October 29, 2009

Cato Journal

Filed under: Climate Politics

Here is how the Cato Journal describes itself:

Cato Journal is America’s leading free-market public policy journal. Every issue is a valuable resource for scholars concerned with questions of public policy, yet it is written and edited to be accessible to the interested lay reader. Clive Crook of The Economist has called it “the most consistently interesting and provocative journal of its kind.”

Always happy to contribute at least a little something to the public policy debate as it concerns climate change, your humble staff at World Climate Report are pleased announce the inclusion of our article “Scientific Shortcomings in the EPA’s Endangerment Finding from Greenhouse Gases” in the latest issue (Fall 2009) of the Cato Journal.

Hopefully it will prove to be valuable resource for scholars and laypersons alike during the continued debate concerning our national energy policy and how it may (or may not) relate to the issue of global climate change.

Here is a summary of what is contained in our article:

On April 24, 2009, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency issued a finding of “proposed endangerment” from climate change caused by six greenhouse gases, with the largest contributions to warming resulting from emissions of carbon dioxide and methane (EPA 2009a).

The EPA also referred to this document as a “proposed finding” in response to a 2007 decision by the U.S. Supreme Court, Massachusetts v. EPA, which empowered the EPA to make such a finding for greenhouse gases under existing law. This was the Court’s interpretation of Section 202 (a) of the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990.

In Proposed Endangerment, the EPA requested comments “on the data on which the proposed findings are based, the methodology used in obtaining and analyzing the data, and major legal interpretations and policy considerations underlying the proposed findings” (EPA 2009a: 18890).

We answered the EPA’s request in a filing on June 23, 2009 (Michaels, Knappenberger, and Davis 2009). This article details some of the most relevant findings in our response. In general, we found that Proposed Endangerment suffered from systematic errors that were inevitable, given that the way in which the EPA chose to determine the required background science had to result in both biased and outmoded climate science. In addition, the EPA made grand and sweeping assumptions about human adaptation to climate that are of such illogic as to invalidate the entire study. We believe that these systematic errors call into question any attempt on the EPA’s part to subsequently issue regulations on greenhouse gas emissions. Other entities that may use the EPA’s document as a basis for emissions reductions will be using similarly incomplete science and be subject to severe and public criticism. This conclusion has obvious implications for upcoming negotiations in Copenhagen in December 2009, on a replacement for the Kyoto Protocol.

Happy reading!




October 26, 2009

“AP IMPACT: Statisticians reject global cooling”

This is an interesting headline.

We thought the debate is over global warming.

Apparently, not.

Last week, a poll by the Pew Center for the People and the Press showed that there has been an erosion of the percentage of American’s who think that the earth is heating up.

And now, the AP’s Seth Borenstein is out there trying to find out whether or not the earth is cooling!

How things have changed during the past 10 years.

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October 20, 2009

Baffling Island

There is a bit of press covering a just-published paper that concludes that the current climate and ecological conditions in a remote lake along the north shore of Canada’s Baffin Island are unique within the past 200,000 years—and anthropogenic global warming is the root cause. Which of course, spells t-r-o-u-b-l-e.

Somehow, that temperatures there were several degrees higher than present for a good third of the past 10,000 years and that there has been virtually no temperature trend in the area during past 50 years—the time usually associated with the greatest amount of human-caused “global warming”—was conveniently downplayed or ignored.

Go figure.

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October 8, 2009

The Ups and Downs of Methane

One of the indisputable facts in the field of global climate change is that the atmospheric build-up of methane (CH4) has been, over the past few decades, occurring much more slowly than all predictions as to its behavior (Figure 1). Since methane is a particularly potent greenhouse gas (thought to have about 25 times the warming power of CO2), emissions scenarios which fail to track methane will struggle to well-replicate the total climate forcing, likely erring on the high side—and feeding too much forcing into climate models leads to too much global warming coming out of them.


Figure 1. Atmospheric methane concentrations, 1985-2008, with the IPCC methane projections overlaid (adapted from: Dlugokencky et al., 2009)

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October 6, 2009

Antarctic Ice Melt at Lowest Levels in Satellite Era

Where are the headlines? Where are the press releases? Where is all the attention?

The ice melt across during the Antarctic summer (October-January) of 2008-2009 was the lowest ever recorded in the satellite history.

Such was the finding reported last week by Marco Tedesco and Andrew Monaghan in the journal Geophysical Research Letters:

A 30-year minimum Antarctic snowmelt record occurred during austral summer 2008–2009 according to spaceborne microwave observations for 1980–2009. Strong positive phases of both the El-Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) and the Southern Hemisphere Annular Mode (SAM) were recorded during the months leading up to and including the 2008–2009 melt season.


Figure 1. Standardized values of the Antarctic snow melt index (October-January) from 1980-2009 (adapted from Tedesco and Monaghan, 2009).

The silence surrounding this publication was deafening.

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October 1, 2009

UNEP Report—Deception Starts with the Cover

Filed under: Climate Politics

The United Nations Environmental Programme just released a major report in advance of the Climate Change Summit to take place in Copenhagen this December. The report is intended to “show how the science has been evolving” since the publication of the IPCC’s Fourth Assessment Report in the spring of 2007.

Although we suppose we shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, we are having a lot of difficulty bringing ourselves to think that the contents provide a fair representation of the recent state climate change science.

The title says “Climate Change 2009: Science Compendium” but the cover illustration screams “Political Propaganda!”

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