Sunday, June 10, 2012

Medieval Warm Period And Little Ice Age Show Up In South America Too – Far Far Away From North Atlantic

Based on data from a few carefully selected tree rings, dogmatic warmist scientists like to insist that the Medieval Warm Period really did not exist globally and was only a local North Atlantic phenomenon. The climate, they tell us, was pretty much steady over the last couple thousand years – until man began to prosper a hundred years ago.

However, yet another new study, one by Michael Shawn Fletcher and Patricio Iván Moreno, has been published and adds more to the growing mountain of evidence that the Medieval Warm Period was indeed a global phenomenon. This in turn means that natural climate drivers are dominating the development of the climate, and not CO2. Yeah, like we’re really surprised.

The authors did an analysis of pollen and charcoal from Laguna San Pedro, a small closed-basin lake located in the Andes of Chile. Their results reveal centennial-scale changes in vegetation, climate and fire regime since 1500 cal yr before present.

According to the study’s abstract, they found periods of relatively low summer moisture and increased fire activity between 1500–1300 and 1000–725 cal yr BP. The period 1000–725 cal yr BP (i.e. Medieval Warm Period) is characterised by remarkably rapid bulk sediment accumulation, from which they infer prolonged annual sedimentation resulting from a decrease in the duration of lake freezing under a warmer climate. Before the Medieval Warm Period, i.e. 1300–1000, they found relatively moist conditions during summer and low fire activity. After the Medieval Warm Period, from 725–121 cal yr BP, there was slow bulk sediment accumulation implying a cool and wet climate. Adios Hockey Stick!

The abstract concludes:

"Our results suggest that the Medieval Climate Anomaly chronozone was relatively warm and dry, followed by a cool-wet climate during the Little Ice Age chronozone, before a substantial modification of the vegetation landscape by Europeans occurred in the mid 1800?s. The timing and direction of changes in the Laguna San Pedro record bear a striking resemblance to multiple independent tropical Pacific precipitation reconstructions, areas where precipitation is governed by the El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO), and with the modern influence of ENSO over the climate in the region. We conclude that ENSO was the main driver of changes in growing season moisture in this part of the Temperate-Mediterranean Transition in south-central Chile over the last 1500 years.”

Here the authors lost it in the last sentence. I’m not at all convinced by their attribution to the ENSO, which is an internal oscillation occurring over annual and decadal scales. But the changes that the two authors have observed actually occur over decades, centuries and likely millenia. They really need to compare their results to solar and ocean cycle data, which today are readily available. Of course, they may not like what they find. But as scientists, they’ll surely put aside any prejudices that may exist.

If they do that, then they’ll reach a different conclusion. One thing is sure: the observed climate cycles have nothing to do with GHGs and man. That hypothesis can be fed to the shredder and dustbin.


EPA punishes the innocent for green fuels fraud

Gas station signs announcing "Biodiesel" or "Contains ethanol" have become commonplace in America. We're vaguely aware that billions of gallons of such renewable fuel are now being blended into our finished gasoline and diesel fuels. This is the Renewable Fuel Standard at work, the EPA's byzantine invitation to fraud.

The RFS program is Environmental Protection Agency's system to assure that the amount of renewable fuel being used in motor fuel meets the requirements of the law. Believe it or not, the EPA monitors every gallon of renewable fuel in our motor fuel with a unique serial number called a Renewable Identification Number, or RIN. The EPA does not assign the RIN, nor does it maintain a registry for these numbers. And that's where the horror story begins.

Producers assign RINs -- credits that can be bought and sold like shares of stock. What's more, the EPA puts the burden on refiners and importers to ensure the credits they purchase are valid.

What's to keep a dishonest producer from generating RINs in his computer without manufacturing any corresponding renewable fuel connected to those numbers? Nothing, evidently. Since last November, the EPA has accused three companies of selling RIN credits without producing any fuel to back up the credits. Clean Green Fuel of Baltimore sold more than 32 million possibly phony credits; Absolute Fuels of Lubbock, Texas, more than 48 million; and Green Diesel LLC of Houston, more than 60 million.

Clean Green Fuel owner Rodney R. Hailey was charged with wire fraud, money laundering and violating the Clean Air Act. He allegedly netted at least $9 million, but his business "consisted solely of generating false RINs" and "marketing them to brokers and oil companies," Maryland U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein wrote in an indictment.

What did Hailey do with his alleged ill-gotten gains? Federal agents seized a Gulfstream III jet ($2.5 million), along with 10 cars and trucks, including a Bentley Continental ($267,000), a Mercedes-Benz ($200,000), a 2011 Cadillac Escalade ($85,085), a couple of Ferraris, a Rolls-Royce and a Maserati. The affidavit also listed real estate holdings totaling more than $5.3 million.

Absolute Fuels CEO Jeffrey Gunselman allegedly created fake credits worth approximately $62 million and used the money for similarly lavish living.

Green Diesel of Houston received an EPA "notice of violation" -- a warning that legal action will be taken unless a problem is resolved -- for allegedly generating more than 60 million invalid biomass-based diesel RINs.

To whom did they sell the allegedly fake RINs? Here is the real hitch. The EPA puts the burden on refiners and importers to do the due diligence -- sufficient investigation -- to ensure the RINs they buy are valid. The EPA is explicitly saying "buyer beware."

A fuel industry insider said, "When folks do their own investigating, EPA will not tell us what their idea of acceptable due diligence looks like. There is no guarantee that what you consider to be due diligence will keep the agency from coming after you anyway."

As of this week, the EPA has issued "notices of violation" to 30 companies that unknowingly bought fake RINs to comply with their production obligation. Charles T. Drevna, president of the American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers, last week told a hearing of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, "EPA officials should have alerted members of my trade association when they suspected that some companies registered with the agency were producing fraudulent credits.

"Penalizing refiners who unknowingly bought fraudulent RINs from sellers registered with EPA is unjust, irresponsible and bad policy because it punishes crime victims instead of criminals."

The best solution is to eliminate this system entirely.


IEA: China natural gas demand to double by 2017

Horrors! Natural gas is a FOSSIL FUEL!

Global demand for natural gas will likely grow 17 percent over the next five years as Chinese consumption doubles, the International Energy Agency said Tuesday.

China's demand for natural gas should expand 13 percent a year through 2017 while U.S. consumption will probably grow 13 percent by 2017, the Paris-based IEA said. It forecast European demand to increase by 7.9 percent.

"Asia will by far be the fastest growing region, driven primarily by China which will emerge as the third largest gas user by 2013," said the IEA, which is made up of 28 countries, including the U.S. and most European nations.

North American is poised to benefit most from the surge in Asian demand and will likely become a net exporter of liquefied natural gas over the next five years as new projects come on stream, the IEA said. Meanwhile, Asian LNG producers such as Malaysia and Indonesia will become net importers as local demand surges and output declines.

Low natural gas prices should lead to gas generating almost as much electricity as coal in the U.S. by 2017, the agency said.

The report said the world gas trade may rise 35 percent through 2017, but growth will slow in the next two years before accelerating from mid-2014 after projects currently under construction come on line.

"The global trade balance is visibly shifting to Asia, which is now attracting increasing flows of LNG and pipeline gas," the IEA said. "Australia is set to become the new Qatar" with several plants currently under construction.

Qatar is the world's biggest exporter of LNG.

New liquefaction plants are being discussed in Australia, Russia, Nigeria, Tanzania, Mozambique and South Asia, according to the IEA.


Britain blows hot and cold on wind farms

The arrogant, greedy wind power industry is doing the most harm to popular opinion.

Hill Farm, Tallentire, is squeezed between two of Britain’s loveliest landscapes, the Lake District National Park and the Solway Coast Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), just at the point where they most nearly touch each other. Yet work will begin there next month on erecting six 300ft wind turbines.

Local planners had rejected the wind farm because of its “harmful effect on the landscape”, only to be overruled earlier this year by the Government’s Planning Inspectorate. The men from Whitehall agreed that the turbines would “reduce the sense of wildness and remoteness” of both specially protected areas and admitted that the they would make only a “small” energy contribution. But they still ruled that this outweighed the spoiled views.

The development is just one among many that show, as the Campaign to Protect Rural England says, that wind farms “are increasingly being directed towards more remote, tranquil areas”. Political concern, fuelled by this trend, came to a head this week when George Osborne proposed action against them.

Twenty-two turbines have already been built next to a National Nature Reserve at Thorne Moors, Humberside. Another 12 are proposed for an exposed hillside in the Forest of Bowland AONB. Permission has been granted for wind farms overlooking the site of the Battle of Naseby and the dramatic Grade I-listed Lyveden New Bield, near Oundle. And beautiful areas of the country like Cornwall – which has 94 turbines, with 29 more approved or planned – are beginning to get distinctly crowded.

Now a backlash is gathering pace. Ten days ago, East Anglian villagers won a landmark High Court ruling against a wind farm near the Norfolk Broads and the Norfolk Coast AONB. This week, Lincolnshire County Council announced that it would try to “call a halt to the unrestrained invasion of wind turbines”. And, following an appeal by 101 Tory MPs, the Chancellor wants a 25 per cent cut in subsidies to onshore wind farms, threatening sharply to reduce the number built.

Supporters are striking back. On Monday the London School of Economics’ Grantham Research Institute will launch a report designed to “dispel myths” on wind power. And television presenter Kate Humble told the Hay Festival on Thursday that it is necessary to help keep the lights on. “People don’t like wind farms,” she said. “But the fact is that we need to have alternative sources of energy and wind farms are one of them.”

Actually, she is wrong – but, perhaps surprisingly, not about the need for wind energy, but about its popularity. For despite passionate opposition from many local groups, and increasing hostility among the chattering and political classes, the great majority of Britons back it. This week, in the latest of a series of similar opinion polls, 68 per cent of respondents told ComRes that new wind farms were “an acceptable price to pay” for greener energy. Some other polls have even shown that communities living near existing installations like them.

Yet an Ipsos Mori poll, published in March, suggests opinion is polarising. While 60 per cent still said they would support building a wind farm within five miles of their home, the numbers strongly in favour had risen from 30 to 35 per cent over the past two years, while the proportion strongly opposed had risen threefold to 21 per cent. This trend may well grow as onshore turbines proliferate: the present 3,000 or so are projected to double this decade.

Certainly the wind industry does not help its case. It should have a lot going for it: wind power produces no carbon dioxide or other pollution. Its fuel will never be exhausted – unlike oil, gas or coal – and does not have to be imported. Turbines can quickly be removed when no longer wanted, leaving uncontaminated land behind, in contrast to nuclear and fossil fuel power stations. Wind is growing fast worldwide – doubling in capacity every three years – and Britain has the best resources in Europe.

But the industry has been arrogant, overbearing, greedy and bullying. It has often ridden roughshod over local communities and (apart from enriching landowners, who can now expect a risk-free £40,000 a year for every large turbine on their land) has mopped up the financial gains, giving little back. No wonder that, while wind power remains broadly supported, the industry is increasingly hated by those who have come into contact with it.

Contrast Germany, which with less favourable resources than Britain, gets much more of its electricity from the wind. There, the development of renewable energy has been achieved largely by communities themselves, rather than being imposed on them. Two thirds of turbines are owned by individuals and groups of people, while in Britain 90 per cent are in the hands of large companies. Unsurprisingly, wind enjoys wide social acceptance there.

The industry needs to change, as we are going to need wind as part of the energy mix. Indeed, it is the healthiest of the four main low-carbon technologies. Nuclear power is increasingly in trouble, with construction companies pulling out and plants delayed.

Cleaning up fossil fuel emissions with carbon capture and storage remains well over the horizon. And energy efficiency, which should be the absolute priority, is faltering along with the Government’s much?vaunted Green Deal. So there’s a heavy burden on renewables – and on wind as the cheapest and most developed of them.

Shale gas, unfortunately, is unlikely to save the day. Britain seems to have less of it, and it is expected to be much more expensive to exploit, than has been hoped. It emits carbon dioxide, and is likely to run into local protests that will far overshadow those against wind.

Though exploiting the wind also presents inherent problems, these are less severe than is often made out. While remaining more expensive than gas, wind’s costs are falling fast, even as the fossil fuel’s price is rising rapidly. Contrary to widespread perception, more than 80 per cent of the recent energy price increase comes from gas, not renewables. And though wind is subsidised, as are all energy sources, it is much less so than fossil fuels: just one fifth as much in Britain, OECD figures indicate.

More fundamental is the objection that the wind does not blow all the time – and when it does, it may be too light or too strong to be of any use. But even this problem has been widely exaggerated – for example, by assertions that new fossil fuel power plants will have to be built to back up every kilowatt produced by the wind.

That back-up is already there, built into every grid, for the simple reason that fossil fuel and nuclear plants fail, too; 27 per cent of US nuclear reactors have gone offline for a year or more. And their failures are usually more sudden, last much longer and are more serious – since they are bigger and so bring a greater loss of power – than a passing and usually predictable drop in the wind.

Of course, we could not rely 100 per cent on the wind, but no one suggests that. National grids are relaxed about such intermittency, and studies worldwide conclude that it presents no problem when less than 20 per cent of electricity comes from the wind (at present it supplies 5 per cent of our power) and it only marginally increases costs up to some 40 per cent. After that, storage and other ways of ironing out peaks and troughs will have to be developed, but there is time for that.

Wind also requires a great deal of space: hence the increasing opposition. The answer is to go offshore – less than 4 per cent of British waters could provide some 40 per cent of our power – but, though costs will come down there as well, it is at present three times more expensive than on land.

So the industry will have to be much more careful about where it sites its turbines, and a lot more ready to consult communities and share the benefits with them. And the Government will need to encourage community ownership – and do very much more to boost the development of other renewable sources like tidal power.


The new improved Obama Volt

2013 Chevy Volts will now need only 10 1/2 Hours Charging Time to Go 38 Miles

Great news for anyone foolish enough to be in the market for a Government Motors Volt. While the base price holds steady at a luxury-level $39,995, the 2013 Volt will have an increased all-electric range of 38 miles.

On the downside, it will now take even longer to charge: 10.5 hours using household current.

That comes to over 16 minutes charging time per mile. It would literally be just as fast to walk. Government subsidies come to an incredible $250,000 for every Volt sold. But not many sell anyway. Anyone wonder why?


Heartland Institute Responds to Pacific Institute’s Reinstatement of crooked Gleick

The Board of Directors of the Pacific Institute announced yesterday it was “pleased to welcome Dr. Peter Gleick back to his position as president” of the organization. The announcement comes three months after Gleick, a prominent climate scientist, confessed to stealing confidential board documents from The Heartland Institute.

Gleick also circulated a memo, purportedly describing Heartland’s “climate strategy,” that he originally claimed to have received from Heartland, and later claimed to have received “in the mail” from an anonymous source. Heartland and others identified the memo as a fake and continue to believe it was most likely written by Gleick himself to damage Heartland’s reputation.

Since the “Fakegate” scandal broke in February, environmental groups including Greenpeace and have used the fake memo to launch disinformation campaigns against Heartland’s donors and the scientists who participate in its climate change research programs.

The following statement from Joseph Bast, president of The Heartland Institute, may be used for attribution:

“Fakegate – which began when a fake memo was circulated to defame the world’s most prominent source of skepticism on man-made global warming – has now generated a fake investigation claiming to exonerate the person at the center of the scandal.

“Whereas The Heartland Institute has been open and honest with the public and the press, sharing emails and the results of its own internal investigations, the Pacific Institute has refused to identify who conducted its investigation, to release its report, or even to respond to our inquiries about what questions were asked of Gleick.

“As near as we can tell, this was not an investigation. It was a whitewash.

“The Pacific Institute’s board of directors has failed to perform its duty and should be deeply ashamed. We have asked the federal government to prosecute Gleick for what we believe were serious crimes he committed, and we await its decision.”



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