Tuesday, July 30, 2013
NOAA SCIENTISTS REPORT 2012 HEAT WAVE MOSTLY NATURAL
Record-setting warm temperatures in the United States during early 2012 were mostly the result of natural weather events and had little connection with global warming, a team of scientists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the University of Colorado report in a new peer-reviewed paper. “This long-term regional warming is an order-of-magnitude smaller than temperature anomalies observed during the event, indicating that most of the extreme warmth must be explained by other factors. Several lines of evidence strongly implicate natural variations as the primary cause for the extreme event,” the scientists explained.
The Making of An Extreme Event: Putting the Pieces Together
By Randall Dole et al.
We examine how physical factors spanning climate and weather contributed to record warmth over the central and eastern U.S. in March 2012, when daily temperature anomalies at many locations exceeded 20°C. Over this region, approximately 1° C warming in March temperatures has occurred since 1901. This long-term regional warming is an order-of-magnitude smaller than temperature anomalies observed during the event, indicating the most of the extreme warmth must be explained by other factors. Several lines of evidence strongly implicate natural variations as the primary cause for the extreme event. The 2012 temperature anomalies had a close analogue in an exceptionally warm U.S. March occurring over 100 years earlier, providing observational evidence that an extreme event similar to March 2012 could be produced through natural variability alone. Coupled model forecasts and simulations forced by observed sea surface temperatures (SSTs) show that forcing from anomalous SSTs increased the probability of extreme warm temperatures in March 2012 above that anticipated from the long-term warming trend. In addition, forcing associated with a strong Madden-Julian Oscillation further increased the probability for extreme U.S. warmth and provided important additional predictive information on the timing and spatial pattern of temperature anomalies. The results indicate that the superposition of a strong natural variation similar to March 1910 on long-term warming of the magnitude observed would be sufficient to account for the record warm March 2012 U.S. temperatures. We conclude that the extreme warmth over the central and eastern U.S. in March 2012 resulted primarily from natural climate and weather variability, a substantial fraction of which was predictable.
Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society 2013
Warmists Debunk Arctic Methane Claims
The U.K. Guardian and dozens of additional media outlets are hyping a claim this week that rapidly receding Arctic sea ice will trigger a methane-release catastrophe within just a few years. While the media predictably tries to scare the pants off of people who don’t closely follow the scientific debate, skeptics, mainstream warmists, and even prominent global warming alarmists agree the predictions of a methane catastrophe are over the top and ridiculous.
A new paper in the journal Nature claims summertime Arctic sea ice could disappear within a couple of years, triggering a chain of events that will release catastrophic amounts of frozen and trapped methane into the atmosphere. The warming effects of the methane release, the Nature paper claims, will send the planet over a tipping point for immediate, rapid, and catastrophic global warming.
Judith Curry, who generally agrees with the global warming narrative provided by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, noted on her Climate Etc. Web site that the predicted methane apocalypse “rests on two assumptions: (1) the ‘spiral of death’ loss of Arctic sea ice and (2) connection of the sea ice loss to a massive release of methane hydrates into the atmosphere on the time scale of a decade. Each of these assumptions is highly implausible, based upon my understanding; the combination of these two assumptions into a single scenario seems impossible to me.”
Even high-profile global warming extremists are calling B.S. on the methane apocalypse claims. Gavin Schmidt, for example, noted that even under a “worst case” scenario, methane “will probably not be a huge player in climate change in the coming century.”
Green levies on energy bills hit poor hardest, say British MPs
Ministers were last night criticised for funding billions of pounds-worth of green schemes and climate change programmes through levies on household gas and electricity bills rather than recouping the money directly from taxpayers.
A hard-hitting report said the “regressive” tactic was placing a huge burden on vulnerable customers, such as the elderly and low income families, and that raising the money through tax was more equitable, as it would be based on an individual’s ability to pay.
The blast comes just days before British Gas-owner Centrica is expected to warn that it will have to raise bills for millions, because of rising wholesale energy prices and the huge cost of paying for the Government’s renewable revolution.
In its report, the Commons Energy Climate Change Committee said environmental charges account for 9pc of everyone’s gas and electricity bill, regardless of their income.
The Government’s own estimates are that its policies will add 33pc to the average electricity price paid by households in 2020.
The Committee said: “The use of levies on bills to fund social and environmental programmes will add to the burden faced by energy bills payers, particularly in low-income households.
“Public spending is less regressive in this respect. If Government is to continue raising levies in this way, it must ensure that the public understands the different components of an energy bill and how these relate to costs.”
The report claims consumers foot the £700m cost of the EU Emissions Trading System, the £2.2bn cost of the Renewables Obligation as well as the £196m that is spent on feed-in tariffs for small-scale renewables.
Watchdogs believe most households have no idea they are paying for such schemes while energy execs are furious they continue to be blamed for rising bills when ever more Government costs are being passed onto homeowners. One source said: “Labour started it, thinking it was a good idea to recoup the money through bills as it was less obvious, but it’s just carried on since then.”
Scottish Power last week said the cost of implementing green schemes such as a new carbon tax, fitting solid wall insulation and wind farm subsidies had soared by nearly 140pc in the past year. Keith Anderson, Scottish Power’s chief executive, said: “We are seeing a big increase in our costs. What we are seeing coming through is in line with what we predicted, not what the Government predicted.”
Energy minister Ed Davey insists household bills will fall over time, as homes become more energy efficient, through insulation or 'greener’ products such as washing machines. The claim has been largely ridiculed by City analysts and stockbrokers.
The Select Committee insists the Government should do more to tackle fuel poverty, but is also scathing at the lack of transparency on household bills and the efforts of Ofgem, the industry regulator, to force the 'Big Six’ energy suppliers to do more.
The Committee said it was “astonishing” Ofgem had not taken up the recommendations of accountants BDO, which suggested measures such as forcing each of the Big Six to report accounts to the same year end and simplify bills in a bid to improve transparency. It said the failure “lays Ofgem open to criticism that it is unwilling to use the teeth it has.”
Speaking last night, Richard Lloyd, exec director of Which? said: “The reality is that consumers are going to foot the bill for upgrading our energy infrastructure. Whichever way it’s funded - tax or bill levies - the Government must work with industry and regulators to ensure there is proper scrutiny and transparency.”
A spokesman for the Department for Energy and Climate Change insisted the Government was doing “all we can” to help consumers “keep their bills down”.
He added: “Our policies to support renewable energy and reduce energy waste are insulating consumers from the rising cost of fossil fuels.”
Ethanol industry has EPA as ally in battle against Big Oil
Drama is high these days for ethanol makers, whose fate is on the line in Washington -- fitting for an industry dependent on government.
The oil industry has launched an assault on the ethanol mandate that drives demand for the plant-based fuel. The Senate recently confirmed an industry friend to head the Environmental Protection Agency. And the EPA is finalizing a controversial rule to allow higher blends of ethanol in gasoline.
Ethanol is a fuel made from fermenting and distilling plant matter -- mostly corn in the U.S. From the industry's earliest days, government has subsidized the fuel. The most important benefit for the industry today is the Renewable Fuel Standard.
The 2005 Republican-passed energy bill created the RFS, known as the "ethanol mandate," and the 2007 Democrat-passed energy bill expanded it. Under the law, oil refiners must purchase a set quantity of ethanol every year.
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Thanks largely to cars' improving fuel efficiency, gasoline consumption has fallen steadily over the past few years, so refiners aren't selling enough gasoline to blend with the ethanol. Under the complicated structure of the ethanol mandate, this will drive up costs for refiners, and thus drive up the price of gasoline.
The oil industry has never loved the ethanol mandate, which, among other things, adds to their costs. Many oil companies invested in ethanol -- Koch Industries owns some massive ethanol distilleries, and Valero is a major ethanol player.
But current market conditions have driven the oil lobby to take up arms. The American Petroleum Institute is running radio ads attacking the mandate. The National Council of Chain Restaurants is attacking the mandate, too, arguing that it drives up food prices by shifting cropland to fuel production. Three senators have proposed a bill to end the mandate.
So ethanol is fighting back. The Iowa Renewable Fuels Association flew into D.C. this month to defend the mandate. The National Biodiesel Board retained a new lobbyist this month -- former Republican Rep. Kenny Hulshof. Poet, the country's largest ethanol producer, hired a new top lobbyist, former House Science Committee staffer Rob Walther.
Ethanol's best asset may not be on K Street, but in the EPA: new Administrator Gina McCarthy. McCarthy, just confirmed by the Senate, is a consistent ethanol industry defender.
Late last year, for instance, governors from both parties and five states petitioned the EPA to waive the ethanol mandate. The governors weren't petitioning on behalf of drivers or Big Oil, but on behalf of ranchers. Feed prices were going sky high thanks to drought, and the ethanol mandate diverts corn from cattle feed to gas stations.
"Severe economic harm is being experienced by the state of North Carolina and many of its agricultural regions, as well as important economic sectors in the state, as a direct result of the implementation of the applicable volume requirements of the RFS," wrote Democratic Gov. Bev Perdue in late 2012, as reported in CQ.
McCarthy, then assistant administrator for EPA's Office of Air and Radiation, denied the request.
In the past four years at EPA, McCarthy's most important work was probably approving higher blends of ethanol in gasoline -- a fight in which ethanol is on the free-market side.
Too much ethanol in gasoline can damage car engines. Current law prohibits blends of more than 10 percent ethanol, or E10. McCarthy spent more than four years working out rules to allow blends as high as E15 -- trumping the objections of automakers and oil companies.
This summer, the rule allowing E15 cleared some important hurdles. It could go into effect soon.
Given this record, it's no surprise the ethanol industry applauded McCarthy's nomination back in March.
The American Coalition for Ethanol announced at the time, "We appreciate President Obama nominating Gina McCarthy as administrator of EPA, a step which shows the president's continued commitment to ethanol and other renewable fuels."
"President Obama has made an outstanding choice in his decision to nominate Gina McCarthy to be the next administrator of the EPA," declared Tom Buis, president of Growth Energy, another ethanol lobby. The Renewable Fuels Association and the Advanced Ethanol Council also applauded her nomination.
In Washington, most policy fights are really battles between industries. These days, ethanol is on the defensive, but it still seems to be warding off Big Oil.
Obama says Keystone pipeline won’t create many jobs
President Obama in an interview released Saturday accused Republicans of exaggerating the job gains that would come with the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, emboldening critics of the project as his administration weighs whether to give the project the green light.
“Republicans have said that this would be a big jobs generator. There is no evidence that that’s true,” he said in the interview published by the New York Times. “And my hope would be that any reporter who is looking at the facts would take the time to confirm that the most realistic estimates are this might create maybe 2,000 jobs during the construction of the pipeline — which might take a year or two — and then after that we’re talking about somewhere between 50 and 100 jobs in a economy of 150 million working people.”
If approved, the pipeline would carry oil from Canada to Gulf Coast refineries — the State Department is now reviewing the environmental impact of such construction. In a high-profile speech unveiling his plan to combat climate change, Obama last month said he would approve the pipeline only if he was convinced that it would not exacerbate greenhouse gases.
Obama, in this latest interview, stood by that pledge.
“I meant what I said. I’m going to evaluate this based on whether or not this is going to significantly contribute to carbon in our atmosphere. And there is no doubt that Canada at the source in those tar sands could potentially be doing more to mitigate carbon release,” Obama said.
At one point, Obama even suggested that the Keystone pipeline could lead to higher gas prices.
“Oil is going to be piped down to the Gulf to be sold on the world oil markets, so it does not bring down gas prices here in the United States,” he said. “In fact, it might actually cause some gas prices in the Midwest to go up where currently they can’t ship some of that oil to world markets.”
Keystone supporters have accused Obama of dragging his feet on the issue to placate green groups, noting that the original State Department analysis said the construction of the pipeline would not significantly increase carbon emissions.
Regardless of his decision, the president is likely to alienate at least part of his political base. Labor unions have welcomed what they consider a badly needed infusion of new jobs, while environmentalists say the climate ramifications of the project far outweigh minimal economic gains.
For his part, Obama seemed unconvinced by the arguments being made by labor interests.
“Well, look, [unions] might like to see 2,000 jobs initially,” he said. “But that is a blip relative to the need.”
Obama gave no indication of when he expects to give the final verdict on Keystone.
Obama’s rogue EPA makes an end-around Congress
By Bill Wilson
A national carbon tax masked as an “emissions marketplace” is one of the few pieces of anti-free market legislation Barack Obama has failed to pass during his first four-and-a-half years in office. Clearly this defeat has irked Obama, who is now attempting to bypass Congress and use his rogue Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to impose sweeping new regulations on America’s energy industry.
Rather than taxing utilities into submission legislatively, Obama now plans on regulating them to death administratively. To that end, by 2015 Obama’s EPA will unveil strict new limits on carbon dioxide emissions from existing coal- and gas-fired facilities under his so-called “Climate Action Plan.” These “Flexible Carbon Pollution Standards for Power Plants” will be promulgated as state regulations under the auspices of the Clean Air Act.
“You shall ensure, to the greatest extent possible, that you develop approaches that allow the use of market-based instruments, performance standards and other regulatory flexibilities,” Obama’s plan states.
This level of environmental regulatory overreach is unprecedented.
Under the administration of former president George H.W. Bush, the EPA was granted authority to oversee sulphur dioxide emissions trading. However the creation of this “marketplace” was explicitly authorized via amendments to the Clean Air Act — amendments approved by overwhelming majorities of both the U.S. House and Senate.
Meanwhile prior efforts to force the EPA to arbitrarily impose such government-run “marketplaces” — absent congressional approval — have been struck down as unconstitutional.
Obama will never receive congressional support for his carbon dioxide emissions scheme — and he knows it. In fact several members of his own party are already blasting these anti-competitive measures.
“Overzealous regulations are harmful to our economy,” U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-Louisiana) said in response to Obama’s proposals.
U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-West Virginia) referred to Obama’s plan as the declaration of a “war on coal.”
Manchin isn’t exactly right. Obama actually declared his “war on coal” five years ago as a candidate for president, when he told a liberal editorial board “if someone wants to build a coal-powered plant they can — it’s just that it will bankrupt them because they are going to be charged a huge sum for all that greenhouse gas that’s being emitted.”
Unable to convince a Democratic-controlled Congress to go along with this radical scheme, Obama is now trying to impose it arbitrarily — a plan which will raise energy costs on consumers, kill hundreds of thousands of jobs and deprive the American economy of nearly $1.5 trillion worth of income, according to one estimate.
Then there’s the dirty little secret of “pricing coal” when it comes to domestic emissions — namely its utter failure to make a dent in the global atmospheric situation. According to the latest data from the International Energy Agency, America led the world in reducing carbon emissions a year ago — lowering our output by a total of 200 megatons. However carbon emissions soared globally by more than 400 megatons in spite of these efforts — reaching a new all-time high.
Also, it’s worth noting government “green initiatives” did not create America’s declining emissions levels: Good old-fashioned free market economics did that. Attacking coal on the other hand will have unmistakably adverse market affects — most notably increased natural gas prices for consumers.
“The primary reason for the U.S. emissions decline is the result of new technologies from the fossil fuel industry that are leading to cheap coal being displaced by even cheaper natural gas for the generation of electricity,” writes Paul C. Kanppenberger of the Cato Institute.
In other words Obama is circumventing Congress to advance economically crippling new regulations that won’t even accomplish his stated objectives. And even if Obama’s scheme were constitutional — or the fuzzy science of climate change valid — America’s economy cannot afford the incredibly steep price he is asking us to pay.
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Posted by JR at 4:45 PM