More Coal-Fired Power Stations in Asia

A lovely feature of the GWPF site is its extracts of articles related to all aspects of climate and related energy policies. Yesterday the GWPF extracted from an opinion piece in the Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post A new coal war frontier emerges as China and Japan compete for energy projects in Southeast Asia.
The GWPF’s summary:-

Southeast Asia’s appetite for coal has spurred a new geopolitical rivalry between China and Japan as the two countries race to provide high-efficiency, low-emission technology. More than 1,600 coal plants are scheduled to be built by Chinese corporations in over 62 countries. It will make China the world’s primary provider of high-efficiency, low-emission technology.

A summary point in the article is not entirely accurate. (Italics mine)

Because policymakers still regard coal as more affordable than renewables, Southeast Asia’s industrialisation continues to consume large amounts of it. To lift 630 million people out of poverty, advanced coal technologies are considered vital for the region’s continued development while allowing for a reduction in carbon emissions.

Replacing a less efficient coal-fired power station with one of the latest technology will reduce carbon (i.e CO2) emissions per unit of electricity produced. In China, these efficiency savings replacement process may outstrip the growth in power supply from fossil fuels. But in the rest of Asia, the new coal-fired power stations will be mostly additional capacity in the coming decades, so will lead to an increase in CO2 emissions. It is this additional capacity that will be primarily responsible for driving the economic growth that will lift the poor out of extreme poverty.

The newer technologies are important in other types emissions. That is the particle emissions that has caused high levels of choking pollution and smogs in many cities of China and India. By using the new technologies, other countries can avoid the worst excesses of this pollution, whilst still using a cheap fuel available from many different sources of supply. The thrust in China will likely be to replace the high pollution power stations with new technologies or adapt them to reduce the emissions and increase efficiencies. Politically, it is a different way of raising living standards and quality of life than by increasing real disposable income per capita.

Kevin Marshall

 

Ocean Impact on Temperature Data and Temperature Homgenization

Pierre Gosselin’s notrickszone looks at a new paper.

Temperature trends with reduced impact of ocean air temperature – Frank LansnerJens Olaf Pepke Pedersen.

The paper’s abstract.

Temperature data 1900–2010 from meteorological stations across the world have been analyzed and it has been found that all land areas generally have two different valid temperature trends. Coastal stations and hill stations facing ocean winds are normally more warm-trended than the valley stations that are sheltered from dominant oceans winds.

Thus, we found that in any area with variation in the topography, we can divide the stations into the more warm trended ocean air-affected stations, and the more cold-trended ocean air-sheltered stations. We find that the distinction between ocean air-affected and ocean air-sheltered stations can be used to identify the influence of the oceans on land surface. We can then use this knowledge as a tool to better study climate variability on the land surface without the moderating effects of the ocean.

We find a lack of warming in the ocean air sheltered temperature data – with less impact of ocean temperature trends – after 1950. The lack of warming in the ocean air sheltered temperature trends after 1950 should be considered when evaluating the climatic effects of changes in the Earth’s atmospheric trace amounts of greenhouse gasses as well as variations in solar conditions.

More generally, the paper’s authors are saying that over fairly short distances temperature stations will show different climatic trends. This has a profound implication for temperature homogenization. From Venema et al 2012.

The most commonly used method to detect and remove the effects of artificial changes is the relative homogenization approach, which assumes that nearby stations are exposed to almost the same climate signal and that thus the differences between nearby stations can be utilized to detect inhomogeneities (Conrad and Pollak, 1950). In relative homogeneity testing, a candidate time series is compared to multiple surrounding stations either in a pairwise fashion or to a single composite reference time series computed for multiple nearby stations. 

Lansner and Pederson are, by implication, demonstrating that the principle assumption on which homogenization is based (that nearby temperature stations are exposed to almost the same climatic signal) is not valid. As a result data homogenization will not only eliminate biases in the temperature data (such a measurement biases, impacts of station moves and the urban heat island effect where it impacts a minority of stations) but will also adjust out actual climatic trends. Where the climatic trends are localized and not replicated in surrounding areas, they will be eliminated by homogenization. What I found in early 2015 (following the examples of Paul Homewood, Euan Mearns and others) is that there are examples from all over the world where the data suggests that nearby temperature stations are exposed to different climatic signals. Data homogenization will, therefore, cause quite weird and unstable results. A number of posts were summarized in my post Defining “Temperature Homogenisation”.  Paul Matthews at Cliscep corroborated this in his post of February 2017 “Instability og GHCN Adjustment Algorithm“.

During my attempts to understand the data, I also found that those who support AGW theory not only do not question their assumptions but also have strong shared beliefs in what the data ought to look like. One of the most significant in this context is a Climategate email sent on Mon, 12 Oct 2009 by Kevin Trenberth to Michael Mann of Hockey Stick fame, and copied to Phil Jones of the Hadley centre, Thomas Karl of NOAA, Gavin Schmidt of NASA GISS, plus others.

The fact is that we can’t account for the lack of warming at the moment and it is a travesty that we can’t. The CERES data published in the August BAMS 09 supplement on 2008 shows there should be even more warming: but the data are surely wrong. Our observing system is inadequate. (emphasis mine)

Homogenizing data a number of times, and evaluating the unstable results in the context of strongly-held beliefs will bring the trends evermore into line with those beliefs. There is no requirement for some sort of conspiracy behind deliberate data manipulation for this emerging pattern of adjustments. Indeed a conspiracy in terms of a group knowing the truth and deliberately perverting that evidence does not really apply. Another reason for the conspiracy not applying is the underlying purpose of homogenization. It is to allow that temperature station to be representative of the surrounding area. Without that, it would not be possible to compile an average for the surrounding area, from which the global average in constructed. It is this requirement, in the context of real climatic differences over relatively small areas, I would suggest leads to the deletions of “erroneous” data and the infilling of estimated data elsewhere.

The gradual bringing the temperature data sets into line will beliefs is most clearly shown in the NASA GISS temperature data adjustments. Climate4you produces regular updates of the adjustments since May 2008. Below is the March 2018 version.

The reduction of the 1910 to 1940 warming period (which is at odds with theory) and the increase in the post-1975 warming phase (which correlates with the rise in CO2) supports my contention of the influence of beliefs.

Kevin Marshall

 

Scotland now to impose Minimum Pricing for Alcohol

This week the British Supreme Court cleared the way for the Alcohol (Minimum Pricing) (Scotland) Act 2012 to be enacted. The Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) had mounted a legal challenge to try to halt the price hike, which it said was disproportionate’ and illegal under European law. (Daily Mail) The Act will mandate that retailers have to charge a minimum of 50p per unit of alcohol. This will only affect the price of alcohol in off-licences and supermarkets. In the pub, the price of a pint with 5% ABV is already much higher than the implied price of £1.42. I went round three supermarkets – Asda, Sainsbury’s and Aldi – to see the biggest price hikes implied in the rise.

The extra profit is kept by the retailer, though gross profits may fall as sales volume falls. Premium brands only fall below the minimum price in promotions. With the exception of discounter Aldi, the vast majority of shelf space is occupied by alcohol above the minimum price. Further, there is no escalator. The minimum price will stay the same for the six years that the legislation is in place. However, the Scottish Government claims that 51% of alcohol sold in off-trade is less than 50 pence per unit. The promotions have a big impact. The Scottish people will be deprived of these offers. Many will travel across the border to places like Carlisle and Berwick, to acquire their cheap booze. Or enterprising folks will break the law by illegal sales. This could make booze more accessible to underage drinkers and bring them into regular contact with petty criminals. However, will it reduce the demand for booze? The Scottish Government website quotes Health Secretary Shona Robison.

“This is a historic and far-reaching judgment and a landmark moment in our ambition to turn around Scotland’s troubled relationship with alcohol.

“In a ruling of global significance, the UK Supreme Court has unanimously backed our pioneering and life-saving alcohol pricing policy.

“This has been a long journey and in the five years since the Act was passed, alcohol related deaths in Scotland have increased. With alcohol available for sale at just 18 pence a unit, that death toll remains unacceptably high.

“Given the clear and proven link between consumption and harm, minimum pricing is the most effective and efficient way to tackle the cheap, high strength alcohol that causes so much damage to so many families.

Is minimum pricing effective? Clearly, it will make some alcohol more expensive. But it must be remembered that the tax on alcohol is already very high. The cheapest booze on my list, per unit of alcohol, is the 3 litre box of Perry (Pear Cider) at £4.29. The excise duty is £40.38 per hectolitre. With VAT at 20%, tax is £1.92, or 45% of the retail price. The £16 bottles of spirits (including two well-known brands of Scottish Whisky) are at 40% alcohol. With excise duty at £28.74 per litre of pure alcohol, tax is £13.33 or 83% of the retail price. It has been well-known that alcohol is highly inelastic with respect to price so very large increases in price will make very little difference to demand. This is born out by a graphic from a 2004 report Alcohol Harm Reduction Strategy for England of the UK alcohol consumption in the last century.

In the early part of the twentieth century, there was sharp fall in alcohol consumption from 1900 to the 1930s. There was a sharp drop in the First World War, but after the war the decline continued the pre-war trend. This coincided with a religious revival and the temperance movement. It was started in the nineteenth century by organisations such as the Salvation Army and the Methodists, but taken up by other Christian denominations. In other words, it was a massive cultural change from the bottom, where it became socially unacceptable for many even to touch alcohol. Conversely, the steep decline in religion in the post-war period was accompanied by the rise in alcohol consumption.

The minimum price for alcohol is a fiscal solution being proposed for cultural problems. The outcome of a minimum price will be monopoly profits for the supermarkets and the manufacturers of alcoholic drinks.

It is true that a lot of crime is committed by those intoxicated, other social problems are caused and there are health issues. But the solution is not to increase the price of alcohol. The solution is to change people. The Revival of the early twentieth century, (begun before the outbreak of the Great War in 1914) saw both a fall in alcohol consumption and a fall in crime levels, that continued through the Great Depression. But it was not lacking of alcohol that reduced crime on the early twentieth. Instead, both reductions had a common root in the Christian Faith.

The Scottish Government will no doubt see a fall in sales of alcohol. But this will not represent the reduction in consumption, as cheaper booze will be imported from England, including Scottish Whisky. All that they are doing is treating people as statistics to be dictated to, and manipulated by, their shallow moralistic notions.

Kevin Marshall

 

The Morning Star’s denial of the Venezuelan Dictatorship

Guido Fawkes has an excellent example of the hard left’s denial of realities that conflict with their beliefs. From the Daily Politics, this is Morning Star editor Ben Chacko saying that the UN Human Rights Watch report on Venezuela was one-sided.

The Human Rights report can be found here.

The recent demonstrations need to be put into context. There are two contexts that can be drawn upon. The Socialist Side (with which many Socialists will disagree) is from Morning Star’s piece of 25th August The Bolivarian Revolution hangs in the balance.

They say

One of the world’s largest producers of oil, on which 95 per cent of its economy depends, the Bolivarian socialist government of Venezuela has, over the last 17 years, used its oil revenues to cut poverty by half and reduce extreme poverty to 5.4 per cent.

The government has built social housing; boosted literacy; provided free healthcare and free education from primary school to universities and introduced arts, music and cultural analysis programmes and many others targeting specific problems at the local level.

This is sentance emphasises the hard-left bias.

The mainly middle-class protesters, most without jobs and income, accused President Nicolas Maduro of dictatorship and continued with their daily demonstrations and demands for a change of government. 

Folks without “jobs or income” are hardly middle-class, but might be former middle-class. They have been laid low by circumstances. Should they be blaming the Government or forces outside the Government’s control?

 

From Capx.co on 16th August – Socialism – not oil prices – is to blame for Venezuela’s woes. Also from upi.com on 17th February – Venezuela: 75% of the population lost 19 pounds amid crisis. This is the classic tale of socialism’s failure.

  • Government control of food supplies leads to shortages, which leads to rationing, which leads to more shortages and black market profiteering. This started in 2007 when oil prices were high, but not yet at the record high.
  • Inflation is rampant, potentially rising from 720% in 2016 to 1600% this year. This is one of the highest rates in the world.
  • The weight loss is due to food shortages. It is the poorest who suffer the most, though most of the population are in extreme poverty.
  • An oil-based economy needs to diversify. Venezuela has not. It needs to use high oil prices to invest in infrastructure. Instead, the Chavez regime expropriated the oil production from successful private companies and handed to Government Cronies. A graphic from Forbes illustrates the problem.

About a decade ago at the height of the oil price boom, Venezuela’s known oil reserves more than tripled, yet production fell. It now has the highest oil reserves of any country in the world.

  • Crime has soared, whilst people are going hungry.
  • Maybe a million children are missing school through hunger and lack of resources to run schools. Short-run “successes” based on expropriating the wealth of others have reversed to create a situation far worse than before Chavez came to power.
  • Oil prices are in real terms above the level they were from 1986 to 2003 (with the exception of a peak for the first Gulf War) and comparable to the peak reached in 1973 with the setting up of the OPEC Cartel and oil embargo.

The reality is that Socialism always fails. But there is always a hardcore always in denial, always coming up with empty excuses for failure, often blaming it on others. With the rise of Jeremy Corbyn (who receives a copy of the Morning Star daily), this hardcore has have taken over the Labour Party. The example of Venezuela indicates the long-term consequences of their attaining power.

Kevin Marshall

Forest Trump – stupid is as stupid does

Last Tuesdays’ BBC climate propaganda piece for the day was ‘Donald Trump forest’ climate change project gains momentum,

A campaign to plant trees to compensate for the impact of President Trump’s climate policies has 120,000 pledges.
The project was started by campaigners upset at what they call the president’s “ignorance” on climate science.
Trump Forest allows people either to plant locally or pay for trees in a number of poorer countries.
Mr Trump says staying in the climate pact will damage the US economy, cost jobs and give a competitive advantage to countries such as India and China.
The organisers say they need to plant an area the size of Kentucky to offset the Trump effect.

Trump Forest website (motto Where ignorance grows trees) explains

Breathe easy, Mr President.

 US President Donald Trump doesn’t believe in the science of human-caused climate change. He wants to ignore one of the greatest threats to healthy life on Earth.

Trump wants to bring back coal despite scientists telling us we cannot afford to burn it, and despite economists telling us there’s more money to be made and more jobs available in renewable energy.

So we’re planting a forest to soak up the extra greenhouse gases Trump plans to put into our atmosphere.

We’re planting a global forest to offset Trump’s monumental stupidity.

The claim Trump wants to “bring back coal” or, just to rescind the policies to phase it out, is a question of that can be answered by the empirical evidence. The BP statistical review of World Energy 2016 has estimates of coal consumption by country, measured in millions of barrels of oil equivalent. For the USA I have created a graph.

US coal consumption in 2015 was 31% below the level of 2015, but it is far from being phased out. Further, much of the fall in consumption is primarily down to government policy, but from switching to cleaner and cheaper shale gas. Add the two together in terms of millions of tonnes of oil equivalent, and consumption of the two fossil fuels has hardly changed in 20 years.

Natural Gas is not only cleaner, in terms of far fewer particulates emitted when burnt, it has the added benefit, for climate alarmists, of having around half the CO2 emissions. As a result, net emissions have been falling.

However, global warming is allegedly the result of rising levels of greenhouse gases, which in turn are mostly the result of increasing fossil fuel emissions. How does the falling consumption of coal in the USA compare to the global picture? Again the BP estimates give a fairly clear answer.

In 1965 the USA accounted for 20.8% of global coal consumption, and other rich OECD countries 42.3%. Fifty years later the shares had fallen to 10.3% and 15.2%. Yet the combined OECD consumption had increased by 11%. The lesson from this is that to reduce global GHG emissions requires that developing countries reduce their emissions. China,, which now accounts for just over 50% of global coal consumption, has committed to peak its emissions by 2030. India, whose coal consumption exceeded that is the USA for the first time in 2015, has no such commitment. With a similar population to China, fast economic growth will lead to fairly high rates of increase in coal consumption over the next few years. Into the distant future, the ROW, with around half the global population, are likely to see significant increases in coal consumption.

The switch from coal to shale gas is a major reason why total USA emissions have been falling, as evidenced in this graph from the USA INDC Submission.

The 2025 target is a bit a cheat. Most of the reduction would have been achieved without any policy. In fact, about one third had been achieved by 2013.

Trump Forest have a science page to explain the thinking behind the scheme. It states

If executed in its entirety the Clean Power Plan would prevent approximately 650 million tons of carbon dioxide from reaching the atmosphere over the next 8 years. Along with other actions, including tailpipe regulations (which Trump has also moved to eliminate), the United States was steering toward meeting its target for the Paris Agreement.

Also

The Paris Agreement, negotiated in the French capital in December 2015 was agreed to by over 190 nations. It is the first time the global community has agreed to address climate change by striving to keep the average global temperature increase below 2°C.

So how does the 650mtCO2e over 8 years measure up against those of the global community in the context of “striving to keep the average global temperature increase below 2°C”?

The UNFCCC produced a useful graphic, summarizing all the INDC submissions.

 

Without the 650mtCO2e claimed reduction from the US Clean Air Plan if fully implemented, global emissions will be just over 1% higher. Rather than global emissions being about 12.5% above the 2°C warming path they might be 14%.  In other words, even if a doubling of CO2 (or equivalent) will lead to 3°C and such warming will have catastrophic consequences (despite the lack of strong, let alone incontrovertible, evidence) the US Clean Air Plan would back no noticeable difference to climate change. using the figures presented by the UNFCCC.

It gets worse. Under the science, Trump Forest have the following graphic, lifted from Climate Interactive.

I have looked at Climate Interactive’s figure before. At least from their figures in December 2015, they claimed that future per capita emissions in the USA would rise without policy, whilst since the 1973 oil crisis per capita emissions had been falling. It was the same with the EU, only their per capita emissions had been falling since 1980. For China and Russia per capita emissions are shown rise through the rough. It is as though without them the guiding hand of the green apostles, Governments will deliberately wastefully burn ever-increasing amounts of fossil fuels. rather than promote the welfare of their nations. This is a graphic I produced from the Climate Interactives C-ROADS software version v4.026v.071 RCP8.5 baseline scenario and the built-in population forecasts.

China is the most globally significant. Despite a forecast decline in population to 1.00 billion in 2100, GHG emissions are forecast to peak at nearly 43GtCO2e by in 2090. That compares with 49GtCO2e from over 7 billion people in 2010. Conversely, non-policy developing countries (who do not want to game-playing ny committing to emissions reductions), are forecast to do disasterously economically and hence have very low emissions growth. That includes India, 50+ African nations, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Philippines, Vietnam, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq etc.

The mere act of countries signing a bit of paper produces most of the drop in emissions. The 650mtCO2e claimed reduction from the US Clean Air Plan if the marginal impact of the policy is taken into account, rather than the difference between an unreasonable forecast and an objective.

It gets worse. The elimination of cheap sources of energy, along with the plethora of regulations, make energy more expensive. Apart from directly harming the living standards of households, this will increase energy costs to business, especially the high energy using industries such as steel, aluminum, and bulk chemicals. US industries will be placed at a competitive disadvantage to their competitors in non-policy emerging economies. Some of the US savings from the policy will be from emissions increases elsewhere. There are no built-in safeguards to stop this happening.

It gets worse. Emerging economies not only have lower labour productivity per unit of output, they also have less efficient use of energy per unit of output. Further, countries like China and India have a larger element of coal in the energy mix than the USA. For these reasons an unintended consequence of reducing emissions in the USA (and other developed countries) through shifting production overseas could be a net increase global emissions. Virtue signaling achieves the opposite of intentions.

However, the real world must not be allowed to confront the anointed in their evangelical zeal to save the world from Donald Trump. They might have to accept that their Virtue signaling are both wrong and if fully implemented will cause great net harm. That would seriously hurt their feelings. Like in the 1994 film Forrest Gump, the lesson is that the really stupid people are not those with naturally low IQs, but those with intelligence who do stupid things. This is what Forest Trump’s backers have achieved.

Like in the 1994 film Forrest Gump, the lesson is that the really stupid people are not those with naturally low IQs, but those with intelligence who do stupid things. This is what Forest Trump’s backers have achieved.

Kevin Marshall

 

Results of Sea-Level Rise Extremism in Miami-Dade

A couple of years ago I posted* in response to a post on sea level rise at The Conversation

A senior geology professor in Miami, who also chairs the science committee for the Miami-Dade Climate Change Advisory Task Force, has views on future sea level rise that are way more extreme than the available evidence.

My Summary started

The claim by Professor Wanless at the Conversation that sea levels could rise by 1.25 to 2m by 2100 is way too extreme it is based on top-slicing the estimates on a NOAA 2012 report. The top-end estimates were not included by the UNIPCC in its AR5 Sept 2013 report. In fact, the UNIPCC report stated it had low-confidence in estimates of sea level rise above its top-end 0.82m.

The Task Force has now concluded. The Miami-Dade Climate Change website states

The Sea Level Rise Task Force, formed in July 2013, developed several important recommendations, which are being implemented in Miami-Dade County. The Task Force reviewed relevant data and prior studies and reports regarding the potential impact of sea level rise on public services and facilities, real estate, water and other ecological resources, and property and infrastructure.

The Introduction to the extensive report report states (with conversions into mm inserted):-

Since reliable record keeping began over 100 years ago at the tide gauge in Key West, the average sea level has risen approximately 228 millimeters (or 9 inches). This rise has been primarily due to thermal expansion (as warmer water occupies more volume) and to melting from glaciers and ice sheets. Over the next century, the rate of sea level rise is very likely to accelerate due to increased melting from land-based ice sheets, in particular Greenland. Recognizing the need for clear, consistent, and local information about future sea level rise projections, The Southeast Florida Regional Climate Change Compact developed the, “Unified Sea Level Rise Projection for Southeast Florida”. The updated projection, published in 2015, was developed by a panel of well-respected and informed scientists using the most recent and best available data. The projection (Figure 1) estimates that the region can expect to see average sea levels 6 to 10 inches (150 to 205 mm) higher by 2030 than they were in 1992, 14 to 34 inches (355 to 860 mm) higher by 2060, and 31 to 81 inches higher (790 to 2060 mm) by 2100. There is a more certain estimate for near-term changes and a greater uncertainty for estimates at the end of this century. This change in average sea levels will amplify the risks of storm surge and nuisance flooding.

This implies a massive acceleration in the rate of sea level-rise. In the last couple of years the rate of sea level rise has indeed accelerated. The NOAA data now shows a rate of 237 mm a century, by from 228 mm when the report was written. It is likely a blip and well with the margin of error.

To see how much sea level rise will have to accelerate to meet the forecasts, I will assume that from 1992 to 2015 the sea levels rose by 60 mm (2.4 inches) or 2.6 mm a year.

From 2016 to 2030 sea levels will need to rise by 6 to 10 mm a year on average, or about three or four times the current rate.

From 2016 to 2060 sea levels will need to rise by 8.5 to 23 mm a year on average, or about three or nine times the current rate.

From 2016 to 2100 sea levels will need to rise by 8.5 to 23.5 mm a year on average, or about three or nine times the current rate.

The impact of Professor Wanless on the Committee’s output should be clearly seen. A straight line forecast would be a 8 to 9 inch sea level rise by 2100. Many of the recommendations for planning will be based on a 2 foot 6 inch rise to a 6 foot 6 inch rise. Any reasonable person should take a measure to the Miami-Dade area – which is very low-lying and imagine the difference between a dyke 12 inches high and a dyke seven feet high along the Miami sea front.

Alternatively imagine the effect on property prices in Miami-Dade (2.6 million) and on neighbouring Broward and Palm Beach (3.1 million) if people really swallowed this whole. The tiny community of Fairbourne (724 people) in West Wales have had their properties made virtually value-less by a Welsh Government report and the alarmist reporting by the BBC.

*Thanks to Paul Homewood for a reminder to update my earlier post in his look at false alarmism on sea level rise in the Thames Estuary.

Kevin Marshall

UK votes for divorce from EU

The unexpected has happened. Despite the efforts of most of the British political establishment, the UK has voted by a narrow margin to leave the European Union. It should be viewed as a divorce which the interested parties had tried to prevent Like with a divorce, there needs to be deep breaths all round to accept the future dissolution. Like a divorce with children involved, Britain and the EU need to work constructively to achieve the best futures for all.
British politicians need to reflect as well. Maybe two-thirds supported Remain. Many were in line with their constituents, especially in London, Scotland and the M4 corridor where Prime Minister David Cameron’s constituency lies. But most of the North of England, particularly in the Labour Heartlands, voted for Leave. The MPs have to clearly state that they accept the result, and will join in obtaining the best futures for Britain and the countries of Europe. Those who cannot accept this should recognize they have no future in public service and resign from leading roles in politics.

Kevin Marshall

Britain Stronger in Europe Letter

I received a campaign letter from Britain Stronger in Europe today headed

RE: THE FACTS YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT EUROPE AND THE EU REFERENDUM

Putting the “RE:” in front is a bit presumptuous. It is not a reply to my request. However, I believe in looking at both sides of the argument, so here is my analysis. First the main points in the body of the letter:-

  1. JOBS – Over 3 million UK jobs are linked to our exports to the EU.
  2. BUSINESSES – Over 200,000 UK Businesses trade with the EU, helping them create jobs in the UK.
  3. FAMILY FINANCES – Leaving the EU will cost the average UK household at least £850 a year, and potentially as much as £1,700, according to research released by the London School of Economics.
  4. PRICES – Being in Europe means lower prices in UK shops, saving the average UK household over £350 a year. If we left Europe, your weekly shop would cost more.
  5. BENEFITS vs COSTS – For every £1 we put into the EU, we get almost £10 back through increased trade, investment, jobs, growth and lower prices.
  6. INVESTMENT – The UK gets £66 million of investment every day from EU countries – that’s more than we pay to be a member of the EU.

The first two points are facts, but only show part of the picture. The UK not only exports to the EU, but also imports. Indeed there is a net deficit with the EU, and a large deficit in goods. It is only due to a net surplus in services – mostly in financial services based in the City of London – that the trade deficit is not larger. The ONS provides a useful graphic illustrating both the declining share of exports to the EU, and the increasing deficit, reproduced below.

No one in the UK is suggesting that Brexit would mean a decline in trade, and it would be counter-productive for the EU not to reach a trade agreement with an independent UK when the EU has this large surplus.

The impact on FAMILY FINANCES is based upon the Centre for Economic Performance, an LSE affiliated organisation. There is both a general paper and a technical paper to back up the claims. They are modelled estimates of the future, not facts. The modelled costs assume Britain exits the European Union without any trade agreements, despite this being in the economic interests of both the UK and the EU. The report also does a slight of hand in estimating the contributions the UK will make post Brexit. From page 18 the technical paper

We assume that the UK would keep contributing 83% of the current per capita contribution as Norway does in order to remain in the single market (House of Commons, 2013). This leads to a fiscal saving of about 0.09%.

The table at the foot of report page 22 (pdf page 28) gives the breakdown of the estimate from 2011 figures. The Norway figures are gross and have a fixed cost element. The UK economy is about six times that of Norway, so would not end up spending nearly as much per capita even on the same basis. The UK figures are also a net figure. The UK pays into the EU twice as much as it gets out. Ever since joining the Common Market in 1973 Britain has been the biggest loser in terms of net contributions, despite the rebates that Mrs Thatcher secured with much effort in the 1980s.

The source of the PRICES information is again from the Centre for Economic Performance, but again with no direct reference. I assume it is from the same report, and forms part of the modelled forecast costs.

The BENEFITS vs COSTS statement is not comparing like with like. The alleged benefits to the UK are not all due to being a member of a club, but as a consequence of being an open economy trading with its neighbours. A true BENEFITS vs COSTS comparison would be future scenarios of Brexit vs Remain. Leading economist Patrick Minford has published a paper for the Institute of Economic Affairs, who finds there is a net benefit in leaving, particularly when likely future economic growth is taken into account.

The INVESTMENT issue is just part of the BENEFITS vs COSTS statement. So, like with the PRICES statement it is making one point into two.

 In summary, Britain Stronger in Europe claims I need to know six facts relevant to the referendum decision, but actually fails to provide a one. The actual facts are not solely due to the UK being a member of the European Union, whilst the relevant statements are opinions on modelled future scenarios that are unlikely to happen. The choice is between a various possible future scenarios in the European Union and possible future scenarios outside. The case for remain should be proclaiming the achievements of the European Union in making a positive difference to the lives of the 500 million people in the 28 States, along with future pathways where it will build on these achievements. The utter lack of these arguments, in my opinion, is the strongest argument for voting to leave.

Kevin Marshall

 

Copy of letter from Britain Stronger in Europe

Can Climatology Ever Be Considered a Science?

Can climatology ever be considered a science? My favourite Richard Feynman quote.

You cannot prove a vague theory wrong. If the guess that you make is poorly expressed and the method you have for computing the consequences is a little vague then ….. you see that the theory is good as it can’t be proved wrong. If the process of computing the consequences is indefinite, then with a little skill any experimental result can be made to look like an expected consequence.

I would maintain that by its nature climatology will always be a vague theory. Climate consists of an infinite number of interrelationships that can only be loosely modelled by empirical generalisations. These can only ever be imperfectly measured, although that is improving both in scope and period of observations. Tweaking the models can always produce a desired outcome. In this sense climatology is never going to be a science way that physics and chemistry have become. But this does not mean that climatology cannot become more scientific. A step forward might be to classify empirical statements according to the part of the global warming theory they support, and the empirical content of those statements.

Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming (CAGW) is a subset of AGW. The other elements of AGW are trivial, or positive. I would also include the benign impacts of aerosols in reducing the warming impacts. So AGW’ is not an empty set.

AGW is a subset of GW, where GW is the hypothesis that an increase in greenhouse gas levels will cause temperatures to rise. There could be natural causes of the rise in greenhouse gases as well, so GW’ is not an empty set.

GW is a subset of Climate Change CC. That is all causes of changing climate, both known and unknown, including entirely random causes.

In summary

CAGW AGW GW CC

Or diagrammatically the sets can be represented by a series of concentric rings.

To become more scientific, climatology as an academic discipline should be moving on two complementary fronts. Firstly, through generating clearer empirical confirmations, as against banal statements or conditional forecasts. Secondly, for the statements to become more unambiguous in being ascribable solely to the CAGW hypothesis in particular rather being just as easily be ascribed to vague and causeless climate change in general. These twin aims are shown in the diagram below, where the discipline should be aiming in the direction of the red progressing arrow towards science, rather the green degenerating arrow.


Nullis in verba on a recent Bishop Hill discussion forum rightly points out the statement

“you acknowledge that scientists predicted warming. And warming is what we observed”

commits the fallacy of “confirming the consequent”.

If your definition of climate change is loose enough, the observed rise could be a member the CC set. But to infer it is not part of GW’ (outside of the GW set) requires more empirical content. As Nullis has shown in his tightly worded comment to prove this is impossible. But the greater empirical content will give more confidence that the scientists did not just strike lucky. Two years ago Roy Spencer did attempt just that. From 73 climate models the prediction was that between 1979 and 2012 average global temperatures would rise by between 0.3 and 1.5C, with an average estimate of 0.8C. Most were within the 0.6 to 1.2C, so any actual rise in that range, which is pretty unusual historically, would be a fairly strong confirmation of a significant AGW impact. The actual satellite and weather balloon data showed a rise of about 0.2C. The scientists got it wrong on the basis of their current models. At a minimum the models are running too hot, at a minimum failing to confirm the CAGW hypothesis.

By more clearly specifying the empirical content of statements the scope of alternative explanations is narrowed. In this case we have an explanation for someone using a more banal statement.

I would contend that to obtain confirmation of CAGW requires a combination of the warming and the adverse consequences. So even if the hurricanes had got worse after Katrina in 2005, with zero warming on its own it is just that an observation climate has changed. But together they form a more empirically rich story that is explained by CAGW theory. Still better is a number of catastrophic consequences.

In the next post I shall show some further examples of the discipline moving in the direction of degenerating climatology.

Kevin Marshall

A Great and Humble Man Dies

Sir Nicholas Winton died today at 106 Years Old. A true hero of mine.