Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Guest Post: Cherry-picking Christiana Figueres Quotes

RE: About the cherry picked and taken out of context quotes exploited by deniers;

Here something said by Christiana Figueres about changing economic models;
Former head of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Christiana Figueres, made this controversial statement that has been met with hysterical reactions on the parts of those who fear a socialistic or communistic take over by environmentalists;

“This is the first time in the history of mankind that we are setting ourselves the task of intentionally, within a defined period of time, to change the economic development model that has been reigning for at least 150 years, since the Industrial Revolution.”

Please examine the above statement. Where do you see any endorsements of communism, or socialism or any kind of anti-free enterprise system? What she advocates is the TRANSFORMATION, of the economic development MODEL---not the destruction of free enterprise! I couldn’t find an actual video dated from Jan 2015 that included her famous statement, but the quote above is accurate. And “economic models” obviously refers to the ways economies function, make, and distribute money—not socialism or communism. And after examining all the videos I have watched, Ms Figueres, merely discussed world economic cooperation via seeking agreements on setting long range goals instead of thinking in the short term. Her statements are full of affirmations that the participation of the world’s business sector will need to be involved---not about seeking its destruction! So often denier accuse those who accept AGW, of being hysterical alarmists about global warming and the world’s economy---well, all the exaggerations of Ms Figueres’s intentions are now met with hysteria and alarm from AGW deniers, for no real reasons!

Unfortunately, the very well-funded denial industry has already crowded google with one propaganda article after another, which have been posted by those who count on stirring up hysteria and misconceptions about Figures’ comments. One actually has to go quite deeply into google to find various articles that actually tell the truth, which is;

When we changed our economic basis from agriculture to industrial production, we transformed the economy.

When we switched from kerosene to the incandescent lightbulb, the economic model was transformed.

When we developed mass production technology the economic model transformed.

When we began an era of businesses outsourcing labor, we became an economy largely dependent on outsourcing.

And more recently, when we changed from the analogue to the digital age, we also transformed the way our economy grows and flourishes.

These facts do not disparage business investments in renewable energy but, anti- AGW propagandists have been hysterically grasping at statements like these, which have been made by Figueres and others, to lend a fraudulent legitimacy to the issue of AGW which are intended to bolsters their reactionary fears. That’s all!

Here is what Figueres said in her controversial statements as recorded in the PDF at the beginning of this post:

“We can’t have an inclusive economic system unless we take the climate seriously. Integrating concern for our shared planet into the concept of capitalism is instrumental for economic prosperity in the face of climate change. At current rates of greenhouse gas emissions, humanity is approaching dangerous global warming – the cost of which will be borne disproportionately by the poor and the vulnerable. Limiting warming requires substantial and sustained emissions reductions and the development of more resilient societies. Capitalism must be part of the solution. For humanity to survive and thrive.”

As for the Rural Electrification Project during Roosevelt’s Presidency, which a forum debater offered as an example of government take overs, this information was on many websites which I examined;

A post from the link above:

“Although nearly 90 percent of urban dwellers had electricity by the 1930s, only ten percent of rural dwellers did. Private utility companies, who supplied electric power to most of the nation's consumers, argued that it was too expensive to string electric lines to isolated rural farmsteads. Anyway, they said, most farmers, were too poor to be able to afford electricity.

The Roosevelt Administration believed that if private enterprise could not supply electric power to the people, then it was the duty of the government to do so. Most of the court cases involving TVA during the 1930s concerned the government's involvement in the public utilities industry.

In 1935 the Rural Electric Administration (REA) was created to bring electricity to rural areas like the Tennessee Valley. In his 1935 article "Electrifying the Countryside," Morris Cooke, the head of the REA, stated that:

“In addition to paying for the energy he used, the farmer was expected to advance to the power company most or all of the costs of construction. Since utility company ideas as to what constituted sound rural lines have been rather fancy, such costs were prohibitive for most farmers. [ footnote]”

This was a very successful program that brought electric power to rural communities like the one which my parents lived in. Of course big business fanatics of the time also claimed it was beyond the scope of Presidential powers, and represented a plot to establish socialism of communism?

Can anyone tell us though, how businessmen were screwed by this program? Each farmer had to pay for the energy he used, and he was also required to compensate power companies for the cost of construction.  And ya know what, we still have a wildly successful capitalistic system today, despite the (dreaded) beneficent influence on the government under Roosevelt!

My dad came from a family of 13 children and my Mother was one of 7 children. As a result of this and other programs enacted by Roosevelt, their families were able to survive the long hard years of the depression with dignity, since in addition, Roosevelt also provided work projects under the WPA like the CCC. Unemployed men were able to do useful infrastructure projects that helped society as whole, and were provided food and shelter while working away from home. This enabled them to send most of their paychecks back to their families at a time when literally counting every penny they had, was absolutely necessary. Everyone involved won, including the utility companies. Is that really anyone’s idea of some nefarious communist or socialist plot?

Here are some more proposals from the link above made by Ms Figueres in a supposedly pro-communist—pro-socialist speech!


Ms Figures began with some upbeat observations about progress in several domains over the last 12 months and then expressed her views that:
· An agreement to tackle climate change would be nutted out over the next week, although it would be tough;
· An agreement would probably be made about the direction of change but not the speed;
· ˜a completely different economic development model' is required to effect the changes necessary;
· Markets alone could achieve the change required but not quickly enough;
· The science is clear that carbon emissions must peak by 2020 “especially if we are to fulfil our moral duty to protect the most vulnerable communities;
· We must focus our attention and help on developing countries “they have increasing carbon emissions, increasing populations and increasing needs for infrastructure;
· The energy needs of those without current access to electricity must be met with renewables “but different finance models will be needed in different situations, for example for on-grid and off-grid communities;
· We must find ways of working across not within silos, and for the long not the short term “not easy for humans; The mantra is BAU: Business As Urgent.
Why did I find all that concerning? Because while I am sure that we (the global we) understand the problem adequately, and have sufficient technological solutions already available to us to keep global warming under 2C, I'm not sure that we have the social wherewithal (for instance common purpose and national and international institutions) to achieve the policy and technical changes necessary in the very short time we have left to prevent disaster. As others have observed---the laws of physics don't negotiate."

No mention on how to do away with capitalism here, only a call for each nation to pursue its own economic interests by taking part in reducing greenhouse gas emissions!

But, perhaps among the strangest of smears made against those concerned about AGW is this Dec. 15th 1998 commentary written by Peter Stockland, which appeared in the Calgary Herald.

“Social engineers sniffed out among greenhouse gases”

Calgary Herald
Tue Dec 15 1998
Page: A18
Section: Opinion
Byline: Peter Stockland, Calgary Herald
Column: Peter Stockland.”

An excerpt from:

“But he [the Prime Minister] was not there. As it turned out, it's probably just as well for it might have prevented Canada's environment minister from making the following remarkable admission.”

Climate change (provides) “the greatest chance to bring about justice and
equality in the world," she said.
All this time you thought the global-warming debate was simply about weird weather, melting ice caps, rising sea levels and more atmospheric gas than a buffalo would generate walking from Calgary to Winnipeg.
No. Turns out not to be so. By the minister's own emission, it's much more about the beloved liberal ideals of social engineering and government pocket-picking to redistribute your wealth as it sees fit.
As many who've raised their voices against the potted science behind global warming have long suspected, it's about cajoling (frightening) you into accepting very particular definitions of justice and equality.

Don't be surprised if that definition leaves you completely free to bang on dee drum awl day.”

If Ms. Stewart had actually used the words which appear to have been attributed to her above, it would have made about as much sense as Richard Nixon defending himself by telling a television audience that he personally ordered the Watergate break in---or if All the C.E.Os. and big shots in our current “too big to fail” group of big banks and wall street firms, came right out and said that they took the money of others and invested it in money making schemes that they knew would eventually collapse under their own weight, as part of their legal defense? But In reality, there are no reasons to believe that any of these things were really said by Ms. Stewart, or whether, after the initial two sentences, the claims made against her amount to anything more than Stockland’s own speculations, or just represent creative fiction from the pens of those trying to destroy the efforts of climate scientists—if she had been working to promote the Kyoto accords while openly vilifying and lying about the findings of climate science, that would have been an extremely unbelievable set of admissions for any global warming affirmer to make?—that’s why the author of this article in the Calgary Herald may have made it all up—Did Mr. Stockland lie in order to spread more lies about human caused climate change? For people who claim to be so motivated by truth and ethical integrity, it’s very ironic to see how unethical deniers, including the above article’s author, Peter Stockland, seem to have fictionalized actual climate science, just to serve their own biases?

Sincerely, Peter W. Johnson

Friday, March 24, 2017

More Campaign of Deceit by Tom Harris

Refuting Tom Harris on reality and science is both fun and easy. This is a person who, for whatever reason, practices deceit so extensively I think he no longer knows the difference between real science and his lies. In his role as a paid shill for the fossil fuel industry, Harris was recently able to get a letter published in the Duluth News Tribune, a paper that has provided a friendly venue to anti-science advocates. I submitted the following in rebuttal.

(UPDATE: The original submission was too long to be accepted. Below is the updated, shorter version.)

Re “Reader's view: Resist calls to smother climate debate,” March 20, by Tom Harris.

Mr. Harris’ claim that scientists are stifling debate on climate change is false. There is a healthy debate on this topic. What the scientific community is opposed to is people interjecting anti-science rhetoric into the discussion. Harris is the executive director of the Canadian fossil fuel advocacy group International Climate Science Coalition and is paid to place pro-fossil fuel/anti-science letters for public consumption.

Harris states, “no sensible person, … denies that climate changes.” In fact, Mr. Harris is on record as denying climate change. The reality is that the climate is changing and is changing much more dramatically than at anytime in the last 800,000 years. Harris also says this fact is “irrelevant to anyone but specialists in the field” when it is actually relevant to everyone. Polls show over 97% of all climate scientists acknowledge the reality of manmade climate change. Harris is deceitful stating no such poll has ever been taken.

Harris’ quotes Dr. Tim Ball. Ball is a geographer, not a climatologist. In a libel suit he was forced to drop, court documents stated about Ball, "The Plaintiff's credentials and credibility as an expert on the issue of global warming have been repeatedly disparaged in the media.” And, “The Plaintiff is viewed as a paid promoter of the agenda of the oil and gas industry rather than as a practicing scientist." Ball stated carbon dioxide is not a greenhouse gas. This is the equivalent of saying gravity doesn’t exist. The properties of CO2 as a greenhouse gas are well documented.

Any debate should be limited to real science, not anti-science rhetoric.

Dr. Christopher Keating
Mason, Texas

Dr. Keating is a professor of physics and conducts research in planetary geophysics, including climate change.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

2017 Arctic Sea Ice Melt Season Has Started

The National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) has not yet announced the Arctic sea ice maximum extent for this year, but I expect them to do so momentarily. (UPDATE: NSIDC made the announcement mere hours after I wrote this.) And, I expect them to announce the maximum extent for 2017 was 14.420 million square kilometers and occurred on March 7. When this is confirmed, it will be the lowest maximum extent ever recorded and 2017 will be the third year in a row to experience the record low maximum. (UPDATE: You can read a nice article about the changes in the sea ice here.) The graphic below shows the sea ice extent for 2017 (light blue), 2016 (red), 2015 (dark blue) and the 1981-2010 median extent (dark grey). The shaded areas are one and two standard deviations from the median.

Source: NSIDC
This means the 2017 Arctic sea ice melt season is now underway and, considering the terrible shape of the maximum extent, we already have to be concerned about the minimum extent coming in September. Given this situation, I decided to make an attempt at a very early prediction on the minimum. I predicted the maximum would be 14.2 million square kilometers and would occur in the first week of March, so I was pretty close.

One of the dire situations that doesn't show up in the above graph is the ice thickness, which is in even worse shape than the extent. This is a plot of the ice thickness from the Polar Portal.

Source: Polar Portal
I expect all ice 2 meters thick and thinner to completely melt by September. That is the ice colored light blue to purple and violet. Likewise, I expect all of the ice 3.5 meters thick and thicker to survive, albeit in a much thinner condition. That would be the yellow, red and white colored areas. The green areas are a toss-up. A great deal of the melting depends on the weather in the Arctic region during the summer. If the summer is cloudy and cold, more of the green area will survive. If the summer is clear and sunny, more will melt. I used a figure of 50% melt for the green areas in my estimate. That only leaves adding up the areas, which really wasn't all the difficult. The Polar Portal conveniently included some marked blocks. I merely had to find the area of the marked areas.

The surface area of a part of a globe is called a spherical cap and the math is straight forward. I have included a description of the math below. These calculations gave me 3.9 million square kilometers for the area inside the most poleward dotted circle. I used an even four million for my estimate. The circle indicates 80 degrees north. The next larger dotted circle indicates 70 degrees north. This area is also divided up into 10 degree-wide blocks. I calculated the area of each block to be 323,000 square kilometers and I rounded up to 325,000.

I estimate one half of the area of the 80 circle to still have ice in September (even including the land area as 'ice free'). This is 2 million square kilometers. Of the 10-degree squares, I expect there will be only three blocks worth of ice remaining at the minimum. That is another 975,000 square kilometers. Let's call it an even one million.

So, my very early forecast is for the 2017 minimum extent to be about 3 million square kilometers. This would be the lowest minimum extent ever recorded and would easily shatter the previous record low of 3.387 million square kilometers set in 2012. 

Of course, we'll have to wait until September to see how well I do with this forecast. Unfortunately, I feel that my estimate is conservative and fear the actual extent will be even lower. Let's hope I'm wrong.


A spherical cap is the surface area of a sphere cut off by a plane. If the plane cuts the sphere in half, the spherical cap is called a hemisphere.

The area of a cap is found by the equations

A = 2πrh  = π(r2 + a2)

A = the area of the cap
r = the radius of the sphere
h = the height of the cap
a = the radius of the cap

r = 6400 kilometers (one Earth radii)

θ = 10o (90o - 80o) for the 80o circle and 20o (90o - 70o) for the 70o circle        
a = r sinθ = (6400 km)sin10o = 1111 km (80o circle)
a = r sinθ = (6400 km)sin20o = 2189 km (70o circle)
h = r - rcosθ = 6400 km - (6400 km)cos10o = 97 km (80o circle)

h = r - rcosθ = 6400 km - (6400 km)cos20o = 386 km (70o circle)

The area of the 80o circle is simple and is merely 2π(6400 km)(97 km) = 3.9 million square km
The area of the 70o circle is 2π(6400 km)(386 km) = 15.5 million square km

If you use the alternative equation as a check, you get the same results.

However, we don't want the surface area of the 70o circle, we want the area outside of the 80o circle, so we need to subtract the area of the smaller circle from the larger one and this is equal to 11.6 million square km. This is the area of the band between the 70o circle and the 80o circle. This area is divided up into 36 10-degree-wide blocks, giving us 323,000 square kilometers per 10o x 10o block on the Polar Portal graphic.