Friday, March 27, 2009


The early Pliocene is a bit pesky for Warmists. As far as we can tell, it was much like today in terms of CO2 levels and solar activity. Yet it was much warmer and so sea levels were much higher. But nobody knows why. It is not explained by the "forcings" usually discussed today. Does not that imply that there is much about earth's temperature that we do not understand? If so, should we not be leery of models which claim to predict earth's temperature from a state of such imperfect knowledge? Surely so!

A recent paper does not help much. It claims to explain the phenomernon but the explanation is pathetic. It concludes that in the larger and warmer ocean of the early Pliocene the warm water stetched closer to the pole. Big surprise! In good Greenie fashion, it would seem to be confusing an effect of warming with the cause of it.

Popular summary of the finding below followed by journal abstract

The early Pliocene epoch from 5.3 to about 3 million years ago was much warmer than today. Despite this difference, the early Pliocene climate was very much like the preindustrial present in many important ways--including the amount of solar radiation Earth received, the concentration of atmospheric CO2, and a nearly identical geographic environment. However, there was no permanent ice sheet in the Northern Hemisphere, and global sea level was 25 meters higher. Why then was the world so different? Brierly et al. analyze new and published data about sea surface temperatures 4 million years ago that show that the meridional temperature gradient between the equator and the subtropics was much shallower than it is today, implying that the ocean tropical warm pool was much larger. An atmospheric general circulation model shows what major atmospheric circulation changes such a sea surface temperature field implies, with relevance for how climate warming may affect the future.


Greatly Expanded Tropical Warm Pool and Weakened Hadley Circulation in the Early Pliocene

By Chris M. Brierley et al.

The Pliocene warm interval has been difficult to explain. We reconstructed the latitudinal distribution of sea surface temperature around 4 million years ago, during the early Pliocene. Our reconstruction shows that the meridional temperature gradient between the equator and subtropics was greatly reduced, implying a vast poleward expansion of the ocean tropical warm pool. Corroborating evidence indicates that the Pacific temperature contrast between the equator and 32°N has evolved from 2°C 4 million years ago to 8°C today. The meridional warm pool expansion evidently had enormous impacts on the Pliocene climate, including a slowdown of the atmospheric Hadley circulation and El NiƱo–like conditions in the equatorial region. Ultimately, sustaining a climate state with weak tropical sea surface temperature gradients may require additional mechanisms of ocean heat uptake (such as enhanced ocean vertical mixing).

Science 27 March 2009. Vol. 323. no. 5922, pp. 1714 - 1718


Barack Obama may be forced to delay signing up to a new international agreement on climate change in Copenhagen at the end of the year because of the scale of opposition in the US Congress, it emerged today. Senior figures in the Obama administration have been warning Labour counterparts that the president may need at least another six months to win domestic support for any proposal. Such a delay could derail the securing of a tough global agreement in time for countries and markets to adopt it before the Kyoto treaty runs out in 2012.

American officials would prefer to have the approval of Congress for any international agreement and fear that if the US signed up without it there would be a serious domestic backlash.

Stephen Byers, co-chairman of the International Climate Change Taskforce, said: "The Copenhagen climate change talks in December will come at a difficult moment. The timing couldn't really be worse for the Obama administration. It is vital that this is recognised by the international community. If need be, we should be prepared to give them more time - not to let them off the hook and escape their responsibilities, but ensure they are politically able to sign up to effective international action which reflects the scale of the challenge we face." Byers, a former cabinet minister who has close contacts with senior Democrats in the Obama team, added: "The practical reality is that a delay into 2010 will still leave time for a new international structure to be put in place for 2012 to follow from Kyoto. Such a delay would be a price worth paying to bring the United States into the global effort to tackle climate change."

The White House's new chief science adviser, John Holden, was a member of the climate change taskforce and Todd Stern, one of its advisers, is working with Hillary Clinton at the State Department and will lead negotiations for the US in Copenhagen. Stern has warned it will be a tall order to get congressional approval before Copenhagen.

Obama has committed the US to reducing its emissions to 1990 levels by 2020, but scientists and European governments insist deeper cuts are needed. Obama has suggested that the US could compensate with swifter reductions in the years beyond 2020. His recent budget proposal calls for reducing US emissions roughly 80% by 2050 over 2005 levels.

The British government view, including that of the energy secretary, Ed Miliband, is that the Obama administration can and will strike a deal at Copenhagen, but officials in Washington fear America may be running out of time. They have even been looking at whether an agreement would be seen as an international treaty requiring a two-thirds majority in Congress, or whether it could be forced through as a presidential executive order. But the opposition within America is potentially substantial, and might be hardened if Obama looks like he is presenting Congress with a fait accompli.

There are thought to be as many as 15 Democratic senators who represent "rust-belt" states dependent on coal mining, steel production and heavy manufacturing, all big emitters of carbon. There have also been suggestions that the cost of any climate change legislation may be higher than the $646bn suggested by the Obama administration.

On Tuesday, Obama recommited himself and America to the principle of a "cap and trade" scheme, but said he would try to introduce a regional scheme that would ensure energy prices did not rise uniformly across America.

Stern would prefer to see the US go to Copenhagen with congressional approval, telling a recent symposium: "The optimum would be [climate] legislation that is signed, sealed and delivered. It has been a long time now that countries have been looking for the United States to lead and take action. I think nothing would give a more powerful signal to other countries in the world than to see a significant, major, mandatory American plan."



President Obama was huddled in talks yesterday with congressional Democrats over proposals that would pare his $3.6 trillion budget, raising question marks over how he would fund promises on healthcare, climate change and tax cuts.

Although the President was braced for ferocious opposition from Republicans, who warn that his spending plans will bankrupt America, he also faces growing hostility from a group of fiscally conservative Democrats alarmed by forecasts of a $9.3 trillion (£6.3 trillion) deficit over ten years.

Kent Conrad, chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, outlined a spending plan on Tuesday that would eventually cut annual deficits by two thirds but severely weaken the President's ability to extend health coverage to the uninsured or introduce measures designed to combat global warming.

While Mr Obama had sought a $634 billion "down-payment" for healthcare reform over the next decade, the Senate plan says that this must be paid for through savings elsewhere or tax increases at a later date.

Neither the Senate version - nor the slightly less severe proposal suggested yesterday by the House of Representatives Budget Committee - would include Mr Obama's scheme for a $15 billion a year "cap-and-trade" system on carbon use. This has encountered stiff resistance from Democrats in coalmining states such as the key electoral battlegrounds of Ohio and Pennsylvania, who say that 85 per cent of their energy comes from such fossil fuels and that it could have a devastating effect on a manufacturing sector already stricken by the recession.

Eric Cantor, a member of the Republican leadership in the House, claimed yesterday that Mr Obama's budget was "so far out of the mainstream" that even Democrats were reluctant to support it.



It is gradually dawning on Washington that cap-and-trade legislation won't pass anytime soon--certainly not this year, and probably not next year either. One reason is public opinion: a Gallup survey released last week revealed that "for the first time in Gallup's 25-year history of asking Americans about the trade-off between environmental protection and economic growth, a majority of Americans say economic growth should be given the priority, even if the environment suffers to some extent." Just four years ago, protecting the environment enjoyed a 17-point edge; today, the advantage goes to the economy, 51-42.

The second reason is regional politics. Support for environmental legislation is strongest on the coasts, weakest in the interior areas that depend more heavily on coal-fired power plants. The Midwest, which has already been hit hard by the collapse of manufacturing, would take a second blow. This matters because the Democratic Party is an uneasy coalition between the coasts and the interior, symbolized by bitter fight between Henry Waxman and John Dingell for the chairmanship of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. It is hard to imagine Midwestern Democrats voting for cap-and-trade in current economic circumstances, and perhaps not in any economic circumstances--that is, unless they receive credible assurances of dollar-for-dollar offsets against the higher costs their constituents would have to bear.

This reality creates two difficulties for the Obama administration. On the fiscal front, the administration is counting on $629 billion in revenues from cap-and-trade to pay for the Making Work Pay tax credit and its proposed spending on clear energy technology. Failure to pass cap-and-trade would force the administration to choose between cherished programs and an even higher budget deficit, already estimated by the CBO at $9.3 trillion over the next decade. On the diplomatic front, when the Copenhagen Climate Conference convenes this December, the administration faces the prospect of showing up empty-handed. Senior officials acknowledge the potential embarrassment for a president so clearly determined to assert American global leadership on energy and environmental issues but see no easy way out.

In the face of these inconvenient developments, the administration's options are limited. If the president remains committed to Making Work Pay and clean energy investment, he will probably have to agree to equivalent spending reductions elsewhere, because fiscal moderates within his own party will insist. Internationally, the president's team would be wise to prepare other key participants in the Copenhagen conference for the near-certainty that the stance of the United States on emissions reductions will be based mostly on good intentions rather than settled policy. The administration, quite simply, won't be close to meeting its own standards of success on environmental issues--and it is hard to erect credibility on a foundation of overpromising and underperforming.



One by one, the energy giants that hoisted green flags and trumpeted their conversion to renewables are ducking and diving and hiding behind the curtains. Iberdrola, a big investor in wind farms in Spain and the owner of ScottishPower, is slashing its spending on renewables by 40 per cent. Shell said recently it would no longer invest in wind turbines, preferring to focus its efforts on new biofuel technology, while BP has opted out of the UK renewables market, deeming it to be a poor bet.

It is tempting to see the great push for renewable energy in Europe as a fair-weather phenomenon. The performance of Britain's turbines is a case in point - for much of January they were operating at about 10 per cent of capacity.

That should be no surprise, given that periods of severe cold (or heat) coincide with lack of wind, but it doesn't help when a utility is trying to deliver power into the grid, not to mention returns to its shareholders. These issues are critical, because we need to begin building more power capacity today if we are to avoid blackouts by 2015 when we are committed to closing old coal-fired power stations.

All of this is embarrassing for a Government that likes to portray itself as the champion of green causes. But it is pointless for Ed Miliband, the Minister for Energy and Climate Change, to berate utilities for not building stuff that is uneconomic and, anyway, cannot be relied upon to deliver the power we need at the flick of a switch.


Australian interest in environment issues wanes as Facebook group urges Earth Hour power ON

An anti-Earth Hour group urging Australians to keep their lights blazing this weekend is a sign of waning interest in environmentalism, experts say. The global Earth Hour movement – founded in Australia in 2007 – is asking people to switch off their lights for one hour on Saturday night. But a Facebook group is urging people to "keep every light you own running during Earth Hour".

The group urges people to protest by switching lights on "if you think turning the lights out for an hour is completely ridiculous and will change nothing". "Or if you just think people who really believe global warming is a giant threat are dumb, join this group to keep every light you own running during Earth Hour."

Group member Alexander Woodhouse says: "The Earth Hour makes people feel like they've done their share and makes them sleep better... that's nice for them but it doesn't really help the earth." Another member wrote: "I don't believe the vast majority of those participating have given it enough thought to get to that point. ‘It's helping! I don't know how, but it's helping! I'm helping! I don't have to do anything else because I'm doing this now! Go me!'"

Australians have been losing interest in environmentalism for years, says social analyst David Chalke, who leads the annual AustraliaSCAN survey, a cultural change monitor established in 1992. "Absolutely the GFC (global financial crisis) has accelerated a decline in interest in environmentalism that was already going on,” Mr Chalke said. "Environmentalism has been in decline among the Australian public for the last five or six years. "The notion that we’re all becoming more environmentally concerned is not true. We get concerned occasionally when (global warming activist) Tim Flannery tells us we’re all going to die – but it’s not a genuine fundamental shift in values. "The impending recession has focussed people’s minds and priorities and clearly they are much more focussed of my job, my family, my house, rather than the more distant and esoteric idea of climate change. The attitude is: if the climate changes we’ll live with it."

Earth Hour will see lights go out in 82 countries and more than 2400 towns between 8.30pm and 9.30pm (local time) tomorrow night. Organisers hope one billion people will switch off. But practical measures – like demand for candles - suggest interest in the initiative has dipped this year. Last year, nearly 10,000 candles were ordered by a Caulfield candle business in Melbourne to cope with the demand during Earth Hour, but shop owner Roy Merrington said demand had dropped markedly, The Age reported. "I would like to think we would do the same (trade), but we will probably do half that," Mr Merrington said. "People's attention is elsewhere … the conversation about the health of the planet is on the back burner, because people are paranoid about money — and quite rightly."



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1 comment:

John A said...


"American officials would prefer to have the approval of Congress for any international agreement and fear that if the US signed up without it there would be a serious domestic backlash."

Prefer? Actually, it is legally required, as is any treaty. Both houses of Congress must sign off on them. All Gory is certainly aware of this, since he signed Kyoto for the US only to get home and find that 99 of 100 Senators (one was not present for the vote) had tossed it.