Howard County Maryland Blog

Local Politics and Current Events

Climate Change

An alternate web site:   The Heartland Institute

July 25, 2007 UPDATE: 2007 Hurricane Season Forecast Cut

I am not going to write about climate change after this post (you are welcome).  However, I want to close this discussion (at least here and I hope we all continue to calmly discuss this issue because the implications are significant) with a link to a series of articles in the Canadian paper The Financial Post written by Lawrence Solomon.

National Post’s Deniers series: Scientists who challenge the climate change debate

Mr. Solomon writes:

When I began (writing this series), I accepted the prevailing view that scientists overwhelmingly believe that climate change threatens the planet. I doubted only claims that the dissenters were either kooks on the margins of science or sell-outs in the pockets of the oil companies.

Mr. Solomon really got into his work on this subject by writing many more articles than he thought he would.

I considered stopping after writing six profiles, thinking I had made my point, but continued the series due to feedback from readers.

His point?  What point?

My series set out to profile the dissenters — those who deny that the science is settled on climate change — and to have their views heard. To demonstrate that dissent is credible.

He is especially offended by Al Gore’s misleading statements (repeated statements)

“Only an insignificant fraction of scientists deny the global warming crisis. The time for debate is over. The science is settled.”

So said Al Gore … in 1992. Amazingly, he made his claims despite much evidence of their falsity. A Gallup poll at the time reported that 53% of scientists actively involved in global climate research did not believe global warming had occurred; 30% weren’t sure; and only 17% believed global warming had begun. Even a Greenpeace poll showed 47% of climatologists didn’t think a runaway greenhouse effect was imminent; only 36% thought it possible and a mere 13% thought it probable.

Mr. Solomon’s series generally support further research and the entire series is worth a good read.

Statistics needed — The Deniers Part I
Warming is real — and has benefits — The Deniers Part II
The hurricane expert who stood up to UN junk science — The Deniers Part III
Polar scientists on thin ice — The Deniers Part IV
The original denier: into the cold — The Deniers Part V
The sun moves climate change — The Deniers Part VI
Will the sun cool us? — The Deniers Part VII
The limits of predictability — The Deniers Part VIII
Look to Mars for the truth on global warming — The Deniers Part IX
Limited role for C02 — the Deniers Part X
End the chill — The Deniers Part XI
Clouded research — The Deniers Part XII
Allegre’s second thoughts — The Deniers XIII
The heat’s in the sun — The Deniers XIV
Unsettled Science — The Deniers XV
Bitten by the IPCC — The Deniers XVI
Little ice age is still within us — The Deniers XVII
Fighting climate ‘fluff’ — The Deniers XVIII

Science, not politics — The Deniers XIX
Gore’s guru disagreed — The Deniers XX
The ice-core man — The Deniers XXI
Some restraint in Rome — The Deniers XXII
Discounting logic — The Deniers XXIII
Dire forecasts aren’t new — The Deniers XXIV
They call this a consensus? – Part XXV
NASA chief Michael Griffin silenced – Part XXVI
Forget warming – beware the new ice age – Part XXVII
Read the Sun Spotes – Part XXVIII

Highlighting som Prominent Deniers that Mr. Solomon writes about

R. Tim Patterson

Edward Wegman: Found that Michael Mann’s (and he peer reviewers) made a basic error that “may be easily overlooked by someone not trained in statistical methodology. Believes that much of the climate science that has been done should be taken with a grain of salt. The report of Wegman and his colleagues has been criticized by a RealClimate.org, a proponent of man-made global warming, for drawing such conclusions. RealClimate.org was founded by Michael Man

Bjørn Lomborg: is an Adjunct Professor at the Copenhagen Business School and a former director of the Environmental Assessment Institute in Copenhagen. He became internationally-known for his best-selling and controversial book The Skeptical Environmentalist. He was accused of lying in his research and was cleared of the charges.

Dr. Christopher Landsea: Interesting name for a hurricane researcher. In January, 2005, Landsea withdrew from his participation in the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report. Landsea claimed the IPCC had become politicized and the leadership ignored his concerns.[2] Landsea does not believe that global warming has a strong influence on hurricanes: “global warming might be enhancing hurricane winds, but only by 1 percent or 2 percent”. This guy participated in many previous IPCC reports. You need to read what led to his withdrawl from the 2007 report. It is incredible.

Dr. Richard Lindzen: a critic from within, one of the most distinguished climate scientists in the world: a past professor at the University of Chicago and Harvard, the Alfred P. Sloan professor of meteorology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, a member of the National Academy of Sciences, and a lead author in a landmark report from the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

Proponents of the Climate Change Theory (I know there is a lot more – this is a work in progress).

Real Climate: RealClimate is a commentary site on climate science by working climate scientists for the interested public and journalists. Some people refer to this as the end all be all of climate change information. Click here to learn about the participants in this project.

Michael Mann: Inventor of the famous unchanging hockey stick climate change model

James Hansen: heads the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York City, a part of the Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, MD, Earth Sciences Diivision. He is currently an adjunct professor in the Earth and Environmental Sciences department at Columbia University. Hansen is best known for his testimony on climate change to congressional committees in the 1980s that helped raise broad awareness of the global warming issue. He is a vocal critic of the Bush Administration’s stance on climate change.

Dr. William Connolley: is a climate modeller. Connolley is a Senior Scientific Officer in the Physical Sciences Division in the Antarctic Climate and the Earth System project at the British Antarctic Survey. I have personal experience with Mr. Connolley via Wikipedia – don’t try to edit any articles on climate change that he monitors – fair warning.

Dr. Claude Allegre: he signed a highly publicized letter stressing that global warming’s “potential risks are very great: Fifteen years ago, Dr. Allegre was among the 1500 prominent scientists who signed “World Scientists’ Warning to Humanity,” a highly publicized letter stressing that global warming’s “potential risks are very great. NEVER MIND HE CHANGED HIS MIND. He cited evidence that Antarctica is gaining ice and that Kilimanjaro’s retreating snow caps, among other global-warming concerns, come from natural causes. “The cause of this climate change is unknown,” he states matter of factly. There is no basis for saying, as most do, that the “science is settled.”

Dr. Kevin E. Trenberth: head of the Climate Analysis Section at the National Center for Atmospheric Research. He was a lead author of the 2001 and 2007 IPCC Scientific Assessment of Climate Change. Linked to Dr. Christopher Landsea through an unfortunate set of circumstances.

10 Responses to “Climate Change”

  1. Climate Change reduction strategies that are based on real science can make a significant contribution to the reduction of CO2 in our atmosphere. One such strategy is the change in agricultural practice that can be measured and assessed based on assessment of the activity,quantification of the change of activity and conversion of the quantification into a carbon offset number that can be audited and verified because it is based on real science. There is a science based method to measure activity that promotes the soils natural ability to absorb CO2 from the air and take that to a marketplace that has been set up by government legislation that caps the amount of emissions corporations can put into the air. Reminds me of the time when we could all take our junk to the landfill(dump) for free. Try that now ! In most places there is a charge to leave your junk at the dump because we recycle. This is what is happening to our atmosphere so now we have to develop technology and science based methods to re-cycle our atmosphere.
    Get in or get on or get out of the way because if we don’t change our way we will pay one way or the other. The earth is not ours we only borrow it from our children (St Exupery)

  2. global warming is becoming such a obvious problem that someone somewhere other than Al Gore needs to step up to help drive the bus!

  3. Jim Artuso said

    Brighter than sunshine
    By GRANT HUANG Staff Writer
    Subscribe to the Maryland Gazette
    ________________________________________
    Jim Artuso is a man on a mission to spread the word about home solar power.
    The Glen Burnie resident is one of more than 700 independent sales agents for a controversial Delaware-based energy startup called Citizenre.

    The company is promising to bring solar power to the masses by allowing homeowners to rent the expensive equipment required at a fraction of the cost needed to buy it. Local experts say it’s a claim that can’t be fulfilled, a pipe dream likely to damage an infant industry’s credibility.

    But regardless of whether it can deliver, Citizenre’s powerful message is spreading rapidly thanks to local sales agents around the country like Mr. Artuso. More than 20,700 homeowners nationwide – including 78 county residents – have signed up to reserve the company’s solar power systems, which won’t be ready for installation until sometime in 2008.

    “The number (of homeowners reserving systems) is going up by hundreds each week. It’s a wonderful number,” said Erika Morgan, Citizenre’s vice president of communications. “It proves our pilot proposition, which is that people will accept this deal and sign up for a long-term rental even knowing they won’t get the system this year. It also proves our associates are interested in selling this deal even though they’re not being paid a dime to do it right now.”

    That’s right. Mr. Artuso won’t get any money for his efforts, including the 50 signs he’s erected along county roads this summer. He paid for those out of pocket, but that’s no sweat for a self-described regular Joe who truly believes in the future of solar.

    “I’ve heard about solar power since I was in elementary school. The technology has been there that long,” said Mr. Artuso, who pays the bills by working as a production line mechanic for Phillips Foods Inc. in Baltimore. “It’s just been out of reach for 30 years because it’s too expensive. (Citizenre) is designed to bring solar to the average guy, like me. And if they don’t work out, I don’t lose anything but the time I spent getting the word out.”

    He gives only the noblest of reasons for getting the word out. Freedom from corporate titans like Constellation Energy. Reduced reliance on coal, which fuels the power plants providing the vast majority of household electricity. Oh, and a chance to save the world, one kilowatt-hour of pollutant-free, green energy at a time.

    Money is the catch

    Of course, solar power alone can’t power a house year-round, even if the entire roof were covered with solar panels.

    Electricity output drops on cloudy days, at nighttime and during the winter, when days are shorter. That means BGE and Constellation Energy will always supply some of the power.

    But the biggest catch is money. It costs between $30,000 and $50,000 to buy and install a solar power system big enough to provide electricity for the average home.

    That’s why the whole point of Citizenre’s residential rental model is affordability, Ms. Morgan said. To cut costs, Citizenre plans to produce its own solar panels en masse at a manufacturing facility that it will build and operate.

    But the company won’t say when or even where the facility will be built, only that it’s “somewhere in the northeastern U.S.” and that construction has yet to begin.

    Critics see the secrecy as evidence of a possible scam.

    “They claim they’re going to build a factory that’s going to revolutionize the price of their product. But it’s the missing ingredient here, central to everything they’re spinning,” said Peter Lowenthal, executive director of the Maryland-D.C.-Virginia chapter of the Solar Energy Industries Association. “Maybe they’ll raise a billion dollars and make this happen. But for now, selling promises is very upsetting to an industry that’s just getting on its feet.”

    Ms. Morgan said the secrecy is necessary because Citizenre is in the midst of sensitive negotiations with two state governments, both of which are vying to host the manufacturing plant.

    “We may look back on this and say we’ve been silent too long,” she said. “But if we released partial information that people would poke holes in, we would regret that as well.”

    She said a formal announcement on the location and time frame for the facility will come within two months.

    Not a scam?

    Citizenre’s secrecy and waiting period have stirred local skepticism.

    Myrl Hartman was driving along Ritchie Highway in July when he noticed one of the signs Mr. Artuso had put up, advertising cheap solar power.

    Though the 84-year-old Glen Burnie resident signed up with Mr. Artuso to reserve a system, he also asked the Maryland Gazette to look into Citizenre’s business practices.

    “I read the contract and I showed it to my daughter-in-law and she goes, ‘oh it’s got to be a scam,’ ” Mr. Hartman recalled. “It just sounded too good to be true.”

    Here’s Citizenre’s pitch.

    Customers sign up for contracts lasting one, five or 25 years, paying a monthly rate per kilowatt-hour that’s based on a 12-month average of utility rates in their state. This rate is only updated at the end of each year, which is why Citizenre’s Maryland rate is only 8.8 cents per kilowatt-hour, far less than the 14 cents per kilowatt-hour BGE is charging after its rate hikes. Citizenre allows users to lock in the lower rate for the duration of their contract.

    According to 2001 data from the U.S. Department of Energy, the average household consumes roughly 29 kilowatt-hours of electricity per day, which means Citizenre customers already signed up will pay a monthly rental fee of around $77. Using the same electricity consumption data, BGE customers would pay a monthly utility bill of approximately $122. These figures are based on many averages, such as a home size of 1,500 square feet.

    On top of the monthly fees, Citizenre customers must pay a $500 security deposit that’s returned at the end of the contract period. If the contract is broken, the company keeps the deposit and will rent the solar power system to another customer.

    None of these fees will be charged until Citizenre actually installs the system, which means the company’s early marketing scheme is legal.

    “As long as there’s full disclosure and they’re not taking that security deposit until they come through (with the solar power systems), they’re not scamming the consumer,” said Racquel Gillory, a spokesman for the Maryland Attorney General’s Office. “As I understand it, if they don’t install the systems, the contract is null and void.”

    Citizenre’s technical claims and business model also seem feasible, if impossible to prove.

    “Everything they say is theoretically possible. I don’t find any lies,” said Paul Maycock, who created the Department of Energy’s photovoltaics division in 1975 and now runs a consulting company called Photovoltaic Systems, Inc. “What I don’t have is information on how and when they are going to get systems installed … that result in their model being financially sound.”

    Ms. Morgan countered by saying outside observers are speculating without all the facts.

    “If you try to reverse-engineer our business model, but don’t have our proprietary information, of course you can’t make it work,” she said. “I think we’ve got the early mover black eye. I think we’ve responded to that by being very low-key. And time will tell whether that was wise.”

    A sunny solar future

    Aside from waiting, there doesn’t appear to be any sure way of knowing whether Citizenre can deliver. But one thing seems clear: residential solar power is poised to explode in Maryland, even if Citizenre winds up buried beneath a mountain of hype.

    Chesapeake Wind and Solar, a Jessup company that sells and installs home solar power systems, has seen triple-digit sales growth over the last seven years.

    “We’re finding that our phone is absolutely ringing off the hook with people who are concerned about their future energy supply,” said CEO Richard Deutschmann. “They’re concerned about their bills, they’re concerned about global warming … and they want to talk about installing residential solar.”

    Chesapeake Wind and Solar now installs an average of five home solar power systems a month, with each system costing between $30,000 and $40,000.

    State and federal incentives have played a major role in fueling the interest in solar.

    For instance, Maryland is one of 38 states that have passed “net-metering” legislation, which allows homeowners to send any extra solar-generated electricity back into the utility grid. In return, they receive credit against their bill from companies like BGE, which must produce 2 percent of their power through renewable sources by 2020 under state law.

    The Maryland Energy Administration issues grants of up to $3,000 for home solar power systems. Homeowners who install the systems are also eligible for a federal tax credit capped at $2,000.

    Add it all up and it could take 40 or even 50 percent off the purchase price of a system.

    The savings still aren’t enough for Mr. Artuso to buy a whole system for himself, but he encouraged homeowners with enough money to take the leap without waiting for Citizenre. He plans to keep on spreading the word, and he’s won at least one convert: Mr. Hartman, who’s gone from skeptic to fellow Citizenre salesman.

    “I believe in solar,” Mr. Hartman said. “I believe in anything that will produce renewable energy for this country.”

    Asked what he would do if Citizenre proves to be a house of cards, Mr. Artuso smiled, only a little sadly.

    “Hopefully someone else with bigger backers and more money will come along,” he said. “I’ll go back to trying to put solar on my roof, one panel at a time.”
    ________________________________________
    Published 09/08/07, Copyright © 2007 Maryland Gazette,
    Glen Burnie, Md.

  4. Ray Z said

    As I ponder the global warming question several things come to mind. Applying a common sense approach does not seam to help. Most people ignore theses questions and march on blindly. Please help me with some answers.

    1- Was it not just a short while ago that the cry was that polution was destroying the Ozone? This was quite the popular “chicken little the sky is falling” event of the last decade. What ever happened to that problem? Is the Ozone still a concern? I think I quietly heard that the hole in the ozone had disapeared. Has any one else heard that? If so should not this have helped “global warming”

    2- If I remember corectly we had some real cold weather not to long ago here in good old Maryland and the world. Yes, in the 1970’s it got real cold here and the Bay actually froze solid several times. If memory does not fail me I think I remember a Mr. Gore declairing that we were killing mother earth with our polution and we were going to enter a devasating Ice age. My how did the earth change so fast? Can anyone tell me? I know that in America we have actually made great strides in cleanning things up. Did we go too far? Can anyone tell me what is going on here? I want to know if I need to buy stock in air conditioners or furnaces.

    3- Yes I know the Ice cap is disapearing and those poor bears are in trouble. Can you hold on one second… I went to my freezer to get some ice to put in my drink and do you know what? The ice cubes were a lot smaller than they were last month… do you think it is possiable that Ice can evaporate? You know I do remember doing some 6th grade studies on that and we found through expierments that wind can evaporate Ice at a fast rate… Do you think it could be windy at the poles?

    4- That reminds me, I think I remember something else from junior high… what was it… Oh yes… Mr. Pepersack said “At one time the earth had a lot of volcanos and forest fires that blocked the sun, started an ice age and killed the dinosoures” Gee, I did actually learn something durring those awkward teen years. I am so glad that we do not have large amounts of volcanic activitey these days and that we put out forest fires in a timely fashion. Why if we did have these events it could get down right chilley here even in the summer.

    5- I think I posed plenty of questions for the time. If anyone can answer these for me I would be very gratefull. I can save the solor sun activitey thing for another day.

    Thank so much!

    Ray

  5. pzguru said

    Ray – there are lots of us who have been asking the same questions. But, instead of getting answers, real factual answers, we’re given a bunch of hooey and told get our heads out of the sand for not just following the leader (Al Gore) like the rest of the lemmings (the radical enviro groups).

  6. S. Cohen said

    The problem with the attributing global climate change to human activity is that this hypothesis is not statistically valid. I recommend everyone reading an article by Arthur B. Robinson, Noah E. Robinson, and Willie Soon that I found on the Oregon Institute for Science and Medicine website. Although I can’t accept some of the conclusions of this report, it brings to light a few very important aspects.

    First, in order to accept that hydrocarbon use is releasing CO2 that causes climate change, you MUST be able to show a relationship between hydrocarbon use and some other physical property. Here are the problems. A correlation between CO2 and surface air temperatures does not indicate cause; it only indicates the ability to predict one parameter based on the other. To find fault with hydrocarbon use (i.e., in billions of metric tons), scientists must be able to statistically correlate this with other physical events (i.e., surface temperature increases, sea level rise). However, no such correlation can be made.

    Furthermore, very precise correlations can be made between the strength of the solar radiation hitting the earth and all climatic events (i.e., CO2 increases from ocean off-gassing, sea level rise, surface temperature increases, glacial retreat). The degree of the solar radiation correlation is so precise, that you can see this effect during the cooling of the 1950s – 1970s, when most of the “experts” said we were going into an ice age. In fact, that was probably due to global dimming from particulates in the atmosphere resulting from air pollution.

    The human impact scenario also doesn’t explain any pre-industrial era CO2 levels that were much higher than the current concentrations. For example, in 1815, CO2 concentrations were 440 ppm, which is 80 to 100 ppm higher than they are today. Solar radiation and subsequent off-gassing, however, explains this phenomenon perfectly.

    We need to eradicate the internal combustion automobile engine for many reasons, such as, ground-level ozone, childhood asthma, air deposition and transport of air pollutants, acid rain, and NATIONAL SECURITY. However, to accomplish this by mispresenting our current situation is not the way.

  7. S. Cohen said

    Statistics of Climate Change – I downloaded and reviewed data for carbon emissions, atmospheric carbon dioxide (not ice core data), global temperatures, sunspot number, and solar irradiance. Using Excel spreadsheet statistics functions, I came up with the following correlation results:

    Comparison Correlation Coefficient

    CO2 Emissions vs. Temp. 0.85
    CO2 Emissions vs. Atm CO2 -0.04
    Atm CO2 vs. Temp. 0.26
    Solar Irradiation vs. Temp 0.80
    Sunspot Number vs. Temp 0.29

    Correlation Coefficients (CC) range from -1 to 1. A CC of -1 is the strongest inverse relationship, while a CC of 1 is the strongest direct relationship. A CC of 0 is the complete absence of a relationship. Anything is basically up to user discretion; however, my standard is anything above >0.75 or <-0.75 is a strong relationship. All other CC values are various degrees of a weak relationship.

    As you can see, the CO2 Emissions most closely correlate to temperature. However, CO2 Emissions do not correlate to atmospheric CO2 measurements. Furthermore, atmospheric CO2 measurements do not correlate to temperature. This last fact is true for recent and geologic time scales. So why do CO2 Emissions correlate to temperature — coincidence. The industrial age coincides with the end of the “Little Ice Age” from the late 1600s to about 1850 (widely accepted event). As a result, temperatures have been increasing naturally before the industrial age and continued during it.

    However, solar irradiation tracks very closely to temperature (CC = 0.80). A review of solar irradiation graphs vs temperature graphs clearly indicates that all temperture minima and maxima of since 1850 (time period for which I have data) have coincided with solar irradiation fluctuations. The evidence sufficiently clear that anyone logical person can see that solar irradiation affects temperature to a much higher degree than CO2 ever could. You can see this phenomenom in late 20th and early 21st Century temperatures because, as reported, temperatures have been decreasing since 1998. Solar irradiation level have likewise been decreaseing.

  8. R. Diamond said

    It is nice that this whole debate has turned into one over global climate change/warming, but the idea behind alternative energy is not one-sided. Pollution, whether it causes warming or not, has shown very real effects on the health of people (Huge increases in asthma and cancer in highly polluted areas) and everything else (the life systems of the world). Whether the levels of CO2, methane, and nitrogen (among other ‘greenhouse’ gases) is causing warming or not, it creates other problems and the exponentially higher levels are well-documented. The energy ‘crisis’ is not just about climate change, but over our unstable imports from the middle east and the fact that our current sources of energy are not feasibly renewable. Drilling more holes all over the globe and starting wars overseas in search of more oil is not a solution, it is a way of getting around sustainable changes. We are beginning to pay the price for our irresponsible and lazy approach to environmental and humanitarian issues. It takes very simple logic to know whether or not addressing the potential climate change crisis is necessary. Consider the possible problems that would result from inaction and the possible problems from taking action. WIth inaction, we risk the worst of the worst ends, whether or not they come to pass. With action, the benefits will help us regardless of whether the climate significantly changes and we eliminate the very believable risks associated with global warming.

    I find S.Cohen’s data very limited and selective; showing an association is different than proving direct correlations. The problems we are facing with the issue of global warming have much more data to validate them than this small colllection of data points. The points brought up by Ray Z. have also been addressed by many scientists. Evaporation is already accounted for and action was taken to limit chemicals that affect the ozone (like aerosols), which are a separate issue from greenhouse gases.

    Above all, the idea that global warming may still be a hoax seems a bit far-fetched considering the international efforts to find solutions. It isn’t just Al Gore who is pushing this issue; there is an international panel on climate change. Besides, the problems that we may very well confront in the future will be felt far less by us in comparison to poorer, less-developed nations who we now rely on for a huge portion of our imports. Our choice to ignore the elephant of problems in the ‘room’ will only make it harder when things begin to head downhill. I pity those that are still in denial.

  9. R. Diamond said

    What would be the political benefit of convincing the world that global warming is happening?

  10. Kevin McLaurin said

    The political benefit is the ability to take more of our hard earned money so congress can send money to their districts for pet project that will “save” the environment. Also, the eco groups can continue to get donations as long as they can keep the fear of global warming in the headlines.

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