Monday, April 01, 2013
The prophecies never stop
You don't need any data or facts for a prophecy so why not?
The Arctic will turn green due to rising temperatures within decades, warns a new study. The study forecasts that rising temperatures will lead to a massive 'greening' - increase in trees and shrubs - in the Arctic.
Scientists have revealed new models projecting that wooded areas in the Arctic could increase by as much as 50 per cent over the next few decades.
The research shows that this dramatic greening will also accelerate climate warming at a rate greater than previously expected.
Lead author Richard Pearson, a research scientist at the American Museum of Natural History's Centre for Biodiversity and Conservation, said: 'Such widespread redistribution of Arctic vegetation would have impacts that reverberate through the global ecosystem.'
Plant growth in Arctic ecosystems has increased over the past few decades, a trend that coincides with increases in temperatures, which are rising at about twice the global rate.
The research team - which includes scientists from the Museum, the University of York, AT&T Labs-Research, Woods Hole Research Centre, Colgate University and Cornell University - used climate scenarios for the 2050s to explore how the trend is likely to continue in the future.
The scientists developed models that statistically predict the types of plants that could grow under certain temperatures and precipitation. Although it comes with some uncertainty, the researchers said such modelling is a 'robust' way to study the Arctic because the harsh climate limits the range of plants that can grow, making this system simpler to model compared to other regions such as the tropics.
Britain has coldest Easter on record -- but cooling proves warming so not to worry
Britain had its coldest Easter day on record this weekend, with temperatures dropping as low as -12.5C to round off a freezing month.
The reading, taken in the early hours of Sunday in Braemar, northern Scotland, was the coldest Easter day since modern records began in 1960, eclipsing the previous record for an Easter day of -9.8C on Easter Monday in 1986.
It was also the coldest end to March for more than 150 years. According to the book Daily Temperature Extremes for Britain, the previous low for March 31 had been -10C at Balmoral, Aberdeenshire, in 1941.
On Saturday Braemar recorded an overnight temperature of -11.2C, making it the chilliest March 30 on record and bringing an appropriate end to the coldest March in half a century.
Scotland was not the only area to suffer, with temperatures reaching an icy -8.7C in Shap, Cumbria, and -6C in Odiham, Hampshire on Sunday morning, although some areas remained just above freezing.
A drop in wind is expected to make conditions feel slightly warmer during the day on Sunday, with temperatures of 5C-7C across most of the country, but the weather should remain colder than the seasonal average until mid-April at the earliest.
Most of the country should enjoy calm weather but scattered wintry showers are expected in southern coastal areas during the start of the week.
A Met Office forecaster said: "It will be mainly dry across the whole of the UK [on Sunday and Monday] with sunny spells and a low risk of a few wintry showers, mainly across southern parts but few and far between.
"The rest of the week will remain cold with easterly winds continuing, but it should be mainly dry with the chance of a few wintry showers but very isolated ones. A cold week, but dry with sunny spells."
March is on course to be colder than winter this year for the first time since 1975. The average monthly temperature until March 26 was 2.5C – colder than December (3.8C), January (3.3C) and February (2.8C).
New study says that Antarctic sea ice is expanding -- but ice is caused by warming so not to worry
GLOBAL warming has led to more ice in the sea around Antarctica and could help insulate the southern hemisphere from atmospheric warming.
A Dutch study says that unlike in the Arctic region, sea ice around Antarctica has expanded at a significant rate since 1985.
Published online in Nature Geoscience, the article suggests cool freshwater from melt beneath the Antarctic ice shelves has insulated offshore sea ice from the warming ocean beneath.
Richard Bintanja of the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute and colleagues say the Antarctic sea ice expands during southern hemisphere autumn and winter in response to this fresh, cool surface layer that freezes easily.
"Against the background of global climate warming, the expansion of Antarctic sea ice is an exceptional feature, which seems to be associated with decreasing sea surface temperatures in the Southern Ocean," they write.
"We predict that this mechanism will be a sizable contributor to the factors that regionally and seasonally offset greenhouse warming and the associated sea ice retreat."
They say the expanding sea ice may constitute a "feedback" that has the potential to oppose southern hemisphere atmospheric warming and amplify increases in global sea level.
Changes in sea ice can significantly modulate climate change because of its high reflective and strong insulating nature, the paper says.
Britain's carbon levy will be a 'stealth poll tax' on energy
The government's new carbon levy is effectively a “stealth poll tax” that will only work to put up household electricity bills and hand a windfall to old nuclear plants, the head of energy giant E.ON has warned.
The Treasury’s “carbon price floor” comes into effect on Monday and official estimates say it will add £5 to household bills this year, rising to about £50 by 2020.
The tax is intended to provide an incentive to invest in new wind farms and nuclear plants by making it more expensive to run coal and gas plants that emit carbon.
Tony Cocker, chief executive of E.ON UK, attacked the policy on the eve of its implementation, arguing that it simply “pushes up the price for electricity” and should be scrapped.
He told The Sunday Telegraph: “The carbon price floor is a tax and it’s pretty close to a stealth poll tax. It’s not based on ability to pay, it’s based on the requirement to keep warm and light your house.
“It was put in place with the stated objective of encouraging investment in low-carbon energy but it certainly doesn’t achieve that objective – it’s just a tax for the Exchequer.”
The measure is expected to raise billions of pounds for the Treasury over the next decade.
Mr Cocker criticised the lack of transparency over the tax. “It’s kind of hidden away,” he said. “If you called it an electricity tax or duty, like the fuel duty on cars, we could all understand that goes to the Exchequer.”
The carbon tax would also provide an unintended “windfall” subsidy for existing old nuclear and hydro plants, which is “completely unnecessary because it’s already been paid for”, he said.
European green policies already make polluting industries buy permits for each tonne of carbon they emit. However, the Government believes the prices have been too low and has introduced the carbon price floor to “top up” the cost per tonne of carbon dioxide.
But the tax has not proven enough to encourage new nuclear and wind power investors, with companies now being offered separate long-term subsidy schemes.
Because Britain is acting unilaterally in increasing carbon costs, critics say the tax will also have no effect on reducing carbon output.“If we charge more for carbon in the UK than is charged in Europe as a whole, all that means is we will burn less coal in the UK and the rest of Europe will burn more coal,” Mr Cocker said.
Manufacturers have called for the tax to be scrapped as they fear it will make British businesses uncompetitive compared with the rest of Europe. Ministers are planning a £150m compensation scheme to help compensate heavy industries.
On Friday, The Daily Telegraph revealed that newly appointed energy minister Michael Fallon had called the tax “absurd”. Mr Fallon has taken on a new role, as joint energy and business minister, working across the departments of Business and Energy in the hope of creating a unified approach.
In a meeting with business leaders in February, Mr Fallon, who at that point had not been given his new responsibilities, said that everyone would “have to pay” for the unintended consequences of the tax.
“This is a fairly absurd waste of your money, this situation we’re now in. Governments intervene in markets they don’t understand and there are consequences and we all have to pay for those consequences.”
Consumer groups have also called for the tax to be scrapped or for its proceeds to be used to help pay for energy efficiency measures. Companies such as EDF, which has a large existing nuclear fleet that is likely to benefit from the higher electricity price, have backed the policy, however.
Mr Cocker insisted his opposition to the carbon tax was not motivated by E.ON’s commercial interest, and said the impact on its power generation portfolio – which includes coal, gas and renewables – would be “relatively neutral”.
It will, however, serve to make E.ON’s Ratcliffe coal plant increasingly uneconomic to run. The company is considering options such as converting it to a biomass plant, which would burn wood instead of coal and be eligible for subsidies.
British government's climate watchdog launches astonishing attack on newspaper ... for revealing global warming science is wrong
By David Rose
The official watchdog that advises the Government on greenhouse gas emissions targets has launched an astonishing attack on The Mail on Sunday – for accurately reporting that alarming predictions of global warming are wrong.
We disclosed that although highly influential computer models are still estimating huge rises in world temperatures, there has been no statistically significant increase for more than 16 years.
Despite our revelation earlier this month, backed up by a scientifically researched graph, the Committee on Climate Change still clings to flawed predictions.
Leading the attack is committee member Sir Brian Hoskins, who is also director of the Grantham Institute for Climate Change at Imperial College, London. In a blog on the Committee on Climate Change’s website, Sir Brian insisted: ‘The scientific basis for significant long-term climate risks remains robust, despite the points raised ...... Early and deep cuts in emissions are still required.’
He also claimed our report ‘misunderstood’ the value of computer models. Yet in an interview three years ago, Sir Brian conceded that when he started out as a climate scientist, the models were ‘pretty lousy, and they’re still pretty lousy, really’.
Our graph earlier this month was reproduced from a version first drawn by Dr Ed Hawkins, of the National Centre for Atmospheric Science. Last week it was reprinted as part of a four-page report in The Economist.
The accuracy of computer forecasts is vital because they influence politicians and their key environmental advisers on how urgently to act on climate change – and how many billions of pounds they take from the taxpayer in ‘green’ levies.
The Committee on Climate Change claims such forecasts must be right because world temperatures have previously matched computer models’ ‘outputs’ for most of the past 60 years. Yet as this newspaper pointed out, for almost all of that 60-year period the models were not making predictions – because they did not yet exist.
Instead, the models had recently been making ‘hindcasts’ – backward projections based on climate simulations and tailored to actual temperatures. The evidence shows the models collapse when they try to forecast the future.
Author Andrew Montford, who runs the widely read Bishop Hill climate blog, leapt to The Mail on Sunday’s defence and said Sir Brian’s reliance on ‘hindcasts’ was ‘crazy, crazy stuff’.
David Whitehouse, of the Global Warming Policy Foundation, said the graph showed models were so unreliable that ‘if this kind of data were from a drugs trial it would have been stopped long ago’.
And last week, The Economist repeated our claims that many scientists now believe that previous estimates of ‘climate sensitivity’ – how much the world will warm each time the level of carbon dioxide doubles – are far too high.
In a key 2007 report, the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change suggested this was most likely to be about 3C, with 4.5C considered ‘likely’. However, recent research suggests the true figure is much lower – between 1.5C and 2C – giving the world many more decades to avoid disaster through effective new technologies.
The Committee on Climate Change, established by the 2008 Climate Change Act, advises the Government on setting ‘carbon budgets’ and CO2 emissions cuts. It is chaired by Lord Deben, who also heads Veolia Water UK, which connects windfarms to the National Grid.
Israel Begins Pumping Natural Gas From Offshore Field
Israel moved closer to its goal of energy independence on Sunday as natural gas from a large offshore field began flowing into the country, a harbinger of important change that will benefit the country strategically and economically, officials said.
“We are taking an important step toward energy independence,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement after the natural gas started flowing from the Tamar reservoir in the Mediterranean Sea to a terminal in the Israeli port of Ashdod, a journey that officials said would take 24 hours.
“We have advanced the natural gas sector in Israel over the last decade, which will be good for the Israeli economy and for all Israelis,” Mr. Netanyahu added.
Some questions were raised in Orthodox circles in Israel as to why the Tamar field had gone online on the Jewish Sabbath, the religiously mandated day of rest. During his traditional Passover visit to the country’s leading rabbis on Sunday, President Shimon Peres called that decision a “mistake” and said he did not know the reason for it, according to Ynet, a Hebrew news Web site, and some ultra-Orthodox Web sites.
A partnership of Noble Energy, based in Houston, and two Israeli companies, Delek Group and Dor Gas Explorations, carried out drilling operations at the Tamar site, about 56 miles west of the northern port city of Haifa, and discovered large gas reserves there in 2009.
Israel’s Ministry of Energy and Water Resources says that the Tamar field will supply 50 to 80 percent of Israel’s natural gas consumption needs over the next 10 years. About 40 percent of electricity in Israel has been generated from natural gas in recent years, and the rate of natural gas consumption is expected to rise to 50 percent by 2015, the ministry said.
The Tamar field went into production as a smaller natural gas reserve, known as Yam Thetis, at a site farther south, began to run dry.
But the subsequent discovery in 2010 of another major natural gas field off Israel’s northern coast, known as Leviathan, has even positioned Israel as a future energy exporter. Leviathan, discovered through the work of a partnership between Noble Energy and local companies, was said to have been one of the world’s largest offshore gas finds in a decade.
The Israeli government said in 2011 that it would set a tax rate on energy profits at 52 to 62 percent. Mr. Netanyahu said at the time that some of the money would go into a special fund devoted to education and the security of Israel.
The development of Israel’s natural gas sector in recent years has lessened the country’s dependence on foreign energy imports in an unstable and largely hostile region. The vulnerability of Israel’s supplies was underscored in the months after the 2011 ouster of President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt, when unidentified attackers bombed a gas pipeline in the Egyptian Sinai more than a dozen times, apparently to disrupt the flow to Israel.
Under a deal signed in 2005, Egypt had been supplying Israel’s Electric Corporation, a mostly state-owned utility, with up to 40 percent of the natural gas it needs.
Offshore exploration efforts have also underscored the need for clear maritime borders. Israel and Lebanon have been locked in a dispute over an area of the Mediterranean Sea that is potentially rich with energy resources.
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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
Posted by JR at 8:53 PM