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Economy

Obama chief scientist cools on climate crisis news coverage

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11 minute read

Article originally published at CFACT.org

President Barack Obama’s Energy Department Chief Scientist Steven Koonin’s soon-to-be-published book will discuss information that the public really needs to have regarding grossly overheated “climate crisis” media hype.

Titled “Unsettled: What Climate Science Tells Us, What it Doesn’t, and Why It Matters,” a preview of it’s contents is provided in an April 16 Wall Street Journal interview with the author posted by Holman Jenkins, Jr.

Jenkins’ piece is titled “How a Physicist Became a Climate Truth Teller,” and I recommend it to readers who are interested in a fuller book content and author background account.

Having followed the science over more than a decade — and written a couple of pretty good books and likely a hundred or so articles on the subject — I find Koonin’s descriptive accuracy and candor enormously refreshing.

Sadly, few — if any — others in the Obama-Biden White House really cared about facts, paid attention, or learned anything from him at all.

First, because this is particularly relevant to me, Steven Koonin’s background as a physicist combines his technical understanding of applications and limitations of computer modeling of complex systems and practical experience in dealing with real-world realities such as assessing how we can most effectively and efficiently apply fundamental energy principles to meet complex human conditions and requirements.

Koonin taught physics at Caltech for nearly three decades, where he also served as provost; was recruited by the non-profit Institute for Defense Analysis which provided advisory services to military and congressional leaders; worked at JASON, another private scientific organization where he conducted and supervised cold-fusion energy and human genome mapping research; and later worked as chief scientist for British Petroleum (BP) which was later rebranded as “Beyond Petroleum.”

While at BP, Koonin created the multidisciplinary Energy Biosciences Institute at Berkeley which studies a wide range of scientific issues ranging from the isotopic composition of micro-fossils in the sea floor through regulation of industrial power plants.

Steven Koonin’s research into the world’s energy system led him to become convinced that the only “real climate crisis was a crisis of political and scientific candor,” and that the world “isn’t going to be able to reduce [greenhouse gas] emissions enough to make much difference.”

Koonin argues that while he supports responsible climate science, his issue is that what media and activist say about climate science has drifted so far out of touch with the actual science as to be absurdly, demonstrably false.

With reference to a 2019 report by presidents of the National Academy of Sciences which asserted that the “magnitude and frequency of certain extreme events are increasing,” for example, he notes that the “United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which is deemed to compile the best science, advised that all such claims should be treated with “low confidence.”

The U.S. government’s 2017 Climate Science Special Report had claimed that, in the lower 48 states, the “number of high temperature records set in the past two decades far exceeds the number of low temperature records.” On closer inspection, Koonin points out, “that’s because there’s been no increase in the rate of new record highs since 1900, only a decline in the number of new lows.”

A 2018 U.S. Fourth National Climate Assessment which relied on such “ovegged” worst-case emissions and temperature projections, Koonin concludes, “was written more to persuade than to inform.” He says, “It masquerades as objective science but was written — all right, I’ll use the word — propaganda.”

Koonin emphasizes the absurdity of basing climate change alarm on century-long forecasts claiming to know how 1% shifts in poorly understood variables will affect a future global climate that we don’t understand with anything even resembling that precision.

Nevertheless, the IPCC will issue a report next year that will purport to determine how much warming to expect by the end of this century based upon 40-plus computer model simulations which have been diverging in projections — not converging — coming together — as one would hope to enable determination of which one should be trusted.

Without tweaking, the modelers can’t even agree on a current simulated global average surface temperature — varying by 3 degrees Celsius – three times the observed change over the past century.

Koonin, both an experienced computer practitioner and modeling enthusiast, recognizes that they are wonderful where the simulation variables and their interactions being projected are well known and results can be empirically tested.

“But these are more controlled, engineered situations,” he adds, “whereas the climate is a natural phenomenon. It’s going to do whatever it’s going to do. And it’s hard to observe. You need long, precise observations to understand its natural variability and how it responds to external influences.”

Koonin, who has been building models and watching others do so over 45 years, cautions that climate models “are not to the standard you would trust your life or even trillions of dollars to.”

For the record, Koonin agrees — as many of my well-informed climate scientist friends also do — that the world has warmed by about 1 degree Celsius since 1900, and it will likely warm by another degree by the end of this century.

There is no dispute I’m aware of that temperatures began warming at the end of the last “Little Ice Age” in the mid-1800s — before the Industrial Revolution — and will likely continue to do so in fits-and-starts with little or no influence from us until Mother Nature once again changes her mind.

Neither Koonin nor any real-world scientific climate or economic studies, however, have seen anything in the offing which he says “would justify the rapid and wholesale abandoning of fossil fuels, even if China, India, Brazil, Indonesia and others could be dissuaded from pursuing prosperity.”

Even John Kerry, Joe Biden’s “climate czar,” recently admitted that the current administration’s “net-zero” climate plan will have zero effect if developing countries don’t go along, and as Koonin notes, “they have little incentive to do so.”

In any case, Koonin believes that any warming that occurs will emerge slowly and with modest effect — not a runaway crisis that alarmists such as Al Gore and John Kerry hype. To the extent that reduced CO2emissions will make any measurable difference, the solutions should let technology and markets work together at their own pace.

“The climate might to continue to change at a pace that’s hard to perceive, but society will adapt.”

Konnin adds, “As a species, we’re very good at adapting.”

Perhaps the biggest challenge will be to survive the current political climate crisis.

 

Author: CFACT Advisor Larry Bell heads the graduate program in space architecture at the University of Houston. He founded and directs the Sasakawa International Center for Space Architecture. He is also the author of “Climate of Corruption: Politics and Power Behind the Global Warming Hoax.”

Article originally published at CFACT.org

In 1985, the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow (CFACT) was founded to promote a much-needed, positive alternative voice on issues of environment and development. Its co-founders, David Rothbard and Craig Rucker, strongly believed the power of the market combined with the applications of safe technologies could offer humanity practical solutions to many of the world’s most pressing concerns. A number of leading scientists, academics, and policy leaders soon joined them, along with thousands of citizens from around the U.S. and around the world.

Today, CFACT is a respected Washington D.C.-based organization whose voice can be heard relentlessly infusing the public-interest debate with a balanced perspective on environmental stewardship and other important issues.  With an influential and impressive scientific advisory board, effective collegiate program on U.S. college campuses, CFACT Europe, official United Nations’ NGO representation, Adopt-A-Village project, Global Social Responsibility program, and “Just the Facts” daily national radio commentary, CFACT continues to offer genuine solutions to today’s most important global challenges.

CFACT has been termed “invaluable” by the Arizona Republic, it has been lauded for its “effort to bring sound science to the environmental debate” by a former president of the National Academy of Sciences, and has been praised by a respected Boston Herald columnist for “a record of supplying absolutely solid information.”

After 15 years as a TV reporter with Global and CBC and as news director of RDTV in Red Deer, Duane set out on his own 2008 as a visual storyteller. During this period, he became fascinated with a burgeoning online world and how it could better serve local communities. This fascination led to Todayville, launched in 2016.

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Economy

5 Reasons Why Canada Should Be a Global Oil Supplier of Choice

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Post Submitted by Canada Action

#1 – Unprecedented Net-Zero Commitment

Canada’s largest oil sands producers just announced an unprecedented commitment to reaching net-zero emissions by 2050!

The net-zero term – used to describe the process of removing all greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by reduction methods – has become an increasingly important mandate for companies looking to continue attracting investment while participating in the transition to a lower-carbon future.

Accounting for about 90 per cent of oil sands production, the new five-member alliance is just one of many examples of why Canadian producers should be go-to oil suppliers of choice for buyers worldwide.

#2 – Continual GHG Emission Reductions

The emissions intensities of oil sands operations dropped by 36 per cent between 2000 and 2018due to fewer gas venting emissions, technological and efficiency improvements and reductions in the percentage of bitumen upgraded at national refineries says Natural Resources Canada.

Oil sands emissions intensities per barrel are also forecast by IHS Markit to drop another 16 to 23 per cent by 2030 due to continued innovation and technological advancement in the Canadian oil and gas sector.

This matters in an increasingly carbon-constrained world where going “green” has been put at the forefront of investors’ minds around the globe. According to these standards, investment cash should be flowing into Canada in droves for its dedication to the sustainable production of its natural resources such as oil, natural gas and minerals to name a few.

#3 – Leader in Social Progress

Social Progress Imperative lists Canada as seventh out of 163 countries on its Social Progress Index 2020, outranking all other major global oil jurisdictions except Norway. The annual index examines a total of 50 social and environmental indicators across 12 major subcategories, including:

Nutrition & Basic Medical Care
Water & Sanitation
Shelter
Personal Safety
Access to Basic Knowledge
Access to Information & Communications
Health & Wellness
Environmental Quality
Personal Rights
Personal Freedom & Choice
Inclusiveness
Access to Advanced Education

If you value social progress, the choice is clear. Canada ranks number one out of all the world’s top oil producers, exporters and reserve holders except for Norway and should be a global supplier of choice.

#4 – Carbon Pricing in a Carbon-Constrained World

Home to roughly 80 per cent of Canada’s total oil production, Alberta is one of the few global oil jurisdictions with mandatory disclosures, regulated emissions protocols and carbon taxes on excess GHGs.

In 2007, the province also became the first jurisdiction in North America and one of the first in the world just behind the European Union to take climate action with mandatory GHG emission reduction targets for large industrial emitters across all industries.

To add, only 10.5 per cent of global crude oil production is subject to carbon pricing, of which about 40 per cent is accounted for by Canada (with ~4.2 per cent of global output).

Carbon pricing and mandatory GHG emissions protocols matter huge in a carbon-constrained world. Therefore, Canada’s current policies indicate that it should be a choice supplier of oil and gas for decades to come.

#5 – A World-Class Regulatory Environment

Canada’s oil and gas producers are subject to some of the most stringent regulations and governance standards for energy projects anywhere on the planet. It only makes sense that future oil and gas supply comes from highly transparent producers like Canada that practice environmentally conscious extraction and production techniques.

Shutting down Canadian pipelines carrying Canadian oil has not kept one barrel of oil in the ground. What this has accomplished, however, is the displacement of global market share to less environmentally conscious producers who, in many instances, have abysmal records on social progress indicators such as freedom of expression and other basic human rights.

More Oil & Gas in Canada

Canada Should Be a Supplier of Choice