Friday, September 05, 2008


Many have been keeping a watchful eye on solar activity recently. The most popular thing to watch has been sunspots. While not a direct indication of solar activity, they are a proxy for the sun's internal magnetic dynamo. There have been a number of indicators recently that it has been slowing down.

August 2008 has made solar history. As of 00 UTC (5PM PST) we just posted the first spotless calendar month since June 1913. Solar time is measured by Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) so it is now September 1st in UTC time. I've determined this to be the first spotless calendar month according to sunspot data from NOAA's National Geophysical Data Center, which goes back to 1749. In the 95 years since 1913, we've had quite an active sun. But that has been changing in the last few years. The sun today is a nearly featureless sphere and has been for many days:

And there are other indicators. For example, some solar forecasts have been revised recently because the forecast models haven't matched the observations. Australia's space weather agency recently revised their solar cycle 24 forecast, pushing the expected date for a ramping up of cycle 24 sunspots into the future by six months.

More here

Another dissenter speaks out

Article below by Professor Geoffrey G Duffy, DEng, PhD, BSc, ASTC Dip., FRS NZ, FIChemE, CEng. Summary excerpt: "It is so easy to grab onto the notion that the increase in fossil-fuel burning and subsequent growth in carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is directly the major cause. Even from season to season we see snow and ice-covered mountains thaw, and massive areas of the Antarctic ice shelf melt, but in just 6 or so months they are restored. We are not alarmed at these annual changes! So why can’t we see that climate changes occurring all over the world now (not as big as these dramatic annual changes) are simply similar but on a larger time-scale."

Climate is always changing, and always will. There are seasons. There are day-night (diurnal) cycles. At any one location, heat energy from the sun varies during the day. Energy from the sun is affected by local conditions and clouds. Heat absorption depends on whether it impacts water or land . and even then, the type of land (desert, forest, snow covered land), or the layout of the land (continental masses, or islands surrounded by seas). In some parts of the world temperatures are climbing on average, and in some areas they are dropping. Warming is not occurring everywhere at once and hence `global warming' is a misnomer.

So what are the key players in `Climate Change'? The major driver is the sun. Warming depends on the sun. Cooling is due to the lack of sun's energy. Radiant energy enters the earth's atmosphere. Air (on a dry basis) consists mainly of nitrogen 78.08% and oxygen 20.94%. Of the 0.98% remaining, 95% of that (ie 0.934%), or almost all is the inert gas argon. Carbon dioxide CO2 is a trace. It is less than 400ppm (parts per million) or 0.04% of all the atmosphere (on a dry basis). Surprisingly, less than a fifth of that is man-made CO2 (0.008% of the total), and that is only since the beginning of the industrial era and the rapid increase in world population.

The atmosphere however is not dry! The next major constituent of air apart from oxygen and nitrogen is water, as a vapour and a condensed liquid. The atmosphere is comprised of about 1-3% water vapour [At 200C and 100% humidity there is 0.015kg water/kg air or 1.5%: at 50% Humidity, 0.008kg water/kg air or 0.8%: and in warmer climate at say 300C, 100% humidity, 0.028kg water/kg air or 2.8%]. Water vapour condenses to form clouds and it is by far the most abundant and significant of the greenhouse gases. Water accounts for about 95% of the greenhouse effect. The main atmospheric `intermediary' between the sun and earth is water, and thus it dictates the behaviour of the earth's climate. Without water vapour in particular and other greenhouse gases in the air in general, the surface air temperatures worldwide would be well below freezing. The sun clearly must be a much bigger influence on global temperatures than any of the greenhouse gases, even water and CO2. Carbon dioxide is about 1/60 of water in air!! It clearly is not the major player even though it is wise to minimise man-made emissions like particulate emissions, and CO2 and other gases where practically possible.

Variable and unstable weather conditions are caused by local as well as large-scale differences in conditions (wind, rain, evaporation, topography etc). They naturally induce either warming or cooling locally, regionally, or worldwide. We all have experienced how on a cloudy/sunny day that clouds strongly affect our sensations of both heat and light (infrared energy and visible light). Clouds do several things! The atmosphere may be heated by clouds by emitting latent heat of condensation as water vapour condenses. But clouds can both heat the atmosphere by reducing the amount of radiation transmitted, or cool the atmosphere by reflecting radiation. So of all the affects that can influence heating and cooling in the atmosphere and on earth, clearly water is the main greenhouse `gas'. Other greenhouse gases (carbon dioxide CO2, methane CH4, oxides of nitrogen etc) are 1/60 to 1/30 smaller in both quantity and effect. So with all `greenhouse gases' including water, human activity accounts for only minute amounts, just 0.28% of the total greenhouse gases. If we exclude the key one, water, then human activity would only account for about 5.53% of the total greenhouse effect. This is minute in the total picture whatever way we look at it.

Unfortunately a lot of estimates and predictions are strongly based on theoretical computer models. Many now even trust models and their `theoretical results' more than actual measurements and facts from reality. Computer analysis requires that the earth be `cut' into small, separate areas (actually volumes), each being analysed for heat input/outputs and other gas/vapour fluxes. Even so the computational analysis domain size (basic computer grid elements) is huge, 150km x 150km by 1km high, with the current computer power. It is so large that the effects of even the very large clouds are not individually included; and that includes clouds in our visual horizon. The spatial resolution is therefore very poor. Supercomputers cannot give us the accuracy we need. Modellers therefore use parameters: `one factor fits' all, for each of the domains (a kind of a `fudge factor'). This is sad, as water as vapour in clouds is 30 to 60 times more significant than other minute amounts of other greenhouse gases.

Clearly climate simulations and thus predictions can be in serious error unless the actual cloud effects are well defined in the models. It is not only the number and spacing of the clouds in that 150 square kilometre area, but also cloud height effects, and cloud structure. These factors are not accounted for at all. Typhoons are still not represented in most models. Many tropical storms and local intense rain downfalls say in a 50km radius cannot be `seen' by the models. Volcanic eruptions and large forest fires are extremely difficult to model. These emit enormous tonnages of small particulate matter that have immense shielding effects and interactions in the atmosphere. The slow diffusion of the smoke on windless days, and the more rapid turbulent dissipation on windy days are both very difficult to model or predict. We are simply `not there yet' in the simplest events.

The inter-zonal effects of such larger-scale movements like the Gulf stream, or the El Nino-El Nina patterns, are not really greatly understood, and virtually impossible to model. The `noise' (random fluctuations) in the results from the computer models is often greater than the magnitude of the computer readout results themselves! It is really surprising why model computer-forecasts are trusted for periods of say 30 - 50 or so years, yet weather forecasts are often very inaccurate even over a 2 or 3 week period. A good model should be able to `predict even the recent past'. The fact that these models cannot, clearly shows that we should shift our thinking and trust away from computer models to longer-term analysis of actual data, and to understanding the real physical mechanisms and processes (the `cause' and `effect' factors). Someone has said; "if tomorrow's weather is inaccurately modelled and predicted, how can we pretend to predict long-term climate changes?"

Linearising short-term, random fluctuations in weather changes and temperature changes is scientifically untenable (weather and climate changes should be studied over very long periods if reliable trends are to be discerned). Much credence is given to the `hockey-stick effect' of temperature data (upward swing in mean temperature over just the last decade or so) proposed and adopted by the IPPC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change). Nations have grabbed this and are using this to base their policies for actions on global warming effects, and the implementation of controls on carbon-based emissions by carbon taxing. The very computer programme that gave IPPC those results was recently rigorously tested by inputing random numbers, and the computer-generated readout gave the same upward data trend with this meaningless input.

This makes a mockery out the IPPC report and subsequent actions. Of course IPPC cannot admit to that now, as their report has been regarded as `gospel' by many nations. In stunning direct contrast, actual data (not idealistic models) from remote sensors in satellites have continuously measured the world's temperature and have shown that the trend in the warming period ended in 2001. Actual satellite measurements show that the temperature has dropped about 0.60C in the past year, when compared to the mean recorded 1980 temperature. Observations from the Hadley Centre show that global temperature has changed by less than 0.050C over the past decade! Also 1998 was distinctly warmer than 2006 because of the El Nino event. Why can't we believe actual accurate data?

A man-made `greenhouse' does not create new heat. A man-made `greenhouse' can only increase the residence time or hold-up time of heat just like a blanket. Likewise in the atmosphere, the `greenhouse effect' acts as a mechanism to smooth out fluctuations or rises and falls in temperature (that is advantageous). It is a dampener! It cannot be a dominant factor for global temperature change. It is the sun that gives the heat energy and drives temperature change. Simply, if the sun's energy decreases, then the `global' temperature will fall; with or without any greenhouse effect (and vice-versa).

But we must also consider the location of the effects. The surface of Earth is 70 % water. Water has a far greater heat carrying capacity than land; or even the atmosphere itself. Most of the incoming heat from the sun is absorbed by the seas and lakes (simply because they occupy 70% of the world's surface area). When we compare that with land masses, a lower proportion of heat is reflected from watery zones to participate in the greenhouse effect. The greenhouse effect is mainly a phenomenon of the land surface and the atmosphere because land masses lose most of the heat they receive during the day by the action of overnight radiation. To multiply that effect, the atmosphere loses heat rapidly out into space by rainfall, convection and radiation, despite the greenhouse effect. So the large surface area of water over the world and the heat storage of water, are far more significant than any atmospheric greenhouse effect. The oceans really control the transport of water vapour and latent heat changes into the atmosphere (latent heat is heat needed to convert water-to-vapour, or conversely is given up when vapour goes to water), and this is far more significant than sensible heat changes alone (non changes in the state of water).

The seas take a long time to warm up or cool down when compared to land. This means the storage of total heat by the oceans is immense. As mentioned, heat energy reaching the land by day is soon radiated back out into space at night. But there are also zonal differences! The sun's energy at the equator is consistent all year round, and in this region the larger proportion of surface area happens to be the ocean water. The dominant heat loss is primarily at the poles with each pole alternating as the main loser of heat. As a result there are severe cyclical variations in temperature with the seas and ice caps having the dominant effects in energy changes and hence temperature effects.

If the erroneously-called, 'global warming' was occurring now we should see it now. Oceans would be expanding and rising; in fact over the past two years, the global sea level has decreased not increased. Satellites orbiting the planet every 10 days have measured the global sea level to an accuracy of 3-4 millimeters (2/10 inch inches) [see]. Many glaciers are receding but some are increasing. Glacial shelves at the poles melt and reform every year because there are periodic seasonal changes; these alone show dramatically just what changes can occur from summer-to-winter-to-summer again and again. Dramatic changes? Yes; but they are perfectly normal and to be expected.

Much more here


The number-one economic issue this election is gasoline prices at the pump. The tax-hike effect of surging oil on global markets that has translated to a huge spike at your local gas station has drained the economy of its vitality. It has damaged consumer purchasing power, made it tougher to pay mortgages on time, worsened the credit crunch, raised the inflation rate, undermined corporate profits, and thrown stocks into the first bear market in five years.

Of course, with all the political hoopla from the Denver Democrats, it's easy to forget the populist revolt against high gas prices at the pump. Sen. Obama never mentioned skyrocketing pump prices or their devastating economic impact on ordinary working-class folks. But this is the energy election. It will determine our future peace and prosperity. And Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin has the energy answer: Our abundant country can produce more energy at lower cost if government gets out of the way.

Coming from the natural-resource rich state of Alaska, Palin is an experienced energy expert. She knows more about the economics of energy than senators McCain, Obama, or Biden. And in this year of the oil-shock economy, Palin's role will be absolutely crucial. "Obama is way off-base on all that. I think those politicians who don't understand that we need more domestic supply of energy flowing into our hungry markets [are] living in la-la land. And we're in a world of hurt if they're agenda continues to be to lock up these safe, secure, domestic supplies of energy."

That's what Palin told me in a CNBC interview in late June. I call it drill, drill, drill. But in fact it's a full-throated America-first energy policy that will create millions of high-paying jobs with complete government deregulation and decontrol of the full menu of energy sources: oil, natural gas, nuclear, clean coal, shale, and the alternative fuels of wind, solar, and cellulosic.

Why aren't all the candidates talking like Palin? How can this great country put its future growth and prosperity in the hands of enemies like Tsar Vladimir Putin, Ahmadinejad, and Hugo Chavez. Well, get ready for Sarah America to take on the fight against all comers.

The plain-talking governor is even tough on John McCain. The senator has said it's too pristine to drill in ANWR. But Palin told me in June that "Sen. McCain is wrong on that issue. . . . We're talking about a sliver of the coastal plain of Alaska being explored and drilled for oil. It's about a footprint of a 2,000-acre plot of land. That's smaller than the footprint of LAX."

Palin was pleased that McCain came around on the Outer Continental Shelf. But she intended to talk him into ANWR. Expect Mr. McCain to listen carefully. And she made this key point: The price of fuel will fall quickly in the expectation of more energy supplies, just as soon as Washington permits.

And when I interviewed her again in late July, she was justifiably furious that Congress was going on summer recess without a vote on rolling back its drilling moratorium. "Well," she said, "with all due respect to Congress, it's pretty pathetic." Meanwhile, she was taking action: Palin had just gotten the Alaska legislature to agree to a new natural-gas pipeline that was 30 years in the works.

The U.S. Geological Survey estimates that there are nearly 100 billion barrels of oil in the Arctic, with roughly one-third under sovereign U.S. territory in Alaska. There are at least 10 billion (and perhaps close to 20 billion) barrels of oil in ANWR, while old estimates suggest between 800 billion and 2 trillion barrels of oil in the Rocky Mountain shale formations.

It's also worth noting that 1.8 billion acres of the Outer Continental Shelf - with roughly 100 billion barrels of recoverable oil and 400 trillion feet of natural gas - are off-limits because of the congressional moratorium.

Palin grasps the strategic importance of all these domestic reserves. She's also a governor who fully understands the energy- and foreign-policy designs of Mr. Putin, who sits right across the pond from her native Alaska....



And this warning comes from a big-time Warmist!

Half a million people could be pushed into fuel poverty by the UK's drive for wind power, the government's former chief scientific adviser has said. Sir David King said: "If we overdo wind we are going to put up the price of electricity and that means more people will fall into the fuel poverty trap." The UK has signed up to an EU agreement for 20% of power to come from renewable sources by 2020.

Professor King told the BBC EU leaders did not understand their own targets. One of Tony Blair's last acts as Prime Minister was to sign up to an EU target to have 20% of Europe's energy from renewable sources by 2020. The UK currently generates around 2% of its electricity from wind power but to meet the EU's target the government estimates this will have to increase to around 35% by the end of the next decade. It will also lead to price rises, the government thinks around 10% for electricity and closer to 20% for gas.

Professor King who who served as chief scientific adviser from 2000 to 2007, told BBC Radio 4's The Investigation that the government is placing too much emphasis on wind power to reach the target and this would mean more people suffering from fuel poverty. "These are difficult numbers to estimate but numbers around half a million are not at all unrealistic," he said.

Professor King said he thought that Mr Blair and the other EU leaders did not understand what they were committing themselves to. "I think there was some degree of confusion at the heads of states meeting dealing with this. "If they had said 20% renewables on the electricity grids across the European Union by 2020, we would have had a realistic target but by saying 20% of all energy, I actually wonder whether that wasn't a mistake." Professor King, who was chief scientific adviser at the time of the decision, added: "I was rather surprised when I heard what the decision was."

The EU needed to renegotiate a more achievable and less expensive target, and he added: "This is an issue which needs to be revisited and I say this as somebody who feels that we really have to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions very substantially but in my view it is an expensive, and not a very clever route to go for 35 to 40% on wind turbines."

However Maria McCaffery, Chief Executive of British Wind Energy Association countered: "We don't have to pay for wind power it just comes to us naturally and is totally sustainable. "The expectation is that it will in time drive down the basic cost of energy and actually help the fuel poverty situation, that certainly is our expectation"

A government spokesman said it believes the target is ambitious but is fully committed to meeting it and that the impact on energy bills in the short term will be small.



SOLAR PANELS are one of the least cost-effective ways of combating climate change and will take 100 years to pay back their installation costs, the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (Rics) warned yesterday.

In a new guide on energy efficiency, Rics said that roof panels for heating water and generating power are unlikely to save enough from bills to make them financially viable in a householder's lifetime. In the case of solar panels to heat water for baths and showers, the institution estimates the payback time from money saved from electricity and gas bills will take more than 100 years - and up to 166 years in the worst case.

Photovoltaic (PV) panels for power - and domestic, mast-mounted wind turbines -will take between 50 and 100 years to pay back.

Given that the devices have a maximum lifetime of 30 years, they are never likely to recoup the 3,000 to 20,000 cost of their installation, according to Rics' building cost information service. Instead, it suggested people wanting to cut fuel bills should insulate lofts and cavity walls, install efficient light bulbs and seal windows.

Joe Martin, author of Rics' Greener Homes Prices Guide, said there was an argument for installing solar panels but it was not an economic one. "We wanted to bring some reality to this because there are a lot of missionaries out there. The whole push for household renewable power is that you can do these things and make back money but that's not true on existing property," he said.

The solar power industry accused Rics of failing to take account of the rising cost of energy and other financial benefits of renewable power in its figures. Jeremy Leggett, of Solar Century, said: "They are grossly irresponsible."

Rics assessed the cost, annual savings, disruption and payback time of various energy-saving methods and gave each an overall rating of one to five stars.

More here

Australia's Warmist guru calls for only 10 percent cut in greenhouse gases

These guys just make up numbers as they go along

AUSTRALIA'S climate change guru has softened his stand on greenhouse gases, saying we are a 'special case'. In a boost to business, government climate adviser Ross Garnaut has said Australia should try to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 10 per cent by 2020, with immigration ruling out any greater reduction. And if the global community fails to act, that figure should drop back to five per cent.

In a major report released today, Professor Garnaut says high immigration growth makes Australia a special case and its emissions should be reduced by less than any other developed country. Australia's high level of immigration, he says, meant it cannot realistically cut emissions as much as other wealthy nations. And Prof Garnaut believes Australia should soften its target to a five per cent cut, based on 2000 levels, if an international climate pact is not forged.

The 10 per cent target will be a disappointment to the environmental lobby, which wants a cut of up to 40 per cent. But it will allay the concerns of business that emissions trading, due to start in 2010, would cost profits and jobs. The 2020 target will be a crucial factor in determining how much households and businesses will pay under emissions trading. The federal government has yet to set a 2020 target.

Prof Garnaut also recommended emissions trading start in 2010 with a fixed carbon price of $20 a tonne, indexed for inflation plus four per cent each year. The latest instalment of his advice to federal and state governments on what should be done about climate change doesn't make happy reading. He is pessimistic about the ability of the world to tackle climate change, and says there is "just a chance" that dangerous global warming can be avoided. The problem of climate change was "diabolical", "intractable" and "daunting", and the world was rapidly running out of time.

Other developed nations should do more than Australia to cut emissions, Prof Garnaut says. Canada should slash its emissions by a third, Japan by 27 per cent, the European Union by 14 per cent, and the US by 12 per cent. Australia had the "least stringent 2020 reductions targets of any of the developed countries/regions modelled". "Australia's population, because of the country's long-standing and large immigration program, has been and will be growing much faster than populations in other countries," Professor Garnaut said. "The allocation formula ... accommodates Australia's rapid population growth."

Prof Garnaut has recommended Australia adopt a more ambitious 80 per cent emissions reduction target by 2050. The government has committed to a 60 per cent target by then. He also thinks the world should move towards a per-capita system of emissions reductions, which would have a major impact on Australia because it has one of the world's highest rates of per-capita emissions. But the "per-capita" system would not kick in until 2050 under the Garnaut plan.

The report also includes some modelling on the costs of climate change. Prof Garnaut found not acting on climate change would cost Australia dearly, slashing eight per cent from gross national product by the end of this century. Wages would drop by 12 per cent. But taking action on climate change would have a "manageable" cost. Growth would be cut initially by 0.8 per cent, settling to 0.1 per cent in subsequent years. By 2060, taking action on climate change would have a net positive affect on the economy. Prof Garnaut's final report is due at the end of this month.



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 readers in China or for times when is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


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