U.S. foundations funding Canadian anti-pipeline protests

From CBC News January 22, 2019  Debate grows over impact of American funding being directed towards Canadian environmental campaign.  Excerpts below in italics with my bolds.

Alberta at Noon host Judy Aldous spoke to researcher and blogger Vivian Krause, as well as award-winning Calgary author Chris Turner, Monday about the degree to which U.S. dollars are shaping the conversation we’re now having in Canada about building pipelines.

Krause has estimated that various U.S. funders have contributed in the neighbourhood of $40-million in recent years to hundreds of Canadian environmental and Indigenous groups. The goal is to help them spread a message about the need to land-lock Alberta crude through protests against the construction of new pipelines.

Krause believes those American dollars are financing a message that has turned the conversation around, adding topics like pipeline development have become toxic.

“The campaign has been devastating,” Krause said.

“I think the campaign is the reason why Northern Gateway was cancelled: Energy East, Keystone, Trans Mountain.

“And this is the same organization, same strategy, same funders that stopped the Mackenzie [Valley] gas pipeline. I think the coastal gas pipeline is also in serious trouble.

“I have no hope for any pipeline [being approved for development] until this campaign is brought to an end,” she said.

Turner, meanwhile, said that foundations such as the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, the Hewlett Foundation, and the U.S. environmental group the Tides Foundation have far less of ability to manipulate the environmental agenda in Canada than Krause suggests.

He didn’t disagree with the numbers but disputed Krause’s interpretation of them.

Krause said she isn’t opposed to the principle of funding environmental groups from outside the country. However, she said she feels there has been a disproportionate focus on the oilsands by American environmental activists, particularly considering the U.S. is now one of the top oil producers on the planet.

She also suggested that by turning up the heat on Canadian energy development, those same activists are enabling — or perhaps are motivated by — a desire to open up markets for American oil producers.

“But here’s the thing,” she added. “Guess whose oil is getting to market and is getting the highest prices? It’s not Canadian oil or gas. It’s American oil and gas.”

She asked why environmentalist don’t instead focus on “landlocking the development of American oil and gas.”

 

Pascal’s Climate Wager

David Freddoso explains in the Washington Examiner Good news: Illinois will be spared when the world ends.  Excerpts in italics with my bolds.

J.B. Pritzker, the new governor of Illinois, has begun his reign with the symbolic signing of his state back on to the Paris climate agreement:

It means Illinois will abide by the Paris agreement that aims at reducing greenhouse-gas emissions by up to 28 percent by 2025. Former President Barack Obama signed the U.S. onto the Paris accord in 2016 but President Donald Trump withdrew months later.

Pritzker’s order also directs the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency to monitor the Trump administration’s environmental proposals and look for ways to “protect Illinoisans from environmental harm.”

This means Illinois will be spared when the world ends in 12 years, right? Well, no, I’m afraid it doesn’t work that way. But if you do especially want Illinois to be spared for some reason, perhaps it will at least make you feel better about yourself.

Paris was a nonbinding agreement. More importantly, its terms would not be nearly ambitious enough to save the world, were its continued existence truly threatened as some contend.

The symbolic return of the Deadbeat State to the Obama administration’s climate agreement doesn’t mean anything specific. Yes, the state government might be saddling itself with further costs it cannot afford, given its fleeing population and dwindling tax base. But the climate in Illinois will not be affected by any reforms in the U.S., because our entire economy’s worth of carbon emissions is becoming a drop in the carbon ocean of China’s and India’s growing emissions. Even if we switched 100 percent to nuclear power — the secret to France’s electrical success and the only feasible way the U.S. could ever reduce emissions on such a scale — the global threat would not diminish substantially for decades given growth in India alone (not to say that a switch to nuclear isn’t a good idea anyway).

This leaves us with a sort of reverse Pascal’s Wager. If the world is truly on its way to an end, then you’re just screwed. There’s nothing you or I can do at this point, so you might as well just enjoy your last days with the air conditioner on, not off.

If, on the other hand, the conjecture-based predictions of rapid world destruction are just so much hype, then Illinoisans can safely ignore Paris and Pritzker and consider moving to neighboring Indiana where the governor limits himself to real-world problems.

Footnote: 

Blaise Pascal (1623-1662) was a French mathematician, physicist, inventor, writer and Catholic theologian.  He asserted that the best bet is to believe and act as though God exists even though the evidence is uncertain.  The argument was based upon three premises: the first concerns the decision matrix of rewards, the second concerns the probability that you should give to God’s existence, and the third is a maxim about rational decision-making.  On Pascal’s premises, the gains from wagering for God outweighed the losses the other way.

In the field of global warming/climate change, the wager is called the “Precautionary Principle” and is preoccupied with losses not gains.  IPCC adherents argue that all will be lost unless we stop burning fossil fuels, despite: no reliable evidence anything unusual is happening in our climate; renewable power tech is immature, serving only to make affordable, reliable energy expensive and intermittent; no proof humans can control planetary climate changes.

ipcc_ransom_note

Polar Vortex Update Jan. 23

Figure i. Animation of observed 10 mb geopotential heights (contours) and geopotential height anomalies (m; shading) for 15 December 2018 – 18 January 2019. Source: Dr. Judah Cohen

Excerpts from AER Arctic Oscillation blog by Judah Cohen, January 21, 2019 in italics with my bolds.

There is increasing confidence that the stratosphere and troposphere are going to couple by any accepted metric. The GFS forecast clearly shows downward propagation of positive polar cap geopotential height anomalies from the stratosphere to the troposphere, the surface AO is predicted to turn decisively negative and high latitude blocking is the norm rather than exception over the next two weeks. Also, warm temperatures are predicted across the North American Arctic including Alaska and Greenland. Therefore, relatively cold temperatures are expected to be widespread across the Northern Hemisphere (NH) including Northern Asia, Northern Europe and Eastern North America. Relatively warm temperatures are also expected in the Barents-Kara seas, the region of the Arctic with the greatest negative sea ice extent anomalies. I would expect the relatively cold pattern to last at a minimum of four weeks and up to eight weeks.

There is some question based on the latest model runs how long the relatively cold pattern will persist. Of course, there is the possibility that after a relatively cold couple of weeks the pattern turns overall milder pattern for the remainder of the winter. But as I have discussed many times the coupling from the stratosphere to the troposphere is described as “dripping paint.” That is because the downward propagation or coupling doesn’t come at once but in pieces. Therefore, the turn to colder and possibly snowier conditions are often episodic and not continuous. So, if there is a transition to milder weather it would be a relaxation of the overall colder pattern and not a complete reversal. I would just add that this has been an extreme event in the stratosphere and sometimes an extreme event in the stratosphere does not translate into an extreme event in the troposphere and that could be true for this event as well.

With the help of my colleague Karl Pfeiffer I created an animation of the ongoing PV disruption from mid -December through last Friday shown in Figure i. Some readers have stated in the past that they enjoy the animations and here is an extended version. Maybe they are not much more than bubble game for the brain, but I am always fascinated by PV splits.

The predicted NH temperature pattern is classic negative AO with cold temperature widespread across northern Eurasia including Europe and eastern North America. And unlike recent winters, temperatures are not relatively mild across the pan-Arctic but locally in Alaska and Greenland, again classic mild locations during negative AO regimes. I do think that the warm Arctic/cold continents pattern is distinct from the negative AO pattern as argued in Cohen et al. 2018. In my opinion the upcoming predicted NH temperature pattern projects more strongly onto the negative AO than the warm Arctic/cold continents pattern. One distinction in my mind is the continuous stripe of cold temperatures along the Eurasian north slope or the land areas adjacent to the Arctic ocean, they are solidly below normal in the negative AO pattern but mild in the warm Arctic/cold continents pattern. Also, as I argued in an earlier blog the timing of the troposphere-stratosphere coupling nicely matches the timing expected based on extensive October Siberian snow cover extent. Waiting for the remainder of the winter before passing judgement but so far this winter the relationship is strong.

Currently the stratospheric PV remains split into two pieces or daughter vortices. The major daughter vortex is now centered over Hudson Bay and a minor daughter vortex is centered over the Urals with ridging centered near the North Pole (Figure 12). The daughter vortex over the Urals is predicted to drift west across Siberia and fill with time while the other daughter vortex over Hudson Bay remains nearly stationary. However, the anomalous warmth in the polar stratosphere is gone and is a sign that the stratospheric PV is recovering. The cold temperatures in the stratosphere are focused in Siberia and western North America and could be a sign where the coldest temperatures at the surface may be focused as well during the month of February, something to watch.

Niagara Falls January 21, 2019 h/t Mike Clegg

Niagara Falls January 21, 2019 h/t yorkeryan

 

Update Jan.22: Hot Ocean False Alarm

What is Argo? Argo is a global array of 3,800 free-drifting profiling floats that measures thetemperature and salinity of the upper 2000 m of the ocean. This allows, for the first time, continuous monitoring of the temperature, salinity, and velocity of the upper ocean, with all data being relayed and made publicly available within hours after collection. Positions of the floats that have delivered data within the last 30 days :

Scientists deploy an Argo float. For over a decade, more than 3000 floats have provided near-global data coverage for the upper 2000 m of the ocean.

Update January 22, 2019

In a post at GWPF Nic Lewis critiques the Cheng et al. study and points in detail to the errors and misleading findings.  His short analysis: Is ocean warming accelerating faster than thought? – An analysis of Cheng et al (2019), Science . Excerpt in italics with my bolds.

Contrary to what the paper indicates:
Contemporary estimates of the trend in 0–2000 m depth ocean heat content over 1971–2010 are closely in line with that assessed in the IPCC AR5 report five years ago
Contemporary estimates of the trend in 0–2000 m depth ocean heat content over 2005–2017 are significantly (> 95% probability) smaller than the mean CMIP5 model simulation trend.

lewis fig.1

Figure 1: Updated 0–2000 m OHC linear trend estimates compared with AR5 and the CMIP5 mean. Error bars are 90% confidence intervals; black lines are means. Units relate to the Earth’s entire surface area.

falsealarm02

Previous Post:  Scare of the Day:  Ocean Heat Content (January 11, 2019)

Here is a sample of yesterday’s coordinated reports from CCN- Climate Crisis Network captured by my news aggregator, listed by the most recent first. Note the worldwide scope and editorial poetic license on the titles.

Ocean warming accelerating to record temperatures, scientists warn Engineering and Technology Magazine
Scalding seas? Oceans boil to hottest temp on record USA Today EU
World’s oceans heating up at quickening pace: study Egypt Independent
Ocean warming ‘accelerating’ The London Economic
Oceans warming faster than we thought: Study AniNews.in
Ocean temperatures rising faster than thought in ‘delayed response’ to global warming, scientists say The Japan Times
Oceans warming much faster than previously thought: Study The Hindu Business Line
The Oceans Are Warming Faster Than We Thought, a New Study Says TIME
Oceans Warming Even Faster Than Previously Thought Eurasia Review
The Ocean Is Warming Much Faster Than We Thought, According To A New Study BuzzFeed
Pacific: New research proves ocean warming is accelerating ABC Online – Radio Australia
We’re Boiling the Ocean Faster Than We Thought New York Magazine
Oceans warming faster than expected SBS
Ocean temperatures are rising far faster than previously thought, report says TVNZ
Ocean Temps Rising Faster Than Scientists Thought: Report HuffPost (US)
World’s oceans are heating up at a quickening pace Bangkok Post
The Warming of the World’s Oceans Is Set to Increase Dramatically Over the Next 60 Years Pacific Standard
New Climate Change Report Says Ocean Warming Is Far Worse Than Expected Fortune
Oceans Are Warming Faster Than Expected, Research Says Geek.com
World’s oceans are heating up at a quickening pace: study AFP
Oceans Warming Faster Than Predicted, Scientists Say gCaptain

So the message to the world is very clear: Ocean Heat Content is rising out of control, Be Very Afraid!
The trigger for all of this concern comes from this paper How fast are the oceans warming? by Lijing Cheng, John Abraham, Zeke Hausfather, Kevin E. Trenberth. Science 11 Jan 2019 Excerpts from paper in italics with my bolds.

Climate change from human activities mainly results from the energy imbalance in Earth’s climate system caused by rising concentrations of heat-trapping gases. About 93% of the energy imbalance accumulates in the ocean as increased ocean heat content (OHC). The ocean record of this imbalance is much less affected by internal variability and is thus better suited for detecting and attributing human influences (1) than more commonly used surface temperature records. Recent observation-based estimates show rapid warming of Earth’s oceans over the past few decades (see the figure) (1, 2). This warming has contributed to increases in rainfall intensity, rising sea levels, the destruction of coral reefs, declining ocean oxygen levels, and declines in ice sheets; glaciers; and ice caps in the polar regions (3, 4). Recent estimates of observed warming resemble those seen in models, indicating that models reliably project changes in OHC.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s Fifth Assessment Report (AR5), published in 2013 (4), featured five different time series of historical global OHC for the upper 700 m of the ocean. These time series are based on different choices for data processing (see the supplementary materials). Interpretation of the results is complicated by the fact that there are large differences among the series. Furthermore, the OHC changes that they showed were smaller than those projected by most climate models in the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project 5 (CMIP5) (5) over the period from 1971 to 2010 (see the figure).

Since then, the research community has made substantial progress in improving long-term OHC records and has identified several sources of uncertainty in prior measurements and analyses (2, 6–8). In AR5, all OHC time series were corrected for biases in expendable bathythermograph (XBT) data that had not been accounted for in the previous report (AR4). But these correction methods relied on very different assumptions of the error sources and led to substantial differences among correction schemes. Since AR5, the main factors influencing the errors have been identified (2), helping to better account for systematic errors in XBT data and their analysis.

Multiple lines of evidence from four independent groups thus now suggest a stronger observed OHC warming. Although climate model results (see the supplementary materials) have been criticized during debates about a “hiatus” or “slowdown” of global mean surface temperature, it is increasingly clear that the pause in surface warming was at least in part due to the redistribution of heat within the climate system from Earth surface into the ocean interiors (13). The recent OHC warming estimates (2, 6, 10, 11) are quite similar to the average of CMIP5 models, both for the late 1950s until present and during the 1971–2010 period highlighted in AR5 (see the figure). The ensemble average of the models has a linear ocean warming trend of 0.39 ± 0.07 W m−2 for the upper 2000 m from 1971–2010 compared with recent observations ranging from 0.36 to 0.39 W m−2 (see the figure).

MISSION ACCOMPLISHED: “The recent OHC warming estimates are quite similar to the average of CMIP5 models.”

What They are Not Telling You

The Sea Surface Temperature (SST) record is a mature dataset, not without issues from changing measurement technologies, but providing a lengthy set of observations making up 71% of the surface temperature history.  Sussing out temperatures at various depths in the ocean is a whole nother kettle of fish.

The Ocean Heat Content data is sparse, both in time and space.

The Ocean is vast, 360 million square kilometers with an average depth of 3700 meters, and we have 3900 Argo floats operating for 10 years. In addition we have some sensors arrayed at depths in the North Atlantic. As the text above admits, there are lots of holes in the data, and only a short history of the recently available reliable data. Other publications by some of the same authors admit: Large discrepancies are found in the percentage of basinal ocean heating related to the global ocean, with the largest differences in the Pacific and Southern Ocean. Meanwhile, we find a large discrepancy of ocean heat storage in different layers, especially within 300–700 m in the Pacific and Southern Oceans. Source: Consensuses and discrepancies of basin-scale ocean heat content changes in different ocean analyses, Gongjie Wang, Lijing Cheng, John Abraham.

Modelers Make OHC Reconstructions by Adding Guesstimates to Observations

Again climate science alarms are raised after “reanalysis” of the data. No one should be surprised that after computer manipulations and data processing, the “reanalyzed” data has changed and now favors warming and confirms the climate models. The Argo data record by itself is too short to make any such claim. In previous studies, scientists were more circumspect and refrained from “jumping the shark.” Apparently, with the Paris Accord on the ropes in 2019, caution and nuance has been thrown to the wind, as witnessed by the recent SR15 horror show, and now this.

Methodological Problems Bedevil These Reconstructions

One of the studies cited in support of revising OHC upward is the study Quantification of ocean heat uptake from changes in atmospheric O2 and CO2 composition, L. Resplandy et al. Published in Nature 31 October 2018.  From the Media Release:

The world’s oceans have absorbed far more heat than we realized, shortening our timeline to stop the causes of global warming, and foreboding some of the worst case scenarios put forth by climate experts, according to new findings.

A novel study by researchers from Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California San Diego and Princeton University, published on Wednesday in Nature, implies that officials have underestimated the amount of heat retained by Earth’s oceans.

Between 1991 and 2016, oceans warmed an average 60 percent more than estimates by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) originally calculated, the study claims. That amount equalled 13 zettajoules, or eight times the world’s annual energy consumption.

Something didn’t look right to climate statistician Nic Lewis so he deconstructed the study, finding several methodological mistakes along the way. He explained and communicated with the authors in a series of 4 posts at Climate Etc. Nov. 6 through 23, 2018.

Nic Lewis, Nov. 6 (here):

The findings of the Resplandy et al paper were peer reviewed and published in the world’s premier scientific journal and were given wide coverage in the English-speaking media. Despite this, a quick review of the first page of the paper was sufficient to raise doubts as to the accuracy of its results. Just a few hours of analysis and calculations, based only on published information, was sufficient to uncover apparently serious (but surely inadvertent) errors in the underlying calculations.

Moreover, even if the paper’s results had been correct, they would not have justified its findings regarding an increase to 2.0°C in the lower bound of the equilibrium climate sensitivity range and a 25% reduction in the carbon budget for 2°C global warming.

Because of the wide dissemination of the paper’s results, it is extremely important that these errors are acknowledged by the authors without delay and then corrected.

Authors Respond:

On November 14, 2018 this paper’s authors announced key errors to the two week-old study that made claims about the amount of heat that Earth’s oceans have absorbed. The errors stem from “incorrectly treating systematic errors in the O2 measurements and the use of a constant land O2:C exchange ratio of 1.1,” co-author Ralph Keeling said in an update from Scripps Institution of Oceanography, which is affiliated with the study. More simply, the team’s findings are too uncertain to conclusively support their statement that Earth’s oceans have absorbed 60 percent more heat than previously thought. Keeling claims the errors “do not invalidate the study’s methodology or the new insights into ocean biogeochemistry on which it is based.”

Subsequent posts by Lewis found other differences between the stated method and the analysis actually applied, adding to the uncertainty of the study and its finding. Lewis is not done yet, and the paper has not been reissued. Unfortunately, it has not been retracted and is still cited in reference to unsupported claims of runaway ocean heat content.

Meanwhile, other measurements, such as those in North Atlantic and Indian Ocean show slight cooling rather than warming, with researchers suspecting natural cyclical activity.

Summary

So anxious are alarmists/activists to cry wolf that they are running the computers flat out to manipulate and extrapolate from precious but incomplete limited data to confirm their suppositions.  All to keep alive a deflating narrative that the public increasingly finds offensive.

Footnote:

Oceanographers know that deep ocean temperatures can vary on centennial up to millennial time scales, so if some heat goes into the depths, it is not at all clear when it would come out.

Beware getting sucked into any model, climate or otherwise.

More at Putting Climate Models in Their Place

Suing Energy Companies Endangers Communities

 

Horace Cooper writes at RealClear Energy January 18, 2019 America’s Communities Will Suffer if Lawsuits Against Energy Producers Succeed.  Excerpts in italics with my bolds.

Lawsuit abuse is costing Americans plenty and Louisiana illustrates just how absurd it can become. Drivers in that state pay the second-highest auto insurance rates in America thanks, in part, to its minimum $50,000 claim for jury trials, which is the highest in America. Just to stay in business, auto insurers must pass along those costs to Louisiana’s drivers.

But the real canary in the coal mine is that other insurance companies have just packed up and left the state. That’s a crucially important point because a greedy group of Louisiana trial lawyers have now targeted the state’s oil and gas industry for a multi-billion-dollar shakedown. For residents, the potential consequences could not be more ominous.

Law firms have teamed up with at least six parish governments in lawsuits alleging that the energy industry alone is responsible for the state’s coastal erosion problem. Never mind the Corps of Engineers’ levee system that on one hand helps prevent the Mississippi River from flooding, but on the other, prevents soil-building silt from reaching the wetland areas. And disregard the erosion impact of hurricanes and other storms. None of that matters to the trial lawyers who would reap a huge contingency fee award if they win.

The rational business decision for oil and gas producers in a hostile and costly legal environment would be to follow the insurance companies’ example and leave the state. The cost to local communities would be on the scale of a natural disaster. For starters, consider that last year 44,580 people in the state were employed directly in oil and gas production, earning $4.3 billion annually. That’s an annual average wage of more than $96,500, nearly double the state average. That doesn’t count those who enjoy retirement benefits from the energy industry or all the other community jobs that the energy industry supports. Louisiana is a state that needs more well-paying jobs and not frivolous lawsuits that put those jobs in jeopardy.

Now consider the state’s, parishes’ and cities’ ability to fund essential services for their citizens. The oil and gas industry alone accounted for 10 to 15% of state and local tax revenues annually, on average, over the past two decades. In fiscal year 2013, for example, energy companies paid nearly $1.5 billion in state taxes, representing about 14.6% of all the taxes, licenses and fees received by the state. That same year, parishes and cities took in $410 million in ad valorem taxes from energy producers, refiners and pipeline companies. Between 2006 and 2016, the oil and natural gas industry paid $14 billion just for the opportunity to do business in the state, according to the Louisiana Department of Natural Resources. If those revenue streams dried up, tough conversations about cutbacks at schools, police departments and hospitals would be taking place. Tax increases to plug the shortfalls would be considered even as thousands hit the unemployment lines.

The magnitude of the lawsuits’ potential to visit hardship upon Louisiana’s families cannot be overstated. The shame is that the litigation is without merit. Every legitimate scientific study has concluded that there are a number of factors causing coastal erosion, most of which have nothing to do with oil and gas exploration and production. In fact, the industry is part of the solution, having donated thousands of acres for scientific coastal and environmental research and having provided 25% to 33% of the overall cost for coastal erosion prevention and restoration efforts.

The only reason the oil and gas industry is being targeted exclusively is because the greedy trial lawyers see dollar signs. But by no means, however, is litigating against oil and gas companies for cash strictly a homegrown Louisiana cottage industry. The financially struggling cities of San Francisco and Oakland recently launched a lawsuit against top energy producers for anticipated damages from climate change, only to have the judge toss the case. Other municipalities filed similar litigation and now find they have some explaining to do.

It seems the left hand isn’t watching what the far-left hand is up to. San Mateo County, California, for example, claims in its lawsuit against the energy industry that there’s a 93% risk of a devastating climate-change-related flood by 2050. Yet its municipal bond offering to potential investors dismissively notes that it’s “unable to predict whether sea-level rise or other impacts of climate change or flooding from a major storm will occur.” Such duplicity has opened the county to a potential SEC investigation for bond fraud and could result in taxpayers paying expensive legal fees.

If these baseless lawsuits by greedy plaintiff lawyers remain unchecked, it won’t be just oil and gas producers that get hurt. Consumers, taxpayers and families would also suffer the fallout. Ultimately, elected officials must be held accountable for reining in this manipulation of the courts for profit.

Horace Cooper is co-chairman of the Project 21 National Advisory Board, a senior fellow with the National Center for Public Policy Research and a legal commentator.

 

Climate Ideology = Bad Nutritional Advice

Climate Quakery

Media Alarms: Eating Meat Heats the Planet

You may have noticed a media theme over recent months linking meat eating with climate change. The following examples come from the usual suspects.

Eating meat has ‘dire’ consequences for the planet National Geographic

Huge reduction in meat-eating ‘essential’ to avoid climate breakdown The Guardian

Eating Less Meat Essential to Curb Climate Change UN University

How Your Diet Can Save the Planet Fortune

Here Comes the Meat Tax;Paying more for environmentally harmful foods may be inevitable.The Atlantic

Combat climate change by cutting beef and lamb production CNN

World must slash meat consumption to save climate Phys,org

Will China’s Growing Appetite for Meat Undermine Its Efforts to Fight Climate Change? SmithsonianMag

Skip the steak? Curb meat consumption to combat climate change Global News

Massive reduction in meat consumption and changes to farming vital to guarantee future food supply The Independent

Climate change: Report says ‘cut lamb and beef’ BBC News

A Radical Plan to Slow Climate Change: Eat Less Meat Bloomberg

Should there be a ‘meat tax’ to fight climate change? DW

Tackling the world’s most urgent problem: meat UN Environment

Your meals are speeding up climate change, but there’s a way to eat sustainably CBC

image

The origin of these alarms are studies published in Lancet, once highly reputed but recently given over to climate ideology rather than objective science. Most recently is Food in the Anthropocene: the EAT–Lancet Commission on healthy diets from sustainable food systems  The preceding Lancet study stated this main finding:

Following environmental objectives by replacing animal-source foods with plant-based ones was particularly effective in high-income countries for improving nutrient levels, lowering premature mortality (reduction of up to 12% [95% CI 10–13] with complete replacement), and reducing some environmental impacts, in particular greenhouse gas emissions (reductions of up to 84%). However, it also increased freshwater use (increases of up to 16%) and had little effectiveness in countries with low or moderate consumption of animal-source foods. (here).

Two Major Objections

This post raises two objections to these claims. Firstly is an article exposing the Lancet biases and contradicting the the nutritional findings and recommendations therein. Secondly is an article exploding the link between raising animals and climate change.

Georgia Ede MD writes in Psychology Today EAT-Lancet’s Plant-based Planet: 10 Things You Need to Know. Excerpts in italics below with my bolds. Title is link to full text which is recommended reading.  Georgia Ede, MD, is a Harvard-trained psychiatrist and nutrition consultant practicing at Smith College. She writes about food and health on her website DiagnosisDiet.com.

We all want to be healthy, and we need a sustainable way to feed ourselves without destroying our environment. The well-being of our planet and its people are clearly in jeopardy, therefore clear, science-based, responsible guidance about how we should move forward together is most welcome.

Unfortunately, we are going to have to look elsewhere for solutions, because the EAT-Lancet Commission report fails to provide us with the clarity, transparency and responsible representation of the facts we need to place our trust in its authors. Instead, the Commission’s arguments are vague, inconsistent, unscientific, and downplay the serious risks to life and health posed by vegan diets.

1. Epidemiology = mythology
The vast majority of human nutrition research—including the lion share of the research cited in the EAT-Lancet report— is conducted using the tragically flawed methodology of nutrition epidemiology. Nutrition epidemiology studies are not scientific experiments; they are wildly inaccurate, questionnaire-based guesses (hypotheses) about the possible connections between foods and diseases. This approach has been widely criticized as scientifically invalid [see here and here], yet continues to be used by influential researchers at prestigious institutions, most notably Dr. Walter Willett. An epidemiologist himself, he wrote an authoritative textbook on the subject and has conducted countless such studies, including a recent, widely-publicized paper tying low-carbohydrate diets to early death. In my reaction to that study, I explain in plain English why epidemiological techniques are so untrustworthy, and include a sample from an actual food questionnaire for your amusement.

Even if you think epidemiological methods are sound, at best they can only generate hypotheses that then need to be tested in clinical trials. Instead, these hypotheses are often prematurely trumpeted to the public as implicit fact in the form of media headlines, dietary guidelines, and well-placed commission reports like this one. Tragically, more than 80% of these guesses are later proved wrong in clinical trials. With a failure rate this high, nutrition epidemiologists would be better off flipping a coin to decide which foods cause human disease. The Commission relies heavily on this methodology, which helps to explain why their recommendations often fly in the face of biological reality.

bigstock-organic-meat-51515758

2. Red meat causes heart disease, diabetes, cancer…and spontaneous combustion
The section of the report dedicated to protein blames red meat for heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, obesity, cancer and early death. It contains 16 references, and every single one is an epidemiological study. The World Health Organization report tying red meat to colon cancer was also mentioned, and that report is almost entirely based on epidemiology as well. [Read my full analysis of the WHO report here]. The truth is that there is no human clinical trial evidence tying red meat to any health problem. I certainly haven’t found any—and if there were, I think this Commission surely would have mentioned it.

3. Protein is essential…but cancerous
The commissioners write:

“Protein quality (defined by effect on growth rate) reflects the amino acid composition of the food source, and animal sources of protein are of higher quality than most plant sources. High-quality protein is particularly important for growth of infants and young children, and possibly in older people losing muscle mass in later life.” [page 8]

Translation: Complete proteins are good because they contain every essential amino acid. All animal proteins are naturally complete, whereas most plant proteins are incomplete. Watch how the authors wriggle their way out of this inconvenient truth in the next sentence:

“However, a mix of amino acids that maximally stimulate cell replication and growth might not be optimal throughout most of adult life because rapid cell replication can increase cancer risk.” [page 8]

Translation: Complete proteins are bad because they cause cancer.

The sole reference for this absurd suggestion that complete proteins cause cancer is a paper about mutations causing cancer in which the terms “protein,” “amino acid,” and “meat” each occur a grand total of zero times, suggesting that the Commission’s suggestion is pure…suggestion. Furthermore, if obtaining all of the essential amino acids we need causes cancer, shouldn’t we also worry about complete proteins from plant sources like tofu or beans with rice?

4. Omega-3s are essential…good luck with that
“Fish has a high content of omega-3 fatty acids, which have many essential roles…Plant sources of alpha-linolenic acid [ALA] can provide an alternative to omega-3 fatty acids, but the quantity required is not clear.” [page 11]

If the Commission doesn’t know how much plant ALA a person needs to consume to meet requirements, then how does it know that plants provide a viable alternative to omega-3s from animal sources?

The elephant in the room here is that all omega-3s are not created equal. Only animal foods (and algae, which is neither a plant nor an animal) contain the forms of omega-3s our bodies use: EPA and DHA. Plants only contain ALA, which is extremely difficult for our cells to convert into EPA and DHA. According to this 2018 review, we transform anywhere between 0% and 9% of the ALA we consume into the DHA our cells require.

Instead of being vague, why not responsibly warn people that trying to obtain omega-3 fatty acids from plants alone may place their health at risk?

protein-foods

5. Vitamins and minerals are essential…so take supplements
The drumbeat heard throughout the report is that animal foods are dangerous and that a vegan diet is the holy grail of health, yet EAT-Lancet commissioners repeatedly find themselves in the awkward position of having to acknowledge the nutritional superiority of the very animal foods they recommend avoiding.

If the commissioners are concerned that red meat is dangerous (which is only true on Planet Epidemiology), why not recommend other naturally iron-rich animal foods such as duck, oysters, or chicken liver for these growing young women, as these foods would also provide the complete proteins needed for growth? What about the 10-22% of non-teen reproductive age women in the U.S. who suffer from iron deficiency? And why a “multimineral preparation” rather than a simple iron supplement? Are they implying that other minerals may be lacking in their plant-based diet?

Unfortunately, the nutritional inadequacy of plant-based diets goes beyond B vitamins. Plant foods lack several key nutrients, and some of the nutrients they do contain come in less bioavailable forms. Furthermore, many plant foods contain “anti-nutrients” that interfere with nutrient absorption. This means that just because a plant food contains a nutrient doesn’t mean we can access it.

An important example is that grains, beans, nuts and seeds—the staple foods of plant-based diets—contain phytate, a mineral magnet which substantially interferes with absorption of essential minerals like zinc, calcium, iron, and magnesium. And thanks to oxalates—mineral-binding compounds found in a wide variety of plant foods—virtually none of the iron in spinach makes it into Popeye’s muscles.

Only animal foods contain every nutrient we need in its proper, most accessible form. To learn more about nutrient availability and how it affects brain health, read this article.

eat-lancet commission

6. Making up numbers is fun and easy
How did the commissioners arrive at the recommended quantities of foods we should eat per day…7 grams of this, 31 grams of that? Numbers like these imply that something’s been precisely measured, but in many cases, it’s plain that they simply pulled a number out of thin air.

The commissioners attempt to defend themselves from criticism on this issue by stating:

“We have a high level of scientific certainty about the overall direction and magnitude of associations described in this Commission, although considerable uncertainty exists around detailed quantifications.” [page 7]

If they are this uncertain about the details, how can they in good conscience prescribe such specific quantities of food? Why not say they don’t know? Most people will not read this report—they will interpret the values in this table as medical advice.

7. Epidemiology is gospel…unless we don’t like the results
Any researcher will tell you that clinical trials—actual scientific experiments—are considered a much higher level of evidence than epidemiological studies, yet Willett’s group not only relies heavily on epidemiological studies, it favors them over clinical trials when it suits their agenda:

“We have used an intake of eggs at about 13 g/day, or about 1.5 eggs per week, for the reference diet, but higher intake might be beneficial for low-income populations with poor dietary quality.” [page 11]

Why recommend only 1.5 eggs per week when epidemiological studies found that 1 egg per day was perfectly fine? And why skew your recommendations against low-income people, which make up a significant portion of the global population?

There is a remarkable paragraph on page 9 (too long to quote here) arguing that red meat was found to increase risk of death in epidemiological studies conducted in Europe and the USA, but not in Asia, where red meat (mainly pork) was associated with a decreased risk of death. Rather than grappling with this seeming contradiction, they simply dismiss the Asian findings as invalid, wondering if perhaps Asian countries haven’t been rich long enough for the risk to show up yet.

Wait, what?

8. Everyone should eat a vegan diet, except for most people
Although their diet plan is intended for all “generally healthy individuals aged two years and older,” the authors admit it falls short of providing proper nutrition for growing children, adolescent girls, pregnant women, aging adults, the malnourished, and the impoverished—and that even those not within these special categories will need to take supplements to meet their basic requirements.

Sadder still is the fact that the majority of people in this country and in many other countries around the world are no longer metabolically healthy, and this high-carbohydrate plan doesn’t take them into consideration.

For those of us with insulin resistance (aka “pre-diabetes”) whose insulin levels tend to run too high, the Commission’s high-carbohydrate diet—based on up to 60% of calories from whole grains, in addition to fruits and starchy vegetables—is potentially dangerous. . . If the Commission read its own report it would find support for the notion that those of us with metabolic damage could be better off increasing our meat intake and decreasing our carbohydrate intake.

ben_header-1

9. Pay no attention to the money behind the curtain
As an advocate of meat-inclusive diets, I have often been assumed to have financial ties to the meat industry (which I do not), but how many people stop to question the financial (and professional) incentives that may influence doctors promoting plant-based diets? We all have personal beliefs and we all need to make a living, but honesty with oneself and transparency with the public should be paramount. The Nutrition Coalition has compiled a list of Dr. Willett’s potential conflicts of interest here.

The EAT Foundation, which collaborated with The Lancet to produce this report, was founded by Norwegian billionaire and animal rights activist Gunhild Stordalen. EAT recently helped to launch “FReSH” (Food Reform for Sustainability and Health), a global partnership of about 40 corporations, including Barilla (pasta), Unilever (meat alternatives and vegetable oils), Kellogg’s (cereals) and Pepsico (sugary beverages). Make of this what you will.

10. No to choices, yes to taxes?
How does EAT-Lancet propose to achieve its dream of a plant-based world? Many suggestions are put forth, but two are worth emphasizing: the elimination or restriction of consumer choices, and taxation. The EAT Foundation describes itself as:

“a non-profit startup dedicated to transforming our global food system through sound science, impatient disruption and novel partnerships.”

Sound science? Clearly not. But impatient disruption—what does that mean?

Regardless of how you feel about taxation as a tool for social change, consider the Commission’s own numerous exceptions to the plant-based rules, including pregnant women, children, the malnourished and the impoverished. Should we really support making animal foods—the only nutritionally complete foods on the planet—even more expensive for vulnerable populations? The notion of taxation is followed by a vague reference to the possibility of “cash transfer” social safety nets for women and children. This section of the report is representative of its overall elitist and paternalistic tone.

I believe, because I’m convinced by the science, that animal foods are essential to optimal human health. This is an uncomfortable biological reality we all have to wrestle with as creatures of conscience. Finding ways to support excellent health and quality of life for the creatures we depend on for our sustenance and vitality is one of our most important callings as caring stewards of our planet and all of its inhabitants. But I’m also a firm believer in personal choice. We each need to become experts in what works best for our own bodies. Eat and let eat, I say. It seems clear that EAT-Lancet commissioners are neither supporters of personal choice nor the transparent distribution of accurate nutrition information that would empower people to weigh the risks and benefits of various diets for themselves.

Summary on EAT-Lancet

The EAT-Lancet report has the feel of a royal decree, operating under the guise of good intentions, seeking to impose its benevolent will on all subjects of planet Earth. It is well worth challenging the presumed authority of this group of 37 “experts,” because it wields tremendous power and influence, has access to billions of dollars, and is likely to affect your choices, your health, and your checkbook in the near future.

Capitalizing on our current public health and environmental crises, the EAT-Lancet Commission pronounces itself as the authority on the science of nutrition, exploits our worst fears, and seeks to dictate our food choices in accordance with its members’ personal, professional and possible commercial interests.

To the best of my knowledge, there has never been a human clinical trial designed to test the health effects of simply removing animal foods from the diet, without making any other diet or lifestyle changes such as eliminating refined carbohydrates and other processed foods. Unless and until such research is conducted demonstrating clear benefits to this strategy, the assertion that human beings would be healthier without animal foods remains an untested hypothesis with clear risks to human life and health. Prescribing plant-based diets to the planet without including straightforward warnings of these risks and offering clear guidance as to how to minimize them is scientifically irresponsible and medically unethical, and therefore should not form the basis of public health recommendations.

daisy-methane

And What About the Environmental Benefits

Frank M. Mitloehner is Professor of Animal Science and Air Quality Extension Specialist, University of California, Davis.  He writes at the Conversation Yes, eating meat affects the environment, but cows are not killing the climate.  Excerpts in italics with my bolds.

A key claim underlying these arguments holds that globally, meat production generates more greenhouse gases than the entire transportation sector. However, this claim is demonstrably wrong, as I will show. And its persistence has led to false assumptions about the linkage between meat and climate change.

My research focuses on ways in which animal agriculture affects air quality and climate change. In my view, there are many reasons for either choosing animal protein or opting for a vegetarian selection. However, foregoing meat and meat products is not the environmental panacea many would have us believe. And if taken to an extreme, it also could have harmful nutritional consequences.

Many people continue to think avoiding meat as infrequently as once a week will make a significant difference to the climate. But according to one recent study, even if Americans eliminated all animal protein from their diets, they would reduce U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by only 2.6 percent. According to our research at the University of California, Davis, if the practice of Meatless Monday were to be adopted by all Americans, we’d see a reduction of only 0.5 percent.

Moreover, technological, genetic and management changes that have taken place in U.S. agriculture over the past 70 years have made livestock production more efficient and less greenhouse gas-intensive. According to the FAO’s statistical database, total direct greenhouse gas emissions from U.S. livestock have declined 11.3 percent since 1961, while production of livestock meat has more than doubled.

Removing animals from U.S. agriculture would lower national greenhouse gas emissions to a small degree, but it would also make it harder to meet nutritional requirements. Many critics of animal agriculture are quick to point out that if farmers raised only plants, they could produce more pounds of food and more calories per person. But humans also need many essential micro- and macronutrients for good health.

The world population is currently projected to reach 9.8 billion people by 2050. Feeding this many people will raise immense challenges. Meat is more nutrient-dense per serving than vegetarian options, and ruminant animals largely thrive on feed that is not suitable for humans. Raising livestock also offers much-needed income for small-scale farmers in developing nations. Worldwide, livestock provides a livelihood for 1 billion people.

Climate change demands urgent attention, and the livestock industry has a large overall environmental footprint that affects air, water and land. These, combined with a rapidly rising world population, give us plenty of compelling reasons to continue to work for greater efficiencies in animal agriculture. I believe the place to start is with science-based facts.

cg57e4a5185d54e

Background:  Previous Post on The Rise of Climate Medicine

With Bonn COP23 set to start next week, the media is awash with claims that climate change is an international public health crisis.  For example, in just one day from Google news:

Climate change isn’t just hurting the planet – it’s a public health emergency–The Guardian

Climate change’s impact on human health is already here — and is ‘potentially irreversible,’ report says –USA TODAY

Climate Change Is Bad for Your Health–New York Times

From heat stress to malnutr­ition, climate change is already making us sick–The Verge

As Richard Lindzen predicted, everyone wants on the climate bandwagon, because that is where the money is.  Medical scientists are pushing for their share of the pie, as evidenced by the Met office gathering on Assessing the Global Impacts of Climate and Extreme Weather on Health and Well-Being (following Paris COP).  Not coincidentally, the 2nd Global Conference on Health and Climate was held July 7-8, 2016 in Paris.  Now we have the American Public Health Association declaring:

2017 is the Year of Climate Change and Health

“We’re committed to making sure the nation knows about the effects of climate change on health. If anyone doesn’t think this is a severe problem, they are fooling themselves.” — APHA Executive Director Georges Benjamin, in The Washington Post

The new field of Climate Medicine is evidenced by a slew of new organizations and studies.  In addition to numerous agencies set up within WHO and the UN, and governmental entities (such as the Met Office), there are many NGOs, such as:

Health Care Without Harm
Health and Environment Alliance
Health and Climate Foundation
Climate and Health Council
United States National Association of County and City Health Officials
Care International
Global Gender and Climate Alliance / Women’s Environment and   Development Organization
International Federation of Medical Students’ Associations
Climate Change and Human Health Programme, Columbia U.
Center for Health and the Global Environment, Harvard
National Center for Epidemiology and Population Health, ANC Canberra
Centre for Sustainability and the Global Environment, U of Wisconsin
Environmental Change Institute, Oxford
London School of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, London, UK
International Human Dimensions Programme on Global Environmental Change, US National Academies of Science
US Climate and Health Alliance
Etc, etc., etc.

Of course, they are encouraged and abetted by the IPCC.

human-health1

From the Fifth Assessment Report:

Until mid-century, projected climate change will impact human health mainly by exacerbating health problems that already exist (very high confidence). Throughout the 21st century, climate change is expected to lead to increases in ill-health in many regions and especially in developing countries with low income, as compared to a baseline without climate change (high confidence). By 2100 for RCP8.5, the combination of high temperature and humidity in some areas for parts of the year is expected to compromise common human activities, including growing food and working outdoors (high confidence). {2.3.2}

In urban areas climate change is projected to increase risks for people, assets, economies and ecosystems, including risks from heat stress, storms and extreme precipitation, inland and coastal flooding, landslides, air pollution, drought, water scarcity, sea level rise and storm surges (very high confidence). These risks are amplified for those lacking essential infrastructure and services or living in exposed areas. {2.3.2}

Feared Climate Health Impacts Are Unsupported by Scientific Research

NIPCC has a compendium of peer-reviewed studies on this issue and provides these findings (here)

Key Findings: Human Health
• Warmer temperatures lead to a decrease in temperature-related mortality, including deaths associated with cardiovascular disease, respiratory disease, and strokes. The evidence of this benefit comes from research conducted in every major country of the world.

• In the United States the average person who died because of cold temperature exposure lost in excess of 10 years of potential life, whereas the average person who died because of hot temperature exposure likely lost no more than a few days or weeks of life.

• In the U.S., some 4,600 deaths are delayed each year as people move from cold northeastern states to warm southwestern states. Between 3 and 7% of the gains in longevity experienced over the past three decades was due simply to people moving to warmer states.

• Cold-related deaths are far more numerous than heat-related deaths in the United States, Europe, and almost all countries outside the tropics. Coronary and cerebral thrombosis account for about half of all cold-related mortality.

• Global warming is reducing the incidence of cardiovascular diseases related to low temperatures and wintry weather by a much greater degree than it increases the incidence of cardiovascular diseases associated with high temperatures and summer heat waves.

• A large body of scientific examination and research contradict the claim that malaria will expand across the globe and intensify as a result of CO2 -induced warming.

• Concerns over large increases in vector-borne diseases such as dengue as a result of rising temperatures are unfounded and unsupported by the scientific literature, as climatic indices are poor predictors for dengue disease.

• While temperature and climate largely determine the geographical distribution of ticks, they are not among the significant factors determining the incidence of tick-borne diseases.

• The ongoing rise in the air’s CO2 content is not only raising the productivity of Earth’s common food plants but also significantly increasing the quantity and potency of the many healthpromoting substances found in their tissues, which are the ultimate sources of sustenance for essentially all animals and humans.

• Atmospheric CO2 enrichment positively impacts the production of numerous health-promoting substances found in medicinal or “health food” plants, and this phenomenon may have contributed to the increase in human life span that has occurred over the past century or so.

• There is little reason to expect any significant CO2 -induced increases in human-health-harming substances produced by plants as atmospheric CO2 levels continue to rise.

Source: Chapter 7. “Human Health,” Climate Change Reconsidered II: Biological Impacts (Chicago, IL: The Heartland Institute, 2014).
Full text of Chapter 7 and references on Human health begins pg. 955 of the full report here

ambulance chasers

Summary

Advances in medical science and public health have  benefited billions of people with longer and higher quality lives.  Yet this crucial social asset has joined the list of those fields corrupted by the dash for climate cash. Increasingly, medical talent and resources are diverted into inventing bogeymen and studying imaginary public health crises.

Economists Francesco Boselloa, Roberto Roson and Richard Tol conducted an exhaustive study called Economy-wide estimates of the implications of climate change: Human health

After reviewing all the research and crunching the numbers, they concluded that achieving one degree of global warming by 2050 will, on balance, save more than 800,000 lives annually.

Not only is the warming not happening, we would be more healthy if it did.

Oh, Dr. Frankenmann, what have you wrought?

Footnote:  More proof against Climate Medicine

From: Gasparrini et al: Mortality risk attributable to high and low ambient temperature: a multicountry observational study. The Lancet, May 2015

Cold weather kills 20 times as many people as hot weather, according to an international study analyzing over 74 million deaths in 384 locations across 13 countries. The findings, published in The Lancet, also reveal that deaths due to moderately hot or cold weather substantially exceed those resulting from extreme heat waves or cold spells.

“It’s often assumed that extreme weather causes the majority of deaths, with most previous research focusing on the effects of extreme heat waves,” says lead author Dr Antonio Gasparrini from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine in the UK. “Our findings, from an analysis of the largest dataset of temperature-related deaths ever collected, show that the majority of these deaths actually happen on moderately hot and cold days, with most deaths caused by moderately cold temperatures.”

Now in 2017, Lancet sets the facts aside in order to prostrate itself before the global warming altar:

Christiana Figueres, chair of the Lancet Countdown’s high-level advisory board and former executive secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, said, “The report lays bare the impact that climate change is having on our health today. It also shows that tackling climate change directly, unequivocally and immediately improves global health. It’s as simple as that.’’

 

 

 

The Carbon Tax Shell Game

 

James Taylor explains current efforts to distract us with a tricky proposal. A ‘Revenue Neutral’ Carbon Tax Is a Costly Myth.  Excerpts in italics with my bolds.

The Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, and other media outlets are reporting that a bipartisan group of top economic advisors has signed a statement supporting a carbon dioxide tax that returns all revenue to the American people. Prominent signatories include Alan Greenspan, Paul Volcker, and Ben Bernanke. Expect this to be a big messaging point in the weeks and months ahead for global warming activists.

More atmospheric carbon dioxide and gradually warming temperatures have brought net benefits to human health and welfare. Yet economists like Greenspan and Bernanke, who received appointments from Republican presidents, often make the argument that they are not scientists and they are merely crafting the best economic solution to a problem that most scientists say we need to address. Even if these economists remain unconvinced that carbon dioxide emissions and modest global warming bring net benefits, there are crucial flaws in their argument for a ‘revenue neutral’ carbon dioxide tax.

Here are the three biggest flaws of a ‘revenue neutral’ carbon dioxide tax designed to appeal to Republicans and conservatives:

1. A carbon dioxide tax may be crafted to be government revenue neutral, but it cannot be crafted to be household revenue neutral. The intent and impact of a carbon dioxide tax is to raise the price of coal, natural gas, and gasoline to the point that they are more expensive than high-priced wind power, solar power, and electric vehicles powered by wind and solar. When this happens, consumers will be purchasing wind and solar power that is much more expensive than what they presently pay for coal, natural gas, and gasoline. Consumers will therefore be forced to spend substantially more money on energy and energy-related bills. Yet the wind and solar industries will pay no carbon dioxide taxes, meaning a ‘successful’ carbon dioxide tax that dramatically reduces carbon dioxide emissions will collect little tax revenue and thereafter return little money to the people. This would be ‘revenue neutral’ for government, but households will see dramatic declines in discretionary income as a result of their uncompensated higher energy bills.

2. Republicans and conservatives are negotiating against themselves, in vain, when they advocate a ‘revenue neutral’ carbon dioxide tax. Democrats, environmental activist groups, and the political Left have made it clear that they will not support or accept a ‘revenue neutral’ carbon dioxide tax. They proved this point in the state of Washington in 2016 when a ‘revenue neutral’ carbon dioxide tax was put on the ballot with support from many establishment Republicans. Democrats, environmental activist groups, and the political Left opposed the ballot initiative, stating they would only support a carbon dioxide tax that authorized government to keep the tax revenues and direct the revenue to causes supported by the environmental Left. As a result – and thankfully – the ballot initiative failed.

3. Even if Democrats, environmental activist groups, and the political Left suddenly began to support a ‘revenue neutral’ carbon dioxide tax, they would only support such a tax in addition to, rather than instead of, expensive, intrusive, command-and-control schemes. As I noted in a recent Heartland Institute Policy Brief, “Prominent global warming activist David Roberts noted in Vox that CO2 taxes ‘are good policy, an important part of the portfolio, but unlikely ever to be sufficient on their own. It’s worth getting a price on carbon anywhere it can be gotten, but climate hawks should not believe, and definitely shouldn’t be saying in public, that a carbon price is enough …’ [emphasis in the original].” I also noted from Bill McKibben, “We need to do everything. Not just a price on carbon, but dramatic subsidies for renewables to speed their spread. Not just a price on carbon, but an end to producing coal and gas and oil on public land. Not just a price on carbon, but a ban on fracking, which is sending clouds of methane into the atmosphere. Not just a price on carbon, but a dozen other major regulatory changes.”

Not only would a carbon dioxide tax be economically destructive, but Republicans and conservatives who are duped into supporting such a scheme will be getting something entirely different than what is being advertised.

See Also Carbon Pricing Angst

Money goes back to provinces, says Trudeau. Trudeau has said that the tax will start at a minimum of $10 a tonne in 2019, rising by $10 each year to $50 a tonne by 2022. “The government of Canada will return all of the money collected back to Canadians,” Trudeau said.  October 23, 2018

Arctic Icing on All Sides Now

 

2019 with bears
With the usual fits and starts, the Arctic has now frozen solid in the central and Russian basins, and ice extents are recovering on all sides, Pacific, European and Canadian.  The laggards have been Kara and Barents Seas, but progress there is shown below.
barents2019001to018

Kara on the left is virtually iced over, while Barents ice has reached out to claim the eastern coast of Svalbard in the center.  On the right Greenland Sea ice is extending toward Iceland. Compared to 2018 March maximums, Kara is 99%, Greenland Sea is 98% and Barents is 60% of maximum. The image below shows 2019 ice recovery on the Canadian side.
baffin2019001to018

Upper left is Greenland sea ice reaching toward Iceland.  In the center Baffin Bay is growing ice southward down the Greenland coast.  On the right, ice extent has grown along Labrador to touch Newfoundland, and start filling in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Baffin Bay/Gulf St. Lawrence is now 70% of 2018 March max, which was one of the higher extent years for that basin. Finally we return below to the Pacific ice recovery.
berok2019001to018

As reported previously, ice extent has rebounded here coinciding with the dissipating warm water Blob in North Pacific.  Bering Sea on the right started first and is now 17% greater than maximum last March.  Okhotsk sea ice has picked up the pace and is now 58% of March max.

arcticice2019018

In January, 2018 ice extents tracked the 12 year average (2007 to 2018 inclusive), at times pausing and then surging.  SII 2019 is showing slightly less ice, averaging 100k km2 lower.  As of yesterday, this year has gained about 500k km2 more ice than either 2017 or 2018.

algore_ice_gone_by_2013

 

 

 

 

Ocean SSTs Cooler in December

droguestatus

Note: A drogue is a sea anchor resisting drifting speed.

The best context for understanding decadal temperature changes comes from the world’s sea surface temperatures (SST), for several reasons:

  • The ocean covers 71% of the globe and drives average temperatures;
  • SSTs have a constant water content, (unlike air temperatures), so give a better reading of heat content variations;
  • A major El Nino was the dominant climate feature in recent years.

HadSST is generally regarded as the best of the global SST data sets, and so the temperature story here comes from that source, the latest version being HadSST3.  More on what distinguishes HadSST3 from other SST products at the end.

The Current Context

The chart below shows SST monthly anomalies as reported in HadSST3 starting in 2015 through December 2018.

hadsst122018

A global cooling pattern is seen clearly in the Tropics since its peak in 2016, joined by NH and SH cycling downward since 2016.  2018 started with slow warming after the low point of December 2017, led by steadily rising NH, which peaked in September and cooled the last 3 months.  The Tropics have risen steadily since July, and along with a bump in SH pulled the Global anomaly up slightly, peaking in November.

The December Global anomaly is higher than 2017 but still lower than 2015.  Similarly, NH, SH and the Tropics are all slightly higher than 2017, but still lower than 12/2015. The rise in the Tropics is likely due to the weak El Nino, maybe also affecting the SH, but has now backed down.

Note that higher temps in 2015 and 2016 were first of all due to a sharp rise in Tropical SST, beginning in March 2015, peaking in January 2016, and steadily declining back below its beginning level. Secondly, the Northern Hemisphere added three bumps on the shoulders of Tropical warming, with peaks in August of each year.  A fourth NH bump was lower and peaked in September 2018.  Also, note that the global release of heat was not dramatic, due to the Southern Hemisphere offsetting the Northern one.

The annual SSTs for the last five years are as follows:

Annual SSTs Global NH SH  Tropics
2014 0.477 0.617 0.335 0.451
2015 0.592 0.737 0.425 0.717
2016 0.613 0.746 0.486 0.708
2017 0.505 0.650 0.385 0.424
2018 0.480 0.620 0.362 0.369

2018 annual average SSTs across the regions are close to 2014, slightly higher in SH and much lower in the Tropics.  The SST rise from the global ocean was remarkable, peaking in 2016, higher than 2011 by 0.32C.

A longer view of SSTs

The graph below  is noisy, but the density is needed to see the seasonal patterns in the oceanic fluctuations.  Previous posts focused on the rise and fall of the last El Nino starting in 2015.  This post adds a longer view, encompassing the significant 1998 El Nino and since.  The color schemes are retained for Global, Tropics, NH and SH anomalies.  Despite the longer time frame, I have kept the monthly data (rather than yearly averages) because of interesting shifts between January and July.

hadsst1995to1220181995 is a reasonable starting point prior to the first El Nino.  The sharp Tropical rise peaking in 1998 is dominant in the record, starting Jan. ’97 to pull up SSTs uniformly before returning to the same level Jan. ’99.  For the next 2 years, the Tropics stayed down, and the world’s oceans held steady around 0.2C above 1961 to 1990 average.

Then comes a steady rise over two years to a lesser peak Jan. 2003, but again uniformly pulling all oceans up around 0.4C.  Something changes at this point, with more hemispheric divergence than before. Over the 4 years until Jan 2007, the Tropics go through ups and downs, NH a series of ups and SH mostly downs.  As a result the Global average fluctuates around that same 0.4C, which also turns out to be the average for the entire record since 1995.

2007 stands out with a sharp drop in temperatures so that Jan.08 matches the low in Jan. ’99, but starting from a lower high. The oceans all decline as well, until temps build peaking in 2010.

Now again a different pattern appears.  The Tropics cool sharply to Jan 11, then rise steadily for 4 years to Jan 15, at which point the most recent major El Nino takes off.  But this time in contrast to ’97-’99, the Northern Hemisphere produces peaks every summer pulling up the Global average.  In fact, these NH peaks appear every July starting in 2003, growing stronger to produce 3 massive highs in 2014, 15 and 16.  NH July 2017 was only slightly lower, and a fifth NH peak still lower in Sept. 2018.  Note also that starting in 2014 SH plays a moderating role, offsetting the NH warming pulses. (Note: these are high anomalies on top of the highest absolute temps in the NH.)

What to make of all this? The patterns suggest that in addition to El Ninos in the Pacific driving the Tropic SSTs, something else is going on in the NH.  The obvious culprit is the North Atlantic, since I have seen this sort of pulsing before.  After reading some papers by David Dilley, I confirmed his observation of Atlantic pulses into the Arctic every 8 to 10 years.

But the peaks coming nearly every summer in HadSST require a different picture.  Let’s look at August, the hottest month in the North Atlantic from the Kaplan dataset.
AMO August 2018

The AMO Index is from from Kaplan SST v2, the unaltered and not detrended dataset. By definition, the data are monthly average SSTs interpolated to a 5×5 grid over the North Atlantic basically 0 to 70N. The graph shows warming began after 1992 up to 1998, with a series of matching years since. Because the N. Atlantic has partnered with the Pacific ENSO recently, let’s take a closer look at some AMO years in the last 2 decades.

AMO decade 112018

This graph shows monthly AMO temps for some important years. The Peak years were 1998, 2010 and 2016, with the latter emphasized as the most recent. The other years show lesser warming, with 2007 emphasized as the coolest in the last 20 years. Note the red 2018 line is at the bottom of all these tracks. Most recently November 2018 is 0.50C lower than November 2016, and is the coolest November since 2011.

Summary

The oceans are driving the warming this century.  SSTs took a step up with the 1998 El Nino and have stayed there with help from the North Atlantic, and more recently the Pacific northern “Blob.”  The ocean surfaces are releasing a lot of energy, warming the air, but eventually will have a cooling effect.  The decline after 1937 was rapid by comparison, so one wonders: How long can the oceans keep this up? If the pattern of recent years continues, NH SST anomalies will likely cool in coming months.  Once again, ENSO will probably determine the outcome.

Postscript:

In the most recent GWPF 2017 State of the Climate report, Dr. Humlum made this observation:

“It is instructive to consider the variation of the annual change rate of atmospheric CO2 together with the annual change rates for the global air temperature and global sea surface temperature (Figure 16). All three change rates clearly vary in concert, but with sea surface temperature rates leading the global temperature rates by a few months and atmospheric CO2 rates lagging 11–12 months behind the sea surface temperature rates.”

Footnote: Why Rely on HadSST3

HadSST3 is distinguished from other SST products because HadCRU (Hadley Climatic Research Unit) does not engage in SST interpolation, i.e. infilling estimated anomalies into grid cells lacking sufficient sampling in a given month. From reading the documentation and from queries to Met Office, this is their procedure.

HadSST3 imports data from gridcells containing ocean, excluding land cells. From past records, they have calculated daily and monthly average readings for each grid cell for the period 1961 to 1990. Those temperatures form the baseline from which anomalies are calculated.

In a given month, each gridcell with sufficient sampling is averaged for the month and then the baseline value for that cell and that month is subtracted, resulting in the monthly anomaly for that cell. All cells with monthly anomalies are averaged to produce global, hemispheric and tropical anomalies for the month, based on the cells in those locations. For example, Tropics averages include ocean grid cells lying between latitudes 20N and 20S.

Gridcells lacking sufficient sampling that month are left out of the averaging, and the uncertainty from such missing data is estimated. IMO that is more reasonable than inventing data to infill. And it seems that the Global Drifter Array displayed in the top image is providing more uniform coverage of the oceans than in the past.

uss-pearl-harbor-deploys-global-drifter-buoys-in-pacific-ocean

USS Pearl Harbor deploys Global Drifter Buoys in Pacific Ocean

 

California Renewables to Lose PG&E $$$

 

The investigation continues into the origin of the Camp fire, which some say started with a faulty PG&E wire in Pulga, California. (Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times / TNS)

Sammy Roth of LA Times digs deeper than others into the fallout from PG&E’s wildfire-induced bankrupcy. The article published in The Seattle Times is PG&E bankruptcy could undermine utilities’ efforts against climate change. Excerpts below with my bolds.

Solar and wind developers depend on creditworthy utilities to buy electricity from their projects under long-term contracts, but that calculus changes in a world where a 30-year purchase agreement doesn’t guarantee 30 years of payments.

The Golden State has dramatically reduced planet-warming emissions from the electricity sector, largely by requiring utilities to increase their use of solar and wind power and fund energy-efficiency upgrades for homes and businesses. Lawmakers recently set a target of 100 percent climate-friendly electricity by 2045.

But those government mandates have depended on Pacific Gas & Electric and other utilities being able to invest tens of billions of dollars in clean-energy technologies.

The massive Topaz solar farm in California’s San Luis Obispo County, an electricity supplier to PG&E owned by Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Energy, also saw its credit rating downgraded to junk status this month, amid fears the San Francisco-based utility won’t be able to pay its bills in full.

In the short term, PG&E might stop signing renewable-energy contracts, although contracting had already slowed in the last few years as customers departed in droves for newly established local energy providers run by city and county governments. In the long term, renewable-energy developers and their lenders may hesitate to do business with PG&E — and, potentially, with other California utilities that could also face significant future wildfire costs.

“If we’re having a couple billion dollars a year of fire damage and insurance losses, quite apart from PG&E, this is going to put the entire state of California at risk,” said V. John White, executive director of the Center for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Technologies, a Sacramento-based trade group.

Renewable-energy firms were alarmed by the news of PG&E’s impending bankruptcy filing, and it’s not hard to understand why. Solar and wind developers depend on stable, creditworthy utilities to buy electricity from their projects under long-term contracts known as power-purchase agreements. They’re able to get low-cost loans to build their projects because lenders see little to no risk of a utility defaulting on those contracts.

But that calculus changes in a world where a 30-year power-purchase agreement doesn’t guarantee 30 years of payments at the agreed-upon price, said Ben Serrurier, a San Francisco-based policy manager for solar developer Cypress Creek Renewables. There’s concern in the industry that a bankruptcy court judge could order PG&E to reduce its payments to solar- and wind-project owners to help the company pay off other debts.

WIND ENERGY: Wind turbines in the Tehachapi-Mojave Wind Resource Area near the city of Mojave, California. (Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times / TNS)

“Once you start questioning the sanctity of contracted revenue, you begin to introduce a new risk into renewable-energy project development. So much about project development is about reducing risk so you can reduce your capital cost,” Serrurier said.

It’s not just clean-energy investments that are at risk. In another cruel bit of irony, PG&E’s bankruptcy filing could also make it more difficult for California utilities to raise the capital needed to harden their infrastructure against wildfire, said Travis Kavulla, a former president of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners who now serves as director of energy policy at the R Street Institute, a center-right think tank.

“Bankruptcies are tough. It means people may lose their pensions or get them cut. It means people who invested in projects in California, based on what they thought was a pretty airtight business model of a regulated utility, are getting stiffed,” Kavulla said. “It could create longer-running harms where California is viewed as a market to avoid investment in.”

PG&E has lurched from crisis to crisis since 2010, when one of the company’s gas pipelines exploded in a residential neighborhood in San Bruno, killing eight people. The company was ultimately fined $1.6 billion by the state regulators and $3 million by a federal judge. Last month, the California Public Utilities Commission accused PG&E of continuing to commit pipeline-safety violations in the years after the gas pipeline explosion.

More recently, deadly wildfires have made PG&E the target of raucous protests. The utility’s infrastructure was found to have sparked or contributed to more than a dozen fires that collectively killed 22 people in 2017. State investigators have yet to determine if PG&E is also responsible for 2017’s Tubbs fire, which killed an additional 22 people, and the 2018 Camp fire, which killed 86 people and destroyed most of the town of Paradise.

Some critics have called for lawmakers to break up the massive company, which serves 16 million Californians, and replace it with smaller, government-run electric utilities. But it’s not clear how feasible that would be, or whether it would accomplish anything more than transferring PG&E’s huge liabilities to local governments.Renewable-energy developers, meanwhile, see stabilizing PG&E as an urgent priority. After a series of fires devastated Northern California in October 2017, clean-energy trade groups began urging state lawmakers to help PG&E and other utilities cope with the liability that can ensue if their infrastructure sparks a fire.

In a May 2018 letter to legislative leaders last year, representatives of the solar, wind, geothermal and biomass energy industries said California must find a way to sustain financially solvent investor-owned utilities. Failure to act, they said, “imperils our markets and progress toward our climate goals.”

Ralph Cavanagh, co-director of the energy program at the Natural Resources Defense Council, described PG&E as a “tremendous asset” for meeting the state’s climate-change targets.

He said the state’s three big investor-owned utilities — which also include Southern California Edison and San Diego Gas & Electric — are crucial to making the investments needed to meet California’s ambitious climate targets, including the 100 percent clean-energy mandate and a long-term goal of cutting greenhouse-gas emissions by 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050.

Those investments are likely to include more solar and wind farms, large-scale batteries and other energy storage technologies, and electric vehicle chargers.

“Utilities have been essential clean-energy partners. We don’t want to have to do without them, and we shouldn’t have to do it without them,” Cavanagh said. “It would be much more difficult without them.”

Cavanagh thinks state legislators should change the law so that PG&E and other utilities aren’t held liable for fires sparked by their infrastructure unless they’re found to be negligent.

California’s new Gov. Gavin Newsom could play a key role in determining how the state responds to PG&E’s bankruptcy. At a news conference Monday, he said the state is “still committed to investing in our climate goals.”

“I do not believe, based on the information that I have, that those goals will be significantly altered in the short term as it relates to existing purchases of renewable energy. We are long-term focused on all of the existing requirements that PG&E has encumbered and embraced,” Newsom said.

The Legislature already gave the investor-owned utilities a measure of relief last year by approving Senate Bill 901, which allows them to charge ratepayers for some of the costs they may incur from the 2017 fires. But it’s unclear whether lawmakers have the appetite for another bill that will inevitably be derided as a utility bailout.

A lot could depend on how the bankruptcy court judge handles the company’s existing solar and wind contracts, with developers watching to see whether the owners of those projects keep getting paid in full.

It’s also possible the effects of PG&E’s bankruptcy may not be as serious as solar and wind developers fear.

Ravi Manghani, director of energy storage at the research and consulting firm Wood Mackenzie Power and Renewables, said existing clean-energy contracts “will likely get renegotiated,” with project owners being forced to accept lower payments. But in the long run, he said, California officials “are still committed to the renewable future, and it’s not like the region’s resource and reliability needs disappear with the bankruptcy.”

Another key factor: The investor-owned utilities aren’t the only ones buying clean energy in California.

Most new contracts in recent years have actually been signed by local energy providers known as community choice aggregators, which can be formed by city and county governments whose residents are served by an investor-owned utility. The government-run power agencies decide what kind of electricity to buy for their communities and how much to charge, while investor-owned utilities continue to operate the poles and wires.

There are 19 aggregators operating in California, including Clean Power Alliance, which will begin serving nearly 1 million homes in Los Angeles and Ventura counties in February. The aggregators have signed long-term contracts for more than 2,000 megawatts of renewable energy, according to the California Community Choice Assn.

But the community choice aggregators don’t have the financial wherewithal of the investor-owned utilities, and many of them don’t have credit ratings yet, said Matt Vespa, an attorney at the environmental group Earthjustice. He likes the aggregators but doesn’t think they alone can eliminate planet-warming carbon-dioxide emissions from California’s electric grid.

“When you’re talking about the scale of what we need to do to aggressively decarbonize … they’re not in a position to finance that,” Vespa said.

Summary

California continues to serve as a learning laboratory for misguided and futile climate policies.  This time the lesson (for those with eyes to see) is to demonstrate that renewable energy programs are parasites who feast on the financial lifeblood of their host utilities until the cash is gone.

See Also:  California: World Leading Climate Hypocrite