Tuesday, May 21, 2013

The Heat Is Going Out Of Global Warming

John Ross

GLOBAL temperature increases as a result of increased carbon dioxide levels in the Earth’s atmosphere are likely to be lower than previously thought, an international research team has found.

The Oxford University-led study found that a predicted doubling of CO2 concentrations, expected to occur later this century, is likely to raise global temperatures in the short term by between 1.3C and 2C.

Previous estimates, based on climate data from the 1990s, predicted steeper rises of up to 3.1C. The new study, published today in the journal Nature Geoscience, used data gathered more recently, when the average rate of global warming was slowing down.

The latest estimate is “arguably the most reliable”, the paper says, partly because it is less affected by the 1991 eruption of Mount Pinatubo in The Philippines, but caution is still required in interpreting the available data.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change previously estimated a temperature rise of between 1C and 3C, with increases outside that range described as “very unlikely”. The new study team, which included an oceanographer from CSIRO’s marine and atmospheric research division in Hobart, estimates this rise could be as little as 0.9C.

The researchers also found that some of the modelling being used for the fifth IPCC assessment report, which is due next year, could be inconsistent with their observations.

Ultimately, however, they found their new predictions suggested little difference to the global temperature increase in the long run. Their best estimate of the “equilibrium climate sensitivity” – the long-term temperature rise once the effects of higher CO2 concentrations had bedded down – was 2C, with an upper limit of 3.9C. This compares with other previous estimates, the study said.


Big Green helps Big Wind hide bird and bat butchery

Why do taxpayers have to subsidize this? Why do environmentalists give it a free pass?

Ron Arnold

It uses tons of fossil fuels every day, emits a greenhouse gas that's like CO2 on steroids, can’t do the job it’s made for, costs taxpayers exorbitant fees, and makes the federal government look mentally ill for giving it outrageous subsidies. It also chops up birds, bats and scenery with roads and monstrous 400-foot-tall machines.

“It” is wind power, of course.

These harsh facts were condensed into a preliminary draft study of wind subsidies by researcher Teresa Platt, who circulated it to specialists for vetting. I obtained a copy of the extensively footnoted working draft, which gave chilling reality to the truth behind wind industry claims.

“Every year since the 1980s,” Platt’s study said, “the 5,000 turbines at NextEra’s Altamont Pass in California kill thousands of slow-reproducing red-tailed hawks, burrowing owls, kestrels, as well as iconic golden eagles, and bats.” The birds Platt mentions are raptors – birds of prey – particularly valued for their agricultural role in killing mice and other crop-damaging rodents. Eagles, both golden eagles and bald eagles, have long impressed Americans for their majesty, and the bald eagle was selected by our Founding Fathers as our national emblem.

I asked Bob Johns, spokesman for the American Bird Conservancy, about wind farm eagle mortality. He confirmed Platt’s study and told me the Altamont operation alone has killed more than 2,000 golden eagles. But that’s not all. “Nationwide, the wind industry kills thousands of golden eagles without prosecution,” Johns said, “while any other American citizen even possessing eagle parts such as feathers would face huge fines and prison time.”

Huge is right. Violate either the Migratory Bird Treaty Act or the Eagle Protection Act, and you could get fined up to $250,000 or get two years imprisonment.

Not a single wind farm operator has yet been prosecuted for killing birds, yet in 2009 ExxonMobil got whacked with a $600,000 fine for killing 85 common ducks and other birds that flew into uncovered tanks on its property. Other similarly outrageous revenge-style penalties have been assessed on oil companies by the viciously ideological anti-fossil fuel Obama administration.

So Big Oil clearly doesn’t have an Obama Big Wind Get Out of Jail Free card. This unaccounted wind industry bird-killer subsidy reveals a federal multiple personality disorder that must be cured.

Domestic oil and gas production is setting records – thanks to fracking on state and private lands, despite efforts by Obama, Cuomo, Brown and environmentalist lunatic groups to slow or stop it, and despite Obama and Comrades continuing to shut down ANWR, OCS and other federal drilling opportunities.

We could totally end reliance on Middle East oil, if we would drill more here and permit Keystone XL pipeline. Instead, Obama is still pushing wind and solar, and working with “green” industry to minimize or conceal impacts, while subsidizing renewable energy to the tune of $11.4 million per permanent job.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service hedges its annual windmill bird death estimates at between 100,000 to 444,000 dead birds. That smells like political appointees and staff biologists had both insisted on publishing their numbers – and too many staff biologists promote Big Wind, don’t want bird butchery to hurt Big Wind’s “eco-friendly” image, and don’t want to cross swords with subsidy-hungry politicians.

This body count issue has become a genuine data war, with experts hurling “my data are better than your data” cudgels at each other in the press and scientific literature. For example, a 2013 report by K. Shawn Smallwood estimates that in the U.S. in 2012, some 573,000 birds (including 83,000 raptors) were killed by wind turbines, at a rate of 11 birds per MW of installed capacity.

That’s ridiculously low-balled, says Jim Wiegand, California raptor specialist and Berkeley-trained wildlife biologist. I asked Wiegand what the real number was. “At least 2 million birds per year,” he told me, “and I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if over 10 million birds were killed each year by wind turbines.”

Wiegand is an on-the-ground, count-the-corpses type of wildlife biologist who does not take anyone’s word for the facts – a basic requirement of real science. Wiegand’s motto could be “Go and look.”

Therein lies Wiegand’s most potent argument for the Smallwood study’s underestimation: The wind industry has adopted bird-death counting standards that limit counts, so the results look lower than reality: Counters go and look only every 30 to 90 days – letting scavengers remove and devour large numbers of dead birds, artificially lowering the body count. Counters examine only a very small footprint around the windmill tower base – artificially lowering body counts.  Rotor blade tips can be whirling at 200 miles per hour, enough to whack an unfortunate bird “out of the ball park” – far beyond the little counting circle, out where nobody looks, artificially lowering body counts even more. Some critics accuse counters of simply burying some troublesome corpses – the old “slice, shovel and shut up” routine.

Rebutting Smallwood’s report, Wiegand told me, “In my opinion, there are at least 35 bird deaths per megawatt per year across the country. Some turbines kill several hundred birds per megawatt, depending on their location. In high bird use areas like the Kenedy Ranch turbine site in Texas, I believe proper studies on would easily show several hundred bird deaths per megawatt per year.”

The wind power industry must also share responsibility for bird deaths caused by super-long high-tension lines from distant turbines to cities. A 2007 report estimated the number of such mortality due to collisions on the wing to be at least 130 million, possibly as high a 1 billion, birds per year.

And these numbers are just for birds. We don’t often think about bat benefits, but the U.S. Geological Survey estimates bats are worth $74 in pest control costs per acre – and windmills may have killed more than 3 million bats by last year. A small bat eats about 680,000 insects a year, so 3 million dead bats means 2 billion mosquitoes and other insects that shouldn’t be here are still flying around.

Those numbers are likely way too low, as well. Windmill-caused bat mortality statistics, like bird death numbers, are hotly contested with estimates running into the multi-millions every year.

Wind is usually touted as using no fuel, particularly no fossil fuel. That’s a clever deception. Windmills don’t work when it’s too hot or too cold, or when the wind blows too hard or not at all. So they need a backup, which is usually a coal- or oil- or gas-fired power plant.

Also, every windmill comes with a power line, which comes with a maintenance road, which comes with CO2-emitting traffic. Nobody’s counting that. Why not?

Then there’s SF6, sulfur hexafluoride, the most potent greenhouse gas evaluated by the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, with a global warming potential 22,800 times that of CO2. It’s used to insulate equipment inside wind turbines, their related infrastructure and transmission lines. It may leak during installation or maintenance. or from damaged, aging or destroyed equipment.

Speaking of which, the average service life of a windmill is between 10 and 15 years – not the 20 to 25 years claimed by turbine operators, says a 2012 study by Britain’s Renewable Energy Foundation.

Falmouth, Massachusetts has the right idea. The town voted 110-91 to remove its two 400-foot industrial wind turbines for health and nuisance reasons. The only problem is paying the $15 million price tag for removal. They need to borrow $8 million to get the job done.

Maybe some powerful Big Green group – think the Sierra Club or Natural Resources Defense Council – will step forward to save Falmouth? Fat chance. They’re in love with bird and bat butchering turbines.

Via email

Last time CO2 was this high, the world was underwater? NO, actually

OK, so levels of atmospheric CO2 are rising through 0.0004 (or 400 parts per million) at the moment. Disaster, right? The last time the world saw carbon levels like this, some three million years ago, the mighty ice sheets of Greenland and the Antarctic had melted from the heat and the seas were 35 metres higher than they are today. Anybody who doesn't live up a mountain will soon find themselves underwater. Aaargh!

Not so much, according to new research.

The idea that the seas were 35 metres higher 3 million years back comes mainly from scientists examining ancient high-tide marks found along coastal cliffs and scarps - particularly some often-used ones on the US eastern seaboard. By determining the ages of the rocks and marks, scientists have come to the conclusion that the seas were much, much higher then - and thus, that the Greenland ice and large parts of the Antarctic ice as well must have been melted at the time.

According to a crew of top boffins led by Professor David Rowley of Chicago uni, the problem with this is that over these sorts of timescales, areas of the Earth's crust rise and fall as much as the sea does. And nobody thus far has taken account of that - it has just been assumed that the rocky coasts have remained fixed with respect to the centre of the Earth, which means that the studies thus far have been - basically - wrong.

"No prediction of ancient ice volumes can ever again ignore the Earth's interior dynamics,” says Rowley.

The prof and his colleagues' new investigation has sought to reconstruct the behaviour of the crust along the oft-studied scarp running up the US coast from Florida to Vermont. And it turns out that over the past three million years, interactions in the Earth's mantle have lifted the entire coastline and the ancient tidemarks with it - giving a false impression of much higher sea levels.

Using the corrected, much lower sea levels, Rowley's team say that in fact the world's ice sheets didn't melt nearly as much back in the old days of 400+ ppm CO2 as people think. According to a statement [1] highlighting the new research:

    "Until now, many research groups have studied this shoreline and concluded that during a warm period three million years ago, the Greenland, West Antarctic and a fraction of East Antarctic ice sheets collapsed, raising the sea level at least 35 metres. But the new findings by Rowley and his team suggest that these ice sheets, particularly the East Antarctic Ice Sheet (the world’s largest), were probably more stable."

The new paper has just been published [2] in hefty boffinry mag Science.

"It is the kind of study that changes how people think about our past climate and what our future holds," comments Rowley, bluntly.


Mega-pesky!   New paper 'unexpectedly' finds CO2 and 'acidification' dramatically improved fish reproduction in coral reefs

A paper published today in Global Change Biology finds that increased dissolved CO2 and decreased pH [so-called "acidification"] had the completely unexpected result of dramatically increasing reproduction [by 82%] in a coral reef fish. According to the authors, "This study provides the first evidence of the potential effects of ocean acidification on key reproductive attributes of marine fishes and, contrary to expectations, demonstrates an initially stimulatory (hormetic) effect in response to increased pCO2."
Increased CO2 stimulates reproduction in a coral reef fish

Gabrielle M. Miller et al


Ocean acidification is predicted to negatively impact the reproduction of many marine species, either by reducing fertilization success or diverting energy from reproductive effort. While recent studies have demonstrated how ocean acidification will affect larval and juvenile fishes, little is known about how increasing partial pressure of carbon dioxide (pCO2) and decreasing pH might affect reproduction in adult fishes. We investigated the effects of near-future levels of pCO2 on the reproductive performance of the cinnamon anemonefish, Amphiprion melanopus, from the Great Barrier Reef, Australia. Breeding pairs were held under three CO2 treatments (Current-day Control (430μatm), Moderate (584μatm) and High (1032μatm)) for a 9-month period that included the summer breeding season. Unexpectedly, increased CO2 dramatically stimulated breeding activity in this species of fish. Over twice as many pairs bred in the Moderate (67% of pairs) and High (55%) compared to the Control (27%) CO2 treatment. Pairs in the High CO2 group produced double the number of clutches per pair and 67% more eggs per clutch compared to the Moderate and Control groups. As a result, reproductive output in the High group was 82% higher than the Control group and 50% higher than the Moderate group. Despite the increase in reproductive activity, there was no difference in adult body condition between the three treatment groups. There was no significant difference in hatchling length between the treatment groups, but larvae from the High CO2 group had smaller yolks than Controls. This study provides the first evidence of the potential effects of ocean acidification on key reproductive attributes of marine fishes and, contrary to expectations, demonstrates an initially stimulatory (hormetic) effect in response to increased pCO2. However, any long-term consequences of increased reproductive effort on individuals or populations remains to be determined.

New study concludes that Amazon has become wetter since 1990 due to rise in Atlantic sea surface temperature

Wasn't "climate change"  supposed to be causing droughts in the Amazon?
Intensification of the Amazon hydrological cycle over the last two decades

By  M. Gloor et al.


[1] The Amazon basin hosts half the planet's remaining moist tropical forests, but they may be threatened in a warming world. Nevertheless, climate model predictions vary from rapid drying to modest wetting. Here we report that the catchment of the world's largest river is experiencing a substantial wetting trend since approximately 1990. This intensification of the hydrological cycle is concentrated overwhelmingly in the wet season driving progressively greater differences in Amazon peak and minimum flows. The onset of the trend coincides with the onset of an upward trend in tropical Atlantic sea surface temperatures (SST). This positive longer-term correlation contrasts with the short-term, negative response of basin-wide precipitation to positive anomalies in tropical North Atlantic SST, which are driven by temporary shifts in the intertropical convergence zone position. We propose that the Amazon precipitation changes since 1990 are instead related to increasing atmospheric water vapor import from the warming tropical Atlantic.



Three current news reports below

Conservatives' plan to dismantle carbon laws

TONY Abbott would prepare for a double-dissolution election within five months of taking office if parliament blocked the repeal of the carbon tax, under a 12-month action blueprint to transform the nation's environmental laws.

A working draft of the plan, obtained by The Weekend Australian and confirmed by opposition environment spokesman Greg Hunt, sets key dates to merge federal departments, introduce a direct action plan to offset or reduce carbon dioxide emissions and confirms details of a 35-year Great Barrier Reef protection strategy.

The timetable outlines how the Coalition's environment plans would be implemented. The federal environment department would be instructed on day one of an Abbott government to prepare legislation to scrap the carbon tax. The legislation would be introduced to parliament on day 30 and preparations would be made for a double-dissolution election after five months if parliament did not agree to repeal the carbon tax.

The government can seek a double dissolution of parliament, in which an election is held for both houses, when the House of Representatives and the Senate fail to agree on a bill twice in three months.

While double dissolutions are often threatened by governments struggling to have legislation pass a hostile Senate, there have only been six double dissolutions since federation, with the last in 1975 that led to the dismissal of the Whitlam government.

Mr Hunt said yesterday the federal election would be a referendum on the carbon tax and Labor must respect the views of the electorate and not block its removal if it lost the next election.

He challenged Climate Change Minister Greg Combet to commit to honouring any election mandate to scrap the carbon tax should the Coalition be elected.

Mr Hunt said it was the Coalition's preference for parliament to scrap the tax. But he said Coalition policy was to hold a double dissolution election within 12 months if legislation to repeal it was blocked.

Even if it won government, the Coalition would not have the numbers in the Senate to guarantee passage of legislation in the upper house until at least six months after the federal election when the new Senate numbers took effect.

Mr Hunt said advice to the Coalition was that a double dissolution could be forced after eight months and an Abbott government was committed to doing so within 12 months if parliament did not agree to scrap the tax.

"It is our preference for parliament to accept our legislation," he said.

The implementation timetable builds on the Coalition's election blueprint for Australia, "Hope, Reward and Opportunity", which nominates five key policy areas, economy, communities, environment, border security and national infrastructure.

Mr Hunt confirmed the timetable, which he said had been prepared for the business community late last year.

The Business Council of Australia has mounted a strong campaign to streamline environmental regulations to cut "green tape", which it said was adding to costs and jeopardising major projects.

Julia Gillard had supported the BCA push to delegate environmental powers to the states, but the federal government abruptly withdrew its support for an immediate handover of powers at COAG last November.

Mr Hunt said the federal opposition was having "very serious discussions" with all of the Coalition states to quickly implement one-stop-shop agreements for environmental approvals.

"Some matters would be reserved where the commonwealth would be the one-stop shop but overwhelmingly it would be the states," Mr Hunt said.

The areas where the federal government would retain ultimate control include offshore commonwealth waters, nuclear matters and projects for which the state was the proponent.

Mr Hunt said the reef strategy was still being finalised but would include funding for nutrient run-off reductions, a crown of thorns starfish eradication program and a dugong and turtle protection plan.

Environment groups were concerned about a lack of detail on port development.  They said projected sediment from dredging was many times greater than what would be saved from expensive onshore run-off programs.


Survey finds a very "Green" public broadcaster

MORE than 40 per cent of ABC journalists who answered a survey question about their political attitudes are Greens supporters, four times the support the minor party enjoys in the wider population.

The journalism survey, the largest in 20 years, has found the profession is overwhelmingly left-leaning, with respondents from the ABC declaring double levels of support for the Greens compared with those from Fairfax Media and News Limited.

The survey of 605 journalists from around Australia found that just more than half described themselves as having left political views, while only 13 per cent said they were right of centre.

This tendency was most pronounced among the 34 ABC journalists who agreed to declare their voting intention, with 41 per cent of them saying they would vote for the Greens, 32 per cent declaring support for Labor and 14 per cent backing the Coalition.

In comparison, Greens voters represented 20 per cent of the 86 journalists who revealed their intentions both at News Limited, publisher of The Australian, and Fairfax. Labor was the most popular party at both major publishers, with 55 per cent support at Fairfax and 47 per cent at News Limited.

University of the Sunshine Coast senior journalism lecturer Folker Hanusch, who led the study, said the figures revealed a trend despite the small sample size.

"There is a statistically significant difference (from the ABC) to News Limited journalists and also Fairfax journalists, so we have a trend," Dr Hanusch said.

"Even though only a smaller number of journalists answered the voting intentions, which does increase the margin of error, it is still reasonable to conclude that there is a marked difference between the voting intentions of journalists at the three major media organisations. At least two-thirds of those journalists . . . would vote either Labor or the Greens. That's also interesting in terms of people accusing News Limited of a right-wing bias."

An ABC spokeswoman said the number of the broadcaster's journalists who responded to the survey was too small to draw any firm conclusions.

ABC radio presenter Mark Colvin described the result as "absolutely meaningless".

"Only a tiny proportion of ABC journalists were prepared to reveal their voting intentions," he said. "You don't know anything about the much larger percentage of ABC journalists who weren't prepared to reveal their voting intentions . . . it's absolutely ridiculous to draw conclusions from this survey on that subject."

About 61 per cents of all journalists surveyed agreed to disclose their voting habits, with 43 per cent saying they would give their first-preference vote to Labor, 30 per cent to the Coalition and 19 per cent to the Greens.

Among the 83 senior editors who took part in the survey, 43 per cent supported the Coalition, while 34 per cent backed Labor and 11 per cent supported the Greens. These figures closely matched the findings of last weekend's Newspoll, which put Coalition support in the wider population at 46 per cent, followed by Labor on 31 per cent and the Greens on 9 per cent.

Former Fairfax editor Michael Gawenda said the survey results mirrored his experience in journalism but could not be used as evidence of any bias in reporting.

Former Sydney Morning Herald editor-in-chief Peter Fray said it suggested a larger group of ABC staff might be willing to reveal themselves as Greens supporters. "That goes to questions around culture," Fray said. "I suppose for certain people it will confirm their views of the various positionings of the three main media organisations."


Big floods not so bad after all

Greenies regularly hail floods and droughts as unmitigated disasters  -- ignoring their place in natural climate cycles.  One example of a positive outcome from an extreme weather event below

THE devastating 2011 floods have given farmers a huge boost with many drought-hit groundwater supplies completely refilled.

Queensland University of Technology researcher Matthias Raiber has found the Lockyer Valley, often referred to as Brisbane's food bowl, has benefited enormously with water supplies having recovered by an average 70 per cent.

Dr Raiber, from the National Centre for Groundwater Research and Training, said water quality had improved markedly on pre-flood conditions which had seen such a grim situation that farmers were drawing water that was so salty it stopped production of some crops.

The Lockyer Valley produced $230 million in agricultural products in 2010-11.

Dr Raiber said the importance of groundwater was expected to increase in coming decades because rainfall patterns were tipped to become less predictable. He said this would impact on Australia's meagre surface supplies, which were stressed due to population growth, industry, agriculture and evaporation.

Researchers are trying to determine the extent of groundwater, which will help governments work out how much water can be drawn by irrigators.

Centre director Craig Simmons said most countries did not know how much groundwater they had or how long it took to recharge, which meant the resource could not be properly managed.

In other research, the National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility has found that most people whose homes were impacted by the 2011 floods did not intend to make changes to reduce vulnerability to future floods.

Lead author Deanne Bird said many residents made general improvements, such as installing their dream kitchen, rather than making their home more flood resilient.

"We saw communities getting on with their lives and largely driving their recovery with stoic endurance.

"This does not necessarily translate to adaptation to future events but it does reflect strong resilience in the community," Dr Bird said.

Sue Gordon, who runs the Gordon Country camp ground and cabins, in the Goomburra Valley on the Darling Downs said her property was flooded in 2011 and then earlier again this year but there was little that could be done to flood proof it.

"We lost kilometres of fencing," she said. "We'd only just had it repaired and we were hit again. What can you do? We've got cattle."

Ms Gordon said tourism businesses were severely damaged post floods by customers' perceptions.  "We got almost no bookings due to the belief we were not operating due to damage," she said.




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


No comments: