Monday, July 22, 2013
IPCC ratchets up the hype -- while it reduces its projections
A peek inside the next IPCC assessment
“THAT report is going to scare the wits out of everyone,” said Yvo de Boer recently. He is a former United Nations chief climate negotiator and was talking about the forthcoming fifth assessment by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). With two months to go before the assessment is to be published, however, one sign suggests it might be less terrifying than it could have been.
The sign in question is about climate sensitivity. This is the measure used by researchers of how much they expect the world’s average temperature to increase in response to particular increases in levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. According to one table from the unpublished report, which was seen by The Economist (above), at CO2 concentrations of between 425 parts per million and 485 ppm, temperatures in 2100 would be 1.3-1.7°C above their pre-industrial levels. That seems lower than the IPCC’s previous assessment, made in 2007. Then, it thought concentrations of 445-490 ppm were likely to result in a rise in temperature of 2.0-2.4°C.
The two findings are not strictly comparable. The 2007 report talks about equilibrium temperatures in the very long term (over centuries); the forthcoming one talks about them in 2100. But the practical distinction would not be great so long as concentrations of CO2 and other greenhouse-gas emissions were stable or falling by 2100. It is clear that some IPCC scientists think the projected rise in CO2 levels might not have such a big warming effect as was once thought.
There are several caveats. The table comes from a draft version of the report, and could thus change. It was put together by the IPCC working group on mitigating climate change, rather than the group looking at physical sciences. It derives from a relatively simple model of the climate, rather than the big complex ones usually used by the IPCC. And the literature to back it up has not yet been published.
Still, over the past year, several other papers have suggested that views on climate sensitivity are changing. Both the 2007 IPCC report and a previous draft of the new assessment reflected earlier views on the matter by saying that the standard measure of climate sensitivity (the likely rise in equilibrium temperature in response to a doubling of CO2 concentration) was between 2°C and 4.5°C, with 3°C the most probable figure. In the new draft, the lower end of the range has been reduced to 1.5°C and the “most likely” figure has been scrapped. That seems to reflect a growing sense that climate sensitivity may have been overestimated in the past and that the science is too uncertain to justify a single estimate of future rises.
If this does turn out to be the case, it would have significant implications for policy. Many countries’ climate policies are guided by the IPCC’s findings. They are usually based on the idea (deriving in part from the IPCC) that global temperatures must not be allowed to increase by more than 2°C above pre-industrial levels, and that in order to ensure this CO2 concentrations should not rise above 450 ppm. The draft table casts doubt on how solid the link really is between 450 ppm and a 2°C rise. It remains to be seen whether governments conclude from this that it is safe to let CO2 concentrations climb even further, or whether (as some will doubtless argue) a 2°C rise was too much anyway and it is now possible to aim for less.
Food prices forecast to treble as world population soars
Doesn't this brainless nut know any history? Prophecies of his sort go back to Malthus and are always wrong. If increasing prosperity is going to lead to food shortages, can he explain how China has become a net food EXPORTER since it abandoned communism? Unleash Chinese farmers on just one of Australia's huge empty spaces (e.g. Cape York Peninsula) and you would have the biggest food glut ever seen
Food prices tipped to treble over the next 20 years as an explosion in the world's population triggers a global fight for good.
A government advisor said everyday products such as cocoa and meat could become relative luxuries by the 2040s.
Professor Tim Benton, head of Global Food Security working group, added there could be shortages in the UK in the future as the emerging middle class in south-east Asia sparks a revolution in "food flows" such as the trade in grain and soya around the world.
Professor Benton, from the University of Leeds, told the Daily Telegraph: "Food is going to be competed for on a global scale. There's been a lot written about where food prices are going to go but they are certainly going to double, with some trebling. It's not just fruit and vegetables, but everything."
The shock forecast came as the chief executive of Tesco, Philip Clarke, warned the era of cheap food was over because of the forecast surge in demand.
In an interview over the weekend, the supermarket chief said: "Over the long run I think food prices and the proportion of income spent on food may well be going up."
The world's population is tipped to rise from 7 billion to 9.3 billion by 2050. Two years ago, Oxfam warned food prices were set to double by 2030 and that millions more could suffer food shortages because of a "perfect storm" of ecological and sociological factors.
Food inflation in the UK has been running around 4 per cent for much of the year, and is among the highest in the EU after poor harvests last year and the rising cost of feed. Fruit prices in June 7.5 per cent more expensive than a year ago. The UK already imports nearly half the food it consumes.
Separately, Birds Eye warned this year's pea harvest could be hit by the heatwave, raising fears of higher prices for one of Britain's favourite vegetables.
Delaware’s “future weather”
Mourn for Delaware. They are getting burned by phony science and authoritarian power grabs
Paul Driessen and David R. Legates
During this hot, wet summer, a “national climate expert” recently told Delawareans that they can expect even hotter summers – with a climate like Savannah, Georgia’s – by the end of the century. The culprit, naturally: runaway global warming.
Savannah residents are long accustomed to their climate and, thanks to air conditioning and other modern technologies, are better able to deal with the heat and humidity. Nevertheless, the impact on Delaware will be disastrous, Dr. Katherine Hayhoe claims. Nonsense.
Her forthcoming report promises to be no different than other proclamations that persistently predict dire consequences from climate change – and then present taxpayers with a hefty bill. In this scenario, the State’s Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC) paid $46,000 for her report, presumably to suggest that “independent scholars” support the state’s positions.
The preliminary release of her report reads like the script from a bad disaster movie – think The Day After Tomorrow and An Inconvenient Truth. Like them, it also plays fast and loose with the facts.
It fails to mention the extreme cold that many places around the globe experienced recently. Europe and Russia in particular suffered through bitter cold the past two winters. The report likewise ignores the fact that average global temperatures have not risen at all over the last sixteen years; in fact, Earth has actually cooled slightly during the past decade.
For its really scary worst-case scenario, Dr. Hayhoe says Delaware’s temperatures will rise astronomically in coming decades: with more than two full months of endless days above 95°F and a hundred-fold increase in days with temperatures at or above 100°F by 2100. “Trends to more extreme highs and fewer extreme lows already are apparent,” Dr. Hayhoe asserts. Except they are not.
Data from 970 weather stations across the United States reveal that more record daily maximum air temperatures were set in the 1930s than in any recent decade, and no increase in frequency of higher temperatures has been observed since 1955. The Delaware State Climatologist examined New Castle County Airport records in Wilmington and found no long-term trend in either the total number of days or the number of consecutive days with maximum air temperature above 90°F.
The same can be said for days where temperatures remain below freezing.
Globally, daytime high temperatures do not show significant warming – and most of the warming that has been observed is confined to nighttime low temperatures. Nighttime lows are driven by turbulence (or lack thereof) near the surface, not by the accumulation of energy related to CO2 warming of the deep atmosphere.
By contrast, maximum daily temperature is a measure of the energy content of the deep atmosphere, and is thus a much better measure of the warming due to greenhouse gases. The lack of a signal in maximum temperature suggests that the rate of warming due to CO2 is relatively small – and certainly much smaller than climate models suggest.
As for precipitation, Dr. Hayhoe claims that both floods and droughts will increase, with “more rain arriving as heavy downpours, and more dry periods in between.” This assertion was dispelled in a recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report on extreme events, released last summer.
The IPCC report concluded that “in some regions droughts have become less frequent, less intense or shorter; for example in central North America.” Similarly, the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration has produced plots that show which parts of the United States are classified as moderate to extreme for dryness and wetness. While both conditions show considerable variability, neither exhibits a significant trend. NOAA also concludes that snowfall records show no long-term trend, and recent record snowfalls are the result of natural variability.
Why should Delaware’s or the nation’s future be any different than the past fifty years of increasing carbon dioxide concentrations? Dr. Hayhoe’s bases her extreme scenarios on climate models – the same models that have predicted major temperature trends that have not materialized; greatly exaggerated short-term trends in rainfall, droughts and violent storms; and failed to predict the lack of warming since 1998. So why should we believe them now?
The real reason behind this report is to provide the State with the justification to enact draconian measures to control Delawareans’ energy use and provide major subsidies for “alternative” and “renewable” energy projects. Delaware Secretary of the Environment and Energy Collin O’Mara says, “We need to make sure we have good science driving our decision-making in the years to come.” Apparently, $46,000 has bought the State precisely the “science” he wanted to hear.
O’Mara came to Delaware in 2009, as part of Governor Markell’s administration. Billed as “the youngest state cabinet official in the nation,” O’Mara is a self-proclaimed climate-change and energy “entrepreneur.” During his tenure in Delaware, he has spearheaded the administration’s efforts on “climate change mitigation,” renewable energy subsidies and “sustainable development.”
During the last 4-1/2 years, the Markell Administration has “invested” in Fisker Automotive, leaving the State’s citizens on the hook to pay for an automobile assembly plant that has created zero new jobs and produced zero cars.
Bloom Energy, which hails from the same town as O’Mara (San Jose, CA), has also been the happy beneficiary of enormous State subsidies and exceptions from environmental regulations. Delaware now labels natural gas as a renewable resource, for example – but only if it is burned in a Bloom fuel cell. This enables the State to funnel taxpayer and ratepayer money from renewable energy credits to Bloom. To top it off, if the State ever decides to renege on the deal, the legislation requires that the State immediately pay Bloom twenty years worth of profits.
O’Mara has also been busy with rule-making by executive fiat. Without any public discussion or debate, and without any vote by the State legislature, O’Mara signed into law new “green” energy standards that make the First State’s emission rules even more stringent than Federal regulations, via a clever process known as prospective incorporation. Through this, all provisions from the California Code of Regulations are automatically “updated,” to ensure that Delaware’s Code is consistent with California’s.
That means any changes to the California Code implemented by the most environmentally dogmatic, job-killing and bankrupt state in the Union are immediately and completely binding via Delaware regulations. With no presentation to the people, no discussion or vote by the General Assembly, and not even any case-by-case intervention by Delaware’s executive branch, California regulations are automatically the law in Delaware. With the stroke of the pen, Delaware has surrendered its sovereignty to California.
Armed with this new “scientific” report, what draconian measures might Mr. O’Mara and the Markell Administration have in store for the citizens of Delaware? Time alone will tell. However, given their track record thus far, Delawareans are going to get burned – and not by global warming.
Even worse, the same sneaky shenanigans are being played out in other states, in Washington, and all over the world, through the UN, EU and environmentalist pressure groups – in the name of saving the planet from computer model and horror movie disasters. These are bigger power grabs than anything King George III tried. We the People need to take notice, and take action.
Wind Turbines: America’s Vast, Ugly Sculpture Garden
Brilliant scientific minds are not confined to the annals of scientific history. I have been blessed to have had a career in physics first influenced by a nodding acquaintance with Albert Einstein while a student at Princeton, then watching Hyman Rickover build our nuclear Navy, and finally almost having the opportunity to work with Edward Teller on what would have been his last book. Yet none have made a greater impression on me nor served as better mentors than Howard Hayden, emeritus professor of physics at the University of Connecticut. Howard produces a monthly newsletter titled The Energy Advocate in which he attempts to explain in clear terms the insanity of much of our nation's energy policies as they attempt to rewrite the laws of physics that control the extraction of energy from our planet and universe.
This article, focusing on the amazing absurdity of ever believing that wind energy could efficiently contribute to a central electrical grid, is drawn from Hayden’s writings.
Little Justification for Subsidies
Federal taxpayer subsidies for wind power will almost certainly end; the only question is when. It defies logic for wind subsidies and mandates to continue when wind power is so costly, inefficient, and environmentally harmful. I will guess that the insanity could continue for another decade, with more and more industrial wind turbines added to the preexisting turbine blight on the American landscape.
Few of these turbines will last 20 years. Most will break down sooner than that, and most electricity sales contracts will not reap enough income for repairs. Few wind power companies have the financial reserves to dismantle these behemoth lawn sculptures. Just as it has taken massive subsidies to build the vast industrial wind installations, it will likely take massive subsidies to dismantle them. The resulting scene of permanent wind sculptures, monuments to the triumph of political favoritism over science and economics, will be frozen in time like a scene from science fiction—as though giant aliens descended onto our planet only to be frozen in place.
Optimistically, a wind turbine will generate electricity 30 percent of the time. However, we cannot predict when that time will be. A true wind power believer might be willing to do without electricity at the times the wind is not blowing, but the general population will not. During that 30 percent of the time the blades are spinning, conventional power plants still most keep cycling in order to ramp up quickly to compensate for the unpredictable 70 percent of the time when wind turbines are not producing power.
After two decades of huge subsidies for wind energy, nowhere in the world has an array of wind turbines replaced a single conventional power plant.
Limited Power Potential
The amount of power the wind can generate per acre of land is unrelated to the size of the turbines. Doubling the length of turbine blades doubles the power output of the turbine; however, turbines with longer blades must be separated by larger distances.
No matter how much money we invest in wind power technology, we know the earth will give up only an average of 5 kilowatts of electricity from wind energy per acre, which amounts to fully 300 square miles of land necessary to produce the 1000 megawatts generated by a conventional coal, natural gas, or nuclear power plant. Each of these conventional power plants requires merely a few hundred acres of land. This fulfills the average power demand of a city of 700,000 people.
Another inescapable problem for electric grids is that the power generated by a wind turbine varies with the cube of the wind speed. This means when the wind speed doubles – say from 10 miles per hour to 20 miles per hour – the energy output increases eight fold (2 x 2 x 2). Someone or some computer has to balance these huge variations on the grid by calling on standby generators to produce more or less power to maintain the stability that is so essential to the grid.
Strong winds are no more conducive to wind power generation than light winds. Turbines must shut down in high winds because strong centrifugal forces would tear the blades apart. Wind turbines rely on a fleeting Goldilocks zone of winds that are not too light but not too strong to generate power.
Rampant Structural Problems
Wind turbine infrastructure can be quite problematic. Thousands of mishaps, breakdowns, and accidents have been reported in recent years. The basic concrete foundations are suffering from frequent strains. The wind turbines themselves rarely remain functional after 20 years.
Severe Environmental Harms
Low frequency noise produced by the turbines is driving people from their homes. The turbines are also taking a toll on the environment. The Audubon Society estimates turbines kill more than a million birds per year. No wind farm has ever paid a fine for such environmental destruction, yet oil companies pay by the bird.
For all this environmental destruction, wind turbines fail to deliver the amount of electricity promised. Dirt, grit, and insect residue reduce the efficiency of wind turbine blades. A one millimeter buildup of insect residue on turbine blades reduces wind power generation by as much as 25 percent.
The fate of expensive, inefficient, environmentally destructive wind energy is sealed. The day is soon coming when the public will no longer tolerate such subsidies and mandates.
Americans Want Congress to Stop Obama’s Job-Killing Carbon Regulations
During President Obama’s Climate Speech at Georgetown University, the leader of the executive branch warned opponents of his just announced EPA regulations that “sticking your head in the sand might make you feel safer, but it's not going to protect you from the coming storm" and that “we don't have time for a meeting of the flat-Earth society."
As it turns out, President Obama was patronizing a plurality of Americans: more people think that Congress should stop the Environmental Protection Agency’s forthcoming regulations than think Congress should allow these regulations to become law, according to a new National Journal poll. Even 35 percent of self-identified Democrats think that Congress should intervene and stop new carbon regulations.
Given the Left’s utilization of the bully pulpit and introduction of false choices – you are either for EPA regulations or are sticking your head in the sand – it is encouraging that so many Americans doubt the Obama Administration’s ability to effectively and fairly implement incredibly costly regulations. The American people’s skepticism is evident in Congress’s strong aversion to pass legislation that would punish carbon-based energy, thereby increasing its cost. It is because of Congress’s explicit refusal to raise electricity prices that President Obama has subverted the legislative branch and unilaterally proposed EPA regulations.
I suspect that the more Americans hear about President Obama’s carbon regulations, the more they will urge Congress to overturn them. While President Obama only publically touted new carbon emissions standards for power plants a few weeks ago, the regulations date back to last year when the EPA proposed carbon emission standards that would effectively banned construction of new coal-fired power plants.
According to the EPA’s own analysis, their new carbon regulation banning coal power plants wouldn’t cost anything, since no new power plants would ever be built. Indeed, the EPA’s draft proposal states that “there will be no construction of new coal-fired generation without CCS [Carbon Capture Storage] by 2030.”
This EPA-deemed “free” regulation is anything but, tens of thousands of workers directly or indirectly employed by the coal industry would have lost their jobs.
More broadly, ratepayers all across the country would have seen their electricity bills increase – 37 percent of America’s electricity was generated from coal-fired power plants in 2012. Although the EPA pulled back this specific proposed regulation fearing that it would not holdup in court, President Obama announced its reintroduction and expansion to include existing power plants in his Georgetown University speech.
Such broad, all-encompassing carbon regulations have the potential to devastate electricity markets and cripple the American economy. A 2012 report released by Senator Inhofe estimates the cost of carbon regulations could be as high as $300-$400 billion, an expense that would be borne by ratepayers, i.e., you.
With President Obama in the White House for a second term, it will be nearly impossible to get the Administration to pull back its regulations. That means the onus to stop these EPA regulations, which is just what the public wants, falls on Congress. If conservatives want to stop Obama’s carbon regulations, we will need to take control of the Senate. Luckily, a number of red state Democrats that endorse the EPA’s policies are running for reelection in 2014: Sen. Mark Begich (D-Alaska), Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.), Sen. Mark Pryor (D-Ark.).
If these Senators’ constituents knew what their so-called representatives were really up to in Washington, DC, they would throw them out in a second. It is the conservative movement’s job to explain these Senators’ duplicity and send them packing. Once we do that, we can stop President Obama’s anti-carbon agenda.
British companies to co-operate in fracking
The water company United Utilities is in talks with shale gas explorer Cuadrilla over locations for fracking and is interested in letting the company explore on its land.
The utility supplies water across the North West, including the Bowland shale licence area where Cuadrilla hopes to resume fracking next year. It is also a major landowner, with 141,000 acres (57,000 hectares) stretching from Cumbria to Crewe.
United Utilities’ business development manager began talks with Cuadrilla within the last couple of months and the companies are “looking at potential opportunities for working together”, a spokeswoman for the water giant confirmed.
Fracking involves pumping large quantities of water along with chemicals and sand into the ground at high pressure to hydraulically fracture the rocks and extract gas trapped within them.
“We are having very early engagement with Cuadrilla to try to understand their requirements,” she said. “The fact that we are a large landowner in the North West means we could possibly help with site selection.”
The spokeswoman said that this could include United Utilities letting Cuadrilla frack on its land, although no specific plans are under discussion yet.
The disclosure comes just days after Water UK, the industry body of which United Utilities is a member, raised fears over fracking and demanded greater engagement with the shale industry.
Water UK said that fracking “could lead to contamination of the water supply with methane gas and harmful chemicals if not carefully planned and carried out” and that it “requires huge amounts of water, which will inevitably put a strain on supplies in areas around extraction sites”.
A United Utilities’ spokeswoman said: “Clearly public health is a top priority but we are encouraged by the Government’s support for shale gas exploration because that means it is committed to a robust regulatory regime that will ensure the public water supply is protected.”
The engagement with Cuadrilla could potentially enable United Utilities to “point Cuadrilla to areas where there are no water supply issues”. It was “doing some very early modelling work”, she said.
The suggestion that United Utilities might want to allow fracking on its land in future could prove controversial. Aside from any fears over the water supply, the land lies “in some of the most scenic and environmentally sensitive areas of north west England”, according to the water group’s website.
United Utilities has supplied water for the one well that Cuadrilla has explored to date, near Blackpool in 2011. The fracking caused two small earth tremors, leading to an 18-month moratorium. Ministers have now thrown their weight behind the industry and last week unveiled tax breaks for shale explorers.
Cuadrilla is in the process of identifying six sites where it hopes to resume fracking next year after securing funding from Centrica in a £160m deal. The British Gas owner took a 25pc stake in its licence.
A Cuadrilla spokesman said: “We are talking to United Utilities about possible future sites and the timescales for potentially getting water supply to those areas.”
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Posted by JR at 5:27 PM