Monday, June 19, 2017

GWPF Newsletter - New Study: Scientists Find 'Recent UK Flooding Is Not Unprecedented'








Matt Ridley: Gove Needs To Watch Out For The Green Lobby

In this newsletter:

1) New Study: Scientists Find Recent UK Flooding Is Not Unprecedented
GWPF Observatory, 17 June 2017 
 
2) Andrew Montford: Precedented Floods
GWPF Comment, 17 June 2017
 
3) Matt Ridley: Gove Needs To Watch Out For The Green Lobby
The Times, 19 June 2017 
 
4) John Constable: The Bank Of England’s Response To Climate Change Policies
GWPF Energy, 18 July 2017
 
5) Exit From Paris Climate Accord: A Re-Founding Of American Democracy?
Contrepoints, 15 June 2017
 
6) Ian Plimer: One Lonely Molecule …
The Spectator, Australia, 17 June 2017 

Full details:

1) New Study: Scientists Find Recent UK Flooding Is Not Unprecedented
GWPF Observatory, 17 June 2017 
 
--Neil Macdonald and Heather Sangster (2017), Hydrology and Earth System Sciences 21: 1631-1650.
 
This paper presents the first coherent large-scale national analysis undertaken on historical flood chronologies in Britain, providing an unparalleled network of sites (Fig. 1), permitting analysis of the spatial and temporal distribution of high-magnitude flood patterns and the potential mechanisms driving periods of increased flooding at a national scale (Britain) since AD 1750.
 


The apparent increase in flooding witnessed over the last decade appears in consideration to the long-term flood record not to be unprecedented; whilst the period since 2000 has been considered as flood-rich, the period 1970–2000 is “flood poor”, which may partly explain why recent floods are often perceived as extreme events. The much publicised (popular media) apparent change in flood frequency since 2000 may reflect natural variability, as there appears to be no shift in long-term flood frequency.
 

Abstract
The last decade has witnessed severe flooding across much of the globe, but have these floods really been exceptional? Globally, relatively few instrumental river flow series extend beyond 50 years, with short records presenting significant challenges in determining flood risk from high-magnitude floods. A perceived increase in extreme floods in recent years has decreased public confidence in conventional flood risk estimates; the results affect society (insurance costs), individuals (personal vulnerability) and companies (e.g. water resource managers). Here, we show how historical records from Britain have improved understanding of high-magnitude floods, by examining past spatial and temporal variability. The findings identify that whilst recent floods are notable, several comparable periods of increased flooding are identifiable historically, with periods of greater frequency (flood-rich periods). Statistically significant relationships between the British flood index, the Atlantic Meridional Oscillation and the North Atlantic Oscillation Index are identified. The use of historical records identifies that the largest floods often transcend single catchments affecting regions and that the current flood-rich period is not unprecedented. […]
 

click on image to enlarge
 
Summary
The apparent increase in flooding witnessed over the last decade appears in consideration to the long-term flood record not to be unprecedented; whilst the period since 2000 has been considered as flood-rich, the period 1970–2000 is “flood poor”, which may partly explain why recent floods are often perceived as extreme events. The much publicised (popular media) apparent change in flood frequency since 2000 may reflect natural variability, as there appears to be no shift in long-term flood frequency (Fig. 5). In reviewing the flood series for European systems for which long flood series have been reconstructed, a complex picture is identified; whilst flood-rich phases appear synchronous across many systems (1765–1780) others show less synchronicity (1920s), whereas a number of prominent floodrich phases at a European scale appear subdued or are not evident in the British FI (1750s).
 
The principal findings of this work are that of the strong correlations between flood-rich/flood-poor phases and solar magnetic activity, AMO and NAOI, indicating a clear driver for flooding patterns across Britain. The specific mechanisms that govern the relationship between the spatial/temporal distribution of flood clusters and solar activity remain unclear. This work suggests that high-magnitude flood-rich periods relate to negative NAOI across much of the country, in western catchments with a stronger westerly airflow signal significantly correlating to positive NAOI, with reasonable correspondence with previously diagnosed periods of climatic variability identified from individual series from across Europe. It also identifies the importance of the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation as a clear correlation is shown between higher North Atlantic sea temperatures and increased severe flood events across much of Britain. It is worth noting that when the threshold is reduced to the 0.8 percentile of events (Fig. 5), significant correlations remain between the British FI and summer, winter, annual AMO (1850) and NAOI (Trouet et al., 2009). The inclusion of historical flood information provides a better understanding of long-term flood patterns. The detection of flood-rich periods and attribution to periods of climatic change are tentative. The historical records still hold a wealth of untapped information for which specific discharges cannot be estimated, but from which indices could be extracted in the future (Barriendos and Coeur, 2004). The wealth of information presented by the historical records presents valuable new information for flood risk assessment and management (Kjeldsen et al., 2014); as new flood chronologies become available, more detailed and complete indices-based chronologies will improve the resolution and enhance understanding of flood-rich and flood-poor periods, presenting a more complete depiction of the role of climate and extreme floods. Extending the records back to a millennial time frame is possible, providing valuable insights into long-term trends and patterns of flood frequency and potential climatic drivers of flooding.
 
Full paper
 
2) Andrew Montford: Precedented Floods
GWPF Comment, 17 June 2017
 
Well that wasn’t in the script was it? A couple of scientists working at the University of Liverpool have found that recent floods in the UK are not, contrary to received wisdom, anything exceptional at all.
 
…whilst recent floods are notable, several comparable periods of increased flooding are identifiable historically, with periods of greater frequency (flood-rich periods).
 
“But wait”, I hear you say: “Weren’t we told that flooding was going to get worse and that it was all down to global warming?”
 
Indeed we were. Just six months ago, that great sage of flooding risk, the chairman of the Climate Change Committee’s adaptation arm, Sir John Krebs, told the Guardian that major flooding is “likely every year” from now on. Meanwhile, Friederike Otto of the University of Oxford has told New Scientist that the sort of heavy rain that has recently caused floods in the UK is now “40 per cent more likely now than it was in the past” because of global warming. There are many more in this vein, if you look for them.
 
Which is a pity, because the authors of the paper go on to say that they have found good correlations in the data, but only with non-anthropogenic factors:
 
The principal findings of this work are that of the strong correlations between flood-rich/flood-poor phases and solar magnetic activity, [Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation] and [the North Atlantic Oscillation], indicating a clear driver for flooding patterns across Britain.
 
One should always be careful about correlations, but the fact that the floods are not without precedent seems clear. So is it too much to ask the alarmists to now tone things down a bit?
 
3) Matt Ridley: Gove Needs To Watch Out For The Green Lobby
The Times, 19 June 2017 
 
From badgers to clean-air rules, environmentalists will fight him every inch of the way to protect their vested interests


 
Even Michael Gove’s enemies concede he is good at tackling vested interests. Even his friends concede he has a knack for making enemies in the process. In his new job as secretary of state for environment, food and rural affairs, if he is to achieve anything, he may have to do a lot of both. So here’s a field guide to the vested interests he will encounter in the countryside.
 
Bruce Yandle, the American economist, once coined a phrase to explain why the disastrous policy of prohibition became law in the United States between 1920 and 1933: “Bootleggers and Baptists”. A very effective coalition developed between high-minded, high-profile moral campaigners and low-mind, low-profile smuggling profiteers to push for the outlawing of alcohol. The result was legislation that was good for bootleggers and Baptists but bad for society as a whole.
 
As Mr Yandle put it: “Baptists lower the costs of favour-seeking for the bootleggers, because politicians can pose as being motivated purely by the public interest even while they promote the interests of well-funded businesses”.
 
This coalition is alive and well in the farming and environmental world. Bootlegger car makers got politicians to give tax breaks to diesel cars on the Baptist grounds that they produce less carbon dioxide, with the result that we have worse air pollution than we would have had. Baptist greens preach about the imminent dangers of climate change, enabling their bootlegger chums in the renewable-energy industry to trouser vast subsidies for ruining landscapes and killing eagles while reducing emissions very little, if at all. Politicians fall for it.
 
Selfless conservationists portray themselves as disinterested saviours of species while their high-viz-clad colleagues profit from the expensive requirements for lucrative but futile surveys of newts, bats, owls, butterflies, badgers, otters, birds and bees in any piece of ground zoned for development — doing literally nothing for such species except counting them.
 
Farmers nobly say they are feeding a hungry world and protecting the countryside from ruin, while actually defending a subsidy system that deters innovation, gives them a retirement income and pushes up the price of land.
 
In other words, Mr Gove will not have to learn the difference between the lesser whitethroat and the spotted flycatcher to do well in his new job, but he will have to spot the vested bootleggers hiding behind the green Baptists. He will be familiar with the problem from his time as education secretary, where he took on the teachers and civil servants on the grounds that they were sometimes serving their own interests more than those of their clients — children.
 
The civil servants in Defra are almost entirely in thrall to whatever the big environmental pressure groups say, in a fine case of regulatory capture or Parkinson’s law: greens lobby for regulations, which civil servants need bigger budgets to administer, and the monitoring of which can be outsourced back to the same greens.
 
Try telling an environmental bureaucrat that you think his or her priorities or methods are wrong and prepare to be denounced on moral — not practical — grounds by their allies in organisations with very big budgets. Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth and the World Wide Fund For Nature are huge multinationals these days with a combined annual budget of more than a billion dollars, a big chunk of which is spent on lobbying, suing and public relations — rather than practical conservation.
 
Yet some green priorities are wrong and somebody needs to say so. The current obsession of the environmental pressure groups, shared by the civil servants and quangocrats, is that there must be no “watering down” of environmental designations after Brexit. That is to say, the alphabet soup of “special protected areas”, “marine conservation zones”, “Ramsar sites”, “sites of special scientific interest”, “areas of outstanding natural beauty” and so forth must not be lost, even though some of them derive from European legislation. […]
 
Mr Gove should demand that environmental policies are judged by their results, not their intentions. In fisheries, air pollution, tackling invasive species, reforming farm subsidies, wildlife conservation, badgers, landscape protection, genetically modified food and pesticides, what counts is not the size of the budget going in, the moral motive behind it, or the number of committees overseeing it — but whether it gets results. That should be the watchword of the new Defra secretary.
 
Full post
 
4) John Constable: The Bank Of England’s Response To Climate Change Policies
GWPF Energy, 18 July 2017
Dr John Constable: GWPF Energy Editor
 
By focusing only on risks to carbon intensive assets, whilst ignoring the possibility that current climate policies may be creating malinvestment in renewable energy technologies, the Bank of England is failing in its statutory duty to identify and address risks to the resilience of the UK financial system.
 
The Bank of England is under a statutory duty to “identify, monitor, and take action to remove or reduce risks that threaten the resilience of the UK financial system”. Consequently, as an article published as part of the Quarterly Bulletin on the 16 June explains, the Bank is engaged in an ongoing examination both of the physical risks from climate change, and “transition risks” from the shift to a low carbon economy.
 
While some will think that the Bank overstates the physical risks (hazard x probability) “which can arise from climate-related events, such as droughts, floods and storms”, they have extensive company in taking that position, and one can easily imagine the pressures on the staff responsible not to allow any qualification. That is regrettable, but it is certainly not wrong in itself to consider extreme threats in a risk assessment. Indeed, that is the function of risk assessment.
 
A more serious failure, in my view, is the narrow characterisation of the “transition risk”. The Bank sees this entirely in terms of risks to carbon related assets, in other words to “sectors involving the production of fossil fuels, such as coal, oil and gas” and also “utilities, heavy industry, and the transportation sector, among others, whose business models rely upon using fossil fuels or are energy intensive” (p. 7). Nowhere in this document is there any evidence that the Bank recognises that the very large investments in renewables, the Bank itself mentions “tens of trillions of dollars”, are themselves far from copper-bottomed.
 
One need not be dogmatic about this, simply open minded, but in fact the signs are not overwhelmingly positive. Renewable energy required very heavy subsidy to enter the market, still requires it, and will require it for a very long time to come. A much more balanced assessment published this week by J P Morgan, Many Rivers to Cross: Decarbonization breakthroughs and challenges (June 2017) notes that solar power auction prices seem to be converging below $100/MWh, a very high price, that most of the projects making these bids benefit from some sort of government subsidy, and that the International Energy Agency (IEA) is reporting that even as late 2040 half of world solar power will still need subsidy, and that in that year fossil fuels will still be providing the bulk of, for example, electricity in the United States. The renewable energy sector is not mature, and its realistic prospects are modest at best.
 
Furthermore, there are fundamental physical reasons for thinking that renewables may have no long term role in any future energy system. Renewable energy sources are low density flows. The entropy of these energy sources is high, as compared to the very low entropy of fossil and nuclear fuels. A great deal of low load factor capital equipment is required to collect, concentrate, and deliver these stochastic flows to consumers in the form of timely and controllable energy. This suggests an energy system based on renewables will be one of comparatively low productivity, a fact that would have very important and one would have thought obvious implications for wealth creation. However, in a strikingly one-sided summary the Bank of England writes that:
 
The allocation of capital and labour to projects not aligned with climate policies and technological changes could be a drag on productivity and economic growth. Conversely, allocating capital and labour to green technologies can be growth-enhancing.
 
Then again it might, and not at all improbably, be quite the other way around. Failing to allocate resources to projects not aligned with climate policies may destroy wealth, and directing them instead to green technologies could well reduce productivity and suppress growth. Why does the Bank not consider this unwelcome outcome? The study, after all, is a risk assessment, a type of analysis in which the authors are under an obligation, in this case a statutory obligation, to consider all the hazards, no matter how disagreeable.
 
Judging from this document the Bank of England is failing in its statutory duty to identify and address threats to the financial stability of the United Kingdom. There is, no doubt, a real possibility that the policy driven commitment of capital resources to renewable energy generation is malinvestment that will have to be written off within a decade or two, but the Bank, which now writes as if it were part of the policy delivery mechanism, does not give any consideration to this “transition risk”. Regardless of how probable you think that risk, this omission is clearly a mistake.
 
See also: 
 
Mark Carney Effect: Number Of Investors Ignoring Climate Risks Rose Last Year
 
Mark Carney Under Attack From Investors 

 
5) Exit From Paris Climate Accord: A Re-Founding Of American Democracy?
Contrepoints, 15 June 2017
translated by Friends of Science
 
In an interview with the French liberal newspaper Contrepoints, Belgian philosopher Drieu Godefridi discusses his view that the exit of the Trump Administration from the Paris Agreement is a sensible return to American democracy.
 

Drieu Godefridi

 
Interview with Drieu Godefridi, Belgian philosopher, jurist, author of “Le GIEC etMort; Vive le Science” (The IPCC is Dead: Long Live Science) published in English under the title “The IPCC: A Scientific Body?” Godefridi discusses his view that the exit of the Trump Administration from the Paris Agreement is a sensible return to American democracy. Godefridi traces the incremental takeover of public policy by globalists and minority view activists using unelected, unaccountable politically-rife bodies like the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) under the guise of ‘science’ to foist ever-more economically detrimental demands on the West. These groups use contrived morality and guilt to affect a bank hold-up, the trigger-about-to-be-pulled being the ‘climate catastrophe.’
 
Without arguing the science, President Trump called that bluff as he exited the Paris Agreement.He called it on economic and common-sense grounds, being accountable and representing the interests of Americans as an elected official. This is in stark contrast to the EU where the unelected, unaccountable EU commission has become detached from the people’s needs and entrenched in the ideological fantasy of the day. This translation includes this introduction and clarifying details for North American audiences.
 
Question: Drieu Godefridi, you qualify the American decision to leave the Paris Agreement as the re-founding act of the American democracy. Could you expand on this surprising point of view, surprising at least, compared to that of most European politicians and analysts?
 
Reply: You are right, this point of view is undoubtedly in the minority. Globalists are now considered as opposed to nationalists. The Europeans and the American Democrats would be the Globalists. The nationalists are the Republican supporters of “America First”. From this point of view, to the Globalist, everything is simple: the American exit from the Paris Accord is a selfish act of a narrow nationalist who cares about the immediate economic interests of America at the expense of the collective interest and that of the planet.
 
On the surface, this narrative is very convincing, it has only one fault: it is false.
The Paris Accord marks the apotheosis, not of “globalism,” but of a particular version of globalism, which one should rather qualify as socialist. Indeed, let us recall the actual content of the Paris Agreement! What does it foresee? Essentially, two things: the drastic reduction of CO2 emissions in the West, right away, with the possibility for states such as China – the world’s largest CO2 emitter – to continue to increase emissions to 2030, with no requirement whatsoever to reduce emissions. The second essential component of “Paris” is the Green Fund, which provides for the transfer of $ 100 billion a year from the West to the rest of the world. “Paris” is therefore, first and foremost, the triumph of what was called “support for the Third World” in the 70s and 80s, that is to say, a massive and permanent transfer of wealth from the West to the rest of the world.
 
Question: We can see the socialist component. But what about globalism? How does the Paris Agreement contribute to globalism?
 
Reply: “Paris” is doubly globalist: first, because the transfer of wealth will be done through a clever network of international institutions, such as the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the Green Fund — an institution, with a secretariat, directors, exotic meeting places, etc. —and all the intermediate institutions created by the Paris Agreement.
 
Secondly, “Paris” is driven by “morality” with the IPCC itself employing the services of moral philosophers to help them make their political case. The founding moral intuition which presides over the Paris Agreement is internationalist socialism. International socialism has always considered that the differential of wealth that benefits the West results from the pillage of the rest of the planet. This is described in terms of imperialism, colonization, exploitation of weaker partners. In that world view, the only “just” solution (aka “climate justice”) to this is the immediate and unconditional transfer of a substantial portion of these wealth to the rest of the world. Thus, the Paris Accord discloses itself clearly as a matter of globalism, but of a very particular vision of it – internationalist socialism.
 
Question: Even if the Paris Agreement is indeed motivated by a socialist vision, is it not selfish and unjust on the part of the Americans to refuse to share their wealth?
 
Reply: The founding thesis of universalist socialism is that the wealth of the West is born of the plunder of the rest of the world. This is obviously false, and this has been demonstrated time and time again. The West owes its surplus of wealth to the preference given over five centuries to a particular economic system, capitalism! The West has rejected the alternatives, socialism or subsistence. Moreover, the falsehood about the capitalist West as simple global robber barons is so well entrenched in leftist/socialist/globalists that even the concessions and foreign aid made to date by the West on are never enough to satisfy the transfer of wealth desired by the Third Worldists.
 
With the Paris Accord, which is not born from nothing, we enter a completely different dimension. This time, it is no longer morality, generosity or compassion (i.e. disaster relief) that requires the transfer of the wealth of the West. It’s science! It is the idea that because the Western industrial world has polluted the world for so many years should mean that the West must transfer its wealth to the rest of the world, which can continue to pollute. Further, this guilt money must be paid into the Green Fund which puts unaccountable, unelected green groups and green rent-seekers an opportunity to exploit this ultimate global subsidy for renewable-intermittent energies! Admire the finesse of the process: it employs the very strength of the West — capitalism — to show that the West has sinned. How naive and amateur are the Third Worldists of the past, with their moral arguments, faced with the omnipotence of the scientific argument!
 
However, and this should have put the flea in the ear of at least some of the European “leaders”, the results are exactly the same: bleeding the West to the benefit of the rest of the world.
 
Full interview
 
6) Ian Plimer: One Lonely Molecule …
The Spectator, Australia, 17 June 2017 
 
The 24 million people in Australia generate 1.5 per cent of annual global human-induced CO2 emissions. USA emits 14 times and China emits 26 times more CO2 than Australia. Australia has 0.33 per cent of the global population.
 
Our high standard of living, a landmass of 7,692,024 square kilometres with a sparse inland population and greenhouse gas-emitting livestock combined with the transport of livestock, food and mined products, long distances to cities and ports and the export of ores, coal, metals and food for 80 million people result in high per capita CO2 emissions. Australia’s exports of coal, iron ore and gas contributes to increasing the standard of living, longevity and health of billions of people in Asia.
 
If Australia emits 1.5 per cent of global annual CO2 emissions, 3 per cent of the total annual global emissions are anthropogenic and the atmosphere contains 400 parts per million by volume of CO2, then one molecule in 6.6 million molecules in the atmosphere is CO2 emitted from humans in Australia. This molecule has an atmospheric life of about 7 years before it is removed from the atmosphere by natural sequestration into life and limey sediments.
 
Australia has far greater economic priorities than to change a whole economy, increase energy costs, decrease employment and decrease international competiveness because of one poor lonely molecule of plant food in 6.6 million other atmospheric molecules. It is a very long bow to argue that this one molecule of plant food in 6.6 million other atmospheric molecules derived from Australia has any measurable effect whatsoever on global climate. Furthermore, it has yet to be shown that human emissions of CO2 drive global warming, so why even bother with a Renewables Energy Target?
 
Australia exports a significant global share of refined aluminium, zinc, lead, copper and gold and hence takes a per capita emissions hit for countries that import and use Australia’s metals, because smelting and refining in Australia result in CO2 emissions. Neither smelting nor refining of the metals for other countries could take place without burning fossil fuels. For example, a steel mill uses coal to reduce iron oxide into iron metal and the carbon in coal is oxidised to CO2. A modern economy cannot rely on sea breezes and sunbeams to generate base load electricity for industry and a decarbonised economy would be a deindustrialised economy.
 
Annual Australian per capita CO2 emissions are in the order of 20 tonnes per person. There are 30 hectares of forest and 74 hectares of grassland for every Australian and each hectare annually sequesters about 1 tonne of CO2 by photosynthesis. CO2 is plant food. On the continental Australian landmass, Australians are removing by natural sequestration more than three times the amount of CO2 they emit. Crops remove even more CO2 from the atmosphere. Australia’s net contribution to atmospheric CO2 is negative and this is confirmed by the net CO2 flux estimates from the IBUKI satellite CO2 data set.
 
Australia’s continental shelf is 2,500,000 square kilometres in area. Carbon dioxide dissolves in ocean water and the cooler the water, the more CO2 dissolves in water. Living organisms extract dissolved CO2 and calcium from seawater to build corals and shells. This natural marine sequestration locks away even more Australian emissions of CO2 and adds to the negative contribution of atmospheric CO2 made by Australia.
 
Using the thinking of the IPCC, UN and activist green groups, Australia should be very generously financially rewarded with money from populous, desert and landlocked countries for removing from the atmosphere its own emitted CO2 and the CO2 emissions from many other nations. By this method, wealthy Australia can take money from poor countries. This is, of course, normal for the green industry.
 
For example, the subsidising of wind and solar power takes money from the poor and passes it on to companies making a fortune from the government’s RET.
 
Satellite measurements show that there has been a greening of the planet over the last few decades, thanks to a slight increase in traces of plant food in the atmosphere. Without CO2, there would be no plants and without plants, there would be no animals. Geology shows that atmospheric CO2 has not driven global warming since planet Earth formed. Why should it now? Dangerous global warming did not occur in the past when the atmospheric CO2 content was hundreds of times higher than now. Each of the major ice ages was initiated at a time when there was more CO2 in the atmosphere than now.
 
The planet has not warmed for two decades despite a massive increase in CO2 emissions during the industrialisation of Asia. Computer models predicted a steady temperature increase over this time and over 30 million weather balloons have not detected a modelled hot spot over the equator. All models have failed and are not in accord with measurements.
 
Australia has thousands of years of energy as coal, gas, oil and uranium and is one of the world’s biggest exporters of energy. Yet it has unreliable and very expensive energy. We have wasted billions on unreliable ‘renewable’ electricity resulting in energy poverty on the assumption that human emissions of CO2 drive global warming. It has never been shown that human emission of CO2 drives global warming and the Australian contribution of one lonely molecule in 6.6 million is not worth expenditure of a single penny. President Trump did not fall for one of the biggest cons in the history of time. Australia needs leadership rather than marching down the RET path to international uncompetiveness. If subsidies paid by consumers for unreliable inefficient electricity were abandoned, the markets would quickly reaffirm that energy from fossil fuels is the cheapest and most reliable source of electricity for an industrialised economy.

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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