If psychologists want to be taken seriously, and want psychology to be called “a science”, they need to elect a director who knows what science is.
Executive Director: Professor Lyn Littlefield OAM FAPS
The Climate Study group in Australia published a half page advert in The Australian last week – Psychology and Climate Alarm: how fear and anxiety trump evidence. In reply, Prof Lyn Littlefield, Executive Director of the Australian Psychology Society wrote a letter to The Australian protesting — claiming that the Climate Study Group are the ones suffering from the confirmation bias they accuse climate scientists of.
“The advertisement, ‘Psychology and the New Climate Storm’ misuses psychology-based arguments to add credibility to myths and misinformation about climate change. In doing so, the authors illustrate aptly the very error bias (confirmation bias) they are erroneously attributing to the climate science community.”
It’s the “the pot calling the kettle black”, exclaims Littlefield. But since her arguments are entirely fallacies, this is the kettle calling the pot calling the kettle black. The Climate Study Group mentioned many scientific observations, and in reply Lyn Littlefield can’t find an error in any of them, she can only cite “the consensus”. So instead of using a thermometer to measure the temperature, she wants to use keyword studies in abstracts of publications, and pronouncements of sub-committees of scientific associations. Hey, it’s not like consensuses have been wrong before, or grants committees, journal editors, and scientists could possibly have any personal motivations, training deficits, or biases, right? But who would expect a psychologist to spot those…
Littlefield seems to think that scientists are robots. She talks of “vested interests” of the skeptics, but is blind to the 3500:1 ratio of funding for climate “belief”. Then she accuses skeptics of cherry picking and bias. It’s projection, projection all the way down.
The world cooled for 37 years while CO2 rose. Does that matter? No, says Lyn, the Royal Society was founded in 1662. Welcome to a conversation with a blind believer. Seriously, the good scientific psychologists need to speak up lest the fawning confused believers in their profession stay glued to the public mouth-piece. (Lucky Jose Duarte has spoken, and Littlefield should read his blog. Where are the other good psychs?)
Littlefield wants to talk “fallacies”, so let’s take her “jumping to conclusions” fallacy and raise it. Those who jump to assume long reports from human committees are “facts” are falling for the fallacy known as “argument from authority”. Real scientists look at the data — which is exactly what the Climate Study Group did.
The danger of believing press releases — there is a reason “argument from authority” is a fallacy
Littlefield seems to think that if an association issues a statement it’s an accurate reflection of the members, but these societies almost never survey their members. Those of us who understand the psychology of groups know that most associations speak on behalf of the six most motivated volunteers who signed up for the sub-committee on Climate Thingys. (You’d think, maybe, a psychologist might know that?) It’s just another reason the scientific method does not include “opinions of associations”. We have almost no evidence of what the members opinions are because no one asked them, and it wouldn’t matter anyway because it’s not evidence about the climate. (Perhaps we should start a new society to supplant the Royal Society for people like Littlefield — maybe the Royal Gossip or the Royal Opinion?)
Lucky Professor Littlefield, director of The Australian Psychology Society, does not assess surveys for a living, eh?
Surveys show there is no consensus among scientists
For the record if Littlefield did some (any) research before writing to newspapers, she’d know there are a few surveys of scientists but they pretty much all have devastating news for naive fans of a “consensus”. Empirical data shows only 36 percent of geoscientists and engineers believe that humans are creating a global warming crisis, that 52% of meteorologists think natural causes are more important and only 43% of climate scientists (fergoodnesssake) agree with the biblical certainty expressed in the IPCC. Clearly skeptics outnumber believers, but as a scientist, I’d never use that to defend my views. It all comes back to real evidence instead — observations from stuff like satellites, sediments, ice cores and boreholes.
Define “climate science denial” — is that where psychologists deny the empirical evidence?
Littlefield understands that the work “empirical” is a good word to use to sound scientific. If only she knew about empirical climate data, instead of empirical data of online-anonymous-surveys. One sort of data matters:
There is a growing body of empirical research into the psychology of climate science denial, and a number of these characteristics are on display in the Climate Study Group’s advertisement.
The Climate Study Group can back up their statements with empirical data, which unequivocally shows that the models are wrong, the hot spot didn’t appear (even according to the IPCC), the surface stopped warming when it shouldn’t have, and the warming started long before it was supposed too (1680 versus 1900). Logically the “climate science deniers” are the ones who think 28 million weather balloons don’t matter, but ten anonymous responses in a survey of unskeptical sites do.
A real discussion we need to have is about the pathetic state of psychology
Are the successful scientists and corporate directors misusing psychology, or is it the psychologists misusing psychology?
There are questions the Australian Psychology Society really need to answer. “Climate denier” is an abusive form of namecalling; does it have a place in university psychology? It defies any literal definition; no one denies we have a climate and no one denies the climate changes. There don’t appear to be any people who fit the definition. Even PhD students of psychology (like John Cook) are being encouraged to use it. Does accurate English matter in psychology?
Does Littlefield think it’s OK for psychologists to generate derogatory media headlines based on three anonymous responses? Does she think it’s useful to survey sites that are hostile to skeptics to find out what skeptics think? (Would she survey Jews in order to understand what Palestinians feel?) Is it acceptable to claim that 78,000 skeptics saw a link to a survey on a site run by a co-author that never hosted the link? Does the APS care about truth, or does the ends justify the means?
These kinds of “climate” psychology studies start from the “consensus” fallacy (despite the empirical evidence that the consensus does not exist) . Do they serve the taxpayer, or is it just a way of improving propaganda in order to bilk the public for more big-government funds?
There’s a unspoken potential vested interest here. Corporates, miners, and skeptics don’t funnel much money on the climate issue to research psychologists because they know how pointless it is. Big-government however seems happy to fund psychologists who use the money to promote their own personal political (big-government) beliefs. Does psychology suffer from its own “confirmation bias”? Aren’t “climate” psychologists just government-funded activists in the Climate Change Scare Machine?
The evidence Littlefield either denies or is ignorant of is that the climate models depend on assumptions about feedbacks that observations have long proven to be false.
The models not only fail on global decadal scales, but on regional, local, short term,  , polar, and upper tropospheric scales  too. They fail on humidity, rainfall, drought  and they fail on clouds . The hot spot is missing, the major feedbacks are not amplifying the effect of CO2 as assumed.
–see the scientific references for those.
The consensus that doesn’t exist, depends on models that don’t work. Can anyone spot a problem?
Background info: See more posts about the missing hot spot, find out how models get the core assumptions wrong,
The unstoppable Mark Steyn has collected illuminating quotes from Michael Mann’s peers about the value of the Hockey Stick and Mann’s work. Steyn has both announced the book, and taken apart the critics like “Sir Charles” already. In fine form:
“…not a single amicus brief was filed in support of Mann by any scientist or any scientific body. As I say in the book, Mann claims to be taking a stand for science, but science is disinclined to take a stand for him”
Is there any writer more apt, more prosaic or more entertaining? There are cartoons from Josh too:
A guy can’t sit around waiting for litigious fake Nobel Laureates to agree to discovery and deposition. So, with the Mann vs Steyn Trial of the Century currently stalled in the choked septic tank of the DC court system, I figured I might as well put some of the mountain of case research clogging up the office into a brand new book – all about the most famous “science” graph of the 21st century and the man who invented it.
Michael E Mann’s defamation suit against me for a 270-word blog post is about to enter its fourth year in the District of Columbia Superior Court, so I’m confident this little tome should be good for at least a third of a century.
As you know, Mann’s plan was to sue me into silence. I leave it to legal scholars to assess whether that’s working out quite as he intended. However, as Barack Obama likes to say, this isn’t just about me. It’s also about the perversion of science and the damage done by the climate wars in which Mann has played such an egregious part.
If you’d like to support my end of this interminable case, then “A Disgrace To The Profession”: The World’s Scientists – In Their Own Words – On Michael E Mann, His Hockey Stick, and Their Damage To Science: Volume One is a great way to do it, and have a few laughs along the way (courtesy of Josh’s cartoons). To order the book, simply click here.
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There are adjustments on top of adjustments. Homogenised records are being used to correct raw records. Some man-made adjustments can infect data for miles around…
Rutherglen is a long running station in central Victoria. There are no documented site moves, but the long raw trend of slow cooling was adjusted up to a warming trend. What was cooling of 0.35C per century became a 1.7C warming trend.
Jennifer Marohasy, and others, have spent months trying to get answers from the BOM explaining why these massive adjustments were made. Excuses flowed. In the latest round, the BOM claim the changes are necessary to make the Rutherglen record match the trends in the neighboring stations. What the BOM doesn’t say is that there was no warming in the neighbours either, not until after they were homogenized. The order in which stations are homogenized matters, which rather says something important about the arbitrary nature of the adjustments. Anomalous trends from far distant and poor locations can spread through waves of homogenization until better, longer stations succumb to political correctness and show the “correct” result. Small choices about which stations to to use first in the process can make a huge difference to the end result. Another reason the BOM needs auditing.
A poor Australian citizen might think after seeing this graph, below, from the BOM, that Rutherglen is out of step with its neighbours. Instead the taxpayer would need to go to Jennifer Marohasy’s site to get the full story. She has added the red notes to the chart to point out what the BOM don’t say: Wagga, Deniliquin and Kerang series were homogenized first. These trends were not what was recorded by thermometers. [UPDATE: Note that many raw records are patchy and not well documented. They often do need adjustment, but the reasons need to be transparent, exact, justified, and Australians need to know how influential these adjustments are.]
Marohasy also plotted the raw data from Deniliquin and Rutherglen, and explains that at the long running station in Wilkinson St Deniliquin there was a statistically significant cooling trend of 0.6C per century from
1910 to 2000 1913 – 2003. Actual raw data is available for Wilkinson St from February 1867 to June 2003, a remarkably long series.
She has written an open letter to the Chief Operating Officer, Vicki Middleton, pointing out the misleading nature of the Bureau of Meteorology graph, and asking that they correct their “Fact Sheet”.
This is not just about Rutherglen. If we look at historic records from 84 sites, two thirds of Australia’s warming trend comes from the adjustments.
What’s the answer? Replicate the BOM’s work
If it can’t be replicated, it isn’t science. The Bureau of Meteorology admits its methods are secret. [UPDATE: See the link -- the Bureau specifically admits no one outside the BoM can replicate their work because it would require detailed instructions, "operator training" and it's too "onerous".]
The BOM needs a full independent audit, staffed by people outside climate studies — we need physicists, statisticians, engineers, people with proven track records in areas of science or technology that work.
The only thing we know for sure about the BOM is that time and again, they’ve had the opportunity to explain their decisions and methods, and they choose not too. It’s an unscientific, “trust us” approach. If they were honest, and sincerely believed in their work, they would welcome the interest in the details of the historic Australian climate.
Would you buy shares in a company on the Australia Stock Exchange (ASX) that refused to allow audits of its finances? You couldn’t even if you wanted too – the ASX doesn’t allow them to list. Public companies welcome audits, to show everyone they are legit.
When the ABC misinforms Australians, the BOM don’t care. That says a lot about their priorities. Not serving the public, just serving “big-government”…
We need to get individual stations in order before we start blending bad data
The concept motivating homogenization is that errors in one station can be detected and corrected by comparing it to surrounding stations — if all the neighbors say one things and one station says something else, then the one station is probably wrong.
But how close need a neighbor be? Is a temperature record 500 km away to be relied upon to correct measurements taken at a site? Somehow the BOM has got itself in a real mess. Bad data, unrecorded site changes, and anomalous results abound, along with wacky square-wave monthly adjustments that defy explanation. Homogenisation should start with the best stations, but no one at the BOM has even figured out which stations are the best. There’s been no proper detailed historic analysis of each station. Someone needs to go back to photos, letters and newspapers. Lets start with data, dammit.
The only thing we know for sure is that we are not getting good answers
The history of the BOM’s explanations is that the adjustments to Rutherglen are major, and that explanations could be provided in days — but more than three years after ACORN was established there are still no good explanations, just a litany of weak excuses and the fog of evasion. The BOM ignored independent scientists until The Australian started writing up their questions. Only then did they bother to respond, and in the end, they admit they can’t explain something as simple as the reasons for their adjustments in something as scientifically banal as a single temperature sequence. This is not rocket science.
Nothing has changed from when I wrote this nearly a year ago:
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The Australian Abbott government has announced the target of a 26% reduction in emissions of CO2 by 2030. This futile effort to change the weather is all cost and no benefit. It’s 26% reduction in 1.3% (Australia’s share) of 4% (human share) of total CO2 emissions globally. If we succeed there’ll be 0.01% less CO2 in the air (at best).
The only good thing is that the policy supposedly can be achieved without “without any need to purchase emissions reductions from overseas.” That means Australia won’t be feeding the global banker-broker machine and assorted “carbon market” bureaucrats — not until the Labor Party come to government, anyway. This is a big win, helping to slow the cycle of governments feeding vested interests who promote big-government.
For once the Greens had a realistic response, though they probably did not intend it that way:
“The Greens party room also discussed the government’s target. The party’s MPs agreed it was “an all-around science fail” and they “all nodded vigorously”, a senior source said.”
Because “carbon accounting” is a joke, measured in a dozen mindless ways, all sides are spinning this in equal and opposite directions. Black IS white simultaneously, and too much pandering is never enough: “Tim Flannery has said the government’s draft proposals to cut Australian carbon emissions by 30 per cent by 2030 was “vastly inadequate”. Indeed, but the dams filled, didn’t they?
The carbon-reduction leaders of the world are downunder
Australians are great “Green” achievers on a per capita basis, despite the rapidly growing population:
Australian per capita emissions fell by 28% since 1990 – and our population has grown by a monster 38% in the same period. Fully 20% of the 28% comes from land use changes (basically a euphemism for not cutting down bush and regrowth). The pink batts, solar panels, wind turbines have achieved very little. The carbon tax cost $14 billion and reduced global emissions by 0.004%. The dark side of Australia’s “fantastic” reduction is that farmers like Peter Spencer have paid for it on our behalf. More news on that soon.
Mr Abbott said the government’s per capita emissions cuts would be the highest in the developed world.
“It is not quite as high as the Europeans at 34 per cent on (the levels of) 2005. It is better than the Japanese at 25 per cent. It is vastly better than the Koreans at 4 per cent. It’s immeasurably better than the Chinese who will actually increase their emissions by 150 per cent between now and 2030,” Mr Abbott said.
– The Australian “Climate change: emissions reductions target set at 26pc ”
The US and Canada withdrew from the Kyoto Protocol, while Japan, Spain, Denmark, Switzerland and Norway failed to meet their targets in the first commitment period. Australia represents about 1.3 per cent of global emissions, while China (24.1 per cent), the US (14.9 per cent) and the EU (10.4 per cent) are the three biggest emitters.
Australia’s current target of 5 per cent below 2000 levels by 2020 represents a reduction of 13 per cent below 2005 levels by 2020. But the government faces pressure to match commitments by other developed countries such as Canada, which has promised 30 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030 and Japan’s 25 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030.
– The Australian Tony Abbott cuts ambitions on carbon
The costs — modeled as an unbelievably low $660m by 2030
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The danger is in the definition
Ken Stewart has been diligent at trying to understand the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) method for finding heatwaves. He’d heard BOM head, Rob Vertessy speak on ABC radio, declaring that heatwaves were the “number one cause of death” from natural disaster in Australia. Ken wrote to Vertessy repeatedly but for some reason, despite the deadly risk to Australians, Vertessy was unable to answer the question of how to define and estimate heatwaves. (Perhaps if the BOM had The Internet, he could have sent Ken Stewart this link, which Stewart has now found himself four months later.)
The Excess Heat Factor: A Metric for Heatwave Intensity and Its Use in Classifying Heatwave Severity, John R. Nairn and Robert J. B. Fawcett (2015) 
With these instructions Ken has now replicated the BOM results for the 2014 heatwave in Melbourne. He has also used the same technique on Marble Bar, Western Australia, and Mawson, Antarctica and found that potentially heatwaves are a killer danger to our Antarctic researchers, and if heatwaves kill, they’d be much safer in Marble Bar. For the record, Marble Bar is the place that had 160 days in a row with daily maxes above 100F (37.8°C) in 1923-24. But that’s not much of a heatwave according to the BOM.
Australians may think they understand the term “heatwave” but the BOM don’t define it the way the average man-in-the-street does. The BOM know that humans can adapt to a wide range of temperatures, so the point of a heatwave is not about absolute temperatures but about the variation from the norm. That means the relentless unending heat of Marble Bar is not a heatwave, it’s “normal”. A few warm days in Antarctica, though, can really shock the system.
Extreme heatwaves, Marble Bar, Western Australia, Bureau of Meteorology method.
Extreme Heatwaves, Mawson, Antarctica, Bureau of Meteorology method.
Ken describes their method:
There are several steps. Readers should read the paper for full details. Briefly, using a daily mean temperature calculated by averaging the day’s maximum and the following night’s minimum, three-day means are calculated. These are then compared by subtracting the previous 30 days’ daily means (as people acclimatise to changed temperatures in this period). Differences that exceed the 95th percentile of all three-day means from 1971 to 2000 are multiplied by the three-day mean to give the Excess Heat Factor, which indicates heatwave. This is then compared with the 85th percentile of all positive EHFs from 1958 to 2011 to give a severity index, and if it exceeds 3 times the 85th percentile this becomes an extreme heatwave event.
From the paper:
“The intent of these definitions is to create a heatwave intensity index and classification scheme which is relative to the local climate. Such an approach is clearly necessary given the abundant evidence that people and supporting infrastructure are largely adapted to the local climate, in physiology, culture and engineered supporting infrastructure.”
Here are the results for Melbourne- with all its UHI effect of course.
Fig. 1: Decadal (running 3653 day) count of positive Excess Heat Factor (heatwave) days in Melbourne
Between the combinations and permutations of hottest ever records and adjusted trends, this type of heatwave calculation fills the PR gap on many towns or locations which might fail to trigger a suitably scary press release.
In the Nairn paper during one three-week period in the summer of 2009, the “excess heat levels” across Australia looked like this:
Nairn and Fawcett 2014, Excess Heat Across Australia.
During these three weeks Marble Bar scored a measly 0-10 units – possibly because for the three weeks before this the max temperature at Marble Bar was above 40C every single day, and the minima did not fall below 24C.
Ultimately, there are an infinite number of ways to measure heatwaves. When Ken Stewart used a 40C cut-off, he found there were more heatwaves lately in Adelaide, but less heatwaves in Sydney, Melbourne, Hobart, or Darwin where 9 million Australians live. The BOM don’t mention this. Geoff Sherrington looked at 4, 5, and 6 day trends in our capital cities and found the top 20 instances of them in each city and looked at whether there were more in the latter half of the record. He found Perth had had more heatwaves, Adelaide less, and Melbourne, Sydney, and Hobart had no trend.
The trend in heatwaves depends entirely on the definition, and there are advantages and disadvantages with every method. But the BOM don’t tell Australians how fickle or “flexible” their heatwave trends are. Is there a point in reporting noise as if it mattered — only if it’s PR you seek, not scientific truths.
The biggest health risks are not from heatwaves in cold places, they’re not even from heatwaves in hot places
The BOM’s human biology expertise may be letting them down. One day, when they get The Internet, they may also discover air conditioning and the life saving value of coal fired cheap electricity. The heatwave that kills the most Australians, and every single year, is the lack-of-heat-kind. Even in a hot country like Australia, cold weather kills far more often than heat. A study on mortality rates in 74 million people showed the cold-toll is 20 times higher than the heat-toll.
In Australia, a survey reported last week suggests nearly half of NSW householders are not turning on heaters despite feeling cold. (Thanks to NSW having the second highest electricity prices in the western world these days). Consumer group One Big Switch have 550,000 members and surveyed 10,000 NSW households in June and July 2015.
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Across the West, there is a layer of smart-but-busy intellects who have not been involved in the climate debate. For one reason or another they’ve been too busy setting up IPO’s, doing research projects, or directing companies in perhaps technology, mining or banking, and generally being productive. It is excellent to see some of this caliber adding their brain-power and resources to the public arena. Especially so in Australia, where the debate is almost entirely bare-bones-volunteers versus billion-dollar-institutions, and where the culture of philanthropy is not well developed compared to the US.
This unusual advert was placed in The Australian today. In a normal world, investigative journalists would have already interviewed and discussed views like these, but in the hyperbolic, politicized and religious world of climate-alarm it was simpler for productive people to just get on with it, talk to their peers and make it happen.
Click to enlarge, or read the text below.
Psychology and The New Climate Alarm
Lowell Ponte’s 1975 book warns:
“Global cooling presents humankind with the most important social, political, and adaptive challenge we have had to deal with for 110,000 years. Your stake in the decisions we make concerning it is of ultimate importance: the survival of ourselves, our children, our species.”
Now there is a new climate alarm. Climate models used by authorities forecast that CO2 emissions will cause dangerous global warming, now referred to as Climate Change.
PSYCHOLOGY, BIAS ERRORS AND CLIMATE
Recent findings in the area of psychology, “Psychology and Economics” by Prof. Matthew Rabin show the prevalence of a number of bias errors when people make decisions.
Such errors are relevant for climate scientists in examining the evidence claimed to support Climate Change. The following reviews the importance of two key bias errors.
The bias error of “there is a misinterpretation that purely random events are too long to be purely random and
represent a long term trend”.
- The Millennium Drought from 1997 to 2010 was misinterpreted as a long term trend as a consequence of Climate Change. This lent support to State Governments over-investing in desalination plants.
The bias error of “once forming a view people are often inattentive to information contradicting their view. There is the problem of selective scrutiny of evidence”.
A bias problem that carbon dioxide emissions drive Climate Change is illustrated by the following:
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Researchers predicted a particular beetle would not be able to get into the cold areas of Kazakhstan and western China. But the sneaky beetles learnt to cope with the cold by burying themselves in the ground. The modelers failed completely to predict the spread. Imagine the ecological modelers who are not only using inadequate biological models, but guesstimating the future temperature with climate models that don’t work either.
In the last 500 million years as life on Earth evolved the temperature has swung up and down through a range of about 15C. We are currently in the cooler half of that temperature range, in a mini-warm-moment surrounded by ice ages. Despite this, the climate-industry is panicking that a half a degree of extra warmth this century will wipe out species that survived the last ten million years.
The potato beetle laughs at them.
Crop pests outwit climate change predictions en route to new destinations
Scientists highlight the dangers of relying on climate-based projections of crop pest distribution
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The Institute of Mechanical Engineers in the UK (IMechEng) has a new “climate” survey out. It’s good fodder for headlines about fear and worry. But after priming the audience with a litany of climate disasters and asking them if they are worried about “cyclones”, “droughts” and “the future of the human race”, the awful truth is that half of the Brits don’t want to pay anything to stop it.
It’s another motherhood-two-cent-survey, meaning it asks motherhood type questions and gets everyone’s “2 cents” on an issue (and it’s worth both cents). We get insights like finding that 64% think global warming is “already a problem”, but it can’t be that big a deal because 52% of people don’t think they personally should pay more in tax in an effort to do something about it.
No hard questions are asked, no one is forced to rank the worries of life, only the worries of the climate industry. Evidently the surveyors don’t really want to know if people think “climate change” is man-made. Nor do they want to know how much people want to spend attempting to change the weather. Money is only a Yes No type question.
As usual, there are no specific questions about man-made global warming. All warming and any climate change is understood to be man-made.
Question Five loads the disasters right on: “Q5. What issues regarding global warming are you concerned about” and gives them the options of Flooding/sea level rises, Extreme weather, cyclones and hurricanes, Droughts/water shortages, Pollution of air, sea and land, Land lost to sea and becoming deserts.” That’s plenty of disaster to mull over.
They aren’t offered the options of worrying about “national debt”, “higher electricity bills” or the “demise of modern science”.
Question six plays all the assumption-cards: climate change man-made, it should be stopped — and there are “effective” ways to stop it (my bolding):
Q6. Which of the following do you think is the most effective method for combating man-made climate change?
The full survey results: Climate Change survey.
The lack of enthusiasm for spending money fits with other global studies showing 60% of people don’t want their own money spent on “the environment”.
No one is going to find out what the voters want or the number of real skeptics in a survey like this.
Welcome to the fairy-land world where we try to control the weather with our electrical generation sources.
Obama’s new plan to stop storms and hold back the tide could make the US poorer by as much as $2.5 trillion dollars, but will not make any difference to the global climate even if it is carried out (somehow) and even if the highly immature, overly politicized science is “right” (despite the evidence). The plan is for the U.S. to cut overall electrical power plant emissions by 32 percent by 2030, compared to 2005 levels.
This “ambitious” goal is purely symbolic. Here’s why. Electrical power plants make 37% of US emissions, which are about one-fifth of global human emissions, which are 4% of total CO2 emissions globally. So a 32% cut in US electrical emissions will result in a 0.1% cut in total global CO2 emissions (at best)*. If the Obama/EPA plan is “successful” and if the IPCC are right, Paul Knappenberger and Pat Michaels estimate that Obama’s new plan will cool the world by an unmeasurable 0.02°C by 2100.
The theoretical, best case (fantasy) cost
“The Obama administration said it would cost $8.4 billion annually by 2030, but argued that power bills would decrease because people would use less electricity and rely more heavily on low-cost sources like wind and solar.” — AP
Wind and solar are “low cost” sources only if we assume an unforeseen paradigm breakthrough in technology occurs and is deployed by 2030, or we hobble coal power with heavy attainable impractical and pointless requirements like carbon sequestration. In the first situation we don’t need government legislation, because if it happens everyone will want “low cost” solar and wind. At the moment, wind and solar are both high cost electrical sources, and high cost at carbon abatement too. Doubly useless, you might say. In Australia carbon abatement through wind energy costs $50-$100 a ton, seven times more than other methods. (Only someone who really doesn’t like the environment would use wind and solar. Where does all that money go?)
NERA Economic consulting estimates US electricity prices will rise 12 -17%. The Heritage Foundation estimates that rising energy costs will have an economy wide effect and the US will lose $2.5 trillion in GDP. Choosing expensive electricity as a form of global climate control will cost more than one million jobs.
Currently wind and solar provide 4.4% and 0.4% (respectively) of US electricity, compared to 39% from coal.
The new Obama plan makes wind and solar more competitive by hobbling coal. The plan effectively cripples new coal plants by making them “uneconomic” . If new coal fired plants have to use carbon capture or “sequestration” they will not even get into the planning stage. Carbon capture coal generators cost 60% more to build and then waste 40% of the energy produced by the plant to stuff a useful voluminous fertilizer gas back into the ground.
32% renewables is uncharted territory in a major (non-nuclear) economy
The legal situation
Obviously the battle is going to hit the courts, employ lots of lawyers, and take years to resolve.
Threats of legal action started arrived within minutes of Obama unveiling his plan. In Texas, Kentucky, Kansas, Indiana and Wisconsin, to name a few, top officials said they would vigorously fight the rule, as did energy producers like Murray Energy Corp., a coal mining company.
In the coal-heavy state of West Virginia, state Attorney General Patrick Morrisey predicted that 20 to 25 states would join his suit against the government.
“Their legal foundation is very, very shaky,” Morrisey said of the Obama administration.
Morrisey echoed other critics in arguing Obama has exceeded his authority by requiring statewide steps like renewable energy use and reduced energy demand. He said under the Clean Air Act, the government can only require steps within a power plant.
In another hint of the likely legal strategy, Morrisey cited the Constitution’s 10th Amendment, which protects the states against undue intrusion by Washington.
PASSING THE BATON
Another key threat could come from Obama’s successor. Because of the lengthy timeline – states have 7 years to start complying – the next president will have ample time to unravel the rules if he or she chooses to do so. That means that a cornerstone of Obama’s presidential legacy rests in someone else’s hands.
There’s more on the legal question of Obama’s climate plan here. As is the case in any sick democracy, it’s not about the legal clauses, or the constitution, so much as which judges were appointed by what type of politician. Who really runs the country?
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