Tuesday, April 24, 2012
'I made a mistake': Gaia theory scientist James Lovelock admits he was 'alarmist' about the impact of climate change
Environmental scientist James Lovelock, renowned for his terrifying predictions of climate change's deadly impact on the planet, has gone back on his previous claims, admitting they were 'alarmist'.
The 92-year-old Briton, who also developed the Gaia theory of the Earth as a single organism, has said climate change is still happening - just not as quickly as he once warned. He added that other environmental commentators, such as former vice president Al Gore, are also guilty of exaggerating their arguments.
The admission comes as a devastating blow to proponents of climate change who regard Lovelock as a powerful figurehead.
Five years ago, he had claimed: 'Before this century is over billions of us will die and the few breeding pairs of people that survive will be in the Arctic where the climate remains tolerable.'
But in an interview with msnbc.com, he admitted: 'I made a mistake.' He said: 'The problem is we don’t know what the climate is doing,' he told 'We thought we knew 20 years ago. That led to some alarmist books – mine included – because it looked clear cut, but it hasn’t happened.
'The climate is doing its usual tricks. There’s nothing much really happening yet. We were supposed to be halfway toward a frying world. '[The temperature] has stayed almost constant, whereas it should have been rising - carbon dioxide is rising, no question about that.'
After two books - Revenge of Gaia: Why the Earth Is Fighting Back and How We Can Still Save Humanity, and The Vanishing Face of Gaia: A Final Warning: Enjoy It While You Can - he is writing a third.
It will not go back on climate change, he said, but will admit he had been 'extrapolating too far'. It will suggest how people can change their habits to co-ordinate with the Earth's natural systems.
Lovelock said he is not the only one who got it wrong, suggesting other environmental commentators, such as Al Gore and Tim Flannery, also thought the impact would have been seen sooner.
Now he admits: 'We will have global warming, but it’s been deferred a bit.'
A long-time advocate of nuclear power, he suggested we should cut back on burning fossil fuels.
The independent scientist, who is based in south west England and has conducted research at Yale and Harvard universities, has been a respected member of the academic community for decades.
He discovered the presence of harmful chemicals - CFCs - in the atmosphere in the 1960s.
In 2007, Time magazine named him as one 13 leaders and visionaries in an article on Heroes of the Environment.
In 1990, he became a CBE, presented to him by Queen Elizabeth II, and in 2003, she awarded him a Companion of Honour for his achievements in science.
U.N. to debut plan for world socialism in June--time for US to exit?
The United Nations is holding its' "Conference on Sustainable Development" in Rio de Janero, Brazil, over three separate sessions in June, to which organizers, led by UN Conference Secretary-General of Rio+20, Sha Zukang [who 'really doesn't like Americans'], expect 193 attendees from governments, the private sector, NGOs and other stakeholders, according to the Sarah de Sainte Croix March 20, 2012 article in The Rio Times.
The stated themes of this colossal conference, which is structured around a 204-page report titled, "Working Towards a Balanced and Inclusive Green Economy, A United Nations System-Wide Perspective," are “the green economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication,” ... [by and through] ... "the institutional framework for sustainable development,” according to George Russell's excellent and quoted-filled FOXNews article today.
More specifically, the debates will cover a ... 'breathtaking array of carbon taxes, transfers of trillions of dollars from wealthy countries to poor ones, and new spending programs to guarantee that populations around the world are protected--from the effects of the very programs the world organization wants to implement.
According to Russell, the Obama Administration officials have supported this "agenda," which is designed to 'make dramatic and enormously expensive changes in the way that the world does nearly everything—or, as one of the documents puts it, "a fundamental shift in the way we think and act."
According to U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, proposals on how the “challenges can and must be addressed,” include:
--'More than $2.1 trillion a year in wealth transfers from rich countries to poorer ones, in the name of fostering “green infrastructure ... climate adaptation ... other green economy” measures.'
--'New carbon taxes for industrialized countries [amounting to] about $250 billion a year, or 0.6 percent of [US] GDP by 2020. Other environmental taxes are mentioned, but not specified.'
--'Further unspecified price hikes ... derived from agriculture, fisheries, forestry, or other kinds of land and water use [industries], all of which would be radically reorganized--[to] “contribute to a more level playing field between established, 'brown' technologies and newer, greener ones."'
-- 'Major global social spending programs, including a "social protection floor" and "social safety nets" for the world's most vulnerable social groups for reasons of “equity.”'
--'Even more social benefits for those displaced by [this] green economy revolution—such as those put out of work in undesirable fossil fuel industries. The benefits, called “investments,” would include “access to nutritious food, health services, education, training and retraining, and unemployment benefits."'
--'A guarantee that if those sweeping benefits weren’t enough, more would be granted ... “Any adverse effects of changes in prices of goods and services, vital to the welfare of vulnerable groups, must be compensated for and new livelihood opportunities provided."'
“Transforming the global economy will require action locally (e.g., through land use planning), at the national level (e.g., through energy-use regulations) and at the international level (e.g., through technology diffusion),” the document says.
It involves “profound changes in economic systems, in resource efficiency, in the composition of global demand, in production and consumption patterns and a major transformation in public policy-making.” It will also require “a serious rethinking of lifestyles in developed countries.”
This 'UN guidebook for global social engineering,' was prepared by the Geneva-based United Nations Environmental Management Group (UNEMG), a consortium of 36 U.N. agencies, development banks and environmental bureaucracies--all of which rely on the contributions, from tax collecting nations for their very existence--not a single entity engaged in the production of goods or services, producing a profit and owning singular wealth.
This UN doctrine seems to directly channel Marx and Engel's scribe of 1848, "The Communist Manifesto," wherein its' organizational and operational structure appears to largely be a paraphrasical equivalent to the 10 short-term demands Marx prescribed in section II., "Proletarians and Communists."
However, instead of the UN overthrowing the capitalist system, it simply wants to tie it to a leash and be subject to the UN ... [a] 'dictatorship of the proletariat,' to redistribute wealth around the world to "magically elevate the poverty class to the middle class.
The United States, arguably the most fertile and favorable ground for such a massive experiment, has already spent $15 [T]rillion in taxpayer treasure over the past 47 years attempting to circumvent market forces and eliminate poverty--with no affect.
Additionally, study after study has revealed the UN to have grown into an impossibly dysfunctional gargantuan, having negligent management skills, metrics and accountability, and a source of financially wasteful pandering--second only to the U.S. General Services Administration.
Actually, as this directly smacks of the long-discussed "UN Agenda 21," America must treat this audacity of the United Nations as a wake up call, and say "[last] check please"--then hit the UN exit doors without delay.
Germany plans to build, revamp 46 NAUGHTY fossil-fueled power plants
Plus some useless windmills, of course
German utilities and private investors have plans to construct or modernise some 84 power stations, energy and water industry association BDEW said on Monday.
The planned projects were equivalent to an installed power generation capacity of 42,000 megawatts (MW), the Berlin-based group said in a statement issued on the first day of the Hanover industrial fair. It estimated that the projects, taken together, involved investments of more than 60 billion euros ($79.25 billion).
BDEW also said that of the total 84, some 69 units (counting those above 20 MW) were fully or partially approved, being built or test-run. The remaining 15 were at the planning stage.
Of the total number counted by BDEW, 23 units were to be driven by offshore wind, 10 were pumped storage plants, 29 gas-fired and 17 coal-fired generation plants, it said.
BDEW, which represents some 1,800 companies active in supplying power, gas, water and heat, traditionally issues power station plans of its members around April.
The plans this year reflect over a year of debate on how to best replace Germany's nuclear power stations, which must be closed faster than planned in light of the nuclear disaster in Japan in March 2011.
BDEW's managing director Hildegard Mueller said that the plans' realisation mostly hinged on the German government clarifying the future power market design. If this was not done by 2015, especially the would-be investors in thermal power stations might get cold feet and withdraw, it said.
"The increased involvement in offshore wind and pumped storage is a positive signal that the industry is investing in the energy supply of the future," Mueller said. "But this cannot hide the fact that there are obstacles not just for renewable power but also coal and gas-to-power projects," she added.
Green Rage Against Shale Gas Is Irrational (Unsurprisingly)
It is a noble ambition that we should light and heat our homes and businesses using the bountiful energy produced by the sun, the wind, the waves and the heat contained inside our planet. I share it. I am even confident that by 2050 we may have seen breakthroughs — in solar power, batteries and heat from the Earth’s core, in particular — that could make a serious dent in our use of fossil fuels.
I am equally convinced that these renewable energy technologies of the future will be far better than the ones we have today, if the development of mobile phones and personal computers, which didn’t exist 40 years ago, is anything to go by.
It may well be technically feasible to have 80% of our energy needs taken care of by renewable energy by 2050, as the European greens like to believe. The question is how we get there at a price the public is prepared to pay.
The problem is that existing renewable technologies haven’t been produced on budget or on time. Wind now produces 0.5% of global energy supply and has barely made a dent in fossil fuel emissions. Its biggest problem — that it is intermittent — has yet to be solved. Tidal energy remains at the demonstration stage. Geothermal likewise in Britain. Solar power stations work in the desert — the problem is storage and cost. Biomass — that’s woodchips and fuel crops to you and me — does as well as wind in the UK, but it takes up land that people will need for growing food.
Despite real advances in solar panels and offshore wind, renewables haven’t yet lived up to the confidence the greens have placed in them over the 20 years that the world has been trying to stop climate change. Over that time, the carbon in the atmosphere has increased by about two parts per million each year. That is because renewables are too inefficient and expensive to prevent China and India from burning cheap coal to make things for us that we used to make ourselves.
The rise in the burning of coal is the reason for this 20-year trend in global emissions. But, as Professor Dieter Helm of Oxford University is fond of pointing out, there is a way of cutting carbon emissions immediately in most big economies with no significant extra cost. That is by converting from coal to gas, which produces half as much carbon dioxide as coal.
Until recently we thought that conventional gas was going to run out and the most plentiful supplies of the stuff were in Russia or the Gulf. Now that we realise the rocks under our feet may hold supplies that would last for generations, the world has changed and the greens haven’t caught up.
The shale gas revolution has halved gas prices in America, where there has been a 7% fall in carbon emissions over the past four years. As a report published by our Department of Energy and Climate Change said last week, the risk that fracking (hydraulic fracturing, the method used to extract such gas) will cause serious earthquakes is very small — less than from coal mining, geothermal drilling and the water pressure generated by dams. The threat of water pollution is also overstated.
So what accounts for the irrational rage against shale gas we heard again from Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth and WWF last week? The most shockingly naive was WWF, which headlined its press release: “Shale gas incompatible with addressing climate change”. That is not true if you are talking about China, India, America or, much closer to home, Poland or Germany, which depend on coal. China will frack and it will be a good thing.
In Britain, where the coal industry has been in decline since the 1980s, we may arguably generate too much gas in the 2030s to meet our carbon reduction targets if we let shale gas rip. However, the danger that we will have too much gas-burning capacity is manageable and a mere sideshow compared with two much larger problems. The first is simply keeping the lights on after 2016 (at least six of our coal plants are to close by the end of 2015 and all but one of our nuclear power stations will cease production by 2023). The second is keeping energy prices at an affordable level so consumers will swallow the cost of subsidising renewables and nuclear for the future.
True, there is a concern that shale gas extraction could leak methane into the atmosphere, thereby releasing the same amount of carbon as coal. But most experts think that methane leakage from fracking will turn out to be far less than from coal mines. So why isn’t the green lobby at least considering saying: “Let’s beat climate change, let’s frack”? When it comes to the global picture, the greens’ dependence on the mantra of renewables now looks part of the problem.
I detect something else behind the “shale rage” of the European greens. They got too close to the present renewables industries and let governments hand out subsidies without enough competition over price. They thought gas would get so expensive that renewables would look cheap by comparison.
They were wrong. Instead of getting angry with the frackers, they should adapt their thinking to a world in which gas prices could fall, and persuade governments to spend some of the money we will save on a generation of renewables that might actually solve our problems.
For Wheat and Rice, CO2 is Nice
We have written about the biological benefits of elevated temperatures and atmospheric CO2 levels hundreds of times, and we will never run out of new material! Evidence the results of two recent article showing how CO2 improves the yield of wheat and the competitiveness of rice.
A team of seven scientists from various agencies in China began their article noting “In the past 100 years, the mean surface temperature in China has increased by 0.4–0.6ºC, and it is expected that the average surface temperature in western China will rise by 1.7ºC in the next 30 years and by 2.2ºC over the next 50 years.” Furthermore, Xiao et al. report “The annual mean rainfall decreased by about 60 mm [~2.4 in.] from the 1950s to the 1990s in semiarid regions of China, and a loss of soil moisture through evaporation increased 35–45 mm [~1.5 in.] due to the temperature increase. The rainfall and available soil moisture throughout the entire growing stage of the crops was about 100 mm [~4 in.] lower in the 1990s than in the 1950s. As a result, concerns about the vulnerability of agricultural production to climate change are increasing. For example, it is likely that evaporation will increase and soil moisture will decline in many regions as the temperature increases.” If that is not enough bad news, they state “There is now strong evidence that overall crop yields will decrease by 5–10% in China by 2030 as a result of climatic changes, and that the yields of wheat, rice and maize will be greatly reduced.”
But, then, quite importantly, they add “The impact of future climate change on crop production has been widely predicted by modeling the interaction between crops and climate change; however, few observations of the impacts of climate change on crop production have been reported.”
Xiao and colleagues from the Institute of Arid Meteorology of the China Meteorological Administration set out to help remedy this deficiency. And were they ever in for a surprise.
Xiao et al. grew wheat in China at several different relatively high elevation sites (1,798 m at Tongwei and 2,351 m at LuLu Mountain), and they artificially increased the temperature up to 2.2ºC. At the Tonwei site, the elevated temperatures increased grain output by over 3% and by up to 6% at LuLu Mountain. Not surprisingly, they write “These findings indicate that an increase in temperature will improve the winter wheat yield at two different altitudes.”
That finding certainly runs counter to the pre-existing model-based expectations!
And that’s not all. Xiao and team note “The results of this study revealed that a 0.6–2.2°C increase in temperature improved the water use efficiency (WUE) of winter wheat plants at both elevations evaluated.” More good news!
And when they consider the effect of CO2, things get even better.
They summarize their thoughts on CO2 with “Model projections have suggested that, although increased temperature and decreased soil moisture will reduce global crop yields by 2050, the direct fertilization effect of rising CO2 will offset these losses.”
And, echoing something that we must have said a thousand times, Xiao et al. go on to conclude “In general, a higher atmospheric CO2 concentration increases plant production as a result of higher rates of photosynthesis and increased water use efficiency.”
In the end, Xiao et al. have this to say “It is expected that by 2030 warming temperatures and changes in rainfall will have led to the increase of 3.1% in wheat yields at a low altitudes and of 4.0% in wheat yields at high altitude in semiarid northwestern China, and that by 2050, there will have been the additional increase of 2.6% and 6.0%, respectively, at these altitudes”. Further, “In addition, the results of this study revealed that a 0.6–2.2ºC increase in temperature will improve the water use efficiency of winter wheat plants at both altitudes evaluated here.”
So while they went into their experiment expecting bad news for winter wheat, they come out of it extoling the virtues of CO2 and a warmer climate on winter wheat yields.
Add the Xiao et al. study to the huge amount of research showing that crops, forests, and/or grasslands will benefit from the effects of elevated atmospheric CO2 concentrations with or without changes to temperature. Our critics just cannot accept the good news and insist that something will surely spoil the benefits.
For example, one thing we hear over and over is that weeds will out-compete more desirable plants and create an ecological disaster sometime down the road (after we pass another tipping-point?).
A recent article hits this issue head-on, and our critics will not be happy. A team of scientists from China and Norway supported financially by the National Natural Science Foundation of China and the Chinese Academy of Sciences grew rice and a weed (barnyard grass) in a paddy in eastern China at ambient (374 ppm) and ambient plus 200 ppm concentrations of atmospheric CO2. Zeng et al. conducted this experiment “in order to evaluate the impact of rising atmospheric carbon dioxide on nutrient competition between rice crop and weed. Results showed that elevated CO2 significantly enhanced the biomass, tillers, leaf area index and net assimilation rate of rice, but reduced those of barnyard grass after elongation.” They report “As a result, significant increase of the ratios of rice/barnyard grass of biomass and absolute nutrient uptake were observed under elevated CO2. The results suggest that rising atmospheric CO2 concentration could alter the competition between rice and barnyard grass in paddy fields in favor of rice.”
You come to World Climate Report to get the facts, and as these two studies continue to show, the evidence is overwhelming that the biosphere will be enhanced in the future, despite the claims to the contrary espoused by the more alarmist types out there.
High price paid for low solar return in Australian Capital Territory
ACT electricity consumers are paying about $8.37 million annually for power generated by more than 10,500 solar generators which produce only 0.7 per cent of the overall annual requirement.
The cost for an average household paying for the government's feed-in tariff scheme has reached about $26.40 a year and Environment Minister Simon Corbell expects this to jump to about $50 late next year.
Meanwhile, those who have had solar generators installed receive on average almost $800 a year for the electricity they generate.
The feed-in scheme compares poorly to ActewAGL's Greenchoice program. During 2011, its more than 20,000 customers bought 2.54 per cent of the ACT's annual electricity requirement for less than half the cost of the government's feed-in scheme.
Under the federal government's mandatory renewable energy schemes, ActewAGL was required last year to buy 5.62 per cent of electricity sales from large-scale renewable generators and 14.8 per cent from small-scale renewable generators.
ActewAGL general manager retail Ayesha Razzaq said ActewAGL's fully accredited GreenPower program allowed ActewAGL to purchase renewable energy from sources such as hydro, windpower and biomass on behalf of customers. This electricity would otherwise be sourced from fossil fuels.
ActewAGL general manager network services Rob Atkin said that on April 16, there were 10,566 solar sites connected to the ActewAGL network.
From April 1 last year to March 31, the energy produced by photo voltaic systems in the ACT was estimated at 0.7 per cent of the total demand.
These systems contributed nothing to the peak winter demand because at that time, without sunlight, they were not operating. During the summer peak, solar photo voltaic systems contributed about 0.47 per cent of that demand.
Mr Corbell said the ACT micro feed-in tariff scheme was initially capped at 30 megawatts. This was increased to 35 megawatts on a Greens-Liberal amendment to reflect the introduction of the medium scale category. This would cap the maximum annual cost to the average ACT household at $50.
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Posted by JR at 6:14 PM