“The greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance, it is the illusion of knowledge.”
—Daniel J. Boorstin

Carbon dioxide, despite the EPA's word games, is profoundly Earth-friendly

WheatIn a thinly disguised assault on coal and hydrocarbons, the Obama Administration would have us believe that carbon dioxide (CO2) is a threat to life itself.

Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, a recent study by my company for the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity found that the benefits of carbon dioxide to all of us are far greater than its costs.

The government bases many of its regulatory positions on the so-called social cost of carbon, an estimate of climate change damages in a given year. However, our study showed the government positions were based on flawed science:

There is no scientific evidence for significant climate effects of rising CO2 levels and there is no evidence that global warming will produce catastrophic climate changes.

Of Snow Jobs And Global Warming: How Confirmation Bias Caused DC’s Traffic Jams

snowstormDespite a blizzard of evidence that things were going to be bad, Washington DC just experienced its biggest snow-related fiasco since the infamous Commuteaggedon of January 2011. Largely to blame is the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), which inexplicably did not delay the opening of the Federal Government, flooding the roadways with hundreds of thousands of very grumpy drivers. Given that most local employers and many school districts follow OPM’s lead, those commuters were not confined to federal workers.

DC’s morning headache is a direct result of “confirmation bias,” the all-too-human proclivity to hang on to a busting  forecast, be it for tomorrow’s snowstorm or the global temperature in 2050, and a close examination of what is going on at both time scales provides a lesson for us all.

Climate change has instructive past

horsemanWe know, because they often say so, that those who think catastrophic global warming is probable and perhaps imminent are exemplary empiricists. They say those who disagree with them are “climate change deniers” disrespectful of science.

Actually, however, something about which everyone can agree is that of course the climate is changing — it always is. And if climate Cassandras are as conscientious as they claim to be about weighing evidence, how do they accommodate historical evidence of enormously consequential episodes of climate change not produced by human activity? Before wagering vast wealth and curtailments of liberty on correcting the climate, two recent books should be considered.

In “The Third Horseman: Climate Change and the Great Famine of the 14th Century,” William Rosen explains how Europe’s “most widespread and destructive famine” was the result of “an almost incomprehensibly complicated mixture of climate, commerce, and conflict, four centuries in gestation.” Early in that century, 10 percent of the population from the Atlantic to the Urals died, partly because of the effect of climate change on “the incredible amalgam of molecules that comprises a few inches of soil that produces the world’s food.”

Gov. Jerry Brown Touts Climate Change Fight

moonbeam(h/t Daniel) Re-upping on delusional climate-change fantasies, "Governor Moonbeam" asked in his inauguration speech Monday for the Golden State to meet half its energy needs with renewable energy by 2030.

Gov. Jerry Brown, who leads the state that hosted Solyndra, embraces bird-chopping wind turbines and builds crispy critter-producing solar panel farms, is a leading advocate of renewable energy and environmental protection.

As pollution from coal-fired plants and industries in China wafted across the Pacific, he took a deep breath at his fourth inauguration as the state's chief executive and doubled down on green energy's failed promise by tasking California to fight so-called climate change by committing to get half its electricity from renewable energy within the next 15 years.

"We must demonstrate that reducing carbon is compatible with an abundant economy and human well-being," Brown said in his speech.

Amid Oil Price Drop, White House Vows Keystone Veto

cartoon-pipeline-obamasThe White House on Tuesday locked horns with congressional proponents of the proposed Keystone XL pipeline, issuing a much-anticipated veto threat tied to legislation expected to land on President Obama’s desk this month.

The new Congress’s first clash of executive-legislative wills occurred as world petroleum prices plummeted below $50 a barrel. Flagging demand and a copious global supply are partially responsible for the cheap gas that has cheered consumers but rattled global financial markets.

As promised, Senate Republicans made Keystone their top priority on Tuesday, introducing legislation authorizing construction of the pipeline as their first bill of the 114th Congress.

When the House passed a similar bill in 2013, Obama issued a veto threat. Josh Earnest, White House press secretary, said the president won’t hesitate to do it again. “I can confirm for you that if this bill passes this Congress, the president wouldn't sign it, either,” Earnest told reporters.

The fallacies and failings of consensus science

tectonic plates as mapped by WegenerGiven time and new data many seemingly “proven” scientific theories are shown to be…well just plain wrong. Others are shown to be only partially correct, and in need of significant modification. One striking modern example is the Geological Theory of Isostasy proposed in 1889 by American geologist Clarence Dutton.

This theory stated that less dense continental rocks (“Lithoshere”) floated on top of more dense ocean floor rocks (“Asthenosphere”). Isostasy was a buoyancy theory: continents were thought to be in gravitational balance with the underlying ocean rock layers which were theorized to extend under the continents.  

Until 1955 this theory was accepted as “proven” by all geologists, supported by large amounts of data, taught at all universities, and published in all major geological text books. During my early geological career it was the reining theory and no one even considered seriously challenging it. After all it was the “consensus theory”, fully supported by all respected Geologists.

Free the Land from the Feds

The federal government owns more than 623 million acres of land, mostly in the western states. The recent defense spending bill included designation of new National Parks, Wild and Scenic Rivers, and National Heritage areas. How much land is enough?

Most federal land is administered by four agencies: the Bureau of Land management, 258.2 million acres; the Forest Service, 193 million acres; the Fish & Wildlife Service, 93 million acres; and the National Park Service, 79 million acres. Other federal land ownership includes military bases and land held in trust for Indian reservations. The map below shows the concentration of federal lands in the west.

Western federa lands

The State of Utah wants 31.2 million acres of its land back. “In an unprecedented challenge to federal dominance of Western state lands, Utah Gov. Gary Herbert in 2012 signed the ‘Transfer of Public Lands Act,’ which demands that Washington relinquish its hold on the land, which represents more than half of the state’s 54.3 million acres, by Dec. 31, 2014.” (Washington Times) We are still awaiting the outcome of this probably quixotic endeavor. But it sets a precedent and more western states should take up the quest.

Current Events: Race to the Bottom Theory Belied

brownGov. Jerry BrownAccording to the “race to the bottom” thesis, unless the federal government intervenes, States would compete with one another to lower environmental standards in order to better attract industry. This proposition took hold in the mid-1970s, and was a major intellectual influence of the 1977 and 1990 Clean Air Act Amendments.

In a previous post, I summarized the work of law professors who argue that there’s no evidence—neither empirical nor theoretical—supporting the existence of a “race to the bottom.” In a similar vein, with this post, I intend only to highlight current events that militate heavily against the “race to the bottom theory.”

Today the New York Times has a story on page A-13, about California Governor Jerry Brown’s fourth inauguration speech, the centerpiece of which was his clean energy vision for the Golden State:

Oil Below $50 Tests Economics of U.S. Shale Boom

pricesWhen it comes to price predictions, few things have become as slippery as crude oil. The big economic shock of this year is likely to transmute into several big political stories in 2015 as the consequences of the collapse in oil prices unfold. Shale oil and gas are revolutionary. But their real impact will be to destabilise the once well-buffered global oil price system. --Pramit Pal Chaudhuri, Hindustan Times, 23 December 2014

The U.S. shale boom that’s brought the country closer to energy self-sufficiency than at any time since the 1980s will be challenged in 2015 as never before. The benchmark U.S. crude price fell below $50 today for the first time since April 2009. Some of the largest U.S. shale drillers have been spending money faster than they make it, borrowing to pay for their expansion. Current oil prices are “not a sustainable long-term trend,” said Warren Henry, a spokesman for Continental. --Asjylyn Loder, Bloomberg, 5 January 2015

Climate alarmists turn back the clock

london smogThree centuries ago, the world ran on green power.  Wood was used for heating and cooking; charcoal for smelting and smithing; wind or water power for pumps, mills, and ships; and whale oil for lamps.  People and soldiers walked or rode horses, and millions of horses and oxen pulled ploughs, wagons, coaches, and artillery.

But smoke from open fires choked cities, forests were stripped of trees, most of the crops went to feed draft animals, and streets were littered with horse manure.  For many people, life was “nasty, brutish and short.”

Then the steam engine was developed, and later the internal combustion engine, electricity, and refrigeration came along. Green power was replaced by coal and oil.  Carbon energy powered factories, mills, pumps, ships, trains, and smelters, and cars, trucks, and tractors replaced the workhorses.  The result was a green revolution – forests began to regrow, and vast areas of cropland used for horse feed were released to produce food for humans.  Poverty declined, and population soared.

2014: Another Year Without Global Warming

lord christopher moncktonLord Christopher MoncktonThere are now 219 months with no significant upward temperature trend, according to an analysis of satellite data, which is more than half the 432-month satellite temperature record.

Climate scientists sounded the alarm last year that 2014 was on track to be the hottest year on record. The Japan Meteorological Agency, in fact, declared 2014 year the hottest on record, but only by only 0.05 degrees Celsius.

“The Great Pause is a growing embarrassment to those who had told us with ‘substantial confidence’ that the science was settled and the debate over,” writes Christopher Monckton, the 3rd Viscount Monckton of Brenchley and a climate skeptic. ”Nature had other ideas.”

RSS Data Rubbishes Hottest Year Claims

RSS satellite data is now published for December, and confirms that global atmospheric temperatures for 2014 are nowhere near the record being touted by NOAA and NASA.

http://data.remss.com/msu/monthly_time_series/RSS_Monthly_MSU_AMSU_Channel_TLT_Anomalies_Land_and_Ocean_v03_3.txt

The anomaly for the year has finished at 0.256C, which ties with 2007 as only the sixth warmest year since 1979. Not only that, but last year was well below the record set in 1998, and also 2010.