Tuesday, March 13, 2018

GWPF Newsletter: The New Lukewarmers








Scientific American Turns Down The Heat Over Global Warming

In this newsletter:

1) The New Lukewarmers: Scientific American Turns Down The Heat Over Global Warming
John Horgan, Scientific American, 8 March 2018
 
2) New Study: Cooling Clouds Caused Global Warming Hiatus
Jun Yin and Amilcare Porporato, Princeton University 


 
3) Oren Cass: Doomsday Climate Scenarios Are a Joke
The Wall Street Journal, 12 March 2018 
 
4) Global Warming: Real, Or Groupthink?
Andrew Forster, Transport Xtra, 5 March 2018 
 
5) Energy Prices Must Fall To Cut Deaths In The Cold
Harry Wilkinson, The Conservative Woman, 9 March 2018 
 
6) California’s Utilities Have Stopped Deploying Renewable Energy
Quartz, 9 March 2018 

7) Marcel Crok: The Super Bad Guy Of The Climate Debate
Maarten Keulemans, de Volkskrant


Full details:

1) The New Lukewarmers: Scientific American Turns Down The Heat Over Global Warming
John Horgan, Scientific American, 8 March 2018


I work hard to maintain my optimistic outlook. Wishful thinking works. The first step toward building a more healthy, peaceful, just world is to believe we can do it. So how do I deal with all the bad news about climate change? U.S. officials are rolling back regulations designed to curb global warming even as reports flood in about its scale and potential consequences.

I have thus found solace in two new essays that offer upbeat takes on our environmental future. Both reflect the outlook of ecomodernism, a movement I have written about here and here. One essay, published in the ecomodernist Breakthrough Journal, is by mega-pundit Steven Pinker. I have knocked Pinker for his views on the roots of war and other matters, but in general I appreciate his empirically-based optimism.

His Breakthrough essay, “Enlightenment Environmentalism,” is adapted from his new bestseller Enlightenment Now. The book, which been praised and attacked, argues that we’ve achieved lots of progress, material and moral, and we should achieve lots more as long as we don’t succumb to fatalism.

In his Breakthrough essay, Pinker spells out a key assumption of ecomodernism. Industrialization “has been good for humanity. It has fed billions, doubled lifespans, slashed extreme poverty, and, by replacing muscle with machinery, made it easier to end slavery, emancipate women, and educate children. It has allowed people to read at night, live where they want, stay warm in winter, see the world, and multiply human contact. Any costs in pollution and habitat loss have to be weighed against these gifts.”

Pinker contrasts the can-do ecomodernist spirit with “the lugubrious conventional wisdom offered by the mainstream environmental movement, and the radicalism and fatalism it encourages.” We can solve problems related to climate change, Pinker argues, “if we sustain the benevolent forces of modernity that have allowed us to solve problems so far, including societal prosperity, wisely regulated markets, international governance, and investments in science and technology.”

The bulk of Pinker’s essay consists of documentation of how we’ve handled environmental threats. We have reduced our rate of population growth; made agriculture, transportation and other key industries more energy-efficient; and increased the acreage of marine and terrestrial preserves. Here is a typical passage:

“Since 1970, when the Environmental Protection Agency was established, the United States has slashed its emissions of five air pollutants by almost two-thirds. Over the same period, the population grew by more than 40 percent, and those people drove twice as many miles and became two and a half times richer. Energy use has leveled off, and even carbon dioxide emissions have turned a corner. These diverging curves refute both the left-wing claim that only de-growth can curb pollution and the right-wing claim that environmental protection must sabotage economic growth and standard of living.”

My mood got an even bigger boost from “The Conquest of Climate” by Will Boisvert, a journalist I met at an ecomodernist powwow a few years ago. My first exposure to Boivert’s dry, iconoclastic sensibility was a 2013 Breakthrough Journal article, “A Locavore’s Dilemma,” which asserts that “the linkage of local farming to efficiency and sustainability is dubious.”

Boisvert’s new essay, which he posted on his blog “Progress and Peril,” deserves to be widely read. It is even broader in scope than Pinker’s essay, and I found its analysis strikingly original. Boisvert begins:

“How bad will climate change be? Not very. No, this isn’t a denialist screed. Human greenhouse emissions will warm the planet, raise the seas and derange the weather, and the resulting heat, flood and drought will be cataclysmic. Cataclysmic—but not apocalyptic. While the climate upheaval will be large, the consequences for human well-being will be small. Looked at in the broader context of economic development, climate change will barely slow our progress in the effort to raise living standards.”

Full post 
 

2) New Study: Cooling Clouds Caused Global Warming Hiatus
Jun Yin and Amilcare Porporato, Princeton University 


Reinforcement of Climate Hiatus by Decadal Modulation of Daily Cloud Cycle



Based on observations and climate model results, it has been suggested that the recent slowdown of global warming trends (climate hiatus), which took place in the early 2000s, might be due to enhanced ocean heat uptake. Here we suggest an alternative hypothesis which, at least in part, would relate such slowdown to unaccounted energy reflected or reemitted by clouds. We show that the daily cloud cycle is strongly linked to pacific decadal oscillation (PDO) and that its decadal variations during the climate hiatus have an overall cooling effect. Such an effect may have partially, and temporarily, counteracted the greenhouse warming trends.

The slowdown of global warming in the early 21th century, referred to as the climate hiatus, raises growing political and public concerns. Observations and climate modelling results suggest that such a phenomenon is caused by the compounding effects of inter-annual and decadal variations of ocean circulation, aerosols, volcanic eruptions, and variation of solar irradiance. While enhanced ocean heat uptake is regarded as one of its primary causes of the recent climate hiatus, there are still debates over which parts and depths of the ocean may be responsible for absorbing the imbalanced energy. Such uncertainties stem in part from the temporal interpolation method used for satellite calibration and the sparse spatial/temporal sampling of the ocean heat content measurement. It is thus logical to wonder whether the estimation of Earth’s energy balance might have missed some energy component linked to the finer temporal resolutions (e.g. sub-daily timescale).

While the importance of seasonal cycles of clouds and radiative fluxes is widely acknowledged, the impact of daily cycles on climate could be even stronger (see Supplementary Fig. 1). Thus,  variations in the daily cycle of clouds (DCC) have the potential to affect the Earth’s energy balance and contribute to the climate variability.

Full paper
 

3) Oren Cass: Doomsday Climate Scenarios Are a Joke
The Wall Street Journal, 12 March 2018 


Debates over climate change are filled with dire estimates of its cost. This many trillions of dollars of damage, that large a share of gross domestic product destroyed, so-and-so many lives lost, etc. Where do such figures come from? Mostly from laughably bad economics.


ILLUSTRATION: CHAD CROWE

This has nothing to do with the soundness of climate science. The games begin when economists get their hands on scientific projections and try to translate temperatures into human impacts. They conduct statistical analyses of the effects that small year-to-year temperature variations have on things like mortality and economic growth, and try to extrapolate to the effect of very large, slow shifts in underlying climate. This creates absurd estimates that ignore human society’s capacity for adaptation. This is the latest iteration of the same mistake environmental catastrophists seem insistent on making in every generation.

The best illustration lies deep in a 2015 paper published in Nature by professors from Stanford and the University of California, Berkeley. They found that warm countries tended to experience lower economic growth in abnormally warm years, while cold countries experienced higher growth in such years. Applying that relationship to a much warmer world of the future, they concluded that unmitigated climate change would likely reduce global GDP by more than 20% from what it otherwise would reach by century’s end.

That is roughly an order of magnitude higher than prior estimates, and it has received widespread media attention. But it is as preposterous as it is stunning.
While the world economy stagnates, the model projects, cold countries will achieve almost unimaginable wealth. Iceland supposedly will achieve annual per capita income of $1.5 million by 2100, more than double that of any other country except Finland ($860,000). Mongolia, which currently ranks 118th in per capita income, is supposed to rise to seventh, at which point the average Mongolian will earn four times as much as the average American. Canada’s economy becomes seven times as large as China’s.

The technical term to describe this analysis is “silly.” Obviously, the relationship posited between temperature and growth has little to do with reality.

Sadly, this paper represents the norm. Last fall the U.S. Government Accountability Office released a summary of existing research on future climate costs for the United States. As I show in a new report published by the Manhattan Institute, a small set of studies dominate this research. They reach their imposing dollar figures by refusing, like the Nature study, to consider how society will evolve and adapt.

One Environmental Protection Agency study estimates the potential increase in extreme-temperature deaths by looking at city-specific effects. It assumes that a day counting as unusually hot for some city in 2000 will cause a similar mortality increase in that city in 2100, even if climate change makes it no longer unusual.

The result is a projection that a hot day will kill massive numbers in Northern cities by 2100—though such temperatures are already routine at lower latitudes with no such ill effects. Pittsburgh’s extreme-temperature mortality rate is supposed to be 75 times as high in 2100 as that of Phoenix in 2000, though Pittsburgh will not be as hot then as Phoenix was a century earlier.

But if Pittsburgh’s climate steadily warms over the coming century, it will not react to a 100-degree day in 2100 the same way it did in 2000. Even if it didn’t warm, we should assume that economic and technological advancement will make the city and its residents more resilient to heat than they are today.

Another analysis relied on by GAO, taking its own approach to extreme-temperature deaths, inadvertently makes this point—then proceeds to ignore it. The “American Climate Prospectus” attempts to combine two different studies that consider whether very hot days—during which the average temperature is above 90 degrees—have higher mortality than days with moderate temperatures. The first of these studies used data from 1968–2002 and found that the answer was yes.

Full post
 

4) Global Warming: Real, Or Groupthink?
Andrew Forster, Transport Xtra, 5 March 2018 


Policy-makers gain plenty of kudos from the fight against climate change. Who, after all, wouldn’t want to contribute to “saving the planet”? But history will judge them a lot less kindly, according to a report published by the Global Warming Policy Foundation, which was set up in 2009 to challenge “misinformation” surrounding the science of man-made climate change and the policy responses to it.



The report authors do not mince their words. “How do otherwise intelligent people come to believe such arrant nonsense despite its implausibility, internal contradictions, contradictory data, evident corruption and ludicrous policy implications?” asks Professor Richard Lindzen, in the foreword. Lindzen was professor of meteorology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology until retiring in 2013.

The answer, says report author and journalist Christopher Booker, lies in groupthink – the tendency for members of groups of like-minded people to bolster their collective view and ignore or rubbish alternative views. Professor Irving Janis pioneered work on groupthink in the 1970s, identifying eight characteristics of groupthink behaviour:

an illusion of invulnerability shared by most group members; collective rationalising to discount warnings; unquestioned belief in the group’s inherent morality; stereotyped views of rivals and enemies as evil; direct pressure on any group members with differing views; self-censorship of individuals’ own thoughts so as to water down doubts; a shared illusion of unanimity; and self-appointed ‘mindguards’ who protect the group from adverse information.

Groupthink can potentially explain a lot of public policy failures. The DfT has recognised its significance:

groupthink being one of the impairments explored in the Behavioural Insights Team’s report, An exploration of potential behavioural biases in project delivery in the DfT, released last summer (LTT21 Jul 17).

Booker, who has written extensively on climate change in The Sunday Telegraph and books such as The real global warming disaster, believes groupthink provides a powerful explanation for the man-made global warming paradigm.

He summarises the characteristics of groupthink into three ‘rules’:

• A group of people come to share a particular view or belief without a proper appraisal of the evidence

• This leads them to insist that their belief is shared by a ‘consensus’ of all right-minded opinion

• Because their belief is ultimately only subjective, resting on shaky foundations, they then defend it only by displaying an irrational, dismissive hostility towards anyone daring to question it

“Future generations may look back on the late-20th and early 21st-century panic over man-made warming as one of the strangest episodes in the history of either science or politics,” says Booker. “But they will only be able to understand how such an extraordinary flight from reality could have taken place by reference to the peculiarities of collective human psychology, and in particular to the rules defining the nature of groupthink.”

The world has seen triumphs of groupthink before, he says, pointing to religion and Marxism. “In crucial respects the ideology of global warming has much in common with these examples. Like them, it originated with only a very small group of people, who had become gripped by a visionary idea. Like them, it was based on predictions of a hypothetical future – or prophecies – which could not be definitively proved right or wrong. Like them it therefore became important to insist that this belief-system must be subscribed to by a ‘consensus’ of all right-thinking people, and using every kind of social, political and psychological pressure to enforce conformity with it. And like them this inevitably shaped the response to anyone who would not be a part of it, who therefore had to be condemned as a ‘heretic’, a ‘subversive’ or a ‘denier’, and whose dissent had to be more or less ruthlessly suppressed.”. . .

Full post
 

5) Energy Prices Must Fall To Cut Deaths In The Cold
Harry Wilkinson, The Conservative Woman, 9 March 2018 


A dwindling gas supply, sheep stuck in the ice, billions of pounds in lost growth, blocked roads, and I didn’t receive my copy of The Spectator! The ‘Beast from the East’ has taken its toll on all of us. These severe occurrences bear witness to the true danger and savagery of the cold.

This was not the script in the era of climate hype and alarm; we have been told not to expect snowy winters ever again in Britain, and that even Alpine skiing resorts may become snow-free. As the reality of natural climatic variation became apparent, the tune changed. Now we are told ‘the snow outside is what global warming looks like’. For Guardianistas, weather of any kind is further evidence of alarming climate change.

Regardless of motivation, it’s time to start caring a lot more about the cold.

More sinister than these major, but temporary disturbances, is the impact cold weather has on health. Globally, twenty times as many people die from the cold than from the heat. This is exactly the case in Britain, where cold-related mortality accounts for 61 deaths per 100,000, one of the highest rates in Europe. This compares with only three deaths per 100,000 for heat-related mortality.

Human beings just don’t like the cold, and we are willing to pay to avoid it. In the United States, a Stanford study found 2.5 deg C of warming would lower deaths by 40,000 annually and, using willingness to pay as a measure of preference, that workers would be prepared to give up between $30billion and $100billion annually in wages for a 2.5 deg C rise in temperature.

Here in Britain, winter excess deaths had been falling over the past century, but in the past decade that progress has stalled. The trend could even go into reverse as bills increase to support unreliable renewable technologies. The temperature of centrally heated homes has also been falling, suggesting that the rising cost of energy is preventing people heating their homes adequately. This is all the more surprising given that improvements in insulation should have resulted in warmer homes, not colder.

Full post and comments
 

6) California’s Utilities Have Stopped Deploying Renewable Energy
Quartz, 9 March 2018


No new renewable capacity was procured in California last year and there are no plans to contract more.

California’s solar sector has been on fire. But after a building sprint that saw its share of solar rise from 0.5% of generation in 2010 to 10% last year, the state may be taking a break following two new production records this month.

Solar served up an unprecedented 50% of the state’s demand on a sunny day around 1pm PT on March 5. The next day, utility operators reported a second record for total generation from solar which produced 10,411 megawatts, beating out last year’s record by 5%. The state is regularly shunting electricity to Arizona and other states (sometimes paying them to do so) to avoid overloading its own power lines.

Greentech Media reports there’s little prospect of big new purchases of solar, or other renewable energy sources for that matter, by utilities. With investor-owned utilities all well ahead of state targets of 25% renewables by 2020 (and more distributed generation coming online), no new renewable capacity was procured last year and no plans to contract more (although plenty is in the pipeline, and homes and businesses are still adding more).

“They’re basically saying, ‘There’s too much going on; we don’t know what to do, so we’re not going to do anything for a while,’” Jan Smutny-Jones of the Independent Energy Producers Association told Greentech.

Full story
 

7) Marcel Crok: The Super Bad Guy Of The Climate Debate
Maarten Keulemans, de Volkskrant


Dutch science writer Marcel Crok is a prominent advocate of the idea that climate change is not so bad. He is now finding a political hearing in Holland.

No, to be invited to address the party congress of a new political party was the last thing, Marcel Crok, climate journalist and long standing and vocal critic of the established order in climate science, had expected: and that (right-wing) party not even of his primary political preference. In fact, you would sooner classify this tie-less, car-less, plain-dressed family man as having greenish, leftist, or pro-animal leanings. But in those circles he is far from welcome, as a climate sceptic with his cross-grained message; but to the right-wing party-leader Thierry Baudet he was. In fact, “I had been so as long ago as in 2011, and before anybody had heard of him,” as Crok recalls. “At the University of Amsterdam Thierry had a small reading club where he invited authors to hold forth on the book they had written. I myself was invited too, and sat there of an evening discussing climate with twenty youngsters; and we have kept in touch.”

In the mean time, in climate matters Crok has developed into a kind of ideologue of this political party “Forum for Democracy.”

At one time, when Baudet had been frightening the man in the street to death by a tweet positing that CO2 is good for the growth of plants, climate is warming slower than expected, and weather extremes still leave us waiting, he sent Crok an app: “that’s how it is, isn’t it Marcel?”

Grist to the mill for Crok, chemical scientist, number crunchier, and author of reports like A Sensitive Matter, How the IPCC hid the good news about climate warming”, or recently “Why the KNMI climate scenario’s will not materialize.”

He is trying to organize a “counter narrative”, as they call it: to show another side to the opinions dominant among scientists, politicians and in the media, who are saying that climate is changing dangerously fast, and so we must get cracking, immediately, quickly, and that now!

Crok begs to differ. They are trying to pull us a lot of “green” wool over the eyes, he thinks. “An illusion is being created that there is a climate problem which can be fixed quite easily. And in the meantime a small, but very noisy group of activists is beginning to determine the whole of governmental policy in this matter. Also the application is entirely ideologically coloured: it has to be done through wind and the sun — a CO2-poor option, like nuclear energy is not even on the table. It makes me very cross. This is happening downright undemocratically.”

A huge left-turning conspiracy to the exclusion of the populace: no surprise then that Crok’s criticism is in perfect sync with the Forum for Democracy’s ideology. Earlier on he had been consulted by the (Christian) State secretary for the Environment and the (Liberal) Minister for Economy.

“To this moment nobody has felt any effect of energy transition,” he says. “It was cute, Mr Al Gore saying that we are going to roll back our sleeves and to work on a better world. But it just can’t be done. To decarbonize the economy is an insanely heavy, costly intervention. Germany is the first in beginning to feel the pain. Their industry is moving abroad, they will not achieve their CO2-target.”

Full post


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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