January 22nd, 2016 by Roy W. Spencer, Ph. D.
We now have the official NOAA-NASA report that 2015 was the warmest year by far in the surface thermometer record. John and I predicted this would be the case fully 7 months ago, when we called 2015 as the winner.
In contrast, our satellite analysis has 2015 only third warmest which has also been widely reported for weeks now. I understand that the RSS satellite analysis has it 4th warmest.
And yet I have had many e-mail requests to address the new reports of warmest year on record. I’ve been reluctant to because, well, this is all old news. (Also, my blog has been under almost constant “brute force login attacks” for the last month, from a variety of IP addresses, making posting nearly impossible most days).
There are many things I could say, but I would be repeating myself:
- Land measurements ...that thermometers over land appear to have serious spurious warming issues from urbanization effects. Anthony Watts is to be credited for spearheading the effort to demonstrate this over the U.S. where recent warming has been exaggerated by about 60%, and I suspect the problem in other regions of the global will be at least as bad. Apparently, the NOAA homogenization procedure forces good data to match bad data. That the raw data has serious spurious warming effects is easy to demonstrate...and has been for the last 50 years in the peer-reviewed literature...why is it not yet explicitly estimated and removed?
- Ocean Measurements ...that even some NOAA scientists don’t like the new Karlized ocean surface temperature dataset that made the global warming pause disappear; many feel it also forces good data to agree with bad data. (I see a common theme here.)
- El Nino ----that a goodly portion of the record warmth in 2015 was naturally induced, just as it was in previous record warm years.
- Thermometers Still Disagree with Models ...that even if 2015 is the warmest on record, and NOAA has exactly the right answer, it is still well below the average forecast of the IPCC’s climate models, and something very close to that average forms the basis for global warming policy. In other words, even if every successive year is a new record, it matters quite a lot just how much warming we are talking about.
Then we have scientists out there claiming silly things, like the satellites measure temperatures at atmospheric altitudes where people don’t live anyway, so we should ignore them.
Oh, really? Would those same scientists also claim we should ignore the ocean heat content measurements - also where nobody lives - even though that is supposedly the most important piece of evidence that heat is accumulating in the climate system?
Finally, I don’t see why any of this matters anyway. Didn’t the Paris agreement in December signify that world governments are going to fix the global warming problem?
Or was that message oversold, too?
I’m not claiming our satellite dataset is necessarily the best global temperature dataset in terms of trends, even though I currently suspect it is closer to being accurate than the surface record - that will be for history to decide. The divergence in surface and satellite trends remains a mystery, and cannot (in my opinion) continue indefinitely if both happen to be largely correct.
But since the satellites generally agree with (1) radiosondes and (2) most global reanalysis datasets (which use all observations radiosondes, surface temperatures, commercial aircraft, satellites, etc. everything except the kitchen sink), I think the fact that NOAA-NASA essentially ignores it reveals an institutional bias that the public who pays the bills is becoming increasingly aware of.
And this brings up the elephant in the room that I have a difficult time ignoring
By now it has become a truism that government agencies will prefer whichever dataset supports the governments desired policies. You might think that government agencies are only out to report the truth, but if that’s the case, why are these agencies run by political appointees?
I can say this as a former government employee who used to help NASA sell its programs to congress: We weren’t funded to investigate non-problems, and if global warming were ever to become a non-problem, funding would go away. I was told what I could and couldn’t say to Congress...Jim Hansen got to say whatever he wanted. I grew tired of it, and resigned.
Let me be clear: I’m not saying climate change is a non-problem; only that government programs that fund almost 100% of the research into climate change cannot be viewed as unbiased. Agencies can only maintain (or, preferable, grow) their budgets if the problem they want to study persists. Since at least the 1980s, an institutional bias exists which has encouraged the climate research community to view virtually all climate change as human-caused.
There indeed is a climate change problem to study...but I don’t think we know with any certainty how much is natural versus manmade. There is no way to know, because there is (contrary to the IPCC’s claims) no fingerprint of human versus natural warming. Even natural warming originating over the ocean will cause faster warming over land than over ocean, just as we already observe.
But since the government has framed virtually all of the research programs in terms of human-caused climate change, that’s what the funded scientists will dutifully report it to be, in terms of supposed causation.
And until the culture in the government funding agencies changes, I don’t see a new way of doing business materializing. It might require congress to direct the funding agencies to spend at least a small portion of their budgets to look for evidence of natural causes of climate change.
Because scientists, I have learned, will tend to find whatever they are paid to find in terms of causation...which is sometimes very difficult to pin down in science.
CFACT Letter to EPA
January 14, 2016
Environmental Protection Agency
EPA Docket Center (EPA/DC)
1200 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20460
COMMENTS on EPA-HQ-OAR-2015-0199
Proposed “Federal Plan and Model Rules for the Clean Power Plan” [80 FR 65979-80]
The Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow (CFACT or the Committee) is pleased to submit the following comments in response to the Environmental Protection Agency’s 2012 Proposed Federal Plan and Model Rules for the Clean Power Plan, as issued by EPA and published in the Federal Register: 80 FR 65979-80.
With headquarters in Washington, DC, the Committee is a 501(c)(3) national and international environmental and educational organization dedicated to protecting both wildlife and ecological values and the needs and aspirations of people, families and communities.
We thank you for this opportunity to present our analyses and concerns, as CFACT, its members and supporters, our families, and the people we represent and assist will be adversely affected by EPA’s decision to declare that carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases endanger human health and welfare, and must therefore be regulated under the Clean Air Act and Clean Power Plan.
The Proposed Federal Plan and Model Rules for the Clean Power Plan and other EPA rulemakings will sharply curtail the use of coal and natural gas in generating electricity. They will thereby adversely affect job creation and retention; the price and availability of the energy, food and consumer products we need in our daily lives; and the health and welfare of millions of families, especially poor, minority and blue-collar families in states that currently rely on coal and natural gas in generating electricity.
From CFACT’s perspective, EPA’s Clean Power Plan is not warranted by the Clean Air Act or evidence relied upon by the Agency. The plan will harm human health and welfare, but do nothing to improve environmental quality or prevent climate change, much less “dangerous” climate change. Indeed, EPA’s rules themselves present a far more serious threat to the health, welfare and pursuit of happiness, justice and civil rights progress of our members, the people we represent, and all Americans - than do any reasonably foreseeable manmade climate and weather changes. Our detailed analysis follows.
CFACT comments on EPA’s Clean Power Plan
The Environmental Protection Agency’s new Clean Power Plan (CPP) requires that states reduce their electric utility sector carbon dioxide emissions an average of 32% below 2005 levels by 2030.
EPA devised its authority for the CPP by converting 80 words in the Clean Air Act into 2,690 pages of regulations and appendices. The unprecedented plan requires that utilities return the nation’s overall CO2 emissions almost to 1975 levels, while our population grows by a projected 40 million over the next fifteen years. Some 30 states will have to slash their power plant CO2 emissions by more than 32 percent; at least 12 will have to implement 40-48 percent reductions.
That is a tall order, a near impossibility, since all those states now get 50-96 percent of their electricity from coal, and all of them depend on coal plus natural gas for nearly all their electric power.
Mandating that transition and requiring that these states convert 20 percent or more of their electricity generation to expensive and unreliable wind and solar energy by 2030 will be disastrous. It will raise energy costs dramatically and seriously harm families, businesses, industries and communities. Electricity rates will likely rise from the 8-9 cents per kilowatt-hour currently paid in coal-reliant states at least to the 15-17 cents/kWh in “green energy” states like California. They could skyrocket to the 36-40 cents/kWh now paid in Denmark and Germany (70-80 cents when taxpayer subsidies are included).
Adverse impacts on human health and welfare
Those rising electricity rates will affect everything people make, grow, ship, eat and do - just as they have in Europe. They will impair people’s livelihoods, living standards and life spans.
Poor, minority and working class families will have to find hundreds of extra dollars per year to pay these rising energy bills, even as more Americans end up living below the official poverty line and median family incomes have declined by more than $3,000 per year since President Obama took office.
Small businesses will have to find thousands of dollars every year, just to keep the heat and lights on, without laying more workers off. Factories, malls, school districts, hospitals and cities will have to pay millions more, while trying to pay pensions and other rising costs. This is unsustainable.
Under the CPP, everything business owners, workers, families and communities strived for their entire lives will be at risk. Millions of workers will lose their jobs, leaving more families destitute and welfare dependent, with a lower sense of self-worth. Many will have to choose between buying food and gasoline, paying the rent or mortgage, going to the doctor, giving to their church, or saving for retirement.
Studies clearly show that tighter finances bring serious adverse consequences. As their household budgets are reduced by the CPP’s impacts, families will face more sleep deprivation, greater stress and depression, and more drug, alcohol, spousal and child abuse. More people without jobs and living on the margins will bring more theft and robbery. Constricted budgets mean nutrition and medical care will suffer, and more people are likely to have strokes and heart attacks, die prematurely or commit suicide.
More elderly people will be put at risk from hypothermia, because they can no longer afford to heat their homes properly. Contrary to EPA statements regarding the dangers of global warming, cold weather kills 20 times more people than hot weather - and recent winters have been long and cold in much of the United States, Europe and elsewhere. In Britain, thousands of pensioners now die of hypothermia every winter, because soaring energy costs have made it impossible for them to afford adequate heat. To cause that to happen here in the USA would be immoral and unconscionable.
Instead of acknowledging any of this, EPA has employed a deceptive “social cost of carbon” analysis that places arbitrary inflated costs on damages the agency claims result from alleged climate risks from using carbon-based fuels. These calculations include every imaginable and imaginary cost of using fossil fuels while completely ignoring the enormous benefits of utilizing coal, oil and natural gas.
Indeed, fossil fuels facilitated successive industrial revolutions and now enable billions to live better than royal families did a mere 150 years ago. They have helped average incomes increase eleven-fold, and helped average global life expectancy to soar from less than 30 in 1870 to 71 today. They have made U.S. factories, schools, hospitals and living standards the envy of the world.
Ignoring all these benefits, EPA even claims its anti-energy Clean Power Plan will reduce asthma rates. However, asthma rates have increased slightly, while air pollution has declined. This underscores that asthma hospitalizations and outdoor air pollution levels are not related. The real causes of asthma are allergies, a failure to expose young children to sufficient allergens to cause their immune systems to build resistance to airborne allergens, and lack of sufficient exercise to keep lungs robust. The CPP will obviously do nothing to change those dynamics.
Reducing access to affordable, reliable electricity will further exacerbate our nation’s untenable unemployment and welfare situation. More than 94 million Americans are not working, and the labor force participation rate is the lowest in 38 years, with barely 62 percent of the U.S. population either holding a job or actively seeking one. Nearly 8.5 million Americans do not have jobs, some 40 percent have given up even looking, and more than 6 million are involuntarily working one or more jobs part-time, because they cannot find full-time positions.
Millions of families are living on the edge.
More than 120,000 primary and secondary jobs have been lost in America’s coal-producing states since 2008, the majority of them because of onerous EPA regulations. Dozens of coal mining companies have filed for bankruptcy, and the market value of the remaining companies has plummeted. World events are making it increasingly difficult for companies to stay in business and workers to support their families. Anger, frustration and despair in poor, minority and blue-collar communities are understandably rising.
Increasing electricity and regulatory compliance costs are a major factor in all of this, and the Clean Power Plan will only make the situation worse. In effect, EPA is trying to protect people from conjectural, exaggerated and illusory climate risks years or decades from now, by increasing the economic problems, anxiety, and health and welfare woes they already face. That is intolerable and unconscionable.
Adverse effects on wildlife and the environment
The Clean Power Plan will also impair environmental values. Sprawling wind and solar installations and transmission lines already impact millions of acres of agricultural, wildlife and scenic areas. Huge wind turbines and solar facilities already kill millions of eagles, hawks, other birds and bats every year.
The Clean Power Plan will make this situation far worse, by forcing states to build more, increasingly larger wind and solar facilities, increasingly in sensitive wildlife habitat areas, which are often the best remaining areas for abundant wind and sun. Just as bad, the electricity they generate is expensive and unreliable and unable to replace conventional 24/7/365 coal- and gas-based electricity.
Vast stretches of croplands and wildlife habitats have also been plowed under to grow corn, switchgrass and other plants for ethanol and other biofuels. At a time when we have abundant supplies of oil and natural gas that can be produced more efficiently, at lower cost, with fewer carbon dioxide emissions via fracking and conventional means, more than 40 percent of the nation’s corn crop is now being turned into ethanol. This makes no sense. But it too is required under EPA’s various climate control plans.
Asserted climate change benefits are illusory
Our planet’s climate has changed regularly throughout earth and human history, in response to powerful, interconnected natural forces that humans cannot control. There is no evidence in the climate or weather record that government will ever be able to control climate and weather by limiting the amount of plant-fertilizing carbon dioxide that humans emit into the atmosphere.
Indeed, contrary to EPA claims about carbon dioxide being a “dangerous pollutant,” more CO2 in Earth’s atmosphere will improve crop, forest and grassland growth, even during prolonged droughts and cold periods. This is already occurring, as witnessed by the increased “greening” of the Sahel and many other regions, improved forest and crop growth across our planet, and other phenomena recorded by the Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change and many other researchers.
Moreover, hurricanes and tornadoes, storms, droughts, polar ice and sea levels are all within the realm of historic experience. There is nothing dangerous or “unprecedented” about them, nor is there any evidence that CO2 is “acidifying” oceans that are and will remain firmly alkaline. There is certainly nothing to justify shutting down our carbon-based energy system, dramatically increasing energy costs, transforming our economy, destroying millions of jobs, and impairing human health and welfare.
In fact, contrary to computer model predictions, average global temperatures have not budged by more than a couple hundredths of a degree in nearly 19 years. In fact, the climate models consistently misrepresent past temperature and climate trends and predict much greater warming than Earth has actually experienced. That makes the models, and the assumptions behind them, invalid.
Meanwhile, October 24, 2015 marked a full ten years since a category 3-5 hurricane last hit the United States. (Hurricane Wilma in 2005; Sandy hit as a Category 2.) That’s a record dating back at least to 1900. It’s also the first time since 1914 that no hurricanes formed anywhere in the Western Atlantic, Caribbean Sea or Gulf of Mexico through September 22 of any calendar year.
Seas are rising at barely seven inches a century. Droughts and other “extreme weather events” are less frequent, severe and long-lasting than during the twentieth century. Polar ice is freezing at or above historical rates in the Arctic and Greenland, and at a record pace in Antarctica. Polar bear numbers are at record highs, having risen from 5,000 worldwide 65 years ago to more than 25,000 today.
Moreover, as Secretary of State John Kerry admitted in Paris, even if all the industrialized nations’ CO2 emissions declined to zero, “it wouldn’t be enough [to prevent alleged climate disasters], not when more than 65% of the world’s carbon pollution comes from the developing world.” And that assumes carbon dioxide has replaced the powerful natural forces that have always controlled climate and weather.
Once again accepting the false claim that carbon dioxide does drive climate change, all the regulations that EPA is promulgating would prevent an undetectable 0.018 degrees Celsius (0.032 degrees Fahrenheit) by the end of the century, climatologists Patrick Michaels and Paul Knappenberger have calculated. The Clean Power Plan alone would achieve only a fraction of those trivial benefits.
Questionable data and reports behind the Clean Power Plan
EPA relies heavily on NOAA, NASA, IPCC and other agency data and studies that can only be characterized as misleading or even deceptive. To cite just one example, a recent NOAA study claimed that global warming has not stalled for almost 19 years. That stall or hiatus is confirmed by satellite records, and is contrary to all computer climate model forecasts.
To get this result, the NOAA study adjusted sea-surface temperature data from a global network of buoys upward by 0.12 degrees Celsius (0.25 F), to “homogenize” the buoy data with records from engine intake systems on ships - and thereby create a previously undetected warming trend. (That alleged warming trend was a bare few hundredths of a degree, less than the margin of error in NOAA’s review.) However, the intake data were contaminated by heat from the ships, rendering them invalid, whereas the buoy network was designed for accurate environmental monitoring.
A more accurate, defensible study would therefore have adjusted the ship data downward, to homogenize them with the more reliable buoy data. The fact that this was not done casts further suspicion on the “science” behind EPA’s Clean Power Plan.
In addition, in promulgating its Clean Power Plan and other regulations on climate change, EPA has clearly violated Office of Management and Budget and other guidelines on “Peer Review for Influential Scientific Information” and “Highly Influential Scientific Assessments.” Its regulations clearly have significant impacts on the U.S. economy, jobs, the environment, and human health and welfare. And the IPCC, NOAA and other studies used to justify those regulatory actions are clearly “influential scientific information” and “highly influential” scientific assessments, for which wide ranging peer review by experts outside the closed circle of government and government-financed scientists was required. EPA’s failure to abide by these clear rules makes its Clean Power Plan and other actions improper and arguably illegal under government laws and guidelines.
At EPA’s behest, the Justice Department has sued Volkswagen. The government is seeking up to $18 billion dollars in penalties, because VW installed special software that caused its diesel cars to emit fewer pollutants during tests used to ensure compliance with emission regulations. The falsified tests allegedly duped American consumers into purchasing thousands of diesel-powered vehicles.
Federal prosecutors are also conducting criminal probes of Volkswagen and its executives. Former Boston crime lab technician Annie Dookhan was prosecuted for faking test results and contaminating drug samples, to get accused dealers convicted. Countless other civil and criminal investigations and prosecutions have companies and citizens in their crosshairs.
Such actions are often warranted, even if the draconian incarceration and monetary penalties are not.
A fundamental principle is at stake here: Government agencies and regulators must abide by the same standards and rules they expect citizens and corporations to live by. Policies and rules that affect our lives, livelihoods and living standards must be based on verifiable, replicable scientific evidence.
No one should be victimized by misleading claims by private companies or made by government agencies or scientists or third-party scientists whom they hire and use to validate policies and regulations.
Equally important, no one forces us to buy a VW or any other car. But when it comes to laws and regulations, we have no choice. We must submit to them, or else. If those rules are based on dishonesty - on emission deception on a large, unprecedented level in the case of climate rules - we pay a huge, unacceptable price. That is exactly what is happening under EPA’s Clean Power Plan.
Moreover, these rules are being promulgated in direct contravention and circumvention of the clear will of Congress, which has rejected nearly 700 climate bills, and in collusion with environmentalist pressure groups, via secretive emails, meetings and sue-and-settle lawsuits, in developing these regulatory edicts. That is contrary to federal law, our Constitution, the separation of powers and sound public policy.
Actions by other countries make U.S. sacrifices meaningless
Carbon-based energy still provides 80 percent of U.S. and 81 percent of world energy. It supports $70 trillion per year in world GDP. Fossil fuels will supply 75-80 percent of global energy for decades to come, Energy Information Administration, International Energy Agency and other studies forecast.
Carbon-based energy is essential if we are to bring electricity to the 1.3 billion people who still do not have it, and end the rampant poverty and lung, intestinal and other diseases that kill millions of people in poor countries every year. That is why thousands of coal-fired power plants are being built, under construction or in planning around the world.
Britain plans to end all “green” subsidies by 2025, to reduce electricity prices that have sent millions of families into energy poverty and caused the loss of thousands of jobs in the UK steelmaking sector.
Germany’s reliance on coal continues to rise; it now generates 44 percent of its electricity from the black rock ‘ more than any other EU nation. In Poland, Prime Minister Eva Kopacz says nuclear energy is no longer a priority, and her country’s energy security will instead focus increasingly on coal.
China now gets 75 percent of its electricity from coal. Its coal consumption declined slightly in 2014, as the Middle Kingdom turned slightly to natural gas and solar, to reduce serious air quality problems. However, it plans to build 363 new coal-fired power plants, with many plants eventually outfitted or retrofitted with scrubbers and other equipment to reduce emissions of real, health-impairing pollution.
India will focus on “energy efficiency” and reduce its CO2 “emission intensity” (per unit of growth), but not its overall emissions. It will also boost its reliance on wind and solar power, mostly for remote areas that will not be connected to the subcontinent’s growing electrical grid anytime soon. However, it plans to open a new coal mine every month and double its coal production and use by 2020. China and India will not consider reducing their GHG emissions until 2030, and even then it will be voluntary and dependent on how their economies are doing.
Pakistan is taking a similar path as are Vietnam, the Philippines and other Southeast Asian nations. Even Japan plans to build 41 new coal-fired units over the next decade, partly to replace its nuclear power plants. Overall, says the International Energy Agency, Southeast Asia’s energy demand will soar 80 percent by 2040, and fossil fuels will provide 80 percent of the region’s total energy mix by that date.
Africa will pursue a similar route to lifting its people out of poverty. The continent has abundant oil, coal and natural gas and it intends to burn those fuels, while it utilizes wind and solar power in remote areas until they can be connected to the continent’s slowly growing electrical grids.
All this fossil fuel use means the costly, painful, job-killing, draconian energy reductions required under EPA’s Clean Power Plan will have no effect whatsoever on atmospheric carbon dioxide levels, which will continue to climb, further greening the planet and spurring faster crop, forest and grassland growth. Even if we assume once again that carbon dioxide has somehow replaced the powerful natural forces that have always driven Earth’s climate and weather, the CPP will do nothing to stabilize, prevent or roll back global warming, global cooling, other climate changes and extreme weather events.
The realities presented in these comments help explain why a December 2015 Gallup poll found that Americans view intrusive government regulation, our weak economy, unemployment and terrorism as the biggest threats facing our nation. Pollution came in at #23, and global warming didn’t even register among 48 listed issues. EPA’s Clean Power Plan ignores these realities and public concerns.
Indeed, the central issue is not whether Planet Earth is warming. The issues are these:
How much is Earth warming, if at all? How much of actual warming and other climate changes in recent decades are due to mankind’s use of fossil fuels and emission of greenhouse gases and how much are due to powerful solar and other natural forces over which humans have absolutely no control? And will any changes be short-term or long-term///good, bad, neutral or catastrophic?
At this time, there is no scientific evidence based on actual observations and measurements of temperatures and weather events that humans are altering the climate to a significant or dangerous degree. Computer models, political statements and hypothetical cataclysms cannot and must not substitute for that absence of actual evidence, especially when the consequences would be so dire for so many.
Simply put, the danger is not climate change which will always be with us. The real, immediate danger is energy restrictions imposed in the name of controlling Earth’s perpetually fickle climate.
The Clean Power Plan will harm human health and welfare, wildlife and environmental quality, but will do nothing to prevent climate change, “dangerous” or otherwise.
The Environmental Protection Agency needs to scrap its plan to implement its Clean Power Plan, and any “model rules” developed under the Plan.
Executive Director, CFACT
Dr. Peter Wood
Dear Dr. D’Aleo,
I am pasting below a copy of an email that I’ve sent to many members of the National Academy of Sciences. I’ve also sent a version of it to the board members of the AAAS. And I have posted it to the National Association of Scholars website here.
It explains itself pretty clearly, but it will help to give a little background. We were drawn into this by James Enstrom, a former UCLA senior scientist and a National Association of Scholars member. We championed his case when he was fired for blowing the whistle on a major fraud at the California Air Resources Board (CARB). CARB had issued research findings (and ultimately regulations) based on a study that Enstrom demonstrated was fraudulent. The main author of the study had a mail order Ph.D. - as it happens, the address of the phony degree-granting institution is on Madison Avenue two blocks from my office. There was other mischief too, involving several of Enstrom’s colleagues who had seats at CARB.
Enstrom sought to publish some account of this in Science under the editorship of Marcia McNutt. He didn’t get anywhere. But he did end up making the acquaintance of other scientists who had similar experiences with McNutt. McNutt is now the only candidate to be president of the National Academy of Sciences. Enstrom hoped that if he could draw attention to her record of bolting the door against scientific dissent from establishment positions, the members of the Academy might have second thoughts.
I don’t want to put the National Association of Scholars into a campaign against McNutt’s election, but it does seem to me a good opportunity to raise broader questions about how science is now conducted in the United States - and how public policy is being built on it.
For several years I’ve been trying to get some traction for the National Association of Scholars on the threats to the integrity of contemporary science arising from entrenched political interests. We.ve made relatively little headway with this, although our studies of the sustainability movement and its subsidiary the fossil fuel divestment movement have attracted considerable attention. There are, of course, a handful of people in Congress who have enunciated their skepticism about the global warming orthodoxy and now the reliability of the Marks paper that claims that the pause in global warming never happened.
Breaking through the barriers to open scientific discussion requires finding 1) champions who can command public attention and respect; 2) factual narratives that are relatively easy for the public to grasp; and 3) vulnerabilities that the establishment cannot trivialize. I would think the best way to deal with the three issues mentioned in my letter would be to get the press interested in the enormous costs of the regulations that have been based on these spurious - or at least dubious - theories.
December 9, 2015
Dear Members of the National Academy of Sciences,
This is an NAS to NAS letter - which requires some “disambiguation.” I am president of the National Association of Scholars, founded in 1987, and whose organizers apparently didn’t give much thought to the space already occupied by those initials by the National Academy of Sciences, founded 124 years earlier. I’ll defer to the Academy’s seniority by reserving NAS in what follows for the body of scientists who incorporated during President Lincoln’s tenure. The National Association of Scholars is a broad-based group of academics that includes professors in the humanities and social sciences (I’m an anthropologist) as well as the natural sciences.
The occasion for this letter is Dr. Marcia K. McNutt, Editor-in-Chief of Science. We are concerned that she is the only official candidate to be the next NAS president. To be clear, the National Association of Scholars does not oppose Dr. McNutt’s candidacy. We simply believe that members of an important national organization like NAS should have at least two candidates to consider when voting for your next president. Indeed, the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), which publishes Science, always has two candidates for president and its other elected positions. Other scientific organizations also have two candidates for their elected positions.
Also, we want to bring to your attention our serious concerns about the current state of discourse in the sciences. Dr. McNutt has played a significant role in three active controversies involving national regulatory policy that deserve attention in themselves and that are also part of a larger problem. The larger problem is how the scientific establishment, particularly Science and NAS, should evaluate and respond to serious dissent from legitimate scientists. This is an especially important consideration for NAS, which was established to provide “independent, objective advice on issues that affect people’s lives worldwide.”
The three controversies are:
1. The status of the linear no-threshold (LNT) dose-response model for the biological effects of nuclear radiation. The prominence of the model stems from the June 29, 1956 Science paper, “Genetic Effects of Atomic Radiation,” authored by the NAS Committee on the Biological Effects of Atomic Radiation. This paper is now widely questioned and has been seriously critiqued in many peer-reviewed publications, including two detailed 2015 papers. These criticisms are being taken seriously around the world, as summarized in a December 2, 2015 Wall Street Journal commentary. In August 2015 four distinguished critics of LNT made a formal request to Dr. McNutt to examine the evidence of fundamental flaws in the 1956 paper and retract it. However, on August 11, 2015 Dr. McNutt rejected this request without even reviewing the detailed evidence. Furthermore, Dr. McNutt did not even consider recusing herself and having independent reviewers examine evidence that challenges the validity of both a Science paper and an NAS Committee Report.
This is a consequential matter that bears on a great deal of national public policy, as the LNT model has served as the basis for risk assessment and risk management of radiation and chemical carcinogens for decades, but now needs to be seriously reassessed. This reassessment could profoundly alter many regulations from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Environmental Protection Agency, and other government agencies. The relevant documents regarding the 1956 Science paper and Dr. McNutt can be examined at www.nas.org/images/documents/LNT.pdf.
2. Extensive evidence of scientific misconduct in the epidemiology of fine particulate air pollution (PM2.5) and its relationship to mortality. Since 1997 EPA has claimed that lifetime inhalation of about a teaspoon of particles with diameter less than 2.5 microns causes premature death in the United States and it established an national regulation based on this claim. Science has provided extensive news coverage of this issue and its regulatory significance, but has never published any scientific criticism of this questionable claim, which is largely based on nontransparent research.
Earlier this year, nine accomplished scientists and academics submitted to Science well-documented evidence of misconduct by several of the PM2.5 researchers relied upon by EPA. The evidence of misconduct was first submitted to Dr. McNutt in a detailed June 4, 2015 email letter, then in a detailed July 20, 2015 Policy Forum manuscript “Transparent Science is Necessary for EPA Regulations,” and finally in an August 17, 2015 Perspective manuscript “Particulate Matter Does Not Cause Premature Deaths.” Dr. McNutt and two Science editors immediately rejected the letter and the manuscripts and never conducted any internal or external review of the evidence. This a consequential matter because many multi-billion dollar EPA air pollution regulations, such as, the Clean Power Plan, are primarily justified by the claim that PM2.5 is killing Americans. The relevant documents regarding this controversy can be examined here.
3. Science promotes the so-called consensus model of climate change and excludes any contrary views. This issue has become so polarized and polarizing that it is difficult to bring up, but at some point the scientific community will have to reckon with the dramatic discrepancies between current climate models and substantial parts of the empirical record. Recent evidence of Science bias on this issue is the June 26, 2015 article by Dr. Thomas R. Karl, “Possible artifacts of data biases in the recent global surface warming hiatus”; the July 3, 2015 McNutt editorial, :The beyond-two-degree inferno”; the November 13, 2015 McNutt editorial, “Climate warning, 50 years later”; and the November 25, 2015 AAAS News Release, “AAAS Leads Coalition to Protest Climate Science Inquiry.”
Dr. McNutt’s position is, of course, consistent with the official position of the AAAS. But the attempt to declare that the “pause” in global warming was an illusion has not been accepted by several respected and well-informed scientists. One would not know this, however, from reading Science, which has declined to publish any dissenting views. One can be a strong supporter of the consensus model and yet be disturbed by the role which Science has played in this controversy. Dr. McNutt and the journal have acted more like partisan activists than like responsible stewards of scientific standards confronted with contentious claims and ambiguous evidence. The relevant documents and commentary regarding the Karl paper and McNutt editorials can be examined here.
All three of these controversies have arisen on issues in which a strong degree of scientific consensus became intertwined with public policy and institutional self-interest. That intertwining can create selective blindness.
Dr. McNutt has in her career found herself faced more than once with the challenge of what to do when an entrenched orthodoxy meets a substantial scientific challenge. The challenge in each case could itself prove to be mistaken, but it met what most scientists would concede to be the threshold criteria to deserve a serious hearing. Yet in each case Dr. McNutt chose to reinforce the orthodoxy by shutting the door on the challenge.
The three areas that I sketched above, however, seem to have such prominence in public policy that they would warrant an even greater investment in time, care, and attention than would be normally the case. In that light, Dr. McNutt’s dismissive treatment of scientific criticisms is disturbing.
I bring these matters to your attention in the hope of accomplishing two things: raise awareness that the three issues represent threats to the integrity of science arising from the all-too-human tendency to turn ideas into orthodoxies; and suggest that it might be wise for NAS to nominate as a second candidate for president someone who has a reputation for scientific objectivity and fairness and who does not enforce orthodoxy.
I welcome your responses. The National Association of Scholars will present an open forum on these matters with a section reserved specifically for NAS members. Furthermore, I will put you in contact with NAS members who are concerned about Dr. McNutt becoming the next NAS president.
Thank you for your consideration.
National Association of Scholars
8 W. 38th Street, Suite 503
New York, NY 10018
Erika Andersen, Forbes
It’s true. This extremely scientific graph proves it:
You can see that as the number of pirates in the world has decreased over the past 130 years, global warming has gotten steadily worse. In fact, this makes it entirely clear that if you truly want to stop global warming, the most impactful thing to do is - become a pirate.
Hope you’re laughing. My husband told me this wonderful premise a few months ago, and I couldn’t resist sharing it with you, for a very specific reason. I’m fascinated by why it’s so funny. I believe it’s because it’s an only slightly more extreme version of the fake logic we hear every day - the conclusions that pass for critical thinking in these days of completely unleashed 24-7 communication. For example:
Someone who has cancer drinks gallons of lemon water and their cancer goes into remission: they create a website to talk about how lemon water cures cancer.
A business is doing badly and they move to a new building and things start to pick up: the CEO writes a book about how changing your environment is the key to success.
Statistics show that people who leave their jobs after less than a year are more likely to smoke: someone starts a campaign to reduce smoking by encouraging people to stay at their jobs longer.
My older sister, a very wise and smart woman who is a political scientist at Syracuse University, teaches a statistics class to freshmen, where she endeavors to teach them critical thinking. She talks about this as being the most common error in logic: confusing simultaneity with causality. In other words, assuming that because two things are happening at the same time, they exist in a cause and effect relationship with each other.
Because anyone can say anything anywhere these days (pretty much), there’s a lot of fuzzy thinking floating around that seems more legitimate than it would have in former times because it’s in print. Now, don’t get me wrong: I’m a huge proponent of free speech. I just feel we all have to be more discriminating than ever before about what we believe. Not cynical or negative: discriminating.
So, when someone proposes a cause and effect relationship between two things - reduction in pirates causing global warming; Obama creating the global economic crisis; young people ruining American business - ask for the data that shows they’re related, rather than simply that they’re happening at the same time.
But if you’re dead set on becoming a pirate, I’m not going to stop you.
By P Gosselin
By Frank Bosse and Fritz Vahrenholt
(Translated/edited by P Gosselin)
In November our sun was once again below normal in activity. The 84th month since the current solar cycle started in December 2008 saw a solar sunspot number (SSN) of 63.2, which was 72% of what is the mean for month 84 into a cycle since observations began in 1755.
Figure 1: Our current solar cycle (SC) 24 (red) compared to the mean cycle (blue) of the previous 23 cycles. The current cycle over the past year or so as been very similar to solar cycle number 5 (black) which occurred from 1798 to 1810.
What follows is a comparison of all cycles:
Figure 2: The accumulated monthly deviations anomaly from the mean value (blue curve in Figure 1) for each cycle.
The current solar cycle 24 is weak compared to the previous cycles beginning with solar cycle 18 (1945). The books are practically closed for the current cycle as it is not expected to become more active and activity is expected to trail off. We are experiencing the weakest solar cycle since the Dalton Minimum 1790-1830, which involved solar cycles 5, 6 and 7.
For estimating the solar sunspot activity of the next upcoming cycle, observing the polar fields during times of activity minima provides strong indications. We reported on this here. So what can we expect some three years before the awaited minimum?
Figure 3: The polar fields of the sun since 1976. (Source: stanford.edu)
Early indications of a modestly active solar cycle 25
Especially the south polar field (show in red in Figure 3) is beginning to show signs of strengthening a little, yet is still behind the values of the very active cycles that occurred during the second half of the 20th century. This could be an indication that solar cycle number 25 may not be much weaker than the current cycle, but also not stronger. We will know more in about 3 years.
Craig Idso, Robert M. Carter, S. Fred Singer
The most important fact about climate science, often overlooked, is that scientists disagree about the environmental impacts of the combustion of fossil fuels on the global climate. There is no survey or study showing “consensus” on the most important scientific issues, despite frequent claims by advocates to the contrary.
Scientists disagree about the causes and consequences of climate for several reasons. Climate is an interdisciplinary subject requiring insights from many fields. Very few scholars have mastery of more than one or two of these disciplines. Fundamental uncertainties arise from insufficient observational evidence, disagreements over how to interpret data, and how to set the parameters of models. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), created to find and disseminate research finding a human impact on global climate, is not a credible source. It is agenda-driven, a political rather than scientific body, and some allege it is corrupt. Finally, climate scientists, like all humans, can be biased. Origins of bias include careerism, grant-seeking, political views, and confirmation bias.
Probably the only “consensus” among climate scientists is that human activities can have an effect on local climate and that the sum of such local effects could hypothetically rise to the level of an observable global signal. The key questions to be answered, however, are whether the human global signal is large enough to be measured and if it is, does it represent, or is it likely to become, a dangerous change outside the range of natural variability? On these questions, an energetic scientific debate is taking place on the pages of peer-reviewed science journals.
In contradiction of the scientific method, IPCC assumes its implicit hypothesis - that dangerous global warming is resulting, or will result, from human-related greenhouse gas emissions - is correct and that its only duty is to collect evidence and make plausible arguments in the hypothesis’s favor. It simply ignores the alternative and null hypothesis, amply supported by empirical research, that currently observed changes in global climate indices and the physical environment are the result of natural variability.
The results of the global climate models (GCMs) relied on by IPCC are only as reliable as the data and theories “fed” into them. Most climate scientists agree those data are seriously deficient and IPCC’s estimate for climate sensitivity to CO2 is too high. We estimate a doubling of CO2 from pre-industrial levels (from 280 to 560 ppm) would likely produce a temperature forcing of 3.7 Wm-2 in the lower atmosphere, for about ~1C of prima facie warming. The recently quiet Sun and extrapolation of solar cycle patterns into the future suggest a planetary cooling may occur over the next few decades.
In a similar fashion, all five of IPCC’s postulates, or assumptions, are readily refuted by real-world observations, and all five of IPCC’s claims relying on circumstantial evidence are refutable. For example, in contrast to IPCC’s alarmism, we find neither the rate nor the magnitude of the reported late twentieth century surface warming (1979-2000) lay outside normal natural variability, nor was it in any way unusual compared to earlier episodes in Earth’s climatic history. In any case, such evidence cannot be invoked to “prove” a hypothesis, but only to disprove one. IPCC has failed to refute the null hypothesis that currently observed changes in global climate indices and the physical environment are the result of natural variability.
Rather than rely exclusively on IPCC for scientific advice, policymakers should seek out advice from independent, nongovernment organizations and scientists who are free of financial and political conflicts of interest. NIPCC’s conclusion, drawn from its extensive review of the scientific evidence, is that any human global climate impact is within the background variability of the natural climate system and is not dangerous.
In the face of such facts, the most prudent climate policy is to prepare for and adapt to extreme climate events and changes regardless of their origin. Adaptive planning for future hazardous climate events and change should be tailored to provide responses to the known rates, magnitudes, and risks of natural change. Once in place, these same plans will provide an adequate response to any human-caused change that may or may not emerge.
Policymakers should resist pressure from lobby groups to silence scientists who question the authority of IPCC to claim to speak for “climate science.” The distinguished British biologist Conrad Waddington wrote in 1941 (Waddington, C.H. 1941. The Scientific Attitude. London, UK: Penguin Books),
It is… important that scientists must be ready for their pet theories to turn out to be wrong. Science as a whole certainly cannot allow its judgment about facts to be distorted by ideas of what ought to be true, or what one may hope to be true (Waddington, 1941).
This prescient statement merits careful examination by those who continue to assert the fashionable belief, in the face of strong empirical evidence to the contrary, that human CO2 emissions are going to cause dangerous global warming.
Are political considerations superseding scientific ones at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration?
When confronted with an obviously broken weather station that was reading way too hot, they replaced the faulty sensors but refused to adjust the bad readings it had already taken. And when dealing with “the pause” in global surface temperatures that is in its 19th year, the agency threw away satellite-sensed sea-surface temperatures, substituting questionable data that showed no pause.
The latest kerfuffle is local, not global, but happens to involve probably the most politically important weather station in the nation, the one at Washington’s Reagan National Airport.
I’ll take credit for this one. I casually noticed that the monthly average temperatures at National were departing from their 1981-2010 averages a couple of degrees relative to those at Dulles in the warm direction.
Temperatures at National are almost always higher than those at Dulles, 19 miles away. That’s because of the well-known urban warming effect, as well as an elevation difference of 300 feet. But the weather systems that determine monthly average temperature are, in general, far too large for there to be any significant difference in the departure from average at two stations as close together as Reagan and Dulles. Monthly data from recent decades bear this out until, all at once, in January 2014 and every month thereafter, the departure from average at National was greater than that at Dulles.
The average monthly difference for January 2014 through July 2015 is 2.1 degrees Fahrenheit, which is huge when talking about things like record temperatures. For example, National’s all-time record last May was only 0.2 degrees above the previous record.
Earlier this month, I sent my findings to Jason Samenow, a terrific forecaster who runs the Washington Post’s weather blog, Capital Weather Gang. He and his crew verified what I found and wrote up their version, giving due credit and adding other evidence that something was very wrong at National. And, in remarkably quick action for a government agency, the National Weather Service swapped out the sensor within a week and found that the old one was reading 1.7 degrees too high. Close enough to 2.1, the observed difference.
But the National Weather Service told the Capital Weather Gang that there will be no corrections, despite the fact that the disparity suddenly began 19 months ago and varied little once it began. It said correcting for the error wouldn’t be “scientifically defensible.” Therefore, people can and will cite the May record as evidence for dreaded global warming with impunity. Only a few weather nerds will know the truth. Over a third of this year’s 37 90-degree-plus days, which gives us a remote chance of breaking the all time record, should also be eliminated, putting this summer rightly back into normal territory.
It is really politically unwise not to do a simple adjustment on these obviously-too-hot data. With all of the claims that federal science is being biased in service of the president’’s global-warming agenda, the agency should bend over backwards to expunge erroneous record-high readings.
In July, by contrast, NOAA had no problem adjusting the global temperature history. In that case, the method they used guaranteed that a growing warming trend would substitute for “the pause.” They reported in Science that they had replaced the pause (which shows up in every analysis of satellite and weather balloon data) with a significant warming trend.
Normative science says a trend is “statistically significant” if there’s less than a 5 percent probability that it would happen by chance. NOAA claimed significance at the 10 percent level, something no graduate student could ever get away with. There were several other major problems with the paper. As Judy Curry, a noted climate scientist at Georgia Tech, wrote, “color me ‘unconvinced.’”
Unfortunately, following this with the kerfuffle over the Reagan temperature records is only going to “convince” even more people that our government is blowing hot air on global warming.
Patrick Michaels is director of the Center for the Study of Science at the Cato Institute.
Steve Goddard, Real Science
Update: See this excellent summary by Francis Menton on The Greatest Scientific Fraud Of All Time—Part VI
The measured US temperature data from USHCN shows that the US is on a long-term cooling trend. But the reported temperatures from NOAA show a strong warming trend.
ScreenHunter_10009 Jul. 27 12.16
Measured : ushcn.tavg.latest.raw.tar.gz
Reported : ushcn.tavg.latest.FLs.52j.tar.gz
They accomplish this through a spectacular hockey stick of data tampering, which corrupts the US temperature trend by almost two degrees.
The biggest component of this fraud is making up data. Almost half of all reported US temperature data is now fake. They fill in missing rural data with urban data to create the appearance of non-existent US warming.
The depths of this fraud is breathtaking, but completely consistent with the fraudulent profession which has become known as “climate science”.
For years, climate scientists have been debating the “hiatus” in global warming, pushing dozens of explanations for why global temperatures had not risen significantly in the last decade or so in the surface record and for the last two decades in the satellite record. but the debate was cut short in June when the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration published a study claiming the “hiatus” never existed.
“Newly corrected and updated global surface temperature data from NOAA’s [National Centers for Environmental Information] do not support the notion of a global warming ‘hiatus,’” wrote NOAA scientists in their study.
The study was highly criticized for inflating the temperature record since the late 1990s to show vastly more global warming than was shown in older data. The warming “hiatus” was eliminated and the warming trend over the period was more than doubled.
“There’s been so much criticism of NOAA’s alteration of the sea surface temperature that we are really just going to have to use the University of East Anglia data,” Pat Michaels, a climate scientist with the libertarian Cato Institute, told The Daily Caller News Foundation.
“I don’t think that’s going to stand the test of time,” Michaels said of NOAA’s recent adjustments.
But what Michaels and others say is more problematic is the growing divergence between NOAA’s new temperature data versus satellite data and records from the UK Met Office. NOAA’s data shows significantly more warming than Met Office or satellite records.
“It’s a major problem because outside of the north polar region, the upper troposphere is supposed to warm faster than the surface,” Michaels said.
“Pretty much every projection made by our climate models for sensible weather is simply not at all trustworthy,” Michaels said.