Wednesday, August 19, 2009

A climate skeptic gets it right

An email from Will Alexander [] in South Africa. HIS predictions come true -- and the ability to predict events is the ultimate test of any scientific theory. None of the Greenie "models" have managed it yet -- unless you believe the mysteriously "massaged" statistics of James Hansen and his colleagues at GISS

Some of your readers may be aware that my colleagues and I have developed and verified a multi-year, regional, hydrometeorological prediction model. Last year my article titled Likelihood of a Global Drought in 2009 -- 2016 was published in the South African Civil Engineer, circulation 8,000. The drought has just started in parts of South Africa.

On 12 August our Minister of Water and Environmental Affairs announced that parts of the lower Limpopo River catchment have been declared a water supply disaster area. This is in the far northern region of South Africa. The Albasini Dam that supplies the Louis Trichardt area is only 26 percent full. The Middle Letaba Dam is only 6 percent full.

On Sunday 16 August, prayers for rain were held in George, which is in the southern coastal area of South Africa. The dams in this region are also at a very low level. These two events not only confirm my prediction but also the views of others that global climatic disturbances are on the way. How will they affect the Copenhagen discussions and beyond?

Our predictions were based on observation theory applied to a wealth of hydrometeorological data. The essence was the presence of statistically significant, 95 percent, 21-year periodicity in the data. The periodicity is synchronous with variations in solar activity. This provided the causal relationships but was not necessary for the predictions. These were based solely on the observed periodicity in the data, whatever its cause.

Despite a prolonged and thorough study we were unable to detect any unexplained anomalies in the data that could be attributed to human activities. It is unlikely that our studies will influence the Copenhagen discussions, but hopefully all those participating in the discussions will have the sense to consider the likely future consequences regardless of the outcome of the discussions.

Recall the United Nations Secretary General's recent appeal. We have just four months to secure the future of our planet. If we fail to act, climate change will intensify droughts, floods and other natural disasters. Water shortages will affect hundreds of millions of people. Malnutrition will engulf large parts of the developing world. Tensions will worsen. Social unrest - even violence - could follow.

It is an all or nothing declaration with no room for uncertainties or degrees of probability. There is no way whatsoever that any emissions control measures that the world undertakes can meaningfully reduce the future occurrence of extreme floods, droughts, and threats to water resources. These are as inevitable as night follows the day. Now consider the consequences when these climatic extremes occur in the years ahead.

Here in South Africa with our economic problems, unemployment and poverty what will be the social and political consequences of the unfulfilled assurances? What will be the consequences in the African countries to the north of us? They have neither the finances nor the scientific expertise to evaluate the measures that will be agreed to at Copenhagen. Like many other nations, they rely on the knowledge and integrity of the developed nations of the world who insist that these measures be implemented.

What about the international relations, particularly the reaction of those nations that have been forced to adopt stringent emissions control measures, which the subsequent events will demonstrate are fruitless? Also, what about all those countries that accepted the IPCC recommendations in good faith? What about the universal perception of science as an honourable profession?

The assumption that large financial donations from the affluent countries will solve these difficulties is nonsensical. In my position as a member of United Nations Scientific and Technical Committee Natural Disasters we discussed all these possible preventative and adaptation measures in detail.

The problems have not yet been solved. This United Nations body is still functioning. It will serve no purpose to duplicate its work based on decades of experience with the nonsensical proposals that we see in the climate change literature.

If no agreement is reached at Copenhagen, this will not solve the problem. It will only worsen it. The whole climate change issue will become a blame game where the developed nations blame the developing nations for the breakdown and its consequences. The threats to international trade and cooperation in other fields are obvious.

The latest melting glacier scare

The Warmists are crowing about this report but with a complete lack of logic. If the glacier were melting due to global warming, lots of other glaciers should be melting similarly but the report itself notes that what is happening at this glacier is anomalous (See the last sentence below). So WHY IS it melting? There is a cogent suggestion at the foot of the article

One of the largest glaciers in Antarctica is thinning four times faster than it was 10 years ago, according to research seen by the BBC. A study of satellite measurements of Pine Island glacier in west Antarctica reveals the surface of the ice is now dropping at a rate of up to 16m a year. Since 1994, the glacier has lowered by as much as 90m, which has serious implications for sea-level rise.

The work by British scientists appears in Geophysical Research Letters. The team was led by Professor Duncan Wingham of University College London (UCL).

Calculations based on the rate of melting 15 years ago had suggested the glacier would last for 600 years. But the new data points to a lifespan for the vast ice stream of only another 100 years. The rate of loss is fastest in the centre of the glacier and the concern is that if the process continues, the glacier may break up and start to affect the ice sheet further inland.

One of the authors, Professor Andrew Shepherd of Leeds University, said that the melting from the centre of the glacier would add about 3cm to global sea level. "But the ice trapped behind it is about 20-30cm of sea level rise and as soon as we destabilise or remove the middle of the glacier we don't know really know what's going to happen to the ice behind it," he told BBC News.

"This is unprecedented in this area of Antarctica. We've known that it's been out of balance for some time, but nothing in the natural world is lost at an accelerating exponential rate like this glacier."


A comment from Hermann Burchard []

There is a subglacial volcano near Antarctica's Pine Island glacier, which could explain recent rapid melting of the glacier, as reported by BBC. Wikipedia has a paragraph on this, with the last sentence stating: "The presence of the volcano raises the possibility that volcanic activity could have contributed, or may contribute in the future, to increases in the flow of the glacier."

"Cleaner" coal a real possibility?

This might help politicians save face after making promises to the Greenies that they cannot keep. Quite aside from the chimerical carbon capture and storage possibilities, the greater thermal efficiency of the new process should cut down greatly on coal usage

A UNIVERSITY of Queensland scientist said yesterday he had successfully tested technology that delivers twice the power from coal while minimising greenhouse gas emissions. The exciting breakthrough, which could provide a billion-dollar windfall for the state, may revolutionise the way the world uses coal, a university spokesman said.

Professor John Zhu, of the school of chemical engineering, created a series of direct carbon fuel cells (DCFC) in which burning coal generates highly energy-efficient electricity. ''The very high-energy efficiency of the new technology will effectively halve the amount of coal required to create electricity,'' he said. ''When applied, it will provide industry with very significant cost and energy savings, which could then be passed on to the consumer. In addition to saving cost and energy, the direct carbon fuel cells will also provide clean power.''

Dr Zhu, 41, a father of three girls, said he worked in a ''hot and dirty'' steel factory in Hubei provence in central China while studying engineering. ''I have always wanted to do something for a cleaner environment. Now I'm feeling very positive,'' he said. Dr Zhu, the son of a primary school teacher, said traditional power stations, which burnt coal to heat water to make steam to power turbines, were outmoded. He said his process used a coal and air mix to produce electrons inside special carbon fuel cells. He said scientists in California were working on a similar process, but he believed he and his team at the university had beaten them to the punch.

He said he expected the fuel cells would enable the byproduct of coal-fired power - the harmful greenhouse gas carbon dioxide - to be trapped and stored easily and safely. ''One of the major challenges for coal-fired power is reducing its impact on the environment by developing ways to separate carbon dioxide from other gases produced in the power generation process, and ensuring it is not released into the atmosphere,'' he said. ''The DCFC produces pure carbon dioxide as a byproduct, making it much easier to manage."

He said the next stage in the development would involve consulting with the energy sector and securing industry and government funding to ''scale up'' the fuel cell technology. This could take 10 years.

Professor Graham Schaffer, dean of the university's Faculty of Engineering, Architecture and Information Technology, said the new fuel cell technology was one of a number of clean energy technologies being developed at the university. ''Partnerships with industry and government have enabled our researchers to make significant progress towards these new technologies,'' he said.



Reuters has prepared a nice graphic of the three emissions scenarios considered in a recently published report by a panel from the National Development and Reform Commission and the Development Research Center of the State Council. The panel has previewed its findings a number of times over the past several months, but has now formally published them in 2050 China Energy and CO2 Emissions Report. Feast your eyes on a climate death sentence:

There is no guarantee that the Chinese government will translate any of the report's recommendations into domestic action or policy, much less make them part of its Copenhagen negotiation strategy, but the disturbing fact is that there is no chance, let me repeat that, NO CHANCE, China will agree to any scenario better that the "Enhanced Low Carbon" approach, and that isn't good enough.

I base my "no chance" assessment on the simple fact that China's top leadership will only commit to actions that have been thoroughly studied and for which costs have been estimated. This is the only purely domestic effort (there have been a few private studies: McKinsey's "China's green revolution" and the UK's Tyndall Centre China's Energy Transition: Pathways for Low Carbon Development) that has studied the issue and estimated costs; its conclusions, therefore, will inform and guide public policy to the extent China is inclined to budge from its current "no limits" official position.

In the best case scenario (which I still consider to be extremely unlikely), sometime between now and whenever a Copenhagen deal is struck (which could be after the December meeting itself), China will put in place or signal commitment to actions that will allow it to embark upon the "Low Carbon" path. China will demand significant concessions in terms of money and technology transfers to get it to the "Enhanced Low Carbon" path. Of course, there is no way those will be forthcoming from the US, especially given the relentless drumbeat from some sectors that China is beating the US in the cleantech race.

Let's assume by some miracle China does pursue the "Enhanced Low Carbon" path without strings attached. Look at the numbers and tell me how we get to an 80% reduction in global emissions in 2050? We don't. The Cost of Energy Blog has run the numbers, using all the favorite base years. Can anyone suggest how we reach a 450, much less a 350, ppm world with those kinds of emissions levels from China?



European companies are finding it increasingly difficult to covert research into innovation as politicians turn to the precautionary principle and Europeans reject science as a 'force of evil', argues David Zaruk, an environmental health risk consultant, in an interview with EurActiv. "Science is paying a big price in Europe because of the precautionary principle, both in terms of lost opportunities for innovation and loss of trust in science," said Zaruk, who is also a senior research associate at the Institute for European Studies at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel. Zaruk holds a PhD in philosophy and has a background in communicating science in the chemicals sector.

The most-used definition of the precautionary principle in the EU is that formulated by the European Environment Agency, he said: "Until you have enough information to be certain about something, you should take precautions." This definition has reversed the burden of proof, taking it away from policymakers and putting it onto industry and academia, Zaruk explained. "Before, scientists could develop an innovation and market it, after it was up to others to prove and test that it is dangerous. Now, you need to prove something is safe before it can be marketed."

He said EU chemicals regulation REACH was a good example of the reversal of the burden of proof: "During the process, the whole point of REACH shifted from ensuring the safe use of chemicals to that of substitution. But how can you prove that substitutes are safe?"

According to him, scientific exploration has become extremely difficult in the EU, research is not encouraged and researchers are now held "guilty until proven innocent". 'Precaution was created as a tool for policy, by those who think science has gone too far," Zaruk argued. "Precautionary logic entails that not being right is not the same as being wrong. In other words, if you use the precautionary principle, you are never wrong," he continued, stressing that "for policymakers, it is much more attractive to never be wrong than to take the risk and be right."

"We need a little bit of political courage. Precaution is a policy tool for cowards, because if you are never wrong, you don't have to take risks or be responsible for any indirect negative consequences." But while it is easy to hide behind precaution when making difficult decisions, "you affect people when you stop research" by denying them potential future benefits of nanotech research, for example, he said. "I used to believe that if you can communicate science clearly to politicians and the public, you can get better policies and improve public perception. But I'm not that optimistic anymore," Zaruk said.

"Increasingly, facts don't matter very much," he said, claiming that despite its goal of becoming a knowledge-based society, Europe is "more and more an influence-based society" in which science is under attack from "eco-religious fundamentalists," he argued.


Australia: Face-saving deal struck on renewable energy

It is setting a totally unrealistic goal that will not be reached and everyone knows that but it is meant to tell the Greenies that they have been listened to. It will however lead to a lot of useless spending of taxpayer funds on windmills etc. But there has already been a lot of that in Australia and in most of the developed world. Even India seems to have been conned into it

AUSTRALIA is in for a huge boost in renewable energy after the Federal Government and the Opposition agreed to a deal. The deal, agreed today, will see the Government's Bill to have 20 per cent of electricity come from renewable sources by 2020 pass the Senate.

"The Opposition's key concerns have been met by the Government," Opposition climate change spokesman Greg Hunt said in Canberra. "We are delighted that Australia is set to have renewable energy legislation, and the Coalition will support the renewable energy target of 20 per cent for Australia."

Opposition emissions trading spokesman Andrew Robb said there was now "100 per cent bipartisan support" for the Bill. "The position we got to with the Government has had the unanimous support of the Coalition party room, which is a great result," he said.

The Senate is due to continue debating the Renewable Energy Target (RET) bill this afternoon and a vote is expected tomorrow. The Senate last week voted down the proposed emissions trading scheme, which is separate to the RET.



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.


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