Friday, November 14, 2008


India today ruled out a global action plan to tackle the challenge of climate change and strongly favoured initiatives tailored to suit local needs. "You cannot have a global action plan on climate change. You can only have a global commitment," Science and Technology Minister Kapil Sibal, who has been representing the country at international fora on the issue, said here. The issue of climate change has to be addressed at national, regional and local levels as each part has different sets of problems, he said at a conference on 'Climate Change: Business Sustainability and Society'.

"Solutions to deal with climate change will not be the same for the Himalayan region, the vast coastline, central India and the northeastern areas," Sibal said, stressing that different plans were required for different regions. Identifying small and medium enterprises as the most polluting sector, he pitched for low-cost technologies to be made available to them to help reduce their carbon footprint.

"India is at the cusp of a new technology revolution and global warming provided an opportunity to excel in the field," Sibal said. He said the infrastructure, the industry and other sectors are poised for a giant leap and India can make correct choices on technologies to ensure that all such initiatives are energy efficient.

India has unveiled the National Action Plan on Climate Change which seeks to address the issue through eight missions -- solar, enhanced energy efficiency, sustainable habitat, water, sustaining the Himalayan ecosystem, a green India, sustainable agriculture and strategic knowledge for climate change.



Today the IEA released its World Energy Outlook 2008. Here are some interesting excerpts from the Executive Summary here in PDF. First, the IEA comes down clearly on the debate over whether stabilization at 450 ppm can be achieved with existing technologies. They say no way:
"The scale of the challenge in the 450 Policy Scenario is immense: the 2030 emissions level for the world as a whole in this scenario is less than the level of projected emissions for non-OECD countries alone in the Reference Scenario. In other words, the OECD countries alone cannot put the world onto the path to 450-ppm trajectory, even if they were to reduce their emissions to zero. Even leaving aside any debate about the political feasibility of the 450 Policy Scenario, it is uncertain whether the scale of the transformation envisaged is even technically achievable, as the scenario assumes broad deployment of technologies that have not yet been proven. The technology shift, if achievable, would certainly be unprecedented in scale and speed of deployment. Increased public and private spending on research and development in the near term would be essential to develop the advanced technologies needed to make the 450 Policy Scenario a reality."

Second, to illustrate the scale of the problem the IEA projects what would happen if every power plant build starting today were to be carbon dioxide free, finding a small impact on future emissions growth:
"The rate of capital-stock turnover is particularly slow in the power sector, where large up-front costs and long operating lifetimes mean that plants that have already been built - and their associated emissions - are effectively "locked-in". In the Reference Scenario, three-quarters of the projected output of electricity worldwide in 2020 (and more than half in 2030) comes from power stations that are already operating today. As a result, even if all power plants built from now onwards were carbon-free, CO2 emissions from the power sector would still be only 25%, or 4 Gt, lower in 2020 relative to the Reference Scenario."

The IEA could even be overly optimistic, with aggressive assumptions about the viability of carbon capture and storage, the political acceptability of a very high price on carbon dioxide ($180 per tonne in the 450 scenario), and the continuing issue of embedded assumptions of spontaneous decarbonization as we discussed in our Nature paper last spring.


Coastal military facilities are threatened by rising sea levels, Really?

The above graph is Holgate's reconstruction of the rate of sea level rise rate the 20th century obtained from the highest quality tide gauge data in his 2007 GRL paper..

The IPCC's 4th assessment report (2007) only mentioned Holgate's 2004 data and ignored his 2007 data (shown in the above graph). In his 2007 paper, Holgate says:
".the two highest decadal ratesof change were recorded in the decades centered on 1980 (5.31 mm/yr) and 1939 (4.68 mm/yr) with the most negative decadal rates of change over the past 100 years during the decades centered on 1964 (-1.49 mm/yr) and 1987 (-1.33 mm/yr). There were also significant high decadal rates of change during the late 1910s, 1950s and 1990s. Negative decadal rates of change are seen in the early 1920s and early 1970s.".

So, where is the evidence for an increase to sea level rate of rise that would threaten coastal military installations? It is not found in the observed seal level changes.

And "Coastal military facilities are threatened by ... more frequent major, damaging weather events such as hurricanes and tornadoes." Really? The article titled "30 -year low for N. Hemisphere tropical cyclone activity" seems pertinent and is at all the article deserves reading, but it begins saying:
"The past two years have seen a "remarkable" downturn in hurricane activity, contradicting predictions of more storms, researchers at Florida State University say. The 2007 and 2008 hurricane seasons had the least tropical activity in the Northern Hemisphere in 30 years, according to Ryan Maue, co-author of a report on Global Tropical Cyclone Activity. "Even though North Atlantic hurricane activity was expectedly above normal, the Western and Eastern Pacific basins have produced considerably fewer than normal typhoons and hurricanes," he said.

Maue's results dovetail with other research suggesting hurricanes are variable and unconnected to global warming predictions, said Stan Goldenberg, a hurricane researcher with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
"The simplistic notion that warmer oceans from global warming automatically lead to more frequent and or stronger hurricanes has not been verified," said Goldenberg, whose research points to periods of high and low hurricane activity that last several decades each.

Maue used a measurement called Accumulated Cyclone Energy (ACE), which combines a storm's duration and its wind speed in six-hour intervals. The years 2007 and 2008 had among the lowest ACE measurements since reliable global satellite data was first available three decades ago.

Northern Hemisphere activity in 2006 was close to average and the previous two years, 2004 and 2005, which included Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, saw among the highest numbers on record.

Active seasons in one ocean tend to be accompanied by quiet ones in the other, Maue said. When the Pacific is cooler, as it is now, the Atlantic has slower winds aloft, which creates more favorable conditions for hurricanes.

"It tells you that from year to year you have large swings of activity," said Maue, who plans to present his work next month at a meeting of the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco. "If you want to find a global warming signal in all that data it's generally going to be rather small."... "

So, where is the evidence for an increase to more frequent major, damaging weather events such as hurricanes and tornadoes that would threaten coastal military installations? It is not found in the observed Atlantic storms.

But "the Pentagon has commissioned a network of scientists to create a model for predicting the impact of storm surges and sea-level rises on military facilities on the Gulf Coast, in the Mid-Atlantic region and in Southern California." Oh!? So the Pentagon is recruiting scientists to provide a model that shows what they want. I can do that if they tell me what they want. Can I have the job, please ?



Evidence that global warming is causing the worldwide declines of amphibians may not be as conclusive as previously thought, according to biologists. The findings, which contradict two widely held views, could help reveal what is killing the frogs and toads and aid in their conservation.

"We are currently in the midst of a sixth mass extinction event," said Peter Hudson, the Willaman professor of biology at Penn State and co-author of the research study. "And amphibians are bearing the brunt of the problem."

Studies suggest that more than 32 percent of amphibian species are threatened and more than 43 percent face a steep decline in numbers.

Much of the massive declines associated with amphibians appear to be centered in places such as Central America and Australia, said Hudson. "It appears to be linked to a chytrid fungus -- Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd) -- which we did not know affected frogs," he added.

There are currently two theories on the extinctions. The first -- chytrid-thermal-optimum hypothesis -- suggests that the declines were triggered by global warming which pushed daytime and nighttime temperatures to converge to levels that are optimal for the growth of the chytrid fungus.

But according to a second theory -- spatiotemporal-spread hypothesis -- amphibian declines were simply driven by the introduction and subsequent spread of the fungus from certain locations. "Our models suggest that both these theories are slightly wrong," added Hudson, director of the Huck Institutes of the Life Sciences at Penn State. "Neither of them fit available data."

More here

Obama is inheriting a very expensive electric car

Expensive for the taxpayer, not for him

You have in GM's Volt a perfect car of the Age of Obama -- or at least the Honeymoon of Obama, before the reality principle kicks in. Even as GM teeters toward bankruptcy and wheedles for billions in public aid, its forthcoming plug-in hybrid continues to absorb a big chunk of the company's product development budget. This is a car that, by GM's own admission, won't make money. It's a car that can't possibly provide a buyer with value commensurate with the resources and labor needed to build it. It's a car that will be unsalable without multiple handouts from government.

The first subsidy has already been written into law, with a $7,500 tax handout for every buyer. Another subsidy is in the works, in the form of a mileage rating of 100 mpg -- allowing GM to make and sell that many more low-mileage SUVs under the cockamamie "fleet average" mileage rules. Even so, the Volt will still lose money for GM, which expects to price the car at up to $40,000.

We're talking about a headache of a car that will have to be recharged for six hours to give 40 miles of gasoline-free driving. What if you park on the street or in a public garage? Tough luck. The Volt also will have a small gas engine onboard to recharge the battery for trips of more than 40 miles. Don't believe press blather that it will get 50 mpg in this mode. Submarines and locomotives have operated on the same principle for a century. If it were so efficient in cars, they'd clog the roads by now. (That GM allows the 50 mpg myth to persist in the press, and even abets it, only testifies to the company's desperation.)

More here

Australian public broadcaster interviews the unclean

By Andrew Bolt

Green alarmist Ticky Fullerton on Lateline Business rings the leper's bell before interviewing warming sceptic Professor Ian Plimer:
He is a geologist, not a climatologist. Ian Plimer by definition works closely with the mining industry.

Then come the questions from a woman who cannot believe a scientist could dare doubt her faith:
You are a greenhouse heretic. Is this scepticism genuine, or it it also about economic self interest?

Still, maybe this is just the ABC's refreshingly hard-hitting style, applied to all who preach on global warming. So let's see if Rajendra Pachauri, head of the IPCC, is similarly introduced on Lateline as "a mining engineer and economist, not a climatologist" who "by definition works closely with green groups and warming believers":
Well, we are joined in the studio by the chairman of the Nobel Prize winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Dr Rajendra Pachuari. Dr Pachauri is an economist, engineer and environmental scientist and he's been the head of the IPCC for the past six years. Just tonight he was awarded an honorary doctorate of science from the University of NSW.

Hmm. No leper's bell there. But perhaps Tim Flannery, then, is introduced as "a paleontologist and mammalogist, not a climatologist" who "by definition works closely with people who pay him to scare us about global warming":
Joining us now is Professor Tim Flannery, arguably Australia's best known popular scientist. He's also the author of The Weather Makers and he was recently named Australian of the Year.

No leper's bell there, either. And no question of the offensive "are you for real, or just for the cash" kind asked of Plimer, whose own many awards didn't get a mention last night.


I missed this classic line from Fullerton, aghast that this scientist dares to defy the real experts:
How can so many governments and the media have got it wrong?

Gosh. Where do I start?



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