Does Climate Money matter?

Alarmists rarely attack, or even mention the Climate Money paper I did in 2009.  It’s an own goal to draw attention to the fact that skeptics are paid a pittance, while the alarm industry soaks in extended baths of cash, grants, and junkets, and the vested interests are a magnitude larger. Exxon might lose some money if a carbon tax comes in, but the world will still need oil. The same can’t be said for ACME-Solar. If a carbon scheme falls over, so does a Solyndra.

By JOANNE NOVA | SPPI.org | AUGUST 22, 2012

So yes, let’s do talk about The Money. As Climate Money pointed out: all Greenpeace could find from Exxon was a mere $23 million for skeptics over a decade, while the cash cow that is catastrophic climate change roped in $2,000 million a year every year during the same period for the scientists who called other scientists “deniers”.

John Timmer tried to debunk it with words like “bogus”, and “false” but lacked things like evidence and numbers to back up his case. As far as I can tell the arguments amount to saying that a massive wall of money doesn’t influence the scientific process because scientists are incorruptible, the peer review process is faultless, and the human process of  science works in ways that no other human process does. There are no political aims, personal ambitions, or human failings in *The Science!*™

Here’s why each excuse doesn’t pan out:

Excuse 1/”this is not how science works”

If money doesn’t have any influence on researchers, by implication, climate scientists are not like the rest of the human race.  (Why do we pay them at all, one wonders?) It would take a truly angelic mature being to welcome awkward results with a smile. Who would enjoy finding data that showed that they’d been barking up the wrong tree for two decades and was now an expert in a dead-end irrelevant topic?  If the results did not support their theory, which superhuman scientists would willingly work to ensure that their own specialty would plummet off the public agenda from “The Greatest Moral Threat” down to 193rd on the list of hot topics needing public attention? After we figured out that CO2 was of minor importance, the funding would slow, the red carpet events would dry up, and the two week long annual UN coordinated junkets in exotic countries would invite other experts from other fields.

Periodically an alarmist will claim that “mainstream science” would welcome the discovery that man-made emissions were irrelevant. But we don’t need to do that thought experiment, we’ve tested it already. Scientists who publish papers supporting non-catastrophic conclusions get called Deniers, they quickly get a DeSmog/SourceWatch/Exxon Secrets smear page that investigates contracts they may or may not have made 20 years ago, makes fun of their religious beliefs, dissects their biography, and if they persist, Greenpeace sends letters to their employer suggesting they ought not have a job. What’s not to like about that?

The price for speaking out against global warming is exile from your peers, even if you are at the top of your field.
We need a real free market in climate science before we create free markets in the real economy based on those conclusions.

Excuse 2/ The funding was mostly for “Climate Technology”

Funding for “technology” will not affect the science, says  Timmer. Apparently Jo Nova misread her own graph (and “spectacularly too!”) Except JoNova labelled the graph accurately, read it correctly and just drew different conclusions. Technology isn’t science research, but as far as the media, politicians and press are concerned, the difference is moot. The IPCC was happy to count those solar, wind power, biomass and geothermal scientists as “science experts” that made a consensus. (Remember 4000 scientists support the IPCC conclusions.) No one complained that the solar engineers were “not climate scientists” when they made statements on press releases saying “climate change is real”. Money for solar, wind and carbon sequestration fueled many press conferences and expo’s where the “threat” that CO2 poses was taken for granted. In universities those research groups added to the pressure on science faculties to “keep the alarm running”, if only because they adopted the same disdainful culture to scorn dissenters. None of any of these researchers spent ten minutes checking the modelers assumptions on water vapor feedback. Neither did any of the zoology majors who report on iguana habitats shifting either. They all became mindless cheerleaders for  the message. Can someone explain how any of those technology (or biology) researchers had an interest in announcing flaws in the theory of man-made climate funding?

Excuse 3/ It’s incomprehensible that money could affect science. Ergo science is incorruptible?

I pointed out that “Thousands of scientists have been funded to find a connection between human carbon emissions and the climate. Hardly any have been funded to find the opposite.” Timmer responds that this is “an almost incomprehensible misunderstanding” (and there goes Adam Smith in the bin) but  the effect of only funding one side of a theory is not just “comprehensible” but documented in peer reviewed journals. Anyone with eyes can see how adjustments to the data progressively shift the graphs in one direction. (See these sea level graphs for example.) The adjustments are non-random, just like the adjustments to global temperature sets, and ocean heat content. The trend is always shifted to be more like the models. That’s exactly what you’d expect if you funded hundreds of people to look for one answer. You get what you paid for.

Excuse 4/ Timmer points out that some people are looking for solar effects on the climate.

True, a scattering of scientists funded through other areas are looking for natural causes of climate change, but they are  not necessarily free to find it. Funding for climate change is so large, and the anti-skeptic culture is so strong that even in astronomy researchers know better than to speak their skeptical minds freely. The grants panels of national research committees almost always include someone who is a fan of the man-made theory, and when competition for a grant is so fierce that making one enemy on an assessment panel can make the difference between success and failure, researchers know that keeping their skeptical opinions to themselves is important. Hence, even distant fields are affected by the rivers of money flowing in the Climate Change Stream. I’m relaying this story direct from a researcher, though for obvious reasons I cannot name them.

Excuse 5/ The government had been throwing lots of money at climate science for decades.

(So?) Timmer claims climate funding had not expanded out of nothing in 1989 though he has no numbers (that is always the way isn’t it?). Certainly, the US government had been studying climate science under many different agencies before then. But what the graph unmistakably shows is that money directed towards man-made global warming issue was expanding fast. The new “climate change” label plastered over hundreds of research grants, and underlying billions of dollars of spending, tells us that the emphasis, the motives, and the aim of international research had shifted. There was no “climate change” research project before then. In those days, people were mostly just trying to understand the climate.

Major Research Programs were created to solve preordained problems

Whole programs were created around 1990 to deal with a “risk” and “danger” from climate change. What previously was called “climate science” (or geography, geology, meteorology, and oceanography) now became part of a large campaign called the “climate change science program”. Note, sec 204 of the legislation that created the Global Change Research Act of 1990. Paraphrased:

The President shall establish an Office of Global Change Research Information. The purpose of the office is to supply information about the research and development related to:

  1. reducing energy use,
  2. promoting renewables,
  3. solving the ozone hole,
  4. reducing the amount of CO2,
  5. helping poor countries use agricultural and industrial chemicals,
  6. promoting recycling and decreasing greenhouse gas emissions.

In other words, before the research was even done, the government was funding it so that results could help them achieve policy goals that were already decided. The questions were not: 1. Figure out if reducing CO2 is worth the cost, or is even beneficial. 2. Make climate models that will predict the weather and help agriculture and town planning. The science was decidedly unsettled in 1990, yet the government knew that it wanted to reduce CO2, burn less fossil fuel, and promote renewables.

Excuse 6/ Science is done by peer review, not auditing

Christopher Essex wrote to me to point out that when billions of dollars rests on research results, peer review is not enough, the work ought to be audited:

“Timmer is right that there is a difference between auditing and peer review. These things are very different and they have different purposes. Peer review is cursory in some sense. It is a compromise at best, but it is not intended to check or reproduce everything in a study, but provides an author and editor some feedback on the merit of a piece. The problem is that the peers are not school teachers marking a student’s assignment, because they are peers. They do not necessarily know better than the author. In fact  even a peer with great reputation can be wrong, which is why publication is not adding to holy scripture, but an opportunity to allow peers to respond with their own papers. Peer reviewed papers can thus be terrible, while non-peer-reviewed papers of high quality can experience a very rough ride.

Independent auditing is an entirely different matter. It has limited place in normal scientific give and take. But  it is crucial from a corporate or policy point of view. If you aim to adopt something out of the scientific literature as a basis of a business or government strategy or policy, the executive has a fiduciary responsibility to be sure that the work adopted is correct in terms of its internal consistency and credibility of the assumptions and interpretations. Peer reviewed literature must  be subjected to that from a liability point of view. That means everything needs to be checked, with caveats fully discovered and reported. This is not science except in as much as reproducibility is legitimately important to science.

The problem here is that most adoptions of  peer reviewed literature by the UN were not audited. That makes those responsible for the various UN IPCC howlers liable for the costs that have arisen as a result. Of course there is always a question of whether the UN can be sued, but that is the principle of it. All of the government policy stuff needs to be audited as some level, peer review is not sufficient. On that other hand non-peer-reviewed material might also be audited, and be fine.

One does not want suits over peer reviewed material in the science literature, because it is important that scientists do not get a chill over making mistakes. That would compromise the ability of the scientific community to work things out and to advance. But this caveat does not apply to corporate or government uses of science where people may be hurt financially or physically because of mistakes or bias. “

Cheap Shots that prove my point

The bottom line is that Timmer is so short of real arguments that he scratches for slurs, even resorting to associating a climate change skeptic to a HIV skeptic: “Like many other self-proclaimed skeptics, Nova …” (follow the link). There is no connection between the two topics. John Timmer’s attempt at denigration by association (of the non-existent kind) is more proof of just how unscientific, unenquiring and desperate the world of climate groupthink is. Why does the team that claims to do *The Science!* have to resort to baseless character attacks instead of reasoned arguments? Could it be they have no evidence?

Then there’s the standard of research”: Timmer claims I’m an “Australian journalist” but if he’d done ten seconds of research and read the  “About” page on my site,  he’d have seen that I’m not and have never been a journalist. It’s irrelevant in the big scheme of things, but emblematic of a sloppy mind. If he didn’t know or care what Jo Nova does, why say anything?

After ten years of hearing how Big-Oil was controlling the debate by funding experts, it took him two and half years to come up with the idea that money has no influence. Is he sending a memo to DeSmog? Is he telling them to call off the Exxon attack dogs?

More information:

Clean Energy Boom Heading to the Abyss

By. Devon Swezey
Breakthrough Institute
July 11, 2011

The global clean energy industry is set for a major crash. The reason is simple. Clean energy is still much more expensive and less reliable than coal or gas, and in an era of heightened budget austerity the subsidies required to make clean energy artificially cheaper are becoming unsustainable.

Clean tech crashes are nothing new. The U.S. wind energy industry has collapsed three times before, first in the mid 1990s and most recently in 2002 and 2004 when Congress failed to extend the tax credit that made it profitable. But the impact and magnitude of the coming clean tech crash will far outstrip those of past years.

As part of its effort to combat the economic recession, the federal government pumped nearly $80 billion in direct investment and tax credits into the clean energy sector, catalyzing an unprecedented industry expansion. Solar energy, for example, grew 67% in the United States in 2010. The U.S. wind energy industry also experienced unprecedented growth as a result of the generous Section 1603 clean energy stimulus program. The industry grew by 40% and added 10 GW of new turbines in 2009. Yet many of the federal subsidies that have driven such rapid growth are set to expire in the next few years, and clean energy remains unable to compete without them.

The crash won’t be limited to the United States. In many European countries, clean energy subsidies have become budget casualties as governments attempt to curb mounting deficits. Spain, Germany, France, Italy and the Czech Republic have all announced cuts to clean energy subsidies.

Such cuts are not universal, however. China, flush with cash, is bucking the trend, committing $760 billion over 10 years for clean energy projects. China is continuing to invest in low-carbon energy as a way of meeting its voracious energy demand, diversifying its electricity supply, and alleviating some of the negative health consequences of its reliance on fossil energy.

If U.S. and European clean energy markets collapse while investment continues to ramp up in China, the short-term consequences will likely be a migration of much of the industry to Asia. As we wrote in our 2009 report, “Rising Tigers, Sleeping Giant,” this would have significant economic consequences for the United States, as the jobs, revenues and other benefits of clean tech growth accrue overseas.

In the long-term, however, clean energy must become much cheaper and more reliable if it is to widely displace fossil fuels on the scale of national economies and become a commercially viable industry.

Breaking the Boom-Bust Cycle

Why is the United States still locked in this self-perpetuating boom-bust cycle in clean energy? The problem, according to a new essay by energy experts David Victor and Kassia Yanosek in this week’s Foreign Affairs, is that our system of clean energy subsidization is jury-rigged to support the deployment of only the least-risky and most mature clean energy technologies, while lacking clear incentives for continual innovation that could make clean energy competitive on cost with conventional energy sources. Rather, we should “invest in more innovative technologies that stand a better chance of competing with conventional energy sources over the long haul.” According to Victor and Yanosek, nearly seven-eighths of global clean energy investment goes toward deploying existing technologies that aren’t competitive without subsidy, while only a small share goes to encouraging innovation in existing technologies or developing new ones.

This must change. Rather than simply subsidize production of current technologies, we need a comprehensive energy innovation strategy to develop, manufacture, and deploy riskier but more promising clean energy technologies that may eventually compete with fossil energy at scale. Instead of rewarding companies for building the same product, we should reward companies who continuously improve designs and cut costs over time.

Such a federal strategy will require major federal investments, but of a different kind than the subsidies that have driven the clean tech industry in years past. For starters, we must dramatically ramp up funding for early-stage clean energy research and development. A growing bipartisan group of think tanks and business leaders have pushed an investment of at least $15 billion annually in energy R&D, up from its current $4 billion level.

Targeted funding is needed to solve technology challenges and ensure that innovative technologies can develop and improve. One key program that helps fulfill this need is ARPA-E, which funds a portfolio of innovative technology companies and helps connect them with private investors. But ARPA-E’s budget has continually been under assault in budget negotiations, hampering its ability to catalyze innovation in the energy sector and limiting its impact.

We also need to invest in cutting-edge advanced manufacturing capabilities and shared technology infrastructure that would help U.S. companies cut costs and improve manufacturing processes. As the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology wrote in a report released last week, manufacturing is vital to innovation, “because of the synergies created by locating production processes and design processes near to each other.” Furthermore, bringing down manufacturing costs, such as by supporting shared infrastructure for small firms, or offering financing for the adoption of innovative technologies in manufacturing, will be a key component of reducing the costs of new clean energy innovations.

Lastly, the nation’s hodgepodge of energy deployment subsidies is in dire need of reform. As Breakthrough and colleagues wrote in “Post-Partisan Power,” we need an energy deployment regime that demands and rewards innovation, rather than just supporting more of the same. Brookings’ Mark Muro (a co-author or PPP) expands, “targeted and competitive deployment incentives could be created for various classes of energy technologies that would ensure that each has a chance to mature even as each is challenged to innovate and locate price declines.” Rather than create permanently subsidized industries, such investments would “provide the opportunity for opportunity for all emerging low-carbon energy technologies to demonstrate progress toward competitive costs,” while speeding commercialization.

It is clear that the current budgetary environment in the United States presents challenges to the viability of the fast-growing clean energy industry. But it also presents an opportunity. By repurposing existing clean energy policies and investing in clean energy innovation, the United States can be the first country to make clean energy cheap and reliable, a distinction that is sure to bring major economic benefits in a multi-trillion dollar energy market.

Biofuels Emit 400 percent more CO2 than Regular Fuels

Although CO2 is not the pollutant crazy environmentalists portray it to be, where is the environmental solution on the current use of biofuels if they emit more of that ‘pollutant’ than gasoline or diesel?  There isn’t any.  It’s all about monopoly and control.

By Ethan A. Huff

A recent report issued by the European Union has revealed that biofuels, or fuel made from living, renewable sources, is not really all that beneficial to the environment. Rather than reduce the net carbon footprint as intended, biofuels can produce four times more carbon dioxide pollution than conventional fossil fuels do.

Common biofuels like corn ethanol, which has become a popular additive in gasoline, and soy biodiesel, which is being used in commercial trucks and other diesel-fueled vehicles, are often considered to be environmentally-friendly because they are renewable. But in order to grow enough of these crops to use for both food and fuel, large swaths of land around the world are being converted into crop fields for growing biofuels.

In other words, millions of acres of lush rainforests are becoming corn and soy fields in order to provide enough of these resources for their new uses. The net carbon footprint of growing crops for fuel is far higher than what is emitted from simple fossil fuel usage.

According to the report, American soybeans have an indirect carbon footprint of 340kg of CO2 per gigajoule (GJ), while conventional diesel and gasoline create only 85kg/GJ. Similarly, the European rapeseed, a plant similar to the North American canola, indirectly produces 150kg/GJ because additional land in other nations has been converted to grow rapeseed for food in order to replace the native crops that are now being grown for fuel.

Ironically, the amount of direct and indirect resources used to grow food for fuel is quite high compared to that of conventional fossil fuels. Biofuels also do not burn as efficiently and can be rough on the engines they fuel. Ethanol-enriched gasoline can also reduce gas mileage efficiency by upwards of 25 percent, depending on the vehicle.

Growing food for fuel ends up increasing the price of food for consumers. It also puts additional strain on families, many of whom are already having difficulties making ends meet in current economic conditions.

When all is said and done, biofuels seem to be a whole lot of hype with not a lot of benefit. Environmentally, fiscally and practically, biofuels are a disaster. Fossil fuels may not be an ideal form of clean energy, but at this point in time, they make a lot more sense than biofuels.