Friday, March 16, 2012

For those who like to experiment

A paper has just come out under the title "The Experiment that Failed which can save the World Trillions: Proving the “greenhouse gas effect” does not exist!"

It offers an outline of an experiment that anybody can do to test effects of IR on gases. It is a long paper with an extensive preamble and discussion so I will just give the link rather than try to excerpt or reproduce it. But it sounds persuasive.

I noted yesterday that there does seem to be a coherent theory of (slight) terrestrial warming via what could be called a "greenhouse" process but whether the theory is true or not is another question. In that connection, a sentence in the new paper caught my eye:

"The important part of the Bohr model is that when the gas absorbs IR radiation it does not “heat” the gas. It does not increase the kinetic energy of the molecule, which is the velocity of the gas molecule in the atmosphere. The IR (photon) energy is converted to intermolecular activity."

If Bohr is correct that would seem to shoot down any possibility of a greenhouse effect. All versions of the greenhouse theory rely on IR heating CO2, as far as I can see. But quantum physics is way outside my field so I simply draw the matter to the attention of others.


Paper predicting global cooling accepted for publication
The long sunspot cycle 23 predicts a significant temperature decrease in cycle 24

By Jan-Erik Solheim et al.


Relations between the length of a sunspot cycle and the average temperature in the same and the next cycle are calculated for a number of meteorological stations in Norway and in the North Atlantic region. No significant trend is found between the length of a cycle and the average temperature in the same cycle, but a significant negative trend is found between the length of a cycle and the temperature in the next cycle. This provides a tool to predict an average temperature decrease of at least View the MathML source from solar cycle 23 to solar cycle 24 for the stations and areas analyzed. We find for the Norwegian local stations investigated that 25–56% of the temperature increase the last 150 years may be attributed to the Sun. For 3 North Atlantic stations we get 63–72% solar contribution. This points to the Atlantic currents as reinforcing a solar signal.


* A longer solar cycle predicts lower temperatures during the next cycle.

* A 1 °C or more temperature drop is predicted 2009–2020 for certain locations.

* Solar activity may have contributed 40% or more to the last century temperature increase.

* A lag of 11 years gives maximum correlation between solar cycle length and temperature.

Journal of Atmospheric and Solar-Terrestrial Physics

Greenland surface temperatures just oscillate around a very low mean: No long-term trend

Discussing: Kobashi, T., Kawamura, K., Severinghaus, J.P., Barnola, J.-M., Nakaegawa, T., Vinther, B.M., Johnsen, S.J. and Box, J.E. 2011. "High variability of Greenland surface temperature over the past 4000 years estimated from trapped air in an ice core". Geophysical Research Letters 38: 10.1029/2011GL049444.


The authors write that "Greenland recently incurred [what have been called] record high temperatures and ice loss by melting, adding to concerns that anthropogenic warming is impacting the Greenland ice sheet and in turn accelerating global sea-level rise." However, they say "it remains imprecisely known for Greenland how much warming is caused by increasing atmospheric greenhouse gases versus natural variability."

What was done

In the report of the study they designed to obtain this needed knowledge, Kobashi et al. say they reconstructed "Greenland surface snow temperature variability over the past 4000 years at the GISP2 site (near the Summit of the Greenland ice sheet) with a new method that utilizes argon and nitrogen isotopic ratios from occluded air bubbles."

What was learned

The eight researchers report that the average Greenland snow temperature over the past 4000 years was -30.7°C, while the current decadal (2001-2010) surface temperature at the Greenland Summit is -29.9°C, which they say is as warm as it was there in the 1930s-1940s. And they add that "there was another similarly warm period (-29.7°C) in the 1140s (Medieval Warm Period), indicating that the present decade is not outside the envelope of variability of the last 1000 years." And, even more telling, prior to the last millennium they report "there were 72 decades warmer than the present one, in which mean temperatures were 1.0 to 1.5°C warmer." In fact, they found that "during two intervals (~1300 BP and ~3360 BP) centennial average temperatures were nearly 1.0°C warmer (-28.9°C) than the present decade."

What it means

Clearly, there is nothing unusual, unnatural or unprecedented about Greenland's recent relative warmth, as it is clear that much warmer temperatures have been experienced there over many prior prolonged periods without any help from anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions. Hence, there is no valid reason to believe that mankind's burning of coal, gas and oil has had, or is having, any measureable impact on the climate of that part of the world, or any other part of the planet.


Strange doings in Germany: They're like a dog chasing its tail

It seems that German Greenie reflexes have led them to a conflict between two fears: Fear of global warming and fear of nuclear reactors -- and global warming is LOSING. For Greenies to be relying more and more on brown coal for power generation is an absolute hoot. However you look at it, lignite a very dirty power source. It produces REAL pollution, not just innocent old CO2

It's a real paradox: As a result of Germany's green energy transition, nuclear power is on its way out, but coal, Germany's dirtiest resource, has become the most important energy source again. For Germany’s climate budget, this trend is devastating.

Brown coal (lignite) is experiencing a renaissance in Germany. Last year, about a quarter of the electricity generated used this most environmentally adverse resource. Its consumption grew by 3.3 percent. This has made lignite the number one energy supplier. All other energy sources – except for renewable energy sources – saw their market share decline, sometimes dramatically so, according to data by the Working Group on Energy Balances (AGEB).

Thus, Germany’s energy revolution is suffering a serious setback. The Government’s planned energy transition was supposed to, among other things, produce environmentally friendly electricity. It turns out, however, that the power gap, which was created by the shutdown of eight nuclear power stations, will be largely filled by brown coal.

"We have to understand that we cannot phase-out nuclear power and coal power at the same time," says Claudia Kemfert, energy expert at the German Institute for Economic Research (DIW). Greenpeace energy expert Gerald Neubauer however, calls for a withdrawal by 2030: "From a climate point of view, it is fatal that the most harmful energy source with regards the climate is the biggest beneficiary of the nuclear phase-out."

For Germany’s climate budget, the trend is devastating. If the weather had remained the same, greenhouse gas emissions would have increased by 0.8 percent in 2011, calculated the AGEB. Only thanks to significantly warmer weather in the past year, CO2 emissions did not increase. Energy consumption decreased by 5.3 percent, but CO2 emissions fell only by 3.9 percent. The power suppliers are expecting continued high consumption.

"With the agreed phase-out of nuclear power, lignite is gaining in importance," said Hans-Wilhelm Schiffer, head of science department at RWE. The Group is the largest producer of brown coal power in Germany. Only lignite could simultaneously guarantee security of supply and ensure competitive energy supply, so Schiffer.

Lignite-fired power plants run, much like nuclear power plants, almost around the clock - more than 7,000 hours per year. Solar power, by comparison, produces energy only during 900 hours per year. In addition, the production cost of lignite is comparatively low at around 4 cents per kilowatt hour. A kilowatt hour of renewable energy electricity costs on average four times as much, 18 cents.

Environmental organizations warn that an expansion of coal power will inevitably increase greenhouse gas emissions. "It would be a big mistake to connect new lignite-fired power plants to the grid," said Elmar Grosse Ruse, an industry expert with the environmental NGO Nabu. The coal industry is currently benefiting from extremely low prices for emissions credits. Furthermore, renewable energy source could fill the gap in the foreseeable future


Poland not buying in to German nuclear paranoia and fear of shale

Poland, no longer the dirt-poor supplicant of the post-communist era, has transformed itself into an increasingly influential member of the European Union. The economy is booming, and Poland needs electricity -- a lot of electricity. For that reason, Krzemiski believes that the dream of his youth will become a reality after all, and that a reactor will finally be built on Lake Zarnowiec. "Coal is running out, the wind isn't very strong in Poland and the sun rarely shines," he says. "We need nuclear energy."

Poland's nuclear dream is practically destined to cause friction with its neighbor to the west. Rarely in the last 1,000 years have Poland and Germany been on such good terms as they are today. But in response to Poland's decision to build nuclear power plants, lawmakers of all political stripes in the state parliaments of the eastern German states of Brandenburg and Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania (both of which border Poland), as well as in the city-state of Berlin, have passed motions appealing to the Poles to follow Germany's lead and do without nuclear energy.

But even in the wake of the nuclear disaster in Fukushima, which turned public opinion in Germany massively against atomic power, Warsaw remains undeterred in its determination to develop nuclear energy. "If someone doesn't want to build nuclear power plants, that's their problem," says Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk. Last week, Economics Minister Waldemar Pawlak told the German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung that the decision had already been made. The state-owned energy company PGE is expected to build two reactors, and one of them will most likely be in Mayor Krzemiski's jurisdiction, on Lake Zarnowiec.

The disagreement over nuclear power isn't the only energy dispute that pits Polish producers against German politicians. They are also at odds over shale gas discoveries. Geologists have found enormous natural gas reserves locked into the rock deep underneath the hilly, forested landscapes of Pomerania and Kashubia in northwestern Poland. Foreign Minister Radek Sikorski already envisions his country as the Norway of Eastern Europe.

But, once again, it is primarily German environmentalists who are curbing the euphoria over the natural gas find. Jo Leinen, a member of the European Parliament for the center-left Social Democrats and an environmental expert, is calling for tighter regulation of the special process used to extract the natural gas, known as fracking. The process involves the injection of chemicals into layers of rock, with the risk that the substances could potentially leach into ground water.

As Poland's former ambassador to Germany, Janusz Reiter is adept at gauging the mood in German-Polish relations. He fears that a dispute over nuclear power and shale gas could revive old stereotypes on both sides. "Energy is a highly emotional political issue," he says. "For many German environmentalists, the survival of humanity is at stake."

The Poles, for their part, can be touchy when they feel that someone is trying to tell them what to do -- especially if they are German. They are also worried about the fruits of the painful transformation process, and they are afraid that without nuclear power they will never attain the standard of living Western Europeans take for granted.

The offices of the nuclear energy division of the Polish Economy Ministry are on Three Crosses Square in Warsaw. Director Zbigniew Kubacki receives SPIEGEL in a drab conference room. The only wall decoration consists of a map showing Poland surrounded by users of nuclear power. The Scandinavians produce nuclear energy, and so do the Baltic countries, the Czechs, the Ukrainians and, for the time being, the Germans. The Slovaks and even the Belarusians plan to build new reactors soon. Only Poland, says Kubacki, is lagging behind once again.

Kubacki points out that the country's energy consumption is growing by 4 percent a year, in parallel with its economy. Brown coal, also known as lignite, currently provides about 90 percent of Poland's energy. "But we have European obligations," says Kubacki. "We have to reduce CO2 emissions and diversify the energy mix."

Of course, Kubacki adds, Warsaw will promote renewable energy, no matter how costly. But green energy sources are not nearly enough to satisfy the country's energy needs. Kubacki insists that Poland will buy state-of-the-art reactors and adhere to the highest safety standards. But he also admits that no one in Poland knows what to do with nuclear waste, which remains radioactive for thousands of years. He also admits that according to surveys, support for nuclear energy among Poles dropped below 50 percent after Fukushima.

Nevertheless, he says, "there is no way to avoid nuclear energy." But even though he puts it diplomatically, Kubacki's message is clear: The Germans should tone down their criticism. After all, as he sees it, one reason they are so well off today is that they have been using nuclear energy for the last 50 years.


Global warming greed

641 federal programs throw taxpayer money at windmills and solar panels

It’s only now becoming clear how many people have become rich thanks to the global-warming scare. Politicians from both parties have been so afraid of being labeled a “denier” that they’ll vote for any piece of legislation bearing the trendy green label. The numbers are adding up fast.

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) counted a whopping 641 programs in place at 130 federal agencies in 2010 to prop up windmill technology and underwrite solar panel manufacturers. The report released Tuesday didn’t include a reliable estimate of the total cost to taxpayers. The auditors found the array of loans, tax credits, agency purchases of purportedly green vehicles and the cost of regulations would take a great deal of effort to tally.

For instance, the Commerce Department has a Joint Wind Energy Program, Clean Energy Trade Missions, a Global Climate Change Mitigation Incentive Fund, an Environmentally Sustainable Development Investment Priority and a Green Technology Pilot Program - to name just a few. These programs frequently overlap, as the Commerce Department also runs a Green Ship Initiative. The secretary of defense has his own Renewable At-Sea Power Program. The Navy has an Energy Program for Security and Independence, an Alternative Fuels Program, a Third Party-Financed Medium Scale Renewable Power Generation program, and more. Of course, the U.S. Navy was founded on renewable energy. It was wind power that propelled Capt. John Paul Jones and the USS Ranger to victory in battle with the HMS Drake in 1778.

Wind power made sense in the 18th century, but it doesn’t make sense now. The private sector isn’t interested in blowing money on hopelessly uneconomic windmill and solar projects, so at a Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing Tuesday, the case was made that the government must step in. Chairman Jeff Bingaman defended the $34 billion Department of Energy (DOE) green loan guarantees. “My impression is that, overall, the program is doing what it is designed to do - and that is to take on risks that private investors are not willing to take on,” said the New Mexico Democrat. This is the source of taxpayer money that Solyndra tapped into before going bankrupt.

Uncle Sam is terrible when it comes to managing money. GAO slammed the administration’s haphazard process for green loan approvals, saying “it is difficult for DOE to defend its decisions” against charges of favoritism.

Even more important, it’s hard to justify offering any green energy subsidies at all. Sen. Al Franken gave his best effort Tuesday, saying, “The bark beetle is eating more and more of our forests because of climate change.” The Minnesota Democrat added, “Taxpayer dollars are at risk if we don’t address this and try to get to clean energy.”

Tens of billions of dollars is a bit much to spend on a pest-control effort. Instead of this political allocation of capital, the market should be free to judge whether an alternative energy technology is truly promising, free from the distorting influence of congressional subsidy.



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