June 15, 2012

The EPA and “Independence”

Filed under: Climate Politics

The public comment period is fast drawing to a close (June 25, 2012) on the EPA’s latest scheme to try to limit human greenhouse gas emissions (a fruitless task as far as climate change is concerned). The EPA’s Proposed Carbon Pollution Standard for Future Power Plants, announced on March 27, 2012, seeks to limit the emissions of carbon dioxide from new power plants to 1,000 lbs per megawatt hour. Such a standard would effectively bar any new coal-fired power plants from being built as such an emissions standard is not achievable by coal plants under current or near-term technology.

Accompanying its latest proposal, the EPA has produced a Regulatory Impact Analysis (RIA) that “discusses potential benefits, costs, and economic impacts of the proposed Standards of Performance for Greenhouse Gas Emissions for New Stationary Sources for Electric Utility Generating Units.” Chapter 3 of the RIA is concerned with “The climate change problem and rationale for rulemaking” and basically reiterates EPA’s version of the “science” behind its Endangerment Finding from December 2009, in which the EPA determined that human greenhouse gas emissions act to “threaten the public health and welfare of current and future generations” –a finding which opened the door for the EPA to regulate emissions of greenhouse gases from the U.S.

In order to make it seem as if they were keeping up with the latest scientific research on the topic of climate change (something which any more that a cursory inspection of the RIA reveals definitively is not the case at all), and that their opinions of the science behind the Endangerment Finding were robust, the EPA states that the Endangerment Finding has been bolstered by recent assessments by the National Research Council (NRC) which provide “independent” confirmation of the state of climate change science. From the RIA:

3.1.3 Recent Assessments

Since the Endangerment Finding was released, more recent assessments have produced similar conclusions to those of the assessments upon which the Finding was based. In May 2010, the NRC published its comprehensive assessment, “Advancing the Science of Climate Change” (2010). It concluded that “climate change is occurring, is caused largely by human activities, and poses significant risks for — and in many cases is already affecting — a broad range of human and natural systems.” Furthermore, the NRC stated that this conclusion is based on findings that are “consistent with the conclusions of recent assessments by the U.S. Global Change Research Program, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s Fourth Assessment Report, and other assessments of the state of scientific knowledge on climate change.” These are the same assessments that served as the primary scientific references underlying the Administrator’s Endangerment Finding.

…Importantly, these recent NRC assessments represent another independent and critical inquiry of the state of climate change science, separate and apart from the previous IPCC, NRC, and USGCRP assessments.

However, it is clear from the (2010) NRC report “Advancing the Science of Climate Change” that it is not an “independent” assessment, as the EPA asserts. The EPA deceitfully backs its assertion of “independence” with the highly selective quote (reproduced above) that, out of context, gives the appearance that the NRC has arrived at its conclusions independently, and that they are “consistent” with the other assessment reports. But that is not the case at all.


April 27, 2012

EPA’S Toxic Science

Filed under: Climate Politics

EPA’s recently announced regulations on mercury from power plants will, in fact, do nothing substantial about the amount of this element in the global atmosphere. If they were really serious, they would ban volcanoes and forest fires, which are much larger sources.

Total annual releases of mercury to the atmosphere from such natural sources are about 5,200 metric tons per year. The world’s volcanoes tend to concentrate along the Pacific Rim, where the great tectonic plates that define the world’s continents are in flux, and in the mid-Atlantic, where continental drift is expanding the Atlantic ocean, opening up huge rifts that extend far beneath the surface. Forest fires tend to take place where there are forests—especially dry ones like those in the western U.S.

Data published in the refereed scientific journal Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics Discussions indicate that the amount of mercury released into the atmosphere by human activities—mainly from smelting of metals and combustion of coal—is about 2,320 tons, for a total atmospheric increment (natural + anthropogenerated) of a bit over 7,500 tons per year. The human contribution makes up about 31% of the annual total.

Now it gets good, and we can see how absurd EPA’s perseveration on mercury from U.S. power plants is.


January 17, 2012

A Response to Skeptical Science’s “Patrick Michaels: Serial Deleter of Inconvenient Data”

Filed under: Climate Politics

by Patrick Michaels

When the battle is being lost, there is a tendency to try to raise a level of distraction to shift the attention away from the desperate situation at hand. Such is the noise being raised concerning my presentation of the results from a recent series of scientific findings and observations—that lend further support to notion of modest climate change. The apocalyptics and the gloom-and-doom crowd are losing both the science battle and the policy war.

Dana Nuccitelli (aka dana1981) over at the website Skeptical Science has recently written a screed purporting that I delete “inconvenient” data in order to make my points. In fact, what I have done is to highlight the major findings of the studies I have commented on—findings that have indeed strengthened the case that global warming in this century will be in the lower end of the range of projections issued by the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.


June 8, 2011

Taking the EPA to Court

Filed under: Climate Politics

On May 20, three briefs were filed with the Washington DC Circuit Court of Appeals laying out petitions to challenge the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) regulatory initiatives concerning greenhouse gas emissions (and how the initiatives came to be). Of the three petitions, two were from a conglomerate of states led by Texas and Virginia, and the other was by a 80-odd member grouping on non-state parties with a variety of interests in the EPA’s regulations. A fourth brief from a collection of climate scientists followed week later.

By and large, most of the arguments laid out by these Petitioners echo previous arguments made directly to the EPA during the various public comment opportunities as the EPA was considering whether or not greenhouse gases endangered public health and welfare—a finding which would then require allow the EPA to develop regulations to restrict the emissions of greenhouse gases. Despite copious cogent arguments as to why the EPA should not find that greenhouse gases engager the public health and welfare, the EPA not only made such a finding, but subsequently denied all petitions to reconsider its findings that were submitted as revelations of scientific misconduct came to light with the release of the Climategate emails.

But, when dealing with the EPA, their decision in not necessary the final one. In fact, there is another avenue of redress—the courts.


May 4, 2011

Climate Coup Book Forum

Filed under: Climate Politics

The Cato Institute is hosting a Book Forum at 4:00pm E.D.T. TODAY!! [the event has come and gone, although an archive of it may be available soon] (Wednesday May 4th, 2011) to introduce and discuss Dr. Patrick Michaels’ latest book, Climate Coup: Global Warming’s Invasion of Our Government and Our Lives.

The forum features Richard Lindzen, Alfred P. Sloan Professor of Meteorology, MIT and Bob Ryan, Fellow and past president of the American Meteorological Society and meteorologist for WJLA / ABC 7 News. It is being moderated by Patrick J. Michaels, Senior Fellow, Cato Institute, and editor of Climate Coup.

The Cato Institute is offering a webcast of the event. Details on how to tune in are available here .

Be sure to check it out!

April 20, 2011

Climate Coup

We are pleased to announce the latest addition to our blogroll category of “Books”—that being Climate Coup: Global Warming’s Invasion of Our Government and Our Lives—a fine publication edited by our own Dr. Patrick J. Michaels.

Climate Coup is published by the Cato Institute and is available through Cato or through Amazon.

Here is how the Cato Institute describes Climate Coup:

Global warming alarmism is invading nearly every aspect of our society. Despite convincing evidence that climate change does not portend an apocalyptic future, children are inundated with that idea in schools. Poor countries shake down rich ones in the name of climate “justice.” Lawmakers try to impose tariffs and sanctions on nations that don’t agree with their environmental views. The military uses climate change as a reason to enlarge its budget. And courts are compelling the government to restrict the amount of energy we use and the way we use it.

Climate Coup provides an antidote to this, gathering together myth-breaking insights and data from a team of experts on the pervasive influence global warming alarmism is having on health, education, law, national defense, international development, trade, and academic publishing.

”Global warming’s reach has become ubiquitous,” writes the editor, Patrick Michaels. “This book documents how far unelected bureaucracies have pushed this issue into our lives.”

Each author details the width and depth of the impact global warming alarmism is having on his or her area of expertise. The coverage includes:

-How the Constitution’s limited government restraints have been torn away, allowing global warming policy to be dictated by the president.

-The deliberate abdication of legislative authority by Congress to further concentrate regulatory power in the executive and judicial branches.

-How outrageous exaggerations of global warming fuel budget expansion within the Defense Department.

-How students are subjected to forms of climate change education that are akin to social engineering.

-How trade policies do nothing about climate change but erode market freedoms.

-Ending the myth that global warming reduces the quality of life in developing countries.

-An examination of the unrealistic and unsupported public health claims made about global warming.

Climate Coup confronts the exaggerations, opportunism, and myths about global warming that are all too pervasively altering the shape of our lives and provides the tools and insights necessary to push back against the takeover.

Climate Coup is edited by Dr. Patrick Michaels, senior fellow in environmental studies at the Cato Institute. According to Cato, “Dr. Michaels is widely acknowledged by climate alarmists as today’s most effective synthesizer of the nonapocalyptic view of climate change. He is a distinguished senior fellow in the School of Public Policy at George Mason University and a past president of the American Association of State Climatologists. He has also authored multiple books on global warming, including Climate of Extremes: Global Warming Science They Don’t Want You to Know.”

Climate Coup includes individual chapters contributed by:

Roger Pilon
Evan Turgeon
Ross McKitrick
Ivan Eland
Sallie James
Indur M. Goklany
Robert E. Davis
Neal McCluskey

For those interested in hearing more about what Climate Coup is all about, the Cato Institute is hosting a Book Forum on Wednesday May 4, 2011. The Book Forum will be streamed on-line, and will feature speakers Richard Lindzen, Alfred P. Sloan Professor of Meteorology, MIT and Bob Ryan, Fellow and past president of the American Meteorological Society and meteorologist for WJLA / ABC 7 News. The discussion will be moderated by Patrick J. Michaels.

Be sure to tune in to see all the fun!

March 17, 2011

U.S. Life Expectancy at All-Time High

Filed under: Climate Politics

Back in the fall of 2008, we summarized our arguments that we submitted to the EPA as to the myriad reasons why the EPA should not make a finding that “greenhouse gas emissions endanger public health and welfare.” Ultimately, our arguments fell on deaf ears.

Perhaps the most persuasive argument that we made, in our minds anyway, was that the most direct measure of human health and welfare that there is—life expectancy—has increased by about 2/3rds over the past 100 years (Figure 1), while surface temperatures rose about 0.7°C. The EPA thinks that this temperature rise is primarily the result of rising human greenhouse gas emissions (although we think that they are overly confident in this assertion).

Figure 1. Life expectancy at birth in the U.S., 1900-2009 (source: Centers for Disease Control)

Now, don’t get us wrong, we don’t believe that much of the rise in life expectancy is due to climate change, but we do assert that a substantial portion of it come from the benefits derived from a plentiful and inexpensive energy supply, largely from fossil fuels.

And life expectancy just keeps on rising. The latest report from the Centers for Disease Control is that in 2009 the U.S. life expectancy exceeded 78 years for the first time ever. At the turn of the last century, this number was 47.3 years.

In fact, in the life expectancy during 10 of the past 10 years was the highest on record.

These numbers and trends are not what one would expect if climate change/greenhouse gas emissions, in the EPA’s words, “endangered” human health and welfare.

The EPA nonetheless insists upon saving us from ourselves by limiting our emissions of greenhouse gases. For the foreseeable future anyway, the only way to do so is to lower our use of energy—which has the very real possibility of stopping or slowing the growth of life expectancy.

While the EPA apparently is convinced that this is a risk worth taking, a lot of the rest of us aren’t so sure.

A question worth asking: Is our health and welfare more endangered by U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, or by attempts to reduce them?

January 7, 2011

Calling BS on Peter Gleick’s Climate BS Nominees

It has just come to our attention that in his infinite wisdom Dr. Peter Gleick, president of the Pacific Institute, has decided to bestow “The 2010 Climate B.S.* of the Year Award” (*B.S. being defined by Dr. Gleick as “bad science”) which he unveiled about a week ago over at The Huffington Post (itself a consistent source of climate B.S.*).

One of Dr. Gleick’s nominees for his B.S. award is World Climate Report’s own Dr. Patrick Michaels for, according to Gleick:

Long-time climate change skeptic Patrick Michaels testified before the House Science and Technology Committee and misrepresented the scientific understanding of the human role in climate change and the well-understood effects of fundamental climatic factors, such as the effects of visible air pollution. Including these effects (as climate scientists have done for many years) would have completely changed his results.

This is simply untrue.

The logical behind the analysis Dr. Michaels presented to Congress (which is derived from this WCR article), has been discussed at length over at the blogs MasterResource and Climate Etc. There, it was firmly established that it would have been illogical for Dr. Michaels to have included the effects of “visible air pollution” (which we take Dr. Gleick to mean sulfate aerosols) when partitioning the observed warming among its contributors.

A simple analogy makes it clear why considering overall losses (e.g., the cooling influence of sulfate aerosols) is not necessary when divvying up the cash on the barrelhead (e.g., the amount of observed warming).

Let’s say that I (Chip Knappenberger) put 10 dollars into a pot, and Pat Michaels further adds another 10 dollars. We have thus each contributed 50% to the $20 in the pot. Now, let’s say that Dr. Gleick comes by and swipes $15, leaving only $5. Who does that remaining $5 belong to? Well, logically, 50% of it belongs to me and 50% of it belongs to Pat—neither of us can claim the entire $5 even though each of us originally contributed an amount more than what is remaining. Our proportionate claim would be the same whether Dr. Gleick took nothing at all, or whether he took $19.99 (if he took the full $20, then Pat and I would have nothing left to divvy up). So, on a percentage basis, it does not matter how much of the original contribution that Dr. Gleick made off with—of whatever is left, one-half is attributable to me and one-half is attributable to Pat.

The same is true when divvying up the amount of observed warming. How much potential warming may have been offset by sulfate aerosols doesn’t matter one iota when apportioning the observed warming among the various factors that have contributed to it—which is precisely what Pat set out to do in his testimony.

Dr. Gleick’s proposition (echoing the objection that Ben Santer raised during the testimony) that Pat was misleading Congress by not including the cooling effects of “visible air pollution” is in error.

We call B.S. on Dr. Gleick’s B.S.

November 18, 2010

Testimony to the House Subcommittee on Energy and Environment

Filed under: Climate Politics


[a pdf of this and all testimony from the hearing can be found here]

Thank you for inviting my testimony. I am a Senior Fellow in Environmental Studies at the Cato Institute and Distinguished Senior Fellow in the School of Public Policy at George Mason University. This testimony represents no official point of view from either of these institutions and is tendered with the traditional protections of academic freedom.

My testimony has four objectives

1) Demonstration that the rate greenhouse-related warming is clearly below the mean of climate forecasts from the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) that are based upon changes in atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations that are closest to what is actually being observed,

2) demonstration that the Finding of Endangerment from greenhouse gases by the Environmental Protection Agency is based upon a very dubious and critical assumption,

3) demonstration that the definition of science as a public good induces certain biases that substantially devalue efforts to synthesize science, such as those undertaken by the IPCC and the U.S. Climate Change Science Program (CCSP), and

4) demonstration that there is substantial discontent with governmental and intergovernmental syntheses of climate change and with policies passed by this House of Representatives.


July 22, 2010

Not Warming-Up to War?

Filed under: Climate Politics

Literally thousands of websites pound home the idea that global warming is a threat to our national security and that violent conflicts will result from disruptions caused by climate change. Many of the websites point to a study released several years ago by the CNA Corporation which is a nonprofit institution that conducts in-depth, independent research on complex public interest challenges. Their study entitled “National Security and the Threat of Climate Change” was prepared with 11 retired generals and admirals, and it is widely quoted by those insisting global warming will increase the threat of war. The executive summary of the report states “Projected climate change poses a serious threat to America’s national security. The predicted effects of climate change over the coming decades include extreme weather events, drought, flooding, sea level rise, retreating glaciers, habitat shifts, and the increased spread of life-threatening diseases. These conditions have the potential to disrupt our way of life and to force changes in the way we keep ourselves safe and secure.”

The executive summary also states “Climate change acts as a threat multiplier for instability in some of the most volatile regions of the world. Projected climate change will seriously exacerbate already marginal living standards in many Asian, African, and Middle Eastern nations, causing widespread political instability and the likelihood of failed states.” And at home they claim “Projected climate change will add to tensions even in stable regions of the world. The U.S. and Europe may experience mounting pressure to accept large numbers of immigrant and refugee populations as drought increases and food production declines in Latin America and Africa.”

Before you enlist in the military or start shining up combat boots, there is a recent article in the journal Climatic Change that might change your mind about global warming and war. The research was conducted by Richard Tol and Sebastian Wagner from The Netherlands and Germany, respectively. The last sentence of their abstract caught our attention as they conclude “it appears that global warming would not lead to an increase in violent conflict” in mid-latitude locations such as China or Europe. We don’t see this study getting a lot of press coverage, so we decided to feature it on World Climate Reportjust as we did an earlier study which contradicted the global warming=more war claims.


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