Friday, March 23, 2012

An unGRACEful finding

According to some Warmist scientists using the GRACE satellite experiment, the earth's glaciers have been melting at a great rate and pouring a torrent of water into the ocean. See below. So how come sea levels have been falling in recent years? How come lots of other data show Antarctica to be getting cooler, if anything? One has to ask: Could there be something wrong with the GRACE data or its interpretation?

John Wahr (author below) knows of one possibility: The earth moves. He said so in a 2007 paper titled: "Elastic uplift in southeast Greenland due to rapid ice mass loss". So what GRACE is detecting could be at least in part earth movements rather than changes in the ice on top of it.

But the man is clearly dishonest. Look at the last sentence below. He admits that very cold ice won't melt in response to recent small changes in atmospheric temperatures. But how cold are Greenland and the Antarctic? Are they very cold too? They sure are -- averaging around minus 30 degree Celsius for Greenland and minus 40 degrees for Antartica. So on his own admission they COULD NOT be melting. There is something fishy with either the GRACE data or his interpretation of it.

Earth’s glaciers and ice caps outside of the regions of Greenland and Antarctica are shedding about 150 billion tons of ice annually, according to a new study led by the University of Colorado Boulder.

The total mass ice loss from Greenland, Antarctica and all Earth’s glaciers and ice caps between 2003 to 2010 was 1,000 cubic miles, about eight times the water volume of Lake Erie.

“The total amount of ice lost to Earth’s oceans from 2003 to 2010 would cover the entire United States in about 1 and one-half feet of water,” said CU-Boulder physics Professor John Wahr, who helped lead the study.

The research effort is the first comprehensive satellite study of the contribution of the world’s melting glaciers and ice caps to global sea level rise. The results indicate all the melted ice is raising sea levels by about 0.4 millimeters annually, said

The measurements are important because the melting of the world’s glaciers and ice caps, along with Greenland and Antarctica, pose the greatest threat to sea level increases in the future, Wahr said.

The researchers used satellite measurements from the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) to calculate that the world’s glaciers and ice caps lost about 148 billion tons, or about 39 cubic miles of ice annually from 2003 to 2010. The total does not count the mass from individual glacier and ice caps on the fringes of the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets, which could add up to an additional 80 billion tons.

“This is the first time anyone has looked at all of the mass loss from all of Earth’s glaciers and ice caps with GRACE,” said Wahr. “The Earth is losing an incredible amount of ice to the oceans annually, and these new results will help us answer important questions in terms of both sea rise and how the planet’s cold regions are responding to global change.”

One unexpected study result from GRACE was that the estimated ice loss from high Asia mountains — including ranges like the Himalaya, the Pamir and the Tien Shan — was only about 4 billion tons of ice annually. Some previous ground-based estimates of ice loss in the high Asia mountains have ranged up to 50 billion tons annually, Wahr said.

“The GRACE results in this region really were a surprise,” said Wahr. “One possible explanation is that previous estimates were based on measurements taken primarily from some of the lower, more accessible glaciers in Asia and were extrapolated to infer the behavior of higher glaciers. But unlike the lower glaciers, many of the high glaciers would still be too cold to lose mass even in the presence of atmospheric warming.”


The "world government" campaigners have a new tool: Global warming

"World government" is an old Leftist dream and a look at the EU will tell you why: A multi-national government soon morphs into government by an unelected bureaucracy. But very few people fancy much being ruled by foreigners so the dream has long remained wet. Now they hope that the global warming scare will give their campaign new life. The writer below is explicitly Fascist about it. He wants the new world government to be "heavy-handed"

Almost six years ago, I was the editor of a single-topic issue on energy for Scientific American that included an article by Princeton University’s Robert Socolow that set out a well-reasoned plan for how to keep atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations below a planet-livable threshold of 560 ppm. The issue came replete with technical solutions that ranged from a hydrogen economy to space-based solar.

If I had it to do over, I’d approach the issue planning differently, my fellow editors permitting. I would scale back on the nuclear fusion and clean coal, instead devoting at least half of the available space for feature articles on psychology, sociology, economics and political science. Since doing that issue, I’ve come to the conclusion that the technical details are the easy part. It’s the social engineering that’s the killer. Moon shots and Manhattan Projects are child’s play compared to needed changes in the way we behave.

A policy article authored by several dozen scientists appeared online March 15 in Science to acknowledge this point: “Human societies must now change course and steer away from critical tipping points in the Earth system that might lead to rapid and irreversible change. This requires fundamental reorientation and restructuring of national and international institutions toward more effective Earth system governance and planetary stewardship.”

The report summarized 10 years of research evaluating the capability of international institutions to deal with climate and other environmental issues, an assessment that found existing capabilities to effect change sorely lacking. The authors called for a “constitutional moment” at the upcoming 2012 U.N. Conference on Sustainable Development in Rio in June to reform world politics and government. Among the proposals: a call to replace the largely ineffective U.N. Commission on Sustainable Development with a council that reports to the U.N. General Assembly, at attempt to better handle emerging issues related to water, climate, energy and food security. The report advocates a similar revamping of other international environmental institutions.

Unfortunately, far more is needed. To be effective, a new set of institutions would have to be imbued with heavy-handed, transnational enforcement powers. There would have to be consideration of some way of embracing head-in-the-cloud answers to social problems that are usually dismissed by policymakers as academic naivete. In principle, species-wide alteration in basic human behaviors would be a sine qua non, but that kind of pronouncement also profoundly strains credibility in the chaos of the political sphere. Some of the things that would need to be contemplated: How do we overcome our hard-wired tendency to “discount” the future: valuing what we have today more than what we might receive tomorrow? Would any institution be capable of instilling a permanent crisis mentality lasting decades, if not centuries? How do we create new institutions with enforcement powers way beyond the current mandate of the U.N.? Could we ensure against a malevolent dictator who might abuse the power of such organizations?

Behavioral economics and other forward-looking disciplines in the social sciences try to grapple with weighty questions. But they have never taken on a challenge of this scale, recruiting all seven billion of us to act in unison. The ability to sustain change globally across the entire human population over periods far beyond anything ever attempted would appear to push the relevant objectives well beyond the realm of the attainable. If we are ever to cope with climate change in any fundamental way, radical solutions on the social side are where we must focus, though. The relative efficiency of the next generation of solar cells is trivial by comparison.


Supreme Court sides with Idaho property owners over EPA

The Supreme Court has come forcefully down on the side of an Idaho couple in its fight against the Environmental Protection Agency, unanimously ruling Wednesday that the couple can challenge an EPA order to stop construction of their home on property designated a wetland.

Mike and Chantell Sackett bought their land near a scenic lake for $25,000, but when they decided to build a property there in 2007, the EPA ordered a halt, saying the Clean Water Act requires that wetlands not be disturbed without a permit.

They've been fighting for the right to challenge the decision in court for several years, and facing millions of dollars in fines over the land.

The couple complained there was no reasonable way to challenge the order, and noted they don't know why the EPA concluded there are wetlands on their lot, which is surrounded by a residential neighborhood with sewer lines and homes.

In an opinion written by Justice Antonin Scalia, the court ruled the EPA cannot impose fines that could be as much as $75,000 a day without giving property owners the ability to challenge its actions.

The ruling allows the couple to challenge the EPA head-on in court, but the real battle begins now. The case has brought attention to the EPA's reach. While the court only allowed a challenge to be brought, in a concurring opinion, Justice Samuel Alito noted that the law allowing EPA to demand compliance is overly broad.

"The reach of the Clean Water Act is notoriously unclear. Any piece of land that is wet at least part of the year is in danger of being classified by EPA employees as wetlands covered by the act, and according to the federal government, if property owners begin to construct a home on a lot that the agency thinks possesses the requisite wetness, the property owners are at the agency's mercy," Alito wrote.

"The court's decision provides a modest measure of relief," he added. "But the combination of the uncertain reach of the Clean Water Act and the draconian penalties imposed for the sort of violations alleged in this case still leaves most property owners with little practical alternative but to dance to the EPA's tune. Real relief requires Congress to do what it should have done in the first place: provide a reasonably clear rule regarding the reach of the Clean Water Act."

The couple, which termed the battle "David versus Goliath," has earned support from several lawmakers who want to reduce the grasp of the EPA on private property. Reps. Raul Labrador, R-Idaho, Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., and Idaho Republican Sens. Mike Crapo and Jim Risch, all joined the Chantells and other couples in a forum last fall about limiting EPA authority.

Labrador congratulated the Sacketts after the ruling. "The federal government is an intimidating force against ordinary citizens, and standing up to its bureaucracy requires extraordinary bravery. Thanks to the unwavering courage and selfless sacrifice of the Sacketts, Americans everywhere will be guaranteed the right to appeal a decision imposed by a government agency. Their victory also safeguards individual property rights against the encroachment of the federal government, a fundamental assurance of our Constitution," he said.


Obama to tout green energy ‘investments’ at solar facility employing 5 workers, relying on $54 million in taxpayer subsidies

$10 million per worker! A bargain! Presidential visit to Boulder City solar plant shines light on high costs, small rewards of ‘green energy’ projects

President Obama will tout investments in “renewable” energy Wednesday at the local Copper Mountain Solar 1 plant, although the plant has only five full-time employees.

The plant, owned by San Diego-based energy company Sempra, was built in late 2010 at a cost of $141 million. Funding included $42 million in federal-government tax credits and $12 million in tax-rebate commitments from the state of Nevada.

Construction of the plant involved over 300 part-time jobs, but currently only five full-time employees operate the plant, a Sempra spokeswoman confirmed. That comes out to $10.8 million in tax-dollar subsidies per employee.

Solar 1 is the largest solar photovoltaic (PV) power plant in the country and is regarded as a “revenue generator” by Sempra. According to the Las Vegas Sun, Boulder City expects to receive over $60 million in lease revenue from the plant.

Boulder City Manager Vicki Mayes, however, told Nevada Journal the $60 million was "highly inaccurate" and that the total lease revenue will be "much less."

Increasing green-energy production has been one of President Obama’s main goals since he took office. Politicians such as Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and officials including Secretary of Energy Steven Chu have zealously encouraged green-energy subsidies in Nevada.

In addition to wanting to create many new jobs, President Obama has claimed green-energy investment will decrease America’s energy costs and reduce the country’s dependency on foreign oil.

In Boulder City, however, renewables have produced no lower energy costs. Instead, in late 2009, the city approved a 35 percent rate hike, while power generated by Copper Mountain is to go to Southern California — rather than serve Nevadans whose taxes helped finance the plant.

The solar energy is being sold by Sempra to California, which has mandated that 33 percent of the state’s energy must come from renewable sources by 2020.

Nationally, solar energy is unlikely to help the president achieve his goal of lower energy costs. Geoffrey Lawrence, deputy policy director at the Nevada Policy Research Institute, the free-market think tank that publishes Nevada Journal, noted in his Solutions 2013 report that, even according to the U.S. Department of Energy, solar-PV energy will cost three and a half times more than energy from traditional sources such as coal.

“President Obama's visit to the Solar 1 Facility in Boulder City is the perfect illustration of why the president’s economic policies are such a failure," said Andy Matthews, president of NPRI. “The government has spent over $50 million to ‘create’ five permanent jobs and build a plant producing a product — expensive solar energy — that no one would purchase without a government mandate.

“That’s not a path to a vibrant economy; it’s the road to serfdom. This mindset — of government attempting to pick winners and losers in the economy through subsidies and regulation — is a major reason why the national unemployment rate is at 8.3 percent, Nevada's unemployment rate is 12.7 percent and the national debt is over $15.5 trillion.”

Nevada received over $1 billion in federal “stimulus” funds for energy and environmental projects, yet state ratepayers still pay some of the highest electricity rates in the country. Recently, the Nevada Public Utilities Commission approved yet another rate increase.

Solar plants aren’t the only government-funded energy projects in Nevada that haven't lived up to their proponents’ promises. The Reno Gazette-Journal recently reported that seven local windmills that cost taxpayers $1 million to install have only saved the City of Reno $2,785 in electricity costs over their 18 months of existence.


More Greenie waste in Australia

FROM the centre of Byron Bay, a 2.5m-wide, uneven asphalt bike path stretches 750m (approx. half a mile) to the west. This is what $370,000 - half of it federal government money - and 56 workers gets you in this green-leaning coastal hamlet in northern NSW.

The Australian National Audit Office has fingered the project to illustrate its major concerns about the number of jobs created under a nationwide $40 million regional bike path scheme, conceived in the wake of the financial crisis.

The audit office blamed sloppy or non-existent government analysis for a wide gap between the number of jobs it was claimed would be created and the actual figures. In its application for funding, Byron Shire Council initially stated the bike path would create two short-term jobs and two work experience positions. Despite the small number of extra jobs forecast, the federal government contributed $185,000.

The final report prepared by the council on completion of the path claimed 56 short-term jobs had been created "on a part-time employment basis".

But, on further examination, that number was found to include 30 existing council employees, rather than reflecting a real increase in job creation.

The audit of the bike path stimulus program - which delivered only half of its projects on time - found the federal government failed to make a series of crucial checks, such as whether value for money would be delivered, before assigning tens of millions of dollars under the scheme.

Wayne Swan yesterday tried to play down suggestions of waste under the bike paths program, stating it was an "expenditure of $40m . . . in a $1.4 trillion economy".

"We had the most successful stimulus of just about any developed economy in the world," the Treasurer said. "This country avoided recession because of the measures that we put in place."

The bike path stimulus scheme was announced in April 2009 as part of the federal government's $650m Jobs Fund investment scheme, which accompanied other stimulus measures of the time, such as the $16.2 billion Building the Education Revolution program.

The audit office is concerned the government failed to assess the functionality of the paths, the usage the paths were expected to generate and the "proposed dimensions accorded with accepted standards for such facilities".

The bike path component to the stimulus package - and a separate $60m scheme aimed at heritage projects across the country - was included by Labor to satisfy deals the federal government had made with the Greens regarding the stimulus programs.

Under the program a total of 167 bike path projects have been delivered, with those projects distributed across each state and territory.

Byron Shire Council's executive manager of community infrastructure, Phil Holloway, said yesterday that the council's reporting had been "flawed". He said that, in measuring the success of the project, "it would have been better to list the number of full-time-equivalent jobs over the construction period".

Opposition Senate leader Eric Abetz likened the waste under the bike path scheme to the waste that emerged under the BER, and the pink batts insulation debacle.


Australian electricity price high, and rising

With Greenie levies in them and Greenie obstruction of new generation capacity, it's no surprise

AUSTRALIANS pay 130 per cent more for electricity than Canadians, according to new research - a power premium to rise to 250 per cent once the carbon tax and locked-in price increases take effect.

The research, which will be made public today, claims household charges are already 70 per cent higher than the American average, a figure that will grow to 160 per cent in two years. Japanese, British, French, Irish and New Zealanders all pay less than we do.

The research forms the basis of a report to the Energy Users Association of Australia - which represents 100 big power users including BHP, RailCorp, Coles, the Commonwealth Bank and Brisbane City Council - and argues the way power prices are set must be urgently reformed.

The EUAA will also use the research to claim it exposes as a myth that Australian electricity is relatively cheap.

Energy Minister Martin Ferguson recently said Australians pay less than the OECD average, relying on a document called Energy In Australia 2012, which his department's Bureau of Resources and Energy Economics (BREE) published three weeks ago. The document uses electricity prices from 2009-10.

"That data is old," EUAA executive director Roman Domanski told The Daily Telegraph last night. In 2010-11 alone the national price rose by 16 per cent; the NSW jump was 23 per cent. The numbers used to compile the document Mr Ferguson relied on put the NSW average at 18.55c/kWh. But in the real world, households are paying regulated rates as high as 28c/kWh.

The average NSW household's annual cost for electricity would fall from $1700 to less than $700 if our prices were the same as in Canada.

Mr Domanski said: "Add in the carbon tax from July, further network price increases and renewable energy subsidies and inevitably our prices are pushed to the point where they are challenging Denmark and Germany as the most expensive in the world." The report to the EUAA, produced by Carbon Market Economics, found Australian power prices had risen about 40 per cent since 2007 and would rise by another 30 per cent over the next two years.

It found that, even using 2007 currency exchange rates, Australian households still paid more than those in Japan, US, Canada and the average of the EU. Carbon Market Economics' comparison of prices in 92 jurisdictions - including more than 35 countries, American states and all Australian states and territories - found NSW ranked fourth behind Denmark, Germany and South Australia. Victoria was fifth and Western Australia was sixth. The ACT was 21st.

In explaining why BREE used figures dating back to 2009, energy manager Allison Ball said Australian Energy Market Commission data wasn't available until late 2011 and global 2011 statistics from the International Energy Agency were still not available.

However, The Telegraph understands Carbon Market Economics used 2011 IEA figures published before Mr Ferguson claimed Australian prices were below the OECD average.

Melrose Park mother-of-two Leanne Imbro said her family's last bill had jumped to about $700. She said she has been reassessing her children's extra-curricular activities.



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