Thursday, January 25, 2018

GWPF Newsletter - James Hansen: Natural Factors May Cause New Global Warming Hiatus

Global Oceans Cool Off: Now Colder Than Three Years Ago

In this newsletter:

1) BBC Gets It Wrong Again On Global Warming
Global Warming Policy Foundation, 24 January 2018
2) James Hansen: Ocean Cycles & Solar Activity May Cause New Global Warming Hiatus
GWPF Podcast, 24 January 2018 

3) Global Oceans Cool Off: Now Colder Than Three Years Ago
Ron Clutz, Science Matters, 18 January 2018 
4) GWPF TV: Bad Weather Is No Reason For Climate Alarm
GWPF TV, 24 January 2018 
5) UK Renewable Electricity: Dead, Alive Or Living Dead?
GWPF Energy, 23 January 2018

Full details:

1) BBC Gets It Wrong Again On Global Warming
Global Warming Policy Foundation, 24 January 2018

The Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF) has lodged a new complaint to the BBC about its misleading reporting on global warming.

The BBC’s News at Ten programme on the 18th of January 2018 contained two factual errors in its report of the global temperature of 2017.

The errors were in the cue to the report by Roger Harrabin, and in the report itself.

The newsreader, Huw Edwards, said that 2017 was “the hottest year on record,” insinuating that global temperatures have continued to rise last year.

This is untrue. In reality, global temperatures have declined in the last 12 months. According to the Met Office, 2017 was the third warmest year on record.

In his report Roger Harrabin said, “2017 had no heating from El Niño.”

This is also untrue.

El Niño warming was evident during eleven weeks in the spring and summer of 2017, pushing global temperatures up accordingly.

2017 Sea Surface Temperature (SST) anomalies in the El Niño 3.4 region reaching and surpassing the 0.5°C threshold;Source: NOAA

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) there were El Niño “conditions” for nearly three months in 2017, but they did not lead to an El Niño “event.” A formal El Niño event was not declared because the El Niño heating did not continue for five consecutive three-month periods.

It is therefore untrue to say that “2017 had no heating from El Niño.”

“These are two factual errors that should be acknowledged with an on-air apology and a correction on the BBC’s Corrections and Clarifications page,” Dr Benny Peiser said.

GWPF letter to the BBC 

2) James Hansen: Ocean Cycles & Solar Activity May Cause New Global Warming Hiatus
GWPF Podcast, 24 January 2018 

David Whitehouse & Benny Peiser discuss the controversies surrounding the 2017 global temperature, the BBC's misleading coverage and James Hansen’s warning that ocean cycles and solar activity may cause a new global warming pause.

Full podcast

3) Global Oceans Cool Off: Now Colder Than Three Years Ago
Ron Clutz, Science Matters, 18 January 2018 

All parts of the world’s oceans are clearly cooler than at any time in the past 3 years.

The best context for understanding these three years comes from the world’s sea surface temperatures (SST), for several reasons:

The ocean covers 71% of the globe and drives average temperatures;

SSTs have a constant water content, (unlike air temperatures), so give a better reading of heat content variations;

A major El Nino was the dominant climate feature these years.

HadSST is generally regarded as the best of the global SST data sets, and so the temperature story here comes from that source, the latest version being HadSST3.

The chart below shows SST monthly anomalies as reported in HadSST3 starting in 2015 through December 2017. Source: Met Office HadSST3

After a bump in October the downward temperature trend has strengthened. As will be shown in the analysis below, 0.4C has been the average global anomaly since 1995 and December has now gone lower to 0.325C.  NH dropped  sharply along with the Tropics.  SH held steady erasing the Oct. bump.  All parts of the ocean are clearly lower than at any time in the past 3 years.

For Reference:
* Global SSTs are the lowest since 3/2013
* NH SSTs are the lowest since 3/3014
* SH SSTs are the lowest since 1/2012
* Tropics SSTs are the lowest since 3/3012

A longer view of SSTs

The graph below  is noisy, but the density is needed to see the seasonal patterns in the oceanic fluctuations.  Previous posts focused on the rise and fall of the last El Nino starting in 2015.  This post adds a longer view, encompassing the significant 1998 El Nino and since.  The color schemes are retained for Global, Tropics, NH and SH anomalies.  Despite the longer time frame, I have kept the monthly data (rather than yearly averages) because of interesting shifts between January and July.

Click on image to see in more detail.

1995 is a reasonable starting point prior to the first El Nino.  The sharp Tropical rise peaking in 1998 is dominant in the record, starting Jan. ’97 to pull up SSTs uniformly before returning to the same level Jan. ’99.  For the next 2 years, the Tropics stayed down, and the world’s oceans held steady around 0.2C above 1961 to 1990 average.

Then comes a steady rise over two years to a lesser peak Jan. 2003, but again uniformly pulling all oceans up around 0.4C.  Something changes at this point, with more hemispheric divergence than before. Over the 4 years until Jan 2007, the Tropics go through ups and downs, NH a series of ups and SH mostly downs.  As a result the Global average fluctuates around that same 0.4C, which also turns out to be the average for the entire record since 1995.

2007 stands out with a sharp drop in temperatures so that Jan.08 matches the low in Jan. ’99, but starting from a lower high. The oceans all decline as well, until temps build peaking in 2010.

Now again a different pattern appears. The Tropics cool sharply to Jan 11, then rise steadily for 4 years to Jan 15, at which point the most recent major El Nino takes off.  But this time in contrast to ’97-’99, the Northern Hemisphere produces peaks every summer pulling up the Global average.  In fact, these NH peaks appear every July starting in 2003, growing stronger to produce 3 massive highs in 2014, 15 and 16, with July 2017 only slightly lower.  Note also that starting in 2014 SH plays a moderating role, offsetting the NH warming pulses. (Note: these are high anomalies on top of the highest absolute temps in the NH.)

What to make of all this?

Full post

4) GWPF TV: Bad Weather Is No Reason For Climate Alarm
GWPF TV, 24 January 2018 

2017 seemed like a year full of bad weather news. But a deeper look at the global data suggests that attempts to link the last year's extreme weather to climate change are misleading.

For the GWPF video click here
5) UK Renewable Electricity: Dead, Alive Or Living Dead?
GWPF Energy, 23 January 2018
Dr John Constable: GWPF Energy Editor

The full significance of the Treasury’s increasingly firm grip on spending to support renewables, culminating in the announcement of a moratorium on new subsidies for renewables is now becoming apparent. Applications for renewables in the UK planning system are falling away, and, in spite of a large slush pile of projects with planning consent, total operational capacity is not increasing rapidly.

After nearly twenty years of extremely aggressive UK government support for renewable electricity development, the industry is now, all would agree, at a turning point. Whether it is a turning up or down is still under question. A report in yesterday’s Financial Times may be taken as representative of the doubts:

Investment in UK renewables fell 56 per cent last year, to $10.3bn from £23.4bn in 2016, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance, a research organisation. To some this was a calamitous loss of momentum, to others a healthy sign of an industry maturing after initial subsidy-fuelled growth. (“UK faces tough choices to keep the lights on in a low-carbon future: Funding constraints collide with switch to low-carbon electricity generation”.)

This uncertainty reflects broad changes in the case for renewables over the last five years or so. After years of astonishingly generous income support, costing consumers upwards of £20 billion since 2002, the industry has become aware that the patience of government and Treasury, to say nothing of consumers, is wearing thin, and rather than simply urging the necessity of their technologies in climate policy they have preferred to suggest that they are, as the FT puts it, “maturing”. Brazenly, this argument is often a prelude for a demand for further subsidy, as in a recent Guardian article (“Fears for future of UK onshore wind power despite record growth”), though frequently with ingenious and specious sophistications; the source quoted by the Guardian made the claim that subsidy is only necessary to “reduce the cost of capital”.

The government will obviously have to take a view on this matter, and in assessing the general claim that tremendous progress has been made but just a little more help is needed –analysts will be looking to see if there really are signs of spontaneous life in the sector. Would further subsidy be throwing good money after bad, or would a stern refusal be short-sighted spoiling of the offshore wind farm for a ha’p’orth of tar?

Fortunately, government has itself been collecting data that bears on this question, in its Renewable Energy Planning Database (REPD), the latest release of which has just been published (REPD, 18 January 2018), a dataset that tracks applications for planning permission of larger projects (≧ 1 MW). This obvious misses much small scale development, but it catches the bulk of the renewables sector in in its heavy industrial form.

While the monthly snapshot for December 2017 is interesting in itself, it is the evolution of this dataset over the last two, crucial years that gives us the full picture.

This can be seen in the following chart, drawn from the REPD archives. The stacked bars and the lefthand axis give a monthly snapshot of the total of renewables capacity seeking planning permission in each month from September 2015 to December 2017, broken down by technology group (data for July 2016 is unfortunately missing from the set I used, and I am waiting for it to be supplied; it’s omission does not seem likely to change the conclusions). The dark red line represents the total renewables capacity with planning permission, a quantity that includes operational capacity and also that with permission but still under, or awaiting, construction. This quantity rises over the period from 54.1 GW to a peak of 59.9 GW before falling slightly to  59.5 GW. The dark grey line represents operational capacity only, which rises from 23.7 GW to 31.7 GW.

Figure 1: Renewables capacity  in planning, in monthly snapshots (GW, stacked bars, left axis), September 2015 to December 2017; and on the right axis, the total consented renewables capacity (GW, dark red line), and total operational capacity (GW, dark grey line). Source: Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) Renewable Energy Planning Database (REPD). Data archived by the Renewable Energy Foundation:

The first most salient feature of the planning data is that since the closure to new entrants of the Renewables Obligation (RO) subsidy scheme on the 1st of April 2017 the volume of capacity seeking permission in the planning system has collapsed, from nearly 10 GW in January of that year to under 4 GW at present. This is not a vigorous pipeline. 

Equally clear is the fact that the capacity in the planning system had been declining steadily since late 2015, as various sectors saw reductions in their subsidies and then closures of entire schemes. All technologies are affected, with only onshore wind surviving in any quantity, and that much reduced and confined to Scotland where it expects special favours.

The chart also shows that the industry as a whole has maintained a very large slush pile of consented projects, with its construction rate never threatening to exhaust the reserve. The addition of a substantial quantity in the dying days of the Renewables Obligation appears to have had a slightly positive affect on construction rate, probably as projects worked hard to meet the qualifying deadlines for subsidy, but since the middle of 2017 the construction rate appears to be slowing, if anything. As large projects supported under the CfD scheme are added, if they ever are, the capacity will grow by fits and starts.

A collapsing pipeline and a stuttering growth curve are not suggestive of a fundamentally viable industry that has nearly but not quite outgrown the need for subsidy. On the contrary, it seems that without blood the vampire sickens. 

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

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