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Scientists Respond to the Hype Alarm in the Recent National Climate Assessment

December 7, 2018

Climate Change Weekly #307

On the Friday after Thanksgiving, Obama-era holdover climate alarmists released the final version of the U.S. Global Change Research Program report. This fourth National Climate Assessment (NCA4), citing no new data since the draft report was released in 2017, actually makes even more hysterical claims on the dangers of purported human-caused climate change than either NCA4’s draft did or than the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) recent reports. The report states human activities are bringing about catastrophic global warming, and predicts a grim and costly future unless the world essentially stops using fossil fuels immediately.

Astronomer and science popularizer, the late Carl Sagan, said, “Extraordinary claims, require extraordinary evidence.” However, the mainstream media ignored this sage advice in their breathless rush to publish the apocalyptic projections made in NCA4. As is typical, the mainstream media uncritically parroted the most alarming claims made in the assessment’s summary and overview. For instance, CNN’s November 26 headline covering the report stated, “Climate change will shrink US economy and kill thousands, government report warns.” Incredibly, the media ignored the fact statements on catastrophe from hurricanes, drought, and fires made in the summary that are contradicted by data in the core document. As noted in The Heartland Institute’s analysis of NCA4’s draft, “Critique of the U.S. Global Change Research Program’s 2017 Climate Science Special Report,” the report ignored hard data, used questionable methodologies, and built its scenarios on often absurd assumptions, which resulted in demonstrably flawed descriptions of the current state of the Earth’s climate and scary predictions about the future. In the final NCA4 report, these apocalyptic predictions were pumped up on steroids

Rather than providing a personal critique of NCA4, for the purposes of this essay, I will let scientists who disagree with NCA4’s catastrophic pronouncements speak for themselves, starting with Jay Lehr, science director with The Heartland Institute:

I have never seen such blatantly absurd conclusions drawn entirely from mathematical models that use only a limited number of variables. Of course, this shoddy science by Obama-era appointees serves its real purpose: producing a preordained political outcome that puts more power and money in the hands of the United Nations.

The physical evidence proves conclusively that sea level is not rising at increased intensities. The frequency and strength of hurricanes has been declining for years, not increasing. The same goes for tornados, floods, and forest fires. In fact, there is no evidence further increases in carbon dioxide emissions will have any deleterious effect on the planet or its temperature.

This report is a scientific embarrassment.

In a podcast I conducted and in an interview with me for a forthcoming article in Environment & Climate News, University of Delaware Climatology Professor David Legates, Ph.D. former Delaware state climatologist, said:

The Obama administration demanded the use of the extreme scenarios so that the impact on the populace would be substantial. This isn’t about the science ... if it were, there would be discussions about the other scenarios and about the uncertainties in the climate system and in the models that drive these scenarios. That even the IPCC report, with its global effort at reducing greenhouse gas emissions, is far tamer than the NCA shows you the extent to which this report deviates from even the activist science of the IPCC. They have taken the worst possible scenarios and packaged them as if they were the expected norm. Climate science has all but died in this country.

University of Colorado Boulder Professor Roger Pielke, Jr. Ph.D. called the report “embarrassing,” in a series of tweets writing:

How is it that the 2018 US National Climate Assessment failed to include or overlooked trends in US landfalling hurricanes which would … seem pretty important in a US climate report[?]

[the report ignored one of its own expert reviewers who wrote this]: ‘National Hurricane Center going back to the 1800s data clearly indicate a drop in the decadal rate of US landfalling hurricanes since the 1960s… instead you spin the topic to make it sound like the trends are all towards more cyclones.’

Let’s observe here hurricanes are discussed at length in the report, and every hurricane that is discussed is … a landfalling storm. The failure to include trend data on US landfalling hurricanes in USNCA is a remarkable choice. What, were they thinking no one would notice?

Concerning the extreme scenarios in the report, Peilke wrote:

Here’s the source of the top line conclusion of the U.S. National Climate Assessment, 10 [percent] damage to U.S GDP. It’s derived from a study funded by Tom Steyer [billionaire democratic donor and climate activist], et al. … The 15 degree Fahrenheit temp increase is double the most extreme value reported elsewhere in the report [The ‘sole editor’ of this claim was an alumni of the Center for American Progress, which is also funded by Tom Steyer].

Patrick J. Michaels, Ph.D. director of the Center for the Study of Science at the Cato Institute provided a detailed report critiquing NCA4. Among his findings were:

The draft fourth “National Assessment” (“NA4”) of climate change impacts is systematically flawed and requires a complete revision. NA4 uses a flawed ensemble of models that dramatically overforecast warming of the lower troposphere, with even larger errors in the upper tropical troposphere.

[T]he fourth National Assessment … continues the tradition established by the first three. The First National Assessment (2000) used models that were worse than a table of random numbers when applied to ten year running means for lower 48 temperature.

The Fourth National Assessment [uses the same models]. It follows that if … these models are systematically flawed in a significant fashion, it is improper to use them to project the impacts of the climate changes that they predict.

It may be nearly impossible to determine the cause(s) of overforecast bulk warming, but its effects are manifold. If these problems can’t be corrected … NA4 may as well exit the business of predicting climate impacts, especially on vegetation, agriculture, and sea level rise … [which] are all driven by a rise in temperature….

For these and other reasons, draft NA4 should be shelved ….

This is just a sampling of NCA4 critiques from climate researchers that I could have provided. Readers can find further scientific assessments of the report and of the politics behind how the report was developed and presented from other scientists, and by other non-scientist scholars, at the various links below.

  • H. Sterling Burnett

SOURCES: Fourth National Climate Assessment; CNN; The Heartland Institute; The Heartland Institute; Climate Depot; The Heartland Institute; Arizona Daily Independent;


IN THIS ISSUE …

U.N. environment chief forced out over carbon dioxide emissions … Government caves as French riot over climate policies


U.N. ENVIRONMENT CHIEF FORCED OUT OVER CARBON DIOXIDE EMISSIONS

After an audit by the United Nations Office of Internal Oversight Services found U.N. Environment Programme (UNEP) Executive Director Erik Solheim had spent more than $488,518 on travel in less than two years, Solheim resigned from his post.

The audit revealed that Solheim, a former Norwegian diplomat, had travelled 529 days out of the 668 days audited, mostly via airplane. Solheim’s travel “presents a reputation risk to the organization, especially [given] that UNEP is supposed to be the lead on sustainable environment matters,” the report notes.

Solheim violated numerous rules as well. The report notes that he had “no regard for abiding by the set regulations and rules.” For instance, Solheim claimed unjustified expenses, allowed two managers to work unofficially from Paris, rather than at UNEP headquarters in Nairobi where they were stationed, and allowed his staff to not file “mission reports” required by the U.N. within two weeks of official travel. When auditors requested reports for 596 trips undertaken by 32 managers and staff, UNEP initially failed to provide 410 mission reports, and only provided 200 of the missing reports after the auditors persisted in demanding them.

In recent years, the U.N. has led the effort to get governments to tax air travel and fossil fuels to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. As a result, as the BBC noted, “[o]nce news leaked about Erik Solheim’s flights and expenses, he was on borrowed time at the UN. … At a time when awareness of climate change has never been greater, the sight of the man dedicated to fighting global warming endlessly jet-setting around the world risked reputational damage to the U.N.”

Deputy Executive Director Joyce Msuya will serve as acting director until a permanent replacement is found.

SOURCES: Fox News; BBC


GOVERNMENT CAVES AS FRENCH RIOT OVER CLIMATE POLICIES

French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe announced the government was suspending planned increases in gasoline and other energy taxes slated to begin in January, saying “the tax is now abandoned.” The announcement came in response to three weeks of public protests, including riots and clashes with police, against French President Emmanuel Macron’s climate policies.

Philippe announced the government was delaying the tax for six months in the hopes it would mollify protestors and end the street occupation and violence. It didn’t.

Benjamin Cauchy, a leader of the protests, told the BBC that the government’s initial delay of the tax was “either a disguised political snub or ... to make fun of the French and put the tax back in six months,” and called on the French public to continue protesting, which they did.

As The Washington Times reports, “On Tuesday, the government agreed to suspend the fuel tax rise for six months. But instead of appeasing the protesters, it spurred other groups to join in, hoping for concessions of their own. The protests took on an even bigger dimension Wednesday with trade unions and farmers vowing to join the fray.” This resulted in Macron scrapping the 2019 gas tax increase entirely.

Nearly 300,000 protesters, many wearing yellow vests, took to the streets, including tens of thousands in Paris. Participation in the “yellow vest” protests, named after the yellow vests French drivers are required to keep in their vehicles for emergencies, fell to approximately 166,000 with 8,000 in Paris in the second weekend, but by the third weekend the protest gained momentum and violence.

The protests were sparked by Macron’s plans to increase taxes on gasoline, diesel, and electricity, and to enforce stricter limits on emissions from vehicles, in an effort to force people out of their cars and suburban homes, and onto public transit and back into densely populated cities. In Paris, protesters sang the national anthem and carried signs saying “Macron, resignation” and “Macron, thief,” and stormed barricades erected by the 3,000 to 5,000 security forces deployed to guard the presidential palace and National Assembly. Outside of Paris, protestors blocked highways, overran motorway toll booths, and obstructed access to gasoline stations and shopping malls.

On average, French gasoline costs a whopping $7.00 per gallon, and diesel more than $6.00 per gallon, with a majority of the price coming from fuel taxes imposed by the national government. These taxes had been scheduled to increase annually in the coming years, to meet Macron’s carbon dioxide emission reduction goals.

The BBC reports more than 130 people were arrested, more than 600 injured (including police), and two people died during the first weekend of the protests alone, as police used smoke grenades, tear gas, and even water cannons to disperse or redirect protesters. An additional 133 people were injured, including one person who died, and 412 people were arrested as the protests and riots gained steam once again on December 2, just as the French government was sending representatives to Karotice, Poland to attend the annual U.N. climate conference to reaffirm France’s commitment to carbon emission reductions agreed to in the 2015 Paris climate agreement.

Philippe, who was scheduled to attend the Karotice climate meetings, cancelled his trip to deal with the crisis. He first announced in a December 3 televised address that the government was suspending the scheduled January 2019 increases in fuel taxes, electricity prices, and stricter vehicle emissions controls for six months. A day later, with no cessation in the protests in sight, Philippe announced the tax increases were being suspended entirely.

Before Philippe’s latest announcement, Macron had claimed the protest would not alter the government’s energy tax plans saying he intends to keep “‘exactly the same pace’ with his reforms,” according to Fox News.

SOURCES:  BBC; CNBC; Fox News; BBC; France Inter; Washington Times

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