Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Larry Hamlin @wattsupwiththat reframes a small win in climate mitigation

Sou | 10:30 PM Go to the first of 13 comments. Add a comment
As you probably know, when right wing extremists talk about problems that were averted, they often claim there was never a problem to begin with. That applies to lots of things, for example:

  • smog, where right wingers would claim that clean air regulations aren't necessary because the smog has disappeared all by itself.
  • population, right wingers would claim that family planning education programs and contraceptive devices and hormone pills aren't necessary, because the human population is "only" 7.4 billion, not 12 billion (yet)
  • Y2K bug, right wingers would claim there weren't any problems (that they know of), so all the efforts to prevent the problem weren't necessary
  • and more, which you can add yourself :)
Many deniers blame "the government" for water shortages from droughts and damage from floods and wildfires, not climate change or human activity. Right wing extremists are loathe to accept any blame themselves. Most will blame government for everything they see as wrong with the world, and take credit for every problem that has been fixed, or falsely claim there was never a problem to begin with.

Heaven forbid a denier giving the US government any credit for the recent dip in carbon emissions from energy use.

US carbon emissions from energy use dropped 12% below 2005 levels

Today at WUWT, there's an example of what's to come if the world manages to avert the worst of climate change. A climate conspiracy theorist called Larry Hamlin wrote about how US carbon emissions from energy use might, with luck and good management, have peaked around 2005 (archived here). Remember, this was just before the US-led global financial crisis. President Obama was elected in November 2008, and under his presidency, the US economy eventually got back on track.  Giving no credit to US government policies and programs, Larry wrote:
The U.S. already reduced CO2 emissions since the peak levels of 2005 and 2007 and has future CO2 emissions growth stabilized at lower levels because of the extraordinary benefits brought about by natural gas fracking which has increased gas production and lowered natural gas costs thereby allowing for the economically beneficial replacement of coal fuel with the additional benefit of reduced CO2 emissions.

Then he added:
Why is this remarkable success story not being presented to the public by the media? Is this just another example of climate alarmist media bias?
Wait a sec. I thought deniers wanted to increase carbon emissions.

Look at the framing - it's a convoluted mix that illustrates the denialist dilemma.  How to sell this to the denialati as a success of market forces?

How do you sell this to the "CO2 is plant food", "warmer is better" crowd? How do you sell this to the right wing extremists who don't want to see emissions drop? How do you sell it to the WUWT-ers who agitate for more floods, drought, wildfire and civil unrest? How do you sell this to the climate conspiracy theorists who believe that climate science is a hoax? How do you sell it to the pro-coal lobby at WUWT?

What about his "climate alarmist media bias"? A Google search shows that most of the reports of this were in the "alarmist media"

It was under the Obama administration that there was a concerted effort to reduce carbon emissions. This included introducing regulatory measures on coal and initially a lot of support for natural gas. The Climate Action Plan of 2013 included support for natural gas:
Natural Gas. Burning natural gas is about one-half as carbon-intensive as coal, which can make it a critical “bridge fuel” for many countries as the world transitions to even cleaner sources of energy. Toward that end, the Obama Administration is partnering with states and private companies to exchange lessons learned with our international partners on responsible development of natural gas resources. We have launched the Unconventional Gas Technical Engagement Program to share best practices on issues such as water management, methane emissions, air quality, permitting, contracting, and pricing to help increase global gas supplies and facilitate development of the associated infrastructure that brings them to market. Going forward, we will promote fuel-switching from coal to gas for electricity production and encourage the development of a global market for gas. Since heavy-duty vehicles are expected to account for 40 percent of increased oil use through 2030, we will encourage the adoption of heavy duty natural gas vehicles as well.
This year, President Obama has announced his intention to restrict methane emissions from oil and gas extraction.

The success that Larry Hamlin wrote of was mostly because of the closure of many coal-powered electricity plants. The Guardian attributed the drop in energy-related emissions to these:
A flurry of coal plant retirements and an increase in the production of natural gas and renewable energy have pushed the US further towards the federal government’s goal of slashing emissions by between 26% and 28% by 2025, prompting some analysts to call for stronger measures to accelerate the decline.
This is so typical of deniers and it will be the same going forward as has happened in the past. Any success that they admit to will not be attributed to actions that brought about the success. They'll blithely claim there was no problem to begin with, or they'll claim that it was solved without policy and regulation.

Nevertheless, it's a big step forward for deniers to acknowledge that a leveling off or reduction in carbon emissions is a success.

Natural gas to overtake coal in electricity generation in the US

Back in 2011, the US Energy Information Administration (EIA) wrote how coal would continue to dominate electricity generation in the USA through to 2020 at least. Now it looks as if it might drop behind natural gas this year or next. The chart below is from an EIA report earlier this month, showing natural gas is poised to take over from coal.

From the WUWT comments

Not everyone agrees with Larry, of course. The WUWT-ers are still campaigning for more and worse fires, floods, droughts and heat waves. They want to bring on climate change and are against any efforts to mitigate.

Editor of the Fabius Maximus website agrees that this was "good news" and as you'd expect, got a few people protesting:
May 24, 2016 at 11:00 am
Thanks for flagging this important data! Always nice to see good news.
The graph of global CO2 emissions history and forecast to 2040. It would be useful t compare that with RCP8.5 to see if we’re on track for the dark scenario (at least in this respect — the assumptions about tech stagnation and rapid population growth remain unlikely).

Bob Boder was one of the protesters:
May 24, 2016 at 12:13 pm
Thanks for flagging this important data! Always nice to see good news.”
What good news? CO2 is not a major problem and all this information means is that our wonderful government has managed to drive even more industry from our shores, isn’t socialism great, go team! 
All that industry leaving the shores must have done wonders for the US economy :)


gnomish goes further and wants everyone except science deniers and disinformers to die:
May 24, 2016 at 12:29 pm
“Why is this remarkable success story not being presented to the public by the media? Is this just another example of climate alarmist media bias?”
srsly? not only do i not care- i perceive anybody caring about co2 as a dupe and a tool.
a success story would be ‘people who are concerned with co2 emissions stop breathing and stfu.

Pat Frank is a greenhouse effect and chemistry denier:
May 24, 2016 at 4:27 pm
It would make no knowable difference if the world were on the RCP8.5 pathway. There’s no reason to think that RCP8.5 CO2 emissions through to 2100 would cause any noticeable climate warming.
There is plenty of reason to think, though, that RCP8.5 would vastly benefit farming productivity and the global ecology generally (with minimal impact of marine surface pH). 

Joanna believes she knows what the green response will be:
May 24, 2016 at 11:18 am
I believe the green response to these cheering reductions in CO2 emissions is that the decrease in CO2 is offset by an increase in atmospheric methane linked to natural gas production, transport, and use. Anyone know anything about this, particularly a comparison of methane released by coal and natural gas production? 

I was wrong about Steven Mosher no longer being welcome at WUWT. He wrote a comment.

Bob Boder has a right wing authoritarian fear of "these people":
May 24, 2016 at 12:19 pm
If these people have there way they will exterminate 95% of us and have the rest living in tents and eating bugs of the ground!

Buck Wheaton makes up his facts in an absence of fact-checking:
May 24, 2016 at 12:08 pm
The fact that this reduction has not been received as good news by those who are clamoring for reductions shows that their demands were not honest in the first place. This reduction does nothing to advance their socialistic agenda. The only news worth mentioning by climate advocates is news that helps them impose bigger government and to reduce our prosperity. That is their real goal, no matter how much those liars deny it. 

GW doesn't know that the US economy has picked up:
May 24, 2016 at 1:31 pm
Gee, What A Surprise ! Who would have thought 2005 and 2007 were the peak of US Emissions ? After all they were only the peak years of post 9/11 economic boom prior to the US economic collapse in the fall of 2007 ! The fact that US emissions have not risen since then simply mirrors the stagnation of the US economy since then. 

Dan points out that US per capita emissions remain very high, and boasts that he is a climate science denier:
May 24, 2016 at 1:32 pm
As a skeptic, I find these types of articles embarrassing, because they have the same misuse of statistics and poor analysis that CAGW articles have. If someone truly believes that CO2 is a pollutant that is threatening the world, then a fair goal would be for the US to at least reduce their per capita pollution to below the world average. Currently compared to the world, the US population is around 5% and CO2 emissions around 15%. That is 3 times the average. This whole analysis of INCREASING global CO2 emissions is in my opinion misleading.
The real point is CO2 is NOT pollution and is not a problem to be solved at all. This type of article just gives ammunition to CAGW alarmist that skeptics are missing the big picture and being dishonest. 

Bruce Cobb is one of those science deniers that wrongly thinks that adding CO2 to the air will be good for the world. (Where do deniers get these weird notions? Oh, okay, from climate conspiracy blogs like WUWT. Why don't they bother to check their facts?)
May 24, 2016 at 2:08 pm
That is terrible news. We need to do better in helping to increase life-giving CO2. For our planet, and people too.
More than one person had the strange and wrong opinion that America is a net carbon sink. I've no idea where that notion came from. stas peterson BSME, MSMa, MBA who likes lots of letters after his name, and likes to shout, wrote:
May 24, 2016 at 4:54 pm
As as pointed out that America is the largest NET CARBON SINK on the planet, By the way, the bio-sequestration is not any part of these EIA reports, They only reveal reported emissions and the mighty Oak and the vast grasslands and corn and wheat fields that consume CO2 and make food and oxygen, are never reported and subtracted.
America produces BELOW ZERO CO2 emissions. Our job is done. The dumbels don’t know i,t and think we are a great polluter. Baloney.

R. Shearer suspects it's true, but doesn't say why, and asks for references, but in vain:
May 24, 2016 at 5:23 pm
I suspect that is true. Do you have any references to back up the claim?

References and further reading

U.S. energy-related carbon dioxide emissions in 2015 are 12% below their 2005 levels - report at US Energy Information Administration, 9 May 2016

Carbon dioxide emissions from electricity generation in 2015 were lowest since 1993 - article at US Energy Information Administration, 13 May 2016

Carbon dioxide emissions from US energy sector fall 12% since 2005 - article by Oliver Milman in the Guardian, 10 May 2016

Feds: Energy sector carbon emissions dipped in 2015 - article by Devin Henry at The Hill, 9 May 2016

A Climate Win for Natural Gas: U.S. Carbon Dioxide Output Plummets - article at Oil and Gas 360, 9 May 2016

Renewables Are Leaving Natural Gas In The Dust This Year - article by Joe Romm at Climate Progress, 16 May 2016

Obama administration announces historic new regulations for methane emissions from oil and gas - article by Chris Mooney and Brady Dennis at Washington Post, 12 May 2016

BREAKING: EPA Finalizes Methane Rule For New Oil And Gas Operations - article by Samantha Page at Climate Progress, 12 May 2016

Coal likely to remain most prevalent fuel for electricity generation - article at US Energy Information, 26 May 2011

Other HotWhopper articles featuring Larry Hamlin.


  1. I like how stas peterson refers to "dumbels", when he means "dumbbells".

    1. amusingly he's been around for a while, and gives the impression of being a very cranky old engineer with a particular set of confirmation biases.

      And putting a bunch of letters behind your name is the same as tv doctors wearing scrubs...trying way, way too hard.

  2. Too funny. looks like I got un banned.

    In any case I am going to conduct an experiment of not commenting at WUWT or Climate Etc for a while and see what happens to the number of average comments per thread.

    1. Anthony bans most sciency types so as not to offend his audience, but deep down he also knows he has to keep a couple for his fans to flame (pun intended :))

    2. Steven, where you temporarily banned at WUWT? It wouldn't be out of character for Watts to do so because he has sporadically banned Neven from the Arctic Sea ice Blog several times when the fact based science practiced at ASIB became inconvenient.
      Neven's original "sin" was being the first to comment on an ice thread in Aug 2012 teasing Watt's about being oblivious to the cyclone that was about to decimate arctic ice.


      Steven, you didn't exactly ingratiate yourself with Watts when you started posting on that thread, starting with this comment.


      Poor old Reggie vanished without a trace down the memory hole that day for having the temerity to post replies to Smokey's comments by addressing him as Dbstealy.

  3. One way the denier pack could use this "news" to advance their agenda is by arguing that even though CO2 emissions have dropped, global warming has sped up. Thus, they could argue, CO2 has nothing to do with climate change.

    To argue this way, however, they'd have to admit global warming has sped up, and that's in conflict with the "No Global Warming Since 1997!" argument. Of course, they've never been consistent, so that might not be a problem for them.

  4. Bob Boder have the rest... eating bugs of the ground Sheesh not only a climate denier but not even a gourmand. He probably puts ketchup on his filet mignon.

    What's wrong with bugs? Bugs, insects, worms and so on are popular in many parts of the globe, in fact, delicacies in some places and look to becoming a more important food and feed source around the world. I can recommend sautéed grasshopper with a light dusting of chili powder. http://www.fao.org/edible-insects/en/

  5. Probably old news to people here, but I'm astonished that dbstealey is a mod at WUWT.

    1. Is? He used to be, but at one point his name disappeared from the moderator list they publish on the website.

      It was never explained - or confirmed that he had been disowned. But he had been an embarrassment to WUWT for some time. He was caught using sock puppets and using his moderator privileges to erase any arguments he was losing in the comments section under WUWT articles.

      Has he been put back on the list?

    2. Check the time stamps for each of the four posts starting from mine @ 4:19pm.

      h t t p s://wattsupwiththat.com/2016/05/17/nsidc-resumes-sea-ice-plots-with-provisional-data/comment-page-1/#comment-2225498

      (reintegrate 'https' in your address bar - I see that Sou doesn't seem to like linking to WUWT)

    3. What you describe is what I've experienced personally, and have assumed he does it generally. It's why I'm astonished.

    4. @barry
      Thanks for that link @WUWT. Later in that thread Mosher falsified the climate Null Hypothesis that Smokey posts ad nauseum. It would be hilarious to view the silly troll's reaction if you posted this link to an archived copy of SM's comment at the very bottom of that thread.

  6. Yes I have noticed that, all he does is repeat the "null hypothesis" claptrap and then goes on to talk about "proof"

    Laughably claiming you can't prove AGW, oblivious to the fact that science is not about "proof"


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