11 September 2021 0 By Bambam
Statistical Method Used to Link Climate Change to Greenhouse Gases Challenged

Flaws in attribution analysis

A new study in Climate Dynamics has criticized a key methodology that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) uses to attribute climate change to greenhouse gases, raising questions about the validity of research that relied on it and prompting a response from one of the scientists who developed the technique.

The new study’s author, economist Ross McKitrick, told The Epoch Times in an exclusive interview that he thinks his results have weakened the IPCC’s case that greenhouse gases cause climate change.

The methodology, known as “optimal fingerprinting”, has been used to link greenhouse gases to everything from temperature to forest fires, precipitation, and snow cover.

McKitrick compared optimal fingerprinting to the way law enforcement officers use fingerprinting to identify criminals.

“[They] take this big smudge of data and say, ‘Yeah, the fingerprints of greenhouse gas are on it,” he said.

McKitrick said the optimal fingerprinting research he criticized, 1999’s paper in Climate Dynamics Checking for model consistency in optimal fingerprinting, is a “cornerstone of the field of attribution” — the branch of climate science focused on identifying the causes of climate change.

But according to McKitrick, the authors of that paper, Myles Allen and Simon Tett, made errors in the steps needed to validate their strategy.

“When you do a statistical analysis, it’s not enough just to crunch some numbers and publish the result and say, “˜This is what the data tell us.” You then have to apply some tests to your modeling technique to see if it’s valid for the kind of data you’re using,” he said.

“They claimed that their model passes all the relevant tests, but there are a couple of problems with that claim. The first is they stated the conditions wrong, they left most of the relevant conditions out that you’re supposed to test, and then they proposed a methodology for testing that is completely uninformative. It’s not actually connected to any standard testing method.”

Their framework, McKitrick said, also assumes that a major chunk of climate change has to be attributable to greenhouse gases, so using that to prove greenhouse gases lead to climate change is meaningless.

“You’re dependent on climate model data to construct the test, and the climate model already embeds the assumptions about the role of greenhouse gases,” said McKitrick. “You can’t relax that assumption.”

McKitrick, who explained his results in more technical detail at JudithCurry.com, said the IPCC’s attribution of climate change to greenhouse gases is largely based on the 1999 paper or closely related research with the same problems.

Myles Allen, co-author of the 1999 paper McKitrick challenged, responded to McKitrick’s paper in an email to The Epoch Times.

“Fully addressing the issues raised by this paper might have made some difference to conclusions regarding human influence on climate when the signal was still quite weak 20 years ago,” Allen said.

He said the signal is now much stronger, whether one uses his 1999 technique or the simpler method employed at GlobalWarmingIndex.org. He also said that newer methods, including one in his own 2003 paper, have superseded the method from 1999.

“To be a little light-hearted, it feels a bit like someone suggesting we should all stop driving because a new issue has been identified with the Model-T Ford,” Allen said.

McKitrick responded to Allen’s argument in an email: “Even if it were true that [Allen’s method] is no longer used and people have moved on to other methods, [given] its historical prominence, it would still be necessary as a scientific matter for Simon and Myles either to concede their paper contains errors or rebut the specific criticisms.

“And the reality is the climate profession hasn’t moved on. The IPCC still discusses the Optimal Fingerprinting method in the AR6 and relies on many papers that use it.”

While Allen argued that his later 2003 paper superseded his 1999 paper, McKitrick responded that the 2003 paper, along with other more recent methods that Allen identified, “has all the same problems.”

McKitrick also argued that the method at GlobalWarmingIndex.org may have the same issues as Allen’s 1999 paper in large part because both studies cite a 1997 study from Klaus Hasselmann, which, McKitrick said, proposes the same method.

“Thus by Myles’ own examples, AT99 is still central to the attribution literature,” McKitrick said.

Allen argued that McKitrick’s criticism of his use of a climate model is misguided, as his 1999 method may actually be “overly conservative” in attributing climate change to human influence.

According to Allen, standard climate models may yield results in which the amount of statistical “noise,” and thus uncertainty, is overstated.

This rebuttal, McKitrick said, “does not address the core problem I point out,” which has to do with testing for errors in their fingerprinting calculations.

Allen and McKitrick also sparred over a specific statistical test in the 1999 paper, with Allen saying McKitrick had greatly overstated its importance and McKitrick countering that it is the only such test researchers have used in this context.

Attribution researcher Aurélien Ribes, whose papers were among those Allen claimed had superseded the 1999 research, declined to comment on the paper in detail in an email to The Epoch Times, though he said he had looked at an earlier version of it.

“I do not expect a very large impact in terms of attribution results,” said Ribes, a climate change researcher at France’s National Centre for Meteorological Research.

He said that some of his own research wasn’t dependent on fingerprinting. He also said that certain attribution findings, such as on global mean temperature, are “very robust.”

But another expert, Richard Tol, believes much of McKitrick’s criticism is on the mark.

“McKitrick is right,” said Tol, a professor of economics at the University of Sussex and a professor of the economics of climate change at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, in an email to The Epoch Times.

Tol said that Allen and Tett’s attempt to address a widespread statistical issue had “made things worse, not better.”

“To top it all off, many people have since used the method proposed by Allen & Tett,” he said.

“The implications are unclear. Many of the papers that use the fingerprinting method to detect the impact of climate change are simply wrong.”

“That does not mean that climate change is not real or that its effects cannot be attributed to greenhouse gas emissions. It means that many of the papers that made such claims will have to be redone.”


Biden Chief of Staff Backs Green Energy Despite His Costly Role in Solyndra Scandal

When President Joe Biden signed an executive order early in August calling for half of all new vehicles to be electric by 2030, White House chief of staff Ron Klain predicted success.

“In the effort to combat the climate crisis—and create a lot of great jobs in the US doing it—today will be a historic day at the White House,” Klain tweeted.

Later in August, the Democrat-controlled House passed a Biden-backed $3.5 trillion budget framework encompassing many “Green New Deal” initiatives such as a “Climate Corps” and a program to encourage utilities to sell carbon-free energy.

Klain enthusiastically predicted success with green energy in the last Democratic administration’s $535 million loan guarantee for Solyndra, a politically connected company that made solar panels. That decision became one of the most embarrassing scandals of President Barack Obama’s two terms.

Government documents—some long public, others obtained by The Daily Signal in a Freedom of Information Act request—tell the story of how immersed Klain was in pushing taxpayer dollars to a company that soon collapsed. The Solyndra mess became symbolic of crony capitalism and climate boondoggles.

‘Progress on Clean Energy Front’

Despite how the government loan guarantee for Solyndra turned out, Klain’s enthusiasm for government support of green energy hasn’t waned—based on his tweets, anyway.

Last week, Klain touted climate-related aspects of Biden’s agenda in light of natural disasters.

“Extreme weather is killing Americans north and south, east and west,” he tweeted Thursday, later following with: “The Biden ‘Build Back Better’ plan would combat climate change.”

In May, Klain had boasted about the Biden administration’s approval of the first offshore wind farm.

“More progress on the clean energy front,” the White House chief of staff tweeted in March about a New York Times report.

The Times’ article boosted the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act—better known as the Obama administration’s “stimulus” bill—and concluded that federal loans for green energy both created jobs and brought in revenue.

“This @NyTimes story reports that the ARRA actually made money for the taxpayers, and created 1 million green energy jobs,” Klain tweeted.

Klain was a Biden point man on Capitol Hill for the $1.1 trillion infrastructure legislation as well as the separate $3.5 trillion spending bill. He met in March with the House sponsor of the Green New Deal, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., and other House progressives.

Biden nominated Klain’s wife, Monica Medina, as assistant secretary of state for the Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Science Affairs, a top environmental position.

In March 2020, Medina, founder and publisher of the environmental e-newsletter Our Daily Planet, wrote a Washington Post op-ed about the “environmental upside” of the COVID-19 pandemic.

‘Potential for Another Solyndra’

The Times describes Klain, a longtime Biden loyalist, as “the essential nerve center of an over-circuited administration whose day-to-day doings reflect how this White House works and what it aspires to.”

Klain, who turned 60 in August, is credited by other left-leaning outlets such as The Washington Post, the Daily Beast, and The American Prospect with taming the Democrats’ progressive wing.

During the Solyndra scandal, Klain also was chief of staff to Biden, who was then vice president.

With Klain having more power today in addressing contemporary energy issues, remembering a decade-old scandal informs what might be ahead for the Biden administration, said Mike Palicz, federal affairs manager for Americans for Tax Reform.

“Ron Klain was at the heart of the Solyndra scandal,” Palicz told The Daily Signal in a phone interview. “There is potential for another Solyndra with subsidies for electric-vehicle charging companies. That’s about picking winners and losers, the same as Solyndra.”

Palicz also noted that the Biden administration is pushing for $174 billion in spending to “create good jobs electrifying vehicles.”

This, he said, is similar to the Obama administration’s failed “Cash for Clunkers” program, also funded under its stimulus legislation, which attempted to turn old cars into electric vehicles.

The National Bureau of Economic Research reported in 2014 that about 60% of the subsidies went to households that would have purchased an electric vehicle during the two-month program anyway.

The Brookings Institution, a center-left think tank, found in 2013 that the “Cash for Clunkers” program spent $1.4 million for every job it created.


GOP House Oversight Members Launching Investigation into EPA’s Ties to China

Republican members of the House Oversight Committee are launching an investigation into a senior official of the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) ties to Hong Kong University of Science and Technology.

In a letter shared on Tuesday, several members of the committee inquired about Dr. Chris Frey, the deputy assistant administrator for science policy in the Office of Research and Development at the EPA. He was appointed to his role by the Biden administration. Frey reportedly served as an adjunct professor at HKUST. On his official biography page on the EPA’s website, several previous job titles and other affiliations are listed. However, Frey’s ties to HKUST are omitted.

In the letter, it is noted that Frey did not resign from his previous position at HKUST before joining the Biden administration. Rather, Frey took an unpaid leave of absence and presumably plans to return to his role once Biden is no longer in office.

“At a time when the Biden Administration is pushing for costly climate change ‘solutions’ that benefit China, it raises questions about why a senior EPA official has such strong ties to China, the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases,” the letter reads. “It is imperative that all officials at EPA, particularly senior political appointees are taking their ethical obligations seriously and not using positions of public trust to benefit former employers or foreign governments.”

The letter requests a bundle of documents and correspondences pertaining to Frey and HKUST by Sept. 21. “These connections raise concerns about Dr. Frey’s role as the highest-level political appointee serving in the office charged with conducting ‘the research for EPA that provides the foundation for credible decision-making to safeguard human health.’”

The signers of the letter include Rep. Ralph Norman (R-SC), Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ), Rep. Bob Gibbs (R-OH), Rep. Pat Fallon (R-TX), and Rep. Yvette Herrell (R-NM).

In May, the ties between Frey and HKUST were first unveiled when a recusal statement, penned by Frey, was made public. In the statement, Frey said “I have a financial interest in North Carolina State University (NC State) and the Hong Kong University of Science & Technology (HKUST) from which I have taken a two-year, unpaid leave of absence.”


UK opens inquiry into Australian-backed ‘net zero’ mine

A month-long public inquiry has been launched into an Australian-backed plan for a £165 million ($307 million) coal mine in northern England and climate protesters have vowed to fight until the bitter end. The Woodhouse colliery in west Cumbria, which would churn out 2.7 million tonnes of metallurgical coal a year, has become a totemic test of Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s climate credentials, ahead of the COP26 conference he will host in Glasgow in November.

The local council has backed the plan, which would be Britain’s first new underground coal mine in 30 years; but political pressure from green groups AFRGA1 5012 QLD has forced Planning Secretary Robert Jenrick to “call in” West Cumbria Mining’s application and set up an inquiry.

Said Coal Action Network cam-paigner Anne Harris at a small protest event outside the ministry building in London where the inquiry began on Tuesday: ‘We’ve made it a political hot potato. The minister knows there will be a backlash if he approves this.” Protesters tried to plant cardboard canaries on the lawn outside the build-ing and a larger group demonstrated at the site of the mine itself. Cumbrian community activist Jill Perry told demonstrators: “The government will be hoping this mine will fall off the radar once COP is over, and then they will secretly, surreptitiously slide a decision out to let it go ahead.”

WCM is majority owned by Melbourne-based EMR Capital, a private equity group set up and run by Oxiana founder and former Rio Tinto executive Owen Hegarty. Mr Hegarty has chosen to remain silent while the process plays out, both when prospects of success looked high in early January, and amid the growing uncertainty.

WCM said in a statement a week before the inquiry that the company “looks forward to explaining its plans for the world’s first net-zero under-ground coal mine” when its executives are called to appear. “We have considered the climate impacts of the project in great detail and implemented significant and world-leading techniques to demonstrate that the resources industry can also achieve net carbon zero operations,” WCM chief executive Mark Kirkbride said in the statement. “I believe this will become a core part of the social licence to operate resource projects, and we fully comply with the Climate Change Committee carbon budgets and proposed net-zero test.”

The Climate Change Committee, an influential arm’s-length government advisory body, wrote to Mr Jenrick in January with a warning that the mine would affect Britain’s ability to hit its carbon targets and “gives a negative impression of the UKs climate priorit-ies in the year of COP26”.

The mine has its backers in the Conservative Party, including local MP Trudy Harrison, who won her seat from Labour in a 2017 byelection and is a parliamentary aide to Mr Johnson. She is keen on the employment boost for the area, which WCM said would amount to 532 new jobs on site and indirectly another 1618.

Campaigners beg to differ. Ms Perry said: ‘We do not want a promise of 500 jobs in a dirty industry that will do its best to continue wrecking the climate. We want green jobs.”

Ms Harrison said that if the coal is not mined in Britain, the country’s steel furnaces would have to import it. “There is no viable commercial way to make steel, in all its grades and types, without coking coal at the moment. And there isn’t anticipated to be a solution to that for decades to come,” she told Cumbrian local radio station CFM.

From “Australian Financial Review”, 9/9/21


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