The Week That Was (Nov 15, 2008) brought to you by SEPP



Luncheon talk at Manhattan Institute, NYC, and debate at Argonne National Laboratory, Chi


Quote of the Week:

The EPA under Bush fought the notion that the Clean Air Act applies to CO2 all the way to the Supreme Court. The law has been used successfully to regulate six [criteria] pollutants, including sulfur dioxide and ozone. But regulation of CO2 under the Act ``could result in an unprecedented expansion of EPA authority,'' EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson said in July. The law “is the wrong tool for the job.''

Proponents of regulation are hoping for better results under a new president. Obama adviser Jason Grumet, executive director of the National Commission on Energy Policy, said if Congress hasn't acted in 18 months, about the time it would take to draft rules, the president should.  “I think any responsible president would want to have the regulatory approach.''

SEPP Science Editorial #12 (11/15/08)

The Fingerprint Controversy -- Part-3


We continue the saga of the paper of Santer+16 co-authors [S17 in IJC 2008].  You recall from recent TWTW newsletters at that it attacks the findings of Douglass, Christy, Pearson, and Singer [DCPS in IJC 2007] as well as of the NIPCC report  “Nature – Not Human Activity – Rules the Climate”


S17 claim that the observed temperature trends in the tropical troposphere agree with those calculated from greenhouse (GH) models.  The claim is based on two assertions:  The observations (or more properly, the analyses of the data) have changed drastically just in the past two years. And also -- the uncertainties of both observed and modeled trends are found to be much larger.


The first thing that struck me about S17 was their figure 6A, which depicts 7 (yes, seven) curves derived from the same set of radiosonde data, each claiming to show the true dependence of the temperature trend with (pressure) altitude.  The curves fall into three “families” that show striking differences – for reasons that I will discuss elsewhere.  Here I will concentrate on one feature only: the time interval chosen by S17 is 1979 – 1999.  Please remember that 1998 was the year of unusual warmth because of a strong El Nino.


Does the choice of endpoint matter and affect the trend values shown?  You betcha.  To check up on this matter, I briefly thought of writing to Santer at <> to request the underlying temperature data.  But why waste time?  So I used a proxy, the MSU-UAH data set for lower troposphere temperatures from satellites, kindly sent to me by John Christy.  Here then are the OLS trends calculated for a time interval starting at the beginning of the satellite data set, 1979, and ending in 1993, 1996, 1999, or 2002: -0.010, 0.035, 0.103, 0.121 degC/decade.


No need to comment further, except I just cannot resist quoting from page 130 of the CCSP-SAP-1.1 report <>  (Karl et al 2006].  In an Appendix, Wigley, Santer, and Lanzante explain the mysteries of “statistical issues regarding trends” to the great unwashed in real simple words: 

“Estimates of the linear trend are sensitive to points at the start or end of the data set…. For example, if we considered tropospheric data over 1979 through 1998, because of the unusual warmth in 1998 … the calculated trend may be an overestimate of the true underlying trend.”


1.  The horrors of CO2 regulation under the Clean Air Act


3.  California’s emissions plan hits snag

5.  ‘Economic suicide’ warning from Central/Eastern Europe




Michael Crichton’s Caltech Michelin Lecture - Jan 17, 2003.  Worth reading again

also: Crichton's Wisdom: He understood that even scientists fall to temptations of fame, profit and power

A “must-read”  Prof Richard Lindzen (MIT) on climate science and politics

The Sun Proves an Embarrassment to Climate Orthodoxers and Carbon Hysterics: The orthodox position has depended upon the spectre of "melting ice sheets" to inject fear into the minds of the masses of common media consumers. As long as they could claim that ice sheets were "melting at unprecedented rates" and "approaching the tipping point", the proles could be stampeded into backing the right political candidates--the ones stupid enough to believe in the hysteria or corrupt enough to sell themselves to the orthodoxy.

Now that the ice sheets are showing some resiliency, global temperatures have stabilised or reversed, and oceans are cooling, the orthodoxy is reduced to outright lying and an accelerating rate of obfuscation and political threats. But even worse for the orthodoxers, the ice sheets themselves appear to have much less to do with climate than the hysterics have been claiming all along. The tried and true propaganda they have used all along lacks any support in truth.

Australians elected a carbon hysteric as leader. The Americans have done the same. Europe's leadership positions at both national and EU levels are infested by carbon hysterics. Does the science really matter, when the politicians all back the orthodoxy? We'll find out shortly.

Matt Wald (NYT) points out that the country's grid is already stretched to the limit and unlikely to be able to handle bigger, intermittent pulses of electricity from wind turbines and big solar-power arrays.

WASHINGTON - Adding electricity from the wind and the sun could increase the frequency of blackouts and reduce the reliability of the nation's electrical grid, an industry report says. The North American Electric Reliability Corporation says in a report scheduled for release Monday that unless appropriate measures are taken to improve transmission of electricity, rules reducing carbon dioxide emissions by utilities could impair the reliability of the power grid. The corporation is the industry body authorized by the federal government to enforce reliability rules for the interlocking system of electrical power generation and transmission.


Formerly known as the “ozone man,” Al Gore thought of himself as the "Science Vice President," claimed credit for being "the father of the internet," was without any doubt the creator of the prize-winning *crockumentary* film, "An Inconvenient Truth."


1.  The horrors of CO2 regulation under the Clean Air Act





3.  Californian emissions plan hits snag
By Adam Satariano, Bloomberg, 11 November 2008

SAN FRANCISCO - California's blueprint to address global warming won't include details of an emissions-trading program as regulators try to build consensus on how best to organize the market-based system. The California Air Resources Board will begin a rule-writing process after next month's approval of what is called a scoping plan and is seeking outside help from specialists to recommend ways to build a cap-and-trade system, said Mary Nichols, chairwoman of the rule-making panel. Under state law, the program must be ready to begin by 2012.


Nichols told venture capitalists and clean-energy executives last week in Mountain View, Calif., that she was "thinking of punting," saying the specifics of the emissions-trading program may not be ready for one to two more years.


4.  Schwarzenegger and global warming,0,2520416.story

Editorial, Los Angeles Times, Nov 13, 2008


It might be better if our governor just vents concern about climate change and doesn't sign any global deals at an upcoming summit.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger will get a break next week from the miserable business of trying to solve California's wrenching budget woes, jetting to Los Angeles to take on a role he genuinely seems to relish: standing on the international stage as a leader on climate change. This will probably be his last chance to play the part, and we wish him well. But it's past time for this particular show to close.

Schwarzenegger has emerged as a national leader on global warming, the one whose name most frequently comes up in foreign capitals when international cooperation on reducing carbon emissions is discussed. Al Gore might have a Nobel Prize, but Schwarzenegger heads a state that, if it were a country, would rank among the 10 biggest economies in the world. Given the Bush administration's unwillingness to seriously address the problem, Schwarzenegger's initiatives to mandate hard emissions targets and set up carbon-trading schemes with other states and Canadian provinces make him this country's most forward-thinking governor, and its greenest Republican.

But our superstar is about to be upstaged. President-elect Barack Obama is even greener than Schwarzenegger, and he intends to pursue federal policies similar to California's. That's a positive development because Schwarzenegger's pursuit of international climate pacts is in danger of doing more harm than good.

The Governors’ Global Climate Summit kicks off Wednesday at the Beverly Hilton Hotel, bringing together governors of several U.S. states and environmental ministers from a host of important countries, including Brazil, China and India. Schwarzenegger has attended similar gatherings before -- last year, he made a splash at a major United Nations conference on global warming -- and they typically amount to little more than feel-good exercises for countries that want to promote their concern about climate change without actually doing very much to stop it. Yet, occasionally, business gets done at these meetings that might be better left undone.

Indonesia will announce at the governors' summit that it wishes to join California's carbon-trading program. That could mean polluters in California would be granted permission to emit greenhouse gases here in exchange for buying "offsets" in Indonesia that compensate for the damage -- for example, a California refinery might buy a chunk of rain forest in Indonesia to act as a carbon sink. Schwarzenegger seems to favor such offsets, but they would undercut the effectiveness of the program. It's extremely hard to verify whether offsets reduce carbon as much as the amounts claimed, and they discourage innovation because they use existing technology to clean the air somewhere else rather than encouraging new technology to clean it here.

The cap-and-trade schemes advanced by both Schwarzenegger and Obama aren't the ideal way to fight global warming (carbon taxes would be far simpler and more effective), but they could work -- as long as the programs are tightly regulated and monitored. That's nearly impossible to do across borders, which is why even California's plan to trade carbon credits with Canadian provinces is problematic. Getting involved with distant and corruption-plagued countries, such as Indonesia, would be outright disastrous. So while we appreciate the international goodwill Schwarzenegger will generate next week, this is one global conference at which we'd be happy to see nothing accomplished.



AFP, 11 November 2008

PRAGUE (AFP) - Central Europe's top power producer, Czech-based CEZ, is pinning hopes on the financial crisis to thwart the approval of the EU's green package, saying it would hit hard at the region's coal-dependent industry.  The EU's climate-energy package seeks to raise the share of renewable sources in power production by 2020, boost energy savings and tighten the rules for trading in CO2 emission permits in a bid to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

Martin Roman, CEZ chairman and chief executive, said in an interview with AFP that a "yes" vote on the package from EU members in the region would be "economic suicide." Roman attacked above all the plan to make companies pay the full price for their CO2 emissions from 2013 as a move that might have a devastating effect on central European industry, affected by the financial turmoil. "The EU is shooting around without knowing where the enemy is," Roman said, adding the EU should take its time and commission an analysis of the situation before ordering companies to buy all carbon permits in auctions.

The European Commission and most member states want to see the climate package agreed at an EU summit in mid-December so Europe can be in a strong position at international climate change talks next year.

The EU now earmarks CO2 emissions permits for individual countries, which hand them out to companies for free. Those which emit more CO2 than the permits cover must buy further permits from rivals who emit less.  But industrial companies in the region may now find it hard to raise the necessary funds because of the crisis, which may also force many to curb investment in new, environmentally friendlier technologies.

On Thursday, the state-run CEZ got a solid backing from Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek, who stood up against full auctioning from 2013, saying he preferred a gradual switch to the auctions too. Rather than a pollution tax paid to Brussels, Topolanek would prefer "money for investment to stay in this region" to help "improve the environment by investing in new technologies and technology upgrades."

Roman is also betting on allies abroad, particularly in Poland, which has established itself as one of the plan's fiercest opponents. "I can't imagine Poland committing an economic suicide by approving full auctioning as of 2013. They can never do that when they produce 95 percent of their energy from coal," he said.

The prime ministers of Poland, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovakia, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania agreed on Wednesday that the costs of the climate package could stunt economic growth in the post-communist countries.” We want an energy-climate package that will not threaten our economies," Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk said on Wednesday.

Within the overall targets of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 2020, the 27 EU nations have agreed to bring renewable energy use up to 20 percent of the total and to make 20 percent energy savings. The Czech Republic is expected to raise its share of renewable sources, such as wind, hydro, biomass and solar, to 13 percent by 2020 from the current level of about 5 percent.

But CEZ is betting above all on nuclear projects, like many rivals in the region which believe this is a way to reduce dependency on oil and gas supplies from Russia, jeopardised by conflicts such as the invasion in Georgia in the summer. "I think nuclear energy will be accepted as a renewable source, so we won't have a problem," Roman said. "After all, it's the most environmentally friendly source you can get. There are no emissions."

Just as with carbon permits, Roman relies on foreign allies to help to make this very political decision come true, starting with the French who are among the strongest advocates of the nuclear option. CEZ has been lobbying hard at different European forums in the past months to rehabilitate the atom in the wake of the energy crisis. The company is now planning to add two nuclear units to the two 1,000 MW reactors it already runs at Temelin in southern Czech Republic, and to build a new reactor in Dukovany (southeast), where it runs four smaller 440 MW units.

CEZ is buying up stakes in power producers and distributors in countries such as Bulgaria, Romania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Albania, Russia and Turkey. The company produced 32.2 terawatt-hours (TWh) of power in the first half of this year. Coal-fired sources contributed more than a half of the amount with 17.5 TWh, while nuclear plants added 13.8 TWh.

6.  Foreign producers Urge Obama to Take a Long View on Clean Energy Incentives