FoS Extracts - 2017
Alberta Politicians Determined to Fix an Air-Quality Problem that Doesn’t Exist
Warren Kindzierski, an associate professor in the School of Public Health at the University of Alberta, responds to a statement by Alberta’s environment minister alleging that the province is on track to have the worst air quality in Canada. The provincial government announced a plan to address “Red Deer’s air quality, considered the worst in the province due to industrial activity and vehicle emissions.”
Dr. Kindzierski and a colleague studied data from an air-monitoring station in Red Deer using state-of-the-art scientific methods and had the results peer reviewed and published in the February edition of the international journal Environmental Pollution. Their study found that Red Deer had better air quality (measured in terms of fine particulate matter) than both Calgary and Edmonton, and all three are currently below the Canadian Ambient Air Quality Standard of 10 μg/m3 and have getting better over the past three years. Dr. Kindzierski concludes: “If the provincial government conjures up a problem from this non-problem, my colleague and I are at the ready to explore more non-solutions.”
Ross McKitrick: Ontario’s Painful Coal Phase-out Didn’t Help Pollution
The Canadian government plans to impose a national coal phase-out, based on the same faulty arguments used in Ontario — namely that such a move will yield significant environmental benefits and reduce health-care costs. Dr. McKitrick and a colleague have just published a study on the coal phase-out in Ontario and its effects on air pollution over the 2002-14 interval, using data for Hamilton, Toronto and Ottawa. They found that the coal phase-out had almost no effect on pollution levels, and the Ontario government knew that this was likely to be the case. However, the province is suffering a crisis of high and rising electricity costs that’s causing real, long-lasting damage to households and businesses.
Dr. McKitrick notes: “The climate issue was, and remains, a red herring in the discussion about the costs and benefits of eliminating coal.”
Why is Alberta’s Economy the Only One that Trudeau Wants to “Phase out”?
At a public meeting in Ontario Mr. Trudeau told a questioner that we need to phase out Alberta’s oil sands “to transition off our dependence on fossil fuels.” The next week he told a Calgary audience that he “misspoke”, but adding “100 years from now we probably are not going to be using it for our fuel and energy sources.” While Mr. Trudeau’s government makes it clear that it wants Alberta out of the oil business, it says nothing about plans to shut down other provinces’ carbon-intensive industries, whether it’s Ontario’s auto and steel factories, Quebec’s airplane makers, or Saskatchewan’s farmers.
Trump EPA Transition Advisor: He Will Honour Campaign Pledge on Paris Agreement
Myron Ebell of the Competitive Enterprise Institute served as head of the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) transition team from early September until 19 January, when he helped to draft an advisory action plan on how to implement Mr. Trump’s campaign promises. On January 30 he gave a press conference in London hosted by the Global Warming Policy Foundation and the Foreign Press Association. A YouTube video captures the whole one-hour event. After nine minutes of introductions, questions from a largely hostile press begin to which Mr. Ebell calmly replies.
Topics include: (11:00) how Mr. Trump was elected because his policies were popular in the heartland states, if not the bicoastal urban elites; (16:00) the EPA’s endangerment finding; (19:30) how the US could withdraw from the Paris Agreement; (23:30) the hubris and arrogance of an expert class that has been proven wrong and the “settled science” of climate change; (30:00) renewable energy and subsidies; (39:50) the “climate-industrial complex,” a gigantic special interest group.
In Breitbart James Delingpole describes with relish the reaction of the “London liberal media” to Mr. Ebell’s remarks.
Washington State Judge Denies Climate “Necessity” Defense in Ecoterrorism Case
During the high-profile trial of Ken Ward, a climate activist facing 30 years in prison for shutting down an oil pipeline, Judge Michael E Rickert said: “I don’t know what everybody’s beliefs are on [climate change], but I know that there’s tremendous controversy over the fact whether it even exists. And even if people believe that it does or it doesn’t, the extent of what we’re doing to ourselves and our climate and our planet, there’s great controversy over that.”
Judge Rickert’s remarks sparked outrage among activists who insist that American courts have an obligation to recognize the science and consensus among researchers about man-made climate change.
Japan to Build 45 New Coal-fired Power Plants
The Japanese government is moving ahead with its plans to build up to 45 new coal-fired power plants using high energy - low emissions technology. The plants will burn high-quality black coal from the US or Australia. Japan is turning to coal power in order to transition the country away from nuclear power. Officials promised to replace nuclear power with wind or solar, but this caused the price of electricity to rise by 20%.
How World Leaders Were Duped over Climate Data
On February 4 the Mail on Sunday revealed that the US National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration rushed to publish a landmark paper that exaggerated global warming and was timed to influence the historic Paris Agreement. The whistleblower was NOAA scientist John Bates, who accuses the author of the paper, Thomas Karl, of “insisting on decisions and scientific choices that maximized warming and minimized documentation… in an effort to discredit the notion of a global warming pause, rushed so that he could time publication to influence national and international deliberations on climate policy.”
Judith Curry posted two articles supporting the Bates revelation. A Daily Caller article and a press release from the House Committee on Science, Space & Technology confirm that, as a result of the story, the committee will now renew its long dormant investigation into NOAA.
Four Key Charts for a Climate Change Skeptic
Skeptics often get asked to show why they thinks climate change isn’t a crisis, and why we should not be alarmed about it. In Watts Up With That, Michael David White has prepared four handy graphs: 10,000 years of climate change, the failure of climate models to predict actual warming trends, 140 years of climate change on two scales, and the banality of climate change (140 years vs 10,000 years).
Ontario’s Plan: Destroy Jobs, Save the Planet
In clean, green Ontario the new year brings in hikes in the cost of gasoline, natural gas and electricity－all to help the government save the planet through its cap-and-trade scheme. The money collected will be redistributed to emitters in California and subsidy seekers at home. The timing is terrible for small and medium businesses whose owners can’t figure out how to make a living any more. Margaret Wente’s article describes companies facing electricity bills of $30,000 - $40,000/month because of the Ontario government’s investments in green energy that the province doesn’t need and can’t use.
With cap-and-trade large companies will be required to buy pollution allowances, but smaller ones just get whacked with extra costs. These are estimated to start at $136,000/year, increasing to $720,000/year by 2020. As a result Ontario firms are being courted to move to US jurisdictions where electricity costs are about one-half those they pay now.
Trudeau’s Cheap Talk on Climate Change
Just back from his greenhouse gas-spewing winter holiday with the Aga Khan, Justin Trudeau attended one of his “meet the people” damage-control sessions in Peterborough, Ontario to hear a grandmother tell him that skyrocketing electricity and fuel bills have driven her into energy poverty. Mr. Trudeau hugged her, then reminded her of the importance of fighting climate change, and that while she needs to be protected from the costs of carbon pricing, electricity costs are a provincial responsibility, not his.
Obama’s Last Climate Action: $500 Million to UN Green Climate Fund
Three days before leaving office President Obama transferred $500 million to the UN’s Green Climate Fund, to match the first $500 million given last March. In 2014 Mr. Obama pledged $3 billion to the fund.
The Immediate Threat to California’s Climate Change Fight isn’t Trump
With President Trump in office, California officials are bracing for the possibility that the new administration will undermine the state’s policies on climate change. However, a more immediate threat is a four year-old legal challenge against the state’s cap-and-trade program. For Gov. Jerry Brown and the environmental community, the lawsuit has been a ticking time bomb that could eliminate a key source of revenue and undermine a program touted as an international model for fighting global warming. Currently Quebec has joined the program and Ontario plans to do so within a year.
Opponents of the program claim that it is a tax, allowing the state to collect revenue without the the required two-thirds majority in both houses of the legislature. The state argues that the program falls within the government’s authority to regulate industry. On January 24 an appeals court heard arguments, and a decision will be released in about four months.
During his confirmation hearing, Mr. Trump’s pick to head the Environmental Protection Agency cast doubt on whether California should continue to have the power to impose its own emission rules on cars and trucks, a cornerstone of the state’s efforts to fight global warming.
The Trump Shift at the Environmental Protection Agency
On January 24 President Trump prohibited EPA staff from creating press releases, blogs, messages, or any social media postings concerning their taxpayer funded work. He also ordered the agency to freeze all grants and contracts and to cut the climate page from its website. "If the website goes dark, years of work we have done on climate change will disappear," one of the EPA staffers told Reuters, adding that some employees were scrambling to save some of the information housed on the website, or convince the Trump administration to preserve parts of it.
Davos Elite Bet on Trump Climate Failure
At the World Economic Forum in Davos, 15 of the sessions were devoted to climate change and nine more to clean energy, the most ever on these issues. For the business leaders attending in Davos climate change is about more than just burnishing their green credentials; it’s about the trillions in potential profits and losses. The International Energy Agency estimates that meeting the goals of the Paris Agreement will require $13.5 trillion in spending by 2030.
Despite Donald Trump’s pledge to withdraw from the Paris Agreement, more than 600 US companies have urged him to stay in. At Davos China was hailed as the new climate change leader despite its continuing expansion of coal-fired power.
“Green Champion” China Is Building Europe’s New Coal Plants
On January 23 a Chinese company began work on a $715 million expansion of a Serbian coal mine and a new power plant, part of a wave of investment in new coal-fired plants in the Balkans that is at odds with EU policy on reducing coal use. Western Balkan countries, including Bosnia, Kosovo, Montenegro and Serbia, plan to invest billions of euros in building a total of 2,600 MW in new coal-fired plants to meet rising demand for electricity as old plants are being phased out.
Lignite - the most polluting type of coal - is widely available in the Balkans, making it appealing to governments seeking ways to ensure security of supply and keeping energy prices low while also placating influential mining lobbies. But as the EU, World Bank and other organizations cut back on coal financing, Western Balkan countries are encountering difficulties in securing finance for their projects, and are increasingly turning to Chinese institutions and contractors.
Germany’s Energiewende: A Disaster in the Making
The Global Warming Policy Foundation has published a briefing note by Fritz Varenholt, one of the founders of the environmental movement in Germany and author of the book The Neglected Sun that has sparked public discussion in Germany about dogmatism in climate science. Under current decarbonization plans the German government aims to increase the share of renewables to 80-95% of the country’s total energy supply.
Until now the Energiewende policy has avoided disaster, due to lack of political opposition, oversupply, an over-engineered grid and help from Germany’s nine neighbours. But there are five looming problems: the intermittency of wind, grid stability, market distortion, electricity storage and “sector coupling”, and the Energiewende’s disaster to biodiversity Dr. Varenholt notes the growing citizens’ initiatives agains further wind development in Germany and suggests two policy scenarios for the years up to 2020: muddling through or policy correction.
The William Happer Interview
Prof. Happer, best known to the public as a vocal critic of the IPCC “consensus” on global warming, gave a very literate interview (in text form with links and illustrations) for TheBestSchools’ Focused Civil Dialog on Global Warming. He begins the interview with his personal history, including how he became outraged by distortions about CO2 and climate, which led him to speak up about the issue. Prof. Happer then responds to the IPCC’s four official positions (the world is warming; humans are causing it; it is a major problem; concerted global government action is required to combat it.)
Next he discusses climate models, conflicting records of global temperatures since 1880, attempts by NOAA to eliminate the recent “pause” in global temperatures, implications of global warming for human welfare, the hockey stick and global warming, the focus on the rapid increase in atmospheric CO2 in the last century, whether there is currently an inexorable warming trend, benefits of CO2 to humans, the “consensus” that is said to exist among the world’d scientists on the global warming issue, and societal issues relevant to the public discussion on global warming, whether scientists should intervene in politics, and the five strongest arguments against the consensus view.
The Offset Question: Will Canada Buy Its Way to the Climate Finish Line?
DeSmog is worried that the December 9 accord between the Canadian federal government, eight provinces and three territories (absent Saskatchewan and Manitoba) [FoS Extracts - 2016-12-14] assumes that Canada will partially rely on emissions trading to meets its 2030 target of 524 Mt of CO2 (30% below the 2005 level). The bureaucrats’ term for emissions trading is “internationally transferred mitigation outcomes.” DeSmog notes that emissions trading has developed a shoddy reputation over the years, which may account for the government’s decision to downplay the possibility of deploying. it. DeSmog goes on to describe how emissions trading works, whether it helps climate change (it doesn’t) and how it’s been used before.
Time to Expose the Lie that Expensive Green Energy Won’t Hurt Canada’s Prosperity
A hackneyed catchphrase in debates over climate policy is that our society does not have to choose between clean energy and economic growth. However, the exploitation of energy is fundamental to economic growth. As energy costs fell our standard of living soared. Jurisdictions in Canada (e.g., Ontario) have raised electricity prices to promote renewable energy, suffered economically, and soon everyone will feel the effects of a carbon tax. It is unlikely that a country with a geography like Canada could ever transition to a post-carbon economy.
At least the average person and populist leaders like Donald Trump know there’s a trade-off between the economy and the cost of energy, even if the liberal elites claim otherwise.
The Day Ontario’s Wind-Power Tyranny Ends There Will Be Dancing in the Streets
Reacting to the Ontario government’s September 27 announcement suspending the acquisition of 1,000 MW of renewable electricity, the editor of the magazine North American Windpower penned an article titled Eulogizing Ontario’s Wind Industry. The article opens with the statement: “Ladies and gentlemen, we are gathered here today to pay our respects to Ontario’s utility-scale wind industry, which has passed away from unnatural causes (a lack of government support).”
But, as Parker Gallant’s story in the Financial Post points out, the eulogy is premature. If the wind industry had truly passed away thousands of Ontario ratepayers would be celebrating. Instead, the wind industry will continue to enjoy “government support” for at least the next 20 years.
Three Post-truths about Global Energy and Climate Change
Former Encana CEO Gwyn Morgan contrasts three so-called “post-truths” with real-world facts. The post-truths are (1) We have the technology to replace fossil fuels with wind and solar energy; (2) Canada's oil and gas industry increases global carbon emissions; (3) Canada's carbon tax will be part of a global emissions reduction effort.
How Obama’s Climate Rules Might Fade Away
A year after President Obama took office a team of economists, scientists and lawyers from the federal government came up with their estimate of $21/t for the social cost of CO2 emissions (SCC), to be used to justify climate-related rules imposed by the White House. The SCC has since been raised to $40/t. As there is established case law requiring the government to account for SCC, an attempt by the Trump administration to repeal it would engender lawsuits from environmentalists.
Rather than repealing and fighting in court, the new administration could undercut the SCC by tweaking some of the assumptions and calculations baked into its model, even skewing it to the point that CO2 emissions come out as a net benefit instead of a cost. One of the simplest ways is to increase the discount rate. For example, using a 2.5% rate gives a 2020 SCC of $65/t; with a 5% rate it’s only $12/t; at 7% (a rate that has been used by the Environmental Protection Agency for other analyses) the SCC turns negative.
Another way is to limit estimates of the costs and benefits of CO2 emissions only to the US, rather than globally. This would reduce the SCC by 70%. One of the members of the Trump EPA transition team revealed that the models used to calculate the SCC look out to the year 2300.
The Impending Collapse of the Global Warming Scare
This essay in the Manhattan Contrarian notes Donald Trump’s appointments for secretaries and state and energy and the head of the EPA. All three agencies were at the heart of Barack Obama’s domestic and foreign climate policies, and the author predicts a high likelihood of substantial collapse of the global warming movement, both domestically and internationally, over the next two years. First, the global warming alarmists and their “settled science” allies at the EPA will have to put up or shut up. Internationally, as soon as the US stops parroting the global warming line, other countries will start backing away from it as well. Lastly, there is funding, with $14 billion of the Department of Energy’s budget going to the global warming cause and the tens of billions of energy subsidies and research, none of which has produced cheaper energy that works.
The environmental movement has climbed itself way out onto the global warming limb. Now the Trump administration is about to start sawing off the limb behind them.
Skeptical Climate Scientists Coming in from the Cold
Researchers who see global warming as something less than a planet-ending calamity believe the incoming Trump administration－as evidenced by key cabinet and agency appointments－may allow their views to be developed and heard. This didn’t happen under the Obama administration, which denied that a debate even existed. New organizations like the CO2 Coalition, founded in 2015, suggest the debate is more evenly matched intellectually than is commonly portrayed.
Judith Curry and William Happer have pointed to evidence that global warming is less pronounced than predicted. When asked if he would voice dissent on climate change if he were a younger, less established physicist, Dr. Happer said “Oh, no, definitely not. I held my tongue for a long time because friends told me I would not be elected to the National Academy of Sciences if I didn’t toe the alarmists’ company line.”
EU Deadlocked over Carbon Market Reform
After a year of negotiations EU member states are unable to agree on a carbon market reform seen as necessary to meet the ambitions of the Paris Agreement. Permits under the EU’s Emissions Trading System have been grossly over allocated since the scheme’s implementation in 2005, driving down the price to €8/t. While the EU’s climate commissioner wants to push up the price, he’s getting resistance from Poland, which insists that the Paris Agreement allows each country to go its own way on dealing with climate change. Germany, France, the Netherlands and Sweden want a 2.4%/year reduction in the number of permits issued, with 57% being auctioned (the rest would be given to industrial sectors that qualify for free permits.) Other states, particularly in Eastern Europe, want a slower reduction rate and a lower number of allowances to be auctioned.
Judith Curry Retires from Georgia Tech
Effective January 1, after publishing 186 journal articles and two books, Dr. Curry resigned her tenured position and requested emeritus status. She has no intention of seeking another academic or administrative position in a university or government agency. In her blog Dr. Curry discusses her growing disenchantment with universities, the academic field of climate science and scientists. In future she will be starting a new blog on the website of a company she formed, Climate Forecast Applications Network (CFAN). In addition to Dr. Curry and co-founder Peter Webster, the company employs seven PhD scientists, plus software engineers.
According the the company website, “CFAN adds considerable value to the weather and climate model outputs by increasing their information content through statistical adjustments, interpretation of the forecasts, and characterizing uncertainty of the forecasts.”
Mark Carney: Firms Must Come Clean on Exposure to Climate-Change Risks
The Bank of England governor warns that the “fight against climate change” will be jeopardized unless companies with big CO2 footprints come clean about their exposure to global warming risks. He wants a new set of guidelines implemented so that investors can allocate capital to those companies with the best ideas to hit the target of keeping the rise in global temperature to less than 2°C.
Wind Turbines: Lots of Problems, No Free Energy
While government agencies like to claim that wind is free, Donna Laframboise counters with: If wind is free, so are coal and oil－they’re just sitting in the ground waiting for us to find them. Any energy source that requires industrial-scale development before it can be used by ordinary people is not “free.” She cites three serious wind turbine malfunctions that occurred in the dying days of 2016 and suggests how to search YouTube for examples of other wind turbine failures.