Frozen in Time
Apr 17, 2016
Warren Buffett - Berkshire Hathaway on Climate Change

From their annual report:

I am writing this section because we have a proxy proposal regarding climate change to consider at this year’s annual meeting. The sponsor would like us to provide a report on the dangers that this change might present to our insurance operation and explain how we are responding to these threats. It seems highly likely to me that climate change poses a major problem for the planet. I say “highly likely” rather than “certain” because I have no scientific aptitude and remember well the dire predictions of most “experts” about Y2K. It would be foolish, however, for me or anyone to demand 100% proof of huge forthcoming damage to the world if that outcome seemed at all possible and if prompt action had even a small chance of thwarting the danger.

This issue bears a similarity to Pascal’s Wager on the Existence of God. Pascal, it may be recalled, argued that if there were only a tiny probability that God truly existed, it made sense to behave as if He did because the rewards could be infinite whereas the lack of belief risked eternal misery. Likewise, if there is only a 1% chance the planet is heading toward a truly major disaster and delay means passing a point of no return, inaction now is foolhardy.

Call this Noah’s Law: If an ark may be essential for survival, begin building it today, no matter how cloudless the skies appear. It’s understandable that the sponsor of the proxy proposal believes Berkshire is especially threatened by climate change because we are a huge insurer, covering all sorts of risks. The sponsor may worry that property losses will skyrocket because of weather changes. And such worries might, in fact, be warranted if we wrote ten- or twenty-year policies at fixed prices. But insurance policies are customarily written for one year and repriced annually to reflect changing exposures. Increased possibilities of loss translate promptly into increased premiums.

Think back to 1951 when I first became enthused about GEICO. The company’s average loss-per-policy was then about $30 annually. Imagine your reaction if I had predicted then that in 2015 the loss costs would increase to about $1,000 per policy. Wouldn’t such skyrocketing losses prove disastrous, you might ask? Well, no. Over the years, inflation has caused a huge increase in the cost of repairing both the cars and the humans involved in accidents. But these increased costs have been promptly matched by increased premiums. So, paradoxically, the upward march in loss costs has made insurance companies far more valuable. If costs had remained unchanged, Berkshire would now own an auto insurer doing $600 million of business annually rather than one doing $23 billion. Up to now, climate change has not produced more frequent nor more costly hurricanes nor other weather related events covered by insurance. As a consequence, U.S. super-cat rates have fallen steadily in recent years, which is why we have backed away from that business. If super-cats become costlier and more frequent, the likely - though far from certain - effect on Berkshire’s insurance business would be to make it larger and more profitable.

As a citizen, you may understandably find climate change keeping you up nights. As a homeowner in a low-lying area, you may wish to consider moving. But when you are thinking only as a shareholder of a major insurer, climate change should not be on your list of worries.

Apr 08, 2016
Continued Attack On The US Constitution

Steve Goddard, Real Science

Necessity is the plea for every infringement of human freedom. It is the argument of tyrants; it is the creed of slaves.

William Pitt, 1st Earl of Chatham

The White House continues their attack on free speech, claiming that their abuse of power is for the public good.

The Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) today denounced a subpoena from Attorney General Claude E. Walker of the U.S. Virgin Islands that attempts to unearth a decade of the organization’s materials and work on climate change policy. This is the latest effort in an intimidation campaign to criminalize speech and research on the climate debate, led by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and former Vice President Al Gore.

“CEI will vigorously fight to quash this subpoena. It is an affront to our First Amendment rights of free speech and association for Attorney General Walker to bring such intimidating demands against a nonprofit group,” said CEI General Counsel Sam Kazman. “If Walker and his allies succeed, the real victims will be all Americans, whose access to affordable energy will be hit by one costly regulation after another, while scientific and policy debates are wiped out one subpoena at a time.”

The subpoena requests a decade’s worth of communications, emails, statements, drafts, and other documents regarding CEI’s work on climate change and energy policy, including private donor information. It demands that CEI produce these materials from 20 years ago, from 1997-2007, by April 30, 2016.

On March 30, 2016, Attorney General Schneiderman, former Vice President Al Gore, and attorneys general from Massachusetts, Virginia, Connecticut, Maryland, Vermont, as well as Attorney General Walker, held a press conference in New York City to announce “an unprecedented coalition of top law enforcement officials committed to aggressively protecting and building upon the recent progress the United States has made in combating climate change.” Schneiderman said that the group, calling itself “AGs United for Clean Power,” will address climate change by threatening criminal investigations and charges against companies, policy organizations, scientists, and others who disagree with its members’ climate policy agenda.

CEI Fights Subpoena to Silence Debate on Climate Change | Competitive Enterprise Institute

I meet with CEI almost every month in DC to discuss ways of ending government climate fraud.  Their only interest is getting legitimate science into the policy debate. I have never seen anything but integrity on display from their staff.

The Fourth Amendment to the US Constitution was written specifically to prohibit this sort of abuse of power. It was a response the British general warrant.

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

There is no probable cause against CEI, or any sort of cause at all. It is an attempt by the White House to harass dissidents into submission to White House tyranny.

---------------

Yes, Let’s Prosecute Climate-Change Fraud - and Start with the Scaremongers

By David French April 8, 2016 4:00 AM

If propounding pseudoscience in pursuit of self-serving goals is a crime, here are some hardened offenders. The attorneys general of New York and California are on the warpath. They’re fed up with dissent over the science and politics of global warming, and they’re ready to investigate the liars. California’s Kamala Harris and New York’s Eric Schneiderman have Exxon in their sights, and they’re trying to pry open the books to see whether the corporation properly warned shareholders “about the risk to its business from climate change.” Not to be outdone, Attorney General Loretta Lynch revealed that the federal Department of Justice has “discussed” the possibility of civil suits against the fossil-fuel industry. The smell of litigation is in the air.

See more here.

Perspective on the Claimed Changes
Joseph D’Aleo, CCM

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The claimed consensus on the global temperatures among the surface station data bases occurs because there is over 97% overlap of data - with the data gathered by and originating from NOAA. Well over half of the change over time is due to adjustments - the data is no longer data but a hybrid of data and models (that adjustment is based on modeler assumptions). But even if the data were right if you use a reasonable scale it looks less impressive.

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Consider that we are talking tenths of a degree - the range in your car from front to back and in my office here from one side to the other may be 5 degrees or more. If you consider the normal diurnal range is 30F in these latitudes and the range of warmest month to coldest month is 50F or so and the range of extremes for most cities is more like 120F, the idea that we need to live in the dark or give up our conveniences given the minute change to save humanity is total nonsense.

This ‘perspective’ chart plots the Hadley data on a scale that compares it to the diurnal, seasonal and extreme variance.

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We with a large team of scientists and economists and lawyers recently published a detailed scientific brief to the courts battling bad science.  It was the 5th such brief the last 5 years.








Apr 04, 2016
Alarmist Sea Level Data May Raise Flood Insurance

By Larry Bell

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) which provides unrealistically cheap flood insurance to high-risk property owners is experiencing a disaster of its own making - a balance sheet that is $24 billion under water.

The planned bailout solution will remap flood zones based upon hypothetical sea level rise projections to spread premiums rather than penalize high-risk flood-prone development.

A Biggert-Waters bill passed in 2012 was intended to get FEMA’s National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) out of the red by mandating that the agency establish more realistic pricing in keeping with about double the “actuarial” rates charged by private companies.

The strategy was to discourage homeowners and developers from rebuilding in active flood zones, in part due to cut-rate incentives afforded in about one-fifth of FEMA policies.

So in 2013 FEMA did exactly that, phasing in higher premiums which were often thousands of dollars higher - most particularly for second homes and properties which have subsequently changed hands.

This led to a different sort of FEMA disaster as disgruntled property owners flooded their congressional representatives with angry calls.

That tidal wave of protests led to an emphasis upon Plan B.

Buried in the 63 pages of the Biggert-Waters bill was a provision requiring that a sea level rise (SLR) component be added to future coastal and flood maps to reassess flood zone designations and risk categories.

Whereas these maps were previously based upon the last 100 years of historic data, they were now to be adjusted by a national committee called the Technical Mapping Advisory Council (TMAC) which would determine which data sources should be used.

Last October TMAC made their official recommendations - and that’s where it gets into hot water. A key source will be the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and its SLR data will be heavily based upon wildly speculative global warming scenarios.

NOAA recently released a report that downwardly adjusted previous ocean temperature records in order to make global changes between 1998 and 2012 appear much warmer.

This was accomplished by throwing out global-coverage satellite-sensed sea surface measurements taken since the late 1970s - the best data available - and upwardly adjusting spotty and unreliable hit-and-miss temperature readings taken from oceangoing vessels.

NOAA’s “corrections” to suggest warming between a huge 1998 El Nino another big one last year contradict data provided by a large integrated network of Argo ocean buoys operated by the British Oceanographic Data Center in combination with satellite-enhanced data which reveal no statistically significant warming.

House Science Committee Chairman Smith has expressed strong suspicion that the real purpose of NOAA’s report was to push President Obama’s political agenda.

In 2012 NOAA projected “with very high confidence” (greater than 90 percent chance) that the global mean sea level will rise at a huge possible range of at least 8 inches and no more than 6.6 feet by 2100.

The lowest scenario is based upon historic rates, with the highest assuming a maximum plausible contribution of ice sheet loss and glacial melting due to ocean warming.

Bear in mind that sea levels have been steadily rising in at the rate of about 4-8 inches per century over the past 150 years, with no significant acceleration over the past half-century.

Even according to the latest of all unfailingly alarmist U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reports, “It is likely that GMSL [Global Mean Sea Level] rose between 1920 and 1950 at a rate comparable to that observed between 1993 and 2010.”

Also consider that while the world’s mean surface temperatures have also been gradually rising in fits and starts over the past 100 years, they have been flat between the two major El Nino’s over the past 18 years despite rising atmospheric CO2 levels.

Warren Buffet whose Berkshire Hathaway, Inc. is the largest shareholder in Munich Re, the world’s biggest re-insurance company, summed up the situation in his 2015 annual report: “Up to now, climate change has not produced more frequent nor more costly hurricanes nor other weather-related events covered by insurance.  As a consequence, U.S. super-cat rates have fallen steadily in recent years, which is why we have backed away from that business. “

“If super-cats became costlier and more frequent, the likely - though far from certain - effect on Berkshire’s insurance business would be to make it larger and more profitable.”

Buffet then offered some good advice: “As a citizen, you may understandably find climate change keeping you up at nights. As a homeowner in a low-lying area, you may wish to consider moving.

“But when you are thinking only as a shareholder of a major insurer, climate change should not be on your list of worries.”

As for many thousands of FEMA National Flood Insurance Program subscribers, worry more about a rising tide of climate alarm that will influence premiums.

Larry Bell is an endowed professor of space architecture at the University of Houston where he founded the Sasakawa International Center for Space Architecture (SICSA) and the graduate program in space architecture. He is the author of “Scared Witless: Prophets and Profits of Climate Doom"(2015) and “Climate of Corruption: Politics and Power Behind the Global Warming Hoax” (2012)

Mar 29, 2016
The Devastating Impact Of Germany’s Green Energy Transition

Green Europe Lets Its Poor Freeze To Death

No Tricks Zone, 29 March 2016 Pierre Gosselin

The poor are the real victims of Europe’s green energy drive: tens of thousands of deaths every year, millions losing their power.

The latest story on “green energy” here at the German online FOCUS magazine website actually shocked me.

Europe’s energy policy is, under the bottom line, costing the lives of tens of thousands of citizens - all at the holy altar of “climate protection”.

The title of the FOCUS article:  “The grand electricity lie: Why electricity is becoming a luxury”

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One of the sickest things about Europe and its disconnected leaders is that often a full-scale disaster first needs to happen before policy gets corrected. Often the scale of the death and devastation becomes known only after the clean-up crews have come in and sifted through the rubble.

FOCUS now cites a documentary film which is set to be broadcast this evening on European television station ARTE.

The documentary presents how Europe’s electricity prices are spiraling out of control, and horrible consequences this is having on the continent’s citizens.

The situation, we are discovering, is far more disturbing than even the earlier worst case scenarios every imagined.

FOCUS reports:

In 2014 in Europe there were about 40,000 winter deaths because millions of people were unable to pay for their electric bills - the so-called energy poverty currently impacts about ten percent of all Europeans.  In the past 8 years the price of electricity in Europe has climbed by an average of 42 percent.

7 million German households in energy poverty

FOCUS writes that the poor are the real victims of “socialist” Europe’s clean energy drive.

In Bulgaria people see half of their income gobbled up by energy costs alone. In Spain 28 percent of the citizens live in “energy poverty”.

In Germany, FOCUS writes, 7 million households are considered to be living in “energy poverty”.

The consequences of energy poverty are profound: tens of thousands of deaths every year, millions losing their power.

Full post

The fact that Germany is a world leader in green power is by now familiar. Much less familiar is the price the country is paying for it, not just in cold hard cash, but in growing losses and dislocations across the entire economy. The losers include once-stalwart utility giants like E.ON and RWE that are struggling with rising debt and falling shares. Manufacturing companies, from chemicals maker BASF to carbon fiber producer SGL Carbon, have shifted investments abroad, where energy costs are often a fraction of Germany’s. Losers include laid-off workers in these industries, but also millions of ordinary consumers. Their utility bills have skyrocketed, largely driven by subsidies for eco-friendly fuels. Germany’s “green” revolution has a dark shadow. --Gilbert Kreijger, Stefan Theil and Allison Williams, Handelsblatt, 24 March 2016

European global warming policies are hurting the continent’s poor, according to a Manhattan Institute study published Thursday. Europe has tried to fight global warming with cap-and-trade schemes and lucrative financial support to green power since 2005. Though well-meaning, the continent’s environmental efforts have only made life harder for Europe’s poor. Between 2005 and 2014, residential electricity rates on the continent increased by 63 percent according to the study.  European-style global warming policies hurt the poor 1.4 to 4 times more than they hurt the rich, according to a study by the National Bureau of Economic Research. --Andrew Follett, The Daily Caller, 25 March 2016

Since 2005, members of the European Union have aggressively pushed policies aimed at addressing climate change. Those policies are primarily designed to decrease carbon-dioxide emissions and increase the use of renewable energy. At the same time, several European countries are restricting the production of natural gas and, in the case of Germany, aiming to phase out nuclear energy. These policies have resulted in dramatic increases in electricity costs for residential and industrial consumers. Although the E.U. has seen a reduction in its carbon-dioxide emissions since 2005, those reductions pale in comparison with increases in the developing world. The observable results from Europe thus offer a cautionary tale to policymakers in the United States who seek to tackle climate change via government mandate. --Robert Bryce, Manhattan Institute24 March 2016

Steel giant Tata is holding a board meeting in India which could decide the fate of thousands of UK workers. In January, Tata said it planned to cut more than a thousand jobs at its UK plants - with 750 due to be lost at Port Talbot in south Wales. Unless the board meeting in Mumbai agrees to this turnaround plan, the future of the plant could be in doubt. The UK steel industry has been hit by a combination of factors that have hit its competitiveness. These factors include relatively high energy prices, the extra cost of climate change policies, and competition from China. --BBC News, 29 March 2016

See Winters not Summers cause Excess Mortality here

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The administration, the environmentalists and Hollywood are pushing us to become a European like nation. The poor will suffer here too!

Mar 25, 2016
New AMS members survey on climate change

by Judith Curry

The American Meteorological Society has issued a draft report on the results from a survey of the views of their membership on climate change.

Their report on the initial findings is found [here].  Excerpts from the Summary:

This report provides initial findings from the national survey of American Meteorological Society (AMS) member views on climate change conducted by George Mason University and AMS, with National Science Foundation funding.

Our survey was administered via email between January 6 and January 31, 2016. After making an initial request to participate, we sent up to five additional requests/reminders to participate to those people who had not yet completed a survey. A total of 4,092 AMS members participated, with participants coming from the United States and internationally. The participation rate in the survey was 53.3%.

Funding for this research was provided by NSF Award # DRL-1422431.

Views on climate change:

* Nearly all AMS members (96%) think climate change as defined by AMS is happening, with almost 9 out of 10 (89%) stating that they are either ‘extremely’ or ‘very’ sure it is happening. Only 1% think climate change is not happening, and 3% say they don’t know.

* A large majority of AMS members indicated that human activity is causing at least a portion of the changes in the climate over the past 50 years. Specifically: 29% think the change is largely or entirely due to human activity (i.e., 81 to 100%); 38% think most of the change is caused by human activity (i.e., 61 to 80%); 14% think the change is caused more or less equally by human activity and natural events; and 7% think the change is caused mostly by natural events. Conversely, 5% think the change is caused largely or entirely by natural events, 6% say they don’t know, and 1% think climate change isn’t happening.

* AMS members have diverse views on the extent to which additional climate change can be averted over the next 50 years, if mitigation measures are taken worldwide. Only 18% think a large amount or almost all additional climate change can be averted, while many more think a moderate (42%) or a small (25%) amount of additional climate change can be averted. Only 9% think almost no additional climate change can be averted, and 6% say they don’t know.

* AMS members also hold diverse views about the extent to which harm - to people’s health, agriculture, fresh water supplies, transportation systems, and homes and other buildings - can be prevented over the next 50 years. About one quarter to one third (22% to 37%) think a large amount or almost all of the harm to these things can be prevented, while approximately another one third (30% to 43%) think a moderate amount of harm can be prevented, and about one quarter (17% to 28%) think only a small amount or none of the harm can be prevented. About one in ten (7 to 10%) don’t know, and about one in twenty (3 to 5%) don’t think there will be any harm from climate change in the next 50 years.

* Nearly one in five AMS members (17%) say their opinion about climate change has changed in the past five years. Of those, the large majority (87%) say they now feel more convinced that climate change is happening, most commonly because of one or more of the following reasons: new peer-reviewed climate science (66%); the scientific community becoming more certain (48%); having personally seen evidence of climate change (46%); or one or more climate scientists who influenced them (30%).

Views on local impacts of climate change:

* Nearly three out of every four AMS members (74%) think the local climate in their area has changed in the past 50 years as a result of climate change, while one in ten (11%) think it hasn’t, and a nearly one in six say they don’t know (15%).

*Seven out of ten AMS members who think their local climate has changed say the impacts have been primarily harmful (36%) or approximately equally mixed between harmful and beneficial (36%). One out of five (21%) AMS members say they don’t know.

* Almost eight in ten AMS members (78%) think the local climate in their area will change over the next 50 years. About half (47%) of these respondents say the impacts will be primarily harmful, while 29% say the impacts will be equally mixed between beneficial and harmful. One in five are not sure how climate change will impact their local area.A diverse group of AMS members participated in the survey:

* Approximately eight in ten respondents are men (81%) and one in five are women (18%). Respondents range in age from 18 to 29 (6%) to 70+ (11%), with a modal age category of 50 to 59 (25%).

* Most respondents hold a BS (32%), MS (30%) or Ph.D (33%) in meteorology/ atmospheric science. Other commonly reported degrees are BS (17%), MS (10%), or Ph.D (12%) degrees in another STEM field.

* More than one in three (37%) AMS members who participated in this survey consider themselves ‘expert’ in climate science.

JC reflection

The key issue is what % of AMS members agree with the IPCC conclusion on attribution (extremely likely that more than half...).  According to these numbers, 67% think that humans are causing at least 61% of the warming.  For comparison, the previous AMS survey found 52% thought the warming was ‘mostly’ attributed to humans.  It is not clear from the survey how strong these convictions are, in terms of ‘extremely likely’, etc. We’ll see if their final report includes further insights.

While this is not one of the better constructed surveys on this issue, I regard the AMS membership as an extremely important one to survey on this issue. While Ph.D.s comprised only about a third of the respondents, I regard B.S. and M.S. meteorologists as more qualified to judge on the issue of attribution than are many ‘climate’ scientists included in such surveys that have Ph.D.s in ecology, economics, health impacts, etc.

One final comment.  I did not respond to the survey, because I did not receive the email soliciting my response (some snafu over renewing my membership b/c of an expired credit card).  Peter Webster did receive the survey and showed it to me.  I have to say my first reaction to the survey would have been not to respond; the lead author on this is Edward Maibach, of the RICO 20 - second signatory after Shukla (I wonder if other AMS members reacted in this way).  My concerns with the George Mason group being in charge of this is that they are on record as advocates on this issue.  From my perspective, the selection of questions was not as meaningful as it could have been (e.g. better questions were asked in the Netherlands survey).

See Anthony Watts and Roy Spencer takes on the survey here.

Two colleagues I know locally also got this survey, and they didn’t send it in because they didn’t believe their opinion or identity would actually be protected. Given that the operator of the survey, George Mason University is a hotbed of calls for prosecution and jailing of “deniers”, and that Edward Maibach is one of the people who signed the letter to the Whitehouse and who operated this particular AMS survey, I can’t say that I blame them. I wouldn’t have sent it in either when the man asking the questions might flag you for criminal prosecution for having an opinion he doesn’t like.

ICECAP NOTE: We too are concerned that the AMS continues to work with the eco advocacy enviros at GMU especially Fast Eddie Maibach. In the last survey, I did not receive a survey and I contacted a dozen other AMS members who I know are skeptical and only 1 received a survey and did not respond. 

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