Saturday, February 28, 2009

Doing the math on melting ice

An email from Tom Still []

Global warming alarmists who study polar ice behavior delight in using very large numbers to scare the rest of us. In an AP report of a report by a spokesman for the Britian - based Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research says the ice down there is melting "...faster than we thought."

Quoting AP:
The melting "also extends all the way down to what is called west Antarctica," said Colin Summerhayes, executive director ...." of the Britain-based Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research. [...]

By the end of the century, the accelerated melting could cause sea levels to climb by 3 feet to 5 feet ยช- levels substantially higher than predicted by a major scientific group just two years ago.[...]

Summerhayes said the biggest of the western glaciers, the Pine Island Glacier, is moving 40 percent faster than it was in the 1970s, discharging water and ice more rapidly into the ocean. The Smith Glacier, also in west Antarctica, is moving 83 percent faster than in 1992.[...]

Together, all the glaciers in west Antarctica are losing a total of around 114 billion tons per year because the melting is much greater than new snowfall, he said. "That's equivalent to the current mass loss from the whole of the Greenland ice sheet," Summerhayes said.

Looked at another way, it's more weight than 312,000 Empire State Buildings.

114,000,000,000 tons of ice/water per year. Run for the hills!!

But wait.... By my computation the continent of Antarctica contains - get this -- 19,000,000,000,000,000 tons of ice. Assuming that 10% of the ice is West Antarctica Ice Sheet, it would take 167,000 years to melt all that ice at the alarming rate of 114 Bn tons per year.

The area of the oceans is 3,475,000,000,000,000 sq feet. By my calculation, if the WAIS is 10% of all the ice, then it would take 96 years to raise sea levels 12 inches at the alarming rate of 114,000,000,000 tons of melt per year (3,600,000,000,000 cuft).

Mr. Summerhayes says this rapid melt rate may have been going on since 1970 or 1993.

But meanwhile a recent study by Woppelmann et al., cited here indicates that sea level rise has been very constant since 1893.
"... since mean sea-level rose at a constant rate over the entire 114 years [up to and including 2007], it seems highly unlikely that the historical increase in the atmosphere's CO2 content -- which accelerated dramatically over this time interval -- could have been the ultimate cause of the steady mean sea-level rise."

The rapid rate of melt since possibly 1970 (or 1993) apparently has been having no added effect on the rate of sea level rise. So, from now on I will be very careful not to be frightened, at face value by reports of massive ice loss from Antarctica and Greenland. There really is a lot of ice at these two places.

Carbon Regulation: One Scientist's Unscientific Dream?

There's an understandably growing unease about the likely prospect that the Obama administration will soon choose to regulate CO2 as a pollutant. But that disquiet would likely turn quickly to rage if more people knew the truth about the scientific conclusions on which this unprecedented incursion on both industry and individual freedom was based. You see, it appears that those conclusions weren't based on accepted scientific procedure at all, but were instead predetermined -- and perhaps by a single man.

Our story unfolds just weeks after Barbara Boxer's pet cap-and-trade bill -- the Lieberman-Warner Climate Security Act of 2008 -- crashed and burned on the Senate floor last June. The wounded California Democrat called Dr. Roy Spencer before her Senate Environment and Public Works Committee (SEPWC), hoping to punish predominantly Republican dissenters by publicly ridiculing Spencer's positions on climate change.

But much to the scornful Inquisitor's visible chagrin, the climatologist testified quite persuasively that "two modes of natural climate variability -- the El Nino/La Nina phenomenon (Southern Oscillation), and the Pacific Decadal Oscillation" can explain as much as 70% of all measured warming since 1970. Then the former NASA senior scientist lashed out against the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which he accused "has remained almost entirely silent" about the "possible role of internal climate variations in the warming of the last century." They were, after all, commissioned to deal exclusively with human influence on the climate and thereby weren't motivated in the least to find any natural explanations. Unflustered by Boxer's unrelenting rudeness, Spencer recalled a rather remarkable -- and remarkably overlooked -- experience, exposing the bias of the United Nation's sainted climate panel:
"In the early days of the IPCC, I was visiting the head of the White House's Office of Science and Technology Policy -- the director, Dr. Robert Watson, who later became the first Chairman of the IPCC. He informed me and a work associate with me that since we had started to regulate Ozone depleting substances under the 1987 Montreal Protocol, the next goal, in his mind, was to regulate Carbon Dioxide emissions from fossil fuel burning. This was nearly twenty years ago. There was no mention of a scientific basis for that goal. So, as you can see from the beginning of the IPCC process, it has been guided by desired policy outcomes, not science."

Indeed, shortly after leaving OSTP, Watson chaired the panel, where he also acted as both working group leader and editor of its 2001 Third Assessment Report (TAR). That was the report that reignited Al Gore's warming obsession, predicting average surface temperature would increase by 1.4 to 5.8 Celsius degrees over the period of 1990 to 2100. Needless to say, it blamed "human activities," for the "unusual warming" of the twentieth century, relying heavily on immediately challenged computer models and a later debunked millenial-scale record based on climate proxies (the MBH98 reconstruction aka the "hockey stick graph") that diminished the extent of the "Little Ice Age" (1500-1850) and virtually omitted the Medieval Warm Period (800-1300).

Coincidentally, a colleague of Dr. Spencer's, atmospheric scientist John Christy, served as one of the report's lead authors. Dr. Christy, Alabama's State Climatologist, also recalls an interesting conversation -- this one between three fellow TAR contributors at an IPCC lead authors' meeting in New Zealand:
"After introducing myself, I sat in silence as their discussion continued, which boiled down to this: `We must write this report so strongly that it will convince the US to sign the Kyoto Protocol.'"

Not surprisingly, Christy soon found that such unempirical predisposition originated right at the top when he testified along with Watson before John McCain's Senate Commerce, Science, and Justice Committee in May of 2000. The subject was the "Science Behind Global Warming," but the topic-contrary Kyoto-centric statements of the man leading an organization supposedly charged with unbiased research prompted Christy to later write:
"And, while the 2001 report was being written, Dr Robert Watson, IPCC Chair at the time, testified to the US Senate in 2000 adamantly advocating on behalf of the Kyoto Protocol, which even the journal Nature now reports is a failure."

As Dr. Christy added in a recent email, "Thus he was overtly advocating a policy position while heading up the IPCC." Several attempts to contact Dr. Watson for comment produced no response.

Of course, TAR's bias transcended its chairman and a few compromised lead authors. As discussed in two previous pieces, this was the same report the irregularities of which prompted another of its "authors," Dr. Richard Lindzen, to himself testify before the SEPWC. The MIT Professor of Meteorology told the committee that the vast majority of scientists contributing to the full report played virtually no role in preparing the unscientific yet principally cited Summary for Policymakers -- often written to further political agendas and the primary basis of media hype and public understanding -- nor were they given the opportunity to review and approve its contents. And that all scientists were pressured into toeing the IPCC's AGW line and defending its questionable climate models:
"...throughout the drafting sessions, IPCC `coordinators' would go around insisting that criticism of models be toned down, and that `motherhood' statements be inserted to the effect that models might still be correct despite the cited faults. Refusals were occasionally met with ad hominem attacks. I personally witnessed coauthors forced to assert their `green' credentials in defense of their statements."

Reports of such impropriety plague the panel's history. In fact, many of the 650-plus international scientists disputing IPCC methods and conclusions are former or current contributors.

Keep in mind that not only did the propaganda of the 2001 Assessment provide alarming imagery for Al Gore's inconvenient nonsense sci-fi flick, but its inverted scientific method of results preceding data collection and analysis blazed the trail for its 2007 successor's most widely disseminated fabrication -- that the probability that humans burning fossil fuels causes climate change is 90%. The continuous quoting of which has spawned a planet of irrationally self-conscious carbo-phobes and empowered the pernicious policymaking it now faces.....

With green believers ruling both the Executive and Legislative branches, and a Judicial majority voting sympathetically alongside them in April of 2007, these words from Lindzen just one month prior have never rung more foreboding:
"Controlling carbon is a bureaucrat's dream. If you control carbon, you control life."

Needless to say -- our language offers countless pejoratives for governments that control lives through big lies, extortion and intimidation. Not to mention the scientists who formulate or sustain those lies.

More here


Inefficient eco-friendly technologies destroy more jobs than they create.

During the 2008 presidential campaign, Barack Obama promised to transform America's energy economy by creating millions of "green jobs." Accepting his party's nomination at the Democratic convention in Denver, Obama proclaimed: "I'll invest $150 billion over the next decade in affordable, renewable sources of energy-wind power and solar power and the next generation of biofuels; an investment that will lead to new industries and 5 million new jobs that pay well and can't ever be outsourced." This new energy economy, Obama explained weeks later at the second presidential debate in Nashville, would be an "engine of economic growth" to rival the computer and one, moreover, that we could build "easily."

Though he would have quibbled with Obama over details, Republican candidate John McCain similarly praised the virtues of creating millions of these environmentally friendly jobs, both as an answer to the nation's economic woes and as a way to reduce carbon emissions.

In a time of grave economic uncertainty, it's surely positive news that we can agree on the benefits of green jobs, right? Not quite. If the green-jobs claim sounds too good to be true, that's because it is. Holding it up to the light exposes it as economically hollow. Making matters worse, a powerful green-jobs movement has emerged, made up of left-wing antipoverty activists and union leaders, all of them clamoring for a more conventional kind of green: government dollars.

More here

BBC gullibility again

James Lovelock, the British chemist and alleged expert on climate change, suggests that 80% of mankind will be wiped out by climate change and that the hot planet will last for 100,000 years. So persuasive is his assertion that it was asserted on BBC World's HARDtalk as a fact today. What ever happened to science and to journalism?

Lets deal with journalism first. Stephen Sackur, who now fronts HARDtalk, is normally no slouch. He has a solid journalistic career behind him - strong history as a tough foreign correspondent for the BBC and then the solid BBC Washington correspondent - a well respected position and he did sterling work, covering the Lewinsky scandal, Clintonomics and the various forms of Clintongate. He also covered the Bush election by the Supreme Court. He has hosted HARDtalk since 2004, when he replaced journalist and novelist Tim Sebastian. Yet here is talking about science and technology and he quotes this absurb claim by Lovelock as if it were a statement of fact.

Journalists have generally given up on seeking to understand science, but instead look for the next scientist who will say something strange so that they have a "story". This is why we have such a warped view of all sorts of scientific work - climate change, mad cow disease, obesity being good examples. The trick is to take a general position and then find extreme cases which "prove" the position. This is not scientific reporting or indeed journalism. As we lose more and more science trained journalist to be replaced by more and more journalists who have no other education but a degree in journalism (what exactly is that?), then we can expect science reporting to go very strange. This is why people like Dr James Hansen of NASA can get such a strong press coverage - the more outrageous they are (coal trains are "death trains" and coal powered power stations are "factories of death" according to Hansen - see an earlier blog post) the more likely they will be reported, all in the name of science.

Then there is the problem of science, or more accurately, sensationalism masquerading through a person who used to be scientist who has now become a polemicist. Lovelock is today's example - last week it was James Hansen and no doubt others will follow. Lovelock suggests that some 5 billion will die as a result of global warming and climate change and, because he used to be a scientist, this is then presented as some sort of scientifically based "evidence" when in fact it is total speculation (a.k.a. "bullsh*t"). Most people have got to the point when they don't know what to believe, especially when serious journalists report speculation as science. The consequence is that both science and journalism get a bad name and both get exploited by the lunatic fringe who make a living from bullsh*t.

We need some journalistic standards, like triple sourcing and fact checking, to come back into science reporting. We need scientists to stop pretending to be something they are not. We need rational, evidence based conversations. Otherwise, we will just discredit good science, good journalism and rational, evidence based dialogue.



California regulators Thursday adopted the world's first mandatory measures to control highly potent greenhouse gases emitted by the computer manufacturing industry. The new rules would cover 85 plants, mostly in Silicon Valley. They require most computer chip makers to slash releases of sulfur hexafluoride and other fluorinated gases by more than half over the next three years. The chemicals are used in small amounts but "pose a danger to the planet because they have such a high capacity to trap atmospheric heat," said Mary Nichols, chairwoman of the Air Resources Board.

The fluorinated gases are 6,500 to 23,900 times more potent than carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas emitted by automobiles, power plants and refineries, among other sources. A single pound of sulfur hexafluoride has the same heat-trapping potential as 10 metric tons of carbon dioxide, or an automobile trip around the Earth.

The move to control the global-warming impact of the high-tech industry is part of a broad plan to slash the state's greenhouse gas emissions by about 15% by 2020. California's climate plan covers nearly every sector of the economy, including automobiles, power plants and municipal landfills. [...]

Not all companies were pleased. "The financial impact is going to be severe," Gus Ballis, a spokesman for chip maker NEC Electronics America Inc., a subsidiary of NEC Electronics Corp. in Japan, told the board. The Sacramento-area facility, one of California's largest high-tech plants, will have until 2014 to comply because it is retooling. But, Ballis warned, "We're potentially on the chopping block -- whether they are going to keep us or pull our production back to Japan."

Twenty-eight plants account for 94% of fluorinated gas emissions. Twelve already comply with the new standards. The remaining 16 would have to spend a total of $37 million to reduce their emissions, the air board said. An additional 57 facilities release such small amounts that they would only have to meet reporting requirements


Senate may save Australia from destructive Warmist laws

Can the Senate save Kevin Rudd and Penny Wong from their global warming folly? It can, and it might, if it rejects the Government's attempts to prematurely lock Australia into a flawed carbon trading scheme. There is a growing unease in government and Opposition ranks that the Government's plan to push through its climate change legislation by the end of June is too hasty, as more and more questions are raised about its emissions trading scheme. Not least, there is the important question of its timing.

Ask yourself, do you believe that the worst global recession since the Depression, with job losses accelerating, is the time for Australia to introduce a carbon trading scheme that will squeeze growth, jobs and investment? Business certainly doesn't.

The Prime Minister and his Climate Change Minister do. The Government's white paper on its carbon pollution reduction scheme (better known as an emissions trading scheme) was released on December 15, as the world's advanced economies and many others were experiencing the sharpest quarterly contraction in economic growth in decades. It acknowledges the seriousness of the financial and economic crisis but declares this does not mean we can ignore the threat climate change poses to our long-term economic prosperity: "On the contrary, this current crisis makes it more important we secure the long-term prosperity that comes from rebuilding the low pollution economy of the future."

If you swallow this, you presumably also believe the planet faces imminent catastrophe as a result of global warming. The reality is that delaying action for a year or two isn't going to make much difference. Nothing Australia does can have much impact on the stock or flow of global greenhouse gasses, and if the time is used to improve policy we will actually be better off.

The timing issue is raised in an important report prepared in January for a Senate committee by the former head of the Australian Bureau of Agricultural Economics, Brian Fisher, now at Concept Economics. Fisher reviewed Treasury modelling of the economic impact of reducing carbon emissions. "The global financial crisis and its flow-on to the real economy has altered dramatically the context in which Australia will be introducing an emissions trading scheme and taking, in all likelihood, unconditional action to reduce emissions, Fisher says. "By contrast, the Treasury modelling exercise and much of the ... scheme design has assumed, often explicitly, a continuation of strong global and domestic growth, both in the implementation phase of the ETS and in the longer term."

Fisher notes that an ETS imposes a new cost on Australian producers and consumers, and says a critical concern is the impact of this additional cost of production on Australian firms when company balance sheets have deteriorated dramatically, investment plans have been shelved and workers dismissed. In many countries, including Australia, the global financial crisis has reinforced the primacy of economic growth and jobs in national policy debates.

Steven Chu, President Barack Obama's new Secretary of Energy, told The New York Times earlier this month that reaching agreement on emissions trading legislation would be difficult in the present recession because any scheme to regulate greenhouse gas emissions would probably cause energy prices to rise and drive manufacturing jobs to countries where energy was cheaper. Obama officials concede that Congress is unlikely to pass such legislation in time for the international climate change conference in Copenhagen in December to try to agree on a new global treaty to replace the Kyoto Protocol.

The problem is that Rudd and Wong have locked themselves in, even if Rudd the pragmatist would privately like to back off his timetable for introducing an ETS scheme, given the economic crisis. Here is where the Senate comes in. Negotiations are still going on, but one way or another a Senate committee will consider the Government's carbon pollution reduction scheme legislation and it will also be able to consider alternatives.

The opportunity has arisen because of the farce over the Government's announcement that the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Economics would hold an inquiry into "the choice of emissions trading as the central policy to reduce Australia's carbon pollution". Whatever Rudd's intention, this was a major miscalculation on several grounds. The terms of reference clearly suggested the need to consider alternatives to the Government's emissions trading scheme and were widely seen as the Government rethinking its commitment to this scheme. This opened a Pandora's box that the Government has been unable to close by withdrawing the inquiry reference on the risible grounds that Malcolm Turnbull was playing politics with it. What a shock.

The Government is most unlikely to meet its deadline of passing its legislation by June 30 and there is a better than even money chance that the Senate will reject the legislation. The Government will find itself facing an unholy alliance of the Greens, the Nationals and the Liberals, all opposed to the CPRS, if for different reasons.

The Greens' Christine Milne has already declared that having no scheme would be better than being locked into the CPRS, the Nationals will also vote against, and so, if Turnbull has any political nous, will the Liberals. The Government, while no doubt secretly relieved at being rescued from a trap of its own making, will then be able to blame Turnbull for climate change vandalism and threatening the survival of the planet. But while this is a risk, Turnbull has a powerful political card to play. He can legitimately accuse the Government of putting its obsession with introducing an emissions trading scheme by July 2010 ahead of Australian jobs and businesses.

With Australian unemployment rising to 7 per cent on the Government's own forecasts and quite possibly heading higher in an election year, with the impact of world recession, and the Government itself saying the No1 economic issue is jobs, Rudd is likely to be quite vulnerable. More so because he and Wong have conned Australians into believing that they can make a personal contribution to saving the planet under the Government's scheme, when they can't at all. All they are doing is making life easier for carbon-emitting businesses.

A Senate rejection of the ETS in present economic circumstances is in the national interest and it would offer the opportunity to allow an independent body - the Productivity Commission - to look at the Government's scheme without ideological blinkers on.



For more postings from me, see DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


No comments: