Thursday, August 28, 2008

A tour of the climate evidence

There is no evidence human-emitted CO2 has actually raised the earth's temperatures significantly. The evidence we have is a warming, which began about 1850, and mostly occurred too early to be blamed on human-emitted greenhouse gases. The total warming from 1850 to the present has been 0.7 degrees C-but 0.5 degrees of the warming occurred before 1940. Eighty 80 percent of humanity's greenhouse gases emissions came after that date.

The earth's net global warming since 1940, moreover, has been a barely-measurable 0.2 degrees C-over 70 years. During this time the climate forcing power of CO2 molecules has been declining logarithmically, to the point where soon additional CO2 won't make any further climate impact.

The climate warming alarmists say that our recent warming "must be caused by humans," since nothing else would account for the strong warming from 1976-1998. However, there was an equally strong global warming surge from 1916-1940, before global industrialization and auto numbers began to emit CO2 in serious amounts. The fact is that no one can diagnose a climate change on the basis of a mere 25 years of data. Climate events are too long-term, and the short-term events are too complex.

From 1940 to 1975, global temperatures actually trended down, while CO2 emissions were soaring. The alarmists blame this cooling on sulfate particle pollution from power plants, which they claim masked some of the incoming solar radiation. If that were true, however, the southern hemisphere should have warmed faster than the northern hemisphere. In fact, the temperatures rose fastest right where the power plants were located, in the northern hemisphere.

What else could have warmed the earth in our time? Our first clues come from history.

British Wine Grapes

Wine grapes are one of our important climate proxies because people have always grown wine whenever and wherever they could. The Romans wrote of growing wine grapes in England in the 1st century, when they occupied that island. They also wrote of wine grapes and olive trees gradually being cultivated farther and farther north in Italy. It seems clear that the climate was warming during the 1st century. Then the Romans left Britain, and the world entered the Dark Ages, when it was apparently too cold to grow wine in Britain.

In the 11th century, the Britons themselves were growing wine grapes. William the Conqueror's tax collectors had nearly 50 vineyards on the tax rolls of the Domesday Book.[2] After 1300, however, the European climate shifted to a cold phase and for 550 years no wine grapes were grown on the island. Londoners held ice festivals on the frozen Thames instead.

The next time British wine grapes matured was not until after 1950. Britain currently has about 400 vineyards, but almost all of them are of the hobby type. The British wine industry's website says the vintners get only about two good years out of ten, but the rising global thermometers are giving them hope for the future. They also benefit from some hybrid grapes that the Romans didn't have.

The Greenland Vikings

Another eloquent testimonial to the existence of a long, natural climate cycle comes from Greenland. Eric the Red led a group of Viking settlers there from Iceland in 982 AD. They called it Greenland because the coastal regions were then bright green with grass. They pastured their dairy cattle and thrived for at least 300 years on milk, cheese, vegetables, seal meat and codfish. Eric's son Leif even ventured to Newfoundland in search of timber, but the natives' arrows drove him away.

Then, the sea ice began to move south. The codfish moved south too, away from Greenland. The summers got shorter, making it harder and harder to grow enough hay for the cattle during the lengthening winters. Eventually, the sea ice and worse storms cut Iceland off from Greenland for a long 350 years. The last written record of its 3,000 inhabitants was a wedding in 1408. The Greenland Vikings starved or froze due to climate change.[3]

Ancient Chinese Records

China's written records, of course, go back further than those of any other country. China's climate from 1000 BC to 1400 AD has been reconstructed from palace records, official histories, and diaries. Key indicators include the arrival dates of migrating birds, the distribution of plant species and fruit orchards, patterns of elephant migrations, and the major floods and droughts. G. Yu of the Chinese National Academy of Science concludes that Chinese temperatures must have been 2-3 degrees C higher than present during the Holocene Warming 6000 years ago.

Pollen analysis reveals that the deciduous forest extended 800 km further north then than it does today, and tropical forest occupied areas that are now broad-leaved evergreens.[4] Also, Chinese wealth rose steadily from 200 BC, peaked about 1100 AD, and then entered a prolonged decline, according to Kang Chao's careful economic analysis.[5] Chao also reports that China averaged less than four major floods per century during the Medieval Warming and twice that many during the Little Ice Age. Major droughts were only one-third as common during the warm centuries as during the cold phases (the unnamed cold period before 200 BC, the Dark Ages from about 200 to 800 AD, and the Little Ice Age from about 1300 to 1850 AD).

Are we dealing with a cycle? A cycle too moderate and long-term to be discerned by primitive peoples without thermometers or written records? The answer was confirmed in 1983, by the retrieval of the world's first long ice cores from the Greenland ice sheet. Willi Dansgaard of Denmark and Hans Oeschger of Switzerland were anxious to learn what the ice could tell us about the earth's temperature history. They had learned that the oxygen isotopes in the ice layers revealed the air temperature when the ice was laid down, through the ratio of 018 "heavy isotopes" to 016 "light isotopes," which evaporate at different rates.

Dansgaard and Oeschger had expected to see the long 90,000-year Ice Ages in the ice layers, and they did. What they had not expected was a long, moderate 1,500-year climate cycle. The cycle was very regular during the Ice Ages, at 1470 years, plus or minus 10 years. It is somewhat more erratic during the warm interglacial periods, but still dominated the earth's temperatures over the past 12,000 years.[6] The cycle is abrupt, which argues for an external source. Dansgaard and Oeschger suspected the sun, partly because that's where most of our heat comes from, and partly because the "solar isotopes"-carbon 14 in trees and beryllium 10 in ice-showed the same cycles.

Within a few years after Dansgaard and Oeschger, a team led by France's Claude Lorius brought up an even longer ice core from the Antarctic, at the other end of the earth; and it, too, showed the 1,500-year climate cycle extending back nearly a million years.[7] Dansgaard, Oeschger, and Lorius shared the 1996 Tyler Prize (the "environmental Nobel").......

Climate Cycling in North America

The North American Pollen Database, previously mentioned, shows nine complete shifts in vegetation since the last Ice Age. The most recent started about 600 years ago, culminating in the Little Ice Age, with maximum cooling 300 years ago. The previous shift culminated in the maximum warming of the medieval Warm period 1,000 years ago. "We suggest that North Atlantic millennial-scale climate variability is associated with rearrangements of the atmospheric circulation with far-reaching influences on the climate," say the authors. [33]

Water levels of the Great Lakes show a strong response to the 1,500-year climate cycle, with the lake levels high during the climate coolings and low during warming periods. Todd Thompson of Indiana University and Steve Baedke of James Madison University constructed their lake-level history from the "strandplains"-shore-parallel sand ridges that have a core of water-laid sediment.[34]

In the southern Sierra Nevada Mountains, foxtail pine and western juniper tree rings indicate a Medieval Warming from 1100 to 1375, and a cold period from 1450 to 1850. Tree rings from the long-lived bristlecone pines correlate statistically from 800 to the present "with the temperatures derived from central England."[35]

U.S. Forest Service researchers analyzed long-dead trees that grew above the current treeline on California's Whitewing Mountain-and concluded that temperatures must have been 3.2 degrees C warmer when they were killed by volcanic gases in 1350.[36]

This is just a sampling of the physical evidence the earth offers on past climate changes. The evidence comes from a wide variety of sources which confirm each other. The evidence is clearly global. Much of it confirms higher temperatures during past warmings than today. Dansgaard and Oeschger clearly documented much higher temperatures than today during the Holocene Warmings 8,000 and 5,000 years ago, which severely undercuts the idea that the trees and plants and birds and bees won't be able to adapt. They did. They're here......

The Sun-Climate Connection

People have known for some 400 years that there is a direct connection between sunspots and the earth's temperatures. We've been counting the sunspots since Galileo made his first telescope, and we've known for centuries that the coldest period during the Little Ice Age occurred during the Maunder and Sporer sunspot minimums, when there were virtually no sunspots at all. Britain's William Herschel said in 1801 that the price of wheat was directly controlled by sunspots, since less rain fell in Britain when there were few sunspots.

But how could the sun control the earth's climate? Fifty years ago, we spoke of the "solar constant." However, we've found in recent years that there is a tiny variation, 0.1 percent in the sun's irradiance. We've also found that the number of sunspots and the length of the sunspot cycle, which ranges from 8-14 years, have a powerful correlation with subsequent changes in the earth's sea surface temperatures.

Richard Willson, of Columbia and NASA, reports that the sun's radiation has increased by nearly 0.05 percent per decade since the late 1970s, when satellites first made it possible to monitor the sun directly. He says he can't be sure that the trend of rising solar radiation goes back further than 1978, but that if this trend had persisted through the 20th century, it would have produced "a significant component" of the observed global warming.[42] Rodney Viereck of the NOAA Space Environment Center admits that natural climate variation could account for one-third of the recent global warming. [43]

Henrik Svensmark of the Danish Space Research Institute offers a more powerful sun-climate hypothesis: that small variations in the sun's irradiance are amplified into significant climate changes on earth by at least two factors: 1) cosmic rays creating more or fewer of the low, cooling clouds that deflect solar radiance back into space; and 2) solar-driven changes in ozone chemistry in the stratosphere that simultaneously create more or less heating of the earth's lower atmosphere.[44]

The sun constantly releases a stream of charged particles, the solar wind, which partially shields the earth from the cosmic rays that are constantly emitted by distant, exploding stars. The solar wind varies with the sun's irradiance. When the sun's activity is weak, the solar wind is weakened too, so more cosmic rays streak through our atmosphere, creating low, wet clouds, which in turn increase the earth's ability to reflect more of the sun's heat away from the planet. That's a cooling effect. That's why cloudy skies predominated in the landscape paintings during the Little Ice Age.

When the sun is stronger, as it has been since 1850, the solar wind blows more strongly and the earth is shielded more effectively from the cosmic rays. That means fewer low, cooling clouds, and more warming of our planet.

Svensmark matched the data on cosmic rays from the neutron monitor in Climax, Colorado, with the satellite measurements of solar irradiance. Over the period from 1975 to 1989, he found cosmic rays increased by 1.2 percent annually, amplifying the sun's change in irradiance about fourfold. "The direct influence of changes in solar irradiance is estimated to be only 0.1 degree C," he says. "The cloud forcing, however, gives for the above sensitivity 0.3-0.5 C, and has therefore the potential of explaining nearly all of the temperature changes in the period studied."

Svensmark then filled a laboratory cloud chamber with the earth's mix of atmospheric gases, turned on a UV light to mimic the sun-and watched in fascination as the chamber quickly filled with microscopic globules of water and sulfuric acid. In the real atmosphere, these "cloud seeds" attract more moisture and create more of the low, wet clouds that cool the earth. Further experiments are planned at CERN, the world's largest particle physics laboratory.

Helpfully, the UN's IPCC has already noted that its climate models cannot duplicate the impacts of clouds in the real world. It noted in the science chapter of its 2001 report that not only can it not estimate how much warming or cooling a given cloud might produce, it cannot even tell whether the impact of the cloud is warming or cooling! If it turns out that low, wet clouds really do act as the earth's thermostat, this cloud modeling failure could turn out to be the weakest link in the UN's whole climate science adventure.[45]

Ozone chemistry also seems to offer an amplifier of the solar variability. Joanna Haigh of London's Imperial Collage says that more "far UV" from the sun produces more ozone in the atmosphere-and that ozone absorbs more of the near-UV radiation from the sun. Her computer modeling suggests that a 0.1 percent variation in the sun's radiation could cause a 2 percent change in the ozone concentration.[46] NASA's Drew Shindell says his team confirmed that ozone is one of the key factors that amplifies the effects of solar variations.[47]

Climate warming alarmists don't like to concede that the 1,500-year cycle exists, which is ridiculous in the face of the global evidence. Or they say that the 1,500-year cycle has been superseded in our time by man-made warming. How do we know that, when none of the warming which has occurred has been outside the parameters of the past cycles?

The alarmists do not, however, offer clear evidence proving man-made warming, because they have none. They go only as far as saying that the Greenhouse Effect is "very likely" the cause of recent temperature increases. All they have are unverified climate models, which are not evidence.

If we destroy modern society on the basis of that non-evidence, we will deserve what we will surely get: chaos, poverty, and radically shortened lifespans. For openers, we'd have to give up the 80 million tons of nitrogen fertilizer produced annually with fossil fuels. Half of the world's food supply is grown using nitrogen fertilizer. Organic-only farming would either starve half the population, or force the clearing of the world's remaining forests to grow more low-yield crops.

For the determined cycle skeptics, I recommend getting a copy of "Unstoppable Global Warming Every 1,500 Years". We cite hundreds of studies, by more than 450 peer-reviewed authors and co-authors who have found reason to doubt the "global warming consensus."

Much more here

The power grid and wind energy don't mesh well

When the builders of the Maple Ridge Wind farm spent $320 million to put nearly 200 wind turbines in upstate New York, the idea was to get paid for producing electricity. But at times, regional electric lines have been so congested that Maple Ridge has been forced to shut down even with a brisk wind blowing.

That is a symptom of a broad national problem. Expansive dreams about renewable energy, like Al Gore's hope of replacing all fossil fuels in a decade, are bumping up against the reality of a power grid that cannot handle the new demands.

The dirty secret of clean energy is that while generating it is getting easier, moving it to market is not. The grid today, according to experts, is a system conceived 100 years ago to let utilities prop each other up, reducing blackouts and sharing power in small regions. It resembles a network of streets, avenues and country roads. "We need an interstate transmission superhighway system," said Suedeen G. Kelly, a member of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

While the United States today gets barely 1 percent of its electricity from wind turbines, many experts are starting to think that figure could hit 20 percent. Achieving that would require moving large amounts of power over long distances, from the windy, lightly populated plains in the middle of the country to the coasts where many people live. Builders are also contemplating immense solar-power stations in the nation's deserts that would pose the same transmission problems.

The grid's limitations are putting a damper on such projects already. Gabriel Alonso, chief development officer of Horizon Wind Energy, the company that operates Maple Ridge, said that in parts of Wyoming, a turbine could make 50 percent more electricity than the identical model built in New York or Texas. "The windiest sites have not been built, because there is no way to move that electricity from there to the load centers," he said.

The basic problem is that many transmission lines, and the connections between them, are simply too small for the amount of power companies would like to squeeze through them. The difficulty is most acute for long-distance transmission, but shows up at times even over distances of a few hundred miles....

In Texas, T. Boone Pickens, the oilman building the world's largest wind farm, plans to tackle the grid problem by using a right of way he is developing for water pipelines for a 250-mile transmission line from the Panhandle to the Dallas market. He has testified in Congress that Texas policy is especially favorable for such a project and that other wind developers cannot be expected to match his efforts. "If you want to do it on a national scale, where the transmission line distances will be much longer, and utility regulations are different, Congress must act," he said on Capitol Hill....

The Texas Utility commission has already approved lines to transmit the power from West Texas to the municipalities. I suspect it will be a bigger problem in places like New York where regulators tend to have turf battles and throw up road blocks. New Jersey will probably be even worse. It appears that the cost of electricity from wind is going to be much more than the price of the turbines. I think the environmental lobby will also throw up road blocks. It is what they do.


Greens Against Renewable Energy

Green activists have been pushing for "renewable energy" for decades, even though it shows little promise--after billions of dollars in government subsidies--of ever being practical and inexpensive. Nevertheless, plans are springing up all over the country for large-scale solar, wind, and geothermal projects. But now, in addition to their enormous technical obstacles, these green power projects are facing fierce opposition . . . from environmentalists.

The Bureau of Land Management has reportedly received more than 130 proposals to build solar power plants on federal lands in the Southwest. New transmission lines to carry the power from the sun-baked deserts to places where electricity users actually live are also under consideration. However, the solar applications are mired in environmental impact studies, which one solar industry executive said "could completely stunt the growth of the industry." And the plans for new transmission capacity are being ferociously protested by environmentalists decrying the "permanent destruction of hundreds of thousands of acres of pristine public lands."

According to Dr. Keith Lockitch, resident fellow of the Ayn Rand Institute: "This just shows the true objective of green activism. Environmentalists don't actually want us to find alternative ways of producing energy; they want us to stop using energy altogether. "The basic premise of environmentalism is to leave nature alone. Capturing and utilizing any source of energy--even ones that are supposedly green and renewable--will necessarily have some impact on nature, and will therefore inevitably be subject to environmentalist attacks and condemnation.

"Since the use of energy is an indispensable component of everything we do in our lives, the greens' opposition to even such ridiculous, impractical sources of energy as solar and wind reveals their basic animus against human life.

"An exasperated Arnold Schwarzenegger said 'if we cannot put solar power plants in the Mojave desert, I don't know where the hell we can put it.' But that is the whole point. On green philosophy, there is literally no place on earth for mankind."



Four current articles below:

Sign of the times or just climate porn?

By Christmas Eve in 2012, no rain has fallen in Sydney for more than 200 days and, despite its new desalination plant, the emerald city has run out of drinking water. The effects of climate change have created the conditions for a ring of bushfires that surround the city, but authorities don't have enough water to put them out.

This is the plot synopsis for the Nine Network's new tele-feature experiment called Scorched, which will screen nationally in prime time on Sunday night. Promoters have hailed the production a "major television event" with an all-star cast, fake news broadcasts from authentic Nine newsreaders and a comprehensive supporting website. "Mother nature is on the warpath. It's armageddon," the publicity kit modestly proclaims. Media previews have described the plot as "scarily plausible". Director Tony Tilse claims the idea of a city running out of water is "basically a true story, but it just hasn't happened yet".

Oh, really? Perhaps what is more scarily plausible is that the producers of the program didn't bother to speak to Sydney Water or the Sydney Catchment Authority before going to air. They would have discovered that even in the worst-case scenario, Sydney already has enough water in its huge network of catchments to meet demand until 2014. The city's new desalination plant will come on line by 2010 and will be able to supply 15 per cent of Sydney's demand, but has been designed to quickly double its capacity to a half-billion litres of water a day.

Scorched is the headline act in a wave of climate porn to hit Australia in coming weeks. In 2006, Britain's Institute for Public Policy Research reviewed media, government and activist reporting of climate change and found it to be confusing, contradictory and chaotic, leaving the public feeling disempowered and uncompelled to act. Most notable was the tendency to use alarmist language, or climate porn, which offered "a thrilling spectacle but ultimately distances the public from the problem". Scorched producer Kylie Du Fresne says the telemovie is not meant to be seen as a documentary, but admits "we were interested in blurring the lines between fact and fiction".

A water disaster of this magnitude is like being run over by a steamroller. It's possible, but only if you do nothing. Sydney Water spokesman Brendan Elliott says the plot is "truly a work of fiction". Given it's Sydney Water's primary job to make sure the city doesn't run out of water in the face of population growth and climate change, it's not surprising they have a range of strategies to keep moving in the face of the steamroller. These include desalination, increased water recycling and increased conservation programs.

Water Services Association chief executive Ross Young says he is concerned the show might spark a wave of panicked callers to water authorities on Monday morning. "It's very important that the program is clearly labelled a drama and not a documentary," he tells The Australian. "Even though the chances of climate change are significant, there are processes in place to manage the consequences. "The bottom line is our cities are not going to run out of water."

Climate porn is the latest manifestation of infotainment that flourishes in the no man's land between fiction and nonfiction: dramas loosely based on factual events and the communication of often credible and important ideas and theories sexed up with an extra dose of dramatic licence. On October 30, 1938, Orson Welles caused panic across the US when he broadcast a dramatisation of the H.G. Wells novel The War of the Worlds. Like Scorched, the radio broadcast used simulated news broadcasts to create an aura of authenticity; some of the program's six million listeners thought there was a Martian invasion in progress.

Climate disaster movies date back to the release of Soylent Green in 1973. The dystopian science-fiction film is set in a severely over-populated and overheated (as a result of climate change) New York in 2022 facing chronic food shortages. Charlton Heston plays a detective who discovers to his horror that the newest food substitute (Soylent Green) is made by reprocessing dead people.

Then in 1995, Kevin Costner starred in the box-office flop Waterworld, a kind of climate-change crisis meets Mad Max movie set in a futuristic Earth where the polar ice caps have melted and the few survivors sail around or live on floating islands, inevitably fighting with each other.

The most explicit climate porn may well be the 2004 blockbuster The Day After Tomorrow. Released two years before Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth, it grossed 10 times more at the box office. Melting ice sheets and glaciers caused the Altantic Ocean currents to stop suddenly, plunging the entire northern hemisphere into a deep snap-freeze. The film was derided by most climate scientists and highlighted the real problem with creating drama about the effects of climate change: in reality the changes are not sudden, but slow and insidious. In a review, US paleoclimatologist William Hyde observed: "This movie is to climate science as Frankenstein is to heart transplant surgery."

But even a genuine attempt to explain the science, such as An Inconvenient Truth, sailed close to the wind at times in order to sustain the level of drama in what is basically a 90-minute lecture. In one example, Gore made much of the devastating impacts of Hurricane Katrina on New Orleans as a portent of increased natural disasters caused by a warming climate.

The main cause of New Orleans' flooding was a poorly maintained system of levees holding back the Mississippi River and surrounding lakes. But holding this aside, scientists are still arguing over whether Gore's claim is actually true. Despite predictions to the contrary, the two subsequent hurricane seasons on the US Atlantic coast were well below average. Climate porn is not just confined to the cinema.


Another prominent Australian scientist predicts global cooling - Dr Ken McCracken

Climate change has been the most important and complex issue on my plate in 15 years as a science and technology correspondent for The Canberra Times. So an appropriate topic for a farewell commentary for this newspaper is an emerging scientific debate with the potential to complicate the already difficult relationship between scientists and politicians on this issue.

The effect of the sun's activity on global temperatures has loomed large in arguments from climate change sceptics over the years. Several Russian scientists have argued that the current period of global warming is entirely due to a cycle of increased solar activity. NSW Treasurer Michael Costa is understood to be among a small group of Australian politicians and other opinion-shapers to embrace this notion.It is wise to be sceptical of many Russian scientists and all politicians, so I have given this ''solar forcing'' explanation of global warming little credence until I attended a forum at the Academy of Science earlier this year and heard it from a scientist of undoubted integrity and expertise in this area.

A former head of CSIRO's division of space science, Dr Ken McCracken was awarded the Australia Prize the precursor of the Prime Minister's Science Prize in 1995. Now in his 80s, officially retired and raising cattle in the ACT hinterland, he is still very active in his research field of solar physics.McCracken is adamantly not a climate change sceptic, agreeing that rising fossil-fuel emissions will be a long-term cause of rising global temperatures.

But his analysis of the sun's cyclical activity and global climate records has led him to the view that we are entering a period of up to two decades in which reduced solar activity may either flatten the upward trend of global temperatures or even cause a slight and temporary cooling.

In a paper given in 2005 to a ''soiree'' hosted by then president of the Academy of Science, Professor Jim Peacock, McCracken said the sun was the most active it had been over 1000 years of scientific observation. This made it inevitable that its activity would decrease over the next two decades in line with historically observed solar cycles. ''The reduced 'forcing' might compensate, or over-compensate, for the effects of the increasing concentration of greenhouse gases,'' he said. ''It is likely that there will be a cessation of around 20 years in the increase in world temperature, or possibly a decrease by 0.1 [degrees] or more.''

I put this to Dr David Jones, head of climate analysis for the Bureau of Meteorology's National Climate Centre, whose overarching judgment is that the warming effect of fossil fuel emissions is an increasingly dominant factor on global temperature to the extent that it will not be slowed by lower solar activity.

After an email conversation, Jones said he and McCracken are in general agreement but differ on emphasis and one key judgment. ''Natural solar variability is potentially important, but the climate history and physics tell us that the probability of this factor sufficiently cooling the planet to offset the enhanced greenhouse effect is distinctly remote,'' Jones wrote.

The main point of disagreement was McCracken's view that the rate of global warming could be eased or reduced by a fall in solar activity. ''I have never seen a credible paper published using a climate model that shows this,'' Jones wrote. He points to recent data which indicates that global temperatures are probably rising faster than previously thought, raising the urgency of calls from climate scientists for political action to reduce emissions.

Yet any uncertainty over the sun's influence creates a lever that climate sceptics and developing nations will seize upon to stall such action.If McCracken is wrong and temperatures continue to climb during a decade or two of low solar activity, the need for emissions reductions will be dramatically reinforced. However, if temperatures do not rise over this period, steeling the political will for such action by all nations will be much more difficult.

The dilemma for the science sector is a classic: how to communicate uncertainty.As McCracken rightly observed in 2005, a lull in temperature rises would provide a wonderful opportunity for political and technological effort to gain the initiative in the fight against climate change by turning global emissions around and thus hopefully avoid worst-case warming scenarios when the sun's fires stoke up again mid-century.

But he also noted the risk that mainstream climate science, led by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, would be seen by its critics and others to have been ill-informed at best or misleading at worst, diminishing its credibility and eroding political commitment to emission reductions.

McCracken believes science should be upfront. ''I believe that we must state firmly that a cooling is possible in the near future, but that the warming would then resume 10-20 years hence,'' he said via email. ''It will be very hard to argue for public trust if we say nothing about the possibility, and then try to argue our way out after it happens. Using an Aussie rules analogy, that would be like giving the climate sceptics a free kick 10m in front of goal.''

Australia is definitely entering a footy finals period, and the Earth may be entering a period where human-induced global warming slows temporarily. Many scientists will not be comfortable to consider this possibility, and even less comfortable that journalists canvas it, because in good faith they want nothing to deflect efforts to combat global warming.

However, I have always aimed to tell readers what they deserve to know, not what they may want to hear or what governments, scientists or interest groups would prefer they were told. This has earned me brickbats and bouquets over the years, as it should do, and as I expect it will on this occasion.


More "contradictions" in the Greenie religion

Hybrid batteries spark waste fears. Old Marxists will know what I mean by "contradictions"

AUSTRALIA has no ability to environmentally dispose of the batteries from the Toyota Camry hybrids whose production has been championed by Kevin Rudd. Labor in Victoria, where the cars will be built, has conceded a "current hole" in the nation's recycling policies means there is no capacity to environmentally dispose of the nickel-metal hydride car batteries from the 10,000 hybrid cars to be produced by Toyota every year from the start of 2010.

Victorian Environment Minister Gavin Jennings appeared to concede that the hybrid Camry batteries, which can weigh more than 50kg and cost several thousand dollars, "may ultimately end up within the waste stream". The admissions prompted Opposition claims that Victoria would be faced with tens of thousands of used hybrid car batteries over the next decade, with no sustainable way of disposing of them. "The Government is busy basking in the benefits of this policy while leaving the environment to pick up the tab," said Liberal MP Andrea Coote.

In June, the Prime Minister and Toyota president Katsuaki Watanabe announced in Japan that Toyota Australia would produce 10,000 petrol-electric hybrid Camrys a year at its Altona plant in Melbourne from 2010. Mr Rudd promised Toyota $35million from its new Green Car Innovation Fund, a figure immediately matched by the state Labor Government.

Under questioning in state parliament last week, Mr Jennings said he was happy Ms Coote had "been astute enough to pick up what might be a current hole in the resource efficiency capability of not only Victoria but also the nation". Mr Jennings said he welcomed "encouragement to deal with a whole-of-life issue concerning products that may ultimately end up within the waste stream". He said the current volume of hybrid Camrys, given that production does not start until 2010, was "very low in terms of the Australian marketplace". The state Government would look at ways of tackling the issue. "I am happy to look at local-based regulation and market mechanisms, but also harmonisation with other jurisdictions across the nation, to try to make sure we have the appropriate investment and regulatory environment, whether that be most appropriate in state or national jurisdictions," he said.

Ms Coote said the Government was "clearly more focused on collecting accolades than the environmental issues associated with their policy". "In the next decade, Victoria will be faced with tens of thousands of dead hybrid car batteries, with no environmentally sustainable way of disposing of them," she said.

But Mr Jennings said the Opposition criticism showed it was opposed to the production of environmentally friendly cars. "I want Victoria to lead the way nationally in developing a clear framework for identifying when and what products require recycling at the end of their use, including car batteries, and the most appropriate market or regulatory approach to achieve that," he said.

According to Sustainability Victoria, rechargeable batteries, including nickel-metal hydride, are collected by a waste disposal company. Australia does not have the technology and services required to recycle these batteries, so they are processed overseas by a French company that "specialises in the recovery of nickel and cadmium to a strict environmental standard".

The federal Government is considering its response to former Victorian premier Steve Bracks's review of the automotive industry, handed in earlier this month. Ford, one of three companies that manufacture cars in Australia, yesterday pressed its case for a delay in tariff reductions in a private meeting at Parliament House between its global chief executive, Alan Mullaly, and Mr Rudd. Mr Mullaly was invited to make a presentation to Mr Rudd by Industry Minister Kim Carr during his visit to Detroit in June.

"The judgment was it was a good opportunity to visit Australia and to discuss what is being considered in terms of the future policy arrangements applying to the industry and the perspective of a key participant," Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries chief executive Andrew McKellar said yesterday.


"Renewables" a Mirage

Press release from Viv Forbes, Chairman of the Carbon Sense Coalition. []

The Carbon Sense Coalition today accused governments and media of spreading myths on the ability of "renewables" to supply Australia's future electricity. The Chairman of "Carbon Sense" Mr Viv Forbes said there was no chance that wind, solar, hydro and geothermal could supply 20% of Australia's electricity by 2020 without massive increases in electricity costs and severe damage to Australia's industry and standard of living. "The belief that we can go further and eliminate coal from our energy supply is a dangerous delusion."

Wind and solar suffer three fatal flaws which no amount of research dollars, climate junkets, green papers, government gifts, carbon taxes, ministerial statements or imperial mandates will change. The first fatal flaw is obvious even to children at school - no wind turbine or solar panel anywhere in the world can supply continuous power. Power from wind turbines varies with the wind speed, stops when the wind drops and they have to be shut down in strong winds, storms or cyclones. Solar power stops at night or when it is cloudy, and solar panels only supply maximum power around midday, in summer, in the tropics.

The output of both wind and solar varies or shuts down with little warning; this causes big problems in maintaining stability in large power grids. Thus any power grid with more than 10% supplied by wind and solar will risk sudden blackouts or damaging fluctuations. To maintain stable power requires that every kilowatt of solar or wind is shadowed by standby power (preferably gas or hydro) ready to switch on to full power in a very short time. The capital and operating cost of these standby facilities should be added to the real cost of "green power".

The second fatal flaw with wind and solar is that the supply of energy is very dilute, so a large area of land is required to collect significant power. This causes extensive environmental and scenic damage and very large transmission and maintenance costs.

The third fatal flaw of wind and sun power is that only a few places are ideally suited to collect significant quantities of energy, and these places are often far from the main centres of population. Solar power is best collected from places like the Tanami Desert in Northern Territory, and wind power is best collected from places in the path of the Roaring Forties, such as King Island and Western Tasmania. It will be a long time before either of these sites is connected by high voltage power lines to Penny Wong's desk in Canberra or the PM's Lodge in Sydney.

Wind power is useful for providing stock water and moving sailing ships; using solar hot water heaters makes good sense; and solar energy (combined with harmless carbon dioxide from the air and minerals from the soil) provides the primary resources for all farming, forestry, fishing and grazing industries. But neither wind nor sun will supply economical and reliable base load electricity to big cities or industries.

Hydro power can provide low cost stable energy providing it is backed by a large dam in a reliable rainfall area. Finding such spots where approvals could be obtained in a reasonable time frame is almost impossible in Australia. Hydro will not keep the lights on for a growing population.

Natural gas and coal seam gas are hydro-carbon fuels which produce the same two "greenhouse gases" as coal and oil - water vapour and carbon dioxide. They too will be crippled by Emissions Trading and carbon taxes. When the Luddites realise that gas is also a non-renewable carbon fuel, it too will be taxed and regulated to death. It is not a "renewable" and it is less abundant than coal. It is far too valuable to be mandated for base-load electricity generation or city hot water systems.

This leaves geothermal. Geothermal makes good sense in places like New Zealand and Iceland with big areas of active volcanic rocks at shallow depth. But in an old, quiet, cooling continent like Australia, hot rocks are rare and deep. Here it is a totally unproven power source likely to have very high costs for exploration, development, transmission and water. It is worth investigating by people prepared to speculate their capital, but geothermal will not prevent the power brownouts on the horizon unless someone abandons the misguided "crucify carbon" campaign.

With nuclear power and oil shale banned, and plans to tax coal, oil and gas out of existence, man is headed back to the "green" energy sources of the Dark Ages - muscles, horses, firewood and sunshine. But without carbon fuels to bring heat, light, food, transport and water to our large cities, many people will not survive the transition to green nirvana, especially if the current global cooling trend continues.


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 is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


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