Whistleblowers Claim NOAA Rushed Contentious Climate Paper Despite Reservations

GWPF | 19 Nov 2015

Threat Of Melting Antarctic Ice ‘Has Been Exaggerated’, New Study

 

House Science Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Tex.) opened another front in his war with federal climate researchers on Wednesday, saying a groundbreaking global warming study was “rushed to publication” over the objections of numerous scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. In a second letter in less than a week to Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker, Smith urged her to pressure NOAA to comply with his subpoena for internal communications. Smith says whistleblowers have come forward with new information on the climate study’s path to publication in June. Smith told Pritzker that the whistleblowers’ allegations make it more crucial that he be provided with the scientists’ internal e-mails and communications. If NOAA does not produce the e-mails he is seeking by Friday, the chairman said, “I will be forced to consider use of compulsory process,” a threat to subpoena the commerce secretary herself. —Lisa Rein, The Washington Post, 18 November 2015

 

 
The risk of the Antarctic ice sheet collapsing and flooding coasts around the world has been exaggerated, according to researchers. Previous studies had claimed that melting Antarctic ice could contribute one metre to the rising sea levels by the end of the century, flooding the homes of 150 million people and threatening dozens of coastal cities. However, a team of British and French scientists has found that the collapse in the ice sheet is likely to raise sea levels by 10cm by 2100. An increase in sea levels from the ice sheet becoming unstable is “extremely unlikely to be higher than 30cm” this century, they say, describing previous, more apocalyptic predictions, as implausible. Ben Webster, The Times, 19 November 2015

 

1) Whistleblowers Claim NOAA Rushed Contentious Climate Paper Despite Reservations – The Washington Post, 18 November 2015        

2) Threat Of Melting Antarctic Ice ‘Has Been Exaggerated’, New Study – The Times, 19 November 2015

3) UK Energy & Climate Secretary: “Nigel Lawson’s Approach Is The Conservative Way To Keep Energy Prices As  Low As Possible” – Financial Times, 19 November 2015

4) David Whitehouse: BBC – Inform, Educate And Confuse – Global Warming Policy Forum, 18 November 2015

5) Message For Paris: Government Advisors Warn German Climate Targets ‘At Risk’ – Der Spiegel, 18 November 2015

 

 

Amber Rudd on Wednesday became the first Conservative energy secretary in a quarter of a century to outline her own vision for how Britain should power itself. In doing so, she reached even further back for inspiration — to 1982, and Lord Lawson’s moves to break up the nationalised energy monopolies. She told an audience in central London: “[Lord Lawson’s approach] is the Conservative way: allowing markets to flourish . . . [with] competition keeping prices as low as possible.” For green activists, who have watched in dismay as ministers have slashed subsidies to renewables, the comparison was worrying. Lord Lawson has been at the forefront of attempts to water down action on climate change, arguing it is too expensive. —Kiran Stacey and Pilita Clark, Financial Times, 19 November 2015

 

 

 

Germany’s federal government received an urgent warning shortly before the United Nations climate conference. A group of government advisors who annually assess the progress of the Energy Transition  sees Germany’s legally binding climate targets “at significant risk”. Despite the government numerous actions, these are unlikely to sufficient “in light of the dimension of the still necessary reduction in order to achieve these goals and the time remaining until 2020,” the report concludes. —Der Spiegel, 18 November 2015

 

 

1) Whistleblowers Claim NOAA Rushed Contentious Climate Paper Despite Reservations

The Washington Post, 18 November 2015        

Lisa Rein

 

House Science Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Tex.) opened another front in his war with federal climate researchers on Wednesday, saying a groundbreaking global warming study was “rushed to publication” over the objections of numerous scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

In a second letter in less than a week to Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker, Smith urged her to pressure NOAA to comply with his subpoena for internal communications. Smith says whistleblowers have come forward with new information on the climate study’s path to publication in June.The study refuted claims that global warming had “paused” or slowed over the past decade, undercutting a popular argument used by those who refute the scientific consensus that man-made pollution is behind global warming.

The research, considered a bombshell in the climate change debate, set off alarms among skeptics. Smith, a prominent congressional skeptic, claimed that scientists manipulated data to advance President Obama’s agenda and timed the study’s release to coincide the the administration’s new limits on emissions from coal plants.

He is seeking NOAA’s internal communications and e-mails among its researchers, and in October subpoenaed Administrator Kathryn Sullivan for the documents. But she has refused to turn them over, saying that deliberative communications between scientists should be protected.

Smith told Pritzker that the whistleblowers’ allegations make it more crucial that he be provided with the scientists’ internal e-mails and communications. If NOAA does not produce the e-mails he is seeking by Friday, the chairman said, “I will be forced to consider use of compulsory process,” a threat to subpoena the commerce secretary herself.

Whistleblowers have told the committee, according to Smith’s letter, that Thomas Karl — the director of NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information, which led the study — “rushed” to publish the climate study “before all appropriate reviews of the underlying science and new methodologies” used in the climate data sets were conducted.

Full story
see also: Why Karl et al 2015 Doesn’t Eliminate The ‘Hiatus’

 

 

2) Threat Of Melting Antarctic Ice ‘Has Been Exaggerated’, New Study        

The Times, 19 November 2015

Ben Webster

 

The risk of the Antarctic ice sheet collapsing and flooding coasts around the world has been exaggerated, according to researchers.

Previous studies had claimed that melting Antarctic ice could contribute one metre to the rising sea levels by the end of the century, flooding the homes of 150 million people and threatening dozens of coastal cities.

However, a team of British and French scientists has found that the collapse in the ice sheet is likely to raise sea levels by 10cm by 2100. An increase in sea levels from the ice sheet becoming unstable is “extremely unlikely to be higher than 30cm” this century, they say, describing previous, more apocalyptic predictions, as implausible.

The study, published in the journal Nature, found that there was a one in 20 chance that parts of the ice sheet breaking off could contribute more than 30cm to the sea level by the end of the century and more than 72cm by 2200.

The sea level has already risen by 19cm since 1901 and the annual rate has almost doubled since then to about 3.2mm a year, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

The UN agency predicted in 2013 that sea levels would rise by about another 60cm by 2100. The panel was unable to calculate, and did not include in its prediction, the risk of substantial parts of the Antarctic ice sheet collapsing.

Some studies suggested that the risk was high and that the overall increase in the sea level would be well over a metre by 2100 once the collapse of the ice sheet was included.

Tamsin Edwards, an author of the new study — which involved scientists from the University of Bristol and Grenoble Alpes University — said that earlier reports were likely to be wrong because they were based on simpler computer models which contained many uncertainties.

Full story

 

3) UK Energy & Climate Secretary: “Nigel Lawson’s Approach Is The Conservative Way To Keep Energy Prices As  Low As Possible”

Financial Times, 19 November 2015

Kiran Stacey and Pilita Clark

Amber Rudd on Wednesday became the first Conservative energy secretary in a quarter of a century to outline her own vision for how Britain should power itself. In doing so, she reached even further back for inspiration — to 1982, and Lord Lawson’s moves to break up the nationalised energy monopolies.

 

She told an audience in central London: “[Lord Lawson’s approach] is the Conservative way: allowing markets to flourish . . . [with] competition keeping prices as low as possible.”

 

For green activists, who have watched in dismay as ministers have slashed subsidies to renewables, the comparison was worrying. Lord Lawson has been at the forefront of attempts to water down action on climate change, arguing it is too expensive.

 

He will have been delighted by one aspect of Ms Rudd’s speech — she announced that renewables operators would have to pay more to reflect the costs of building back-up power in case they are not running.

 

However, not everything she announced was about removing government from energy policy.

 

Under her plans, coal power plants will be shut down by 2025 unless they can be fitted with carbon capture and storage before then. The free functioning of the market was likely to lead to this outcome anyway, but Ms Rudd’s deadline means the process might speed up. Al Gore, the former US vice-president and a climate campaigner, called the move “excellent and inspiring”.

 

Last year, coal power accounted for 29 per cent of electricity generation, which will now be phased out over 10 years. In its place, renewables are set to expand from 19 per cent to 30 per cent by 2020, while nuclear power is rising much more slowly, with Hinkley Point expected to come online by the mid-2020s.

 

To meet the resulting gap, Ms Rudd wants companies to build many more gas plants — something they say they are unable to do without government subsidy because of the low wholesale price of electricity.

The question facing officials is how to make this happen while sticking to her insistence that government intervention should be limited.

 

Ms Rudd has proposed subsidising gas through the “capacity market auction”, which grants payments to companies to build back-up power. Officials will have to work out how to do so while meeting the EU demand that they should not favour one type of generation over another.

 

Some warn, however, that subsidies will have to be particularly high to make up for the uncertainty that the government has created by unexpectedly cutting renewables subsidies.

 

Full story

 

4) David Whitehouse: BBC – Inform, Educate And Confuse

Global Warming Policy Forum, 18 November 2015

It was with a sense of optimism tinged with experience that I sat down to listen to BBC Environment Analyst Roger Harrabin’s first of his three part series on the climate timed to coincide with forthcoming Paris talks. I know how such programmes are put together, how interviews are solicited, conducted, edited and juxtaposed to form a narrative. I also know the subjectivity involved.
At the start we get an American politician who doesn’t believe that mankind has any influence on the climate and who is also a creationist. Her inclusion concatenated climate change “sceptism” with a denial of evolution. There was no need to have her in the programme at its start except to place in the listener’s minds such an association, which was not shared by anyone else in the programme.

Near the beginning of the programme Roger Harrabin said; “Out and out rejection of climate science has mostly passed.” This is a straw man. In reality, only a very few rejected climate science, and they were regarded by most who took an interest in climate science as being eccentric, irrelevant and wrong. Their importance was often exaggerated as many in the media paraded them as being representative of the “sceptic” movement. For many years anyone who was regarded as having non-mainstream views (often arbitrarily judged) was obliged to go through the ritual of admitting that the world has warmed, that carbon dioxide was a greenhouse gas and that mankind was responsible for the carbon dioxide increase, despite these being commonly accepted and not part of the real debate. A few years ago the presenter on a BBC TV programme introduced Lord Lawson and added that for the purposes of the discussion they are all assuming that carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas! Thankfully that loaded question had been assigned to the past until Roger Harrabin’s programme that is when Matt Ridley went through this credo.

Matt Ridley is described as a lukewarmer in that he favours the lower end of estimate of transient climate response, TCR (1.5°C – 4.0°C). There is nothing unusual in holding that view as it is held by many “mainstream” climate scientists. So much so that the IPCC reduced the lower bound of TCR from 2.0°C to 1.5°C in response to debates about TCR in the scientific and “sceptic” community.

Later in the programme another contributor introduced another illogical twist. She said she prefers “lukewarmist to climate denial,” as if there was a choice between the two. The implication is that deniers have become lukewarmists which is absurd. Roger Harrabin says Ridley now finds himself inside the IPCC’s big tent but misses the point that it was the IPCC that changed. Interesting isn’t it, Matt Ridley is still a lukewarmer, and not acknowledged as being within the mainstream even when Ridley’s views agree with the IPCC (the epitome of “mainstream” science opinion and “consensus”). Being a “sceptic” or a “lukewarmer” seems to be more about where you come from than the scientific views you hold.

Stubborn, Simplistic

It was also said that the debate about climate science has moved on from the stubborn and simplistic and onto what to do about it. Again, this is incorrect. The main motivation for scientists and “sceptics” is to find out what is exactly going on, and as we find out more we realise that some of we thought was wrong and that there is so much more we don’t know. For example, today we have a different view of decadal climatic variations compared to forced variations than we did a decade ago, and improving our understanding of such variations is essential to contemplating what to do. If anyone thinks the debate has been “stubborn and simplistic” they are mistaken.

Then we have a nice example of doublespeak. A professor states an opinion about climate science and then says there is too much uncertainty to decide if his opinion is correct! Another point is that lukewarmers do not, as a whole, say that the “pause” in annual average surface temperature is because we exaggerated the heating effect of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Another contributor was irked by the “media focus” on the “pause.” Presumably she is also somewhat irritated by those scientists who are constantly coming up with explanations for it, more than 35 at my last count, most of which are unreported by the media. She adds that she always knew it would rise in fits and starts so perhaps the real problem was that there was not enough media focus on this in the 1990′s when the world warmed fairly rapidly!

Then we have reference to the loss of sea ice in the Arctic referring to the 2007 low. Perhaps the contributor and the programme’s editor is unaware with what has been happening to Arctic ice cover in the past few years?

Roger Harrabin then talks of those suffering from extreme weather events after the 1°C increase already experienced. This is a controversial area in the journals but is also a subject on which the IPCC has already proclaimed: There is no increase in extreme weather events as a result of climate change.

Roger Harrabin concluded  the programme by saying that the world’s warming is largely driven by humans. Yet the IPCC AR5 says; “It is extremely likely that more than half of the observed increase in global average surface temperature from 1951 to 2010 was caused by the anthropogenic increase in greenhouse gas concentrations and other anthropogenic forcings together. The best estimate of the human induced contribution to warming is similar to the observed warming over this period.”

The observed warming since 1950 is about half of the warming observed since pre-industrial times so without mentioning timescales Roger Harrabin’s statement is misleading. It seems that one can refer to post-1950 or pre-industrial periods without qualification to get a good quote.

Thus at the end Roger Harrabin abandons mainstream science and consensus altogether in a programme supposed to be about the science of climate change. Overall the broadcast was an intellectual shambles. It is a rewriting of history worthy of the reporting of the war between Oceania and Eurasia.

Feedback: david.whitehouse@thegwpf.com

 

 

 

5) Message For Paris: Government Advisors Warn German Climate Targets ‘At Risk’

Der Spiegel, 18 November 2015

Germany’s federal government received an urgent warning shortly before the United Nations climate conference. A group of government advisors who annually assess the progress of the Energy Transition  sees Germany’s legally binding climate targets “at significant risk”.

This is clear from their evaluation report “Energy of the Future”, which will be discussed by the Cabinet this morning and is in the possession of SPIEGEL ONLINE.

The federal government wants to lower national CO2 emissions by 40 percent by 2020. At the UN climate conference, which starts in Paris on 30 November, the government wants to take the lead in climate protection with its target and influence the summit positively: 195 countries intend to sign some sort of treaty against climate change at the conference.

But now the governments’ won expert commission has raised serious doubts that these CO2 targets can be achieved if not much more is done to limit emissions even further. Despite the government numerous actions, these are unlikely to sufficient “in light of the dimension of the still necessary reduction in order to achieve these goals and the time remaining until 2020,” the report concludes.

One number shows how far Germany has fallen short of its own targets: In order to meet its climate target, greenhouse gas emissions would have to fall on average by three percent every year until 2020. Last year, however, the government had managed only a reduction of 1.7 per cent, the report says.

The government has “so far failed to find the necessary political majorities for potentially effective instruments such as tax incentives for the modernisation of the insulation of buildings”, the experts complain. In their view, this “may be one of the most effective measures.”

Another mystery is how the reduction target of 22 million tons of CO2 in the energy sector can be achieved. Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel (Social Democratic Party, SPD) had recently approved a scrapping bonus for lignite pits hoping to achieve this goal. Taxpayers have to pay more than 1.6 billion euros now to get eight old lignite units off the grid. But this measure will only save 12.5 million tons of CO2, according to the government. More than four million tons should be added to the reduction by the recasting of the cogeneration of heat and power law. Where the remaining reductions of 5.5 million tons will come from is unclear.

Translation Philipp Mueller

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