Wednesday, September 28, 2016



Earth is warmer that it has been in 120,000 years - and is 'locked in' to hit its hottest mark in more than 2 million years, study claims

Amusing stuff.  The paper I led with yesterday sets out why it is too difficult to get accurate parameter estimates from paleoclimate data.  So this study is basically just a huge exercise in guesswork.  I have always been critical of paleoclimte estimates derived from ice-cores, tree rings etc. so would always have rubbished this study.  As it happens however, even some prominent Warmists have dismissed the study as incapable of giving accurate estimates of anything.  See the next article below this one


A new study paints a picture of an Earth that is warmer than it has been in about 120,000 years, and is locked into eventually hitting its hottest mark in more than 2 million years.

As part of her doctoral dissertation at Stanford University, Carolyn Snyder , now a climate policy official at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, created a continuous 2 million year temperature record, much longer than a previous 22,000 year record.

Snyder's temperature reconstruction, published Monday in the journal Nature , doesn't estimate temperature for a single year, but averages 5,000-year time periods going back a couple million years.

Carolyn Snyder uses a network of over 20,000 sea surface temperature reconstructions from 59 ocean sediment cores to reconstruct GAST for the past two million years at 1,000-year intervals.

Snyder based her reconstruction on 61 different sea surface temperature proxies from across the globe, such as ratios between magnesium and calcium, species makeup and acidity.

But the further the study goes back in time, especially after half a million years, the fewer of those proxies are available, making the estimates less certain, she said.

These are rough estimates with large margins of errors, she said.

But she also found that the temperature changes correlated well to carbon dioxide levels.

Temperatures averaged out over the most recent 5,000 years — which includes the last 125 years or so of industrial emissions of heat-trapping gases — are generally warmer than they have been since about 120,000 years ago or so, Snyder found.

And two interglacial time periods, the one 120,000 years ago and another just about 2 million years ago, were the warmest Snyder tracked.

They were about 3.6 degrees (2 degrees Celsius) warmer than the current 5,000-year average.

With the link to carbon dioxide levels and taking into account other factors and past trends, Snyder calculated how much warming can be expected in the future.

Snyder said if climate factors are the same as in the past — and that's a big if — Earth is already committed to another 7 degrees or so (about 4 degrees Celsius) of warming over the next few thousand years.

'This is based on what happened in the past,' Snyder said. 'In the past it wasn't humans messing with the atmosphere.'

Scientists give various reasons for past changes in carbon dioxide and heat levels, including regular slight shifts in Earth's orbital tilt.

SOURCE  





Mann and Schmidt on Snyder's 2 million year study

The study estimates what is known as the "Earth system sensitivity," which encompasses a variety of feedbacks within the climate system, from the response of the atmosphere and oceans to fluctuations in greenhouse gases to the ways that ice sheet expansion or melting can alter global temperatures.

However, this metric is a correlation between events, and doesn't pinpoint whether one event caused another. Still, the study estimates an Earth system sensitivity of 9 degrees Celsius, or 16.2 degrees Fahrenheit, per a doubling of atmospheric carbon dioxide levels over millennium timescales.

In more simple terms, this means that over the long, long-term, our planet will see its global average surface temperature increase by up to 9 degrees Celsius if greenhouse gases in the atmosphere were to double, which they are currently on course to do.

The study found that if all greenhouse gas emissions were to cease today, the climate would still warm by about 5 degrees Celsius, or 9 degrees Fahrenheit, during the next several centuries.

However, the Earth system sensitivity metric is not the same as the similarly named, but altogether different, scientific metric known as climate sensitivity. That metric is defined as how much the globe would warm if greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere were to double.

Climate sensitivity considers the influence of greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide, alone, while Earth system sensitivity involves a variety of feedbacks between the land, oceans and atmosphere, some of which are not well understood.

With climate sensitivity, carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases are in the driver’s seat, whereas with Earth system sensitivity, there are many drivers, with cars going in different directions and sometimes colliding head on.

Estimates of climate sensitivity tend to be much lower than 9 degrees Celsius, closer to about 3 degrees Celsius.

The problem, Snyder as well as several outside scientists told Mashable, is that it's not clear exactly what was driving temperature changes during some time periods in the past.

"[Earth system sensitivity] is a useful metric that summarizes a combination of interactive feedbacks in the climate system (including temperature, greenhouse gases, ice sheets, vegetation, and dust)," Snyder said in an email.

"But it is a correlation observed in the past, not a test of causation," she said.

Michael Mann, a climate researcher at Penn State University who has published influential studies on the planet's climate history, said he views the new study as "somewhat of an outlier." Mann was not involved in the new research.

"The estimate of earth system sensitivity (9C for CO2 doubling) is so much higher than the prevailing estimates (5-6C) that one has to consider it somewhat of an outlier, and treat it with an appropriate level of skepticism," he told Mashable in an email.

One major problem with the study, Mann said, is that the sensitivity estimate is dominated by glacial and interglacial cycles during the past 800,000 years, and it's tough to untangle the roles played by carbon dioxide in such variations.

This is because carbon dioxide both causes and responds to temperature changes that are driven by other factors, such as variations in Earth's orbit around the sun.

"It is unclear that an estimate of the relationship between global temperature and carbon dioxide under those circumstances is an appropriate measure of the response of temperature when carbon dioxide alone is the major driving force, as it true today," Mann said.

"So I regard the study as provocative and interesting, but the quantitative findings must be viewed rather skeptically until the analysis has been thoroughly vetted by the scientific community."

Gavin Schmidt, a climate scientist who directs NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York, was more blunt in his views on the new publication.

"The temperature reconstruction is great, but the claims about sensitivity are just wrong," Schmidt, who was not involved in the new research, said in an email. "This is not an argument about methods or what to present in public or whether you like models or observations, it is just wrong."

SOURCE





Where is Earth's oxygen going? Vital gas has vanished from the atmosphere over the past 800,000 years leaving experts baffled

There is no puzzle here.  The only puzzle is why some people think they can use paleoclimate data to make such precise estimates

Something strange is going on with the planet’s oxygen levels, which has left researchers scratching their heads as to the cause.

Scientists testing the concentration of oxygen in the atmosphere have found that levels have dropped by almost 0.7 per cent over the past 800,000 years, compared to modern levels.

What’s more, the rate of this decline has sped up over the last century, dropping by a further 0.1 per cent.

Oxygen levels currently stand at around 21 per cent, but have fluctuated greatly over the planet’s 4.3 billion-year history, with two major spikes linked with the explosion of life.

To sample the ancient atmosphere, a team led by researchers at Princeton University in New Jersey, studied bubbles of gas frozen in the ice of Greenland and Antarctica thousands of years ago.

By measuring changes in the atmospheric concentrations of oxygen and nitrogen, they showed a subtle declining trend over thousands of years.

The researchers believe that burning fossil fuels has led to the rapid increase seen over the last century – by consuming oxygen and releasing large quantities of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere – but the cause of the longer term decline has been trickier to pin down.

One potential explanation put forward by the scientists for the declining oxygen in the recent geological past is an increase in erosion, which would lead to freshly exposed sediment being oxidised by the atmosphere, reducing atmospheric oxygen levels.

Another long term process which is interaction with the oceans. With lower average global temperatures in the past, the world’s oceans would have been able to absorb more oxygen, with cooler waters able to soak up more gas.

The researchers believe a series of slow chemical reactions between the atmosphere and rocks, known as silicate weathering, could explain the apparent lack of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

Unlike the recent decline, there is no evidence to suggest carbon dioxide levels increased substantially during the period.

But the researchers believe a series of slow chemical reactions between the atmosphere and rocks, known as silicate weathering, could explain this lack of carbon dioxide.

‘The planet has various processes that can keep carbon dioxide levels in check,’ said Dr Daniel Stolper, a geoscientist at Princeton.

Over thousands of years, carbon dioxide in the atmosphere reacts with exposed rock to form calcium carbonate minerals, trapping the carbon in a solid form. In geological timescales, this process soaks up atmospheric carbon, locking it away in rock.

Scientists believe that as more carbon dioxide has been released into atmosphere from burning fossil fuels, the increasing temperature has led to the weathering process occurring more rapidly.

But human activity is releasing carbon dioxide into the atmosphere so quickly that we may cause this slow, long-term geological process to ‘short-circuit’, and so they cannot keep up.

One potential explanation put forward for the declining oxygen in the recent geological past is an increase in erosion, which would lead to freshly exposed sediment being oxidised by the atmosphere, reducing atmospheric oxygen levels.

Another long term process to factor in is interaction with the oceans.

With lower average global temperatures in the past, the world’s oceans would have been able to absorb more oxygen, as cooler waters able to soak up more gas.

‘This record represents an important benchmark for the study of the history of atmospheric oxygen,’ said Dr John Higgins, co-author of the study.

‘Understanding the history of oxygen in Earth’s atmosphere is intimately connected to understanding the evolution of complex life. It’s one of these big, fundamental ongoing questions in Earth science’

The findings were published recently in the journal Science.

SOURCE  





Could you really catch a tropical disease on UK SHORES? Experts warn global warming may create ideal conditions for deadly diseases on our very doorsteps

I can see no chance of Britain ever being warm enough for tropical diseases to flourish there but let's play the game and see what a warmer Britain would imply.  It would imply very little.  I was born and bred in the tropics amid a population derived overwhelmingly from the British Isles.  So did we all die of disease?  Far from it.  As far as I can see were as healthy as anyone else.

We did have such tropical nasties as Ross River fever and Dengue fever endemic among us but for most of us attacks of them were just another cold or flu.  And when the kids in my class at school were given the Mantoux skin test all but one of us tested positive -- meaning we had all had TB without realizing but had thrown it off.  Reality sure beats theory, doesn't it?

Cold is the big health hazard so our warm environment presumably  kept us healthy despite bacterial and viral challenges.  A tropical Britain should fare similarly


Britain may be chilly, but at least a trip to the seaside here is unlikely to leave you with anything more serious than an ear infection.

But could that change? Last week it was reported that some experts fear Britain is on course to be warmer and wetter as global temperatures rise.

According to a report from the Department of Health, Health Effects Of Climate Change In The UK, British winters will become less cold but wetter, whereas summers will become warmer and probably drier in some places.

Some warn that these changes could create ideal conditions for some of the world’s most unpleasant and deadlier diseases to get a hold in the Mediterranean and even the UK.

These include cholera and zika, which is linked to microcephaly (a devastating brain defect) in babies.

And a study, Explaining Ocean Warming, published this month by the International Union for Conservation of Nature suggested that a form of tropical food poisoning known as ciguatera — caused by eating fish that have consumed toxins released in seawater by algae — could soon be common around the UK’s coastline.

Water temperatures on the South Coast in July and August are already edging up to the 15c needed to support a bloom of the algae.

Warmer temperatures ‘will have far reaching effects on a whole range of public health in the UK’, says Dr Nick Watts, director of the UK Health Alliance on Climate Change.

‘This includes increased risk of water-borne diseases across Europe such as cholera, as well as those that are carried by insects that thrive in warmer temperatures.’

SOURCE  





The real lesson from South Australia’s electricity ‘crisis’: we need better climate policy

The guy below is certainly right about that  but he waffles a lot and is very timid about saying exactly what policy is needed.  He knows perfectly well what is needed if big spikes in power prices are to be avoided:  Backup generators fired by coal (cheapest) or natural gas (dearest). And only government subsidies will keep them available.  Once you distort the market by subsidizing one source of power, you have to subsidize the rest of the market too.  Otherwise your backup generators will go out of business, which is what happened in South Australia


Australia’s energy markets got a big shock in July this year, when wholesale electricity prices spiked in South Australia, alarming the state government and major industrial customers. Commentators rushed to find the immediate culprits. But the real issues lie elsewhere.

As shown by the Grattan Institute’s latest report the market worked. Having soared, prices fell back to more manageable levels. The lights stayed on.

Yet South Australia’s power shock exposed a looming problem in Australia’s electricity system – not high prices or the threat of blackouts, but an emerging conflict between Australia’s climate change policies and the demands of our energy market.
A perfect storm

On the evening of July 7, the wind wasn’t blowing, the sun wasn’t shining, and the electricity connector that supplies power from Victoria was down for maintenance. This meant gas set the wholesale price, and gas is expensive these days, especially during a cold winter. At 7.30pm wholesale spot prices soared close to A$9,000 per megawatt hour. For the whole month they averaged A$230 a megawatt hour. They were closer to A$65 in the rest of the country.

Australia has committed to a target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 26-28% below 2005 levels by 2030. Despite this well known and significant target, the national debate on climate change has been so toxic and so destructive that almost no policy remains to reduce emissions from the power sector in line with that target.

By 2014 the much maligned renewable energy target (RET), a Howard government industry policy to support renewable energy, remained as the only policy with any real impact on the sector’s emissions.

Wind power has been the winning technology from the RET, and South Australia has been the winning state. Wind now supplies 40% of electricity in South Australia due to highly favourable local conditions. Because wind has no fuel costs it suppressed wholesale prices in the state and forced the shutdown of all coal plants and the mothballing of some gas plants. But wind is intermittent – it generates power only when it is blowing, and the night of July 7 it barely was.

A report by the Australian Energy Market Operator noted that the market did deliver on reliability and security of supply in July. It reviewed the behaviour of market participants and concluded there were “no departures from normal market rules and procedures”.

The events of July do not expose an immediate crisis, but they have exposed the potential consequences of a disconnection between climate change policy and energy markets. If it is not addressed, the goals of reliable, affordable and sustainable energy may not be achieved.
The bigger problem

Climate change policy should work with and not outside the electricity market. With a fixed generation target of 33,000 gigawatt hours of renewable electricity by 2020 and a market for renewable energy credits outside the wholesale spot market under the RET, the conditions for problems were established some time ago.

The specific issues that arose from the design of the RET would have been far less problematic if one of the attempts over the last ten years to implement a national climate policy had been successful. A rising carbon price would have steadily changed the relative competitiveness of high and low emissions electricity sources and the RET would have quietly faded.

The first lesson for governments is that we need to establish a credible, scalable and predictable national climate change policy to have a chance of achieving emissions reduction targets without compromising power reliability or security of supply. A national emissions trading scheme would be best, but pragmatism and urgency mean we need to consider second best.

While such an outcome is the first priority, it will not provide all the answers. The rapid introduction of a very large proportion of new intermittent electricity supply creates problems that were not foreseen when traditional generation from coal and gas supplied the bulk of Australia’s power needs.

All of the wind farms in one state could be offline at the same time – a far less likely event with traditional generation. The problem can be solved by investment in storage and in flexible responses such as gas and other fast-start generators. Commercial deals with consumers paid to reduce demand could also contribute.

Lower average prices combined with infrequent big price spikes are not an obvious way to encourage long-term investors. The market may find solutions with new forms of contracts for flexibility or the market operator could introduce new structures or regulations to complement the existing wholesale spot market.

Much uncertainty exists, no easy fixes are in sight and the consequences of failure are high. Getting it right will provide clear signals for new investment or for withdrawal of coal plants as flagged by speculation over the future of the Hazelwood power station in Victoria.

Josh Frydenberg, as the new minister for the environment and energy, and his fellow ministers on the COAG Energy Council would be unwise to waste a near crisis.

SOURCE

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For more postings from me, see  DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC and AUSTRALIAN POLITICS. Home Pages are   here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here.  

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Tuesday, September 27, 2016



Why correlations of CO2 and Temperature over ice age cycles don’t define climate sensitivity

This paper from a great headquarters of Warmism is something of a mess.  Its conclusion -- that there are so many unknowns in the paleoclimate record that it should not be used as a basis for generalizations -- most skeptics would wildly applaud.  The authors  limit themselves to talking about only one type of generalization but the same considerations surely throw all paleoclimate generalizations into doubt.

The other thing of interest is their comment on the long-term correlation beteween CO2 levels and temperature.  Skeptics have never questioned that.  Instead they point to the time lag involved:  Temperature rises PRECEDED CO2 rises -- exactly the opposite of what Warmist theory prescribes but fully understandable as warming oceans outgassing CO2 -- a normal physical effect


We’ve all seen how well temperature proxies and CO2 concentrations are correlated in the Antarctic ice cores – this has been known since the early 1990’s and has featured in many high-profile discussions of climate change.

For obvious reasons, we are interested in how the climate system will respond to an increase in CO2 and that depends on time-scale and what feedbacks we consider:

The “Charney” sensitivity is generally thought of as the medium-term response of the system, including all the fast feedbacks and some of the longer term ones (like the ocean). This is usually what is meant by climate sensitivity in normal conversation. On longer (multi-millennial) timescales we expect changes in vegetation and ice-sheets to occur and alter the response and that sensitivity is often described as the Earth System Sensitivity (ESS).

But let’s go back to the correlation from EPICA Dome C:

Using local temperatures, the straight line regression is ~3.9 ºC/(W/m2). Assuming that global temperature changes on these timescales are roughly half as large, that implies ~2 ºC/(W/m2) at the global scale, and given that 2xCO2 forcing is about 4 W/m2, that means a ‘sensitivity’ of ~8ºC for a doubling of CO2. This is very much larger than any of the standard numbers that are usually discussed. So what is going on?

The first point to recognize is that the ice age/interglacial variations are being driven by Milankovitch forcings (“orbital wobbles”). These have an almost zero effect in the global mean radiative forcing but make huge differences to the seasonal and regional solar fluxes. This makes these drivers almost uniquely effective at impacting ice sheets, hence temperature, the circulation, the biosphere, and therefore the carbon cycle. Notably, these drivers don’t fit neatly into a global forcing/global response paradigm.

Second, the relationship we are seeing in the ice cores is made up of two independent factors: the sensitivity of the CO2 to temperature over the ice age cycle – roughly ~100 ppmv/4ºC or ~25 ppmv/ºC – and the sensitivity of the climate to CO2, which we’d like to know.

The problem is perhaps made clearer with two thought experiments. Imagine a world where the sensitivity of the climate system to carbon dioxide was zero (note this is not Planet Earth!). Then the records discussed above would show a reduced amplitude cycle, but a strong correlation between CO2 radiative forcing and temperature. This relationship would be exactly the T to CO2 function. To take another extreme case, assume that that carbon cycle was insensitive to climate, but climate still responded to CO22, then we’d see no CO2 change and zero regression. In neither case would the raw T/CO2 regression tell you what the sensitivity to CO2 alone was.

Instead, to constrain the Charney sensitivity from the ice age cycle you need to specifically extract out those long term changes (in ice sheets, vegetation, sea level etc.) and then estimate the total radiative forcing including these changes as forcing, not responses. In most assessments of this, you end up with 2.5ºC to 3ºC in response to 2xCO2. To estimate the ESS from these cycles you’d need to know what the separate impacts the CO2 and the orbital forcing had on the ice sheets, and that is not possible just from these data. Constraints on ESS have thus come from the Pliocene (3 million years ago) or even longer Cenezoic time scales – giving a range roughly 4.5ºC to 6ºC. Lunt et al (2010) and Hansen et al (2008) have good discussions of this and we discussed it here too.

The bottom line is that you can’t estimate Earth System Sensitivity solely from correlations over ice age cycles, no matter how well put together the temperature data set is.

SOURCE (See the original for links and graphics)





THESE ARE NOT CONTRADICTIONS

As I discussed in the last post, a new paper titled, "The ‘Alice in Wonderland’ mechanics of the rejection of (climate) science: simulating coherence by conspiracism" with John Cook and Stephan Lewandowsky has a number of problems, including the one where Cook falsely claimed his own work and the work of others shows there is a consensus global warming is a "global problem." Cook and his co-authors know fully well none of the work they cite shows anything of the sort.

Another issue I commented on is how the paper claims global warming "contrarians" have incoherent belief systems in which they are content to believe contradictory things. This concept is founded on a paper by Michael Wood in which he misused basic statistical tests to draw conclusions about groups of people he had 0 data for. Lewandowsky has also used this same bogus approach to statistics in papers to portray global warming skeptics are conspiracy nuts even when his subjects overwhelmingly said they didn't believe in the conspiracies he smeared them with.

A related issue to this is how these authors give specific examples of how "contrarians" supposedly contradict themselves. In the previous post, I pointed out one key problem to this - the paper cites arguments from different people. That two different "contrarians" might hold contradictory beliefs is completely uninformative. Even climate scientists hold contradictory beliefs. It's called disagreement. It's a normal part of life.

Given that, the only real basis for this paper's headline is the set of examples where an individual supposedly contradicts himself. I discussed the headline example used in the paper in that last post, but today, I'm going to discuss a few of the other ones the authors offer.

In addition to the headline example, the paper lists nine supposed contradictions in its Table 2. Three are attributed to Ian Plimer, the same person the headline example comes from. Two more are attributed to Anthony Watts and the last is attributed to John Christy. All told, there are four people said to contradict themselves. That is not an impressive sample.

It gets worse when you look at the actual examples. For instance, Monckton is said to contradict himself because one time he said this:

Warming at the very much reduced rate that measured (as opposed to merely modeled) results suggest would be 0.7-00.8 K ...at CO2 doubling. That would be harmless and beneficial

Before showing what that supposedly contradicts, I should point out looking at the source of the quote shows that typo was added by the authors of the paper. The source correctly writes "0.7-0.8 K" not "0.7-00.8 K." That doesn't matter for the idea the quote contradicts this:

Throughout most of the past half billion years, global temperatures were 7∘ C ...warmer than the present

The authors offer no explanation for how these two quotes contradict one another. Perhaps a reader could guess at what the authors were thinking, but the simple reality is believing past temperatures were significantly higher than they are now does not contradict the idea the planet would warm by less than a degree if CO2 levels in the atmosphere would double. A person who things other than CO2 have a far greater influence on temperatures may believe this without there being any contradiction.

Similarly, the authors say Monckton contradicts himself because he said:

Since late in 2001, when a naturally-occurring reduction in cloud cover that had caused rapid warming over the previous 18 years came to an end, there has been nearly a decade with virtually no change in temperature

Showing in 2010 Monckton believed there had been virtually no warming for nearly a decade. The authors claim this contradicts what he said the next year:

His GISS surface-temperature dataset, on which he bases his claims, not only suffers from insufficient adjustment for the artificial warmth given off by cities (the urban heat-island effect), but also from evidence of repeated, successive tamperings with the data from earlier decades this century so as artificially to increase the apparent overall rate of “global warming”

Again, the authors do nothing to explain how these ideas are contradictory. They are not. Believing there has been virtually no warming for about ten years in no way contradicts the idea a particular data set (GISS) suffers from data problems and inappropriate adjustments which increase the apparent rate of global warming.

The only "contradiction" is Monckton said there had been virtually no warming for about 10 years and GISS has inflated the rate of warming. That's not a contradiction though. The GISS record extends over 100 years. The rate of warming in it could be inflated even if a particular 10 year period didn't show any warming at all.

The final supposed contradiction by Monckton is he said:

...the Greenland ice sheet rests in a depression in the bedrock created by its own weight, wherefore “dynamical ice flow” is impossible, and the IPCC says that temperature would have to be sustained at more than 5.5 C above its present level for several millennia before half the Greenland ice sheet could melt

And:

Since the warming itself has not yet brought global temperatures to the levels seen in the mediaeval warm period, when we were growing wine-grapes in Scotland and our Viking cousins were farming parts of south-western Greenland that remain under permafrost today, and since the warming has now ceased, it is nonsensical to suggest that the effects of that warming are anything other than insignificant and generally beneficial

I cannot begin to guess what the supposed contradiction here is supposed to be. Monckton says there were parts of Greenland which were used for farmland hundreds of years ago that are now covered in ice. He also says "dynamical ice flow" is impossible and it would take extreme circumstances for half of Greenland's ice sheet to melt.

None of that is contradictory. According to Monckton, hundreds of years ago when it was warmer a small part of the Greenland ice sheet (far less than the half he says would take enormous warming to melt) wasn't there, either because it had melted or hadn't existed in the first place. Colder temperature since then have caused the ice sheet to grow and cover those areas. That's not contradictory at all.

Neither is it contradictory for Anthony Watts to say:

The reality is that the Earth’s climate system is far more complex than that: It isn’t just a linear relationship between CO2 and temperature, it is a dynamic ever-changing one, and climate is tremendously complex with hundreds of interactive variables and feedbacks

And:

“Global warming” suggests a steady linear increase in temperature, but since that isn’t happening, proponents have shifted to the more universal term “climate change,” which can be liberally applied to just about anything observable in the atmosphere

Saying the earth's climate system is extremely complex cannot possibly contradict beliefs about semantic meanings and choices. What words means and which words people use cannot possibly contradict the idea our planet's climate is complex. The quotes simply have nothing to do with one another.

The next "contradiction" by Watts at least involves two quotes dealing with the same general subject. First:

As attested by a number of studies, near-surface temperature records are often affected by time-varying biases ...To address such problems, climatologists have developed various methods for detecting discontinuities in time series, characterizing and/or removing various nonclimatic biases that affect temperature records in order to obtain homogeneous data and create reliable long-term time series

Second:

In the business and trading world, people go to jail for such manipulations of data

Interestingly, the authors provide a faulty reference for the second of these quotes. I've provided the correct link just above, but this is the one the authors gave. A hyphen is missing in it.

The URL given by the authors does not have a hyphen between "hottest" and "year" like it should have. Anyone who tried to check this reference would have found it didn't work. That's a bit weird.

Anyway, there is simply no contradiction here. Simply stating climatologists have developed methods of adjusting data to "create reliable long-term time series" does not mean you believe that is okay or that in the business or trading world a person could do such without going to jail. A person can describe what other people do without endorsing it as okay. On their face, these quotes simply cannot contradict one another.

The real problem, however, is these quotes are not discussing the same thing. The authors of this paper left out important context for the interview they quoted. Here is an expanded quote:

"Is history malleable? Can temperature data of the past be molded to fit a purpose? It certainly seems to be the case here, where the temperature for July 1936 reported ... changes with the moment," Watts told FoxNews.com.

"In the business and trading world, people go to jail for such manipulations of data."

This is a reference to the fact past temperature data continuously changes. That is, rather than just look at past data for problems and fix them, the methodologies used may look at past data for problems to fix, adjust the data, then re-visit the next day and adjust it in a different way. A person can easily believe it is okay to adjust past data for problems without believing it is okay to keep adjusting that data in different ways every month, week or day.

This post is running long. I hope you'll forgive me for that. However, nearly every single "contradiction" the authors list in this table is fake, and I feel it is worth demonstrating this. People need to understand just because two quotes are placed side-by-side and labeled, "Contradictory and incoherent arguments advanced by the same individuals" does not mean the quotes are actually contradictory. For instance, when Ian Plimer is quoted as saying:

Replacement of high altitude forests by mixing with low altitude forests to create greater species diversity has happened in previous times of warming and would be expected in another warming event

This is a simple claim. If the planet warms, the habitable range for forests will increase. That would cause trees to spread into areas they hadn't been before and mixing with the trees of those areas. Because I wasted $15 on the quoted book by Plimer, I can tell you the reason he brought this up is the increase in number of species he believes this mixing would cause. His idea in no way contradicts:

Even if the planet warms due to increased atmospheric CO2, it is clear that plants will not feel the need to migrate to cooler parts of our planet

Even though the authors claim it does. Migration involves leaving one area and moving to another. That is not what happens when plants' or even animals' habitable range increases. Trees spreading to other areas while still also existing in the original area have spread out and expanded, but they haven't migrated.

That these quotes don't contradict one another should have been obvious to the editor and reviewers of this paper. For instance, this quote by Plimer:

The proof that CO2 does not drive climate is shown by previous glaciations

Cannot possibly contradict:

The global warmth of the Cretaceous has been attributed to elevated levels of CO2 in the atmosphere

That Plimer says past warmth "has been attributed to elevated levels of CO2" in no way means he believes that attribution is correct. In fact, anyone who is unfortunate enough to waste money buying this terrible book will find Plimer followed that statement by saying:

However, there are some suggestions that the Cretaceous climate was decoupled from the CO2 content of the atmosphere.

The authors of this paper conveniently leave that out though. Because they do, their readers won't know Plimer said some people have attributed past warmth to CO2 levels while other people disagree. They'll just think he said some people have attributed past warmth to CO2 levels.

There are still two more entries in this table, and I don't think either constitutes an actual contradiction. I think this post has ran on long enough though, and the last two examples are a bit murkier. I'll let you readers examine them for yourselves. Before I go though, I want to highlight a remarkable detail of what the source of one of the remaining quotes used is. You can find it here:

Based on emails from both Steven Sherwood and John Christy, and based on Carl Mears’ blogpost, I can report that all three agree that

1) Yes, amplified warming in the tropical troposphere is expected.

And that

2) No, the hot spot in the tropics is not specific to a greenhouse mechanism.

Notice that I changed the wording of question/statement 2 here, because the word “fingerprint” was interpreted differently by John Christy than how we meant it.

In his email to us, John Christy wrote regarding Q1: “Yes, the hot spot is expected via the traditional view that the lapse rate feedback operates on both short and long time scales.” Regarding Q2 he wrote: “it [the hot spot] is broader than just the enhanced greenhouse effect because any thermal forcing should elicit a response such as the “expected” hot spot.” Further elaborations in the email exchange, e.g. regarding whether to call this a fingerprint, involved interpretations as to the meaning of (a lack of) a hot spot, which we will defer for the moment.

The next issue that we’ll take up is encapsulated in Q3:

3) Is there a significant difference between modelled and observed amplification of surface trends in the tropical troposphere (i.e. between the modelled and the observed hot spot)?

That is a comment on a blog post by one Bart Verheggen. Verheggen has not been mentioned in this post. The reason is this "contradiction" is supposedly by John Christy. Verheggen's quote is used as a source because his comment says, "In his email to us, John Christy wrote...."

Yes, that's right. John Cook and Stephan Lewandowsky published a paper claiming global warming "contrarians" contradict themselves in which they rely on sources like secondhand quotes from people provided by commenters on blog sites. In any realm other than science, that would be considered hearsay.

SOURCE  





The Media Was Totally WRONG Predicting Global Warming Would Cause This Island ‘To Vanish’

Rolling Stone Magazine published a lengthy write-up of the national security dangers of global warming in 2015, and claimed the strategically located Diego Garcia atoll was “sure to vanish” as sea levels rose.

A recent study, however, completely contradicts that claim and casts doubt on other predictions global warming-induced sea level rise will swallow up whole islands and force thousands to  leave their homes.

“If rising oceans are indeed linked to global warming and are a force to be reckoned with, then the oft-described (by climate alarmists) unprecedented global warming and sea level rise of the past few decades should surely have made their mark on these low-lying land areas by now,” reads a blog post on science site CO2 Science.

“But is this really the case?” asks the blog run by the Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change, a group chaired by climate researcher Dr. Craig Idso.

CO2 Science cited a recent study spearheaded by scientists with the National Coral Reef Institute in Dania Beach, Fla. Their study found that while Diego Garcia’s physical coastline has changed over the past five decades, the island’s net area has not.

Researchers found, “the amount of erosion on Diego Garcia over the last 50 years is almost exactly balanced by the amount of accretion, suggesting the island to be in a state of equilibrium.”

“[T]he areas of shoreline erosion and extension bear little relationship to prevailing ocean climate, a finding which should guard against attempts to predict sites of future land loss through natural processes.”

In other words, the island hasn’t really shrunk, despite a reported sea level rise of five millimeters per year. The study comes more than a year after Rolling Stone said the Indian Ocean atoll was “sure to vanish.”

“The U.S. naval base on Diego Garcia, a small coral atoll in the Indian Ocean, like the nearby Maldives, is sure to vanish,” Rolling Stone reported in 2015 in a lengthy article on how global warming will overwhelm U.S. military bases.

Diego Garcia still has a military installation and played a key role during the Cold War in keeping a U.S. presence in the region. It also protected shipping lanes coming out of the Middle East.

Rolling Stone put Diego Garcia on a long list of military bases vulnerable to global warming. The magazine published the article just one month after President Barack Obama linked global warming to national security in his State of the Union address.

“The Pentagon says that climate change poses immediate risks to our national security,” Obama said. “We should act like it.”

Obama has been sounding the alarm on global warming and national security for years. His Pentagon has called it a “threat multiplier,” warning that extreme weather could help topple unstable governments and spur refugee crises.

Indeed, scientists and environmentalists often point to island nations some of the world’s first “climate refugees.” Fiji, Kiribati and other islands are begging rich countries for aid and even a place to resettle should sea levels overwhelm them.

But Rolling Stone’s prediction Diego Garcia will “vanish” may be overblown, if recent research holds.

“It delivers is a damming indictment of alarmist projections of low-lying island demise in response to CO2-induced global warming,” CO2 science reported.

Studies are mixed on the fate of low-lying island nations.

A study by scientists from Australia and New Zealand found that despite the 33-island Funafuti Atoll seeing “some of the highest rates of sea-level rise… over the past 60 [years],” the island chain has actually grown in size.

“Despite the magnitude of this rise, no islands have been lost, the majority have enlarged, and there has been a 7.3% increase in net island area over the past century (A.D. 1897–2013),” reads the study on the South Pacific islands. “There is no evidence of heightened erosion over the past half-century as sea-level rise accelerated.”

The Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands saw accelerated sea level rise since 2000, sparking concerns the island would soon be swallowed up by the seas.

Sea level rise rapidly decelerated in recent years, and the atoll seemed to be going through an El Nino-sparked trend — as opposed to an accelerating trend from global warming.

“It’s obvious that the apparent acceleration in sea-level at Kwajalein was transient, and did not indicate the beginning of an accelerating trend in sea-level rise,” Anthony Watts, a veteran meteorologist, wrote in March.

“To me, it looks like sea-level at Kwajalein is inversely correlated with ENSO. When the current El Niño ends, so will the current dip in sea-level at Kwajalein, probably,” Watts wrote.

SOURCE  





Germany’s All-Time Record High Set In 2015 Looks Dubious …Likely Due To UHI / Instrumentation Error

At the Germany-based European Institute for Climate and Energy (EIKE), Helmut Kuntz writes that Germany’s all-time record high temperature recorded last year, 2015, is likely an artifact of the urban heat island effect (UHI) and instrumentation error margins.

In 2015 the Kitzingen weather station located in southern Germany set a new all-time high when it reached 40.3°C — twice: on July 5 and August 7 — breaking the earlier record of 40.2°C set on 27 July 1983 in Gärmersdorf. The whopping margin: a whole 0.1°C! Photo right: Kitzingen station.

So why is Kitzingen suddenly so hot?

EIKE guest writer Josef Kowatsch has often claimed that the UHI has played a major role in producing the warming effect over the past decades. Recently that claim got a boost of support from University of Wurzburg climate researcher Prof. Heiko Paeth, who in an interview with MAIN POST daily here on September 7, 2016, stated that it likely has more to do with station siting then it does with a climate trend.

According to Prof. Paeth, the high reading can be traced back to Kitzingen having certain special features.

First the town of Kitzingen is located at a relatively low elevation some 20 km east of Wurzburg — situated in the Main Valley at the bottom of a sort of a bowl where heat can collect.

Secondly, he tells the MAIN POST that fresh, westerly winds that normally act to cool Germany in the summertime have been obstructed by a commercial district built not long ago where once a US base had been located. The Main Post writes:

What remains is an obstacle for the air flow from the west. The town has blocked off its fresh air feed-in duct, says Paeth. ‘That could be an explanation for the heat.'”

SOURCE  





Grinding westerners under the federal boot

The federal government owns an estimated one-third of all the land in the United States. But this is only a rough estimate, because even the federal government does not actually know how much land it controls.

For those living on the East Coast who rarely encounter federal land, this may not seem like an important issue, but in western states, the vast amounts of land owned or controlled by the federal government are among the most important issues that states must face.

And the Obama administration is using the power of that land ownership to grind westerners under the federal boot, a kind of neo-feudalism where an absentee landlord federal government keeps western states and the citizens who live there as vassals and serfs.

Federal land ownership is heavily concentrated in the western states: in the 13 states west of Texas, the federal government owns or administers more than half of all land. In San Juan County, Utah, for example, only 8 percent of the land is privately owned, with only another 8 percent owned by the state of Utah.

And this land is overwhelmingly not used for national parks or military bases, which only amount to about 12 percent of federal land nationwide, and just 10 percent in San Juan County.

Federal lands are administered by a constellation of federal bureaus and agencies — with sometimes overlapping ownership and regulatory responsibilities — which compete to restrict and harass the people who live on or near federally controlled land.

Often already poor, western counties that contain federal land are deprived of tax revenues from those lands, leaving even less revenue to provide basic services to their citizens. Life in much of the West is a constant struggle with the federal bureaucracy simply to live and work.

While the oppressive burden of federal land is not a new issue in the West, the Obama administration — often in service to its far-left environmentalist allies — has taken a particularly aggressive and destructive attitude toward life in the West.

The Interior Department, in particular, has repeatedly sought to restrict or eliminate agricultural activities and energy development on federally administered land. In rural western counties like San Juan County, these industries often are the only sources of decent-paying jobs.

These federal efforts have frequently been stymied by litigation or the intervention of western members of Congress seeking to protect their constituents.

Rather than be deterred, however, the Obama administration has reached for a tool beyond the power of the courts or Congress known as the Antiquities Act. This act, passed in 1906, allows the president to unilaterally designate so-called national monuments to protect antiquities or historic sites.

In areas designated national monuments, productive activities are heavily restricted or even banned. These are precisely the sorts of restrictions that federal agencies have been prevented from imposing through traditional means.

Last year, Garfield County, Utah, declared a state of emergency owing to restrictive federal land-management policies, particularly stemming from the Grand Staircase National Monument designation declared by President Clinton in 1996, which was done without consultation or notification of local Utahans.

Twenty years later, timber harvesting has been eliminated, livestock are being pushed off the range, and mineral development has ceased. In an ominous sign for the future health of the community, the county has seen school enrollment plunge by 67 percent since the monument designation, leaving the county struggling to afford to keep schools open.

San Juan County, one of the poorest counties in the country and adjacent to Garfield County, is the next target of these anti-development monument-makers. Not content with the economic damage to southern Utah that resulted from the previous monument designation, radical environmentalists are lobbying for the creation of another massive monument in San Juan County to be called Bears Ears.

The Antiquities Act specifically notes that designated monuments should be confined to the smallest possible area to protect the targeted antiquities. The proposed Bear Ears monument would cover nearly 2 million acres, about the size of Delaware and Rhode Island combined.

It is laughable to pretend that this huge area is needed to protect antiquities. Rather it’s yet another step in the crusade by radical environmentalists to put as much land off limits to productive use as possible, a pattern that is repeated all across the western states.

These national monument designations are just regulation by another means. Though couched in the flowery language of conservation, monument designations are about the raw exercise of presidential power, seizing control of land without regard to the impact on the affected states and citizens.

Feudalism was abolished in Europe hundreds of years ago. The Obama administration should learn from history and abandon its neo-feudalism in the West.

SOURCE  

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For more postings from me, see  DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC and AUSTRALIAN POLITICS. Home Pages are   here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here.  

Preserving the graphics:  Most graphics on this site are hotlinked from elsewhere.  But hotlinked graphics sometimes have only a short life -- as little as a week in some cases.  After that they no longer come up.  From January 2011 on, therefore, I have posted a monthly copy of everything on this blog to a separate site where I can host text and graphics together -- which should make the graphics available even if they are no longer coming up on this site.  See  here or here

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Monday, September 26, 2016



Recalculating the Climate Math

Below is the opening salvo of a new article by the obsessed Bill McKibben. It sounds scientific and hence scary but it is in fact pure theory. There are no new facts behind it at all. The "report" on which Bill relies says this:

"The basic climate science involved is simple: cumulative carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions over time are the key determinant
of how much global warming occurs"

That certainly is simple but there is no proof for it and much to suggest it is wrong.  Bill's article is just old stuff in new drag


The future of humanity depends on math. And the numbers in a new study released Thursday are the most ominous yet.

Those numbers spell out, in simple arithmetic, how much of the fossil fuel in the world’s existing coal mines and oil wells we can burn if we want to prevent global warming from cooking the planet. In other words, if our goal is to keep the Earth’s temperature from rising more than two degrees Celsius—the upper limit identified by the nations of the world—how much more new digging and drilling can we do?

Here’s the answer: zero.

That’s right: If we’re serious about preventing catastrophic warming, the new study shows, we can’t dig any new coal mines, drill any new fields, build any more pipelines. Not a single one. We’re done expanding the fossil fuel frontier. Our only hope is a swift, managed decline in the production of all carbon-based energy from the fields we’ve already put in production.

The new numbers are startling. Only four years ago, I wrote an essay called “Global Warming’s Terrifying New Math.” In the piece, I drew on research from a London-based think tank, the Carbon Tracker Initiative. The research showed that the untapped reserves of coal, oil, and gas identified by the world’s fossil fuel industry contained five times more carbon than we can burn if we want to keep from raising the planet’s temperature by more than two degrees Celsius. That is, if energy companies eventually dug up and burned everything they’d laid claim to, the planet would cook five times over. That math kicked off a widespread campaign of divestment from fossil fuel stocks by universities, churches, and foundations. And it’s since become the conventional wisdom: Many central bankers and world leaders now agree that we need to keep the bulk of fossil fuel reserves underground.

But the new new math is even more explosive. It draws on a report by Oil Change International, a Washington-based think tank, using data from the Norwegian energy consultants Rystad. For a fee—$54,000 in this case—Rystad will sell anyone its numbers on the world’s existing fossil fuel sources. Most of the customers are oil companies, investment banks, and government agencies. But OCI wanted the numbers for a different reason: to figure out how close to the edge of catastrophe we’ve already come.

Scientists say that to have even a two-thirds chance of staying below a global increase of two degrees Celsius, we can release 800 gigatons more CO2 into the atmosphere. But the Rystad data shows coal mines and oil and gas wells currently in operation worldwide contain 942 gigatons worth of CO2.

SOURCE  



 


Climate change demands close watch, accurate measures in Arctic

So says Kathryn Sullivan.  Fair enough. But why the Arctic only? The Antarctic contains 92% of the word's glacial ice.  So isn't it what we should be watching?  Would the fact that it is GAINING ice be why the excellent Ms Sulivan is ignoring it?  Warmism has an amazing ability to make crooks out of people


In October 1984, I watched the sun illuminate Alaska's Malaspina Glacier from 200 miles above earth. Looking down from the space shuttle Challenger, I was able to fully appreciate the scale and magnitude of a piece of ice 40 miles wide and 28 miles long, roughly 50 times the size of Manhattan Island.

Today's space station astronauts see a very different landscape. Malaspina is melting, just like nearly every other glacier on our planet. Each year the Malaspina and other glaciers in the St. Elias Mountain Range in Southeast Alaska send about 84 gigatons of water into the ocean. That's the equivalent of the approximately 200-mile-long Chesapeake Bay, and it's just a small fraction of the water that is entering the oceans from an unprecedented melting of Arctic ice.

More than anywhere else on Earth, the Arctic has changed dramatically over the past three decades, and there is new urgency in addressing both these changes and their immense global reach. For these reasons, government ministers, scientists, and representatives of indigenous groups from more than 25 nations will hold the first Arctic Science Ministerial on Wednesday at the White House. This meeting is a significant step in recognizing the Arctic as a pivotal, yet vastly underobserved and poorly understood region of our planet.

Concerns around the world are growing because the Arctic's rapid changes are unprecedented. Temperatures are warming at least twice as fast as the global average. Melting ice sheets and glaciers are draining water into the sea at the fastest rate in recorded history, contributing to rising sea levels around the world.

SOURCE  




EPA Mandate Created A $1 Billion Market In Fraudulent Biofuel Credits, Says Criminal Investigator

There may be $1 billion worth of fraudulent biofuel credits circulating in the U.S., according to a former Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) criminal investigator.

“Based on my experience, I believe the cost of these fraud schemes to victims and consumers, including taxpayers and obligated parties, is approaching $1 billion,” Doug Parker, the president of E&W Strategies, wrote in a report on biofuel fraud, commissioned by the oil refining Valero Corporation.

Parker, who initiated investigations into biofuel credit fraud while at EPA, argued the federal ethanol mandate, or Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), is “susceptible to large scale fraud” based on analyses conducted while he worked for the government.

Parker argued RFS fraud risks have grown as the credit, or RIN, market grew 15-fold in the last six years from $1 billion to $15 billion as federal law requires refiners to blend more ethanol into the fuel supply. It’s also an “opaque” market that allows fraud to flourish, he wrote.

“This level of transparency and market regulation is not present in the RINs market, and the opaqueness of the market is a critical factor that allows criminal conduct to continue,” Parker wrote.

Parker argues shifting the “point of obligation” of complying with the RFS from refiners to those further downstream would help reduce the risk of fraud, advocating for a policy being pushed by refiners as part of an effort to reform the RFS.

Refiners are asking EPA to move the onus of complying with the RFS from their industry to those further downstream. Refiners say complying with the RFS cost them $1 billion in 2015, making it one of their largest costs.

Energy experts expect RFS compliance costs to grow as the EPA mandates refiners blend more biofuels into the fuel supply. But ethanol lobbyists say fear of more fraud are overblown, since virtually all of it has taken place in the biodiesel market, not for conventional ethanol-blended gasoline.

“RIN fraud has not been a reality for ethanol used in the RFS program,” Bob Dinneen, president of the Renewable Fuels Association, told The Daily Caller News Foundation.

Parker catalogued $271 million worth of biofuel credit fraud and $71 million in illicit profit seizures by federal agents — all of which has involved biodiesel credits.

“The author is correct that there have been instances of fraud with biodiesel,” Dinneen said. “But those have been successfully prosecuted, and changes to the program put in place to protect against future abuse.”

Dinneen said the report gives a distorted picture of the ethanol market, which has handled more than 90 billion RINs since its inception.

“We do not believe RIN fraud is a legitimate concern,” Dinneen said. “The RFS is and has been a tremendous success for this nation’s energy and economic future, and consumers across the country.”

Even so, Parker says the breaching of the so-called biofuel “blend wall” has opened the door to more fraud as prices increase.

“Investigators and prosecutors are now also seeing evidence of more traditional organized criminal activity in this sector as the frauds have become larger and more complex, Parker wrote.

SOURCE  




The view from 1975







The view from 1922



Big melt of Arctic ice.  Big Arctic melts are nothing new




Greenie blindness in Australia

Yesterday I raised the issue of the Greens staging a pre-planned walkout during Pauline Hanson’s first speech last week.  The Greens came seriously unstuck. What was obvious to everyone is that the Greens just hate the idea of anyone saying anything to contradict their own twisted view of the world.  And why is it that the Greens are so keen to defend Moslems from even gentle criticism?

The Greens are hostile to our Christian civilisation, and they instinctively ally themselves with anyone else who is hostile to Christian civilisation.

Following yesterday’s editorial I received a flood of favourable comment, so here is some more on the same subject.

Pauline Hanson’s Senate speech was bold and courageous in the face of the bland faces of opposition parties who have no stomach for the difficult truths Australia faces in the future. Pauline represents the silent majority who are reluctant to speak out because of our anti-free-speech laws.  Many fear retribution from the very people Australia welcomed as citizens and various Muslims openly stating they have no respect for our laws or society and advocating the introduction of sharia law.

It is a sad state of affairs when in the twenty first century human beings have to deal with archaic beliefs supported by embittered people including even deranged individuals with no regard for human life. Australian governments have been asleep at the wheel when it comes to immigration from the third world. One of the main drawcards to Australia is the ridiculous welfare support given to these people. Once in the system they can manipulate and maneuver with many never working in their lifetime getting huge government payments to support their multiple spouses and numerous children. And then they tell us they don’t like us!

As for the Greens, these self-righteous pompous individuals lack the basic common senses to realise their country and their lifestyles are in danger of being hijacked. Open your eyes and ears, read the news occasionally and consider the innocent Australians whose lives have been destroyed by criminals that openly support sharia law and other Islamic militants who exploit Australia’s gullibility. How strange it is that some people still vote for a political party which supports such activity.

Australia is a wonderful country with many beautiful aspects and it should be kept that way. Australians don’t want to live in a lawless society divided by violence and aggression so let’s support the sensible politicians, like Senator Pauline Hanson, The Member for Melbourne Ports Michael Danby MP, Senator Corey Bernardi, Senator Brian Burston, Senator Jacquie Lambie, Senator Bob Day AO and the Federal Member for Dawson in Queensland, George Christensen MP.  All of these proudly uphold and support the Australian way of life instead of condoning subversion.

Save Australia before it’s too late!

SOURCE

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For more postings from me, see  DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC and AUSTRALIAN POLITICS. Home Pages are   here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here.  

Preserving the graphics:  Most graphics on this site are hotlinked from elsewhere.  But hotlinked graphics sometimes have only a short life -- as little as a week in some cases.  After that they no longer come up.  From January 2011 on, therefore, I have posted a monthly copy of everything on this blog to a separate site where I can host text and graphics together -- which should make the graphics available even if they are no longer coming up on this site.  See  here or here

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Sunday, September 25, 2016




Green Energy Revolution Folly

President Obama recently set a goal to double renewable power generation in the U.S. by 2020. At the same time, he suggested ending oil company tax breaks and using them, instead, to bolster solar and wind industries. The U.S. government is investing more than $1 trillion in green energy, the so-called "clean" energy alternative, while choking off coal and natural gas production with increasingly onerous regulations.

In their book, Fueling Freedom:  Exposing the Mad War on Energy, authors Stephen Moore and Kathleen Hartnett White argue against the shift to renewables.  Using energy-production statistics and the historic contributions of fossil fuels, they explode the myths promulgated by renewables cheerleaders.  They expose the extensive misinformation on clean energy resources to effectively argue against what they believe would be a disastrous, energy production shift that would have serious lifestyle and geopolitical consequences for Americans.

Promoters of renewable energy sources -- the supposed "low environmental impact" alternative to fossil fuels -- are putting forth a false narrative, Moore and White assert.

Rather than worrying that carbon energy resources are destroying the planet and looking to renewable energy as an alternative, the authors suggest we should celebrate the vast contributions fossil fuels made during the past century, advancing mankind and making our lives safer, more productive and economically and politically secure.  The U.S. has more recoverable energy supplies than any nation on earth, the authors posit.  With fairly recent shale oil and natural gas discoveries and newer technologies of horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracking, we are in no danger of running out any time soon.  It should be welcome news, they urge, that the U.S. can be energy independent within the next few years and be the world's dominant energy producer.  Freedom from OPEC manipulations and the potential for millions of jobs that would substantially add to our gross domestic product, benefits our national security and would be a welcome boon to our relatively stagnant economy.

Moore and White explain how the Industrial Revolution, fueled by carbon energy usage, broke through decades of static human existence and brought significant and historic, upward trends for the average person, including a tripling of life expectancy and a 10- to 30-fold increase in per-capita, real income.  Coal and petroleum transformed into energy for mechanical power was the most important energy conversion in industrial civilization.  With coal-powered machines, man was suddenly liberated from the physical limitations of muscle and beasts of burden.  When electricity became available, heat, power and countless household appliances, industrial motors and electronics were developed, generating a second, energy revolution.

Carbon-resource usage (and the invention of the internal combustion engine) brought liberty, mobility and choice, enabling sustained productivity and economic growth, the authors maintain.  Additionally, it revolutionized the science and practice of metallurgy and dramatically transformed textile production.  Previously expensive and tedious to produce, clothing became more affordable and warmer; winter clothing became available.  Today, 60% of global fibers come from fossil fuels.  In addition, fossil fuels played and continue to play an important role in reducing food supply loss by refrigeration, packaging and containers.

The authors marvel at the transformation that took place in a newly industrialized society. Until coal was harnessed on a massive scale, humans were dependent on energy from plants, wood, animals and human muscle, as well as wind and water flows.  The dramatic shift from diffuse and variable flows of energy -- wind and water -- to massive stores of hydrocarbon minerals was a turning point for human progress.  Energy became transportable, controllable, affordable, dense, reliable and versatile.

Fossil fuels have also dramatically benefited agriculture.  The authors detail that U.S. food production has tripled, using 1/3 of the land, 1/3 the labor, and at 1/3 the cost of pre-fossil-fuel agriculture.  In the past, over 50% of the U.S. population was involved in agriculture and food was scarce and expensive.  Today, only 3% of the country's population produces our plentiful food supply.

The economic implications for today's shale revolution are equally extensive, especially if drilling is allowed on federal lands.  The authors estimate tax revenues in the trillions of dollars.  They cite the economic prosperity of North Dakota, with potentially greater oil resources than Saudi Arabia and currently more millionaires per capita than any other state.  The Great Plains state has already surpassed California and Alaska in oil production and is second behind Texas.

The U.S. currently has 50% more oil reserves than in 1950.  Technology and innovation have increased our supply so that we discover new sources faster than we deplete known reserves.  Further, economic efficiencies in extraction, processing and conversion of energy result in less spending for greater energy output and a continuing reduction in the energy infrastructure physical footprint.

By comparison, non-fossil-fuel energy sources -- wood, wind, solar, hydro, geothermal, biomass and nuclear -make up only 15% of the world's total primary energy supply and provide significantly lower energy yield and potential.  For example, the power density -- power per unit of volume -- of natural-gas-fired, electric generation is almost 2,000 times greater than that of wind-generated electricity.  Using ethanol produced from corn to power a vehicle's internal combustion system creates a net energy loss when the energy used in planting, fertilizing, harvesting, distilling and transporting is factored in.  Further, the diversion of 40% of the U.S. corn crop to ethanol, a less efficient fuel than gasoline, has raised corn prices and prompted more farmers to grow corn instead of other vital crops.  Biomass energy production, with its accompanying upticks in tractor and farm vehicle usage and chemicals, reduces the food supply, increases fertilizer and water use, and adds to pollution.  Production of wind, solar and biofuels uses thousands more acres of land than coal, natural gas and nuclear power. According to Jess Ausubel,1 an average wind system uses 460 metric tons of steel and 870 cubic meters of concrete per megawatt. In contrast, a natural gas combined cycle plant uses about three metric tons of steel and twenty-seven cubic meters of concrete.

As for carbon dioxide falsely classified as pollutant, Moore and White remind readers of basic eighth grade science:  Carbon dioxide is essential to plant life, on which all human and animal lives depend for food.  Plants inhale carbon dioxide and exhale oxygen used in human respiration.  Commercial greenhouses actually use elevated levels of CO2 to stimulate plant growth and that plant life flourished during past periods of higher CO2 levels.

The authors criticize the misguided trend to replace our fossil-fuel-based, electric system with wind, solar or biomass.  They argue that green energy can't compete in a free market without bringing scarcity, economic decline, physical suffering and geopolitical crises.  The reliability of renewable energy suffers from weather vagaries whereas coal, natural gas and nuclear power deliver energy precisely as needed.

Moore and White bemoan the political clout of the Environmental Protection Agency and its myriad regulations and question its integrity and usefulness.  They assert that emissions actually began to fall in the 1960s, nearly a decade before the establishment of the EPA.  During the same time as the EPA's anti-industrial "back to nature" philosophy took root, air quality actually improved despite a doubling of fossil fuel use with an accompanying 200% increase in the GDP.

These improvements came from emission reductions and controls made by private business rather than EPA mandates, the authors maintain.  Between 1980 and 2010, airborne sulfur dioxide declined by 89%, carbon monoxide by 82%, nitrogen dioxide by 52%, ozone by 27%, particulate matter by 27% and mercury by 65%.  Over the past few decades, tailpipe emissions declined by more than 90% with miles traveled increasing by 180%.

In recent years, a massive, wind and solar renewables program failed miserably in Europe.  It caused precipitously higher prices and scarcities, prompting hundreds of thousands of families to turn to wood burning in desperation (thus inflating furniture and paper prices) and spurring construction of new coal plants.  The threat of blackouts, unacceptably high utility bills and corporate flight resulting from this renewables program, threatened the very stability of Europe.  Citing Europe's dismal example, Moore and White explain that contrary to the popular exaltation of renewables, a prosperous American future will be driven by abundant, reliable and inexpensive fossil fuels.

SOURCE




UK: Hinkley Point: how not to go nuclear

This costly project could set back the energy revolution we need

On Thursday afternoon, I went upstairs, closed the curtains and had a lie down for a while. Something shocking had happened and I needed a few minutes to recover. The traumatic event? I read an article by George Monbiot and largely agreed with it. Truly, a once-in-a-blue-moonbat moment.

It’s not an experience I am accustomed to. Monbiot has for a decade been the most consistent and high-profile proponent of misanthropic environmentalism in the UK. But here we were in agreement: nuclear power is a good idea and we need more of it, but the deal to build Hinkley Point C is a bad one. A really bad one. So bad, in fact, that it could put future governments off the idea of nuclear power for years to come. Yet, after a pause for reconsideration, the UK prime minister, Theresa May, decided last week to give Hinkley Point the green light.

Nuclear power has made a comeback largely because of the obsession with greenhouse-gas emissions. Renewables are still relatively expensive compared with burning fossil fuels (though getting cheaper as technology improves), but they are also intermittent. Solar, obviously, only works during the day and produces less energy when it is cloudy. Wind works both day and night, but only when the wind blows. Renewables are thus both intermittent and unpredictable. As a result, both solar and wind need to be backed up by gas-powered stations – but running such stations on a start-stop basis to fill in the gaps is expensive, too.

Nuclear is comparable with renewables in terms of greenhouse-gas emissions, but it is at least reliable. In fact, since fuel costs are relatively low and capital costs are high, the best thing to do is to run nuclear power stations flat out, providing ‘base load’ to the electricity network. Nuclear isn’t so good at adapting to the ups and downs of electricity demand as gas, but it could still provide a big chunk of Britain’s energy needs.

But building nuclear power stations is an expensive, long-term project – just the kind of thing Britain seems to be bad at. To persuade Électricité de France (EdF) to build Hinkley Point C, the government was forced, to echo a line from Nye Bevan, to stuff their mouths with gold. In the case of Hinkley Point, that meant guaranteeing EdF a high price for the electricity it would produce: £92.50 per megawatt-hour (MWh), index-linked to inflation, plus providing billions in loan guarantees.

Even when the deal was struck, the price for EdF’s electricity looked steep. Now it looks embarrassing. The justification for the price was that gas prices were expected to rise sharply, making the effective subsidy to EdF look relatively small – about £6 billion over the lifetime of the plant. Now, with gas prices having fallen, that subsidy could be as high as £30 billion.

That might be justified for a well-established and reliable technology. But the reactor design proposed by EdF has been around for quite some time – and is still yet to produce any electricity. The first such project, in Finland, commenced in 2005. Between constant design changes, technical problems and difficulties with Finnish regulators, the project has run massively over budget and won’t become operational until at least 2018. Similar problems have dogged the plant in Flamanville in France, started in 2007, which again might only produce power at the end of 2018. But, if anything, the problems at Flamanville are even worse, leading to suggestions that the plant might be scrapped.

And to put the tin lid on things, the Hinkley Point project has put such a strain on EdF’s creaking finances that the plant will now be one-third funded by the Chinese, who signed up on the expectation of being able to build plants of their own at Bradwell and Sizewell in years to come. It was security concerns about this Chinese involvement that apparently led to Theresa May’s decision to review the project. The result has been that the UK government will in future take a stake in such projects to ensure that ownership is fully transparent. In truth, May and her advisers may have been looking for a way out of the deal. In the end, politics prevailed over economics.

To sum up: Hinkley Point C is a power station that the UK government no longer wants to pay for, the French company building it doesn’t want to build, the Chinese partners are only supporting in order to build their own power plants in the future, and which may never get built if the technological and engineering problems can’t be solved. But the UK government doesn’t want to offend the French with Brexit negotiations imminent, nor does it want to annoy the Chinese when trade deals might be needed in the future. The French are desperately trying to save face by refusing to admit that their nuclear technology isn’t going to work. So everyone ploughs on. Politics has trumped common sense.

If our first attempt in decades at building a nuclear plant ends in complete farce – and it is quite possible it will – it would surely make it very difficult to win support for nuclear power plants in the future. Which is very bad news, because nuclear power offers the possibility of producing the huge quantities of energy we need to transform our world. Here’s where I disagree with Monbiot: he wants nuclear power to reduce humanity’s ‘footprint’ on the world; I want nuclear power to create the possibility of massively increasing that footprint. That’s something renewables are unlikely to be able to do in the UK, unless we are prepared to turn our countryside and coastline into an ugly monoculture of wind turbines.

Whether it is the current nuclear-fission technology, thorium-based reactors, new nuclear-waste-gobbling designs or even the holy grail itself – nuclear fusion – it is only such concentrated power sources that could really transform the world. Let’s hope that Hinkley Point C does get built and does produce electricity, as promised. At least we could write it off as an expensive mistake, learn some lessons from the process, and then get on with the job of building cost-effective nuclear stations for the future.

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Obama Directs Federal Agencies to Consider Climate Change As a National Security Issue

In a Sept. 21 memo to his department heads, President Obama instructed all federal departments and agencies to consider the impact of climate change on national security.

Obama states that it is the policy of the U.S. government to ensure that current and anticipated impacts of climate change be "identified and considered" in developing national security doctrine, policies and plans.

"Climate change poses a significant and growing threat to national security, both at home and abroad," the memo says. Those threats, according to Obama, include flooding, drought, heat waves, intense precipitation, pest outbreaks, disease, and electricity problems, all of which can "affect economic prosperity, public health and safety, and international stability."

Obama also says those anticipated climate change issues could adversely affect military readiness; negatively affect military facilities and training; increase demands for federal support to civil defense authorities,; and increase the need to maintain international stability and provide humanitarian assistance needs.

He has directed his national security and science/technology chiefs to chair an interagency working group to study climate-related impacts on national security and develop plans to deal with those impacts.

The working group will include high-ranking officials from the Departments of State, Treasury, Defense, Justice, Interior, Agriculture, Commerce, Health and Human Services, Transportation, Energy, Homeland Security, Agency for International Development, NASA, Director of National Intelligence, U.S. Mission to the U.N., Office of Management and Budget, Council on Environmental Quality, Millennium Change Corporation, and "any other agencies or offices as designated by the co-chairs."

Among other things, this bureaucratic working group will "develop recommendations for climate and social science data...that support or should be considered in the development of national security doctrine, policy, and plans."

The working group will create data repositories, climate modeling, and simulation and projection capabilities.

The presidential memo lays out a total 17 action points for the working group, all of them premised on the notion that human-caused climate change is indisputable fact.

The working group has been given 90 days to develop an action plan, which must include "specific objectives, milestones, timelines, and identification of agencies responsible for completion of all actions described therein."

And the working group has 150 days to "develop implementation plans" for the action plans. (Some of those implementation plans may be classified because they deal with national security.)

Section 7 of the presidential memo defines various terms, such as climate, climate change, climate modeling, and "fragility."

"'Fragility' refers to a condition that results from a dysfunctional relationship between state and society and the extent to which that relationship fails to produce policy outcomes that are considered effective or legitimate." (Considered "effective and legitimate" by the government, apparently.)

"'Resilience'" refers to the ability to anticipate, prepare for, and adapt to changing conditions and to withstand, respond to, and recover rapidly from disruptions.

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Cutting Through the Doom and Gloom: We’re Nature’s Caretakers, Not Undertakers

One environmentalist says if we want to actually help the planet, we humans need to get over ourselves

Imagine a team of paleontologists eons from now, excavating the remains of ancient life. “Aha!” says one, holding up a finger stained with petroleum grease. “Look here,” says another, brandishing a petrified Coca-Cola bottle. “Yes, this confirms it,” remarks a third, holding up a fossilized chicken bone. “This layer is Anthropocene.”

That’s precisely the scene one group of experts seemed to have in mind at this summer’s meeting of the International Geological Congress. The group’s chair, a professor at the University of Leicester, argued that human beings have so profoundly altered our planet that we have entered a new geologic era. The so-called “Anthropocene,” or “era of man,” will be easy to recognize in future rock layers by its distinctive strata of garbage, radioactive fallout, carbon pollution, and yes—chicken bones. At least, that’s what these scientists claim.

And there’s another marker of the Anthropocene: a so-called “Sixth Extinction.” The current die-off of species at the hands of human beings is so severe, say some scientists, that it’s comparable to the extinction of the dinosaurs and other major die-offs in Earth’s history.

“Nature is dead,” we might paraphrase Nietzsche, “and we have killed her.” But is this bleak picture of our relationship with all other life really accurate? Are we really entering the geologic era of man?

Let’s not flatter ourselves, says environmentalist and author Stewart Brand. In a recent essay at Aeon, Brand argues that notions like the “Anthropocene” and the “sixth extinction” aren’t just wrong. They’re a recipe for panic and paralysis when it comes to protecting our still-beautiful and wild Earth.

“Viewing every conservation issue through the lens of extinction threat is simplistic and usually irrelevant,” Brand writes. “Worse, it introduces an emotional charge that makes the problem seem cosmic and overwhelming rather than local and solvable.”

If doctors talked to their patients the way most environmentalists talk to the public, they’d begin every session by saying, “Well, you’re dying. Let’s see if we can do anything to slow that down a little.”

Brand argues that the “lazy romanticism about impending doom” undergirding notions like the “Anthropocene” and the “sixth extinction” is a “formula for hopelessness,” and therefore, failure.

Instead he offers a dose of reality: Almost all of the most recent extinctions have taken place on tiny ocean islands. And those species, while worth mourning, were of almost no ecological importance to the majority of the planet.

Meanwhile, stories like the recovery of the giant panda, which was recently removed from the endangered species list, show that when we focus on incremental and local solutions, humans can undo much of our own damage.

This idea that nature is “extremely fragile or already hopelessly broken” isn’t remotely the case, Brand writes. Nature is resilient, and if given the chance, it will rebound with remarkable speed.

It turns out our understanding of ourselves and our place in the environment is crucial to preserving that environment. We’re caretakers, not undertakers. And naming geologic eras after ourselves does nothing to preserve or tend the world over which God has placed us as stewards.

Will future paleontologists identify our era by its abundant chicken bones? Well, maybe. But if we cut the doom and gloom and see our relationship with nature accurately, they may just find plentiful evidence of pandas, as well.

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Powering countries, empowering people

Affordable energy brings jobs, improved living standards and pursuit of happiness  

Paul Driessen

For 16 years, in a scene out of pre-industrial America, Thabo Molubi and his partner made furniture in South Africa’s outback, known locally as the “veld.” Lacking even a stream to turn a water wheel and machinery, they depended solely on hand and foot power. But then an electrical line reached the area.

The two installed lights, and power saws and drills. Their productivity increased fourfold. They hired local workers to make, sell and ship more tables and chairs, of better quality, at higher prices, to local and far away customers. Workers had more money to spend, thereby benefitting still more families.

Living standards climbed, as families bought lights, refrigerators, televisions, computers and other technologies that many Americans and Europeans simply take for granted. The community was propelled into the modern era, entrepreneurial spirits were unleashed, new businesses opened, and newly employed and connected families joined the global economy.

People benefited even on the very edge of the newly electrified area. Bheki Vilakazi opened a small shop so people could charge their cell phones before heading into the veld, where rapid communication can mean life or death in the event of an accident, automobile breakdown or encounter with wild animals.

Two hundred miles away, near Tzaneen, other South African entrepreneurs realized their soil and tropical climate produced superb bananas. After their rural area got electricity, they launched the Du Roi Nursery and banana cloning laboratory, where scientists develop superior quality, disease-free seedlings that are placed in gel in sealed containers and shipped all over Africa and other parts of the world.

Educated in a rural school only through tenth grade, Jane Ramothwala was a hotel maid before becoming a general nursery worker with the company. Over the ensuing decades, she worked hard to learn every facet of business operations, taught herself English, and took adult training and education courses – eventually attaining the position of manager for the company’s plant laboratory.

She now earns five times more than she did previously. During that time, the lab grew from 800,000 plants to 10 million, and today the laboratory, nursery and shipment center provide employment for several college graduates and 45 workers with limited educations. Their lives have been transformed, many have built modern homes, and their children have far brighter futures than anyone could have dreamed of a mere generation ago.

Access to electricity, Jane says, “has had a huge impact on the quality of life for many families in rural parts of Limpopo Province.” It has improved her and her neighbors’ lifestyles, learning opportunities and access to information many times over.

These scenes are being repeated all around the world, from Nigeria and Kenya, to Chile, Peru, China, India, Indonesia and dozens of other countries. Thousands of other communities, millions of other families, want the same opportunities. But for now many must continue to live without electricity, or have it only sporadically and unpredictably a few hours each week.

Across the globe, nearly three billion people – almost half the world’s population – still lack regular, reliable electricity. Nearly 1.3 billion people have no access to electricity.

In sub-Saharan Africa, over 600 million people – almost twice the population of the United States, and 70% of the region’s population – still have no or only limited, sporadic electricity. Over 80% of its inhabitants still relies on wood, dung and charcoal fires for most or all of their heating and cooking needs, resulting in extensive smoke and pollution in their homes and villages.

In India, more than 300 million people (almost as many as in Mexico and the United States) still have no electricity at all; tens of millions more have it only a few hours a day.

Countless people in these communities live in abject poverty, often on just a few dollars a day. Sub-Saharan Africa’s per capita income is roughly $1 per day, Zambia-born economist Dambisa Moyo writes, giving it the highest proportion of poor families in the world.

Mothers in these communities spend hours every day bent over open fires, their babies strapped on their backs, breathing poisonous fumes day after day. Many are struck down by debilitating and often fatal lung diseases. Their homes, schools, shops, clinics and hospitals lack the most rudimentary electricity-based technologies: lights, refrigerators, radios, televisions, computers and safe running water.

Their mud-and-thatch, cinderblock and other traditional houses allow flies and mosquitoes to zoom in, feast on human blood, and infect victims with malaria and other killer diseases. Women and children must walk miles, carrying untreated water that swarms with bacteria and parasites that cause cholera, diarrhea and river blindness. Unrefrigerated food spoils rapidly, causing still more intestinal diseases.

Hundreds of millions get horribly sick and five million die every year from lung and intestinal diseases, due to breathing smoke from open fires and not having refrigeration, clean water and safe food.

When the sun goes down, their lives largely shut down, except to the extent that they can work or study by candlelight, flashlight or kerosene lamp.

The environmental costs are equally high. Rwanda’s gorilla habitats are being turned into charcoal, to fuel cooking fires. In Zambia and elsewhere, entrepreneurs harvest trees by the thousands along highways, turning forest habitats into grasslands, and selling logs to motorists heading back to their non-electrified homes in rural areas and even large sections of cities.

As quickly as rich-country charities hold plant-a-tree fund raisers, people around the world cut trees for essential cooking and heating.

Unless reliable, affordable electricity comes, it will be like this for decades to come. Little by little, acre by acre, forest habitats will become grasslands, or simply be swept away by rains and winds. And people will remain trapped by poverty, misery, disease and premature death.

That unsustainable human and ecological destruction can be reversed, just as it was in the United States. A vital part of the solution is power plants that come equipped with steadily improving pollution controls – and burn coal or natural gas that packs hundreds of times more energy per pound than wood or dung or plant-based biofuels.

“Access to the benefits that come with ample energy trumps concerns about their tiny contribution of greenhouse gas emissions,” New York Times columnist Andrew Revkin observed in his DotEarth blog. Africa sits on vast deposits of coal, natural gas and liquid condensates that are largely ignored or simply burned as unwanted byproducts, as companies produce crude oil. Can someone find a business model that can lead to capturing, instead of flaring, those “orphan fuels,” he wondered.

Ultimately, the energy, environmental, climate change and economic debate is about two things:

Whether the world’s poor will take their rightful places among the Earth’s healthy and prosperous people – or must give up their hopes and dreams, because of misplaced health and environmental concerns.

And whether poor countries, communities and families will determine their own futures – or the decisions will be made for them by politicians and activists who use phony environmental disaster claims to justify treaties, laws, regulations and policies that limit or deny access to dependable, affordable electricity and other modern, life-saving technologies … thereby perpetuating poverty, disease and premature death.

Paul Driessen is senior policy analyst for the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow (www.CFACT.org), and author of Eco-Imperialism: Green power - Black death and other books on environmental issues.

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