Friday, November 23, 2012

Now it's global darkening!

Norwegian coastal waters are darkening due to changes in weather and climate, damaging optical conditions for marine animals.

Marine biologist Dag L Aksnes of the University of Bergen has analysed the impacts of these declining optical conditions with some funding from the Research Council of Norway's research programme on the Oceans and Coastal Areas (HAVKYST). He explained that this occurs when coloured matter from rivers and lakes flows into the sea and mixes with salt water.

"This fresh water contains far more coloured dissolved organic matter (CDOM) than marine water, so our coastal waters are darkening," explains Aksnes, the Research Cuncil reports.

Aksnes and his colleagues have been studying the Lurefjorden and Masfjorden fjords in northern Hordaland county on Norway's western coast for many years.

While the fjords are similar and close to each other, Masfjorden contains far more seawater than Lurefjorden, which contains lower-salinity coastal water all the way down to its seabed. Although Masfjorden still has an ecosystem dominated by fish, the darker Lurefjorden has a greater abundance of the jellyfish Periphylla periphylla.

"Periphylla periphylla is a very light-sensitive jellyfish that thrives best in the world's very deep marine waters," continued Aksnes. "But the water in Lurefjorden has now become so murky and dark that it is probably helping this jellyfish to thrive. At the same time, the fjord has become less hospitable as a habitat for important fish species."

Visibility conditions at Lurefjorden have made it more difficult for fish to find their prey, but not for the blind jellyfish. The jellyfish now have virtually no competition for the abundant prey organisms, Aksnes elaborated.

He highlighted that there is a clear correlation between poorer conditions for fish, the increase in jellyfish and the lasting changes in light conditions in the country’s coastal waters.

These conditions also affect algal photosynthesis and the production of organic compounds – which is why the researchers believe that light conditions impact most organisms.

The project demonstrates that changes normally linked to eutrophication (nutrient pollution) and human emissions of nutrients can also cause the water to become darker, reducing the abundance of attached algae such as seaweed and kelp while fueling the growth of planktonic algae.

Meanwhile, nutrient concentration climbs and oxygen saturation in the marine layers falls.

"More precipitation means that more murky fresh water mixes with the coastal water, making it less saline and murkier," explained Aksnes.

"Furthermore, studies done at the University of Oslo indicate that increased precipitation and rising temperatures lead to changes in vegetation on land, which in turn increases the concentration of CDOM in the fresh water that mixes with the coastal water. We don't know yet whether this leads to undesired changes in our coastal ecosystems, but if so, it will be hard to reverse," the professor added.


Skeptics Pursue Mass NY Police Complaint Against Climatologist James Hansen

Skeptics of man-made global warming are piling pressure on New York’s finest to mount a criminal investigation into  what may be intentional data fraud by government climatologists. In a bold initiative one blogger yesterday (November 20,2012) filed a police complaint against  one of America’s top climate scientists, NASA’s Dr. James Hansen. Other Big Apple citizens are urged to follow suit.

Pierre Gosselin, who owns the ‘NoTrickZone’ blog insists Dr. Hansen is a key climate data rigger misappropriating tax payer funds to ply junk science on U.S. policymakers.   Gosselin continues, “I am officially reporting, to the NYC police, NASA-GISS scientist James Hansen, for manipulating and falsifying U.S. Government temperature data, with the likely intent to defraud U.S. citizens.” New Yorker Gosselin is urging other city residents to act on their “public duty” and partake in a mass grassroots protest to compel police to probe alleged shenanigans at NASA GISS, Columbia University, where Hansen works. On his blog,  Gosselin makes the following appeal:

“All witnesses are urged to notify the authorities and to provide evidence of Hansen’s activity so that the authorities can properly investigate what plainly appears as criminal activity in broad daylight and, as duty calls, to render protection to the public they have sworn to serve.” The blogger further claims Hansen is being aided and abetted in his climate conspiracy by a “white, balding male, donning a goatee, who appears to be Hansen’s assistant and goes by the name “Gavin.””

Gosselin seems perfectly serious urging other  “caring citizens“ to  contact NYPD, 26th Precinct, 520 West 126th Street, New York, NY 10027, Tel. (212) 678-1311. See NYPD’s webpage here. It appears this precinct is responsible for NASA GISS, Columbia University, where Dr. Hansen works as head of climate research for the U.S. government agency.

Citing as evidence obtained by fellow skeptics such as Steven Goddard and others Gosselin insists Hansen has falsified climate data to deceive tax payers and policymakers  “not just once but on multiple occasions.” With so many independent analysts over so many years having found irregularities in the strange “science” of Dr. Hansen surely there must now be sufficient evidence of a prima facie case here to warrant a police probe.  I think Gosselin has a point. As a fellow NY homeowner I’m happy to be in on this.


The BBC and the consensus

The 28gate seminar's finding that global warming science is settled and that "due balance" requires dissenting views to be seen and heard less is insidious. In this post I'm going to try to set out why.

What is the consensus? That carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas? Yup. That man's activities are increasing carbon dioxide levels? Certainly. That temperatures went up at the end of the twentieth century and have not gone up since? Definitely. That human beings can affect the climate? Without a shadow of doubt.

Anything else? I don't think so. Even simple questions like whether observed temperature rises are anything out of the ordinary remain hugely controversial. The extent to which mankind has affected and will affect temperatures is likewise unknown, a great amphitheatre of ignorance dimly illuminated by a handful of aged CFLs - the climate models that scientists have pinned their hopes on - and little else.  That these models are wrong is not in doubt - all models are wrong after all - but how wrong and how useful they are as tools to guide public policy is just another mystery. How can there possibly be consensus in these circumstances?

The impacts of climate change and the economics of climate change and policy responses to climate change are likewise entirely up in the air, with new hypotheses flown every day and shot down every evening and a mishmash of often contradictary empirical observations lending colour to the chaos. A glance tells you that there is no consensus.

So let us be clear, we don't even know if we have a big problem or a small one.

Yet the seminar has decided that sceptic input is not required in any of these areas. When did you last hear it put on the BBC that climate sensitivity might be low and that we were getting worked up about nothing? When did you last hear the Stern report or decarbonisation challenged on the BBC? 2007? I certainly can't recall any recent outings for views like this: they are sceptic views and are not to be aired. Yet these are all areas in which there is precisely no academic consensus. Indeed in the case of Stern one could probably make the case that there is something approaching consensus that the noble lord is talking out of his hat.

The concepts of mainstream and sceptic, upholder and dissentient, warmist and denier are profoundly unhelpful in the climate debate. The range of questions at issue mean that it is simply preposterous to divide everyone into two camps as the BBC has done - it's simply not logical.

Of course, given that the seminar was run for the benefit of green pressure groups, it's clear that logic had nothing to do with it. The BBC has used the seminar to minimise criticism of any aspect of climate science, climate economics and climate policy.

Quentin Cooper, the presenter of the BBC's Material World radio programme, asked on a recent show why he had never heard about the problems with biofuels. Frankly I'm amazed that he can't work it out.


The great British wind scam

Your taxes are meant to be supporting smaller turbines. In fact, they’re making giant ones less efficient

Almost everybody agrees that wind turbines are ugly and inefficient. But you’d think that the government, if it must persist in subsidising renewable energy, would do everything it could to incentivise wind power producers to create as much energy as possible while keeping the aesthetic damage to a minimum. Astonishingly, it is doing the opposite.

Inquiries by The Spectator have revealed a scam known as ‘de-rating’. Green businesses are modifying large turbines to make them less productive, because perverse government subsidies reward machines that produce less energy at nearly double the rate of more efficient ones. It’s extraordinarily profitable for a few beneficiaries, even if it clutters the countryside and does little to save the planet.

Under the government’s Feed-In Tariff (FIT) scheme, which aims to make renewable energies competitive with fossil fuels, the size of a turbine is measured not by height but by power output. If a turbine pumps out more than 500kW, its owners receive 9.5p per kilowatt hour. But a ‘smaller’ sub-500kW one receives a subsidy of 17.5p per kilowatt hour, supposedly to compensate for its lower efficiency. The idea is to lure smaller wind-power producers into the market.

Problem is, while smaller turbines are more popular with the public, those designs don’t produce anything like the 500kW needed to take full advantage of the subsidy. So instead, investors are buying big, powerful turbines and downgrading them, tweaking their components to churn out no more than the magic 500kW. It’s simply far more lucrative to hobble bigger turbines — machines that ought to be capable of producing almost twice as much electricity.

For instance, it would cost a farmer roughly £1.5 million to plan, buy and put up a single 80-metre turbine, which could produce up to 900kW. He could run it at full capacity, and see a 7 to 10 per cent return on his investment each year. But if the machine’s efficiency were lowered, industry sources suggest, the return would jump to between 17 and 20 per cent. Clearly, the under-500kW subsidy bracket is where the money is. Last year, Ofgem reported a 850 per cent rise in FIT approvals for 100 to 500kW turbines, compared with 56 per cent for the 500kW to 1.5mW category.

Turbine suppliers boast about selling products that take advantage. The German firm PowerWind says on its website that it has developed its PowerWind 500 turbines ‘especially for the UK market’ and encourages potential customers to ‘secure the highest FIT in Europe’. In other words: turbines designed especially to game British subsidies.

Or take EWT, a Dutch manufacturer of wind turbines. Its website lists the giant DW 52/54 turbine — as tall as seven double-decker buses — in two forms, one producing 500kW and the other 900kW. Why such a difference in power output, if the specifications suggest they’re the same machine? A sales representative from EWT explains that it offers the less-productive model because ‘the tariff is very, very advantageous’. So why buy the less efficient model, when it has the same environmental footprint? Because ‘you have a better return on investment… you get more money per kilowatt’. The EWT salesman conceded the British system is ‘very very strange’. It’s all about the subsidy, not the environment.


BBC in breach of its obligations

A letter to the BBC Trust from Don Keiller,  Deputy Head of Life Sciences at Anglia Ruskin University in Cambridge

I am writing to you about a serious concern regarding the BBC’s reporting of climate change science and associated issues.

From the detail emerging in the aftermath of Mr. Tony Newbery’s F.O.I case (EA/2009/0118) it is absolutely clear that the BBC is in breach of its Charter, which requires it to be impartial.  Furthermore it knowingly and wilfully breached its Charter in this regard and has since tried to hide this fact from the Public and license fee payers, at the Publics’ expense.

In June, 2007, the BBC Trust published a report entitled “From Seesaw to Wagon Wheel: Safeguarding impartiality in the 21st Century”. That report, which is fully endorsed by the BBC Trust, contains the following statement (page 40):

“The BBC has held a high‐level seminar with some of the best scientific experts, and has come to the view that the weight of evidence no longer justifies equal space being given to the opponents of the consensus."

This statement forms the basis for the BBC’s decision to breach its Charter and abandon impartiality on the subject of climate change and instead provide a highly biased and alarmist presentation of the science of climate change, without any attempt at counterbalancing argument, let alone “equal space”.  Since then attempts have been made, via FOI requests, to find out the identities of the so-called “best scientific experts” who attended the “high level seminar” which thereby provided the justification for the BBC to abandon its principle of impartiality in this area. To my best knowledge, the BBC has not abandoned its impartiality in this way, even in wartime.

Tony Newbery, a pensioner, clearly felt the same way and has gone through a long series of FOI requests and processes, culminating, earlier this month, in a tribunal at the Central London Civil Justice Centre (case no. EA/2009/0118). The FOI request was for the identities of the “best scientific experts” who attended the seminar. In order to conceal this information, the BBC fielded a team of 6 lawyers, including barristers, at an estimated cost of £40,000 per day, to prevent the list of names from being published. Whilst they were successful, it was a pyrric victory, as it transpires that this information, that the BBC had tried so hard to conceal, had been in the Public domain for some time.

So who were these “best scientific experts”?

It turns out to be a motley collection of climate alarmists, activists, environmental advocates and those with vested financial interests:

Blake Lee-Harwood, Head of Campaigns, Greenpeace
Andrew Dlugolecki, Insurance industry consultant
Trevor Evans, US Embassy
Colin Challen MP, Chair, All Party Group on Climate Change
Anuradha Vittachi, Director,
Andrew Simms, Policy Director, New Economics Foundation
Claire Foster, Church of England
Saleemul Huq, IIED
Poshendra Satyal Pravat, Open University
Li Moxuan, Climate campaigner, Greenpeace China
Tadesse Dadi, Tearfund Ethiopia
Iain Wright, CO2 Project Manager, BP International
Ashok Sinha, Stop Climate Chaos
Andy Atkins, Advocacy Director, Tearfund
Matthew Farrow, CBI
Rafael Hidalgo, TV/multimedia producer
Cheryl Campbell, Executive Director, Television for the Environment
Kevin McCullough, Director, Npower Renewables
Richard D North, Institute of Economic Affairs
Steve Widdicombe, Plymouth Marine Labs
Joe Smith, The Open University
Mark Galloway, Director, IBT
Anita Neville, E3G
Eleni Andreadis, Harvard University
Jos Wheatley, Global Environment Assets Team, DFID
Tessa Tennant, Chair, AsRia.

Not one of these could be described as “scientific”, let alone an expert.

The remainder:

Robert May, Oxford University and Imperial College London
Mike Hulme, Director, Tyndall Centre, UEA
Dorthe Dahl-Jensen, Niels Bohr Institute, Copenhagen
Michael Bravo, Scott Polar Research Institute, University of Cambridge

are scientists, but were misleadingly described in court by Helen Boaden (of Jimmy Saville infamy), as “scientists with contrasting views”. In fact all are unashamedly alarmist. Pointedly, not one of these scientists deals with attribution science, or the atmospheric physics of global warming.

So where are the real experts? Scientists from the Met Office, or the Hadley Centre, one of the foremost climate research centres in the world? Where are the names of Dr.Chris Landsea, World expert on hurricanes, or Dr. Nils‐Axel Mörner, World authority on sea level rises? Or Professors Richard Lindzen, or Murry Salby, World experts on atmospheric physics? Why are there no experts from the Climate Research Unit (CRU) of the University of East Anglia?

It now crystal clear why the BBC went to such great lengths and expense to withhold the names of those attending. They are not the “best scientific experts” but rather a group overwhelmingly comprised of environmental activists and NGO’s, with no scientific training, whatsoever, or those with a vested interest, often financial, in keeping climate change alarmism firmly in the Public eye.

In conclusion I put it to the BBC Trust that:

1. The BBC and, by endorsing the report, the BBC Trust, have lied to the public that they organised and/or attended a seminar at BBC Television Centre involving the “best scientific experts” on climate change.

2. That its change of policy to no longer be impartial on the subject of climate change was not based on scientific evidence, or the views of the “best scientific experts”, but in fact was as a result of listening to the views, advice and lobbying from inappropriate and biased individuals, groups and organisations including Greenpeace, Tearfund, US Embassy, BP, IIED, IBT, AsRia, E3G etc.

3. That the BBC and the BBC Trust are in breach of the charter and acting unlawfully. The following quotations are taken from the BBC website here

1.2.1 Trust

Trust is the foundation of the BBC: we are independent, impartial and honest. We are committed to achieving the highest standards of due accuracy and impartiality and strive to avoid knowingly and materially misleading our audiences.

1.2.2 Truth and Accuracy

We seek to establish the truth of what has happened and are committed to achieving due accuracy in all our output. Accuracy is not simply a matter of getting facts right; when necessary, we will weigh relevant facts and information to get at the truth. Our output, as appropriate to its subject and nature, will be well sourced, based on sound evidence, thoroughly tested and presented in clear, precise language. We will strive to be honest and open about what we don't know and avoid unfounded speculation.

1.2.3 Impartiality

Impartiality lies at the core of the BBC's commitment to its audiences. We will apply due impartiality to all our subject matter and will reflect a breadth and diversity of opinion across our output as a whole, over an appropriate period, so that no significant strand of thought is knowingly unreflected or under-represented. We will be fair and open-minded when examining evidence and weighing material facts.
1.2.4 Editorial Integrity and Independence
The BBC is independent of outside interests and arrangements that could undermine our editorial integrity. Our audiences should be confident that our decisions are not influenced by outside interests, political or commercial pressures, or any personal interests.

Each and every one of these guidelines has been knowingly breached.

This is a scandal that is, in its own way, more disturbing than the one over the Jimmy Savile affair, as it has implications for the whole population. Interestingly the key players in this scandal, George Entwistle, Helen Boaden, Peter Rippon and Steve Mitchell, are also key players in the Savile affair. However whilst the Savile scandal is being looked into by a series of inquiries, this has been ignored.

I look forward to hearing from you in due course on this matter. Please also be advised that I have sent a copy of this letter to the Director of the BBC Trust.

Nov 21, 2012 at 12:41 PM |  Don Keiller


Big UK firms may move to America for cheap energy

Some of Britain’s biggest companies may be forced to move to the US or Eastern Europe, where energy costs are dramatically lower, the Energy Intensive Users Group is warning this weekend.  Jeremy Nicholson, director of the powerful lobby group that campaigns for companies in the steel, chemical and glass industries, said that British companies could not compete against US groups because their energy costs were four times cheaper.

He said Britain needed to develop its own shale gas industry, which would decisively transform the economics of the intensive energy industry.

Britain should also pay compensation to firms that face huge bills to meet climate change targets, he added.  ‘The solution for intensive industry depends on maximising the opportunity for responsible production of shale gas in the UK as well as completing the electricity market reform process so the UK can deliver low carbon nuclear energy and renewables at least cost to consumers,’ he said.

He added that the Government and intensive-energy industries had to reach a deal that would give compensation to firms forced to pay for higher-price energy to meet climate change policies.

Germany’s biggest companies have also warned of an inability to compete with the US because they do not have access to the same quantity of cheap shale gas.

The warning comes as the Government looks set to announce that Britain has discovered huge shale gas deposits in the North-West, East Midlands, Sussex and Kent. The Mail on Sunday revealed last week that Britain was sitting on shale gas reserves worth £1.5 trillion.

The amount – more than the remaining gas reserves of the North Sea – is bigger than previously thought and would potentially bring energy price stability and independence from imports for decades.

Nicholson said: ‘It’s inevitable that our members will have to think about moving if energy prices keep going up so fast and our competitors have the advantage of gas three to four times cheaper.’

He said Britain had an opportunity to compete because of the discovery of large quantities of shale gas – and much of this was in areas where our biggest energy producers had major facilities.
‘We are well placed to exploit shale gas here,’ he said.
‘The environmental agency is a very responsible agency and it would not get in the way of responsible development.’




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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