Monthly Archives: June 2010

Weakness of AGW Theory- Part 6-A Legal Takedown


The University of Pennsylvania Law School has published Research Paper no. 10-08  titled  “Global Warming Advocacy Science: A Cross Examination” written by Jason Scott Johnston. His technique is a novel way of getting at the truth.  Johnson approaches the question of the validity of Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW) as if it were in a court of law. While you may know a lot about this topic, my guess is that if you read it you will learn some new things.  I am familiar with the skeptic’s arguments but some of the AGW believer’s arguments were new to me.  Johnston takes a look at the arguments and treats them as if he were cross examining the two sides.

He does a nice job of exposing the weakness of “positive feedback” that is the basis for the computer projections of calamitous happenings if CO2 emissions are not checked. Further that computer projections of future climate are not science.  He highlights the rhetoric used by the alarmists that gets headlines and muddies the waters.

Johnston’s concludes his examination with these thoughts:  (ghg=green house gas)

Even if the reader is at this point persuaded to believe that there remain very important open questions about ghg emissions and global warming, and important areas of disagreement among climate scientists, she may well ask: So what? After all, such a reader might argue, CO2 is a ghg, and if we continue to increase CO2, then it seems clear that despite whatever uncertainty there may be about how much temperatures will increase as a consequence of increasing CO2 in the atmosphere, and about the impacts of such rising temperatures, there is no doubt that temperatures will increase with increasing CO2, and that at some point, such rising temperatures will cause harm, so that one way or another, at one time or another, we simply have to reduce our emissions of CO2.

However beguiling, such an argument not only oversimplifies the policy questions raised by human ghg emissions, it is also misunderstands the significance of the scientific questions revealed by my cross examination for the predictability of anthroprogenically-forced climate change. Consider first the scientific questions. If climate were a simple linear system – with increases in atmospheric CO2 directly and simply determining future warming – then while a detailed understanding of the earth’s climate system might still of scientific interest, there would be little policy justification for expending large amounts of public money to gain such an understanding. But if one thing is clear in climate science it is that the earth’s climate system is not linear, but is instead a highly complex, non-linear system made up of sub-systems – such as the ENSO, and the North Atlantic Oscillation, and the various circulating systems of the oceans – that are themselves highly non-linear. Among other things, such non-linearity means that it may be extremely difficult to separately identify the impact of an external shock to the system – such as what climate scientists call anthropogenic CO2 forcing – from changes that are simply due to natural cycles, or due to other external natural and anthropogenic forces, such as solar variation and human land use changes. Perhaps even more importantly, any given forcing may have impacts that are much larger – in the case of positive feedbacks – or much smaller – in the case of negative feedbacks – than a simple, linear vision of the climate system would suggest. Because of the system’s complexity and non-linearity, without a quite detailed understanding of the system, scientists cannot provide useful guidance regarding the impact on climate of increases in atmospheric ghg concentration.

As a large number of climate scientists have stressed, such an understanding will come about only if theoretical and model-driven predictions are tested against actual observational evidence. This is just to say that to really provide policymakers with the kind of information they need, climate scientists ought to follow the scientific method of developing theories and then testing those theories against the best available evidence. It is here that the cross examination conducted above yields its most valuable lesson, for it reveals what seem to be systematic patterns and practices that diverge from, and problems that impede, the application of basic scientific methods in establishment climate science. Among the most surprising and yet standard practices is a tendency in establishment climate science to simply ignore published studies that develop and/or present evidence tending to disconfirm various predictions or assumptions of the establishment view that increases in CO2 explain virtually all recent climate change.

Perhaps even more troubling, when establishment climate scientists do respond to studies supporting alternative hypotheses to the CO2 primacy view, they more often than not rely upon completely different observational datasets which they say confirm (or at least don’t disconfirm) climate model predictions. The point is important and worth further elucidation: while there are quite a large number of published papers reporting evidence that seems to disconfirm one or another climate model prediction, there is virtually no instance in which establishment climate scientists have taken such disconfirming evidence as an indication that the climate models may simply be wrong. Rather, in every important case, the establishment response is to question the reliability of the disconfirming evidence and then to find other evidence that is consistent with model predictions. Of course, the same point may be made of climate scientists who present the disconfirming studies: they tend to rely upon different datasets than do establishment climate scientists. From either point of view, there seems to be a real problem for climate science: With many crucial, testable predications – as for example the model prediction of differential tropical tropospheric versus surface warming – there is no indication that climate scientists are converging toward the use of standard observational datasets that they agree to be valid and reliable. Without such convergence, the predictions of climate models (and climate change theories more generally) cannot be subject to empirical testing, for it will always be possible for one side in any dispute to use one observational dataset and the other side to use some other observational dataset. Hence perhaps the central policy implication of the cross-examination conducted above is a very concrete and yet perhaps surprising one: public funding for climate science should be concentrated on the development of better, standardized observational datasets that achieve close to universal acceptance as valid and reliable. We should not be using public money to pay for faster and faster computers so that increasingly fine-grained climate models can be subjected to ever larger numbers of simulations until we have got the data to test whether the predictions of existing models are confirmed (or not disconfirmed) by the evidence.

This might seem like a more or less obvious policy recommendation, but if it were taken, it would represent not only a change in climate science funding practices, but also a reaffirmation of the role of basic scientific methodology in guiding publicly funded climate science. As things now stand, the advocates representing the establishment climate science story broadcast (usually with color diagrams) the predictions of climate models as if they were the results of experiments – actual evidence. Alongside these multi-colored multi-century model-simulated time series come stories, anecdotes, and photos – such as the iconic stranded polar bear — dramatically illustrating climate change today. On this rhetorical strategy, the models are to be taken on faith, and the stories and photos as evidence of the models’ truth. Policy carrying potential costs in the trillions of dollars ought not to be based on stories and photos confirming faith in models, but rather on precise and replicable testing of the models’ predictions against solid observational data.

This is a long paper,  some  80 pages, but I suggest that you read the entire document which you can do by clicking here.

Cbdakota

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Non-US Companies Lead Wind Energy Program


Some of you might be surprised to learn that non-US companies make most of our wind energy equipment and are the principal beneficiaries of wind related stimulus dollars.  But it is true and the Lobbying Organization that seems to be leading this effort is the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA).  Russ Choma posted “Foreign Firms Dominate Wind Energy in US, Land Stimulus Dollars” in the Energy Tribune in which he discusses the players, who’s building, where is the money going and what part do American manufacturers play.

Look at what Choma reports about the leadership of the AWEA:

AWEA also claims credit for being “the voice of wind energy in the U.S.” by representing “more than 2,500 member companies and offering a possible solution to the government’s dream agenda for energy and environmental policy: a clean, alternative power source spun out of America’s air. But ironically, this political force is dominated by foreign companies, which make up two-thirds of the organization’s event sponsors. AWEA’s current board president, Donald Furman reports to Iberdrola Renewables from Spain and the previous board president, Jim Walker, works for the French corporation EDF Energies Nouvelles. The powerful association’s controlling “leadership council” has 20 slots, and 10 are filled by representatives of European-owned companies that pay $150,000 a year each for a voice in the political agendas AWEA pushes in D.C.

Foreign companies have a right to participate in lobbying organizations but why is AWEA overwhelmingly directed by foreign companies when rank and file membership is probably overwhelmingly American.  My guess is that they probably set up AWEA and have the money to fund its operation.  (Disclosure:  I represented a major chemical company’s particular product line before my retirement.   We and several other major companies with similar interests formed a trade association and we took over management.  We did not conspire to set prices, nor do anything illegal.  So, I am not suggesting that the AWEA is doing anything illegal either.)

What Choma’s posting does expose is that the monies for equipment and the subsidies for promotion of wind energy go mainly to foreign companies.  Lets look at some examples:

Subsidies

The makeup of the AWEA reflects the state of the wind energy industry in the U.S. America’s wind farms now have the capacity to power as many as 9.7 million homes — about 2 percent of the nation’s energy needs — but foreign companies build many of the turbines being installed today. In part, that’s because American utilities lack the expertise, and few American companies manufacture the equipment. Overseas companies also own and manage many of the wind farms sprouted along our amber fields of grain. Last year their U.S. subsidiaries even tapped the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, sending billions in federal stimulus dollars to foreign-owned energy and manufacturing conglomerates in Europe and Asia.

Through one stimulus measure — the Section 1603 Grant Program — developers of renewable energy are entitled to a reimbursement of 30 percent of the cost of building a facility. Since last September, that government program has given out $2.3 billion to developers of U.S. wind farms. About 70 percent of the rebates — more than $1.6 billion in U.S. tax dollars — has gone to foreign developers, according to an analysis in February by the Washington-based Investigative Reporting Workshop of grant information released by the Department of Energy.

And Manufacturing

Among other goals, the stimulus package is meant to “create new jobs and save existing ones.” Supporters say this particular stimulus program has generated jobs in construction and maintenance of new wind farms. But the bulk of economic activity from investing in wind, as much as 70 percent according to industry analysts, is in manufacturing of turbines, and most of that manufacturing is done by foreign firms.

Wind turbines are composed of a giant steel tower supporting huge blades and a control unit called a nacelle. Both the tower and the turbine’s nacelle (containing the gear box, speed shafts, generator, brakes, and other parts) require a high-level of manufacturing precision and reliability. At last count, 1,758 of the 2,211 turbines put up under this stimulus grant program were built by foreign companies, according to the most recent analysis by the Investigative Reporting Workshop.

Some of these companies have invested in U.S. factories and others are planning to do so. But the level of investment varies widely, from companies like Spain-based Gamesa, which has the ability to completely manufacture some models at its Pennsylvania plants, to India-based Suzlon, which has only one American plant that builds just one component — hubs.

An example of foreign dominance of wind power is the Meadow Lake Wind Farm in Indiana. The farm, which picked up $113 million in U.S. stimulus funds, was developed by a Portuguese firm, Horizon-EDPR. Horizon hired the Danish firm Vestas to construct the turbines using steel towers built by the Vietnam factory, CS Wind, with blades and giant nacelles from Denmark.

A wind farm built for Puget Sound Energy, also by Vestas, received $28.6 million in stimulus funds. Its steel towers also came from Vietnam and the blades and nacelles from Denmark. And the U.S stimulus grant program gave $91.3 million to the Bull Creek wind farm in Texas — a project that consists of 180 Japanese-built wind turbines constructed under the supervision of a British company for Japanese owners who use a French firm to manage the site.

And our manufacturing position is slipping:

It’s not surprising that foreign companies collected the majority of stimulus dollars spent on the wind industry. Compared to mature and vibrant wind power industries in Europe and Asia, the U.S. has only two homegrown wind turbine manufacturers of any significance: General Electric and Clipper Wind. While both have assembly plants in the U.S., they also import many parts from factories overseas. G.E. and Clipper accounted for 49.3 percent of the U.S. turbine market in 2008. By 2009, that had slipped to 45.7 percent. As of late 2009, the two U.S. companies combined have 32.3 percent of the market for wind plants currently under development, according to AWEA market reports.

G.E. has three turbine manufacturing and assembly facilities in the U.S.: Greenville, S.C., Pensacola, Fla., and Tehachapi, Calif. G.E. also operates three wind turbine component manufacturing facilities in China. The company has opened a plant in Vietnam with the announced purpose of manufacturing up to 10,000 tons of components for use by G.E. in other countries.

Senator Schumer (D NY) wants to introduce a “buy American” bill to refocus stimulus spending to create American jobs.  According to Choma:

The bill attempts to apply the same “Buy American” provision that exists in other areas of the stimulus to renewable energy grants, but includes significant exceptions that make it more about transparency than about blocking imports. The proposed law would not apply to products produced by foreign companies at facilities in the U.S., provides exceptions if no American product exists or is too expensive, and requires the “Buy American” clause be applied in line with existing international trade agreements, many of which prohibit protectionist actions. While the “Buy American” clause might not be ironclad, the proposed legislation would require the administration to disclose to Congress how many American jobs would be created with each grant and why a foreign product was used instead of an American one.

To read all of Choma’s posting click here.

Cbdakota

CLIMATEGATE INQUIRIES! WHAT CLIMATEGATE INQUIRIES?


Oh gentle readers, I know you wondered what would become of those poor misunderstood players that wrote those nasty, revealing Climategate emails once the Inquiries began into their activities.  Well you can relax now—-all is well.  Michael Mann and the rest of the CRU leaders of the  “make believe man-made global warming “ theory were found to be  “just misunderstood”.   The Oxburgh and the Penn State inquires are now in the books arriving at the expected results. Quite fortunately the Muir inquiry has also been packed with true believers in the magical mystery global warming theory so is likely to go our way too.

There is a dark cloud on the horizon I am sorry to report.  It involves the Virginia Attorney General, Ken Cuccinelli, who has begun a civil investigation (CID) into the academic practices of former University of Virginia Professor Michael Mann.

We are gearing up to fight.  We have begun a smear campaign calling Cuccinelli a “comically right-wing Attorney General”.   And the UVA has issued a petition to set aside the Cuccinelli inquiry.  Prominently featured in our petition is the argument that scientists are not subject to the same laws that the rest of the unwashed are.   Isn’t that brilliant!

All right, now for my real voice.

There are two postings that I would like you to read.  The first is one by Steve McIntyre.  As I have said in my previous postings, the one person that the people who packed inquiries did not want on their panels was McIntyre.  After Oxburgh Inquiry findings were published, McIntyre wrote a letter to Oxburgh asking questions about how the inquiry was conducted.  Perfectly reasonable questions.  He received a reply from Oxburgh that said “we aint tell you nuttin”.

McIntyre fisks this letter in a very devastating way.  You can read it by clicking here.

And Chris Horner is on the Case with regard to the UVA Michael Mann CID.  You can read about it by clicking here.

Cbdakota

WHAT IS “GREEN TECH”?


I want to feature green technology in my blog more than I have in recent times.  So, it seems that this should begin with some basics and why not do that by using a  Greg Collins posting titled “Green Tech Defined” on the American Thinker website. The term “green tech” gets a lot of use but what does it really mean?    He breaks down the Green Tech term into three subclasses:  Efficiency Tech, Bull Tech, and Real Tech.

Collins begins with Efficiency Tech:

This is what most people conceive of as Green Tech. It is largely based on the principle of conservation of energy or the use of renewable resources to generate energy and consists of solar panels, LED lights, Toyota Priuses, insulation, and the like. These technologies are proven, but we are nearing the plateau of capability for the scientific principles that underlie them. In other words, each dollar spent on research to improve these items yields smaller and smaller gains.

Efficiency Tech products are also becoming a commodity — it is a dead end for businesses looking for growth. American manufacturers specializing in the assorted paraphernalia of the “Green” market will find that their products are identical in quality to those manufactured more cheaply in Asia. As items become commodities, price becomes the most important factor, slimming profit margins and impeding growth. A similar situation happened to computer manufacturers in the last ten years. Several years ago, IBM realized that PCs had become a commodity and offloaded its PC manufacturing business to the Chinese firm Lenovo in order to focus on the much higher profits of its software business. Thus, all those stimulus dollars we spent creating “Green” jobs by supporting efficiency-tech manufacturing in the U.S. were a short-sighted waste; anyone who believes the U.S. can manufacture commodities cheaper than China ignores the lessons of the last thirty years of economic change.

Adding to what Collins says, wind turbines are produced more cheaply overseas than in the US.  Moreover, Chinese solar cells seem to dominate the world market. Cap and Trade bills are designed to ration our energy thus making fuel prices skyrocket. Further these bills tend to have “Buy- American” clauses which will make the already subsidize, overpriced, renewable energy  alternatives, even more costly.

He next defines Bull Tech thus:

Bull Tech is technology that seems visionary but whose “Green” value is illusory because the real environmental or financial costs are concealed, or the widespread adoption of the technology is impossible, or because it is financially unavailable to most Americans.

Examples of Bull Tech include the Chevy Volt, the Tesla, ethanol, and biofuels. Take for example the much-hyped electric automaker Tesla. Can you guess the average cost of a new car sold in America? $28,400. The price of an absolute, base-model, stripped-down Tesla? $50,000. This is after $7,500 tax credit from Uncle Sam, so the real cost is $57,500 plus the cost of installing a 220-volt plug in your garage. Not only are Teslas financially out of reach for the average American, but they aren’t zero emissions, either. The electricity to manufacture and power them has to come from something, and guess where it most comes from? Coal-fired plants.

Just because their real “Green” value is minimal and their future is dim doesn’t mean Bull Tech companies have no role in modern America. Quite the opposite is true. Their plants provide photo-ops for politicians, their stocks serve as pump-and-dump opportunities for speculators, their products serve as social ornaments for the rich, and, most recently, their popularity serves as means through which other companies can mend their reputations.

And he sums it up with Real Tech:

Let me bury a common misconception about the future of Green Tech. Sorry to break your hearts, millennials, but there will be no green “Manhattan Project” in the U.S. Why? Because we lack the clarity of vision, prioritization of resources, and empowerment of leadership that only the bloodiest and most costly war in history could provide. That would be World War II, milleninals. This isn’t 1943 — it’s 2010, and even with 10% unemployment, things are still pretty good from a historical standpoint. That aside, just imagine the modern regulatory headaches involved with practically everything the Manhattan Project did, from the use of eminent domain to take land from a boys’ private school to the above-ground detonation of a nuke inside the lower 48. These days, it takes decades to get permission to install oversized windmills off the Massachusetts coast; keep in mind that in 1945, there was still concern among physicists that a nuclear explosion would light the atmosphere on fire and destroy the world.

A green job is not a machinist working on the propellers for a wind farm. It’s definitely not that hot new electric car your yuppie neighbor just bought. The “Green” economy is the slow, deliberative problem-solving among a computer programmer, an electrical engineer, and an industrial engineer in a cubicle farm in California determining how their plant in China can most efficiently produce their product. That’s what America does best right now.

The bad news is that Green Tech will be a long, hard slog, not a short, sexy photo-op. The good news is that the future looks more like the words on the back of my iPod — “Designed by Apple in California. Assembled in China.

Ok, and thanks for the definitions, Gregory.

To read his full posting,  click here.

Cbdakota