Joining Battle Over The “Science” Of Global Warming

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Francis Menton

If you read this blog regularly, you likely are a follower of the global warming wars — the ongoing political struggle over government-led efforts in the US and elsewhere to transform the energy economy to get rid of fossil fuels and their associated “carbon emissions.” Lately, those wars have been focused less on what might be called the “science” of global warming — that is, the extent to which human carbon emissions may be causing atmospheric warming and whether that warming might be dangerous — and more on issues of practicality and cost of the proposed of energy transition. After all, as to the “science” issues, we are instructed endlessly by our politicians and media that the science of global warming is “settled.” So, what’s the point of debating that anymore?

In the real world, the “science” behind the claim that human carbon emissions are heading us toward some kind of planetary catastrophe is not only not “settled,” but actually non-existent. Nevertheless debating that subject can quickly lead to arguments couched in technical jargon and mathematics that very few people will try to follow. By contrast, almost anybody can quickly grasp why wind and solar electricity generation can’t work to power a modern economy and will multiply electricity bills by an order of magnitude.

But don’t get the idea that everybody has just given up on exposing the fake “science” behind the global warming scare. In fact, the Manhattan Contrarian is on the job — along with a hardy band of intrepid warriors with which I am associated. On Friday of this week, my co-counsel and I, on behalf of a small group of plaintiffs, will be filing an opening appeal brief in the DC Circuit challenging the 2009 “finding” made by the EPA that emissions of CO2 and other greenhouse gases constitute a “danger” to human health and safety. I’ll use this post to give a brief preview, with more detail to follow after the brief becomes public.

You’ll have to wait for Friday to get the full story. But for today, I’ll start with an appetizer of some background on where we are, plus some information on the serious nature of our team and support.

The night of June 3, 2008 was the occasion of Barack Obama’s speech at the Democratic convention accepting the party’s nomination for President. The famous line from the pompous megalomaniac that night was This was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal.” After Obama became President in 2009, his EPA got right to work on the job of “healing the planet” (really, how foolishly arrogant can a person get?), and in December of that year it issued a document known as the Endangerment Finding, declaring CO2 to be a “danger” to human health and safety.

The Endangerment Finding, by its own language, claimed to be based on three “lines of evidence.” (Two of the three are not actually lines of evidence at all as that term would normally be understood, but that’s a story for another post.). Over the course of the Obama administration, a team of scientists led by a guy named James Wallace investigated the things that EPA claimed as the basis for its finding and began publishing a series of Research Reports on the results.

On January 20, 2017 (first day of the new Trump administration), a group of plaintiffs called the Concerned Household Electricity Consumers Council (CHECC), represented by myself and my excellent co-counsel Harry MacDougald, submitted a Petition to EPA asking that the Endangerment Finding be rescinded. The Petition, which you can read at the link, was based on the research findings of Wallace and his co-authors up to that time, as well as on publicly available economic data showing that the increasing amount of wind and solar electricity generation was driving up costs and making energy unaffordable for low-income people.

But the Trump administration never took the opportunity to review and rescind the Endangerment Finding. During the course of Trump’s term, the CHECC group submitted no fewer than seven supplements to its Petition, citing new and increasingly definitive scientific research as it became available. But we were never able to motivate the Trump EPA to act on the EF. Even after President Biden took office, our Petition and many supplements languished without action. Finally, in April of this year, the Biden EPA denied the Petition. We filed a timely appeal, and the briefing of that appeal is currently under way.

And that’s how it comes to pass that only now, almost 13 years after the Endangerment Finding was issued, we are headed to a court hearing on whether that finding has any scientific basis, or, as we assert, is “arbitrary and capricious.”

I’ll save a review of the arguments made in our brief until after it becomes public. But meanwhile, I’m learning of some of the eminent scientists who are putting together an amicus brief in support of our position. The CO2 Coalition is the group of real scientists who advocate for the position that CO2 is a beneficial gas. It’s Chair is William Happer, the senior atmospheric physicist at Princeton. Tom Sheahen is the head of the Science and Environmental Policy Project (SEPP) and also a member of the CO2 Coalition. Sheahen and the Coalition are collaborating on a brief.

SEPP’s October 8 newsletter contains a summary of a major 2021 paper by Happer and co-author William van Wijngaarden that completely undermines the fake “science” of the IPCC and EPA used to support the case of climate alarm. It would be a reasonable bet that some of this might make it into the amicus. Some pithy quotes:

Sheahen specifically discusses the efforts of Professors William van Wijngaarden and William Happer in their pioneering work in calculating the real-world Global Warming Potentials (GWPs) of the five most common Green-House Gases (GHGs) and explains why the approach used by IPCC is faulty but nonetheless is used by its followers such as the US National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) and the EPA. These faulty methods lead to great exaggeration of the greenhouse effect of carbon dioxide, methane, and other minor greenhouse gases. . ..

Sheahen shows the stunning agreement between the calculations of van Wijngaarden and Happer (W & H) with satellite observations of outgoing infrared radiation emitted by the earth going to space . . .

Sheahen’s major point is that, because of the exceptionally good agreement between observational data and the calculations of W & H, we conclude that their model has now been validated. That embodies the scientific method. In that case, it is reasonable to use it to study other hypothetical cases. It is not possible to do so with IPCC models, which have never achieved agreement with observation. . ..

The gist of the Happer/van Wijngaarden work is that the greenhouse effect of CO2 in the atmosphere is almost entirely saturated, such that additional CO2 can have almost no warming effect. Here is a chart prepared by Sheahen to illustrate the Happer/van Wijngaarden results:

via Watts Up With That?

October 13, 2022