Sunday, January 21, 2018



Experts say

Ya gotta laugh!  During the temperature rise of 2015/2016, Warmists sedulously ignored the influence of El Nino.  They pretended that the rise was due to CO2 -- anthropogenic global warming.  Now that temperatures are allegedly sinking back, the fall is  all due to El Nino.  To Warmists, having your cake and eating it too is a cinch! Let them eat  cake!

So now they agree with what skeptics said from early 2015 onwards and completely wipe off the recent warming period as irrelevant to their anthropogenic global warming story -- and say that 2017 is still warm even AFTER El Nino has gone.  But wait a minute!  How do we define the El Nino period except via temperature?  According to their own GISS data, temperatures (J-D) broke upward in 2014 and have stayed high ever since.  So who decided that 2017 was not influenced by El Nino -- which is the whole point of the article below?  Nobody knows. What we see below is the product of shifty definitions, nothing else.

In theory, you could detect El Nino by a detailed examination of sea levels but as we see here measuring sea levels is a mug's game.  By choosing different reference points you can get widely different results.  The earth is not a bowl and water does not lie flat on it.  And I won't mention the matter of hokey "corrections" for isostatic balance.

So what appears to have actually happened is that 2014-2017  temperatures have suddenly broken upwards to a new plateau, which is a common natural occurrence in the temperature record.

So say we concede all that they tell us with their array of numbers below.  Say that we really have moved to hotter average temperature levels after the temperature stasis of the first 13 years of the century.  What caused that rise?  Was it CO2?  They offer no proof of that.  It is all "Experts say".  Experts say a lot of things that are often wrong.  And Warmists have yet to make an accurate prediction.  So relying on such "experts" is very cold comfort indeed.  We could just be dealing with some of the many natural phenomena that we don't understand.

And what is the evidence for what "Experts say"?  In the large and colorful article excerpted below I strangely can find not a single statistic for CO2, the supposed cause of global warming. Why? Are the 21st century temperature changes due to changing CO2 levels, as the experts say? Do the temperature changes correspond to CO2 changes?  They do not. Philosopher David Hume insisted that the one precondition for detecting a cause was constant conjunction.  But there is no constant conjunction between CO2 changes and temperature changes.  So one did not cause the other.

Just for fun I have downloaded the CSV data file for monthly CO2 averages from Cape Grim. So is the temperature stasis up to 2013 matched by a plateauing of CO2 levels?  Far from it.  The levels show a steady rise up to the end of 2013 -- continuing to July 2016.  It's only from July 2016 that the CO2 levels get "stuck" on 401 ppm.  They don't resume rising until June 2017.

So what a laugh!  There is NO resemblance between the CO2 and temperature records.  The steady CO2 rise has now resumed and reached a new height in "cooling" August 2017, the last year for which there is data.  No wonder that the Warmist journalist below sticks to "Experts say" rather than dive into that inconvenient data.

Note:  My use of GISS and NOAA data does not constitute an endorsement of it. I use it because Warmists do.  It amuses me to  show that their own data does not support their madcap theory


Last year was the HOTTEST on record without an El Nino: New figures reveal man-made global warming has overtaken the influence of natural trends on the climate

By Daily Mail Science & Technology Reporter Tim Collins

Last year was the hottest on record without the influence of the El Nino weather phenomenon that helps push up global temperatures, a new study reports.

El Nino years happen when a change in prevailing winds cause huge areas of water to heat up in the Pacific, leading to elevated temperatures worldwide.

Including El Nino years, 2016 was warmer and 2017 was joint second warmest with 2015.

The main contributor to rising temperatures over the last 150 years is human activity, scientists have said.

This includes burning fossil fuels which puts heat-trapping greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.

They say man-made climate change is has now overtaken the influence of natural trends on the climate.

Experts say the 2017 record temperature ‘should focus the minds of world leaders’ on ‘scale and urgency’ of the risks of climate change.

The El Nino event spanning 2015 to 2016 contributed around 0.2°C (0.36°F) to the annual average increase for 2016, which was about 1.1°C (2°F) than average temperatures measured from 1850 to 1900.

However, the main contributor to warming over the last 150 years is human influence on climate from increasing greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, experts say.

2017 remains close to 1°C (1.8°F) above pre-industrial temperatures of 1850 to 1900.

The Met Office annual average global temperature forecast for 2017 said the global mean temperature for 2017 was expected to be between 0.32°C (0.57°F) and 0.56°C (1°F) above the long-term average.

The provisional figure for 2017, based on an average of three global temperature datasets, of 0.42°C (0.75°F) above the long-term average is well within the predicted range.

The forecast, made at the end of 2016, also correctly predicted that 2017 would be one of the warmest years in the record.

Experts from the Met Office's Hadley Centre and the University of East Anglia's Climatic Research Unit were involved in the findings.

They produce the Hadcrut4 dataset, which is used to estimate global temperatures.

This found that 2017 was almost 1°C (1.8°F) warmer than pre-industrial levels, measured from 1850 to 1900, and 0.38°C (0.78°F) warmer than average temperatures measured from 1981 to 2010.

That would make it the third hottest on record, including El Nino years.

Figures from a series of different international analyses, including from the NOAA and Nasa in the US, place 2017 as either second or third warmest on record.

Last year's temperatures were outstripped only by the record heat of 2016, and in some of the analyses by 2015.

Both 2016 and 2015 saw a significant El Nino, a natural phenomenon in the Pacific Ocean that increases temperatures, on top of human-induced global warming.

Dr Colin Morice, of the Met Office Hadley Centre, said: 'The global temperature figures for 2017 are in agreement with other centres around the world that 2017 is one of the three warmest years and the warmest year since 1850 without the influence of El Nino.

SOURCE





Ecofascist Big Brother on America's Fishing Boats,/b>

Michelle Malkin

Salt water. Seagulls. Striped bass. My fondest childhood memories come from fishing with my dad on the creaky piers and slick jetties of the Jersey shore. The Atlantic Ocean is in my blood. So when fishing families in New England reached out to me for help spreading word about their economic and regulatory struggles, I immediately heeded their call.

Now, these "forgotten men and women" of America hope the Trump administration will listen. And act.

The plague on the commercial fishing industry isn't "overfishing," as environmental extremists and government officials claim. The real threats to Northeastern groundfishermen are self-perpetuating bureaucrats, armed with outdated junk science, who've manufactured a crisis that endangers a way of life older than the colonies themselves.

Hardworking crews and captains have the deepest stake in responsible fisheries management — it's their past, present, and future — but federal paper-pushers monitor them ruthlessly like registered sex offenders.

Generations of schoolchildren have been brainwashed into believing that our seas have been depleted by greedy commercial fishermen. In the 1960s and 1970s, it is true, foreign factory trawlers from Russia and Japan pillaged coastal groundfish stocks. But after the domestic fishing industry regained control of our waters, stocks rebounded.

Reality, however, did not fit the agenda of scare-mongering environmentalists and regulators who need a perpetual crisis to justify their existence. To cure a manufactured "shortage" of bottom-dwelling groundfish, Washington micromanagers created a permanent thicket of regional fishery management councils, designated fishing zones, annual catch limits, individual catch limits and "observers" mandated by the Magnuson-Stevens Act.

Even more frustrating for the fishing families who know the habitat best, the federal scientists' trawler surveys for assessing stocks use faulty nets that vastly underestimate stock abundance.

Meghan Lapp, a lifelong fisherwoman and conservation biologist, points out that government surveyors use a "net that's not the right size for the vessel," which produces "a stock assessment that shows artificially low numbers. The fishing does not match what the fishermen see on the water."

Instead of fixing the science, top-down bureaucrats have cracked down on groundfishermen who fail to comply with impossible and unreasonable rules and regulations. The observer program, which was intended to provide biological data and research, was expanded administratively (not by Congress) to create "At Sea Monitors" who act solely as enforcement agents.

Yes, Big Brother dispatches a fleet of spies to track and ticket commercial fishing families while they work. And the biggest slap in the face? New England groundfishermen have to pay for it. A study done by the National Marine Fisheries Service estimates the program costs about $710 per day or $2.64 million per year.

Last fall, I visited the Williams family, which owns two fishing vessels based in Point Judith, Rhode Island, and Stonington, Connecticut, to see the crushing impact of this ever-intrusive bureaucracy for myself. Patriarch and small-business owner Tom Williams Sr. began fishing with his father-in-law in the 1960s. Son Tom Jr. captains the Heritage, which harvests cod, flounder and haddock. Son Aaron operates the Tradition, which harvests scup, whiting, squid and sea bass. Grandson Andrew, 20, is the fourth-generation fisherman in the family.

"What we do is feed America," soft-spoken Tom Sr. told me. "We're not just indiscriminately raping the ocean, we're trying to feed people — feed them good, healthy, quality fish."

Long before he departs from the dock, Tom Jr. must seek permission to do his job. "Before we sail, we have to do declarations on our boat tracks, which is a vessel monitoring system," Tom Jr. explained. "We have to declare what areas we're going to be fishing in. We also have to submit a sector-trip start hail and operator's permit number. ... (Then) you have to submit a daily task report, what area you were in, and all the species that you caught."

On top of all that, an at-sea observer boards the Williams' boats and bunks in tight quarters with the crew, looking over their shoulders at every turn. Over the years, the expanding reach of regulators has become overbearing and, as brother Aaron described it, "humiliating."

David Goethel, a boat captain and research biologist who served on the New England fishery management council, sued to overturn the unfunded at-sea monitoring mandate. But he was rebuffed by the U.S. Supreme Court last fall because he filed the suit too late.

He worries not only about his survival and the fate of the New England groundfishing industry, but about the precedent this power and money grab has set.

"There's nothing to stop other government agencies from doing an end-run on Congress to get a budget increase by passing off their regulatory cost to the regulated public," Goethel warned.

For his part, 20-year-old Andrew Williams hopes someone in Washington will ignore the environmental propaganda he has been taught in the classroom and get the facts.

Working on the seas "is all I ever known," he told me. "It started when I was 8 years old, and I never thought about doing anything else."

Like his family, neighbors and crewmates, he is hoping President Donald Trump can help make commercial fishing great again by getting government out of the way.

SOURCE




US Poised to Shatter Records for Oil Production, Gas Exports

The U.S. is well on its way to becoming a net exporter of natural gas for the first time in decades after breaking an annual record for oil production, according to the latest government data.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration expects the U.S. to become a net natural gas exporter once it’s compiled all the data for 2017. The U.S. is sending more gas to Mexico via pipeline and shipping more liquefied natural gas overseas.

It’s good news for President Donald Trump’s administration, which has been promoting an “energy dominance” agenda for the past year, but the implications could be farther reaching. Unleashing U.S. energy exports has the potential to upset longstanding geopolitical and economic arrangements across the world.

The Energy Information Administration expects the U.S. to have the third-largest gas liquefaction capacity in the world by the end of 2019, behind Qatar and Australia, assuming all such projects underway are finished on time. The administration also expects a doubling of gas pipeline capacity to Mexico, furthering pushing up exports.

That news came about after the administration released its short-term U.S. energy outlook this January. In that report, the statistics agency projected U.S. crude oil production averaged 9.3 million barrels per day in 2017.

Production is projected to further increase through the next year, averaging 10.3 million barrels per day and breaking the record set in 1970 of 9.6 million barrels per day. Production could average 10.8 million barrels per day in 2019, rivaling Russia.

Russia and Saudi Arabia agreed in November to extend oil production cuts until the end of 2018 to keep prices up after the collapse in the summer of 2014. Though with crude now hovering around $70 a barrel, some are predicting that agreement could fall apart.

SOURCE




Turning the Tables on Coastal Ecofascists

New York and California aim to punish energy companies for climate change. Here's how to fight back.

In the progressive-dominated bicoastal fever swamps known as New York and California, hysterical leftists are once again in search of sympathetic courts who will abet their global warming agenda.

In New York City, Bill de Blasio’s administration has filed a federal suit against a number of fossil fuel companies based on their alleged role in precipitating climate change. According to the suit, “The city seeks to shift the costs of protecting the city from climate change impacts back onto the companies that have done nearly all they could to create this existential threat.”

BP, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobil and Royal Dutch Shell are the defendants in this case, and the lawsuit alleges these companies have produced more than 11% of the entire world’s industry-based methane and carbon pollution — “since the dawn of the industrial revolution,” the suit adds.

The plaintiffs further allege that Hurricane Sandy, which hit New York in 2012, killing 53 people statewide and costing more than $19 billion in damages, was precipitated by global warming and that these companies should not only pay for that damage, but the city’s future resiliency upgrades. In a further burst of fiscal insanity given New York city’s looming pension disaster, de Blasio, along with pension fund board members Public Advocate Letitia James and Comptroller Scott Stringer, are calling on those funds to divest from fossil fuel companies over the next five years.

A New York Post editorial takes this effort to task, calling the suit a “ridiculous assault on the fossil-fuel industry that powers our city and whose earnings support retired city workers.” It further illuminates the depths of de Blasio’s hypocrisy, noting that while he’s suing to recoup the costs of building up the city’s defenses in areas most prone to flooding during hurricanes, he is also “encouraging more residential development all along the city’s waterfront.”

“Then, too, it would be nice to see the mayor practicing what he preaches,” the paper adds. “Will he ever stop taking his caravan of gas-guzzling SUVs to his Park Slope gym? How about canceling his flights around the country in support of his progressive agenda?”

As it is with most “do as I say, not as I do” progressives, the answers are no and no.

In California, the cities of Oakland, San Francisco, Santa Cruz and Imperial Beach, along with San Mateo, Santa Cruz and Marin Counties, are attempting the same gambit, based on the same ideologically driven pseudo-science. Yet New Yorkers should take note: as Wall Street Journal columnist Andrew Scurria explains, Exxon is flipping the script on this political hackery, “highlighting past bond disclosures in which its government critics suggested they couldn’t predict whether and when sea levels would rise.” In fact, “The company filed court papers in Texas on Monday seeking to force government officials to answer questions under oath about those statements.”

Columnist Katy Grimes illuminates the implications, writing, “These greedy municipal cheaters are now caught between two significant, self-imposed frauds: Either their lawsuits are fraudulent, or their bond offerings are.”

Scurria cites San Francisco as an example of a city trying to have it both ways, noting that the lawsuit it filed spoke to “imminent risk of catastrophic storm surge flooding,” while a general obligation bond offering made last year stated the city “is unable to predict whether sea-level or rise or other impacts of climate change … will occur.”

Santa Cruz County was equally hypocritical. In its lawsuit it insisted it has been experiencing more frequent and severe droughts, heat waves and wildfires, while facing a 98% chance of a “devastating three-foot flood — by 2050. Yet last year’s bond offering cited as risk factors "unpredictable climatic conditions, such as flood, droughts and destructive storms.”

Exxon believes these contradictions constitute fraud. “Each of the municipalities warned that imminent sea level rise presented a substantial threat to its jurisdiction and laid blame for this purported injury at the feet of energy companies,” Exxon stated. “Notwithstanding their claims of imminent, allegedly near-certain harm, none of the municipalities disclosed to investors such risks in their respective bond offerings.”

Nonetheless, these progressive fraudsters have their advocates. CNN columnist Jeffrey Sachs embraces the typically tiresome “evil corporation” stance, insisting these companies “have known for decades that their product is dangerous for the planet, but they relentlessly hid the evidence, stoking confusion rather than solutions,” he writes with regard to New York’s “bold” bid for “climate safety and justice.” “Through individual company efforts to support climate denialism and confusion, and through relentless and reckless lobbying by the US Chamber of Commerce and the American Petroleum Institute, the companies launched a full-blown assault on climate science to stop or delay the shift to renewable energy.”

Sachs also insists fossil fuels are entirely unnecessary: “New York can go green and electric by midcentury through electric vehicles, electricity-powered public transit, and electric heat pumps for buildings, powered by electricity from wind, solar and hydroelectric power.”

In a better world, these fossil fuel companies would call Sachs’ and his ecofascist allies’ bluff. Instead of abiding by New York City’s “road map” of reducing global warming emissions as much as 80% by 2050, or California’s 2006 legislation calling for the same reduction (a target one study concluded the state would “badly miss” only seven years later), perhaps these “climate destroyers” might voluntarily agree to stop selling their products in both places far earlier. Perhaps as early as five years from now, or sooner. After all, if global warming is as critical an issue as these leftist politicians make it out to be, it only seems right to combat it as quickly as possible. Make it incumbent on those same politicians, many of whom use “shakedown lawsuits against certain politically incorrect industries and businesses, designed to force acquiescence to leftist political policies” as Grimes puts it, to explain to the public why ruining a state’s economy in California, or undermining New York City’s pension funding, is a small price to pay for “settled science” that is anything but.

One might hazard a guess that even the most progressive New Yorkers, already reeling from a subway system in a state of emergency, or their equally progressive Californian counterparts, facing the financial collapse of Gov. Jerry Brown’s beloved “bullet train,” might be less than enthused by the consequences of such zealotry, such as skyrocketing gas prices — while gas still remains available. They might even decide it’s time for the progressive political class to “walk the global warming walk” — literally — as opposed to riding around in large carbon-spewing vehicles, or living in energy-consuming residences far larger than those of their constituents.

“The idea that oil companies might sue public servants personally in an attempt to intimidate them from protecting their communities and environment is abhorrent but consistent with their prior behavior,” San Mateo County counsel John Beiers said. “We will not be intimidated.”

One suspects that the companies who still provide Americans with the overwhelming majority of their energy needs won’t be intimidated either.

SOURCE





Australia: Miserable Greens would deny us all that we hold dear and cherish

By GRAHAM RICHARDSON, former Labor party numbers man.  He eventually discovered that there is no such thing as a happy Greenie.  Their demands are insatiable

There was a time when the Greens were all that their name suggests they should be. They were passionate about our environment and they fought really hard to protect Australia’s forests.

I was proud to be their ally in the noble endeavour of protecting rainforests and old-growth forests. I placed more than 20 per cent of Tasmania into World Heritage and, despite resolute opposition from the Bjelke-Petersen government in Queensland, I managed to list the rainforests of the Daintree region and the far north on the World Heritage register as well. Sadly, it did not take too long for me to realise that I could never do enough for them. No matter how much I achieved, they were always disappointed.

The Helsham inquiry was set up to finally settle which Tasmanian forests were to be protected. Many learned conservationists were disappointed at its outcome and I set about undoing the ­inquiry’s final report. It took a three-day cabinet meeting that grew pretty heated at times before a very close vote overturned that report. I was ecstatic and raced to share the news of this huge win for Tasmanian forests’ preservation. I rang Bob Brown, who could only express his disappointment at the cabinet not going far enough. The Greens could never be satisfied. For them it was all or nothing.

Brown, despite everything, was a tremendous voice for the environment and by far the best leader the Greens have had. The Greens began their life in Australia as a mainly Tasmanian group. They were able to export their fervour to the mainland on the back of an environmental purist in Brown.

He was never seen as a politician on the make or consumed by personal ambition. He projected decency and Australians responded. The Greens were able to achieve a national vote of 10 per cent very, very quickly. The problem is that they have never been able to increase that number.

They are stuck at 10 per cent ­because they no longer have the Greens purity of a Bob Brown. Since they stopped worrying about the trees and adopted the mantle of the true party of the left in Australia, they limited their ­horizons and seem determined to remain a minor party.

Sure, they will win inner-city seats in the parliament and if the Liberals think that the short-term gain of Labor losing a by-election in the seat of Batman in Victoria is more important than keeping out a Greens member who believes in everything the Liberals don’t, then the Greens will secure that victory in the next few months. The Greens will no doubt trumpet this as a major win and predict they will march on to greater glories. They won’t, of course. As long as they lean as far to the left as they do at present, they will ­remain on the fringes of power. They can rattle their sabres in the Senate and have a minor role in shaping legislation but real power will continue to elude them.

As long as they are determined to push issues that not only alienate the bulk of Australians but ­infuriate them as well, then their campaigns will fall on deaf ears and blind eyes. One of the first ­indications that the Greens have fundamental difficulties in accepting the way the great majority of Australians live was when now-vanquished Queensland Green Larissa Waters took on the cause of changing the toys our children play with. She wanted to ban Barbie dolls because they were gender-specific. Little girls have played with dolls since the Son of God played on the wing for Jerusalem. I have managed to live my 68 years seeing absolutely nothing wrong with little girls playing with dolls. And even if I am ­accused of being a truly dreadful person, I readily concede that I would not have been comfortable with my son playing with dolls. Fortunately, he never did.

On the last day at my son’s school last month, there was a Christmas carols evening with a religious theme held at St ­Andrew’s Anglican Cathedral in Sydney. Silent Night still sounds like a wonderful song to me and the children and their parents had a terrific time. The harmonies, the musicianship and the most brilliant music teachers brought songs we had all been familiar with since we were children to life yet again. This was a great Christmas celebration following a great Christmas tradition. The Greens don’t want us to have these celebrations.

Tasmanian senator Nick McKim and a few of his mates drew up a non-denominational card to be sent out at Christmas. Why do these miserable bastards want to attack how we play and what we celebrate? The tradition of sending Christmas cards has been breaking down for some years. As a kid I remember my family ­received and sent a hundred cards. Now it is only a few. The Greens, though, should not read into the decline in cards anything about celebrating Christmas ­itself. That tradition is alive and kicking. The Greens can only stand outside the mainstream if they continue to deride it.

Today’s leader of the Greens, Richard Di Natale, surprised ­no one this week when, in line with the black-armband view of history they peddle, he called for Australia Day to be moved away from the commemoration of the landing of the First Fleet at Botany Bay. Again, he stands against what a huge majority of Australians want and believe in.

I was at the harbour in 1988 when the 200th anniversary was being commemorated. There were so many boats, from the workers’ tinnies to the billionaires’ luxury yachts, out that day that there was very little space on the water. Australians voted with their feet and came out in their millions to be a part of it. The Greens will never dampen the way we feel about Australia Day.

Di Natale said his party would take it up with their representatives in local government. As far as most of us are concerned, this will merely mean that a few nut­tier councils will lose their right to conduct citizenship ceremonies on this day. By the way, the number of people who seek to have their Australian citizenship conferred on Australia Day itself speaks volumes for the popularity of the day.

Australia Day can be a time when we celebrate the wonderful country in which we live and renew our vows to do better with indigenous health and education.

We cannot roll over and allow the Greens to tell us how to live and what to think.

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.  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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Friday, January 19, 2018



The big if

The writers below admit that their predictions are a big if so one wonders why they bother making them.  Its all just modelling silliness anyway.  And when have models ever got it right?

Two years ago this week, the world came together in Paris to sign a landmark agreement aimed at stopping the Earth's temperature from rising dangerously high.

But according to a new report from Climate Tracker, an independent research group, we're way off track to hit the target laid out in the Paris climate agreement.

The Paris Agreement pushed member nations to curb their greenhouse gas emissions, like carbon dioxide and methane, in order to keep global temperatures from increasing more than 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. Each country submitted its own plan for reducing emissions that cause our atmosphere to trap more heat.

But if all of the signatories fulfill their pledges — and that's a big if — global temperatures will still increase by 3.2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels by the end of the century, according to Climate Tracker's latest report.

President Donald Trump has pledged to pull the US out of the agreement, claiming it hurts US manufacturing — but that process that will take several years. If the US does leave, it will be the only country in the world not signed on.

What could happen if the planet exceeds the 2-degree limit

According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), if global temperature rise exceeds 2 degrees Celsius, climate-related risks like wildfires, sea level rise, and crop failure will be magnified.

The 2-degree limit was first established in a working paper by an economist — not a climate scientist — in the 1970s, but it has proved to be a useful rallying point for the international community.

Scientists have outlined how continued emissions could lead to the complete loss of ice sheets in Greenland over the next few centuries, which could cause sea levels to rise by 7 meters, or over 21 feet, submerging populated coastal cities like New York and Miami. In certain regions, moving past the 2-degree limit could cause average crop yields to be 25% lower — and those effects only increase the warmer it gets.

It's important to note, however, that modeling climate change is a highly complex process with many variables, so these effects are a matter of probabilities, not an absolute certainty.

The US' potential withdrawal would add 0.3 degrees Celsius of warming by 2100

Climate Tracker's report calculates that the US's withdrawal from the Paris agreement would add approximately 0.3 degrees Celsius of warming to its projections for the year 2100.

And while the report notes that carbon dioxide emissions have flattened over recent years, it's too soon to say that global emissions have peaked. Climate Tracker predicts that greenhouse gas emissions will grow between 9% and 13% from 2020-2030 based on current trends.

In order to hit the targets laid out by the Paris agreement, global greenhouse gas emissions need to peak around 2020 then rapidly fall.

But there are some positive signs. Climate Tracker estimates that policies implemented in 2017 reduced their global temperature predictions by 0.2 degrees Celsius over 2016 projections. And India and China — two of the fastest-growing economies in the world — have made significant headway in reducing the growth rate of their greenhouse gas emissions.

Nonetheless, Climate Tracker predicts emissions in India will grow approximately 7% between 2020-2030, and China's will rise 51% in the same period.

The report notes, however, that climate modeling is a tricky business with a lot of room for error.

A study published by Nature earlier this month estimates that the world will be 15% hotter in 2100 than the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) — whose work formed the basis of the Paris agreement goals — projected, based on a new set of calculations.

This new research suggests humans will probably have to reduce emissions even more steeply to avoid crossing the thresholds agreed to in Paris.

SOURCE





Rising CO2 levels in the atmosphere ‘significant but not alarming’

More rubbish talk about what they admit is an unknown

Alarmist projections of how sensitive Earth’s climate is to rising levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere have been proved wrong by new research published today in Nature.

The paper said there was a less than one-in-40 chance of climate sensitivity being greater than 4C, renewing hope it would be possible to avoid global warming exceeding the Paris target of 2C.

Climate sensitivity, the amount of warming caused by a doubling of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, is hotly contested. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has published estimates ranging from 1.5C to 4.5C.

Other scientists have said climate sensitivity could be as low as 1C because other factors had played a greater role in recent warming than had been acknowledged by climate models.

Scientists in Britain said they had used new techniques to narrow the range to between 2.2C and 3.4C.

The latest Nature paper found the most likely outcome would be 2.8C, with 66 per cent confidence limits. The findings are consistent with the IPCC “likely” range of 2.2C-3.4C.

Announcing the results, Nat­ure said “analysis suggests that ­extremely high estimates of this sensitivity can be ruled out’’. So, too, could estimates below 1.5C.

Peter Cox from the College of Engineering, Mathematics and Physical Science at the University of Exeter used a new method to calculate climate sensitivity based on the observed historical variability in temperature rather than the warming trend itself.

Earlier attempts had focused on the historical warming record or reconstructions of past ­climates. “We use an ensemble of climate models to define an emergent relationship between ECS (equilibrium climate sensitivity) and a theoretically informed metric of global temperature variability,” the new paper said.

“This metric of variability can also be calculated from observational records of global warming, which enables tighter constraints to be placed on ECS,” it said.

The new methodology reduced the probability of equilibrium climate sensitivity being less than 1.5C to less than 3 per cent, and the probability of it exceeding 4.5C to less than 1 per cent.

The Nature paper said ECS remained one of the most important unknowns in climate change ­science.

ECS is defined as the global mean warming that would occur if the atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration were instantly doubled and the climate were then brought to equilibrium with that new level of CO2.

Estimates of ECS play an important role in global agreements to combat climate change.

SOURCE




Head of Int'l. Energy Agency: Electric Cars Won't Overtake Traditional Cars Any Time Soon

At a hearing of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee on Tuesday, Faith Birol, the head of the International Energy Agency, was asked for his views about the "electrification" of transportation.

"The number of electric cars will grow," Birol told the panel. "But our numbers show that, even two decades from now, the biggest chunk of the cars we are running will be the existing internal combustion engines, the traditional cars."

Birol said he expects the number of electric cars to grow in places such as Europe and China, where there is a lot of incentive and subsidies to produce them.

"And with the declining costs of batteries for electric cars, plus the very generous government subsidies in some countries, we see the electric cars are increasing substantially," Birol said.

Birol said despite the proliferation of electric cars in some countries, the demand for oil will continue to grow.

"The cars are not the biggest part of the oil-demand growth," he explained. "Oil demand today in the world is driven by trucks, jets, ships and, most important, (the) petrochemical industry. Even though there will be a lot of electric cars coming into markets, running in the streets of the world, we will still see that there is a need for new oil production."

Birol said the anticipated growth in oil demand and production "is definitely good news for the U.S. economy."

He noted that the U.s. production of natural gas from fracking "is going to bring a lot of energy to the markets," and he expects the U.S. to be the largest liquified natural gas exporter in the world by 2020.

But what's good for the United States may adversely affect oil producers in the Middle East:

"[I]f I had to pinpoint one vulnerability in our world, in terms of oil and gas, it is the following," Birol said. "Many countries in Middle East, and also some major eastern European countries -- their economies are single-product economies -- oil and, in some cases, gas.

"When the price of these commodities go down, or, as we just discussed ... the electric cars one day become a major, major part of transportation, they may seriously suffer -- their economies. And they are not -- they are not prepared for that.

"Their entire economy, social life, is based on oil revenues. This is a major vulnerability, especially today, when the oil prices will be, we expect, more and more volatile, and technology may make big surprises. Therefore, the -- as International Energy Agency, we are going to focus, in our next outlook -- World Energy Outlook -- these vulnerabilities of these countries."

SOURCE





LAPD Blew $10 Million On A Fleet Of Electric BMWs It Doesn’t Use

The Los Angeles Police Department purchased a pricey fleet of electric BMWs last year, but most of them are either being misused or not used at all, according to a Los Angeles CBS affiliate investigation.

BMW delivered  one hundred electric cars to the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) every three years through a program designed to make the department green, yet many of those vehicles are either sitting idle or officers are using them as a type of show-and-tell throughout the community.

“It’s all a part of saving the Earth, going green … quite frankly, to try and save money for the community and the taxpayers,” LAPD Deputy Chief Jorge Villegas told a reporter with CBS Los Angeles. The program, which began in April 2016, has apparently turned into a money burner.

The investigation also found that most of the electric cars have only been used for a few thousand miles from the beginning of the project until August 2017.

One reporter watched as a commanding officer with the LAPD’s fiscal operations took a zero-emission vehicle out for a spin to get a manicure. Officer Annemarie Sauer spent more than an hour inside the nail salon before walking out with a manicurist and gesturing toward where the BMW was parked.

“First of all, if they’re going to be using $10 million of our money, or basically leasing $10 million of equipment, they ought to have a damn plan!” local political watchdog Jack Humphreville told CBS. “Isn’t that just a tremendous waste of money?”

The move to amp up the city’s electric vehicle fleet comes as Democratic lawmakers in California aim to force commuters into Teslas and other electric vehicles.

Assemblyman Phil Ting, for instance, floated the idea last year to introduce a bill in January 2018 that would ban the sale of produced after 2040. The Democrat said California drivers must adopt electric vehicles if the state is going to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

SOURCE





The inconvenient truth is that catastrophists are wrong

Comment from Australia

It should come as a great relief to know the freezing temperatures recently experienced in the northern hemisphere do not signal an end to global warming.

Imagine if mankind’s increasingly costly attempts to arrest CO2 emissions were unnecessary. That the misallocation of productive resources, prolonging the misery of the world’s most vulnerable people, was nothing more than a cynical ideological exercise?

Hopefully, those global warming doubters in Florida watching frozen iguanas falling stiff from the trees now know that while they were freezing, according to Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology, little old Penrith in Sydney, Australia, was the warmest spot on the planet, recording its highest temperature ever, having “broken the all-time maximum temperature record for … the Sydney metropolitan area”.

Well, perhaps in all that excitement the bureau can be forgiven for overlooking the fact Penrith Lakes started recording temperatures only in 1995 and for missing a much higher temperature recorded in nearby Richmond in 1939. But they were right. It was hot.

In a hurried piece in Fairfax publications, the Climate Council of Australia’s Will Steffen throws hot water on any misconceptions that may have been drawn from abnormal snowfalls in Britain, Switzerland and Japan, the record-breaking cold snap in Canada and the US, and the expansion of the East Antarctic Ice Sheet.

He says: “Terms like ‘global warming’ and the mental images they trigger can be misleading when people attempt to understand what is happening to the climate. A far better term is ‘climate disruption’, which captures the real nature of the vast array of changes, many of them abrupt and unexpected, that are occurring.”

So fire and ice, it’s to be expected.

Of course you won’t be surprised to learn Steffen claims “the climate disruption we are increasingly experiencing is not natural. It is caused by the heat-trapping gases we humans are pouring into the atmosphere primarily by the burning of coal, oil and gas.”

On the day Steffen’s opinion piece appeared, this newspaper republished Matt Ridley’s article in The Times claiming “the Earth is very slowly slipping back into a proper ice age”. This confirms research by Henrik Svensmark, Australia’s David Evans and others, who correlated low solar activity (fewer sunspots) and increased cloud cover (as modulated by cosmic rays), with a cooling climate.

Indeed, last year scientists submitted 120 papers linking historical and modern climate change to variations in solar activity.

Steffen wasn’t among them. He says: “Whole ecosystems are succumbing to (human-induced) climate disruption. In 2016 unusually dry and hot conditions triggered massive fires in Tasmania’s World Heritage forests, while ocean circulation patterns have moved ­unprecedented underwater heatwaves around the world, driving the tragic coral bleaching of the Great Barrier Reef.’’

Yet the chairman of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, Russell Reichelt, dismisses many of the claims that he says “misrepresent the extent and impact of coral bleaching on the Great Barrier Reef.”

Peter Ridd from James Cook University goes further, saying: “We can no longer trust the scientific organisations like the ARC (Australian Research Council) Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies. The science is coming out not properly checked, tested or replicated, and this is a great shame.”

Steffen’s work could fit this description. He spends much time pushing eco-catastrophism. “Climate disruption” he says “brings growing risks of large-scale migration and conflict as people, particularly the most vulnerable, are forced to deal with increasingly difficult conditions where they live. Some security analysts warn that climate disruption will dwarf terrorism and other conventional threats if present trends continue or worsen.

“Had enough of climate disruption? Then let’s leave our 20th-century thinking behind and get on with the job of rapidly building innovative, clever, carbon-neutral 21st-century societies.”

But Ridley questions the influence of carbon dioxide. He reminds us that: “In 1895 the Swede, Svante Arrhenius, one of the scientists who first championed the greenhouse theory, suggested that the ice retreated because carbon dioxide levels rose, and advanced because they fell. If this was true, then industrial emissions could head off the next ice age. There is indeed a correlation in the ice cores between temperature and carbon dioxide, but inconveniently it is the wrong way round: carbon dioxide follows rather than leads temperature downward when the ice returns.”

But where would manmade global warming “science” be if it relied on just facts? For decades, climate science has been plagued by scandals, deceit and the confessions of whistleblowers.

Penrith’s hyped recording is not new. Scientist and long-time BOM critic Jennifer Marohasy has been calling for an audit and urging Energy and Environment Minister Josh Frydenberg “to inform the World Meteorological Organisation that the temperatures recorded by our bureau are not consistent with calibration, nor any international standard”, and, to “direct the bureau to desist from announcing new record hot days”.

Still, institutionalised data bias is a handy default for radical-left eco-catastrophists who have a tendency to extract worst-case scenarios from every weather event.

But despite their best efforts, in the public’s eyes their story is wearing thin. There have been too many false predictions and unwarranted alarmism. People are wising up to the reality that climate science has become an unfalsifiable ideology and resent having their moral conscience questioned should they disagree.

If Ridley is right and the earth is slowly slipping back into a proper ice age, it will be literally cold comfort, not to mention lethal, to keep passing it off as climate disruption.

To survive such an event, our successors will need a plentiful supply of cheap, reliable energy, impossible given today’s intelligentsia’s religious objection to low-cost fossil and nuclear fuels.

It’s not carbon dioxide that threatens us with extinction but blind ideology dressed up as science.

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.  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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Thursday, January 18, 2018



New York City sues Shell, ExxonMobil and other oil companies over sea level rise

The "damage" they quote from global warming is the expense of defending the city from sea level rise. Problem: There has been no overall sea level rise in the vicinity of NYC in the 21st century. Sea levels have just bobbed up and down.  So the lawsuit is based on hypothetical future rises rather than on present reality.  Note that CO2 has continued to rise to unprecedented levels over the 21st century but it has not affected the sea level at all so the whole basis of the lawsuit is moot



The New York City government is suing the world’s five largest publicly traded oil companies, seeking to hold them responsible for present and future damage to the city from climate change.

The suit, filed Tuesday against BP, Chevron, Conoco-Phillips, ExxonMobil and Royal Dutch Shell, claims the companies together produced 11 percent of all of global-warming gases through the oil and gas products they have sold over the years. It also charges that the companies and the industry they are part of have known for some time about the consequences but sought to obscure them.

New York charges in the lawsuit that it is “spending billions of dollars” to protect its coastlines, its infrastructure and its citizens from climate warming.

“To deal with what the future will inevitably bring, the City must build sea walls, levees, dunes, and other coastal armament, and elevate and harden a vast array of City-owned structures, properties, and parks along its coastline,” the lawsuit says. “The costs of these largely unfunded projects run to many billions of dollars and far exceed the City’s resources.”

The suit does not specify precisely how much money it is asking for from the oil companies in what it calls “compensatory damages,” saying that should be established in the case.

At a news conference Wednesday afternoon, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio focused on the devastation caused by Hurricane Sandy in 2012, calling it “a tragedy wrought by the actions of the fossil fuel companies.” He detailed the 44 people who died in New York as a result of Sandy, as well as the estimated $19 billion in damage it caused. “That is the face of climate change,” de Blasio said. “That is what it means in human and real terms.”

SOURCE





Six Decades of Glacial ADVANCE in the Western Ross Sea, Antarctica
 
Paper Reviewed: Fountain, A.G., Glenn, B. and Scambos, T.A. 2017. The changing extent of the glaciers along the western Ross Sea, Antarctica. Geology 45: 927-930.

Climate alarmists have long anticipated Earth's polar regions to symbolize the proverbial canary in the coal mine when it comes to witnessing the impacts of CO2-induced climate change. In these high latitudes, temperatures are predicted to warm so fast and to such a degree so as to cause unprecedented melting of ice that even the most ardent of climate skeptics would be forced to concede the verity of global warming theory. Consequently, researchers pay close attention to changes in climate in both the Arctic and Antarctic.

The most recent work in this regard comes from the scientific team of Fountain et al. (2017), who analyzed changes in glacier extent along the western Ross Sea in Antarctica over the past 60 years. More specifically, using digital scans of paper maps based on aerial imagery acquired by the U.S. Geological Survey, along with modern-day satellite imagery from a variety of platforms, the authors digitized a total of 49 maps and images from which they calculated changes in the terminus positions, ice speed, calving rates and ice front advance and retreat rates from 34 glaciers in this region over the period 1955-2015.

In discussing their findings, Fountain et al. report that "no significant spatial or temporal patterns of terminus position, flow speed, or calving emerged, implying that the conditions associated with ice tongue stability are unchanged," at least over the past six decades. However, they also report that "the net change for all the glaciers, weighted by glacier width at the grounding line, has been [one of] advance" (emphasis added) with an average rate of increase of +12 ± 88 m yr-1 (see Figure 1 below).

In pointing out the significance of the above findings, it is important to note that, over a period of time in which the bulk of the modern rise in atmospheric CO2 has occurred, not only have the majority of glaciers from this large region of Antarctica not retreated, they have collectively grown! This stark reality stands in direct contrast to climate-alarmist predictions for this region; and it reveals that if there is any canary in the coal mine to be seen, it is in the failure of global warming predictions/theory to match real-world observations. What will it take for climate alarmists to concede this fact?

SOURCE





Frigid cold is why we need dependable energy

Cheap, abundant coal is key to national security, warm homes and wintertime survival

By Tom Harris

Recent record-setting low temperatures have underscored the creature comfort and often life-saving importance of abundant, reliable, affordable energy. They also reminded us how appropriate it was that America’s 2017 National Security Strategy (NSS) emphasizes energy security – and was released on December 18, three days before this extra chilly winter officially began.

This first Trump Administration NSS identifies four vital national interests. Two of them – “promoting American prosperity” and “advancing American influence” – require that the United States “take advantage of our wealth in domestic resources.” However, America is no longer taking full advantage of one of its most important of its domestic resources: its vast coal reserves, the largest of any nation on Earth.

Testifying November 28 in Charleston, West Virginia, at the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) public hearing on repealing the Clean Power Plan, Robert E. Murray, president and CEO of Murray Energy Corp., summarized the bleak state of affairs.

“Prior to the election of President Obama,” Murray noted, “52% of America’s electricity was generated from coal, and this rate was much higher in the Midwest. That percentage of coal generation declined under the Obama Administration to 30%. Under the Obama Administration, and its so-called Clean Power Plan, over 400 coal-fired generating plants totaling over 100,000 megawatts of capacity were closed, with no proven environmental benefit whatsoever.”

Much of this was driven by Obama’s determination to be seen as contributing to “arresting climate change,” to quote from his 2015 NSS, by mandating severe reductions of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from power plants. Unbelievably, this NSS listed “climate change” ahead of “major energy market disruptions” in its list of “top strategic risks to our interests.”

That made no sense. Climate is, and always will be, variable. There is nothing we can do to stop it.  And many scientists do not support the hypothesis that our CO2 emissions will cause dangerous climate change.

Regardless, recent climate change has been unremarkable. It is certainly not “unprecedented,” and it clearly does not constitute a national security threat by comparison to a lack of affordable, reliable energy to power the nation and its military, and export to world markets. President Donald Trump was right to make only passing reference to climate change in the 2017 NSS.

Even in the unlikely event that CO2 emissions were or became a problem, developing countries are the source of most of the world’s emissions, and China alone currently emits about twice as much the USA. Those nations are not about to follow Obama’s lead. They understand that they must continue building coal-fired power plants at an aggressive pace, to meet their growing electricity needs.

Even the New York Times admitted that “As Beijing joins climate fight, Chinese companies build coal plants” (July 1, 2017).

“Chinese corporations are building or planning to build more than 700 new coal plants at home and around the world, some in countries that today burn little or no coal, according to tallies compiled by Urgewald, an environmental group based in Berlin…. Overall, 1,600 coal plants are planned or under construction in 62 countries, according to Urgewald’s tally, which uses data from the Global Coal Plant Tracker portal. The new plants would expand the world’s coal-fired power capacity by 43 percent.”

Similarly, India’s heavy reliance on coal will continue even in 2047, according to the June 16, 2017 report “Energizing India,” by the National Institute for Transforming India (NTTI) and Institute of Energy Economics, Japan (IEEJ). Coal is forecast to rise from its 2012 46% of India’s total energy mix to 50% in 2047 in the “business as usual scenario.” Even in an “ambitious” scenario in which renewables supply 12% of India’s primary energy (in 2012 it was 3%), coal still accounts for 42% of India’s energy mix.

The authors of the NTTI/IEEJ report state, “India would like to use its abundant coal reserves as it provides a cheap source of energy and ensures energy security as well.” Simply put, coal is essential if the rest of India’s population is to gain access to electricity and rise up out of abject poverty. Even today, some 240 million Indians (nearly seven times the population of Canada!) still do not have electricity.

India and these analysts are right, of course. So it is a welcome development that Trump is promoting a resurgence of the American coal industry.

Obama’s dedication to the climate scare contributed significantly to coal’s tragic decline in America. Besides the impact of his Clean Power Plan, a rule that will hopefully be withdrawn very soon, coal has been hammered as a result of a 2015 EPA rule that limits plant-fertilizing carbon dioxide emissions from new coal-fired power stations. The result is that the U.S. can no longer build modern, clean, efficient coal plants to replace older stations, as is happening in China, India and even Europe. Here’s why:

The 2015 EPA rule, titled “Standards of Performance for Greenhouse Gas Emissions From New, Modified, and Reconstructed Stationary Sources: Electric Generating Units,” limits CO2 emissions on new coal-fired stations to 1,400 pounds per megawatt-hour of electricity generated. When releasing the new standard, the EPA asserted that it “is the performance achievable by a [supercritical pulverized coal] unit capturing about 20 percent of its carbon pollution.” This is irrational.

CO2 is no more pollution than is water vapour, the major greenhouse gas in Earth’s atmosphere. By calling the gas “carbon,” the Obama EPA deliberately and falsely encouraged the public to think of it as something dirty, like graphite and soot, which really are carbon. Calling CO2 by its proper name, carbon dioxide, would have helped people remember that it is an invisible, odourless gas that we exhale and is essential to plant photosynthesis. Mr. Obama apparently did not want people to remember that.

Moreover, the technology of CO2 capture on a full-scale power plant is still a technological fantasy. So in reality, the EPA was actually banning even the most modern, most efficient, least polluting, supercritical coal-fired stations – because even their CO2 emissions are at least 20% above the arbitrary EPA limit.

Speaking at the November 9, 2017 America First Energy Conference in Houston, Texas, keynote speaker Joe Leimkuhler, vice president of drilling for Louisiana-based LLOG Exploration, showed that America has 22.1% of the world’s proven coal reserves, more than any other country, and enough to last for 381 years at current consumption rates.

So it is a tragedy that America can no longer build modern coal-fired power stations to replace its aging fleet. Clearly, the rule limiting CO2 emissions from new coal-fired power stations must be cancelled as soon as possible.

The climate scare has also impeded coal’s development in the USA by restricting its export. In particular, Asia would be a huge market for inexpensive American coal if sufficient U.S. export facilities were available. But, again, thanks largely to the climate scare contributing to the blocking of construction of coal export terminals, America exports only about as much coal as does Poland.

To ensure energy security, especially when demand soars during bitterly cold spells and heat waves, and to “restore America’s advantages in the world and build upon our country’s great strengths” (quoting from the NSS fact sheets), the U.S. must expand its fleet of coal-fired power stations and build coal export facilities as quickly as possible. To make that possible, the Trump administration must do everything in its power to thoroughly debunk the climate alarm that has so crippled coal’s development.

Tom Harris is executive director of the Ottawa, Canada-based International Climate Science Coalition. He writes from Ontario, a province that seriously damaged its economy by banning all coal-fired power generation.

Via email





Fake Environmental Lawsuits Drive Up California Home Prices

A state Senate committee in Sacramento recently found that the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) does little to hinder state projects. It wasn’t asking the right question. Had its survey reached out to the non-governmental sector, the findings would have been far different. Private developments, especially residential housing projects, are significantly harmed by CEQA and the extra costs, delays, and uncertainties imposed by its environmental impact reporting requirements, explains Independent Institute Research Fellow Adam Summers, in an op-ed for the Orange Counter Register.

Tellingly, few lawsuits filed under CEQA are initiated by environmental groups. Nor do the plaintiffs who sue developers under that law seem particularly motivated by environmental concerns. According to a 2016 study, “about 14,000 housing units were targeted by CEQA lawsuits in Southern California from 2013-2015, 98 percent of which were in ‘infill’ areas surrounded by existing development, not in open space or more rural land that is much more likely to be environmentally sensitive,” writes Summers.

It’s not lost on Gov. Jerry Brown that CEQA lawsuits are a weapon of NIMBYism directed against the interests of the larger community. Brown, along with past California governors Arnold Schwarzenegger, Gray Davis, Pete Wilson, and George Deukmejian, have decried the proliferation of anti-development lawsuits under CEQA, a law Gov. Ronald Reagan signed into law in 1970. As Summers notes, CEQA is hardly the only roadblock to affordable housing in the Golden State—other regulations and costs also play a detrimental role. But until Sacramento reforms it—or better yet, relegates it to the scrap heap of history—little hope can be held that California developers will create enough housing supply to keep up with the growing demand.

SOURCE




"Green" South Australia relies on a fleet of diesel generators to keep the lights on

Britain does too.  Diesels put out a lot of particulate pollution -- as in clouds of blue smoke -- but that's OK apparently. Anybody who expects rationality from Greenies will be sadly disappointed



SCORCHING temperatures of 41C for Adelaide on both Thursday and Friday have triggered a warning of low power reserves, as the State Government puts its diesel generators on standby.

The Bureau for Meteorology says Adelaide faces a maximum 37C today and last night upped its predictions to 41C on both Thursday and Friday.

The Australian Energy Market Operator is now warning of an elevated blackout risk for SA on Thursday evening. But AEMO and the Government stress it doesn’t mean blackouts will occur.

AEMO has a three-stage system to warn states of emerging blackout risks. The “lack of reserve 1” notice issued on Tuesday is the lowest alert level, meaning blackouts could occur if there were unexpected problems with infrastructure or demand was higher than expected.

Operators of the state’s largest power station, the gas-fired plant on Torrens Island, have previously warned it is nearing the end of its practical life and losing reliability.

Mineral Resources and Energy Minister Tom Koutsantonis said he was ready to respond to the heat with measures in Labor’s energy plan, including flicking on emergency diesel generators.

“We will, of course, monitor the situation and be ready to use our new ministerial powers of direction over the market or our state-owned power plant if required,” he said.

“That is considered very unlikely at this stage. We launched our energy plan to boost local power supply and improve grid security, and importantly, the independent market operator has said that our plan has put SA in a good position this summer.”

The period of blackout risk is from 5.30pm to 6pm Thursday — the crossover point where workplaces and factories are still consuming large amounts of power as some workers return home to switch on airconditioners and appliances. It also often coincides with a drop off in production from wind farms and solar panels.

AEMO figures indicate SA will use all the energy generated within its borders as demand peaks on Thursday afternoon, while imports from Victoria ensure extra supply is available.

SA’s only other low reserve warning of the summer was in early December and is heading into its highest electricity demand period of the year, with temperatures rising and many workplaces and factories firing back up after the new year break. With a state election in March, the Government faces a political test of its energy plan. The statewide blackout in September 2016 was followed by a forced outage in February last year, in which 90,000 homes and businesses were temporarily shut down.

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.  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

*****************************************


Wednesday, January 17, 2018


Blatant Blue State hypocrisy

From energy and spending, to climate and debate – silencing all dissenting voices is essential

Paul Driessen

You’ve got to admire the full frontal audacity of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio, and their union and pressure group comrades in arms. Their hypocrisy, fraud and tyranny are boundless, especially on fiscal, energy and climate change issues.

Amid the seventh year of a “New York is open for business” advertising campaign that has spent $354 million thus far, they are presiding over tax and regulatory regimes, mountains of debt, intransigent public sector unions, anti-nuclear, anti-fossil fuel energy policies that are anything but business friendly – and press conferences that promise more of the same for state businesses, taxpayers and pensioners.

As Wall Street Journal columnist William McGurn notes, Cuomo and his fellow warriors against Trump and Republicans will do almost anything – “except address the root problem by lowering their taxes and spending. Because to do so would require taking on the public unions that drive much of state spending and debt, and are the key constituency of the 21st-century Democratic Party.”

Across the river in New Jersey, unions resist any reforms to their payrolls or pensions just as fiercely. The NJ pension system is already $90-billion short of what it needs to pay future benefits, says the Manhattan Institute. The state will collect some $35 billion in 2018 taxes, but any new revenue will go to pension payouts and spending on new government programs. Connecticut is in the same boat.

Meanwhile, electricity prices continue to climb: In New York 18.8 cents per kilowatt-hour for families, 15.0 cents for the businesses the state is so eager to attract, and 6.2 cents for its few industries. In Jersey, 14.7, 11.4 and 9.6 cents, respectively. In Connecticut, a whopping 21.3, 16.8 and 13.5 cents per kWh!

On the Left Coast, similarly exorbitant electricity rates pummel California businesses, families, factories, farms, hospitals and schools – while neighborhoods confront monstrous mudslides, resulting from winter rains in the wake of fiery hillside-denuding conflagrations. The fires and floods have destroyed nearly 9,000 homes, killed over 60 people, and devastated entire forests and neighborhoods.

Golden State forests have 129 million dead trees, and enough dry brush to fill LA Memorial Coliseum several times. But state regulators, environmentalists and judges make it impossible to remove any. It’s more “natural,” “sustainable” and “climate friendly” to have it erupt in 1,400 to 2,200 degree F infernos.

Compare those fiscal and environmental train wrecks to results thus far of the deregulation, tax reduction, pro-fossil fuel policies of President Trump and congressional Republicans: new jobs, higher wages, nice bonuses, a coming repatriation of trillions of now overseas dollars to fuel new investment and innovation, the lowest black unemployment since recordkeeping began, and the DJIA stock market reaching a record high of 25,575 January 11, following a record 92 closing highs since President Trump was elected.

Compare that to Nobel Prize winning Blue economist Paul Krugman’s dire prediction after the election: the markets will crash and “never” recover, amid a long “global recession.” Meanwhile, multi-multi-millionaire Nancy Pelosi belittled the $1,000 bonuses as “crumbs.” Tell that to families bringing in $25,000 to $50,000 a year. The House Minority Leader is completely out of touch with average families.

The Democrats need bogeymen, scapegoats, distractions – to deflect attention away from this lunacy. That’s the best way to explain the Cuomo and De Blasio press stunts this past week.

Rather than confronting public sector unions and rabid greens – or supporting onshore and offshore drilling and fracking that would create jobs and improve economies in poor counties far from Albany and Manhattan, generate tax revenues, and reduce electricity prices – the gov railed against the new $10,000 cap on how much of their state and local taxes “the rich” NY residents can deduct on their federal forms.

Mr. Cuomo proposes to transform personal income taxes into corporate payroll taxes, or even charitable deductions! California is trying the same ploy. Friendly IRS auditors will be busy shutting that down.

Meanwhile, Mayor De Blasio went on a rant against fossil fuels – announcing that the city is suing five major oil companies for billions of dollars in “climate damages,” and insisting that the Big Apple must divest its police, teacher and other public pensions from any and all fossil fuel stocks.

Energy stocks are leading the latest US stock market rally, fossil fuels will continue providing 75-80% of US and global energy for decades to come, resurgent economies overseas are booming thanks to coal, oil and natural gas, and forecasters are predicting $80-per-barrel oil in 2018, as demand surges. So Liberal Logic says it’s time to divest from fossil fuels – and maybe switch to ideologically sympatico holdings, like subsidized wind turbines or booming economies like Argentina, Venezuela and North Korea.

Greenhouse gas emissions produced disasters like Superstorm Sandy, De Blasio railed. “I remember those days. I remember how desperate it was, how much fear and confusion there was. This tragedy was wrought by the actions of fossil fuel companies.” Now New York needs $20 billion “to build resilience against rising seas, more powerful storms and hotter temperatures.”

Nice try, Mr. Mayor. But blaming sub-hurricane-strength Sandy for the actions and incompetence of city and state officials won’t cut it. As environmental consultant Pat Moffitt and I explained in great detail in a three-part series (here, here and here) several months after the storm pounded the NYC area, fossil fuels and GHGs had zero to do with the damages – any more than they did for Harvey, Irma or other storms.

They likewise played no role in California’s wildfires and mudslides, despite Governor Jerry Brown’s scapegoating insistence that GHG emissions are responsible for that too. It’s all self-serving fraud.

Fuel oil and natural gas got millions of New Yorkers and New Englanders through the recent record cold snap, while wind turbines froze up, solar panels went AWOL, and Al Gore blamed the cold on global warming! But who are we to argue with Hizzoner da Mare about fossil fuels, dangerous manmade climate change, Sandy or divestment? He might sic his RICO attack dogs on us again.

Indeed, such prosecutions are part and parcel of the new leftist-fascist world order, under which partisans, politicians and professors shut down debate, impose uniform thinking, decree corporate policy, and even punish intolerable contrarian views with physical violence when those views threaten their “safe spaces.”

It’s not yet as dicey as getting into a Moscow elevator. But one climate doomsayer wants to ship climate chaos skeptics to a Kerguelen Island gulag off Antarctica, where he probably assumes they could watch the entire continent melt – from GHG emissions, if not from the volcanoes and magma beneath its ice.

Antifa leftist-fascists have learned well from their predecessors and contemporaries, but are now employing their technological prowess as well. Google and Facebook use clever algorithms to steer searches and help liberal news and views reach audiences, while conservative perspectives get shunted to the “back pages.” Google now displays “fact checks” next to Daily Caller and other conservative views, though not with liberal leaning stories; Snopes says its fake news, but others say it’s absolutely true.

Twitter allegedly uses “shadow banning” algorithms to make users think their tweets have been posted, when in fact they’ve been sent to cyber oblivion. And talk show host Dennis Prager is suing YouTube for using “restricted mode filtering” to keep PragerU educational videos from reaching audiences. The LA Times and other liberal papers won’t even publish letters to the editor challenging climate alarmism.

Former Colorado Democratic Governor Richard Lamm would instantly recognize these tyrannical tactics. In 2005, Mr. Lamm said they were integral parts of an eight-step program to “destroy America.” (This audio of the talk on YouTube must have escaped their censors.)

The future of our free speech and other democratic safeguards and institutions is at stake. So is the future of sound, evidence-based science, on climate and other topics – and of reliable, affordable energy.

Blue State officials, unions and activists may be delighted with how their agenda is “progressing.” The rest of the United States … and world … are not so happy.

Via email



Benny Peiser & Matt Ridley: Bad Weather Is No Reason for Climate Alarm

Events such as hurricanes and wildfires are too often blamed on our slowly warming, slightly wetter planet

Two weeks ago, President Donald Trump greeted the cold snap that was gripping much of the U.S. by tweeting, “Perhaps we could use a little bit of that good old Global Warming.” He was criticized for confusing weather with climate. But he’s hardly alone in making this mistake, as we have seen in coverage of the most destructive weather-related events of 2017.

The past year was filled with bad weather news, much of it tragic, with whole communities even now still struggling to recover. Hurricane Harvey hit Texas, and Hurricane Irma struck Florida and Puerto Rico after devastating other Caribbean islands. Wildfires torched the dry expanses of Napa and Ventura counties in California, and Australia experienced severe heat waves.

It has become routine for the media, politicians and activists to link such awful events with climate change. The basic claim is that the accumulation of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere is causing more extreme weather of every kind—more droughts, floods and hurricanes. This comes in addition to concerns that a rise in global temperatures will have potentially dire effects in the long term on polar ice and sea levels.

By looking at the world as a whole, however, and at long-term trends (climate) rather than at short-term events (weather), we can better test the claims that 2017 was an unusual weather year and that weather is getting more extreme as the world warms. This global and long-term view also puts other possible threats from climate change in perspective.

While the U.S. witnessed record damages in 2017, the rest of the world was actually hit by far fewer natural disasters than usual. On average, the globe suffers some 325 catastrophic natural disasters a year, but last year (through November) they were down to around 250, according to the Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters at the University of Leuven in Belgium. A third fewer people were killed by climate-related hazards, according to the Centre’s International Disaster Database.

As for major weather events and the most prominent indicators of long-term climate trends, here is a rough scorecard for 2017:

Temperature: The past three years have set global records for high temperatures, partly thanks to the recurring warm-water El Niño cycle in the Pacific Ocean. Moreover, temperatures have been at historic highs since 2000, with 16 of the 17 warmest years on record. But average surface temperatures have dropped by a half degree Celsius since the El Niño peak in 2016, according to the UK’s Met Office, and are now almost back to pre-El Niño levels.

Though temperatures have increased, the rise is not accelerating and has fallen short of the most authoritative projections. In 1990, the first assessment report of the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change predicted that temperatures would rise at the rate of 0.3 degree Celsius per decade, equivalent to 3 degrees Celsius (or 5.4 degrees Fahrenheit) a century. In fact, temperatures have risen since 1990 at between 0.121 and 0.198 degrees Celsius per decade, depending on which of the best data sets is used—that is, at a third to two-thirds of the rate projected by the IPCC.

Hurricanes: In August, Harvey made landfall near Corpus Christi as a Category 4 storm, ending a record 12-year period without a major U.S. hurricanes. Last year’s Atlantic hurricane season was particularly hyperactive, ranking as the seventh most intense Atlantic season since records began in 1851.

But cyclones (as hurricanes are known elsewhere) are found in all three tropical oceans, and globally the Accumulated Cyclone Energy index—which measures the combined intensity and duration of these storms—is currently running 20% below its long-term average. In fact, the index for 2017 was less than half of normal cyclone activity for the Southern Hemisphere.

SOURCE





Global warming scientists not completely honest

At least some of the global warming scientists are a little honest, for they do use terms like “on record” when making their claims about global warming. They are not completely honest, because they do not reveal just how long records have been kept, or that many methods have changed over the years on how things are measured, nor do they say that they have new discoveries and just add them to the mix. So, just how accurate are their records?

When speaking about the fires in Montana, at least some do use “on record,” which is written down and not handed down from generation to generation in verbal form, which can change with each telling.

It is nice when they do admit that fire suppression has added to making fires far greater than they would have been. If this is the case, maybe it is time we allow the fires to go until they burn themselves out. I know this is a bit out of line, for now we have permanent structures and not like the Indians that could move quickly to escape the fires. Yet there must be a balance in this, not always tipped to one direction or the other.

The scientists push wind and solar. Neither of them is always reliable and both use coal or natural gas generation for a backup at this time. These two backup electric resources may not be around if not enough folks support them. Maybe the government will take them over. Also, no one speaks about how dirty it is to build solar-panels. What of the batteries they propose? Batteries do wear out. What do we do with them when their time is over, as they are dirty? Both use materials that are mined. They are against mining, but then I reckon mining is OK if it helps their cause.

No one speaks about how long these alternate sources of power will require subsidies in the way of tax breaks and the like, nor how long the power company will have to pay higher rates for their power which is passed along to Montana's most vulnerable: the poor and elderly, which will require more power assistance.

So the cycle goes.

SOURCE





End of a free ride for electric cars?

In 2018, Australia's roads are plagued with problems: the long-term decline in the road death toll has slowed, congestion is tipped to increase and long commutes are linked to poor mental health.

And now a multi-billion-dollar road funding black hole looms.

It's caused by the growing popularity of fuel-efficient cars, prompting a multi-generational reset to national roads policy which will change how you pay to drive.

For the people who rely most on their vehicles, that means trouble.

Australians are big users of roads, and they pay for the privilege … even if most don't know exactly how.

Car is by far the most common way to get to work. About two out of three travel to work this way. And that number is increasing — it's up by more than half a million since 2011.

Behind the wheel, pulling out from your garage onto the street, it might seem like access to roads is free.

But the average vehicle is actually charged more than $1,300 by state and federal governments each year, according to information from the Productivity Commission.

That's on top of fees paid directly for toll roads or parking.

The largest component is fuel excise — the tax paid on every litre of petrol, of about 40 cents — which goes to the Federal Government.

All up, governments spend approximately the same amount of money on road infrastructure as they receive from drivers.

At more than $12 billion of new engineering work done for the public sector per year, it's greater than the spending on energy, telecommunications and water combined.

But even with today's road outlays, the cost of congestion — which covers environmental, health and social impacts, plus what you could be spending your time on otherwise — is tipped to increase more than 5 per cent annually over the next 15 years in a recent report by Deloitte.

Fuel excise means — for most drivers at least — the more they drive, the more they pay.

However, low-emission vehicles are letting some drivers get away charge-free.

The CSIRO has predicted revenue coming from fuel excise will drop by almost half by 2050.

Urban Infrastructure Minister Paul Fletcher argues the current road funding system has "some features that don't seem very fair".

If you are able to buy a $125,000 Tesla, the amount you pay through fuel excise to use the roads is zero.

"If you're buying a 10-year-old Commodore, the amount you're paying is effectively four-and-a-half cents per kilometre."

The Federal Government is looking at ways to more closely link how people use the roads with what they pay.

Mr Fletcher will soon announce the terms of reference of the formal review into this concept, known as "road pricing" or "road user charging", and similar trials for trucks are earmarked for 2018.

The ultimate solution might link how much drivers pay to their car's GPS tracker. Instead of a rough fuel-based taxation method, the result would be accurate to the metre: the further you drive, the more tax you pay.

In a trial in the US state of Oregon, all drivers were charged one-and-a-half US cents per mile — no matter how fuel efficient their car was.

An overhaul of road funding such as this would require support from the states.

SOURCE





Explaining ice ages

Matt Ridley

Orbital wobbles, carbon dioxide and dust all seem to contribute
An expanded version of my recent Times column on ice ages:

Record cold in America has brought temperatures as low as minus 44C in North Dakota, frozen sharks in Massachusetts and iguanas falling from trees in Florida. Al Gore blames global warming, citing one scientist to the effect that this is “exactly what we should expect from the climate crisis”. Others beg to differ: Kevin Trenberth, of America’s National Centre for Atmospheric Research, insists that “winter storms are a manifestation of winter, not climate change”.

Forty-five years ago a run of cold winters caused a “global cooling” scare. “A global deterioration of the climate, by order of magnitude larger than any hitherto experienced by civilised mankind, is a very real possibility and indeed may be due very soon,” read a letter to President Nixon in 1972 from two scientists reporting the views of 42 “top” colleagues. “The cooling has natural causes and falls within the rank of the processes which caused the last ice age.” The administration replied that it was “seized of the matter”.

In the years that followed, newspapers, magazines and television documentaries rushed to sensationalise the coming ice age. The CIA reported a “growing consensus among leading climatologists that the world is undergoing a cooling trend”. The broadcaster Magnus Magnusson pronounced on a BBC Horizon episode that “unless we learn otherwise, it will be prudent to suppose that the next ice age could begin to bite at any time”.

Newsweek ran a cover story that read, in part: “The central fact is that, after three quarters of a century of extraordinarily mild conditions, the Earth seems to be cooling down. Meteorologists disagree about the cause and extent of the cooling trend, as well as over its specific impact on local weather conditions. But they are almost unanimous in the view that the trend will reduce agricultural productivity for the rest of the century.”

This alarm about global cooling has largely been forgotten in the age of global warming, but it has not entirely gone away. Valentina Zharkova of Northumbria University has suggested that a quiescent sun presages another Little Ice Age like that of 1300-1850. I’m not persuaded. Yet the argument that the world is slowly slipping back into a proper ice age after 10,000 years of balmy warmth is in essence true. Most interglacial periods, or times without large ice sheets, last about that long, and ice cores from Greenland show that each of the past three millennia was cooler than the one before.

However, those ice cores, and others from Antarctica, can now put our minds to rest. They reveal that interglacials start abruptly with sudden and rapid warming but end gradually with many thousands of years of slow and erratic cooling. They have also begun to clarify the cause. It is a story that reminds us how vulnerable our civilisation is. If we aspire to keep the show on the road for another 10,000 years, we will have to understand ice ages.

Burning coal, Arrhenius said, was therefore a good thing: “By the influence of the increasing percentage of carbonic acid in the atmosphere, we may hope to enjoy ages with more equable and better climates.”

There is indeed a correlation in the ice cores between temperature and carbon dioxide. There is less CO2 in the air when the world is colder and more when it is warmer. An ice core from Vostok in Antarctica found in the late 1990s that CO2 is in lock-step with temperature -- more CO2, warmer; less CO2, colder. As Al Gore put it sarcastically in his 2006 film An Inconvenient Truth, looking at the Vostok graphs: “Did they ever fit together? Most ridiculous thing I ever heard.” So Arrhenius was right? Is CO2 level the driver of ice ages?
Well, not so fast. Inconveniently, the correlation implies causation the wrong way round: at the end of an interglacial, such as the Eemian period, over 100,000 years ago, carbon dioxide levels remain high for many thousands of years while temperature fell steadily. Eventually CO2 followed temperature downward. Here is a chart showing that. If carbon dioxide was a powerful cause, it would not show such a pattern. The world could not cool down while CO2 remained high.
In any case, what causes the carbon dioxide levels to rise and fall? In 1990 the oceanographer John Martin came up with an ingenious explanation. During ice ages, there is lots of dust blowing around the world, because the continents are dry and glaciers are grinding rocks. Some of that dust falls in the ocean, where its iron-rich composition fertilizes plankton blooms, whose increased photosynthesis draws down the carbon dioxide from the air. When the dust stops falling, the plankton blooms fail and the carbon dioxide levels rise, warming the planet again.

Neat. But almost certainly too simplistic. We now know, from Antarctic ice cores, that in each interglacial, rapid warming began when CO2 levels were very low. Temperature and carbon dioxide rise together, and there is no evidence for a pulse of CO2 before any warming starts, if anything the reverse. Well, all right, said scientists, but carbon dioxide is a feedback factor – an amplifier. Something else starts the warming, but carbon dioxide reinforces it. Yet the ice cores show that in each interglacial cooling returned when CO2 levels were very high and they remained high for tens of thousands of years as the cooling continued. Even as a feedback, carbon dioxide looks feeble.

Here is an essay by Willis Eschenbach discussing this issue. He comes to five conclusions as to why CO2 cannot be the main driver and why the feedback effect is probably small:

The correspondence with log(CO2) is slightly worse than that with CO2. The CO2 change is about what we’d expect from oceanic degassing. CO2 lags temperature in the record. Temperature Granger-causes CO2, not the other way round. And (proof by contradiction) IF the CO2 were controlling temperature the climate sensitivity would be seven degrees per doubling, for which there is no evidence.

Now, the standard response from AGW supporters is that the CO2, when it comes along, is some kind of positive feedback that makes the temperature rise more than it would be otherwise. Is this possible? I would say sure, it’s possible … but that we have no evidence that that is the case. In fact, the changes in CO2 at the end of the last ice age argue that there is no such feedback. You can see in Figure 1 that the temperatures rise and then stabilize, while the CO2 keeps on rising. The same is shown in more detail in the Greenland ice core data, where it is clear that the temperature fell slightly while the CO2 continued to rise.

As I said, this does not negate the possibility that CO2 played a small part. Further inquiry into that angle is not encouraging, however. If we assume that the CO2 is giving 3° per doubling of warming per the IPCC hypothesis, then the problem is that raises the rate of thermal outgassing up to 17 ppmv per degree of warming instead of 15 ppmv. This is in the wrong direction, given that the cited value in the literature is lower at 12.5 ppmv
So what does cause ice ages to come and go?

A Serbian scientist named Milutin Milankovich, writing in 1941, published a lengthy book  called “Canon of Insolation of the Earth and Its Application to the Problem of the Ice Ages”. He argued that ice ages and interglacials were caused by changes in the orbit of the Earth around the sun. These changes, known as eccentricity, obliquity and precession, sometimes combined to increase the relative warmth of northern hemisphere summers, melting ice caps in North America and Eurasia and spreading warmth worldwide. This, said Milankovich, was “the hitherto missing link between celestial mechanics and geology”.

The northern hemisphere matters because no matter how warm the southern summer gets, Antarctica, being at much higher latitude, stays cold and (reflective) white.

In 1976 Nicholas Shackleton, a Cambridge physicist, and his colleagues published a paper called “Variations in the Earth’s Orbit – Pacemaker of the Ice Ages” with evidence from deep-sea cores of cycles in the warming and cooling of the Earth over the past half million years which fitted Milankovich’s orbital wobbles.

In a brilliant insight, Shackleton had realised that sediments taken from the ocean floor and analysed for different isotopes of oxygen could serve as a proxy for climate. The lighter isotopes of oxygen evaporated more readily from the sea, and therefore were more likely to fall as snow and get stuck on ice caps in cold periods, returning to the sea when the ice melted. So the relative concentration of the lighter isotopes in sea-floor sediments were a sort of thermometer.

Precession, which decides whether the Earth is closer to the sun in July or in January, is on a 23,000-year cycle; obliquity, which decides how tilted the axis of the Earth is and therefore how warm the summer is, is on a 41,000-year cycle; and eccentricity, which decides how rounded or elongated the Earth’s orbit is and therefore how close to the sun the planet gets, is on a 100,000-year cycle. When these combine to make a “great summer” in the north, the ice caps shrink.

Game, set and match to Milankovich? Not quite. The Antarctic ice cores, going back 800,000 years, then revealed that there were some great summers when the Milankovich wobbles should have produced an interglacial warming, but did not. To explain these “missing interglacials”, a recent paper in Geoscience Frontiers by Ralph Ellis and Michael Palmer argues we need carbon dioxide back on the stage, not as a greenhouse gas but as plant food.

The argument goes like this. Colder oceans evaporate less moisture and rainfall decreases. At the depth of the last ice age, Africa suffered long mega-droughts; only small pockets of rainforest remained. Crucially, the longer an ice age lasts, the more carbon dioxide is dissolved in the cold oceans. When the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere drops below 200 parts per million (0.02 per cent), plants struggle to grow at all, especially at high altitudes. Deserts expand. Dust storms grow more frequent and larger. In the Antarctic ice cores, dust increased markedly whenever carbon dioxide levels got below 200 ppm. The dust would have begun to accumulate on the ice caps, especially those of Eurasia and North America, which were close to deserts. Next time a Milankovich great summer came along, and the ice caps began to melt, the ice would have grown dirtier and dirtier, years of deposited dust coming together as the ice shrank. The darker ice would have absorbed more heat from the sun and a runaway process of collapsing ice caps would have begun.

Here is an extract from the paper:

A more logical explanation for the inverse correlation between dust and CO2can be seen through the effect that CO2 concentrations have on plant life. Fig. 8 also shows that CO2 levels during each ice-age came all the way down to 190–180 ppm, and that is approaching dangerously low levels for C3 photosynthesis-pathway plant life. CO2 is a vital component of the atmosphere because it is an essential plant food, and without CO2 all plants die. In her comprehensive analysis of plant responses to reduced CO2 concentrations, Gerhart says of this fundamental issue:

It is clear that modern C3 plant genotypes grown at low CO2 (180–200 ppm) exhibit severe reductions in photosynthesis, survival, growth, and reproduction … Such findings beg the question of how glacial plants survived during low CO2 periods … Studies have shown that the average biomass production of modern C3 plants is reduced by approximately 50% when grown at low (180–220 ppm) CO2, when other conditions are optimal … (The abortion of all flower buds) suggested that 150 ppm CO2 may be near the threshold for successful completion of the life cycle in some C3 species (Gerhart and Ward, 2010 Section II).

It is clear that a number of plant species would have been under considerable stress when world CO2 concentrations reduced to 200 or 190 ppm during the glacial maximum, especially if moisture levels in those regions were low (Gerhart and Ward, 2010; Pinto et al., 2014). And palaeontological discoveries at the La Brea tar pits in southern California have confirmed this, where oxygen and carbon isotopic analysis of preserved juniperus wood dating from 50 kyr ago through to the Holocene interglacial has shown that: ‘glacial trees were undergoing carbon starvation’ (Ward et al., 2005). And yet these stresses and biomass reductions do not appear to become lethal until CO2 concentrations reach 150 ppm, which the glacial maximums did not achieve - unless we add altitude and reducing CO2 partial pressures into the equation.

All of human civilisation happened in an interglacial period, with a relatively stable climate, plentiful rainfall and high enough levels of carbon dioxide to allow the vigorous growth of plants. Agriculture was probably impossible before then, and without its hugely expanded energy supply, none of the subsequent flowering of human culture would have happened.

That interglacial will end. Today the northern summer sunshine is again slightly weaker than the southern. In a few tens of thousands of years, our descendants will probably be struggling with volatile weather, dust storms and air that cannot support many crops. But that is a very long way off, and by then technology should be more advanced, unless we prevent it developing. The key will be energy. With plentiful and cheap energy our successors could thrive even in a future ice age, growing crops, watering deserts, maintaining rainforests and even melting ice caps.

SOURCE

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