Wednesday, September 17, 2008


I used to put up occasional reports of cooling as a satire on the way Greenies and the media (But I repeat myself!) were constantly proclaiming any episode of hot weather as proof of global warming. Now, however, it seems clear that there really is global cooling going on so these few reports below really are just examples of a larger phenonenon.

I must say I do feel some pity for the travails that some people are enduring because of the real downturn in solar activity. Where I sit in subtropical Brisbane (where it is at the moment early Spring) temperatures are ALWAYS comfortable. I am, at the time of writing, sitting in front of my computer with my front door wide open and dressed only in boxer shorts -- as I do for most of the year.

Three cooling reports below:

California grape growers feeling the freeze

This year's grape harvest has manifested the impact of varying weather on the local winemaking industry, as many growers are reporting lower quantities due to frosting. Although the end result might be higher prices for your favorite wines in a couple of years, some winemakers also touted how the crop should produce better-tasting grapes, especially the Pinot variety common to San Benito County.

The local drop in production, though, is shared across California with many winemaking and vintner organizations reporting the same trend. Some state estimates indicate a 20 percent decrease from last year and one-third fewer grapes than in 2005. "In San Benito County, we had the same problem as everywhere else in California - terrible weather during the flowering season," said Steve Pessagno, owner of Pessagno Winery.

He noted that from April to May, cold weather and overcast skies created perfect conditions for frost. "My notebook reads, 'April 12 to 16, coldest string of five days in the last 70 years.'" The result is demonstrated in Pessagno's Syrah fields, where he obtained one ton of grapes per acre - about a third of a normal year's harvest. He wasn't the only one reporting such a stunning decline, as Rob Leve, a vineyard manager at Gimelli Wineries, gave a similar estimate. "And that gives winemakers a difficult time meeting demand or making a living with that type of yield," Pessagno said.

Josh Jensen, owner and winemaker at Calera Winery, had vineyards yielding as little as half a ton per acre where they usually produce around twelve times that in a good year. "We are seeing a very small harvest because we were absolutely slammed disastrously by the frosts during April," he said. Allessio Carli, Pietra Santa's winemaker, also reported a low-production harvest and said he hadn't seen frost - before 2008 - in his 18 years there. ...


Australia: Global cooling hits Sydney

After the coldest winter in a decade, weather experts are warning Sydney to expect an erratic summer....

Bureau of Meteorology climate officer Mike de Salis said the mercury plunged most in August. The average maximum temperature was 17.3 degrees, more than half a degree lower than the average and the coldest monthly average since 1989. The average maximum temperature throughout the three winter months was the lowest since 1998.

"That was due to a blocking system. [It was] a low pressure operating in the Tasman Sea for half the month [of August], dragging a whole lot of cold southerly air over NSW," Mr de Salis said. "It kept the temperatures down, day time and night time." ....


Temperatures plummet as cold wave breaks 83-year old records in Hungary

A cold weather record set in 1925 went by the books on Monday, as temperatures in Hungary plummeted. The coldest temperature on record as a daily maximum for September 15 was 10.5 degrees Celsius measured in the SW city of Zalaegerszeg 83 years ago. It fell by the wayside when the city of Sopron, in the NW, reported a high of 8.6 degrees, meteorologist Zoltan Fodor reported.

Budapest also set a cold record, with a high temperature of 11.5 degrees Celsius. That did in a record set on September 15, 1912, of 12.4 degrees. Fodor promised more of the same on Tuesday, with temperatures rising slightly afterwards, to peak at about 18 degrees Celsius on the weekend.


Thou shalt pump up thy tires!

Yet another of the endless stream of laws and regulations that are being heaped upon us by our "betters"

Just got a copy of a letter from Mary D. Nichols, Chairman of CARB (California Air Resources Board) inviting "all interested parties" to participate in a discussion for reducing the global warming impacts of under-inflated tires. The objective is to propose new regulations for drivers/riders with tires with a PSI under what is recommended by the manufacturer.

So, soon California will mobilize its police to check your tires PSI? Write tickets by missing PSI x the number of your tires? Welcome to California! Below, the letter of CARB.

"The Air Resources Board staff invites you Wednesday October 8,, 08 to participate in a public workshop meeting to discuss concepts for reducing the global warming impacts of under-inflated vehicle tires. It is estimated that greater than 70% of all vehicles operate on at east one under-inflated tire resulting in reduced gas mileage and increased emissions. At this workshop, ARB staff will discuss a proposed regulatory concept, implementation strategy, as well as inventory and cost effectiveness data." The agenda and presentation will be available prior to the workshop at the following website address:


Carbon Sequestration Plant Goes on stream -- Greenies Protest!

More proof that nothing will keep a Greenie happy

Carbon sequestration technology aims to store carbon, regardless of its source, whether it is from a new high-efficiency coal plant or an ancient relic of a plant. In the past, researchers looked at many ways of doing this. Some argued to put it in the sea while others argued to sink it in artificial wetlands.

However, the most popular idea is to pump it underground. The U.S. Department of Energy already launched an expensive initiative to test out such a system. Now Swedish power supplier Vattenfall has beat everyone to the punch, building and bringing online the world's first industrial-ready carbon sequestration plant, located in Brandenburg, Germany.

Construction on the Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) plant began two years ago. The plant cost $97.4M USD to construct. Many view it and other CCS plants as essential for coal to stay competitive against greener energy sources such as wind, solar, geothermal, and nuclear power. The plant officially opened with a ceremony this Tuesday.

The power plant used by the facility is a specially built 45 MW plant 350 kilometers (217 miles) away. CO2 is delivered by the truckload to the waiting plant, where it is pumped underground into a natural gas reservoir. Vattenfall's main competitor, RWE, is looking to build a 450-megawatt CCS power plant in Hrth, nine kilometers southwest of Cologne.

The technology is thought to be viable at current carbon credit costs when it can be coupled with a plant with about 1,000 MW of capacity. Thus the current new plant is an experimental proposition, which is losing money in the short term.

At the new plant, gas is pumped into 800-meter-deep bore holes into the depleted reservoir. Estimates vary, but it is expected to be trapped there anywhere from 1,000 and 10,000 years.

While some power companies are promoting the technology as a green dream, interestingly many environmental groups are vocally opposing it. Over 99 organizations in a group called the "Climate Alliance" invited protesters to the opening of the plant. They say the technology is too unproven and CO2 separation also lowers plant efficiency to as little as 34 percent, from a typical efficiency of 44 percent. Further, they say it will slow the adoption of alternative energy sources, lulling people into a false sense of security.

While some, particularly in the green community are particularly opposed to the technology, it doesn't seem likely to go away anytime soon. SPD (Germany's top political party) head Kurt Beck acknowledged the criticism, but cautiously plugged the effort, stating, "One sees clearly that it is far more than just a theoretical beginning. It is one of a number of solutions to the climate problem."


"Green" MTV Trashes A Piece Of Rainforest For Their New Reality Show

On September 17, MTV is getting ready to show off a new reality show called "Real World/Road Rules Challenge: The Island". Much like Survivor, it's supposed to show a bunch of people "roughing it" while completing tasks, acting like asses, and other dramatic moments.

As one would expect, the real "reality" is much less exciting. In fact, as was recently reported by Michael Drake on the Tree Climber's Coalition site, not only is the show basically scripted and shot in and around civilization, but it also appears to have done a good deal of environmental damage. Drake, along with others living on Boca del Drago Island in the Republic of Panama witnessed MTV clear a large section of rainforest for the set construction. In addition, they also trashed a pristine beach, disturbed a bird sanctuary island "off-limits" to human visitations, and left behind an insane amount of garbage, set debris, and refuse.

As Drake wrote, "MTV's behavior in this situation has been rampantly inconsistent with their self-proclaimed `MTV Green Crusade'. I sense a bit of hypocrisy and I question their commitment toward being `green'."

Of course, it's not uncommon for television and movie productions to adversely impact their surroundings. The uproar surrounding the environmental damage done by DiCaprio's film The Beach back in `99 comes to mind as something similar. What is surprising is that in this time of supposed "awareness" of these issues - and the efforts being done by studios like MTV to address them - that such a production would proceed forward without any care towards its impact. Not to mention the fact that they somehow figured nobody would care? Or talk about it online?

I encourage you to check out Drake's full report on MTV's negligence in Panama over on the Tree Climber's Coalition site. These personal reports are vital for keeping tabs on what's really happening behind the scenes - and we thank him for bringing it front and center. So MTV, what's the story?


Cynicism in Israel

Israel will have to continue to use oil and coal for the vast majority of its energy needs, according to a recent survey of Israeli scientists and other experts commissioned by the Environmental Protection Ministry.

The survey also found that there is no way of predicting climate changes in as small a land mass as Israel, and cast doubt on whether there is evidence of such changes in the country. Dr. Avraham Arbib, the Infrastructure Ministry's deputy chief scientist, said that while Israel needs to expand its use of renewable energy, such energy sources will still not meet most of the country's needs even in 30 years. "Some of the technology exists, like solar collectors on roofs," said Arbib. "But building solar power stations requires land and financial resources."

Many local climate experts also accused some researchers of using the increasingly popular issue to increase their chances of getting their studies funded. "There's no doubt that the slogan of climate change has been adopted by researchers from various disciplines to get research budgets because it is attractive to funding bodies in Israel and around the world," said Nurit Kliot, a member of the research team that conducted the survey and a professor in the University of Haifa's department of natural resources management.

Nonetheless, she said, "one cannot argue that the scientific findings themselves were twisted in order to prove that climate change exists." "Nothing like that was said by the researchers we interviewed," added Kliot. Indeed, most of the experts interviewed for the survey say they do not doubt that human activity can cause climate change, and call for saving energy and protecting water sources.

However, many are skeptical about the ability to predict climate change in Israel. "Most scientists think that just like you need to take out insurance, you also need to take cautionary measures and get ready for climate changes likely to take place," said Kliot.

The research team compiled their findings after interviewing 97 scientists and experts in diverse fields including climate, medicine, agriculture, water and energy. The researchers asked the experts to discuss scientific questions and speak out about necessary policies in light of possible future climate changes.

Prof. Uri Mingelgreen, a scientist at the government-run Agricultural Research Organization who used to serve as the Environmental Protection Ministry's chief scientist, called into question the ethics of some scientists. "Climate researchers are approaching the red line when it comes to the ethics of their work," he said. "It's hard to see research budgets in front of you and not go in the direction that the funding bodies want you to go in, instead of the directions that you think you should go."

Most of the scientists said the research was tilted toward studies highlighting the role of climate change in an effort to win funding, though they did not provide examples. The United Nations, the World Bank and the European Union are among the institutions that provide funding and organizational support for research on climate changes, in addition to private foundations around the world. "The research funders sometimes redirect the funds they have to researchers who show data that supports climate change," the report found.

Many scientists and experts said there is evidence of global warming in the Middle East and a reduction of precipitation, especially in the Kinneret area, but some prominent experts in the field of water and agriculture say it isn't so. Gerald Stanhill, a scientist at the Agricultural Research Center, said that as long as people don't examine the influence of phenomena such as particles in the air that are liable to reduce the intensity of solar radiation, it is difficult to predict changes in the climate.



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