Monday, January 14, 2013

Australian heatwave: global issue?

Some selective reporting below.  Following is a more realistic comparision

Phew, what a scorcher! as the tabloids used to say about exceptionally warm summer days in Britain. Although what most Australians have been experiencing in their summer is not just the odd hot day, but a heatwave of historic proportions since the end of December.

With temperatures predicted to peak this weekend at 52 degrees  [in the central desert area where temperatures are normally high] – more than half the boiling point of water – it is not surprising there have been forest fires, burning homes, melting asphalt and petrol vaporising at filling stations.

This heatwave is unprecedented, said David Jones of the Australian Bureau of Meteorology. “Clearly, the climate system is responding to the background warming trend. Everything that happens now . . . is taking place on a planet which is a degree hotter than it used to be.”

The bureau had to add dark purple and magenta to its colour-coded weather forecasting map to represent temperatures of 51 to 54 degrees. Previously, the maximum shown on the map was 50, represented by a black colour.

Bob Ward of the Grantham Institute for Climate Change in London said it was “a measure of just how extreme this heatwave is” that the meteorological bureau had to recalibrate its monitoring by adding an extra four degrees to the scale: “It is a sign of things to come.”

If the latest Australian heatwave – following so soon after a 2009 scorcher that killed 173 people  [in bushfires.  Australia has bushfires every summer] – can be taken as hard evidence of global warming, what would happen if average values continued to rise by up to 6 degrees in a worst-case scenario?


It was REALLY hot in Sydney recently -- about the same as 1790 (i.e. over 200 years ago)

The following was written by Watkin Tench, a British military officer, just two years after white settlement in Australia.  Temperatures reached at least 108 F (42 degrees Celsius), similar to some records of maximum temperatures in Sydney in recent days.

The current average daily maxima for Sydney are 25.1 degrees for December and 25.8 for January.  So 1790 was a year of extreme warming desite no power stations, SUVs or factories.  There were not even many people

To convey an idea of the climate in summer, I shall transcribe from my meteorological journal, accounts of two particular days which were the hottest we ever suffered under at Sydney.

December 27th 1790. Wind NNW; it felt like the blast of a heated oven, and in proportion as it increased the heat was found to be more intense, the sky hazy, the sun gleaming through at intervals.

At 9 a.m. 85 degrees At noon; 104 Half past twelve; 107 1/2 From one p.m. until 20 minutes past two; 108 1/2 At 20 minutes past two 109 At Sunset 89 At 11 p.m. 78 1/2

[By a large Thermometer made by Ramsden, and graduated on Fahrenheit’s scale.]

December 28th.

At 8 a.m. 86 10 a.m.; 93 11 a.m.; 101 At noon; 103 1/2 Half an hour past noon; 104 1/2 At one p.m. 102 At 5 p.m. 73 At sunset 69 1/2

[At a quarter past one, it stood at only 89 degrees, having, from a sudden shift of wind, fallen 13 degrees in 15 minutes.]

My observations on this extreme heat, succeeded by so rapid a change, were that of all animals, man seemed to bear it best. Our dogs, pigs and fowls, lay panting in the shade, or were rushing into the water. I remarked that a hen belonging to me, which had sat for a fortnight, frequently quitted her eggs, and shewed great uneasiness, but never remained from them many minutes at one absence; taught by instinct that the wonderful power in the animal body of generating cold in air heated beyond a certain degree, was best calculated for the production of her young. The gardens suffered considerably. All the plants which had not taken deep root were withered by the power of the sun. No lasting ill effects, however, arose to the human constitution. A temporary sickness at the stomach, accompanied with lassitude and headache, attacked many, but they were removed generally in twenty-four hours by an emetic, followed by an anodyne. During the time it lasted, we invariably found that the house was cooler than the open air, and that in proportion as the wind was excluded, was comfort augmented.

But even this heat was judged to be far exceeded in the latter end of the following February, when the north-west wind again set in, and blew with great violence for three days. At Sydney, it fell short by one degree of what I have just recorded: but at Rose Hill, it was allowed, by every person, to surpass all that they had before felt, either there or in any other part of the world. Unluckily they had no thermometer to ascertain its precise height. It must, however, have been intense, from the effects it produced. An immense flight of bats driven before the wind, covered all the trees around the settlement, whence they every moment dropped dead or in a dying state, unable longer to endure the burning state of the atmosphere. Nor did the ‘perroquettes’, though tropical birds, bear it better. The ground was strewn with them in the same condition as the bats.

Were I asked the cause of this intolerable heat, I should not hesitate to pronounce that it was occasioned by the wind blowing over immense deserts, which, I doubt not, exist in a north-west direction from Port Jackson, and not from fires kindled by the natives. This remark I feel necessary, as there were methods used by some persons in the colony, both for estimating the degree of heat and for ascertaining the cause of its production, which I deem equally unfair and unphilosophical. The thermometer, whence my observations were constantly made, was hung in the open air in a southern aspect, never reached by the rays of the sun, at the distance of several feet above the ground.


Global warming lobby discredited by exaggerations & self-righteousness

When the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says 2012 was the hottest year on record in the "contiguous United States," trust the media to transcribe the statement accurately. A disaster for public understanding begins only when the media stop transcribing and start using their own brains.

Said the New York Times climate blog, in an assertion that was echoed throughout the media: "The temperature differences between years are usually measured in fractions of a degree, but 2012 blew away the previous record, set in 1998, by a full degree Fahrenheit."

But what about ....

Really? If that were true, then hair-on-fire news should have been the fact that 2012 was 2.13 degrees hotter than 2011. That's a far more dramatic change, and in a single year.

Nor was it mentioned that 2008, in the contiguous U.S., was two degrees cooler than 2006. Or that 2000, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011 were all cooler than 1998 by a larger margin than 2012 was hotter than 1998.

Are you getting the picture? None of this was mentioned because it makes a mockery of using trends in the Lower 48 as a proxy for global warming, the misguided intent that permeated media coverage of the NOAA revelation.

The contiguous United States isn't the globe. It isn't even the United States, omitting Alaska and Hawaii. The Lower 48 represent just 1.58% of the total surface area of the Earth. The law of large numbers is at work here: The smaller the sample, the more volatile its patterns compared to a larger sample. And the fact remains, in all the authoritative studies, the warmest year on record globally is still 1998 and no trend has been apparent globally since then.

Until this week, the media's previous favorite way to evade this reality was to report, as a joint CBS/New York Times broadcast did on a recent Sunday morning, that the past decade was the "hottest decade ever recorded."

Uh huh. Because year-to-year changes in global (as opposed to contiguous U.S.) temperature are indeed teensy, it would be astonishing if the decade following the warmest year on record were not the warmest decade on record. But the appeal of this formulation is that it allows the media to talk about global warming in our time without mentioning that, ahem, global warming has ceased in our time.

Is climate warming getting ready to resume? Possibly. Is man's contribution to climate change significant and worth worrying about? Possibly.

But climate change and gun control have one thing in common. Their advocates are more interested in asserting their moral superiority and denouncing their "enemies" than in making progress, which explains why there has been no progress.

Al Gore is a perfect case in point. He unburdened himself of a remarkable self-delusion in a talk last month to the New York League of Conservation Voters, claiming a nefarious cabal of "carbon polluters" and "ideologues" in Congress were blocking change.

In fact, the oil industry and most industry long ago threw in the towel, seeing no point in contending against the overwhelming media, political and elite consensus in favor of man-made warming, especially as it became clear that voter self-interest would nevertheless remain an insurmountable barrier to costly energy policies aimed at influencing climate change.

Mr. Gore must continue to flog the image of himself as a lonely voice battling a sinister conspiracy to account, frankly, for his own policy failure. Yet had he and his fellow activists been less sanctimonious, less prone to self-discrediting hysteria and false assertions about global warming, their cause might be seizing the high ground right now.

Tax reform is on the nation's agenda. An intelligent contingent of the environmental community once had a bright idea to overcome the biggest barrier to climate action (a barrier that many greens resolutely ignore), namely the problem of costs and benefits.

Their idea, known as the "double dividend," proposed a carbon tax to change energy-use patterns while the proceeds would be used to reduce taxes on labor and capital and encourage economic growth.

The appeal of this proposal was its realism—to recognize that nagging uncertainties exist concerning climate change and man's role, yet here was a policy that politicians and voters could support out of self-interest rather than sackcloth and ashes. And, for once, environmentalists would not be seen as wanting everyone to be poorer.

This idea might seem especially ripe now that we want tax reform simultaneously to grow the economy and help pay for the welfare state. Yet advocates of a carbon tax are all but invisible in the debate. Mr. Gore and his allies wore out their welcome with their exaggerations, their self-righteousness, and their perfectly foolish insistence (like the gun controllers) that a plurality of voters could be morally bullied into giving up their self-interest if chastised long and loudly enough by Mr. Gore.

Politically, this worked as well as you might expect: Tax reform is on the agenda for the first time in a generation and the greens have mouthed themselves out of contention.


It's the Green Stalinists who are the deniers

By David Rose

Last year The Mail on Sunday reported a stunning fact: that global warming had ‘paused’ for 16 years. The Met Office’s own monthly figures showed there had been no statistically significant increase in the world’s temperature since 1997.

We were vilified. One Green website in the US said our report was ‘utter bilge’ that had to be ‘exposed and attacked’.

The Met Office issued a press release claiming it was misleading, before quietly admitting a few days later that it was true that the world had not got significantly warmer since 1997 after all. A Guardian columnist wondered how we could be ‘punished’.

But then last week, the rest of the media caught up with our report. On Tuesday, news finally broke of a revised Met Office ‘decadal forecast’, which not only acknowledges the pause, but predicts it will continue at least until 2017. It says world temperatures are likely to stay around 0.43 degrees above the long-term average – as by then they will have done for 20 years.

This is hugely significant. It amounts to an admission that earlier forecasts – which have dictated years of Government policy and will cost tens of billions of pounds – were wrong. They did not, the Met Office now accepts, take sufficient account of  ‘natural variability’ – the effects of phenomena such as ocean temperature cycles – which at least for now are counteracting greenhouse gas warming.

Surely the Met Office would trumpet this important news, as it has done when publishing warnings of imminent temperature rises. But there was no fanfare. Instead, it issued the revised forecast on the ‘research’ section of its website – on Christmas Eve. It only came to light when it was noticed by an eagle-eyed climate blogger, and then by the Global Warming Policy Foundation, the think-tank headed by Lord Lawson.

Then, rather than reporting the news objectively, Britain’s Green Establishment went into denial. Neither The Guardian nor The Independent bothered to report it in their paper editions, although The Independent did later run  an editorial saying that the new forecast was merely a trivial ‘tweak’. Instead, they luridly reported on the heatwave and raging bushfires in Australia.

One of the curious features of Green journalism is that if it  gets unusually cold, this will be dismissed as mere ‘weather’ of no significance, while a heatwave or violent storm will be seized on as a warning that catastrophic climate change is already here.
Instead of focusing on the news that global warming had halted, other newspapers reported on the heatwave and raging bushfires in Australia

Instead of focusing on the news that global warming had halted, other newspapers reported on the heatwave and raging bushfires in Australia

Where the new forecast was mentioned on the BBC and other websites, experts were marshalled to reassure apocalypse-hungry readers that the end of the world was just as nigh as before.  A warming hiatus of a mere  20 years, they said, was nothing.

This would all be faintly humorous, if it wasn’t so deadly serious. Back in 2007, when  the Labour Government was preparing what became the Climate Change Act, far from being neutral, the Met Office made a blatant attempt to influence political debate.

In a glossy brochure, it revealed it had a ‘new system’ that could predict the future, by combining analysis of natural variability with long-term trends. The system, it warned, showed that by 2014 ‘global average temperature is expected to have risen by around 0.3 degrees compared to 2004, and half of the years after 2009 are predicted to be hotter than the current record hot year, 1998’.

It boasted that this showed how the Met Office used ‘world-class science to underpin policy’.  No doubt some of the MPs who voted for the Act, with its hugely expensive targets to replace fossil energy with ‘renewables’ such as wind, were swayed by it. Barely five years later, it is clear this forecast was worthless. But the Met Office is unrepentant. ‘Climate models do predict periods of little or no warming, or even cooling,’ a spokesman told me. Despite the pause, the long-term projection that the world is likely to warm by about three degrees if the proportion of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere doubles was still on course.

We all get things wrong, and by definition futurology is a risky business. But behind all this lies something much more pernicious than a revised decadal forecast. The problem is not the difficulty of predicting something as chaotic as the Earth’s climate,  but the almost Stalinist way the Green Establishment tries to stifle dissent.

There is, for example, the odious term ‘denier’. This is applied to anyone who questions the new orthodoxy about global warming. It doesn’t matter if one states that yes, CO2 does warm the planet, but the critical issues we need to address are how fast and how much: if one doesn’t anticipate catastrophe, one must be vilified, and equated with those who deny the Holocaust.

Yet the real deniers are those who don’t just claim that the pause is insignificant, but that it doesn’t exist at all. Such deniers also still insist that the ‘science is settled’. The truth is that the unexpected pause has triggered  a new spate of research, in which many supposed ‘consensus’ conclusions are being questioned.

Some scientists are revisiting some basic assumptions of climate prediction models, such as the effects of clouds and smoke particles in the atmosphere. They now think that the claim that the warming effect of CO2 is ‘amplified’ by things such as cloud cover have been seriously exaggerated. In their view, doubling CO2 may only warm the world by 1.5 degrees or so, giving us many more decades to develop lower carbon energy sources.

How have the Green deniers been so successful in concealing such debates?

Partly it is the web of commercial interests that both fund and are sustained by Green climate orthodoxy. But it is also their dissenter-trashing machine.

A day before the revised Met Office forecast broke, US blog site Planet 3.0 awarded me its Golden Horseshoe award for the ‘most brazenly damaging and malign bad science of 2013’.’

I’ll be clutching it when they burn me at the stake.


Official "Report" is just baseless propaganda

The blatant dishonesty of Warmists never ceases to amaze. Warmer climate will worsen public health?  Then how come most hopitalizations are in winter?  There will be more drought?  Then where is the extra moisture evaporated off warmer oceans going to go?  Adverse effects on crops?  But crops thrive on more CO2.  Greenhouse owners pump CO2 into their greenhouses for that reason.  The list of evasions below is solid.  There is no truth at all below

Human activities play a primary role in causing climate change, and evidence is mounting that those changes will lead to more frequent extreme weather events, according to a major draft report released Friday.

The draft of the third National Climate Assessment comes as the Northeast continues to recover from devastation caused by Hurricane Sandy and just days after the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said 2012 was the hottest year on record in the contiguous United States.

The report also stresses that climate change harms public health.

“Climate change threatens human health and well-being in many ways, including impacts from increased extreme weather events, wildfire, decreased air quality, diseases transmitted by insects, food and water and threats to mental health,” the report says.

And it warns that the effects of climate change — including sea level rise, storm surges and extreme heat — could have wide-ranging negative effects on the country’s infrastructure, findings that could gain traction in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.

The report also says climate change will threaten water supplies across large swaths of the United States, including the Southwest, the Great Plains and the Southeast, along with “adverse impacts to crops and livestock over the next 100 years.”


Wind Energy's New Year Celebration will be Short-Lived

The New Year may be ringing hollow for wind energy developers even though they have secured a one-year extension of their coveted tax credits. A full-scale evolution will require a much broader tax strategy, meaning that the one-year extension will only add confusion.

The sector says that a six-year extension would provide certainty. But the wind folks have released public statements saying that Tuesday's congressional move to avoid the "fiscal cliff" has saved 37,000 of the sector's 75,000 jobs. Those jobs, it adds, are tied to 500 manufacturing facilities in every state.

"Now we can continue to provide America with more clean, affordable, homegrown energy, and keep growing a new manufacturing sector that's now making nearly 70 percent of our wind turbines in the U.S.A.," says Rob Gramlich, who is the American Wind Energy Association's interim chief executive.

In 2009, Congress extended the wind production tax credit until 2012. Or, developers could instead have taken cash upfront totaling 30 percent of a project's cost. The production tax credit is 2.2 cents per kilowatt hour generated for 10 years. The wind association says that the incentives have led to record growth in the wind sector, which represented 44 percent of all new electricity capacity last year.

But the industry has also said that the on again-off again nature of the tax breaks is causing boom and bust cycles. Each time the credit has been allowed to expire, economic productivity slows, the sector says.

The tax incentives given to wind, in fact, are used as political chits while bargaining. During the latest round of negotiations, Spanish wind developer Gamesa said that the iffy nature of political talks and the subsequent uncertainty had forced it to lay-off 165 workers in the Pennsylvania. Vestas, meanwhile, had said earlier that an end to the credits would force it to cut 1,600 workers.

The revised credit applies to projects started in 2013 but it will remain in effect for two years so that developers will have time to finish them. "Even though the late timing of the extension will result in a significant reduction in 2013 installations relative to previous years due to the time it takes from when an order is placed to project completion, the U.S. market will nonetheless be stronger as a result of the (credit's) extension," says Vestas.

Revised Thinking

Critics of the wind tax credits will argue that they do nothing more than distort the energy market place. That is, investment capital that would otherwise flow to where it would be most productive is now re-directed it to where it is less efficient. Opponents of the breaks, which total $1 billion annually, say that wind power will never be competitive given that the wind does not blow all the time.

The industry counters such thinking by saying that the tax credits have never been intended to be a permanent crutch but that they have been necessary to improve turbine technologies and to reduce the cost of wind development. To that end, they are succeeding as the price of the blades has fallen dramatically while their quality is rising, resulting in greater electricity output.

Wind energy, though, has become evermore politicized. Conservatives have viewed its tax credits as endemic of government waste and of the "wrongheaded" approach to energy generation in this country. Progressives, conversely, say that such government support is integral to President Obama's New Economy, emphasizing that coal and natural gas have been on the public dole for decades.

Nevertheless, the American Wind Energy Association changed its lobbying tactics toward the end of 2012, sensing that the credit may lapse. So, it sent a letter to members of Congress saying that it would accept a gradual six-year phase-out of its tax incentives. Basically, the amount of the credit would be reduced by 10 percent a year until it would stop altogether in 2018.

The association credits its developers for contributing $15.5 billion a year to the American economy -- money that it says has been essential to job creation and economic growth, and which exceeds the annual cost of its tax benefits. Abruptly stopping those incentives makes no sense while slowly ending them is a more responsible move, it adds.

"With the policy certainty that accompanies a stable extension, the industry believes it can achieve the greater economies of scale and technology improvements that it needs to become cost-competitive without the production tax credit," the association's letter says.

The wind sector got some breathing room New Year's Day. But that reprieve will be short-lived, giving way to additional uncertainty by summer. Developers will thus push for a longer but less generous tax incentive program.




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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