Friday, August 02, 2013

New skeptical paper


by Arthur Rörsch (The Netherlands) & Peter A. Ziegler (Switzerland)


The strong climate-forcing effect of rising atmospheric CO2 concentrations advocated by the IPCC, is at odds with climate developments during geological, historical and recent times. Although atmospheric CO2 concentrations continuously increased during industrial times, temperatures did not increase continuously to the present level but stagnated or even declined slightly during 1880 to 1900, 1945 to 1977 and again since 1998.

Total solar irradiation rose from a low in 1890 to a first peak in 1950 that was followed by a sharp decline ending in 1977, giving way to a period of rapidly increasing radiation peaking in 2002 when solar activity started to decrease, possibly declining to a new Little-Ice-Age type low.

The Greenhouse Effect of increasing atmospheric CO2 concentrations, claimed and widely propagated by IPCC, is particularly vexing as it is widely over-estimated without adequate scientific justification.

Large observed climate variations documented for geological and historical times, as well as the lack of insight into the behaviour of complex systems, seriously question the Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW) concept propagated by the IPCC.

The climate variability during industrial times was essentially governed by changes in solar activity with increasing atmospheric CO2 content playing a subordinate role. The climate controlling effect attributed by the IPCC to increasing atmospheric CO2 concentrations is rejected since supporting models are not compatible with observations.

Lastly, the authors consider from a historical and philosophical science point of view why current mainstream climate change research and IPCC assessments may have been on an erring way for several decades


Electric car farce as British councils spend £7.2m on charging points 'that are never used'

Councils across the UK have spent more than £7.2m on charging points for electric cars over the last three years but many are not being used.

One in six councils admitted to having at least one point which has not been used at all over the past year.

While less than a third of authorities have a charging point used on average more than once a week, more than half of which are used only by council vehicles.

BBC Radio 4’s You and Yours found that council spending amounts to £1,750 per electric car.

Answers to Freedom of Information requests from 91 per cent of councils in the UK revealed that 139 had spent £7.21m on charging points between them since April 2010.

Twenty-five of the councils (18 per cent) said they had at least one point not used at all between April 2012 and April 2013, while 41 (29 per cent) councils had a point used more than 52 times over the same 12 months.

Prof David Bailey, a transport expert at Coventry University Business School, told You and Yours: 'At the moment there are hardly any electric cars on the road.  'There are more charging points than there are electric cars.

'Much more effort needs to go into stimulating the demand side and educating people so that they know how to use these cars.'

Figures from the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency show there are 4,100 electric cars in the UK.

Matthew Sinclair, chief executive of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said: 'Taxpayers are clearly being fleeced to fund what is little more than an attempt by the councils involved to brandish their green credentials.

'When only around four thousand of the 34.6 million vehicles on the road are electric cars, this amounts to a very expensive vanity project.

'In any case, since the cars are only suited to travelling short distances, their owners should expect to charge them at home or at their workplace: it’s not fair for them to land already hard-pressed taxpayers with a whopping bill to subsidise their expensive choice of vehicle.'

In February the Government announced an extra £37 million to offset the cost of installing infrastructure for recharging electric vehicles, which will be made available to hospitals, local authorities and train operators to provide charging points.

But the Local Government Association said investment has to be made in charging points.  A spokesman said: 'You have to invest in the charging infrastructure before people start using it.

'Electric cars are a huge future international market. One barrier to that market taking off is the limited range before a car needs recharging, so investment in charging points is a vital precondition to this low carbon, sustainable and potentially hugely profitable market of the future.'

The Government and motoring groups also warned that the electric car revolution would take time.  A Department for Transport (DfT) spokesman said: 'No one is pretending that everything can change overnight.  'The Government is putting serious investment into the UK low emissions vehicles sector, including for electric cars.

'We are seeing encouraging growth in the number of people using electric cars - for example there were 966 claims for the plug-in car grant in April-June 2013, almost double the number seen in the same quarter of the previous year - but no one is pretending that everything can change overnight.

'That is why we are continuing to invest in the infrastructure that will support take up of this new technology across the country, including the charging points announcements we made yesterday.'

The spokesman continued: 'Our goal is to ensure that the automotive industry in the UK can build on its recent success with clear support for investment in research and development and continue to make a major contribution to tackling the challenges of 21st century motoring.'

Edmund King, president of AA, said he did not think the charging points were waste of time.

He said: 'These things take time. At the moment, most people with electric cars charge them at home or at work. There is certainly a role for electric cars to play and I think their price will come down.

'We do need a mix of cars in the UK. Most two-car households could get by with an electric cart. We need to change attitudes.'


Sea-coasting to bankruptcy

By Alan Caruba

New York Congressman Jerrold Nadler (D) and forty members of Congress believe the sea levels are rising, that a panel should be created to determine what should be done, and, of course, to throw billions of dollars at a problem that does not exist. Politicians were eager to scare the public with the discredited global warming hoax and now they have found a new one.

In New York City, Mayor Bloomberg has proposed a $20 billion flood barrier system to protect the city from future hurricanes and rising sea levels. Well, hurricanes like tropical storm Sandy are real, but rare. Rising sea levels, however, represent no threat at all.

William Happer who researched ocean physics for the U.S. Air Force and is currently a physics professor at Princeton University notes that, “The sea level has been rising since 1800, at the end of the ‘little ice age,’” a cooling cycle last from around 1300 to 1850. Far from heating up, the Earth entered a new cooling cycle around 1996 or so.

Harrison Schmitt, a former Apollo 17 astronaut, U.S. Senator, and a geologist, says “Predicting a sea level rise of 7 feet over the next few thousand years would seem too risky a prediction on which to spend tax dollars”; that is surely an understatement. Wasting billions on “climate change,” however, is the new siren call of the Obama Administration. The National Research Council, however, is warning, as Fox News reported, “that those kinds of subsidies are virtually useless at quelling greenhouse gases.”

In fact, increases in the amount of carbon dioxide, the leading greenhouse gas—alleged to “trap” heat— have had zero effect on the cooling cycle.

A recent article in the British newspaper The Register reported on a study by scientists in Germany, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom.  The study, originally published in Nature Geoscience, concluded there was no “scientific consensus” to suggest the rate of the seas’ rise will accelerate dangerously.

The notion of the seas rising, swamping coastal cities, and creating havoc is the stuff of science fiction, not science. This is why spending millions or billions on the assertions of some who have a real stake in keeping the public frightened is a very bad idea.

At the center of the global warming scare campaign is the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Its most recent report said that “no long-term acceleration of sea level has been identified using 20th-century data alone” but that does not discourage the IPCC from forecasting an increase due to global warming. This organization should be disbanded and, if I were in charge, many of its leaders would be in jail right now for fraud.

Who can you believe? One such person is Dr. Nils-Axel Morner, the former chair of the Paleogeophysics and Geodynamics department at Stockholm University in Sweden. He is the past president (1999-2003) of the International Union for Quaternary Research Commission on Sea Level Changes and Coastal Evolution. He has been studying sea level and its effects on coastal areas for more than 35 years. I cited his credentials because others making predictions lack the same level of authority.

Dr. Morner acknowledges that “sea level was indeed rising from, let us say, 1850 to 1930-40. And that rise had a rate in the order of 1 millimeter per year (mm/y). (Emphasis added). Get out your pocket ruler and look at what one millimeter represents. It is small. It is very small. Not surprisingly Dr. Morner is very critical of the IPCC and its headline-grabbing doomsday predictions. He scorns the IPCC’s claim to “know” that facts about sea level rise, noting that real scientists “are searching for the answer” by continuing to collect data “because we are field geologists; they are computer scientists. So all this talk that sea level is rising, this stems from the computer modeling, not from observations. The observations don’t find it!”

A recent paper reviewed by CO2 Science finds that sea levels have risen from 2002-2011 at a rate of only 1.7 mm/y over the past 110 years, the equivalent of 6.7 inches per century. This is close to Dr. Morner’s assertion that, at most, there has been a rate of increase that tops out at 1.1 mm/y. The review concluded that there is no evidence of any human influence on sea levels.

Even so, in early July, Josh Willis, a scientist at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, told Fox News that, “There is no question that the time to prepare for sea level rise is now…We will definitely see 7 feet of sea level rise—the only question is when.” And who funds NASA?

Between the scientists trying to gin up more government money for their agencies and departments and the politicians trying to find a new reason to spend more money, the public is left wondering if the oceans are rising and whether that represents something worth worrying about. The answer is (a) yes, sea levels are rising in infinitesimal amounts and (b) no, we need to stop spending money based on such claims.

It’s not the sea level rise you should worry about. It is the rising levels of national debt and the deficit.


Fossil fuels expected to dominate global energy consumption until 2040, says report

The ongoing debate over the role of fossil fuels as opposed to the increased implementation of renewable or alternative energy sources is likely to continue with a report from  the U.S Energy Information Administration showing that world power consumption is expected to increase by 56 percent from now until 2040, with traditional engineering resources naturally playing a big role.

According to Reuters, global oil consumption will rise by 32 percent in the next 27 years, despite the apparent growth in renewables, with growing demand in China and India believed to account for nearly 50 percent of the increase in energy use. Industry analysts have long considered that demand in OECD countries would be a significant driver of consumer requirements, however it appears that a number of emerging economies are having a say in how the energy market will perform in the near future.

Bulk of demand

Developing countries are expected to provide the bulk of demand, with the EIA report projecting that it will grow by 90 percent by 2040, compared to a relatively small increase of 17 percent in existing industrialized regions. According to the news source, energy requirements in China are projected to be at least double that of the United States, with the authors of the report predicting that global consumption of petroleum and other liquid fuels should reach 97 million barrels per day by 2020 and 115 million barrels per day by 2040.

"Rising prosperity in China and India is a major factor in the outlook for global energy demand," said Adam Sieminski, EIA administrator. "These two countries combined account for half the world's total increase in energy use through 2040. This is good news, this is rising prosperity. The question is how do we accommodate rising prosperity and still maintain energy security and the environment?"

The International Energy Outlook is believed by energy analysts to be a reasonable barometer of what will happen in the industry over the next few years, and while the EIA - the statistical and analytical wing of the Department of Energy -  tries to steer clear of "forecasting policy developments," the report indicates that fossil fuels will supply up to 80 percent of consumption in the time period under study. However, the report also notes that liquid fuel demand will drop by 6 percent over the period, with natural gas increasing globally by 1.7 percent per year, an indication of how important fracking could be in terms of accessing supply.

Coal will still be the second largest energy source in 2040, however the EIA predicts that its share of consumption will peak sometime in the next decade and decline after 2025. This is believed to be in response to projected governmental targets in respect of cleaner fuels, coupled with the anticipated rise in global natural gas extraction.

Nuclear and renewable options

Interestingly enough, the renewable and nuclear sector is expected to see significant gains, despite the continued dominance of traditional energy sources, with the report suggesting a 2.5 percent cumulative increase over the period. The EIA study contends that wind and hydropower will see the quickest growth, with installations expected to increase in developed nations and developing countries, respective. In fact, over 80 percent of the predicted rise in renewable generation will be in those two sectors, with 52 percent allocated to hydro and 28 percent to wind.

In terms of the nuclear option, the EIA sees the greatest potential for engineering research and development  in China, India and South Korea. China is expected to provide 40 percent of the global net increase in nuclear capacity, with the development of new facilities in direct contrast to the global response following the disaster at Japan's Fukushima Daiichi plant in 2011. According to sources at the agency, nuclear will provide 5.5 trillion kilowatt hours of power in 2040, compared to the 2.6 trillion kwh recorded in 2010.


Scientists Envision Fracking in Arctic and on Ocean Floor

Scientists in Japan and the U.S. say they are moving closer to tapping a new source of energy: methane hydrate, a crystalline form of natural gas found in Arctic permafrost and at the bottom of oceans.

At room temperature the crystal gives off intense heat, earning it the nickname of "fire in ice," and making the estimated 700,000 trillion cubic feet of the substance scattered around the world a potentially major fuel source, containing more energy than all previously discovered oil and gas combined, according to researchers at the U.S. Geological Survey.

Scientists in Japan and the U.S. say they are moving closer to tapping a new source of energy: methane hydrate, a crystalline form of natural gas found in Arctic permafrost and at the bottom of oceans. Ben Lefebvre joins MoneyBeat. Photo: AP.
Commercial production of methane hydrate is expected to take at least a decade—if it comes at all. Different technologies to harvest the gas are being tested, but so far no single approach has been perfected, and it remains prohibitively expensive. But booming energy demand in Asia, which is spurring gigantic projects to liquefy natural gas in Australia, Canada and Africa, is also giving momentum to efforts to mine the frozen clumps of methane hydrate mixed deep in seafloor sediment.

The biggest concern is that the sediment that contains methane hydrate is inherently unstable, meaning a drilling accident could set off a landslide that sends massive amounts of methane—a potent greenhouse gas—bubbling up through the ocean and into the atmosphere.

Oil and gas companies establishing deep-water drilling rigs normally look at avoiding methane-hydrate clusters, said Richard Charter, senior member of environmental group the Ocean Foundation, who has long studied methane hydrates.

Nevertheless, the government of Japan—where natural gas costs are currently $16 per million British thermal units, four times the level in the U.S.—has vowed to bring methane hydrate into the mainstream by 2023 after a successful drilling test in March.

In the government-sponsored test off of the southern coast of Japan's main island, Honshu, a drilling rig bored nearly 2,000 feet below the seafloor.

Special equipment reduced the pressure around the methane hydrate crystals, dissolving them into gas and water, and then pumped about 4.2 million cubic feet of gas to the surface. While not a huge haul, it was enough to convince Japanese researchers that more natural gas could be harvested.

If Japan can deliver on its vow to produce natural gas economically from the methane hydrate deposits off its shores, it could experience a natural-gas boom that matches the fracking-fueled one under way in North America, said Surya Rajan, analyst at IHS CERA.

"If you look at what a dramatic shift the North American gas industry has gone through, could you afford to bet against something similar happening in methane hydrate?" Mr. Rajan said.

Successful development of methane hydrates could throw a wrench into liquefied-natural-gas megaprojects such as Australia's $50 billion Gorgon development led by Chevron Corp., CVX +0.44% experts say.

"It would make me have pause about investing billions of dollars in an LNG export terminal," said Christopher Knittel, an energy economics professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge.

Not all observers think that the costs can come down enough to make methane hydrate viable. But plenty of countries, particularly in Asia, are planning to try.

China plans to host an international conference on methane hydrate in 2014.

India is contemplating a push to develop the vast quantities of methane hydrate discovered off its coast in the Indian Ocean in 2006, according to the U.S. Geological Survey, a part of the U.S. Department of Interior that conducts scientific research.

In the U.S., scientists explored the northern Gulf of Mexico in May to map some of the 6.7 quadrillion cubic feet of methane-hydrate clusters believed to be underwater there. The Consortium for Ocean Leadership, a nonprofit group of researchers, is now trying to convince the Department of Energy to lend it a research drilling ship to do more tests.

"There are a huge amount of people internationally working in this area," said Carolyn Ruppel, head of the gas hydrates project at the USGS. "A lot of national governments have gotten into the game."

The most optimal places to harvest methane hydrate are near where the continental shelf transitions to the deep ocean, areas difficult to access from sea level.

Would-be producers also have to be careful when harvesting fragile clusters of methane hydrate to ensure nearby crystals don't prematurely break and send greenhouse gases bubbling to the surface.

The cost of developing this new source of energy remains high, with estimates ranging from $30 to $60 per million British thermal units. In the U.S., natural gas currently trades for less than $4 per million BTUs, as the rise of fracking produced a gas glut.

But countries like Japan, Korea, India, and Taiwan import gas "at a high price and thus may find it economical to produce their own resources," said George Hirasaki, a professor at Rice University in Houston who has done research on methane hydrates.

Last year, ConocoPhillips worked with the DOE on a test run producing natural gas from methane hydrate in Alaska's North Slope, home to about 85 trillion cubic feet of technically recoverable methane hydrate, according to DOE statistics.

The company spent 13 days injecting carbon dioxide and nitrogen into methane-hydrate clusters in the permafrost. The chemical cocktail fractures the permafrost, allowing the gas to escape through the newly made fractures for collection.

ConocoPhillips was able "to safely extract a steady flow of natural gas," a spokeswoman said.

ConocoPhillips declined to say how much it has invested in methane-hydrate production. The Houston-based company said that "at present, the technology does not exist to produce natural gas economically from hydrates."


As utilities bills soar, South Australians to pay $90 extra a year to account for solar rebate

HOUSEHOLDERS will pay an extra $90 a year for the next three years on their power bills to pay for the State Government's generous solar rebate scheme.

Retailers are bracing for a late rush on solar systems as the scheme enters its final month for new customers to sign up, which could inflate the cost of the scheme even further.

SA Power Networks (formerly ETSA) estimates the scheme will cost $1.53 billion over 20 years - and every South Australian is paying for it via their electricity bill.

It has forecast the average amount recovered from residential customers to subsidise the solar rebates will be $90 a year for the next three years, before dropping to $72 from July 1, 2016, when the 16c scheme closes.

A staggering 140,000 householders have so far installed a solar meter - 17 times more than the 8,000 then-Premier Mike Rann estimated when he launched the scheme in 2008.

They are receiving either 44 cents or 16 cents per kilowatt hour - depending when they signed up - for the energy their systems generate back into the power grid.

New details of the added costs to power bills are the latest blow to family budgets.

Consumers will pay an extra $30 a year to prune trees near power lines, as revealed in The Advertiser yesterday.

Households have also been hit with rises up to $100 a year in gas prices, while petrol costs have reached their highest levels in five years.

Water bills have also soared to pay for the $1.83 billion dollar desalination plant.

The state's leading welfare lobby group, the SA Council of Social Services, says the combined impact of these price rises on household budgets is "massive".

"Especially for those on fixed and low incomes," SACOSS executive director Ross Womersley said.

"And its impossible to avoid these cost increases because they are essential services and we need them."

The solar scheme costs were an "unfair burden" on low-income earners because they "can't afford solar panels but they are subsidising those who can and who are reaping the savings on energy bills," Mr Womersley said.

However, solar system retailer Zen Energy said the power being put back in the grid by panel owners was reducing transmission costs.

"If it weren't for solar panels SA Power Networks would most likely have to spend more money on the grid to supply that extra electricity," Zen Energy founder Richard Turner said.

When the solar scheme was launched in 2008 the government estimated it would attract 8,000 customers.  But the scheme's generosity has resulted in a massive blowout in uptake and a subsequent cost to electricity consumers.  The total cost of the solar subsidy scheme - which runs until 2028 - will average out at more than $1100 per householder.  This year alone SA Power Networks said the scheme will cost $100 million.

And the company expects a rush of new customers will sign up before the September 30 deadline for the 16c feed-in tariff is reached.

"We anticipate in excess of 10,000 customers may sign up and have metering installed for the 2016 scheme before it closes," a spokesman for SA Power Networks, which recovers the cost of the scheme on behalf of the government, said.  "On our current expectations, it is likely that total scheme payments will exceed $1.53 billion dollars by 2028."

Melissa Richards, of Unley Park, said installing solar panels was a "no-brainer".  She and husband Heath installed a solar system 12 months ago at a cost just under $7,000.

"Solar obviously decreases power costs and the 16c feed-in tariff combined with a top up from our retailer is a bonus which definitely helps," the 26-year-old full time mum from Unley Park said. "We have probably halved our electricity bills which were running at $300 a quarter." [At the cost of everyone else]




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


No comments: