Friday, November 09, 2012

Tell me the old old story about wicked mankind and coral reefs

I have been hearing the story at the bottom of this post all my life (and I am now in my 70th year) but it has remained just theory.  At least global warming gets a rest this time, I suppose.

If someone measured agricultural runoff and correlated coral damage with it, I might believe it  -- but there are no such studies. And I think I know why.  At least a third of the Great Barrier Reef runs alongside Cape York Peninsula, which has no significant agriculture  -- and there are changes in the reef there too.

Note that the data for the study below was from one small island  -- while the reef is 1500 miles long!  They don't call it the "Great" barrier reef for nothing.  And Pelorus is actually a popular diving spot for coral reef exploration so is anything but  blighted!  I shouldn't laugh.

I wonder what Hoagy (Prof. Ove Hoegh-Guldberg), Australia's no.1 coral doomster, has got to say about this?  He seemed to fall into a depression for a couple of years when his own research showed that coral reefs bounce back rapidly from damage but he has started squeaking up again lately.  But his evasiveness shows what slime he is.

While I am talking about it, I might as well mention another recent bit of alarmism headed "Coral recovery may not herald the return of fishes on damaged coral reefs" by Bellwood et al.  That sounds pretty alarming, does it not?   In fact it's just Bellwood's attempt to ingratiate himself with the alarmists.   The paper is essentially a reprise of an earlier paper with some awkward findings.    Let me quote:
"We found no decrease in diversity, richness or abundance in reef fishes over the 12-year study period. Indeed, as in most previous studies,  the three main metrics, species richness, diversity (H0) and total abundance showed no response to a major disturbance (in this case the 1998 coral bleaching event).

So what gives? What Bellwood actually found was that a disturbance altered the *makeup* of the fish community.  Some species became relatively more abundant and other species less so. And overall there were MORE fish! Not quite what you might expect from his more recent heading!

You have to feel rather sorry for scientists who are under such pressure to be "correct" but it is a pity that truth tends to get lost in the process
The influx of Europeans to Australia had a catastrophic effect on the Great Barrier Reef as far back as 90 years ago, before tourism and climate change made an impact, new research claims.

A study found that run-off of pesticides and fertiliser from farms near the Queensland coast clouded the waters of the reef, killing off its natural coral and drastically changing its ecology.

The change was disastrous for many of the animal species that lived in the reef, and for the nearby coastline since the native species had weakened the surf as it came crashing in from the Pacific Ocean.

The study, published yesterday in the Proceedings of the Royal Society, suggests that humans had disrupted the ecology of the Great Barrier Reef decades before climate change and reef tourism.

'There was a very significant shift in the coral community composition that was associated with the colonisation of Queensland,' study co-author John Pandolfi of the University of Queensland told LiveScience.

The European colonisation of Queensland began in the 1860s, with settlers hacking down forests to make space for farming. By the Twenties, rivers were pouring huge quantities of fertiliser and pesticides into the ocean.

To find out the impact that this early European colonisation had on the Great Barrier Reef, Professor Pandolfi's team drilled sediment cores 6.5 to 16.5ft deep into the reef off Pelorus Island, off the Queensland coast.

The professor told LiveScience that when coral dies, new coral sprouts on the skeletons and ocean sediments eventually bury them in place. The story of the reef can thus be reconstructed by dating the sediment layers.

The team found that for a millenium prior to the arrival of the European colonists, the reef was dominated by the massive, three-dimensional Acropora coral.

This species grows up to 16ft high and 65ft across, forming a labyrinthine network of nooks and crannies for marine life to inhabit, Professor Pandolfi said.  'They're like the big buildings in the city, they house a lot of the biodiversity,' he told LiveScience.

However, from the Twenties onwards, the impact of humans on the environment began to stifle the Acropora and sometime before the mid-Fifties it had stopped growing altogether - replaced by a slow-growing, spindly coral called Pavona.

The University of Queensland team believes that the polluted run-off from the new farms over time clouded the pristine waters off the coast, poisoning the native species. They also believe that same pollution fed an algae that smothered the native coral species' attempts to regenerate.

Several recent studies have shown that climate change and snorkellers have proved catastrophic for coral, with one finding that half the Great Barrier Reef has died off in the past 50 years.

But Professor Pandolfi and his colleagues' findings suggest that man has been damaging that reef and others for much longer than previously thought. The professor, however, says his work also suggests that the problem has a straightforward solution - reduce polluted run-off into the ocean.

'Any kind of measures that are going to improve the water quality should help those reefs to recover,' he added.


Green Energy Policy Is Threatening Europe’s Industrial Base

Europe’s ability to compete against the US as a manufacturing centre is being damaged by rising energy costs as North America benefits from cheap natural shale gas, Germany’s biggest companies have warned.

The energy cost advantage for US companies is rising and is expected to persist until at least 2020, according to the BDI, the German industry lobby group.

German industrial companies such as Bayer and BASF are among the those alarmed over the gap.

Some executives fear a growing divide between European and US energy costs could see energy-intensive manufacturers divert investments that might have gone into Europe to the US instead.

Harald Schwager, the member of BASF’s executive board responsible for Europe, told the Financial Times: “We Europeans are currently paying up to four or five times more for natural gas than the Americans … Of course that means increased competition for all the European manufacturing sites.”

BASF, the German chemicals company, recently converted its steam-cracker in Texas to run on shale gas and says its production complex in Louisiana – where it is building a formic acid plant – is very competitive.

Marijn Dekkers, the chief executive of Bayer, the German drugs and plastics maker, also told the Financial Times: “Energy costs in Europe and Germany in particular will continue to rise. That will have an effect on the competitiveness of several sectors.”

In a report to be published in coming days, the BDI forecast US natural gas prices would remain at €16 per ­megawatt hour (MWh) until 2020 – some 40 per cent less than the last peak, around €25 in 2008.

In contrast, German gas prices will rise from €48 per MWh to €61, an increase of 27 per cent by the end of the decade.

Compounding German industry’s fears is chancellor Angela Merkel’s plan to phase out nuclear power by 2022 and replace it with renewable energy sources, which companies say could drive a bigger transatlantic divergence in electricity prices.

The BDI’s projection, put together by BCG, the consultancy, says electricity prices for German industrial users will rise from €90 per kWh today to €98 or even €110 in 2020. US prices are expected to rise only from €48 to €54 in the same period.


European companies announce 10,000 job losses

Largely "Green"

Leading European companies announced job losses totalling more than 10,000 on Wednesday, underlining the scale of problems facing the continent's manufacturers.

Vestas, the world's largest wind turbine manufacturer, said 2,000 jobs would be cut after it posted an almost doubling of pre-tax losses in the face of falling prices and fierce competition from China.

Some of those jobs could be in the UK, where 500 jobs are also likely to go at Maltby coalmine in south Yorkshire after its owner, Hargreaves Services, declared it unsafe.

Mobile telecoms equipment maker Ericsson said it would cut 1,550 jobs Рnearly 10% of its staff in Sweden Рblaming weakness in global demand for falling exports. Elsewhere garden equipment maker Husqvarna cut 600 jobs and German steel company Klöckner axed 1,800.

In finance, the Dutch bank ING said it was laying off 2,350 people and a German newspaper reported that Commerzbank, the country's second biggest lender, might cut between 5,000 and 6,000 jobs. Commerzbank declined to comment, ahead of its financial results on Thursday.

The Vestas cuts underline the crisis in the renewable energy sector and will reduce its workforce to 16,000 by the end of 2013 from nearly 23,000 just a year ago.

The green energy sector has been hit by increasing uncertainty over government subsidy levels globally while facing a drop in prices caused by new competition from low-cost countries such as China.

Ditlev Engel, the Vestas chief executive, unveiled the latest cutbacks as he reported a pre-tax loss of €158m (£126m) for the third quarter compared with €83m for the same period of 2011.

The cuts would be made through asset divestments and retrenchments in various markets. Asked whether they would include the Isle of Wight, where the Danish-headquartered company has a research and development arm, Engel said: "I am not going to say that there are not going to be any." But he indicated they would be relatively small and achieved by natural wastage rather forced redundancies.

Vestas said it had already faced serious challenges in 2012 and had to position itself for a "tough" 2013, with a previously-buoyant US market going into decline. The company, which closed a manufacturing plant on the Isle of Wight three years ago and this year abandoned plans to build a new turbine building plant at the port of Sheerness in Kent, said it still had hopes for the UK wind market despite negative comments about onshore wind from new energy minister John Hayes and uncertainty over coalition clean energy policies.

"The industry is concerned that there will be an investment gap as one [industry support] mechanism is phased out and another phased in … Our clients [windfarm developers] do need to be confident about [the] long term."

Engel was careful not to criticise Hayes or vocal Tory backbench wind sceptics but emphasised that the UK had "fantastic [wind] resources" comparable to Denmark. "I can only say when I look at wind opportunities in the UK and Denmark that we [Denmark] have 50% of electricity coming from wind by 2020," he added.

Vestas is preparing itself for subsidies such as the US production tax credit for wind power being cut even though the subsidy worth $1bn a year has had the support of the newly-elected Barack Obama.

The uncertainty surrounding the tax credit decreased General Electric's energy infrastructure revenues by 5% in the third quarter as wind turbine sales dropped in the third quarter.

Earlier this week Keith MacLean of the SSE power company, which is developing UK offshore farms, told the FT the UK government had introduced an "unnecessary investment freeze" by trying to change the way it subsidised low-carbon energy.

Siemens is one of the few turbine manufacturers to have taken an offshore order in Britain over the past year while solar companies are furious about coalition cutbacks in the feed-in tariff.


Losing their religion as evidence cools off

ONCE upon a time when Christendom was at its peak, missionaries would be dispatched to the four corners of the globe in search of converts. They believed their mission would expand the influence of Rome and save heathens from eternal damnation.

It was a compelling message. Convert and enjoy everlasting life in the hereafter. The advantage the missionaries had was that the religion they taught had no hypotheses that could be tested. Death - "the undiscovered country from whose bourn no traveller returns" - meant that the afterlife could be neither proved nor disproved. Faith was the only thing needed.

Climate science is a bit like that - push the rewards and the catastrophes far enough into the future, and have faith that the prophecies will come true. However, unlike heaven, which we may reach at any time, climate prophecies need to be distant enough to make them hard to challenge yet sufficiently close to generate urgent action.

So when in 1969 Paul Ehrlich claimed because of global cooling it was an even-money bet whether England would survive until the year 2000, he could not immediately be proven wrong. After all, this was a cooling period.

Unfortunately for him, England is still inhabited and his predictions are still remembered. Ehrlich is now a warmist. Like a good stock analyst, when the company doesn't perform as you thought, better to change the recommendation from a sell to a buy, than admit you were wrong.

When Mother Nature decided in 1980 to change gears from cooler to warmer, a new global warming religion was born, replete with its own church (the UN), a papacy, (the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change), and a global warming priesthood masquerading as climate scientists. Selfish humans in rich, polluting countries were blamed for the warming and had to pay for past trespasses by providing material compensation to poor nations as penance. Cutting greenhouse gas emissions became the new holy grail. With a warm wind at their backs, these fundamentalists collected hundreds of billions of dollars from naive governments that adopted their faith on behalf of billions of people. No crusader was ever so effective.

The message was stark. If the non-believers didn't convert immediately, our children and grandchildren would face a hell on earth. The priesthood excommunicated and humiliated sceptics and deniers. Alternative views were not tolerated and, where possible, were suppressed. Did someone mention the dark ages?

Because the new arrangements would distort capital allocations, disciples wrote economic texts showing how inefficient, productivity-sapping and costly green industries would actually boost economic activity and employment.

Unfortunately, the cost of saving the planet would fall disproportionately on the poor. This wealth transfer to the rich was unavoidable and, if the poor or the infirm died of cold or heat because they could not afford airconditioning, they would simply be martyrs to the cause. In any case, who could they appeal to? All political parties had signed up to the new religion.

But, self-deluded by the warming period and their confirmatory bias, the priesthood was overtaken by hubris and made increasingly extravagant claims. We were advised that Armageddon was now even closer at hand.

Regrettably for the global warming religion, its predictions have started to appear shaky, and the converts, many of whom have lost their jobs and much of their wealth, are losing faith. Worse, heretic scientists have been giving the lie to many of the prophecies described in the IPCC bible. They could not be silenced.

Of course, the IPCC texts can be interpreted in different ways and sceptics have obviously chosen the wrong interpretation.

When atmospheric temperatures on which we had relied failed to comply with the prophecies, the waverers were instructed to look at ocean temperatures and rising sea levels.

So far, so good. However, the British arm of the climate establishment silently released an encyclical that revealed no discernible rise in aggregate global temperatures from the beginning of 1997 until August this year.

This communique was unearthed by the heretic newspaper, the Daily Mail, which pointed out that this period was of about the same duration as when temperatures rose between 1980 to 1996.

Of course, the religious high priests were quick to play down the significance of this pause. Phil Jones of the Climategate denomination claimed it was to be expected and, he insisted, 15 or 16 years is not a significant period.

Yet in 2009 he said that a "no upward trend has to continue for a total of 15 years before we get worried". But that was then and this is now and he is not about to lose his religion simply because the evidence doesn't support the text.

And, of course, there are always extenuating circumstances. El Nino and La Nina are there when you need them, to be forgotten when temperatures are warming or remembered if they are cooling. And, we've had a record Arctic melt. But better not mention the storm that NASA concedes broke the ice up and drove it south, or the record Antarctic ice gain.

Rather we must listen to Australia's Climate Change Commission novitiates who, against the evidence, have delivered a parable linking Superstorm Sandy to global warming.

At least the media disciples are keeping the faith by emphasising what supports the gospel and, where possible, omitting that which doesn't. New, corroborative revelations enjoy widespread publicity. If the same findings are later retracted for lack of scientific rigour, they are simply allowed to disappear without comment.

Yet despite all, believers in man-made global warming are declining. It will require an extraordinary crusade presaging even direr climate consequences for defying the warmist faith, before defectors even contemplate rejoining the religion. If that fails it may be time to burn sceptics at the stake. But then that would increase CO2 emissions. A dilemma, to be sure.


Green Madness: Britain’s Unilateral Carbon Targets May Cost £330 Billion By 2030

Britain will need to invest 330 billion pounds in its energy sector, excluding networks, by 2030 and return its economy to growth to meet carbon emissions reduction targets, the London School of Economics said in a report on Thursday.

Britain aims to cut carbon emissions by 34 percent below 1990 levels by 2020 and by 80 percent by 2050, but does not have a binding target for 2030.

The investments are needed to build new power plants, retrofit existing ones with carbon-reduction technology and to limit energy demand.

"The key question will be how do we attract pension funds, which are one source of capital, and generally the financial sector, being banks and insurance companies, to join the market?" said Volker Beckers, chief executive of RWE npower, which commissioned the report.

He said only around 30-40 percent of the investment can be covered by balance sheets and project finance of British energy companies, leaving the lion's share of money needed to other investors.

Experts have forecast Britain's energy investments at 200 billion pounds until 2020.

A separate report showed on Wednesday that Britain's power grid alone needs a yearly investment of 1.6 billion pounds to connect renewable energy.

If Britain wants to reach its long-term climate change targets, it also needs to return to stable economic growth and the eurozone debt crisis has to be resolved, the LSE said.

This scenario is one of three pathways the report outlines, setting out the most optimistic option for Britain's energy system, but also the most expensive one.

"It involves a financial services sector in good health, that has not only recovered sufficiently to channel higher levels of inward investment and to attract international investment in the UK," the LSE said in its report.

The school estimates that by 2030 around 67 gigawatts (GW) of power plants in Britain will be a mixture of gas plants fitted with carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology (10 GW), traditional fossil fuel plants (40.5 GW) and nuclear power stations (16.5 GW).

This will be paired with around 50 GW of renewable energy capacity, such as wind and solar farms.

The two alternative scenarios paint a more gloomy outlook for economic growth, with a gas-focused option predicting return to economic growth from the early 2020s and an austerity scenario forecasting anaemic growth until 2030.

Under neither of these circumstances would Britain meet its carbon reduction targets and investments coming forward would be tighter at 180 billion and 130 billion, respectively.


Some out of date tokenism

AUSTRALIA will sign up to a second commitment to the Kyoto protocol, ahead of what the Gillard government expects will be a comprehensive global emissions agreement taking effect in 2020.

Signing the first Kyoto protocol was one of the first acts of the Labor government in December 2007, following John Howard's reluctance to back the agreement.

Climate Change Minister Greg Combet told a carbon expo in Melbourne on Friday that Australia was "ready to join a second commitment period" of the protocol, which is to be discussed at global climate talks in Doha in December.

But the protocol - which covers less than 15 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions and only from developed nations - was not enough on its own, he said.

Australia will continue to push for a more comprehensive agreement, to be concluded by 2015, and take action through such measures as carbon pricing.

"From 2020 we expect all countries - including the United States, the European Union, China, Japan, India, Indonesia and South Korea - will be part of a new agreement to reduce emissions," Mr Combet said.  "This will bring all countries onto the same legal platform to reduce emissions."

Without taking action to reduce emissions, the Australian economy would face a "severe economic shock" from 2020 and it was better to tackle it now.

The Kyoto protocol was the first global treaty to set binding obligations on countries to cut emissions.

It also created the world's first global carbon market spanning developed and developing countries and the private sector.

It establishes a set of rules and accounting procedures for emissions, and the Kyoto market mechanisms help developed countries meet their commitments and developing countries access clean technology.

Australia's preparedness to join a second commitment period relied on a continuation of the existing land sector rules and access to the Kyoto market mechanisms from January 1, 2013, Mr Combet said.

If these conditions were met in Doha, Australia would take on an emissions reduction target for the Kyoto protocol's second commitment period consistent with the bipartisan commitment to cut emissions by five per cent below 2000 levels by 2020.

There also was the potential to increase this target to 15 or 25 per cent, depending on the scale of global action, Mr Combet said.

Signing the protocol would not affect the liabilities of companies covered under the carbon price which started on July 1.

Rather, it would give businesses greater certainty of access to international carbon markets and provide new opportunities for carbon farming.

In his speech, Mr Combet criticised the Australian Greens and the opposition, saying Labor had been committed to climate action since "before the Greens existed" and Opposition Leader Tony Abbott had "wilfully deceived" people over carbon pricing.




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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