Tossing another climate scare talking point into the circular file

Anthony Sadar

One of the standard mantras of those pushing their superior knowledge of Earth’s future climate – including those who politicize science to sway the electorate – is the talking point that says climate scientists were not all that concerned about a coming ice age back in the 1960s and ’70s.

But it’s funny what you can run into when rummaging through old files.

I’ve done a lot of teaching since the mid-1980s and so have amassed a huge collection of class materials.  Of course, at some point, those materials need to be sorted; consolidated; and, in many cases, discarded.

So, when reviewing documentation from the late ’80s, I happened upon a rejection letter dated 3 April 1989 from the then editor John Maddox of the prestigious journal Nature (still one of the leading science magazines in the world).  I had sent Nature a letter regarding a 1977 paperback book titled Our Changing Weather: Forecast of Disaster? by Claude Rose.  My letter noted the teaser on the back cover of the book that claimed: “Northern hemisphere temperatures have been falling steadily since the 1940s.  Glaciers are advancing once again.  Scientists no longer debate the coming of a new ice age: the question now is when?”

Editor John Maddox’s correspondence stated that the magazine could not publish my letter because “[t]he difficulty is that it is well-known in the scientific community that as recently as 15 years ago climatologists were more worried about the prospect of the ice age returning than by the greenhouse effect.”  (Of course, the “greenhouse effect” was the popular designation at the time for what has since morphed into “global warming,” then “climate change.”)  Maddox went on to point out how “Professor Hubert Lamb [a top climate scientist of the time], recently retired from the University of East Anglia [where Lamb founded the Climatic Research Unit], wrote a whole book on the subject.”

We also know that the popular press, such as Time, Newsweek, and National Geographic, during the period was picking up on the scientific sense that an ice age was looming.

With my own witness in meteorology classes at Penn State in the mid-’70s of assertions concerning the coming of the next ice age, not a sweltering globe, the claim that climate scientists were not all that concerned about a coming ice age back then should be debunked.

That claim should be a lesson to “settled science,” and the only settling that claim should do is at the bottom of a circular file.

Anthony J. Sadar is a certified consulting meteorologist and author of In Global Warming We Trust: Too Big to Fail (Stairway Press, 2016).

 

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A Proposed Early Priority for the Trump Administration: A Letter to USEPA to Reconsider and Withdraw Its GHG Endangerment Finding

Alan Carlin | November 9, 2016

In March, 2009 I prepared almost 100 pages of comments to EPA concerning the need to revise the draft Technical Support Document (TSD) for the EPA Endangerment Finding for Greenhouse Gases (GHGs).

The three main points in my comments were that the Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming (CAGW) hypothesis is invalid from a scientific viewpoint because it fails a number of critical comparisons with available observable data, that the TSD draft was seriously dated and the updates made to an earlier 2007 version were inadequate, and that EPA should make an independent analysis of the science of global warming rather than adopting the conclusions of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and US Government reports based on it.

EPA chose to suppress my comments, ignore these recommendations, and issue its GHG Endangerment Finding late in 2009. As I had feared the Finding laid the legal framework for the issuance of a number of EPA regulations intended to reduce emissions of GHGs.

Subsequent research outlined in my book, Environmentalism Gone Mad, made an even stronger case that the alarmist “science” presented in the EPA GHG Endangerment Finding TSD as well as the IPCC reports are scientifically invalid. A new report provides even more conclusive evidence in this regard. There is now overwhelming evidence that the EPA GHG Endangerment Finding is simply wrong and needs to be reconsidered and withdrawn before it leads to even greater economic harm by incorrectly justifying CO2 EPA-imposed emissions reductions that have no measurable effects on global temperatures.

I hope that the new Trump Administration will make this an early priority at EPA if the outgoing Obama Administration fails to do so.

The following letter to five current EPA officials makes the formal case for this:

November 5, 2016

Mr. Arthur A. Elkins, Jr.
Inspector General
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (Mailcode 2410T)
1200 Pennsylvania Ave., N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20460

Dear Mr. Elkins:

We write to request that EPA forthwith reconsider – or, more accurately, that it properly consider for the first time – its so-called “Endangerment Finding” (EF) of December 2009 with respect to atmospheric greenhouse gases. As you know, in the EF EPA concluded that certain atmospheric greenhouse gases “endanger both the public health and the public welfare of current and future generations.”

Real-world events described below, both prior and subsequent to the adoption of the EF, have thoroughly discredited the basis on which EPA purported to adopt the Finding, and indeed have completely undermined each of the three “lines of evidence” on which EPA said it relied for its action. In short, the EF has been definitively invalidated by real-world evidence in accordance with the scientific method. This highly embarrassing situation for EPA is not unexpected, as the EF was adopted by means of a completely deficient process.

As Inspector General of EPA, you are the key person in a position to right this ship. Because of the numerous glaring deficiencies in the process by which the EF was adopted, you have the ability, and indeed the obligation, to takes steps that should lead to a proper reconsideration of the Finding.

During 2009, in the period leading to adoption of the EF, numerous public comments and submissions were provided to EPA. In one such submission, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce issued a petition in which it, among other things, (1) requested a hearing on the proposed EF under 5 U.S.C. Sections 556-57, with all proceedings on the record, and with parties able to submit supporting documents, data and presentations, and (2) asked that EPA have the benefit of full input from its Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee. EPA declined to grant these requests.

A key comment submitted to EPA in connection with its adoption of the EF, dated October 7, 2009, came from a large group of some thirty-five prominent scientists. I attach a copy of that comment letter. In addition to pointing out deficiencies in EPA’s process, the October 7, 2009 Letter also enumerated the major questions that EPA would need to answer definitively in order to have proper support for the EF. The letter stated:

      “[W]e urge the EPA to address four critical questions, which, in addition to the issues enumerated in the Chamber’s Petition, are central to the EPA’s proposed rulemaking. Indeed, these questions require careful analysis before intelligent public policy can be promulgated. They are:
        1 Is the Earth’s climate changing in an unusual or anomalous fashion?
        2 Does the science permit rejection of the hypothesis that CO is only a minor player in the Earth’s climate system?
        3 Can climate models that assume CO is a key determinant of climate change provide forecasts of future conditions that are adequate for policy analysis?
        4 Can we reject the hypothesis that the primary drivers of the Earth’s climate system will continue to be natural (non-anthropogenic) forces and internal climate variability?”

EPA failed properly to address or answer any of these questions. Instead, it proceeded largely on the basis of unverified climate models and politicized lobbying.

The accumulation of real-world evidence since 2009 has completely undermined whatever basis ever existed for the EF. Most recently, on September 21, 2016 a major Research Report by Wallace, et al., was published on the ICECAP website and at various other locations.
The new Research Report is a definitive invalidation of each of EPA’s three lines of evidence for its EF. The Research Report is based on the best available empirical evidence of world temperatures from thirteen independently-constructed sources, and utilizes the most mathematically rigorous mathematical techniques. The three principal conclusions of the Research Report, which relate directly to each of EPA’s Lines of Evidence, are as follows:

      • “These analysis results would appear to leave very, very little doubt but that EPA’s claim of a Tropical Hot Spot (THS), caused by rising atmospheric CO levels, simply does not exist in the real world.
      • “Once EPA’s THS assumption is invalidated, it is obvious why the climate models they claim can be relied upon, are also invalid.”
      • “[T]his 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.” – – – – “[T]hese results clearly demonstrate – 13 times in fact – that once just the ENSO [El Nino/La Nina] 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.”

Based on the Research Report, the undersigned sent letters to each of the various scientific societies that have backed EPA’s “consensus science” approach to climate change issues, asking them to reconsider their positions. An exemplar of one of those letters is attached.

This situation is rapidly developing into a serious embarrassment for EPA. The economic stakes could not be higher. European nations that have pursued energy policies similar to those pushed by EPA have seen their costs of electricity multiply, and millions of their citizens thrown into energy poverty. It is high time that EPA conduct a proper evaluation of its endangerment hypothesis. Such a proper evaluation should at the minimum include on the record hearings, with opportunities for parties to present supporting data and evidence, as well as full involvement from the Scientific Advisory Committee.

Very truly yours,

Francis Menton
Law Office of Francis Menton
85 Broad Street, 18th floor
New York, New York 10004
212-627-1796
fmenton@manhattancontrarian.com

Alan Carlin
Webmaster, carlineconomics.com

Mr. Menton is a lawyer in New York. He has represented numerous scientists, among them the authors and many of the reviewers of the Research Report cited in this letter, in making submissions as amici curiae to courts including the D.C. Circuit and the U.S. Supreme Court on issues related to energy and climate matters.

Dr. Carlin is a retired senior analyst and manager at the US Environmental Protection Agency, Washington, DC, 1971-2010; previously he was an economist at the RAND Corporation, Santa Monica, CA. He is the author of Environmentalism Gone Mad, Stairway Press, and the author or coauthor of about 40 other professional publications including many on climate science and economics. He has a PhD in economics from MIT and a BS in physics from Caltech.

cc:
Ms. Gina McCarthy
Administrator
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

Ms. Janet McCabe
Acting Administrator for Air and Radiation
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

Dr. Ana V. Diez Roux
Chairperson, Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

Dr. Peter S. Thorne
Chairman, Science Advisory Board
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

How Economists Had the Best Tools for a Basic Understanding of Climate All the Time but Failed to Use Them until Very Recently

Alan Carlin | November 3, 2016

One of the curious things about climate economics is that a number of climate economists have spent considerable time and effort to try to develop a concept called the Social Cost of Carbon (SCC), but have only very recently asked whether the basic alarmist hypotheses concerning the effects of carbon dioxide (CO2) are correct. If the basic relationships are wrong, time spent guessing at SCC values is nothing more than idle speculation. The idea is that carbon prices (such as for coal or other fossil fuels) may not fully reflect the burdens indirectly placed on society by the use of these fuels.

Economists seem to have bought the idea that “climate scientists” should determine such things and economists should be left with the problem of how to ration emissions of CO2 among many possible users by raising the prices they pay. The ultimate purpose of the SCC is to set a higher price for carbon which would “correctly” ration fossil fuel use or create regulations that do something similar.

What economists have missed is that they have long had the keys to determining whether the climate science promoted by the UN and more recently by the Obama Administration reflects reality. The keys are provided by an obscure subdiscipline called econometrics, which uses sophisticated statistical techniques to analyze complicated and often conflicting data. It is used in statistically-oriented economic studies, including financially crucial marketing studies. Large corporations sometimes use it to make marketing decisions where there are often conflicting data as to what determines consumer behavior.

Why “Climate Scientists” Are Not Always the Best Group to Determine Climate Relationships

Now I know that many climate “scientists” and alarmists will immediately object that only genuine “climate scientists” can and should determine the effects of carbon emissions on climate. This was their major point when I commented on the basis for the draft EPA Endangerment Finding in 2009. They particularly prefer global climate models (GCMs). In fact, many of the alarmist “climate scientists” are GCM builders. The problem is that climate cannot be accurately modeled because climate is a coupled, non-linear chaotic system, as even the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has admitted.

So building accurate GCMs was a hopeless enterprise which was doomed from the start. A much better approach would have been to use econometric techniques using the best available climate data sets. A well executed econometric study makes no assumptions as to what the important effects are but instead first gathers data to determine what functional relationships would best explain the data. The GCM builders instead try to impose their guesses as to the physical relationships on the data rather than letting the data tell them which are the important relationships.

If climate economists had used the techniques offered by their econometric subdiscipline and managed to get the results accepted, much of this could have been avoided. What the data show is that instead of economists spending time building SCC models based on highly uncertain data supplied by climate “scientists,” econometricians could have been much more useful by examining the basic questions on climate interactions rather than speculating as to the correct values to use for the damages avoided by reducing CO2 emissions. Fortunately one economist has recently used his econometric skills to solve the basic problem with the assistance of two climate scientists. Wallace et al., 2016, is the only such effort I know of so far, but there is nothing needed but resources to check their work or, if necessary, redo their work if problems should be uncovered. So far, no one else has done similar work, as best I know. But we need more econometricians doing so and fewer other economists engaging in endless and idle speculation on the SCC.

How the Current GCM Approach Has Failed to Make Progress

The current GCM approach has really made very little or no progress in the last few decades, as illustrated by the IPCC charts showing the uncertainty in the climate sensitivity in successive IPCC reports. This is because it was futile to begin with and never really answered the key questions, especially whether increases in atmospheric CO2 levels increase global temperatures in the real world as opposed to the laboratory.

Building GCMs based on assumed and poorly understood physical relationships was a poor approach and lent itself to capture by organized special interests, which is what has happened. The GCM builders have basically worked back from their desired answers to determine what assumptions must be made to reach their desired conclusions. The overwhelming advantage of the econometric approach is that there should be no answer to work back from. Instead the available data is used to determine what the best physical relationships are, and then to quantify these relationships. And surprise, the results are very, very different!

It is time to abandon the basic approach used by the climate alarmist “scientists” and try a different approach that does not assume the “answer” to begin with. I suspect that such an approach would lead to the conclusion that government should stay out of trying to price carbon and instead leave it to the market.