Arctic Ice Surpasses 2018 Maximum

Sea Ice Extends on the Atlantic Side: 
The animation above shows the last two weeks on the Atlantic side, with Kara achieving its annual maximum and Barents growing ice up to 86% of its max last March. In the upper right the ice solidifies down to Svalbard and fast ice forms along the mainland.  On the left, Baffin ice thickens along the Labrador coast and  a large mass forms along Newfoundland. The Gulf of St. Lawrence is nearly iced over.  Below is the ice recovery on the Pacific side.


Bering on the right retreats and then recovers to stay at 95% of its 2018 maximum.  Meanwhile Okhotsk on the left shows a surge of sea ice, gaining almost 400k km2 over these two weeks.  Bering is well below the 12 year average, while Okhotsk has already passed its 2018 maximum and is 22% above the 12 year average.

The graph below shows February progress in ice extent recovery.

2019 ice extents declined slightly to start the month, then grew rapidly in the last two weeks to nearly match the 12-year average (2007 to 2018 inclusive).  SII lags MASIE by 100k km2 at this date. 2019 is presently matching 2017, and has nearly 500k km2 more ice than 2018.

Interestingly, 2019 extent has already surpassed 14.75 M km2, the 2018 maximum reached on day 74.  Note in the graph that 2017 peaks on day 53, the maximum extent that year.  The average maximum is 15.07 M km2 on day 62, so 2019 has 11 days more to reach that level.

The table below shows the distribution of ice in the various Arctic basins.

Region 2019051 Day 051 
2019-Ave. 2018051 2019-2018
 (0) Northern_Hemisphere 14785938 14847524 -61587 14303929 482009
 (1) Beaufort_Sea 1070498 1070200 297 1070445 53
 (2) Chukchi_Sea 965972 964755 1217 955104 10868
 (3) East_Siberian_Sea 1087137 1087133 4 1087120 18
 (4) Laptev_Sea 897845 897842 3 897845 0
 (5) Kara_Sea 934970 920340 14629 917650 17319
 (6) Barents_Sea 685511 606250 79261 537870 147642
 (7) Greenland_Sea 564543 619655 -55112 440813 123730
 (8) Baffin_Bay_Gulf_of_St._Lawrence 1527391 1487134 40257 1731868 -204477
 (9) Canadian_Archipelago 853337 853036 302 853109 229
 (10) Hudson_Bay 1260903 1260717 186 1260838 66
 (11) Central_Arctic 3239858 3210652 29205 3154998 84860
 (12) Bering_Sea 428805 724586 -295781 211528 217277
 (13) Baltic_Sea 54788 107524 -52735 85965 -31177
 (14) Sea_of_Okhotsk 1194028 977205 216823 1059514 134514

The table shows how 2019 is matching the 12-year average almost everywhere.  Barents has edged 13% ahead of average, and is much higher than last year.  The slight overall deficit is mainly due to Bering ice down nearly 300k km2 to average, only partly offset by the surplus in Okhotsk and Central Arctic.


Footnote:  At his AER blog  Arctic Oscillation and Polar Vortex Analysis and Forecasts Dr. Judah Cohen writes on February 18 regarding this cold winter in the Arctic and NH.  Excerpts in italics with my bolds.


Figure ii. Analysis of surface temperature anomalies ffrom 18 November 2018 until 15 February 2019. Taken from

This winter once again we had what I would refer to as a highly anomalous stratospheric PV split but not as extreme as 2009 and the temperature anomalies for the winter, or certainly post the PV split are probably not going to look that terribly different from 2009. The largest negative departures are likely to be in western North America and Siberia. I will show the winter temperature anomalies with the AER forecast posted in November and from the dynamical models but for today’s blog a quick and dirty surface temperature plot from NOAA will do (Figure ii). The most striking temperature anomalies are what I would consider as a couplet – strong positive temperature anomalies in the Barents-Kara Seas and strong negative temperature anomalies in Siberia. This temperature couplet has been the most consistent feature of Northern Hemisphere winters of probably the past 15-20 years. This gets to the heart of the debate does Arctic change influence mid-latitude weather. I think I have been as emphatic as anybody on the planet that the answer is yes, and this winter will only strengthen my conviction. The other continental region that is likely to have negative departures is Canada and since the PV spit the largest negative departures are centered in Western Canada.


Since November, I have consistently stated that the largest sea ice anomalies and consequently the largest positive atmospheric temperature anomalies will be in the Barents-Kara Seas. I have also discussed how surprising I find it how cold the remainder of the Arctic has been this winter. As an example, I show in Figure iii the global temperature anomalies from yesterday February 17th the The Arctic positive temperature departure is 0.9°C equal to the NH and global temperature departure. This is a far cry from recent winters when the Arctic has warmed at a rate six times the rate of the remainder of the globe. Ironically the globe is currently experiencing Antarctic amplification and not Arctic amplification contrary to expectations.

My thoughts about March haven’t changed much since last week. The stratosphere has worked well as a predictor of North American temperature anomalies and for the most part they seem to support a continuation of cold temperatures focused in western North America. Despite this it is my own experience that cold air focused in western North America tends to shift east with time especially in the late winter. Therefore, based on this empirical observation I was expecting possibly a return to more sustained cold in the eastern US as winter winds down. This is now being predicted by both the GFS and ECMWF models. It is my experience that models may be too quick to predict a pattern change but they are often correct in anticipating the pattern change. But even assuming the eastern US turns colder, will it persist for more than just a few days? My confidence in such an outcome would increase if the Arctic finally warms something that has not really happened so far this winter.



Climate Legal Lucidity At Last!

This looks more like the end of the climate litigation tunnel than an oncoming train.

Finally a federal district court judge puts on his big boy pants and calls a halt to the children’s climate crusade against the legal system.  Climate Liability News has the story Judge Tosses Penn. Case, Says Kids Climate Cases Have No Legal Merit  Excerpts in italics with my bolds.

A federal judge in Pennsylvania dismissed a climate lawsuit brought by an environmental organization and two children against the federal government. The lawsuit, Clean Air Council v. United States, claimed that Trump administration rollbacks of environmental regulations and other “anti-science” decisions violate Constitutional rights and the public trust.

In dismissing the claims on Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Paul Diamond scoffed at what he interpreted as a request that he “supervise any actions the President and his appointees take that might touch on ‘the environment.’”

Beyond ruling on this case, however, Diamond went further to rebuke U.S. District Judge Ann Aiken for her ruling in Juliana v. United States that the young plaintiffs had a Constitutional right to a livable climate. When Aiken ordered that lawsuit to trial in 2016, she said “the right to a climate system capable of sustaining human life is fundamental to a free and ordered society,” becoming the first U.S. judge to recognize that right.

Diamond said that ruling is at odds with previous court decisions and “the Juliana Court certainly contravened or ignored longstanding authority.”

He also took issue with what guaranteeing a stable climate would entail, calling it “without apparent limit.”

In dismissing the case before him, Diamond said the Pennsylvania plaintiffs, who filed the suit in 2017, lacked standing. The two boys said their serious allergies and asthma were directly linked to the impacts of climate change, but Diamond said they failed to directly tie their injuries to government actions. Diamond said he interpreted this case as a political dispute. “Plaintiffs’ disagreement with Defendants is a policy debate best left to the political process,” he wrote.

Diamond was appointed to his post by President George W. Bush in 2004.

The Clean Air Council said in a statement it “respectfully disagrees with the decision” and is discussing the next steps with its counsel.

“The Trump administration continues to rely on junk science to implement reckless climate change policies in the face of indisputable U.S. and international scientific consensus. For decades, the U.S. government has acknowledged that climate change presents a clear and present danger to life, and represents an urgent and potentially irreversible threat to human societies and the planet. These acts of deliberate indifference are increasing U.S. contributions to climate change, thereby increasing the frequency and intensity of its life-threatening effects, and violating our constitutional rights,” said Joseph Otis Minott, executive director and chief counsel of the Clean Air Council.

“We are troubled that the opinion states the federal government ‘do[es] not produce greenhouse gases’ and that ‘climate change is the creation of those that pollute the air, not the Government,’” he added. “These statements are both irrelevant to our claims and factually incorrect.”

Diamond made clear he does not see a role for the judiciary in climate policy and argued that Aiken’s recognition of the public trust claims in Juliana was an incorrect expansion of that doctrine beyond its traditional concept governing only navigable waters.

“Plaintiffs seek to create an entirely new doctrine—investing the Federal Government with an affirmative duty to protect all land and resources within the United States,” Diamond wrote. “The Juliana Court alone has recognized this new doctrine. Again, that Court’s reasoning is less than persuasive.”




Climate Red Team Forming

Reuters has the story White House readies panel to question security risks of climate by Timothy Gardner.  Excerpts below with my bolds.

The White House is readying a presidential panel that would question U.S. military and intelligence reports showing human-driven climate change poses risks to national security, according to a document seen by Reuters on Wednesday.

The effort comes as President Donald Trump seeks to expand U.S. production of crude oil, natural gas, and coal, and unwind regulatory hurdles on doing so.

The panel, to be formed by an executive order by Trump, would be headed by William Happer, a retired Princeton University physics professor currently on the White House’s National Security Council.

Happer disagrees with mainstream climate science and believes that emissions of the main greenhouse gas that scientists blame for climate change – carbon dioxide – benefits the planet by helping plants grow.

The document calls into question U.S. government reports that say climate change poses risks to national security, including the 2019 Worldwide Threat Assessment from the office of the Director of National Intelligence (DNI), Dan Coats.

“These scientific and national security judgments have not undergone a rigorous independent and adversarial scientific peer review to examine the certainties and uncertainties of climate science, as well as implications for national security,” the document said.

The annual DNI report, issued in January, said droughts, floods, wildfires and rising seas made worse by climate change and environmental degradation pose global threats to infrastructure and security.

In January, the Department of Defense said climate change was a national security issue and listed 79 domestic bases at risk from floods, drought, encroaching deserts, wildfires and in Alaska, thawing permafrost.

Rhode Island is home to three military bases, threatened by computer model sea level projections.

U.S. officials have also said that climate change can burden the military by increasing the number of global humanitarian missions in which it participates.

The White House is holding a meeting on Feb. 22 in the situation room to discuss an upcoming executive order by Trump to set up the committee, made up of 12 or fewer people, said the document, dated Feb. 14. The document was first reported by the Washington Post.

Trump has repeatedly cast doubt on the science of climate change, arguing that the causes and impacts are not yet settled. As a temporary blast of frigid cold hit the Midwest last month he said on Twitter “What the Hell is going on with Global Wa(r)ming. Please come back fast, we need you!”

Happer, who does not have a background in climate, has served on the NSC since 2018 as deputy assistant to the president for emerging technologies, and complained that carbon dioxide emissions have been maligned, a position strongly opposed by a vast majority of climate scientists. [Gardner misleads and betrays his own ignorance with this editorial comment.  In fact Happer is a radiative energy expert]

Happer said on CNBC in 2014 that the “demonization of carbon dioxide is just like the demonization of the poor Jews under Hitler.”

Francesco Femia, the co-founder of the Center for Climate & Security, a non-profit research and policy group, called the panel a “sham committee” that could put a chill on further analysis of climate risks from some members of military and intelligence agencies.

“I am worried there will be a reticence among some in the future to include those risks in their public reports for fear of having to deal with this political committee in the White House, because ultimately the heads of departments and agencies serve at the pleasure of the president,” Femia said.

Gardner quotes someone concerned that people might become accountable for their repeating climate nostrums unsupported by facts. Had Gardner done his homework he would have been informed by this William Happer Interview where his expertise is obvious, though contrary to Gardner’s beliefs.

Climatists have long operated their “rapid response” network to denigrate any and all who questioned the climate catechism.  No doubt they will not resist countering the panel’s pronouncements.  Let the games begin.

January Ocean SSTs Cooling

volvo_globpopThe 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 January 2019.


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 4 months.  The Tropics rose steadily until November, and are now cooling as well.  With little change in SH, the Global anomaly cooled further.

All regions are slightly warmer than 01/2015, but much cooler than 01/2016.  The January Global anomaly is 0.2 lower than 2016;  NH is 0.22 lower, SH is 0.16 lower and the Tropics  are down 0.52 from 01/2016. The rise in the Tropics had suggested a possible El Nino, but is now cooling 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.

Hadsst1995 to 012019

Open image in new tab to enlarge.

1995 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.


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 December 2018 is 0.4C lower than December 2016, and is the coolest December since 2000.


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.


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


Cosmic Dichotomy: Peterson’s Pearls (1)

This is the first of a series of posts based upon Jordan Peterson’s book Maps of Meaning, published in 1999 after 17 years of research and writing. It is rich in description and insight with many references and quotations from original sources. Reading it I began to copy passages that struck me as especially lucid and pertinent. Those paragraphs of his text are provided below in italics as excerpts selected to explain five themes emerging in my reflections while pondering his book. This post explores one of those themes. Before that is an overview to explain why this is important to me and perhaps to others.

Introduction, Context and My Reflections

I have long been interested in the interface between science and religion, since my education includes degrees in both Organic Chemistry and Theology. The interaction between faith and fact is brought to heightened awareness by Jordan Peterson’s book Maps of Meaning bringing recent psychology and neurology insights to bear on the interrelation. As usual, Peterson surprises by staking out a position honoring and balancing seemingly contrary perspectives. The history of science is replete with examples of how observations and and discoveries were motivated by flashes of inspiration coming from hidden places. One guru I admired used to say he went to sleep with questions and in the morning he could comb the answers out of his hair. The structure of benzene was revealed long ago in just that way.

Peterson provides a framework for understanding and appreciating how myth and science serve us, how we operate in a zone between known and unknown, between what is and what should be. And he reminds us that mythological thinking is primordial for both individuals and societies. Reading this book reminded me of experiences working in community development when I would lead workshop discussions with people wanting to improve their neighborhoods or villages. At the round-table brainstorming we asked them to say what things in their community they would change to make it better. And as Peterson notes, the responses most often came out of the ideal, their community as it should be. For instance, someone might say, “There is a lack of community services.” My job as facilitator was to press that participant to describe the specific existing condition of concern. The interchange might end with a statement: “The streets are full of junk people just throw away. It just stays there and the place is mess.” Now we have an actionable item: A definite gap between “what is” and “what should be.” After an hour or more, we have a list of dozens of items that can be categorized into targets for improvement programs. In management and organizational consulting there is a saying: “A problem well-defined is halfway solved.” The next step is making a plan to get from a to b.

So the ideal or mythological provides a value set from which we choose things to study and to bring under our control either by understanding (reducing the fear of the unknown), or by actually manipulating the thing to serve our purpose. Ancient stargazers designed constellations and gave them mythological identities to make them familiar and less menacing. Astrologers provided guidance how to take advantage or precaution in our actions considering the stars and planets influences. With advances in telescopes astronomers could map the orbits, and events like eclipses could be predicted, making them them occasions of wonder rather than terror.

The field of climate is in a rudimentary state. The ancients made sacrifices to assure favorable weather for agriculture and for safety from storms. Climatology was and is the documenting of weather observations to discern patterns over seasons, years and longer. Weather forecasting makes use of such patterns and enhanced observations from airplanes, drones and satellites to give us warnings and time to prepare for destructive events. The mythological is honored by giving human names to storms, originally only female designations, respecting the unpredictable nature of the timing and location of destruction. (Q: Why is a woman like a hurricane? A: She comes in hot and steamy, and she leaves with your house and car.)

Nowadays, weather forecasts are improved but still are increasingly uncertain after a few days, being SWAGs after a week. (Scientific Wild-Ass Guess). Storms may now have male names, since men can also be out of control. Gender-neutral names are the latest development, to the point where some PC parents name a child “Storm” not to limit its gender options. If this suggests that a new mythology has overtaken the science, then you have got my drift. The whole notion that our computer models can predict future surface temperatures up to a century from now shows that climatology is closer to astrology than to astronomy.

Those who claim “The Science is Settled” are actually giving up on our understanding climate. As Peterson says, unexplored territory is approached with fear and any approach is made under anxiety, which is exactly what global warming doomsayers are manifesting. Many of these are urban dwellers who fear that nature is out of control, and they default to a mindset typical of pre-experimental people. In a primitive way they think that cities can be spared by sacrificing fossil fuels like a sacrificial lamb. In olden days people made idols in their own images and worshiped them to ensure favorable weather. Today people bow before computer models they have made, whose predictions are sure to scare the bejesus out of us.

[Note: I use the word “cosmic” since each individual’s world is at risk, and as we see in the agitation over climate change, entire social groups can also fear for their collective world.]

Jordan Peterson on the Cosmic Dichotomy (Excerpts from Maps of Meaning: The Architecture of Belief Title is link to pdf)

My religious convictions, ill-formed to begin with, disappeared when I was very young. My confidence in socialism (that is, in political utopia) vanished when I realized that the world was not merely a place of economics. My faith in ideology departed, when I began to see that ideological identification itself posed a profound and mysterious problem. I could not accept the theoretical explanations my chosen field of study had to offer, and no longer had any practical reasons to continue in my original direction. I finished my three-year bachelor’s degree, and left university. All my beliefs—which had lent order to the chaos of my existence, at least temporarily—had proved illusory; I could no longer see the sense in things. I was cast adrift; I did not know what to do or what to think.

The people I knew well were no more resolutely goal-directed or satisfied than I was. Their beliefs and modes of being seemed merely to disguise frequent doubt and profound disquietude. More disturbingly, on the more general plane, something truly insane was taking place. The great societies of the world were feverishly constructing a nuclear machine, with unimaginably destructive capabilities. Someone or something was making terrible plans. Why? Theoretically normal and well-adapted people were going about their business prosaically, as if nothing were the matter. Why weren’t they disturbed? Weren’t they paying attention? Wasn’t I?

My concern with the general social and political insanity and evil of the world— sublimated by temporary infatuation with utopian socialism and political machination— returned with a vengeance. The mysterious fact of the Cold War increasingly occupied the forefront of my consciousness. How could things have come to such ah point?

All the things I “believed” were things I thought sounded good, admirable, respectable, courageous. They weren’t my things, however—I had stolen them. Most of them I had taken from books. Having “understood” them, abstractly, I presumed I had a right to them—presumed that I could adopt them, as if they were mine: presumed that they were me. My head was stuffed full of the ideas of others; stuffed full of arguments I could not logically refute. I did not know then that an irrefutable argument is not necessarily true, nor that the right to identify with certain ideas had to be earned.

The study of “comparative mythological material” in fact made my horrible dreams disappear. The cure wrought by this study, however, was purchased at the price of complete and often painful transformation: what I believe about the world, now—and how I act, in consequence—is so much at variance with what I believed when I was younger that I might as well be a completely different person.

I discovered that beliefs make the world, in a very real way—that beliefs are the world, in a more than metaphysical sense. This discovery has not turned me into a moral relativist, however: quite the contrary. I have become convinced that the world-that-is-belief is orderly; that there are universal moral absolutes (although these are structured such that a diverse range of human opinion remains both possible and beneficial). I believe that individuals and societies who flout these absolutes—in ignorance or in willful opposition—are doomed to misery and eventual dissolution.

I hope that I can bring those who read this book to the same conclusions, without demanding any unreasonable “suspension of critical judgment”—excepting that necessary to initially encounter and consider the arguments I present.

The world can be validly construed as a forum for action, as well as a place of things. We describe the world as a place of things, using the formal methods of science. The techniques of narrative, however—myth, literature and drama—portray the world as a forum for action. The two forms of representation have been unnecessarily set at odds, because we have not yet formed a clear picture of their respective domains. The domain of the former is the objective world—what is, from the perspective of intersubjective perception. The domain of the latter is the world of value—what is and what should be, from the perspective of emotion and action.

The former manner of interpretation-more primordial, and less clearly understood-finds its expression in the arts or humanities, in ritual, drama, literature and mythology. The world as forum for action is a place of value, a place where all things have meaning. This meaning, which is shaped as a consequence of social interaction, is implication for action, or-at a higher level of analysisimplication for the configuration of the interpretive schema that produces or guides action.

The latter manner of interpretation-the world as place of things-finds its formal expression in the methods and theories of science. Science allows for increasingly precise determination of the consensually validatable properties of things, and for efficient utilization of precisely determined things as tools (once the direction such use is to take has been determined, through application of more fundamental narrative processes).

No complete world-picture can be generated without use of both modes of construal. The fact that one mode is generally set at odds with the other means only that the nature of their respective domains remains insufficiently discriminated. Adherents of the mythological worldview tend to regard the statements of their creeds as indistinguishable from empirical “fact,” even though such statements were generally formulated long before the notion of objective reality emerged. Those who, by contrast, accept the scientific perspective—who assume that it is, or might become, complete—forget that an impassable gulf currently divides what is from what should be.

We need to know four things:
what there is,
what to do about what there is,
that there is a difference between knowing what there is, and knowing what to do about what there is
and what that difference is.

Imagine that a baby girl, toddling around in the course of her initial tentative investigations, reaches up onto a countertop to touch a fragile and expensive glass sculpture. She observes its color, sees its shine, feels that it is smooth and cold and heavy to the touch. Suddenly her mother interferes, grasps her hand, tells her not to ever touch that object. The child has just learned a number of specifically consequential things about the sculpture—has identified its sensory properties, certainly. More importantly, however, she has determined that approached in the wrong manner, the sculpture is dangerous (at least in the presence of mother); has discovered as well that the sculpture is regarded more highly, in its present unaltered configuration, than the exploratory tendency—at least (once again) by mother. The baby girl has simultaneously encountered an object, from the empirical perspective, and its socioculturally determined status. The empirical object might be regarded as those sensory properties “intrinsic” to the object. The status of the object, by contrast, consists of its meaning—consists of its implication for behavior. Everything a child encounters has this dual nature, experienced by the child as part of a unified totality. Everything is something, and means something—and the distinction between essence and significance is not necessarily drawn.

The automatic attribution of meaning to things—or the failure to distinguish between them initially—is a characteristic of narrative, of myth, not of scientific thought. Narrative accurately captures the nature of raw experience. Things are scary, people are irritating, events are promising, food is satisfying—at least in terms of our basic experience. The modern mind, which regards itself as having transcended the domain of the magical, is nonetheless still endlessly capable of “irrational” (read motivated) reactions. We fall under the spell of experience whenever we attribute our frustration, aggression, devotion or lust to the person or situation that exists as the proximal “cause” of such agitation. We are not yet “objective,” even in our most clear-headed moments (and thank God for that). We become immediately immersed in a motion picture or a novel, and willingly suspend disbelief. We become impressed or terrified, despite ourselves, in the presence of a sufficiently powerful cultural figurehead (an intellectual idol, a sports superstar, a movie actor, a political leader, the pope, a famous beauty, even our superior at work)—in the presence, that is, of anyone who sufficiently embodies the oft-implicit values and ideals that protect us from disorder and lead us on.

The “natural,” pre-experimental, or mythical mind is in fact primarily concerned with meaning—which is essentially implication for action—and not with “objective” nature. . .And, in truth—in real life—to know what something is still means to know two things about it: its motivational relevance, and the specific nature of its sensory qualities. The two forms of knowing are not identical; furthermore, experience and registration of the former necessarily precedes development of the latter. Something must have emotional impact before it will attract enough attention to be explored and mapped in accordance with its sensory properties.

How, precisely, did people think, not so very long ago, before they were experimentalists? What were things before they were objective things? These are very difficult questions. The “things” that existed prior to the development of experimental science do not appear valid either as things or as the meaning of things to the modern mind.

The alchemist could not separate his subjective ideas about the nature of things—that is, his hypotheses—from the things themselves. His hypotheses, in turn—products of his imagination—were derived from the unquestioned and unrecognized “explanatory” presuppositions that made up his culture. The medieval man lived, for example, in a universe that was moral—where everything, even ores and metals, strived above all for perfection. Things, for the alchemical mind, were therefore characterized in large part by their moral nature—by their impact on what we would describe as affect, emotion or motivation; were therefore characterized by their relevance or value (which is impact on affect). Description of this relevance took narrative form, mythic form—as in the example drawn from Jung, where the sulphuric aspect of the sun’s substance is attributed negative, demonic characteristics. It was the great feat of science to strip affect from perception, so to speak, and to allow for the description of experiences purely in terms of their consensually apprehensible features. However, it is the case that the affects generated by experiences are real, as well.

We have lost the mythic universe of the pre-experimental mind, or have at least ceased to further its development. That loss has left our increased technological power ever more dangerously at the mercy of our still unconscious systems of valuation.

Prior to the time of Descartes, Bacon and Newton, man lived in an animated, spiritual world, saturated with meaning, imbued with moral purpose. The nature of this purpose was revealed in the stories people told each other—stories about the structure of the cosmos and the place of man. But now we think empirically (at least we think we think empirically), and the spirits that once inhabited the universe have vanished.

Furthermore—and more importantly—the new theories that arose to make sense of empirical reality posed a severe threat to the integrity of traditional models of reality, which had provided the world with determinate meaning. The mythological cosmos had man at its midpoint; the objective universe was heliocentric at first, and less than that later. Man no longer occupies center stage. The world is, in consequence, a completely different place.

The mythological perspective has been overthrown by the empirical; or so it appears. This should mean that the morality predicated upon such myth should have disappeared, as well, as belief in comfortable illusion vanished.

If the presuppositions of a theory have been invalidated, argues Nietzsche, then the theory has been invalidated. But in this case the “theory” survives. The fundamental tenets of the Judeo-Christian moral tradition continue to govern every aspect of the actual individual behavior and basic values of the typical Westerner—even if he is atheistic and well-educated, even if his abstract notions and utterances appear iconoclastic.

Our systems of post-experimental thought and our systems of motivation and action therefore co-exist in paradoxical union. One is “up-to-date”; the other, archaic. One is scientific; the other, traditional, even superstitious. We have become atheistic in our description, but remain evidently religious—that is, moral—in our disposition.

We have become trapped by our own capacity for abstraction: it provides us with accurate descriptive information but also undermines our belief in the utility and meaning of existence. This problem has frequently been regarded as tragic (it seems to me, at least, ridiculous)—and has been thoroughly explored in existential philosophy and literature.

Our behavior is shaped (at least in the ideal) by the same mythic rules—thou shalt not kill, thou shalt not covet—that guided our ancestors for the thousands of years they lived without benefit of formal empirical thought. This means that those rules are so powerful—so necessary, at least—that they maintain their existence (and expand their domain) even in the presence of explicit theories that undermine their validity. That is a mystery. And here is another:

How is it that complex and admirable ancient civilizations could have developed and flourished, initially, if they were predicated upon nonsense? If a culture survives, and grows, does that not indicate in some profound way that the ideas it is based upon are valid?

Our great rationalist ideologies, after all—fascist, say, or communist— demonstrated their essential uselessness within the space of mere generations, despite their intellectually compelling nature. Traditional societies, predicated on religious notions, have survived—essentially unchanged, in some cases, for tens of thousands of years. How can this longevity be understood?

We do not understand pre-experimental thinking, so we try to explain it in terms that we do understand—which means that we explain it away, define it as nonsense. After all, we think scientifically—so we believe—and we think we know what that means (since scientific thinking can in principle be defined). We are familiar with scientific thinking and value it highly—so we tend to presume that it is all there is to thinking (presume that all other “forms of thought” are approximations, at best, to the ideal of scientific thought). But this is not accurate. Thinking also and more fundamentally is specification of value, specification of implication for behavior.

The painstaking empirical process of identification, communication and comparison has proved to be a strikingly effective means for specifying the nature of the relatively invariant features of the collectively apprehensible world. Unfortunately, this useful methodology cannot be applied to determination of value—to consideration of what should be, to specification of the direction that things should take (which means, to description of the future we should construct, as a consequence of our actions). Such acts of valuation necessarily constitute moral decisions. We can use information generated in consequence of the application of science to guide those decisions, but not to tell us if they are correct. We lack a process of verification, in the moral domain, that is as powerful or as universally acceptable as the experimental (empirical) method in the realm of description.

This absence does not allow us to sidestep the problem. No functioning society or individual can avoid rendering moral judgment, regardless of what might be said or imagined about the necessity of such judgment. Action presupposes valuation, or its implicit or “unconscious” equivalent. To act is literally to manifest preference about one set of possibilities, contrasted with an infinite set of alternatives. If we wish to live, we must act. Acting, we value. Lacking omniscience, painfully, we must make decisions, in the absence of sufficient information. It is, traditionally speaking, our knowledge of good and evil, our moral sensibility, that allows us this ability. It is our mythological conventions, operating implicitly or explicitly, that guide our choices. But what are these conventions? How are we to understand the fact of their existence? How are we to understand them?

Our constant cross-cultural interchanges and our capacity for critical reasoning have undermined our faith in the traditions of our forebears, perhaps for good reason. However, the individual cannot live without belief—without action and valuation—and science cannot provide that belief. We must nonetheless put our faith into something. Are the myths we have turned to since the rise of science more sophisticated, less dangerous, and more complete than those we rejected?

The ideological structures that dominated social relations in the twentieth century appear no less absurd, on the face of it, than the older belief systems they supplanted; they lacked, in addition, any of the incomprehensible mystery that necessarily remains part of genuinely artistic and creative production. The fundamental propositions of fascism and communism were rational, logical, statable, comprehensible—and terribly wrong.

No great ideological struggle presently tears at the soul of the world, but it is difficult to believe that we have outgrown our gullibility. The rise of the New Age movement in the West, for example—as compensation for the decline of traditional spirituality—provides sufficient evidence for our continued ability to swallow a camel, while straining at a gnat.

Could we do better? Is it possible to understand what might reasonably, even admirably, be believed, after understanding that we must believe? Our vast power makes self-control (and, perhaps, self-comprehension) a necessity—so we have the motivation, at least in principle. Furthermore, the time is auspicious. The third Christian millennium is dawning—at the end of an era when we have demonstrated, to the apparent satisfaction of everyone, that certain forms of social regulation just do not work (even when judged by their own criteria for success).

Footnote: Navajos and Prairie Dogs

The intersection of folk and scientific wisdom is demonstrated in a case regarding an Arizona Navajo reservation.

Government officials in the 1950’s proposed to get rid of prairie dogs on some parts of the reservation in order to protect the roots of the sparse desert grass and thereby maintain at least marginal grazing for sheep.

Navajos objected strongly, insisting, “If you kill off all the prairie dogs, there will be no one to cry for the rain.” Of course they were assured by the amused government men that there was no conceivable connection between rain and prairie dogs, a fact that could be proven easily by a simple scientific experiment: a specific area would be set aside and all the burrowing animals there would be exterminated.

The experiment was carried out, over the continued objections of the Navajos, and its outcome was surprising only to the white scientists. Today, the area […] has become a virtual wasteland with very little grass. Apparently, without the ground-turning processes of the little burrowing animals, the sand in the area becomes solidly packed, causing a fierce runoff whenever it rains.

It would be incautious to suggest in this instance that the Navajos were possessed of a clear, conscious objective theory about water retention and absorption in packed sand. On the other hand, it would be difficult to ignore the fact that the Navajo myth system, which insists on delicate reciprocal responsibilities among elements of nature, dramatized more accurately than our science the results of an imbalance between principals in the rain process. (Barre Toelken here p. 21)

But folk wisdom is an unreliable, inconsistent kind of wisdom. For one thing, most proverbs coexist with their exact opposites, or at least with proverbs that give somewhat different advice. Now that climate change has passed into social discourse, proverbs and unsubstantiated claims are voiced among like-minded people, thereby reinforcing shared beliefs without any critical analysis to verify an objective reality to the sayings.

Disney’s portrayal of the Sorcerer’s Apprentice in over his head.

The moral of the story pertains to the arrogance of scientists who think they have empirical understanding of a natural system, and can predict its behavior. The deeper truth is that even when knowledge is added by experiment, life and the world contain other mysteries yet to be explored. Each new answer raises many new questions, if we are brave and curious enough to investigate. In later posts, Peterson gets into the perversion of turning a present scientific understanding into an ideology, i.e. freezing a relative, incomplete known into a myth, thus discouraging further analysis in order to protect the status quo.

Congressional Climate Resolution

The current world political climate is shame-and-blame in order to gain approvals for drastic reduction of CO2. Thus pressure is applied to political officials at every level to show their colors on acting to “fight climate change.”  The so-called Green New Deal will apparently be put as a resolution for the House to vote its approval of the concept.  It seems timely to propose an alternative resolution.

There is no place to hide these days, and politicians who have a rational position on climate science had better legislate on the issue. A common sense legislative motion could read something like this (followed by supporting documentation and references).


Whereas, Extent of global sea ice is within the range of historical variability;

Whereas, Populations of polar bears are generally growing;

Whereas, Sea levels have been slowly rising at the same rate since the Little Ice Age ended 150 years ago;

Whereas, Oceans will not become acidic due to buffering from extensive mineral deposits and marine life is well adapted to pH fluctuations that do occur;

Whereas, Extreme weather events have not increased in recent decades and such events are more associated to periods of cooling rather than warming;

Whereas, Cold spells, not heat waves, are the greater threat to human life and prosperity;

Therefore, This chamber agrees that climate is variable and prudent public officials should plan for future periods both colder and warmer than the present. Two principle objectives will be robust infrastructure and reliable, affordable energy.


The underlying issue is the assumption that the future can only be warmer than the present. Once you accept the notion that CO2 makes the earth’s surface warmer (an unproven conjecture), then temperatures can only go higher since CO2 keeps rising. The present plateau in temperatures is inconvenient, but actual cooling would directly contradict the CO2 doctrine. Some excuses can be fabricated for a time, but an extended period of cooling undermines the whole global warming mantra.

It’s not a matter of fearing a new ice age. That will come eventually, according to our planet’s history, but the warning will come from increasing ice extent in the Northern Hemisphere. Presently infrastructures in many places are not ready to meet a return of 1950s weather, let alone something unprecedented.

Public policy must include preparations for cooling since that is the greater hazard. Cold harms the biosphere: plants, animals and humans. And it is expensive and energy intensive to protect life from the ravages of cold. Society can not afford to be in denial about the prospect of the current temperature plateau ending with cooling.


The Trudeau initiative is an example of the alternative to legislating a rational position. It is virtue-signalling by adopting a token carbon price, which will not lower CO2 concentrations, nor reduce temperatures. The tax will enrich government coffers, which is a key motivation for politicians hiding behind this noble cause.

In 2015, gasoline taxes in Canada represented on average 38.5 cents per litre, which is approximately 35% of the pump price. That includes 10¢/litre federal tax, provincial fuel taxes ranging from 6 to 19 ¢/litre, plus sales taxes. Taxing at $10 a tonne starting in 2018 would add a carbon tax on top as shown below:

Fuel Type UNITS FOR TAX 2018 Added Tax
Gasoline ¢/litre 2.22
Diesel (light fuel oil) ¢/litre 2.56
Jet Fuel ¢/litre 2.61
Natural Gas ¢/litre 1.90
Propane ¢/litre 1.54
Coal – high heat value $/tonne 20.77
Coal – low heat value $/tonne 17.77

These pennies added on top will not change behavior, but millions of consumers’ dollars will be skimmed in a hidden way, including rising transportation costs of everything.

If this was anything other than a tax grab, they would do one or both of two things:

  • Make the tax revenue neutral by paying the monies collected back to consumers; and
  • Make the increases in the carbon tax rate conditional upon rising temperatures as measured by satellites. (as proposed by economist Ross McKitrick)


January Cooling by Land, A Surprise by Sea


With apologies to Paul Revere, this post is on the lookout for cooler weather with an eye on both the Land and the Sea.  UAH has updated their tlt (temperatures in lower troposphere) dataset for January.   Previously I have done posts on their reading of ocean air temps as a prelude to updated records from HADSST3. This month I will add a separate graph of land air temps because the comparisons and contrasts are interesting as we contemplate possible cooling in coming months and years.

Presently sea surface temperatures (SST) are the best available indicator of heat content gained or lost from earth’s climate system.  Enthalpy is the thermodynamic term for total heat content in a system, and humidity differences in air parcels affect enthalpy.  Measuring water temperature directly avoids distorted impressions from air measurements.  In addition, ocean covers 71% of the planet surface and thus dominates surface temperature estimates.  Eventually we will likely have reliable means of recording water temperatures at depth.

Recently, Dr. Ole Humlum reported from his research that air temperatures lag 2-3 months behind changes in SST.  He also observed that changes in CO2 atmospheric concentrations lag behind SST by 11-12 months.  This latter point is addressed in a previous post Who to Blame for Rising CO2?

The January update to HadSST3 will appear later this month, but in the meantime we can look at lower troposphere temperatures (TLT) from UAHv6 which are already posted for January. The temperature record is derived from microwave sounding units (MSU) on board satellites like the one pictured above.

The UAH dataset includes temperature results for air above the oceans, and thus should be most comparable to the SSTs. There is the additional feature that ocean air temps avoid Urban Heat Islands (UHI).  The graph below shows monthly anomalies for ocean temps since January 2015.

UAH Oceans 201901The anomalies over the entire ocean dropped to the same value, 0.12C  in August (Tropics were 0.13C).  Warming in previous months was erased, and September added very little warming back. In October and November NH and the Tropics rose, joined by SH.  In December 2018 all regions cooled resulting in a global drop of nearly 0.1C. Now in January an upward jump in SH overcame slight cooling in NH and the Tropics, pulling up the Global anomaly as well.  While the trajectory is not yet set, it is the highest ocean air January since 2016.

Land Air Temperatures Tracking Downward in Seesaw Pattern

We sometimes overlook that in climate temperature records, while the oceans are measured directly with SSTs, land temps are measured only indirectly.  The land temperature records at surface stations record air temps at 2 meters above ground.  UAH gives tlt anomalies for air over land separately from ocean air temps.  The graph updated for January is below.UAH Land 201901

The greater volatility of the Land temperatures is evident, and also the dominance of NH, which has twice as much land area as SH.  Note how global peaks mirror NH peaks.  In December air over Tropics fell sharply, SH slightly, while the NH land surfaces rose, pulling up the Global anomaly for the month.  In January  both NH and SH cooled slightly, pulling the Global anomaly down despite some Tropical warming. Presently, air temps over land were the lowest January since 2014 both Globally and for the NH, despite warmer temps over SH and Tropical land areas.


TLTs include mixing above the oceans and probably some influence from nearby more volatile land temps.  Clearly NH and Global land temps have been dropping in a seesaw pattern, now more than 1C lower than the peak in 2016.  TLT measures started the recent cooling later than SSTs from HadSST3, but are now showing the same pattern.  It seems obvious that despite the three El Ninos, their warming has not persisted, and without them it would probably have cooled since 1995.  Of course, the future has not yet been written.


US Refined Coal Surging

Despite predictions that US coal production and use are doomed, Trump policies are sparking an increase in “clean coal”, i.e. refined coal. Activists/alarmists say there is no such thing as clean coal, but as usual they conflate actual air pollution with CO2 emissions, which are plant food rather than toxic. A recent article from EIA explains the rise of refined coal U.S. production and use of refined coal continues to increase. Excerpts in italics with my bolds.

U.S. production of refined coal, which is coal that has been processed to reduce emissions when burned, reached record highs in 2017, and it is expected to increase even further in 2018. Use of refined coal has increased despite the general decline in total U.S. coal consumption since 2008. For the first three quarters of 2018, EIA estimates that refined coal production totaled 121 million short tons (MMst), which is 21% of the total U.S. coal production of 563 million short tons.

According to EIA estimates, refined coal’s share of total coal tonnage consumed for U.S. electricity generation will have increased from 15% in 2016 to more than 18% through October 2018. EIA began collecting data on generation from refined coal in 2016.

Refined coal generated more than 235 million megawatthours (MWh) of U.S. electricity in 2017, or 20% of net coal generation, an increase of 2% from 2016. EIA estimates of refined coal through October 2018 suggest an even larger increase in refined coal use to more than 22% of total coal generation.

Refined coal is most commonly made by mixing proprietary additives to feedstock coal. These additives increase the production of mercury oxides, which can then be captured by using mercury emission reduction technologies such as flue gas desulfurization scrubbers and particulate matter control systems.

Refined coal production qualifies for a tax credit under the American Jobs Creation Act of 2004. To qualify for the refined coal tax credit, producers must have a qualified professional engineer demonstrate that burning the refined coal results in a 20% emissions reduction of nitrogen oxide and a 40% emissions reduction of either sulfur dioxide or mercury compared with the emissions that would result from burning feedstock coal. The tax credit was designed to increase with inflation and was valued at $6.91 per short ton produced in 2017 and $7.10 per short ton in 2018. EIA surveys show respondents continued to add refined-coal burning plants even as older conventional coal plants retire, with 36 new refined coal plants coming online from 2016 through October 2018.


US technology is progressing to reduce air pollution. The principal issues are:
Nitrogen oxides (NOx), Sulfur dioxide (SO2), Mercury (HG), and Particulate matter (PM).

The combination of refining the coal feedstock along with scrubbers is removing the actual environmental hazards. What is left is the unproven claim of global warming/climate change as the reason to deprive people of the benefits of burning coal for gaining power. Power to the people indeed.


A previous post highlighted the mismanaged Ontario phase-out of coal power plants, driven by CO2 obsession but justified by appealing to air pollution.  See Ontario Coal Phase-out: All Pain, No Gain


Multiple Reasons to Dismiss Kid’s Lawsuit

A monkey wrench in the Works.

Previous posts have followed the twists and turns of the lawsuit Juliana vs. US, initiated and funded by Our Children’s Trust.  In November the Supreme Court signaled their desire that lower courts rein in the scope of the lawsuit.  The District Court backed off and now the Ninth Circuit Court will take up the appeal in advance of any trial activity.

The latest development is the US government (the Appellant) making its initial filing Feb. 1, 2019, now available for public scrutiny.

The document is Appellants’ Opening Brief Excerpt in italics with my bolds.


The district court first erred when it denied the government’s motion to dismiss this action. It erred again when it denied the government’s motions for judgment on the pleadings and for summary judgment. This Court should reverse for any of the following independent reasons:

1. Plaintiffs cannot establish any of the three requirements for Article III standing. Plaintiffs have only a generalized grievance and not the required particularized injury because global climate change affects everyone in the world. They cannot demonstrate causation because climate change stems from a complex, world-spanning web of actions across all fields of human endeavor, and Plaintiffs cannot plausibly connect their narrow asserted injuries — like flooding or drought in their neighborhoods — to any particular conduct by the government. In addition, Plaintiffs’ alleged injuries are not redressable because a single district judge may not (consistent with Article III and the equitable authority of federal courts) seize control of national energy production, energy consumption, and transportation in the ways that would be required to implement Plaintiffs’ demanded remedies.

Separate and apart from Plaintiffs’ failure to satisfy the three standing requirements, this action is fundamentally not a case or controversy under Article III. Plaintiffs did not ask the district court to resolve anything resembling the kind of dispute that gave rise to jurisdiction at common law or the adoption of Article III; Plaintiffs instead asked the district court to review all of the representative branches’ programs and regulatory decisions relating to climate change over the past several decades and then pass upon their constitutionality in the aggregate. No federal court has the power to perform such a sweeping policy review, and no federal court has ever done anything close to what Plaintiffs seek here.

2. Plaintiffs have failed to pursue any claim under the APA or any other remedial scheme established by Congress for review of federal agency action or inaction. At its core, Plaintiffs’ action challenges a vast number of federal agency actions and inactions, yet Plaintiffs have refused to comply with the requirements of the APA. Plaintiffs may not circumvent Congress’s considered judgment to channel such challenges through the APA by asserting a right to proceed directly under the Constitution or the courts’ equitable authority; the existence of the APA forecloses those potential causes of action.

3. Even if Plaintiffs could satisfy the foregoing threshold requirements, their constitutional claims are baseless and must be dismissed. Plaintiffs’ alleged fundamental right to a “livable climate” finds no basis in this Nation’s history or tradition and is not even close to any other fundamental right recognized by the Supreme Court. Plaintiffs’ reliance on the state-created danger exception is also misplaced; there is no reason to extend that narrow doctrine to these circumstances. Plaintiffs’ equal protection and Ninth Amendment claims are also meritless.

4. Finally, there is no federal public trust doctrine that binds the federal government. Even if such a doctrine did apply to the federal government, any common-law federal public trust doctrine is displaced by statute. In any event, the atmosphere is not within any public trust. The orders of the district court should be reversed, and this case should be remanded with instructions to dismiss the complaint.


What a concept!  Let’s have judges decide national energy policy.  And when the economy fails because energy supply is too expensive and unreliable, will the black robes be accountable to the public?  Nope.  And let’s turn a courtroom over to members of a doomsday cult for 50 days so they can persuade the public of their beliefs and fears. Even worse idea. Let’s hope even the Ninth Circuit can see the folly in this proceeding.

For background on the lawsuit see:  Supremes Kick Kids Lawsuit Down the Road

For background on the false GHG Endangerment Finding see: GHGs Endangerment? Evidence?


2019 Update: Climate Reductionism

With all the fuss about the “Green New Deal” and attempts to blame recent cold waves on rising CO2, it is wise to remember the logic of the alarmist argument.  It boils down to two suppositions:

Rising atmospheric CO2 makes the planet warmer.

Rising emissions from humans burning fossil fuels makes atmospheric CO2 higher.

The second assertion is challenged in a post: Who to Blame for Rising CO2?

This post addresses the first claim.  Remember also that all of the so-called “lines of evidence” for global warming do not distinguish between human and natural causes.  Typically the evidence cited falls into these categories:

Global temperature rise
Warming oceans
Shrinking ice sheets
Glacial retreat
Decreased snow cover
Sea level rise
Declining Arctic sea ice
Extreme events

However, all of these are equivocal, involving signal and noise issues. Note also that all of them are alleged impacts from the first one.  And in any case, the fact of any changes does not in itself prove human causation.  That attribution rests solely on unvalidated climate models.  Below is a discussion of the reductionist mental process by which climate complexity and natural forces are systematically excluded to reach the pre-determined conclusion.

Original Post:  Climate Reductionism

Reductionists are those who take one theory or phenomenon to be reducible to some other theory or phenomenon. For example, a reductionist regarding mathematics might take any given mathematical theory to be reducible to logic or set theory. Or, a reductionist about biological entities like cells might take such entities to be reducible to collections of physico-chemical entities like atoms and molecules.
Definition from The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy

Some of you may have seen this recent article: Divided Colorado: A Sister And Brother Disagree On Climate Change

The reporter describes a familiar story to many of us.  A single skeptic (the brother) is holding out against his sister and rest of the family who accept global warming/climate change. And of course, after putting some of their interchanges into the text, the reporter then sides against the brother by taking the word of a climate expert. From the article:

“CO2 absorbs infrared heat in certain wavelengths and those measurements were made first time — published — when Abraham Lincoln was president of the United States,” says Scott Denning, a professor of atmospheric science at Colorado State University. “Since that time, those measurements have been repeated by better and better instruments around the world.”

CO2, or carbon dioxide, has increased over time, scientists say, because of human activity. It’s a greenhouse gas that’s contributing to global warming.

“We know precisely how the molecule wiggles and waggles, and what the quantum interactions between the electrons are that cause everyone one of these little absorption lines,” he says. “And there’s just no wiggle room around it — CO2 absorbs heat, heat warms things up, so adding CO2 to the atmosphere will warm the climate.”

Denning says that most of the CO2 we see added to the atmosphere comes from humans — mostly through burning coal, oil and gas, which, as he puts it, is “indirectly caused by us.”

When looking at the scientific community, Denning says it’s united, as far as he knows.


A Case Study of Climate Reductionism

Denning’s comments, supported by several presentations at his website demonstrate how some scientists (all those known to Denning) engage in a classic form of reductionism.

The full complexity of earth’s climate includes many processes, some poorly understood, but known to have effects orders of magnitude greater than the potential of CO2 warming. The case for global warming alarm rests on simplifying away everything but the predetermined notion that humans are warming the planet. It goes like this:

Our Complex Climate

Earth’s climate is probably the most complicated natural phenomenon ever studied. Not only are there many processes, but they also interact and influence each other over various timescales, causing lagged effects and multiple cycling. This diagram illustrates some of the climate elements and interactions between them.

Flows and Feedbacks for Climate Models

The Many Climate Dimensions

Further, measuring changes in the climate goes far beyond temperature as a metric. Global climate indices, like the European dataset include 12 climate dimensions with 74 tracking measures. The set of climate dimensions include:

  • Sunshine
  • Pressure
  • Humidity
  • Cloudiness
  • Wind
  • Rain
  • Snow
  • Drought
  • Temperature
  • Heat
  • Cold

And in addition there are compound measures combining temperature and precipitation. While temperature is important, climate is much more than that.  With this reduction, all other dimensions are swept aside, and climate change is simplified down to global warming as seen in temperature measurements.

Climate Thermodynamics: Weather is the Climate System at work.

Another distortion is the notion that weather is bad or good, depending on humans finding it favorable. In fact, all that we call weather are the ocean and atmosphere acting to resolve differences in temperatures, humidities and pressures. It is the natural result of a rotating, irregular planetary surface mostly covered with water and illuminated mostly at its equator.

The sun warms the surface, but the heat escapes very quickly by convection so the build-up of heat near the surface is limited. In an incompressible atmosphere, it would *all* escape, and you’d get no surface warming. But because air is compressible, and because gases warm up when they’re compressed and cool down when allowed to expand, air circulating vertically by convection will warm and cool at a certain rate due to the changing atmospheric pressure.

Climate science has been obsessed with only a part of the system, namely the atmosphere and radiation, in order to focus attention on the non-condensing IR active gases. The climate is framed as a 3D atmosphere above a 2D surface. That narrow scope leaves out the powerful non-radiative heat transfer mechanisms that dominate the lower troposphere, and the vast reservoir of thermal energy deep in the oceans.

As Dr. Robert E Stevenson writes, it could have been different:

“As an oceanographer, I’d been around the world, once or twice, and I was rather convinced that I knew the factors that influenced the Earth’s climate. The oceans, by virtue of their enormous density and heat-storage capacity, are the dominant influence on our climate. It is the heat budget and the energy that flows into and out of the oceans that basically determines the mean temperature of the global atmosphere. These interactions, plus evaporation, are quite capable of canceling the slight effect of man-produced CO2.”

The troposphere is dominated by powerful heat transfer mechanisms: conduction, convection and evaporation, as well as physical kinetic movements.  All this is ignored in order to focus on radiative heat transfer, a bit player except at the top of the atmosphere.

There’s More than the Atmosphere

Once the world of climate is greatly reduced down to radiation of infrared frequencies, yet another set of blinders is applied. The most important source of radiation is of course the sun. Solar radiation in the short wave (SW) range is what we see and what heats up the earth’s surface, particularly the oceans. In addition solar radiation includes infrared, some absorbed in the atmosphere and some at the surface. The ocean is also a major source of heat into the atmosphere since its thermal capacity is 1000 times what the air can hold. The heat transfer from ocean to air is both by way of evaporation (latent heat) and also by direct contact at the sea surface (conduction).

Yet conventional climate science dismisses the sun as a climate factor saying that its climate input is unvarying. That ignores significant fluctuations in parts of the light range, for example ultraviolet, and also solar effects such as magnetic fields and cosmic rays. Also disregarded is solar energy varying due to cloud fluctuations. The ocean is also dismissed as a source of climate change despite obvious ocean warming and cooling cycles ranging from weeks to centuries. The problem is such oscillations are not well understood or predictable, so can not be easily modeled.

With the sun and the earth’s surface and ocean dismissed, the only consideration left is the atmosphere.

The Gorilla Greenhouse Gas

Thus climate has been reduced down to heat radiation passing through the atmosphere comprised of gases. One of the biggest reductions then comes from focusing on CO2 rather than H20. Of all the gases that are IR-active, water is the most prevalent and covers more of the spectrum.

The diagram below gives you the sense of proportion.

GHG blocks

The Role of CO2

We come now to the role of CO2 in “trapping heat” and making the world warmer. The theory is that CO2 acts like a blanket by absorbing and re-radiating heat that would otherwise escape into space. By delaying the cooling while solar energy comes in constantly, CO2 is presumed to cause a buildup of heat resulting in warmer temperatures.

How the Atmosphere Processes Heat

There are 3 ways that heat (Infrared or IR radiation) passes from the surface to space.

1) A small amount of the radiation leaves directly, because all gases in our air are transparent to IR of 10-14 microns (sometimes called the “atmospheric window.” This pathway moves at the speed of light, so no delay of cooling occurs.

2) Some radiation is absorbed and re-emitted by IR active gases up to the tropopause. Calculations of the free mean path for CO2 show that energy passes from surface to tropopause in less than 5 milliseconds. This is almost speed of light, so delay is negligible. H2O is so variable across the globe that its total effects are not measurable. In arid places, like deserts, we see that CO2 by itself does not prevent the loss of the day’s heat after sundown.

3) The bulk gases of the atmosphere, O2 and N2, are warmed by conduction and convection from the surface. They also gain energy by collisions with IR active gases, some of that IR coming from the surface, and some absorbed directly from the sun. Latent heat from water is also added to the bulk gases. O2 and N2 are slow to shed this heat, and indeed must pass it back to IR active gases at the top of the troposphere for radiation into space.

In a parcel of air each molecule of CO2 is surrounded by 2500 other molecules, mostly O2 and N2. In the lower atmosphere, the air is dense and CO2 molecules energized by IR lose it to surrounding gases, slightly warming the entire parcel. Higher in the atmosphere, the air is thinner, and CO2 molecules can emit IR into space. Surrounding gases resupply CO2 with the energy it lost, which leads to further heat loss into space.

This third pathway has a significant delay of cooling, and is the reason for our mild surface temperature, averaging about 15C. Yes, earth’s atmosphere produces a buildup of heat at the surface. The bulk gases, O2 and N2, trap heat near the surface, while IR active gases, mainly H20 and CO2, provide the radiative cooling at the top of the atmosphere. Near the top of the atmosphere you will find the -18C temperature.

Sources of CO2

Note the size of the human emissions next to the red arrow.

A final reduction comes down to how much of the CO2 in the atmosphere is there because of us. Alarmists/activists say any increase in CO2 is 100% man-made, and would be more were it not for natural CO2 sinks, namely the ocean and biosphere. The claim overlooks the fact that those sinks are also sources of CO2 and the flux from the land and sea is an order of magnitude higher than estimates of human emissions. In fact, our few Gigatons of carbon are lost within the error range of estimating natural emissions. Insects produce far more CO2 than humans do by all our activity, including domestic animals.

Why Climate Reductionism is Dangerous

Reducing the climate in this fashion reaches its logical conclusion in the Activist notion of the “450 Scenario.”  Since Cancun, IPCC is asserting that global warming is capped at 2C by keeping CO2 concentration below 450 ppm. From Summary for Policymakers (SPM) AR5

Emissions scenarios leading to CO2-equivalent concentrations in 2100 of about 450 ppm or lower are likely to maintain warming below 2°C over the 21st century relative to pre-industrial levels. These scenarios are characterized by 40 to 70% global anthropogenic GHG emissions reductions by 2050 compared to 2010, and emissions levels near zero or below in 2100.

Thus is born the “450 Scenario” by which governments can be focused upon reducing human emissions without any reference to temperature measurements, which are troublesome and inconvenient. Almost everything in the climate world has been erased, and “Fighting Climate Change” is now code to mean accounting for fossil fuel emissions.


All propagandists begin with a kernel of truth, in this case the fact everything acting in the world has an effect on everything else. Edward Lorenz brought this insight to bear on the climate system in a ground breaking paper he presented in 1972 entitled: “Predictability: Does the Flap of a Butterfly’s Wings in Brazil Set Off a Tornado in Texas?”  Everything does matter and has an effect. Obviously humans impact on the climate in places where we build cities and dams, clear forests and operate farms. And obviously we add some CO2 when we burn fossil fuels.

But it is wrong to ignore the major dominant climate realities in order to exaggerate a small peripheral factor for the sake of an agenda. It is wrong to claim that IR active gases somehow “trap” heat in the air when they immediately emit any energy absorbed, if not already lost colliding with another molecule. No, it is the bulk gases, N2 and O2, making up the mass of the atmosphere, together with the ocean delaying the cooling and giving us the mild and remarkably stable temperatures that we enjoy. And CO2 does its job by radiating the heat into space.

Since we do little to cause it, we can’t fix it by changing what we do. The climate will not stop changing because we put a price on carbon. And the sun will rise despite the cock going on strike to protest global warming.

Footnote: For a deeper understanding of the atmospheric physics relating to CO2 and climate, I have done a guide and synopsis of Murry Salby’s latest textbook on the subject:  Fearless Physics from Dr. Salby