Thursday, February 9, 2017

GWPF Newsletter: U.S. Congress To Investigate NOAA Scandal As More Whistleblowers Come Forward






Federal Scientist Cooked Climate Change Books Ahead Of Obama Presentation, Whistleblower Charges

In this newsletter:

1) U.S. Congress To Investigate NOAA Scandal As More Whistleblowers Come Forward
The Daily Caller, 6 February 2017
 
2) Federal Scientist Cooked Climate Change Books Ahead Of Obama Presentation, Whistleblower Charges
Fox News, 7 February 2017


 
3) Julie Kelly: A Top Climate Scientist Blows the Whistle on Shoddy Climate Science
National Review, 7 February 2017

4) Miranda Devine: Climate Change Isn’t About Science — It’s A Hot Mess Of Politics And Big Money
The Daily Telegraph, 7 February 2017
 
5) John Constable: The Future Of Fossil Fuels: Dark Or Bright?
GWPF Energy Comment, 7 February 2017


Full details:

1) U.S. Congress To Investigate NOAA Scandal As More Whistleblowers Come Forward
The Daily Caller, 6 February 2017
Michael Bastasch

House lawmakers will renew their long-dormant investigation into the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) on the heels of whistleblower testimony that agency scientists rushed a landmark global warming study to influence policymakers.


Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas), chairman of the House Science Committee. Credit: NASA/Aubrey Gemignani
Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas), chairman of the House Science Committee. Credit: NASA/Aubrey Gemignani

“The chairman intends to push for responses to his initial requests,” an aide for the Committee on Science, Space and Technology told reporters on a press call Monday, “to uncover exactly what was going on” at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

Texas Republican Rep. Lamar Smith, the committee’s chairman, will “move forward as soon as possible” in asking NOAA to hand over documents included in a 2015 subpoena on potential climate data tampering.

“There’s gotta be email traffic on this,” the aide said. NOAA turned over some internal emails in 2015, but many were redacted and more were withheld from the committee.

Smith’s investigation largely petered out in late 2015 after the Obama administration refused to hand over scientists’ emails regarding highly-publicized “Karl study,” named after its lead author Tom Karl. Democrats, environmentalists and science organizations joined forces to condemn Smith’s investigation.

Over the weekend, Dr. John Bates, the former principal scientist at the National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, N.C., went public with complaints that NOAA scientists put a ‘thumb on the scale’ to get results that showed more global warming since 1998 — a period usually referred to as the “pause” in warming.

“The committee is going to push ahead to gather the emails from NOAA,” the aide said, signalling Smith preferred to see if NOAA would hand over documents the agency withheld from congressional investigators.

The committee aide said they had heard from other NOAA whistleblowers as well, but would not bring that evidence forward until given permission by sources.

Smith expects NOAA will turn over the subpoenaed documents. President Trump appointed investor Wilbur Ross as secretary of commerce, but has not appointed an NOAA administrator. NOAA is part of the Commerce Department. Ross is expected to be confirmed, but it’s not clear when the Senate will vote.

Bates told The Daily Mail the authors of the Karl study wanted “to discredit the notion of a global warming hiatus and rush to time the publication of the paper to influence national and international deliberations on climate policy.”

Moreover, Bates said Karl did not archive his study as required by NOAA policy, and noted the computer holding the software used by the study “suffered a complete failure.”

The Karl study made changes to historical sea surface temperature records, effectively doubling the warming trend of that period to 0.086 degrees Celsius per decade from 0.039 degrees per decade. Some scientists were skeptical of the data, and lawmakers were briefed on the study in summer 2015.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said it will “review” allegations its researchers rushed the Karl study. Others, however, rushed to defend the Karl study.

Full story

2) Federal Scientist Cooked Climate Change Books Ahead Of Obama Presentation, Whistleblower Charges
Fox News, 7 February 2017

A key Obama administration scientist brushed aside inconvenient data that showed a slowdown in global warming in compiling an alarming 2015 report that coincided with the White House participation in the Paris Climate Conference, a whistle blower is alleging.

 

A whistleblower claims the flawed study was a major influence in the 2015 Paris climate summit; Doug McKelway has the latest for 'Special Report'

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), in a major 2013 report, concluded global temperatures had shown a smaller increase from 1998 to 2012 than any similar period over the past 30 to 60 years. But a blockbuster, June 2015 paper by a team of federal scientists led by Thomas Karl, published in the journal Science in June 2015 and later known as the “pausebuster” paper sought to discredit the notion of a slowdown in warming.

“Our new analysis suggests that the apparent hiatus may have been largely the result of limitations in past datasets, and that the rate of warming over the first 15 years of this century has, in fact, been as fast or faster than that seen over the last half of the 20th century,” Karl, who was at the time director of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Centers for Environmental Information, said at the time.

The report argued that evidence shows there was no “hiatus” in rising global temperatures and that they had been increasing in the 21st century just as quickly as in the last half of the 20th century.

Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas, chairman of the House Science Committee, questioned the timing, noting the paper was published just before the Obama Administration’s Clean Power Plan was submitted to the Paris Climate Conference of 2015.

“In the summer of 2015, whistleblowers alerted the Committee that the Karl study was rushed to publication before underlying data issues were resolved to help influence public debate about the so-called Clean Power Plan and upcoming Paris climate conference,” Smith said in a statement. “Since then, the Committee has attempted to obtain information that would shed further light on these allegations, but was obstructed at every turn by the previous administration’s officials.”

Karl denied the paper was released to boost the plan.

Karl’s neglect of the IPCC data was purposeful, according to John Bates, a recently retired scientist from the National Climactic Data Center at the NOAA. Bates came forward just days ago to charge that the 2015 study selectively used misleading and unverified data – effectively putting NOAA’s thumb on the scale.

In an interview with the Daily Mail, Bates said Karl was “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.”

For example, Karl allegedly adjusted temperature data collected by robot buoys upward to match earlier data from ocean-going ships. That was problematic, Bates said, because ships generate heat and could cause readings to vary.

“They had good data from buoys,” Bates told the Daily Mail. “And they threw it out and ‘corrected’ it by using the bad data from ships. You never change good data to agree with bad, but that’s what they did – so as to make it look as if the sea was warmer.”

Bates, who could not be reached for comment, but has published some of his allegations in a blog, claims to have documentation of his explosive charges and indicated more revelations are coming.

A NOAA spokesman, in an email to The Washington Times, said NOAA “stands behind its world-class scientists” but also that it “takes seriously any allegation that its internal processes have not been followed and will review the matter appropriately.”

Bates is not the first to question Karl’s conclusions. A paper by Canadian climate modeler John Fyfe questioned the 2015 study. As he put it, in a 2016 article from the journal Nature Climate Change, “there is a mismatch between what the climate models are producing and what observations are showing. We can’t ignore it.”

Full story

3) Julie Kelly: A Top Climate Scientist Blows the Whistle on Shoddy Climate Science
National Review, 7 February 2017

The NOAA ‘corrected’ data they didn’t like and — surprise — didn’t archive the evidence.

A former top scientist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has stepped forward to expose the malfeasance behind a key climate report issued just before the United Nations’ Climate Change Conference in 2015.  The whistleblower, Dr. John Bates, led NOAA’s climate-data records program for ten years and reveals stunning allegations in a lengthy Daily Mail exposĂ© posted February 4. His main charge is that the federal government’s top agency in charge of climate science published a flawed but widely accepted study that was meant to disprove the hiatus in global warming. Bates accuses the study’s lead author, NOAA official Tom Karl, of using unverified data sets, ignoring mandatory agency procedures, and failing to archive evidence — all in a “blatant attempt to intensify the impact” of the paper in advance of the conference.

The study, “Possible Artifacts of Data Biases in the Recent Global Surface Warming Hiatus,” was published in Science magazine in June 2015, just a few months before world leaders gathered in Paris to hammer out a costly global pact on climate-change mitigation. It refuted evidence from other climate-research groups that showed a major slowdown in rising global temperatures from 1998 to 2012; the slowdown was a sticky little fact that threatened to undermine the very raison d’ĂȘtre of the conference.  Climate activists were sweating over the acknowledgement by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in 2013 that “the rate of warming over the past 15 years . . . is smaller than the rate calculated since 1951.”

The IPCC walked back its own predictions from 2007 that short-term temperature would rise between 1 and 3 degrees Celsius. The IPCC in 2013 “concluded that the global surface temperature ‘has shown a much smaller increasing linear trend over the past 15 years [1998 to 2012] than over the past 30 to 60 years’ and the rise in global temperatures was ‘estimated to be around one-third to one-half of the trend over 1951–2012.’”

So Karl, the former head of the NOAA office that produces climate data, worked with a team of scientists to challenge the IPCC findings and prove that the hiatus did not exist. He claimed to have developed a way to raise sea-temperature readings that had been collected by buoys: He would adjust them by using higher temperature readings of sea water collected by ships. “In regards to sea surface temperature, scientists have shown that across the board, data collected from buoys are cooler than ship-based data,” said one of the study’s co-authors. It was therefore necessary, the NOAA scientists held, to “correct the difference between ship and buoy measurements, and we are using this in our trend analysis.”

Now get ready to be shocked. This dubious methodology concluded that the warming trend for 2000 to 2014 was exactly the same as it was for 1950 to 1999: “There is no discernable (statistical or otherwise) decrease in the rate of warming between the second half of the 20th century and the first 15 years of the 21st century.” The study then concluded that the IPCC’s statement about a slower rise in global temperature “is no longer valid.” (It takes a lot of chutzpah to out-climate the international climateers.)

The study was cheered by climate activists and their media sympathizers around the world, but Bates says the study had major problems. “They had good data from buoys,” he told the Daily Mail. “And they threw it out and ‘corrected’ it by using the bad data from ships [a natural warming source]. You never change good data to agree with the bad, but that’s what they did so as to make it look as if the sea was warmer.” Bates also said the study ignored satellite data.

And in the most Obama-esque move, Bates said that the computer used to process the data “suffered a complete failure” and that none of the data had been archived or made available as required by NOAA rules, which means that Karl’s paper cannot be replicated or independently verified. According to Bates, the NOAA is drafting a new version of the report that will reverse the flaws in Karl’s report. For now, Science magazine is standing by its publication of Karl’s study, claiming it underwent “rigorous peer review” and dismissing as “baseless and without merit” any notion that the study was rushed to coincide with the Paris conference. [...]

Bates is not fighting this fight alone. Representative Lamar Smith, chairman of the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee, has been asking NOAA for all communications related to Karl’s report, but the agency has refused to cooperate. In October 2015, Smith’s committee issued subpoenas for the documents; NOAA released some technical papers but not the requested correspondence, arguing that taxpayer-paid scientists don’t have to disclose their emails with other taxpayer-paid scientists about a taxpayer-paid study.

In a statement Sunday, Smith applauded Bates’s courage for speaking out: “Dr. Bates’ revelations and NOAA’s obstruction certainly lend credence to what I’ve been saying all along — that the Karl study used flawed data, was rushed to publication in an effort to support the president’s climate change agenda, and ignored NOAA’s own standards for scientific study.”

 With a sympathetic administration in power, Smith should now be able to get to the bottom of how the Karl study was conducted and who else helped move it along. And despite the personal attacks on his character and credibility, Bates’s actions could have long-lasting repercussions, not the least of which could be to encourage others to speak out about what’s been going on at federal scientific agencies. It’s long overdue.

Full post

4) Miranda Devine: Climate Change Isn’t About Science — It’s A Hot Mess Of Politics And Big Money
The Daily Telegraph, 7 February 2017

As usual, they enlisted science to their political cause, and as usual science refused to comply without being verballed.

Now we hear from an eminent whistleblower with America’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration that the organisation used dodgy data to claim the “pause” in global warming from 1998 never existed, and had rushed to publish without the usual checks in order to influence the Paris Agreement on climate change.

The almost 20-year “pause” or “hiatus” in global surface warming since 1998 was confirmed in 2013 by UN scientists and has been an awkward stumbling block for climate alarmists who insist the world’s temperature is soaring skyward at an exponential rate. Thus, Pause Debunking has become a competitive sport for alarmist scientists.

Feted as the “Pause-buster paper”, the misleading NOAA publication was greeted like manna from heaven by Paris climate junketeers and used to allay any lingering doubts governments like Australia’s might have had about risking their nations’ economies on an empty climate gesture.
 

 cooking data
 
All the fakery confirms that the whole global warming crusade isn’t about science, but politics — and big money. (Pic: The Daily Telegraph)

NOAA whistleblower scientist Dr John Bates told Britain’s The Mail on Sunday newspaper at the weekend that the NOAA paper was based on “misleading, ‘unverified’ data.”

Nor was it subjected to “NOAA’s rigorous internal evaluation process — which Dr Bates devised” before it was published in June 2015 by the journal Science, on the eve of the Paris summit.

Bates’ “vehement objections to the publication of the faulty data were overridden by NOAA superiors in what he describes as a ‘blatant attempt to intensify the impact’.”

This latest scandal comes on top of previous embarrassments for the climate alarm community. There was the 2009 “climategate” batch of leaked emails from the Climate Research Unit at the University of East Anglia that were published on a Russian website three weeks before the Copenhagen summit, revealing a staggering level of fraud, manipulation, and deceit.

All the fakery adds up to the conclusion that the whole global warming crusade isn’t about science, but politics — and big money.

The NOAA scandal couldn’t have come at a better time for US President Donald Trump to strengthen his resolve to ditch the Paris climate agreement stitched up by his predecessor, Barack Obama.

And in turn Trump’s defection should encourage the Turnbull government to tear up our own Paris climate agreement which they foolishly ratified in November, after Trump won the US presidential election.

Full post

5) John Constable: The Future Of Fossil Fuels: Dark Or Bright?
GWPF Energy Comment, 7 February 2017
Dr John Constable: GWPF Energy Editor

BP’s recent Energy Outlook 2017 has given the impression to some journalists, Jeremy Warner in the Telegraph for example, that the oil giant sees fossil fuels in a hopeless long term struggle with a renewable energy steamroller squeezing the life out of all others through sheer competitive advantage. However, careful reading of a key chart in the Outlook tells a different story. Coal and gas will remain fundamentally cheap for decades, while renewables will remain dependent on fragile market distorting policies.

Confronted by increasingly cost-conscious and nervous finance ministries – even China is said to be cutting its subsidies – the renewables industry has responded over the last few years with vigorous assertions that the public support so far paid (upwards of £20 billion since 2002 in the UK for example) is now yielding results and that some technologies, solar and wind in particular, are almost ready to compete without income support. It goes without saying that the industry quickly adds that it is not quite ready and that subsidies must continue for just a little longer: Da mihi castitatem et continentiam, sed noli modo.

On closer examination the details of many of these claims seem less robust. The much-vaunted bid price of the Danish offshore wind farm at Krieger’s Flak, EUR49/MWh, turns out to be only equivocal evidence of cost reductions, since the site is in fact very close to the shore, and because the developers were spared the cost of their grid connection and offshore substations (some £500m). Even at this low bid price (a winner’s curse?) the site is expected to reap some £400m in subsidies in its first fifteen years, about half of its total income in that period. In other words, this project is a near-shore site, easy to build, has large avoided costs because of the grid subsidies, but still needs major income support to make it viable. Hardly a revolution.

Even accounts from sources that can be regarded as sober, such as this chart from the Energy Outlook 2017 of British Petroleum (BP), published last month, seem on detailed scrutiny to tell stories incompatible with their headlines:


bpeo2017ffrechart
As a visual graphic the chart unambiguously drives the reader towards the conclusion that fossil fuel fired electricity is becoming more expensive, with the red and black bars representing coal and gas climbing steadily across the figure; while renewables are getting much cheaper. Thus growth in the renewables sector is implicitly spontaneous and results, as the slide puts it, from “increasing competitiveness”. From a glance  you would think that new builds of coal and gas will be very unlikely on purely economic grounds by the mid 2020s.

However, the notes to the chart need to be taken into account. First, the subscript observes that these are Levelised Costs over the lifetime of the plant, a fact which should remind the wary reader that while the economic lifetimes of conventional generators are well understood, those for renewables are not, and are indeed controversial. BP doesn’t reveal its assumption here but it is likely to be the questionable industry standard of twenty years and upwards. (Kriegers Flak’s subsidies are for fifteen years, however, which may be a better indication of the truth.)

Secondly, and rather unusually, these Levelised Cost figures include “estimates of system integration costs” for wind and solar. That is an important point, and genuinely to be welcomed, but on the subsequent page BP’s authors remark that the system costs are “likely to be relatively low for the levels of penetration projected out to 2035”. Anyone familiar with the cost of grid expansion, and of running at low load factor an almost unchanged conventional fleet to guarantee security of supply, will find that somewhat implausible. The costs are not insignificant even now, but by 2035 they are likely to be quite high.

So, with only a little scratching, the varnish seems to be coming off the renewables price falls projected in this chart, certainly enough to make you wonder whether the full cost to consumers of solar electricity in North American will really fall from about $85/MWh in 2015 to $55/MWh in 2035, and onshore wind from about $55/MWh in 2015 to about $40/MWh in 2035. Given that the cheapest sites have already been developed, and system costs rise sharply with increasing penetration, that seems to be rather unlikely.

The figures for the fossil fuels turn out to be still more remarkable. Above the chart BP’s authors note that they have assumed a “lifetime average” carbon price of $20/tCO2e in 2015, $40 in 2025, and $60 in 2035. Bearing in mind the emissions per megawatt hour generated by gas turbines and coal stations, we can therefore calculate what proportion of the charted price in BP’s projections results from carbon taxation and what from technological fundamentals and fuel price.

Reading from the graphic we can see that BP estimates that the price of electricity from new build gas turbines in North America ranges from from $32 to $56 dollars per MWh in 2015. Assuming that BP used an emissions factor of 0.35 tonnes of carbon dioxide per MWh (tCO2e/MWh) modern CCGT this suggests a carbon tax of approximately $7/MWh, meaning that the fundamental price range is about $25–$49/MWh. At its cheapest this is much less than any other fuel technology, and even at its most expensive it is cheaper than the mid range of wind, and cheaper any solar whatsoever.

In 2035 the BP prices for North American gas turbines rise to a range of $43–$68/MWh, including carbon tax at $60/tCO2e. The emissions per MWh of a new build Combined Cycle Gas Turbine in that year are uncertain, but some improvement is to be expected, and BP must have made allowance for this. To be on the conservative side, let us say there is only a modest improvement in thermal efficiency and emissions fall to about 0.3 tCO2e/MWh. This would suggest a carbon tax burden of about $18/MWh. Subtract that from the projected price, and the range in 2035 falls to $25/MWh to $49/MWh, identical to the fundamental cost in 2015, and at its cheapest well below both solar and wind electricity.

Performing the same rough calculation on the coal price estimates, assuming that BP used emissions of about 0.74 tCO2e/MWh for current super-critical coal and 0.67 tCO2e/MWh for future advanced supercritical coal, reveals the surprising finding that the carbon price assumed in BP’s chart is masking a significant fall in fundamental coal generation prices. 2015 prices range from $48/MWh to $73/MWh without carbon tax ($15/MWh), while the 2035 prices range from $45/MWh to $59/MWh without carbon tax ($40/MWh). Such prices make coal competitive with both wind and solar even in 2035.

In other words, practically all the coal and gas generation cost increase presented in BP’s graph is the result of carbon taxation, not from technological and fuel fundamentals. A chart that we began by interpreting as the steady triumph of renewables over even the cheapest of the fossil fuels now shows that electricity from gas and even from coal power stations is likely to remain fundamentally cheap for decades, with renewables only becoming competitive on optimistic assumptions about cost reductions and with an arbitrary and politically vulnerable coercive penalty being applied to fossil fuels in the form of a carbon tax.

I have no wish to single BP out for particular criticism. Charts of this ilk are being shown by the hundreds in corporate and governmental presentations all over the world. The is Group Think on a grand scale. Not everyone, of course, believes it. Mr Trump has ambitious plans for major remilitarization of the United States, alongside a low tax agenda and reductions in public spending. Cheap fossil fuel costs such as those implicit in BP’s study will not only square that circle but will also permit the President to keep his word to the miners and manufacturing workers who voted him into office. The Outlook may be rather confusing, but the outlook is plain for all to see.


The London-based Global Warming Policy Forum is a world leading think tank on global warming policy issues. The GWPF newsletter is prepared by Director Dr Benny Peiser - for more information, please visit the website at www.thegwpf.com.



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