Take-aways from the Washington, D.C. Heartland Climate Change Conference

By Andy May

This was my first climate change conference and I had a great time. So, here is a quick note sharing my most memorable take-aways from the conference. Most of the comments below are paraphrased, but if they are exact quotes, I’ve put them in quotation marks. To hear the full talk by any of the speakers go to the Heartland.Org site here.

The most memorable statement is from Myron Ebell. Three U.S. elections “have turned on climate issues.” These are 2000, 2010, and 2016. In 2000 Al Gore lost because he lost West Virginia. This “was due entirely because someone named Buck Harless put,” in every voter’s mailbox a study he commissioned showing the effect on West Virginia’s coal industry and economy of Al Gore’s proposed policies. The 2010 election was turned by the Waxman-Markey cap-and-trade bill, which caused the House Democrats to lose 20 seats and making the House of Representatives Republican. Finally, in 2016, climate change and the fossil fuel industry were explicit issues and Clinton and Trump were on opposite sides. The pro-fossil fuel side won the key fossil fuel states of West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Tennessee and Kentucky.

Walter Cunningham, the famous Apollo astronaut, who also has a physics degree from UCLA, stated he had “never seen any evidence supporting the [climate] alarmist view” or “supporting man changing climate.” He, Pat Michaels, Steve Milloy, Jay Lehr and Myron Ebell all strongly support eliminating the EPA CO2endangerment finding.” The endangerment finding states that CO2 is dangerous to mankind.  For more on this see Penny Starr’s article here. This clearly unscientific finding was upheld by the Supreme Court even though CO2 is essential for life on Earth and is a vital food for plants. Walt Cunningham noted that the alarm for excess CO2, in the Apollo spacecraft, was set at 3,000 ppm and on the space station it is set at 5,000 to 10,000 ppm. These levels will likely never be reached on Earth again, although the atmosphere has reached these levels in the very distant past (prior to 200,000,000 years ago). The current level is about 400 ppm, people can become dizzy if the CO2 level in a sealed room exceeds 40,000 ppm. Most plants die when the level goes below 150 ppm.

The endangerment finding will be used to destroy the fossil fuel industry, our economy and millions of jobs, if it is not eliminated, according to Michaels and Ebell.

Fred Singer is now 92 years old, but what a trooper. Everyone at the conference was inspired when he gave his outstanding presentation. He clearly explained why the evolving surface weather station network, which has been dominated by airport stations since 1990, has affected our temperature record. Airports are notorious for spurious high temperature readings for obvious reasons. They have too much pavement and too many hot airplane engines. He also explained how “correcting” ocean buoy temperature readings to ship water intake temperatures, as NOAA has done, is erroneous.

Willie Soon presented a paper he wrote with Ronan Connolly and Michael Connolly. They showed that arctic sea ice retreat since the 1970s was preceded by an arctic sea ice advance from the 1940s to the 1970s. This suggests that the current sea ice retreat may be a natural cycle and not due to man-made global warming, particularly when one considers that the Antarctic sea ice extent is at a record level.

Indur Goklany noted that, due to fossil fuels and modern farming technology, crop failures are a thing of the past. 70% of the recent greening of the planet is due to more CO2 and we are now “living in the best of times.” How true.

Roger Bezdek noted that “Fossil fuels are the driver of economic growth and jobs.” He added that “fossil fuels will continue to provide more than 80% of world energy for the foreseeable future.”

Craig Idso analyzed the effect of CO2 on the 45 most important food crops in the world and concluded that the recent increase in CO2 has provided trillions of dollars of additional food to the world’s population. This increase in food production has amounted to a $5/ton CO2 benefit to mankind. This $5 benefit should be subtracted from any calculation of the so-called “social cost of carbon,” but this has not been done. He noted that Norman Borlock has shown that if all known fossil fuels on the planet were burned, the level of CO2 in the atmosphere would increase to 1000 ppm to 2000 ppm. The data in Dr. Idso’s database shows that plant growth continues to increase in a linear fashion to, at least, 2000 ppm.

Dr. Pat Michaels made an impassioned plea to reverse the CO2 endangerment finding and quoted Eisenhower’s final speech from January 17, 1961:

“Today, the solitary inventor, tinkering in his shop, has been overshadowed by task forces of scientists in laboratories and testing fields. In the same fashion, the free university, historically the fountainhead of free ideas and scientific discovery, has experienced a revolution in the conduct of research. Partly because of the huge costs involved, a government contract becomes virtually a substitute for intellectual curiosity. For every old blackboard there are now hundreds of new electronic computers.

The prospect of domination of the nation’s scholars by Federal employment, project allocations, and the power of money is ever present – and is gravely to be regarded.

Yet, in holding scientific research and discovery in respect, as we should, we must also be alert to the equal and opposite danger that public policy could itself become the captive of a scientific-technological elite.

I have added the emphasis. It is clear, at least to me, that what President Eisenhower predicted in 1961 has already occurred. Those of us, and there were many at the conference, who are “solitary inventors” or “independent researchers” struggling to understand climate change without using the assumption that man is causing it, are facing a public that has become the “captive of a [self-serving] scientific-technological elite.” The elite is publicly funded with our tax dollars by government bureaucrats with an anti-fossil fuel agenda. The bureaucrats are aided by environmental organizations that create pseudo-scientific nonsense to support the crusade and line their pockets.

Lamar Smith has fought this “pseudo-science” by attempting to require the EPA and other agencies publish the scientific studies used to create government regulations. This seems very reasonable, our taxes paid for these studies, the studies add costs to our factory production and they increase the cost of goods we buy. Why shouldn’t the science behind the regulations be fully published as Representative Smith’s “HONEST” act requires? His previous “secret science” act, which was very similar, was threatened with a veto by President Obama. Why would Obama want to keep scientific work, paid for by taxpayers, secret?

Susan Crockford showed that polar bears were classified as a threatened species, even though their numbers were increasing, because of a computer model. Unfortunately, for the modelers, the conditions they predicted for 2050 occurred early, in 2009, and the polar bear population still increased! Hmmm, it seems that legislation or rules based on computer models can be in error. Imagine that?

Scott Armstrong appropriately noted one of the iron laws of political economics:

“There is no form of market failure, however egregious, which is not eventually made worse by the political interventions intended to fix it.”

He also said:

“Government has no business in research.”

Jay Lehr was one of the five people who helped design and create the EPA from 1968 to 1971. He believes that they did some good work for the first eight years or so and improved the environment in the US. But, he also believes they have not done anything useful since 1980 and should be eliminated today. All 50 states now have their own environmental organizations (not true in 1971) and work like this should be done at the state level, in his opinion. What coordination between states is required could be handled by a commission composed of state appointed commissioners. The current US EPA is “a wholly owned subsidiary of the green movement” and its green agenda is harmful to the USA.

According to Ben Zycher the Ivanpah solar power plant in the Mohavi Desert of California is a huge failure. It only produces 65% of the power promised because “the sun didn’t shine as much as we predicted.” The power produced costs $180/mWh, versus natural gas costs of $60. And this doesn’t include substantial subsidies and a $1.6 billion loan from the U.S. government. Ivanpah has now requested U.S. grant money to use to pay back the U.S. loan.

James Taylor has calculated that renewable mandates cost electricity customers $130/year in Kansas, $190/year in Ohio, and $400/year in New Mexico. Obama said renewable energy would necessarily cause electricity prices to skyrocket. Obama got that one right. He should have added that wind and solar will kill 1.5 million birds and bats every year and that biofuels (especially algal biofuels) are an environmental nightmare.

Mary Hutzler computed a new levelized cost of electricity that corrects the serious errors made by the EIA and IEA. She includes the cost of backup and buffering required for solar and wind. She uses natural gas combined cycle backup systems because they were the cheapest. For a discussion of non-fossil fuel backup systems see here.

Steve Milloy notes that “Government has perverted science.” Like many other speakers, he thinks it is imperative that the CO2 endangerment finding be reversed. Steve Milloy was one of the members of Myron Ebell’s EPA transition team, created by Donald Trump when he was still a candidate.

The famous Professor Will Happer gave an excellent speech where he noted the following points:

  1. Climate models do not work.
  2. Climate changes regardless of CO2 levels.
  3. More CO2 leads to more benefits for mankind.
  4. It is immoral to deprive the world of fossil fuels.
  5. The social cost of carbon is negative.

As a special treat, I highly recommend that you listen to the wonderful speeches given by Lord Christopher Monckton and EU Parliament member Roger Helmer. The speeches are wonderfully worded and presented, as only they can. The speeches cannot be properly summarized and must be heard in full to be appreciated. Highly recommended.

I will conclude this conference summary here. It was a wonderful conference and I am very grateful to Joe Bast and his wonderful team for putting it on. The organization, the food and venue were excellent. It was very nice to meet the people whose papers and posts I’ve been reading for years, face to face. I realize everyone doesn’t have the resources or the time to attend a conference like this, but if you get the chance it is well worth it.