Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Sea level change just goes on regardless

Grumble: No-one else seems to have translated that bit about the von Storch findings that I mentioned two days ago but there seems to be considerable interest in it so I offer a quick translation below

Genauso merkwuerdig verhaelt es sich mit der angekuendigten Zunahme des Anstiegs des Meeresspiegels um 1 m. Davon ist weder etwas zu sehen, noch geben die historischen Daten das her. Dies hat gerade wieder Prof. v. Hans v. Storch (2) in einer beispielhaften Untersuchung der Korrelation zwischen Globaltemperatur und Meeresspiegel fuer die letzten 1000 Jahre untersucht. Nicht unerwartetes Ergebnis: Ein statistisch relevanter Zusammenhang zwischen beiden GroeƔen ist nicht feststellbar, der Meeresspiegel steigt, oder faellt - sehr, sehr langsam und voellig unabhaengig davon, wie hoch die Erwaermung oder auch Abkuehlung gerade ausfaellt. Dies trifft auch fuer die juengste Vergangenheit zu und wird, eingedenk der nicht vorhandenen Korrelation und unterstuetzt von der eingetretenen Abkuehlung, wohl auch die naechste Zeit so sein. Vermutlich auch deshalb betont v. Storch in einer Pressemitteilung dazu: " - es zeigt sich, dass je nach Zeitraum zur Bestimmung der Korrelation positive, bisweilen aber auch negative Zusammenhaenge gefunden werden. Ein physikalischer Zusammenhang kann zwischen den beiden Groessen (aenderung der jaehrlichen Meeresspiegels und der jaehrlich gemittelten Lufttemperatur) kann also nicht hergestellt werden." und weiter schreibt er in derselben Pressemitteilung: "... dass Wissenschaft durchaus in der Lage ist, voreilige Wissensansprueche auf ihre Gueltigkeit abzuklopfen und noetigenfalls zu falsifizieren, auch wenn diese zuvor mit grosser Medienwirkung in "science" gemacht wurden...". (3)

Auch der Vizepraesident des Alfred-Wegener-Instituts (AWI) Prof. Dr. Miller sagt"...Groenland zwar sehr wahrscheinlich an Masse verlieren wird, aber dieser Massenverlust durch verstaerktes Abschmelzen in Groenland wird kompensiert durch eine Eiszunahme in der Antarktis" und weiter "... nach den von uns berechneten Szenarien kommen wir zu dem Schluss, dass Veraenderungen der grossen Eismassen keinen Beitrag zu einem Meeresspiegelanstieg leisten werden",und weiter : "Wann und ob die Arktis eisfrei sein wird, koennen wir nicht mit Sicherheit sagen" (4) Und weiter zum Gletschertourismus: "Das Abschmelzen des Groenland-Eises taugt nicht fuer Endzeit-Szenarien" (Handelsblatt, 08.08.2007, "Wenn der Gletscher ruft - Politiker pilgern nach Groenland"), und weiter am a.O. "Auch fuer den Sermeq Kujalleq sieht Miller nicht schwarz, der Rueckgang der Gletscherzunge werde in den naechsten Jahren zum Stillstand kommen".

Just as remarkable is the proclaimed rise of 1 meter in the sea level. There is nothing visible to that effect nor are there any historical data for it. Prof. v. Hans v. Storch (2) has again shown that recently in an exemplary examination of the correlation between global temperature and sea level over the last 1000 years. The unsurprising conclusion: A statistically significant correlation between the two measures is not sustainable. The sea-level rises or falls -- very very slowly and independently, whether it is warming or cooling. This applies both to the most recent past and happens regardless of the previous correlation. And even with cooling coming up it could still happen.

Presumably for that reason von Storch says in a press release: "It shows that according to the time-period you can find either postive or negative correlations. A physical connection between the the two measures (sea-level change and annual median temperature ) cannot therefore be asserted. And he writes further in the same release "Science is thoroughly capable of debunking and falsifying hasty judgments even if they have previously been proclaimed with great prominence in the media as "Science".

Also the vice-president of the Alfred-Wegener Institute Prof Dr Miller says: "Greenland to be sure will probably lose some mass but this mass-loss in Greenland will be counterbalanced by a mass gain in Antarctica". And further: "looking at the scenarios we come to the conclusion that alterations in the big ice-masses will not make a contribution to sea-level rise." And further: "When and whether the Arctic will be ice-free we cannot say with certainty". And further about glacier tourism: "The melting of the Greenland ice does not suffice as an end-time scenario." (Handelsblatt, 08.08.2007 "when the glacier calls, the politicans go on a pilgrimage to Greenland."). And further: "Even for the Sermeq Kujalleq glacier Miller does not see doom. The shrinkage of the glacial tongue will cease in the near future"

Eighteen years and then the scrapheap for cars in Britain

As the driver of a 1963 Humber Super Snipe Type 4, I object strongly to this. The Humber costs me a fortune to keep on the road but I love it! And lots of people come up to me and express their pleasure at seeing it. Fortunately, I live in Australia and not in Britain

Britain's Royal Automotive Club Foundation is floating a proposal that would call for the scrapping of all cars more than 18 years old. Rationale:
The RAC Foundation believes that a carefully-designed scrappage scheme would have a double benefit of boosting the new and second hand car industry, whilst helping to make road transport greener by removing the most-polluting vehicles from the road.

I am reasonably certain that they'd find some way to make an exception for Lord Suchandsuch's 1952 Bentley R-Type Continental. Besides: what new industry? Britain's biggest automaker these days is - who? TVR? Morgan? Everyone else has long since sold out.

Bad ideas, of course, have a way of crossing the oceans, so I expect someone to come up with something similar Stateside before too awfully long. Hint: The "most-polluting" vehicle isn't one that's rolled up X number of years; it's one whose engine is so utterly shot that you can see its exhaust from half a mile back. Scrapping those miserable hulks would do more for the urban environment than any amount of "greening" folderol.


Australia: More global cooling

Note that it now well into Spring in Australia

RECORD cold temperatures have brought snow to the Blue Mountains and southern tablelands in NSW and wet and windy weather to the state's coast.

Temperatures dipped to three degrees celsius near Blackheath, west of Sydney, early this morning but wind gusts brought the mercury down further to minus two degrees and pockets of snow fell in Leura and west of Katoomba at Oberon. The Bureau of Metrology (BoM) said snow was also reported in the southern tablelands at Cooma and in Bombala, near the Victorian border.

An unseasonal cold front from the southeast extends to just beyond the ranges and is moving north. Thunderstorms and wind gusts of up to 70km/h have brought rain to the eastern part of the state and abnormally cold conditions to most of NSW. BoM forecaster Jane Golding said average temperatures in the Blue Mountains for October ranged from seven to 18 degrees.

In Sydney today, the temperature is forecast to be 15 degrees, an October temperature which has only been seen twice in the past 14 years, Ms Golding said. Average maximum temperatures for Sydney in October are around 22 degrees.


Another greenie delusion

Over at Climate Progress, Joe Romm asserts that climate policies in the EU represent "a very impressive achievement that should serve as an inspiration to the world"

This is an odd conclusion coming from Joe, since he is often going on about the end of the planet if we don't act yesterday.

Rather than looking dispassionately at the EU as a forward-think policy laboratory, Joe instead chooses to attack the US and make the issue partisan. A more productive approach would be to look to the admirable EU leadership as an opportunity to learn about the practical challenges of emissions reductions, even when there is strong political support.

The following graph (using data from the US EIA here in .xls) needs little interpretation. It shows post-Kyoto per capita carbon dioxide emissions in each of the EU-15 countires as well as the US for 1997 to 2005 (the last year for which data was available, but I don't think that extending to 2007 would make much difference). The overwhelming majority of countries of the EU-15 saw per capita emissions increase faster that the US. The lesson that one should take is not that the US is succeeding, but rather that the success of the EU has been overstated, and Joe propagates that myth.



Canadian government won't have to face three suits accusing it of failing to draft a plan to meet pollution-reduction goals, with a federal judge saying he couldn't issue a meaningful order for the government to follow.

Two environmental advocacy groups, Friends of the Earth and Ecojustice Canada, sued the government in September and asked the judge to order the government of Prime Minister Stephen Harper to comply with a June law requiring it to prepare a plan to meet the emissions targets of the Kyoto Protocol. The law passed with the support of opposition parties, which had a majority of the votes in Canada's parliament.

``Such an order would be so devoid of meaningful content and the nature of any response to it so legally intangible that the exercise would be meaningless,'' Judge Robert Barnes said in a 40-page ruling issued today.

Environment Minister John Baird said in April that Canada couldn't meet its commitments under the Kyoto Protocol without causing a recession. An economic impact report presented by Baird said implementing the Kyoto plan would result in 275,000 job losses in 2009 while the cost of electricity would rise 50 percent after 2010 and gas prices would increase 60 percent.


The Greeening of Thomas Friedman

A book review by William Tucker of "Hot, Flat, and Crowded: Why We Need a Green Revolution--and How It Can Renew America" By Thomas L. Friedman

Poor Thomas Friedman, he tries so hard. He wants to explain everything -- energy, poverty, world climate catastrophes -- and offer a comprehensive solution as well. The only problem he doesn't much know what he is talking about.

Hot, Flat and Crowded is the latest of Friedman's reports from his globetrotting for the New York Times. The "hot," of course, means global warming. Friedman is a devotee and does present some pretty convincing research that we are setting off changes in the earth's climate that may be hard to undo. The "flat" is a reference to Friedman's previous book, The World Is Flat, in which he tried to convince liberals that globalization isn't such a bad thing after all. "Crowded" is warmed-over Paul Ehrlich in which Friedman frets about world overpopulation. (In fact, the numbers are generally expected to level off at around 8-10 billion in 2050. Europe and Japan are already depopulating.)

These concerns don't really hang together but no matter, Friedman has the solution to them all -- America must "go green." We should develop wind, solar and other "renewable" technologies, promote conservation and a build a "smart grid." "[T]he best way to re-energize America, rebuild its self-confidence and moral authority, and propel it forward as a society is by focusing on the green agenda....Green is the new red, white and blue!"

Now don't get upset, Friedman is not one of those coercive utopians such as Al Gore who want people to take to the streets shutting down coal plants. He actually likes "markets" -- or thinks he does, at least. Having made numerous processions through Silicon Valley, Friedman acknowledges that free enterprise has its virtues.
Code a "quintessential American opportunity."...It requires enormous amounts of experimentation -- the kind you find in our great research universities and national laboratories; it requires lots of start-up companies that are not afraid to try, risk fail, and try again;... it requires thousand of people working in their garages, trying thousands of things.

All this is in quest of the Holy Grail -- "Clean Electrons" -- and like some Huey Long of the Age of Facebook, Friedman is ready to tie his solution to everything:
Give me abundant, clean, reliable, and cheap electrons and I will give you a world that can continue to grow without triggering unmanageable climate change....Give me abundant, clean, reliable, and cheap electrons, and I will put every petrodictator out of business. Give me abundant, clean, reliable and cheap electrons, and I will end deforestation from communities desperate for fuel and I will eliminate any reason to drill in Mother Nature's environmental cathedrals.

Unfortunately, he confesses, "no one has yet come up with a source of electrons that meets all four criteria: abundant, clean, reliable, and cheap." But that doesn't mean it can't be done!
[I]t is precisely [this] kind of innovation we need to be, and can be, stimulating right now to overcome the technological barriers that prevent existing wind and solar systems from being cheap, abundant, and reliable -- today. The way to stimulate this kind of by generous tax incentives, regulatory incentives, renewable energy mandates, and other market-shaping mechanisms that create durable demand for these existing clean power technologies.....That kind of [progress] will come about only if government uses its power to set prices, regulations, and standards to reshape the energy market and force utilities and other big players to either innovate or die.

So there you have it. Friedman really doesn't like markets at all. What he likes is government manipulation of markets forcing people to adopt technology. Only a collection of carrots and sticks can goad this dumb donkey-cart of an energy economy onto the proper pathway.

In case you haven't noticed, it's already happening. You would be amazed at the number of windmill and solar projects popping up all over the country in response to the maze of federal and state mandates and incentives, to push us in that direction. None of these projects make sense economically and none will ever produce much useful energy, but what else are government mandates for?

WHAT FRIEDMAN DOESN'T understand is that markets are a network of information. They inform us, in rapid and uncompromising fashion, about the availability of resources and the rewards for turning them to specific uses. Windmills and solar collectors remain a very bad investment for one reason -- they produce very little useful electricity. As an example it is only necessary to note Friedman's sorrowful history of First Solar ("Read it and weep!"), an Ohio company that invented thin photovoltaic films to capture solar energy on buildings. Although the company was funded at one point by John Walton, it eventually relocated to Germany in order to take advantage of a German law that forces utilities to buy solar electricity from any provider at a government-fixed price. "That is a no-brainer," exuded Mike Ahearn, First Solar's CEO.

But a no-brainer for whom? When we finally get down to details, it turns out that First Solar's annual production target is 25 megawatts worth of electricity. The average coal or nuclear plant now produces 1,000 MW and the newer ones get 1500 MW. It would take more than a hundred square miles of First Solar cells to match the output of the average power plant. The market is telling us that solar and wind are hideously expensive and then don't produce much electricity anyway. Every time the wind dies down or the sun goes behind a cloud the power goes out.

Of course that doesn't mean that Americans won't indulge in such folly. Late last month, Republican Governor Charlie Crist of Florida announced the cancellation of a 700-MW "clean coal" plant in favor of 10 MW of thermal solar power. The installation is supposed to expand to 300 MW at some point, although "a site has not yet been chosen."

The uniform disadvantage of all forms of solar energy is that they must consume vast, almost unthinkable, amounts of land. Biofuels suddenly tanked last winter when it was recognized that they are consuming one-third of America's corn crop, leveling whole tropical forests, and causing a world food shortage -- all to replace 3 percent of our oil supply. In fact, the only technology that can match fossil fuels while creating far less environmental disruption is nuclear power.

SO DOES NUCLEAR enter Friedman's field of vision? Tolerant fellow that he is, Friedman is not ready to condemn nuclear to outer darkness. He even mentions it once or twice as a "clean alternative," although with no visible enthusiasm.
To build a new nuclear plant costs a minimum of $7 billion today, and would take probably eight years from conception to completion. Most CEOs have about eight years in office, and there are not a lot of utility CEOs who would bet $7 million -- which might be more than half the company's market cap -- on one nuclear project.

Nevertheless, there are now more than a dozen license applications for new reactors before the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Whether or not these proposals go anywhere will depend entirely on whether the general public achieves a better understanding of the technology. Concerned as he is with petrodictators, global warming, and world energy shortages, you'd think Friedman would spend more of his own time learning how "abundant, clean, reliable and cheap" nuclear technology can be.



Families face a $2,000-a-year bill after the Government committed Britain to cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 80 per cent before 2050. The decision gives the UK the toughest climate change targets in the world and could usher in an era of green taxes and carbon rationing.

Government advisers admit that the shift to a 'low carbon' economy will cost around $48billion a year at today's prices. Divided among the nation's households, this works out at just under o1,000 extra per family. But it is at odds with ministers' support for the expansion of Stansted and Heathrow airports and recent pledges to construct coal-fired power stations.

Announcing the target yesterday, climate change minister Ed Miliband said tough economic conditions were not an excuse to 'row back' on tackling global warming. He accepted the recommendations of the Government's Climate Change Committee, which last week said the UK needed to cut emissions by four-fifths of 1990 values. Previously the Government had committed to a 60 per cent cut.

'In tough economic times, some people will ask whether we should retreat from our climate change objectives,' he said. 'In our view, it would be quite wrong to row back and those who say we should misunderstand the relationship between the economic and environmental tasks we face.' Last week the Committee on Climate Change said the target would cost 1 to 2 per cent of annual gross domestic product - which currently stands at $2.4trillion.

Friends of the Earth's executive director, Andy Atkins, joined green lobbyists in welcoming the announcement. He said: 'Delaying action will land us with a bill for billions as we struggle to deal with the devastating effects of climate change. 'Dramatically cutting our emissions won't mean we have to suffer hardship - the lights will stay on, we will still travel and live in comfortable homes.'

But Bjorn Lomborg, author of the Skeptical Environmentalist, said: 'It is an incredibly inefficient way to do virtually nothing. If the UK managed to cut carbon emissions by 80 per cent, it would mean postponing global warming by an order of less than a 500th of a degree. Is that really what the British population want to spend 2 per cent of its income on?'

The new target does not include aviation or shipping emissions. However, Mr Miliband said they would 'play a part' in the Government's climate strategy. Mr Miliband also pledged to help homes and small businesses generate their own power. He told the Commons the Energy Bill would be amended to introduce a 'feed-in tariff' to guarantee prices for micro-generation projects which are able to supply electricity to the national grid. He insisted commitments to reductions must come from Europe, despite a demand by Poland and six other member states to drop them because of the economic crisis.



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