avatar
Global Warming II


Since I drafted my comments on Global Warming, and on the release last week of the landmark study of the phenomenon by scientists with the Scripps Institution of Oceanography and the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, I’ve managed to locate two other print sources that actually reported something about this study:

Human prints on warming,” Bryn Nelson, Newsday, February 20, 2005
Science Notebook,” Washington Post, February 21, 2005 (citing a Knight Ridder Tribune wire service report)

Apologies for repeating myself. But I really do think this study’s finding that the predictions of the two climate-change models they used—the U.S. Government’s Parallel Climate Model and the Hadley Center’s HadCM3—were corroborated backwards in time across some 7 million temperature measurements of the world’s oceans and atmosphere over a 40-year period is pretty remarkable stuff.

There can be no doubting these two models’ predictive capacity, in other words. They account for changes that already have occurred and been measured—principally in the oceans, where 90 percent of the planet’s surface heat is stored.

On the other hand. For those of you who’d like a good laugh—or cry—it’s hard to say which—try comparing what the Scripps and Lawrence Livermore researchers are reporting to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency‘s Global Warming webpage. Specifically, the webpage the EPA devotes to “Uncertainties” (quote-unquote). And if this isn’t enough for you, try taking a look at last week’s interview in The Independent with Lee Raymond, the CEO of the Irving, Texas-based ExxonMobil Corporation—whose record $25.3 billion in profits last year was thanks entirely to higher oil prices, giving ExxonMobil the single most profitable year in the history of corporate capitalism.

“Exxon,” The Independent points out (“Exxon Chief Calls for Global Reality Check,” Saeed Shah, Feb. 18),

has never accepted the mainstream science on global warming that led to the signing of the Kyoto treaty in 1997. The company points to “uncertainties” in the science and funds a number of think tanks and academics that have questioned the research. The EU has committed itself to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, which are blamed for global warming, to 8 per cent below 1990 levels by 2012.

Mr Raymond said: “I also think there will be a need to be realistic about environmental targets. While the political commitment to the Kyoto process and targets is quite strong in Europe, attaining those targets is going to be very challenging, given the energy supply and demand realities. That is why a reality check may be needed regarding the attainment of those targets.”

Yeah. A “reality check” for sure. As in 25-billion-reality checks.—How much would you like to bet that on their current tour of Europe, the American President and his advisers will be reminding one European capital after another just what Lee Raymond had in mind?

In the EPA’s politically-guarded rhetoric (“What are the Big Unknowns?“),

Scientists have identified that our health, agriculture, water resources, forests, wildlife and coastal areas are vulnerable to the changes that global warming may bring. But projecting what the exact impacts will be over the 21st century remains very difficult. This is especially true when one asks how a local region will be affected.

Scientists are more confident about their projections for large-scale areas (e.g., global temperature and precipitation change, average sea level rise) and less confident about the ones for small-scale areas (e.g., local temperature and precipitation changes, altered weather patterns, soil moisture changes). This is largely because the computer models used to forecast global climate change are still ill-equipped to simulate how things may change at smaller scales.

Some of the largest uncertainties are associated with events that pose the greatest risk to human societies. IPCC cautions, “Complex systems, such as the climate system, can respond in non-linear ways and produce surprises.”

By “IPCC,” the EPA means the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change—hardly the chump organization the EPA makes it out to be. For the EPA to pretend that this one quote—”Complex systems, such as the climate system, can respond in non-linear ways and produce surprises”—Duh!—is representative of the IPCC’s collective position on the phenomenon of global (“anthropogenic”) warming, and to pretend, further, that complex systems or non-linearity (or crop circles or paranormal activity or whatever) gives Washington’s policymakers scientific reason to ignore the phenomenon is an outrage and beyond.

It’s always good to learn that on non-trivial issues such as global (“anthropogenic”) warming and the long- (and not-so-long-) term risks it may pose to the survival of the human species, the official rhetoric of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is closer to the official rhetoric of the ExxonMobil Corporation, than it is to the world’s scientists who have been investigating this phenomenon for the past 30 years.

United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (Homepage)

United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (a.k.a. Kyoto Treaty), May 9, 1992 (For the current Status of Ratification)

Kyoto Protocol to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (a.k.a. Kyoto Protocol), December 11, 1997 (For the current Status of Ratification)
The Kyoto Protocol’s Emission Targets

Scripps Researchers Find Clear Evidence of Human-Produced Warming in World’s Oceans” (Media Release), Scripps Institution of Oceanography, February 17, 2005
Scientists advance in detection and attribution of climate change” (Media Release), Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, February 18, 2005

Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California at San Diego
Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

Hadley Centre for Climate Prediction and Research, United Kingdom
U.S. Global Change Research Program

Observed Impacts of Global Climate Change in the U.S., Camille Parmesan and Hector Galbraith, Pew Center on Global Climate Change, November, 2004

Exxon Mobil Corporation Announces Estimated Fourth Quarter and 2004 Results,” January 31, 2005
President Discusses American and European Alliance in Belgium,” White House Office of the Press Secretary, February 21, 2005

Global Warming I, ZNet, February 20, 2005

FYA (“For your archives”): Providing links to material in the The Independent is becoming increasingly problematic: More and more of what The Independent publishes it declines to post to webpage free-of-charge. The February 18 interview with ExxonMobil CEO Lee Raymond is a case in point. Of course, I still can paste a copy of the article here. But I can’t provide a link to it—The Independent having sequestered the original behind the $$$$$$ curtain.

The Independent (London)
February 18, 2005, Friday
SECTION: First Edition; BUSINESS; Pg. 42
HEADLINE: EXXON CHIEF CALLS FOR KYOTO REALITY CHECK;
L RAYMOND WARNS ON CHALLENGE OF ENVIRONMENTAL TARGETS L EUROPE MUST
BYLINE: SAEED SHAH
HIGHLIGHT: Lee Raymond: Ours is a long-term business’

THE HEAD of ExxonMobil, the world’s biggest oil company, has warned Europe that “a reality check” is needed over its commitment to the Kyoto treaty on climate change.

Lee R Raymond, the chairman and chief executive, caused outrage among environmentalists with his comments, given in a speech in London to an oil industry gathering. He declared that the targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions set by Europe, which is leading the world in the implementation of Kyoto, would prove very difficult to achieve.

Mr Raymond also took a swipe at the British Government’s tax policy for North Sea operators. Exxon extracts 15 per cent of the oil and gas supplied from the UK continental shelf in the North Sea. Speaking at a dinner on Wednesday night at the Grosvenor House Hotel in London, to mark the International Petroleum Week conference organised by the Energy Institute, a trade body, Mr Raymond said the UK’s tax and regulatory regimes needed to be more competitive. He said the costs of operating in the UK continental shelf were among the highest in the world.

“We have only to look back to the tax changes made in the UK North Sea in 2002 to see the interruption that subsequently took place in exploration.”

In the 2002 Budget, an extra 10 per cent tax was applied to oil companies operating in the UK part of the North Sea. Mr Raymond said that, to those calling for windfall taxes to be applied to the multi-billion pound profits now being made by oil majors, “I would remind them that ours is a long- term business and that project lives often exceed 20 years”.

Exxon, which also trades as Esso in this country, has never accepted the mainstream science on global warming that led to the signing of the Kyoto treaty in 1997. The company points to “uncertainties” in the science and funds a number of think tanks and academics that have questioned the research. The EU has committed itself to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, which are blamed for global warming, to 8 per cent below 1990 levels by 2012.

Mr Raymond said: “I also think there will be a need to be realistic about environmental targets. While the political commitment to the Kyoto process and targets is quite strong in Europe, attaining those targets is going to be very challenging, given the energy supply and demand realities. That is why a reality check may be needed regarding the attainment of those targets.”

He said the world will experience a dramatic rise in energy demand – equal to an extra 100 million barrels per day of oil by 2030 – more than 10 times the current output of Saudi Arabia, the world’s leading producer. He said fossils fuels remained the only way of meeting those needs, in particular from new sources of gas. Mr Raymond predicted wind and solar energy would provide just 1 per cent of global requirements in 2030.

Unlike Shell and BP, Exxon opposes the Kyoto treaty – many saw its hand behind the decision taken by the Bush administration in 2001 to pull out of Kyoto. But Exxon insists it is taking practical actions to reduce emissions. A spokesman said that Kyoto would “impose dramatic economic costs in the developed world” while failing to tackle the emissions from the developing world. He said the company believed that “it is time to move beyond Kyoto” and focus on developing technologies to reduce emissions.

The dinner Mr Raymond addressed was disrupted by protesters, who labelled him “the number one climate criminal”.

Even in Mr Bush’s Republican Party and in the US oil industry, some leading voices have called for America to adopt a Kyoto-style system for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. US Senators John McCain and Joseph Lieberman introduced the Climate Stewardship Act 2005 earlier this month, but Exxon said that it opposes the move.

Leave a comment