Thursday, May 30, 2013

Warmists slowly backing away from alarm

They describe their figures below as "highly uncertain" but still think action must be taken!

Dramatic new research has claimed that the effects of global warming may be less than first predicted.

Australian scientists have narrowed the predicted range of global warming through groundbreaking new research.

However, the team behind it said the smaller rise could still have major effects - and warned we cannot wait for more exact figures before acting.

The paper, published in Nature Climate Change today, found that exceeding 6 degrees warming was now unlikely while exceeding 2 degrees is very likely for business-as-usual emissions.

Dr Roger Bodman from Victoria University and Professors David Karoly and Peter Rayner from the University of Melbourne have generated what they say are more reliable projections of global warming estimates at 2100.

This was achieved through a new method combining observations of carbon dioxide and global temperature variations with simple climate model simulations to project future global warming.

Team leader Dr Bodman said while continuing to narrow the range even further was possible, significant uncertainty in warming predictions would always remain due to the complexity of climate change drivers.

'This study ultimately shows why waiting for certainty will fail as a strategy,' he said.  'Some uncertainty will always remain, meaning that we need to manage the risks of warming with the knowledge we have.'

The study found 63% of uncertainty in projected warming was due to single sources – such as climate sensitivity, followed by future behaviour of the carbon cycle and the cooling effect of aerosols – while 37% of uncertainty came from the combination of these sources.

'This means that if any single uncertainty is reduced – even the most important, climate sensitivity – significant uncertainty will remain,' Dr Bodman said.


The journal article (excerpt)

Uncertainty in temperature projections reduced using carbon cycle and climate observations

Roger W. Bodman, Peter J. Rayner & David J. Karoly

The future behaviour of the carbon cycle is a major contributor to uncertainty in temperature projections for the twenty-first century1, 2. Using a simplified climate model3, we show that, for a given emission scenario, it is the second most important contributor to this uncertainty after climate sensitivity, followed by aerosol impacts.

Historical measurements of carbon dioxide concentrations4 have been used along with global temperature observations5 to help reduce this uncertainty. This results in an increased probability of exceeding a 2 °C global–mean temperature increase by 2100 while reducing the probability of surpassing a 6 °C threshold for non-mitigation scenarios such as the Special Report on Emissions Scenarios A1B and A1FI scenarios6, as compared with projections from the Fourth Assessment Report7 of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

Climate sensitivity, the response of the carbon cycle and aerosol effects remain highly uncertain but historical observations of temperature and carbon dioxide imply a trade–off between them so that temperature projections are more certain than they would be considering each factor in isolation.

As well as pointing out the promise from the formal use of observational constraints in climate projection, this also highlights the need for an holistic view of uncertainty.


Children of the ice ages

by Dr. Jack Wheeler

Wilhelmena Bay, Antarctica. This is a land of ice caps, gigantic glaciers, and frozen earth. The waters of the bay are filled with icebergs, chunks of glaciers calved off and fallen into the sea. In a month or two, the bay will be frozen over with pack ice, but now at the end of the austral summer, it is teeming with life.

It is a world that seems alien, remote, and exotic to us. Yet it is in this world that our species emerged from evolutionary history. Human beings are children of the Ice Ages – and we make a grave mistake to think we are no longer.

The retreat of the Ice Ages to the earth’s polar regions is only temporary. There is no reason whatever to believe that this current round of Ice Ages, known as the Pleistocene, is over. Which is why there is no better place than here in Antarctica to reflect upon the ridiculous secular religion of Warmism.

To start, the Pleistocene is but the latest in a series of Ice Ages that go back three billion years. The earliest, as far as geologists can determine, is the Archean, which lasted for about 100 million years (3.0 to 2.9bya, billion years ago).

After the Permo-Carboniferous Ice Age ended some 260mya, the earth steadily warmed up – so much so that by 55mya, Ellesmere Island, the northernmost island in Canada only 600 miles from the North Pole, had a climate like Florida’s today, with ferns and palm trees, and turtles and crocodiles in numerous lakes and rivers.

Ever since 55mya, however, there has been a persistent decrease in ocean temperatures (as measured by oxygen isotope ratios in shells found in oceanographic sediment cores), including a series of sharp decreases starting at the onset of the Pleistocene Ice Age. In other words, the Earth has been progressively cooling for over the last 50+ million years.

As the last glacial maximum ended 20,000 years ago, we are currently living in a Pleistocene Interglacial – which is already longer than any previous interglacial in the ice core record.
To put it another way:  the last time the Earth was as warm as it is today was 120,000 years ago.

By the time of the last glacial maximum 20kya (thousand years ago), 3% of the present volume of all our oceans had been transferred to the land by evaporation, with the water vapor condensing as snow over North America, Europe, and Asia, accumulating into continent wide massive ice sheets miles thick.  The oceans then were 400 feet lower than today.

Mankind not only survived the Pleistocene Ice Ages, he thrived. Indeed, they made him human. The hominids of East Africa, such as Australopithecus, had remained stable for several million years until the onset of the Pleistocene. Then, as it got colder and drier, and the forests became grasslands, our hominid predecessors’ brains got bigger. By 1.8mya, Homo erectus was making tools and fire, while the Australopitheci were extinct.

By the time we were Homo sapiens, acquired language, and made our break Out of Africa around 60kya, it was in the teeth of the last Pleistocene Ice Age – and we, as Cro-Magnon people in Europe flourished. When the Ice Age ended and the glaciers across Europe retreated about 15kya, people began settling in villages and gathering, if not growing, grains. Then disaster struck.

12,800 years ago, the global climate suddenly changed for the worse. Within a few decades, one person’s lifetime, global temperatures dropped up to 12F. All the villages and sedentary life vanished, as people retreated into southern Europe. Suddenly, 1,200 years later, the cold ended as abruptly as it began, within a person’s lifetime, 11,600 years ago.

Paleontologists call this 12 centuries of cold the “Younger Dryas,” and don’t know what caused it. We were poised to create agriculture-based civilization and the Younger Dryas stopped us in our tracks. It would take a couple of millennia to begin to recover, with settlements, growing crops and raising animals emerging 9,000 years ago in what is now southwestern Turkey at the top of what was to become the Fertile Crescent.

It would take 2 more millennia for the first city to emerge – Eridu on the lower Euphrates near its confluence with the Tigris in southern Mesopotamia around 5,000 BC, and the first civilization to emerge, that of Sumer.

We call the time after the fall of Rome the Dark Ages, which most folks think ended with the Renaissance in the mid-1400s. The Dark Ages actually ended and the Renaissance begun hundreds of years earlier, thanks to three centuries of exceptionally benign weather known as the Medieval Warm Period (1000-1300 AD).

Vinyards flourished in England, infuriating the French who thought they had a monopoly on wine. Greenland was so green around the edges that the Vikings established large settlements. Crops were abundant, peasants rarely went hungry, there was so much prosperity that kings could afford Crusades to recapture Christianity’s Holy Land from Moslems who had stolen it. Wealthy patrons could finance the construction of the most magnificent and expensive buildings the world had ever seen – Gothic Cathedrals such as in Chartres or Rheims that leave us awestruck to this day.

Suddenly, right around the year 1300, this all came to a halt as temperatures fell off a cliff. Crops failed, people and livestock succumbed to hunger and disease, kingdoms succumbed to anarchy. By the 1320s, countless villages throughout Europe had been abandoned. Constant storms wiped out so much agricultural land that in many places in Europe, the population was cut in half.

When the Black Death of bubonic plague hit in 1380, millions of people, weakened by hunger and crowded into towns begging for food, died. England and France fought so endlessly the struggle was called the 100 Years’ War (actually, it lasted from 1337-1453).

This climate disaster has since been dubbed the Little Ice Age. It lasted 550 years – 1300 to 1850 – almost half as long as the Younger Dryas. Like previous times, it was interspersed with periods of warm weather that never lasted long and would start and stop suddenly. The coldest period was between 1600 and 1800, during which there were times that glaciers in Switzerland were advancing daily as far as one could fire a musket shot.

Yet the Little Ice Age did not prevent the Renaissance – it only postponed it. Just like Cro-Magnons created mankind’s first culture – the artistic genius of cave art at e.g., Altamira, Lascaux, and Chauvet – in the teeth of the Pleistocene Ice Age, so the greatest artistic genius in human history – e.g., Michelangelo, Leonardo, and Raphael – bloomed in the Little Ice Age.

The Little Ice Age witnessed the Age of Exploration, with the indomitable courage of men like Da Gama, Columbus, and Cortez spreading Western Civilization across the globe. It witnessed the Age of Science, with men like Newton explaining the creation of Providence through immutable physical laws.  It witnessed the greatest act of political genius in history, the creation of America by Washington, Jefferson, Franklin, and their Founder colleagues.

There is so much more that was achieved during the Little Ice Age – the Industrial Revolution, for example – that it stands as a stunning triumph of the human spirit, of what we are capable of in the face of adversity.

We need to recall this spirit more than ever today. With unmatched venality and vicious hatred, Zero [Obama] is determined to plunge America into a political ice age. With unmatched corruption and stupidity, scientists are determined to discredit the supreme achievement of Science by selling their souls for a government grant that “proves” Warmism.

Warmism – the crackpot cult of kooks and scam-artists that has ripped taxpayers off for tens of billions in the greatest racket in history – promotes a fear than is the precise opposite of reality.  That reality is that the Earth is still in the Pleistocene Ice Ages.

They haven’t ended. We are merely in one of its many interglacials – and at the tail end of one at that.  75% of all the fresh water on our planet is locked up today in glaciers. Our fear should not be that the earth could burn up, but that it could freeze – and fast. As we have seen and the geological record shows repeatedly, pleasantly benign warm spells like the one we are enjoying now can end virtually overnight.

Be assured that our current interglacial will end and The Cold will return – the only question is when. There is no way, with our current technology, to prevent this*. There is, however, a way to postpone it:  burn lots of fossil fuels, pump as much CO2 and methane into the atmosphere as we possibly can.

Beyond that, we all need to grasp that we humans are children of the Ice Ages. We were created during them, created to conquer their adversity. The challenges our predecessors faced tens of thousands of years ago make ours, such as those of Zero, utterly trivial by comparison.

We are a heroic species. Providence does not expect us to forget this. There will always be challenges, and we are expected to overcome them. If we live up to ourselves, as Americans and as human beings, we shall.

* The causes of ice ages, or of global cold snaps like the Little Ice Age, are astronomical and do not lie here on earth. Centuries-long cold snaps are caused by the lack of the Sun’s magnetic activity – see Solar Warming. Millennia-long ice ages are triggered by certain alignments of Milankovitch Cycles (after Milutin Milankovitch, 1879-1958, the Serbia mathematician who identified them). The cycles are that of 1) the 100,000-year cycle of maximum eccentricity in the earth’s orbit when it is most elliptical; 2) the 41,000-year cycle of change in the tilt of the earth’s rotation axis; 3) the 26,000-year cycle of the wobble of the earth’s rotation axis. These are caused by gravitational tugs upon the earth by the sun, the moon, and Jupiter and other planets.


Gasoline  Myths

John Stossel

Plan to drive more this summer? Annoyed by the price of gas? Complaining that oil companies rip you off?

I say, shut up. Even if gas costs $4 per gallon, we should thank Big Oil. Think what they have to do to bring us gas.

Oil must be sucked out of the ground, sometimes from war zones or deep beneath oceans. The drills now bend and dig sideways through as much as 7 miles of earth. What they discover must be pumped through billion-dollar pipelines and often put in monstrously expensive tankers to ship across the ocean.

Then it's refined into several types of gasoline, transported in trucks that cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. Finally, your local gas station must spend a fortune on safety devices to make sure we don't blow ourselves up while filling the tank.

And it still costs less per ounce than the bottled water sold at gas stations. If government sold gas, it would cost $40 per gallon. And there would be shortages!

Another myth: Big Oil makes "excess" profit. Nonsense. The oil business is fiercely competitive. If one company charges a penny too much, other companies steal its business. Apple's profit margin is about 24 percent. McDonald's makes 20 percent. Oil companies make half that.

Per gallon, ExxonMobil makes about 7 cents. Governments, by contrast, grab about 27 cents per gallon. That's the average gas tax. If anyone takes too much, it's government.

President Obama says, "Gas costs too much." So he announced: "We've put in place the toughest fuel economy standards in history. Over the life of a new car, the average family will save more than $8,000 at the pump."

Sounds good. But the magic of fuel economy standards is another myth.

Susan Dudley, who runs the Regulatory Studies Center at George Washington University, points out that many car buyers care more about safety, style, power, etc. than mileage.

"The problem with the government's rule is that they ignore all those other preferences ... assuming that the only thing we value is fuel economy."

Fuel economy sounds appealing when it's presented as something created at no cost. But car dealers say it will make cars cost $3,000 more.

Also, as James Taylor, an energy expert at the Heartland Institute, pointed out to me, fuel-economy regulations kill.

"In order to make cars more fuel-efficient, auto manufacturers make them smaller -- using lighter materials, they're less crash-worthy ... We're seeing thousands of people dying on the roads that shouldn't be."

You'd think automakers would strongly oppose these regulations -- but if so, why, when President Obama unveiled the regulations, did the heads of 13 car companies shake Obama's hand and smile?

"Even if it is a $60 billion cost to them," says Dudley, "if everyone has to do it, they can pass it on to consumers."

In other words, normally companies compete to do things more efficiently than rivals, in order to charge lower prices and get the lion's share of customers. But there's no need to worry about jacking up your prices when your rivals must do so, too. Regulation makes companies lazier, not more efficient.

Republicans at least talk about deregulation. But the "regulation-killing Republican" is another myth. Despite being labeled a deregulator, George W. Bush hired 90,000 new regulators. Dudley, who was their overseer, now says, "The pressure to regulate is intense."

Almost no one seems to speak up for a true free market in energy, with competition, innovation and unfettered consumer choice. People say regulation is needed to counter industry "greed."

But if anyone's greedy here, it's government -- and unlike oil companies, government doesn't have to work hard and compete to give you good service at the lowest possible price. Government just sits there, telling companies to charge less, telling car companies to make smaller and more dangerous cars, mandating and subsidizing alternative fuels like ethanol -- and then telling us that we benefit from the politicians' efforts.

The truth: We rarely benefit.


Tim Yeo: humans may not be to blame for global warming

Humans may not be responsible for global warming, according to Tim Yeo, the MP who oversees British government policy on climate change.

The chairman of the Commons Energy and Climate Change committee said he accepts the earth’s temperature is increasing but said “natural phases” may be to blame.

Such a suggestion sits at odds with the scientific consensus. One recent survey of 12,000 academic papers on climate change found 97 per cent agree human activities are causing the planet to warm.

Mr Yeo, an environment minister under John Major, is one of the Conservative Party’s strongest advocates of radical action to cut carbon emissions. His comments are significant as he was one of the first senior figures to urge the party to take the issue of environmental change seriously.

He insisted such action is “prudent” given the threat climate change poses to living standards worldwide. But, he said, human action is merely a “possible cause”.

Asked on Tuesday night whether it was better to take action to mitigate the effects of climate change than to prevent it in the first place, he said: “The first thing to say is it does not represent any threat to the survival of the planet. None at all. The planet has survived much bigger changes than any climate change that is happening now.

He went on: “Although I think the evidence that the climate is changing is now overwhelming, the causes are not absolutely clear. There could be natural causes, natural phases that are taking place.”

“But there is at least a risk that the increased concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere is a possible cause. We’ve just gone through the 400 parts per million [a measure of the atmospheric concentration of CO2] this year. I think a prudent policy would say if we can do things about that which are no-regrets polices like being efficient in the use of energy, looking at none-fossil fuel sources, I think that’s prudent to do so."

Mr Yeo has previously spoken with great certainty about the science of climate change. He said in 2009: "A significant number of core Conservative voters – mostly among older people – are reluctant to accept the evidence. I don’t think they [doubting Tory MPs] will be a significant influence in the next parliament and will gradually diminish in the population.

"The dying gasps of the deniers will be put to bed. In five years time, no one will argue about a man-made contribution to climate change.”

Mr Yeo, who was speaking to an audience of energy industry representatives and diplomats at the Westminster Russia Forum, renewed his call for the Government to build a third runway at Heathrow. He said waiting for Sir Howard Davies’ report on aviation capacity which is due after the next election was a “ludicrous response to a clear national need.”

He said without better air links to east Asia, Europe risks becoming a “sort of third world backwater quite quickly.”

Asked about the comments this afternoon, Mr Yeo said: "It is possible there are natural causes as well, but my view has always been that – for twenty years – I have thought the scientific evidence has been very convincing. The strong probability is that it is man-made causes contributing to greenhouse gas concentrations."


Britain's families face more green tax pain as power stations carry on polluting: £300 a year bill for renewable energy by 2020

Britain’s power stations are still pumping out increasing amounts of greenhouse gases while families face a rise in taxes designed to cut emissions.

The escalation in pollution levels comes as the average household is being forced to contribute £112 in green taxes each year.

By the end of the decade, families will have to pay almost £300 a year to fund renewable energy, such as wind and nuclear, as well as insulating older homes. Both policies are being heavily promoted by the Government in a bid to cut the nation’s carbon dioxide gas emissions in order to meet stringent international targets.

But last year, the levels of the gas pumped out by Britain’s energy companies increased by 4 per cent compared to 2011, as the amount of coal burnt for power leapt up by a quarter. For each unit of energy, coal produces double the amount of carbon dioxide than gas or oil.

The UK is one of only four European countries that have increased pollution from power production, with only Malta doing worse. The other 23 EU nations managed to reduce emissions from power companies.

Carbon dioxide accounts for more than 80 per cent of Britain’s total greenhouse gas emissions.

With 40 per cent of emissions coming from the energy sector and only 15 per cent produced by households, critics say targeting families while increasing output from power stations is pointless.

Dr Lee Moroney of the Renewable Energy Foundation, which publishes energy data, said: ‘It is unreasonable that hard-pressed householders are being made to fund increasingly expensive and diverse energy policies which these latest figures show are clearly not working.’

The latest estimated emission figures were produced by Eurostat, the European Commission’s statistical arm, which found that across the EU, carbon dioxide output for energy use had gone down by 2.1 per cent.

A Eurostat spokesman said: ‘At the moment, the global price for hard coal is down and we see in the UK a huge increase in its use – 27 per cent compared to the previous year – while gas and oil use has fallen.’

Since 1990, there has been an overall decrease in UK carbon dioxide emissions of around 19 per cent.

In 2011, Britain delivered the biggest emissions cuts in the EU, reducing total greenhouse gas output by 40 million tons, a fall of 7 per cent.

Earlier this week, Energy Secretary Ed Davey said he will push for the EU to adopt the most stringent green targets in the world.

He said he would seek a legally binding target to cut collective greenhouse gas emissions by as much as 50 per cent by 2030, compared to 1990 levels.

A spokesman for the Department of Energy and Climate Change said: ‘Cheaper coal relative to gas has resulted in a short-term increase in the amount of carbon emissions from UK power stations.

The amount of coal generation is expected to decline rapidly by 2020 as a result of our move to a low carbon economy.

‘Global gas prices have primarily been pushing up household energy bills – not green subsidies.

‘Investing in home-grown alternatives is the only sure-fire way of insulating our economy and bill-payers from international energy price volatility.

‘Our household energy-efficiency policies are more than offsetting the costs of clean energy investment. By 2020 the average household bill will be £166 lower than it would be if we were doing nothing.’


Australia: Solar has increased electricity prices, says Qld. government

Solar power users and green schemes have been singled out by the state government as responsible for driving up the state's electricity prices.

Energy minister Mark McArdle said advice from the Queensland Competition Authority had shown the Commonwealth's Renewable Energy Target Scheme added $102 to the average electricity bill, while the Solar Bonus Scheme cost $67.

"When you add $190 for the carbon tax this means 18.9 per cent of an average $1900 annual electricity bill is made up of green schemes," Mr McArdle said in a statement.

"By 2015-16 the solar bonus scheme will increase to $276 on an average bill, which could see the price of green schemes reach $621 on average per year if the carbon tax is not repealed."

Solar Citizens, an advocacy group supported by ‘‘a number of community and industry organisations’’, has dismissed Mr McArdle’s statement as ‘‘unfair and misleading’’.

“The primary driver of rising energy bills in QLD is increasing network costs,” Solar Citizens’ campaign manager Dr Geoff Evans said.

“In fact, the Queensland Competition Authority recently released data that shows that solar users only amount to 7 per cent of a family’s electricity cost — with nearly 70 per cent of an electricity bill going to network and retail costs.’’

Mr McArdle issued the statement ahead of the QCA announcing on Friday an anticipated 21 to 22 per cent increase in the retail price for electricity.

When releasing its draft determination in February, the QCA laid some of the blame for the massive price hike at the state government's feet, claiming its decision to freeze the tariff 11 last year had forced the authority to play catch up.

"So low-use customers have not been paying enough to cover the costs of their supply and high-use customers have been paying more than the cost of their supply," the QCA said at the time.

"This is changing, so that customers' bills better reflect the costs of their electricity use.

"As a result, low consumption customers will see a high percentage increase in their bill as the fixed service fee is increased."

But Mr McArdle blamed green schemes, saying the state government was "looking at ways" it could reduce their impact on households.

"The overly generous solar bonus scheme gave significant cash windfalls to those customers who installed solar PV [Photovoltaic panels] on domestic roofs, but the scheme did not pass on the real costs to the electricity network, to support solar PV," he said.

"It is not right that the 80 per cent of customers who do not have solar are expected to pay the full price of the 20 per cent who have solar.

"Some customers with solar are getting a very generous $0.44 feed-in tariff (FiT) and should make a fair contribution towards the upgrade of the electricity network needed to support their solar PV."

But Mr McArdle said the government would not be changing the solar feed-in tariff that was legislated by the former government until 2028.

Mr McArdle said it would "cost other electricity consumers almost $3 billion to support".

Instead he said the government would consider "a range of other options" to make the "system more equitable".




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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