Tuesday, July 29, 2008


The NYT article below is so wrong on so many counts that it is difficult to know where to start in deconstructing it. It has basically swallowed Al Gore's poop whole and yet shows no sign of indigestion. Monckton tells me that he has a comprehensive demolition of it coming out in Science & Public Policy so I will at this stage just append a few desultory comments at the foot of the article

Greenland's ice sheet represents one of global warming's most disturbing threats. The vast expanses of glaciers - massed, on average, 1.6 miles deep - contain enough water to raise sea levels worldwide by 23 feet. Should they melt or otherwise slip into the ocean, they would flood coastal capitals, submerge tropical islands and generally redraw the world's atlases. The infusion of fresh water could slow or shut down the ocean's currents, plunging Europe into bitter winter.

Yet for the residents of the frozen island, the early stages of climate change promise more good, in at least one important sense, than bad. A Danish protectorate since 1721, Greenland has long sought to cut its ties with its colonizer. But while proponents of complete independence face little opposition at home or in Copenhagen, they haven't been able to overcome one crucial calculation: the country depends on Danish assistance for more than 40 percent of its gross domestic product. "The independence wish has always been there," says Aleqa Hammond, Greenland's minister for finance and foreign affairs. "The reason we have never realized it is because of the economics."

Climate change has the power to unsettle boundaries and shake up geopolitics, usually for the worse. In June, the tiny South Pacific nation of Kiribati announced that rising sea levels were making its lands uninhabitable and asked for help in evacuating its population. Bangladesh, low-lying, crowded and desperately impoverished, is watching the waves as well; a one-yard rise would flood a seventh of its territory. But while most of the world sees only peril in the island's meltwater, Greenland's independence movement has explicitly tied its fortunes to the warming of the globe.

The island's ice cover has already begun to disappear. "Changes in the ocean eat the ice sheet from underneath," says Sarah Das, a glaciologist at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts. "Warmer water causes the glaciers to calve and melt back more quickly." Hunters who use the frozen surface of the winter ocean for hunting and travel have found themselves idle when the ice fails to form. The whales, seals and birds they hunt have begun to shift their migratory patterns. "The traditional culture will be hard hit," says Jesper Madsen, director of the department of Arctic environment at the University of Aarhus in Denmark. "But from an overall perspective, it will have a positive effect." Greenland's fishermen are applauding the return of warm-water cod. Shops in the island's capital have suddenly begun to offer locally produced potatoes and broccoli - crops unimaginable a few years earlier.

But the real promise lies in what may be found under the ice. Near the town of Uummannaq, about halfway up Greenland's coast, retreating glaciers have uncovered pockets of lead and zinc. Gold and diamond prospectors have flooded the island's south. Alcoa is preparing to build a large aluminum smelter. The island's minerals are becoming more accessible even as global commodity prices are soaring. And with more than 80 percent of the land currently iced over, the hope is that the island has just begun to reveal its riches.

Offshore, where the Arctic Ocean is rapidly thawing, expectations are even higher. The U.S. Geological Survey estimates that Greenland's northeastern waters could contain 31 billion barrels of undiscovered oil and gas. On the other side of the island, the waters separating it from Canada could yield billions of barrels more. And while Greenland is still considered an oil exploration frontier, Exxon Mobil, Chevron, Canada's Husky Energy and Cairn Energy and Sweden's PA Resources are aleady ramping up exploration.


The claims above show that the author needs to learn some history, climatology, geology, glaciology and oceanography. No such problems happened 1,000 years ago when the Vikings farmed coastal parts of Greenland that are now under ice. Why was the place given the name "Greenland" in the first place?

The bulk of the Ice Sheet sits in a depression in the ground so it cannot "slip" into the ocean. Complete melting of the ice sheet would require global temperature to rise by more than 3 degrees C and to stay that high for thousands of years. Decades have passed since climatologists disproved the urban myth that the Gulf Stream keeps Europe warm: the jet streams produce that warming. The ocean circulation is powered by winds that get their energy from the Sun so they cannot "shut down" unless the Sun disappears.

The scientific studies of up to a year ago that refute the idea of a Greenland melt

The IPCC and various independent sources give estimates of sea-level rise based on recent Greenland rates of melting ranging from zero to little more than ONE INCH over the current century. Only the Gory brain and the NYT talk of 23 feet.

If there is glacial shrinkage in Greenland it is more likely due to global cooling than global warming. It's just basic physics but Greenies ignore that: Since the temp of most glaciated areas is well below 0 degrees Celsius, the major determinant of glacial mass is precipitation. And what drives precipitation? Sea surface temperature! Warm seas give off more evaporation -- and hence precipitation -- and cool seas give off less. So lesser glacial mass and hence lesser precipitation implies global COOLING! And since the world has in fact been cooling for nearly two years now, some glacial shrinkage could be expected as a result of that.

Snapshot of past climate reveals no ice in Antarctica millions of years ago

It was all those goddam SUVs they had back then

The study suggests that Antarctica at that time was yet to develop extensive ice sheets. Back then, New Zealand was about 1100 km further south, at the same latitude as the southern tip of South America - so was closer to Antarctica - but the researchers found that the water temperature was 23-25øC at the sea surface and 11-13øC at the bottom.

"This is too warm to be the Antarctic water we know today," said Dr Catherine (Cat) Burgess from Cardiff University's School of Earth and Ocean Sciences, and lead-author of the paper. "And the seawater chemistry shows there was little or no ice on the planet."

These new insights come from the chemical analysis of exceptionally well preserved fossils of marine micro-organisms called foraminifers, discovered in marine rocks from New Zealand. The researchers tested the calcium carbonate shells from these fossils, which were found in 40 million-year-old sediments on a cliff face at Hampden Beach, South Island.

"Because the fossils are so well preserved, they provide more accurate temperature records." added Dr Burgess. "Our findings demonstrate that the water temperature these creatures lived in was much warmer than previous records have shown."

"Although we did not measure carbon dioxide, several studies suggest that greenhouse gases forty million years ago were similar to those levels that are forecast for the end of this century and beyond.

Our work provides another piece of evidence that, in a time period with relatively high carbon dioxide levels, temperatures were higher and ice sheets were much smaller and likely to have been completely absent."

The rock sequence from the cliff face covers a time span of 70,000 years and shows cyclical temperature variations with a period of about 18,000 years. The temperature oscillation is likely to be related to the Earth's orbital patterns.


Wind power is responsible for a LOT of CO2 emissions!

The Brits have a goal of getting 30% of their electricity from the wind in 12 years. But the wind is not reliable. A backup will be needed. Which led to a study headed by James Oswald, an engineering consultant and former head of research and development at Rolls Royce Turbines.

He said: "Wind power does not obviate the need for fossil fuel plants, which will continue to be indispensable. The problem is that wind power volatility requires fossil fuel plant to be switched on and off, which damages them and means that even more plants will have to be built. Carbon savings will be less than expected, because cheaper, less efficient plant will be used to support these wind power fluctuations. Neither these extra costs nor the increased carbon production are being taken into account in the government figures for wind power."

Lewis Page of the Register interviewed Oswald. Page wrote: "The trouble is, according to Oswald, that human demand variance is predictable and smooth compared to wind output variance. Coping with the sudden ups and downs of wind is going to mean a lot more gas turbines - ones which will be thrashed especially hard as wind output surges up and down, and which will be fired up for less of the time."

Every generation wants to save the world from some calamity, usually depicted as karma for man's sin. The nature of the sin varies - Sodom and Gomorrah had no SUVs - but the call is the same: Repent and sin no more and save the world.


AlGore in fantasy land

In a Washington speech last week, former Vice President Al Gore argued that America can produce "affordable" 100 percent carbon-free electricity within 10 years. My question: Why not five years? As long as Gore sees virtue in proposing completely unrealistic solutions, as in moving America from getting 3 percent to all of its electricity from renewable energy sources in a mere decade, wouldn't five years be twice as good?

And it matters that Gore is all wet because the longer Washington pols live in energy la-la land, the loonier and more costly America's energy situation becomes.

For decades, Democrats have dominated the debate, as they argued that Americans could become more energy independent, not by increasing oil production, but by focusing on producing more renewable energy. The result, as energy entrepreneur T. Boone Pickens so aptly points out, is a huge spike in the percentage of foreign oil America imports, from 24 percent in 1970 to almost 70 percent today.

Oh, yeah, and while we weren't expanding drilling to the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge or off the California and Florida coasts, Americans continued to buy gas-guzzling cars as they waited for miracle cars to magically appear. Until one day, prices at the pump jumped the $4 per gallon mark.

Let me be clear: A smart energy policy must include incentives to increase the development and production of wind, solar and geothermal power, as well as other alternative sources of energy. The serious advocate for carbon-free, affordable power would include nuclear power, which provides 20 percent of America's electricity, and cleanly, into the mix.

But because America's need for fossil fuels will not go away in the next 10 or 20 or 30 years, it makes sense to drill domestically for oil to ease the pain to the red-white-and-blue pocket book. Also, more American oil production means sending fewer petro-dollars abroad.

As for Plan Gore, while the goal will be reached some day, it won't be on his timetable. Today, industry can't keep up with the present demand for wind turbines. The electricity grid needs improvements to carry renewable energy where it is needed. And the infrastructure changes necessary to retool power plants don't happen overnight.

Most important: In the real world, American utilities are not going to dismantle the coal and natural-gas power plants that provide more than 70 percent of America's electricity. It simply is not going to happen because consumers won't want to pay for it.

Gore estimates that his plan can be implemented at a cost of between $1.5 trillion and $3 trillion. That does not jibe with Pickens' estimate that it would cost $1 trillion to generate 20 percent of America's power with wind power with an extra $200 billion to update the electric grid. U.S. News "Capital Commerce" columnist James Pethokoukis extrapolated the numbers and figured $5 trillion for Plan Gore is more like it: "That would be like creating another Japan. Or fighting World War II all over again."

Pickens knows more about energy production than AlGore. Since he operates in the energy business in the real world and not in fantasy land he has to use assumptions that have some basis in fact. AlGore assumptions appear to be pulled from the nether regions.

My one disappointment with Pickens is that he has adopted the Democrat slogan, which is more a policy than a fact, that we can't drill our way out of this. We may not want to drill our way out of it, but we will not get out of the energy bind if we don't drill in every domestic area we can. It is just not smart not to drill in ANWR and offshore. It is not smart to not develop shale oil. It is not smart to oppose nuclear power. It is not smart to oppose coal plants.

Investing in alternatives is OK, but it is not going to pull us out of the energy shortage. If hotair were the answer Democrats could keep windmills turning when nature was taking a rest.

The one good thing about the Democrat opposition to energy production is that it is losing them votes and might get them out of power. That would do more for energy production than a million windmills.



Dr. Kunihiko Takeda is vice-chancellor of the Institute of Science and Technology Research at Chubu University in Japan. His 2008 book "Hypocritical Ecology," has been flying off shelves at the speed of 100,000 a month since being published this June 2008. Kunihiko is one of the world's leading authorities on both uranium enrichment and recycling and is a member of just about every prestigious academic and governmental entity. He has stayed independent and made a career out of challenging the establishment. He was also vice deputy president at the Shibaura Institute of Technology before joining Nagoya University in 2002.

In June 2008, another top Japanese Scientist, Dr. Kiminori Itoh called warming fears the `worst scientific scandal in the history'. Itoh is an environmental physical chemist who specializes in optical waveguide spectroscopy from the Yokohama National University. He also contributed to the 2007 UN IPCC AR4 (fourth assessment report) as an expert reviewer.

The excerpts below are from a summary of Prof. Takeda's thinking:

Our future is bright as long as we stop recycling old ideas and things. The new paradigm is always better than the one before: Our air, water and food quality are higher than in previous generations, and our life expectancy longer. There's no need to worry: Humans are smart.

Recycling is rubbish: It eats more energy and creates more waste than burning our garbage in high-tech incinerators. The most efficient way of getting rid of garbage is burning it all together. Why? Because in raw garbage, plastics turn into their own fuel so you don't need to add anything else. Aluminum and steel should be recycled, though, as we need less energy for that than to produce them from scratch.

Fear is a very efficient weapon: It produces the desired effect without much waste. Global warming has nothing to do with how much CO2 is produced or what we do here on Earth. For millions of years, solar activity has been controlling temperatures on Earth and even now, the sun controls how high the mercury goes. CO2 emissions make absolutely no difference one way or another. Soon it will cool down anyhow, once again, regardless of what we do. Every scientist knows this, but it doesn't pay to say so. What makes a whole lot of economic and political sense is to blame global warming on humans and create laws that keep the status quo and prevent up-and-coming nations from developing. Global warming, as a political vehicle, keeps Europeans in the driver's seat and developing nations walking barefoot.

Criticizing previous ideals is natural. In the 1930s, militarism was considered best; in the 1960s, mass production and mass consumerism. Then in the 1990s the main topic was the environment. Every 30 years we switch what we believe in. This paradigm will pass, too.

Look beyond what governments tell you. Some praise ethanol as a substitute for oil, but making fuel out of corn makes sense only if you want to increase the price of corn and fuel at the same time. In order to grow corn, one needs lots of fuel and once the corn is ready, instead of becoming a nice meal, it gets picked and turned back into fuel again. This is just a way to purposely create a food and energy shortage until only the very rich can afford to eat and move.

Consumerism marketed as environmental consciousness is the worst. Take the "My Hashi" campaign for example (buying and carrying reusable chopsticks rather than using disposable ones). Chopsticks should be made out of the unnecessary branches that are cut to help trees grow bigger and healthier. Instead of burning those branches, we should make chopsticks. That would be good for both the trees and us.

The energy crisis is nothing to sweat about. We will run out of fossil fuel within 40 years if consumption continues at today's rate but by that time, nuclear power plants will be even safer and more efficient. Solar and wind energy will never be enough, but nuclear fusion technology will be more advanced, and new, as-yet-unknown energy sources will be developed. No need to worry at all, and no need to save energy, either.

Public transport not much of a solution to anything these days

Comment from Australia

PUBLIC transport is often recommended as a solution to congestion in our cities and as a way of reducing the fuel costs of working families. Two cautions are needed regarding this suggestion. First is the increased cost to governments from any increase in public transport patronage. Victoria has been successful in increasing annual passenger trips from 351 million in 2001 to 383 million in 2005, but the public transport budget has also increased from $1.34 billion to $1.92 billion over the same period. This works out to a cost of $19 for every trip increase, and is much higher than the average public transport subsidy for the entire Melbourne network of trains, trams and buses of about $4 a passenger trip.

The second caution, and this sounds counter-intuitive, is that increased public transport patronage will probably decrease social equity. Australian Bureau of Statistics surveys of household expenditures have found that the upper 20 per cent income group spend about three to four times more on public transport than the lower 20 per cent income group, probably because most of the present public transport infrastructure is located in high-income inner and middle suburbs and most public transport trips are made into the central business district by higher income managerial and office workers. In other words, the subsidies state governments provide to public transport are going mainly to higher income groups, whereas other expenditures on education and health are much more equitably based.

Given that governments have only limited budgets, any increase in public transport expenditure would lead to lower expenditure on health and education, and thereby to reduced income transfers to lower income groups. There is also the social inequity of residents in country areas paying taxes to subsidise further increases in huge metropolitan public transport expenditures in Australia, which are already of the order of $4.5 billion a year.

It may surprise some, but public transport was a profitable business for governments in the 1950s, when passenger trips reached 1500 million journeys a year. The rise of the motor car, mainly because of a tenfold decrease in vehicle operating costs, meant public transport trips dropped to just over 800 million journeys in the '80s, despite a doubling of the population. They have increased slightly in total numbers during the present decade, but not on a per capita basis. This shift away from public transport was a classic case of a newer technology providing a cheaper and quicker transport mode that took market share from the slower transport mode, just as railways took away market share from the horse and carriage and planes are taking market share from cars on interstate travel. The decline in public transport share has been even more noticeable for rural passenger travel: the quantity of rail trips has decreased from 60 per cent in the '50s to 2 per cent today.

Public transport is still economically viable in some markets, such as radial journey-to-work trips to the CBD and for education trips, while cars have their own particular passenger markets, such as circumferential journey-to-work trips and shopping, social and business trips. It is difficult to see that this market differentiation will change by either mode capturing market share from the other in the future. In fact the experience of Seattle is that significantly increasing public transport facilities and patronage does not reduce car trips or congestion but increases the total amount of urban trips taken.

One of the inevitable trends when new technology triggers the development of a new infrastructure network for trains, cars, planes or, most recently, the broadband network, is that the substitution of one mode for another follows a particular model that is independent of different political and economic systems. Like sailing ships and the horse and carriage, public transport will not come back to regain market share and we will probably see public transport trips in Australia continue to decline as a percentage of all trips taken.

The most promising avenue for decreasing fuel costs for working families and reducing congestion costs lies in new technological developments that will provide us with a cheaper and quicker method of communicating with each other. The transport substitute of telecommunications has allowed many of us not to visit banks (internet banking), libraries (Google), shops (internet sales), entertainment centres (broadband) and people (Facebook). Telecommuting saves journeys to work while salesmen's visits are abbreviated because of websites with details of every companies' wares. Reducing urban congestion and family fuel costs will probably depend on how quickly the broadband infrastructure network takes market share away from rail, road and airport networks.



For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when blogger.com is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


1 comment:

OBloodyHell said...

> The most promising avenue for decreasing fuel costs for working families and reducing congestion costs lies in new technological developments that will provide us with a cheaper and quicker method of communicating with each other.

Varifrank had a piece on this a couple months ago.