Cyclone Rotating Wrong Way And Snow In Southern Hemisphere!

Red Herren: SEC Commissioner shovels climate nonsense at NYTimes readers

SEC Commissioner Allison Herren Lee has an op-ed in today’s New York Times cheerleading for enhanced corporate disclosure of climate risks. She has no idea what’s she’s talking about. Below is my line-by-line take down. And don’t forget about my SEC petition to stop climate lying.

As the climate crisis intensifies, [‘Intensified’? How is that? California wildfires are natural and worsened by forest mismanagement. The Washington Post just reported the 1772-1781 hurricane system maybe the most active in the past 500 years.] U.S. environmental policy has moved dangerously backward, with nearly 70 environmental rules reversed during this administration, and 30 more reversals in process. [Commissioner Lee is a Democrat who apparently favors overregulation.] This intransigent, head-in-the-sand approach will not alter the reality of climate change, [What is that reality? Need the details!] nor the risks and opportunities it presents the economy. [Markets can usually figure these things out on their own without government regulation.] The private sector understands this. [Some in the private sector believe in markets. Others are just rent seekers, greenwasher and fraudsters.]

Many large businesses and their investors, recognizing the urgency of the threat, are already attempting to protect their assets and investments from climate risks. [What businesses are protecting themselves from ‘climate change’? Just how can they do that?] As some continue to publicly question the science, [Who are they? I wish this was true!] they are shifting their capital to prepare for a future low-carbon economy. [There are some utilities who have switched out of coal and into gas because of the Obama war on coal and the coincidental rise of fracking, or have taken advantage of wind/solar subsidies, but I’m not aware of any company shifting capital around in any meaningful way because of climate.] They know that a significant percentage of the U.S. equity market, as much as 93 percent by one estimate, is already exposed to harms from climate change, with this year’s intensified fire and hurricane seasons offering a devastating preview of more to come. [‘This year’ = Weather. Not climate.]

Both investors and the broader public need clear information about how businesses are contributing to greenhouse gas emissions, and how they are managing — or not managing — climate risks internally. [This is silly. There is no operating business that doesn’t rely 100% on fossil fuels. None. And how can any company manage ‘climate risk internally’ — whatever that means in the first place? Companies can be prepared for bad weather and natural disasters. But how do they prepare for incremental and unpredictable climate change? Sorry, they can’t. They’re lucky to do their normal business planning.]

Realistically, that can happen only through mandatory public disclosure. [The SEC already requires that such risks be disclosed to investors.] A recent report, “Managing Climate Risk in the U.S. Financial System,” by an advisory group to the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, warned that “a world wracked by frequent and devastating shocks from climate change cannot sustain the fundamental conditions supporting our financial system.” [The pablum in this report was put together corporate rent-seekers like Goldman Sachs and BP, and left-wing advocacy groups like the Natural Resources Defense Council.]

The report emphasized that greater public disclosure of companies’ in-house risk calculations will be essential in helping governments (local and federal) as well as other businesses (large and small) measure and manage their climate risks. [Denied — whatever this means. Calculations of what? California is not burning because ExxonMobil sells oil. It’s burning because the state government refuses to manage its forests.]

Financial regulators around the globe, from New Zealand to the European Union, are beginning to require that this information be made public. [Again, the SEC already requires disclosure of ‘climate risks’ — worthless as they are.] As the report notes, “existing legislation already provides U.S. financial regulators with wide-ranging and flexible authorities that could be used to start addressing financial climate-related risk now,” however, “these authorities and tools are not being fully utilized.” [What does it mean to “address a financial climate-related risk”? What are these tools?]

Indeed, some U.S. regulators have even blocked progress. [Who? What progress has been blocked?] That needs to change.

A core purpose of the Securities and Exchange Commission, where I serve, is to develop and enforce disclosure requirements for public companies rooted in the interests of investors and the public. Outdated thinking is stopping us from reducing climate risk through strengthening disclosure. [Again-again, disclosure of material risks is already required. And how does disclosure reduce climate risk?]

One prominent outdated notion is that investments made on the basis of environmental, social and governance risks — known in the industry as E.S.G. — are merely about one’s policy preferences or moral choices. That might have been closer to reality over a decade ago, but as E.S.G. investing has grown and matured, so too has an understanding of its value. [ESG has no value. Arthur Laffer studied the value of so-called “corporate social responsiblity” activity in 2005. ESG is just corporate-ese for “political correctness.”]

Today, lenders, credit rating agencies, analysts, stock exchanges and asset managers representing trillions in investments use E.S.G. as a significant driver in capital allocation, pricing and value assessments. [Claiming is not doing. Legitimate investment managers don’t actually do this. If they did, they be violating their fiduciary duty to maximize returns for the benefit of investors.] A major study recently found that a large number of powerful institutional investors rank “climate risk disclosures” as being just as important in their decision-making processes as traditional financial statements and other metrics for an investment’s performance — like return on equity or earnings volatility. [All talk that cannot be backed up by anything other than more talk.]

Researchers at the Bank of International Settlements have called climate change “a colossal and potentially irreversible risk of staggering complexity.” [Climate is irreversible and unpredictable, for sure. Not sure what a business is supposed to do with that. And Commissioner Lee is not explaining what they should be doing.] It is a systemic risks [Sic: Typo on NYTimes.] that will threaten global financial stability and spare no corner of the earth: Health, food security and water supplies across the globe will be disrupted. [Generally speaking, such risks have always been and will always be present. If you can’t be more specific, what is anyone supposed to disclose?]

In the United States, we may experience the sort of climate-related migration that has begun elsewhere [Where?] as Americans flee pockets of searing heat, seasonal fires, rising sea levels and flooding. [Should California-based companies disclose that they are concerned that all their customers will migrate from California because of the failure of the state government to manage forests?] Some of the worst-hit regions — the coasts, the West and the South — could experience damage totaling more than one-third of their economy, forcing the entire national economy to contract. [So who is supposed to disclose what and when?]

Dealing with and adapting to the coming calamities means we must price climate risk accurately [Markets already do this. This is their purpose.] and drive investment toward an orderly, sustainable transition to green portfolios [Our world runs on fossil fuels. What does this mean?] — rather than panicked scrambles and stock sell-offs as we see more and more climate disasters. [What ‘climate disaster’ has caused what panicked stock sell-off?]

The International Energy Agency estimates that globally it could take $3.5 trillion in energy sector investments alone every year through 2050 to reorient toward a climate-neutral economy. This pivot is not an ideological preference. It is an economic imperative. And it can effectively start only with accurate information. [What disclosed information is inaccurate? If there is lying going on, the SEC already has tools to manage that.]

There is a misconception that securities laws already operate to produce enough climate risk information through existing broad requirements to disclose important or “material” information. If not, the argument goes, the S.E.C. will come after them. [Hey, I just said that!]

As a former S.E.C. enforcement lawyer who spent over a decade spotting failed and misleading disclosures, I can attest that enforcement of broad-based materiality requirements does not work with this kind of near-magical efficiency. [So if SEC disclosure rules can’t be enforced via financial statements, how can they be enforced with climate?]

That’s why securities laws sometimes require very specific data and metrics on certain important matters like executive compensation. But, so far, not for climate risk. There are no specific requirements, and without that clarity how can companies be sure what is expected of them? As of now, there is little for us to enforce. [Does Commissioner Lee not understand the difference between disclosing actual executive compensation vs. fantasizing about future climate risks?]

The voluntary disclosure that companies have increasingly provided in recent years is still largely regarded as insufficient. It’s not standardized, it’s not consistent, it’s not comparable, and it’s not reliable. Voluntary disclosure is not getting the job done. And without better disclosure of climate risks, it’s not just investors who stand to lose, but the entire economy. [In this entire op-ed, Commission Lee has failed to offer a single example of the sort of failure she’s talking about.]

We face an enormous task with a tight time frame and the highest of stakes — the livability of the planet. The S.E.C. can act now. [People who fret the livability of the planet due to CO2 are just nuts.]

We can bring companies, investors and innovators to the table, and build on the work of organizations such as the Task Force on Climate-Related Financial Disclosures to identify which specific climate risks and metrics should be disclosed and how. [And what if you do? The US could stop emitting today and forever, and by 2100 the difference in atmospheric CO2 would be negligible.]

That’s the only way to get investors and the broader public the tools they need to protect their investments, instill corporate accountability and create a sustainable economy. [‘Sustainable’ is another meaningless term. But trying living without fossil fuels, you may discover a meaning for it.]


September 28, 2020 at 04:12PM

Part 2: Minnesota Editorial Gets the Facts Wrong on Climate Change, Drought, and Wildfires

By H. Sterling Burnett -September 28, 2020

This is response part 2, see part1 here

Almost every factual claim Paula Bronstein makes in her guest editorial, titled, “Take action on climate change,” which ran in the Mankato, Minnesota Free Press and the Johnstown Tribune-Democrat, is wrong.

Limiting my responses to her false claims concerning drought and wildfires in the West, Bronstein asserts: “Oregon, California and Washington have seen historic wildfires that burn faster and farther than ever before and already have claimed dozens of lives. … Western states, in particular, have seen more severe droughts and high winds that fuel wildfires.”

Bronstein provides no evidence to support her claims of “historic wildfires” burning “farther than ever before,” which is unsurprising because the real-world measurements show she’s wrong.

Had she checked the actual data, Bronstein would have found the National Integrated Drought Information System (NIDIS), as cited in Climate at a Glance: Drought, reports droughts have declined recently, with the United States undergoing its longest period in recorded history without at least 40 percent of the country experiencing “very dry” conditions. Indeed, in 2017 and 2019, the United States registered its smallest percentage of land area experiencing drought in recorded history.

Figure 1: Total wildfire acreage burned by year in the United States, 1926 to 2019. Data from
Graph by meteorologist Anthony Watts

The U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reports with “high confidence” precipitation over mid-latitude land areas of the Northern Hemisphere (including the United States) has increased during the past 70 years, while IPCC has “low confidence” about any negative trends globally.

Since droughts are a critical factor contributing to wildfires and they have declined dramatically, it should come as no surprise to learn, contra Bronstein’s claims, Western wildfires have also declined in acreage burned over the past century.

As reported in Climate at a Glance: Wildfires, long-term data from U.S. National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC) show wildfires have declined in number and severity since the early 1900s. Using data on U.S. wildfires from as far back as 1926, NIFC reports the numbers of acres burned is far less now than it was throughout the early 20th century, with the current acres burned running about 1/4th to 1/5th of the record values that occurred in the 1930s (See the figure1 above).

As bad as this wildfire season has been in terms of acres burned, it is nowhere near historic averages. Indeed, a 2007 paper in the journal Forest Ecology and Management found prior to European colonization in the 1800s, more than 4.4 million acres of forest and shrub-land in California burned annually, far more than the area of California that has burned since 2000, which ranges from 90,000 acres to 1,590,000 acres per year.

And a 2012 study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found wildfires in the western United States attained “the lowest levels … during the 20th century and during the Little Ice Age (LIA, ca. 1400–1700 CE [Common Era]). Prominent peaks in forest fires occurred during the Medieval Climate Anomaly (ca. 950–1250 CE) and during the 1800s.”

Both drought and wildfire frequency and severity have declined over the past 150 years. Those are the facts, meaning if Bronstein persists in her misguided beliefs, then she is the “climate denier”.

The post Part 2: Minnesota Editorial Gets the Facts Wrong on Climate Change, Drought, and Wildfires appeared first on Climate Realism.

Part1: Minnesota Editorial Gets the Facts Wrong on Climate Change and Record Heat

By H. Sterling Burnett -September 28, 2020

This is part1 of a two part response, see part2 here

Almost every factual claim Paula Bronstein makes in her guest editorial, titled, “Take action on climate change,” which ran in the Mankato, Minnesota Free Press and the Johnstown Tribune-Democrat, is wrong.

Limiting my responses to her false claims concerning record heat, Bronstein asserts, “California had its hottest August on record including record-setting heat in Death Valley.”

Contrary to Bronstein’s claims, California’s Death Valley did not set records for heat this year.

Although National Weather Service in Las Vegas, Nevada sent out a Tweet highlighting a new maximum daily temperature of 130°F in Death Valley, for August 16, this was not the record for Death Valley in the summer. In 1913, over 100 years of “global warming” ago, Death Valley’s official weather station at Greenland Ranch hit an all-time record of 134°F, and also hit 130°F or higher three times that July. In 1913, CO2 in our atmosphere was about 43 percent lower than today at 290 parts per million in 1913 compared to the “Climate crisis” level of 414 PPM today, yet temperatures were regularly as high, or higher, than the single day in August 2020.

Nor is the Western United States or the United States as a whole experiencing more frequent or severe heatwaves, according to government data.

Figure 1, Heatwave Index for the contiguous United States, 1895-2015 (no later data is available). The U.S. Annual Heat Wave Index tracks the occurrence of heat wave conditions across the United States. This index defines a heat wave as a period lasting at least four days with an average temperature that would only be expected to occur once every 10 years, based on the historical record. The index value for a given year depends on how often heat waves occur and how widespread they are. Source: Our World in Data, using data from NOAA.

Indeed, a recent summary of heatwave records, Climate at a Glance: U.S. Heatwaves, cites data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) which shows in recent decades heat waves have been far less frequent and severe than was the case during the 1930s – nearly 100 years of global warming ago (See figure 1 above).

Data show the majority of each state’s all-time high temperature records were set during the first half of the 20th, and the most accurate nationwide temperature station network, implemented in 2005, shows no sustained increase in daily high temperatures in the United States since at least 2005.

Bronstein’s record heat claims are false. Time for her to follow the science.

The post Part1: Minnesota Editorial Gets the Facts Wrong on Climate Change and Record Heat appeared first on Climate Realism.

More surfacestations project vindication: Strong UHI temperature biases confirmed in USA

WUWT readers may recall that NOAA did an experiment at Oak Ridge National Laboratory that vindicated my findings about the effects of local urbanization on surface temperature measurements.

The urban heat island (UHI) effect is strongly affected by urban-scale changes to local land surfaces. Basically, the more asphalt, concrete, buildings, etc. that exist near a thermometer, the more the overnight low temperature is biased upwards due to heat storage.

Climate monitoring thermometers are therefore biased upwards. This new UHI database further vindicates my findings in 2015 released at the AGU Fall Meeting. – Anthony

New Surface Urban Heat Island Database for the United States

new study published in the ISPRS Journal of Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing presents clear-sky surface UHI (SUHI) intensities for 497 urbanized areas in the United States by combining remotely-sensed data products with multiple US census-defined urban areas.The SUHI intensity is the difference in surface temperature between the built-up and non-built up pixels of an urbanized area.The study reported that the daytime summer SUHI was 1.91 °C higher and the daytime winter SUHI was 0.87 °C higher.The study also reports that the SUHI intensity is lower in census tracts with higher median income and higher proportion of white people. Unfortunately, the study didn’t report on how the UHI effect changes with time.h/t to Friends of Science

The paper:!

The urban heat island (UHI) effect is strongly modulated by urban-scale changes to the aerodynamic, thermal, and radiative properties of the Earth’s land surfaces. Interest in this phenomenon, both from the climatological and public health perspectives, has led to hundreds of UHI studies, mostly conducted on a city-by-city basis. These studies, however, do not provide a complete picture of the UHI for administrative units using a consistent methodology. To address this gap, we characterize clear-sky surface UHI (SUHI) intensities for all urbanized areas in the United States using a modified Simplified Urban-Extent (SUE) approach by combining a fusion of remotely-sensed data products with multiple US census-defined administrative urban delineations. We find the highest daytime SUHI intensities during summer (1.91 ± 0.97 °C) for 418 of the 497 urbanized areas, while the winter daytime SUHI intensity (0.87 ± 0.45 °C) is the lowest in 439 cases.

Since urban vegetation has been frequently cited as an effective way to mitigate UHI, we use NDVI, a satellite-derived proxy for live green vegetation, and US census tract delineations to characterize how vegetation density modulates inter-urban, intra-urban, and inter-seasonal variability in SUHI intensity. In addition, we also explore how elevation and distance from the coast confound SUHI estimates. To further quantify the uncertainties in our estimates, we analyze and discuss some limitations of these satellite-derived products across climate zones, particularly issues with using remotely sensed radiometric temperature and vegetation indices as proxies for urban heat and vegetation cover. We demonstrate an application of this spatially explicit dataset, showing that for the majority of the urbanized areas, SUHI intensity is lower in census tracts with higher median income and higher proportion of white people. Our analysis also suggests that poor and non-white urban residents may suffer the possible adverse effects of summer SUHI without reaping the potential benefits (e.g., warmer temperatures) during winter, though establishing this result requires future research using more comprehensive heat stress metrics. This study develops new methodological advancements to characterize SUHI and its intra-urban variability at levels of aggregation consistent with sources of other socioeconomic information, which can be relevant in future inter-disciplinary research and as a possible screening tool for policy-making.

The dataset developed in this study is visualized at:

via Watts Up With That?

September 28, 2020 at 03:07PM