Why People Are So Unreasonable These Days

For some reason, many intellectuals who identify as philosophical skeptics embrace large chunks of climate dogma without critical examination. Steven Pinker is part of the progressive clan, and shares their blind spot, but speaks wisely in a recent article about the precarious balance between reason and intolerance these days. Some excerpts in italics with my bolds show his keen grasp of many aspects of the problems in contemporary discourse, even while he nods superficially to the climate consensus.  His article at Skeptic.com is Why We Are Not Living in a Post-Truth Era:  An (Unnecessary) Defense of Reason and a (Necessary) Defense of Universities’ Role in Advancing it.

Humans Are Rational Beings

In the first part Pinker does a good job clearing away several arguments that humans are not primarily rational anyway.  For example, he summarizes:

So if anyone tries to excuse irrationality and dogma by pointing a finger at our evolutionary origins, I say: Don’t blame the hunter-gatherers. Rational inference, skepticism, and debate are in our nature every bit as much as freezing in response to a rustle in the grass.

Why were truth and rationality selected for? The answer is that reality is a powerful selection pressure. As the science fiction author Philip K. Dick put it, “Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn’t go away.”  Either there is an armadillo in the burrow or there isn’t. Those who were so hidebound by stereotype or habit that they could not deduce out where it was or how to kill it went hungry.

Irrationality Contends Against Reason

Pinker provides insight into the modern struggle to be reasonable in the face of irrationality.

So if we do have the capacity to be rational, why are we so often irrational? There are several reasons. The most obvious was pointed out by Herbert Simon, one of the founders of both cognitive psychology and artificial intelligence: rationality must be bounded. A perfect reasoner would require all the time in the world, and unlimited memory. So we often satisfice, trading accuracy for efficiency.

Also, though reality is always a powerful selection pressure, we did not evolve with the truth-augmenting technologies that have been invented in recent millennia and centuries, such as writing, quantitative datasets, scientific methodology, and specialized expertise.

And annoyingly, facts and logic can compromise our self-presentation as effective and benevolent, a powerful human motive. We all try to come across as infallible, omniscient, and saintly. Rationality can be a nuisance in this campaign, because inconvenient truths will inevitably come to light that suggest we are mere mortals. The dismissal of facts and logic is often damage control against threats to our self-presentation.

Beliefs also can be signals of loyalty to a coalition. As Tooby has pointed out, the more improbable the belief, the more credible the signal. It’s hard to affirm your solidarity with the tribe by declaring that rocks fall down instead of up, because anyone can say that rocks fall down instead of up. But if you say that God is three persons in one, or that Hillary Clinton ran a child sex ring out of a Washington pizzeria, you’ve shown that you’re willing to take risks for the team.

Group loyalty is an underestimated source of irrationality in the public sphere, especially when it comes to politicized scientific issues like evolution and climate change. Dan Kahan has shown that, contrary to what most scientists believe, a denial of the facts of human evolution or anthropogenic climate change is not a symptom of scientific illiteracy. The deniers know as much science as the accepters. They contrast instead on political orientation: the farther to the right, the more denial.

Kahan notes that there is a perverse rationality to this “expressive cognition.” Unless you are one of a small number of deciders and influencers, your opinion on climate change will have no effect on the climate. But it could have an enormous effect on how you’re accepted your social circle—whether you’re seen as someone who at best just doesn’t get it and who at worst is a traitor. For someone in a modern university to deny human-made climate change, or for someone in a rural Southern or Midwestern community to affirm it, would be social death. So, it’s perversely rational for people to affirm the validating beliefs of their social circle. The problem is that what’s rational for the individual may not be rational for the nation or the planet. Kahan calls it the “Tragedy of the Belief Commons..”

Another paradox of rationality is pluralistic ignorance, or the “spiral of silence,” in which everyone believes that everyone else believes something but no one actually believes it. A classic example is drinking in college fraternities: a 1998 Princeton study found that the male students mistakenly believed that their fellow students thought it was cool to drink a lot, and during their time on campus gravitated toward endorsing this false norm themselves.18 The same thing happens in college women’s attitudes toward casual sex.

How can pluralistic ignorance happen? How does a false belief keep itself levitated in midair? Michael Macy and his colleagues show that a key factor is enforcement. Not only does the belief never get challenged, but group members believe they must punish or condemn those who don’t hold it—out of the equally mistaken belief that they themselves may be denounced for failing to denounce. Denunciation is a signal of solidarity with the group, which can lead to a cascade of pre-emptive, self-reinforcing denunciation, and sometimes to “extraordinary popular delusions and the madness of crowds” like witch hunts and other bubbles and manias. Sometimes the bubble can be punctured by a public exclamation that the emperor is naked, but it takes an innocent boy or a brave truth-teller.

[Comment: Pinker describes the tribal dynamics around social and political issues.  But Pinker does not himself engage the scientific complexities and uncertainties regarding global warming/climate change.  He reduces the issue down to politics, and thinks that people take sides based on their social circles. He implies that even when scientifically literate people are unconvinced of climate alarms, it’s on political grounds.  When Pinker says most scientists believe in the facts of climate change, he is siding with his leftist colleagues in academia, demonstrating that accepting social proof cuts both ways.

So many alarmist platitudes have been denied in reality.  Arctic ice persists instead of disappearing; Polar bears thrive instead of going extinct;  Storms were worse in the past when CO2 was lower; and so on.  See 11 Empty Climate Claims.  It’s the other side of the point made earlier:  Reality is also that which happens, despite your expecting otherwise.

Consider what Cal physics professor Richard Muller said:  There is a real danger in people with Ph.D.s joining a consensus that they haven’t vetted professionally. . . A really good question would be: “Have you studied climate change enough that you would put your scientific credentials on the line that most of what is said in An Inconvenient Truth is based on accurate scientific results? My guess is that a large majority of the climate scientists would answer no to that question, and the true percentage of scientists who support the statement I made in the opening paragraph of this comment, that true percentage would be under 30%. That is an unscientific guestimate, based on my experience in asking many scientists about the claims of Al Gore.  See Meet Richard Muller, Lukewarmist]

Ours Era Mixes High and Low Rationality

Rationality, to be sure, is not increasing everywhere. In some arenas it appears to sinking fast. The most conspicuous is electoral politics, which is almost perversely designed to inhibit our capacity for rationality. Voters act on issues that don’t affect them personally, and are under no pressure to inform themselves or defend their positions. Practical issues like energy and healthcare are bundled with symbolic hot buttons like euthanasia and the teaching of evolution. These bundles are then strapped to regional, ethnic, or religious coalitions, encouraging group-affirming expressive cognition. People vote as if rooting for sports teams, encouraged by the media, which treat politics as a horse race, encouraging zero-sum competition rather than clarification of character and policy.

And as a recent New York Times op-ed (in which I played a cameo) announced, “Social media is making us dumber.” Not long ago many intellectuals deplored the lack of democratic access to mass media. A few media corporations, in cahoots with the government, “manufactured consent” with their oligopoly over the means of production and dissemination of ideas. As we used to say, freedom of the press belongs to those who own one. Social media held out the promise of giving a voice to The People.

We should have been careful about what we wished for. The network dynamics of social media are still poorly understood, but they do not yet host the mechanisms of vetting and reviewing that are necessary for true beliefs to bubble up to prominence from the turbid pools of self-presentation, group solidarity, and pluralistic ignorance. And they have become launch pads for spirals of moralistic grandstanding and pre-emptive denunciation.

We are now living in an era of rationality inequality. At the high end we’ve never been more rational. But at the low end there are arenas that indulge the worst of human psychology. Much work remains to be done in refining the institutions that bring out the rational angels of our nature.

Universities Embracing Irrationality

And this brings me to the role of universities. Universities ought to be the premier institutions of rationality promotion. They have been granted many privileges and perquisites in exchange for fulfilling the mission of adding to the stock of human knowledge and transmitting it to future generations. State universities and colleges are underwritten by the public purse, as is a great deal of tuition and research support in private ones, together with their tax-exempt status. . . Universities have also been granted credentialing and gatekeeping privileges in business and the professions, where a degree is often an entry requirement despite the questionable value added to a student’s capabilities by four years at a university, according to exit audits

Yet despite these perquisites, universities have become notorious as monocultures of left-wing orthodoxy and the illiberal suppression of heterodox ideas (I won’t review the latest follies, but will mention just two words: Halloween costumes).31 As the civil libertarian Harvey Silverglate has put it, “You can say things in Harvard Square that you can’t say in Harvard Yard.”

Why do universities fall short of what one might think of as their essential mission, promoting openminded rationality? There are several hypotheses. In The Coddling of the American Mind, Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt have suggested that (to oversimplify) helicopter Baby Boomer parents reared iGen snowflakes, who melt at the slightest uncomfortable thought. Another explanation points to an increase in homophily—people gravitating to people who are like them, especially liberals and their children in cities and dense suburbs—which bred a uniformity of opinion on university campuses. The sociologists Bradley Campbell and Jason Manning have described the rise of a Culture of Victimhood, in which prestige comes not from a resolve to retaliate against threats (a Culture of Honor) or an ability to control one’s emotions (a Culture of Dignity) but from a claim to have been victimized on the basis of race or gender, a grievance that is predictably ratified and redressed by the campus bureaucracy.  And since any of these dynamics can weave a network of pluralistic ignorance enforced by denunciation mobs, we can’t know how many intimidated students would privately disavow intellectual orthodoxy and the culture of victimhood but are afraid to say so out of a mistaken fear that everyone else avows it.

Some of this regression is a paradoxical byproduct of the fantastic progress we have made in equality. Vanishingly few people in universities actually hold racist, sexist, homophobic, or transphobic attitudes (though they may have different views on the nature of these categories or the causes of group differences). That means that accusations of racism, sexism, homophobia, and transphobia can be weaponized: since everyone reviles these bigotries, they can be used to demonize adversaries, which in turn spreads a terror of being demonized. The accusations are uniquely noxious because it is virtually impossible to defend oneself against them. “Some of my best friends are X” is risible, and testimony about one’s unprejudiced bona fides or a track record of advancing the careers of women and minorities is not much more exculpatory. This places temptation in people’s paths to denounce others for bigotry before they are denounced themselves: it is one of the few means of pre-emptive self-defense.

Should we care about what happens in the universities? It’s sometimes said that academic disputes are fierce because the stakes are so small. In fact, the stakes are significant. The obvious one is whether universities are carrying out their fiduciary duty to advance knowledge in return for their massive absorption of society’s resources and trust. Another is their creeping influence on the rest of society. As Andrew Sullivan wrote in 2018, “we all live on campus now.” Political correctness and social justice warfare have descended from the ivory tower and infiltrated tech, business, healthcare, and government.

Envy Social Justice

Still worse, intolerance on campus is corroding the credibility of university research on vital topics such as climate change and gun violence. Skeptics on the right can say, “Why should we be impressed if climate scientists are unanimous that human activity is threatening the planet? (Or on any other issue?) They work in universities, which everyone knows are echo chambers of PC dogma.”

So we must safeguard the truth and rationality promoting mission of universities precisely because we are not living in a post-truth era. Humans indeed are often irrational, but not always and everywhere. The rational angels of our nature can and must be encouraged by truth-promoting norms and institutions. Many are succeeding, despite what seems like a growth in reason inequality. Universities, as they become infected with political conformity and restrictions on expressible ideas, seem to be falling short in their mission, but it matters to society that they be held to account: so they can repay the perquisites granted to them, secure the credibility of their own research on vital issues, and inoculate students against extreme and simplistic views by allowing them to evaluate moderate and nuanced ones.

California Cop Out

As Chuck Devore explains at Forbes, Mother Nature has always burned California, but the state government is failing to manage the landscape while blaming the fires on Climate Change.  His article is With Or Without Climate Change, California Will Burn, The Only Question Is: How Much?  Excerpts in italics with my bolds.

California is blessed—and cursed—with a Mediterranean climate. The Golden State features long stretches of dry, low-humidity weather, with infrequent thunderstorms (except in its desert regions). Most of the state’s precipitation falls during the winter months. Before the first big late-year Pacific storm, California’s forests and coastal chaparral are often tinder-dry.

Richard Henry Dana Jr., in his book “Two Years Before the Mast” published in 1840, described the area around Los Angeles thus:

“The only thing which diminishes its beauty is, that the hills have no large trees upon them, they having been all burnt by a great fire which swept them off about a dozen years before, and they had not yet grown up again. The fire was described to me by an inhabitant, as having been a very terrible and magnificent sight. The air of the whole valley was so heated that the people were obliged to leave the town and take up their quarters for several days upon the beach.”

Today, of course, politicians blame climate change for the wildfires and the electrical blackouts aimed at preventing more fires, with Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom on Friday declaring that “It’s more than just climate change. It’s about the failure of capitalism to address climate change.”

There are two things to unpack here: the climate change claim and the failure of capitalism claim.

California is seeing larger wildfires. But this was predicted 13 years ago by the Western Governors’ Association in their Biomass Task Force Report:

“…over time the fire-prone forests that were not thinned, burn in uncharacteristically destructive wildfires… …In the long term, leaving forests overgrown and prone to unnaturally destructive wildfires means there will be significantly less biomass on the ground, and more greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.”

For a variety of reasons, government-mandated and subsidized wind and solar power won out in California over government-mandated biomass generators powered by wood waste from the timber industry. The timber industry largely left. And as a result, the fuel load in California’s northern forests has soared, and with it, the wildfire danger.

What isn’t harvested and cleaned up in a controlled, predictable manner is burned up in a chaotic manner—the only thing predictable about it is that it will certainly burn, sooner or later.

As for the failure of capitalism, California’s publicly regulated utilities are hardly examples of unfettered free markets. Rather, they do exactly what the regulators appointed by the elected officials tell them to do.
Those politicians and regulators have told the utilities to dramatically boost wind and solar power—and they have. In 2012, PG&E asked regulators for a $4.84 billion electric rate hike to pay for powerline maintenance and upgrades. Regulators, worried over electrical prices that were already close to the nation’s highest, rejected the request, and eventually approved less than half that amount.

One can’t help but to wonder—if this rate hike were approved in 2012, might it have prevented 2018’s deadly Camp Fire, which started almost a year ago and killed 85 people while destroying nearly 19,000 homes, businesses and other buildings? The fire was blamed on a nearly-100-year-old power line that should have been replaced 25 years ago.

Now, PG&E—in bankruptcy to shield itself from $30 billion in fire liabilities and under heavy criticism—is preventatively cutting the power on high-risk powerlines during periods of heavy winds.

These blackouts—the largest two hitting about 2 million people each time for a couple of days—have cost California businesses and consumers an estimated $5 billion in lost economic activity. As much as the requested rate hike might have cost had it been approved seven years ago.

As PG&E tries to catch up for years of neglect in trimming trees away from some 2,500 miles of high-priority powerlines, they’re running into another problem: They can’t find the experienced work crews. This is because employment in the timber industry is half of what it was 20 years ago due to decades of federal and state environmental policies that have cut the Western region timber harvest in half.

Whether or not climate change is making California’s deadly outbreak of fire worse, the solution is the same—California must significantly ramp up forest management, which, if done in concert with increased logging, will be less costly to the taxpayer. At the same time, it must aggressively increase the use of proscribed burns, both in the north and in Southern California’s coastal chaparral. President Trump said as much last year, to great hoots of derision from California’s politicians and environmentalists.

California has slowly taken steps in this direction, in the last year of Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown’s four terms in office and now Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom’s first year. But it is likely too little, too late. That has led PG&E CEO Bill Johnson to warn state regulators that blackouts could last another 10 years.

Ungrateful Millennials Richer than Rockefeller

Our leftist educational system has turned many of today’s young people into social justice warriors. Frequently they accuse older generations of trashing the planet for their own benefit and stealing the future from future generations.  As Greta says: “How dare They!”  Lost in all this ignorance and arrogance is any gratitude for the wealth of conveniences and options provided by their predecessors on a silver platter to these spoiled youth.

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

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

Boudreaux concludes with this observation:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Conrad Black: Trump is Holding the Cards

Conrad Black has always brought a sense of the sweep of history into his political commentary.  His recent article is on the current US political situation, and he concisely summarizes how we got here and what to expect.  At American Greatness he writes Impeachment Will Fail  Excerpts in ialics with my bolds.

Rank-and-File Republicans Have Trump’s Back

Donald Trump was a total outsider politically. He pioneered a new technique of parlaying celebrity and a system of intensive branding of his name and exposure as an impresario and reality television star, into an outsider candidacy, representing the anti-elites and all who felt short-changed by the yuppie-champion Clintons and Obamas and the indistinct Bushes. Like a big cat stalking a wildebeest, Trump changed parties seven times in 13 years, polling constantly, until he saw his target clearly and within range and he charged and seized it.

As Trump was running against all factions of both parties, the adaptation of the congressional Republicans in Washington to the Trump era was sluggish and is still not complete. Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and Senators Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) and Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) have left and John McCain died, having killed health care reform and ordained that he have an anti-Trump funeral. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a sly old Kentuckian, has made the cut, as he assimilates to all changes in Washington.

But whatever the Republican congressional delegations think of Trump—and Flake may be right that privately many Republican senators would like to see the back of him—he has the rank-and-file Republican public behind him as only a few Republican presidents have: Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Eisenhower, Nixon at his strongest, and Reagan. Apart from a few ostentatiously pseudo-conscientious senators such as Mitt Romney (R-Utah), the Republican senators can’t desert him in the absence of serious evidence of his wrongdoing, and there is none.

The principal lesson of Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation in 2018 was that there are enough sane and honest people in the Senate who will notice the absence of any believable incriminating evidence to produce a just decision. No serious person could make a crime out of the Ukraine “facts”; only rabid, witless, blood and publicity hounds (of whom the Democrats have no shortage), can claim that. But that is no longer the point. There was no believable evidence against Kavanaugh either, but only a balance of probabilities was required, at a time when any female denunciation from the past against a prominent man was accorded great credence. Yet even the most Trump-skeptical Republicans in the Senate stayed with Kavanaugh (apart from Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, who paired with pro-Kavanaugh Senator Steve Daines of Montana, who had to attend his daughter’s wedding).

Desperate Hours, Self-Destructive Tendencies

The Democrats and their Republican kindred spirits in the Washington establishment, having completely failed to see Trump coming, and after complacently assuming they could jettison him on the Russian scam, relying on the slavish allies in the national political media, now realize their backs are to the wall and this is their last play.

It won’t work, and while they are trying to execute it, prominent figures of the previous administration will be arraigned for cooking up the Russian collusion fiction and inflicting it on the country by corrupting the FBI and intelligence services. This will not be an optimal ambiance for trying to remove a president whose conduct is sometimes outrageous but who hasn’t broken any laws.

No one should imagine that there will be much sobriety or solemnity in any of this. Being decorous is not the president’s strong suit at the best of times and his enemies are desperate. This isn’t the Nixon-Watergate crisis replayed; there have been no illegalities, and Trump has not squandered his political capital. Where there is still no conclusive evidence that Nixon was complicit in crimes, there were crimes by members of his entourage and he badly mismanaged the crisis; after the media had done their work, his party was running away from him.

Today Trump, not his party, enthuses the Republicans. His threat to the status quo, even more than his garish and sometimes oafish foibles, drives his enemies to such irrational extremes, and make Reps. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) and Al Green and similar disreputables, almost indistinguishable from the party leaders.

The second notable development in the last week that has altered the political landscape is the outrageous, defamatory, and possibly insane charge by Hillary Clinton that Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) and the 2016 Green candidate for president Jill Stein, are “Russian assets” being “groomed” by the Russians for third party candidacies. This is the former first lady, U.S. senator from New York and secretary of state. This is the same mentality that in its deranged perversity commissioned the fraudulent Steele Dossier, and gave us the Trump-Russia “treason” myth, on which she blamed her loss of the election. It didn’t work in 2016. The fervent efforts of the Mueller special counsel staff to produce something remotely indictable against Trump failed, and this final effort to remove the president will be a disaster.

But Clinton has given us a hint of what the world was spared when she was defeated. The Democrats are being led by a coalition of constitutional renegades, spavined political tricksters, and would-be socialist tyrants. They are speeding over a political cliff. The force of gravity will assert itself.


11 Empty Climate Claims

Below are a series of rebuttals of the 11 most common climate alarmists’ claims such as those made in the recently released Fourth National Climate Assessment Report.[2] The authors of these rebuttals are all recognized experts in the relevant fields.  H/T Joseph D’Aleo for compiling work by many experts at his website ACRESEARCH Fact Checking Climate Claims.  Excerpts in italics with my bolds.

For each alarmist claim, a summary of the relevant rebuttal is provided below along with a link to the full text of the rebuttal, which includes the names and the credentials of the authors of each rebuttal.

Claim: Heat Waves are increasing at an alarming rate and heat kills.
Fact:  They have been decreasing since the 1930s in the U.S. and globally.

There has been no detectable long-term increase in heat waves in the United States or elsewhere in the world. Most all-time record highs here in the U.S. happened many years ago, long before mankind was using much fossil fuel. Thirty-eight states set their all-time record highs before 1960 (23 in the 1930s!). Here in the United States, the number of 100F, 95F and 90F days per year has been steadily declining since the 1930s. The Environmental Protection Agency Heat Wave Index confirms the 1930s as the hottest decade.

Days over 95F vs. CO2Detailed Rebuttal and Authors: Heat Waves (08/19/19)

Claim: Global warming is causing more hurricanes and stronger hurricanes.
Fact:  Hurricane activity is flat to down since 1900, landfalls in the US are declining

The long-term linear trend in the number and intensity of global hurricane activity has remained flat or down. Hurricane activity does vary year-to-year and over longer periods as short-term ocean cycles like El Nino/La Nina and multidecadal cycles in the Pacific (PDO) and Atlantic (AMO) ocean temperature regimes favor changes in activity levels and some basins over others.

Credible data show this is true despite much better open ocean detection than before the 1960s when many short-lived storms at sea would have been missed as there were no satellites, no aircraft reconnaissance, no radar, no buoys and no automated weather stations.

Detailed Rebuttal and Authors: AC Rebuttal Hurricanes (10/19/19).

Claim: Global warming is causing more and stronger tornadoes.
Fact:  The number of strong tornadoes have declined over the last half century

Tornadoes are failing to follow “global warming” predictions. Strong tornadoes have seen a decline in frequency since the 1950s. The years 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016 all saw below average to near record low tornado counts in the U.S. since records began in 1954. 2017 rebounded only to the long-term mean. 2018 ranked well below the 25thpercentile. Tornadoes increased this spring as extreme cold and late snow clashed with southeast warmth to produce a series of strong storms with heavy rains and severe weather including tornadoes. May ranked among the biggest months and the season rebounded after 7 quiet years above the 50th percentile.

Detailed Rebuttal and Authors: AC Rebuttals Tornadoes (08/20/19)

Claim: Global warming is increasing the magnitude and frequency of droughts and floods.
Fact: Droughts and floods have not changed since we’ve been using fossil fuels

Our use of fossil fuels to power our civilization is not causing droughts or floods. NOAA found there is no evidence that floods and droughts are increasing because of climate change.

The number, extend or severity of these events does increase dramatically for a brief period of years at some locations from time to time but then conditions return to more normal. This is simply the long-established constant variation of weather resulting from a confluence of natural factors.

Detailed Rebuttal and Authors: AC Rebuttals Droughts and Floods (08/22/19

Claim: Global Warming has increased U.S. Wildfires.
Fact: Wildfires have been decreasing since 1800s. The increase in damage in recent years is due to population growth in vulnerable areas and poor forest management.

Wildfires are in the news almost every late summer and fall. The National Interagency Fire Center has recorded the number of fires and acreage affected since 1985. This data show the number of fires trending down slightly, though the acreage burned had increased before leveling off over the last 20 years.

The NWS tracks the number of days where conditions are conducive to wildfires when they issue red-flag warnings. It is little changed.

Detailed Rebuttal and Authors: AC Rebuttal Wildfires 080719

Claim: Global warming is causing snow to disappear.
Fact: Snowfall is increasing in the fall and winter in the Northern Hemisphere and North America with many records being set.

This is one claim that has been repeated for decades even as nature showed very much the opposite trend with unprecedented snows even in the big coastal cities. Every time they repeated the claim, it seems nature upped the ante more.

Alarmists have eventually evolved to crediting warming with producing greater snowfall, because of increased moisture but the snow events in recent years have usually occurred in colder winters with high snow water equivalent ratios in frigid arctic air.

Detailed Rebuttal and Authors: AC Rebuttal Snow (09/19/19)

Claim: Global warming is resulting in rising sea levels as seen in both tide gauge and satellite technology.
Fact: The rate of global sea level rise on average has fallen by 40% the last century. Where it is increasing – local factors such as land subsidence are to blame.

This claim is demonstrably false. It really hinges on this statement: “Tide gauges and satellites agree with the model projections.” The models project a rapid acceleration of sea level rise over the next 30 to 70 years. However, while the models may project acceleration, the tide gauges clearly do not.

All data from tide gauges in areas where land is not rising or sinking show instead a steady linear and unchanging sea level rate of rise from 4 up to 6 inches/century, with variations due to gravitational factors. It is true that where the land is sinking as it is in the Tidewater area of Virginia and the Mississippi Delta region, sea levels will appear to rise faster but no changes in CO2 emissions would change that.

Detailed Rebuttal and Authors: Rebuttal – Sea Level (01/18/19)

Claim: Arctic, Antarctic and Greenland ice loss is accelerating due to global warming.
Fact: The polar ice varies with multidecadal cycles in ocean temperatures. Current levels are comparable to or above historical low levels

Satellite and land surface temperature records and sea surface temperatures show that both the East Antarctic Ice Sheet and the West Antarctic Ice Sheet are cooling, not warming and glacial ice is increasing, not melting. Satellite and land surface temperature measurements of the southern polar area show no warming over the past 37 years. Growth of the Antarctic ice sheets means the sea level rise is not being caused by melting of polar ice and, in fact, is slightly lowering the rate of rise. Satellite Antarctic temperature records show 0.02C/decade cooling since 1979. The Southern Ocean around Antarctica has been getting sharply colder since 2006. Antarctic sea ice is increasing, reaching all-time highs. Surface temperatures at 13 stations show the Antarctic Peninsula has been sharply cooling since 2000.

Arctic temperature records show that the 1920s and 1930s were warmer than in the 2000s. Official historical fluctuations of Arctic sea ice begin with the first satellite images in 1979. That happens to coincide with the end of the recent 1945–1977 global cold period and the resulting maximum extent of Arctic sea ice. During the warm period from 1978 until recently, the extent of sea ice has diminished, but increased in the past several years. The Greenland ice sheet has also grown with cooling after an anomalously warm 2012.

Detailed Rebuttal and Authors: AC Rebuttal Arctic, Antarctic and Greenland (05/19/19)

Claim: Global warming responsible for record July warmth in Alaska.
Fact:  Alaska July 2019 heat records resulted from a warm North Pacific and reduced ice in the Bering Sea late winter due to strong storms. The opposite occurred with record cold in 2012.

Alaska climate (averages and extremes) varies over time but the changes can be explained by natural variability in the North Pacific Ocean, which controls the climate regime in downstream land areas. These ocean temperature regimes (modes of the Pacific Decadal Oscillation or PDO) improves season-to-season and year-to-year climate forecasts for North America because of its strong tendency for multi-season and multi-year persistence. The PDO correlates well with tendencies for El Nino and La Nina, which have a major impact on Alaska and much of North America.

See Rebuttal: AC Rebuttal- Alaska’s hot July caused by global warming (08/21/19)

Claim: Rising atmospheric CO2 concentrations are causing ocean acidification, which is catastrophically harming marine life.
Fact: When life is considered, ocean acidification is often found to be a non-problem, or even a benefit.

The ocean chemistry aspect of the ocean acidification hypothesis is rather straightforward, but it is not as solid as it is often claimed to be. For one thing, the work of a number of respected scientists suggests that the drop in oceanic pH will not be nearly as great as the IPCC and others predict. And, as with all phenomena involving living organisms, the introduction of life into the analysis greatly complicates things. When a number of interrelated biological phenomena are considered, it becomes much more difficult, if not impossible, to draw such sweeping negative conclusions about the reaction of marine organisms to ocean acidification. Quite to the contrary, when life is considered, ocean acidification is often found to be a non-problem, or even a benefit. And in this regard, numerous scientific studies have demonstrated the robustness of multiple marine plant and animal species to ocean acidification—when they are properly performed under realistic experimental conditions.

Detailed Rebuttal and Author: AC Rebuttal – Ocean Acidification (02/04/19)

Claim: Carbon pollution is a health hazard.
Fact: Carbon dioxide (CO2) is an odorless invisible trace gas that is plant food and it is essential to life on the planet. It is not a pollutant.

The term “carbon pollution” is a deliberate, ambiguous, disingenuous term, designed to mislead people into thinking carbon dioxide is pollution. It is used by the environmentalists to confuse the environmental impacts of CO2 emissions with the impact of the emissions of unwanted waste products of combustion. The burning of carbon-based fuels (fossil fuels – coal, oil, natural gas – and biofuels and biomass) converts the carbon in the fuels to carbon dioxide (CO2), which is an odorless invisible gas that is plant food and it is essential to life on the planet.
Detailed Rebuttal and Authors: AC Rebuttal Health Impacts (02/04/19)

Claim: CO2-induced climate change is threatening global food production and harming natural ecosystems.
Fact: The vitality of global vegetation in both managed and unmanaged ecosystems is better off now than it was a hundred years ago, 50 years ago, or even a mere two-to-three decades ago thanks in part to CO2.

Such claims are not justified; far from being in danger, the vitality of global vegetation in both managed and unmanaged ecosystems is better off now than it was a hundred years ago, 50 years ago, or even a mere two-to-three decades ago.

With respect to managed ecosystems (primarily the agricultural enterprise), yields of nearly all important food crops have been rising for decades (i.e., the Green Revolution). Reasons for these increases are manifold, but they have mainly occurred in response to continuing advancements in agricultural technology and scientific research that have expanded the knowledge or intelligence base of farming (e.g., fertilizers, pesticides, irrigation, crop selection and breeding, computers, machinery and other devices).

Spatial pattern of trends in Gross Primary Production (1982- 2015). Source: Sun et al. 2018.

Detailed Rebuttal and Authors: AC Rebuttal Agriculture and NaturalEcosystems_Idso020619 (1)


The well-documented invalidation of the “three lines of evidence” upon which EPA attributes global warming to human -caused CO2 emissions breaks the causal link between such CO2 emissions and global warming.

This in turn necessarily breaks the causal chain between CO2 emissions and the alleged knock-on effects of global warming, such as loss of Arctic ice, increased sea level, and increased heat waves, floods, droughts, hurricanes, tornadoes, etc. These alleged downstream effects are constantly cited to whip up alarm and create demands for ever tighter CO2 regulation. EPA explicitly relied on predicted increases in such events to justify the Endangerment Finding supporting its Clean Power Plan. But as shown above, there is no evidence to support such claims, and copious empirical evidence that refutes them.

Climate Models Argue from False Premises

Roger Pielke Jr. Explains at Forbes If Climate Scenarios Are Wrong For 2020, Can They Get 2100 Right? Excerpts in italics with my bolds.

How we think and talk about climate policy is profoundly shaped by 31 different computer models which produce a wide range of scenarios of the future, starting from a base year of 2005. With 2020 right around the corner, we now have enough experience to ask how well these models are doing. Based on my preliminary analysis reported below, the answer appears to be not so well.


Climate policy discussions are framed by the assessment reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). There are of course discussions that occur outside the boundaries of the IPCC, but the IPCC analyses carry enormous influence. At the center of the IPCC approach to climate policy analyses are scenarios of the future. The IPCC reports that its database contains 1,184 scenarios from 31 models.

Some of these scenarios are the basis for projecting future changes in climate (typically using what are called Global Climate Models or GCMs). Scenarios are also the basis for projecting future impacts of climate change, as well as the consequences of climate policy for the economy and environment (often using what are called Integrated Assessment Models or IAMs).

Chain of suppositions comprising Integrated Assessment Models.

Here I focus on two key metrics directly relevant to climate policy that come from the scenarios of fifth assessment report (AR5) of the IPCC: economic growth and atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations. The scenarios of the AR5 begin in 2005 and most project futures to 2100, with some looking only to 2050. We now have almost 15 years of data to compare against projections, allowing us to assess how they are doing.

Economic Growth Scenarios Way Too High

Economic growth is important because it is one of the elements of the so-called Kaya Identity, the basis for projecting future carbon dioxide emissions, and a key input to GCMs that produce projections of future climate change. Economic growth, in the context of climate change is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, high rates of growth can mean more individual and societal wealth, which is generally viewed to be a good thing. On the other hand, high rates of economic growth, all else equal, means greater amounts of carbon dioxide emitted into the atmosphere, decidedly not a good thing.

The vast majority of scenarios reported by the IPCC AR5 include rates of economic growth (measured as GDP per capita using market exchange rates) that are greater than what has been observed since 2010. Specifically, more than 99.5% of IPCC AR5 scenarios – all but 5 of about 1,100 — have GDP growth rates for the period 2010 to 2020 in excess of that which has been observed in the real world from 2010 to 2018. The International Monetary Fund recently lowered its expectations for global economic growth in 2019 and 2020 to below that of 2018. So it seems highly unlikely that the real-world will “catch up.”

What is clear is that, to date, the vast majority of IPCC scenarios are far more aggressive in their projections of economic growth than has been observed. For the scenarios to “catch up” would require growth rates in future years even more aggressive than those built into the scenarios. If the IPCC projections are indeed too aggressive, then this has implications for the results of analyses that depend upon such assumptions for projecting future climate changes, impacts and the costs and benefits of policy action.

Models Overstate CO2 Concentrations in 2020

We see a similar aggressiveness in scenarios when looking at the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Based on data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, in 2020 global carbon dioxide concentrations will be at about 413 parts per million (ppm). To put this into context, the oft-cited 2 degree Celsius temperature target is sometimes associated with a carbon dioxide concentration level of 450 ppm, and concentration levels are currently increasing by about 2-3 ppm per year.

All of the scenarios in the IPCC database that assume no climate policy (called reference scenarios) have carbon dioxide concentrations above 413 ppm. Across all scenarios, including those that assume successful implementation of climate policies such as a globally harmonized carbon price, 86% have concentrations levels above 413 ppm.

There is little evidence to suggest that climate policies have accelerated rates of decarbonization, leading to lower carbon dioxide concentrations than previously expected. One reason for this is that the world has not actually adopted climate policies of the sort assumed in policy scenarios. Thus, the fact carbon dioxide concentrations in 2020 will be at the lower end of scenarios almost certainly says something about what is going on in the models rather than unexpected good news about climate policy success.

Flawed Scenarios Give False Projections

It seems obvious that we should ask hard questions of scenarios initiated in 2005 to project outcomes for 2050 or 2100 that fail to accurately describe what is observed in 2020. Individual scenarios are not predictions, but they can certainly be more or less consistent with how the world actually evolves. We should also ask questions when an entire set of scenarios collectively fails to encompass real-world observations – such as is the case with the reference scenarios of the IPCC AR5 database and actual atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide.

To the extent that flawed scenarios make their way into GCMs, we would be using misleading projections of climate futures and their probabilities, of possible future climate impacts and their likelihoods, and, crucially, of the costs and benefits of alternative approaches to climate policy. It is thus imperative that the forthcoming sixth IPCC assessment – or a separate group — ensures that its scenario database is consistent with real-world evidence, and that we understand why many scenarios have fared so poorly since 2005 with respect to key metrics.

More generally, it is important that the knowledge base that informs climate policy discussions be opened up to a broader diversity of methodologies and perspectives, and that all approaches are rigorously scrutinized. Climate policy is too important for anything less.

See also Models Wrong About the Past Produce Unbelievable Futures

And Unbelievable Climate Models

Beware getting sucked into any model, climate or otherwise.

Benefits from Breaking Media Barons Monopoly

Clifford Humphrey writes at Epoch Times The Mainstream Media Is Not ‘the Press,’ Nor Should It Be. Excerpts in italics with my bolds.

President Donald Trump is famous—or infamous—for calling certain mainstream news outlets the “fake news media” and even the “enemy of the people.” Trump’s tenacious criticism of major news outlets is one of the defining features of his presidency.

Few things have upset spokespersons for these outlets more than this political upstart calling them illegitimate. They tell us, though, that their concern is less for their own reputations particularly and more for the freedom of the press generally and the welfare of our republican institutions.

Fair enough. Indeed, Alexis de Tocqueville, famed author of “Democracy in America,” remarked that, in the United States, “the sovereignty of the people and freedom of the press” are “two entirely correlative things.”

But, wait a minute. Aren’t we conflating two different things here? Since when are mainstream “news media” outlets and “the press” the same thing? The president has always directed his ire at a few major media outlets—CNN, the New York Times, ABC, NBC, and CBS.

These mainstream media outlets have come to assume a monopoly of legitimacy regarding what constitutes authoritative news only since the advent of radio and television communication technologies. In truth, though, the First Amendment guarantees freedom for all Americans to publish their political opinions in the public square, in any format.

New Technologies, New Political Conditions

In the 21st century, we’re experiencing a tectonic shift in communication technologies that’s creating a correlative shift in how we do politics in this country. Now, anyone with an internet connection can post a blog, and anyone with a microphone can publish a podcast.

This change, though, isn’t leading us into entirely new, uncharted waters. Oddly enough, it’s taking us back to a condition similar to that of the 19th century, when newspapers were more openly partisan but also more plentiful.

Of course, this new condition poses certain new difficulties, but also certain new opportunities. For example, although it may seem harder to know whose opinion to trust these days, at least we aren’t beholden to an oligarchy of self-authorized gatekeepers who cloak their biases with confident claims of objectivity.

The president’s attacks on mainstream media outlets shouldn’t be seen as an attack on “the press,” but as a criticism of their unjustified monopoly of legitimacy as authorities on political opinion and interpreters of the news.

In fact, by pointing out bias in the mainstream media, the president is helping to create space for other media outlets to report otherwise under-reported news. In this way, the president is actually protecting the freedom of the press.

Freedom of the Press, Revival of Serious Journalism

When Tocqueville was writing in the 1830s, there were already about 1,200 newspapers in circulation in the United States. Thirty years later, in 1860, that number more than doubled to 3,000. By 1890, that number quadrupled to 12,000. In other words, for most of our history, Americans have had more than just a few media outlets from which to get their news.

Tocqueville noticed that so great a number of newspapers guaranteed an equally great number of perspectives, so that, collectively, newspapers couldn’t “establish great currents of opinion.” How different from the monolith of opinion that often emanates from the mainstream media today.

Further, Tocqueville noted that “this dividing of the strength of the press” in the 1830s had two other politically salutary effects. We’re seeing a revival of both today.

First, “the creation of a newspaper being an easy thing,” Tocqueville noticed, “everyone can take it on.” In the digital age of the 21st century, through the agency of social media, podcasts, blogs, and other means of independent journalism, we’re seeing a return to this condition of easy access to publishing.

Second, Tocqueville observed that “competition makes a newspaper unable to hope for very great profits, which prevents those with great industrial capabilities from meddling in these sorts of undertakings.” We who have grown up in the age of the 24-hour news cycle have witnessed the consequences of the industrialization of journalism.

The marriage between journalism and advertising corporatism has birthed the amalgamation perhaps best described as “infotainment.” Newsrooms often resemble gameshow studios. Are we not entertained?

Most of the independent media enterprises that have been successful recently are, it’s true, more partisan, but their success is often a product of the seriousness with which they address their subject. We may even hope that, with the corporate influence somewhat neutralized, we’ll see a revival of rigor and seriousness in the field of journalism.

I’ve argued elsewhere that the media are the guardians of public opinion and that, as citizens in a republic, we ourselves must guard the guardians. In that endeavor, we must understand the new conditions our technologies have wrought, both the difficulties and the opportunities.

Tocqueville called it nothing less than an “axiom of political science” in the United States “that the sole means of neutralizing the effects of newspapers is to multiply their number.” We ought to remember that point, as we witness the dissolution of the monopoly on authoritative opinion that the mainstream media has enjoyed for so many decades.

Further, it ought to give us hope that the freedom of the press is stronger than ever. Let us use our freedom well.

Footnote:  This analysis does suggest hope for freedom of thought and expression.  Still there is the reality noted in the saying:  “The only time you have a free press is when you own one.” (H.L. Mencken).  More recently we have the social media moguls exerting undue bias upon public opinion.

Postscript:  Ned Ryun adds in his article Breaking the Administrative State:

What we are seeing today is vicious regime politics and a struggle over who is really in charge of this country’s governmental agencies. The duly elected president of the United States? Or players inside of that administrative state, along with their mouthpieces in the media?

It is becoming apparent that for many inside Washington, D.C., elections and the peaceful transfer of power are quaint notions of yesterday’s republic. Presidents, administrations, and their political appointees come and go but the permanent governing class remains. It’s not really that much of a surprise that they think they’re in charge, as for generations the administrative state has expanded and more and more power as been ceded to it and to them.

The question for us now as a country is, “Which direction are we going to go?” We really are at a crossroads. We cannot take the tension any longer: we must choose. Either we are governed by an administrative state that is not accountable to the political process spelled out by our Constitution or we return to the constitutional republic intended by the Founders. Fundamentally that is what all of this is about. The tension has broken into the open because Trump has forced the issue.

NWP Closed by Arctic Ice Oct. 20

Click on image to enlarge and to zoom in.

The animated Canadian ice chart shows complete closure of the Queen Maude region in recent days on both sides of Bellot Strait.  In the last 2 weeks ice extent in CAA (Canadian Arctic Archipelago doubled, now at 590k km2, 70% of its maximum in March. Below is some detail from a previous post.

The animation of Canadian ice charts shows the Northwest Passage filling with ice over the last two weeks, choking off the open water. In the top center, ice grows south in Peel Sound closing access from Resolute.  Meanwhile in the center left ice is pushing down M’Clintock channel and filling in Victoria Strait.  As of yesterday, the two ice masses joined to block the Bellot strait from Fort Ross to the east.

The graph below shows the ice recovery since day 260, the average daily minimum for the year.

The graph shows the tracks converging while remaining below the 12 year average.  Note the average annual minimum is 4.5M km2.  While 2019 was well below that on day 260, just two weeks later 2019 ice extent reached the 4.5M km2 level on day 274.

Background on Northwest Passage September 1, 2019

Background information is reprinted later on.  Above shows the last two weeks of shifting ice concentrations in the NWP choke point, Queen Maud region. Aug. 19 Prince Regent Inlet, top center was plugged, while Peel Sound, top left opened up and allowed passage.  In just a week or so, Prince Regent turned green (<3/10 covered) to blue.  At the same time thick ice dissipated in Franklin Strait, center left, opening the way SW. In just the last few days a tongue of thick ice has formed at the extreme top of Peel Sound, obstructing entrance from the north.

Note on the map right edge the reference to Foxe Basin, a body of open water south of Baffin Island.  The channel connecting into Gulf of Boothia is blocked most years, but was open in 2016, and passable now.  This is an alternate NWP route when Bellot Strait is also open.

This is today’s map of vessels in the NWP.  Cargo ships in green, tugs in cyan, Passenger ships in blue, yachts in purple.  Note that Peel Sound was the preferred route earlier, now ships are using Bellot strait.

Less Artic Ice This year

The CAA region (Canadian Arctic Archipelago) shown above has much less ice this year, along with most of the Arctic ocean.

As the graph shows, MASIE ice extent this year is presently as low as 2012, year of the Great Arctic Cyclone.  SII is showing about 300k km2 more ice, and matching MASIE 2018 and 2007.  All are below the 12 year average at Sept. 1 (day 244).

Background:  The Outlook in 2007

From Sea Ice in Canada’s Arctic: Implications for Cruise Tourism by Stewart et al. December 2007. Excerpts in italics with my bolds.

Although cruise travel to the Canadian Arctic has grown steadily since 1984, some commentators have suggested that growth in this sector of the tourism industry might accelerate, given the warming effects of climate change that are making formerly remote Canadian Arctic communities more accessible to cruise vessels. Using sea-ice charts from the Canadian Ice Service, we argue that Global Climate Model predictions of an ice-free Arctic as early as 2050-70 may lead to a false sense of optimism regarding the potential exploitation of all Canadian Arctic waters for tourism purposes. This is because climate warming is altering the character and distribution of sea ice, increasing the likelihood of hull-penetrating, high-latitude, multi-year ice that could cause major pitfalls for future navigation in some places in Arctic Canada. These changes may have negative implications for cruise tourism in the Canadian Arctic, and, in particular, for tourist transits through the Northwest Passage and High Arctic regions.

The most direct route through the Northwest Passage is via Viscount Melville Sound into the M’Clure Strait and around the coast of Banks Island. Unfortunately, this route is marred by difficult ice, particularly in the M’Clure Strait and in Viscount Melville Sound, as large quantities of multi-year ice enter this region from the Canadian Basin and through the Queen Elizabeth Islands.

As Figure 5 illustrates, difficult ice became particularly evident, hence problematic, as sea-ice concentration within these regions increased from 1968 to 2005; as well, significant increases in multi-year ice are present off the western coast of Banks Island as well. Howell and Yackel (2004) illustrated that ice conditions within this region during the 1969–2002 navigation seasons exhibited greater severity from 1969 to1979 than from 1991 to 2002. This variability likely is a reflection of the extreme light-ice season present in 1998(Atkinson et al., 2006), from which the region has since recovered. Cruise ships could use the Prince of Wales Strait to avoid the choke points on the western coast of Banks Island, but entry is difficult; indeed, Howell and Yackel (2004) showed virtually no change in ease of navigation from 1969 to 2002.

An alternative, longer route through the Northwest Passage passes through either Peel Sound or the Bellot Strait. The latter route potentially could avoid hazardous multi-year ice in Peel Sound, but its narrow passageway makes it unfeasible for use by larger vessels. Regardless of which route is selected, a choke point remains in the vicinity of the Victoria Strait (Fig. 5). This strait acts as a drain trap for multi-year ice that has entered the M’Clintock Channel region and gradually advances south-ward (Howell and Yackel, 2004; Howell et al., 2006). While Howell and Yackel (2004) showed slightly safer navigation conditions from 1991 to 2002 compared to 1969 to 1990, they attributed this improvement to the anomalous warm year of 1998 that removed most of the multi-year ice in the region. From 2000 to 2005, when conditions began to recover from the 1998 warming, atmospheric forcing was insufficient to break up the multi-year ice that entered the M’Clintock Channel. Instead the ice became mobile, flowing southward into the Victoria Strait as the surrounding first-year ice broke up earlier (Howell et al., 2006).

During the past 20 years, cruises gradually have become an important element of Canadian Arctic tourism, and currently there seems to be consensus about the cruise industry’s inevitable growth, especially in the vicinity of Baffin Bay. However, we have stressed the likelihood that sea-ice hazards will continue to exist and will present ongoing navigational challenges to tour operators, particularly those operating in the western regions of the Canadian Arctic.

Fast Forward to Summer of 2018:  Northwest Passage Proved Impassable

August 23, 2018 . At least 22 vessels are affected and several have turned back to Greenland.

Reprinted from post on September 3, 2018:  News today from the Northwest Passage blog that S/V CRYSTAL has given up after hanging around Fort Ross hoping for a storm or melting to break the ice barrier blocking their way west.

As the vessel tracker shows, they have been forced to Plan C, which is returning to Greenland and accept that the NW Passage is closed this year. The latest ice chart gave them no hope for getting through.  Note yachts can sail through green (3/10), so the hope is for red to yellow to green.  But that did not happen last year.

The image below shows the ice with which they were coping.

More details at NW Passage blog 20180902 S/V CRYSTAL and S/V ATKA give up and retreat back to Greenland – Score ICE 3 vs YACHTS 0


Inside “Blame Big Oil” Litigation

Spencer Walrath writes at Energy In Depth Activist Updates Climate Attribution Study to Aid Climate Lawsuits. Excerpts in italics with my bolds

The climate liability litigation campaign is recycling old, debunked research in another attempt to make the case for investor-owned oil and gas companies to be sued for climate change. The updated research comes from the Climate Accountability Institute (CAI), one of the organizers of the infamous 2012 La Jolla conference – a gathering held specifically to design a legal strategy against oil companies.

CAI’s Rick Heede quietly released a “training manual” for his Carbon Majors database on Monday and appears to be calling it quits, noting that he has launched “the search for a long-term and durable institutional host to take on the responsibility of updating the Carbon Majors database that I started working on fifteen years ago.” In the manual’s acknowledgements, Heede notes that without the support of his generous anti-fossil fuel donors, he’d “be sipping rum at some beachfront on Bora Bora…Bring the rum!”

Heede’s training manual explicitly notes that the purpose of the Carbon Majors database is to support efforts “to hold oil, gas, and coal companies morally, financially, and legally responsible for exacerbating foreseeable climate damages.” Notably, the new CAI research suffers from the same flaws as the old research:

    • It’s funded by anti-oil and gas groups,
    • it attributes consumers’ emissions back to energy producers,
    • it ignores broad swaths of the economy, and
    • it gives state-owned companies a pass.

The end goal of Heede’s and UCS’s research was to allow their papers to be used as evidence in complaints filed against oil and gas companies. “Big Oil must pay for climate change. Now we can calculate how much,” reads the headline of an opinion piece published by UCS’s Peter Frumhoff in The Guardian on the same day their study was published. Vic Sher, the plaintiffs’ attorney representing the majority of plaintiffs that have brought climate liability litigation against energy companies, gave a presentation in 2017 where he said he worked directly with Rick Heede to build his case.

Heede’s updated paper, which was funded and commissioned by the Union of Concerned Scientists, emphasizes that the purpose of this research is to support litigation.

Climate Attribution – Everything’s Made Up and the Points Don’t Matter

But no one can say with a straight face that CAI has any credibility because of its known bias against energy producers. For example, CAI has received funding from the Rockefeller Brothers Fund – the primary funders of the entire #ExxonKnew campaign.

The key flaw in Heede’s research is that it relies heavily on Scope 3 emissions and a lot of estimation.

Scope 1 emissions are a company’s direct emissions, while Scope 2 emissions are those indirect greenhouse gases emitted by others to generate electricity to power the company’s operations. Scope 3 emissions are by far the biggest piece of the emissions pie and are those that come from the end-users of energy companies’ products. When you fill up your gas tank and burn that fuel, you’re generating the Scope 3 emissions. Multiply that by the 7.7 billion people on the planet and you can see why Scope 3 represents the lion’s share (88.5%!) of emissions catalogued in Heede’s report.

Global Greenhouse Gas Emissions by Source 2013

The problem with Scope 3 emissions, if you’re Heede, is that Scope 3 emissions are not under the company’s control and they are nearly impossible to account for. Companies cannot accurately track Scope 3 emissions, which is probably why they’re not required to report them. So, when Heede claims to have calculated a company’s total emissions, understand that he’s just making an educated guess, similar to how Drew Carrey awarded points on “Whose Line Is It Anyway?”

That’s a problem for the validity of his study, and for the lawsuits relying on his research, because it attributes the estimated emissions generated by consumers back to energy companies.

In other words, when Vic Sher says he’s identified the companies responsible for 25 percent of historic emissions, roughly 88.5 percent of those emissions are not generated by the companies.

Global CO2 gas emissions in the year 2015 by country.

Other Rockefeller-funded groups, like CDP, have also alleged that major oil companies are responsible for the vast majority of historic greenhouse gas emissions. But CDP’s work is based on CAI’s flawed research and singles out publicly-listed companies like ExxonMobil, Shell, and BP, while ignoring state-owned entities like Russia’s Gazprom and National Iranian Oil, which allegedly contributed 59 percent of emissions since 1988. The Carbon Majors report also completely ignores high-emitting sectors of the economy, such as agriculture.

Heede appears to be handing off the Carbon Majors database to the Union of Concerned Scientists or another pro-climate litigation group to carry on his legacy. No doubt, they will continue to misrepresent the emissions of energy producers in hopes of holding a handful of companies responsible for the world’s emissions.