Folks, I have been asked by members of a Pro Bono legal team, that has been involved for some time with CO2 regulation and the DC Circuit and Supreme Courts, to pass along to you their response to our Research Report commenters who have claimed that our proof of invalidity of the THS in real world has no bearing on the validity of EPA’s Endangerment Finding.
As the attached document makes clear, this argument is also falsified by the evidence, in this case EPA’s evidence given to the two highest courts of the land.
James P. Wallace III, Ph.D.
THE IMPORTANCE OF THE TROPICAL HOT SPOT TO EPA’S ENDANGERMENT FINDING
On September 21, 2016, a new Research Report by James P. Wallace, III, John R. Christy and Joseph S. D’Aleo, On the Existence of a “Tropical Hot Spot” & The Validity of EPA’s CO2 Endangerment Finding, Abridged Research Report, was published on ICECAP. Applying statistical and econometric methods to data from the principal atmospheric temperature data sets, the Research Report claims to demonstrate that the hypothesized “Tropical Hot Spot” in the tropical upper troposphere does not exist. For the details of the analysis, consult the Report.
This so-called Tropical Hot Spot is a signature pattern of greenhouse gas warming in the tropical upper troposphere according to what EPA, the USGCRP (formerly US CCSP), and the IPCC claim is their basic physical understanding of the climate. The Tropical Hot Spot is thus fundamental to the theory of potentially catastrophic human-caused global warming.
If the Research Report is correct, it would invalidate EPA’s “Endangerment Finding” ("EF") that Greenhouse Gases ("GHGs") endanger human health and welfare, a Finding that in turn is the basis for all of EPA’s efforts to regulate CO2 emissions and the energy sector of the economy. In the EF, EPA attributes global warming to human GHG emissions based on what it calls three “lines of evidence.” The first and most important “line of evidence” is stated by EPA to be “our basic physical understanding of the effects of changing concentrations of greenhouse gases, natural factors, and other human impacts on the climate system.” See 74 Fed. Reg. 66518:3 ("attribution of observed climate change to anthropogenic activities is based on multiple lines of evidence") and 74 Fed. Reg. 66,523:2. (Link. See also Endangerment Finding Technical Support Document ("TSD"), p. 47 (listing the three lines of evidence).
But the authors of the new Research Report conclude that their findings invalidate all EPA’s three lines of evidence, not just the physical understanding. This would in turn would invalidate EPA’s attribution of warming to human emissions, and would leave the EF without support.
One of the early internet responses to the new paper has been to deprecate the importance of the Tropical Hot Spot to both the EF and to the vitality of AGW theory and modeling. See, e.g., link). The argument is that neither EPA’s “physical understanding” line of evidence nor AGW theory generally rests upon the existence of the Hot Spot.
But examination of the Endangerment Finding itself, and of its supporting documents, as well as of the assessment literature on which EPA explicitly relies, makes crystal clear that the Hot Spot is in fact a critical and necessary component of the “physical understanding” of climate that EPA claims as the foundational line of evidence supporting the EF.
For example, the “physical understanding” of the atmospheric greenhouse mechanism set forth in U.S. Climate Change Science Program, Synthesis and Assessment Product 1.1, Temperature Trends in the Lower Atmosphere - Understanding and Reconciling Differences, ("SAP 1.1"), Chapter 1, 1.1, The Thermal Structure of the Atmosphere, p. 17-19: explicitly relies upon the Hot Spot:
The sense of the radiative-convective-dynamical balance above, together with the requirement of radiative balance at the top-of-the atmosphere (namely, equilibrium conditions wherein the net solar energy absorbed by the Earth’s climate system must be balanced by the infrared radiation emitted by the Earth), can help illustrate the significance of long-lived infrared absorbing gases in the global atmosphere. The presence of such greenhouse gases (e.g., carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, halocarbons) increases the radiative heating of the surface and troposphere. As specific humidity is strongly related to temperature, it is expected to rise with surface warming (IPCC, 1990), The increased moisture content of the atmosphere amplifies the initial radiative heating due to the greenhouse gas increases (Manabe and Wetherald, 1967; Ramanathan, 1981). The re-establishment of a new thermal equilibrium in the climate system involves the communication of the added heat input to the troposphere and surface, leading to surface warming (Goody and Yung, 1989; IPCC, 1990; Lindzen and Emanuel, 2002). From the preceding discussions, the lapse rate can be expected to decrease with the resultant increase in humidity, and also to depend on the resultant changes in atmospheric circulation. In general, the lapse rate can be expected to decrease with warming such that temperature changes aloft exceed those at the surface. As a consequence, the characteristic infrared emission level of the planet is shifted to a higher altitude in the atmosphere.
(Emphasis added). The bolded text precisely describes the Hot Spot phenomenon, and clearly demonstrates that it is fundamental to the orthodox physical understanding of the greenhouse warming mechanism. The CCSP SAP 1.1 report depicted the Hot Spot graphically in figure 1.3, p. 25, as follows:
Similarly, the IPCC’s Fourth Assessment Report (AR4) also states unequivocally that the Hot Spot is an integral feature of the “physical understanding” of the climate’s hypothesized greenhouse warming mechanism. This is demonstrated by AR4 WG1, The Physical Science Basis, Chapter 9, Figure 9.1. Panel (c) shows the modeled effect of GHGs, and clearly depicts the hot spot:
The text accompanying this figure explains that “The major features shown in Figure 9.1 are robust to using different climate models.” IPCC AR4 WG1 9.2.2. link). “Greenhouse gas forcing is expected to produce warming in the troposphere,...” Id.
In connection with its adoption of the EF, EPA explicitly placed primary reliance on the US CCSP reports and the IPCC AR4. See TSD Box 1.1, p 4. These assessments are cited thousands of times in the full set of documentation for the EF. EPA has well and truly bound itself to these reports.
Whether the Hot Spot exists has been a white-hot point of controversy in the climate debate for many years. The history of the controversy through 2011 is recounted in Tropospheric Temperature Trends: History Of An Ongoing Controversy, January 1, 2011. No one would care if the Hot Spot were not critically important to AGW theory and modeling.
The arguments over the Hot Spot have all been about data quality or interpretation. At no point have any of the participants said it would not matter if there were no Hot Spot, or otherwise deprecated the importance of the Hot Spot to the physical understanding of how GHGs are claimed to warm the climate.
Thus, the CCSP report cited above said if the Hot Spot were missing it would be a “potentially serious inconsistency.” Yet it ultimately sided with those claiming the mismatch between observations and prediction was not fatal. SAP 1.1, p. 11. (Emphasis added).
Given the controversy over the Hot Spot, EPA could not ignore the issue. EPA’s team, including Tom Karl, followed the lead of the CCSP (led by the same Tom Karl) and concluded there was no dispositive conflict between prediction and observation:
However, an important inconsistency may have been identified in the tropics. In the tropics, most observational data sets show more warming at the surface than in the troposphere, while almost all model simulations have larger warming aloft than at the surface (Karl et al., 2006). Karl et al. (2009) state that when uncertainties in models and observations are properly accounted for, newer observational data sets are in agreement with climate model results.
TSD p. 50 (emphasis added). To say the least, this was itself a controversial conclusion.
The New Research Report deals with this EPA’s use of models to validate the Hot Spot as follows:
Section III. Research Design
Unlike some research in this area, this research does not attempt to evaluate the existence of the THS in the real world by using the climate models. This would constitute a well-known error in mathematics and econometrics in that such climate models obviously must include all relevant theories, possibly including some not even known today; many, if not all, of which could impact Tropical temperatures.
Thus, it is never mathematically proper to attempt to validate any theory embedded in a model using the model itself. Each such theory needs to be tested outside of the model construct.
Section IV. Tropical Hot Spot Hypothesis Testing
The proper test for the existence of the THS in the real world is very simple. Are the slopes of the three trend lines (upper & lower troposphere and surface) all positive, statistically significant and do they have the proper top down rank order?
Research Report, p. 14.
In summary, both EPA and the assessments on which it relies expressly recognize the importance of the Hot Spot and treat evidence that it does not exist as a “serious” or “important” “inconsistency” between theory and observation.
The Research Report is a powerful demonstration that the Hot Spot does not exist. The significance is obvious: definitive proof there is no Hot Spot would logically invalidate the physical understanding on which the EF, AGW theory and climate models are founded. This would, in turn, invalidate the entire edifice of U.S. and international climate policy.
In the list of President Obama’s favorite things to do, using government power to save the world from human-caused “climate change” has to rank at the top. From the time of his nomination acceptance speech in June 2008 ("this was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal..."), through all of his State of the Union addresses, and right up to the present, he has never missed an opportunity to lecture us on how atmospheric warming from our sinful “greenhouse gas” emissions is the greatest crisis facing humanity. Just a couple of weeks ago, while on his way in Air Force One to China to “ratify” his new climate non-treaty treaty, he stopped off to make two speeches on the subject, one in Nevada and the other in Hawaii. From the Guardian on September 1:
Obama embraced language that would not be out of place from an environmental group, calling on politicians “to be less concerned with special interests and more concerned about the judgment of future generations”. He lamented the “withering” crops in the Marshall Islands and the fact that the government of Kiribati, another low-lying Pacific nation, has purchased land in Fiji to relocate its people due to the rising seas.
And don’t forget, Air Force One is two 747s, not just one. Hey, you wouldn’t want the President to go crossing the Pacific without a backup 747, now would you? And while the President lectures us about our sins against the planet, his EPA and other agencies embark on the project to impose penance on us by forcing the closure of coal and other fossil fuel power plants, blocking pipelines, bankrupting the coal mining industry, subsidizing intermittent power sources that can’t possibly run a fully operational electrical grid at reasonable cost, and multiplying our cost of electricity by an order of magnitude or so. To save the planet!
But is there actually any scientific basis for this? Supposedly, it’s to be found in a document uttered by EPA back in December 2009, known as the “Endangerment Finding.” In said document, the geniuses at EPA purport to find that the emissions of “greenhouse gases” into the atmosphere are causing a danger to human health and welfare through the greenhouse warming mechanism. But, you ask, is there any actual proof of that? EPA’s answer (found in the Endangerment Finding) is the “Three Lines of Evidence”. From page 47 of the Endangerment Finding’s Technical Support Document:
The attribution of observed climate change to anthropogenic activities is based on multiple lines of evidence. The first line of evidence arises from the basic physical understanding of the effects of changing concentrations of GHGs, natural factors, and other human impacts on the climate system. The second line of evidence arises from indirect, historical estimates of past climate changes that suggest that the changes in global surface temperature over the last several decades are unusual (Karl et al, 2009). The third line of evidence arises from the use of computer-based climate models to simulate the likely patterns of response of the climate system to different forcing mechanisms (both natural and anthropogenic).
But, guys, have you actually checked the empirical data to see if your “lines of evidence” stand up? Climate skeptics have been carping for years that the serious studies that should have been done to back up the “lines of evidence” seem to be completely lacking. And now, this morning, we get this, first appearing at the ICECAP website: “The most important assumption in EPA’s CO2 Endangerment Finding has been conclusively invalidated.”
The news is that a major new work of research, from a large group of top scientists and mathematicians, asserts that EPA’s “lines of evidence,” and thus its Endangerment Finding, have been scientifically invalidated. Here is a relatively long quote from the summary:
On December 15, 2009, EPA issued its Green House Gas (GHG) Endangerment Finding, which has driven very significant and costly regulations beginning with CO2. Focusing primarily on the time period since 1950, EPA’s Endangerment Finding predicated on Three Lines of Evidence, claims that Higher CO2 Emissions have led to dangerously Higher Global Average Surface Temperatures.
The assumption of the existence of a “Tropical Hot Spot (THS)” is critical to all Three Lines of Evidence in EPA’s GHG/CO2 Endangerment Finding.
Stated simply, first, the THS is claimed to be a fingerprint or signature of atmospheric and Global Average Surface Temperatures (GAST) warming caused by increasing GHG/CO2 concentrations. The proper test for the existence of the THS in the real world is very simple. Are the slopes of the three temperature trend lines (upper & lower troposphere and surface) all positive, statistically significant and do they have the proper top down rank order?
Second, higher atmospheric CO2 and other GHGs concentrations are claimed to have been the primary cause of the claimed record setting GAST over the past 50 plus years.
Third, the THS assumption is imbedded in all of the climate models that EPA still relies upon in its policy analysis supporting, for example, its Clean Power Plan - recently put on hold by a Supreme Court Stay. These climate models are also critical to EPA’s Social Cost of Carbon estimates used to justify a multitude of regulations across many U.S. Government agencies…
These analysis results [in this Report] would appear to leave very, very little doubt but that EPA’s claim of a Tropical Hot Spot (THS), caused by rising atmospheric CO2 levels, simply does not exist in the real world. Also critically important, even on an all-other-things-equal basis, this analysis failed to find that the steadily rising Atmospheric CO2 Concentrations have had a statistically significant impact on any of the 13 critically important temperature time series data analyzed.
Thus, the analysis results invalidate each of the Three Lines of Evidence in its CO2 Endangerment Finding. Once EPA’s THS assumption is invalidated, it is obvious why the climate models they claim can be relied upon, are also invalid. And, these results clearly demonstrate - 13 times in fact - that once just the ENSO impacts on temperature data are accounted for, there is no “record setting” warming to be concerned about. In fact, there is no ENSO-Adjusted Warming at all. These natural ENSO impacts are shown in this research to involve both changes in solar activity and the well-known 1977 Pacific Climate Shift.
So the authors of this Report, operating without government or industry funding, compiled the best available atmospheric temperature time series from 13 independent sources (satellites, balloons, buoys, and surface records), and then backed out only ENSO (i.e., El Nino/La Nina) effects. And with that data and that sole adjustment they found: no evidence of the so-called Tropical Hot Spot that is the key to EPA’s claimed “basic physical understanding” of the claimed atmospheric greenhouse warming model, plus no statistically significant atmospheric warming at all to be explained.
For those interested in all the gory technical details, here is a link to the full Executive Summary, and here is a link to the full 68 page Report, complete with zillions of charts and access to all the archived underlying data. Note that, in great distinction to the tradition of climate “science,” where hiding data from adversaries is the norm, here the authors have made all data and methods fully available. Try to prove them wrong!
Well, back to you EPA! Do you mean that you’re trying to impose hundreds of billions of dollars of costs on the American economy and citizens and the so-called “scientific” basis for your project never existed? You’d better come up with something pretty good and quick!
Meanwhile, Hillary is saying that she supports Obama’s climate agenda because she “believes in science.” Does she even know that science is a process of testing hypotheses against data, and not a set of enforced orthodox beliefs? Don’t count on it.
Richard Burton in Camelot foretells the UN, EPA, and the administration policy on climate change. Obama and Kerry and the rest of the scientifically illiterates in control think they can control climate cycles simply by executive actions that would eventually leave us in the dark and cold and heat.
Like the (disputed) stories about the proclamations of King Canute that he could simply use his power to command waves and tides to stop rising:
4 New Papers: Anthropogenic Signal Not Detectable in Sea Level Rise
By Kenneth Richard
It is widely assumed that sea levels have been rising in recent decades largely in response to anthropogenic global warming. However, due to the inherently large contribution of natural oscillatory influences on sea level fluctuations, this assumption lacks substantiation. Instead, natural factors or internal variability override the detection of an anthropogenic signal and may instead largely explain the patterns in sea level rise in large regions of the global oceans.
Scientists who have recently attempted to detect an anthropogenic signal in regional sea level rise trends have had to admit that there is “no observable sea-level effect of anthropogenic global warming,” or that the “sea level rise pattern does not correspond to externally forced anthropogenic sea level signal,” and that sea level “trends are still within the range of long-term internal decadal variability.”
Below are highlighted summaries from 4 peer-reviewed scientific papers published within the last few months.
For the convenience of the readers, our basic results are shown in Figure 1. We identified five individual oscillations (upper panel), including a sea-level amplitude of 70 mm (top-bottom [t-b]) of the 18.6-year oscillation caused by the lunar nodal oscillation (LNO)… Together with a general sea-level rise of 1.18 mm/y, the sum of these five sea-level oscillations constitutes a reconstructed or theoretical sea-level curve of the eastern North Sea to the central Baltic Sea (Figure 1, lower panel), which correlates very well with the observed sea-level changes of the 160-year period (1849-2009), from which 26 long tide gauge time series are available from the eastern North Sea to the central Baltic Sea. Such identification of oscillators and general trends over 160 years would be of great importance for distinguishing long-term, natural developments from possible, more recent anthropogenic sea-level changes. However, we found that a possible candidate for such anthropogenic development, i.e. the large sea-level rise after 1970, is completely contained by the found small residuals, long-term oscillators, and general trend. Thus, we found that there is (yet) no observable sea-level effect of anthropogenic global warming in the world’s best recorded region.
Building up on the relationship between thermocline and sea level in the tropical region, we show that most of the observed sea level spatial trend pattern in the tropical Pacific can be explained by the wind driven vertical thermocline movement. By performing detection and attribution study on sea level spatial trend patterns in the tropical Pacific and attempting to eliminate signal corresponding to the main internal climate mode, we further show that the remaining residual sea level trend pattern does not correspond to externally forced anthropogenic sea level signal. In addition, we also suggest that satellite altimetry measurement may not still be accurate enough to detect the anthropogenic signal in the 20-year tropical Pacific sea level trends.
The tropical Pacific has featured some remarkable trends during the recent decades such as an unprecedented strengthening of the Trade Winds, a strong cooling of sea surface temperatures (SST) in the eastern and central part, thereby slowing global warming and strengthening the zonal SST gradient, and highly asymmetric sea level trends with an accelerated rise relative to the global average in the western and a drop in the eastern part. These trends have been linked to an anomalously strong Pacific Walker Circulation, the major zonal atmospheric overturning cell in the tropical Pacific sector, but the origin of the strengthening is controversial. Here we address the question as to whether the recent decadal trends in the tropical Pacific atmosphere-ocean system are within the range of internal variability, as simulated in long unforced integrations of global climate models. We show that the recent trends are still within the range of long-term internal decadal variability.
The observed 20th century sea level rise represents one of the major consequences of anthropogenic climate change. However, superimposed on any anthropogenic trend there are also considerable decadal to centennial signals linked to intrinsic natural variability in the climate system.... Gravitational effects and ocean dynamics further lead to regionally varying imprints of low frequency variability. In the Arctic, for instance, the causal uncertainties are even up to 8 times larger than previously thought. This result is consistent with recent findings that beside the anthropogenic signature, a non-negligible fraction of the observed 20th century sea level rise still represents a response to pre-industrial natural climate variations such as the Little Ice Age.
Tom Wysmuller, formerly of NASA who is a member of coastal sea level committees in the northeast and lectures on sea-level commented on
Sea-Level Rise: There are parts of the world that are tectonically inert, i.e., where subsidence or uplift are not factors affecting coastal tide gauges. In those areas with long-term time gauge placement, a steady linear and unchanging minimal (1mm/yr) rise in sea level has been observed, in the face of CO2’s relatively rapid acceleration (38% over the past 130 years). There is no CO2 driven visible sea level acceleration signal, whatsoever, to be seen in tectonically inert coastal regions.
Whenever climate alarmism hits a roadblock, the alarmist response is always “let’s pretend.” And sure enough the problem goes away as far as the alarmists are concerned. After numerous previous “let’s pretends,” the movement pretended that the Paris agreement would solve the alleged climate problem if it were only ratified despite its many obvious flaws from the alarmists’ viewpoint.
But major emitting countries have been slow to ratify it. So the next “let’s pretend” is that the President can “ratify” it for the United States. This is where we are now. Despite the clear language in the Constitution as to how treaties must be ratified, the Obama Administration simply decided “let’s pretend” that the President can ratify it and apparently decided to have a joint “ratification” announcement with China this weekend in China.
There Are Many Examples of Climate “Let’s Pretends,” Including the USEPA CPP and the Effects of the Sun on Clouds
By now there are so many “let’s pretends” in the climate alarmist narrative that it’s hard for the average person to tell which aspects are pretend and which are actual. An example is the “Clean Power Plan” (CPP) from the USEPA. The Clean Air Act clearly says that Section 111 cannot be used to regulate pollutants emitted from a source category which is already regulated under Section 112. So EPA pretends that it can. The CAGW hypothesis is scientifically invalid, so they “pretend” that it is valid. Etc.
This past week has brought some attention to a much earlier “let’s pretend” - that global climate is influenced primarily by human-caused carbon dioxide emissions rather than changes in the sun, our source of heat and light. The so-called Svensmark effect (which concerns the sun’s effects on cosmic ray intensity), which skeptics have long thought deserved attention, received new support last week since the effects of solar eruptions on cloud density have now been demonstrated to have a strong statistical relationship despite the UN IPCC’s longstanding “let’s pretend” that solar variations can and should be ignored.
So there is nothing new about the President’s latest “let’s pretend” that he can personally ratify the Paris treaty. What else would he do? I do wonder, however, whether the US Constitution and legal structure can survive the climate issue in more than name only. US science is already reeling from climate scientific “let’s pretends” that make mincemeat of the scientific method.
One of the Most Serious Effects Is in the Legal World
In the legal world, the next problem the alarmists have to solve is to get the US Supreme Court to make all the legal “let’s pretends” concerning the CPP “legal” by declaring them to be so. All that is required is to have Congress approve one more friendly justice who is willing to vote for this. But if this should actually happen, I do wonder if there is any remaining need for Congress since a new majority on the Court can and probably would effectively rewrite the Constitution and the laws passed by Congress any way the Executive Branch wants? At that point all that would be needed is an all-powerful Executive Branch and a Supreme Court to ratify whatever the Executive Branch does.
So is this how our unique American form of government will effectively end?? The end could come as early as January, 2017, but might take a little longer.
Dr. Alan Carlin is an economist and physical scientist with degrees from Caltech and MIT and publications in both economics and climate/energy, who became actively involved in the Sierra Club in the 1960s as an activist and Chapter Chairman. This led to an almost 39 year career as a manager and senior analyst at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. He is author of Environmentalism Gone Mad.
35 New Scientific Publications Confirm Ocean Cycles, Sun Are Main Climate Drivers
By Kenneth Richard on No Tricks Zone, 11. August 2016
While news journalists and internet bloggers are busy headlining scary stories invoking the presumed causal link between anthropogenic CO2 emissions and floods and droughts and global warming, robust scientific evidence of naturally-forced climate change has continued to rapidly accumulate.
There is a claimed scientific “consensus” that climate changes in recent decades are only weakly influenced by natural factors, and instead anthropogenic emissions drive changes in precipitation patterns and temperature. And yet scientists defiantly continue to publish papers in peer-reviewed journals that undermine this “consensus” opinion.
Variations in regional precipitation and temperature have long been determined to be strongly correlated with natural oceanic-atmospheric circulation patterns, or oscillations. The Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (AMO), Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO), North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO), and El Nino-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) have all been found to significantly influence changes in surface air temperature and rainfall (climate) on decadal and multi-decadal scales, and these natural ocean oscillations have been robustly connected to changes in solar activity.
See the full post here which has two summaries of key findings from 35 recently-published peer-reviewed scientific papers, divided into two categories. The first collection of papers establishes that (a) decadal and multi-decadal ocean circulation patterns (AMO, PDO, NAO, ENSO) have significantly modulated precipitation and temperature changes in recent decades, and the second collection of papers confirm that (b) natural ocean oscillations are, in turn, modulated by solar activity.
IT’S not every day you get to meet a scientific hero - an earth scientist and inventor who worked for NASA in its infancy and helped to discover the devastating impact of CFC gases upon the ozone layer.
James Lovelock at 96
Chatting down the phone from his west Dorset home, the 96-year-old is everything (as a surprisingly nervous science geek) you hope he will be - witty, insightful and engaging.
The Dorset Wildlife Trust (DWT) patron clearly has a very soft spot in his heart for Dorset and is delighted to be living in “one of the best bits of the whole country.”
He has lived in and around the south all his life.
He said: “Dorset is very much a part of my life. I walked through it as a child and an adult. I have always been very fond of it. I have worked here both as a writer and managing an MoD site at Winfrith. I first came here in 1929 as a child to Swanage for a couple of weeks and spent time walking around the coast.”
His association with DWT is deep rooted. He used to visit Cranborne Chase and “grew very fond of it,” becoming a lifelong member of DWT in the late 1950s and has made charitable donations to the charity.
Mr Lovelock said it was a “nice feeling” to be made a patron. He said: “There’s talk of making Dorset and Devon into a national park and I hope it comes off. It should happen. To have Dorset as a park would be a great idea.”
He was pleased the Navitus Bay wind farm development didn’t get the go ahead, as the energy that would be produced “wouldn’t be very reliable.”
A more sensible idea would be to create a solar farm in the Sahara, he suggested. This would create enough energy for Europe, but was unlikely to happen, Mr Lovelock added.
Climate and energy production is not surprisingly one of his main concerns. But as to predictions about the future, he is far less certain, saying: “I think anyone that tries to predict more than five to ten years ahead is a bit of an idiot, so many things can change unexpectedly.”
He added that global warming proponents stated that the earth would get hotter and hotter but “they don’t really know,” and climate models are only based on what data goes into them, so it was hard to say what would happen in the future.
Mr Lovelock is interested in what can be measured, what can be observed.
So for example the sea temperature around Chesil Beach being so low and the effects of the Gulf Stream dropping ‘significantly’.
He said: “That’s one reason global warming hasn’t been so noticeable around here. Far from being an automatic warming up. If the sea starts moving the currents in different directions we get quite cold conditions.”
He said: “The other thing I predict, everyone will be living in cities towards the end of the century,” adding: “This is a trend all over. What’s left of the rest of the world is difficult to predict.”
So should we be trying to save the world? Or perhaps we should look closer to home?
“Don’t try and save the world, it’s pure hubris. We might be able to save Dorset. I don’t know how we do it. It’s up to us. I think it’s easier to save Dorset than the planet.”
Adding: “There’s one thing to keep in mind here. We don’t need to save the planet, it’s looked after itself for four billion years. It’s always been habitable and things have lived on it, so why worry.”
This is where Gaia Theory comes in - the idea that the planet itself is a self-regulating system. It is perhaps Mr Lovelock’s best known work and perhaps his most controversial. Named after a Greek goddess, the idea has alternatively been criticized or lauded over the 50 years since Mr Lovelock first proposed it.
In yesterday’s post, I gave a rough estimate that it would take an increase in the price of fossil-fuel-derived energy of at least a multiple of three to five to achieve the kind of usage reductions that climate crusaders are seeking. (And of course in the process the poor would get priced out of air conditioning, not to mention air travel and lots of other things.) Today I find a report of some real world experience indicating that actual price increases could be far higher than that.
Paul Homewood is a British guy with a blog called Not a Lot of People Know That (notalotofpeopleknowthat.wordpress.com) that chronicles various sorts of climate craziness. I recommend the blog to you. A few days ago Homewood had a post titled “One small island’s dream of energy self-sufficiency.” The post comments on an enthusiastic story from the Korean news site Hankyoreh, reporting on the efforts of the people on the very small (0.85 sq.km.) Korean island of Gapa to make their energy sources 100% renewable. The Hankyoreh article quotes glowing reviews of the project from some of the island’s residents. Homewood then drily comments that he thinks he has spotted “one tiny little problem that our Korean friends seem to have overlooked.” In other words, looked at with a touch of realism, the project is an unmitigated disaster. The problem is cost. See whether you agree with the residents or with Homewood.
Gapa has a total of 178 residents in 97 families. According to Hankyoreh, it has average daily electricity usage of 142 kW, and maximum peak usage of 230 kW. To supply that demand with “renewables,” the Gapans acquired for themselves two big wind turbines, each with a rated capacity of 250 kW, plus they installed solar panels on 49 of the 97 homes, with a total rated capacity of 174 kW. That would be a total capacity of 674 kW, against maximum peak usage of 230 kW, so nearly triple the peak demand and well over four times the average demand. And finally, the Gapans were fully aware that wind and solar don’t work all the time, so they also got themselves a gigantic battery with a capacity to store 3.86 MWh of electricity, which should theoretically be enough to go more than a full 24 hours at their usage level with the wind and solar not functioning. (The battery pack of a Tesla Model S supposedly has a capacity of 85 KWh, meaning that Gapa’s battery is equivalent in storage capacity to about 35 Teslas.)
So with all that the Gapans should have way more than sufficient capacity to supply all their electricity needs with just the renewables—right? Actually, not even close. According to Hankyoreh, in the most recent measuring period of April 23 to July 12, the renewable resources supplied just 42% of Gapa’s power—32% from the wind, and 10% from the solar. And where did they get the rest? From backup diesel generators, of course!
Between Apr. 23 and July 12 of this year, Gapa Island had a cumulative energy self-sufficiency rate of 42%. The island is meeting 32% of its energy needs from wind power and 10% from solar power. The rate climbed above 50% in May, but fell again in the monsoon season. The other 58% of energy is still supplied by diesel generators.
Oh, and the renewables-based electricity system, even with the diesel backup, only produced enough power to supply just four (!) electric cars. So it seems that the large majority of the Gapans must also continue to drive gasoline-powered vehicles. That means that the renewable contribution to Gapa’s total energy usage is likely to be less than 20%.
Now, can we please get an idea how much has been spent to get the Gapans all the way up to generating 42% of their electricity (and perhaps 20% of their total energy usage) from renewables. Hankyoreh has the figures:
A total of 14.3 billion won (US$12.49 million) was invested in the project. Two 250kW wind turbines were installed, along with 174kW solar panels in 49 locations. Other installations included an energy storage device, a system control center, power conversion equipment and remotely controlled power meters.
That’s $12.49 million for 97 households—$128,000 per household. Homewood points out that, assuming a 15 year useful life for the system and zero return on the invested capital, that would mean $8000 per year per household, or about $670 per month per household. (By contrast, 2014 data from the U.S. EIA here show average monthly household electricity bills in the continental U.S. ranging from a low of $84 in Maine to a high of $145 in Alabama.) But wait a minute: add a 4% rate of return on invested capital, and the cost per household goes up to more like $13,000 per year, or close to $1100 per month. That’s close to ten times what the average American currently pays for electricity—and this is to get up to maybe 20% or so of energy usage from renewables!
So how do the Gapans feel about their wildly expensive energy system?
“At first, we weren’t satisfied with the results of renewable energy. Now, though, it’s benefiting us in two ways: our electricity bills are lower and the number of tourists is higher,” said Jin Myeong-hwan, the 55-year-old mayor of Gapa Island.
“Our electricity bills are lower”? How did that happen? Oh, it seems that this whole wildly expensive renewable system was supplied to Gapa Island gratis by the utility company. As Homewood puts it:
It is little wonder the islanders’ electricity bills have come down, because the capital cost of the project has been paid for by Santa Claus.
I would have said the tooth fairy, rather than Santa Claus, but whatever.
So what exactly is the climate crusader’s vision of how the United States is going to get up to say 50% of total energy usage from renewables? If getting to 20% requires multiplying average utility bills by around 10, will getting to 50% require multiplying average bills by 20, or maybe 30? I’ve never seen one of these people even remotely attempt to present honest numbers. If any reader is aware of any such presentation, I would be glad to look at it.
Report estimates losses if US adopts ‘keep-it-in-the-ground’ policy
By Nick Snow, OGJ Washington Editor
It would cost the US an estimated $11.3 billion/year of royalties, 380,000 jobs, and $70 billion/year of gross domestic product if proposals to stop oil, natural gas, and coal extraction from federal lands and offshore water were adopted, the US Chamber of Commerce’s Institute for 21st Century Energy said in a recent report.
Twenty-five percent of US oil, gas, and coal production would be halted under such policies that have been advanced by a number of environmental organizations, the institute said.
“American voters deserve to understand the real-world impacts of the proposals that candidates and their allies make,” said Karen A. Harbert, the Energy Institute’s president as the organization released the first report in its Energy Accountability Series on Aug. 24.
“In an effort to appeal to the ‘keep-it-in-the-ground’ movement, a number of prominent politicians have proposed ending energy production on federal lands, onshore and off,” Harbert said. “Their proposals will have a direct, harmful effect on the American economy, and in particular decimate several states that rely heavily on revenues from federal land production. Given the implications, these policy proposals should not be taken lightly.”
Certain states and regions would be disproportionately affected by a cessation on federal-lands energy development, the report noted. For instance, Wyoming would lose $900 million in annual royalty collections, which represents 20% of the state’s annual expenditures. New Mexico could lose $500 million, 8% of its total General Fund revenues. Colorado would lose 50,000 jobs, while the Gulf states - Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama - would lose 110,000, it said.
“Since 2010, the share of energy production on federal lands has dipped because of increasing regulatory hurdles from the Obama administration,” Harbert said. “Nevertheless, production on federal lands and waters still accounts for a quarter of all oil, gas, and coal produced. If that were to end, it would hit western and Gulf Coast states particularly hard, and could result in production moving overseas, which would harm our national security and affect prices.”
Two scenarios presented
The report provides two scenarios. The first examines the economic output that would be lost or placed at risk if energy development was immediately stopped on all federal acreage. The second analyzes the cumulative impacts of immediately ceasing new leasing while leaving existing leases in place.
While the aforementioned figures apply to the first scenario, the second also has major impacts, with $6 billion in lost revenues over the next 15 years, and nearly 270,000 jobs lost, the Energy Institute said.
The report uses publically available data on jobs, royalties, and production levels and the IMPLAN macroeconomic model. A technical appendix explains the methodology and sources of data.
The Energy Institute said that the report is the first in a series that will attempt “to better understand (and quantify where possible) the real world, economy-wide consequences of living in a world in which candidates’ rhetoric on critical energy issues were to become reality.
“Too often, there is a temptation to dismiss statements made by candidates as things said “off the cuff, or in the ‘heat of the moment,’ or offered up merely to ‘appeal to their base.’ This is incredibly cynical, and it needs to change,” it said. “A candidate’s views and the things he or she says and does to win the support of interest groups have a real impact on how policy is shaped, and ultimately implemented.
“That is especially true on energy issues today, as groups continue to advance a ‘Keep It In the Ground’ agenda that, if adopted, would force our country to surrender the enormous domestic benefits and clear, global competitive advantages that increased energy development here at home have made possible,” the Energy Institute said. “Accordingly, candidates and public opinion leaders should be taken at their word, and this series will evaluate what those words mean.”