Thursday, April 16, 2020

GWPF Newsletter: NASA Fights Campaign To Remove 97% Climate Scientists 'Consensus' Claim

Belgian Region To Block EU Green Deal

In this newsletter:

1) NASA Fights Campaign To Remove 97% Climate Science 'Consensus' Claim
The Washington Times, 14 April 2020

2) Belgian Region To Block EU Green Deal
EUObserver, 9 April 2020


3) Coronavirus: German Lawmaker Calls For Delay To EU Climate Targets
Deutsche Welle, 11 April 2020

4) This Crisis Exposes The Hollow Fantasies Of Greta And Extinction Rebellion
Tim Worstall, CapX, 15 April 2020

5) Glutted Oil Markets’ Next Worry: Subzero Oil Prices
The Wall Street Journal, 15 April 2020

6) US Shale Poised For Comeback Amidst The Oil Price War
Newsweek, 3 April 2020

7) How The U.S. Can Retain Its Energy Dominance
Haley Zaremba,, 13 April 2020

Full details:

1) NASA Fights Campaign To Remove 97% Climate Science 'Consensus' Claim
The Washington Times, 14 April 2020
Valerie Richardson

Nothing sends climate skeptics into orbit faster than seeing NASA repeat the 97% climate-consensus claim, but the effort to have the Obama-era declaration removed from the government website is suffering from a failure to launch.

NASA officials rejected the Competitive Enterprise Institute’s July 9 request for correction under the Information Quality Act, concluding that “changes to the Web site are not needed at this time,” prompting the free-market group to file an appeal Tuesday.

On its Global Climate Change page, NASA states: “Multiple studies published in peer-reviewed scientific journals show that 97 percent or more of actively publishing climate scientists agree: Climate-warming trends over the past century are extremely likely due to human activities.”

CEI attorney Devin Watkins, who called the statement “inaccurate, unreliable, and biased,” said that NASA has refused to budge even though President Trump has expressed reservations about the consensus argument on anthropogenic global warming.

In 2017, for example, Mr. Trump told The Associated that “you have scientists on both sides of the picture.”

“It’s really weird when the President of the United States seems to say the 97% figure is incorrect, but an agency he is responsible for overseeing continues to say on their website that the President is wrong,” Mr. Watkins said in an email.

In her reply to the CEI, NASA chief information officer Renee P. Wynn said that the Global Climate Change website “presents the state of scientific knowledge about climate change and honors the role that NASA has played and plays in researching and communicating climate science.”

“NASA also still finds this information to be accurate and clear as it does not rely on results of a single peer-reviewed publication for facts, which is why a number of peer-reviewed papers are listed on the Web site to capture the robust nature of the scientific debate,” Ms. Wynn said in the March 11 letter.

Mr. Watkins countered that the “single sentence response says next to nothing,” and that instead of giving a point-by-point response as required by Office of Management and Budget rules, “her denial does not even respond to even a single point of our request.”

“Ms. Wynn totally ignores the requirements of reliability and lack of bias,” said the CEI appeal.

The CEI’s original request for correction ran 11 pages, and included specific methodological challenges to the studies cited by NASA, but the NASA response was barely two pages.

The Washington Times has reached out to NASA for comment.

The research papers cited by NASA to bolster the 97% claim “don’t actually make the claims that NASA’s claiming they make,” in some cases excluding — or including — scientists “who don’t have an opinion or say they’re uncertain or don’t know,” Mr. Watkins said.

He said the statement was posted by NASA at some point during the Obama administration.

“I just think there was political pressure to get it added, and no one questioned NASA directly on it at the time,” he said. “As the political winds shifted and the Trump administration came in, I suspect NASA didn’t really even look at it.”
Consensus gap or myth?

Debate over the scientific consensus on climate change has raged since at least 2004, when Science magazine published an essay by now-Harvard history of science professor Naomi Oreskes, “The Scientific Consensus on Climate Change.”

She reviewed 928 study abstracts with the words “climate change” published in journals from 1993-2003, concluding that 75% implicitly or explicitly endorsed the consensus view and 25% took no position, but “none of the papers disagreed with the consensus position.”

The 97% figure took off following a 2013 study led by John Cook, now an assistant research professor at the Center for Climate Change Communication at George Mason University, who reviewed peer-reviewed paper abstracts with the words “global warming” or “global climate change” from 1991-2011.

“The first thing we noticed was that a lot of papers don’t even bother to mention whether humans are causing global warming or not. It’s like, you look at astronomy papers: Not many of them would bother mentioning that the earth revolves around the sun. It’s established consensus,” Mr. Cook told Yale Climate Connections in a 2017 interview.

“But amongst the papers that did mention it — there were about 4,000 papers amongst the 12,000 papers we looked at — 97.1% of them endorsed human-caused global warming in their abstract,” Mr. Cook said.

The pushback was immediate. interviewed a half-dozen prominent scientists who said the study mischaracterized their work, while other academics, including Richard Tol of the University of Sussex and the University of Delaware’s David Legates, published challenges to the study’s methodology.

For example, “Legates’s peer-reviewed independent study reevaluating the 64 articles that Cook said explicitly endorsed AGW (that more than half of the warming was caused by humans) found that actually only 41 made such claims,” said the CEI.

The debate has left little room for middle ground. In 2017, Yale Climate Communications rated the 97% figure as “true,” while Mr. Tol said in 2014 that it was “essentially pulled from thin air.”

NASA also cited statements from 18 scientific organizations, including the American Association for the Advancement of Science, which said in 2014, “Based on well-established evidence, about 97% of climate scientists have concluded that human-caused climate change is happening.”

On the other hand, CEI noted that NASA failed to take into account documents signed by researchers rejecting the climate-catastrophe scenario, such as the Oregon Petition, which has more than 31,000 signatures of self-identified scientists, including more than 9,000 with doctoral degrees.

The SkepticalScience blog, founded by Mr. Cook, slammed the CEI challenge, calling the “no consensus” argument “one of the most popular climate myths” perpetrated by “fossil fuel-funded think tanks.”

“That so-called ‘consensus gap’ between public perception and the reality of expert agreement is largely due to a sustained misinformation campaign,” said the Aug. 15 post.

At the other end of the spectrum, Climate Depot’s Marc Morano, author of “The Politically Incorrect Guide to Climate Change,” took a jab at the consensus “myth,” saying it was “about time NASA is forced to confront its part in repeating the 97% claim.”

“NASA is likely to fight tooth and nail over this false 97% claim because NASA has a vested interest in keeping up the ‘consensus’ myth,” Mr. Morano said in an email. “Sadly, NASA has long been overrun with many scientists who are willing to bend the truth for the climate cause.”

Full story

see also GWPF papers on the so-called Climate Consensus


2) Belgian Region To Block EU Green Deal
EUObserver, 9 April 2020

The EU’s Green Deal, a flagship project on CO2-neutrality, could be blocked by Flanders, a Belgian region, on grounds it did not address the pandemic-related economic crisis.

Zuhal Demir, the Flemish climate minister

“Flanders cannot give its agreement to the signature,” Zuhal Demir, the regional climate minister from the nationalist NVA party, said on Wednesday. Belgium is a federation of three entities, including also Wallonia and Brussels. The Green Deal needs EU unanimity to go ahead.

Full post
3) Coronavirus: German Lawmaker Calls For Delay To EU Climate Targets
Deutsche Welle, 11 April 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic's effects are expected to cause a deep recession in Europe and elsewhere. A key German politician thinks the EU’s climate targets should be deferred in the face of the potential economic crisis.

The coronavirus crisis calls for an urgent review of Germany's climate targets under goals set by the European Union, the leader of the economic council of the conservative Christian Democrat party (CDU) said on Saturday.

The COVID-19 pandemic is "putting the German economy to the test," and the EU should consider a "deferment of climate policy targets," Wolfgang Steiger said in comments published in the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung.

Steiger said the fallout from the pandemic on the economy could amount to a new "de-industrialization" of Germany. Experts are predicting a global recession as a result of the business shutdown and subsequent layoffs.

Germany has offered financial aid for many businesses and individuals affected by lockdowns and social distancing measures. Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government pledged €750 billion in emergency aid funding in March to prop up the economy.

Small companies and freelancers are eligible for up to €15,000 in direct subsidies, while larger companies can be stabilized with larger capital funds.

Despite the huge stimulus, Steiger told the paper the German economy could, for now, do without the financial burden of climate change goals.

Full story

4) This Crisis Exposes The Hollow Fantasies Of Greta And Extinction Rebellion
Tim Worstall, CapX, 15 April 2020

There are few silver linings to the current ghastly pandemic. But one of the benefits is we’re testing the St Greta method of beating climate change and not liking it very much at all.

How glorious it is that the demands of Greta Thunberg and Extinction Rebellion are coming true. We are putting a significant brake on carbon emissions by strongly limiting the rampant overconsumption of our society.

Granted, no one seems very happy at those carbon dioxide emissions falling by 5% – or 2.5 billion tonnes – this year, but we can’t have everything, can we?

This gets to the nub of the problem with the climate change movement. We know pretty well we could reverse the problem if we all agree to become as poor as church mice, or return to being peasants in the fields. It is the understandable resistance to such reversion which causes the problem itself. We like being able to heat our food, warm our bodies, travel and generally enjoy civilisation. That, at this current level of technological advance, means the use of fossil fuels – at the cost of changes to the climate in the future.

The question is not whether we should do something about it, but what?

The coronavirus outbreak gives us a neat experiment in what happens when humans suddenly dramatically reduce both production and consumption. And, to put it mildly, most of us are not enjoying it one bit. That suggests that instead of the hair shirtery favoured by the Gretas of this world, our best solution is creating the technologies that allow us to keep consuming while also keeping the planet cool with our doing so.

This is not particularly controversial stuff. The economist William Nordhaus got his Nobel for demonstrating how innovation can produce better outcomes with lower consumption. The same is true of Nicholas Stern, whose name adorns one of the best known reports on the consequences of climate change.

Sure, there are differences between the two approaches. Stern says do lots now – as a very rough pencil sketch you understand – while Nordhaus says only do what we’re ready for. More specifically, Nordhaus says work with the capital cycle. Only replace things with the newer non-emitting technology when they are already worn out and ready for replacement anyway. That would not mean, for example, closing down Germany’s nuclear plants when they have decades of useful life left – a policy that has simply made energy more expensive while doing worse than nothing to save the planet. Instead, things should be shut down when they are no longer functional and replaced with newer, cleaner tech.

The underlying point here is that both Nordhaus and Stern thinking like economists whose aim is to maximise human utility – essentially, the joy of being here and alive at this time. As Ryan Bourne noted in a recent CapX piece, economists are forever thinking in terms of costs and benefits and trying to balance them out. They know too that with a great many facets of our lives there is no simple ‘solution’, just a variety of trade-offs that need to be managed.

That’s quite a different approach to the currently fashionable claim that we must eviscerate modern society right now and retreat back to a much lower standard of living as our method of reducing those emissions. For that is what a ‘zero carbon’ society by 2030, or even 2050 is liable to mean in real terms – the guarantee of immediate penury for millions of people.

Full post

5) Glutted Oil Markets’ Next Worry: Subzero Oil Prices
The Wall Street Journal, 15 April 2020

Traders of physical barrels of crude brace for the possibility of negative pricing

The coronavirus pandemic is turning oil markets upside down.

While U.S. crude futures have shed half of their value this year, prices for actual barrels of oil in some places have fallen even further. Storage around the globe is rapidly filling and, in areas where crude is hard to transport, producers could soon be forced to pay consumers to take it off their hands—effectively pushing prices below zero.

The collapse is upending the energy industry and even the math used in trading energy derivatives. CME Group, the world’s largest exchange by market capitalization for trading futures and options, now says it is reprogramming its software in order to process negative prices for energy-related financial instruments.

Part of the problem, traders say, is the industry’s limited capacity to store excess oil. Efforts to curb the spread of the virus have driven demand to record lows.

Factories have shut. Cars and airplanes are sitting immobile. So refineries are slashing activity while stores of crude rapidly accumulate.

U.S. crude inventories surged by a record 15.2 million barrels during the week ended April 3, according to data from the Energy Information Administration. Gasoline stockpiles also jumped, climbing by 10.5 million barrels, while refining activity hit its lowest level since September 2008.

The buildup of crude is overwhelming storage space and clogging pipelines. And in areas where tanker-ship storage isn’t readily available, producers could need to go to extremes to get rid of the excess, said Jeffrey Currie, head of commodities research at Goldman Sachs. Those might include paying for it to be taken away.

“It’s like traffic on a freeway,” he said. “It gets congested when there are a lot of cars.”

Crude comes in many varieties, used for a range of purposes, and different grades are priced based on several factors, including their density, sulfur content and ease of transportation to trading hubs and refineries. Heavier, higher-sulfur crudes generally trade at a discount to lighter, sweet crudes such as West Texas Intermediate because they tend to require more processing. Crudes that depend on pipeline transportation are trading at a discount right now because there is nowhere to put them and the pipelines that would normally take them away are getting jammed up, analysts and traders say.

The price of some regional crudes recently dipped into single digits. The spot price of Western Canadian Select at Hardisty—a heavy grade of Canadian crude typically transported by pipeline or rail to the U.S. Gulf and Midwest for refining—fell to just over $8 a barrel on April 1, according to an assessment from S&P Global Platts. The spot price of West Texas Intermediate at Midland fell to just above $10 a barrel on March 30, while West Texas Sour at Midland—its harder-to-refine counterpart—fell to around $7 a barrel. And one commodities trading house recently bid less than zero dollars for Wyoming Asphalt Sour crude.

It isn’t just the traders of so-called physical oil who are bracing themselves for the possibility of negative pricing. Traders of energy derivatives are preparing, too. Mark Benigno, co-director of energy trading at INTL FCStone, said he has never seen oil derivatives trade below zero but began several weeks ago to assess what might happen if they do.

Full story

6) US Shale Poised For Comeback Amidst The Oil Price War
Newsweek, 3 April 2020

The future of the oil industry, it seems, all depends on who you ask. Many industry insiders and experts are crying armageddon, while others say that United States shale is not only poised for a comeback, it will be better than ever.

Early last month, global oil prices experienced their worst single-day setback in almost 30 years thanks to a series of unfortunate geopolitical events and a certain virus you may have heard something about. China was the first country to have to all but shut down its entire economy to stop the spread of coronavirus, and whenever anything happens to the second-largest economy in the world, the rest of the world is certain to feel the aftershocks.

First, the demand for oil plunged. This prompted discussions between the OPEC+ leaders of Saudi Arabia and Russia to enter talks to determine how they would respond to this setback. The talks did not go well, to put it mildly, and Russia and Saudi Arabia's alliance quickly devolved into an all-out oil price war. All of this came to a head-on March 9, when oil prices crashed by a spectacular 30 percent.

"Brent lost $15.65 from its weekly close to settle at $34.36 per barrel on Monday, while WTI lost $14.6 of its value to close at $31.13" reported the National's Business section. Since then, the energy industry has been awaiting the stimulus package with bated breath, as the Permian Basin experiences tens of thousands of layoffs.

But some are optimistic about a serious rebound. One such entity is Goldman Sachs Group Inc., which believes that "the bruised and battered U.S. shale industry is poised to emerge from the oil crash a winner," says Bloomberg. In a March 31 note, Goldman Sachs analyst Damien Courvalin expressed that "shale's high-pressured wells and short drilling time mean the industry is well-positioned to benefit if the current plunge in oil causes long-term damage to production capacity, resulting in a price jump when demand returns."

Goldman Sachs is not the only group feeling optimistic about oil. Daniel Yergin, a Pulitzer Prize-winning oil historian and vice chairman of IHS Markit Ltd. told Bloomberg in an interview for an earlier article that "Companies go bankrupt, but rocks don't go bankrupt," and that "when this all shakes out, there will be other people to develop shale."

Vincent G. Piazza, Bloomberg Intelligence's senior oil analyst, even believes that shale will not only bounce back, but it will also be better than ever. In a scenario not unlike Darwinian natural selection, the weakest companies would be weeded out and we will be left with only the strongest, most efficient, and more resilient companies with better technology and better preparedness for future market volatility. The weakest companies "will go into stronger hands," he said. "The industry is going to be in a lot better shape than in 2014-2016. The balance sheet is in a lot better shape. I wouldn't underestimate the ability of this industry to re-create itself."

This scenario is not unprecedented. In the 2014-16 oil crash, oil prices dipped significantly lower than they are now, and, not long after, which was followed by an unprecedented shale rebound that changed the global energy industry. "The American shale industry shocked the world with its rebound after the 2014-2016 bust," says Bloomberg, "setting records for output that pushed the U.S. to the top spot among oil-producing countries." Ironically, it was the very same 2014-16 oil crash that prompted the alliance between Saudi Arabia and Russia whose meltdown led to the current crash.
7) How The U.S. Can Retain Its Energy Dominance
Haley Zaremba,, 13 April 2020

The largest banks in the United States are preparing to seize the assets of shale companies across the West Texas Permian Basin. What was once the epicenter of the U.S. shale revolution is now ground zero for bankruptcy and sweeping layoffs numbering in the tens of thousands of jobs.

Now, according to reporting by Reuters this week, “JPMorgan Chase & Co, Wells Fargo & Co, Bank of America Corp and Citigroup Inc are each in the process of setting up independent companies to own oil and gas assets [...]. The banks are also looking to hire executives with relevant expertise to manage them.”

The banks are preparing to move into an industry where “oil and gas companies working in shale basins from Texas to Wyoming are saddled with debt.” The Reuters article continues: “The industry is estimated to owe more than $200 billion to lenders through loans backed by oil and gas reserves. As revenue has plummeted and assets have declined in value, some companies are saying they may be unable to repay.”

The U.S. shale industry is just one small part of a global energy industry crisis as we experience a historic oil price crash. Last month the economic devastation wreaked by the spread of the coronavirus drove down oil demand around the world, leading to a spat between the OPEC+ leading members Russia and Saudi Arabia as to how to proceed. This soon turned into an all-out oil price war and a severe international oil supply glut, leading to a devastating dip in oil prices, which fell over 60 percent.

“Although oil prices may get some support from the agreement Thursday between Saudi Arabia and Russia to cut production, few believe the curtailment can offset a 30% drop in global fuel demand, as the coronavirus has grounded aircraft, reduced vehicle use and curbed economic activity more broadly,” says Reuters. The global oil glut remains at an oversupply level of about 10 million barrels per day.

Some experts, however, say that the United States will be able to maintain its energy dominance if it plays its cards right.

“In the face of economic and political uncertainties, a number of initiatives and policy changes today could help sustain our energy industry and keep us globally competitive tomorrow,” Bernard L. Weinstein wrote in an opinion column for The Hill last week. Weinstein is associate director of the Maguire Energy Institute and adjunct professor of business economics at Southern Methodist University in the Cox School of Business.

Weinstein opines that if the United States wants to maintain the energy dominance and near self-sufficiency that it won in with the shale revolution in recent decades and avoid becoming a net energy importer in the near future, certain policy and private sector changes need to be implemented immediately. The first of these changes, according to Weinstein, is that President Trump (in conjunction with other world and energy industry leaders) “must convince Saudi Arabia and Russia that they’re playing a negative-sum game in which everyone — including America — loses.”

Despite the fact that “both countries have sizable financial reserves that can cushion the blow from low oil prices” this doesn’t change the leverageable fact that “those resources would be better allocated to diversifying their economies.” This angle is particularly salient as oil markets have become increasingly volatile in recent years and even Saudi Aramco had to admit that peak oil will likely arrive by mid-century.

Despite that fact, oil and gas are still going to be a key sector of the global economy for the next 50 or 60 years, and the U.S. needs to plan ahead to stay competitive in that window of time, says Weinstein. “Once the global economy starts to recover from the coronavirus, the demand for energy will grow quickly. To ensure America is able to meet that growing demand we should use this downtime to improve the infrastructure for transporting and processing our oil and gas resources. For example, in recent years serious mid-stream bottlenecks have occurred in the Permian because of a lack of pipeline takeaway capacity.”

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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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