Weekly Climate and Energy News Roundup #424

The Week That Was: 2020-09-12 (September 12, 2020)
Brought to You by SEPP (www.SEPP.org)
The Science and Environmental Policy Project

Quote of the Week: “An experiment is a question which science poses to Nature, and a measurement is the recording of Nature’s answer.” – Max Planck

Number of the Week: 10%


By Ken Haapala, President, Science and Environmental Policy Project (SEPP)

Review of the Greenhouse Effect: For the past few weeks TWTW used presentations by William Happer to discuss the greenhouse effect, which is how certain gases interfere with the loss of electromagnetic energy, particularly in the infrared frequencies, from the surface of the earth into space. The gases that slow the loss of energy (heat), keeping the earth warmer at night than it would be otherwise, are known as greenhouse gases. Starting in 1859, physicist John Tyndall described their influence through a set of experiments. Tyndall recognized that water vapor is the dominant greenhouse gas, and without it land masses would freeze at night, making vegetative growth virtually impossible.

For over a century, additional experiments in many laboratories were used to further refine these calculations. Most greenhouse gases interfere with outgoing radiation in narrow ranges of wave lengths. However, water vapor influences a broad range of wavelengths. Thus, experiments in a laboratory using gases without water vapor may or may not be an actual reflection of what occurs in the atmosphere. Unfortunately, the highly influential 1979 Charney Report emphasized that a slight warming by CO2 would cause a significant warming by water vapor, particularly over the tropics. Observations of the atmosphere have demonstrated that this is not correct. There is no significant amplification of warming from water vapor over the tropics.

As the concentration of a gas increases, its ability to cause a change in temperature diminishes; this is called “saturation,” and it is accurate as well as convenient to represent the change by a logarithmic curve. In the case of CO2, its importance begins to decline even below 100 parts per million (ppm), and at 400 ppm the influence of carbon dioxide (CO2) is close to full saturation. – having little effect. Thus, enormous increases in CO2 are needed to have even a minor influence on temperature.

Calculations by van Wijngaarten and Happer across the many absorption frequencies by H2O, CO2, CH4  (methane) and N2O (nitrous oxides) yield exceptionally good agreement with satellite-based temperature measurements. They showed that absorption by CH4 and N2O are both completely negligible, regardless of the fictional calculations of “Global Warming Potential” (GWP.)

Van Wijngaarten and Happer use the high-resolution transmission molecular absorption database (HITRAN), which simulates the transmission and emission of light in the atmosphere, to calculate the influence of a doubling of CO2 and a 6% increase in water vapor in the atmosphere. They arrive at an upper bound of 1.5 degrees K (C), more likely to be around 1 degree C, which is significantly less than the lowest estimate by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and its climate modelers. See link under Challenging the Orthodoxy and https://hitran.org/about/.


Review of Changing Climate: Since its publication on June 3, on several occasions TWTW has discussed a paper by Professor emeritus Richard Lindzen, “An oversimplified picture of the climate behavior based on a single process can lead to distorted conclusions.” Among various assertions that are generally agreed upon are:

  • The two most important substances affecting climate today are water vapor and clouds.
  • Lindzen estimates that a doubling of CO2 would result a less than 2% disturbance in the flow of energy into and out of the earth’s climate system, well within disturbances caused by changes in water vapor and clouds. This would result in a change in global temperature of at most 1 degree C, occurring mostly in the higher latitudes. The tropics are remarkably stable.

Further, as discussed in the August 29 TWTW, Ross McKitrick and John Christy have demonstrated that all the CMIP6 models to be used by the UN IPCC have a systematic warming bias, many greatly overestimating the warming of the atmosphere. The estimates of actual warming come from 12 different datasets, 4 using satellites, 4 using weather balloons, and 4 from weather reanalyzes. See links under Challenging the Orthodoxy.


When Whales Walked: The enormous body of evidence collected using modern instruments and methods shows that the climate modelers and the UN IPCC have greatly overestimated the warming caused by CO2 and the consequences of such warming. Given that the modelers have received billions in funding from governments and that the UN hopes to receive $100 billion per year to protect the earth from a dangerous warming that is not occurring, it is not surprising that the modelers will develop innovative ways to justify their erroneous claims.

Both Science and Nature Communications, advocacy publications, ran imaginative studies claiming to be able to calculate the sensitivity of the earth to increasing CO2 by using data supposedly representing the earth’s climate and its sensitivity to CO2 from tens of millions of years ago. To some readers, sensational headlines such as “Earth barreling toward ‘Hothouse’ state not seen in 50 million years, epic new climate record shows” indicate a lack of careful analysis.

Although the claimed time periods change with the publication, the studies focus on the Paleocene–Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM), which is thought to have occurred about 55.5 million years ago. The papers use a lot of mathematics and mathematical tools to try to obtain patterns in irregular data in an effort to establish the sensitivity of the earth to changing CO2 over millions of years. Without going into specifics, one can question the underlying assumption: the earth has been remarkably stable for 56 million years, since the beginning of the Eocene. As Lindzen stated (with additions by TWTW in boldface):

  1. The core of the system consists in two turbulent fluids (the atmosphere and oceans) interacting with each other.
  • The earth’s climate system is never in equilibrium.
  • In addition to the oceans, the atmosphere is interacting with a hugely irregular land surface distorting the airflow, causing planetary scale waves, which are generally not accurately described in climate models. – Have the land masses changed? Have they changed the flow of the two turbulent fluids?

The 1990 book The Ocean in Human Affairs, edited by Fred Singer addresses a perplexing issue. What caused the earth to slip into its current period about 2.6 million years ago, the Quaternary, of about 100,000 year-long Ice Ages interrupted by brief warm periods of about 10,000 years?

Milankovitch cycles explain variation in the earth’s orbit and how this warming and cooling can cause variation in CO2, but not why did periods of glaciation begin, especially in the Northern Hemisphere. Further, although alarmists use Milankovitch cycles they never ask: “How do the Milankovitch cycles cause changes in CO2 without causing changes in temperature first?”

The book suggests an answer to the first question, but not to the second which remains unanswered. The closing of the Caribbean (or Central American) Seaway separating North and South America and connecting Atlantic and Pacific may have changed the ocean circulations to set up the thermohaline circulation resulting in a surface flow of the North Atlantic towards the Arctic from the Caribbean towards Norway (the Gulf Stream), resulting in periods of glaciation from the Milankovitch cycles. The closing of the Seaway may have occurred about three to five million years ago.

(A side note: The thermohaline circulation is caused by the fact that more water evaporates from the North Atlantic than falls on it, thereby increasing the salinity and density. The cold dense water in the Arctic therefore sinks, creating the circulation. A deep southward current in the western North Atlantic results in upwellings at the Grand Banks (Newfoundland) and Georges Bank (between Nova Scotia and Cape Cod) bringing nutrient- and CO2-rich water near the surface, resulting in great increases in photosynthesis and waters generally rich with life.)

To assess how well these papers may address the role of CO2 in the warm period 56 million years ago and how they relate to today’s climate requires an understanding of major land features of the time, and how they may have changed the atmospheric and ocean currents. For this the paper in Nature Communications is particularly useful. It gives estimates of global mean temperature, from which Equilibrium Climate Sensitivity (ECS) is calculated. Figure 1 of the paper gives the paleo-location of sites used in the study on a map of the globe. The four drill sites are between 30 degrees North and 30 degrees South latitude. Two are close to the equator. As Lindzen has written, the tropics are very stable; it is the temperature differences between the tropics and the poles that is important. Thus, the locations of drill sites used to make calculations of global mean temperatures are questionable.

Further, the map shows the Caribbean Seaway open and no significant distance between North America, Greenland, and Eurasia, all indicating that the ocean circulations were vastly different. Further, although the map shows a small Drake Passage between South America and Antarctica, other research (marine magnetic anomalies) shows the passage did not open until 29 million years ago and the deep Antarctic Circumpolar Current was not established until 24 million years ago. There may have been temporary openings and closings.

Also, early in the period, the Trans-Saharan Seaway covered what is now desert connecting the Mediterranean Sea to the South Atlantic Ocean.

More telling, is that the map shows that India is an island continent roughly at the equator, far separated from Eurasia, about 30 degrees North. Obviously, the Himalayas had not formed. Other research indicates the collision creating the Himalayas may have begun from 35 million to 50 million years ago. The formation of the immense 2,900 km (1800 mile) mountain range must have changed atmospheric circulations.

Further, the reference to the base map is a website which states:

“ODSN is the Ocean Drilling Stratigraphic Network. It was planned as an initiative of GEOMAR, Research Center for Marine Geosciences / Kiel and the Geological Institute of the University Bremen, intended to enhance availability and usage of data related to the Deep Sea Drilling Project (DSDP) and the Ocean Drilling Program (ODP) in 1996….”

The last update was May 29, 2011. The last update to the GEOMAR web site is Aug 5, 2014.

It is strange that the two formerly distinguished journals would publish this research as significant and new. To give a biological perspective to the time period these studies claim to bridge, 50 million years ago the ancestor of blue whales, and all whales, walked the land on all fours, the Whale of Pakistan, Pakicetus. See links under Defending the Orthodoxy and https://pubs.usgs.gov/gip/dynamic/himalaya.html, https://www.odsn.de/, http://digitallibrary.amnh.org/handle/2246/6950, https://www.odsn.de/odsn/index.html, https://www.nhm.ac.uk/discover/when-whales-walked-on-four-legs.html


Legal Smears? The State of Delaware has filed litigation against oil companies for not revealing the effects of dangerous global warming, that is not occurring. The litigation repeats charges against Willie Soon, a distinguished astrophysicist and a director of SEPP. As with previous claims against Soon, the litigation gives no evidence, just accusations. Apparently, many members of the legal community, including some state attorneys general do not understand what constitutes evidence. See links under Litigation Issues.


Wildfires: In tracking fires in the Pacific Northwest, meteorologist Cliff Mass expressed concern that the grassland fires found largely east of the Cascade Mountains might jump to the dry timber west of the Cascades or the timberlands may be accidently ignited by humans. As he stated:

“The bottom line of all this is that there is the potential for large fires in western Oregon or Washington, particularly south of Olympia.  The fuels are dry, the relative humidity will be low, and the easterly winds strong, if not extreme.     All it will take is a careless ignition…. which we must do everything to avoid.”

It is important to note that the weather events associated with these fires are not common but are part of nature. Further, the conditions have been intensified by government policies stopping people from clearing the fuel near their homes and the desire of many humans to live in or near the trees. See links under Seeking a Common Ground and Changing Weather.


Number of the Week: 10% As a study in the journal “Fire” states:

“…This study illustrates how the wildland-urban interface (WUI), which accounts for only a small portion of U.S. land area (10%), acts as a major source of fires, almost exclusively human-started.”

See link under Seeking a Common Ground


Ran out of arguments? Extinction Rebellion ban newspapers instead

By Jo Nova, Her Blog, Sep 7, 2020


Challenging the Orthodoxy — NIPCC

Climate Change Reconsidered II: Physical Science

Idso, Carter, and Singer, Lead Authors/Editors, Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC), 2013

Summary: https://www.heartland.org/_template-assets/documents/CCR/CCR-II/Summary-for-Policymakers.pdf

Climate Change Reconsidered II: Biological Impacts

Idso, Idso, Carter, and Singer, Lead Authors/Editors, Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC), 2014

Summary: https://www.heartland.org/media-library/pdfs/CCR-IIb/Summary-for-Policymakers.pdf

Climate Change Reconsidered II: Fossil Fuels

By Multiple Authors, Bezdek, Idso, Legates, and Singer eds., Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change, April 2019

Download with no charge:

Why Scientists Disagree About Global Warming

The NIPCC Report on the Scientific Consensus

By Craig D. Idso, Robert M. Carter, and S. Fred Singer, Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC), Nov 23, 2015

Download with no charge:


Nature, Not Human Activity, Rules the Climate

S. Fred Singer, Editor, NIPCC, 2008

Global Sea-Level Rise: An Evaluation of the Data

By Craig D. Idso, David Legates, and S. Fred Singer, Heartland Policy Brief, May 20, 2019

Challenging the Orthodoxy

Methane and Climate

By W. A. van Wijngaarden and W. Happer, CO2 Coalition, April 2020

An oversimplified picture of the climate behavior based on a single process can lead to distorted conclusions

By Richard S. Lindzen, The European Physical Journal Plus, June 3, 2020


Pervasive Warming Bias in CMIP6 Tropospheric Layers

By Ross McKitrick and John Christy, Earth and Space Science, July 15, 2020


Austrian Analyst: Things With Greenhouse Effect (GHE) Aren’t Adding Up…”Something Totally Wrong”

By Erich Schaffer, No Tricks Zone, Sep 11, 2020

Defending the Orthodoxy

Earth barreling toward ‘Hothouse’ state not seen in 50 million years, epic new climate record shows

Record goes back to the dinosaur extinction.

By Brandon Specktor, Live Science, Sep 10, 2020 [H/t Bernie Kepshire]


Link to paper: An astronomically dated record of Earth’s climate and its predictability over the last 66 million years

By Thomas Westerhold, et al, AAAS Science, Sep 11, 2020


Study analyzes the impact of carbon dioxide on Earth’s climate 30 million years ago

News Release by University of Southampton, Sep 8, 2020 [H/t Bernie Kepshire]


Link to paper: Proxy evidence for state-dependence of climate sensitivity in the Eocene greenhouse

By E. Anagnostou et al. Nature Communications, Sep 7, 2020


Protecting half of the planet is the best way to fight climate change and biodiversity loss – we’ve mapped the key places to do it

By Greg Asner, Director, Center for Global Discovery and Conservation Science and Professor, Arizona State University, The Conversation, Sep 8, 2020 [H/t WUWT]


“The Global Deal for Nature provided a framework for the milestones, targets and policies across terrestrial, freshwater and marine realms required to conserve the vast majority of life on Earth.”

Climate Change And The Circular Economy

By Frank Van Gansbeke Forbes, Sep 3, 2020


[SEPP Comment: The Professor of the Practice at Middlebury College in Vermont rehashes the “Limits of Growth” fable.]

In defense of California

Yes, the state faces serious and growing climate change-fueled challenges. But it’s also better equipped than many regions to deal with them.

By James Temple, MIT Technology Review, Sep 4, 2020


Questioning the Orthodoxy

Climate Justice? Yes, That Would Be Nice

By Michael Kile, Quadrant, Sep 9, 2020

Climate Justice? Yes, That Would Be Nice

Civic authority now cowers in the face of the snowflake lynch-mobs, says ANN WIDDECOMBE

THE ONLY difference between the modern day cancel culture and the Spanish Inquisition is the absence of physical torture.

By Ann Widdecombe, Express, Sep 9, 2020 [H/t GWPF]


Change in US Administrations

Trump expands ban on new offshore drilling sites in Atlantic

By Zeke Miller and Darlene Superville, AP, Sep 9, 2020


Social Benefits of Carbon Dioxide

Scientists Just Discovered Their Past Carbon Budget Guesses Have All Along Been Twice As Wrong As They Thought

By Kenneth Richard, No Tricks Zone, Sep 7, 2020

Link to press release: Study suggests the ocean is soaking up twice as much CO2 as we thought

By Nick Lavars, New Atlas, Apr 7 2020


Link to paper: Metrics that matter for assessing the ocean biological carbon pump

By Ken O. Buesseler, et al, PNAS, May 5, 2020


[SEPP Comment: Save the “Rain of Death” keep the marine snow falling!]

Problems in the Orthodoxy

António Guterres’s Anti-Coal Push For India: Unrealistic and Unwelcome

By Vijay Raj Jayaraj, India, Via GWPF, Sep 10, 2020

“Even in the distant future (2050), India’s reliance on fossil fuels will continue and is expected to contribute around 65% of its energy needs.”

Report claims EU states will miss Paris target

NECPs show 11 out of 18 nations are not planning to phase out coal by 2030

By Staff, RENews, Sep 9, 2020 [H/t GWPF]


“Final National Energy and Climate Plans (NECPs) show that 11 out of 18 EU coal-countries do not have a Paris-compatible plan to phase-out the fossil fuel by 2030.”

Seeking a Common Ground

Part of the heat is coming from beneath our feet.

By Judith Curry, Climate Etc. Sep 8, 20202

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