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Colorado Consumers Paying Steep Price for Renewable Power Mandates

Colorado consumers are paying a steep price for the state’s renewable power mandates, U.S. Energy Information Administration data show. Electricity prices in Colorado have risen 20 percent faster than the national average since Colorado enacted renewable power mandates in 2004. Prices rose even more steeply after Colorado made the mandates stricter in 2007, 2010, and 2013, with the state’s electricity prices rising more than twice as fast as the national average since 2007.

In 2004 Colorado voters approved an initiative requiring larger utilities to generate 10 percent of their electricity from renewable sources. Since 2004 the state legislature has approved a succession of bills making the mandate stricter. Current law requires electricity providers serving most of the state’s customers to generate 30 percent of their electricity from renewable sources by 2020.

Sharply Rising Prices
Since 2004, U.S. electricity prices have risen 33.8 percent, and Colorado prices have risen 40.4 percent (data through October 2013, the most recent month for which the U.S. Energy Information Administration published data when this paper went to press).

Since 2007, U.S. electricity prices have risen 10.8 percent, while Colorado prices have risen 27.5 percent.

Since 2010, U.S. electricity prices have risen 3.1 percent, while Colorado electricity prices have risen 7.0 percent.

Notably, the increase in Colorado’s electricity prices masks an even faster rise in electricity costs in the Centennial State. Federal taxpayers (including Coloradans) provide substantial subsidies to renewable power producers, most notably through the wind power production tax credit. These additional costs do not appear in retail electricity prices.

Directly Traceable to Renewables
The rise in Colorado’s electricity prices is directly traceable to the increasing generation of costly renewable power. Wind power comprises nearly all renewable power generation in Colorado. During March 2013 testimony before the Ohio Senate Public Utilities Committee, Andrew Ott, senior vice president for markets at PJM Interconnection, which coordinates electricity transmission in 13 states, testified the real cost of providing and delivering usable wind power to consumers is at least double or triple that of conventional power.

These renewable power cost premiums apply in Colorado and throughout the nation.

Households Taking Financial Hit
The rapid increase in electricity prices is imposing real financial hardship on Colorado families.
Had Colorado electricity prices risen at merely the national average since 2007, when the state legislature first passed a renewable power mandate, Colorado electricity consumers would have saved $4.2 billion in electricity costs. Averaged out over Colorado’s nearly 2 million households, the average Colorado household has already paid an extra $2,100 in electricity costs (more than $350 per household per year) beyond what each household would have paid if the state’s electricity prices rose merely at the same pace as the national average since 2007.

James M. Taylor ( is managing editor of Environment & Climate News.

‘Dark Money’ Funds To Promote Global Warming Alarmism Dwarf Warming ‘Denier’ Research

Global warming activists claim vast amounts of untraceable special interest money fund global warming skeptics and give skeptics an unfair advantage in the global warming debate. The undeniable truth is global warming alarmists raise and spend far more money – including far more untraceable special interest “dark money” – than global warming skeptics.

Drexel University sociologist Robert Brulle published a paper last week in the journal Climatic Change identifying 91 conservative and libertarian think tanks that Brulle claims play an influential role opposing global warming programs. Brulle claims the 91 groups receive approximately $900 million in cumulative funding each year, with approximately $64 million coming from foundations that distribute “dark money” that cannot be traced to a particular donor. Brulle claims the $900 million in funding – and especially the $64 million in dark money – tilts the playing field and gives global warming skeptics undue political and public relations influence.

Global warming alarmists and their media allies present Brulle’s paper as “proof” that money drives the global warming debate and the money is heavily skewed in favor of skeptics. For example, UK Guardian environmental reporter Suzanne Goldenberg published an article last week titled “Conservative groups have spent $1bn a year on the effort to deny science and oppose action on climate change.”  Scientific American published a similar article titled “’Dark Money’ Funds Climate Change Denial Effort.” Liberal pundit and former MSNBC anchor Cenk Uygur posted a 10-minute Internet discussing Brulle’s paper and playing up its findings.

Brulle’s paper and the media narrative may score some temporary points with members of the general public who do not closely follow the global warming debate, but ultimately Brulle’s paper and the media narrative will backfire on global warming activists. The narrative will backfire because the general public is not stupid. Slick lies may win some converts who will not check the facts, but the greater number of people will check the facts and hold the liars accountable.

As an initial matter, despite what Suzanne Goldenberg and the UK Guardian claim, it is palpably untrue that “Conservative groups have spent $1 bn a year on the effort to deny science and oppose action on climate change.” Without even addressing the mathematical fact that $900 million is $100 million short of the $1 billion claimed by Goldenberg, Brulle’s paper merely tabulates the total money raised by the 91 conservative think tanks for their total operations regarding all issues they address and does not break down how much of each think tank’s resources are devoted to issues such as economic policy, health care policy, foreign policy, climate policy, etc. Goldenberg tells the lie that all money raised by all conservative and libertarian think tanks is devoted to global warming skepticism. Tell that to the supporters of Obamacare.

A look at some conservative think tank websites illustrates the point. While writing this article on New Year’s Day, I pulled up the website for the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), which Brulle and the media claim is the conservative think tank receiving and spending the most money on global warming skepticism. AEI has 15 articles featured on the front page of its website, and not a single one focuses on global warming.

I also pulled up the website for the Heritage Foundation, which Brulle and the media claim is the conservative think tank receiving and spending the second most amount of money on global warming skepticism. The Heritage Foundation has 10 articles featured on the front page of its website. None of the 10 focuses on global warming. Merely 2 of the 10 focus on any aspect of energy or environment policy.

Between AEI and Heritage – representing fully 30 percent of the money raised by the 91 conservative think tanks – the global warming issue comprises substantially less than 10 percent of their cumulative time, money and efforts. Even if we generously assign to the global warming issue a full 10 percent of the money raised by the 91 foremost conservative think tanks, this means the 91 conservative think tanks are devoting a mere $90 million per year – rather than the asserted $900 million per year (or Goldenberg’s exaggerated $1 billion per year) – to the global warming debate.

And it is not just AEI and Heritage that devote little attention to the global warming issue. The Hoover Institution, identified as raising and spending the third most money on global warming skepticism, also rarely addresses the global warming topic. The most recent Hoover Institution item I can find addressing the topic is a short op-ed published more than two months ago in National Review Online by a Hoover Institution fellow commenting on a global warming poll. Prior to that short op-ed, the most recent Hoover Institution item I can find is an article published nine months ago supporting a carbon tax.

This brings us to another whopper told by Brulle, Goldenberg and their media allies – the assertion that all the think tanks identified in Brulle’s paper actively fight against global warming activism. To the contrary, two of the three top-funded groups (AEI and the Hoover Institution) support a carbon tax. Other groups identified in Brulle’s paper have similarly expressed support for a carbon tax and global warming activism. At least 25 percent of the funding that Brulle claims goes to skeptical think tanks actually goes to think tanks supporting global warming restrictions.

All told, giving the global warming activists every benefit of the doubt, no more than $90 million of conservative think tank money addresses global warming, and no more than $68 million supports conservative think tank efforts opposing global warming activism. This $68 million is counterbalanced by $22 million for conservative think tank efforts supporting global warming activism. That leaves a net of merely $46 million among 91 conservative think tanks opposing global warming activism.

Even though $46 million is far short of the $1 billion claimed by Goldenberg, $46 million may still seem like a large amount of money. It is only a drop in the bucket, however, compared to the money raised and spent by groups supporting global warming activism.

Two environmental activist groups – Greenpeace and The Nature Conservancy – raise more than $1 billion cumulatively per year. These two groups raise more money than the combined funding of the 91 conservative think tanks identified in Brulle’s paper. Just as importantly, these two groups raise money solely for environmental causes and frequently advocate for global warming restrictions. Their $1 billion is not diluted addressing issues such as economic policy, health care policy, foreign policy, etc.

Five environment-specific groups alone raise more than $1.6 billion per year (Greenpeace, The Nature Conservancy, World Wildlife Fund, National Wildlife Federation, and the Sierra Club). All five focus solely on environmental issues and are frequent and prominent advocates for global warming restrictions. When global warming activists claim global warming skeptics receive the lion’s share of funding in the global warming debate, they are lying through their teeth.

Interestingly, Brulle and his media allies place special emphasis on the so-called dark money given to conservative think tanks by foundations with anonymous donors. Only $64 million of the conservative think tanks’ $900 million in total donations come from foundations. At most, only $6.4 million of the “dark money” addresses global warming topics, with a net of only $3.2 million opposing global warming activism. Nevertheless, the assertion is dark money is nefarious money and has a special impact on the debate. As Cenk Uyger claimed in his video post:

“There’s over 140 different foundations … As you’re about to find out here, they’re totally funded by the groups that have a financial interest in making sure that you don’t believe in climate change. So those 140 different foundations are shell groups – they’re set up ironically by companies like Shell – to make sure that you believe something that’s going to help their bottom line that isn’t true.”

Curiously, neither Brulle nor Uyger provides any evidence or source material backing up the assertion that most money donated to conservative foundations is donated by energy companies with an agenda to fund global warming skeptics. They simply make the assertion based on speculation without providing any factual support. However, it is difficult to believe that most conservative foundation money is donated by energy companies with an anti-global warming agenda, especially when the conservative foundations give a large portion of the money to think tanks that support carbon taxes and think tanks that devote little attention the global warming issue.

Putting this minimal conservative dark money in context, liberal foundations with anonymous donors are major funders of global warming activist groups. For example, check out the list of Defenders of Wildlife’s “Select Funders” here. Heck, Al Gore’s Climate Reality Project sent out a fundraising letter last week telling people that an “anonymous donor” would match every other donation dollar-for-dollar. Somehow, neither Brulle nor the media remembered to mention these inconvenient truths in their narrative.

Oh, and seeing that Uyger brought it up – Shell is a longtime supporter of carbon dioxide restrictions and has a history of funding global warming activist groups.

The long and short of it is think tanks and activist groups supporting global warming restrictions raise and spend far more money than think tanks and activist groups opposing global warming restrictions. Global warming activists may think they are scoring short-term political points by lying and misleading the public about such funding, but their lies will certainly come back to haunt them. They always do.

[Originally published on Forbes]

 James M. Taylor is managing editor of Environment & Climate News.

Electricity Prices Rise Dramatically Under Ohio Renewable Mandates

Electricity prices in Ohio have risen approximately triple the national average since Ohio enacted renewable power mandates in 2008. The sharp rise in electricity prices occurred despite promises during 2008 legislative hearings that renewable power mandates would have little or no impact on electricity prices.

In 2008 the Ohio legislature passed legislation creating the state’s renewable power mandates. Under the mandates, Ohioans must purchase 25 percent of their electricity from designated renewable sources by the year 2025.

Sharply Rising Prices
Since 2008, U.S. electricity prices have risen merely 3 percent. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, U.S. electricity prices were 9.81 cents per kilowatt hour in 2008. As of September 2013, the latest date for which EIA published electricity prices when this article went to press, U.S. electricity prices were 10.13 cents per kilowatt hour.

In Ohio, by contrast, electricity prices since 2008 have risen 9 percent. EIA reports Ohio electricity prices in 2008 were 8.44 cents per kilowatt hour. As of September 2013, Ohio electricity prices were 9.19 cents per kilowatt hour.

Directly Traceable to Renewables
The rise in Ohio electricity prices closely tracks the increasing generation of costly renewable power. Wind power comprises nearly all renewable power generation in Ohio. Since 2008, Ohio has quintupled the share of its electricity mix generated from wind power. In 2008, according to EIA, Ohio generated 0.4 percent of its electricity from wind power. As of September 2013, 2.1 percent of Ohio’s electricity was wind-generated.

Greater use of renewable power is a direct and primary cause of Ohio’s rapid increase in electricity prices. During March 2013 testimony before the Ohio Senate Public Utilities Committee, Andrew Ott, senior vice president for markets at PJM Interconnection, which coordinates electricity transmission in Ohio and 12 other states, testified the real cost of providing and delivering usable wind power to consumers is at least double or triple that of conventional power.

“Supporters of wind power and other so-called renewable power sources frequently claim renewable power mandates economically benefit consumers. However, objective data show just the opposite,” said Jay Lehr, science director for the Heartland Institute, which publishes Environment & Climate News.

James M. Taylor ( is managing editor of Environment & Climate News.

Another false bio-tech claim busted

The journal Food and Chemical Toxicology retracted a study claiming a link between genetically modified corn and cancer in laboratory rats. Scientists pointed out several flaws in the study, which was published in 2012.

Scientists showed the study used a strain of rats particularly susceptible to cancer, with or without genetically modified corn. The study also evaluated too small a rat population, rendering it prone to random disparities. Moreover, the study did not present control group information sufficient to rule out other cancer-causing factors.

The American Council on Science and Health (ACSH) praised the retraction of the study.

“We here at ACSH have weighed in on this study in the past” said Dr. Ruth Kava in an ACSH press statement. “We congratulated the European food safety agency on rejecting this study almost immediately upon its publication, and now we must congratulate the journal for retraction of the paper. But we would have been even more pleased to see this study rejected from publication in the first place — it doesn’t speak well for their peer review process that this study was published at all. However, it is encouraging to see that scientific integrity was upheld — even if it took a year to happen!”

Scientists and public health officials have never documented any instances of genetically modified foods causing cancer or other negative health impacts.

ACSH provides a more detailed assessment of the flaws in the study here

James M. Taylor is managing editor of Environment & Climate News, a national monthly… (read full bio)

U.S. Carbon Dioxide Emissions Continue Dramatic Decline in 2013

U.S. carbon dioxide emissions declined by 3.7 percent in 2013, the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research at the University of East Anglia (UK) reports. The decline in U.S. emissions continues a dramatic drop in U.S. emissions this century, even as global emissions rapidly rise.

The new Tyndall Centre report says there is enough data regarding 2013 carbon dioxide emissions to accurately project emissions for the final two months of the year and for 2013 as a whole. Global emissions will rise by 2.1 percent during 2013, powered mainly by a 5.9 percent increase in China and a 7.7 percent increase in India.

U.S. emissions have declined 14 percent since the year 2000. The decline is even more dramatic since 2007, with U.S. emissions down 16 percent in that short time.

Global emissions continue to rise despite the ongoing decline in U.S. emissions. Global emissions are up 45 percent since 2000, and up 16 percent since 2007.

China now emits approximately double the emissions of the second largest emitter, with China accounting for 27 percent of global emissions and the United States accounting for 14 percent of global emissions. Since the year 2000, China alone is responsible for two-thirds of the global increase in carbon dioxide emissions.

The new emissions data confirm the success of free-market emissions reduction programs relative to government-centered restrictions. Environmental activists throughout the world routinely criticize the United States for being one of the few nations to never sign the Kyoto Protocol and pledge to meet its emissions quotas. Nevertheless, emissions data show the United States has reduced more carbon dioxide emissions this century than any other nation. The U.S. emissions decline is due in large part to technological advances in natural gas production and power plant operations.

China and India both signed the Kyoto Protocol, yet carbon dioxide emissions continue to rise rapidly in those two nations and throughout the world.

James M. Taylor is managing editor of Environment & Climate News, a national monthly publication devoted to sound science and free-market environmentalism. He is also senior fellow for The Heartland Institute, focusing on energy and environment issues.

United States on Pace for Quietest Hurricane Decade

As the 2013 hurricane season comes to a close, the United States is on pace for its quietest hurricane decade in recorded history. With just over a month to go in the 2013 hurricane season, no hurricanes had struck the United States this year. If no hurricanes strike the United States during the last—and usually quiet—weeks of the hurricane season, which ends November 30, this will be the second time in four years no hurricanes struck the United States.

Ongoing Trend Only three hurricanes struck the United States between 2010 and 2013. Four years into the 2010s, the United States is on pace for merely seven hurricane strikes this decade. The lowest number of hurricanes to strike the United States in a full decade occurred during the 1970s, when 12 hurricanes struck.

The scarcity of 2013 hurricane activity extended beyond the United States. This year tied an all-time record for the latest date at which a hurricane formed anywhere in the Atlantic basin.

Major hurricanes, registering Category 3 or higher, are becoming particularly rare. It has now been eight years since a Category 3 or higher hurricane struck the United States. The previous record for longest previous time period without a such a hurricane was six years, two months.

Only 28 major hurricanes struck the United States during the past 50 years, versus 44 major strikes during the preceding 50 years.

Warming Reduces Storm Forces “Al Gore and others assert rising global average temperatures will cause more frequent and extreme weather events. This is improbable,” said Tom Harris, executive director of the International Climate Science Coalition. “If the world warms due to increasing greenhouse gas emissions, temperatures at high latitudes are forecast to rise the most, reducing the difference between Arctic and tropical temperatures. Since this differential drives weather, we should see weaker mid-latitude cyclones. This logically results in less extreme weather, not more.”

Harris pointed out the real-world climate evidence confirms the expected decline in hurricanes and extreme weather events as the planet modestly warms.

“In fact we are already near a 30-year low in worldwide accumulated cyclone energy, something that was not supposed to be happening if the alarming forecasts of government-funded climate models were correct,” said Harris.

James M. Taylor ( is managing editor of Environment & Climate News.

Carbon Dioxide Emissions Stimulating $15 Trillion in Crop Production

Human carbon dioxide emissions are benefiting global agricultural production to the tune of $160 billion per year, according to a newly released study.

Between 1961 and 2011, carbon dioxide emissions stimulated $3.5 trillion in agricultural production beyond the baseline scenario without higher atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations. The study reports the cumulative benefits between 1961 and 2050 will top $15 trillion.

“Projecting the monetary value of this positive externality forward in time reveals it will likely bestow an additional $11.6 trillion on crop production between now and 2050,” the study concludes.

Climate scientist Craig Idso, chairman of the Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change, authored the study.

CO2 Stimulates Plant Growth “As literally thousands of laboratory and field studies have demonstrated, elevated levels of atmospheric CO2 have been conclusively shown to stimulate plant productivity and growth, as well as to foster certain water-conserving and stress-alleviating benefits,” the study notes. “For a 300-ppm increase in the air’s CO2 content, for example, herbaceous plant biomass is typically enhanced by 25 to 55%, representing an important positive externality.”

Proven Benefits vs. Speculative Harm The study highlights the difference between observed, real-world carbon dioxide benefits and speculation about hypothesized future harms.

“The incorporation of these findings into future [social costs of carbon] studies will help to ensure a more realistic assessment of the total net economic impact of rising atmospheric CO2 concentrations due to both negative and positive externalities,” the study explains. “Furthermore, the observationally-deduced benefits of atmospheric CO2 enrichment on crop production should be given premier weighting over the speculative negative externalities that are projected to occur as a result of computer model computations of CO2-induced global warming” (emphasis in original).

The positive impact of carbon dioxide on plant life helps sustain crop production and food availability for the entire biosphere, the study reports.

“At a fundamental level, carbon dioxide is the basis of nearly all life on Earth. It is the primary raw material or ‘food’ utilized by the vast majority of plants to produce the organic matter out of which they construct their tissues, which subsequently become the ultimate source of food for nearly all animals and humans. Consequently, the more CO2 there is in the air, the better plants grow, as has been demonstrated in literally thousands of laboratory and field experiments. And the better plants grow, the more food there is available to sustain the entire biosphere,” the study observes.

“People may fear change, but all the facts tell us the changes brought about by higher atmospheric carbon dioxide levels and modestly warmer temperatures are significantly benefiting human health and welfare,” said Jay Lehr, science director for the Heartland Institute, which publishes Environment & Climate News.

James M. Taylor ( is managing editor of Environment & Climate News.

Internet Info:

Idso, C., “The Positive Externalities of Carbon Dioxide: Estimating the Monetary Benefits of Rising Atmospheric CO2 Concentrations on Global Food Production,” October 18, 2013:

‘Lukewarmist’ Judith Curry Calls for End of IPCC

Climate scientist Judith Curry, who has gained a reputation as a “lukewarmer” for agreeing with many climate assertions by global warming activists but calling for more scientific scrutiny of alarmist claims, has called for an end to the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

Curry, a climate science professor at the Georgia Institute of Technology, called IPCC an ends-driven process that impedes scientific progress. Curry presented her thoughts on Internet site, Climate Etc.

Paradigm Paralysis Curry observed IPCC suffers from paradigm paralysis, which she defined as “caused by motivated reasoning, oversimplification, and consensus seeking; worsened and made permanent by a vicious positive feedback effect at the climate science-policy interface.”

Among the problems facing IPCC, Curry noted:

•    “As temperatures have declined and climate models have failed to predict this decline, the IPCC has [very curiously] gained confidence in catastrophic warming and dismisses the pause as unpredictable climate variability…

•     “Growing realization that you can’t control climate by emissions reductions…

“increasing levels of shrillness on both sides of the political debate, with the ‘warm side’ steeped in moral panic and hyperbole…

•    “after several decades and expenditures in the bazillions, the IPCC still has not provided a convincing argument for how much warming in the 20th century has been caused by humans…

•    “the politically charged rhetoric has contaminated academic climate research and the institutions that support climate research, so that individuals and institutions have become advocates; scientists with a perspective that is not consistent with the consensus are at best marginalized (difficult to obtain funding and get papers published by ‘gatekeeping’ journal editors) or at worst ostracized by labels of ‘denier’ or ‘heretic’,” and

•    “decision makers needing regionally specific climate change  information are being provided by the climate community with either nothing or potentially misleading predictions from climate models.”

Mann of War As if to prove Curry’s point about shrillness and aggressive name-calling, IPCC author Michael Mann wrote a September 28 column for the UK Guardian in which he called Curry a “serial climate disinformer.” Mann singled out several other skeptics by name, using such terms as “fossil fuel-industry apologist” and “professional climate change deniers,” while referring to those who apply the scientific method to question his alarmism as “the denialosphere.”

‘IPCC Should Be Put Down’ “The diagnosis of paradigm paralysis seems fatal in the case of the IPCC, given the widespread nature of the infection and intrinsic motivated reasoning,” Curry observed. “We need to put down the IPCC as soon as possible—not to protect the patient who seems to be thriving in its own little cocoon, but for the sake of the rest of us whom it is trying to infect with its disease.  Fortunately much of the population seems to be immune, but some governments seem highly susceptible to the disease. However, the precautionary principle demands that we not take any risks here, and hence the IPCC should be put down.”

James M. Taylor ( is managing editor of Environment & Climate News.

‘Obamaclimate’ Rules For Global Warming Would Be Just As Disastrous As Obamacare

Adam Hartung argued here at earlier this week that the United States needs to implement an Obamacare-style program to address global warming. Hartung’s column inadvertently illustrates that Obamaclimate would be just as disastrous as Obamacare.

The most memorable and illuminative statement made in the Obamacare debate was Pelosi smiling and saying “We have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it.” In other words, “We don’t know what the heck we are passing here, but it is big government, and therefore we like it.”

The American people are now finding out what is in it, and they don’t like it. In the words of Democratic U.S. Senator Max Baucus, Obamacare is fast becoming a “ wreck.”

Adam Hartung now wants a federal Obamaclimate plan. Apparently, one train wreck per presidential term isn’t enough for some people.

While Nancy Pelosi acknowledged Congress had no idea what kind of a law it was passing, the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) just acknowledged in its most recent report that it has no idea why global temperatures haven’t risen during the past 17 years. IPCC also acknowledged its models have consistently predicted more warming than has occurred in the real world. IPCC admitted its previous predictions about Himalayan glacier melt were wrong. IPCC contradicted alarmist assertions that global warming was shutting down oceanic conveyor belts. IPCC political appointees were embarrassingly caught telling contributing scientists that they would have to change their scientific assessments to conform with political agendas. And the list of IPCC flubs and embarrassments goes on and on….

“We have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it.”

“We have to restrict energy use, reduce living standards and shut down economic growth even though we don’t have a strong scientific case for doing so.”

Cue the trains barreling toward each other on a single track.

To be fair, Hartung did cite IPCC’s relatively undisputed finding that global temperatures were rising somewhat about 20 years ago. And, extending the trend back a little farther, we emerged from the Little Ice Age a little more than a century ago.

Okay, but so what?

Escaping the Little Ice Age, which entailed the coldest temperatures of the past 10,000 years, was – and is – beneficial to human health and welfare.

Hurricane activity is becoming less frequent and severe.

Tornado activity is becoming less frequent and severe.

Global crop production sets new records on a near-yearly basis.

Deserts are shrinking and plant life is expanding in some of the earth’s most arid regions.

Global soil moisture is improving at almost all sites in the Global Soil Moisture Databank.

And Hartung argues that we should implement an Obamaclimate train wreck to fight against these benefits?

The only plausible negative impact mentioned by Hartung is global sea level rise. Even here, however, he cannot help but strain credulity with his assertions. Hartung claims, “we can now predict the oceans will rise between 1 and 6 feet in the next 50 years.” Really?! Global sea level rose merely 7 inches during the entire previous century, and there has been little or no acceleration in sea level rise this century. How does that translate to between 1 and 6 feet of sea level rise in merely 50 years? Adam, I will wager whatever sum of money you wish that global sea level will not rise by either (take your pick) 7 inches in the next 10 years, 14 inches in the next 20 years, 21 inches in the next 30 years, 28 inches in the next 40 years, or 3 feet in the next 50 years. This gives you the benefit of a slower pace of sea level rise than the midpoint pace of your prediction and whatever pace or time period you wish. Of course, you will not accept the wager because you and I both know your prediction lacks credibility.

Throughout his column, Hartung laments such things as, “I never hear any business leaders talk about how they are planning for global warming. No comments about how they are making changes to keep their business successful.” There is a reason for this. When government predictions and programs fail, Nancy Pelosi and her political allies don’t personally go broke. When entrepreneurs prescribe or follow bad advice, however, they go broke. American entrepreneurs are too smart to foolishly lose their personal finances on yet another round of ridiculous global warming assertions.

James M. Taylor is managing editor of Environment & Climate News

Expanding What We Know About Climate Change

In a short book titled What We Know About Climate Change, Massachusetts Institute of Technology meteorologist Kerry Emanuel presents an explanation of why he believes humans are causing a global warming crisis. The book is really more of a short essay, approximately 10,000 words long with only seven endnotes. A significant chunk of the 10,000 words drifts away from the scientific discussion and addresses politics, messaging, and prescribed solutions.

The apparent goal of Emanuel’s book is to convince readers with minimal climate science knowledge that humans are causing a global warming crisis. The book, however, fails on several counts.

The ‘Big Brain’ Trap Even casual followers of the global warming debate understand scientific assertions require hard supporting evidence. Emanuel’s book provides very little of this. Emanuel’s failure to provide sound supporting evidence, however, is not unusual. In several live debates with university professors, I have found they often fall into what is known as the “big brain” trap. A typical professor’s everyday audience is comprised of students or research assistants who will not dare risk a poor grade or poor review by challenging anything the professor says. Instead, the students and research assistants outwardly fawn all over the professor’s big brain. Such professors in turn become so prideful and enamored with their apparent big brains that they don’t feel the need to document the evidence supporting or calling into question their own scientific speculations. When they then have to defend their speculative assertions within the context of supportive and opposing scientific data and studies, the professors are as lost as fish out of water. Emanuel’s What We Know About Climate Change is a typical example of this “big brain” trap. Emanuel writes a short essay providing his view on global warming issues, but he provides little-to-no scientific evidence to back it up.

An Unstable Planet? In Chapter 1, The Myth of Natural Stability, Emanuel argues the Earth’s climate is inherently fragile and susceptible to wild swings at the slightest human-induced perturbation. Emanuel mentions rapid polar ice cap advances and retreats as evidence of such climate fragility. Arguing that any human impact on the natural climate system is likely to send the Earth’s climate out of control, Emanuel glosses over the fact that full-blown ice age epochs have dominated the past 3 million years of the Earth’s climate history. As Emanuel acknowledges in his book, the occasional interglacial warming periods during the past 3 million years have typically lasted a mere 10,000 years or so (see Our current interglacial warm period is 10,000 years old. Is altering the natural climate balance such a bad thing when we are soon likely to enter another 100,000 years of “natural” polar ice sheet advances?

Greenhouse Physics Chapter 2 is a very short – less than 1,000 words – discussion of Greenhouse Physics. Emanuel explains the basic physics of how the Earth’s atmosphere retains heat. The chapter itself is not controversial, but it is typical in how global warming activists often set up an ensuing unjustified logical jump. The author describes how the Earth’s atmosphere retains heat, and then makes the unsupported logical jump that any human-induced alteration of the amount of trace elements in the Earth’s atmosphere must thereafter be catastrophic.

Uncertain Climate Drivers In Chapter 3, Why the Climate Problem Is Difficult, Emanuel acknowledges a substantial increase in carbon dioxide emissions will not by itself raise global temperatures very much. “Doubling the concentration of CO2 would raise the average surface temperature by about 1.9°F, enough to detect but probably not enough to cause serious problems.” For context, atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations have risen less than 50 percent since the dawn of the Industrial Revolution.

Emanuel admits the two factors most responsible for future warming in alarmist computer models, water vapor and clouds, are subject to substantial scientific uncertainty. He explains projections of substantial future warming are dependent on the assumption that increases in carbon dioxide emissions will cause substantial increases in heat-trapping atmospheric water vapor and changes in cloud cover. These indirect impacts on atmospheric water vapor and cloud cover serve as a “positive feedback” in alarmist computer models, greatly enhancing the minimal warming directly caused by rising atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations.

Emanuel unwittingly undercuts his own assumptions about substantial future warming when he acknowledges, “Calculations based on a large variety of computer models and observations of the atmosphere all show that as climate changes, relative humidity remains approximately constant.” Real-world observations, however, conclusively show relative humidity has not remained constant. Instead, as atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations have risen and temperatures have gradually risen, atmospheric relative humidity has steadily declined (see Figure 5, atmospheric relative humidity as measured by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration: As a result, a very important assumed indirect positive feedback of rising atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations – relative humidity keeping pace with the modest temperature increases directly attributable to rising carbon dioxide concentrations – is not occurring in the real world. Without this very important assumed positive feedback, global temperatures continue to warm at a pace Emanuel admits is “probably not enough to cause serious problems.”

Wrapping up the chapter, Emanuel attempts to minimize the significance of the ongoing pause in global warming. Acknowledging there has been a “lack of appreciable global warming over the first decade of the current millennium,” Emanuel claims random and chaotic “climate noise” can alter the trajectory of long-term warming on scales of 30 years or more. Emanuel’s climate noise theory has supporters and detractors, but his theory does little to support predictions of substantial future warming even is climate noise is currently weakening the Earth’s short-term temperature signal. Logically, climate noise would cut both ways, such that the 0.3°C rise in global temperatures from the late 1970s through the end of the last century appears to reflect climate noise sending too much of a false warming signal. If we accept Emanuel’s climate noise theory at face value and examine the warming trend from the late 1970s through the present, the Earth is on pace for approximately 1°C warming over the next century (see Once again, as Emanuel admits, this is “probably not enough to cause serious problems.

Applying Emanuel’s climate noise theory to a longer time period, the long-term pace of global warming appears even slower, as global temperatures actually cooled between the 1940s and the 1970s.

Problems with Climate Models In Chapter 4, Determining Humanity’s Influence, Emanuel favorably cites global warming activist Michael Mann’s discredited “hockey stick” reconstruction of past temperatures to assert human emissions of carbon dioxide are the primary cause of recent warming. Even while citing Mann’s discredited work, however, Emanuel admits the types of proxy data Mann used to create his temperature record are “imperfect” and “have large margins of error.” As scientists have noted, proxies like those presented by Mann are subject to mischief and cherry-picking (see

Emanuel points out there are a great many factors that must be incorporated into computer models. Moreover, as Emanuel admits, even small errors regarding some of these facts can cause large discrepancies between projected climate and real-world climate. Emanuel explains the challenges in creating accurate computer models:

“A typical climate model consists of millions of lines of computer instructions designed to simulate an enormous range of physical phenomena, including the flow of the atmosphere and oceans; condensation and precipitation of water inside clouds; the transport of heat, water, and atmospheric constituents by turbulent convection currents; the transfer of solar and terrestrial radiation through the atmosphere, including its partial absorption and reflection by the surface, clouds, and the atmosphere itself; and vast numbers of other processes.”

Emanuel acknowledges scientists know little about some of these processes, and even the ones scientists do understand often occur on a micro level too small for computer simulation:

“The representation of these important but unresolved processes is an art form known by the awful term parameterization. … A typical climate model has many tunable parameters that one might think of as knobs on a large, highly complicated machine. This is one of the many reasons that such models provide only approximations to reality. Changing the values of the parameters or the way the various processes are parameterized can change not only the climate simulated by the model, but also the sensitivity of the model’s climate to, say, greenhouse-gas increases.”

Even so, Emanuel argues skeptics should defer to such inherently unreliable models:

“While it is easy to stand on the sidelines and take shots at these models, they represent science’s best effort to project the earth’s climate over the next century or so. At the same time, the large range of possible outcomes is an objective quantification of the uncertainty that remains in this enterprise. Still, those who proclaim that the models are wrong or useless usually are taking advantage of science’s imperfections to promote their own prejudices.”

Whether or not people point out the models’ shortcomings to advance their own views, this doesn’t change the fact – a fact that Emanuel admits throughout the chapter – that the models have serious shortcomings that render them unreliable.

The real-world shortcomings of computer models predicting substantial future warming are illustrated by their failure to replicate recent climate conditions. The computer models that predict substantial future warming have consistently predicted more recent warming than has occurred in the real world (see and Even United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) lead authors say they will likely have to adjust the models to make them less sensitive to increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide (see

Unlikely Consequences In Chapter 5, Emanuel speculates about The Consequences he believes will occur from substantial future warming. Emanuel’s speculated consequences, however, derive from unrealistic assumptions about rapid future warming. “Projections based on climate models suggest that the globe will continue to warm another 3-7°F over the next century,” Emanuel writes. In reality, the IPCC projects approximately 2°C (3°-4°F) warming during the next century. This is at the bottom of Emanuel’s range of assumed warming. Importantly, the IPCC predictions are themselves likely on the aggressive side, as real-world temperatures are warming at a slower pace than the IPCC predictions. Notably, IPCC has consistently been forced to dial back its predictions as it routinely overestimates future warming (see

Emanuel’s assumed consequences of global warming are as devoid of evidentiary support as are his temperature assumptions. Emanuel, for example, attempts to link global warming to an increase in droughts, hurricanes, and crop failures. He provides no evidentiary support for such asserted links, and for good reason. In the real world, droughts are becoming less frequent and severe (see and, hurricanes are becoming less frequent and severe (see, and crop production consistently sets new records as the planet modestly warms (see

Emanuel attempts to cover for his lack of evidentiary support by citing speculative ignorance. “Little-understood or unanticipated positive feedbacks might make matters worse than we expect,” writes Emanuel. “We are humbled by a sense of ignorance.” Yet there is no need for ignorance regarding the beneficial real-world impacts of warming on droughts, hurricanes, and crop production. The evidence is clear and well-documented. Assertions that all of this may for some unexplained reason turn for the worse in the near future represents fear-induced speculation totally divorced from the strong weight of scientific evidence.

Irrelevant Social Prescriptions Chapters 6 through 8 devolve into social issues; Communicating the Science, Our Options, and The Politics Surrounding Global Climate Change. Emanuel’s prescriptions in each of these chapters are as unremarkable – except for their lack of supporting evidence – as are his assessments of the science in chapters 1 through 5. Given the lack of scientific support for Emanuel’s assertions in chapters 1 through 5, his proposed social solutions in chapters 6 through 8 are unnecessary and undeserving of our time and attention in this review.

In summary, Kerry Emanuel’s What We Know About Climate Change is a worthwhile read if you seek to learn how prominent global warming activists view the issue at a very basic level. If you are instead looking for a discussion supported by scientific evidence, Emanuel’s book will leave you highly unsatisfied.

James M. Taylor ( is managing editor of Environment & Climate News.