Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The End of the IPCC

Are you sick and tired of climate alarmists spouting nonsense about human beings using energy, putting greenhouse gases into the air, and causing global warming? We find this phomenon rather annoying over here at CARE but we have some good news for our fellow climate realists; the UN-sponsored Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), aka the organization that climate alarmists use to back up their claims, is quickly losing credibility in the ongoing debate over anthropogenic global warming. CARE is grateful to have the help of Fred S. Singer, one of the world's foremost critics of man-made global warming, in chronicling the cratering credibility of the IPCC.

Mr. Singer begins by pointing out that the IPCC is an organization that has not only relied upon manipulated data to back up its claims, but it has also made many false catastrophic predictions as recently as 2007 to advance its ideologically motivated cause. Such catastrophic events include "the disappearance of the Himalayan glaciers with 25 years, the imminent death of nearly half the Amazon rain forest, and major damage from stronger hurricanes..." The IPCC has fouled the peer-reviewed process, persecuted those with the audacity to question junk-science, and has advocated the transfer of trillions of dollars of wealth at the recent Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen. We here at CARE feel his article will help our readers connect the dots and firmly conclude that anthropogenic global warming is ideologically-motivated nonsense rather than cause for concern.

The End of the IPCC
Almost daily, we learn about new problems with the formerly respected UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC): In their 2001 report, they claimed that the 20th century was "unusual" and blamed it on human-released greenhouse gases. Their infamous temperature graph shown there, shaped like a hockey stick, did away with the well-established Medieval Warm Period (around 1000AD, when Vikings were able to settle in Southern Greenland and grow crops there) and the following Little Ice Age (around 1400 to 1800AD). Two Canadians exposed the bad data used by the IPCC and the statistical errors in their analysis.

The most recent IPCC report of 2007 predicted the disappearance of the Himalayan glaciers within 25 years; the imminent death of nearly half the Amazon rain forest; and major damage from stronger hurricanes -- all in contradiction to expert opinions offered by its appointed reviewers, but ignored by IPCC editors for mostly ideological reasons. More scandalous even, the IPCC based their lurid predictions on anecdotal, non-peer-reviewed sources -- not at all in accord with its solemnly announced principles and scientific standards.

These events showed not only a general sloppiness of IPCC procedures but also an extreme bias -- quite inappropriate to a supposedly impartial scientific survey. By themselves, they do not invalidate the basic IPCC conclusion -- that a warming in the latter half of the 20th century was human-caused, presumably by the rise of greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide. Yet all of these missteps pale in comparison to ClimateGate, which calls into question the very temperature data used by the IPCC's main policy result.

As the leaked e-mails from the University of East Anglia (UK) reveal, this IPCC conclusion -- that Global Warming is anthropogenic -- is based on manipulated data and therefore flawed -- as are demands for the control of CO2 emissions, like the Kyoto Protocol and the Copenhagen Accord. In my opinion, ClimateGate is a much more serious issue than simply sloppiness and ideological distortion; ClimateGate suggests conspiracy to commit fraud.

Let us recall: The e-mails leaked in the fall of 2009 allow us to trace the machinations of a small but influential band of British and US climate scientists who played the lead role in the IPCC reports. It appears that this group, which controlled access to basic temperature data, was able to produce a "warming" by manipulating the analysis of the data, but refused to share information on the basic data or details of their analysis with independent scientists who requested them -- in violation of Freedom of Information laws. In fact, they went so far as to keep any dissenting views from being published -- by monopolizing the peer-review process, aided by ideologically cooperative editors of prestigious journals, like Science and Nature.

Woe to these dissenting scientists, however. The younger ones were denied an opportunity to advance or receive academic tenure -- or were simply fired. The independent ones were maligned as "deniers" and ostracized. In many instances, commercially operated 'smear blogs' invented slurs; the most common ones being "tool of the oil industry" or "paid by the tobacco lobby." In my own case, my Wiki bio also carried additional malicious accusations; the most bizarre one was that I believed in the existence of Martians.

We learn from the e-mails that the ClimateGate gang was able to "hide the decline" [of global temperature] by applying what they termed as "tricks," and that they intimidated editors and forced out those judged to be "uncooperative." No doubt, thorough investigations, now in progress or planned, will disclose the full range of their nefarious activities. But it is clear that this small cabal was able to convince much of the world that climate disasters were impending -- unless drastic steps were taken. Not only were most of the media, public, and politicians misled, but so were many scientists, national academies of science, and professional organizations -- and even the Norwegian committee that awarded the 2007 Peace Prize to the IPCC and Al Gore, the chief apostle of climate alarmism.

In this enterprise, the group was aided not only by environmental zealots, anti-technology Luddites, utopian one-worlders, and population-control fanatics, but also by bureaucrats, businesses, brokers and bankers, who had learned how to game the system and profit from government grants and subsidies for exotic schemes to produce "carbon-free" energy and from the trading of carbon permits. Hundreds of billions have already been wasted -- most of this in transfers of tax revenues to a favored few.

These sums pale, however, in comparison to the trillions that would have been spent in future if some of the mitigation schemes had come to fruition -- such as an extension and major expansion of the 1997 Kyoto Protocol to control greenhouse-gas emissions. Fortunately for the world economy and for taxpayers in industrialized nations, these schemes collapsed at the Copenhagen climate conference in Dec 2009. Clearly, developing nations did not want to take on the sacrifices and restrictions on growth. There was little concern expressed about climate; Copenhagen was mostly about transfer of money from rich to poor countries - or more precisely, from the poor in rich countries to the rich in poor ones.

Of course, this breakdown in negotiating global controls does not stop unilateral actions. Major developing nations, like India and China, have already refused to act. Australia's parliament has so far turned down attempts to impose limits on the emission of greenhouse gases, which many still believe to cause significant global warming -- in spite of contrary evidence. The European Union is likely to persist in its misguided efforts to continue and expand the Kyoto restrictions. In the US, the House has (barely) passed the calamitous Waxman-Markey "Cap & Trade" bill; the US Senate likely will not pass a similar bill in 2010, an election year.

There is still the US-EPA's drive to extend the Clean Air Act to include carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases as "pollutants." But with the evidence of ClimateGate in hand, EPA's attempt to provide the necessary scientific justification for its "Endangerment Finding" will surely fail. Whoever leaked the incriminating e-mails deserves a medal for saving the US economy from certain ruin.

Fred S. Singer, is an atmospheric physicist, professor emeritus at the University of Virginia, and former director of the US Weather Satellite Service, is the organizer of NIPCC (Non-governmental International Panel on Climate Change) and coauthor of its reports "Nature, not human activity, rules the climate" [2008] and "Climate Change Reconsidered" [2009].

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

A Chill Hits Wind Power

Would you like to save money? Of course you would! If you live in a house or rent an apartment then you probably consume electricity and have to pay an electrical bill at the end of the month. In this spirit of saving money, CARE has decided to take a realistic look at the cost-effectiveness of a popular renewable energy source; wind power.

CARE is not against wind power or renewables in general, but our friend Dennis T. Avery, an environmental economist and senior fellow for the Hudson Institute, has brought some sobering facts to our attention that we would like to share with you. One such fact is that "General Electric has just announced a big wind project: 338 turbines, rated at 845 MW. GE claims it will power for 235,000 homes, and is applying for appropriate federal subsidies." This is troublesome because GE could only realistically provide power for 21,000 households while costing taxpayers money at a time when America is drowning in red ink. This trend isn't limited to America; it's affecting countries that are seen as leaders in wind power such as Denmark and Germany. The British are even being forced to become more dependent on Vladimir Putin's Russia because they overinvested in wind power and... well we better stop there so you have a reason to read the whole article!

A Chill Hits Wind Power
CHURCHVILLE, VA—As I write, a strong wind is blowing across the Alleghany Mountains onto my house. It’s bringing an "Arctic Clipper" that will drop my temperatures this weekend to a frigid and unusual 6 degrees F. Why can’t I get some good from this chill wind—with a wind turbine to harvest the "free" energy?

Out in Oregon, General Electric has just announced a big wind project: 338 turbines, rated at 845 MW. GE claims it will power for 235,000 homes, and is applying for the appropriate federal subsidies.

Will the wind turbines power 235,000 homes? Don’t bet on it. My friend Donald Hertzmark—an energy economist—warns the power deliveries from this wind project are likely to average only 25 percent of its rated capacity. That would serve only 58,000 homes, not 235,000.

But Hertzmark says even this is too high because the wind is highly variable. The Texas power grid’s experience is to rely on no more than 9 percent of the wind farm’s rated capacity. That would reduce GE’s real subsidy claim to about 21,000 households.

It gets worse.

Most of Oregon’s power comes from dams, and the lean period for hydropower is winter. That’s when heating demand peaks—but also when the dams have to restrict their water flow to protect fish, control flooding, and save up irrigation water for the next summer.
How likely is it that wind turbines can add to Oregon’s generating capacity in the midst of the winter electricity demand surge, and offset the hydroelectric generating restrictions? Not very, says Hertzmark.

This January, Britain’s wind turbines (6 percent of total generating capacity after many billions of dollars invested) supplied virtually no power on most days. The wind tends not to blow when and where it’s already very cold.

The stars of the British winter power demand were natural gas turbines, which are 34 percent of capacity and supplied 40 percent of the power during the winter wind lull. But Britain’s North Sea natural gas is running out; the only likely new source would be natural gas piped from Vladimir Putin’s Russia. Ouch.

"Wind cannot be relied upon to provide firm generation at full capacity coincident with peak demand." warns Hertzmark. "Wind might be capable of contributing to the peak demand requirements at some times. However, this will rarely happen—and when it does, it will be for brief periods. For significant periods of time, no households will be served by the wind farms."

Nor have either of the worlds "wind leaders"—Denmark and Germany—decommissioned any fossil fuel plants. The fossil generators are kept in "spinning reserve"—burning fossil fuels—to keep the lights on in the schools, factories, and hospitals when the wind dies.

Why build wind turbines at all? Well, wind and solar were the only energy sources the Greens would endorse, probably because they’re so expensive and erratic that there’s no danger of anybody getting hooked on cheap power again. Denmark was also selling wind turbines to other countries, so they had to be demonstrated at home. Now China is making cheaper turbines. Who will buy?

The cost of the "free wind"? Projections are about 17 cents per kwh—far higher than other energy sources. One of my neighbors has just invested $100,000 in a wind turbine. I think he’s wasted his money—and some of yours.

DENNIS T. AVERY is an environmental economist, and a senior fellow for the Hudson Institute in Washington, DC. He was formerly a senior analyst for the Department of State. He is co-author, with S. Fred Singer, of Unstoppable Global Warming Every 1500 Hundred Years, Readers may write him at PO Box 202, Churchville, VA 24421 or email to cgfi@hughes.net

Monday, February 1, 2010

Power: Commentary: How Myths Distort Energy Policy

Have you ever read something and had a gut feeling that what you were reading was somehow distorted or flat out untrue? Well part of CARE's mission is to provide the public with an accurate picture of the important role that abundant and affordable energy plays in our lives. To help our readers understand how myths distort energy policy in the United States, CARE has enlisted the aid of Thomas Tanton, an Environmental Fellow with the Pacific Research Institute. In the blog posting below, Mr. Tanton dispels numerous myths including: The perception that foreign oil provides most of our energy, renewables will replace conventional energy sources, the United States is a disproportionately large polluter compared to other nations, and energy efficiency reduces energy use. Mr. tanton also establishes a fact that is seldom mentioned in America's energy debate - inreased oil production can yield environmentally friendly results!

Energy is a complex issue but thanks to contributors such as Thomas Tanton, everyday people have the chance to get an accurate picture of the energy debate. We here over at CARE encourage you to read on and to let fact rather than fiction guide your views on energy policy.

Power: Commentary: How Myths Distort Energy Policy
Congress and various states are considering a fundamental restructuring and regulation of our energy policy. Any such effort should be based on facts, but legislators, unfortunately, incline to myths, such as the notion that most of our energy comes from oil.

Myth: Foreign Oil Provides Most of Our Energy
According to the U.S. Department of Energy and the Energy Information Administration, oil represents less than 40% of our energy use. A full two-thirds of that oil comes from North America, primarily Canada, not the Middle East. According to another prevailing myth, alternative energy sources will reduce the use of petroleum. Such sources may first reduce domestic production, but they will not affect production in unstable regions. Renewable technologies are subject to import and price security concerns as well.

Myth: Renewables Will Replace Conventional Energy Sources
A correlated and persistent myth is that increasing wind- and solar-generated electricity will reduce our dependence on foreign oil and thus boost our energy security. Less than 1% of our electricity is generated using petroleum, so any renewable generation will have no appreciable effect on petroleum demand. Activists and regulators believe that energy companies will not invest in clean reliable energy, so we need government programs to do so. This ignores the reality that energy companies are investing huge sums of money to develop cleaner and more reliable sources of energy.

The U.S. faces a 19% increase in energy demand over the next two decades. To meet that demand, U.S.-based oil and gas companies from 2000 to 2007 invested an estimated $121.3 billion on emerging energy technologies in the North American market. This expenditure represents 68% of the estimated total of $180 billion spent by U.S.-based companies. Renewable energy sources, however, will not soon replace most conventional energy sources. Despite considerable publicity on their behalf, renewables will remain a small fraction of our energy mix for the foreseeable future.

Myth: The U.S. Is a Disproportionately Large Polluter
From all sources, the U.S. consumes large amounts of energy. But does the U.S., as mythology has it, emit a disproportionate amount of the world’s greenhouse gases? It should be kept in mind that the U.S. produces a large portion of the world’s goods and services. Energy-related emissions of man-made greenhouse gases represent more than 80% of all anthropogenic emissions. Emissions and energy use are linked.

In 2008, goods and services produced in the U.S. accounted for 30% of all of the world’s production as measured by gross domestic product. In the same year, the U.S. share of global greenhouse gas emissions was only 19.3%. Richer countries are actually cleaner and healthier countries. It is the affluent society that does not want to be the effluent society, as various environmental analysts have noted.

Myth: Energy Efficiency Cuts Energy Use
Prevailing mythology also favors federal mandates for higher-mileage cars in the belief that this means less energy consumption. This ignores the reality that increased energy efficiency leads to increased energy use. In the case of vehicles, the fuel efficiency, as measured by Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE), has led to increased driving, and — along with changing land-use patterns and increases in population — to increased consumption. Some hold that forcing drivers to use alternative fuels will help solve global warming. Such fuels, unfortunately, do not necessarily result in lower greenhouse gas emissions.

Fact: Increased Oil Production Can Have Green Results
Meanwhile, it is not a myth that expanding domestic oil production would reduce imports and even help improve the environment. Less than 1% of all oil found in the North American marine environment comes from offshore oil and gas development. According to the National Academy of Sciences, 60% of oil in the marine environment is the result of natural oil seepage through the ocean floor. In many places, it is even higher.

For example, all of the tar on the beaches of Santa Barbara is from natural oil seeps. Reducing oil reservoir pressure through extraction of petroleum will decrease oil pollution from natural seepage. New drilling technology, developed by private energy companies, has greatly reduced the risk of oil spills.

Seeking an Energy Policy Based on Reality

"It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so." That adage, attributed to Mark Twain, applies in particular to energy. Energy myths have consequences their advocates prefer to ignore. Policy based on myths could easily curtail our energy supply, drive up prices, and even increase pollution, all without an increase in energy security.

On the other hand, a common-sense energy policy based on facts stands the best chance of increasing our supply, lowering prices, trimming emissions, and boosting our overall energy security. If that is indeed their goal, policy makers, the media, and the public should reject energy myths and stick to the path of reality. That way alone leads to energy abundance and security for America.
Thomas Tanton is an Environmental Fellow with the Pacific Research Institute.