What's New and Cool
Dec 10, 2017
Wildfires are a natural part of nature though bad policies make the results worse

Wildfires have been in the news almost every late summer and fall. Every year, the media blames ‘climate change’. Governor Brown says these Raging Wildfires are “The New Normal,” for which he Blames Climate Change. The truth is the fires are normal and the damage done is greater because more people want to escape the urban areas and live in the hills among the trees. Ironically, government policies driven by extreme environmentalists like Governor Brown are making the fires worse.  See more here.

This month, fires have spread to the Los Angeles region as strong Santa Ana winds and dry air caused the fire to spread rapidly.

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Earlier in the fall, the wildfires that swept through California in October of 2017 burned 200,000 acres and destroyed or damaged more than 5,500 homes. It was widely reported these fires were the worst and most extensive and deadly ever.  And, it was widely reported that these fires were greatly worsened by Global Warming.

Actually, the number of fires and acreage affected since 1985 show the number of fires is actually down slightly though the acreage burned had increased before leveling off the last 20 years. The NWS tracks the number of days where conditions are conducive to wildfires when they issue red-flag warnings. It is little changed.

When it comes to considering the number of deaths and structures destroyed, the seven-fold increase in population in California from 1930 to 2017 must be noted. Not only does this increase in population mean more people and home structures in the path of fires, but it also means more fires.  Lightning and campfires caused most historic fires; today most are the result of power lines igniting trees.  The power lines have increased proportionately with the population, so it can be reasoned that most of the damage from wild fires in California is a result of increased population not Global Warming. The increased danger is also greatly aggravated by poor government forest management choices.

Large-scale deadly fires are not unique in the nation’s history.

“In 1871, during the week of Oct. 8-14, it must have seemed like the whole world was ablaze for residents of the Upper Midwest. Four of the worst fires in U.S. history all broke out in the same week across the region. The Great Chicago Fire, which destroyed about a third of the city’s valuation at the time and left more than 100,000 residents homeless, stole the headlines.

But at the same time, three other fires also scorched the region. Blazes leveled the Michigan cities of Holland and Manistee in what has been referred to as the Great Michigan Fire, while across the state another fire destroyed the city of Port Huron. The worst fire of them all, however, might have been the Great Peshtigo Fire, a firestorm that ravaged the Wisconsin countryside, leaving more than 1,500 dead - the most fatalities by fire in U.S. history.” Link.

Weather and normal seasonal and year-to-year variations brings fires to the west every year and other areas from time to time. This past winter was a very wet one, and in the mountains in the west, a snowy one.  Wet winters cause more spring growth that will dry up in the dry summer heat season and become tinder for late summer and early fall fires before the seasonal rains return.

The number of fires and acreage affected since 1985 show the number of fires is actually down slightly though the acreage burned had increased before leveling off the last 20 years. The NWS tracks the number of days where conditions are conducive to wildfires when they issue red-flag warnings. It is little changed.

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ROLE OF DEVELOPMENT AND GOVERNMENT POLICIES

People find it desirable to live in the quiet beauty of the hilly wooded developments away from the big cities-- unfortunately in areas that are vulnerable to wildfires when the strong seasonal winds blow at the end of the dry season.

The danger is aggravated by bad environmental and governmental policies. Last summer, Governor Brown vetoed a bi-partisan bill to help subsidize PGE tree removal from near power lines and transformers as the law requires. The downed trees and power lines/transformers are believed to be the cause of at least some of the fires as the sparks ignited the dry brush and the cinders and sparks are carried by the same winds that brought down the lines and transformers.

The National Park Service changed its policy in 1968 to recognize fire as a natural ecological process. Fires on federal lands were to be allowed to run their courses where possible.
In a May, 2017 congressional hearing, Rep. Tom McClintock, R-Calif., said, “Forty-five years ago, we began imposing laws that have made the management of our forests all but impossible.” “Time and again, we see vivid boundaries between the young, healthy, growing forests managed by state, local, and private landholders, and the choked, dying, or burned federal forests’”

McClintock said. “The laws of the past 45 years have not only failed to protect the forest environment - they have done immeasurable harm to our forests.” In an October, 2017 House address, McClintock pinned the blame of poor forest management on bad 1970s laws, like the National Environmental Policy Act and the Endangered Species Act. He said these laws “have resulted in endlessly time-consuming and cost-prohibitive restrictions and requirements that have made the scientific management of our forests virtually impossible.”

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke has promoted a change to forest management policies, calling for a more aggressive approach to reduce the excess vegetation that has made the fires worse. See more.

Ironically if CO2 has played a role, as a fertilizer, it has increased the greening in wet water years like 2016/17.

See Cliff Mass rebut the claims that the CO2 is driving increasing wildfires.

Nov 28, 2017
Breaking News: Two leading US scientists acclaim Australian climate book

Dr Howard Brady

Two leading USA scientists have acclaimed a little known book for its remarkable ability to show everyday people, not just scientists, the wonder of the climate system and how carbon dioxide is not driving modern climate change. The accolades are from world famous physicist, Emeritus Professor William Happer (who has advised President Trump on climate change), Princeton University, and Dr Willie Soon, Senior Researcher, Harvard-Smithsonian Centre for Astrophysics.

The short 175 page book, Mirrors and Mazes; A guide through the climate debate, was written by Dr Howard Thomas Brady, an award-winning Australian scientist who studied in the USA and went on 4 expeditions to Antarctica with the US Office of Polar Programs. The Kindle version of this book has just been released with Happer and Soon’s recommendations on the back cover. The paperback version (2nd Edition) was released earlier in March 2017.

The reader is invited to enter the climate debate, likened to a twisting maze or hall of mirrors, with dead-ends, illusions, traps - that are the lies, misinformation, over-simplifications and false prophecies.

The recommendations are:

“Mirrors and Mazes is written for intelligent laymen who like to think for themselves. The book reviews all of the issues that touch on the current climate debate:  the nature of greenhouse gases; clouds; the sun; sea level; extreme weather; polar ice; etc.

The author, Dr Howard Thomas Brady, is uniquely qualified to write this guide through the climate debate. Leaving a youthful career as a Catholic priest to pursue his fascination with science, Dr Brady made many important contributions to geology, notably in studies of Antarctica, where he did extensive fieldwork during the Ross Ice Shelf Drilling Program.

Equations are avoided, but numbers are given when essential, for example, in discussions of rising sea level, where Dr Brady is an expert. There are well-chosen illustrations and good references for those who would like to dig deeper. Dr Brady’s discussions of the complicated interplay of the climate movement with religion, politics and the media are especially insightful, perhaps because of his youthful training in theology.

I am especially fond of Mirrors and Mazes. It would be an excellent addition to the personal library of anyone who wants to understand climate facts, stripped of propaganda and emotion.”

William Happer
Cyrus Fogg Brackett Professor of Physics Emeritus
Princeton University

“Mirrors and Mazes is a beacon of light to see through the cloudy attempts to demonize CO2 as the satanic gas of our times. It is a must read and welcome contribution to the educational aspect of this hot scientific debate.”

Dr Willie Soon
Senior Researcher, Solar and Stellar Physics Division
Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics

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Nov 16, 2017
Green Energy Train to Energy Poverty

Joseph D’Aleo, CCM, AMS Fellow

As I noted in Joe’s blog we are making a major effort to work with the nation’s most respected scientists to prepare rebuttals to claims from environmental groups and government agencies and to formerly reply to the CAP, USCSSP NCA travesties. As is always the case though we get accused of being shills for big oil, all work that we do is pro bono. If you can help us defer the costs of our efforts, please use the donate button in the left column. Even small amounts are appreciated.

Update: As one of the rebuttals to common claims, we hear and read that Australia and Europe are great examples of how green is good. 

Here is our rebuttal:

Claim: Europe and Australia are benefiting from their green energy policies. We should follow their example.

Facts:

One commonly heard claim is that the green energy policies are working where they have been implemented and should be a model for our national energy policies. They claim a green miracle domestically in California and savings for ratepayers in the RGGI states and high profile countries like Germany, Denmark and Australia where governments have implemented aggressive plans to replace reliable fossil fuel energy with renewables.

Instead, these policies have brought skyrocketing energy prices, hurting most those who can afford it the least, while green energy suppliers and investors in renewables rake in windfall profits. With higher prices, many companies leave the countries (or states) eventually leading to higher unemployment. Some of the hardest hit early adapters are rethinking their compliance to the original plans. In the U.S., California and the RGGI states pay the highest electricity prices in the nation. The lower gasoline and heating fuel prices thanks to fracking is hiding this for now. Meanwhile, the enviro lobby has targeted fracking and pushing electric autos.

If one were to look at the real story in the model countries and states, they would run away from the radical green agenda.

Australia’s renewable energy program has been a disaster - raising electricity prices and leading to widespread blackouts and crises when electricity was unavailable for over a week at a time, because the wind was not blowing, demand was spiking, and the country did not have nearly enough backup power during heat waves in 2016 and 2017.

According to data from the Parliament of Australia, household electricity prices for five of the seven capital cities increased between 60 and 235 percent over the last nine years. These increases were driven by programs to force adoption of renewable energy.

Power prices in the Australian renewable energy paradise of South Australia have driven 102,000 South Australians to beg for help from food charities, according to a major South Australian newspaper. Those people have been forced to skip meals so that they can pay their soaring electricity bills.

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See Back to Bolted-Down industries story here.
In Europe, the rapid growth of generously subsidized renewable projects has left end users, taxpayers or energy companies with steeper bills while private investors have secured lucrative profits.

Germany’s first wind turbines will lose eligibility for surcharge subsidies paid by customers in 2021, after which only a few installations can be operated at a profit, according to the Energy Brainpool consultancy. At that point they will have to get more subsidies or will have to be shut down.

Because Germany has invested so much in expensive, unreliable wind and solar energy - and is shutting down its nuclear power plants - the country is actually building huge new coal-fired generating units that burn low-energy lignite and emit large amounts of carbon dioxide.

The result of these policies is that German businesses and families now pay the second highest electricity price in Europe, after Denmark: 45 cents per kilowatt-hour = five times what Americans pay for coal and gas-fueled electricity and nearly three times what they pay in California, Connecticut and New York.

In the Czech Republic, the government reacted to a “solar boom” by restricting feed-in tariffs and imposing a windfall tax that often hit investors that had just entered the market. The backlash affected all renewables, explaining why wind farms such as JRD’s Vaclavice project have been so rare in recent years. “Renewables were completely discredited,” declared Jan Mladek, former minister and the architect of the Czech government’s energy policy. At the end of 2010 the state said ‘we have made a mistake and you will pay for it’,” says Marek Lang, director of JRD’s energy division. Similar stories across the region have given renewable energy a bad name and triggered lawsuits and arbitration actions by foreign investors complaining of erratic and retroactive changes in subsidy regimes.

This has enabled politically powerful coal and nuclear lobbies to mount a rearguard action to persuade governments to support their interests. This has met little resistance, as environmental movements are often much weaker than in western Europe and energy pricing is even more sensitive due to lower incomes.

In Poland, the populist rightwing government has defended the country’s coal industry and is hostile to Brussels’ green agenda.

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The more the move the renewable, the greater the cost to ratepayers and the more unreliable the power supply because the wind does not always blow or sun shine.

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If Americans had to pay German or Denmark’s electricity rates, the results would be devastating. For example:

Virginia’s 665,000-square-foot Inova Fairfax Women’s and Children’s Hospital pays about $1,850,000 per year for electricity at 9 cents per kilowatt-hour. At 17 cents (the price in California, Connecticut and New York), the hospital would have to pay $3,500,000. That’s a $1.6-million difference. At the German rate of 45cents per kWh, Inova would have to pay $9,250,000 per year - a whopping, destructive, unsustainable $7.4-million increase in the cost of doing business and serving patients. 

How many dozens or hundreds of employees would Inova have to lay off, to make up for that difference? How many emergency and other services would it have to eliminate? What would that do to patients, especially to the poorest families?

How many workers would be laid off in America’s factories, refineries and other businesses if electricity prices double, triple or quintuple? How many families would be driven into severe energy poverty? How many businesses or entire industries would have to close? How many people would die every winter, because they could no longer afford to heat their homes properly, especially in frigid Mid-western states?

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How environmental activists and liberal politicians are ‘Grubering’ America on climate and energy

MIT professor Jonathan Gruber, who was an advisor to Obama on the Obamacare act mocked the “stupidity” of American voters and boasted of the Obama administration’s ability to take advantage of it. They did that for Obamacare but also, in partnership with the environmental left for their regulatory siege, the CPP and the Paris treaty. The latest act from the last administration was the NCA CSSR atrocity.

The global warming agenda has nothing to do with science and everything to do with politics and ideology. Nearly 6 decades ago, President Eisenhower in his 1961 farewell address to the nation, in which the president famously warned of the danger to the nation of a growing armaments industry referred to as a “military-industrial complex,” he talked about the risks posed by a scientific-technological elite.

He noted that the technological revolution of previous decades had been fed by more costly and centralized research, increasingly sponsored by the federal government. Eisenhower warned.

“Partly because of the huge costs involved, a government contract becomes virtually a substitute for intellectual curiosity.” While continuing to respect discovery and scientific research, he said, “We must also be alert to the equal and opposite danger that public policy could itself become the captive of a scientific-technological elite.”

The Club of Rome was an organization formed in 1968 consisting of heads of state, UN bureaucrats, high-level politicians and government officials, diplomats, scientists, economists and business leaders from around the globe. It raised considerable public attention in 1972 with its report The Limits to Growth.

The club’s mission was “to act as a global catalyst for change through the identification and analysis of the crucial problems facing humanity”. They decided that more centralized control was needed under one world government. In their book “The First Global Revolution” in 1991, they wrote:

“In searching for a new enemy to unite us, we came up with the idea that pollution, the threat of global warming...would fit the bill...It does not matter if this common enemy is “a real one or...one invented for the purpose.”

172 countries attended the Rio Summit in 1992 and agreed on the Climate Change Convention, which in turn led to the UN IPCC, the failed Kyoto Protocol and then the Paris Agreement.

The former head of NOAA Dr. Jane Lubchenco proved Eisenhower correct in his warning that public policy could itself become the captive of a scientific-technological elite. In her 1999 address to the AAAS when she served as its president:

“Urgent and unprecedented environmental and social changes challenge scientists to define a new social contract. This contract represents a commitment on the part of all scientists to devote their energies and talents to the most pressing problems of the day, in proportion to their importance, in exchange for public funding.”

Former Washington State Democratic governor Dixy Lee Ray saw the second Treaty of Paris coming. “The future is to be [One] World Government with central planning by the United Nations,” she said. “Fear of environmental crises - whether real or not - is expected to lead to compliance.”

One World Government under the auspices of the UN is now called Agenda 2030.

It is favored by the democrats and some establishment republicans.  UN Sustainable Development Goals aim to reduce inequality worldwide by forcing individual governments and citizens alike to share their wealth. Western (US) taxpayers are targeted and their wealth would be redistributed internationally while their economies are cut down to size. Big government would control all aspects of life, where people can live, how many children couples could have, energy used, the food supply, even some have proposed how much money we could keep for the work we do, etc.

UN Climate Chief Christiana Figueres stated bluntly, “Our aim is not to save the world from ecological calamity but to change the global economic system...” In simpler terms, she intends to replace free enterprise, entrepreneurial capitalism with UN-controlled centralized, One World government and economic control.

UN IPCC official Ottmar Edenhofer presented an additional reason for UN climate policies. “One has to free oneself from the illusion that international climate policy is environmental policy, it is not”. It is actually about how “we redistribute de facto the world’s wealth.”

H.L Mencken also was prophetic in his statements “The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed - and hence clamorous to be led to safety - by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary” and “The urge to save humanity is almost always only a false face for the urge to rule it.”

The scientific elite, housed in the professional societies, our government agencies and the universities teamed with politicians, educators and the media have created what may be the greatest hoax in the history of civilization.  The latest CSSR National Climate Assessment report is perhaps the most egregious example of advocacy science in history assembling a series of wild though easily refuted claims. More to come on that.

They even invented a new science of “attribution without detection” (when you can’t find the trends you expect in the data, you claim you can read between the lines and see them anyway). This should remind you of Michigan Senator Debbie Stabenow who explained to the editorial board of the Detroit News her support for carbon dioxide restrictions designed to fight global warming. “Climate change is very real. Global warming creates volatility and I feel it when I’m flying. The storms are more volatile. We are paying the price in more hurricanes and tornadoes.”

As Detroit News contributor Henry Payne noted: “And there are sea monsters in Lake Michigan. I can feel them when I’m boating.”

Contradicting Stabenow’s claims, however, NOAA’s Storm Prediction Center reported that the number of F3 or stronger tornadoes has been declining since the early 1970s and 2013 had 142 fewer tornadoes reported than any year on record.  Before this top ten Atlantic hurricane season, we had a record near 12-year period without any major hurricane landfall, beating out the 1860s by almost 4 years.

Our biggest challenge is as Mark Twain observed “It’s easier to fool people than to convince them that they have been fooled.”

The saddest result of policies based on bad science to achieve environmental dreams of a fossil fuel free world, is the effects of high energy costs that inevitably follows on the poor and middle class families.

The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), which the northeast democratic governors claim has been a great success has the region paying the highest electricity prices in the nation (along with green California). Lower gasoline prices and heating fuel prices thanks to the fracking boom has eased the pain for now. But the environmentalists and green politicians want to stop that. It is already forbidden in New York State despite the rich Marcellus shale field that Pennsylvania is tapping into.

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Wherever the environmental lobby wins, people lose. Power prices in the Australian renewable energy paradise of South Australia have driven 102,000 South Australians to beg for help from food charities, according to a major South Australian newspaper. Those people have been forced to skip meals so that they can pay their soaring electricity bills.

In Europe, the rapid growth of generously subsidized renewable projects has left end users, taxpayers or energy companies with steeper bills while private investors have secured lucrative profits. Over 25% of the UK households, especially pensioners are in what is called energy poverty, having to choose between heating and eating.

The result of these policies in Germany, businesses and families now pay the second highest electricity price in Europe, after Denmark: 45 cents per kilowatt-hour - five times what Americans pay for coal and gas-fueled electricity and nearly three times what they pay in California, Connecticut and New York. The more wind and solar, the higher the electricity prices.

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As pundits have asked: How many workers would be laid off in America’s factories, refineries and other businesses if electricity prices double, triple or quintuple? How many families would be driven into severe energy poverty? How many businesses or entire industries would have to close? How many people would die every winter, because they could no longer afford to heat their homes properly, especially in frigid northern states?

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See how Paul Dreissen shows how Virginia joins the other clueless states that think they can save the world by abiding by the Paris Accord here

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Why Are We Destroying Our Grid?
By Donn Dears

Or, asked differently:

Why are we destroying the most efficient, reliable and least costly system ever devised for generating and distributing electricity?

Here are some facts:

Electricity generated by wind and solar is more expensive than electricity generated using traditional methods, e.g., coal-fired, natural gas combined cycle, nuclear and hydro power plants.

Wind and solar are intermittent and unreliable methods for generating electricity that requires backup, usually with natural gas turbines, which increases costs.

Wind and solar require expensive storage to alleviate evening ramping-up by traditional methods of generation, and to permit larger amounts of renewables on the grid which increases costs.

Promoting and subsidizing PV rooftop solar, often with net-metering provisions, increases costs.

Attempting to increase the amount of wind and solar generated electricity to substantially replace traditional methods of generating electricity will require large amounts of prohibitively expensive storage.

In addition, it’s very likely that:

Adding large amounts of intermittent wind and solar will reduce the reliability of the grid. Microgrids that are being touted by environmental groups will increase costs and complexity, with few real benefits.

In the face of these facts, we are forcing wind and solar onto the grid by:

Enacting renewable portfolio standards (RPS) that require utilities to provide a steadily increasing amount of electricity from renewables, primarily wind and solar.

Subsidizing wind and solar to encourage investing in them.

Allowing RTO/ISOs to use a dispatch system that gives wind and solar preference over traditional methods of generating electricity, which is driving nuclear and coal-fired generation off the grid, and which will ultimately also drive natural gas generation from the grid.

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So: Why are we destroying the grid?

It’s not to make electricity less costly.

It’s not to improve reliability.

It’s to cut CO2 emissions.

Global warming and climate change hysteria is causing us to destroy the most efficient, reliable and least costly system ever devised for generating and distributing electricity.

Which is also a fact.

One would think that all Americans would be interested in determining whether there is a real threat from anthropogenic global warming (AGW) or climate change.

One would think Americans might be asking: Why are we destroying the grid?

Yet the media and proponents of AGW won’t allow any debate ... And in fact, try to discourage debate by calling those who don’t agree with them deniers, or some other demeaning characterization. Additionally, they propose taking legal action against “deniers”, with some legislators demanding that “deniers” be jailed.

The brochure, Nothing to Fear from CO2, is available free, at www.powerforusa.com. It provides the history of world temperatures for the past 10,000 years together with atmospheric CO2 levels and a look at natural causes for global warming.

Oct 18, 2017
Sixty-Five Scientists Demand Reconsideration Of EPA’s Endangerment Finding

Francis Menton

Today a large group of some sixty-five top scientists sent a letter to EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt demanding that he initiate a process to reconsider the so-called Endangerment Finding of 2009.

See the Letter and the 64 signatories. We know that many more scientists would have been pleased to sign this letter if they had only known about it. Scientists may ask to have their name added by simply sending their info to THSResearch@aol.com.

Regular readers of this blog will recognize the EF as one of the most egregious and preposterous bureaucratic power grabs of all time.  By the EF, EPA purported to “determine” that carbon dioxide—a colorless, odorless gas that has no known adverse health effects at any concentration you will ever experience and that is the basis for all life on earth—is a “danger” to human health and welfare.  The so-called science underlying the EF is and always was a joke.  See, for example my post “The ‘Science’ Underlying Climate Alarmism Turns Up Missing” from September 2016 (and multiple similar posts).  Nevertheless, the EF was used by the Obama administration as the basis for, among other things, its Clean Power Plan, seeking to force the closure of all coal-fired power plants (and ultimately the closure of all power plants involving any fossil fuel).  Just today, a group of about seventeen “blue” states and their environmentalist co-parties filed a brief in the D.C. Circuit (behind pay wall) seeking to compel the Trump administration to reinstate the CPP or something like it, on the grounds that the EF requires the government to regulate emissions of carbon dioxide. 

Here is a link to today’s letter.  And here is the full text:

You have pending before you two science-based petitions for reconsideration of the 2009 Endangerment Finding for Greenhouse Gases, one filed by the Concerned Household Electricity Consumers Council, and one filed jointly by the Competitive Enterprise Institute and the Science and Environmental Policy Project.

We the undersigned are individuals who have technical skills and knowledge relevant to climate science and the GHG Endangerment Finding. We each are convinced that the 2009 GHG Endangerment Finding is fundamentally flawed and that an honest, unbiased reconsideration is in order.

If such a reconsideration is granted, each of us will assist in a new Endangerment Finding assessment that is carried out in a fashion that is legally consistent with the relevant statute and case law.

We see this as a very urgent matter and therefore, request that you send your response to one of the signers who is also associated with a petitioner, SEPP.

Readers here will also recognize that I am serving as a lawyer for one of the Petitioners (the Concerned Household Electricity Consumers Council) seeking reconsideration of the EF.  Our group issued a press release this morning simultaneous with the release of the scientists’ letter to Administrator Pruitt.  Key points from our press release:

The Concerned Household Electricity Consumers Council fully endorses the recommendations of these scientists because recent research has definitively validated that: once certain natural factor (i.e., solar, volcanic and oceanic/ENSO activity) impacts on temperature data are accounted for, there is no “natural factor adjusted” warming remaining to be attributed to rising atmospheric CO2 levels. That is, these natural factor impacts fully explain the trends in all relevant temperature data sets over the last 50 or more years. At this point, there is no statistically valid proof that past increases in atmospheric CO2 concentrations have caused what have been officially reported as rising, or even record setting, global average surface temperatures (GAST)… Moreover, additional research findings demonstrate that adjustments by government agencies to the GAST record render that record totally inconsistent with published credible temperature data sets and useless for any policy purpose…

This scientifically illiterate regulation [based on the EF] will raise U.S. energy prices thereby reducing economic growth and jobs as well as our National Security… The Electricity Consumers Council therefore, based on this new scientific evidence, must insist that the EPA grant the “very urgent” request of these scientists “that an honest, unbiased reconsideration is in order.”

I won’t attempt to list here who all the letter’s signers are, but if you go to the link you will see that they are a who’s who of the top scientific people active on these issues.  To the extent that credentials count for anything in today’s corrupted world, many of them have top degrees and top professorships at top institutions. 

Now, perhaps you have seen the claim that “97% of scientists agree” that human-caused global warming is a crisis, or something like that.  I guess that would have to mean that the alarmist team will shortly produce a responsive letter signed by in excess of 2000 comparably-qualified scientists.  Don’t bank on it.  No such group exists.  Yes, there is a substantial government-funded clique of lightweights and charlatans that spend their lives manipulating the world temperature records and putting out fake press releases of “hottest year ever!” Undoubtedly they can exceed our group in numbers (government dollars buy a lot of loyalty and corruption).  But no such group that could be assembled could remotely match our group of sixty-five for bona fide scientific heft.  If they try to assemble such a group, the contrast of the real scientists versus the lightweights will be immediately apparent. 

And by the way, the signing process for our scientists’ letter is still open, and we expect the number of signers to increase over time.  Let the games begin! 

Oct 08, 2017
What made this hurricane season so active in the Atlantic?

Joseph D’Aleo

What a hurricane season! It started very early with Arlene in April but the real action held off until the last week of August when Hurricane Harvey flooded Texas and Louisiana.. Harvey was the first hurricane to make landfall in Texas since Ike in 2008 and Category 4 hurricane in Texas since Hurricane Carla in 1961.

Irma, the 11th strongest Atlantic storm on record (using central pressure, the most reliable measure) had major impacts on Islands like Barbuda and St. Martin, the Virgin Islands, the Turks and Caicos and southern Bahamas. Then crossing northern Cuba it curled back into Florida. It was the first landfalling hurricane and major hurricane in Florida since Wilma in 2005.

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Jose too became a major hurricane, but never made landfall though it created large swells along the eastern seaboard and pounded southeastern New England, Cape Cod and the islands with tropical storm winds and coastal flooding as it stalled for days.

Maria was the third major Hurricane, the 10th strongest Atlantic storm, crossed the northern Leeward Islands and plowed through Puerto Rico, doing catastrophic damage to the island.  It then moved north into the Atlantic, close enough to pound the Atlantic coast with large swells from Florida to New Jersey.

And then Hurricane Nate avoided another ‘Katrina moment’ for New Orleans but produced storm surge damage to southeast Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and the Florida Panhandle.

Before the landfall of two major storms on the U.S. we had gone just short of 12 years without a major hurricane landfall, the longest such lull since the 1860s.

The quiet period came after three big years. Isabel made landfall on the Mid Atlantic in 2003, Charley, Frances, Ivan and Jeanne in 2004 and Dennis, Katrina, Rita and Wilma in 2005 all made landfall on the mainland.  Emily in 2005 was another major hurricane but turned west into Mexico. 2005 holds the record for 5 category 4 or greater and 4 category 5 impact storms. Some speculated this was the new norm for the Atlantic before nature gave us that 12-year break.

So what causes long quiet spells and then big years like 2004 and 2005 and now 2017?

Nothing is new in weather. Great Colonial hurricanes in the northeast with storm surges up to 20 feet occurred in 1635 and 1675. A Katrina like storm made landfall in Louisiana in 1722 with major flooding and damage in Louisiana.  The Great Chesapeake storm in 1769 like Isabel in 2003 brought major flooding to North Carolina and Virginia.  In the Caribbean, the Great Hurricane of 1780 killed an estimated 27,500 people while ravaging the islands of the eastern Caribbean with winds estimated to top 200 mph. It was one of three hurricanes that year with death tolls greater than 1000. 

1893, had at least 10 hurricanes. Of those, 5 became major hurricanes. Two of the hurricanes caused over two thousand (2000) deaths in the United States; at the time, the season was the deadliest in U.S. history.

1886 came close with at least 10 hurricanes, 7 making landfall.  4 of the hurricanes were major hurricanes.

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The Galveston Hurricane in1900 killed at least 8,000 people with some estimates as high as 12,000, making it the deadliest natural disaster in U.S. history.

Ok, major hurricanes have occurred even during cold periods but is there a trend in the modern record?

ACCUMULATED CYCLONE ENERGY INDEX A MEASURE OF SEASONAL TROPICAL ACTIVITY

The Accumulated Cyclone Energy Index which takes into account the number, duration and strength of all tropical storms in a season. The ACE index is a wind energy index, defined as the sum of the squares of the maximum sustained surface wind speed (knots) measured every six hours for all named storms while they are at least tropical storm strength.

The Accumulated Cyclone Energy Index for the Atlantic shows a cyclical behavior with no long term trend but with spikes in 1893, 1926, 1933,1950 then again in 1995, 2004 and 2005. 2017 ranks 8th now with still weeks to go this season.

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So what causes long breaks and then big years like 2004 and 2005 and now 2017?

OCEAN TEMPERATURE AND PRESSURE PATTERNS

The North Atlantic like the Pacific undergoes multi-decadal changes in ocean temperature and pressure patterns. It has long been known, when the Atlantic is in what is called its’ warm mode, there are more storms.  Since 1995, when the current warm Atlantic mode began, we have average 14.6 named storms per year, more than 5 more than the long-term 1851-2017 average.

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An important factor that affects whether hurricanes affect the United States is El Nino and La Nina. When El Ninos develop, more storms develop in the eastern and central Pacific threatening Mexico, Hawaii and sometimes in weakened forms Arizona and California.

These storms enhance high-level winds that cross into the Atlantic. These winds produce shear that disrupts developing storms causing them to weaken or dissipate and/or turn harmlessly north into the North Atlantic. Storms can still develop near the coast where the water is warm like in the Gulf and near the Gulf Stream off the southeast coast.

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Image courtesy of climate.gov based on originals by Gerry Bell

When La Ninas develop there are usually fewer storms in the eastern Pacific and less shear to disrupt the Atlantic storms.

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Image courtesy of climate.gov based on originals by Gerry Bell

In warm Atlantic years, that means trouble as the storms can track the entire Basin with more time to turn into major hurricanes. Even the east coast is more vulnerable to a landfalling hurricane. We had 8 high impact east coast hurricanes from 1938 to 1960 and 9 from 1988 to 2012.

The last important La Nina stretch was in 2010/11 to 2011/12. We avoided a major hurricane hit, though major hurricanes at sea made final landfall in the NYC metro - Irene (as a tropical storm) in 2011 and Sandy in 2012 (as a post tropical cyclone).

They caused massive flooding (from rains with Irene in upstate NY and Vermont and from a storm surge with Sandy in New York City and New Jersey).

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We are still in the latest Atlantic warm period. This year, a spring attempt at an El Nino failed a La Nina like conditions developed. Had El Nino succeeded we may have had Harvey, which developed near the Texas coast and Nate which came out of the bath water in the western Caribbean but maybe Irma and Maria would have been weakened or deflected.  But with La Nina conditions developing, no shear and warm Atlantic water we saw a return to big storms just as we saw in 2004 and 2005. 

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It may not be over as in 2005, we had Wilma come out of the Caribbean in late October.

At Weatherbell, Joe Bastardi led the team in the tropical outlook and correctly called for a big season. When the water in the Main Development Regions warmed further, Joe upped the ACE forecast and the team began alerting that come mid-August, big things would happen.

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So when we get a year like 2017 or back-to-back bad years like 2004 and 2005, we have to accept that is how the weather works. Permadroughts ended with record wet years for Texas and California this decade. The record nearly 12 year major hurricane ‘drought’ ended with 2017. 

BTW, when the Atlantic is active, the Pacific usually is less so. See how the western Pacific and Indian Ocean activity averaged 50% of normal and the eastern Pacific 20% below normal while the Atlantic activity (ACE Index as 236% of normal.

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Joe D’Aleo is currently a Senior Co-chief Meteorologist with WeatherBELL Analytics. Joe is a CCM, Fellow of the AMS, former chair of the AMS Committee on Weather Analysis and Forecasting. He was a college professor of Meteorology/Climatology, the co founder and first Director of Meteorology at The Weather Channel and Chief Meteorologist with 3 companies the last 30 years. He has been the Executive Director of Icecap.us since 2007.

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