AMOC Update: Not Showing Climate Threat

The RAPID moorings being deployed. Credit: National Oceanography Centre.

The AMOC is back in the news following a recent Ocean Sciences meeting.  This update adds to the theme Oceans Make Climate. Background links are at the end, including one where chief alarmist M. Mann claims fossil fuel use will stop the ocean conveyor belt and bring a new ice age.  Actual scientists are working away methodically on this part of the climate system, and are more level-headed.  H/T GWPF for noticing the recent article in Science Ocean array alters view of Atlantic ‘conveyor belt’  By Katherine Kornei Feb. 17, 2018 . Excerpts with my bolds.

The powerful currents in the Atlantic, formally known as the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation (AMOC), are a major engine in Earth’s climate. The AMOC’s shallower limbs—which include the Gulf Stream—transport warm water from the tropics northward, warming Western Europe. In the north, the waters cool and sink, forming deeper limbs that transport the cold water back south—and sequester anthropogenic carbon in the process. This overturning is why the AMOC is sometimes called the Atlantic conveyor belt.

Fig. 1. Schematic of the major warm (red to yellow) and cold (blue to purple) water pathways in the NASPG (North Atlantic subpolar gyre ) credit: H. Furey, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution): Denmark Strait (DS), Faroe Bank Channel (FBC), East and West Greenland Currents (EGC and WGC, respectively), NAC, DSO, and ISO.

Last week, at the American Geophysical Union’s (AGU’s) Ocean Sciences meeting here, scientists presented the first data from an array of instruments moored in the subpolar North Atlantic. The observations reveal unexpected eddies and strong variability in the AMOC currents. They also show that the currents east of Greenland contribute the most to the total AMOC flow. Climate models, on the other hand, have emphasized the currents west of Greenland in the Labrador Sea. “We’re showing the shortcomings of climate models,” says Susan Lozier, a physical oceanographer at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, who leads the $35-million, seven-nation project known as the Overturning in the Subpolar North Atlantic Program (OSNAP).

Fig. 2. Schematic of the OSNAP array. The vertical black lines denote the OSNAP moorings with the red dots denoting instrumentation at depth. The thin gray lines indicate the glider survey. The red arrows show pathways for the warm and salty waters of subtropical origin; the light blue arrows show the pathways for the fresh and cold surface waters of polar origin; and the dark blue arrows show the pathways at depth for waters that originate in the high-latitude North Atlantic and Arctic.

The research and analysis is presented by Dr. Lozier et al. in this publication Overturning in the Subpolar North Atlantic Program: A New International Ocean Observing System Images above and text excerpted below with my bolds.

For decades oceanographers have assumed the AMOC to be highly susceptible to changes in the production of deep waters at high latitudes in the North Atlantic. A new ocean observing system is now in place that will test that assumption. Early results from the OSNAP observational program reveal the complexity of the velocity field across the section and the dramatic increase in convective activity during the 2014/15 winter. Early results from the gliders that survey the eastern portion of the OSNAP line have illustrated the importance of these measurements for estimating meridional heat fluxes and for studying the evolution of Subpolar Mode Waters. Finally, numerical modeling data have been used to demonstrate the efficacy of a proxy AMOC measure based on a broader set of observational data, and an adjoint modeling approach has shown that measurements in the OSNAP region will aid our mechanistic understanding of the low-frequency variability of the AMOC in the subtropical North Atlantic.

Fig. 7. (a) Winter [Dec–Mar (DJFM)] mean NAO index. Time series of temperature from the (b) K1 and (c) K9 moorings.

Finally, we note that while a primary motivation for studying AMOC variability comes from its potential impact on the climate system, as mentioned above, additional motivation for the measure of the heat, mass, and freshwater fluxes in the subpolar North Atlantic arises from their potential impact on marine biogeochemistry and the cryosphere. Thus, we hope that this observing system can serve the interests of the broader climate community.

Fig. 10. Linear sensitivity of the AMOC at (d),(e) 25°N and (b),(c) 50°N in Jan to surface heat flux anomalies per unit area. Positive sensitivity indicates that ocean cooling leads to an increased AMOC—e.g., in the upper panels, a unit increase in heat flux out of the ocean at a given location will change the AMOC at (d) 25°N or (e) 50°N 3 yr later by the amount shown in the color bar. The contour intervals are logarithmic. (a) The time series show linear sensitivity of the AMOC at 25°N (blue) and 50°N (green) to heat fluxes integrated over the subpolar gyre (black box with surface area of ∼6.7 × 10 m2) as a function of forcing lead time. The reader is referred to Pillar et al. (2016) for model details and to Heimbach et al. (2011) and Pillar et al. (2016) for a full description of the methodology and discussion relating to the dynamical interpretation of the sensitivity distributions.

In summary, while modeling studies have suggested a linkage between deep-water mass formation and AMOC variability, observations to date have been spatially or temporally compromised and therefore insufficient either to support or to rule out this connection.

Current observational efforts to assess AMOC variability in the North Atlantic.

The U.K.–U.S. Rapid Climate Change–Meridional Overturning Circulation and Heatflux Array (RAPID–MOCHA) program at 26°N successfully measures the AMOC in the subtropical North Atlantic via a transbasin observing system (Cunningham et al. 2007; Kanzow et al. 2007; McCarthy et al. 2015). While this array has fundamentally altered the community’s view of the AMOC, modeling studies over the past few years have suggested that AMOC fluctuations on interannual time scales are coherent only over limited meridional distances. In particular, a break point in coherence may occur at the subpolar–subtropical gyre boundary in the North Atlantic (Bingham et al. 2007; Baehr et al. 2009). Furthermore, a recent modeling study has suggested that the low-frequency variability of the RAPID–MOCHA appears to be an integrated response to buoyancy forcing over the subpolar gyre (Pillar et al. 2016). Thus, a measure of the overturning in the subpolar basin contemporaneous with a measure of the buoyancy forcing in that basin likely offers the best possibility of understanding the mechanisms that underpin AMOC variability. Finally, though it might be expected that the plethora of measurements from the North Atlantic would be sufficient to constrain a measure of the AMOC within the context of an ocean general circulation model, recent studies (Cunningham and Marsh 2010; Karspeck et al. 2015) reveal that there is currently no consensus on the strength or variability of the AMOC in assimilation/reanalysis products.

Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC). Red colours indicate warm, shallow currents and blue colours indicate cold, deep return flows. Modified from Church, 2007, A change in circulation? Science, 317(5840), 908–909. doi:10.1126/science.1147796

In addition we have a recent report from the United Kingdom Marine Climate Change Impacts Partnership (MCCIP) lead author G.D. McCarthy Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC) 2017.

12-hourly, 10-day low pass filtered transport timeseries from April 2nd 2004 to February 2017.

Figure 1: Ten-day (colours) and three month (black) low-pass filtered timeseries of Florida Straits transport (blue), Ekman transport (green), upper mid-ocean transport (magenta), and overturning transport (red) for the period 2nd April 2004 to end- February 2017. Florida Straits transport is based on electromagnetic cable measurements; Ekman transport is based on ERA winds. The upper mid-ocean transport, based on the RAPID mooring data, is the vertical integral of the transport per unit depth down to the deepest northward velocity (~1100 m) on each day. Overturning transport is then the sum of the Florida Straits, Ekman, and upper mid-ocean transports and represents the maximum northward transport of upper-layer waters on each day. Positive transports correspond to northward flow.

The RAPID/MOCHA/WBTS array (hereinafter referred to as the RAPID array) has revolutionized basin scale oceanography by supplying continuous estimates of the meridional overturning transport (McCarthy et al., 2015), and the associated basin-wide transports of heat (Johns et al., 2011) and freshwater (McDonagh et al., 2015) at 10-day temporal resolution. These estimates have been used in a wide variety of studies characterizing temporal variability of the North Atlantic Ocean, for instance establishing a decline in the AMOC between 2004 and 2013.

Summary from RAPID data analysis

MCCIP reported in 2006 that:

  • a 30% decline in the AMOC has been observed since the early 1990s based on a limited number of observations. There is a lack of certainty and consensus concerning the trend;
  • most climate models anticipate some reduction in strength of the AMOC over the 21st century due to increased freshwater influence in high latitudes. The IPCC project a slowdown in the overturning circulation rather than a dramatic collapse.And in 2017 that:
  • a substantial increase in the observations available to estimate the strength of the AMOC indicate, with greater certainty, a decline since the mid 2000s;
  • the AMOC is still expected to decline throughout the 21st century in response to a changing climate. If and when a collapse in the AMOC is possible is still open to debate, but it is not thought likely to happen this century.

And also that:

  • a high level of variability in the AMOC strength has been observed, and short term fluctuations have had unexpected impacts, including severe winters and abrupt sea-level rise;
  • recent changes in the AMOC may be driving the cooling of Atlantic ocean surface waters which could lead to drier summers in the UK.


  • The AMOC is key to maintaining the mild climate of the UK and Europe.
  • The AMOC is predicted to decline in the 21st century in response to a changing climate.
  • Past abrupt changes in the AMOC have had dramatic climate consequences.
  • There is growing evidence that the AMOC has been declining for at least a decade, pushing the Atlantic Multidecadal Variability into a cool phase.
  • Short term fluctuations in the AMOC have proved to have unexpected impacts, including being linked
    with severe winters and abrupt sea-level rise.


Climate Pacemaker: The AMOC

Evidence is Mounting: Oceans Make Climate

Mann-made Global Cooling



Bering Sea Ice Lost (& Found Next Door)


Breathless headlines from Inside Climate News:  Alaska’s Bering Sea Lost a Third of Its Ice in Just 8 Days

Well, I have good news for them.  The ice was found just next door in Okhotsk Sea.  As the image above shows, Bering did reduce its coverage, but Okhotsk was gaining at the same time. Over the last 12 days, Bearing lost 173k km2 of ice extent while Okhotsk gained 185k km2. Bering is currently at 35% of last year’s max, while Okhotsk is at 88%, with a month of the freezing season yet to go.

Drift ice in Okhotsk Sea at sunrise.

The graph below shows 2018 NH ice extents since day 1, with and without the Pacific basins Bering and Okhotsk, compared to 11 year averages (2007 to 2017 inclusive).
The deficit comes mostly from Bering Sea, while Okhotsk is above average, and Barents has grown recently.  Greenland Sea and Central Arctic are down to a lesser extent, nearly offset by Baffin surpluses. A month remains to reach annual maximum with the standard this decade being about 15M km2. For perspective, 2018 has to gain about 6% by mid March to reach 15M and gain 4% to reach 14.78, last year’s maximum. It should also be remembered that all of these dancing basins will likely melt out by September as usual.

For a more comprehensive report see Feb. Arctic Ice Dance

More Civil Climate Discourse

As discussed in Coercive PC Discourse, there is a lot of insulting and shouting when it comes to climate change.  As the summary of the post said:

But there is a way to reduce needless division over the countless disagreements that are inevitable in a pluralistic democracy: get better at accurately characterizing the views of folks with differing opinions, rather than egging them on to offer more extreme statements in interviews; or even worse, distorting their words so that existing divisions seem more intractable or impossible to tolerate than they are. That sort of exaggeration or hyperbolic misrepresentation is epidemic—and addressing it for everyone’s sake is long overdue.

In the interest of demonstrating how climate realists can deal in a civil manner with disagreeable others, I provide some further helpful examples from Alex Epstein, author of The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels. Excerpts from his recent emails with my bolds.

1. Promoting Dialectic rather than Debate

Late last week I got this email from reader Peter Conley. I hope you find it as motivating I do. Peter is proof that with enough study and practice it’s possible to get amazing results in your energy conversations. At the end I’ll tell you a new technique I learned from Peter’s email.


Hello Alex,

I use [your framework] to discuss the issue of energy every opportunity I get and it is highly effective at promoting dialectic rather than debate. I had an experience with a schoolteacher on a Southwest flight recently that illustrates its effectiveness:

Teacher: “Do you believe in climate change?”

Me: “That is a very interesting and complex topic. It’s obviously very important to you. What are your thoughts on the subject?”

Teacher: “We need to stop it!”

Me: “And why is that?”

Teacher: “Because the ice caps are melting!!”

Me: “And why do you care about that?”

Teacher: “Because sea levels will rise!”

Me: “And why is that alarming?”

Teacher: “Because coastal cities and entire countries will be underwater!!”

Me: “So, you’re concerned about the negative impacts it will have on people?”

Teacher: “Of course, I don’t want to leave such a dangerous world to my grandkids.”

Me: “Of course not, neither do I. Would you agree then that when we think about this issue, we should use human flourishing as our standard of value?”

Teacher: “Yes, definitely!”

Me: “Do you know, then, if human deaths because of climate-related factors such as extreme hot, extreme cold, and drought are increasing annually or decreasing?

Teacher: “Well, I’d imagine they are increasing.”

Me: “What if I told you that the number of such deaths worldwide have decreased from over 3 million one year in the early 30s, to under 30,000 in this decade?”

Teacher: “Wow! Why is that?”

Me: “Because of technology. Because we are so much better at protecting ourselves from the naturally dangerous environment than our ancestors were. So, what would you say the most basic human need is?

Teacher: “Food, shelter, water, security.”

Me: “Those are all actually products of fulfilling one basic need, one basic necessity; the most basic human need is energy.”

He agreed, and further agreed that we must look at all costs and benefits and had a two-hour discussion about those. He was able to understand my thinking and said “I didn’t know that” far more times than he said “I don’t know about that.”

I like your point that the energy industry is the industry that powers all other industries. I have found it highly effective to explain that point after first asking “What is the most basic human need?” Most of the time I get answers like the teacher gave, or references to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. Helping the person conclude that energy is the most basic human need helps to frame the conversation in terms of human flourishing . . .
I appreciate all the work that you do, and you have inspired me to do what I can to correct the conversations people are having.




As I said at the outset, you’re doing an amazing job.

Here are two tactics I want to experiment with myself after reading your note.

Getting agreement on a pro-human standard by asking “Why” to their value statements. I usually get another person to agree on a common, pro-human standard by asking something like “Would you agree that the best decision is the one that most advances human life?” But your way is intriguing. When they say they care about something, you keep asking “Why” until you get down to the level of an ultimate standard—and then you offer “human flourishing” as your view. One reason this is effective is because it quickly introduces the idea that there need to be reasons (standards) for caring about things. Another reason it’s effective is that you’re challenging the idea that environmental change—ice caps melting—is inherently bad. I imagine that you need to strike a careful tone while asking these questions. If you come across as completely indifferent to the thing they claim to care about it could backfire. But if you ask the question earnestly, indicating that you’re looking to clarify not contradict, I can see how it would work well.

How you explain that energy is a fundamental need. The question “What do you think the most basic human need is?” Is an engaging question to ask. By getting the other person to state what they think are the most important needs you’re connecting them very concretely to the requirements of human flourishing. And then you show how energy is fundamental to those needs, connecting energy to human flourishing. This ensures that access to energy doesn’t become anything resembling optional or derivative—it stands as fundamental.

2. What to do when someone calls you the devil


I’ve been listening to some of your interviews on YouTube and I sincerely appreciate your effort to make the case for fossil fuels. I am about to graduate with a degree in chemical engineering and I have a job lined up to work for a major oil company at their largest US refinery.

On my college campus I encounter people that seem to be so clueless as to the benefits of fossil fuels that I don’t even know where to begin to try to convince them. I talked to one young freshman girl and when I told her that I want to go work in oil and gas, she responded with “you mean Satan?” I was so stunned at her hostility that I didn’t know how to respond. I just said “yeah sure,” so that I didn’t have to engage in a combative conversation. What do you think I should have done in this situation?

Best regards,

Zachery Baker


Great question, Zachary.

Imagine that you had told the freshman not “I want to go work in oil and gas,” but “I want to go work for a hospital.” And she had responded “You mean Satan?”

How would you react?

Here’s my guess:

  1. You would find her response hypocritical; you would be sure she and certainly those she cares about have taken advantage of the life-and-death benefits of hospitals.
  2. You would find her response offensive; she is assuming you would work for an evil enterprise.

I think the exact same reaction is warranted in the case of fossil fuels. Fossil fuels, like hospitals, have risks (hospitals have more) but are indispensable to human flourishing. If someone condemns us for pursuing a career providing energy that billions of people need and request, they are being hypocritical and offensive.

In my experience you can profitably point out either of these if you do so politely and calmly.

Express curiosity about hypocrisy

In the case of hypocrisy, I like to take a tone of curiosity and/or confusion, not condemnation.

F: “You mean Satan?”

You: “I’m curious why you think they’re Satan. Just looking at you right now you appear to be a major user of their products…”

She’ll either acknowledge that she’s a user or not—either way you can transition into why we all use products of the oil industry.

Be offended (but calm)

You: I’m curious, would you ever work for an industry you believed was evil?

F: No, of course not.

You (gravely): Neither would I. (Don’t break eye contact.) And I find it offensive that you think I would without asking me why I chose to work in this industry.

This will give the other person the opportunity to apologize and express sincere interest in your thought process—or to be rude and prove unworthy of your time.

Let me know how it goes!

Bravo Alex for engaging people constructively in the battle for hearts and minds as we perhaps enter a cooling period where our energy needs will be even more pronounced.

Previous Post with different examples: Civil Climate Discourse

Footnote:  For more on how green zealots are poisoning the social environment, read the poignant story of Tisha Schuller, an environmentally responsible energy consultant writing in the Breakthrough Institute Journal:  Reclaiming Environmentalism  How I Changed My Mind Without Changing My Values

Schuller on where she is today:

For several years, I stopped calling myself an environmentalist. After five years of threats, extremism, and misinformation from a community I’d once considered myself a part of, I simply couldn’t use the term anymore.

It’s easier, now, to unwind my complex relationship with environmentalism and environmentalists. I’m no longer a target of constant criticism and threats, for one, and I have the mental leisure to dissect my own experiences and prejudices. With the benefit of hindsight, I’ve become passionate about reclaiming the term. I am an environmentalist.

But I can no longer embrace many of the totems that have come to define environmentalism for many people.









Sea Level Hype

It seems that alarmists get their exercise mainly by jumping to conclusions. Using datasets as trampolines they make great leaps of faith, oftentimes turning reality upside down in the process.

Update Feb. 17 at bottom

The latest example is the mass media excitement and exaggerations concerning sea level rise. Just consider the listing from Google News Feb. 13:

Miami could be underwater in your kid’s lifetime as sea level rise accelerates
USA Today

Yes, sea level rise really is accelerating
Ars Technica

Study: Sea level rise is accelerating and its rate could double in next century
Chicago Tribune

“It’s a big deal”: Melting ice sheets are accelerating sea level rise
CBS News Feb 13, 201

Satellites: Sea level rise to reach 2 feet by 2100
Minnesota Public Radio News (blog)

Satellite observations show sea levels rising, and climate change is accelerating it

The sea is coming for us
The Outline

Etc. Etc.Etc.

Although the principle author gave those juicy sound bites so craved by unreflective journalists, still the actual paper is quite restrained in its claims.  After all, they are only looking at 25 years of a very noisy dataset which has a quasi 60-year oscillation.  The paper is:

Climate-change–driven accelerated sea-level rise detected in the altimeter era By R. S. Nerem et al.


Using a 25-y time series of precision satellite altimeter data from TOPEX/Poseidon, Jason-1, Jason-2, and Jason-3, we estimate the climate-change–driven acceleration of global mean sea level over the last 25 y to be 0.084 ± 0.025 mm/y2. Coupled with the average climate-change–driven rate of sea level rise over these same 25 y of 2.9 mm/y, simple extrapolation of the quadratic implies global mean sea level could rise 65 ± 12 cm by 2100 compared with 2005, roughly in agreement with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) 5th Assessment Report (AR5) model projections.

Dr. John Ray provides a skeptical commentary, writing from Brisbane, Australia, at his blog (here) with my bolds.

Dedicated Warmist Seth Borenstein sets out a coherent story about warming causing sea-level rise. He regurgitates all the usual Warmist talking points regardless of their truth. He says, for instance, that the Antarctic is melting when it is not.

So we have to go back to the journal article behind Seth’s splurge to see what the scientists are saying.

And what we see there is very different from Seth’s confident pronouncements. We see a very guarded article indeed which rightly lists many of the difficulties in measuring sea level rise. And they can surmount those difficulties only by a welter of estimates and adjustments. Anywhere in that process there could be errors and biases. And as a result, we see that the journal authors describe their findings as only a”preliminary estimate” of sea level rise.

And it gets worse. When we look further into the journal article we see that the sea level rise is measured in terms of only 84 thousandths of one millimeter. So we are in the comedy of the absurd. Such a figure is just a statistical artifact with no observable physical equivalent.

So the sea level rise Seth talks about with great confidence ends up being an unbelievably small quantity measured with great imprecision! Amazing what you find when you look at the numbers, isn’t it?

Many advances in science start with a leap of imagination.  I seem to remember a chemist who woke up one morning with the first correct diagram of benzene.  And a man I admired said before sleeping he brought to mind things that were puzzling him.  Often in the morning he found answers combing out his hair.  Of course any such notions must then be validated through experimentation and measurement to become scientific knowledge.  A leap of faith is another matter altogether.

Sea Level Measurement Contortions

What’s involved in estimating sea level by means of satellites? Albert Parker is a seasoned researcher and explains to us laymen in this interview, followed by links to his recent publications. Senior Researcher Questions Satellite Measurements of Global Sea-Level By Ernest Dempsey with my bolds.

With a lot of rhetoric about the claimed sea-level rise and threat of global warming due to carbon emissions from human activities, the actual science of sea-level measurements and scientific inquiry of the verifiable degree of climate change has been lost in the noise. The following correspondence with Albert Parker, PhD, author of the 2014 paper Problems and reliability of the satellite altimeter based Global Mean Sea Level computation casts light on how reliable the various sea-level measurements are and whether the actual, on-ground science verifies the narrative of carbon-based climate change and alarming sea-level rise.

Ernest: Albert, thanks for taking my call for this Q&A. Would you please tell us about your academic and research background briefly?

Albert Parker: I received my MSc and PhD in Engineering many years ago, before the age of the commercial universities. I have been working after the PhD for 30 years in companies and universities. I started to work on climate change as an independent scientist, for my personal understanding, after the leaked Climategate emails in 2009, as I was curious to see what was really going on in the raw data.

Ernest: Can you please tell our readers the various methods scientists have used to measure the mean sea level at any point?

Albert Parker: Relative sea levels have been locally measured by tidal gauges for many years. A tidal gauge signal is characterized by oscillations on many different time scales. The tidal gauge signal is monthly averaged. A linear fitting of the monthly average values collected over a sufficiently long time window returns the trend. As the tide gauge instrument can move up and down, these sea levels are relative to the instrument.

The absolute global sea level is a hypothetical measure of the status of the ocean waters. Somebody has produced global mean sea level reconstructions from tide gauges since the 1700 or the 1800. These reconstructions are not reliable. Before the end of the 1800s, there was for example not a single tide gauge covering all the southern hemisphere. To compute a proper global mean sea level from tide gauges, you should need many gridded tide gauges along the world coastline, and a measure of their absolute vertical motion, both based on a sufficiently long common time window. There is not such a thing yet. As the trends significantly vary from one location to the other, it therefore only makes sense to focus on the average acceleration rather than the global mean sea level trend.

Ernest: In your 2014 paper, you inform that tide gauge measurements of mean sea level show negligibly small annual rise in mean sea level while satellite measurements give us a notably larger rise in sea level globally. Which of these two would you call more reliable and why?

Albert Parker: The only results to consider are local and global average trends and accelerations from tidal gauges of sufficient quality and length. If a global mean sea level from tide gauges can hardly be computed, you may still look at the individual tide gauges of enough length and quality to understand if there is acceleration or not. And so far, there has been very little acceleration in any tide gauge record over the 20th century and what is passed of the 21th century. Therefore, coastal management can be local, with adaptation measures needed where the sea level rises significantly because of extreme subsidence, and not certainly where the sea levels are rising slowly or are falling.

Regarding the satellite global mean sea level, this result is more a computation than a true measurement and it is not reliable. If you try to track by global positioning system (GPS) the position of selected fixed points, such as few GPS domes on land, and you try to compute the GPS time series to derive a GPS velocity, you may then discover that this much simpler computation, also constrained by the geodetic dimensions, still suffers significant uncertainties, because of satellite drift and other technicalities. It is therefore impossible to measure with nanometric precision the instantaneous height of all the water volume to then derive a time rate of change. The only thing that you can get from the satellite altimeter measurements is an almost detrended, noisy signal, as it was clear in the first results of the project. If subjective corrections are then applied to this signal, for any reason you get the satellite altimeter results that is not a measure, it is a computation, that lacking validation has very little value.

Ernest: Tell us about calibration and its role in sea level readings.

Albert Parker: It is not just a problem of calibration. You are trying to measure with a satellite altimeter the instantaneous, absolute, height, with accuracy up to the nanometer, of a continuously oscillating mass of water bounded by an irregular, continuously moving surface. With the much more established and reliable GPS system that serves many more goals than the monitoring of a climate change parameter, it is hard to compute with accuracy better than a couple of millimeters per year the time rate of change of the position of fixed GPS domes. The global mean sea level results of the satellite altimeter are unfortunately never validated computations, not certainly very accurate measurements.

Ernest: The observable change in sea level can be due to increase in amount of water in the oceans or upward tectonic movement of the seafloor, right? Is there any way to tell how much rise resulted from either?

Albert Parker: The situation is little bit more complicated. If you look at the relative sea level trends across the world, they rise and fall because of changing water conditions and land movements. If you are along the Pacific coast of the US for example, in Alaska, the sea levels are generally falling because the land is moving up (uplift). Conversely, if you look at California, the sea levels are rising mostly because the land is moving down (subsidence). Local factors produce significant differences in between the rates of sea level rise (trends).

Changes in tide levels over time evidenced in Fiji.

To get an accurate measure of the sea level rise by thermal expansion and mass addition from tide gauges, this is not easy. What we can see from the individual tide gauges, is that the contribution from mass addition and thermal expansion is about constant since the start of the 20th century. Since the year 1900, the warming of the oceans and the melting of the ices on land has therefore basically provided an almost constant contribution to the rate of rise of sea levels. Same time, the anthropogenic carbon dioxide emission has increased exponentially. This would be enough to conclude that the anthropogenic carbon dioxide emissions have from very little influence to no influence at all on the rate of rise of sea levels.

Ernest: Then there is the question of periodicity. Far as I get it from your paper, it is more scientific or reasonable to look at sea level change over the past least 60 years. Why is that?

Albert Parker: The sea levels are very well known to oscillate with many periodicities up to a quasi-60 years well shown in almost all the world tide gauges. If you study a tide gauge record and you want to compute a trend by linear fitting, you do need data collected over a time window long enough to understand what is a multidecadal natural oscillation and what is a sea level acceleration produced by intensifying mass addition and thermal expansion. It is unfortunately common to find peoples who cherry pick the short-term positive oscillation in selected locations to sell this result as the proof that global warming is real.

Obviously, the cherry pickers do not pick up the cherries in areas of opposite short-term oscillation where same approach could prove there is global cooling equally real. Similarly, they do not consider the fact that in the long-term locations, positive and negative phases of the oscillations have regularly followed each other over the time, and “unprecedented” short term sea level rises have been measured already about 60 years ago.

Ernest: Since you pointed out the shortcomings in sea level measurements by satellite altimetry and GPS, has the environmental science community responded to your work?

Albert Parker: The shortcomings of satellite altimetry to compute sea levels are very well known. The most part of the independent scientists, unfortunately mostly retired, acknowledges that there is something not that straight going on in the satellite altimeter result. Nils-Axel Morner and many others have written wonderful papers questioning the sea level claims. Problem are the dependent scientists, working in a commercial academy, and more than them, the general press and the politicians that have a clear interest to force the peoples to believe that global warming is real and they need more administration and control and more taxes.

Ernest: Speaking of press, we hear a lot in media about new researches finding links between anthropogenic carbon in atmosphere and sea level rise. And some have claimed disastrous consequences of this supposedly impending sea level threat. What’s your response when you read those stories?

Albert Parker: In the recent scientific paper reference [1], that of course will not receive any attention by the alarmists, we discuss how different experimental data sets of tide gauges show relatively small sea level trends, from +0.4 to +2 millimeters per year, and negligibly small sea level accelerations, just a few micrometers per year squared. These results demonstrate that the sea levels have not been driven by the anthropogenic carbon dioxide emission over the last 120 years, and it is very unlikely they will start be driven by magic right now. These trends and accelerations translate in forecasts to the year 2100 of 100-200 mm sea level rise, not certainly the 850 mm by the IPCC, nor the 1,670 or the 3,050 mm of works such as reference [2] or [3].

The figures below are a comparison of sea level measurements vs. sea level computations over the time window 1970 to 2017, and evidence based forecasts to the year 2100 vs. the model predictions. The difference amongst latest models and reality is increasing as opposed to being lessened. It should be the opposite. Many may certainly claim new links between the anthropogenic carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and the sea level rise, with disastrous consequences of this supposedly impending sea level threat. This does not mean they are correct.

Fig. 1 – Comparison of sea level rises predicted by the local panels [2] (BOS-NRC) and [3] (H++), predicted by the IPCC AR5 RCP8.5 (IPCC RCP8.5), and measured by the tide gauges (averages of different data sets, California-8, PSMSL-301, Mitrovica-23, Holgate-9, NOAA-199, US-71). Further details in [1].

From these graphs, we already know that up to 2017 the models have been wrong, and it is increasingly unlikely to expect more rather than less sea level rise by 2100 vs. the already exaggerated IPCC predictions.

Fig. 2 – Comparison of sea level rises by 2100 predicted by the local panels [2] (BOS-NRC) and [3] (H++), predicted by the IPCC AR5 RCP8.5 (IPCC RCP8.5), and inferred from tide gauge measurements of different data sets (California-8, PSMSL-301, Mitrovica-23, Holgate-9, NOAA-199, US-71). Further details in [1].

[1] Parker, A. & Ollier, C.D., CALIFORNIA SEA LEVEL RISE: EVIDENCE BASED FORECASTS VS. MODEL PREDICTIONS, Ocean and Coastal Management, Ocean & Coastal Management, Available online 19 July 2017, In Press, Corrected Proof. doi: 10.1016/j.ocecoaman.2017.07.008

More Resources:

Sea Level Rise: Just the Facts

Cutting Edge Sea Level Data

Fear Not For Fiji

Footnote:  Climate alarmists may be jumping the shark as well as jumping to conclusions.
“Jumping the shark” is attempting to draw attention to or create publicity for something that is perceived as not warranting the attention, especially something that is believed to be past its peak in quality or relevance. The phrase originated with the TV series “Happy Days” when an episode had Fonzie doing a water ski jump over a shark. The stunt was intended to perk up the ratings, but it marked the show’s low point ahead of its demise.

Update Feb. 17

Prompted by a question from hunter, I found this informative recent letter on this topic(my bolds):

From Reply from Nils-Axel Mörner on the problems of estimating Future Sea Level Changes as asked by Albert Parker in letter of January 2, 2018

There are physical frames to consider. Ice melting requires time and heating, strictly bounded by physical laws. At the largest climatic jump in the last 20,000 years – viz. at the Pleistocene/Holocene boundary about 11,000 years BP – ice melted under extreme temperature forcing; still sea level only rose at a rate of about 10 mm/yr (or just a little more if one would consider more extreme eustatic reconstructions). Today, under interglacial climatic conditions with all the glacial ice caps gone climate forcing can only rise global sea level by a fraction of the 11,000 BP rate, which in comparison with the values of Garner et al. [1] would imply:
well below 0.4 m at 2050 instead of +0.6 m
well below 0.9 m at 2100 instead of +2.6 m
well below 2.9 m at 2300 instead of +17.5 m

Consequently, the values given by Garner et al. [1] violate physical laws and common glaciological knowledge. Therefore, their values must not be set as standard in coastal planning (point 2 above).

The mean sea level rise over the last 125 years is +0.81 ±0.18 mm/yr. At Stockholm in Sweden, the absolute uplift over the last 3000 years is strictly measured at +4.9 mm/yr. The mean tide-gauge change is -3.8 mm/yr, giving a eustatic component of +1.1 mm/yr for the last 150 years. In Amsterdam, the long-term subsidence is known as +0.4 mm/yr. The Amsterdam/Ijmuiden stations record a relative rise of +1.5 mm/yr, which give a eustatic component of +1.1 mm/yr.

Global Loading Adjustment has been widely used in order to estimate global sea level changes. Obviously, the globe must adjust its rate of rotation and geoid relief in close agreement with the glacial eustatic rise in sea level after the last Ice Age. The possible internal glacial loading adjustment is much more complicated, and even questionable, however.

Direct coastal analysis of morphology, stratigraphy, biological criteria, coastal dynamics, etc usually offers the far best means of recording the on-going sea level variations in a correct and meaningful way. It calls for hard work in the field and deep knowledge in a number of subjects. We have, very successfully, applied it in the Maldives, in Bangladesh, in Goa in southern India, and now also in the Fiji Islands. In all these sites, direct coastal analyses indicate full eustatic stability over the last 50-70 years, and long-term variations over the last 500 years that are consistent with “rotational eustasy” or “Global Solar Cycle Oscillations” (GSCO).





Feb. Arctic Ice Dance

For much of February, NH has been overall slower than usual to add ice extent. But that does not mean nothing is happening.  For we can observe ice dances on opposite sides of the Arctic from January up to now. The image above shows how Pacific ice extents have shuffled back and forth between Okhotsk (left) and Bering (right), alternating waxing and waning so that both basins combined are below average. Lately Okhotsk has added ice to reach normal, so now Bering makes most of the difference. Bering is now only 45% of last years maximum, while Okhotsk has reached 81% of last year’s max extent.

Drift ice in Okhotsk Sea at sunrise.

On the Atlantic side, the two players are Barents and Baffin Bay/Gulf of St. Lawrence. On the left side  you can see Baffin Bay extending down to reach Newfoundland, and Gulf of St. Lawrence filling in.  Meanwhile Barents has waffled up and down, first growing to reach Svalbard and then receding along with Greenland Sea opening to the left of Svalbard.  Barents is presently at 75% of last years maximum, while BB/GSL extent is its highest this year and 96% of last year’s max.

Sea ice forming in Baffin Bay.

Overall 2018 Arctic ice has reached 14.1M km2, about 600k km2 or 5% below average.

MASIE shows this year catching up to 2017 while SII 2018 lags ~300k km2 behind.  The graph below shows 2018 NH ice extents since day 1, with and without the Pacific basins Bering and Okhotsk, compared to 11 year averages (2007 to 2017 inclusive).
Clearly the deficit to average is mostly due to B&O, and as the table below shows, mostly Bering at this point.

Region 2018044 Day 044 
2018-Ave. 2017044 2018-2017
 (0) Northern_Hemisphere 14140166 14756619 -616453 14287848 -147682
 (1) Beaufort_Sea 1070445 1070178 267 1070445 0
 (2) Chukchi_Sea 965971 965614 357 966006 -35
 (3) East_Siberian_Sea 1087120 1087134 -14 1087137 -18
 (4) Laptev_Sea 897845 897842 3 897845 0
 (5) Kara_Sea 874714 906136 -31422 908380 -33666
 (6) Barents_Sea 465024 567976 -102952 363927 101097
 (7) Greenland_Sea 529094 630790 -101696 565090 -35996
 (8) Baffin_Bay_Gulf_of_St._Lawrence 1655681 1483847 171834 1564353 91328
 (9) Canadian_Archipelago 853109 853029 80 853214 -106
 (10) Hudson_Bay 1260838 1260792 46 1260903 -66
 (11) Central_Arctic 3117143 3218063 -100920 3209792 -92649
 (12) Bering_Sea 319927 730017 -410090 564241 -244314
 (13) Baltic_Sea 76404 105038 -28634 59994 16410
 (14) Sea_of_Okhotsk 911105 906055 5050 834828 76277

The large deficit comes from Bering Sea, while Okhotsk is matching average, and Barents has grown recently.  Greenland Sea and Central Arctic are down to a lesser extent, nearly offset by Baffin surpluses. A month remains to reach annual maximum with the standard this decade being about 15M km2. For perspective, 2018 has to gain about 6% by mid March to reach 15M and gain 4% to reach 14.78, last year’s maximum. It should also be remembered that all of these dancing basins will likely melt out by September as usual.

Fossil Fuels ≠ Global Warming Updated

Note: This Analysis was updated with 2019 statistics in the post 2020 Update: Fossil Fuels ≠ Global Warming

Previous posts addressed the claim that fossil fuels are driving global warming. This post updates that analysis with the latest (2016) numbers from BP Statistics and compares World Fossil Fuel Consumption (WFFC) with three estimates of Global Mean Temperature (GMT). More on both these variables below.


2016 statistics are now available from BP for international consumption of Primary Energy sources. Statistical Review of World Energy.  2017 numbers should be available this summer.

The reporting categories are:
Natural Gas
Renewables (other than hydro)

This analysis combines the first three, Oil, Gas, and Coal for total fossil fuel consumption world wide. The chart below shows the patterns for WFFC compared to world consumption of Primary Energy from 1965 through 2016.

WFFC 2016 BP

The graph shows that Primary Energy consumption has grown continuously for 5 decades. Over that period oil, gas and coal (sometimes termed “Thermal”) averaged 90% of PE consumed, ranging from 94% in 1965 to 86% in 2016.  MToe is millions of tons of oil equivalents.

Global Mean Temperatures

Everyone acknowledges that GMT is a fiction since temperature is an intrinsic property of objects, and varies dramatically over time and over the surface of the earth. No place on earth determines “average” temperature for the globe. Yet for the purpose of detecting change in temperature, major climate data sets estimate GMT and report anomalies from it.

UAH record consists of satellite era global temperature estimates for the lower troposphere, a layer of air from 0 to 4km above the surface. HadSST estimates sea surface temperatures from oceans covering 71% of the planet. HADCRUT combines HadSST estimates with records from land stations whose elevations range up to 6km above sea level.

Both GISS LOTI (land and ocean) and HADCRUT4 (land and ocean) use 14.0 Celsius as the climate normal, so I will add that number back into the anomalies. This is done not claiming any validity other than to achieve a reasonable measure of magnitude regarding the observed fluctuations.

No doubt global sea surface temperatures are typically higher than 14C, more like 17 or 18C, and of course warmer in the tropics and colder at higher latitudes. Likewise, the lapse rate in the atmosphere means that air temperatures both from satellites and elevated land stations will range colder than 14C. Still, that climate normal is a generally accepted indicator of GMT.

Correlations of GMT and WFFC

The next graph compares WFFC to GMT estimates over the five decades from 1965 to 2016 from HADCRUT4, which includes HadSST3.

WFFC HadGMT 2016

Over the last five decades the increase in fossil fuel consumption is dramatic and monotonic, steadily increasing by 223% from 3.5B to 11.4 B oil equivalent tons.  Meanwhile the GMT record from Hadcrut shows multiple ups and downs with an accumulated rise of 0.9C over 51 years, 7% of the starting value.

The second graph compares to GMT estimates from UAH6, and HadSST3 for the satellite era from 1979 to 2016, a period of 37 years.


In the satellite era WFFC has increased at a compounded rate of nearly 2% per year, for a total increase of 84% since 1979. At the same time, SST warming amounted to 0.55C, or 3.9% of the starting value.  UAH warming was 0.72, or 5.5% up from 1979.  The temperature compounded rate of change is 0.1% per year, an order of magnitude less.  Even more obvious is the 1998 El Nino peak and flat GMT since.


The climate alarmist/activist claim is straight forward: Burning fossil fuels makes measured temperatures warmer. The Paris Accord further asserts that by reducing human use of fossil fuels, further warming can be prevented.  Those claims do not bear up under scrutiny.

It is enough for simple minds to see that two time series are both rising and to think that one must be causing the other. But both scientific and legal methods assert causation only when the two variables are both strongly and consistently aligned. The above shows a weak and inconsistent linkage between WFFC and GMT.

Going further back in history shows even weaker correlation between fossil fuels consumption and global temperature estimates:


Figure 5.1. Comparative dynamics of the World Fuel Consumption (WFC) and Global Surface Air Temperature Anomaly (ΔT), 1861-2000. The thin dashed line represents annual ΔT, the bold line—its 13-year smoothing, and the line constructed from rectangles—WFC (in millions of tons of nominal fuel) (Klyashtorin and Lyubushin, 2003). Source: Frolov et al. 2009

In legal terms, as long as there is another equally or more likely explanation for the set of facts, the claimed causation is unproven. The more likely explanation is that global temperatures vary due to oceanic and solar cycles. The proof is clearly and thoroughly set forward in the post Quantifying Natural Climate Change.

Background context for today’s post is at Claim: Fossil Fuels Cause Global Warming.

Climate Hail Mary by Inept Cities



Some cities in desperate financial straits due to their own mismanagement are hoping to bail out by suing oil companies. Several are in California where the current governor blames droughts, fires and mudslides on climate change. So Governor Brown is a role model for all politicians how to scapegoat nature instead of taking responsibility for their own failings as leaders. As I have long said, COP stands not only for UN Conference of Parties, but also for the ultimate political COP-Out. (Note: A “Hail Mary” is a desperate football pass into the end zone as the game ends.)

A recent editorial in the Washington Times exposes the ruse Big talk at City Hall isn’t likely to replace oil, natural gas and coal Excerpts below with my bolds.

The civic shakedown of the oil and gas producers continues, and the frenzy has spread to California. Mayor Bill de Blasio of New York started it in January when he said he would seek billions of dollars in reparations from five major companies, including Exxon, BP and Chevron.

“It’s time for Big Oil to take responsibility for the devastation they have wrought,” he said, “and to start paying for the damage they have done.” He blames the devastation from the 2012 Superstorm Sandy on climate change, “a tragedy that was wrought by the actions of the fossil-fuel companies.” The Sierra Club and other radical environmental groups couldn’t have said it better. These greens have long sought to shut down the oil and coal-mining companies.

San Francisco, Oakland and Los Angeles now threaten similar lawsuits to extort money from the reliable producers of cheap energy. These cities claim that the forest fires and mudslides that devastated Southern California were caused by greenhouse gas emissions. Coal companies are now joining the mayor’s conspiracy. Forest fires in the West? Hurricanes in the East? Heaven forfend. Surely that never happened before.

Many big cities have been living beyond their means for years, running up billion dollar pension liabilities. Someone has to pay the tab for the fiscal hangover, and extortion may be the way to require others to pay the bills. What better target than Big Oil? Attempting extortion has got so out of hand that Richmond, Calif., one of whose largest employers is a large oil refinery, is eager to join the extortion racket.

Even if every American energy company shut down entirely — which may be the hidden agenda here — the enormous increase in carbon emissions from China and India alone would swamp the effects of American fossil-fuel production and consumption. If global warming was actually causing forest fires and hurricanes, Mayor de Blasio should be suing China, not British Petroleum.

Even more fraudulent is that New York City, Oakland, San Francisco and other plaintiffs have been burning fossil fuels for decades to provide power for their cities. Exxon only drills the oil. It’s the cities of New York, San Francisco and Oakland that burn it and send the carbon into the atmosphere. And what about the police cars, trucks, buses, ambulances and thousands of other city-owned vehicles? They use the fuels that Exxon and Chevron produce, and even the batteries in electric vehicles that must be frequently recharged use recharging stations powered mostly by fossil fuels. In the first six months of 2017 more than 70 percent of all the electricity produced in the United States came from coal and natural gas.

Fossil fuel starvation diets are available to all. But the mayors know very well that without cheap and abundant oil, coal and natural gas, their cities and the commerce that springs from there would come to a grinding halt. The schools, factories, shelters, shopping centers, restaurants, apartment buildings and skyscrapers would shut down without the energy from the oil and gas produced by the companies the mayors are suing. The cities wouldn’t survive for a day. Big talk, like oil, gas and coal, is cheap. It’s too bad that all that hot air at City Hall can’t be harnessed to produce electricity. If it could, there’s enough of it to put oil, gas and coal companies out of business.

Harnessing hot air for a useful purpose.


Global Warming Contingency Fees

John O’Brien of Forbes legal news line has the story: Oakland Would Pay 23.5% Of Recovery From Its Global Warming Lawsuit To Private Lawyers Excerpts below with my bold.

The City of Oakland – one of eight California governments going big-game hunting by suing the energy industry over climate change – will pay private lawyers almost one-quarter of any recovery and says it does not have to disclose any communication with the firm it hired.

In response to a Legal Newsline request under the California Public Records Act, the city says it is prohibited from releasing “communications between an attorney and his or her clients.

What Oakland did disclose was a contingency fee agreement that provides for 23.5% of the net recovery to be paid to the firm Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro. Oakland City Attorney Barbara Parker and Steve Berman signed the document on Sept. 8.

Oakland, CA, is paying private lawyers nearly one-quarter of any funds it receives from its climate change lawsuit against the energy industry. Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg

“The defendants include some of the world’s largest corporations and are well-funded adversaries with histories of a willingness to engage in costly and protracted litigation,” the agreement says.

In Texas, Exxon is seeking to depose many public officials and a Hagens Berman attorney over why these lawsuits allege disasters that will cause damage to the cities and counties, but why those officials didn’t disclose that to potential investors in bond offerings.

Chevron has devised its own strategy, filing a third-party complaint against Norway’s state-owned oil company, Statoil. If it should have to pay for the effects of climate change, so should everyone else, the company appears to be saying.

A finding that Chevron and other fossil fuel companies are liable would implicate others, the company says, like promoters (the makers of automobiles, aircraft, farm equipment and heating equipment); emitters (individuals around the world who consume and burn fossil fuels); and the plaintiffs themselves.

“This third-party complaint is one of many that Chevron expects to file should this case proceed past motions to dismiss,” Chevron said.

Oakland’s lawsuit was filed in 2017, as were cases filed by the counties of Marin, Santa Cruz and San Mateo and the cities of San Francisco, Santa Cruz and Imperial Beach.

This year, Richmond, CA, and New York City have filed lawsuits, and Boulder, CO, is planning one.

Why these lawsuits should be dismissed:Is Global Warming A Public Nuisance?

Climate Lawyers to the Rescue!

Valve Turners Brought to Justice

BISMARCK, N.D. — An environmental activist from Seattle has been sentenced to one year in prison for targeting an oil pipeline in North Dakota.

From the Crime Archives, Bismark ND KVRR Local News  Men Sentenced for Shutting Down Keystone Pipeline The objective facts are provided by Alison Voorhees February 6, 2018

Michael Foster in October 2016 cut through a chain link fence near Walhalla and turned a shut-off valve on the Keystone Pipeline.

He was convicted last October of conspiracy, criminal mischief and trespass but acquitted of reckless endangerment.

Samuel Jessup of Vermont, who filmed Foster’s protest, was sentenced to two years of probation for conspiracy.

A more sympathetic report from Seattle Met Seattle Activist Who Shut Off Keystone Pipeline Sentenced to One Year in Prison  Excerpts below with my bolds.

Foster, along with activists in three other states, in a coordinated effort turned the valves off the tar sands crude pipelines entering the U.S. from Canada. Foster stopped the flow of oil for seven hours, allegedly costing TransCanada $50,000. The pipeline transports an estimated 590,000 barrels of oil a day from Canada to refineries in Texas’s Gulf Coast.

Foster was convicted in October of misdemeanor trespass, felony criminal mischief, and conspiracy to commit criminal mischief. (He was acquitted of the reckless endangerment charge.) The crimes carried a potential maximum penalty of 21 years in prison. TransCanada and the state of North Dakota recommended five in the hopes a harsh sentence would discourage future climate activists.

“It’s gonna suck being a little old vegan in prison,” Foster told Seattle Met months earlier. “But honestly? Living in this system of overconsumption, beside this concrete river of CO2 that is always flowing on I-5—everywhere I go in this town that I love feels like prison. So the idea of living in prison? It doesn’t bother me the way it should.”

The Pembina County Court judge in Cavalier, North Dakota, sentenced Foster to one year in prison and two years deferred. He begins his sentence Tuesday. Sam Jessup of Vermont, who livestreamed Foster turning the North Dakota valve, was sentenced to supervised probation for conspiracy.

Elsewhere we have:  “Michael Foster isn’t a criminal; he’s a hero.” —Dr. James Hansen, climate expert.

What Was Said in Court

Some of the courtroom record is provided by ABC affiliate WDAZ under the category Crime and Courts:

The men and their lawyers brought up everything from slavery to the election in their sentencing hearing — all in an effort to stay out of jail.

“You have not expressed any remorse or any regret ever, any time at all,” said Judge, Laurie Fontaine.

That’s the message from judge Laurie Fontaine to Michael Foster — the man who shut off an emergency pipeline valve two years ago.

“We are not in a democracy today. Because if it was a democracy, Mrs. Clinton would be president. She got 3 million more votes,” said Attorney, William Kirschner.

Their lawyers say majority of people support action on climate change — their voices won’t likely be heard, as, he says, was the case in the last election.

But the judge says turning the valve on the Keystone Pipeline cost the company more than a million dollars — and anxiety for people living in Pembina County.

“Can’t some of these people come up with a marketing plan to convince the population to make a change?” Asked Judge Fontaine.

The County State’s attorney hopes this sentencing serves as a lesson to any would-be valve turners.

“It is very important for everyone to understand if they come here to perpetrate injustice in violation of our laws, it will be dealt with accordingly. And we will pursue it. It is one of a kind and we hope that it remains that way,” said Pembina County States Attorney, Rebecca Flanders.

The state is recommending each of the men pay 20 thousand dollars in restitution, but that will be decided at a later date.


You do the crime, you do the time.  These are crimes and jail time is what the law requires.  Journalists downplay that the sentence is three years, with two of them deferred.  As posted previously, Iowa state senators are considering a law to increase penalties on such crimes considerably.

See Upping the Stakes for Ecoterrorists


We’re Richer than Rockefeller

Matthew Kahn has a post up regarding economics for non-economists, which will appear here later on. He provokes discussion in his seminar by exposing students to a fine essay by economist Don Boudreaux You Are Richer than John D. Rockefeller Do read the linked article which is only excerpted below.

Boudreaux asks: How much money would it take for you to agree to live out your life a century ago? Would you do it for a million dollars? What about a billion dollars? When considering this question, he asks that you keep in mind that in 1916, no matter how rich you were, you would not be able to enjoy any of the following:
Radio (do you mind phonograph sound quality?)
Timely transportation
Rock ’n roll
International food (forget Vietnamese Pho or falafels!)
Smart phones
A high likelihood of surviving infancy
Contact lenses
Modern birth control
Accurate watches
Effective dental care
The Internet
…and many other things as well. If you’re a woman, or any kind of minority (whether racial, sexual, or religious), then you would also have to sacrifice various freedoms and live in a world of far worse intolerance.

Boudreaux concludes with this observation:

Honestly, I wouldn’t be remotely tempted to quit the 2016 me so that I could be a one-billion-dollar-richer me in 1916. This fact means that, by 1916 standards, I am today more than a billionaire. It means, at least given my preferences, I am today materially richer than was John D. Rockefeller in 1916. And if, as I think is true, my preferences here are not unusual, then nearly every middle-class American today is richer than was America’s richest man a mere 100 years ago.

Matthew Kahn’s post is Teaching Economics Ideas to Non-Economists  Text below with my bolds.

At USC this term, I am teaching a new class on “the limits to growth”. My course is a fair fight between Paul Ehrlich and Julian Simon. My class features 90% non-economics majors and many have never taken a course with an economist before. I sense that they side with Ehrlich. Their consensus is that we are on a path to destroy our planet and that only dramatic changes in politics and lifestyles can save us. It is possible that they are correct. As they make these points in our seminar class, I ask them; “if you know this, why doesn’t the suburban median voter know this?” They eventually sketch out ideas related to free riding and the Tragedy of the Commons.

I sense that a majority of my students are uncomfortable with the claim that free markets are the major source of improvements in all of our well being. We read this piece by Don Boudreaux and it set off quite a good debate.

My students are quite smart and they have figured out that economic models focus on individual choice. I choose to drop out of school. I choose to study rather than to party. I choose to take actions that raise my risk of pregnancy. I choose to walk in risky place at night. When bad things (such as poverty) happen to good people, how much of this outcome is due to their own choice versus bad luck (a health shock, graduating during a recession)? I have shown them James Heckman’s argument that we must expand early education for all because children do not choose their parents.

If outcomes are due to luck, then a risk averse society will engage in more taxation and redistribution than in a society that believes that life outcomes are directly related to costly effort (i.e Lebron James is a great basketball player due to his long hours of practice).

My students also believe that the American Dream of upward mobility is vanishing. But schools such as USC are providing more financial aid and opportunity for first generation students. My students believe that U.S public schools are under-performing in preparing young people for college but they oppose privatization and Milton Friedman style school vouchers. They must implicitly believe that parents are not to be “sophisticated shoppers” in choosing a school.

I sense that many of my students would have voted for Senator Bernie Sanders in 2016. I am learning from my experience teaching non-economists. I hope that my ideas and empirical claims are resonating with them. I sense that some of my students are surprised to be confronted with a University of Chicago trained economist. The market place for economics ideas needs to expand and enter the classrooms of humanities majors (the bulk of my students).

My students reject the perfect competition model. Many voice a dark vision that powerful elites control government and markets and pay such that the “little guy” has few choices and just suffers. I steer discussions back to human capital and skill formation and the possibility to engage in personal investments such that one commands a wage premium. I am learning.

The typical academic economist does not leave the “comfort zone” and teach non-majors.

Bravo Professor Kahn for taking on the task of challenging uninformed (misinformed) societal assumptions.  Your teaching method seems Socratic, and it was Aristotle who recognized that a good life depends upon both good choices and good fortune. And, just to close the circle, John D. Rockefeller became wealthy providing people with petroleum products, which all agreed were the greatest thing since sliced bread.