FOS MEMBERSHIP QUARTERLY NEWSLETTER
The PDF version of this newsletter is here.
“FoS is dedicated to providing the public with insight into Climate Science”
I wish to take this opportunity to thank our growing membership for your support and participation in Friends of Science Society’s efforts to educate the public regarding the empirical and scientific facts about climate change. My last report (December, 2016) strongly beseeched our membership for financial assistance as we face a severe curtailment of our activities without an increase in our financial resources. Many of you responded to the plea and have allowed us to continue our activities for an additional few months. We are very grateful and appreciative of those of you who have tangibly shown your support. DON’T STOP NOW!
The Climate Change landscape is quickly changing with Mr. Trump becoming the President of the United States. The next couple of months will indicate how adamant Trump is regarding some of his statements and how hard his opponents are able to push back on his efforts (refer to the Political assessment of Ian Cameron, herein). Unfortunately, the Alberta provincial government and Canadian federal government appear to be as misinformed (or misinforming) as ever.
Our federal minister of the Environment and Climate Change, Catherine McKenna, recently gave a speech to the Calgary Chamber of Commerce in which, it was observed, that she made statements which were indicative of scientific naivety. Dr. John Harper made the following observation from his experience;
“It is a sad fact but true that I was told several times as Director of the Geological Survey of Canada when I was preparing briefing notes for the Minister that ‘the Minister doesn't need to know that.’ As a result I hesitate to assume that the Minister is ever told anything the bureaucrats deem unnecessary to convey. What the Ministers state and know is provided to them by their staff. I have yet to see a Minister who knows the topic of which they speak. I have sometimes been embarrassed for them when they get off-track and lost because they have to stumble their way out of the dilemma. I have always believed the Ministers need a training course in the manner in which they are provided information. This goes for both federal and provincial ministers. Unfortunately they never seem to be embarrassed themselves over what little they know.”
It may very well be the case that the government bureaucracy and not our elected representatives significantly control the policy agenda. But not completely. Politicians take their cues from surveys and polls of public opinion. Some politicians will acknowledge privately their doubts that carbon dioxide is the control knob of the planet’s climate but refuse to express their doubts publically, apparently due to bureaucratic influence and their perception that it would deleteriously affect their political aspirations. Fortunately, about every four years politicians are held accountable to the citizens. It is the mandate of Friends of Science to educate the public regarding the empirical and scientific evidence which strongly indicates that the minor greenhouse gas, carbon dioxide, is just one of a myriad of variables which affect the planet’s chaotic climatic system. It is crucial that Friends of Science is able to educate as many voters as possible with the facts.
Despite those organizations with misleading agendas having resources which are orders of magnitude greater than ours, we are encouraged by our progress in communicating the TRUTH. We could really use your help, not just financially, by sharing your knowledge and enthusiasm for climate facts with your family, friends and associates. Furthermore, if you are interested in getting more involved in Friends of Science we would be delighted to have you involved in a way which suits you.
I believe that expression of truth, person to person, is authentic and powerful - it can spread like wildfire. Interact with grace and respect. Ask questions and sow seeds of truth in the minds of those who have accepted the catastrophic climate change meme.
I wish to thank and acknowledge the directors of Friends of Science and our volunteers for their dedication to our efforts. They are people who I am privileged to know and to be associated with. Last but not least, I want to express my appreciation for the dedication and excellent work of our two substantially underpaid personnel; our Office Manager (part time) and Michelle Stirling. I am truly amazed at our good fortune to have attracted them to work with us. These two essential people are the only ones who receive any compensation for their work for Friends of Science. We cannot afford to lose them.
If you have concerns or comments regarding our work and/or our financial crisis please get in touch with me via firstname.lastname@example.org and I will quickly respond to you.
I look forward to personally thanking many of you at our May 9th annual event.
Your fellow in the fray,
Corporate Sponsorships for Spring Event – May 9th! You can help.
Our annual event coming up on May 9th at the Red and White Club in Calgary from 6 – 9pm costs us more than we make - we have always used it as a platform to share our scientific and economic policy messages with the public. Corporate sponsorships can help us to break even. Our big expenses are the facility rental, catering, speaker costs and advertising.
We have 3 levels of Sponsorship this year.
- Bronze sponsors at $2500 receive tickets for 2 guests.
- Silver sponsors at $5000 receive tickets for 8 guests (1 table).
- Gold sponsors at $10,000 receive tickets for 16 guests (2 tables).
- All levels get sponsorship recognition at the event and in the program. Smaller donations are gratefully accepted.
Thank you for your continued support.
Politicians Prefer “Carbon Pollution” to “Climate Change”
James Hansen’s testimony before a US Senate panel in June 1988 started the climate scare, blaming it on human emissions of greenhouse gases. In that testimony Dr. Hansen used the term “global warming” exclusively, not “climate change.”
In 1992 at the Rio Earth Summit delegates approved the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), which had the key objective of (Article 2) “… stabilization of greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system.” The UNFCCC defined “climate change” to mean “… a change of climate which is attributed directly or indirectly to human activity that alters the composition of the global atmosphere and which is in addition to natural climate variability observed over comparable time periods.”
The term “climate change” has served its supporters well since 1992, as witnessed by the 22 annual climate summits convened by the UNFCCC so far. However, in 2015 the Obama administration, in its announcement of the Clean Power Plan, used the term “carbon pollution” for the first time. And it’s clear that, despite the claimed public health benefits, the administration meant “carbon pollution” as CO2, not soot or fine particulate matter. (See bullet point headed “Provides flexibility to States to Choose …”)
When Alberta’s Climate Leadership panel reported to the provincial government in November 2015, they made 124 references to “carbon pricing”, but none to “carbon pollution.” However, when the province’s environment minister introduced the government’s Climate Leadership Implementation Act in May 2016, she made it clear that the objective is to reduce “carbon pollution.” This is also clear from the government’s website describing the carbon levy and rebates that came into effect on January 1.
Last October 3, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau delivered a speech “on pricing carbon pollution” to the House of Commons. His government’s rationale for such pricing can be summed up in one sentence: “It has been proven that it is a good way to prevent heavy polluters from emitting greenhouse gases that fuel climate change and threaten the entire planet.” In the speech he mentioned “carbon pollution” 17 times and “climate change” just 11. The Government of Canada website Pricing Carbon Pollution, repeatedly links “carbon pollution” and “carbon pricing” implying that bringing in the latter will get rid of the former. Expect to hear more on carbon pollution from provincial and federal politicians in future.
The Trump Administration’s Initial Climate Actions
When campaigning last summer candidate Donald Trump said he would “renegotiate” then “cancel” the Paris climate agreement, calling it “bad for business” as it would allow “foreign bureaucrats control over how much energy we use.” On January 20, just after Mr. Trump took office, the terms “climate change” and “clean energy” disappeared from the White House website, which instead promised to eliminate former President Obama’s Climate Action Plan and the Waters of the US (WOTUS) rule. On March 1, Mr. Trump signed an executive order directing the EPA to rewrite the WOTUS rule.
After becoming president Mr. Trump appointed Scott Pruitt as administrator for the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Senate confirmed him on February 17. In his previous job as Oklahoma attorney general, Mr. Pruitt sued to block EPA regulations at least 14 times. At his confirmation hearing he accused the agency of overstepping its authority, saying that it has “bootstrapped its own powers and tools through rulemaking,” and through prearranged-outcome, “sue and settle” deals with friendly litigants. His policies would rely more upon states rather than federal officials to be “our nation’s front-line environmental implementers and enforcers.” Hundreds of alarmed current and former EPA employees urged the Senate to reject Mr. Pruitt’s confirmation, but to no avail.
On March 9 Mr. Pruitt gave a controversial interview on CNBC in which he said: “I think that measuring with precision human activity on the climate is something very challenging to do and there’s tremendous disagreement about the degree of impact, so no, I would not agree that it’s a primary contributor to the global warming that we see. But we don’t know that yet. We need to continue the debate and continue the review and the analysis.” This heresy drew immediate condemnation from mainstream media and official scientific bodies.
On March 16 the administration’s Office of Management and Budget formally submitted to Congress its “America First” budget blueprint for fiscal 2018. On page 33 it proposes to “…cease payments to the United Nations’ (UN) climate change programs by eliminating U.S. funding related to the Green Climate Fund and its two precursor Climate Investment Funds.” On page 41 the OMB proposes discontinuing funding for the Clean Power Plan. The EPA’s budget is to be cut by 31%, or $2.6 billion, resulting in 3200 fewer positions at the agency. According to Climate Home the State Department has not provided any funds appropriated for the 2017 fiscal year to the UNFCCC and the IPCC, which amounts to about 20% of their funding.
According to a Reuters report, representatives of the state of California, where energy commissions and a clean air agency are hiring, handed recruitment fliers to EPA employees on their way to work. "Fight Climate Change, Work for California," the fliers said. However, the Obama-era policy of integrating climate programs into everything the federal government did has made Trump administration’s job of reining in spending on climate initiatives harder.
While the new administration’s plans for the EPA and climate-change activities in the budget are clear, what it will do about the Paris Agreement is less so, and its silence so far is making UN officials hopeful. However, the UN’s climate chief, Patricia Espinosa, was unable to get a response to her request a meeting with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. Given the OMB’s planned cuts to the State Department budget (including UN funding), Mr. Tillerson obviously has more urgent matters to attend to. According to a report in the Wall Street Journal, Mr. Trump’s son-in-law and daughter are pushing for a softer line on the Paris Agreement. As with all stories about Trump Administration infighting, this one is likely reliable.
Also, Politico reports that the US may be willing to stay in the agreement if it can secure wins for the fossil fuel industry. Therefore, whether or not the US stays in the agreement now appears to be both a matter of debate within the Trump Administration and between the administration and other international parties.
Dr. Richard Lindzen’s Letter to the US President
Climatologist Dr. Richard Lindzen send a letter to the US President Donald Trump on February 23 with a petition urging him to withdraw the US from the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. The petition was signed by over 300 eminent scientists and qualified persons. The petition states;
“We urge the United States government, and others, to withdraw from the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). We support reasonable and cost-effective environmental protection. But carbon dioxide, the target of the UNFCCC in not a pollutant but a major benefit to agriculture and other life on Earth. Observations since the UNFCCC was written 25 years ago show that warming from increased atmospheric CO2 will be benign – much less than initial model predictions.”
The faculty of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Program in Atmospheres, Oceans and Climate, who greatly benefit from US government climate funding, wrote a to the letter here. The letter states;
“The risks to the Earth system associated with increasing levels of carbon dioxide are almost universally agreed by climate scientists to be real ones. These include, but are not limited to, sea level rise, ocean acidification, and increases in extreme flooding and droughts, all with serious consequences for mankind.”
On March 9, 2017, Dr. Lindzen responded to the MIT letter, stating,
“... the purported dangers remain hypothetical, model-based projections. By contrast, the benefits of increasing CO2 and modest warming are clearer than ever, and they are supported by dramatic satellite images of a greening Earth. ... Model projections of warming during recent decades have greatly exceeded what has been observed ... Observations show no statistically valid trends in flooding or drought, and no meaningful acceleration whatsoever of pre-existing long term sea level rise (about 6 inches [15 cm] per century) worldwide.”
The ‘Never-Ending’ California Drought
The governor of California claimed in May 2016 that the drought there may never end due to global warming, here. A year of heavy rainfall from a series of storms has essentially ended the severe drought conditions in California. Nearly all of California's major reservoirs are currently above historical average levels with the state's two largest reservoirs. As of March 21, 2017, the California Department of Water Resources reported that the statewide snowpack was 158% of normal.
NOAA Accused of Breaching Climate Data Rules
Retired NOAA scientist Dr. John Bates accused his former colleagues of "flagrant manipulation of scientific integrity guidelines." He claimed in a blog post here that Tom Karl of NOAA failed to archive and document a critical climate dataset that was introduced in a paper Karl et al 2015 published in the journal Science. That paper introduced a new sea surface dataset that increased the warming rate during the period 1997 to 2014 from 0.014 to 0.065 °C/decade. Bates wrote “I was dumbstruck that Tom Karl, the NCEI Director in charge of NOAA’s climate data archive, would not follow the policy of his own Agency nor the guidelines in Science magazine for dataset archival and documentation.” Bates also claimed that Karl insisted on decisions that maximized the warming.
SCC Estimates Understate the Benefits of CO2 Fertilization
The US Government Interagency Working Group (IAW) on the social cost of carbon used the average of three economic models to estimate the social cost and benefits of carbon dioxide, but two of those models show insignificant benefits of CO2 fertilization and the other greatly underestimates the effect. The FUND model uses a logarithmic function to model to effect of CO2 fertilization on crop yield. It shows that a 300 ppm increase from 380 ppm to 680 ppm results in an increase in crop yield of 6.5%. However, the website CO2 Science.org shows that a 300 ppm increase in CO2 increases crop yields by about 35%, as shown here. This implies that the CO2 fertilization effect in the FUND model may be a factor of 5.5 too low, and that the model may be greatly overestimating the social cost of carbon dioxide.
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