Tuesday, September 25, 2012

NOW we find out why the Arctic melt was so extensive

In a September 18 video posted by NASA on its website, they admit that the Arctic cyclone, which began on August 5, "wreaked havoc on the Arctic sea ice cover" by "breaking up sea ice."

Global warming activists have been giddy in their hyping of the satellite era record low Arctic sea ice extent while ignoring the satellite era record sea ice expansion in the Antarctic.

Many climate activists have sought to downplay the significance that the Arctic cyclone played on this year's summer sea ice in the Arctic. But this new inconvenient video report from NASA now makes the warmists' attempt to deny the cyclones role in 2012's Arctic sea ice conditions -- impossible.

The September 18 NASA video notes: "A powerful storm wreaked havoc on the Arctic sea ice cover in August 2012. This visualization shows the strength and direction of the winds and their impact on the ice: the red vectors represent the fastest winds, while blue vectors stand for slower winds."

Reuters news service filed a September 21 report based on NASA's video admission titled: "NASA says Arctic cyclone played 'key role' in record ice melt." The news segment details how the Arctic sea ice was reduced due to "a powerful cyclone that scientists say 'wreaked havoc' on ice cover during the month of August."

"NASA says a powerful cyclone formed off the coast of Alaska in early August and moved toward the center of the Arctic ocean, weakening the already thin sea ice as it went.

A large section North of the Chukchi Sea was cut off by the churning storm and pushed south to warmer waters where it melted.
The cyclone remained stalled over the arctic for several days...Scientists say a similar storm decades ago would have had much less impact on the sea ice because they say the ice was not as vulnerable then as it is now."

Arctic storms such as this one can have a large impact on the sea ice, causing it to melt rapidly through many mechanisms, such as tearing off large swaths of ice and pushing them to warmer sites, churning the ice and making it slushier, or lifting warmer waters from the depths of the Arctic Ocean.

"It seems that this storm has detached a large chunk of ice from the main sea ice pack. This could lead to a more serious decay of the summertime ice cover than would have been the case otherwise, even perhaps leading to a new Arctic sea ice minimum," said Claire Parkinson, a climate scientist with NASA Goddard.

SOURCE  (See the original for links)

Coal Era Beckons for Europe as Carbon Giveaway Finishes

Europe is well ahead of Obama.  He is still attacking coal

European utilities are poised to add more coal-fired power capacity than natural gas in the next four years, boosting emissions just as the era of free carbon permits ends.

Power producers from EON AG to RWE AG (RWE) will open six times more coal-burning plants than gas-fed units by 2015, UBS AG said in a Sept. 5 research note. Profits at coal-fired power stations may more than double by then, according to a Goldman Sachs Group Inc. report published on Sept. 13.

The new stations, replacing atomic and aging fossil fuel- based plants, will boost demand for emission permits because coal-fired generators need twice as many credits as gas users under climate protection rules. The price of UN credits may rebound 73 percent by the end of next year from an all-time low on Sept. 18, according to the Euro Carbon Macro Fund in Luxembourg, which manages about $32 million.

"The economics for coal are near the best we've seen in five years," Laurent Segalen, a director at ECMF, said yesterday in an interview from London. Buying UN credits for 2013, after they plunged almost 80 percent in the past year, is "an amazing bargain," he said.

UN offsets, known as Certified Emission Reductions, for next year had their biggest weekly decline through Sept. 14, losing 29 percent of their value. Credits for delivery in 2013 gained 1.9 percent today to 2.10 euros ($2.73) a metric ton, on the ICE Futures Europe exchange in London. European Union permits for next year fell 2.9 percent to 7.46 euros.

World's Biggest

Carbon is falling as the European Commission seeks to fix a glut of permits through 2020 in the world's biggest greenhouse- gas market by traded volume. This year's supplies have been inflated by credits that the European regulator has banned and need to be handed in by emitters before May.

"The outlook for CERs will improve in the second half of next year," Matthew Gray, an analyst and trader at Jefferies Group Inc. in London, said by phone Sept. 19. Prices may rise to 2.25 euros by December 2013, he said.

CERs will probably climb to 3 euros in the same period, said Segalen, whose fund has gained 18 percent since its inception in January last year. They may struggle to rise above that, Trevor Sikorski, a director of European energy markets research at Barclays Plc in London, said yesterday by phone.

Utilities will add as much as 10,600 megawatts of new coal plants in seven central European countries in the next four years, compared with 1,600 megawatts of new natural-gas capacity, Patrick Hummel, a UBS analyst in Zurich, said in the report. Generators will retire 3,400 megawatts of stations burning coal in the same period, he said. A thousand megawatts can supply power to about 2 million European homes.


Germany's wind power chaos should be a warning to the UK

Germany has gone further down the 'renewables' path than any country in the world, and now it's paying the price

On Friday, September 14, just before 10am, Britain's 3,500 wind turbines broke all records by briefly supplying just over four gigawatts (GW) of electricity to the national grid. Three hours later, in Germany, that country's 23,000 wind turbines and millions of solar panels similarly achieved an unprecedented output of 31GW. But the responses to these events in the two countries could not have been in starker contrast.

In Britain, the wind industry proclaimed a triumph. Maria McCaffery, the CEO of RenewableUK, crowed that "this record high shows that wind energy is providing a reliable, secure supply of electricity to an ever-growing number of British homes and businesses" and that "this bountiful free resource will help drive down energy bills". But in Germany, the news was greeted with dismay, for reasons which merit serious attention here in Britain.

Germany is way ahead of us on the very path our politicians want us to follow - and the problems it has encountered as a result are big news there. In fact, Germany is being horribly caught out by precisely the same delusion about renewable energy that our own politicians have fallen for. Like all enthusiasts for "free, clean, renewable electricity", they overlook the fatal implications of the fact that wind speeds and sunlight constantly vary. They are taken in by the wind industry's trick of vastly exaggerating the usefulness of wind farms by talking in terms of their "capacity", hiding the fact that their actual output will waver between 100 per cent of capacity and zero. In Britain it averages around 25 per cent; in Germany it is lower, just 17 per cent.

The more a country depends on such sources of energy, the more there will arise - as Germany is discovering - two massive technical problems. One is that it becomes incredibly difficult to maintain a consistent supply of power to the grid, when that wildly fluctuating renewable output has to be balanced by input from conventional power stations. The other is that, to keep that back-up constantly available can require fossil-fuel power plants to run much of the time very inefficiently and expensively (incidentally chucking out so much more "carbon" than normal that it negates any supposed CO2 savings from the wind).

Both these problems have come home to roost in Germany in a big way, because it has gone more aggressively down the renewables route than any other country in the world. Having poured hundreds of billions of euros in subsidies into wind and solar power, making its electricity bills almost the highest in Europe, the picture that Germany presents is, on paper, almost everything the most rabid greenie could want. Last year, its wind turbines already had 29GW of capacity, equivalent to a quarter of Germany's average electricity demand. But because these turbines are even less efficient than our own, their actual output averaged only 5GW, and most of the rest had to come from grown-up power stations, ready to supply up to 29GW at any time and then switch off as the wind picked up again.

Now the problem for the German grid has become even worse. Thanks to a flood of subsidies unleashed by Angela Merkel's government, renewable capacity has risen still further (solar, for instance, by 43 per cent). This makes it so difficult to keep the grid balanced that it is permanently at risk of power failures. (When the power to one Hamburg aluminium factory failed recently, for only a fraction of a second, it shut down the plant, causing serious damage.) Energy-intensive industries are having to install their own generators, or are looking to leave Germany altogether.

In fact, a mighty battle is now developing in Germany between green fantasists and practical realists. Because renewable energy must by law have priority in supplying the grid, the owners of conventional power stations, finding they have to run plants unprofitably, are so angry that they are threatening to close many of them down. The government response, astonishingly, has been to propose a new law forcing them to continue running their plants at a loss.

Meanwhile, firms such as RWE and E.on are going flat out to build 16 new coal-fired and 15 new gas-fired power stations by 2020, with a combined output equivalent to some 38 per cent of Germany's electricity needs. None of these will be required to have "carbon capture and storage" (CCS), which is just an empty pipedream. This makes nonsense of any pretence that Germany will meet its EU target for reducing CO2 emissions (and Mrs Merkel's equally fanciful goal of producing 35 per cent of electricity from renewables).

In brief, Germany's renewables drive is turning out to be a disaster. This should particularly concern us because our Government, with its plan to build 30,000 turbines, to meet our EU target of sourcing 32 per cent of our electricity from renewables by 2020, is hell-bent on the same path. But our own "big six" electricity companies, including RWE and E.on, are told that they cannot build any replacements for our coal-fired stations (many soon to be closed under EU rules) which last week were supplying more than 40 per cent of our power - unless they are fitted with that make-believe CCS. A similar threat hangs over plans to build new gas-fired plants of the type that will be essential to provide up to 100 per cent back-up for those useless windmills.

Everything about the battle now raging in Germany applies equally to us here in Britain - except that we have only fantasists such as Ed Davey in charge of our energy policy. Unless the realists stage a counter-coup very fast, we are in deep trouble.


Only Warmists could pass this British High School Exam

While Michael Gove tries valiantly to remedy our dysfunctional exam system he might take a look at some recent papers, such as that set last June for A-level General Studies students by our leading exam body, AQA. Candidates were asked to discuss 11 pages of "source material" on the subject of climate change. Sources ranged from a report of the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change to The Guardian, all shamelessly promoting global warming alarmism. One document from the Met Office solemnly predicted that "even if global temperatures only rise by 2 degrees C, 30-40 per cent of species could face extinction". A graph from the US Environmental Protection Agency showed temperatures having soared in the past 100 years by 1.4 degrees - exactly twice the generally accepted figure.

The only hint that anyone might question such beliefs was an article by Louise Gray from The Daily Telegraph, which quoted that tireless campaigner for the warmist cause, Bob Ward of the Grantham Institute, dismissing all sceptics as "a remnant group of dinosaurs" who "misunderstood the point of science".

If it were still a purpose of education to teach people to examine evidence and think rationally, any bright A-level candidate might have had a field day, showing how all this "source material" was no more than vacuous, one-sided propaganda. But today one fears they would have been marked down so severely for not coming up with the desired answers that they would have been among the tiny handful of candidates given an unequivocal "fail".


U.S.  Wind Power Industry Is Withering

Last month, Gamesa, a major maker of wind turbines, completed the first significant order of its latest innovation: a camper-size box that can capture the energy of slow winds, potentially opening new parts of the country to wind power.

But by the time the last of the devices, worth more than $1.25 million, was hitched to a rail car, Gamesa had furloughed 92 of the 115 workers who made them.

"We are all really sad," said Miguel Orobiyi, 34, who worked as a mechanical assembler at the Gamesa plant for nearly five years. "I hope they call us back because they are really, really good jobs."

Similar cuts are happening throughout the American wind sector, which includes hundreds of manufacturers, from multinationals that make giant windmills to smaller local manufacturers that supply specialty steel or bolts. In recent months, companies have announced almost 1,700 layoffs.

At its peak in 2008 and 2009, the industry employed about 85,000 people, according to the American Wind Energy Association, the industry's principal trade group.

About 10,000 of those jobs have disappeared since, according to the association, as wind companies have been buffeted by weak demand for electricity, stiff competition from cheap natural gas and cheaper options from Asian competitors. Chinese manufacturers, who can often underprice goods because of generous state subsidies, have moved into the American market and have become an issue in the larger trade tensions between the countries. In July, the United States Commerce Department imposed tariffs on steel turbine towers from China after finding that manufacturers had been selling them for less than the cost of production.

And now, on top of the business challenges, the industry is facing a big political problem in Washington: the Dec. 31 expiration of a federal tax credit that makes wind power more competitive with other sources of electricity.

The tax break, which costs about $1 billion a year, has been periodically renewed by Congress with support from both parties. This year, however, it has become a wedge issue in the presidential contest. President Obama has traveled to wind-heavy swing states like Iowa to tout his support for the subsidy. Mitt Romney, the Republican nominee, has said he opposes the wind credit, and that has galvanized Republicans in Congress against it, perhaps dooming any extension or at least delaying it until after the election despite a last-ditch lobbying effort from proponents this week.

Opponents argue that the industry has had long enough to wean itself from the subsidy and, with wind representing a small percentage of total electricity generation, the taxpayers' investment has yielded an insufficient return.

"Big Wind has had extension after extension after extension," said Benjamin Cole, a spokesman for the American Energy Alliance, a group partly financed by oil interests that has been lobbying against the credit in Washington. "The government shouldn't be continuing to prop up industries that never seem to be able to get off their training wheels."

But without the tax credit in place, the wind business "falls off a cliff," said Ryan Wiser, a staff scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory who studies the market potential of renewable electricity sources.

The industry's precariousness was apparent a few weeks ago at the Gamesa factory, as a crew loaded the guts of the company's newest model of the component, a device known as a nacelle, into its fiberglass shell. Only 50 completed nacelles awaited pickup in a yard once filled with three times as many, most of the production line stood idle, and shelves rated to hold 7,270 pounds of parts and equipment lay bare.

"We've done a lot to get really efficient here," said Tom Bell, the manager of the plant, which was built on the grounds of a shuttered U.S. Steel factory that was once a bedrock of the local economy. "Now we just need a few more orders."

Industry executives and analysts say that the looming end of the production tax credit, which subsidizes wind power by 2.2 cents a kilowatt-hour, has made project developers skittish about investing or going forward. That reluctance has rippled through the supply chain.


Doom for food-based biofuels

European Union plans to cap the use of food-based biofuels are a major setback for an industry once seen playing a central role in the fight against climate change, but now more often cast as the villain following a series of global food price spikes.
Industry sources and analysts predict the plan could trigger a wave of plant closures across Europe while questioning whether so-called advanced biofuels, often made from waste products, can play the greater role now envisioned by the European Commission.

The European Commission announced a major shift in biofuel policy on Monday, saying it plans to limit crop-based biofuels to 5 percent of transport fuel, after campaigners said existing rules take food out of people's mouths.

Biofuels made from food crops such as grains, sugar and vegetable oils, often called first generation biofuels, had been expected to provide the bulk of a target that 10 percent of all transport fuel should come from renewable sources by 2020.

The balance is now seen provided with a new generation of biofuels derived from waste products, grasses, the inedible parts of plants or a range of other non-food feedstocks including algae.

"It's a big U-turn in EU policy," said Jean-Philippe Puig, Chief, chief executive of French oilseed group Sofiproteol which owns the EU's largest biodiesel producer.

"We have made lots of investment in order to meet the 10 percent target in 2020, including more than 1 billion euros in biodiesel plants in France," he added.


Record high global grain prices have intensified calls for changes in EU and U.S. biofuel policies which have encouraged the use of food crops to make transport fuel.

"They (the changes) will reduce the price pressure on food and at the same time increase the pressure on car manufacturers to offer more fuel-efficient vehicles," said Hubert Weiger, chairman of German environmental protection lobby group BUND.

EU data for 2011 showed that biofuels made from food crops provide about 4.5 percent of EU transport fuel. Most of this is produced within the EU but there are also imports from South and North America as well as South-East Asia.

"I think the problem is we have huge overcapacity in the EU. The bulk of this capacity has been set up in view of this larger (previous) target," said F.O. Licht analyst Claus Keller.

"The lower target also hits biofuel producers in South America and South-East Asia," he added.

The Commission plan will have to be jointly approved by governments and the European Parliament before becoming law, which could see up to two years of lobbying by industry and campaign groups to influence the final outcome.

"The proposals will push an entire industry towards ruin," said a spokesman for German oilseeds industry association UFOP.

The industry was dealt a further setback when Austria suspended the launch of a higher blend of bioethanol in petrol on Monday, just weeks before it was set to take effect on October 1.

"The focus for investors is increasingly shifting to next generation (advanced) biofuels," said Rabobank analyst Justin Sherrard.

"That was happening anyway but this is going to send a clearer message to investors that the opportunity for first generation biofuels is increasingly limited."

Whether they can make a significant contribution to meeting EU renewable transport fuel targets is not yet clear.


"We are not seeing anywhere in the world the commercialization of next generation at the rate which governments and industry supporters had hoped we would see," Rabobank analyst Sherrard said.

"Any move to provide further incentive for those producers has to be a good thing. Whether it is enough, we will watch closely in coming years."

Advanced biofuels plants are mostly small-scale and still in their development stage.

"Maybe we have a couple of large facilities by the end of the decade but definitely not the capacities we have in the conventional biofuel sector," Licht analyst Keller said.

The struggles of the first generation of biofuels producers could also damage prospects for their descendants.

"Who is investing in second and third generation biofuels? Us - we are paying for that. But how can we invest in developing second generation fuels if we are forced to close down first generation production? We need to be realistic," Puig said.

"I am not convinced that the second generation will be ready in time for 2020, it will take a bit more time and will require more investment than for the first generation. Probably it will only be ready between 2020 and 2025."


The Courts and the EPA

By Alan Caruba

A bit of news that slipped beneath the radar on September 11th was the announcement by the Competitive Enterprise Institute that it had filed a legal suit in the federal district court for the District of Columbia challenging the Environmental Protection Agency's efforts to shield a senior official's practice of hiding public service communications on private email accounts that only he controls and can access.

The EPA official is EPA Regional Director 8 Administrator James Martin, a former senior attorney for the Environmental Defense Fund. This and many other Freedom of Information requests have been ignored by the EPA and other branches of government. On Monday, the CEI also filed a lawsuit against the Treasury Department that has been stonewalling inquiries regarding internal documents related to a "possible effort" to enact a carbon tax during Congress' forthcoming lame-duck session.

The last thing America needs is an utterly bogus tax on so-called greenhouse gas emissions. A similar law is wreaking havoc on Australia's economy. And, since there is no "global warming" and carbon dioxide does not cause warming, such a tax is just one more way to grab more revenue.

Because of the hundreds of thousands of regulations the EPA has promulgated, the agency is constantly in court responding the law suits brought by states, by trade associations, and by corporations, but mostly by environmental organizations.

The EPA actually encourages environmental groups to sue in order to enter into consent decrees to "settle" the case in a manner they prefer. For decades, environmental groups have reaped millions in taxpayer dollars by accommodating the agency in this fashion. A case in point is the Environmental Defense Fund that received $2.76 million in grants over the last decade while at the same time suing the EPA over various issues.

The Wyoming-based Budd-Falen law office has documented more than 3,000 law suits against the EPA by a dozen environmental organizations over the past decade! During the same time period, the Environmental Law Institute that created a citizen's guide to suing the EPA has received $9.9 million in grants!

It is especially ironic that the courts have often become the only protection Americans have against the Environmental Protection Agency. Despite the EPA's inflated bogus claims that it is saving lives, the reality is that-particularly during both the Clinton and Obama administrations-it has existed to destroy many elements of the nation's economy, with a special emphasis on the provision of the energy upon which everything depends.

In a recent Wall Street Journal editorial, "EPA Smack-Down Number Six", we learned that a decision by the D.C. Circuit court "marks the 15th time that a federal court has struck down an Obama regulation and the sixth smack-down for the Obama EPA. This tally counts legally flawed rules as well as misguided EPA disapprovals of actions by particular states."

The court ruling "saved Texas from an arbitrary and capricious EPA rejection of its permitting process for utilities and industrial plants" and asked "Why do federal judges constantly have to remind EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson" of the basic principle that even regulators must follow the laws of the United States?

Ms. Jackson is an acolyte of Carol Browner who served as EPA Administrator during the Clinton years. These days Ms. Browner is one of the many shadowy, behind the scenes, "czars" of the Obama administration, accountable to no one except the President. Many were surprised to learn that she was also a member of the Commission for a Sustainable World Society for the Socialist International. When that was revealed her biography was taken off its website.

In war you target a nation's energy facilities. This explains why the Obama administration has targeted coal-fired plants that generate nearly half of the nation's electricity.

Courts, however, are composed of judges trained in the law, but often ignorant of science. In an egregiously bad judicial decision the Supreme Court in 2007 ruled that carbon dioxide (CO2) and other "greenhouse gases" were deemed "pollutants" under the Clean Air Act.

Carbon dioxide is not a pollutant. It is vital to all life on Earth because no vegetation can exist without it. Moreover, there is no need to limit so-called greenhouse gases to fend off global warming-now called climate change-because there is no global warming. It was a huge hoax, but that doesn't deter the EPA from basing its regulations on it.

In a recent case, a D.C. Circuit Court decision was based on a Clean Air Act that empowers the EPA to regulate greenhouse gas emissions in "upwind" states "without regard to the limits imposed by the statutory text" thus vacating the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule that forces reductions from plants in 28 states in the eastern half of the nation. It was challenged by several states including Texas, Alabama, and Georgia.

An illustration of how the EPA justifies its insane attack on the generation of electricity can be seen in its estimates that the rule would have prevented up to 34,000 premature deaths, 15,000 nonfatal heart attacks, and 19,000 cases of acute bronchitis annually. Such figures are simply plucked from thin air, having no relationship to reality than a ruling that a child story's fairy dust can kill you.

Indeed, in 2011, the House of Representatives approved legislation aimed at ensuring that the EPA cannot regulate "farm dust." H.R. 1633 would prevent the EPA from issuing any new rule in 2012 that regulates coarse particulate matter. It passed on a vote of 268-150. Thirty-three Democrats joined with Republicans.

The EPA has become a major threat to property rights nationwide in addition to its relentless attacks on the energy sector. It is a very costly agency in terms of what Congress calls "major rules" that are defined as costing the private economy more than $100 million annually. In August 2010 Speaker of the House, John Boehner, sent President Obama a letter pointing out that the administration had been creating regulations that cost ten times more.

Of the seven rules that broke the $1 billion barrier, four of them were from the EPA. The total cost of EPA regulations hit $104.5 billion versus $5 billion for the entire rest of the government!

If the Romney/Ryan ticket is elected, the nation's energy sector will be permitted to help turn around the nation's lagging economy, avoiding the needless shut-downs of plants that generate the electricity that is the lifeblood of the economy, ending the attacks on coal and opening up exploration and drilling for oil and natural gas that will contribute billions in addition to the jobs that will be created.

With the departure of Ms. Browner and Ms. Jackson, the EPA can then be administered by someone less crazed with the intent to destroy the nation.




The graphics problem:  Graphics hotlinked to this site sometimes have only a short life and if I host graphics with blogspot, the graphics sometimes get shrunk down to illegibility.  From January 2011 on, therefore, I have posted a monthly copy of everything on this blog to a separate site where I can host text and graphics together -- which should make the graphics available even if they are no longer coming up on this site.  See  here and here


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