Weekly Climate and Energy News Roundup #465 – Watts Up With That?

The Week That Was: 2021-08-07 (August 7, 2021)
Brought to You by SEPP (www.SEPP.org)
The Science and Environmental Policy Project

Quote of the Week: “’The exception proves that the rule is wrong.’ That is the principle of science. If there is an exception to any rule, and if it can be proven by observation, that rule is wrong.”  – Richard Feynman, The Meaning of it All: Thoughts of a Citizen-Scientist (1998)

Number of the Week: – Down 38%


By Ken Haapala, President, Science and Environmental Policy Project (SEPP)

A Philosophy Or An Institution: On July 23, the Wall Street Journal published a contemplative interview of Matt Ridley by Tunku Varadarajan. It dealt with issues such as COVID, climate science, and biology, but TWTW will focus on those parts that may apply to climate science as practiced today. Ridley, an English Viscount from Northumberland (on the border with Scotland) trained as a biologist and has written books as diverse as The Red Queen: Sex and the Evolution of Human Nature; The Rational Optimist: How Prosperity Evolves; and How Innovation Works: And Why It Flourishes in Freedom.

With the Canadian molecular biologist Alina Chan, Ridley is finishing a book called “Viral: The Search for the Origin of Covid-19,” scheduled to be published in November.

“As Mr. Ridley worked on the book, he says, it became ‘horribly clear’ that Chinese scientists are ‘not free to explain and reveal everything they’ve been doing with bat viruses.’ That information has to be ‘dug out’ by outsiders like him and Ms. Chan. The Chinese authorities, he says, ordered all scientists to send their results relevant to the virus for approval by the government before other scientists or international agencies could vet them:”

The article begins with: [Boldface added]

“’Science’ has become a political catchword. ‘I believe in science,’ Joe Biden tweeted six days before he was elected president. ‘Donald Trump doesn’t. It’s that simple, folks.’

“But what does it mean to believe in science? The British science writer Matt Ridley draws a pointed distinction between ‘science as a philosophy’ and ‘science as an institution.’ The former grows out of the Enlightenment, which Mr. Ridley defines as ‘the primacy of rational and objective reasoning.’ The latter, like all human institutions, is erratic, prone to falling well short of its stated principles. Mr. Ridley says the Covid pandemic has ‘thrown into sharp relief the disconnect between science as a philosophy and science as an institution.’”

If we consider that the branch of philosophy called epistemology is the systematic study of knowledge and how it is acquired, then physical science must include physical reality. It is not the study of an imaginary world tied up in computer modeling without frequent testing against all the physical evidence available. The imaginary world appears to be the realm of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and its followers. The article continues:

“In the U.K., he has also noted ‘a tendency to admire authoritarian China among scientists that surprised some people.’ It didn’t surprise Mr. Ridley. ‘I’ve noticed for years,’ he says, ‘that scientists take a somewhat top-down view of the political world, which is odd if you think about how beautifully bottom-up the evolutionary view of the natural world is.’

“He asks: ‘If you think biological complexity can come about through unplanned emergence and not need an intelligent designer, then why would you think human society needs an ‘intelligent government’?’ Science as an institution has ‘a naive belief that if only scientists were in charge, they would run the world well.’ Perhaps that’s what politicians mean when they declare that they ‘believe in science.’ As we’ve seen during the pandemic, science can be a source of power.

“But there’s a ‘tension between scientists wanting to present a unified and authoritative voice,’ on the one hand, and science-as-philosophy, which is obligated to ‘remain open-minded and be prepared to change its mind.’ Mr. Ridley fears ‘that the pandemic has, for the first time, seriously politicized epidemiology.’ It’s partly ‘the fault of outside commentators’ who hustle scientists in political directions. ‘I think it’s also the fault of epidemiologists themselves, deliberately publishing things that fit with their political prejudices or ignoring things that don’t.’” 

In shifting from the pandemic to climate science the article states:

“…. ‘The modeling of where the pandemic might go,’ he says, ‘presents itself as an entirely apolitical project. But there have been too many cases of epidemiologists presenting models based on rather extreme assumption.’

“One motivation: Pessimism sells. ‘You don’t get blamed for being too pessimistic, but you do get attention. It’s like climate science. Modeled forecasts of a future that is scary [sic] is much more likely to get you on television.’ Mr. Ridley invokes Michael Crichton, the late science-fiction novelist, who hated the tendency to describe the outcomes of models in words that imply they are the ‘results’ of an experiment. That frames speculation as if it were proof.

“Climate science is already far down the road to politicization. ‘Twenty or 30 years ago,’ Mr. Ridley says, ‘you could study how the ice ages happened and discuss competing theories without being at all political about it.’ Now it’s very hard to have a conversation on the subject ‘without people trying to interpret it through a political lens.’

“Mr. Ridley describes himself as ‘lukewarm’ on climate change. He accepts that humans have made the climate warmer, but doesn’t subscribe to any of the catastrophist views that call for radical changes in human behavior and consumption. His nuanced position hasn’t protected him from attack, of course, and the British left is prone to vilify him as a ‘denier.’

“Climate science has also been ‘infected by cultural relativism and postmodernism,’ Mr. Ridley says. He cites a paper that was critical of glaciology—the study of glaciers—’because it wasn’t sufficiently feminist.’ I wonder if he’s kidding, but Google confirms he isn’t. In 2016 Progress in Human Geography published ‘Glaciers, gender, and science: A feminist glaciology framework for global environmental change research.’

“The politicization of science leads to a loss of confidence in science as an institution. The distrust may be justified but leaves a vacuum, often filled by a ‘much more superstitious approach to knowledge.’ To such superstition Mr. Ridley attributes public resistance to technologies such as genetically modified food, nuclear power—and vaccines.”

After a discussion of the beginning of vaccination in England and America from practices used in Ottoman Turkey, for which early advocates were pilloried, the article concludes:

“Vaccines have been central to the question of ‘misinformation’ and the White House’s pressure campaign against social media to censor it. Mr. Ridley worries about the opposite problem: that social media ‘is complicit in enforcing conformity.’ It does this ‘through ‘fact checking,’ mob pile-ons, and direct censorship, now explicitly at the behest of the Biden administration.’ He points out that Facebook and Wikipedia long banned any mention of the possibility that the virus leaked from a Wuhan laboratory.

“‘Conformity,’ Mr. Ridley says, ‘is the enemy of scientific progress, which depends on disagreement and challenge. Science is the belief in the ignorance of experts, as [the physicist Richard] Feynman put it.’ Mr. Ridley reserves his bluntest criticism for ‘science as a profession,’ which he says has become ‘rather off-puttingly arrogant and political, permeated by motivated reasoning and confirmation bias.’ Increasing numbers of scientists ‘seem to fall prey to groupthink, and the process of peer-reviewing and publishing allows dogmatic gate-keeping to get in the way of new ideas and open-minded challenge.’

“The World Health Organization is a particular offender: ‘We had a dozen Western scientists go to China in February and team up with a dozen Chinese scientists under the auspices of the WHO.’ At a subsequent press conference they pronounced the lab-leak theory ‘extremely unlikely.’ The organization also ignored Taiwanese cries for help with Covid-19 in January 2020. ‘The Taiwanese said, ‘We’re picking up signs that this is a human-to-human transmission that threatens a major epidemic. Please, will you investigate?’ And the WHO basically said, ‘You’re from Taiwan. We’re not allowed to talk to you.’’

“He notes that WHO’s primary task is forestalling pandemics. Yet in 2015 it ‘put out a statement saying that the greatest threat to human health in the 21st century is climate change. Now that, to me, suggests an organization not focused on the day job.’

“In Mr. Ridley’s view, the scientific establishment has always had a tendency ‘to turn into a church, enforcing obedience to the latest dogma and expelling heretics and blasphemers.’ This tendency was previously kept in check by the fragmented nature of the scientific enterprise: Prof. A at one university built his career by saying that Prof. B’s ideas somewhere else were wrong. In the age of social media, however, ‘the space for heterodoxy is evaporating.’ So those who believe in science as philosophy are increasingly estranged from science as an institution. It’s sure to be a costly divorce.”

The UN has lost its way. It has become an organization for acquiring power and world influence, while ignoring its actual purposes. The IPCC is an example. The IPCC has abandoned the scientific method in favor of extremely pessimistic stories and its followers demand conformity to these stories. Politicians are taking advantage of this conformity claiming “science says” which has little more meaning than the donkey brays. See Article # 2 and links under Seeking a Common Ground.


A Bit Too Pessimistic? For twenty-five years AAAS Science has been a leader in climate pessimism, refusing to publish articles that show that the world is not warming dangerously. According to Our World in Data, during this period humanity has experienced the biggest drop in those living in extreme poverty ever, led by South Asia, East Asia, and Pacific regions. In a large part, this enormous benefit to humanity comes from the use of fossil fuels. The great improvements to humanity give no reason for poor countries to act on the predictions of climate pessimists such as those covered by AAAS Science.

Thus, it was somewhat surprising to read about an editorial in Science by staff writer Paul Voosen titled: “U.N. climate panel confronts implausibly hot forecasts of future warming.” However, the article itself demonstrates that AAAS Science has not changed.

There are two sources for extreme hot forecasts of future warming. One is extreme scenarios, story lines, of future carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. The second is high sensitivity of the globe’s temperatures to increased CO2. Roger Pielke, Judith Curry, and others have demonstrated that IPCC’s most extreme scenario (RCP8.5) for CO2 emissions is not feasible. Yet, it is the basis for thousands of papers claiming climate disasters.

The new climate models have been run and according to the article in AAAS Science the extreme results may be a bit too extreme to be considered plausible, even by the most gullible. A graph in the article shows that the unadjusted forecast of the highest temperature increases by 2080 to 2100 is almost 7°C (12°F). The raw forecast has been constrained to about 5.5°C (10°F). The median estimates are 5°C (9°F) raw and 4.25°C (7.5°F) constrained. The article also quotes some modelers that they will do better next time.

The sensitivity of the globe’s temperatures to increasing CO2, the other source of extreme forecasts, is not discussed. But this is the most important one. Over forty years of measurement of atmospheric temperature trends shows since January 1979 the atmosphere has warmed by 0.14 C/decade (0.25°F/decade) or 0.55°C (1°F). Projecting this out to 2100, the globe will warm by about 1.1°C (2°F). Given the enormous benefits humanity has experienced over this period, this increase is hardly a cause for concern.

The article in AAAS Science may have expressed that the newest global climate model results are a bit too pessimistic, but AAAS Science and the IPCC remain highly pessimistic about the future without physical evidence that CO2 is causing dangerous warming. See links under Challenging the Orthodoxy, Defending the Orthodoxy, Measurement Issues – Atmosphere, and https://ourworldindata.org/extreme-poverty


Upcoming Pessimism: The Physical Science Basis of the IPCC Sixth Assessment Report (AR-6) is due out this week. As discussed above, it is doubtful it will be based on physical science, but more likely on imaginary forecasts from global climate models that have not been tested against evidence such as temperature trends in the atmosphere, where the greenhouse gases are.

David Whitehouse, Science Editor for the Global Warming Policy Forum, discusses the recent data in the HadCRUT5 surface global temperature database maintained by the UK Met Office. [Note this database was used by The Right Climate Stuff Team which recognized the latest version increased the warming bias, but it is superior to that of NOAA and NASA-GISS because it does not infill data were data do not exist.] Whitehouse questions whether the new IPCC report will acknowledge reality. He writes:

“The data for this century shows several features; a long hiatus (2002 – 2014) that was acknowledged by the IPCC (but later denied by some scientists), an intense multi-phased El Nino event and its aftermath (2015 -2020) and now a recent decline to levels where they were when the IPCC published its last report. Unequivocal is not a word to describe this data.”

“So, when you read the new IPCC report and take in the alarmist headlines it will undoubtedly generate, bear in mind that since its previous report in 2014 global temperatures have barely changed and have declined from their El Nino-inspired peak of a few years ago.” See links under Challenging the Orthodoxy.


Tiny Storage: As TWTW has expressed, the true cost of unreliable electricity generation to the consumer is not realized until the cost of making such generation reliable is realized. At this time there is no proof of concept of a utility scale storage system that relies on wind or solar.

A great deal has been written about battery storage such as the “Big Battery” in Victoria, Australia, which caught fire. The write-ups revealed how puny the “Big Battery” is. Paul Homewood wrote:

“In fact the “Big Battery” is rated at 300 MW, and can only store 377 MWh of usable energy. Average load on the Australian grid is 30 GW. In other words, in theory it could supply Australian demand for less than a minute. This battery, and even many more like it, cannot store enough electricity to fulfil demand as claimed, for instance at night when there is no solar power.

But what it will not do is store energy to cater for intermittent renewables.”

“For the record, Australia still gets 79% of its electricity from fossil fuels, and just 14% from wind and solar:”

Compared with the “Big Battery,” the Bath County (Virginia) Pumped Storage Station has a rated capacity 10 times as large (3,003 MW), with a total capacity of 63 times as large (24,000 MWh (Megawatt Hours)). It is replenished by thermally generated electricity, fossil fuel and nuclear. By comparison, the “Big Battery” is miniscule. Without massive storage, claims that wind and solar can replace fossil fuels are great exaggerations. See links under Alternative, Green (“Clean”) Energy – Storage


Who Does the Mining and Processing? Donn Dears discusses key points in a report by the Biden Administration: “Building Resilient Supply Chains, Revitalizing American Manufacturing and Fostering Broad-Based Growth: 100-Day Reviews under Executive Order 14017.” The report highlights three minerals needed for battery powered vehicles: Class-1 Nickle, Cobalt, Lithium. Add to that the increased need for Copper and Manganese, and we see the “green revolution” will need massive increases in mining and processing of these minerals. As with nuclear energy replacing fossil fuels for electricity generation, it is doubtful the green industry will support a “green revolution.” See links under Challenging the Orthodoxy.


The Great Melt: Each summer ice in Greenland melts. The green group EcoWatch put the melt in an alarmist perspective: “Extreme Ice Melt in Greenland in One Day Was Enough to Cover Florida in Two Inches of Water.” The headline was picked up by other examples of yellow journalism such as The Hill.

Tony Heller pointed out that Greenland is more than ten times larger than Florida and that according to Polar Portal, run by the Danish science institutions which keeps records on Greenland and started this yellow journalism, the sudden drop was an extreme event, and the ice mass in Greenland is increasing, not decreasing. Even in 2019, which had the greatest summer loss, the ice mass increased. See links under Communicating Better to the Public – Use Yellow (Green) Journalism?, Communicating Better to the Public – Exaggerate, or be Vague?, and Changing Cryosphere – Land / Sea Ice.


Additions and Corrections: Reader Bryan Leyland wrote that the July 24 TWTW was not quite correct in stating what happened at the Oroville Dam in California. Leyland writes:

“The spillway chute of the main spillway was damaged by relatively low discharges, so they shut the spillway gates and the water tipped into the emergency spillway. The emergency spillway was designed for 10 feet of overtopping but when it reached about 1 foot in the water started eroding into the base of the embankment and would have released a major flood if it failed. They called for an evacuation of 20,000 people downstream. They reopened the main spillway gates and accepted that the chute downstream would be seriously damaged.

“The flood was not anywhere near the design flood.”

Leyland cites an interview with Robert Bea (a leading forensic engineer who was long concerned with the dam), and with a colleague wrote “Root Causes Analyses of the Oroville Dam Gated Spillway Failures and Other Developments.” Root Causes Analysis was used by the late Hal Dorian, a leader of The Right Climate Stuff Team. See: https://alumni.berkeley.edu/california-magazine/just-in/2017-07-27/bob-bea-takes-us-deep-dive-through-his-dire-oroville-report,

TWTW appreciates additions and corrections to its commentary.


14th ICCC: The 14th International Conference on Climate Change presented by The Heartland Institute will be October 15 to 17, 2021, at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. See https://climateconference.heartland.org/




At the 39th Conference of the Doctors for Defensive Preparedness, SEPP announced that the winner of the 2021 April Fools Award was the entire Biden Administration for its declaration of a climate emergency in complete disregard for the scientific method and the fact that this is the most prosperous time in the history of humanity [prior to COVID].


Number of the Week: – Down 38%. For over a month, TWTW has followed wind power at the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) which demonstrates that load balancing is a difficult task. An electric grid is an energized system and load balancing is needed to assure there is sufficient current to meet consumption, without overloading the system to the point of damage. With the exception of a few extreme spikes, since July 22, after days of running below 500 MW (megawatts), often near zero, on the afternoon of August 5, wind power jumped to over 2500 MW and bounced between 2500 and 1500 MW to August 7.

The great variability in wind power requires that BPA operate its dams so that hydro power varies from almost 10,000 MW to 4,000 MW placing stress on the hydro-turbines in the system.

As cited in the July 17 TWTW, in 2012 BPA realized that the hydro system was at its limits for balancing wind power. Since then, BPA has curtailed the capacity of the wind power it supports by 38%, from slightly above 4700 MW to 2930 MW. How do wind power advocates plan to balance the grid when wind power fails?


Commentary: Is the Sun Rising?

Climate Scientist Warns ‘Next 20-30 Years Will Be Cold’

By Thomas Williams, Breibart, July 28, 2021


How a sudden stratospheric warming affected the Northern Hemisphere

By Nancy Wolfe Kotary for MIT News, Boston MA (SPX), Jul 24, 2021


link to paper: Impact of September 2019 Antarctic Sudden Stratospheric Warming on Mid-Latitude Ionosphere and Thermosphere over North America and Europe

By Larisa P. Goncharenko, et al. Geophysical Research Letters, July 16 2021


Ye sun spottes

By John Robson, Climate Discussion Nexus, Aug 4, 2021

“Since the Little Ice Age, people have noticed that solar activity fluctuates, and that those fluctuations affect weather conditions on Earth. How did we ever get to the point that the scientists-who-say deny what Adam Smith blurted out a quarter of a millennium ago?”


Science Journal Demands “Hate Crime” Laws to Shield Scientists from Public Criticism

By Eric Worrall, WUWT, Aug 5, 2021

Link to article: Mounting antiscience aggression in the United States

By Peter J. Hotez, Plos Biology, July 28, 2021


“There is a troubling new expansion of antiscience aggression in the United States. It’s arising from far-right extremism, including some elected members of the US Congress and conservative news outlets that target prominent biological scientists fighting the COVID-19 pandemic.”

“The President of the United States, together with science leaders at the federal agencies should prepare and deliver a robust, public, and highly visible statement of support. The statement would reaffirm the contribution of scientists across United States history.”

[SEPP Comment: Will the “Hate Crime” Laws apply to “Climate Change Deniers,” will this be the theme for Plos Climate?]

Sky News Australia Suspended By YouTube

By Paul Homewood, Not a Lot of People Know That, Aug 2, 2021

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