Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Emissions irrelevant to future climate change?

They have to spin this so as not to upset Warmism but admitting to any presence of a diminishing returns effect exposes a big area of uncertainty for them

Climate change and the carbon emissions seem inextricably linked. However, new research published in BioMed Central's open access journal Carbon Balance and Management suggests that this may not always hold true, although it may be some time before we reach this saturation point.

The land and the oceans contain significantly more carbon than the atmosphere, and exchange carbon dioxide with the atmosphere. The amount of CO2 emissions absorbed by the land or the oceans vary in response to changes in climate (including natural variations such as El Nino or volcanic eruptions). So current theories suggest that climate change will have a feedback effect on the rate that atmospheric CO2 increases; rising CO2 levels in turn add to global warming.

The link between the carbon cycle, and human effects caused by emissions, energy use and agriculture, may only be relevant for the next 'several centuries,' suggest Igor Mokhov and Alexey Eliseev from the A.M. Obukhov Institute of Atmospheric Physics RAS, in Moscow, Russia. The authors used a climate model known as IAP RAS CM to study how feedback between our climate and the carbon cycle changes over time. In their simulations, the authors assumed that fossil fuel emissions would grow exponentially with a characteristic timescale from 50 to 250years.

In their models, Mokhov and Eliseev found that although climate-carbon cycle feedback grows initially, it then peaks and eventually decreases to a point where the feedback ceases. If we succeed in slowing down the rate of emissions, the peak would be reached much later. However, a steep increase in emissions would bring the peak in coupling between climate and carbon emissions even closer.

The authors suggest that we are heading inexorably towards the saturation peak, irrespective of how quickly we get there: "Even weak but continuing emissions lead to eventual saturation of the climate-carbon cycle feedback," Mokhov and Eliseev explain.


Another meteorologist urges caution about global warming claims

Says Warmism uses 'squishy science'

Longtime WCCO-TV meteorologist Mike Fairbourne says that the environmental movement is practicing "squishy science" when it ties human activity to global warming. Fairbourne's assessment Monday came on the same day that the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine appeared before the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., and announced that it has the signatures of more than 31,000 scientists -- including Fairbourne's -- who agree that the human impact on global warming is overblown.

Fairbourne, who joined WCCO in 1977 and has been a meteorologist for 40 years, said that while there is no doubt that "there has been some warming" of global temperatures in recent years ... there is still a pretty big question mark" about how much of that warming is from human activity. "Do we need to be wise stewards [of the Earth]? Absolutely," Fairbourne said. "Do we have to pin everything that happens on global warming? No, we need to have cooler heads."

Fairbourne said he signed the institute's petition about five years ago. The group said that hundreds of meteorologists are among the signers. The petition says:
"We urge the United States government to reject the global warming agreement that was written in Kyoto ... and any other similar proposals. The proposed limits on greenhouse gases would harm the environment, hinder the advance of science and technology, and damage the health and welfare of mankind. "There is no convincing scientific evidence that human release of carbon dioxide, methane, or other greenhouse gases is causing or will, in the foreseeable future, cause catastrophic heating of the Earth's atmosphere and disruption of the Earth's climate. "Moreover, there is substantial scientific evidence that increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide produce many beneficial effects upon the natural plant and animal environments of the Earth."

Fairbourne said he has talked "to a number of meteorologists who have similar opinions," adding that he is concerned about "the extremism that is attached to the global warming." He noted that in the 1970s "we were screaming about global cooling. It makes me nervous when we pin a few warm years on squishy science."

As for the melting polar ice caps, Fairbourne said there are "other things going on -- ocean currents, changes in salinity -- other things not related to carbon dioxide going into the atmosphere."

Asked why there has been so much momentum toward connecting human activity and global warming, Fairbourne said, "They're doing it for a lot of reasons; some may be scientific, but most of them are political. We need to be calm and look at scientific evidence and evaluate it."

Another Twin Cities TV meteorologist, Dave Dahl, is of kindred global warming spirit with Fairbourne. Dahl, in his regular afternoon weather spots on KSTP Radio (AM 1500), reads the record high and low for the day, illustrating extreme temperatures that are often many decades old. "More proof of global warming,'' radio host Joe Soucheray typically responds with sarcasm. Then Dahl chimes in with an affirming comment, such as "crazy" or "you got it, Joe."


Global warming or cooling? Who knows?

By analytical chemist and a mathematician Sherwood Thoele

Global cooling or global warming, which is it? It depends upon the latest climate study published. In the 1960s and 1970s, they claimed global cooling because of several years of colder than "normal" temperatures. Academia and certain think tanks claimed this cooling was from too much CO2 (carbon dioxide) in the atmosphere. That died down and then came a warming spell, so we are now experiencing global warming, because of too much CO2 in the atmosphere. So, too much CO2 causes both global cooling and global warming.

As an analytical chemist, I analyze all the parameters and data from studies: what prompted the study, who funded it, where it was conducted, measuring equipment accuracy and the atmospheric conditions or physical status of that area during the study. Might there be bias for the outcome of the study, either by those conducting the study or those funding it and does the conclusion match the data? I want to know all this information before I accept the conclusions of any study, especially when it comes from someone within a social movement or political group.

Briefly, what is CO2 and what are some of its properties? CO2 is a gas at temperatures above -78.5C (-109.3F) at sea level, and it's only liquid under a lot of pressure, like in fire extinguishers. CO2 is heavier than air, so without air currents it won't rise above the ground (stage fog, silos, caves, mines). It is slightly soluble in water at room temperature and lower. So it is more soluble in the moisture in the colder upper atmosphere. CO2 with water makes carbonic acid (carbonated water), making it even heavier. Air is from 0.027 to 0.036 percent CO2, depending on the reference source.

One of the first things you learn in chemistry is that everything moves toward a state of equilibrium. So when too much water is in the atmosphere, along with other conditions, it rains. Along with this moisture is any excess or out-of-equilibrium CO2. CO2 with water is a mild acid with a pH of 5 to 6, which is perfect for plants. This acid helps release other minerals in the soil turning them into carbonates that dissolve easier in water, making them available to plants.

Because CO2 is slightly soluble in water and will come back to the Earth with precipitation, nature corrects for any excess, just as it does with other excess materials from volcanoes and forest fires.

CO2 comes from burning or oxidizing organic material and minerals that contain carbon. Major sources are fermenting (rotting) vegetation like in swamps, compost piles, burning limestone to make lime, gasoline or other petroleum products, volcanoes and forest fires. Nature recycles all of what it considers excess very efficiently. CO2 absorbs some infrared radiation. Infrared absorbers accept the radiation from any direction.

Since infrared radiation is one of many parts of visible light, the biggest source is the sun. Some say excess CO2 combined with the moisture in the atmosphere absorbs infrared radiation from the Earth to create a greenhouse effect by not letting it pass through it. But how then does the infrared radiation from the sun get through the CO2/moisture, and wouldn't it already have absorbed as much infrared radiation as it could handle from the sun?

There is a limit to the amount of infrared radiation that moisture/CO2 can absorb. Warmth from sunlight means infrared radiation is getting through. The infrared radiation absorbed by the Earth will keep it warm for a while, but as clouds linger and the sun goes down, the warmth goes away quickly. So if there were a greenhouse effect from heat being blocked from leaving the Earth, then the temperature on cloudy days and at night shouldn't be so different than on a sunny day.

Some claim a 1 degree Fahrenheit increase in the average temperature over the last 100 years, globally. Considering the many variables that cause temperature changes, including the accuracy of the thermometers, the average global temperature has been extremely stable in this short period of time relative to the age of the Earth.

I submit that there is no manmade global cooling/warming, that there is no study or research data that makes a good argument to that effect when carefully examined objectively and that the Earth has many different and wide-ranging cycles that man cannot control, no matter how much he would like to.


So much for 'settled science'

You may have heard earlier this month that global warming is now likely to take break for a decade or more. There will be no more warming until 2015, perhaps later. Climate scientist Noel Keenlyside, leading a team from Germany's Leibniz Institute of Marine Science and the Max Planck Institute of Meteorology, for the first time entered verifiable data on ocean circulation cycles into one of the U. N.'s climate supercomputers, and the machine spit out a projection that there will be no more warming for the foreseeable future.

Of course, Mr. Keenlyside-- long a defender of the man-made global warming theory -- was quick to add that after 2015 (or perhaps 2020), warming would resume with a vengeance. Climate alarmists the world over were quick to add that they had known all along there would be periods when the Earth's climate would cool even as the overall trend was toward dangerous climate change.

Sorry, but that is just so much backfill. There may have been the odd global-warming scientist in the past decade who allowed that warming would pause periodically in its otherwise relentless upward march, but he or she was a rarity. If anything, the opposite is true: Almost no climate scientist who backed the alarmism ever expected warming would take anything like a 10 or 15-year hiatus.

Last year, in its oft-quoted report on global warming, the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) predicted a 0.3-degree C rise in temperature in the coming decade -- not a cooling or even just temperature stability. In its previous report in 2001, the IPCC prominently displaced the so-called temperature "hockey stick" that purported to show temperature pretty much plateauing for the thousand years before 1900, then taking off in the 20th Century in a smooth upward line. No 10-year dips backwards were foreseen.

It is drummed into us, ad nauseum, that the IPCC represents 2,500 scientists who together embrace a "consensus" that man-made global warming is a "scientific fact;" and as recently as last year, they didn't see this cooling coming. So the alarmists can't weasel out of this by claiming they knew all along such anomalies would occur. This is not something any alarmist predicted, and it showed up in none of the UN's computer projections until Mr. Keenlyside et al. were finally able to enter detailed data into their climate model on past ocean current behaviour.

Less well-known is that global temperatures have already been falling for a decade. All of which means, that by 2015 or 2020, when warming is expected to resume, we will have had nearly 20 years of fairly steady cooling.

Saints of the new climate religion, such as Al Gore, have stated that eight of the 10 years since 1998 are the warmest on record. Even if that were true, none has been as warm as 1998, which means the trend of the past decade has been downward, not upward. Last year, for instance, saw a drop in the global average temperature of nearly 0.7 degrees C (the largest single-year movement up or down since global temperature averages have been calculated). Despite advanced predictions that 2007 would be the warmest year on record, made by such UN associates as Britain's Hadley Centre, a government climate research agency, 2007 was the coolest year since at least 1993.

According to the U. S. National Climatic Data Center, the average temperature of the global land surface in January 2008 was below the 20th-Century mean for the first time since 1982. Also in January, Southern Hemisphere sea ice coverage was at its greatest summer level (January is summer in the Southern Hemisphere) in the past 30 years.

Neither the 3,000 temperature buoys that float throughout the world's oceans nor the eight NASA satellites that float above our atmosphere have recorded appreciable warming in the past six to eight years. Even Rajendra Pachauri, the head of the IPCC, reluctantly admitted to Reuters in January that there has been no warming so far in the 21st Century.

Does this prove that global warming isn't happening, that we can all go back to idling our SUVs 24/7? No. But it should introduce doubt into the claim that the science of global warming is "settled."


Cut down trees to stop global warming!

Ronald Reagan's infamous claim that "trees cause more pollution than automobiles" contained a grain of truth. In warm weather, trees release volatile chemicals that act as catalysts for smog. But the Gipper didn't mention another point that's even more likely to make nature lovers blanch. When it comes to fighting climate change, it's more effective to treat forests like crops than like majestic monuments to nature.

Over its lifetime, a tree shifts from being a vacuum cleaner for atmospheric carbon to an emitter. A tree absorbs roughly 1,500 pounds of CO2 in its first 55 years. After that, its growth slows, and it takes in less carbon. Left untouched, it ultimately rots or burns and all that CO2 gets released.

Last year, the Canadian government commissioned a study to determine the quantity of carbon sequestered by the country's woodlands, which account for a tenth of global forests. It hoped to use the CO2-gathering power of 583 million acres of woods to offset its Kyoto Protocol-mandated responsibility to cut greenhouse gas emissions. No such luck. The report found that during many years, Canadian forests actually give up more carbon from decomposing wood than they lock down in new growth.

A well-managed tree farm acts like a factory for sucking CO2 out of the atmosphere, so the most climate-friendly policy is to continually cut down trees and plant new ones. Lots of them. A few simple steps: Clear the oldest trees and then take out dead trunks and branches to prevent fires; landfill the scrap. Plant seedlings and harvest them as soon as their powers of carbon sequestration begin to flag, and use the wood to produce only high-quality durable goods like furniture and houses. It won't make a glossy photo for the Sierra Club's annual report, but it will take huge amounts of carbon out of the atmosphere.


Australian Labor Party now beginning to encounter the political costs of its Greenie fantasies

KEVIN Rudd's climate change honeymoon ended last week. The hero of Bali received a public relations belting over what were relatively modest indiscretions in the environment section of Tuesday night's budget. That's the danger with playing to the grandstand on an issue as complex and expensive as climate change. During last year's epic election campaign, Labor didn't hold back with the green symbolism to maximise its political leverage over the Howard government.

There was the generous but questionable 20 per cent renewable energy target by 2020; Rudd trading in his Ford Territory for a Toyota Prius; Peter Garrett warning he wanted to ban electric hot water heaters; with the cake iced by the standing ovation at the Bali climate change talks when Australia announced it would ratify the defunct Kyoto Protocol.

Most Australians when surveyed want the Government to fix climate change. But they also want cheaper petrol and electricity. Labor has been happy to play to this information disconnect by indulging voters' naivety about what is coming, allowing them to believe these symbolic acts would be enough to solve the problem. So they can hardly cry foul when the same voters turned on them for last week's apparent abandonment of one of these icons. What the court of public opinion gives it can also take away.

Solar hot water systems are a cost-effective energy-saving technology for many Australian homes, but rooftop solar panels that generate electricity are still one of the more expensive solutions to climate change. Because of their tangibility and visibility, they have political cachet far in excess of their real value.

The Howard government was in catch-up mode at last year's budget when it announced a doubling of the rebate to households that wanted to install solar panels. It was a political stunt, offering households up to $8000 to install systems that started at $12,000, and giving Australians access to the most generous solar rebate scheme in the world. The tiny solar panel industry went from installing a few hundred panels a year to a few thousand. Some major installers reported a sevenfold increase in business. Despite its generosity, the scheme has hardly dented penetration into Australia's 8 million households.

Labor went to the election saying it would means-test the Coalition's solar hot water rebate, limiting it to households earning less than $100,000 as part of a broader economic platform to rein in middle-class welfare. It seemed logical for the Government to extend that to the solar panel rebate, while increasing the number of rebates available. But perhaps they should have consulted the industry first.

Most households who are paying a mortgage and can spare $5000 for solar panels are earning more than $100,000 a year. In the following three days solar installers reported up to 70 per cent of their orders had been cancelled. The hostile reaction on talkback radio revealed outrage from a community that appeared to take vicarious ownership of the generous scheme, even if only a handful actually signed up. In reality it's a clumsy intervention that will deliver a sudden bust to the boom enjoyed by a small section of the popular renewable energy industry. The furore looks worse than it is.

But there were other problems that suggest it will take more than good words, good intentions and increased funding for this Government to deliver on its promise of a dynamic renewable energy industry. Labor forgot to provide for the geothermal industry in this budget. While these companies have been promised $50 million by Canberra, the money is needed now to offset some of the high cost of drilling wells 5km deep to tap hot-rock energy. These wells can cost between $10 million and $15 million each, and two or three are needed to get a single pilot plant going.

Like mining or gas exploration, it's an expensive business to get started. Most hot-rocks companies have listed on the ASX to raise the equity needed and many have gone back to shareholders to ask for more or signed up joint ventures with major energy companies. But letting the market do all the work can be risky. The Geodynamics group is the most advanced in the field and is already circulating steam at its trial site in northeast South Australia. Origin Energy came in as a joint venture partner last year, but is now the subject of a possible takeover by British energy giant BG Group. But they want the gas, not the hot rocks. If the bid succeeds, there is no guarantee they are likely to share the same enthusiasm for the project.

The Government's political vulnerability over whether it can live up to its hype on clean energy rhetoric is only a small skirmish compared to the backlash that awaits them in July. That's when Climate Change Minister Penny Wong, armed with the draft Garnaut review and Treasury modelling, will release the Government's green paper setting the terms of a national emissions trading scheme.

It will be the most delicate of balancing acts, trying to preserve the engine room of the economy and the million jobs in trade-exposed, energy-intense industries while being seen to act decisively on climate change. It's a contest of high petrol prices and inflation versus environmental reputation and credibility.



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