Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Antarctic sea ice increase caused by winds?

All the derision from skeptics  based on ice growth in the Antarctic finally seems to be getting through to Warmists.  They note it below now that they finally think they have figured how to explain it away.

What they say may even be right.  There is certainly evidence that DECREASES in Arctic ice are caused by changing winds. So once you bring winds into the equation and stop pretending that CO2 is the key factor, it could well be "one all" as they say in some sports. Ice changes at NEITHER pole are caused by global warming but rather by local factors.

In support of their views, climate change skeptics have long pointed to the fact that Antarctic sea ice - unlike that in the Arctic - is actually growing.

Now, though, scientists from the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) and NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) say they know why.

It's sea ice drift caused by changing weather patterns, they say, after examining over five million individual daily ice motion measurements captured over a period of 19 years by four US Defense Meteorological satellites.

"Until now these changes in ice drift were only speculated upon, using computer models of Antarctic winds," says Dr Paul Holland of BAS.

"The total Antarctic sea-ice cover is increasing slowly, but individual regions are actually experiencing much larger gains and losses that are almost offsetting each other overall. We now know that these regional changes are caused by changes in the winds, which in turn affect the ice cover through changes in both ice drift and air temperature."

The changes in ice drift, says Holland, also suggest large changes in the ocean surrounding Antarctica, which is very sensitive to the cold and salty water produced by sea-ice growth.

"Sea ice is constantly on the move; around Antarctica the ice is blown away from the continent by strong northward winds," he says.

"Since 1992 this ice drift has changed. In some areas the export of ice away from Antarctica has doubled, while in others it has decreased significantly."

The research also helps explain why changes in the amount of sea-ice cover are so different in the two polar regions. The Arctic has experienced dramatic ice losses in recent decades whi,le the overall extent of ice cover in the Antarctic has increased slightly.

This small Antarctic increase is actually the result of much larger regional increases and decreases, says the team, which are now shown to be caused by wind-driven changes. In places, it now appears, increased northward winds have caused the sea-ice cover to expand outwards from Antarctica. But because the Arctic Ocean is surrounded by land, changed winds can't cause Arctic ice tomake it expand in the same way.

"The Antarctic sea ice cover interacts with the global climate system very differently than that of the Arctic, and these results highlight the sensitivity of the Antarctic ice coverage to changes in the strength of the winds around the continent," says Dr Ron Kwok of JPL.


Saudi Arabia reveals plans to  power country entirely by renewable energy

Weird  -- but probably just hot air

Saudi Arabia, the world's biggest oil producer, has plans to become 100% powered by renewable and low-carbon forms of energy, according to an influential member of the royal family.

Saudi Arabia's energy use is almost entirely from fossil fuels at present, with about two-thirds coming from oil and the remainder from gas. The state produces close to 12m barrels of oil a day, representing more than 12% of world crude production, and has about one-fifth of the world's oil reserves, according to the US government's Energy Information Administration. Energy use per person within the kingdom is also high by world standards, because energy prices are kept so low.

As Prince Turki noted, however, the kingdom has vast potential for using solar power. "The cost of solar energy is now 15% of what it was 20 years ago," he noted. Saudi Arabia has also signed memoranda of understanding – though no final deal as yet – with Argentina over nuclear energy.
But despite his commitment to advancing renewable energy in the Middle East, Prince Turki – who served as director of Saudi Arabia's intelligence services for more than 20 years and has also been an ambassador to the UK and the US – was also clear that the rest of the world was likely to continue to rely on fossil fuels for many years to come. "No country can ban itself from any one form of energy," he said.

One of the other potentially important technologies for Saudi Arabia is carbon capture and storage, as depleted oil fields could be used as storage for compressed carbon dioxide, but it has so far made little progress. The prince said the development of carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology should be seen as an international effort rather than the responsibility of single countries.

Nebjsa Nakicenovic, deputy chief of the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis, said CCS was likely to be a vital technology around the world. Though he acknowledged there could be problems, as the technology is still unproven, he warned: "Do not discount CCS."

On renewables, Nakicenovic said the world should aim to generate 30% of energy from sustainable renewable sources by 2030. That would represent more than a doubling of current renewable energy usage, because although on paper about 15% of energy now comes from renewable sources, this includes a large amount of biomass – mostly wood, dung and other waste – burned in developing countries. Much of this is unsustainable, and requires a significant use of resources in foraging for firewood. "So [the target] is very ambitious, but doable," he said.


Michiganders recognize Warmist wet dream for what it is

Why Michigan voters wisely rejected the crazy idea of 25% electricity from renewables by 2025

By Kevon Martis from IICC

The Michigan Energy-Michigan Jobs (MEMJ) Proposal 3 – its 25 by 25 gambit – would have forced Michigan taxpayers and ratepayers to produce 25 percent of the Wolverine State’s electricity via expensive, unreliable, parasitic wind and solar projects by 2025.

The misguided program has now been laid to rest by the wisdom of Michigan’s voters. What can we learn by autopsying its corpse?

This initiative was hardly local. It was driven by out-of-state pressure groups like the Sierra Club that were backed by the League of Conservation Voters, natural gas company Chesapeake Energy, and a number of deep-pocketed elites. MEMJ itself was funded largely by the Green Tech Action Fund of San Francisco; the Natural Resources Defense Fund of New York, whose president is multi-millionaire Frances Beinecke; and San Francisco hedge fund billionaire Tom Steyer.

These carpetbagger activists placed a bull’s-eye on Michigan ratepayers with Proposal 3. Sierra Club was blunt: “If successful, the [Michigan] 25x25 initiative will send an important signal to the nation that public desire to move toward green energy remains strong.”

The grassroots activists who defeated this proposal had no billionaire largesse to draw upon. They were united under the Interstate Informed Citizen’s Coalition, a bipartisan renewable energy consumers watchdog group dependent on small contributions to support its work and committed to advancing sensible science-based energy policies and free market land use policies.

Compelled by the principle that industrial renewable energy schemes like Proposal 3 bring far more benefit to their invisible corporate cronies than to the environment, IICC members traveled the state on their own dime to speak out, protest, educate and inform. Their reward was sweet: they took their message of science-based energy policy to the people, who responded at the ballot box, soundly defeating Proposal 3 by 64-36 percent.

Using Sierra’s own test, Michigan ratepayers have shouted there is no such “public desire.”

In fact, there is widespread opposition to mandating forest-denuding biomass and massively expensive solar. But the hottest conflict focused on industrial wind. Michigan wind projects have lost at the ballot box virtually every time they have been put to the vote in a fair manner – and by similar margins.

At the township level, opposition to wind cronyism is just as strong. In Lenawee County, Riga Township rejected wind-friendly zoning by 64-36 percent. Two more Lenawee Townships followed suit. In Huron County, Lake Township removed a wind friendly ordinance by a similar 61-39 percent. And in Clinton County townships are intent on adopting police power regulations for wind energy installations, in defiance of too-permissive county level zoning.

This opposition is strongly bipartisan. Proposal 3 and its miles of wind turbines were opposed by both the free market Americans for Prosperity and Michael Moore movie producer Jeff Gibbs.

The ballot box evidence is clear. Michigan ratepayers from left to right are emphatic that there is no “desire” for mandated and subsidized industrial wind projects, in their backyard or anywhere in the State.

The push for Prop 3 also broke the big utilities’ code of silence on wind inefficacy. MEMJ unwittingly exposed CMS Energy’s duplicity on this issue – observing that CMS praised its new Ludington area wind plant for furnishing “reliable and affordable energy,” even as its public relations surrogate Care for Michigan was calling wind “expensive and unreliable.” Unfortunately for MEMJ, the Care for Michigan version was the truth.

Opponents of renewable energy have long pointed out that wind energy is parasitic – totally dependent on fossil fuels for backup power, with every megawatt of wind power supported by a megawatt of redundant coal or natural gas generating plants. So wind cannot possibly or meaningfully reduce emissions.

But the utilities stood silent. Their beloved existing 10 percent renewable mandate, PA295, restored their monopoly status and guaranteed them nice profits, in exchange for a small number of renewable projects. They were not interested in biting the legislative hand that was (and is) feeding them.

But Prop 3 brought all stick and no carrot for the utilities. They could no longer remain silent. Out came the truth. Wind cannot replace fossil fuel plants. Wind is not getting inexorably cheaper, but is far more expensive than current generation and, minus the huge hidden subsidies, more expensive than new coal. Wind cannot increase employment without costing employment in other industries that get stuck with soaring electricity bills. Wind energy cannot liberate us from foreign oil or from out-of-state coal imports.

What then did our autopsy discover? Michigan renewable energy mandates – including PA295 – are doomed. Because of gluttonous overreach, they will die by their own hand. Politicians need not fear public reprisal for opposing and repealing renewable energy mandates. It is now safe for lawmakers to acknowledge and act on the fact that renewables mandates like PA 295 are of no benefit to ratepayers, employers or employees, and are of dubious benefit to the environment.

Through the failure of Proposal 3, Michigan wind has been dissected and eviscerated by public opinion. The sooner our elected officials zip the death bag shut and send the corpse out for burial, the sooner Michigan can protect its rural areas from needless industrialization and our energy intensive industries from rising electricity costs that compromise their competitive edge.

Other states, and our federal government, should take note.

Received via email

Shale Boom to Turn US Into World's Largest Oil Producer

Benoit Faucon

A shale oil boom means the U.S. will overtake Saudi Arabia as the world's largest oil producer by 2020, a radical shift that could profoundly transform not just the world's energy supplies, but also its geopolitics, the International Energy Agency said Monday.

In its closely watched annual World Energy Outlook, the IEA, which advises industrialized nations on their energy policies, said the global energy map "is being redrawn by the resurgence in oil and gas production in the United States."

The assessment is in contrast with last year, when it envisioned Russia and Saudi Arabia vying for the top position.

"By around 2020, the United States is projected to become the largest global oil producer" and overtake Saudi Arabia for a time, the agency said. "The result is a continued fall in U.S. oil imports (currently at 20% of its needs) to the extent that North America becomes a net oil exporter around 2030."

This major shift will be driven by the faster-than-expected development of hydrocarbon resources locked in shale and other tight rock that have just started to be unlocked by a new combination of technologies called hydraulic fracturing.

According to Washington's Energy Information Administration, U.S. oil production has increased 7% to 10.76 million barrels a day since the IEA's last outlook a year ago. The agency's conclusions are partly backed by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, which last week acknowledged for the first time that shale oil would significantly diminish its share of the U.S. market.

The group said the U.S. would import less than 2 million barrels a day in 2035, almost three-quarters less than it does today. That is not to say OPEC's role will be marginalized globally. The group's share of global production will increase from 42% today to 50% in 2035, with much of it going to Asia, according to the IEA.

The IEA hinted that newly found U.S. energy independence could redefine military alliances, with Washington being replaced by Asian nations as those needing to secure oil shipping lanes.

"It accelerates the switch in direction of international oil trade towards Asia, putting a focus on the security of the strategic routes that bring Middle East oil to Asian markets," it said.

Some in the U.S. are already questioning the reasons for keeping U.S. warships in the Persian Gulf. "It's insane that we have the Fifth Fleet of the U.S. Navy tied up there to protect oil that ends up in China and Europe," T. Boone Pickens, chief executive of energy-focused hedge fund BP Capital Management, was quoted as saying last week in U.S. magazine Parade.

The IEA also warned that the emergence of shale gas as a game changer in global energy has a downside risk, contributing to increased competition for water resources needed for energy projects.

Shale oil and gas are extracted by pumping water, sand and chemicals into the ground at high pressure to crack rocks open, a process known as hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking." But the intensive use of water, "will increasingly impose additional costs," and could "threaten the viability of projects" for shale oil and gas, and biofuels, the agency said.


Green Trauma: Enough Energy For 1000 Years As Methane Hydrates Is Tested As Possible New Energy Source

A half mile below the ground at Prudhoe Bay, above the vast oil field that helped trigger construction of the trans-Alaska pipeline, a drill rig has tapped what might one day be the next big energy source.

The Department of Energy and industry partners over two winters drilled into a reservoir of methane hydrate, which looks like ice but burns like a candle if a match warms its molecules.

There is little need now for methane, the main ingredient of natural gas. With the boom in production from hydraulic fracturing (so-called "fracking"), the United States is awash in natural gas for the near future and is considering exporting it, but the DOE wants to be ready with methane if there's a need.

"If you wait until you need it, and then you have 20 years of research to do, that's not a good plan," said Ray Boswell, technology manager for methane hydrates within the DOE's National Energy Technology Laboratory.

The nearly $29 million science experiment on the North Slope produced 1 million cubic feet of methane. Researchers have begun the complex task of analyzing how the reservoir responded to extraction.

Much is unknown but interest has accelerated over the past decade, said Tim Collett, a research geologist for the U.S. Geological Survey in Denver.

U.S. operators in Alaska, he said, may want to harvest methane so they can re-inject it into the ground. Crude oil is more lucrative than natural gas, which is routinely injected into North Slope fields to maintain underground pressure, which aids in oil extraction.

Japan, Korea, India and China, however, want to cut down on natural gas imports by burning methane. Japan is setting up for a production test on a gas hydrate accumulation in the Nankai Trough south of Honshu, its main island.

"That will be the first marine gas hydrate test anywhere in the world," Collett said.

The Energy Department describes methane hydrate as a lattice of ice that traps methane molecules but does not bind them chemically. They are released when warmed or depressurized.

Methane comes from buried organic matter after it's ingested by bacteria or heated and cooked. The gas migrates upward, under high pressure and low temperature, and can combine with water to form methane hydrate.

Most deposits are below the sea floor off the continental shelf or under permafrost. Shallow pockets of methane hydrate release the potent greenhouse gas into the atmosphere and that process is exacerbated by climate warming.

That's why Brendan Cummings of the Center for Biological Diversity says research money should be poured into renewable resources, not more fossil fuel sources. Methane is 20 times more effective at trapping heat in the atmosphere than CO2, though not as long-lived.

"Any exploration activities designed to extract methane hydrates run the risk of unintended consequences, of unleashing the monster," he said. Even if methane is extracted safely, burning it will add to climate warming, he said.

The world has a lot of methane hydrate. A Minerals Management Service study in 2008 estimated methane hydrate resources in the northern Gulf of Mexico at 21,000 trillion cubic feet, or 100 times current U.S. reserves of natural gas. The combined energy content of methane hydrate may exceed all other known fossil fuels, according to the DOE.

Not all is accessible, but high concentrations in permeable rock where there's existing drilling infrastructure would be among early candidates for development. The USGS in 2008 estimated 85 trillion cubic feet of undiscovered, technically recoverable gas within methane hydrate deposits on Alaska's North Slope.

It will not be simply dug out of the ground, Boswell said. "One of the basic messages is, we're not mining," he said. "It's using existing drilling techniques."

Methane could be extracted by lowering pressure or increasing temperature in an underground reservoir.

"One of the issues with that, though, is that you are melting the ice, and adding a lot of gas and water to the reservoir, which can compromise the reservoir's strength," Boswell said.

The Alaska research focused on a method aimed at preserving the underground ice structure. The extraction technique was based on studies done by Houston-based ConocoPhillips and the University of Bergen in Norway. Researchers in a laboratory injected carbon dioxide into methane hydrate. CO2 molecules swapped places with methane molecules, freeing the methane to be harvested but preserving the ice.

The DOE worked with ConocoPhillips and Japan Oil, Gas and Metals National Corp. to see if it would work in the field. They named the North Slope well Ignik Sikumi, an Inupiat Eskimo phrase that translates as "fire in the ice."

Researchers injected 210,000 cubic feet of carbon dioxide and nitrogen into the underground reservoir through perforated pipe. Instruments measured pressure, temperature and produced gases. They tracked injected gases without fracturing the formation.

Scientists collected data from 30 days of methane production, five times longer than anyone had done before. They are now trying to determine if methane produced was from an exchange with CO2, a reaction to the nitrogen, or a reaction to pressure changes down the hole.

Researchers are optimistic.

"From the lab data we had, it seemed like it was some strong evidence that it was not a lot of wholesale destruction of the solid hydrate," Boswell said.



Three current articles below

Green bank won't deliver "clean" energy by 2020

Unless it's backed up by more compulsion

The $10 billion clean energy finance corporation will not deliver additional clean energy by 2020 but will just shuffle renewable energy investment from wind power to solar, new modelling says.

But the modelling found the "green bank" could deliver "bang for its buck" if the government expanded the renewable energy target to apply to the projects it funded.

Two sets of modelling for the WWF and the Australian Solar Council found that, as it is proposed, the green bank's proposed $2 billion a year in investments would drive no additional renewable energy investment by 2020.

But expanding the renewable energy target - which requires electricity providers to source 45,000 gigawatt hours of power from renewable sources by 2020 - could see Australia generate an additional 3 per cent of its electricity from renewables (26 per cent rather than 23 per cent) without any change to government spending and without hitting electricity prices.

The green bank is intended to provide both commercial and subsidised loans to big clean energy projects, but from its inception green groups argued that while the carbon price was still relatively low the projects would also need the additional "leg up" from the ongoing effective subsidy of being included in the government's renewable energy target (RET).

The modelling shows that, if the RET was expanded, both wind and solar photovoltaics would get a boost, substantially reducing emissions.

And it argues that because renewables, especially solar, reduce peak demand and lower wholesale prices, this would offset a slight increase in retail prices from the move - resulting in no net increase for household power bills.

"There is an opportunity for the CEFC to have a greater benefit..at potentially no additional cost to the public," said WWF climate change manager Kellie Caught.

Chief executive of the Australian Solar Council John Grimes said even though solar would be the winner under current policy settings, it made sense to boost renewables overall.

The modelling will be provided to the Climate Change Authority which is reviewing the RET, with many industry groups and state governments arguing that it should be wound back rather than expanded.

The new modelling came as proponents confirmed the demise of the $1.2 billion Solar Dawn project, which was to begin construction of a 250 megawatt solar thermal power plant near Chinchilla in 2013, after the decision by the new Queensland Government earlier this year to cancel promised state funding.


Renewable energy scheme cost $3.2 billion

The federal government’s solar renewable energy scheme has cost households $3.2 billion over the past two years alone, according to Origin Energy.

At its annual general meeting today, Origin managing director Mr Grant King said the funds could have easily funded a roll-out of smart meters which would help cut electricity use.

"The uncapped nature of the small scale renewable scheme has led to an increased cost of the scheme to customers of about approximately $3.2 billion," he said.

“The $3.2 billion cost of the [scheme] would have allowed most Australians to have smart meters installed.”

The small scale scheme forms part of the federal government’s renewable energy target for at least 20 per cent of Australia’s electricity supply to come from renewable sources by 2020.

Origin estimates renewable energy could supply up to 27 per cent of electricity by 2020.

"This will come at a considerable cost," the chairman Mr Kevin McCann said. "Homes and businesses will bear the cost and are likely to be unaware of that. In addition, there will be technical build and grid impact issues that must be carefully considered."

“I never thought Australia would be in this position where the dysfunctional regulation between state and federal authorities could cost us, for example, the flawed Queensland pricing determination mechanism.”

The cost of complying with the renewable energy scheme was a prime factor in Origin’s profit downgrade at the end of last week. It now expects no profit growth this financial year, which has pushed the company’s shares to 5-year lows.

Origin also attributed the share price slide to a “lack of patience by investors who are concerned whether large resource projects like [Origin’s] APLNG will be on time on or within budget”.

Shareholders expressed concern about the impact of coal seam gas extraction by the company, with one shareholder worried that Origin may become "a modern day James Hardie", in reference to that company’s ongoing asbestos liability.

“We won’t jeopardise our social licence and we certainly don’t want to be a James Hardie,” Mr McCann said. “We have a team of environmentalists working with the government under strict regulations in Queensland. But it is important to note that gas is no longer a transitional fuel."

Shareholder concerns about the lack of geothermal, solar and wind energy production dominated the rest of the meeting.

Mr McCann said investment in renewable energy is not cheap in Australia, although the company is active in overseas countries such as New Zealand and Chile, where it is more competitive.


A scientist's open mind snaps shut

by Tony Thomas

Suzanne Cory AC, FAA, FRS, has been president of the Australian Academy of Science since 2010 and is a distinguished researcher in the molecular genetics of cancer. I interviewed her on climate change for Quadrant (May 2012) and was impressed that she was more open-minded on the controversies about catastrophic human-caused global warming (CAGW) than her authoritarian predecessor Kurt Lambeck.

As I quoted Cory:

“As a professional I’d be happy to talk about cancer but not about climate change… It is really important to allow scientists to seriously question any matter from any perspective. You discover truth by knocking down an hypothesis with new evidence. Scientific debate on climate change is the only way we will improve the science.”

“So the science is not settled?” I asked.

“Exactly,” she replied.

It was therefore disappointing to read her remarks in The Weekend Australian magazine on October 20. Her views on the climate controversies seemed unworthy of her. Maybe the reporter edited out any sensible comments. The published bits of her Good Weekend interview were:

Q: Do you find the lack of scientific literacy in the general community dispiriting?

A: Yes. We have people taking false comfort in alleged cancer remedies and others dismissing climate change research or immunization research as a matter of political opinion. Such poor understanding of current knowledge diminishes all our social debates.

Q: Has the climate change debate politicized science?

A: The media’s pursuit of balance in reporting has meant that a very small minority has been given equal weight to the huge majority. Science is not political. It is a process of observation, hypothesis, challenge and proof, and the science of anthropogenic climate change is very well established.

Cory assumes there is some solid corpus of scientific knowledge called “climate change research”, which would only be challenged by those with “a poor understanding of current knowledge”.

Similarly she refers to “the science” of anthropogenic climate change as being “very well established”. This is equivalent to her saying that “the science” of molecular genetics of cancer is “very well established”, thus skating over the molecular-genetic controversies which I am sure exist in her own discipline (or is the job done?).

Cory has merely set up a straw man to attack. Indeed AGW is well established, and most skeptics agree that human-caused CO2 emissions may well be causing some mild (maybe beneficial), warming.

If Cory were conversant with the actual climate debate, and chose to take sides, she would instead have said that (a) “the credibility of CAGW forecasts” is very well established. She would also have said (b) that “the three-fold feedback impacts on temperature asserted by the climate modellers, consequent on a doubling of atmospheric CO2” is also very well established. These are statements capable of falsification and therefore worth making, in lieu of motherhoodisms.

She taunts anti-consensus climate researchers and aligns them with quacks in other fields in a way I am sure she would not do to any researchers within her own discipline. To Cory, disagreement with her take on climate catastropharianism is “taking false comfort”, or “poor understanding” which “diminishes all our social debates”.

Her argument includes that the media should not give equal weight to “a very small minority” of skeptics, compared with “a huge majority” of warmists. Cory appears to have swallowed the finding of a student M.Sc. thesis that 97% of climate scientists believe in CAGW.[1] Anyone in her medical cancer research field who put out data of such mendacity, would be tarred and feathered by Cory and run out of town on a rail.[2]

Cory ignores the roll-call of American scientists, 31,000 to date, who have rejected the CAGW hypothesis.[3] Even allowing for the credibility issues in all such petitions, there is obviously a reputable and substantial group of her global science peers who do not subscribe to her “climate-majority” views. This formidable body of scholars, she asserts, has “poor understanding”, a la anti-vaccination nuts, and is degrading public debate.

She also seems unaware of her crushing non-sequitur. She argues that the media should respect only the views of the “huge majority” of warmists. Then without pausing for breath she says that “science is not political” but based on “observation, hypothesis, challenge and proof”.

So what is the media meant to do if it comes across scientific findings that, say, Antarctic ice is increasing (despite the globe allegedly warming strongly), that the Roman and Medieval warmings were higher than the 20th century warmings (giving our CO2 warmists an obvious question to answer), or, dare I mention it, that there has been no statistically significant warming for the past 16 years?[4][5][6] Would the President of the Australian Academy of Science prefer that such findings be suppressed by a compliant media?

Cory began her term at the AAS as an unthinking warmist, accepting the fanciful findings of the Raupachs, Karolys and Flannerys as holy writ.[7] [8]  [9]A few months ago she appeared to have become more respectful of “the science” as opposed to “the warmism”. But today she’s again a climate dogma devotee. How sad for the Academy.




Preserving the graphics:  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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