Monday, November 10, 2008

Naughty Russia is still using CFCs!

Haven't they heard about the ozone hole and the Montreal treaty?

Twenty people died of gas poisoning and another 22 were injured in an accident on a Russian nuclear submarine in the Sea of Japan that revived memories of the Kursk submarine disaster in 2000. The submarine's nuclear reactor was not damaged and background radiation levels in the naval testing zone where the accident occurred were "normal," a naval spokesman said.

"During sea trials of a nuclear-powered submarine of the Pacific Fleet the firefighting system went off unsanctioned, killing over 20 people, including servicemen and workers," said Captain Igor Dygalo, the navy's spokesman.

The high-speed attack submarine was being tested after a construction process that began in 1991 and became bogged down after the Soviet collapse. State media said the vessel had been due to be delivered to India's navy.

Officials said three naval officers and 17 civilians had died in the accident. Capt Dygalo said the victims included servicemen and shipyard workers who had been participating in the trials. Autopsies showed the victims died from inhaling freon gas released into part of the submarine when its fire extinguishing system activated for reasons that are unclear, news agencies quoted Vladimir Markin, spokesman for the federal investigative committee, as saying.

Although the crew were issued with portable breathing devices, "it's probable the submariners didn't notice the inflow of gas and when they felt it, it was already too late," RIA Novosti quoted an unidentified official at navy headquarters as saying. The injured were evacuated from the stricken submarine aboard an accompanying ship and were taken to hospital to be treated for poisoning, Pacific Fleet hospital officials said. Their lives were not thought to be in danger.


British police warn of growing threat from eco-terrorists

Fear of deadly attack by lone maverick as officers alert major firms to danger of green extremism

Police have warned of the growing threat of eco-terrorism after revealing they are investigating a group which has supporters who believe that reducing the Earth's population by four-fifths will help to protect the planet. Officers from a specialist unit dedicated to tackling domestic terrorism are monitoring an eco-movement called Earth First! which has advocates who state that cutting the Earth's population by 80 per cent will ease pressure on other species. Officers are concerned a 'lone maverick' eco-extremist may attempt a terrorist attack aimed at killing large numbers of Britons.

The National Extremism Tactical Co-ordination Unit, which collates intelligence and advice to police forces, has revealed that eco-activists are researching a list of target companies which they believe are major polluters or are exacerbating the threat of climate change. The unit is currently monitoring blogs and internet traffic connected to a network of UK climate camps and radical environmental movements under the umbrella of Earth First!, which has claimed responsibility for a series of criminal acts in recent months.

A senior source at the unit said it had growing evidence of a threat from eco-activists. 'We have found statements that four-fifths of the human population has to die for other species in the world to survive. 'There are a number of very dedicated individuals out there and they could be dangerous to other people.'

Earth First! says its mission is 'about direct action to halt the destruction of the Earth' and advocates 'civil disobedience and monkeywrenching', tactics that include sabotage and disruptive behaviour. The movement has links to US environmental extremists which have waged a campaign of violence in America, including the firebombing of a string of 4x4 car dealerships in California in 2003 and alleged arson attacks on other property. The anti-extremist unit has already alerted a number of major companies which have been accused of being carbon polluters with advice on how they can withstand being targeted by eco-terrorists. Companies are thought to include airport operator BAA, an international mining conglomerate BHP Billiton and firms connected to UK coal-fired power stations.

'They are doing research of possible targets, looking at shareholders and financiers. For example, they could research an airline and see how many of its aircraft are not environmentally friendly,' said the NETCU source.

Although green extremists have yet to embark on an orchestrated campaign of violence in the UK, officers warn that they may be about to launch a campaign of intimidation and fear aimed at disrupting businesses. 'For some people, if they can justify it in their minds, then it's a noble cause even if it's a criminal action. They haven't started yet, but we believe they will come up with a strategy and tactics,' said the source at the unit, who described the movement as well-funded and organised.

A spate of recent attacks, for which Earth First! supporters have claimed responsibility, has included vandalism of branches of seven German banks such as Deutsche Bank and Allianz AG. The actions were apparently because the banks hold shares in UK Coal, which plans to build new coal-fired power stations.

A statement on the Earth First! website explains the attacks by saying: 'Exploitation of the environment and people by the state and industry go hand in hand. They cannot be separated and both must be attacked. Social war, not climate chaos.'

Another attack hit a quarry in Staffordshire which belongs to Bardon Aggregates, a company hat also owns a controversial quarry at Glensanda on the north-west coast of Scotland. The Scottish quarry is accused of spoiling the Highlands environment. The Earth First! website states: 'We slashed tyres, stripped paint jobs, glued locks and trashed conveyor belts. All the earth movers were hit and many of the cement and aggregate trucks. This action cost us very little but should cost Bardon thousands.'

Among the network of groups under the Earth First! umbrella are various climate camps. Last August police found a stash of knives and weapons beside one such camp in Kent. Protesters, however, said they had nothing to do with the weapons and accused police of launching a 'smear campaign'.

A spokesman for Derby Earth First! said the movement was strictly non-violent, if not always law-abiding. He said: 'If someone does ecological damage we would perhaps break the law and protect the ecology, but the ecology also includes humans. 'We're all about communities. Capitalism is the problem and we want to return to a more sustainable time. But we are not about reducing the population, that is just scaremongering by the police.'

The rise of eco-extremism coincides with the fall of the animal rights activist movement. Police said the animal rights movement was in 'disarray' and that its ringleaders had either been prosecuted or were awaiting prosecution, adding that its 'critical mass' of hardcore extremists was sufficiently depleted to have halted its effectiveness. Last Thursday a prominent animal rights activist accused of planting petrol bombs at Oxford University was cleared of possessing an explosive substance with intent.

Reports on the Earth First! Journal website, which tells users how to send encrypted emails, reveals connections to the Earth Liberation Front (ELF) which has been linked to a series of violent attacks in the US. ELF was classified as the top domestic terrorism threat in the US by the FBI in March 2001. The ELF was founded in 1992 in Brighton by members of the Earth First! movement who wanted to form a breakaway group that would use more extreme tactics.


EU target to limit warming of the planet to no more than 2 degrees Celsius may not be 'technically achievable'

A European Union target to limit warming of the planet to no more than 2 degrees Celsius may not be technically achievable, the International Energy Agency said in a report to be published next week. "Even leaving aside any debate about the political feasibility ... it is uncertain whether the scale of the transformation envisaged is even technically achievable, as the scenario assumes broad development of technologies that have not yet been proven," said the IEA's World Energy Outlook. That analysis referred to a target to limit global warming to no more than 2 degrees.

The implication is that the world may have to accept higher warming limits than targeted at present, for example by the EU since 1996, and prepare for effects which scientists say will include more droughts, floods and rising seas. A United Nations climate panel said last year that above 3 degrees "hundreds of millions of people (would be) exposed to increased water stress (shortages)."

Stronger action to fight climate change involves rapidly escalating costs, for example to deploy expensive, untested technologies such as carbon scrubbers and even to leave stranded assets -- where high-carbon coal plants, for example, have to be closed prematurely. "It will be necessary to face up to the reality of the cost of early capital retirement if radical measures are to be taken ... to deliver deep cuts in emissions," the IEA said in its report, due to be published on Nov. 12. The IEA is energy adviser to 28 industrialised countries.

The IEA analysed two scenarios to limit warming to 2 degrees and 3 degrees, and estimated that these would cost about $180 and $90 per tonne of carbon dioxide emissions respectively. The present EU carbon price is about 18 euros ($23.20), and accounts for about one fifth of European consumer electricity prices, say analysts.

"The scale of the challenge ... is immense," the IEA said of a 2 degrees target. "The technology shift, if achievable, would certainly be unprecedented in scale and speed of deployment." The EU Council of Ministers stated in 1996 that it "believes that global average temperatures should not exceed 2 degrees above pre-industrial level."


The Fingerprint Controversy Part-2

SEPP Science Editorial #11 (11/8/08)

Using the observational data and model results of the IPCC and of the government-supported Climate Change Science Program (CCSP), NIPCC has demonstrated a major disagreement between modeled and observed fingerprints of temperature trends. The NIPCC conclusion, opposed to that of the IPCC, is that the human contribution to warming is not significant.

Not surprisingly, the NIPCC report [Singer et al 2008] and a research paper by Douglass et al [2007] have come under attack from supporters of the IPCC. The latest such attack, a just-published paper by Ben Santer and 16 coauthors [hereafter S17] claims that there is something wrong with the observational data -- and also that the uncertainties are so large that there is no longer a discrepancy between models and observations.

We are of course replying and confident that we will prevail. However, it is interesting that S17, in the process of attacking NIPCC, necessarily also attack the data used in CCSP Report 1.1 [2006] and in the IPCC report [2007]. These data, which NIPCC used without any change, have been "superseded," according to S17 - although S17 never state so explicitly. We wonder therefore whether there will be formal corrections issued for the CCSP and IPCC reports to take account of the new "corrected" data.

A note: It is perfectly natural that results from data can change based on better analyses. But unless one audits the raw data and analysis methods used by S17, there is little an outside observer can do. However, we should caution against any hasty adoption of corrections to data analysis -- and particularly if they have just been published and not yet been properly vetted. We know from the experience of the infamous hockey-stick that the refereeing process is often quite casual and not designed to discover underlying errors in the analysis. We also note with regret that one of the key papers cited by S17 has not even been published, it is listed as "in press."


'Proof' we are causing polar warming melts away in the cold light of reality

No doubt some readers will have been alarmed by your report (31 October) that scientists from the University of East Anglia's climate research unit claim to have "finally" proved human behaviour is responsible for warming at the north and south poles, leading the public to assume the ice caps are melting. This alarm may have been tempered somewhat by the disclosure that the so-called "scientific" proof was the result of yet another computer simulation, which, almost by definition, bears no relationship to reality.

The facts can be easily verified and are somewhat different. The Antarctic has shown no general warming trend in the past 30 years, whether one uses ground station records or satellite or weather balloon data, nor is there any evidence of diminishing sea ice extent. In 2007, the Antarctic winter sea ice maximum was at an all-time high and 2008 levels have been consistent with the long-term average.

The Arctic has shown a warming of about 1C since 1995 and there has been some reduction in ice coverage. A recent Nasa study found the warming was probably due to changed ocean currents carrying greater amounts of warm water into the Arctic basin from the Pacific and Atlantic.

However, recently there has been yet another change in ocean circulation patterns and Arctic ice is once again close to average values for this time of year. It remains to be seen whether this Arctic cooling trend will continue.

On the basis of real data, there is no likelihood of the Antarctic ice cap melting nor of the Greenland ice cap sliding into the sea and causing a 7m rise in sea levels, as has been fancifully suggested. The Argo buoy system launched in 2003 to search for increasing ocean temperatures can find none, nor can the Topex/Poseidon satellite find any evidence of rapidly rising global sea levels, unless you call 2.5mm per year rapid.

The climate industry relies on alarmism to maintain a steady flow of research grants and financial contributions but none of its apocalyptic visions are coming to pass. Politicians should take note.


Not Enough CO2 in Fossil Fuels to Make Oceans Acidic

A Note from Professor Ian Plimer, Professor of Geology at the University of Adelaide

The oceans have remained alkaline during the Phanerozoic (last 540 million years) except for a very brief and poorly understood time 55 million years ago. Rainwater (pH 5.6) reacts with the most common minerals on Earth (feldspars) to produce clays, this is an acid consuming reaction, alkali and alkaline earths are leached into the oceans (which is why we have saline oceans), silica is redeposited as cements in sediments, the reaction consumes acid and is accelerated by temperature.

In the oceans, there is a buffering reaction between the sea floor basalts and sea water. Sea water has a local and regional variation in pH (pH 7.8 to 8.3). It should be noted that pH is a log scale and that if we are to create acid oceans, then there is not enough CO2 in fossil fuels to create oceanic acidity because most of the planet's CO2 is locked up in rocks. When we run out of rocks on Earth or plate tectonics ceases, then we will have acid oceans.

In the Precambrian, it is these reactions that rapidly responded to huge changes in climate (-40 deg C to +50 deg C), large sea level changes (+ 600m to -640m) and rapid climate shifts over a few thousand years from 'snowball' or 'slushball' Earth to very hot conditions (e.g. Neoproterozoic cap carbonates that formed in water at ~50 deg C lie directly on glacial rocks). During these times, there were rapid changes in oceanic pH and CO2 was removed from the oceans as carbonate. It is from this time onwards (750 Ma) that life started to extract huge amounts of CO2 from the oceans, life has expanded and diversified and this process continues (which is why we have low CO2 today.

The history of CO2 and temperature shows that there is no correlation. Ask your local warmer:

1. Why was CO2 15 times higher than now in the Ordovician-Silurian glaciation?

2. Why were both methane and CO2 higher than now in the Permian glaciation?

3. Why was CO2 5 times higher than now in the Cretaceous-Jurassic glaciation?

The process of removing CO2 from the atmosphere via the oceans has led to carbonate deposition (i.e. CO2 sequestration). The atmosphere once had at least 25 times the current CO2 content, we are living at a time when CO2 is the lowest it has been for billions of years, we continue to remove CO2 via carbonate sedimentation from the oceans and the oceans continue to be buffered by water-rock reactions (as shown by Walker et al. 1981).

The literature on this subject is large yet the warmers chose to ignore this literature. These feldspar and silicate buffering reactions are well understood, there is a huge amount of thermodynamic data on these reactions and they just happened to be omitted from argument by the warmers. When ocean pH changes, the carbon species responds and in more acid oceans CO2 as a dissolved gas becomes more abundant.



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