Saturday, 12 August 2017

Why `an inconvenient truth`(Al Gore global warming film) cannot be the truth

Tom Harris executive director of Canada based International Climate Science Coalition.
    PAGOSA DAILY POST   Pagosa Springs  Colorado  10 August 2017

Overlooked in the debates about former Vice-President Al Gore’s global warming films, An Inconvenient Truth (2006) and An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power (2017), is the fact that ‘truth’ is not possible in science.
Scientific hypotheses, and even scientific theories, are not truth; they can be, and often are, wrong.
Truth applies to mathematics, chess, and other endeavors in which we write the rules. It never applies to our findings about nature, which are educated opinions based on scientists’ interpretations of observations. Philosophers since ancient times have recognized that observations always have some degree of uncertainty and so they cannot prove anything to be true. Not only are our methods of observing imperfect but, as human beings subject to many influences, we all have biases that affect how we interpret what we think we see.
At first, it was mostly activists and politicians who made claims to certainty about climate change. But increasingly, more scientists now use such language as well. A prime example is scientists who work with the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which has repeatedly claimed that some of their major conclusions are “unequivocal,” in other words, ideas that cannot be wrong.
For instance, the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report Synthesis Report starts, “Warming of the climate system is unequivocal, as is now evident from observations of…”
Although a supporter of the human-caused global warming hypothesis, Lehigh University philosophy professor Steven Goldman explained in a personal communication that the IPCC statement is faulty. It is “an attempt to persuade extra-logically,” said Goldman. “Strictly logically, no observations can lead to an ‘unequivocal’ interpretation.”
David Wojick, a Virginia-based Ph.D. in the logic and philosophy of science, disagrees with Goldman about climate change but agrees that the IPCC made a serious mistake in the Synthesis Report. “Reasoning from evidence is inductive logic,” said Wojick. “As for unequivocal, that is never the case in inductive logic.”
Yet, in speaking about the IPCC Fifth Assessment Report, Working Group I co-chair Dr. Thomas Stocker asserted that “warming in the climate system is unequivocal.” Canadian historical climatologist Dr. Tim Ball calls Stocker’s statement “nonsense.”
The promotion of absolute truths in science has impeded human progress for centuries. For example, when the Greco-Egyptian writer Claudius Ptolemy proposed his Earth-centered system, he did not say it was physical astronomy, a true description of how the universe actually worked. He promoted it as mathematical astronomy, a model that worked well for astrology, astronomical observations, and creating calendars.
It was the Catholic Church that, relying on a literal interpretation of the Bible, promoted the Ptolemaic system as ‘truth’ — to be questioned at one’s peril. This was why Nicolaus Copernicus, a Canon in the Church, waited until he was on his death bed before he allowed his revolutionary book — showing the Sun to be the center of the universe — to be published, even though the text was completed three decades previous. This is also why Galileo had so much trouble when he claimed that the Church was wrong and that Copernicanism was the truth, a position that Galileo could not really know either.
Later, the assumed, unquestionable truths of Isaac Newton’s laws eventually acted to slow the advancement of science until Albert Einstein showed that there were important exceptions to the laws.
When authorities preach ‘truth’ about science, progress stops.
Einstein once said, “Whoever undertakes to set himself up as a judge of truth and knowledge is shipwrecked by the laughter of the gods.” It might be humorous to the gods, but when eco-activists like Gore succeed in suppressing debate about climate change — one of the most important issues of our age — we all lose.

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Trump digs coal

Photograph: Donald J Trump at a rally in Wilkes-Barre, Pa, last month. Credit Dominick Reuter/Agence France-Presse------Getty images.

Electricity Generation   

In 2016, annual U.S. electricity generation from natural gas surpassed generation from coal-fired power plants, the first time this has happened based on data going back to 1949. Natural gas supplied an estimated 34% of total U.S. electricity generation in 2016 compared with 30% for coal. The increase in the share of generation fueled by natural gas last year was driven by sustained low prices for natural gas. The U.S. average price for natural gas delivered to electric generators was $2.88/million British thermal units (MMBtu) in 2016.
Natural gas prices have risen since last year, with the delivered price to electric generators averaging $3.58/MMBtu during the first half of 2017. EIA estimates that the share of total U.S. generation fueled by natural gas during the first half of this year averaged 29%, down from nearly 34% during the same period last year. In contrast, coal’s share of generation rose from 28% in the first half of 2016 to 30% in first half of 2017. Another reason for the decline in natural gas generation so far this year is the strong increase in conventional hydroelectric generation, particularly in the western states. The share of total generation in the West census division supplied from hydropower averaged an estimated 32% in the first half of 2017, compared with 27% during the first half of last year.
EIA expects a less pronounced change in generation shares during the second half of 2017. Natural gas is expected fuel 33% of total U.S. generation in the second half of 2017, compared with 34% during the second half of 2016. The delivered natural gas price to electric generators is expected to average $3.60/MMBtu between July and December 2017, up 46 cents from the same period in 2016. Coal’s share of generation in the second half of 2017 is relatively unchanged from the second half last year at 32%.
Natural gas and coal are expected to fuel about the same amount of generation in 2018, with each providing slightly more than 31% of total U.S. generation. Renewable energy sources other than hydropower are forecast to supply nearly 10% of U.S. generation in 2018, up from slightly more than 8% in 2016.
US EIA  US Energy Information Administration

According to the EIA’s July report, “EIA estimates that the share of total U.S. generation fueled by natural gas during the first half of this year averaged 29%… In contrast, coal’s share of generation rose from 28% in the first half of 2016 to 30% in first half of 2017.” For the full year 2017, EIA estimates that coal will generate 3.453 million kilowatts per day, while natural gas, because of a rise in its retail price this year, will generate a hair less, or 3.432 million kilowatts. Wind and solar remain niche sources of energy providing about one-seventh as much power as coal and gas.
That’s not all. On July 21, the Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Economic Analysis reported that “mining increased 21.6 percent.… The first quarter growth primarily reflected increases in oil and gas extraction, as well as support activities for mining. This was the largest increase since the fourth quarter of 2014.” ‎No other major American industry had such gains and across all industries output was up less than 2%.
As for the drilling and mining industries, they have gained more than 50,000 jobs since Trump’s election with 8,000 added in June alone. Many of these were in the oil and gas industry, but some were in coal, whose output has increased 12% this year.  Stephen Moore American Spectator