Thursday, December 16, 2010

NASA admits we could be entering a new ice age

The comments below appear to be part of some "educational" postings and are undated. Now that skeptics are beginning to note them, they might not stay up much longer -- or is the ship really beginning to turn? And I won't comment on the grammar

The Sun is the primary forcing of Earth's climate system. Sunlight warms our world. Sunlight drives atmospheric and oceanic circulation patterns. Sunlight powers the process of photosynthesis that plants need to grow. Sunlight causes convection which carries warmth and water vapor up into the sky where clouds form and bring rain. In short, the Sun drives almost every aspect of our world's climate system and makes possible life as we know it.

Earth's orbit around and orientation toward the Sun change over spans of many thousands of years. In turn, these changing "orbital mechanics" force climate to change because they change where and how much sunlight reaches Earth. (Please see for more details.) Thus, changing Earth's exposure to sunlight forces climate to change. According to scientists' models of Earth's orbit and orientation toward the Sun indicate that our world should be just beginning to enter a new period of cooling -- perhaps the next ice age.

However, a new force for change has arisen: humans. After the industrial revolution, humans introduced increasing amounts of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, and changed the surface of the landscape to an extent great enough to influence climate on local and global scales. By driving up carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere (by about 30 percent), humans have increased its capacity to trap warmth near the surface.

Other important forcings of Earth's climate system include such "variables" as clouds, airborne particulate matter, and surface brightness. Each of these varying features of Earth's environment has the capacity to exceed the warming influence of greenhouse gases and cause our world to cool.

For example, increased cloudiness would give more shade to the surface while reflecting more sunlight back to space. Increased airborne particles (or "aerosols") would scatter and reflect more sunlight back to space, thereby cooling the surface. Major volcanic eruptions (such as that of Mt. Pinatubo in 1992) can inject so much aerosol into the atmosphere that, as it spreads around the globe, it reduces sunlight and cause Earth to cool. Likewise, increasing the surface area of highly reflective surface types, such as ice sheets, reflects greater amounts of sunlight back to space and causes Earth to cool.

Scientists are using NASA satellites to monitor all of the aforementioned forcings of Earth's climate system to better understand how they are changing over time, and how any changes in them affect climate.


Attention-seeking b*tch created a false scare

Erin Brockovich claimed that a substance -- chromium 6 -- released into groundwater by a power company caused cancer and on very specious grounds won a huge court settlement from the company in 1996. The town allegedly affected was Hinkley. Now, a recent survey shows that the incidence of cancers in Hinkley is in fact on the low side. And that was exactly what the medical facts would lead us to expect. As we read here:

"Further, according to the Environmental Protection Agency’s toxicology web site, “No data were located in the available literature that suggested that chromium-6 is carcinogenic by the oral route of exposure.” Indeed, "Exposure to chromium-6 in tap water via all plausible routes of exposure,” even in extremely high concentrations, concluded “the Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health, poses no “acute or chronic health hazard to humans.”

The power company should be refunded its money

A state survey has not found a disproportionately high number of cancers in Hinkley, a high-desert community that has become the symbol of public fears about exposure to groundwater tainted with carcinogenic chromium 6.

From 1996 to 2008, 196 cancers were identified among residents of the census tract that includes Hinkley — a slightly lower number than the 224 cancers that would have been expected given its demographic characteristics, said epidemiologist John Morgan, who conducted the California Cancer Registry survey.

The survey did not attempt to explain why any individual in Hinkley contracted cancer, nor did it diminish the importance of Pacific Gas & Electric Co. cleaning up a plume of groundwater with elevated levels of chromium 6, Morgan said.

"In this preliminary assessment we only looked at cancer outcomes, not specific types of cancer," Morgan said. "However, we did look at a dozen cancer types in earlier surveys of the same census tract for the years between 1988 and 1998. Overall, the results of those surveys were almost identical to the new findings, and none of the cancers represented a statistical excess."

The findings come as some residents are pushing PG&E to purchase their properties, after tests showed that chromium-tainted groundwater was migrating toward them. That miles-long plume, the result of decades of dumping water tainted with chromium compounds into local waste ponds, was at the center of a $333-million settlement over illnesses and cancers made famous by the movie "Erin Brockovich."

With that in mind, residents of this ranching community about five miles west of Barstow remained skeptical of the survey. Their water supply comes from local wells, and their fear of cancer persists.

"We just want to get the hell out of Hinkley," said Greg Kearney, 64, who shares a 3,000-square-foot ranch house with his wife, Elaine, 63, who has had seven strokes, their 41-year-old daughter, Keri, who has advanced lung cancer, and a younger daughter who has had five miscarriages and gave birth to a son with severe cognitive problems.


Very green, but not so jolly

Several recent stories indicate anew just how green the Obama administration is, and how much harm it is prepared to inflict on the country to further its environmentalist agenda.

First is the report that the administration is yet again reversing course on offshore drilling. Back in March, weeks before the BP oil spill, Obama’s Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced that the administration would finally open the eastern Gulf of Mexico and parts of the Atlantic coast (in particular, the coast of Virginia) to oil and gas exploration. This marked a change of position for Obama. While campaigning for the presidency he said he would allow expanded coastal exploration and development (this as McCain was getting traction in the polls with “drill, baby, drill!”); but once elected, he reversed his position and refused to allow it.

So now we are back to no new offshore drilling (and a continuing moratorium on deepwater drilling). Karen Harbert, president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, put the situation aptly: “The Administration is sending a message to America’s oil and gas industry: take your capital, technology, and jobs somewhere else.”

The absurdity of this policy is underscored by the fact that gasoline nationwide is edging back toward $3 a gallon, and by the news that unemployment just went up to 9.8% nationwide, marking the longest period of over 9% unemployment since the Great Depression.

The second story is a study in contrast. It’s a report that China plans to spend over $500 billion to build 245 new nuclear power plants. This would mean adding nearly two and a half times as many as the U.S. has in total. As Zhao Chengkun, vice-president of the China Nuclear Energy Association, put it, “Developing clean, low-carbon energy is an international priority. Nuclear is recognized as the only energy source that can be used on a mass scale to achieve this.” While our administration dithers about constructing just one new reactor, the Chinese barrel ahead.

A third story concerns the ever-frisky EPA. It has just announced a dramatic increase in regulations on energy industries aimed at reducing greenhouse gases. Among the new EPA diktats is the requirement that the maximum allowable ground-level ozone level be dropped by up to 20%. Hundreds of American municipalities are struggling to comply with the existing maximum level, so tightening the standards still further will just bury those places financially. The Manufacturers Alliance/MAPI estimates that this new EPA regulation will cost America on the order of 7.3 million jobs and about a trillion dollars in regulatory costs within a decade.

It is doubtful whether this reduction in ambient ozone would result in any measurable gain in public health, much less in a gain big enough to justify the huge economic and human costs. But the Obama administration is full of green ideologues for whom such considerations matter little.

To be green means that you worship all life forms — except human beings.


"Tipping point" theory takes a fall

THE risk of polar bears becoming extinct may have been overstated, according to research suggesting that Arctic sea ice will melt more gradually than previously estimated.

The new projections suggest that if carbon emissions are curbed quickly, enough ice is likely to remain to sustain the current population of polar bears during the next century.

Previously it was believed that once temperatures rose beyond a certain point, the retreat of Arctic ice would become unstoppable even if global temperatures subsequently stabilised. Under this projection, about two thirds of the world's 22,000 polar bears were predicted to have been lost by mid-century.

The latest simulations, published in the journal, Nature, suggest that instead a linear, and reversible, decline in ice is more likely.

If carbon emissions drop during the next two decades, the polar bears' habitat could be preserved. "What we projected in 2007 was based on the usual greenhouse gas scenario," said Steven Amstrup, an emeritus researcher with the US Geological Survey and a senior scientist with Polar Bears International. "That was a pretty dire outlook, but it didn't consider the possibility of greenhouse gas mitigation."

Professor Cecilia Bitz, an atmospheric scientist at the University of Washington: said: "Our research offers a very promising, hopeful message, but it's also an incentive for mitigating greenhouse emissions."

However, other scientists felt the new projections were too optimistic. "I wouldn't say that we can rule out a tipping point, but it does show that a tipping point isn't inevitable," said Walt Meier, a senior scientist at the National Snow and Ice Data Centre in Boulder, Colorado. Professor Henry Jacoby, founder of the MIT Global Change Joint Programme, said a potential flaw was that the emissions scenarios used in the study were based on a "world that's already long gone".

A second study presented yesterday at the American Geophysical Union conference in San Francisco shows that even if global warming continues at the current pace, a belt of ice from the northern archipelago of Canada to the northern tip of Greenland is likely to survive because of the local wind and sea current system.


Will this winter be even colder in Britain than the winter of 1962-3?

Temperatures will plummet tomorrow and will stay bitterly cold for the next month, forecasters have warned. Severe weather warnings have been issued as the second Big Freeze of the season puts the country on course for a winter even colder than the notoriously treacherous 1962-63.

North-westerly parts of the country got a sneak preview today of the freezing weather to come. At 9am, West Scotland was still shivering at -7c while the mercury stood at -3c in north-west England.

Large swathes of the country were today issued with severe weather warnings, with ice and snow expected to make driving conditions treacherous from Thursday onwards.

A spokesman for the Met Office said: 'A band of rain and snow will move southwards across Scotland and Northern Ireland during the early hours of Thursday with widespread icy surfaces then rapidly developing, potentially around the morning rush-hour period. 'This risk will also extend into northern England. Heavy snow showers will then spread to areas exposed to the strong northerly wind.'

Temperatures on Thursday night will drop to between -3c and -6c, according to MeteoGroup. Forecaster Aisling Creevey said: 'We've had a little bit of a reprieve over the last few days - pretty much everywhere is at risk from snow and icy conditions as the temperature drops on Thursday. 'And temperatures could be down to -10c in Scotland and to -4c and -5c across the country overnight on Friday.'

Snow is set to feature throughout the weekend. David Price, a forecaster for the Met Office, said there would be 5cm-10cm of snow over much of the country, with some higher areas of Scotland facing as much as 20cm.

Looking further ahead Jonathan Powell, a forecaster with Positive Weather Solutions, said: 'Our models are showing we will see a white Christmas. The most likely places to have one are Scotland, north-east England, the east coast, the South East and London. It's going to happen.'


Worst storm this century traps 300 motorists in Ontario

The Canadian military is racing to rescue more than 300 motorists who are trapped on a highway in the worst storm to hit Ontario in 25 years. Some people were trapped for nearly 24 hours with snow piled up so high they could not open the doors of their cars on Highway 402 outside the town of Sarnia.

The military has mobilised a CC-130 Hercules airplane, two Griffons helicopters and an array of snowmobiles and four-wheel drive SUVs for the rescue effort. They have reached some motorists just in the nick of time. 'You really felt almost despair,' Brandon Junkin, who had run out of gas and was trapped in his truck for nearly 24 hours with just a blanket to ward off the sub-zero temperatures, told CNN. He was rescued when he heard a military helicopter hovering over him.

Video taken by another trucker and posted on YouTube shows a barren, Arctic-like landscape, with powdery snow being blown by the wind and the vague shapes of other vehicles buried in white.

Other truckers are inviting car drivers to shelter with them in their rigs, and neighbours living near the stretch of highway have opened their homes to motorists.

The Ontario Provincial Police said initially that 360 vehicles were trapped on the 402, which connects the U.S. border with London, Ontario. Some have since been rescued but Sarnia officials admitted it could be up to 24 hours more before everyone is safe.

Meanwhile more than 100 motorists in Indiana were rescued from their cars in biting temperatures as snowstorms were blamed for at least 15 deaths in the U.S. LaPorte County sheriff's Deputy Andy Hynek said officials did not know exactly how many people were stranded, but some had been stuck for as long as 12 hours.

The heavy snow in the Midwest state was part of a slow-moving storm that has been crawling across the central U.S. since Friday night. The storm dumped nearly 2 feet of snow before it stretched further east, with snow in parts of Ohio, Pennsylvania and New York.

The upper Midwest has been gripped by bone-chilling cold as Arctic air swept in behind the storm. At least 15 deaths in four states have been attributed to the storm. Eight people died in traffic accidents, and a 79-year-old man clearing the end of his driveway in western Wisconsin was killed when a plough truck backed into him.



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