A new paper by Kevin Anderson and Alice Bows has been published in the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society under the title: 'Reframing the climate change challenge in light of post-2000 emission trends'. It points out that the various "goals" for CO2 reduction touted by politicians are unscientific and unattainable. The Abstract states:
The 2007 Bali conference heard repeated calls for reductions in global greenhouse gas emissions of 50 per cent by 2050 to avoid exceeding the 2C threshold. While such endpoint targets dominate the policy agenda, they do not, in isolation, have a scientific basis and are likely to lead to dangerously misguided policies. To be scientifically credible, policy must be informed by an understanding of cumulative emissions and associated emission pathways. This analysis considers the implications of the 2C threshold and a range of post-peak emission reduction rates for global emission pathways and cumulative emission budgets. The paper examines whether empirical estimates of greenhouse gas emissions between 2000 and 2008, a period typically modelled within scenario studies, combined with short-term extrapolations of current emissions trends, significantly constrains the 2000-2100 emission pathways. The paper concludes that it is increasingly unlikely any global agreement will deliver the radical reversal in emission trends required for stabilization at 450 ppmv carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e). Similarly, the current framing of climate change cannot be reconciled with the rates of mitigation necessary to stabilize at 550 ppmv CO2e and even an optimistic interpretation suggests stabilization much below 650 ppmv CO2e is improbable.
Greenland ice cap 'uncertainty makes future predictions almost meaningless'?
The Greenland ice cap has been a focal point of recent climate change research because it is much more exposed to immediate global warming than the larger Antarctic ice sheet. Yet while the southern Greenland ice cap has been melting, it is still not clear how much this is contributing to rising sea levels, and much further research is needed.
A framework for such research was defined at a recent workshop organised by the European Science Foundation (ESF). "The main objectives were to establish current understanding, prioritise research needs, and develop proposals," said one of the ESF workshop's convenors, Professor Tavi Murray from the Glaciology Group at Swansea University in the UK. "I believe we did the first two very well and laid the ground for developing research proposals."
While recent observations indicate that the Greenland ice cap is melting fast, it is uncertain how much this is contributing to sea levels, as co-convenor Carl Boggild, from UNIS in Svalbard explained. "A major challenge is to determine what fraction of melt water really runs off, because in many places the melt water will just drain into the cold snow and refreeze," said Boggild.
One way to determine how much water is running off is to measure not just the area of the Greenland ice cap but also its thickness, but this is much more difficult. Alternatively, the run off process can be tracked both on the ground and by satellite, preferably integrating the two, as was discussed at the workshop. The need to establish a database of ground based observations, including run off, as well as the ongoing calving of ice bergs from the ice cap and occasional events such as earthquakes beneath the ice was discussed.
Perhaps the greatest immediate challenge identified at the workshop though lies in reducing the high levels of uncertainty over the current and future behaviour of the Greenland ice cap, and reconciling the many conflicting observations and predictions. In the case of the meltwater, estimates of the annual total vary by a factor of five from 50 gigatons (GT) to around 250 GT, and this level of uncertainty makes future predictions almost meaningless. "Laser satellites can detect elevation changes within 10 cm accuracy - but do not consider compaction of the snow," said Murray. "Other satellites using radio waves have a problem with penetration of the signal into the snow. And, yet another method from satellites, measuring the 'weight' of the ice sheet covers too large areas - so you also detect weight changes outside the ice sheet." But at least these multiple sources of data have the potential of being combined to yield more accurate estimates.
Not surprisingly, given these uncertainties, it is unclear even what the immediate future holds for the Greenland ice cap. As Murray noted, recent high levels of thinning in the south and around the edges have taken climatologists by surprise, but there is no guarantee it will continue. "There is much uncertainty presently, because observations of thinning have come as a surprise," said Murray. "We can basically say that three scenarios are possible regarding the enhanced thinning which has been observed recently. One is that it will keep escalating. Secondly it may remain constant even though the climate gets warmer, and thirdly the enhanced rate of thinning may stop altogether, with future thinning being purely the result of melting."
It is not clear yet which of these scenarios will transpire, but Murray and Boggild are convinced that the ESF workshop has prepared the ground for substantial progress, by bringing together the relevant diverse skills in glaciology, climatology, geology, modelling and satellite imaging. The workshop, Sea-Level Rise From The Greenland Ice Sheet, was held in Mallorca, Spain in May 2008.-European Science Foundation
The Battle Over Coal
The future of coal use is inextricably bound up with the climate debate. While nuclear power's carbonneutral credential has split climate alarmists, the reemergence of King Coal the bete noir of ecowarriors everywhere as the fuel of choice for power plants has reunited them. The result is an outright declaration of war on coal use. For Greens of all shades, coal and its carbon dioxide emissions represent nothing less than the apocalyptic tipping point for the planet's future. And in its cause, governments are to be swayed, courts besieged, and the battle taken to the streets.
If Europe was the early theater for the war between overly ambitious carbon dioxide emission-cutting targets and coal-fired power aspirations, the frontline today is Kingsnorth, 30 miles east of London. E.ON, Germany''s largest utility, has filed an application to replace Kingsnorth''s aging power plant, due for closure in 2015, with Britain''s first new coalfired plant in 30 years. With six other applications pending, the government''s decision over Kingsnorth could set a precedent for the U.K. and Europe. Kingsnorth has consequently become a cause celebre. Caroline Lucas of the U.K. Green Party said, Kingsnorth is absolutely on the frontline of whether or not we manage to avoid the worst of climate chaos. She adds, If Britain, one of the richest countries in the world, can't deal with climate change without resorting to coal, it undermines our message to any other country to try to do differently.
NASA''s James Hansen, the high priest of climate alarmism, has signed up for the cause, writing a passionate letter to Prime Minister Gordon Brown with a copy to the Queen. In his letter of December 2007, Hansen says:
* Coal clearly emerges as central to the climate problem.
* Due to the dominant role of coal, the solution to global warming must include the phaseout of coal except for uses where the carbon dioxide is captured and sequestered.
* [The] decision to phase out coal use, unless the carbon dioxide is captured, is a global imperative.
* .[If] coalfired plants do not capture and sequester the carbon dioxide, it could be a tipping point for the world.
* .In setting your national policies, you have the potential to influence the planet.
Even though the new Kingsnorth plant would be 20 percent more efficient than existing ones, unimpressed Green campaigners have laid siege to the plant to register opposition. E.ON's bid proposes two new twin 800megawatt burners at a cost of around $3 billion. If the government gives the go-ahead, however, it is likely to include the demand for an experimental carbon capture facility at the additional cost, ultimately to end energy users, of up to $800 million.
With a third of British power stations due to close in the next 15 years, refusing E.ON''s application at Kingsnorth could effectively close the door to more coal use in the U.K. But ignoring substantial domestic British coal reserves comes at a price, as E.ON spokesman Jonathan Smith told Sky News. If we assume that no other coal use is to go ahead, [the U.K. will].have to buy more gas, said Smith, who added, The price of gas has an effect on wholesale electricity, so if you have 80 percent of electricity generated from gas, it''s a fair bet the price would go up. Rival energy giants British Gas and EDF have already recently increased gas prices by 35 percent and 22 percent, respectively.
Although Hansen appears sufficiently persuaded by a government green light for a Kingsnorth that includes a carbon capture and storage C.C.S. loading cost, the use of unproven C.C.S. techniques hasn't abated the Green lobby's ire.
Two-fifths of all global carbon emissions are caused by power generation from fossil fuel burning, with coal the major factor. Yet Germany, with the full support of the Climate Chancellor, has announced plans to build 16 new coalfired plants by 2012. In fact, across Europe roughly 40 new coal-fired plants are planned over the next five years, with Italy committed to converting its oil-fueled plants to coal. All of which reveals a contradictory faultline running between the E.U.'s energy policy and its rhetoric about fighting climate change.
In the U.S., 28 coal-fired plants are under construction, with another 66 planned. Here, too, the Greens' war on coal has begun to hurt. Citing the Supreme Court's decision last year to designate carbon dioxide as a pollutant, Georgia has blocked construction of the proposed coalfired Longleaf plant. Last year, regulators in Kansas rejected a similar application on grounds that global warming is a threat to public health and agriculture. In July, Wisconsin issued a directive stating that coal may not be considered as a fuel source at state-owned heating plants. According to Mark Goldes of Magnetic Power, Inc., climate concerns in the U.S. are beginning to play a major role, with more coal-fired plants being abandoned than rejected. He reports that 59 plants were cancelled or put on hold in 2007, with only 15 of those rejected outright by regulators. For the other 44, the utilities themselves made the decision.
Meanwhile, as the future of coal use in the West remains in doubt, the coalfired economies of China and India are going full steam ahead, trouncing Western attempts at minimizing global carbon dioxide emissions. China activates one new coalfired power station every week, and its runaway economy, with an astounding 10 percent annual growth, accounts for a massive 43 percent of emerging global coal demand.
India has recently approved eight huge new power plants that will boost electricity generating capacity by a massive 50 percent. The inherent dichotomy between energy and climate priorities is most vividly seen in the funding of these plants. . In April, just a year after Robert Zoellick, president of the World Bank, pledged to significantly increase funds in the fight against climate change, the Bank's board agreed to loan $450 million to help the new $4.1 billion Tata power plant in western India become operational. Due online by 2012, Tata is expected to immediately become one of the world''s top 50 emitters of carbon dioxide. Its carbon dioxide emissions alone will outstrip those of many medium-sized countries. According to the Bank''s Information Center analysis, investment in coal, gas, and natural gas projects rose last year by 60 percent, compared to a mere 9 percent rise for alternatives to hydrocarbon based power.
Zoellick blames the apparent contradiction on the need to meet the challenge of climate change without slowing the growth that will help overcome poverty. And right there is the crux of the matter. The Tata project will provide power for over 16 million people, most now lacking electricity and living in poverty. Western environmentalists often claim that such poor communities must retain their culture and identity, but all too often that is code for "remain in a powerless poverty." Who will tell the people of western India that they should forego their cheap coal-fired electricity?
Regardless of how the coal versus carbon dilemma is resolved, the sheer scale of carbon dioxide emissions from the fast-industrializing economies in Asia and beyond is destined to render the Greens' war on coal irrelevant. Irrelevant, except for the damage it would inflict on the poor, even in the West. More than this, the growing demand for coal, and the consequent rise in carbon emissions, is set to settle speculative claims over the alleged link between carbon dioxide and global temperatures. Even if the alarmists are proven right, at least we will have had the moral satisfaction of seeing a new coal-powered era delivering millions from grinding poverty, as we all sink beneath the waves.
EUROPEAN BACKLASH WILL REDUCE CLIMATE DEAL TO TOKENISM
Europe's plan to lead the world towards a deal on fighting climate change has been seriously imperilled by a backlash by Italy, Poland and other east European nations wary of the short-term costs.
France, which holds the European Union's rotating presidency, has staked its reputation on finalising the plan to cut EU carbon emissions by a fifth by 2020. Few think French President Nicolas Sarkozy will fail to broker agreement this year, but many fear that amid an economic crisis he might hand out so many concessions to reluctant states that the final laws do little to prevent global warming.
And with Europe's credibility damaged, it will struggle to coax China, Russia or other major emitters to agree to meaningful emissions cuts at a meeting in Copenhagen next year to agree a successor to the Kyoto Protocol after 2012.
"The French presidency has really shown willing, but the attitude of Sarkozy has been to accept any demands for compromises," said Cecile Kerebel of French think tank IFRI. "I think we'll get something, but there's a real risk that in the end the package will have no value in fighting climate change," Kerebel added.
Time is short. The European Parliament breaks for elections next May. And most EU diplomats have low expectations of progress after December when France hands over the EU presidency to the Czech Republic -- currently split by a political power struggle and led by a president who is cynical about climate change.
AIRLINES: EMISSIONS TRADING PLAN 'CONTRARY TO INTERNATIONAL LAW'
The Air Transport Association, industry trade organization for a number of US airlines, expressed harsh opposition this week to the European Parliament's October 24 final approval of legislation covering the world's airlines under the European Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS).
In a speech delivered before the European Aviation Club in Brussels, ATA President and CEO James C. May drew attention to a proliferation of new aviation taxes and charges within the European Union (EU), pointing out how these taxes and fees are counterproductive to the industry's ongoing environmental progress. May said that, "Masquerading under the banner of supposedly 'protecting' the environment, these measures threaten to stifle the growth of the industry, compromise our environmental progress and, ultimately, raise prices for consumers, leaving them to take alternative, less safe, higher emitting modes of transportation."
May also emphasized that the EU legislation adding aviation to the ETS -- opposed by the United States and many other countries -- violates international law and reverses the progress being made with ongoing fuel-efficiency and environmental innovations. It is estimated that this European cap-and-trade system would impose an annual cost to airlines (over and above the cost of jet fuel) of several billion dollars in 2012, tripling in 2020.
Famous Australian weather forecaster is a warming skeptic
The Crohamhurst observatory was started by Inigo Jones in 1927 and became famous for accurate long-range weather forecasts. Jones based his forecasts on solar variability and planetary movements. It was claimed that his forecasts were not "scientific" but farmers swore by them. At one stage many Brisbane couples would not set their wedding date without first consulting Jones. After Jones's death, first Lennox Walker and then his son Haydon Walker carried on the work
The Sunshine Coast could be in line for substantial flooding over the next five months with the first of the rains only two or three days away. That's the tip from long-range weather forecaster Haydon Walker who has warned that not only will the Coast experience serious flooding, it is ill-equipped to deal with major downpours. "Look at the 1893 floods where Crohamhurst, in the hinterland, received 36 inches (914mm) overnight," he said. "If that happened now, we would all be in Moreton Bay." Coast drainage simply would not cope with such a deluge.
"I maintain that higher (population) density in coastal areas has had more impact due to run-off from subdivisions, roadways and increased roof areas," he said. Mr Walker is predicting "good strong rains" starting shortly and continuing through November, mainly from storms, with some likely to register more than 100mm or more. "They will continue good and strong in December," he said. "Going into January we will continue to get good-to-heavy rains, and cyclonic activity probably as far as the NSW border." While things should settle down a bit after that, the wet weather will return in March, Mr Walker said....
While some old-timers might describe his prediction as nothing more than a return to normal weather for the region, he disagreed. "This will be more intense than `normal'," he said. "And there will be (at least) local flooding." Mr Walker said sunspot activity, which he uses to make weather predictions, was on the increase. "Solar flares make changes to the barometric pressures." The sunspot cycles are 11.15 years, but we are moving into "a strong phase". "There's a fair bit of water coming," he said. "The fronts are here already and we can expect rain in the next two to three days."
Mr Walker said he held a sceptical view of predictions about climate change at this stage. "Until someone can show me further evidence, I am unconvinced. "I have (weather) charts from the year dot, back prior to the Industrial Revolution. "I am disgusted with what we are putting into the atmosphere but I believe the climate change debate is too politically driven."
Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) data tends to cautiously support Mr Walker's predictions, indicating the chances of exceeding average rainfall between now and March is 50%. The BOM website said the Southern Oscillation Index has been at +14 - a strong La Nina influence - pointing to more rain likelihood, with the same conditions predicted for the remainder of spring and summer.
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