Friday, May 03, 2013
Mathematical Analysis reveals six natural cycles driving temperatures, no man-made effect: predicts cooling
Ldecke, Hempelmann, and Weiss found that the temperature variation can be explained with six superimposed natural cycles. With only six cycles they can closely recreate the 240 year central European thermometer record. There is little "non-cyclical" signal left, suggesting that CO2 has a minor or insignificant effect.
The three German scientists used Fourier analysis to pick out the dominant cycles of one of the longest temperature records we have. The Central European temperature is an average of records from Prague, Vienna, Hohenpeissenberg, Kremsmnster, Paris, and Munich.
The dominant cycle appears to be about 250 years. There is also a cycle of about 60 years, corresponding to the Atlantic/Pacific decadal oscillations.
Data is of course, always the biggest problem. If we had 10,000 years of high quality global records, we could solve "the climate" within months. Instead, we have short records, and Ldecke et al, make the most of what we have. The European records are only 240 years long, or (darn) one dominant cycle, and only one region, so to check that the results are valid over longer periods they also analyze a the 2000 year Spannagel Cave stalagmites proxy, where the dominant cycle of roughly 250 years is confirmed. To show that the results apply to other parts of the world, they look at the German Alfred Wegener Institut (AWI), Antarctica series.
Ominously, the temperatures of the dominant cycle (in Europe at least) peaked circa 2000 and if the six-driving-cycles do represent the climate then things are going to get cooler, quickly. Wait and see.
Fourier analysis can't tell us what causes the cycles, but it can tell us the likely frequency, amplitude and phase of those cycles. If these are accurate, it can be used to rule out significant effects from man-made forces and ultimately to predict what will happen next.
More HERE (See the original for links, graphics etc.)
Green Madness: Do British Ministers Know What They Are Doing?
British leaders are making some truly bizarre decisions in an effort to reduce carbon dioxide emissions and comply with European renewable electricity mandates. For example, they are converting a coal-fired plant to burn wood chips that are shipped from the United States. A wood burning plant qualifies under the European rules for meeting electricity generation mandates from renewable energy for the purpose of reducing carbon dioxide emissions from energy producing sources. But this move is sheer lunacy for it will increase rather than decrease emissions while increasing the price of electricity to consumers. Yet the British parliament has whole-heartedly embraced the move. Have legislators gone mad?
The British Drax Plant and Its Conversion
The Drax plant in Yorkshire, England is one of the biggest coal-fired power plants in the world with an almost 1,000 foot-tall flue chimney, 6 boilers, and 12 very large cooling towers. It consumes 36,000 tons of coal each day, providing 7 percent of the country's electricity. Starting next month, the plant will be converted to burn millions of tons of wood chips a year, costing œ700 million ($1.085 billion). [i]
Most of the wood chips will travel 3,000 miles across the Atlantic Ocean, coming from trees downed in the United States. Drax is building 2 plants in the United States that will turn the wood from trees into chips that can be transported by ship to Yorkshire and then hauled to the power station by railway trucks. In order to prevent spontaneous combustion, the wood chips must be stored in domes where the humidity is controlled before they can be pulverized into powder. (Wood is 1,000 times more prone to spontaneous combustion than coal.)
Despite the fact that coal is the least-expensive source of electricity generation in England, the owners of the Drax plant realized that a recently instituted carbon tax on fossil fuels would put them out of business if they continued to burn coal eventually making their electricity become twice as expensive. The political incumbents in Britain decided last year to give any coal-fired power station that switched to `biomass' the almost 100 percent `renewable subsidy' that owners of onshore wind farms get.
A British Carbon Tax and an EU Mandate
A new carbon tax introduced in Britain on April 1 is applied to every ton of carbon dioxide produced during electricity production. While the tax is starting out low, it will increase each year, making the cost of generating electricity from coal double within 20 years, at which point it will no longer be economical for Drax to generate electricity from coal. Along with the carbon tax, the British government will also be subsidizing electricity produced from its list of `carbon neutral' power sources that will further increase consumer electricity bills.
The U.K. carbon tax is defined as a carbon price floor (CPF) that will increase from 16 pounds per metric ton of carbon dioxide ($24.80) in April 2013 to 30 pounds per metric ton ($46.50) in 2020, in constant 2009 prices. The resulting carbon tax is calculated as the difference between the carbon price floor, adjusted for inflation, and the European Union allowance (EUA) price, which is the 12-month average settlement on the European Climate Exchange for the relevant EUA futures contract. The tax for this financial year is 4.94 pounds per metric ton of carbon dioxide ($7.66) and in 2014/2015, it is 9.55 pounds ($14.80). IHS CERA calculated the 2015/2016 rate at 18.29 pounds per metric ton of carbon dioxide ($28.35) resulting in an annual doubling for two successive years.[ii]
The conversion of the Drax plant to wood chips will significantly contribute to meeting a target imposed by the European Union (EU) that commits Britain to producing almost a third of its electricity from `renewable energy' within seven years. Upon completion, Drax will have the capability to generate 3,500 megawatts of electricity from a qualified renewable source, contributing more than a quarter of the EU target for the use of renewable energy. The reliability of the converted Drax plant along with its size will produce far more generation than the country's wind farms.
The Issues the U.K. Politicians Aren't Confronting
The energy policies that the United Kingdom has put in place have consequences that will affect the lives of its citizens and their pocketbooks. The country's energy policies mean the electricity will cost more, that electric supplies may not be sufficient to meet future demands, and that little will be achieved in emissions reduction because of actions of other countries and the consequences of biomass conversions on the life cycle of the fuel.
It will cost two to three times as much for Drax to generate about the same amount of electricity from wood as it does from coal, i.e. fuel costs will double or triple. The government is providing a subsidy that will eventually be worth over œ1 billion a year that make the Drax conversion to `biomass' economical. But for electricity consumers in Britain, bills have already increased by over œ1 billion ($1.55 billion) a year because of subsidizing wind farms; the Drax subsidies will increase them even more.
Those coal-fired power plants not converting to `biomass' are being forced to close. An EU anti-pollution directive has resulted in the closure of several coal-fired power plants such as Kingsnorth in Kent, Didcot A in Oxfordshire and Cockenzie in Scotland with a combined capacity of almost 6,000 megawatts, which leaves natural gas to back-up wind power that cannot be relied upon to generate power when needed. For example, on a recent windless day, the country's 4,300 wind turbines combined to generate just one thousandth of demand (29 megawatts).
But natural gas supplies from the North Sea are diminishing, making the country dependent on expensive natural gas from Qatar, Algeria, and Russia that will also be affected by the carbon tax when burned to produce electricity. Early in March, Britain's supplies of natural gas in storage were down to 2 weeks of coverage-the lowest amount ever. The low electricity supplies are worrying some that the country may face major power cuts that it cannot endure due to its dependence on electricity not just for home heating, but also computers, traffic lights, and a whole host of other needs.
The irony of the situation is that Britain is moving away from coal as other countries which have been big proponents of reducing carbon dioxide emissions are moving to build more coal-fired power plants. Germany is building 20 new coal-fired power plants to back-up its wind and solar plants and to replace its nuclear plants; the first of which (2,200 megawatts) came on line last September. China, the world's largest emitter of carbon dioxide, is building at least one coal-fired unit a week and is planning to build 363 more coal-fired power plants to fuel its fast growing economy. India is also planning to build 455 new coal-fired power plants to fuel its growing economy.
And then there is Japan, who is building coal-fired power plants to replace its nuclear power after the accident at Fukushima in 2011. Japan is currently using idled oil-fired power plants, but expects to build cheaper coal-fired power plants in the future. Tokyo Electric just added 2,600 megawatts of coal-fired generating capacity from two new plants that started operation this month. Other new coal-fired plants are expected to follow as Japan works on decreasing the time for processing permits from up to 4 years to a maximum of 12 months. In order to consume more coal, Japan is planning on revising by this October its Kyoto Protocol commitment to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 25 percent from their 1990 level by 2020.[iii]
There is no carbon dioxide benefit to burning wood at the Drax plant.
But the real lunacy in the U.K. is the reasoning for converting the Drax plant to wood. The entire point is a belief that burning biomass would, on net, reduce carbon dioxide emissions, especially compared to coal. But that's not the case in the real world, especially with the Drax plant. Any carbon reductions would take many years to be realized when dealing with the life cycle of the process of growing trees, making wood chips, transporting them to consumers, and combusting them into electricity. A researcher at Princeton University calculated that if whole trees are used to produce energy, they would increase carbon emissions compared with coal by 79 percent over 20 years and 49 percent over 40 years and that there would be no carbon reduction for 100 years until the replacement trees have matured.[iv]
The result of Britain's energy policy is ever-increasing energy bills and likely power outages. According to the UK Daily Mail, Britain's politicians "live in such a la-la land of green make-believe that they no longer connect with reality - and seem unable to comprehend the national energy crisis now heading our way with the speed of a bullet train. But the sad truth is that we ourselves should be neither laughing nor crying. We should be rising up to protest, in real anger, at those politicians whose collective flight from reality is fast dragging us towards as damaging a crisis as this country has ever faced."
Unfortunately, the United States could follow in Britain's footsteps if we are not ever vigilant in making our politicians aware of the energy system and how it works in this country. Germany's residences already play 3 times what we pay for electricity and almost 20 percent of England is in energy poverty, providing more than 10 percent of their household income to non-transportation energy needs. We need to learn from their mistakes and insist our policy makers do so as well.
A Crisis in UK Energy Policy Looks Inevitable: We Identify the Possible Triggers
Excerpt from an extensive report from Liberum Capital -- warning investors off British government energy follies
When the crisis hits there will be three possible casu alties, the government of the day, the consumer, and the investors who have funded the government's radical energy policy. Whilst no doubt there will be plenty of pain to go around, in our view investors should be under no illusions that the government of the day will seek to protect itself and the consumer (who are also the electorate) by heaping most of the financial pain on to investors.
* UK Energy Policy is not Plausible: in our view successive UK gove rnments have grossly underestimated the engineering, financial, and economic challenges posed by the drive to decarbonise the electricity sector by 2030. Moving from a largely fossil fuel based power system to one dominated by renewables and nuclear in just a decade and a half, whilst keeping the lights on and consumer bills affordable, may simply be impossible.
* Policy Cost: we estimate that the total required investment to deliver policy goals is œ161bn from now to 2020 and up to œ376bn by 2030. Even with the large increase in public support provided by the Energy Bill it is extremely hard to envisage that this finance will be forthcoming given that the large European Utility companies are actually reducing capex. If the inve stment does take place we see electricity bills rising by at least 30% by 2020 and 100% by 2030 in real terms.
* Economic Rationale Looks Weak: the fundamental economic argument for the EU's energy policy is that fossil fuels are scarce, and will therefore become ever more expensive. The belief is that those that move first away from fossil fuels will gain a substantial competitive advantage. But the arrival of unconventional gas and oil makes this assumption look shaky at best. Without clear economic benefits it is not at all certain that the public will be willing to bear the costs. Without public support the policy is bound to fail at some point.
* Re-nationalisation: the decarbonisation agenda has required the government to intervene in the energy market in ever more aggressive ways. The Energy Bill takes this to a new level and effectively re-nationalises the investment-making decision process in the power sector. But it is not clear that policy makers yet appreciate that this also means that the risks and costs associated with these decisions must also transfer to the public.
* Probable Triggers for the Crisis: we identify a number of possible triggers; a generation capacity crunch in the 2014-17 period leading to a sharp spike in power prices, a lack of dispatchable generation by the end of this decade onwards, and spiralling consumer costs / developer profits that a future government will find untenable.
* Utility Companies & Investors Should Limit Exposure: political risk looks certain to rise sharply in the UK energy space in the coming years as the implausibility and contradictory nature of policy is exposed by events. We welcome recent moves by both Centrica and SSE to take a more cautious approach to allocating capital to UK renewables. UK utility stocks have benefited in recent years by being viewed as having relatively low political risk, this may well change in coming years. Most exposed will be Drax, SSE and Centrica.
Much more HERE
A "Green" British bureaucrat with a storm-trooper mentality
Over-zealous council worker 'rips gate off its hinges' so he can check whether family is recycling
A couple has accused a council worker of ripping their padlocked front gate off its hinges so he could check if they were recycling properly.
The officer from Croydon Council, in south London, was sent to question Bharat and Sheila Gandhi, who had been reported to the local authority for not leaving paper, glass and plastics out for collection.
But when the officer arrived at the house in South Norwood and realised he couldn't get in, he allegedly forced the gate off its hinges.
Unbeknown to him, he was being filmed by the couple's CCTV camera which had been installed after the house was burgled in 2011.
Mr and Mrs Gandhi say they take their waste to Factory Lane recycling centre by hand and have accused the council of 'intrusion'.
Mr Gandhi, 60, said: 'The behaviour by the council person was inexcusable and even dangerous as he left our property vulnerable and without any reason.'
The council, which said the damage was accidental, has offered to refund the œ100 repair costs.
However, Mrs Gandhi, 56, said: 'It is not about money, it is about the principle. It would have taken a lot of force to break the gate. 'There is a bell for people to ring, which he did not.'
The couple run the local Neighbourhood Watch group and lost œ20,000 of possessions when they were burgled.
They also accused the officer of not having ID on him when he visited again on April 17.
A council spokesman said: 'We're waiting for details of the necessary repairs and we will compensate the homeowners appropriately for this accidental damage.
'Staff on the team have been reminded of the importance of carrying their ID at all times and if, as in this case, they have left it at home, a temporary form of identification will be arranged.'
Understanding the Political and Economic Realities of a Carbon Tax
On May 3, the George C. Marshall Institute will release a new study considering efforts to create a national carbon tax.
Authored by James DeLong of the Convergence Law Institute, the study summarizes the political and economic forces that undermine the case for a carbon tax. DeLong presents five reasons to reject carbon taxes:
* Lack of Effect on Temperature - A carbon tax is assumed to have the effect of reducing temperature, but DeLong argues the evidence shows the impact "would be tiny" at the tax levels being advanced.
* Lack of Specificity About Future Energy Sources - Tax advocates fail to show what energy sources will emerge to replace current sources of supply or how this transformation of a capital-intensive energy sector would be accomplished.
* Neglect of Benefits from Fossil Fuels and CO2 Emissions - The carbon tax debate is solely focused on the "damages" wrought by CO2 emissions, but a fair evaluation must account for the benefits associated with production of CO2.
* Problems with Models - The carbon tax relies on the veracity of two rounds of complex computer models - one modeling the environment and humanity's purported impact on it and the other modeling the economy and the impact of imposing a carbon tax. Both sets of models have significant limitations.
* Political Pressures and Practical Problems - DeLong summarizes the regressive nature of a carbon tax, the negative impact on GDP and jobs, the effects on manufacturing in highlighting some of the consequences of a tax. Further, he points to managing the interactions with other taxes and regulations, as well as international issues as practical obstacles to the construction of an efficient carbon tax. Added to these are the inevitable tensions that will arise from the uneasy alliance of "Bootleggers" and "Baptists" (i.e., crony capitalists and environmentalists) that must unite to pass a carbon tax.
"The tax will not be implemented in the politically aseptic world of academic modelers, but in the real world of intense political pressures," DeLong argues. "Its assumed purity will not survive the onslaught."
The real Malthus
"If . . . we come to the conclusion, not to interfere in any respect, but to leave every man to his own free choice, and responsible only to God for the evil he does . . . this is all I contend for." -Thomas Robert Malthus
I am constantly surprised that defenders of liberty and free markets love to bash Thomas Robert Malthus.
Maybe I shouldn't be, but consider this: Robert Malthus (his friends called him "Bob") was one of the primary interpreters of Adam Smith for the generation after Smith. Indeed, a lot of people who pick on "Thomas" Malthus get Bob Malthus wrong.
That's not to say that Malthus was right about everything. But even more than Smith, Malthus's economics built upon the idea that all humans similarly respond to incentives, and he thereby rejected the idea of natural hierarchy. Writing in a country that had excessive restrictions on labor markets-take a look at the poor laws-Malthus was an advocate of free labor markets. And Malthus argued that private property rights, free markets, and an institution that would ensure that both parents were financially responsible for the children they bore (that is, marriage) were essential features of an advanced civilization.
"Wait a minute," you may be thinking. "Are we talking about the Malthus who claimed back in 1798 in his book An Essay on the Principle of Population that population growth would decrease per capita well-being? Isn't this the guy who argued that the combination of population growth and natural resource scarcity would create catastrophic consequences, including disease, starvation, and war, for much of the human race? And didn't he miss the benefits of entrepreneurship and innovation, blinded as he was by the fallacy of land scarcity?"
That Malthus-let's call this one "Tom"-is more a creature of ideological opponents of markets than of Malthus's own writings. So maybe we should revisit Malthus and see what he actually said.
It all begins with a thought experiment: what would happen to human population in the absence of any institutions?
The answer is the population principle, which is the only thing most people know about Malthus. And it's largely correct. In the absence of institutions, humans are reduced to their biological basics. Like animals, humans share the necessity to eat and the passions that lead to procreation. To eat, humans must produce food. To procreate, humans must have sex. If there are no institutions, human population will behave like any animal population and increase to the limit of its ecology's carrying capacity.
The biological model is simplistic; it treats humans as mere biological agents. It is this biological model that produces all the results people usually associate with Malthus's name. And it's not very far off from people's conditions when their institutions have suddenly been disrupted by things like conquest, revolution, or war. (Consider the dual problems of war and drought that resulted in famine for Ethiopians in 1983-85, for example.)
But for Bob Malthus, the biological model is only a starting point. The model set up his next concern: the incentives created by different institutional rules for families' fertility choices (in Malthus's terms: the decision to delay marriage). The comparative institutional analysis that emerged from his further investigation became the basis for his defense of the institutional framework of a free society.
But to get there, Malthus needed a more complex model of the human being, one that viewed us as more than biological agents.
His more complex model included two additional things:
The first was human reason and foresight. (Darwin's model of natural selection actually came to him when he asked, while reading Malthus, what the biological response to the lack of foresight and reason would be.) Malthus asked, what happens when we recognize that humans have the capacity to anticipate the future and to respond to it? His answer was that individuals prudentially make changes in their choices in order to respond to potential opportunities and threats.
The second thing Malthus introduced was a form of contractarianism and the idea of institutional incentives. When we recognize that humans can contract with others to create rules that will structure our future options, then we are building social institutions that incentivize individual actions.
Malthus first employs both of his models in his criticism of William Godwin's Political Justice, at the end of his original Essay. Using the biological model, Malthus shows that Godwin's call to eliminate all institutions would result in rapid population growth, creating the threat of a population "bomb." But then he stops short of reducing humanity to Hobbes's tragedy of the war of all against all. (Garrett Hardin went further than Malthus would in his "tragedy of the commons" article, which has had such an influence on neo-Malthusians.) Why does Malthus not draw the obvious neo-Malthusian conclusion? Because he begins to employ his complex model instead.
Seeing the prospect of falling into a Hobbesian state of nature, people would rather "hold a convention" and establish property rights. And then, he argues, they would fashion a rule or institution (call it "marriage") that would require parents-especially fathers-to be financially responsible for their children. These institutional moves would allow society to create a sustainable future.
The institutional considerations of his more complex theory really come out, however, in subsequent editions of the Essay. In these editions, Malthus engages in a nascent form of empirical institutional analysis. Between his own travels and traveler reports from around the world, he assembles a comparative study of how different institutional settings handle population growth. His hypothesis is simple: Nations with civilized institutions will depend less on the positive checks on population growth because their citizens are provided with clear signals that allow prudential decisions regarding the delay of marriage. What he found was that in societies with private property rights, markets, and incentives that encourage responsible fertility choices (what he called marriage), the positive checks of disease and starvation never come into play, while in societies without those institutions, the positive checks operate in full force.
It turns out the mainstream view of Tom (as opposed to the real "Bob") was first created by opponents of markets, sustained throughout the nineteenth century by lovers of hierarchy, and resuscitated in the twentieth century by environmentalists committed to the view that there are natural limits to economic growth. These environmentalists picked out the bits they liked and scrapped the rest, as it suited their agendas.
But Bob Malthus thought institutions mattered. For Malthus, the institutions of a free society mattered for prudential fertility choices, as well as for human flourishing.
For more postings from me, see DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here.
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 4:32 PM