Saturday, July 27, 2013

Greenie demonstration aqainst fracking in England

It started as a peaceful, middle-class protest against fracking, with music and even a cricket match. But it ended in 15 arrests yesterday as “professional activists” clashed with 90 police officers.

The protest against plans by the fracking company Cuadrilla to explore for oil and gas at a site just outside the sleepy village of Balcombe, East Sussex, began on Thursday.

Local people, including mothers and children, set up gazebos and bunting by the roadside. Tea and cakes were handed out and there was even a singalong.

Activists included Natalie Hynde, the daughter of Chrissie Hynde and Ray Davies of The Kinks. But the mood turned at midday yesterday as a hard core of activists refused to move from the entrance to the drilling site, despite repeated requests from the police.

Around a dozen linked arms on a log rolled across the private access. Officers, who had parked more than 10 cars nearby, appeared in ranks. Mothers and children among the other protesters quickly left, many visibly upset.

In all, 15 people were arrested by the end of the day, many shouting and claiming they were being physically hurt.

Sussex Police said that five were held for causing danger to road users, and nine for attempting to stop workers from accessing the site. There was a further arrest later. None was believed to be from Balcombe. Rafe Usher-Harris, 17, a villager and student at Michael Hall, a private school in nearby Forest Row, said that villagers were shocked.  “It is disgusting,” he said. “People from the village do not want this.”

Helen Savage, a 38-year-old mother, said that villagers were not willing to be arrested but would not give up.

“We are completely committed to protesting through every legal channel we can,” she said. “This goes beyond Balcombe, it is not a Nimby campaign. It is against government policy, which is to frack nationwide. Once people realise what this means they will be extremely concerned. It means a fracking rig every two miles. It will industrialise the landscape.”

Within an hour trucks started arriving on the site, although verbal protests continued from behind police lines.

Cuadrilla said that rigs were being brought in only to drill exploratory wells. All safety regulations would be met and fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, in which water is blasted into rocks deep underground to force out gas or oil, would only happen later if viable and approved, the company said. A spokesman blamed a “small minority” for causing a dangerous situation where arrests had to be made.

“To date, the vast majority of the protesters have been peaceful and good natured,” the spokesman said.

Francis Maude, the local Tory MP, said that Cuadrilla should be allowed to conduct exploratory drilling but that more discussions were needed before any extraction. Fracking has been blamed for earthquakes and contaminated water, but a government study has said that any tremors are minor and that the risks of contamination are insignificant.

A spokesman for Frack Off, an umbrella group, said that activists from other sites around the country planned to come to Balcombe. Tabitha Smith, 28, from Brighton, said: “This is a battle I think will be repeated across the country.”


Claim that Arctic methane gases are set to cause flooding, droughts and cost 'trillions of dollars' of damage

This is an old chestnut.  It is the product of computer games (modelling) only.  Russian scientists have repeatedly said it will not happen

The world is facing an 'economic time bomb' because of methane gases being produced by shrinking sea levels in the Arctic, researchers claim.

There is a large amount of methane stored in the region around the East Siberian Sea and if it was suddenly released into the atmosphere it could change the Earth's climate causing extreme weather, flooding and drought.

By using economic modelling, scientists from Cambridge and Rotterdam discovered that if the Arctic ice levels continue to shrink at their current rate it could produce enough methane to cause global climate change damage of £40 trillion - the same size of the world economy in 2012.

The groundbreaking claims were made by Gail Whiteman from Erasmus University, Chris Hope, Reader in Policy Modelling at Cambridge Judge Business School, University of Cambridge, and Peter Wadhams, Professor of Ocean physics at the University of Cambridge.

They calculated - using an economic computer program called PAGE09 - that the thaw would release 50 gigatonnes of methane into the air.

If other factors, such as ocean acidification are included, the cost would be much higher.

Around 80 per cent of these costs caused by the damage will directly affect developing countries as they experience more extreme weather, flooding, droughts and poorer health as Arctic warming affects climate.

It is said to be the first time researchers have calculated the potential economic impact of methane from the East Siberian Sea being released into the air as a result of the thaw.

'The global impact of a warming Arctic is an economic time-bomb,' said Whiteman.

Wadhams added: 'The imminent disappearance of the summer sea ice in the Arctic will have enormous implications for both the acceleration of climate change, and the release of methane from off-shore waters which are now able to warm up in the summer.

'This massive methane boost will have major implications for global economies and societies.'


The North Pole turns into a lake: Webcam captures melting ice following a spell of warm weather

Arctic melting is nothing new.  USS Skate (SSN-578), surfaced at the North Pole, 17 March 1959.

The North Pole may conjure up images of impressive ice sheets and freezing winds, but scenes from a webcam there reveal a different story.

Two weeks of warm weather in the high Arctic have caused an aquamarine lake to begin forming since July 13, according to the North Pole Environmental Observatory’s camera.

The National Snow and Ice Data Centre has reported that temperatures in early July were one to three degrees Celsius higher than the year’s average over most of the Arctic Ocean.

Two weeks of warm weather in the high Arctic earlier have caused an aquamarine lake to begin forming at the North Pole

July is known as the melting month for the Arctic with the period seeing ice shrink at its fastest rate.

The ice is expected to be further fractured by an Arctic cyclone, which is currently developing over the area. According to CBC, the weather system will strengthen winds to anywhere from 75-100 km/h.

Last August, a similar system developed in the area which destroyed 800,000 square km of ice.

However, the Arctic hit record low ice melt last year on September 16, 2012, the smallest recorded since satellites began tracking the Arctic ice in the 1970s.

But experts are divided over what the recent data will mean for the future sea-levels.

‘I have seen much more extensive ponding,’ James Morison, the principal investigator for the North Pole Environmental Observatory told The Atlantic. ‘Because we use wide angle lenses the melt pond looks much bigger than it is.’

Morison also pointed out that a camera 100 meters away showed the ice looking relatively intact. He added that the scale of these images is also quite small.

Last week a team of researchers led by Dr Bert Wouters at the University of Bristol claimed that long-term data on the melting of Earth’s polar is too weak to suggest alarming decrease is permanent or caused by humans.

The group compared nine years of satellite measurements of glaciers in Greenland and Antarctica in an attempt to determine if the melt-off is part of an accelerating trend in ice loss and sea-level rise.

While the study showed a loss of about 300 billion tonnes of ice per year from the Arctic and Antarctic regions, it noted that natural processes cannot be ruled out as the force behind the receding ice sheets.


British Government energy bungling

SSE, one of Britain's 'big six' energy firms, has warned that the government's energy plans fail to address the risk of power shortages in the near term.

Westminster has announced a draft package of incentives for energy companies to keep plants which might otherwise be shuttered on standby, in a bid to address an acute capacity shortage expected as ageing power stations retire.

However, it will not make them available until 2018/19 - a move SSE said would create further uncertainty in the energy market and "not address the risk of imminent shortages".

The Scotland-based group said the five-year wait for the government's financial incentive package will hold up new investment decisions and delay the construction of new plants.

"[Reforms] will not, therefore, enable investment decisions for new plant to be made," said SSE in its interim management statement.

In the near-term, it could impact decisions over whether old fossil fuel plants, which have become less profitable, should continue to operate.

SSE's warning comes just a day after the coalition came under fire for inadvertently rewarding energy firms for mothballing their existing plants. Under the plan announced this month, the operators of mothballed plants would be offered generous subsidies to fire them up when energy demand is high.

Last month, energy regulator Ofgem warned the risk of UK blackouts has tripled since a year ago, as Britain has failed to build enough new wind farms and nuclear power stations to replace old fossil fuel plants. The problem has been exacerbated by fewer households insulating their lofts and switching to green appliances than hoped, creating higher-than-expected demand for energy in future.

SSE also criticised the government's plans for incentivising longer-term low carbon investment as lacking detail. Westminster has pledged to set a constant price per unit of electricity to level out fluctuations in prices and guarantee generators a constant income from green energy.

"The level of detail underpinning the planned Contracts is not yet enough to allow SSE to determine whether the balance between risk and reward for investing in low carbon electricity generation in the future will be the right one," said the company in a statement.

"In line with its long-standing financial principles, SSE will maintain its rigorous approach to investment decision-making and so will only make decisions to invest on the basis of a clear and appropriate risk and reward balance."


President’s Men Preach Climate Change As Responsibility of All Mankind

The Obama administration is working climate change into speeches given not only by President Obama, but also by the people who serve him.

In Mumbai, India on Wednesday, Vice President Biden warned that rising sea levels will overcome India as well as Biden’s home state of Delaware, if both countries don’t deal with the “worldwide” problem.

And speaking at a Ramadan Iftar dinner in Washington on Wednesday, Secretary of State John Kerry spoke of climate change in a religious context.

“For many of us, respect for God’s creation, in almost every scripture really, demands and translates into a duty to protect and sustain God’s first creation. Our response to climate change ought to be rooted in a fundamental sense of shared stewardship of the earth that emerges from that tradition,” Kerry told the Muslims and others gather at the Ramadan event.

Biden told his Indian audience, “I come from a part of America that -- where we're only about seven feet above sea level. Sea levels are rising. They are rising. It will affect tens of millions of people in India.

“At home, America is working to lower carbon pollution that causes climate change. In fact, we have brought it down to its lowest level in two decades. We have much more to do, and we plan to do more.”

Biden said India, a developing nation that was exempt from the goals set by the Kyoto treaty, also needs to act.

“Of course, India's first priority is and must be lifting its citizens out of poverty. But unless we can develop a sustainable path on a low-carbon path, the consequences of climate change will seriously undermine the development and growth, as well as harm the very health of the people of India.

“You've all observed what's happening in China now,” Biden continued. Allegedly a million people a year dying as a consequence of atmospheric pollution. Reality ultimately intrudes. And the reality is, we have a worldwide problem.”

Obama said India should act, not as a “favor” to other nations, but for its own sake:

“It matters to India -- to the productivity of your farmlands, the availability of water, the risks you face from floods and rising seas. India is already taking steps. But like us, India can do more. And we are anxious and willing to work with you.”


September Release Planned for Climate Change Reconsidered II

The Heartland Institute and the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC) have been hard at work for the past three years on a new edition of Climate Change Reconsidered. The new report, to be titled Climate Change Reconsidered II: The 2013 Report of the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC), will be released in two volumes, the first on the Physical Science to be released in September, to coincide with the release of the IPCC’s 5th assessment report, and second on Impacts in March or April 2014.

The research effort is led by Craig Idso, Ph.D., chairman of the Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change; Robert Carter, Ph.D.,  Former Head of the School of Earth Sciences, James Cook University (Australia), and S. Fred Singer, Ph.D., president of the Science and Environmental Policy Project and professor emeritus of environmental science at the University of Virginia. An international team of lead authors, section authors, contributors, and reviewers is participating in the effort.

The first two volumes published in the Climate Change Reconsidered series, in 2009 and 2011, were widely recognized as the most comprehensive and authoritative critiques of the alarmist reports of the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Reviews and the complete texts of both volumes are available here and here. In June, a division of the Chinese Academy of Sciences published a Chinese translation and condensed edition of the two volumes.

During the next several weeks we will be completing peer review, proofing the final copy, writing the executive summary, and preparing for the September release of Volume 1.




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 or here


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