Category Archives: Climate

A Response to Ontario’s Minister of Energy

Like all material coming out of the Ontario Ministry of Energy, Glenn Thibeault’s Thursday column requires careful scrutiny. With his sophomoric prose he attempts to refute the Fraser Institute’s report that concludes that closing the Nanticoke and Lambton coal generation stations had no statistical significant effect on air quality in Toronto and Hamilton. He fails.

To refute a scholarly report of this nature that uses statistical models, mathematics, graphs and properly structured data, one must do so on the same level. Name calling such as “well-known climate change denier” and appeals to anecdotal evidence such as “black smoke rising out of coal smoke stacks” doesn’t do it. Nor does an extensive list of dropped names or an emotional appeal to a child’s health issues. And incidentally, my home town is a few miles from Nanticoke and no black smoke came out of those stacks.

He begins by stating that the report is “arguing against reducing greenhouse gas emissions”. In fact, on reading the report one finds no such argument. One does find reference to planned massive reductions in emissions from the coal plants from modifications that died with the plants. The report does observe that the lost generation would have to be replaced largely by gas-fired plants which produce their own greenhouse gasses.

He is closer with his claim that “According to the report authors, closing Ontario’s coal plants had a negligible effect on emissions in our province”. The report actually states that “Overall our results show that phasing out coal in Ontario had small but detectable effects on particulates and ozone, but not NOx” and that “Phasing out coal had a moderate effect on fine particulates that was statistically insignificant in Toronto and Hamilton.”

When Glenn attempts to use data to argue a point, he employs a technique called “cherry picking” – selecting data that supports your argument. Unlike the report authors who cite their sources, he throws out some numbers without citation or context, rendering them useless. He then causally associates these numbers with improvement in our air quality and by extension, the shutdown of coal plants.

To whit, he cites 2005 with 53 smog days, which is the worst figure found in a table on the website of the Ontario Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change. Now Environment and Climate Change Canada lists the annual output of CO2 by the Nanticoke plant from 2004 to its final decommissioning in 2013. The plant produced slightly more CO2 in 2007 than 2005. One would then expect by his argument to see roughly the same number of smog days in 2007 as 2005; but that year had 26% fewer smog days. Oops.

The third highest number of smog days was in 2012 with 30, 43% fewer than 2005. However, at that point Nanticoke output had been cut by 89%. In 2006 when Nanticoke was at its peak, only 17 smog days occurred, and in 2009 there were only 5. So you can see that the Ontario coal plants had no determinable influence on the number of smog days when all the data is examined.

But we can tease out one more tidbit. The Ontario Ministry of Agriculture shows the prevailing winds on hot days (smog producing days) in Southern Ontario as coming predominantly from the south west followed by the west and the south. This means that Windsor Ontario is upwind of both the Nanticoke and Lambton plants. But Windsor had more smog days in half the years shown than any other municipality listed, in Ontario. It tied for the most smog days in 4 of the remaining six years. So there’s a problem: Windsor’s smog can’t have come from coal generation in Ontario. Oops.


The Weather in 2016: An Average Year for Storms

This is our third annual review of extreme weather events following on last year’s  summary of major storm activity, The Weather in 2015: Hardly Extreme. In this report we look at tornado’s, Atlantic hurricanes and Pacific hurricanes (typhoons) for 2016. As we will show, all storm activity was at or below average for the year.

The Weather in 2015: Hardly Extreme


Last year we made our first annual summary of major storm activity for the previous year, looking at tornado’s, Atlantic hurricanes and Pacific hurricanes (typhoons): The Weather in 2014: Extreme Hysteria but Not Extreme Weather. We now take a look at 2015 to see what kind of a year it was. As we will show, all storm activity was sightly below average for the year

Eat your Broccoli Now

In Another Dry Essay we discussed the drought in California with a chronology of links to related articles through October 2014. We followed up in December with The U.S. South-West Drought Revisited.

Recently we checked the drought monitor and although the drought severity has dropped from most severe or D4 in the north and south it remains most severe for the central region of the state as seen in Figure 1. The table in the monitor with the corresponding data shows that as of March 3, 2015, 39.92% of the state was in the D4 category. A year ago the figure was 22.37%, almost half.

Why We Can’t Reduce Global Carbon Emissions but Will Go Broke Trying

In recent months we have read a number of cogent articles arguing why our attempts to curb CO2 emissions are destined to fail. We have decided to capture these references in what will be an open post, a technique we use for creating a chronology and reference list for topics that interest us. In the process we may comment and summarize.

The Weather in 2014: Extreme Hysteria but Not Extreme Weather

We have studied tornadoes (Flash Point: A Note on Tornadoes), hurricanes (Flash Point: Hurricanes and Hyperbole), and typhoons (Flash Point: Typhoons in Perspective) in response to the hyperbole over anthropomorphic global warming and climate change and found no evidence of increased activity. With the 2014 data now in, we see how 2014 compared to past years. In addition we address the current “hottest year” hysteria.

The U.S. South-West Drought Revisited

We initially looked at the California drought in February of this year in our essay, Another Dry Essay. Since no one is currently writing about it we thought we would review the situation.

Flash Point: Hot It’s Not – Get Your Bias Right

We have written many articles under the Climate category on this site that deal with the “global warming” issue and climate temperature. The IPCC and AGW adherents have been confounded by the fact that temperatures have not risen since 1998 (their grudging admission). They have been working overtime (read: Excuse #52 for ‘the pause’ in global warming – natural climate variability as secular trends) to explain this “hiatus” as a pause in a trend towards planetary ignition due to anthropogenic CO2 in the atmosphere.

Today we became aware of an academic paper by Dr. Ross McKitrick, an economist and statistician specializing in environmental science, titled HAC-Robust Measurement of the Duration of a Trendless Subsample in a Global Climate Time Series. (McKitrick, R. (2014) HAC-Robust Measurement of the Duration of a Trendless Subsample in a Global Climate Time Series. Open Journal of Statistics, 4, 527-535. doi: 10.4236/ojs.2014.47050.) From the abstract (emphasis ours):

The IPCC has drawn attention to an apparent leveling-off of globally-averaged temperatures over the past 15 years or so. Measuring the duration of the hiatus … Application of the method [described in the abstract but technically complex] shows that there is now a trendless interval of 19 years duration at the end of the HadCRUT4 surface temperature series, and of 16 – 26 years in the lower troposphere.

In other words, temperatures have not increased at the planet’s surface for the last 19 years (since 1995). In the lowest layer of the atmosphere (the troposphere) the “hiatus” – the term widely used to identify this period – may extend to 26 years.

“What’s Cookin’ Doc?”

It turns out the answer to the question is “not much”. We decided that given the new media fear phrase – “extreme weather” and recent reports of record temperatures (we see the Ottawa forecast for August 13 is a high of 17 degrees C) – that we should take a look at the global temperature situation now that we’re past the midpoint of 2014. Are we in imminent danger of species immolation or merely a comprehensive  fleecing from the carbon credit crowd? Click on images to open in new windows.

Holy Smoke, Batman!

Jeffrey Saut, Chief Investment Strategist at Raymond James reports in a King World News interview (noted for its hyperbole in prose) that Massive Volcanic Eruptions Wreaking Havoc On The World. He states:

You also have a drought in Texas.  One of my themes, Eric, has been the weird weather.  The world is actually cooling, not warming.  What’s causing this is the volcanic ash in the air.  You’ve got more volcanic ash in the air than at any time in recorded history.

As with all climate phenomena, “recorded history” consisting of reliable and consistent observation and measurement is very short. We simply note the comments to preserve them for future investigation.

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