Senate Panel on the Human Influence on Weather and Climate

Written by Ken Haapala


"Can any witnesses say they agree with Obama's statement that warming has accelerated during the past 10 years?" Senator David Vitter to a panel of climate experts

Showtime! It's July in Washington - hot and muggy. Time for the Senate's version of Kabuki Theater - a big stylized hearing on global US Senate Committee on Environment and Public Workswarming by the US Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. Probably unintentionally, the title demonstrated a bit of humor - "Climate Change: It's Happening Now." It's been happening for hundreds of millions of years. Perhaps some senators are catching on. Who says senators cannot learn?

But a funny thing happen to the script - after the witnesses on the first panel spoke, Senator David Vitter (Republican from the oil and gas producing state of Louisiana asked: "Can any witnesses say they agree with Obama's statement that warming has accelerated during the past 10 years?" Silence, followed by a red herring by a certain witness. Minutes later, Senator Jeff Sessions (Republican, Alabama) followed up with the quote from President Obama and asked: "Do any of you support that quote?' Embarrassed silence! Then another red herring that global warming is disappearing in the deep ocean by the same witness. (About 1.52 hours & 2.05 hours in the Senate video.)

Due to prior commitments, SEPP was unable to attend, and focused on the record of the scientific testimony by Roger Pielke, Jr. and Roy Spencer. Unfortunately, they were relegated to the second panel, after many senators left. The complete theater production, including videos, can be found in the links provided.

Pielke gave an excellent seven point summary rebutting the claims that recent extreme events are unusual, more frequent, and causing greater losses than the historic record shows. He went on to say that the humans influence climate, including by emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2), but many claims cannot be substantiated. False claims about extreme weather events can lead to poor decisions and it may take decades, or more, before the human influence can be substantiated.

Spencer appears to be having fun. He identified himself with the 97% of researchers who believe that at least some of the recent warming is human caused. He then proceeded to rebut the claims of the so-called consensus. "The difficulty in determining the human influence on climate arises from several sources: (1) weather and climate vary naturally, and by amounts that are not currently being exceeded; (2) global warming theory is just that - based upon theory; and (3) there is no unique fingerprint of human caused global warming."

Spencer presented evidence that the recent warming happened before, and that the 73 climate models produce far too much warming over the tropics (all exceed the observed warming). Other notable statements include: "The fact that all of the models have been peer reviewed does not mean that any of them have been deemed to have any skill for predicting future temperatures." He conclude with: "Thus, the evidence that humans are mostly responsible for either recent warmth or severe weather changes (if such changes exist at all) is equivocal, at best."

At the end of the second panel, Senator Whitehouse (D. RI) tried to bait Pielke and Spencer to make incorrect statements. He brought up Spencer's religious beliefs, was were entirely inappropriate. When Senator Session reappeared after a floor vote, Spencer stated we need to analyze what is wrong with the models. We are not getting anywhere with the models emphasizing warming a that is not occurring. Spencer stated that his recent research emphasizes how much is the human influence on weather and climate.

Senator Whitehouse concluded by dismissing the measurement of carbon dioxide influence on the atmosphere temperatures (where the greenhouse effect takes place) and stated his concern about the oceans. The greenhouse effect takes place in the oceans?

Probably no senators changed their minds from the hearing. But they have been informed that, if they have any integrity, they should not be repeating the administration's scientifically unsubstantiated claims. Please see links under Showtime!

Climate Plan: According to reports, President Obama's climate plan is already impacting other countries. The US Export-Import Bank announced it will not provide financing of a 1,200 MW coal-fired power plant in Vietnam. The World Bank, headed by an Obama appointee, announced a new energy strategy plan limiting financing of coal-fired power plants to "rare circumstances." The World Bank plan will restrict the financing of coal-fired plants to only those countries that have "no feasible alternatives" to coal, whatever that means. The President's climate plan can be better described as Keeping the Poor, Poor. Please see links under that heading.

Energy Efficiency: The administration has announced plans to implement new energy efficiency requirements on new and existing buildings. This is part of an effort to impose regulations on virtually all things that use energy, including homes, automobiles, appliances, etc. It is an expansion of authoritarian power over the economy, without legislative approval.

Donn Dears has an explanation why many corporations do not reduce the energy costs of their buildings. It is a calculation called Return on Investment (ROI). If the "investment" costs more than what it returns, it is not an investment, but an expense. The British government instituted a plan to increase the energy efficiency of private homes, but failed to realize the homeowners are capable of calculating an ROI and basing it on their cash flow. The plan is failing.

Washington bureaucrats ignore ROI as well. Instead, they will substitute the absurd bureaucratic notion of the Social Cost of Carbon (SCC), which they calculate as they see fit. The SCC has not been approved by the Congress and can be better described as the bureaucratic cost of air plants need. Please see links under Washington's Control of Energy.

Sustainable Energy: Britain, Spain, and Germany have announced plans to curtail subsidies for green energy. The British government has delayed implementation of a goal for off-shore wind power by about a decade and pushed back the goal of producing 30% of electricity from renewables to 2030 instead of 2020. Also it is considering minimum reliability standards and seeks to ensure power production is 99.97 % reliable within 3 years. Part of the reason given is the promise of extracting natural gas from dense shale. Another key component is the soaring electricity costs and backlash from businesses and voters.

The government of Spain has said, that given the economy, it cannot continue to absorb the costs of subsidizing wind and solar. The German government has announced a cap on the solar power nameplate capacity it will subsidize. The nameplate capacity is the theoretical maximum capacity, not the far lower actual production.

Of course, all politicians are blaming someone else, and the alternative energy industry is howling. But the politicians and bureaucrats have only themselves to blame. They accepted the claims of the green power advocates and failed to do a proper ROI analysis. If they had, they would have realized that, in many cases, ROI was negative.

With the demise of the alternative energy industries, we will see the demise of green jobs, so heavily touted a few years ago. All this supports John Christy's well stated Law of Sustainability: If it's not economically sustainable, it's not sustainable. Perhaps some US politicians will learn from these experiences. Please see links under Questioning European Green, Subsidies and Mandates Forever, and Energy Issues - Non-US.

Erratic Wind: Jo Nova reports that India's Central Electricity Regulatory Commission implemented a solution to the problem of wind power's erratic characteristics placing burdens on other primary generators of electricity. A directive compels wind farms with a nameplate capacity greater than 10 megawatts to forecast their generation for the next day in 15 minute blocks. Wind Farms with estimates more than 30% off forecasts will face penalties. Those generating power by other means must forecast accurately, why should wind be exempt? Needless to say, the wind investors are not overjoyed. Please see link under Alternative, Green ("Clean") Solar and Wind.

IPCC Temperatures Falling? The Economist reported it saw the draft of the upcoming Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) due out this fall. The article had a table showing estimate of various end of century carbon dioxide (CO2) concentrations and associated temperature increases.

According to the article, CO2 concentrations of 425 to 485 parts per million (ppm) would result in a temperature of 1.3 to 1.7 ºC (2.3 to 3.1 ºF) above pre-industrial levels. This is within the IPCC's concocted no more than 2 ºC (3.6 ºF) mantra, which politicians pretend is scientific. Many estimates have the current CO2 at about 390 ppm or about 100 to 110 ppm above the preindustrial level. According to some estimates, this increase in CO2 resulted in an increase in temperature of about 0.8 ºC (1.4 ºF). So the next 135 ppm results in an increase in temperatures of about 0. 5 ºC (0.9 ºF), which appears consistent with the greenhouse gas theory that the relationship is logarithmic.

According to the table, a doubling of CO2 to 560 ppm results in a temperature increase of about 2.2 ºC (3.96 ºF). Of course all this assumes that CO2 is the major driver of climate change. We will have to wait for the final AR5 to see appears.

What will be the impact of these new, modest projected increases in temperatures on the EPA's finding that human greenhouse gas emissions, particularly CO2, endanger human health and welfare? Certainly, these changes and this week's Senate hearing raise questions on the EPA's claims of scientific certainty and the validity of the models. Please see link under Problems in the Orthodoxy.

Number of the Week: $7 Billion. That is the annual budget of the National Science Foundation (NSF). Once a pillar of rigorous empirical science, the NSF has lowered its standards as its budget has expanded. Among other things, it finances studies that analyze the impacts decades from now based on the outputs from un-validated climate models, rather than attempting to validate the climate models, or, at least, thoroughly test the assumptions. For other issues on government financed science please see Article # 1, and for government financed non-profits please see Article #4.


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