Saturday, January 14, 2017

GWPF Newsletter: California Is Singing In The Rain, Climate Alarmists Make Fools Of Themselves

Heavy Rain And Snow End California’s 5-Year Drought

In this newsletter:

1) Heavy Rain And Snow End California’s 5-Year Drought
USA Today, 13 January 2017

2) California Is Singing In The Rain, Climate Alarmists Make Fools Of Themselves
Global Warming Policy Forum, 13 January 2017

3) California’s History of Mega Droughts: A Reality Check
Not A Lot of People Know That, 16 September 2015

4) Flashback 1976: Scientists Blamed California Drought On Global Cooling
The Daily Caller, 4 May 2015

5) Daniel Greenfield: A Drought Of Sanity In California 

Full details:

1) Heavy Rain And Snow End California’s 5-Year Drought
USA Today, 13 January 2017

The recent onslaught of rain and snow finally brought much-needed relief to northern California, ending a punishing five-year drought, federal officials said Thursday.


“Bye bye drought … Don’t let the door hit you on the way out,” tweeted the National Weather Service’s office in Reno, Nev., which monitors parts of the region.Calif-drought-comparison_Online

Overall, less than 60% of California remains in drought for the first time since early 2013, according to the weekly U.S. Drought Monitor. A year ago, drought covered 97% of the state.

Stations up and down the Sierra mountain chain reported twice the amount of normal rain and snow for this time of year after snowstorms doubled the vital snowpack there that provides the state with much of its year-round water supply.

“It’s been a nice little miracle month after five bad years,” said meteorologist David Miskus of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, who wrote this week’s drought report.

More than a foot of precipitation fell in the Sierra in the past week alone, leaving most major reservoirs at or above average levels, Miskus said.

Too much snow closes ski resorts in California, Nevada

Strawberry Valley, Calif., received 20.7 inches of precipitation, and the Heavenly Ski Area near Lake Tahoe picked up a whopping 12 feet of snow. The excessive snowfall even led to closures of some ski resorts because of blizzard conditions and road closures.

However, much of southern California remains dry, though most not at the most severe level of drought. Only 2% of the state is in that category of “exceptional” drought: an area that stretches from Los Angeles to Santa Barbara. Across southern California, reservoirs and underground water supplies remain below normal, the Drought Monitor said.

It will take additional rain and snow this winter, plus another wet winter next year, to pull southern California out of drought, Miskus said.

Full story

see also

GWPF 21 May 2016:     Did Global Warming Cause California’s Drought?
GWPF 3 April 2015:      California’s Green Elites And An Engineered Drought
GWPF 9 March 2014:   Drought Stokes California’s Class War
Andrew Montford:       Droughts Are Not Getting Worse And They Are Not Causing Wars

2) California Is Singing In The Rain, Climate Alarmists Make Fools Of Themselves
Global Warming Policy Forum, 13 January 2017
Andrew Montford

As heavy rains and snow return to California, signalling an end to a 5-year drought, it’s worth reminding green alarmists that making climate claims about current droughts is fraught with great risk because when wetter conditions return they look foolish.



[….] Evidence that droughts have become more prevalent on a global scale is hard to come by. Despite this, there have been some heroic attempts to claim otherwise.

In particular, in 2007 the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) declared that droughts had become more common worldwide, although since that time it has resiled from this position. The Fifth Assessment Report of 2013 noted that academic studies in the area were giving conflicting results and concluded that it was very hard to say if there had been any changes in drought levels worldwide at all:

“Confidence is low for a global-scale observed trend in drought or dryness (lack of rainfall) since the middle of the 20th century, due to lack of direct observations, methodological uncertainties and geographical inconsistencies in the trends.”

There are few signs that any clear picture will be forthcoming in the near future. Since the time of the Fifth Assessment, a new study by scientists at the University of California found, if anything, a slowly declining trend in drought since 1982.


With evidence of any change thin on the ground, the IPCC has found it equally difficult to attribute blame to humankind, concluding that at a global scale it was almost impossible to say anything about an anthropogenic influence: “…there is low confidence in detection and attribution of changes in drought over global land areas since the mid-20th century. “

For those looking for evidence to support positions of climate alarm, the IPCC offered only a few crumbs of comfort, noting that there had been changes in drought levels in particular regions. However, it also suggested that these were not out with the very wide range of natural variability.

These sorts of scientific difficulties have not prevented some groups from trying to make explicit or implicit claims linking drought events to global warming. A 2011 report in the Guardian claimed that ‘Drought in east Africa the result of climate change and conflict’, a position that turned out to be based on the impressions of aid workers in the area.

Droughts in the Amazon are also said to be the result of climate change. The recent drought in California has also been repeatedly linked to man-made climate change, although as other researchers have pointed out, since current conditions in that state don’t appear to be part of a long-term trend it is hard to see the logic in the claims.

Perhaps most notoriously, environmentalists linked persistent drought in parts of Australia to global warming. Led by Australia’s climate commissioner Tim Flannery, they predicted that some Australian cities would need desalination plants within months:

“Over the past 50 years, southern Australia has lost about 20 percent of its rainfall, and one cause is almost certainly global warming… In Adelaide, Sydney and Brisbane, water supplies are so low they need desalinated water urgently, possibly in as little as 18months.”

Unfortunately, some policymakers took these messages seriously and billions of Australian dollars were spent on desalination plants across the country. However, when the rainfall levels returned to normal levels in subsequent years the new plants were mostly mothballed, although taxpayers are still having to underwrite huge annual bills for interest and maintenance costs.

Making claims about current droughts is fraught with difficulty for environmentalists, because of the likelihood that a return to wetter conditions will leave them looking foolish. Attention has understandably started to focus more on the possibility that man-made climate change will bring increased levels of drought in the future. […]

Full GWPF paper: Parched Earth Policy: Drought, Heatwave and Conflict

3) California’s History of Mega Droughts: A Reality Check
Not A Lot of People Know That, 16 September 2015
Paul Homewood


You will no doubt have seen the above graphic already. It shows that the current drought in California is not exceptional by any stretch of the imagination.

We know that rainfall levels in recent years, though low, are not unprecedented as far as the 20thC is concerned.


But, of course, one factor in determining the severity of drought is temperature. To put recent temperatures into historical context, it is worth revisiting the work of V C La Marche & V Markgraf, both experts on past climate.

As shown by HH Lamb in “Climate History and the Modern World”, they studied the height of the upper tree line in the White Mountains of California.


Their data shows just how much higher the tree line was in the Middle Ages, and before, and therefore how much higher temperatures were.

The reality is that California has been hotter and drier for much of its recent history.

4) Flashback 1976: Scientists Blamed California Drought On Global Cooling
The Daily Caller, 4 May 2015
Michael Bastasch

California was stuck in a deep drought during Gov. Jerry Brown’s first term, much like the one the state is currently going through. The only difference is that global cooling, not warming, was blamed for causing drought in the late 1970s.

In 1976, the New York Times reported that California was “so dry, brush fires have started several weeks early” and that “water is being rationed.” But in the 1970s, scientists blamed this drought on global cooling.

The Times reported that climatologists “believe that the climate has moved into a cooling cycle, which means highly erratic weather for decades to come.” Scientists worried that the world’s population had gotten so high that minor “shifts in climate could be catastrophic.”

During the 1970s, some climate scientists were warning that the world was undergoing a cooling phase which could plummet the globe into another ice age. At the first Earth Day in 1970, ecologist Kenneth Watt warned that another ice age was on the way.

“The world has been chilling sharply for about twenty years,” Watt said. “If present trends continue, the world will be about four degrees colder for the global mean temperature in 1990, but eleven degrees colder in the year 2000. This is about twice what it would take to put us into an ice age.”

Not all scientists, however, agreed with the theory the world was heading into another ice age. Scientists didn’t even agree that global cooling was causing droughts across the U.S.

A “skeptical scientist” told the New York Times in 1976 that “some of their stuff is right out of fantasyland” regarding predictions that global cooling was going to make the weather more erratic.

But climate science has changed since the 1970s, and droughts are no longer blamed on global cooling. Instead, some climate scientists and environmentalists blame droughts on global warming — which they say is the result of man-made carbon dioxide emissions.

California’s Gov. Brown, who is serving out his fourth term, is once again presiding over a state mired in drought. Brown’s response to todays drought is almost identical to policies he pushed in the 1970s. During the 1970s, Brown said “this is an era of limits and there are very hard choices to make.”

Brown hasn’t changed his mind much since then. This time though, he’s worried that global warming could deplete California’s water supplies. The Democratic Governor has imposed severe water restrictions on households, businesses and local governments.

Full story

5) Daniel Greenfield: A Drought Of Sanity In California 
Frontpage Magazine, 12 January 2017 

The ink was hardly dry on the Secretarial Order from Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell blaming California’s drought on global warming that rain and snow swept across the state. San Francisco International Airport was forced to cancel flights and there were blizzard warnings for Lake Tahoe.

The Los Angeles Times warned breathlessly of a winter war footing. San Francisco, the home of a million companies cashing in on environmental panics, received 130% of average rainfall. Sacramento, where terrible ideas from San Francisco go to become law under a Democratic supermajority, is at 160%.

Governor Jerry Brown had signed an executive order last year making temporary drought restrictions all but permanent. “Drought is becoming a regular occurrence,” Executive Order B-37-16 stated. Then the proposal to "Make Conservation a California Way of Life" had made a big splash among bureaucrats.

"California is currently in the grips of an extreme drought with record low precipitation," it gloomily began. Then the Sacramento River flooded, the downtown rainfall record was broken and copies of the report came in handy as makeshift umbrellas by scurrying staffers.

So there was nothing left to do but blame Global Warming.

If the rain doesn’t fall, that’s Global Warming. If it does fall, that too is Global Warming. The moonbeam left has traded in God for Global Warming as its universal answer to everything.

After years of predicting that California’s future would be a barren desert, the predictions have been slightly revised. California is now doomed to alternate between droughts and storms. And if it rains cats and dogs over Death Valley, we will be told that Global Warming causes canine and feline precipitation and that unless we agree to give Al Gore more money, we’re doomed to be brained by falling felines.
Full post

6) GWPF: Tidal Lagoons Are Uneconomic 
Global Warming Policy Forum, 12 January 2017
Dr John Constable, GWPF Energy Editor

Mr Hendry’s report implicitly recommending that the UK government support the £1.3 billion Swansea Tidal Lagoon project presumably moves the scheme one step closer to realisation. However, the headline facts show that there is no justification for compelling UK consumers to de-risk the scheme for its projectors.

The principal and overwhelming disadvantage of most renewable electricity technologies is that they are of low energy productivity in themselves and reduce the productivity of the electricity system of which they are a part. Therefore, when assessing a project such as the Swansea Tidal Lagoon the first question to ask is whether the present scheme overcomes this productivity failing, and if it does not whether the technology shows any promise of significant improvements in productivity in the future.

The Swansea Tidal Lagoon’s load factor, the measure of the energy productivity of this 320 MW scheme, will be about 19%, yielding roughly 533,000 MWh per year, equivalent to about 0.2% of UK annual electricity consumption.

The capital cost would be about £1.3 billion, and will, it seems, require a guaranteed price of £89.90/MWh, roughly double the current market rate, for 90 years in order to recover this capital. (Even Mr Hendry thinks this is too long a contract, and recommends limiting the contract to a still staggering 60 years.) At this price, the annual income would be about £48m, with a 90 year total lifetime income of about £4.3 billion at current prices (the tariff will of course be index-linked). Somewhat over half of this lifetime income will be subsidy.

No amount of cheerful optimism from Charles Hendry can conceal the fact that this is very expensive indeed, and that the opportunity cost, the highly efficient and highly productive Combined Cycle Gas Turbines that we will not build and run because the money has been spent on the Swansea Lagoon, is large.

It is worth noting that the BBC, following Tidal Lagoon Power’s own press statements, is reporting the lagoon’s strike price as comparing favourably with the £92.50/MWh awarded to Hinkley C nuclear power station. However, not all megawatt hours of electricity are of equivalent value, and the fluctuating output of the lagoon is of less utility to the system than the firm generation of Hinkley C. There is no justification of subsidies to either of these proposals, but no one can be in any doubt that those to the lagoon are the more wasteful per unit generated.

The costs do not end with the subsidies. The Swansea lagoon will contribute very little to security of supply, and its output will fluctuate from zero to max at its own convenience, with only modest dispatchability. In fact, it will add to system costs, because of extra grid, and the cost of balancing services. These are unlikely to be anywhere near as high as those for wind, but they will certainly exceed those of a conventional generator.

Perhaps, the technology has promise and might improve its productivity. Unfortunately, this is unlikely. The load factor is principally determined by the character of tidal flows, and the optimal balance of generator size to lagoon capacity, which will not change significantly if at all. Improvements in the longevity and reliability of the materials, and thus reductions in lost output due to maintenance, are conceivable, but are not likely to be major considerations.

Consequently, the load factor of future projects is unlikely to differ more than a few percentage points from the current figure of 19%. Furthermore, there is no likelihood that the capital cost of construction can be greatly reduced. While the concept of lagoon is novel, or at least untried, the major elements of the scheme, the turbines, and the impoundment are not. Indeed, the vast majority of the cost is in standard marine civil engineering to build the impoundment, a field several thousand years old, where major cost reductions are not to be expected.

Even a brief review shows that this project is of low productivity and will degrade the productivity of the system of which it is a part. Furthermore, the technology has no realistic prospect of significantly improved productivity. If private investors wish to take the risk, by all means let them, but government should not gamble with consumer bills when the odds are so unfavourable.
7) UK Government Signals Tidal Lagoon Project Is Uneconomic
The Times, 13 January 2017
Ben Webster

The world’s first tidal lagoon power station may be too expensive despite a government-commissioned review strongly backing it, according to Whitehall sources.

An impression of the wall at Swansea Bay. A Whitehall source has said the project is “very expensive” Tidal Lagoon Power/PA Wire

Charles Hendry, the former Conservative energy minister who led the review, said that the £1.3 billion project in Swansea Bay would cost each household “less than a pint of milk” per year and was a “no regrets policy” to help to tackle climate change.

He urged ministers to grant it a 60-year subsidy contract that would, at least for 20 years, be even more expensive per unit of electricity than the new nuclear power station at Hinkley Point in Somerset.

Mr Hendry said that a network of tidal lagoons along the west coast would be cheaper in the long-term than either nuclear or offshore wind and create thousands of jobs during construction.

A Whitehall source said the Swansea Bay project was “very expensive” and the limited funds available for subsidising renewable energy might be better spent on established technologies.

Full story

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

No comments: