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Are Climate Emergency Actions by the United States Reasonable?

I have been independently researching and writing about climate issues since 2009.

Photo compiled by Robert Kernodle symbolizing US climate change emergency actions in question

Photo compiled by Robert Kernodle symbolizing US climate change emergency actions in question

This article encourages readers to make a reasonable examination of facts, to form rational judgments based on these facts, and to take sensible actions grounded in rational judgments based on the facts.

Definition of Reasonable

reasonable - adjective - (of a person) having sound judgment; fair and sensible.

synonyms: rational, logical, intelligent, wise, levelheaded, practical, realistic, based on good sense, well thought out, well grounded, valid

Keeping this understanding of "reasonable" in mind, consider whether widespread worry about human-caused climate change is justified. Consider whether evidence supports the claim that climate is changing catastrophically. Consider whether current tools that provide future projections of catastrophic climate change really work. Consider whether theoretical ideas underlying worry and future projections are correct.

Do The Facts Provide Evidence of Catastrophic Climate Change?

People who worry about the future of planet Earth frequently cite unusually rising temperatures, accelerating sea level rise, abnormal extreme weather, increased frequency of wildfires or droughts, and dire climate model forecasts.

Real-world data and analyses, however, simply do not justify such claims.

This might come as a shock to those who feel solidly grounded in a greatly publicized popular viewpoint. I would suggest that an even greater shock should arise from realizing that this popular viewpoint rests on shoddy evidence, on shoddy science, and, most importantly, on shoddy journalism that ignores or misrepresents real knowledge, for the sake of feeding readers falsely sensationalized stories.

Photo compiled by Robert G Kernodle showing climate emergency news headlines

Photo compiled by Robert G Kernodle showing climate emergency news headlines

United States Acting Without Careful Consideration?

Despite real-world data and analyses showing that unusual or extreme changes are not happening, much of the United States has pledged time, money, and resources to combat perceived threats to humanity that simply do not stand up to any standard of correct assessment. Twenty-one states, 141 cities and counties, 1361 businesses and investors, 589 institutions of higher learning, and an unlisted number of faith-based organizations support the well-known Paris Agreement.

Based on what is really known, all these people and organizations appear to be gravely mistaken, and their mistakes could harm, rather than help, developed civilization.

US states, cities, and businesses supporting the Paris Agreement

US states, cities, and businesses supporting the Paris Agreement

What Is Really Known

Based on data gathered by various professional organizations dedicated to collecting it, and based on expert analyses carried out in the most logical way:

  • temperatures around the world are not increasing unusually
  • sea level is not rising at an accelerated rate
  • extreme weather is not more frequent and not more severe
  • wildfires and droughts are not more prevalent than in the past
  • climate model projections are practically useless
  • the Paris Agreement accomplishes nothing
  • 100% renewable energy is not feasible.

In sum, there is no climate emergency. There is no climate catastrophe looming. There is no existential threat to the human race because of human-caused climate change. There is no need for policies and technology overhauls aimed at averting a problem that does not exist.

Why so many people think otherwise is a consequence of persuasive rhetoric, founded on exaggerated beliefs and mishandled information, transmitted over a vast communication network of shared experiences unlike any in the history of humanity.

More people are alive now than at any other time. More people are communicating openly with each other about the most poignant, private, personal troubles or fears of their lives. More people are experiencing hardships due to ordinary weather events. More news media than ever before are sensationalizing human struggle.

In other words, the number of people experiencing and communicating the impacts of natural forces has increased. The number (extent, severity) of natural forces themselves has not.

Temperatures Are Not Increasing Unusually

Chart 1. Estimates of global average surface air temperature over 540,000,000 years

Chart 1. Estimates of global average surface air temperature over 540,000,000 years

Chart 2. Reconstructed global temperature over the past 420,000 years

Chart 2. Reconstructed global temperature over the past 420,000 years

Chart 3. Reconstructed global temperature over the past 11,000 years

Chart 3. Reconstructed global temperature over the past 11,000 years

The above three graphs clearly indicate that modern temperatures are well within the range of variation occurring throughout Earth's geological prehistory. Whether we look back five hundred million years, four hundred thousand years, or eleven thousand years, we can see that modern temperatures are doing nothing catastrophically different from what they always have.

Sea Level Rise Is Not Accelerating

Chart 4. Global mean sea level fluctuations for Last 800,000 years

Chart 4. Global mean sea level fluctuations for Last 800,000 years

Chart 5. Global mean sea level fluctuations for last 1,000 years

Chart 5. Global mean sea level fluctuations for last 1,000 years

Similar to temperature, sea level has risen and fallen rhythmically, as long as seas on Earth have existed. In general, there is nothing unusual about sea level rise. Today's sea level rise specifically is not unusual either. More precisely, sea level has been rising at the same rate since, at least, the year 1890 (likely since 1850), well before the height of the industrial revolution popularly (and incorrectly) blamed for causing the modern rise.

The best evidence today shows that fear of accelerating sea level rise is unfounded.

Extreme Weather is Not More Frequent and Not More Severe

Chart 6. Ryan N. Maue PhD graph of global cyclone energy

Chart 6. Ryan N. Maue PhD graph of global cyclone energy

Scroll to Continue
Chart 7. Ryan N. Maue PhD graph of global cyclone frequency

Chart 7. Ryan N. Maue PhD graph of global cyclone frequency

The above two graphs illustrate that an upward trend in tropical cyclones (e.g., hurricanes) does not exist.

There are numerous other graphs illustrating little or no trend in other categories, as well, including wildfires and droughts. Rather than trying to list them all, I will refer readers to a source that collects these graphs in one place.

An informative paper, Kelly MJ (2016), Trends in Extreme Weather Events since 1900 – An Enduring Conundrum for Wise Policy Advice, J Geogr Nat Disast
6: 155. doi:10.4172/2167-0587.1000155, concludes:

The disconnect between real-world historical data on the 100 years’ time scale and the current predictions provides a real conundrum when any engineer tries to make a professional assessment of the real future value of any infrastructure project which aims to mitigate or adapt to climate change.

The key phrase in that quote is "disconnect between real-world data ... and current predictions". In other words, real-world data does not agree with current dire predictions.

Image of MJ Kelly Article on extreme weather

Image of MJ Kelly Article on extreme weather

Wildfires and Droughts are Not More Prevalent than in the Past

are-climate-emergency-actions-by-the-united-states-reasonable
are-climate-emergency-actions-by-the-united-states-reasonable

Climate Model Projections Are Practically Useless

Chart 8. Comparison of climate model forecasts to reality

Chart 8. Comparison of climate model forecasts to reality

Some people will tirelessly defend climate model projections by crafting all manner of qualifying language to get around the fact that these models are not fit as forecasting tools for policy makers.

If a tool proves wrong in the most critical task where its users apply it, then the mindset of continuing to use the tool amounts to nothing less than self delusion. If self delusion leads to irrational spending of time, energy, and human resources, then it degrades, rather than upgrades, an existing system.

The Paris Agreement Accomplishes Nothing

Chart 9. Bjorn Lomborg graph of Paris Agreement impact

Chart 9. Bjorn Lomborg graph of Paris Agreement impact

Bjorn Lomborg has done an extensive analysis of the effect that the Paris Agreement would produce, if every nation on Earth honored it. His findings, which he has expertly and meticulously defended against critics, are these:

  • If every nation were to fulfill every promise, by year 2030, of the Paris Agreement, then the total calculated global temperature reduction would be an extremely small 0.048 C or 0.086 F by year 2100.
  • If every nation continued to fulfill these promises faithfully, from year 2030 to year 2100, then the entirety of the Paris Agreement would reduce calculated global temperature rise by merely 0.170 C or 0.306 F.

Think about this carefully -- with all dedicated efforts to the Paris Agreement in full force, humans could change the temperature of the entire Earth by only a fraction of a degree. This effect is indistinguishable from zero, which points to great flaws in the reasoning behind this agreement.

100% Renewable Energy Not Feasible

Anyone who believes that renewable-energy can completely replace fossil-fuel will gain greater practical insight by studying even a small part of a free online book-length analysis, titled Roadmap to Nowhere: The Myth of Powering the Nation With Renewable Energy, by Mike Conley and Tim Maloney.

Here are just a few of the issues that Conley and Maloney point out for the United States alone:

Wind and solar gear can last from 10–40 years: about 10 years for offshore wind turbines, 25 years for onshore turbines, and up to 40 years for solar panels. This means that nearly 500,000 giant wind turbines, both onshore and off-, will need a major overhaul before...buildout is even complete.

It also means that 5 years after completion, we'll have to start recycling and replacing the solar panels – all 18 billion square meters' worth. That's billion with a B. A 40-year solar refurbishment schedule would mean the recycling
and replacement of 1.23 million square meters of worn-out panels, every single day, rain or shine – forever.

That's close to China's total daily volume of PV [photovoltaic] panel production. And the only thing all of that mining, fabricating, installing and recycling would do is sustain the solar portion of the 2050 national grid, not expand it.

Sustaining our fleet of wind turbines won't be any easier. With 342,000 onshore and 156,000 offshore, we'll have to initiate a major overhaul on more than 80 giant wind turbines every single day. That's in addition to swapping out all those solar panels.

Now imagine every developed and developing nation on Earth confronting these same issues.

Another useful reference is the paper, Burden of proof: A comprehensive review of the feasibility of 100% renewable-electricity systems, by B.P. Heard, B.W. Brook, T.M.L. Wigley, and C.J.A. Bradshaw, in which the authors state:

We argue that the early exclusion of other forms of technology from plans to de-carbonize the global electricity supply is unsupportable, and arguably reckless.

Exclusion of other forms of technology means trying to use only renewable forms, to the exclusion of all other forms of technology, which include fossil fuel and nuclear. I would go so far as to suggest that the authors' use of the phrase, arguably reckless, could be strengthened to arguably reckless endangerment of civilization as we know it.

Image of paper on 100% renewables by Heard and others

Image of paper on 100% renewables by Heard and others

Conclusion

This article asks the question, Are climate emergency actions by the United States reasonable?

Given the information presented above, I have arrived at an emphatic "no" for the answer. Even more, I suspect that current actions by the various states border on negligence, founded on irresponsibility to research actual facts.

© 2019 Robert Kernodle

Comments

CD Marshall from USA on December 14, 2019:

I totally agree that the number is ambiguous. Using NOAA as a proxy, you can see the trend varies, but in other regions outside the US the records increase (more people spotting them/better technology/other)

Basing it on that it looks very much like a cycle and according to that a decrease in the next few years should happen.

I leave you two alone now. Scott always a pleasure. Robert you are a gifted writer.

Robert Kernodle (author) on December 14, 2019:

CD,

On the Tornado Project's data site, if you choose any one year and look down the list, notice how many EF-0's start showing up in later years, as you go through the years.

Those high numbers you see, I think, include all the EF-0's.

... more people alive, ... more people living in areas to see tornadoes, ... more people reporting tornadoes, ... better technology detecting tornadoes, ... more acute awareness, news reporting, hyping anything and everything that even looks like a tornado...

CD Marshall from USA on December 13, 2019:

I looked over Scott's tornado records and the most tornadoes according to his charts in order of top 3:

Year Tornadoes

2004-1817

2008-1692

2011-1689

That's not an increase each year at all it is a variable and may be accredited to better technology and population.

The strongest tornado trend:

Year #

1974-7

2011-6

1953-5

So are there more tornadoes or simply more spotted?

Robert Kernodle (author) on December 13, 2019:

Scott,

You continue to amaze me with your cemented focus on only the time periods that you want to see.

I represent five more years of data added to NOAA's representation of sixty years of data, in order to extend that chart to the present, for a full view of trends. ... You choose two ten year periods (one near the beginning and one near the end of this record) to compare and make judgments, while giving no consideration to the fifty years in between, where marked upward and downward trends also occurred.

Then you say that, by adding five more years of data to sixty years of data to complete the picture, I am incorporating some sort of "baseline". There is no baseline. I am doing nothing with any baseline. Those are just years of data added on, just like all the other years on the chart. Years 2015 through 2019 were not there -- I added those. No baseline! I just added years to the already recorded years. Those years had not been recorded, when the chart was made. I extended the chart. No baseline!

Look at the whole chart, from the left to the right. Look at how it oscillates up and down. No real trend there in all those years. Look at it!

Robert Kernodle (author) on December 13, 2019:

Scott, you last commented:

["I am sorry, Robert, but a five year span of time when talking about weather events is meaningless and anything using that as a baseline means nothing. For a 5-year time span to be relevant, then the embedded periodicity needs to be about 1/60th of that. In other words, the oscillations must be around monthly and that is not the way the weather works."]

Now I ask you:

Why are you talking about FIVE-year spans? I mentioned a FIFTY-year span between two TEN-year spans that you compared. Your comment, thus, is not making sense to me.

The five-year span that I added was to put your two ten-year spans in proper perspective with the entire trend that you still ignore.

CD Marshall from USA on December 13, 2019:

Tornadoes.

So and I'd do it myself but I feel pretty lazy right now, I think you need to go by decal average on both sources and and see what you come up.

Since 2000+ (appears) to be more accurate I would do 2000-2009/2010-2019 and maybe use 1990-99 as an offset to compare the results.

I'd b interested in seeing the final analyses.

Scott Belford from Keystone Heights, FL on December 12, 2019:

I am sorry, Robert, but a five year span of time when talking about weather events is meaningless and anything using that as a baseline means nothing. For a 5-year time span to be relevant, then the embedded periodicity needs to be about 1/60th of that. In other words, the oscillations must be around monthly and that is not the way the weather works.

CD - I don't necessarily disagree with what NOAA says. But my data source is from the Tornado Project which goes beyond using doppler radar coverage, especially for earlier years. They were funded by the National Science Foundation for five years after being funded by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to "fill some huge holes in the national tornado data base."

They data that goes back to 1680. But continuous, consistent, reliable data begins in 1953.

CD Marshall from USA on December 12, 2019:

"This can create a misleading appearance of an increasing trend in tornado frequency"

That's just part of it RK. What isn't indicated is that also means in the past more tornadoes went unreported, meaning previous tornadoes would therefore be even higher...

SO the consensus would be nothing has changed except the amount of people reporting them. That same theory can include typhoons and hurricanes. The only way they were reported in the past was from ship logs or settlements, if those weren't present the storms went unnoticed.

So for anyone to declare their are more tornadoes now is ambiguous.

Robert Kernodle (author) on December 12, 2019:

CD,

Thanks for pointing out the prevalence of EF-0 tornadoes, population increase, and detection technology that would give the APPEARANCE of an increasing trend. But even with an adjustment for possible missing storms, as I understand it, the trend is still indistinguishable from zero by NOAA's account a couple of years ago, which they weaken with statements about confidence in model fantasy land.

CD Marshall from USA on December 12, 2019:

Directly from the NOAA website:

"EF-0 tornadoes have become more prevalent in the total number of reported tornadoes."

"With increased National Doppler radar coverage, increasing population, and greater attention to tornado reporting, there has been an increase in the number of tornado reports over the past several decades. This can create a misleading appearance of an increasing trend in tornado frequency."

Robert Kernodle (author) on December 12, 2019:

Scott, go to the NOAA website located here:

https://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/climate-information/extr...

Scroll down the page and you will find the trend chart for EF1 and greater for the years 1954-2014, which, when you click on it, you will find the larger, more readable image here:

https://www1.ncdc.noaa.gov/pub/data/cmb/images/tor...

This is the chart that I used as the base on which I drew my additional bars.

For the tornado numbers EF1 and greater during the years 2014 to 2019, I trusted Wikipedia (for once) to search each of those year's numbers, and those numbers are these:

Year 2015 . . . EF1+ . . . 487 and, of those, EF3+ . . . 21

Year 2016 . . . EF1+ . . . 414 and, of those, EF3+ . . . 28

Year 2017 . . . EF1+ . . . 736 and, of those, EF3+ . . . 15

Year 2018 . . . EF1+ . . . 486 and, of those, EF3+ . . . 12

Year 2019 . . . EF1+ . . . 605 and, of those, EF3+ . . . 31

... and those numbers are the basis of my estimated bar-height additions to the NOAA years 1954-2014 trend chart, which again is here:

https://www.dropbox.com/s/3wjsdok07c6xce8/Tornadoe...

Now your tornado-project website seems to take things back a bit farther to 1950. I'm not going to go through all that data to confirm what NOAA roughly agrees with during the years for which I used data.

What you have done is choose a span of ten years at the BIGINNING of the record and compare to a span of ten years at the END of the record, while you IGNORE the fifty year span in between. You happened to choose a span early on, where the trend was lower than the trend in a span fifty years later.

But look at that 50-year span in between -- the numbers go up and down multiple times all throughout those years. Note particularly the span of years from 1963-1973 and the span of years from 2001-2011 -- those are years of steep rising of the trend, FOLLOWED by falling trends.

That whole chart is a series of ups and downs that looks pretty consistent throughout the full record. NO long-term trend. In other words, you cherry picked your periods to fulfill your panicked prognostications.

Scott Belford from Keystone Heights, FL on December 11, 2019:

Sorry, your DropBox chart seems very strange. First, I couldn't verify any of the data from the source. Second, it doesn't agree with my data which comes from http://www.tornadohistoryproject.com/custom/256074...

and Wikipedia for 2018 and 2019

Scott Belford from Keystone Heights, FL on December 11, 2019:

"Thirteen more tornadoes each year suggests nothing to me, because I do not have the exact context of your data for examining how you arrive at this figure." - I think you are being obtuse but let me make it simple for you.

From 1950 to 1959, the average number of annual tornadoes is 491

From 2010 to 2019, the average number of annual tornadoes is 1,184

You do the math.

"Attributing this to global warming is NOT absolutely supported by science, " - EXCEPT it is. Give me a better reason that correlates to the data.

CD Marshall from USA on December 11, 2019:

Great stuff Robert very informative.

"temperatures around the world are not increasing unusually"

Indeed in real time over 60% of the planet is 15C or less. 10-20% reaches 27C or higher, last time I checked (today) it was 12% in near-real time.

Someone just mentioned England has had record warming for the last 10 years and yet it's 5C average right now. Warming means a continuance of increasing temperatures.

Robert Kernodle (author) on December 11, 2019:

Thirteen more tornadoes each year suggests nothing to me, because I do not have the exact context of your data for examining how you arrive at this figure.

And you DID say this: ["Because of global warming the number of tornadoes overall is increasing as are EF-0 and EF-1s ..."]

So, what did I miss?

Attributing this to global warming is NOT absolutely supported by science, nor by your fabricated perception of a hotter Earth.

Furthermore, attributing the supposed warming to humans, which is your underlying assumption, is also NOT supported by a true view of the evidence.

Show me the link where you get your information to arrive at that number 13 ... mmm, how interesting, the unlucky number, 13.

I see no trend:

https://www.dropbox.com/s/3wjsdok07c6xce8/Tornadoe...

Scott Belford from Keystone Heights, FL on December 10, 2019:

Exactly what does 13 more tornadoes each year suggest to you? Let's see, didn't I say EF-0 and EF-1 or did you miss that?

Attributing that to global warming is ABSOLUTELY supported both by the science of a hotter earth and that there is no other reasonable explanation.

Robert Kernodle (author) on December 10, 2019:

Scott:

In your comment about tornadoes, you concluded:

["So what do we have? Because of global warming the number of tornadoes overall is increasing as are EF-0 and EF-1s, year after year. Stronger tornadoes are holding constant - so far."]

First, I do not see how you arrive at an overall increase "year after year". QUESTION: Which years exactly are you talking about? -- starting when, and ending when? And what EF ratings exactly are you talking about in your generalization? I need an exact citation of the source of your information (a link), before I can comment in a fully informed manner, with respect to your claim there.

Second, the part of your claim attributing any increase in tornado numbers to global warming is NOT supported, and so your conclusion is fiction to state it with the certainty that you do. It's just not true. The real world does not show us this. Maybe check out this article:

https://agupubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/1...

Robert Kernodle (author) on December 10, 2019:

Before switching focus to tornadoes, let's stay with hurricanes a bit longer, Scott. I'll get to your comments about tornadoes in a separate comment.

Read the verbal gymnastics being done here in this 2019 NOAA article:

https://journals.ametsoc.org/doi/full/10.1175/BAMS...

First, we read that there is a slight trend. Then there isn't. Low to medium confidence that there is. Or either there is or there isn't, depending on which audience we want to appeal to, depending on who prefers the Type I or Type II error treatment.

NOAA pulls out all stops to try to minimize what the real world is telling them, and they are trying their damnedest to revere models, theory, and statistical kung fu that real world evidence should discount! Amazing. NOAA, champions of data "adjusting", ... do not disappoint ... the climate-worrier/warrior camp, that is.

Up until about 2017, NOAA was saying this:

"In short, the historical Atlantic hurricane frequency record does not provide compelling evidence for a substantial greenhouse warming-induced long-term increase."

https://www.gfdl.noaa.gov/global-warming-and-hurri...

Later, farther down in this same article, they stated:

"However, using the CMIP3 and CMIP5 multi-model climate projections, the hurricane model also projects that the lifetime maximum intensity of Atlantic hurricanes will increase by about 5% during the 21st century in general agreement with previous studies."

Again, "there is, but there isn't." The data says "no", the models and theory say "yes". And NOAA uses the same fake, calibrated-uncertainty language as the IPCC to demonstrate what its leaders lean towards highlighting -- the models, of course -- those over-hyped educational toys with wired-in best guesses and foregone assumptions that consistently run hot, as far as future projections go.

Ping pong, anyone?

Scott Belford from Keystone Heights, FL on December 09, 2019:

Tornado data (from NOAA US Tornado Climatology) 1950 - 2019

All Tornadoes - Slope is 12.9 per year with an R-squared of 0.61. We are currently in a 5-yr "lull" which is still higher than anything prior to 1972. There was also a 10 year "lull" between 1978 and 1988 (which was higher than anything prior to 1956.

EF-0 Tornadoes - Slope 11.6 tornadoes increase per year with an R-sqaured of 0.69. There is a current 7 year "lull" in increasing EF-0 tornadoes. From 1950 to 1986 there was a steady increase in the number of EF-0's and then an explosion which lasted until 2011.

Ef-1 Tornadoes - Slope 2.9 tornado increase per year with a low R-squared of 0.35. The reason for the low R-squared is the increase in EF-1 tornadoes stopped between 1977 - 2002 where it remained constant.

EF-2 through 4 Tornadoes - While these have a negative slopes, they all have terrible R-squareds which means the slope is effectively zero - the number of these types tornadoes are constant year by year.

So what do we have? Because of global warming the number of tornadoes overall is increasing as are EF-0 and EF-1s, year after year. Stronger tornadoes are holding constant - so far.

Robert Kernodle (author) on December 09, 2019:

And while I'm thinking about it:

Given that Earth's atmosphere had a favorable composition with enough O2 but not too much CO2, given that photosynthesis was well in operation for plant growth, and given that enough other life existed to provide food sources, the Earth was habitable for humans probably as far back as 300 million years ago.