Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The 2010 Summer Heat Wave of Western Russia

Discussing: Dole, R., Hoerling, M., Perlwitz, J., Eischeid, J., Pegion, P., Zhang, T., Quan, X.-W., Xu, T. and Murray, D. 2011. Was there a basis for anticipating the 2010 Russian heat wave? Geophysical Research Letters 38: 10.1029/2010GL046582.


The authors write that "the 2010 summer heat wave in western Russia was extraordinary, with the region experiencing the warmest July since at least 1880 and numerous locations setting all-time maximum temperature records." And as a result, they say that "questions of vital societal interest are whether the 2010 Russian heat wave might have been anticipated, and to what extent human-caused greenhouse gas emissions played a role."

What was done

In broaching this question, Dole et al. used both climate model simulations and observational data "to determine the impact of observed sea surface temperatures, sea ice conditions and greenhouse gas concentrations."

What was learned

The nine U.S. researchers determined that "analysis of forced model simulations indicates that neither human influences nor other slowly evolving ocean boundary conditions contributed substantially to the magnitude of the heat wave." In fact, they say that the model simulations provided "evidence that such an intense event could be produced through natural variability alone." Similarly, on the observation front, they state that "July surface temperatures for the region impacted by the 2010 Russian heat wave show no significant warming trend over the prior 130-year period from 1880-2009," noting, in fact, that "a linear trend calculation yields a total temperature change over the 130 years of -0.1°C." In addition, they indicate that "no significant difference exists between July temperatures over western Russia averaged for the last 65 years (1945-2009) versus the prior 65 years (1880-1944)," and they state that "there is also no clear indication of a trend toward increasing warm extremes." Last of all, they say that although there was a slightly higher variability in temperature in the latter period, the increase was "not statistically significant."

What it means

"In summary," to quote Dole et al., "the analysis of the observed 1880-2009 time series shows that no statistically significant long-term change is detected in either the mean or variability of western Russia July temperatures, implying that for this region an anthropogenic climate change signal has yet to emerge above the natural background variability."

This, they say their analysis "points to a primarily natural cause for the Russian heat wave," noting that the event "appears to be mainly due to internal atmospheric dynamical processes that produced and maintained an intense and long-lived blocking event," adding that there are no indications that "blocking would increase in response to increasing greenhouse gases."


Lighting Industry Tones Down Light Bulb Ban Support

The lighting industry largely backed a 2007 move to phase out incandescent light bulbs. But amid a consumer and political backlash, that support seems far more tepid now.

The House planned to vote Tuesday on a bill by Rep. Joe Barton, R-Texas, to repeal parts of the 2007 Energy Independence and Security Act. Those sections didn't ban incandescents explicitly, but set efficiency standards that they can't meet. The 100-watt bulb phases out Jan. 1.

General Electric (GE) and Royal Philips Electronics (PHG), two of the biggest light bulb producers, helped Congress develop the de facto incandescent ban.

"The purpose of the rules is to create greater savings for consumers," said Kyle Pitsor, vice president of government relations for the National Electrical Manufacturers Association. "It was also to standardize efficiency requirements. At the time there were quite a few different state government standards for light bulbs."

California banned the sale of 100-watt incandescents this year.

But Myron Ebell, president of the libertarian Freedom Action, replied, "The whole point was to twist government rules so light bulb makers will be guaranteed a much bigger profit. They can't make much money selling bulbs at 25 or 50 cents a pop. They can make money on bulbs that cost $2, $3 or even $25."

Compact fluorescent lamps and light emitting diodes cost considerably more than standard incandescents. LEDs aren't quite ready for prime time. Meanwhile, concerns over CFLs — they contain mercury, many people hate the light they give off and doubts as to whether they are really money savers long-term — have mounted.

Those complaints have had a receptive audience in the new, Tea Party-inspired House GOP majority. It may also be reaching the upper levels of corporations.

From 'Huge' To Whatever

Back in 2007, GE senior counsel Earl Jones said, "It's huge. Literally, the amount of energy that's being saved by the light bulb standard alone is more than has been achieved since 1986 for all appliances combined."

Pitsor told the Senate in March that the industry still backs the legislation. He told IBD that NEMA's "Lamp" subgroup, which includes GE, Philips and most other U.S. light bulb makers, remain committed to higher energy standards. He also noted that Barton's bill repeals commercial lighting efficiency standards and could thus harm investments that light bulb makers began in 2008 and 2009.

But GE signaled in a Monday statement to IBD that the bulb ban itself isn't that important: "With or without the new energy standards for light bulbs, GE Lighting's business strategy will not change."

Records show that Philips lobbied Congress this year over Barton's legislation, but would only tell IBD, "We support legislation that saves Americans money, delivers increased choice, while lowering energy consumption."

What legislation that might be is unclear, because those goals could be mutually exclusive. Indeed, Energy Secretary Steven Chu defended the ban last week, saying, "We are taking away a choice that continues to let people waste their own money."

Nevertheless, a GOP staffer said, "Certainly we have heard from the light bulb industry, but their opposition (to congressional bulb ban repeal efforts) "hasn't been as strong as you might think."

House leaders fast-tracked Rep. Barton's bill, meaning it needs a two-thirds majority to pass. Assuming it clears the House, the bill's future may be dim. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., has not scheduled a vote on companion legislation in the Senate. President Obama would likely veto the bill anyway.


Hard Times Hit Carbon-Trading Markets

Once seen as a potential bonanza by governments, investment bankers, and alternative energy proponents, carbon dioxide credits have become close to worthless in trading exchanges and are now being shunned by investors.

Few Bidders for RGGI Credits

A June 8 auction by the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), a cap-and-trade consortium of 10 northeastern states, was a bust. Carbon dioxide permits auctioned by RGGI fetched $1.89 each, the minimum allowable bid. More than two-thirds of the 43.9 million carbon dioxide permits put up for auction went unsold. The June 8 auction was by far the most unsuccessful of the 12 sales held since RGGI began operation in 2008.

In three of the past four RGGI auctions, bidders failed to buy all the allowances offered. Unsold allowances revert to the participating states, where they will be put up for bid in the next two auctions scheduled in the current three-year program. RGGI now has 81 million unsold allowances. Roughly 30 million RGGI permits are purchased in a typical year.

Under RGGI, each allowance gives a power plant the right to emit one ton of carbon dioxide. RGGI is currently composed of the six New England states—Maine, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, Connecticut, and Rhode Island—plus New York, New Jersey, Maryland, and Delaware.

New Jersey Leads the Way

RGGI received more bad news recently when New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie announced his state would be leaving the group at the end of the year. New Jersey’s unemployment rate is currently 9.3 percent, and Christie is trying to create a more business-friendly climate in his state. RGGI does not fit into those plans.

“Americans for Prosperity has exposed the RGGI cap-and-trade scheme as nothing less than a devious and immoral scam that will make the mortgage-backed derivatives scheme look like child’s play,” said Steve Lonegan, New Jersey state director for Americans for Prosperity. “This is a regressive, stealth tax on electricity that destroys jobs, does nothing whatsoever to address so-called global climate change, and is being exploited by insiders and speculators who see the potential to make massive profits on the backs of ratepayers. Thankfully, we are beginning to see this scheme unravel.”

New Jersey’s withdrawal from RGGI and the failed auction in June are unmistakable signs RGGI’s days are numbered, Lonegan says.

“I believe this signals the beginning of the end of RGGI and the end of cap-and-trade here in the United States. It’s just a matter of time until the entire RGGI scheme collapses of its own weight,” Lonegan predicted.

Lawsuit Filed in New York

New York’s participation in RGGI has been called into question by a lawsuit filed June 28 in a state court in Albany. The citizen suit, filed by private attorney Mark Smith and backed by Americans for Prosperity and the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI), claims then-New York Gov. George Pataki acted improperly in 2005 when he committed his state to join RGGI without obtaining legislative approval.

“The [RGGI] plan increases taxpayers’ electric bills for the sake of an expensive, ineffective compact that, worst of all, is illegal under New York law,” says CEI general counsel Sam Kazman .

Among other things, the lawsuit states, “The authority to raise massive tax revenues is confined to the legislature because it is well understood that the ‘power to tax’ is the ‘power to destroy.’”

International Prices Plummet

Last November, the Chicago Climate Exchange, North America’s only voluntary greenhouse-gas trading system, ceased trading carbon credits after the price of a metric ton of CO2 had plummeted to between 5 and 10 cents. Carbon markets are also taking a beating overseas.

The price of European Union Allowances (EUA), a carbon-linked investment instrument, dropped 22 percent in one week in late June. Investors are also shunning UN-backed Certified Emissions Reductions (CER), which are offsets generated by the UN’s Clean Development Mechanism. The Clean Development Mechanism is one of several schemes created under the Kyoto Protocol, which expires in 2012 and will not be renewed.


Wicked Dutch drivers squash bugs

Dutch motorists kill about 133 billion insects a month, splattering bugs on their vehicles and eliminating important members of the food chain, according to a study released this week.

Biologists at Wageningen University in the Netherlands enlisted the help of 250 drivers for a "splash teller" study. Each motorist had to wipe his or her car license plate clean then tot up the bug body count at the end of their drive.

"They are by far the richest species groups in all countries, and therefore play an essential role in the food chain," biologist Arnold van Vliet, one of a team working on the project, told Reuters.

"Many birds such as swallows, who hunt for insects, depend on insect density. If insect numbers are low they inevitably face severe problems finding food for their young," he said.

Insects are not only important pollinators of commercial and wild plants, but also form a crucial part of the diet of many animals including birds and bats.

The study showed the most dangerous parts of the country for a flying insect are the coastal provinces of Zeeland, Friesland and Groningen -- which Van Vliet said was possibly a reflection of the fact the human inhabitants are more likely to drive longer distances in these less densely populated areas.

Van Vliet said the scientific study was inspired by a similar project in the United Kingdom, carried out in 2004.


Gore (Re)Sells A Lie

Al Gore is going to "connect the dots" between climate change and severe weather. Given that the former vice president has been coloring outside the lines for years, there's no reason to believe what he'll say.

Gore launched Tuesday the latest phase of his attempt to save man from himself. Through the Climate Reality Project, he intends "to reveal the complete truth about the climate crisis."

Earth's most famous global warming alarmist, whose selection as a Nobel Laureate lowered the bar for that prize, expects that on Sept. 14 the world will listen raptly to his group's narrative on the "climate crisis."

During this 24-hour slice of "reality," the Climate Reality Project's website says, the world will focus "on the full truth, scope, scale and impact of the climate crisis. To remove the doubt. Reveal the deniers. And catalyze urgency around an issue that affects every one of us."

Busybody Gore hasn't done too little. But he is too late. The global warming scare that he's helped gin up is growing as cold as a morgue slab.

Rather than being so fixed on the Sept. 14 event, Gore should have been keeping up with the news. Had he done so, he would have learned that there has been no statistically significant warming since 1995. This isn't the claim of some crackpot "denier," but of Phil Jones, a credentialed alarmist who is director of research at East Anglia University's Climatic Research Unit.

And it's not exactly fresh news, either. Jones, who played a major role in the climate-gate email scandal, made the statement, which was resurrected last week by James Delingpole in the London Telegraph, in 2010.

Mentioned by Delingpole in the same piece is the academic paper "Reconciling anthropogenic climate change with observed temperature 1998-2008," which shows there's been no warming since 1998.

Facts don't mean much to the global warming alarmists, even though they claim to have them on their side.

They're more concerned about emotional responses to their hysterical appeals, and how they can use those responses to further their agenda, which has everything to do with social control, political strength and influence, and nothing to do with the environment.

Gore wants people to use his new campaign to "discover for themselves the truth about climate change." But he doesn't want them to know the truth — he wants them to buy his propaganda. He knows the truth will make them the "deniers" he ridicules without reason.


Australians demand carbon tax vote

AUSTRALIANS have given the carbon tax the thumbs down, with 68 per cent saying it will leave them worse off and 63 per cent calling for Julia Gillard to bring on an early election.

The exclusive Galaxy Poll for the Herald Sun - the first major survey since the release of the carbon tax package on Sunday - also found 60 per cent of voters opposed the tax, 29 per cent were in favour and 11 per cent undecided.

The nationwide telephone poll of 500 people conducted on Monday night suggests voters believe the personal cost of the carbon tax outweighs the environmental benefits.

Voters have not accepted Ms Gillard's promise that more than six out of 10 households would be fully compensated or better off after compensation for the rise in the cost of living.

Only 10 per cent of voters said they would be better off and only 28 per cent believe Ms Gillard has a mandate to introduce the tax without holding another election.

The poll reveals 62 per cent of people think the Greens, who negotiated the package with Labor and the independents, have too much influence over the Government, while 30 per cent say the Greens are working effectively.

It finds 81 per cent believe the carbon tax will have little or no impact on the environment and 67 per cent believe it will be bad for the economy compared with 22 per cent who think it will be good.

The poll comes as Ms Gillard rejected suggestions she might step down as PM or be replaced after Labor's primary vote in the latest Newspoll plunged to a record low of 27 per cent. It was 35 per cent when she toppled Kevin Rudd last year.

"I will be leading this country to a clean energy future, that's what I'm determined to do," Ms Gillard said yesterday as she campaigned in Melbourne. "I'm absolutely convinced what I'm doing is right. "There's a very simple proposition here: do you want your kids to grow up in a country that's generating more pollution or less? ... By putting a price on carbon we will generate less pollution."

Opposition Leader Tony Abbott, who was in Dandenong South, predicted Labor MPs might move to replace Ms Gillard because of the carbon tax. "They may well remove this Prime Minister," he said.

Ms Gillard said under a $23 carbon tax the economy would continue to grow with more jobs and she cited a $4.7 billion takeover bid by the world's biggest coal miner, Peabody Energy, for Australia's Macarthur Coal as proof the coal industry had a strong future.

"Tony Abbott was predicting Armageddon for the coal mining industry yesterday. The future of the coal mining industry is bright and it's not the first thing he's got wrong," she said.

Ms Gillard rejected claims by food and housing groups in yesterday's Herald Sun that prices would rise by more than predicted by Treasury.

She said the same experts who modelled the GST and got it right had estimated the carbon tax would add just 0.7 per cent to the cost of living.



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