Wintery Knight

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

How reliable is NASA’s pronouncement of 2014 as the warmest year on record?

The Federalist throws ice water on global warming alarmism. (H/T Blake)

Excerpt:

If 2014 is supposed to be “hotter” than previous years, it’s important to ask: by how much?

You can spend a long time searching through press reports to get an actual number on this—which is a scandal unto itself. Just saying one year was “hotter” or “the hottest” is a vague qualitative description. It isn’t science. Science runs on numbers. You haven’t said anything that is scientifically meaningful until you state how much warmer this year was compared to previous years—and until you give the margin of error of that measurement.

The original NASA press release did not give those figures—and most press reports just ran with it anyway. This in itself says a lot. When it comes to global warming, “journalism” has come to mean: “copying press releases from government agencies.”

But a few folks decided to do some actual journalism, and Britain’s Daily Mail reports that

the NASA press release failed to mention…that the alleged ‘record’ amounted to an increase over 2010, the previous ‘warmest year’, of just two-hundredths of a degree—or 0.02C. The margin of error is said by scientists to be approximately 0.1C—several times as much.

Pause for a moment to digest that. The margin of error was plus or minus one tenth of a degree. The difference supposedly being measured here is two hundredths of a degree—five times smaller than the margin of error. The Daily Mail continues:

As a result, GISS’s director Gavin Schmidt has now admitted NASA thinks the likelihood that 2014 was the warmest year since 1880 is just 38 per cent. However, when asked by this newspaper whether he regretted that the news release did not mention this, he did not respond.

This is not exactly a high point in the employment of the scientific method.

If we take into account this margin of error, the most we can say is that 2014 was, so far as we know, just as warm as 2005 and 2010. There is no significant difference between these years. And that gives the lie to claims of runaway global warming.

I got curious about whether Judith Curry had written anything recent about this story, and she has.

She writes:

Berkeley Earth has published a nice analysis of their 2014 data [link].  Summary of their main findings:

1. The global surface temperature average for 2014 was nominally the warmest since the global instrumental record began in 1850; however, within the margin of’error, it’s tied with 2005 and 2010 and so we can’t be certain it set a new record.

2. For the land, 2014 was nominally the 4th warmest year since 1753

3. For the sea, 2014 was the warmest year on record since 1850

4. For the contiguous United States, 2014 ranked nominally as the 38th warmest year on record since 1850.

Some other statements of interest:

Several European countries  set all time records for high annual average temperature, as did the continent of Europe as a whole

The margin of uncertainty we achieved was remarkably small (0.05C with 95% confidence).This was achieved, in part, by the inclusion of data from over 30,000 temperature stations, and by the use of optimized statistical methods. Even so, the highest year could not be distinguished. That is, of course, an indication that the Earth’s average temperature for the last decade has changed very little. 

Meanwhile, the ‘warmest year’ is noticeably missing in the satellite data sets of lower atmospheric temperatures.  Roy Spencer reports that 2014 was third warmest year since 1979, but just barely.

Interesting that temperature sensors in European countries reported higher temperatures.

Dr. Curry is Professor and former Chair of the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at the Georgia Institute of Technology. She has previously testified to Congress as an expert on climate change.

Roy Spencer does not think that land-based measurements of temperature are as reliable as satellite-based measurements. Do the satellite-based measurements confirm what NASA said?

He writes:

Most thermometers measure temperature where people live, and people tend to build stuff that warms the local environment around the thermometer.

Called the urban heat island (UHI) effect, most of the warming occurs long before the thermometer site actually becomes “urban”. For instance, if you compare neighboring thermometers around the world, and also compare their population densities (as a rough indication of UHI influence), it can be easily demonstrated that substantial average UHI warming occurs even at low population densities, about ~1 deg. F at only 10 persons per sq. km!

This effect, which has been studied and published for many decades, has not been adequately addressed in the global temperature datasets, partly because there is no good way to apply it to individual thermometer sites.

[…]For a “record” temperature to be statistically significant, it has to rise above its level of measurement error, of which there are many for thermometers: relating to changes in location, instrumentation, measurement times of day, inadequate coverage of the Earth, etc. Oh…and that pesky urban heat island effect.

A couple hundredths of a degree warmer than a previous year (which 2014 will likely be) should be considered a “tie”, not a record.

[…]Our satellite estimates of global temperature, which have much more complete geographic coverage than thermometers, reveal that 2014 won’t be even close to a record warm year.

In fact, the satellite and thermometer technologies seem to be diverging in what they are telling us in recent years, with the thermometers continuing to warm, and the satellite temperatures essentially flat-lining.

Here’s the graph:

UAH Global Temperature up to 2014

UAH Global Temperature up to 2014, as measured by satellites

It records the temperatures from satellites, which cannot be tampered with as easily as temperature sensors that are placed in urban areas. What we have here is a plateau, and not the hockey stick that was predicted by the global warming alarmists.

Filed under: News, , , , , , , ,

Obama administration to push for more government control in 2015

Here’s a rundown on some of the planned regulations, courtesy of Fox News. (H/T Dad)

Excerpt:

The Obama administration is trying to get fossil-fuel fired power plants to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 30 percent from 2005 levels by 2030.

The EPA proposed the rules last year and is set to finalize them by summer 2015.

[…]Among them is a controversial EPA proposal to expand regulatory power over streams and wetlands. The agency, set to finalize the rule in April, estimates it could impose costs of between $162 million to $278 million per year…

[…][D]etractors claim it is an opening for the EPA to claim authority over countless waterways, including streams that only show up during heavy rainfall. Critics warn this could create more red tape for property owners and businesses if they happen to have even small streams on their land.

Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas, chairman of the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee, has called it an effort to “control a huge amount of private property across the country.”

In another EPA initiative, the agency is looking to October to finalize sweeping ozone regulations.

In proposing the limits on smog-forming pollution linked to asthma and respiratory illness in November, EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy argued that the public health benefits far outweigh the costs and that most of the U.S. can meet the tougher standards without doing anything new.

“We need to be smart — as we always have — in trying to find the best benefits in a way that will continue to grow the economy,” McCarthy said. Of reducing ozone, she added: “We’ve done it before, and we’re on track to do it again.”

But business groups panned the proposal as unnecessary and the costliest in history, warning it could jeopardize a resurgence in American manufacturing.

[…]The rules are estimated to cost industry anywhere between $3.9 billion and $15 billion by 2025. That price tag would exceed that of any previous environmental regulation in the U.S. Environmental groups are pushing for stricter limits still.

On other fronts, the Federal Communications Commission could move in a matter of months to propose new “net neutrality” rules. Obama weighed in on that debate late last year, urging the FCC to regulate the Internet like other utilities.

The White House is calling for an “explicit ban” on deals between broadband Internet providers and online services like Netflix, Amazon or YouTube to move their content faster, a potential new source of revenue for cable companies.

[…]Meanwhile, the National Labor Relations Board has issued new rules for so-called “ambush” union elections — speeding up elections and requiring employers to give unions contact information for workers. The rules take effect in April.

These regulations will have nasty effects on job-creating companies and that will work its way down to consumers, who will have to eat the costs. But at least the social engineers will feel really good about themselves, and without having to do the hard work of creating products and services that people will actually pay their own money for of their own free choice.

The very funny thing about this is how unionized blue-collar Democrats complain that they cannot compete with countries abroad, then vote in the very people that make them uncompetitive. You can bet that leaders in other low-cost countries do not pass laws to make them less competitive. And that’s why everything is manufactured abroad. Democrat voters bring these problems on themselves by electing socialists who hamstring American industry.

Filed under: News, , , , , , , ,

Technological advances make the Keystone XL pipeline safer than alternatives

My Dad loves to read Fox News, and he sent me this article about the technology behind the Keystone XL pipeline. We got into a good discussion on this article, too. My Dad used to be a big believer in big government, but now he only cares about what problems the private sector can solve.

The article says:

The Obama administration continues to block the controversial Keystone XL pipeline that would transport nearly 35 million gallons of oil a day from Canada to the U.S., citing environmental concerns as the reason. But according to pipeline advocates, it would use the latest technology and best safety features to prevent spills.

Advanced steel is part of it. The current part of the Keystone pipeline that already exists uses 2,638 miles of hardened steel built to “withstand  impact from a 65-ton excavator with 3.5-inch teeth,” according to TransCanada, the company behind the Keystone pipeline.

The steel is also coated with alloys to prevent it from wearing out.

“They use all kinds of methodologies to reduce friction. Corrosion inhibition is pretty sexy stuff in this business,” Eric Smith, associate director of Tulane University’s Energy Institute, told FoxNews.com

Pumping stations are another critical part. All along the pipeline, pumps move the oil using centrifugal force: a motor spins and forces oil to the edges of the pump, which causes more oil to rush forward to take the place of the oil pulled to the edges.

Each pump has 6,500 horsepower – meaning that the pump exerts an amount of power roughly equivalent to that of 6,500 horses. Total pumping power on the existing pipeline is nearly half a million horsepower, according to TransCanada.

Another critical technology is leak detection systems. The existing Keystone pipeline, for instance, has sensors that collect data from 20,000 different points along the pipeline.

If a leak occurs anywhere along the pipeline, the pressure in the pipeline changes, and TransCanada notes that such changes travel through the pipeline at the speed of sound and so can be detected nearly instantly.

The company adds that the pipeline has “fail-safe” mechanisms that automatically reduce oil pressure in the pipeline to safe levels.

TransCanada also has airplanes monitor the pipeline from the sky, using both the eyes of human pilots and a “Laser Spectroscopy Unit” that shoots a laser near the pipeline and then analyzes the reaction of whatever material is hit by the laser beam. TransCanada says this is “capable of identifying tiny methane leaks at patrol altitudes.”

The human pilots also catch things. TransCanada reports that one of its pilots once noticed that a circus in Kansas had tethered an elephant to a pipeline stake, which posed a potential threat.

All the layers of security help, say experts.

“It’s a belt-and-suspenders kind of approach. You just don’t want even minute leaks,” Smith said, adding that pipelines are the safest way of moving oil across land.

Pipelines are actually much safer than transporting the oil by train, which is the method favored by environmentalist opponents to Keystone XL:

According to a 2006 study by Environmental Research Consulting using Department of Transportation data, pipelines have spilled far less than trucks or railroads per ton of oil transported.

Critics of President Obama’s delay of the Keystone XL construction say the holdup actually makes everyone less safe, as oil producers instead rely on comparatively dangerous railroads for transportation. From 2008 to 2013, the amount of oil transported by rail skyrocketed from 9,500 carloads in 2008 to 41 times that – 407,642 – in 2013.

My big point to my Dad about this is how the private sector responds to the desires of customers on their own, developing solutions for the people who they expect to buy their products. The government spends 2 billion on the Obamacare web site, and forces people to use it. They can never develop anything people actually want to buy. Government just taxes, regulates and restricts the businesses who seek to solve problems for customers.

It’s the private sector businesses who are the real heroes to customers – making the things that we want and need and competing with other businesses to sell the most quality at the lowest price. They even find solutions to our concerns about the environment, if we let them, because that is part of pleasing the customer, too. If we had to wait on public school teachers, politicians, Hollywood clowns and academics to innovate, we would be waiting a long time indeed. I stand with private sector business, and the free-market system in general.

UPDATE: Holy snouts. For the first time in 6 years I am actually proud of Obama for doing something:

The Obama administration has opened a new front in the global battle for oil market share, effectively clearing the way for the shipment of as much as a million barrels per day of ultra-light U.S. crude to the rest of the world.

The Department of Commerce on Tuesday ended a year-long silence on a contentious, four-decade ban on oil exports, saying it had begun approving a backlog of requests to sell processed light oil abroad. It also issued a long-awaited document outlining exactly what kinds of oil other would-be exporters can ship.

The administration’s first serious effort to clarify an issue that has caused confusion and consternation in energy markets for more than a year will likely please domestic oil drillers, foreign trade partners and some Republicans who have urged Obama to loosen the export ban, which they see as an outdated holdover from the 1970s Arab oil embargo.

The latest measures were wrapped in regulatory jargon and couched by some as a basic clarification of existing rules, but analysts said the message was unambiguous: a green light for any company willing and able to process their light condensate crude through a distillation tower, a simple piece of oilfield kit.

“In practice this long-awaited move can open up the floodgates to substantial increases in exports by end 2015,” Ed Morse, global head of commodities research at Citigroup in New York said in a research note.

[…]By opening the door to U.S. crude exports, the administration is offering a bit of relief to some domestic drillers that have said that they are forced to sell their shale oil at a discount of as much as $15 a barrel versus global markets as fast-rising domestic supplies overwhelm local demand.

Let’s hope Obama signs the Keystone XL pipeline in the new year, too. That will help people so much and hurt our enemies, Russia, Venezuela and Iran. There are ways to fight wars without firing a shot, and this is how you do it – he looks like Ronald Reagan, now. Well done, Barack Obama! Finally!

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As record cold and snow hits US, Obama set to solve global warming by executive action

First, it looks like the Midwest is going to be hit with unexpectedly large amounts of snow and record cold.

Fox News reports.

Excerpt:

Residents across the Rockies and Upper Midwest dug out from under a foot or more of snow on Tuesday, after waking up to frigid temperatures that plunged as much as 50 degrees overnight. The rest of the Midwest and the East are expecting a dose of the icy weather later this week thanks to a powerful storm that hit Alaska with hurricane-force winds over the weekend.

[…]Michigan’s Upper Peninsula was buried under more than 14 inches of snow — with at least another foot expected before the storm moves out Wednesday. As much as 13 inches of snow fell in northern Wisconsin, while some Minnesotans awoke to 15 inches of fresh powder, with more snow expected.

The weather prompted school closures across the region, including at Northern Michigan University. Multimedia journalism student Mikenzie Frost said she was headed out the door to figure skating practice early Tuesday when she got a text from the school saying classes were cancelled.

[…]The blast of frigid air crawled all the way to the Texas Panhandle, where temperatures tumbled overnight from the 70s into the teens. In Oklahoma City, where Monday’s high was 80 degrees, the low Tuesday morning was 30 degrees — a 50-degree drop — while similar balmy weather in Missouri was replaced by temperatures in the 20s, along with a light dusting of snow.

The region’s coldest temperatures hit the Dakotas, where single-digit temperatures — already about 30 degrees below normal — came with frigid wind chills dipped into the negative 20s in Dickinson, North Dakota.

[…]Residents of Glenrock, Wyoming, aren’t as lucky. More than 1,000 buildings in the town lost service because of a pipeline problem, and temperatures were hovering between zero and 5 degrees in some parts of the state.

In Colorado, temperatures fell into the teens — about 20 to 30 degrees below normal — where they’re expected to stay through Thursday, prompting officials to move a Veteran’s Day ceremony indoors in Denver.

[…]Roads in parts of northern Michigan were in “very poor condition,” with 2 to 3 inches of snow falling an hour on Tuesday morning, National Weather Service meteorologist Justin Titus said. But there were no delays reported Tuesday at Sawyer International Airport in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport saw the brunt of the cancellations and delays Monday, with about 175 cancellations, while about 19 had been cancelled Tuesday out of hundreds of flights, according to the airport.

Elsewhere in Minnesota, the State Patrol said at least two people were killed in accidents on icy roads, and troopers handled 475 crashes and more than 700 spinouts statewide by Monday evening. In eastern Wisconsin, snow-covered roads were blamed for a school bus crash that sent the driver and an aide to a hospital, WBAY-TV reported.

This sounds like January or February weather, so what is it doing here in early November?

The radically leftist Politico has some news about Obama’s response to this global warming, now that the midterm elections are over.

Excerpt:

The Obama administration is set to roll out a series of climate and pollution measures that rivals any president’s environmental actions since George H.W. Bush signed a rewrite of the Clean Air Act in 1990 — a reality check for Republicans who think last week’s election gave them a mandate to end what they call the White House’s “War on Coal.”

Tied to court-ordered deadlines, legal mandates and international climate talks, the efforts scheduled for the next two months show that President Barack Obama is prepared to spend the remainder of his term unleashing sweeping executive actions to combat global warming. And incoming Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will have few options for stopping the onslaught, though Republicans may be able to slow pieces of it.

The coming rollout includes a Dec. 1 proposal by EPA to tighten limits on smog-causing ozone, which business groups say could be the costliest federal regulation of all time…

[…]On top of all that, the administration is expected in the coming weeks to pledge millions of dollars — and possibly billions — to help poor countries deal with the effects of climate change.

Now one thing people need to understand is that any kind of tax increase or burdensome regulation costs businesses money, and they pay for these setbacks by laying off workers and/or raising prices and/or shipping jobs overseas. In fact, environmental regulations are exactly the kind of thing that would cause companies to outsource and offshore their operations.

The Washington Times re-caps Obama’s record on energy policy.

Excerpt:

President Obama has intentionally hamstrung domestic energy production under the delusional theory that the U.S. economy can thrive on so-called green power. As Mideast turmoil threatens the oil supply, the price of domestic crude has jumped above $100 a barrel and gas at the pump now exceeds $3.46 a gallon. This shows just how dangerous the Obama administration’s economic and energy policies can be to our wallets.

There can be no doubt that the president took deliberate action to block access to the nation’s energy resources. A federal judge recently found the Interior Department in contempt for ignoring his order overturning the oil-drilling moratorium the administration imposed following the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. On Feb. 22, Judge Martin Feldman upped the pressure by insisting that the department act on five pending permits within 30 days. Permits that would, under normal circumstances, be processed in two weeks have been ignored for four to nine months. “Not acting at all is not a lawful option,” Judge Feldman wrote. The department had no choice but to issue the first permit since the spill on Feb. 28.

Interior pinned the blame for delays on technical problems. Yet, as the department dithered, oil companies atrophied and employees lost work. According to a study released in January by the business alliance Greater New Orleans, Inc., the moratorium cost Louisiana about 25,000 jobs. Houston-based Seahawk Drilling, the most recent victim of the drilling ban, announced Feb. 18 that it had filed for bankruptcy and agreed to a buyout from a competitor. The jobs of the company’s 494 employees are in jeopardy, according to USA Today.

All this activity to stop global warming, which John Kerry considers to be a bigger threat than terrorism, even though we have had no global warming for the last 18 years.

Filed under: News, , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Scientist who was right about cooling in 2000 predicts more cooling

From CNS News.

Excerpt:

Dr. Don Easterbrook – a climate scientist and glacier expert from Washington State who correctly predicted back in 2000 that the Earth was entering a cooling phase – says to expect colder temperatures for at least the next two decades.

Easterbrook’s predictions were “right on the money” seven years before Al Gore and the United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) shared the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize for warning that the Earth was facing catastrophic warming caused by rising levels of carbon dioxide, which Gore called a “planetary emergency.”

“When we check their projections against what actually happened in that time interval, they’re not even close. They’re off by a full degree in one decade, which is huge. That’s more than the entire amount of warming we’ve had in the past century. So their models have failed just miserably, nowhere near close. And maybe it’s luck, who knows, but mine have been right on the button,” Easterbrook told CNSNews.com.

“For the next 20 years, I predict global cooling of about 3/10ths of a degree Fahrenheit, as opposed to the one-degree warming predicted by the IPCC,” said Easterbrook, professor emeritus of geology at Western Washington University and  author of 150 scientific journal articles and 10 books, including “Evidence Based Climate Science,” which was published in 2011.

So what’s the mechanism that he used for his predictions?

This:

Easterbrook said he made his earlier prediction by tracing back “a consistently recurring pattern” of alternating warm and cool ocean cycles called the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO) that occurs naturally every 25 to 30 years. He discovered that the PDO corresponded with a similar temperature cycle demonstrated by isotope ratios found in Greenland ice cores going all the way back to 1480.

“We don’t know what the driving mechanism is, but it’s very consistent. It’s happened five times a century and every time it’s happened, there’s been a corresponding change in global temperature, either warm or cool,” Easterbrook told CNSNews.com.

“What I did was I projected this same pattern forward to see what it would look like. And so in 1999, which was the year after the second warmest year on record, the PDO said we’re due for a climate change, and so I said okay. It looks as though we’re going to be entering a period of about three decades or so of global cooling.

“And so in 2000, I published a paper with the Geological Society of America in which I predicted that we were going to stop warming and begin cooling for about 25 or 30 years, on the basis of taking the temperature records that go back a century or more and simply repeating the pattern of warming and cooling, warming and cooling, and so on.

“And that in fact has happened. We have now had 17 years with no global warming and my original prediction was right so far. But we have still probably another 20 years or so to see if the cooling trend continues, and if it does, then my prediction will be right and my methods will be right. And so what it boils down to is, so far so good.”

We’ve had seventeen years of global cooling, and now a prediction for more global cooling – 20 more years of it. Where do we taxpayers go to get our money back for the almost $70 billion we spend propping up renewable energy programs.

Filed under: News, , , ,

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