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Heartland Institute Forges Ahead with New Initiatives Promoting Climate Sanity

March 23, 2020

Climate Change Weekly #353

The Heartland Institute launched two new initiatives in the past two weeks to bolster our standing as the foremost champion of climate realism. James Taylor, director of the institute’s Arthur B. Robinson Center for Climate and Environmental Policy, and award-winning meteorologist Anthony Watts, a senior fellow with at Heartland, are taking the lead on this project.
 
One initiative, “Climate at a Glance,” provides an ever-growing series of one- and two-page publications examining the science, economics, and policy of climate change in plain language. Topics include the facts about human impacts on the climate, the virtues and limits of climate models, the variety of factors that affect climate and temperature, the costs and benefits of proposed policies purported to fight climate change (such as carbon taxes and renewable energy mandates), and an accurate depiction of the science behind claims human fossil fuel use is causing various types of climate catastrophes, such as assertions sea levels are rising by an unusual amount or at a rapid rate, that climate change is causing record floods or droughts, and that climate change is causing wars and crop failures. Climate at a Glance provides the hard data and links to the sources demonstrating all these claims are unsupported by real evidence.
 
On Climate at a Glance today, one finds a brief discussing the Carbon Dioxide TaxThe paper shows a purported “revenue neutral” carbon dioxide tax is revenue-neutral only for the government, not the public or the economy as a whole. “Mainstream” carbon dioxide taxes of $50 per metric ton would raise gasoline prices by 44 cents per gallon and would increase prices of natural gas and coal—which power nearly two-thirds of the nation’s electricity—by 62 percent and 330 percent, respectively.
 
A second brief featured on the front page of Climate at a Glance as I write examines the so-called Consensus, the claim that almost all scientists agree human activities are causing dangerous climate change. Although most scientists (including skeptics) do believe the Earth is warming and humans are playing a role, the brief points out “a strong majority of scientists are not very worried about it. The key debate between alarmists and skeptics is the issue of impacts, not whether we are causing some warming. The only consensus that matters is whether scientists are very worried about climate change, and most scientists are not very worried.” The brief provides links to peer-reviewed sources proving there is no consensus in the scientific community the Earth is undergoing an anthropogenic climate catastrophe.
 
Climate at a Glance’s brief on Drought shows hard data demonstrates drought in the United States has become less frequent and severe as the climate has modestly warmed over the past century and half. “In 2017 and 2019, the United States registered its smallest percentage of land area experiencing drought in recorded history,” the brief states. “Moreover, the United Nations reports ‘low confidence’ about any negative trends globally.”
 
Heartland’s new “Climate Realism” platform provides accurate, concise, rapid responses to the climate crisis claims making headlines nearly daily.
 
The site responds, for example, to opinion pieces encouraging Republicans to support carbon taxes or fossil fuel restrictions and arguing they are winning economic and electoral issues (big reveal: they ain’t); that scientists agree humans are causing catastrophic climate change (they don’t); and that human fossil fuel use is causing catastrophic flooding and wildfires like those in Australia and California (it isn’t).
 
Climate Realism will highlight the hypocrisy of wealthy and powerful elites who fly around the world in private jets or sail on yachts (sometimes to receive awards for their work on ‘fighting climate change’ or to events where they speak about the dangers of fossil fuels), who maintain multiple gargantuan residences, and who drive gas-guzzling supercars or armored SUVs while telling the poor and middle class to give up flying, live in smaller homes, and take mass transit. Additionally, Climate Realism will expose the corporate cronyism behind subsidies for renewable energy, and the environmental harms resulting from the expansion of solar and wind power.
 
Although just launched, ClimateRealism.com already has a wealth of more than 100 articles spanning a range of topics from agricultural production to wildfires.
 
One new Climate Realism article discusses the dangerous idea floated by Frans Timmermans, a European Commission vice-president. In the midst of the deadly coronavirus pandemic, Timmermans is pressing the European Union to divert scarce resources and attention away from fighting Covid 19 to tracking of carbon dioxide emissions.
 
In another Climate Realism articleClimate Activists Celebrate Coronavirus Impact on Economy, Emissions, Taylor writes, “With economies in America and around the world staggering in the wake of the Wuhan coronavirus, climate activists are celebrating the asserted environment and climate impacts. Noting the decline in carbon dioxide emissions in a contracting economy, many are arguing against a return to a vibrant economy once the virus passes.” Taylor goes on to note Texas Tech climate scientist Katharine Hayhoe told USA Today “The coronavirus ‘is already slashing fossil fuel use and corresponding carbon and air pollution emissions in China, Italy and beyond.’”
 
In an NBC News article, Jacqueline Klopp, codirector of the Center for Sustainable Urban Development at Columbia University in New York City, writes, “As we move to restart these economies, we need to use this moment to think about what we value. Do we want to go back to the status quo, or do we want to tackle these big structural problems and restructure our economy and reduce emissions and pollution?”
 
“Most people would likely prefer to go back to the ‘status quo’ of low unemployment, rising household incomes, and personal freedom. But if you like it better under the present economic crisis and restrictions on personal freedom, then activist climate policies may be your ideal future policies, as well,” concludes Taylor.
 
Combined with Heartland’s ongoing climate initiatives such as its International Climate Change ConferencesClimate Change WeeklyEnvironment & Climate News, and the Institute’s ongoing support for independent climate research, including the work of the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change, Heartland remains at the forefront of the battle for personal liberty and economic prosperity in the face of the anti-freedom, economic-stasis designs of big-government politicians, bureaucrats, misanthropic environmentalists, and corporations looking to make a buck through government handouts and protectionism.
 
In the climate war, Heartland is still on the offensive, meaning climate hype-sters’ efforts to impose socialism under the guise of protecting the environment will have to remain on hold.

  • H. Sterling Burnett 

SOURCES: Climate at a GlanceClimate Realism

 


PODCAST OF THE WEEK: Announcing 'Climate at a Glance' to Prepare You for Debates on the Climate 'Crisis' (Guest: Anthony Watts)

 

IN THIS ISSUE …

New climate models running misleadingly hot … Nature has driven recent sea level rise


NEW CLIMATE MODELS RUNNING MISLEADINGLY HOT

A recent article from Zeke Hausfather, director of Climate and Energy at the Breakthrough Institute, throws cold water on new climate models which are running “hotter” than previous models that already overestimated recent warming as carbon dioxide levels have increased over the past half century.

As Hausfather notes, major media outlets are already touting dire warnings of runaway warming produced by a new set of models that are purported to produce better, more accurate estimates of the effects of increasing carbon dioxide on temperatures and other climate impacts, than past climate models. Instead of being more accurate, however, the new “hot” models seem to be producing results far outside the range of temperature estimates the vast majority of climate models predict are likely. In addition, Hausfather notes, the new hot models do a poorer job of hindcasting—matching measured historic temperatures and shifts in temperatures—than the vast majority of other models.

“News headlines have recently warned about ‘troubling’ new warming projections from climate models that are ‘running red hot.’ In reality, these only represent a small subset of the new models currently being developed. In addition, the new set of ‘hot’ models do a relatively poor job of reproducing past temperature changes, an important test of model skill,” writes Hausfather. Some of the new models show almost no warming over the twentieth century while displaying a big warming spike recently, and other hot models show the Earth has warmed far more than it actually has over the past 150 years.

Climate model outputs are largely dependent on the “sensitivity” assumptions built into the models. As Hausfather writes, “Climate sensitivity refers to how much the world will warm as concentrations of atmospheric greenhouse gases rise … [and] s]ince the late 1970s the range of ECS has been thought to lie somewhere between 1.5 [degrees Celsius (C) and 4.5 C, with a central estimate of around 3 C.” But the new set of hot climate models produce both a wider range of sensitivity, from 1.8 C to well above 5 C, which produces a higher estimated average sensitivity, of 3.8 C rather than the 3.2 C average produced by the climate models referenced by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.”

Hausfather rightly points out instead of relying on assumptions alone, multiple lines of evidence can be used to estimate climate sensitivity. Most importantly, he writes, “Sensitivity can also be inferred from the instrumental temperature records over the past 150 years, as well as from climate proxy records from the Earth’s more distant past—periods such as recent ice ages, the Pliocene, or the Eocene.” Hausfather found it is studies relying solely on climate model assumptions of sensitivity—models which ignore measured temperatures and paleoclimate proxies—that produce projections of future warming exceeding 5 C, based on realistic estimates of future carbon dioxide concentrations.

While rightly identifying potential failings in purportedly new and improved climate models, Hausfather, in my view, fails to acknowledge how badly mainstream climate models do in getting past and present temperatures correct, indicating even they overestimate the Earth’s sensitivity to carbon dioxide increases. Research published in the journal Science Bulletin shows simple climate models—which omit the assumed feedback mechanisms built into almost every climate model in widespread use—produce results that track past and recent changes in temperature far better than mainstream models with feedback assumptions built in. Simple models also project far less future warming per unit of carbon dioxide added to the atmosphere than mainstream models do.

As I have asked many times in the past, if climate models don’t model past, recent, or present temperatures or temperature changes accurately, why should anyone, and especially policymakers, trust their projections of future temperatures? The answer, of course, is they shouldn’t.

SOURCES: Breakthrough Institute; Science Bulletin


NATURE HAS DRIVEN RECENT SEA LEVEL RISE

A recent study published in Geophysical Research Letters from an international team of scientists at universities and research institutes in England, Germany, and the United States finds sea levels in the North Atlantic were rising much faster in the eighteenth century, during the Little Ice Age, than previously estimated, with the greater sea level rise being due entirely to natural factors.

Sampling material from salt marshes in Connecticut, Maine, and Nova Scotia, the study, led by geologist Roland Gehrels, Ph.D., from the University of York’s Department of Environment and Geography, found sea levels rose by about two to three millimeters per year in those areas, long before human activities began significantly increasing greenhouse gas emissions to the atmosphere. That rise is comparable to or only slightly less than the sea level rise experienced across the region since the 1950s.

The researchers say rising seas across the region in the eighteenth century were of entirely natural origin, most likely related to the North Atlantic Oscillation, a regional shift in ocean pressure and temperatures, which increased ice melt in the Arctic.

This research indicates attributing the entire recently measured increase in sea levels to anthropogenic sources is mistaken.

“To find out what global warming is doing to sea levels today we need that base level from historical times,” Science Daily reports Gehrels as saying. “Our findings suggest that enhanced rates of sea level rise along eastern North America are not only symptomatic of human activity, but might additionally arise from natural processes in the climate system.”

SOURCES: Science Daily; Geophysical Research Letters

Author
H. Sterling Burnett, Ph.D., is a Heartland senior fellow on environmental policy and the managing editor of Environment & Climate News.
hsburnett@heartland.org

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