Monday, December 20, 2010

The Week That Was (To December 18, 2010)

Excerpt from Ken Haapala

After the usual, last minute, frantic, late-night negotiations, the 16th Conference of Parties (COP) of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change ended in Cancun, Mexico, last Saturday, December 11, with the typical announcement that a deal was agreed upon. Some news agencies, such as BBC, thought the deal important, others such as the New York Times thought it less so. The NY Times carried the article on the closing on page A 16, and did not have an editorial on the deal until December 16.

The agreement contained the usual provisions that the endless talks and meetings will continue to next year when a "real deal" can be reached at COP 17 in Durban, South Africa. The current deal sets up a mechanism whereby developed nations will provide payments to developing countries. These payments are scheduled to go up to $100 Billion per year by 2020. Fred Singer puts it best - this would be a transfer of wealth from the poor in rich countries to the rich in poor countries.

Since there are no guarantees as to which countries will make such payments, in 2011 a real sense of urgency will strike the leaders of countries expecting such payments. As Japan pointed out in its position, the Kyoto Protocol that provides the justification for these endless meetings and proposed payments has a provision that none of the countries that signed the Kyoto Protocol are obligated by it after 2012. Thus, the original signatories have no obligation to meet the emission restrictions they had agreed upon, much less make compensation payments to developing nations.

Perhaps the greatest heat the globe will experience in 2011 will come from those who insist that nations must continue "the process." Please see the articles under "On to Cancun" that were selected from sources generally considered to support the concept of human-caused global warming.

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Appropriately for the Cancun conference, Jim Hansen of NASA-GISS announced 2010 was the "hottest year on record." Hansen's year was a meteorological year that ended on November 30, but was compared with the calendar year for 2005 (not quite apples to apples) and, of course, based on NASA-GISS surface records. (SEPP questions the use of NASA-GISS surface records since they have been modified so many times that they greatly differ from the available raw data.)

Consulting Meteorologist Joe D'Aleo immediately rebutted Hansen's claims. In his rebuttal, D'Aleo produced a chart comparing the historic temperatures prior to 1980, as stated by NASA-GISS in 1980, with the historic temperatures as stated by NASA-GISS 2010. The difference is telling.

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The viability of wind power to provide electricity in developed nations with a well established grid is becoming an issue even among its traditional media supporters. The New York Times ran a two-part series on wind power bringing up some serious issues A third article raised the issue of increased dependence on China for rare earths that are required for the magnets in wind turbines as well as for other high tech uses.

Carefully read, the first article describes how China came to dominate the manufacture of wind turbines. China invited Western wind turbine companies to the country with a promise of virtually unlimited opportunity. Then, ignoring World Trade Organization rules, China required that these companies purchase parts locally. Obligingly, the Western turbine manufacturers taught Chinese suppliers their technology. Then China gave preference to Chinese turbine manufacturers who bought from Chinese suppliers at lower costs than available to Western companies located in China buying from the same Chinese suppliers. Through this procedure, China established the largest manufacturing capability for wind turbines in the world, and Western companies are being forced to close their manufacturing capability in Europe. Economists may describe such government actions as Mercantilism or those of a profit-maximizing monopolist.

Now that China has the largest wind turbine manufacturing capability in the world, according to the NYT, China is significantly cutting back on its installation of wind power, claiming it does not have the grid capacity to handle it.

Assuming its numbers are correct, the second NYT article states that wind turbines delivered to the US from China built by Chinese companies cost about $600,000 per megawatt (MW) while turbines delivered to the US from China built by a Western company cost about $800,000 per MW. This does not included instillation and other costs.

As long as the Federal and state governments have mandates and give subsidies for wind power, cost is not a major problem for wind farm developers whose returns are based on capital costs and receive cash payments from the Federal Government. Under the tax bill just passed, the 30% tax credit for alternative energy will continue to be a cash payment from the Federal Government to the alternative-energy developers. However, high costs will be a burden for the consumers who, under government mandates, must pay for these costs.

For example, the cost estimates for Cape Wind range from $900,000,000 to over $2.500,000,000. The first estimate comes from a web site that claims Cape Wind will save 113 million gallons of oil. Less than 1% of US electricity is generated from oil. Thus, the site is questionable. The second estimate is reported in a Boston Globe article stating it came from the office of the Massachusetts Attorney General. The article also states that the cost of Cape Wind has not been announced by the developers.

The Cape Wind web site gives no estimate of cost, however it states the average annual output will be 170 megawatts (MW). Using the state estimates of cost, this results in an estimate of $14.7 Million per MW of average output. These estimates do not include the cost of back-up when nature decides not to cooperate.

The estimated costs for the first set of new nuclear power plants in the US are about $3.5 Million per MW. No doubt the costs will be higher. But operating at 90% capacity, nuclear plants appear to be a bargain even at twice the cost.

SOURCE. (See the original for links)

New Paper: Arctic Temperatures 2-3C higher only 1000 years ago

A paper presented at the American Geophysical Union meeting this week finds that Ellesmere Island in the Canadian High Arctic experienced a "dramatic" Medieval Warming Period from 800-1200 AD with temperatures 2 to 3 degrees C higher than the mean temperature of the past 100 years. Ellesmere Island was also in the news this week due to a discovery of a mummified forest where "no trees now grow" due to its "current frigid state."
A 5,000 year alkenone-based temperature record from Lower Murray Lake reveals a distinct Medieval Warm Period in the Canadian High Arctic

D'Andrea, W. J.; Bradley, R. S.

American Geophysical Union, Fall Meeting 2010, abstract #PP43C-10

Lake-based paleotemperature reconstructions are of particular importance in the Arctic, where other useful archives (e.g., tree rings, speleothems) for developing dense networks of quantitative climate records are absent or limited. Lacustrine alkenone paleothermometry offers a new avenue for investigating the evolution and variability of Arctic temperatures during the Holocene.

We have generated a ~5,000 year long, decadally-resolved record of summer water temperature from the annually-laminated sediments of Lower Murray Lake on Ellesmere Island in the Canadian High Arctic. The varved sediments of Lower Murray Lake allowed high-resolution sampling and excellent chronologic control of the sedimentary record.

We calibrated the alkenone paleothermometer for Lower Murray Lake using previously published data as well as new data from lakes in Norway and Svalbard, providing a quantitative record of temperature variability for the past 5,000 years.

The previously published mass accumulation rate from Lower Murray Lake has been interpreted as a paleotemperature record and provides complimentary information to the new alkenone record. Melt percentage measurements from the nearby Agassiz Ice Cap provide another independent summer temperature reconstruction for comparison.

Most strikingly, the alkenone record reveals warm lake water temperatures beginning ~800 AD and persisting until ~1200 AD, with temperatures up to 2-3 deg C warmer than the mean temperature for the past 100 years. This dramatic medieval warm period on Ellesmere Island interrupted a distinct (neoglacial) cooling trend that had begun approximately 2000 years earlier.

Furthermore, the three warmest intervals seen in the alkenone record during the past 5,000 years correspond to the periods during which the area was occupied by Paleo-Eskimo groups, providing evidence that local climate conditions played a significant role in determining migration patterns of people of the Arctic Small Tools tradition.


Mummified forest provides climate change clues

By ALICIA CHANG, AP Science Writer

AP Dec 16, 2010: "On a remote island in the Canadian Arctic where no trees now grow, a newly unearthed mummified forest is giving researchers a peek into how plants reacted to ancient climate change.

That knowledge will be key as scientists begin to tease out the impacts of global warming in the Arctic.

The ancient forest found on Ellesmere Island, which lies north of the Arctic Circle in Canada, contained dried out birch, larch, spruce and pine trees. Research scientist Joel Barker of Ohio State University discovered it by chance while camping in 2009.

"At one point I crested a small ridge and the cliff face below me was just riddled with wood," he recalled.

Armed with a research grant, Barker returned this past summer to explore the site, which was buried by an avalanche 2 million to 8 million years ago. Melting snow recently exposed the preserved remains of tree trunks, leaves and needles.

About a dozen such frozen forests exist in the Canadian Arctic, but the newest site is farthest north.

The forest existed during a time when the Arctic climate shifted from being warmer than it is today to its current frigid state. Judging by the lack of diverse wood species and the trees' small leaves, the team suspected that plants at the site struggled to survive the rapid change from deciduous forest to evergreen.

"This community was just hanging on," said Barker, who presented his findings Thursday at the American Geophysical Union meeting in San Francisco.

The next step is to examine tree rings to better understand how past climate conditions stressed plant life and how the Arctic tundra ecosystem will respond to global warming.

Since 1970, temperatures have climbed more than 4.5 degrees in much of the Arctic, much faster than the global average."

Note: the alarmist claim in the last sentence above from James Hansen/GISS is based upon extrapolated temperatures from sites up to 1000 miles south and is contradicted by data from the Danish Meteorology Institute, which has direct measurements from multiple sites in the high Arctic:


Failure Equals Success in Looking Glass World of Cancun

But they did agree on the important thing: The need to meet again in some pleasant place

The Mexican standoff has ended in Cancun. While some will certainly see Cancun’s redistributionist gabfest as a "failure" of "the world community" to address the "imminent disaster" of Anthropogenic Global Warming. I don’t share their pessimism.

Cancun may have been a failure to bureaucrats and inhabitants of the “climate crisis” Looking Glass world. Personally, I view the "failure" as a success, for it gives us an opportunity to understand what we must do to solve the real problem of two billion people still living on less than two dollars a day – and to take action. But first, we must answer two fundamental questions.

1) What hard, factual, empirical evidence do we have that humans are causing dangerous global warming, perilous climate change or global climate disruption?

Not computer models, assertions, assumptions, questionable surface temperature data or phony consensus. Actual evidence. If the alarmist camp has that evidence, it must share not just its pasteurized, homogenized, massaged data and conclusions – but its raw data, methodologies and computer codes. And it must be willing to discuss and debate its claims and evidence with people who are not convinced we are causing a planetary climate emergency.

2) How can we make plant-fertilizing carbon dioxide emissions RISE?

From 1900 (and even earlier), life expectancies, living standards, human health and all other key indicators of quality of life in the developed world have been improving. Since at least 1970, air and water quality have steadily improved, after decades when they arguably had declined, as the developed world built sanitation, transportation, manufacturing and other infrastructure that made these improvements possible.

In recent decades, China, India, Brazil and other emerging economies have followed this lead – and greatly improved their citizens’ lives. But meanwhile, in the impoverished Third world, life expectancies, living standards and other basic indicators of quality of life have remained awful … or gotten worse.

In every case where people’s quality of life has improved, they owe that change to one thing above all others: a massive increase in productivity through the use of technology – and thus to the abundant, reliable, affordable energy that makes that technology possible. In the vast majority of cases, that has meant access to hydrocarbons and electricity. Even today, with nuclear and hydroelectric power making huge contributions, hydrocarbons remain king. And because of that, people in developed nations today live better than even kings and queens did a century ago.

Today, China is providing a model for the rest of the developing world to follow. Ignoring the hypocritical calls from the West to rein in its growth, China has lifted millions of its citizens out of poverty and given them far better quality of life – and far more opportunities – by increasing the use of oil, coal and natural gas, and accepting many tenets of the free market.

We should be thankful that these talks to replace Kyoto are failing. Kyoto failed and with good reason: given our current technology (including expensive, land-intensive, unreliable wind and solar power), it is impossible to provide a healthy economy and affordable, reasonable quality of life without using oil, coal and natural gas. (Nuclear power would certainly help, but Greens oppose that too.)

Canada did indeed sign the Kyoto Protocol – but then it wisely proceeded to abandon any attempt to comply. The Canadian economy and population were growing, in one of the coldest nations on Earth, and to restrict our economy the way Kyoto demands would severely hamper our ability to feed people, keep them warm, and keep our country prosperous.

As to “technology transfer” agreements, many talk about “incentivizing innovation” to “encourage” and “facilitate” transfers. However, UN bureaucrats do not realize that innovation cannot be generated by transferring taxpayer and consumer money to politically favored corporations. This leads only to mal-investment – the forced movement of scarce financial, material and creative resources into unproductive pursuits, like industrial wind farms. Too often, these “transfers” have meant loans, subsidies and mandates from Ottawa, Washington, Berlin, Madrid, the IMF and the World Bank, to pay politically correct and connected corporations to install expensive equipment. This is corporate welfare, nothing else.

If the EU and its member states want to "transfer" technology to the developing world, they should do it the old fashioned way – through free trade, fair trade, a fair exchange of money for the best, most efficient, lowest polluting modern technology available. They should lower barriers and let developed countries trade freely with the people of Africa and other poor regions, open EU markets to their agricultural and other products, and trade with them for what they want and need.

When it comes to deforestation and environmental protection, once again embracing the natural human “propensity to truck, barter, and exchange one thing for another" would solve many problems. Taking care of the environment isn't cheap, and there is a connection that is not often noted by the greens: the richest nations also have the cleanest environments.

We in the developed world no longer need to cut down trees and destroy wildlife habitats to cook our food. We no longer endure the energy poverty – and consequent lung and intestinal diseases, malnutrition, misery and premature death – that infect billions of poor people all over the world.

There is a direct correlation between the quality of life that a country can provide to its residents and its per capita CO2 emissions. Trying to force an unneeded transition to renewable energy technologies that are not ready for prime time (and are not needed for “climate change prevention” reasons), in the name of ideologically driven goals, will lead only to unnecessary hardship for people in developed countries. It will perpetuate the economic and energy poverty, misery, disease and early death that still plague billions of people around the world who live on less than two dollars a day.

The United States and Canada need to get back to what they have done best over the last 100 years: providing a model of what the free human spirit can accomplish, if given the opportunity. In other words, guide and help poor nations to build a prosperous society that can lift all boats and all people, by providing opportunities to everyone. If we happen to create a little CO2 along the way, then so be it.

Humans are part of nature. The use of hydrocarbons is part of nature. Carbon dioxide emissions are a vital fertilizer that helps food crops and all other plants grow better and faster and with greater resistance to drought and disease, thereby making ALL life on earth possible.

We are the rational animal, and our creativity and ingenuity should not be stifled – nor should anyone seek to condemn half of humanity to a lives that shackle their ability to make full use of their gifts. Instead of worrying about carbon dioxide, we should ask: How can we make better use of the greatest resource we have yet discovered – hydrocarbons?

We should not ask, How we can reduce our CO2 emissions? Rather, we should ask, How we can raise CO2 emissions in the Third World, by giving them better access to the vast energy and opportunity stored in hydrocarbons – and thereby reducing their need to chop down forest habitats and burn trees in dangerous, polluting open fires?

The best commitment the United States and Canada can make is to promise that they will do all they can to relegate the Kyoto protocol to the dustbin of history, leave UN bureaucrats to tilt at windmills – and help all still impoverished people achieve their hopes, their dreams, their true destinies.


Greenie versus Greenie again

Concerns that whirling wind turbines could slaughter protected golden eagles have halted progress on a key piece of the federal government's push to increase renewable energy on public lands, stalling plans for billions of dollars in wind farm developments.

The U.S. Bureau of Land Management suspended issuing wind permits on public land indefinitely this summer after wildlife officials invoked a decades-old law for protecting eagles, according to interviews and documents obtained by The Associated Press.

The restriction has stymied efforts to "fast-track" approvals for four of the seven most promising wind energy proposals in the nation, including all three in California. Now, these and other projects appear unlikely to make the year-end deadline to potentially qualify for hundreds of millions of dollars in stimulus funds. If extensions aren't granted in the lame duck session of Congress, the future of many of these plans could be in doubt.

"(Companies) are waiting to know the criteria to get a permit," said Larry LaPre, a wildlife biologist for BLM's California desert district, of the companies hoping federal agencies will begin permitting again soon. LaPre said he expects it to be "at least a year or longer" before permitting resumes.

Golden eagles are the latest roadblock to establishing wind farms on federally owned land, already an expensive process plagued by years of bureaucratic delay. The projects also have been untracked by other wildlife issues, a sluggish economy and objections by defense and aviation authorities that wind turbines interfere with the country's aged radar system.

The delays are occurring despite a target set by Congress in 2005 that directed the Interior Department to approve about 5 million homes worth of renewable energy on public lands by 2015. Since then, only two of the more than 250 currently proposed wind projects have been approved and neither has been built, records and interviews show.

There are presently 28 wind farms operating on public lands, which make up about 13 percent of the U.S. land surface, although records show that more than 800 have been proposed in recent decades.

The vast majority of public lands regulated by the BLM are in western states, where all current onshore wind farms approved or in planning stages will be located. Offshore wind farms, like those proposed off the New England coast, are regulated by a different federal agency.


Even primitive people were able to adapt to climate changes of the past

Samuel Munoz, now a doctoral student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and geologist Konrad Gajewski at the University of Ottawa measured the effects of five major climate change events in North America.

They looked at samples of sedimentary pollen and charcoal collected between Maine and Pennsylvania. This gave them a historical record of temperatures, vegetation patterns and fire history in the area, which was then matched with data from the Canadian Archaeological Radiocarbon Database, containing more than 35,000 radiocarbon dates. The period they examined ranged from the time humans first settled the region 13,500 years ago to the first European-settled colonies 500 years ago.

The researchers compared the known changes in climate to the cultural time periods defined as Paleoindian, Archaic and Woodland.

Every change in the climate, they discovered, occurred at the same time as a change in the culture. The tools the natives used, the crops they grew, the animals they hunted all changed with the circumstances. "Even the subgroups within the periods lined up with environmental changes," Past Horizons quoted Gajewski as saying.

Some of the changes were abrupt, some more gradual, but largely 'every cultural transition corresponds to a major transition in the climate and vegetation of the region', observed the researchers.

When climate change altered food resources for pre-agricultural American Indians, they shifted strategy, and sometimes population size.

Similar climate changes are now happening in Alaska and the Yukon, where the present day indigenous people are still living. Summers are getting drier and lightning-caused forest fires are getting more intense. The boreal forest, mostly spruce, is on the verge of a major transformation and will gradually be replaced by lodgepole pines.

Besides changing the look of the forest, the transition will be good news for moose, which find lots to eat in deciduous forests, and bad news for caribou now living the area, which do not. "People who are dependent on caribou will have to change," said Gajewski.

But they will find adaptation more difficult than the people of the past, according to Craig Gerlach of the Center for Cross Cultural Studies at the University of Alaska Fairbanks as modern indigenous people can no longer pick up and move or change their food sources as easily.

"Five hundred years, a thousand years ago people would have been able to respond to changes in distribution and abundance whether driven by natural cycles or by changes in the climate or weather," said Gerlach. "People are no longer as flexible because they live in permanent villages, so they can't respond appropriately." "In the past, people would have been able to respond to changes in distribution and abundance whether driven by natural cycles or by changes in the climate or weather," said Gerlach.

Human ingenuity being what it is, they may, of course, prevail without losing their culture, although it will probably not be easy.


Another Warmist becomes shriller as his religion loses appeal

AP's climate hoax promoter SETH BORENSTEIN thinks you're stupid: When premature deaths from all causes (e.g. heart attacks, cancer, road accidents, war) vastly outnumber deaths due to weather events, we're supposed to panic and blame carbon dioxide. An excerpt from his shriek below

"This was the year the Earth struck back.

Earthquakes, heat waves, floods, volcanoes, super typhoons, blizzards, landslides and droughts killed at least a quarter million people in 2010 ...

And we have ourselves to blame most of the time, scientists and disaster experts say.

Even though many catastrophes have the ring of random chance, the hand of man made this a particularly deadly, costly, extreme and weird year for everything from wild weather to earthquakes....

Disasters from the Earth, such as earthquakes and volcanoes "are pretty much constant," said Andreas Schraft, vice president of catastrophic perils for the Geneva-based insurance giant Swiss Re. "All the change that's made is man-made." ...

No one had to tell a mask-wearing Vera Savinova how bad it could get. She is a 52-year-old administrator in a dental clinic who in August took refuge from Moscow's record heat, smog and wildfires. "I think it is the end of the world," she said. "Our planet warns us against what would happen if we don't care about nature."

The excessive amount of extreme weather that dominated 2010 is a classic sign of man-made global warming that climate scientists have long warned about....

"These (weather) events would not have happened without global warming," said Kevin Trenberth, chief of climate analysis for the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colo....

For example, even though it sounds counterintuitive, global warming likely played a bit of a role in "Snowmageddon" earlier this year, Holland said. That's because with a warmer climate, there's more moisture in the air, which makes storms including blizzards, more intense, he said.

White House science adviser John Holdren said we should get used to climate disasters or do something about global warming: "The science is clear that we can expect more and more of these kinds of damaging events unless and until society's emissions of heat-trapping gases and particles are sharply reduced."



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