In the News
Workers Suffer When Militarized Police and Big Green Get Together
Ron Arnold, Washington Examiner, 19 August 2014
News You Can Use
Good News: Air Pollution Is Down
The Environmental Protection Agency on 21st August sent its Second Integrated Air Toxics Report to Congress, which concludes that air pollution has been reduced dramatically since the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990 were enacted. Benzene levels have been reduced by 66%, mercury by 60%, and lead by 84%. (Nonetheless, the incidence of childhood asthma continues to rise.)
Inside the Beltway
Senate Minority Leader Indicates a Republican Majority Would Rein in EPA
In an interview this week with Politico, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell indicated that, if Republicans won the Senate in November, they likely would use the appropriations process to rein in the EPA. Speaking of a hypothetical Republican majority, he said, “We’re going to pass spending bills, and they’re going to have a lot of restrictions on the activities of the bureaucracy.” He singled out the EPA as a “good example” of a bureaucracy that would become subject to such restrictions. By attaching policy amendments, or “riders,” to high-priority legislation like spending bills, the likelihood of passing the Senate increases.
Across the States
Oregon Regulators Deny Permit for Coal Export Terminal
The Oregon Department of State Lands on 18th August denied a permit for Ambre Energy’s proposed coal export terminal on the Columbia River at Port of Morrow, 160 miles east of Portland. After two years of review, the agency found that the Australian company had not proposed adequate protections for tribal salmon fisheries on the Columbia.
Ambre Energy can appeal the decision administratively within 21 days. If the appeal is denied, then the company can file suit in state court.
The proposed $242 million facility could handle 8.8 million tons of coal per year. Coal from Wyoming and Montana would be sent by rail to the Port of Morrow, where it would be loaded onto barges which would then be unloaded onto ocean-going ships at Port of Saint Helens, 30 miles downriver from Portland and 75 miles from the mouth of the Columbia.
Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber (D) is a vocal opponent of the project. Permits for two larger coal export terminals are still being considered in Washington state, where Governor Jay Inslee (D) is also strongly opposed.
Around the World
UN Plans New York Climate Change Summit
The Secretary-General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon, is preparing to host over a hundred of the world’s presidents and prime ministers at a Climate Change Summit at UN headquarters in New York City on 23rd September. U. S. President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping are expected to attend, but new Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott have already announced that they will not attend.
The summit is by invitation only, but can be viewed on the UN’s web television site. The UN on 8th August sent out a press release announcing that it was “casting a wide net to find dozens of people from around the world who feel passionately about the impact of climate change, have translated that passion into action and would like to attend next month’s Climate Summit at the UN.” According to Susan Alzner, a UN official in charge of UN-NGO relations, “Anyone can nominate a civil society representative into this process.” Four of the 38 will be invited to speak to the heads of state. The selection process will strive for gender balance, invite more attendees from developing than from developed countries, and seek out young people and indigenous people to share their stories on “the frontlines of climate change.” The deadline for applying for the 38 “civil society” invitations was 15th August.
The UN Climate Change Summit is “intended to mobilize international political will needed to achieve an ambitious climate change agreement” at the twenty-first Conference of the Parties (COP-21) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, which is scheduled to meet in Paris in December 2015. Secretary-General Ban has asked world leaders to come to the summit ready “to announce bold actions that they will take in their countries.”
In addition, “There will also be announcements from a number of coalition initiatives that have high potential to catalyze ambitious action on the ground. These coalitions, consisting of participants from Governments, the private sector and civil society, will address several high-impact areas, such as climate finance; energy efficiency; renewable energy; adaptation; disaster risk reduction and resilience; forests; agriculture; transportation; short-lived climate pollutants; and cities.” The program can be seen here.
The Climate Group, an NGO with offices in Beijing, London, New York City, and New Delhi, is sponsoring the sixth annual Climate Week in New York City to co-incide with the UN summit. Approximately eighty events from 22nd to 28th September are on the Climate Week schedule. Sponsors include Swiss Re, Lockheed Martin, and HP.
But that’s not all. On Sunday, 21st September, over 750 organizations are sponsoring the People’s Climate March in Manhattan. It is being billed as, “The Largest Climate March in History.” You can sign up here.
Do Climate Models and Long-Term Temperature Records Agree?
The unanticipated pause in global warming since 1998 has produced an accelerating divergence between IPCC climate model predictions and observed global temperatures. “Model failure” is now a recurring theme of skeptic blogs, and it’s not only skeptics who wonder how errant models can accurately assess climate risk or usefully inform climate policy.
Climate activists say the pause is temporary, warming will come roaring back, vindicating both models and their ‘worse than we thought’ narrative.
In more technical terms, the IPCC argues that although “internal decadal climate variability” may cause models to either underestimate or overestimate observed temperatures for periods “as short as 10 to 15 years,” models and observations “agree” over the 62-year period from 1951 to 2012 (AR5, Chapter 9, p. 769). The IPCC thus has “very high confidence” in the realism of the models.
To assess such claims, Cato Institute scientists Patrick Michaels and Paul C. (“Chip”) Knappenberger examine how well IPCC models would match observations over an 80-year period (1951-2030) in three scenarios of how global temperature might behave from now to 2030.
They find that even if warming resumes at the pre-pause (1977-1998) rate of 0.17°C/decade, by 2020 more than 95% of model simulations overshoot the 1951-2030 ‘observed’ trend, and by 2030 more than 97.5% of simulations overshoot it.
At my request, Mr. Knappenberger also compared models and observations in a more aggressive warming scenario in which warming resumes at 0.26°C/decade – the fastest rate during any recent 15-year period.
Result: By 2030, more than 95% of model simulations still overshoot the 1951-2030 ‘observed’ trend. For further discussion, see my blog post Can Natural Variability Save Climate Models?
The Cooler Heads Digest is the weekly e-mail publication of the Cooler Heads Coalition. For the latest news and commentary, check out the Coalition’s website, www.GlobalWarming.org.