacit admission that the technology doesn’t exist to make alternatives cost-effective no matter how many subsidies governments offer. If carbon energy’s efficiency and wealth creation are going to be displaced, the world will need advances in battery storage and nuclear energy, among other things.

The grandiose claims of triumph in Paris represent the self-interest of a political elite that wants more control over the private economy in the U.S. and around the world. These are the last people who will save the planet.

 WEJ Dec. 13, 2015

LIBERALISM’S IMAGINARY ENEMIES

Liberalism’s Imaginary Enemies

In Paris, it’s easier to battle a climate crisis than confront jihadists on the streets.

By

BRET STEPHENS

Nov. 30, 2015 7:17 p.m. ET

President Obama at an opening-day meeting for the Paris climate summit, Nov. 30.ENLARGE
President Obama at an opening-day meeting for the Paris climate summit, Nov. 30. PHOTO: POOL/REUTERS

Little children have imaginary friends. Modern liberalism has imaginary enemies.

Hunger in America is an imaginary enemy. Liberal advocacy groups routinely claim that one in seven Americans is hungry—in a country where the poorest counties have the highest rates of obesity. The statistic is a preposterous extrapolation from a dubious Agriculture Department measure of “food insecurity.” But the line gives those advocacy groups a reason to exist while feeding the liberal narrative of America as a savage society of haves and have nots.

The campus-rape epidemic—in which one in five female college students is said to be the victim of sexual assault—is an imaginary enemy. Never mind the debunked rape scandals at Duke and the University of Virginia, or the soon-to-be-debunked case at the heart of “The Hunting Ground,” a documentary about an alleged sexual assault at Harvard Law School. The real question is: If modern campuses were really zones of mass predation—Congo on the quad—why would intelligent young women even think of attending a coeducational school? They do because there is no epidemic. But the campus-rape narrative sustains liberal fictions of a never-ending war on women.

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Editorial Page Editor Paul Gigot on what to expect as global leaders meet to talk climate change. Photo credit: Getty Images.

Institutionalized racism is an imaginary enemy. Somehow we’re supposed to believe that the same college administrators who have made a religion of diversity are really the second coming of Strom Thurmond. Somehow we’re supposed to believe that twice electing a black president is evidence of our racial incorrigibility. We’re supposed to believe this anyway because the future of liberal racialism—from affirmative action to diversity quotas to slavery reparations—requires periodic sightings of the ghosts of a racist past.

I mention these examples by way of preface to the climate-change summit that began this week in Paris. But first notice a pattern.

Dramatic crises—for which evidence tends to be anecdotal, subjective, invisible, tendentious and sometimes fabricated—are trumpeted on the basis of incompetently designed studies, poorly understood statistics, or semantic legerdemain. Food insecurity is not remotely the same as hunger. An abusive cop does not equal a bigoted police department. An unwanted kiss or touch is not the same as sexual assault, at least if the word assault is to mean anything.

Yet bogus studies and statistics survive because the cottage industries of compassion need them to be believed, and because mindless repetition has a way of making things nearly true, and because dramatic crises require drastic and all-encompassing solutions. Besides, the thinking goes, falsehood and exaggeration can serve a purpose if it induces virtuous behavior. The more afraid we are of the shadow of racism, the more conscious we might become of our own unsuspected biases.

And so to Paris.

I’m not the first to notice the incongruity of this huge gathering of world leaders meeting to combat a notional enemy in the same place where a real enemy just inflicted so much mortal damage.

Then again, it’s also appropriate, since reality-substitution is how modern liberalism conducts political business. What is the central liberal project of the 21st century, if not to persuade people that climate change represents an infinitely greater threat to human civilization than the barbarians—sorry, violent extremists—of Mosul and Molenbeek? Why overreact to a few hundred deaths today when hundreds of thousands will be dead in a century or two if we fail to act now?

Here again the same dishonest pattern is at work. The semantic trick in the phrase “climate change”—allowing every climate anomaly to serve as further proof of the overall theory. The hysteria generated by an imperceptible temperature rise of 1.7 degrees Fahrenheit since 1880—as if the trend is bound to continue forever, or is not a product of natural variation, or cannot be mitigated except by drastic policy interventions. The hyping of flimsy studies—melting Himalayan glaciers; vanishing polar ice—to press the political point. The job security and air of self-importance this provides the tens of thousands of people—EPA bureaucrats, wind-turbine manufacturers, litigious climate scientists, NGO gnomes—whose livelihoods depend on a climate crisis. The belief that even if the crisis isn’t quite what it’s cracked up to be, it does us all good to be more mindful about the environment.

And, of course, the chance to switch the subject. If your enemy is global jihad, then to defeat it you need military wherewithal, martial talents and political will. If your enemy is the structure of an energy-intensive global economy, then you need a compelling justification to change it. Climate dystopia can work wonders, provided the jihadists don’t interrupt too often.

Here’s a climate prediction for the year 2115: Liberals will still be organizing campaigns against yet another mooted social or environmental crisis. Temperatures will be about the same.

Write bstephens@wsj.com.

PARIS CLIMATE DEBATE

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Armageddon Redux at Paris Climate Debate

Is it too much to hope that the futile global climate crusade collapses to free public and private resources for here-and-now problems, not distant, hypothetical, unlikely ones?

The day before “Your Complete Guide to the Climate Debate” by Matt Ridley and Benny Peiser was published as a Nov. 28 op-ed, former NASA scientist James Hansen, considered by many to be the father of the U.S. climate concern, wrote: “The danger is that Paris will lay a Kyoto” wherein “each country promises to do better.” 

He warned: “Watch what happens in Paris carefully to see if all that the leaders do is sign off on the pap that U.N. bureaucrats are putting together, indulgences and promises to reduce future emissions, and then clap each other on the back and declare success.”

The same James Hansen warned back in 2006: “We have at most ten years—not ten years to decide upon action, but ten years to alter fundamentally the trajectory of global greenhouse emissions” before it is too late.

Is it too much to hope that the futile global climate crusade collapses to free public and private resources for here-and-now problems, not distant, hypothetical, unlikely ones? 

Robert L. Bradley Jr.

CEO and Founder

Institute for Energy Research

Houston

 

While climate change is the elephant in the room, what environmental doomsayers never mention is that the environment in the freer-market, publicly accountable Western democracies is cleaner by almost every metric than it’s been in more than 100 years—far better air quality, far fewer unsecure landfills, much better drinking water quality, far better wastewater treatment, far better lake/river water quality, light years better air and water treatment technologies, many more robust habitats. Having worked on hundreds of environmental projects over the past four decades, I’ve seen this improvement firsthand, though it’s a deep, dark secret to the public at large because these facts don’t fit the apocalyptic environmentalists’ narrative.

Thomas M. Doran

Plymouth, Mich.

Messrs. Ridley and Peiser cite three principal reasons to question the idea that rising levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide will cause catastrophic global warming: the planet was significantly warmer thousands of years ago, world temperatures have gone up far less than predicted, and observed “climate sensitivity” to carbon dioxide emissions is much lower than climate models assume. These are indeed relevant arguments.

I submit, however, that the authors, like many others writing in opposition to the global-warming scare, overlook the primary objection: The prediction that global warming will cause immense environmental damage is an assumption that cannot be verified. It is an example of consensus science, which in recent decades strangely has pervaded the scientific community but is not science at all.

William E. Josey, M.D.

Sandy Springs, Ga.

 ” It is an example of consensus science, which in recent decades strangely has pervaded the scientific community but is not science at all.”

 Well said. It is mind boggling that liberals do not understand that concept. It does not matter if 99% of scientist agree on a physical or biological phenomenon. This kind of dogma has happened many times in the past to eventually be proven wrong.

If and I mean *if* man’s effects on climate is an issue, it is obviously not a pressing issue. Research and free markets will eventually solve the problem, not government mandates to erect more windmills

If greens are really that concerned, they would embrace electricity generation by nuclear fission. This would solve the CO2 issue they are so concerned about and it would not cripple the economy as would boutique non-solutions such as solar panels and windmills which are not only ineffective but they kill wildlife.

 

COMPLETE GUIDE TO CLIMATE CHANGE

At the Paris conference, expect an agreement that is sufficiently vague and noncommittal for all countries to claim victory.

 

By

MATT RIDLEY And
BENNY PEISER

Nov. 27, 2015 3:41 p.m. ET

Nov. 27, 2015 3:41 p.m. ET

Wind turbines in Texas and shanties in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.
Wind turbines in Texas and shanties in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.PHOTO: JEFFREY MILLER/UNIVERSAL IMAGES GROUP/GETTY IMAGES

In February President Obama said, a little carelessly, that climate change is a greater threat than terrorism. Next week he will be in Paris, a city terrorized yet again by mass murderers, for a summit with other world leaders on climate change, not terrorism. What precisely makes these world leaders so convinced that climate change is a more urgent and massive threat than the incessant rampages of Islamist violence?

It cannot be what is happening to world temperatures, because they have gone up only very slowly, less than half as fast as the scientific consensus predicted in 1990 when the global-warming scare began in earnest. Even with this year’s El Niño-boosted warmth threatening to break records, the world is barely half a degree Celsius (0.9 degrees Fahrenheit) warmer than it was about 35 years ago. Also, it is increasingly clear that the planet was significantly warmer than today several times during the past 10,000 years.

Nor can it be the consequences of this recent slight temperature increase that worries world leaders. On a global scale, as scientists keep confirming, there has been no increase in frequency or intensity of storms, floods or droughts, while deaths attributed to such natural disasters have never been fewer, thanks to modern technology and infrastructure. Arctic sea ice has recently melted more in summer than it used to in the 1980s, but Antarctic sea ice has increased, and Antarctica is gaining land-based ice, according to a new study by NASA scientists published in the Journal of Glaciology. Sea level continues its centuries-long slow rise—about a foot a century—with no sign of recent acceleration.

Perhaps it is the predictions that worry the world leaders. Here, we are often told by journalists that the science is “settled” and there is no debate. But scientists disagree: They say there is great uncertainty, and they reflected this uncertainty in their fifth and latest assessment for the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). It projects that temperatures are likely to be anything from 1.5 to 4.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 to 8.1 degrees Fahrenheit) warmer by the latter part of the century—that is, anything from mildly beneficial to significantly harmful.

As for the impact of that future warming, a new study by a leading climate economist, Richard Tol of the University of Sussex, concludes that warming may well bring gains, because carbon dioxide causes crops and wild ecosystems to grow greener and more drought-resistant. In the long run, the negatives may outweigh these benefits, says Mr. Tol, but “the impact of climate change does not significantly deviate from zero until 3.5°C warming.” 

Mr. Tol’s study summarizes the effect we are to expect during this century: “The welfare change caused by climate change is equivalent to the welfare change caused by an income change of a few percent. That is, a century of climate change is about as good/bad for welfare as a year of economic growth. Statements that climate change is the biggest problem of humankind are unfounded: We can readily think of bigger problems.” No justification for prioritizing climate change over terrorism there.

The latest science on the “sensitivity” of the world’s temperature to a doubling of carbon-dioxide levels (from 0.03% of the air to 0.06%) is also reassuring. Several recent peer-reviewed studies of climate sensitivity based on actual observations, including one published in 2013 in Nature Geoscience with 14 mainstream IPCC authors, conclude that this key measure is much lower—about 30%-50% lower—than the climate models are generally assuming. 

A key study published in the Journal of Climate this year by Bjorn Stevens of the Max Planck Institute for Meteorology in Hamburg, Germany, found that the cooling impact of sulfate emissions has held back global warming less than thought till now, again implying less sensitivity. So the high end of the IPCC range is looking even more implausible in theory and practice. When politicians intone that, despite the slow warming so far, “two degrees” of warming is inevitable and imminent, remember they are using high estimates of climate sensitivity.

Yes, but if there is even a tiny chance of catastrophe, should the world not strain every sinew to head it off? Better to decarbonize the world economy and find it was unnecessary than to continue using fossil fuels and regret it. If decarbonization were easy, then sure, this would make sense. But the experience of the last three decades is that there is no energy technology remotely ready to take over from fossil fuels on the scale needed and at a price the public is willing to pay.

 

Solar power is cheaper than it was, but even if solar panels were free, the land, infrastructure, maintenance and backup power (for nighttime and cloudy days) would still make it more expensive than gas-fired electricity. Solar provides about 0.5% of the energy generated world-wide. Wind has expanded hugely, but at massive cost, yet still supplies a little more than 1% of all energy generated globally. Nuclear is in slow retreat, and its cost stubbornly refuses to fall. Technological breakthroughs in the production of gas and oil from shale have outpaced the development of low-carbon energy and made it even less competitive. 

Meanwhile, there are a billion people with no grid electricity whose lives could be radically improved—and whose ability to cope with the effects of weather and climate change could be greatly enhanced—with the access to the concentrated power of coal, gas or oil that the rich world enjoys. Aid for such projects has already been constrained by Western institutions in the interest of not putting the climate at risk. So climate policy is hurting the poor.

To put it bluntly, climate change and its likely impact are proving slower and less harmful than we feared, while decarbonization of the economy is proving more painful and costly than we hoped. The mood in Paris will be one of furious pessimism among the well-funded NGOs that will attend the summit in large numbers: Decarbonization, on which they have set their hearts, is not happening, and they dare not mention the reassuring news from science lest it threaten their budgets.

Casting around for somebody to blame, they have fastened on foot-dragging fossil-fuel companies and those who make skeptical observations, however well-founded, about the likelihood of dangerous climate change. Scientific skeptics are now routinely censored, or threatened with prosecution. One recent survey by Rasmussen Reports shows that 27% of Democrats in the U.S. are in favor of prosecuting climate skeptics. This is the mentality of religious fanaticism, not scientific debate.

So what will emerge from Paris, when thousands of government officials gather from Nov. 30 to Dec. 11 to agree on a new U.N. climate deal to replace the Kyoto Protocol, which expires in 2020? Expect an agreement that is sufficiently vague and noncommittal for all countries to sign and claim victory. Such an agreement will also have to camouflage deep and unbridgeable divisions while ensuring that all countries are liberated from legally binding targets a la Kyoto. 

The political climate is conducive to such an ineffectual agreement. Concerns about the economy, terrorism and international security have been overshadowing the climate agenda for years. The fact that global warming has slowed significantly over the past two decades has reduced public concern and political pressure in most countries. It has also given governments valuable time to kick painful decisions down the road.

The next 10-15 years will show whether the global-warming slowdown continues or whether a strong warming trend terminates the current pause for good. The Paris summit is likely to agree to a review process that reassesses global temperatures and carbon-dioxide emissions every five years. If the climate is less sensitive to carbon-dioxide emissions than climate models assume, the new accord should allow for the possibility of carbon-dioxide pledges to be relaxed in line with empirical observations and better scientific understanding.

Concerned about the loss of industrial competitiveness, the Obama administration is demanding an international transparency-and-review mechanism that can verify whether voluntary pledges are met by all countries. Developing countries, however, oppose any outside body reviewing their energy and industrial activities and carbon-dioxide emissions on the grounds that such efforts would violate their sovereignty.

They are also resisting attempts by the U.S. and the European Union to end the legal distinction (the so-called firewall) between developing and developed nations. China, India and the “Like-Minded Developing Countries” group are countering Western pressure by demanding a legally binding compensation package of $100 billion a year of dedicated climate funds, as promised by President Obama at the U.N. climate conference in Copenhagen in 2009. 

 

However, developing nations are only too aware that the $100 billion per annum funding pledge is never going to materialize, not least because the U.S. Congress would never agree to such an astronomical wealth transfer. This failure to deliver is inevitable, but it will give developing nations the perfect excuse not to comply with their own national pledges. 

Both India and China continue to build new coal-fired power stations. China’s coal consumption is growing at 2.6% a year, India’s at 5%, which is why coal was the fastest-growing fossil fuel last year. China has pledged to reduce energy and carbon intensity, but that is another way of saying it will increase energy efficiency—it doesn’t mean reducing use.

For the EU, on the other hand, a voluntary climate agreement would finally allow member states to abandon unilateral decarbonization policies that have seriously undermined Europe’s competitiveness. The EU has offered to cut carbon-dioxide emissions by 40% below the 1990 level by 2030. However, this pledge is conditional on all nations represented at the Paris summit adopting legally binding carbon-emissions targets similar to and as a carry-over of the Kyoto Protocol.

According to the EU’s key demand, the Paris Protocol must deliver “legally binding mitigation commitments that put the world on track toward achieving the below 2°C objective. . . . Mitigation commitments under the Protocol should be equally legally binding on all Parties.” The chances of such an agreement are close to zero. If there are no legally binding carbon targets agreed to in Paris, the EU will be unlikely to make its own conditional pledges legally binding. 

Any climate agreement should be flexible enough so that voluntary pledges can be adjusted over the next couple of decades depending on what global temperatures do. The best we can hope for is a toothless agreement that will satisfy most governments yet allow them to pay lip-service to action. In all likelihood, that’s exactly what we can expect to get in Paris.

Mr. Ridley is a columnist for the Times (U.K.) and a member of the House of Lords; he has an interest in coal mining on his family’s land. Mr. Peiser is the director of the Global Warming Policy Forum.

PROSECUTING CLIMATE DISSENT

Prosecuting Climate Dissent

Progressives target Exxon for punishment over its research.

The Exxon Mobil refinery in Baytown, Texas on September 15, 2008.ENLARGE
The Exxon Mobil refinery in Baytown, Texas on September 15, 2008.
Nov. 8, 2015 5:03 p.m. ET

Sheldon Whitehouse got his man. The Rhode Island Senator has been lobbying for prosecutions of oil and gas companies over climate change, and New York Attorney General and progressive activist Eric Schneiderman has now obliged by opening a subpoena assault on Exxon Mobil. This marks a dangerous new escalation of the left’s attempt to stamp out all disagreement on global-warming science and policy.

Progressives have been losing the political debate over climate change, failing to pass cap and trade even when Democrats had a supermajority in Congress. So they have turned to the force of the state through President Obama’s executive diktats and now with the threat of prosecution. This assault won’t stop with Exxon. Climate change is the new religion on the left, and progressives are going to treat heretics like Cromwell did Catholics.

***

We mention Mr. Whitehouse because he has been the lead Cromwell in calling for the use of the RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations) statute, a law created to prosecute the mafia, to bring civil cases against companies that fund climate research of which he disapproves. After we called him out in a recent editorial, Mr. Whitehouse denounced us on the Senate floor and compared everyone who disagrees with him to tobacco companies.

The tobacco analogy is instructive, though not in the way Mr. Whitehouse intends. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that cigarette smoking causes more than 480,000 deaths each year in the United States. The harm from tobacco is manifest and has been for decades. These columns have always acknowledged this reality, albeit that it’s also a legal product that individuals can choose to use at their own risk.

When government in the 1990s forced tobacco companies to pay for the Medicaid costs of smoking-related diseases, the result was to make politicians business partners with the Marlboro Man in steering hundreds of billions of dollars in smoking revenues to federal and state coffers. Mr. Whitehouse may covet a similar revenue gusher in the oil patch.

But regarding climate change, there isn’t a single death anywhere in the world that can be proven to result from an increase in global temperatures caused by the burning of fossil fuels, never mind fuels marketed specifically by Exxon. If human use of fossil fuels is responsible for deaths, then prosecutors should go after Al Gore for flying private jets and Mr. Obama for taking credit for the shale-drilling boom. Even the corrupt American tort system still requires some evidence of harm and specific cause.

This may explain why we’re told that Mr. Schneiderman doesn’t see how he can prove harm from fossil fuels. So instead of RICO he appears to be focused on the Martin Act, the appalling New York state law enacted in 1921 to prosecute stock-sale boiler rooms. The Martin Act doesn’t require prosecutors to prove intent to defraud, which is why it was a favorite tool of the Empire State’s disgraced former AG Eliot Spitzer.

The law also doesn’t require the AG to prove that any particular Exxon investor was harmed and he doesn’t need probable cause to commence an investigation. So Mr. Schneiderman seems to be searching for anything from the Exxon files to suggest the company knew more than it was telling investors about the risks of climate change. He’s demanding Exxon’s documents on climate research from 1977 to 2015, including how the research was used in business projections, how it was described to investors and the public, and how the company communicated on this topic with outside groups such as trade associations.

The Schneiderman investigation follows recent reports in the progressive website Inside Climate News and the Los Angeles Times suggesting that Exxon scientists have known for years that doom is at hand but have not shared this information with the public. The press reports selectively quote from internal Exxon documents to make their case. Exxon has responded by posting quoted documents in their entirety on its website to allow the public to judge.

For example, the L.A. Times characterized an Exxon employee’s presentation to the board in 1989 as reporting that “scientists generally agreed gases released by burning fossil fuels could raise global temperatures significantly.” But the newspaper didn’t quote the part where the Exxon employee noted, “In spite of the rush by participants in the greenhouse debate to declare that the science has demonstrated the existence” of an increase in the natural greenhouse effect due to human activities, “I do not believe such is the case.”

***

Even with the fearsome power of the Martin Act, this investigation appears built for media consumption more than courtroom success. There are no “facts” about the eventual extent and impact of climate change that Exxon or anyone else can hide, because inside or outside the company there are only estimates based largely on computer models.

And if the Exxon files reveal various competing conjectures, even in New York it still isn’t illegal to conduct scientific research. Exxon says its scientists have published more than 50 papers on climate-related research in peer-reviewed publications. Exxon has also been explicit in its financial disclosures that the politics of climate change poses potential risks to investors.

By the way, in 2013 the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reduced the lower end of its forecasted range of global temperature increases due to carbon emissions. Will Mr. Schneiderman subpoena the U.N. to find out when officials first learned that climate change might not be as dramatic as they expected?

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