Sunday, March 06, 2011

Global Warming Alarmists Flip-Flop On Snowfall

Sitting in on a March 1 Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) press conference regarding global warming and heavy snowfalls, I couldn’t help feeling like the chairman of the Senate committee questioning mafia capo Frank Pentangeli in Godfather II. The chairman, listening incredulously as Pentangeli contradicts a sworn written statement he had earlier given to the committee, waves the written statement in the air and protests, “We have a sworn affidavit — we have it — your sworn affidavit…. Do you deny that confession, and do you realize what will happen as a result of your denial?”

The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Third Assessment Report was as straightforward as Frank Pentangeli’s earlier confession that he had killed on behalf of Michael Corleone. “Milder winter temperatures will decrease heavy snowstorms,” IPCC reported.

That was in 2001. Now, however, with an unprecedented number of major winter snowstorms hitting the northeastern U.S. during the past two winters, the alarmists are clamming up and changing their tune faster than Tom Hagen can fly in Vincenzo Pentangeli from Italy to aid his brother in his time of trouble.

Jeff Masters, director of meteorology at the Weather Underground, and Mark Serreze, director of the National Snow and Ice Data Center, explained to the media at the UCS press conference why they believe global warming caused the heavy snowfalls in the northeast these past two winters. Masters and Serreze obviously are weather experts. They may be right. Other weather experts, such as John Coleman, co-founder of the Weather Channel, and Joseph D’Aleo, the first director of meteorology at the Weather Channel, disagree with Masters and Serreze. It is also possible that Coleman and D’Aleo are right.

During the question and answer portion of the UCS press conference, I quoted the IPCC Third Assessment Report and asked Masters and Serreze if they were saying IPCC was wrong on the science.

“I would say that we always learn,” replied Serreze. “Have we learned a great deal since the IPCC 2001 report? I would say yes, we have. Climate science, like any other field, is a constantly evolving field and we are always learning.”

While I believe the weight of scientific evidence favors Coleman and D’Aleo, the larger importance of the UCS press conference is not whether global warming causes – in effect – more winter, but what the press conference illustrated about the alarmists’ oft-repeated assertions that “the science is settled” and “the debate is over.”

The IPCC Third Assessment Report was as straightforward as one can get asserting that global warming would cause a decline in heavy snow events. As the Senate chairman would say, while waving the IPCC report, “We have it….” But now that real-world evidence has proven IPCC wrong, the alarmists have pulled an about-face and are claiming global warming is causing more frequent heavy snow events.

Regardless of whether global warming is causing more heavy snow events, the alarmists’ about-face on snowfall calls to mind other alarmist global warming assertions that were supposedly “settled science”, but that were subsequently refuted by real-world climate conditions. The alarmists used to claim global warming was causing more hurricanes, but real-world data show hurricanes have fallen to historically lows levels.

The alarmists used to claim global warming was causing the retreat of Kilimanjaro’s mountain snowcap, but scientists now understand that local deforestation is the culprit. IPCC claimed in its 2007 assessment that global warming would likely melt the Himalayan glaciers by 2035, but IPCC now admits there is no scientific basis for such an assertion. IPCC claimed in its 1990 assessment that global temperatures should rise 0.6 degrees Celsius between 1990 and 2010, yet NASA satellite data show global temperatures warmed by merely half that amount, at most.

For years, alarmists have claimed “the science is settled” and “the debate is over.” Well, when was the science settled? When global warming would allegedly cause Himalayan glaciers to melt by 2035, or now that it won’t? When global warming would allegedly cause fewer heavy snow events, or now that it will allegedly cause more frequent heavy snow events?

We could ask Frank Pentangeli, but Frankie Five Angles is no longer talking.


Deceived kids

Cool It, a new documentary about the “skeptical environmentalist” Bjorn Lomborg, poses a big question: What’s the best way to handle global warming? Lomborg has run afoul of climate change activists who support a single orthodoxy: cut carbon dioxide emissions by boosting the prices of fossil fuels.

But is climate change a bigger priority than poverty? The film crew visits a Nairobi slum school and a posh British private school. The kids are asked to draw their futures. The Kenyan kids draw houses with electric lights, a television, and a car. That’s not going to happen if fossil fuels cost a lot more. Meanwhile, a British girl sketches houses drowned by higher sea levels, an ozone hole, and dead penguins. A boy declares that the world is going to become 100 times warmer than it is now.

Far from despairing, the documentary ends by focusing on possible solutions, including new nuclear plant designs, biofuels from algae, and ambitious geo-engineering plans.


Close the EPA

It’s time to stop funding carbon mysticism with taxpayer dollars

As Congress looks for ways to trim the budget, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) represents an opportunity for up to $9 billion in savings. This outfit has become little more than an advocacy group for trendy leftist causes operating on the public’s dime. Many liberal policies being promoted are so unpopular that congressional Democrats can’t muster the votes to get them through the proper legislative process. So they go to the EPA instead.

That’s why the EPA announced Tuesday that it had revised the deadlines imposed on certain companies for reporting so-called “greenhouse gas” production. A facility that manufactures paper, for example, would have to determine whether it “emits 25,000 metric tons of carbon-dioxide equivalent (CO2e)” per year. The agency guesses that this covers about 10,000 businesses which would then be forced to measure their carbon-dioxide output, maintain detailed records and submit reports to EPA busybodies.

All of this extra work is required not to make companies more productive or more competitive in the marketplace. Instead, it increases the EPA’s power over the private sector in the name of fighting the purported effects of global warming.

Although we are led to believe that each metric ton of carbon dioxide brings the planet closer to the brink of destruction, companies won’t be compelled to report the greenhouse-gas emissions of their own employees, about a dozen of whom would produce a metric ton of carbon dioxide while breathing on the job for a year. “This carbon dioxide is part of a natural closed-loop cycle and does not contribute to the greenhouse-gas concentrations in the atmosphere,” the EPA website explains. “Natural processes of photosynthesis (in plants) and respiration (in plants and animals) maintain a balance of oxygen and carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Thus, the carbon dioxide from natural process is not included in greenhouse-gas inventories.”

This line of thinking betrays the unscientific basis of the EPA’s endeavor. If a CO2 molecule is making the planet warmer, it doesn’t matter whether it came from a factory or an animal or a bureaucrat. It interacts with the atmosphere in exactly the same way. The EPA rule reflects a more mystical view of climate change in which individual CO2 molecules can differ. Mother Earth looks favorably upon molecules from “sustainable” sources. Those from SUVs, factories and cigars anger her. Instead of blessing the planet with cold, she will curse it with warmth.

The left isn’t even consistent with such beliefs. First lady Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” campaign encourages kids to be less lazy and sedentary and increase their physical activity for better health. Never mind that this could be catastrophic to the planet. As a child’s muscles burn calories through exercise, respiration increases and the amount of carbon dioxide exhaled can double. By comparison, encouraging children to take more naps would cut their carbon-dioxide output in half.

Mrs. Obama wants active lifestyle habits to carry over into adulthood, where a grown man can exhale as much as 150 grams of carbon dioxide when running for a mile - nearly as much as a Toyota Prius covering the same distance. Either exercising tots are not doing their part to save the planet, or carbon-dioxide molecules simply aren’t as evil as the EPA claims.

The House has voted to defund the EPA’s greenhouse-gas campaign. It ought to go further and ask why a federal agency is needed when all 50 states have their own departments of environmental quality, natural resources or environmental protection. If the left wants to pursue pseudo-scientific mysticism, it should do so without taxpayer money.


House Democrat to co-sponsor bill to 'rein in' EPA

House Republicans can claim "bipartisanship" in their bid to handcuff the EPA's climate change rules.

Rep. Collin Peterson (D-Minn.) told POLITICO on Wednesday that he will be co-sponsoring the legislation from House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.) and Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.) that puts a freeze on EPA's regulatory agenda for major industrial polluters like power plants and petroleum refiners.

"The EPA needs to be reined in," said Peterson, the top Democrat on the House Agriculture Committee and a frequent critic of the agency.

Upton and Whitfield, the chairman of the Energy and Power Subcommittee, have been offering small changes to their bill in their courtship of moderate and conservative Democrats like Peterson. Support from House Democrats, they hope, will put pressure on Senate Democrats and the Obama White House to accept their legislation.

"We want to get as many as we can, and we have reason to believe we'll have a number of Democrats," Whitfield told reporters.

House GOP aides were still trying to put a full list together of House Democratic co-sponsors as of late Wednesday and couldn't confirm additional names. But the field of potential Democrats numbers around 13, considering the list of lawmakers who crossed the aisle during last month's floor vote on anti-EPA language attached to the fiscal 2011 spending bill.


U.S. Is Inundated With Natural Gas, Record Output in 2010, Residential Prices Fall to 7 Year Low

According to data just released by the EIA, natural gas production in the U.S. reached an annual record high of 26.85 trillion cubic feet in 2010. That output was an increase of 3.22% above the previous record high last year, which pushed U.S. production in 2009 above Russia's, and made the U.S. the #1 producer of natural gas in the world.

On a monthly basis, natural gas production in December surged to 2.386 trillion cubic feet, which was almost 9% above the year-ago level, and set a new all-time record for the most gas ever produced in a single month (see chart below):

The record high level of production in 2o1o and record monthly output in December helped drive the average residential gas price for the month of December down to $9.86 per 1,000 cubic feet, the lowest monthly average since February 2004, almost 7 years ago (data here), see graph below:

From yesterday's WSJ:

"The U.S. is inundated in natural gas, and the glut may not ease any time soon. Domestic production last year hit its highest level in almost 40 years, and 2011 will likely see another year of strong production. That means another year of subdued electricity prices and pressure on drillers' bottom lines as well as a powerful incentive for companies and other consumers to switch to the heating fuel.

With no way to export large quantities of gas and a drilling boom fueled by easy availability of credit and widespread international interest in U.S. gas assets, the glut is seen continuing through 2011.

"Rising production will once again overwhelm demand, leading to yet another year of low prices," Credit Suisse analyst Stefan Revielle said in a research note.

In its latest outlook, the EIA saw U.S. production increasing by 0.8% this year, while deliveries to consumers are expected to rise by 0.3%. For consumers, that means cheaper electricity prices and inexpensive gas for heating and cooking in homes and businesses."

MP: At the same time that oil and gasoline prices in the U.S. are surging due to political unrest in the Middle East, prices for residential natural gas in the U.S. are falling to 7-year lows. Maybe one of the lessons here is that by opening up our domestic energy reserves to drilling for natural gas and oil, we get the multiple benefits of: a) reduced dependence on foreign oil, b) less exposure to what will likely be ongoing turmoil in the oil-rich Middle East, and c) lower energy prices.

SOURCE (See the original for links and graphics)

New icebreaker needed in the Baltic

When your former prime minister goes public and declares that the government should buy a new icebreaker, then you're not talking about Britain – yet. This is former prime minister and industrialist Tiit Vähi, who comes from Estonia. He believes that the state should urgently order a new icebreaker, "Instead of spending money on buying icebreaking services."

At the moment, Estonia has two icebreakers, the Tarmo (pictured below) and Zeus, but "difficult ice conditions" in the Gulf of Finland are forcing the Maritime Administration to look for a third.

The Gulf of Finland is covered by thick ice from the Estonian mainland to Osmussaar, making it possible for only large ships to reach Muuga Harbour. Recently, eight vessels were icebound near Kunda and Sillamäe. The situation has been no different on the Gulf of Riga, where the port authority is working its icebreaker Varma non-stop, and still needs help. Chaotic conditions have been reported.

The Baltic is no stranger to freezing conditions, but recently the ice has expanded into the central part of the sea, and in some regions there is simply not enough icebreaking capacity.

Already, the Estonian government has had to allocate €3 million extra for icebreaking, and since 14 February, its two icebreakers, have been working in the vicinity of the northern Estonian ports, yet as the ice conditions are getting more complicated. The need for reinforcements is inevitable, the Administration says.

Very recently, it was reported that, following another extended stretch of sub-zero temperatures, ice coverage on the Baltic Sea was greater than it had been for nearly a quarter century. About 100,000 square miles were covered. The last time so much had frozen was the winter of 1986-87, when ice covered nearly 150,000 square miles.

The problem is being seen as ongoing, and long term-investment is considered necessary to resolve it. In the short-term, the ice is expected to freeze over even more than 1987. But, what is so much fun here is that EU funded researchers, with €22 million of research grants, are claiming that the sea is threatened by "climate change".

Professor Aarno Kotilainen at the Geological Survey of Finland says: "Some estimates suggest that climate change in the Baltic Sea area causes sea surface temperatures to rise, increases winds and shortens the ice-cover season". Perhaps he should be looking out the window a little more often.

Certainly, Estonia economics minister Juhan Parts thinks a new icebreaker is needed. He says the situation is quite worrying. Severe ice conditions are expected to last another three to four weeks and there is only one reserve vessel available for emergencies. Arrangements to use it depend on the needs of Finland and Sweden.

That makes spending the €22 million on climate change research a real shame. It would have been a useful down-payment on that new icebreaker. But then it is only the meteorologists who are warning that ice coverage on the Baltic could expand further in the coming days, possibly setting a new record. What do they know? The proper, EU scientists are working from computer models, and they beat real evidence any day. There is no ice ... move along please.



For more postings from me, see DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, 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 are mirrors of this site here and here


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