Thursday, September 17, 2009

Greenland 'could melt faster than thought'

This panic below is rather amusing in the light of my leading post of two days ago (Showing that Greenland is cooling). Greenland certainly COULD do various things but whether it is and whether it will are the questions

The Greenland icesheet responded to global warming over the past 10,000 years more quickly than thought, according to a study. As a result, a medium-sized temperature increase this century could cause the continent-sized ice block to start melting at an alarming rate, it suggests. "It is entirely possible that a future temperature increase of a few degrees Celsius in Greenland will result in a icesheet mass loss and contribution to sea level rise larger than previously projected," it warns.

Greenland contains enough water to raise sea levels by about seven metres. Even a far more modest increase would put major coastal cities under water and force hundreds of millions of people out of their homes.

Until recently, experts were confident that the planet's two icesheets - in Greenland and Antarctica - would remain largely stable over the coming centuries despite global warming. But more recent studies have cast doubt on this, showing the pace at which glaciers are sliding off from both icesheets into the oceans has picked up over recent decades.

The new paper, published in the British journal Nature, uses a new technique for measuring changes in the icesheet over the last 10,000 years that resolves a paradox. Earlier measurements suggested that parts of Greenland had somehow defied a trend of general warming in the northern hemisphere during a 3000-year period that started some 9000 years ago.

The new research, led by Bo Vinther of the University of Copenhagen in Denmark, demonstrates that the problem lay with how the the raw data had been interpreted. The team examined core samples taken from four locations from the icesheet, which reaches depths of more than three kilometres. As with earlier studies, the results were inconsistent.

But with the help of two new samples taken from two areas just beyond the icesheet, the researchers were able to determine that the variations were due to changes in height, not because of inconsistent warming. "The elevation itself causes different temperatures," Mr Vinther said. As a consequence, the icesheet responded more uniformly - and more vigorously - to rising temperatures during this period.



By Pierre Jutras, Department of Geology, Saint Mary's University, Halifax, NS, Canada


It is generally assumed that the current trend of global warming is detrimental to humanity and ecosystems in general. However, the geological record clearly indicates that the global ecosystem thrives during greenhouse ages and declines during ice ages, such as the one that we are presently experiencing. These observations on the long-term geological record are never part of the debate on global warming, which is usually constrained to the last few hundred years, or thousands of years at best.

Clearly, this does not bring enough perspective, as we have to go back 35 million years to get out of the current ice age, which started with the birth of an ice sheet on Antarctica. Since then, ecosystems have been experiencing tremendous stress due to the gradual deterioration of global climate. The current trend of global warming is but a small notch in a large scale trend of global cooling that started over 100 million years ago. Prior to then, in Early Cretaceous times, the carbon dioxide levels of the atmosphere were more than six times those of today, allowing life to flourish more than it had ever done since the early Paleozoic (i.e., since the previous greenhouse age).

The current long-term cooling trend is caused by several orogenic events, which increase the erosional rates of calcium and magnesium from the crust to the oceans, and which therefore promote the long-term storage of carbon into carbonate rocks. Most of these orogenic events are still going on today (Himalayas, Alps, Rockies, Andes, etc.), and the current ice age is therefore destined to keep aggravating. unless we release a sufficient amount of the atmospheric carbon that is presently locked in fossil fuels.

From paper 106 presented at the International Conference on Climate Change, 2007, Hong Kong. Full article here. So if we make full use of what we know about the past, we find that CO2 is in fact the hero of climate change, not the problem -- JR


The goal for the climate conference in Copenhagen is to reach a deal that can actually be implemented, rather than agreeing on binding high targets for reducing carbon dioxide emissions, US Energy Secretary Steven Chu said Tuesday in Vienna. The United Nations' International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is calling for countries to make firm commitments to reduce emissions that cause global warming by 25 to 40 per cent below 1990 levels. "Let's not make that one particular time the be-all and end-all, and if it doesn't happen, oh, we are doomed," Chu told reporters in Vienna, where he was attending the International Atomic Energy Agency's annual general conference.

If one defined success at Copenhagen only in terms of reaching a 30- to 40-per cent reduction in carbon emissions until 2020 and legally binding agreements from developing countries to cap their emissions, Chu said, "I think you may be teeing it up for disappointment."

In the lead-up to the Copenhagen conference, industrialized nations have not been to agree with China, India and developing countries over binding targets and how to shoulder the costs of addressing climate change.

But Chu said he hoped for the "most aggressive, best agreements given the political realities that all these countries face." At a minimum, any deal should cap of carbon emission and not "safety valves" in an agreement, he said. Chu noted that many countries that signed up to the Kyoto treaty did not comply with its goals. "One has to really look at how to really get there," he added.

The US never ratified the Kyoto treaty, in part because the pact demanded no emissions reductions from emerging economies like China and India.

The US aims to reduce its emissions of greenhouse gases by 17 per cent by 2020 and more than 80 per cent by 2050, while the European Union has set itself a target of cutting by 20 per cent until 2020.



Officials at the Treasury Department think cap-and-trade legislation would cost taxpayers hundreds of billion in taxes, according to internal documents circulated within the agency and provided to The Washington Times.

These estimates were made in Treasury memos, obtained by the Competitive Enterprise Institute through a Freedom of Information Act request that sought information related to proposals originated by Treasury involving "cap-and-trade schemes" that deal with "carbon," "carbon dioxide" or "greenhouse gases." The memos were given to The Times by CEI.

The House narrowly passed cap-and-trade legislation earlier this year, and now the Senate stands poised to take up its version of the bill at any time, although it has been largely overshadowed by health care reform efforts. The ultimate cost of the bill to taxpayers has been the subject of fierce debate between supporters and opponents of the legislation. CEI, a free-market think tank that opposes the bill, thinks the Treasury documents prove the legislation would pose a significant burden to the economy.

A memo prepared by Judson Jaffe, who works in the Treasury's Office of Environment and Energy, referenced President Obama's remarks on energy policy in his State of the Union Address and said, given the president's plan to auction emissions allowances, "a cap-and-trade program could generate federal receipts on the order of $100 to $200 billion annually."

These figures differ from other cost estimates for the legislation produced more recently by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Energy.



First of all: French people are against it! Two recent polls point out that a large majority are dissatisfied: According to IFOP Institute, which questioned 1011 persons on 3 and 4 September, 65% are against a carbon tax while 34% approve [see Paris-Match weekly magazine].

The French Consumers Union "UFC", a very powerful consumers lobby, after having ordered a survey from the CSA polling institute, wrote in UFC's review "Que Choisir" that 74% are rejecting a carbon tax. The main reasons are:

* The carbon tax is unfair because it hurts people who must drive a car to go to work and who have no alternative choice; it also hurts those who live far away from a city and those who have fuel or gas heating.

* The carbon tax hurts the poor who cannot afford changing their fuel or gas heating equipment.

* The carbon tax will have no effect on climate change.

* There are too many taxes in France; the government must spend less money, and not increase taxation.

Both surveys show that roughly the same proportion of right-wing and left-wing voters disapprove of a carbon tax.

What are politicians saying about Sarkozy's carbon tax?

Sarkozy's party "UMP" is supporting the president, but they worry about voters' opinion! Thus, they support the idea but without much enthusiasm. Other parties are against - even the Socialist Party who formerly advocated taxation of CO2. The centre "MODEM" of François Bayrou is saying that the tax is unfair and inefficient, since many people have no alternative to driving cars and only richer people can invest in clean energy heating. While many socialists argue that the tax should be even tougher and that electricity should be taxed too, their former party leader, Segolene Royal, is against the tax: Oil companies like Total should be taxed, not people. Some journalists claim that she is too populist!

A few members of the UMP, the majority party, are hesitating or even against the decision of the French President. For instance, deputy Lionel Luca said that "the tax was a wrong good idea"!

And the Greens are furious! Green Deputy Cecile Duflot is angry: "This tax is NOTHING! No political bravery whatsoever." Along the same lines Dominique Voynet: "There is an abyss between words and acts! The tax is too small and does not concern electricity. Big firms will not pay since they get free carbon credits from the EU cap and trade scheme. Greenpeace, too, is angry: "The tax has shrunk to almost nothing. Behaviors will not change. The right carbon tax rate we suggest: 32 euros today, 100 euros in 2030 and 300 euros in 2050!"

Le Figaro quotes Nicolas Sarkozy speaking to his supporters: "Je vous le dis, mes amis, le choix d'une fiscalité écologique est un choix historique" et politiquement, il permettra d'attirer vers la majorité des voix écologistes, a-t-il souligné avant de lancer : "il faut éviter un front écolos, gauche, extrême gauche, Bayrou". ("I tell you, friends, our decision on eco taxation is a historic decision." He pointed out that from a political perspective that this will allow the majority [government] to attract green votes and warned: "We must avoid a coalition of eco-freaks, the left, the extreme left and Bayrou").

In my opinion this is not the way France should be governed. This is junk politics!

More HERE. See also "Changement climatique: des politiques fondées sur de la pseudoscience" here.


European farmers must slash agricultural greenhouse gas emissions by at least 20% by 2020, primarily by producing biomass and storing carbon in the soil, but they risk ruin without outside help, EU Agriculture Commissioner Mariann Fischer Boel said yesterday (15 September).

European agriculture emissions have already fallen by 20% since 1990 due in part to there being fewer cattle and also to better technology and farm management. But the heat is on to find other ways to reduce emissions, ahead of a major global climate summit in Copenhagen in December and to meet tough goals already set for the next decade.

Mariann Fischer Boel, the EU agriculture commissioner, said on Tuesday (15 September) that the farm sector should cut emissions of methane, nitrous oxide and carbon dioxide. "It [the sector] can do more to store carbon in farmland soils," she told European agriculture ministers at a meeting in southern Sweden, in a speech seen by journalists.

Farmers can also fight emissions by supplying more biomass to produce energy and renewable materials, she said. However, Fischer Boel said farmers would need support to make the changes needed to reduce emissions. "We can't just leave them to sink or swim: many of them would sink, with disastrous consequences for our food production base and our environment," she said.


A vain search for overseas examples of successful wind power

Uh oh. First President Obama pointed to Spain and Germany as models for how the U.S. could create a robust "green jobs" economy that even would lift us out of our current - an increasingly approriate term - malaise.

Confronted by meddling academics who analyzed the Spanish situation and laid out the monitory lesson of its green-jobs regime, the White House quickly pivoted and said, uh, look to Denmark and Germany, yeah, that's it, Denmark.

OK. That's been done - by the establishment think tank CEPOS, and you can read it here. The answer is that the president's (repeat) claim that "Denmark produces almost 20 percent of their electricity through wind power" is false. Denmark actually produces much less of its own electricity from wind, as low as 4 percent depending on the year, with the recent average of 9.7 percent. This despite a massive buildout of what they flatteringly call the "wind carpet," on some of the most hospitable terrain for wind power in the world.

It is also in return for its households paying the highest eletricity rates in Europe. With a substantially lower per-capita energy use. That means, to get half of what Obama seeks, the U.S. would have to carpet itself twice over - which means lots of windmills where birds fly and Kennedys live - and pay Danish-style rates.

Oh. Wait. That still won't do it. Apparently Denmark's experience isn't even scalable to Scanadanavia. It turns out that, if the Norwegians and Swedes tried to replicate Denmark's expensive folly, well, it would blow the system up. Here's why. Denmark took advantage of long-since-paid-for interconnectors between Jutland and Norway, and the island on which Copenhagen sits and Sweden. It made a political decision that windmills would be their "national champion" industry, and as you will hear to no end throughout the Copenhagen COP, a big part of their national identity. So they built a lot of windmills, and started a mythology.

This buildout was only possible because the Norwegians and Swedes use enormous percentages of hydropower and nuclear, both of which can be dialed up or down according to the whimsy of the wind. When the wind does deign to blow, Denmark sends fully half of its very expensive, ratepayer subsidized wind power to its neighbors at cut rates, in return for said neighbors indulging Denmark's wind mill image-making by dialing up or down its hydro power or nukes at other times (which, most of the time, means "up").

When the wind picks up, the story gets worse. On top of subsidizing their neighbors' electricity and allowing them to go without building more of their own, it turns out that increases in wind generation, under the current buildout, are shipped nearly 100 percent and at a considerable below-cost discount right out of the country. With its politicians now vowing to massively increase installed wind ("50 percent of our elecricity" - how about getting to 20 percent first?), that means Denmark will be sending even more domestic wealth to its neighbors.

Because it is displacing carbon-neutral electricity - as a condition precedent even to deploying the machines, mind you, so this is not something that can be changed - you can kiss claims to massive CO2 reductions (or reduced fuel use) goodbye.

When it comes to Obama's claim that Denmark, not discredited Spain, is the model to follow: waiter, the food was horrible, and the portions too small. You can't replicate Denmark's model - and its a good thing, too.

Although, I'm informed that the Danish wind industry admitted the problems to the media this morning before muttering about needing further (ratepayer) investment, expect the American wind power industry to spin wildly in coming days. Which, incidentally, is more than we can say about their products.



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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