Friday, October 25, 2013
Bushfires and climate change
Australia is having some nasty forest fires (aka bushfires) at the moment -- as it does most years. In their usual form, Warmists want to claim that the fires are due to "climate change". Since most Australians are aware that we have ALWAYS had such fires, however, they struggle to make their case and the Prime Minister has been completely dismissive of their nonsense.
The article below is therefore both very cautious and very vague. There seems to be some claim that bushfire incidence has increased in recent years but there are no numbered graphs or other statistics to prove it. We have to wait almost to the end of the article to get some numbers and discover that we have been talking about relatively recent times. We read that fire-danger has increased substatially from 1973 to 2010 and also that the fire danger "is about a third higher since 1996-97"
It's no wonder that the author put that figure at the bottom of the article because it completely rips up his case. From 1997 on there has BEEN no global warming. So if there has been any temperature increase in Australia in that period, it is local, not global
Tony Abbott has not been afraid to use blunt language when asked about a link between climate change and this week's bushfires.
"Complete hogwash," is what the Prime Minister said in response to a question about the connection by News Limited columnist Andrew Bolt.
This came two days after an interview on Fairfax Radio, where he said United Nations climate chief Christiana Figueres was "talking through her hat" for implying a link between climate change and the bushfires blazing across large regions of NSW.
"Climate change is real, as I've often said, and we should take strong action against it. But these fires are certainly not a function of climate change, they're a function of life in Australia," declared the Prime Minister.
But is that the advice Mr Abbott is getting from the experts at his disposal?
Environment Minister Greg Hunt has been briefed this week by the Bureau of Meteorology, and that wouldn't be its advice.
As the bureau told a Senate inquiry into extreme weather events earlier this year: "The Forest Fire Danger Index (FFDI), which essentially 'sums' daily fire weather danger across the year, has increased significantly across many Australian locations since the 1970s.
"The number of locations with significant increases is greatest in the southeast, while the largest trends occurred inland rather than near the coast. The largest increases in seasonal FFDI have occurred during spring and autumn. This indicates a lengthened fire season."
Yet, despite this, why Mr Hunt found the need to consult Wikipedia is not so clear.
Mr Hunt did, though, point to a hotly debated link in the climate-bushfire chain. "Senior people at the Bureau of Meteorology” take a precautionary line, Mr Hunt said. “They always emphasise never trying to link any particular event to climate change."
Actually, Mr Hunt is slightly off the mark. To say that such a link can “never” be made is only true if you add the words “right now”.
In fact, climate scientists around the country and beyond will already have pointed their super-computers towards identifying a signal from the changing climate system.
Australia's famously variable climate makes it difficult to prove any major event is caused by climate change, only that the odds of it happening without a warming background would be less. It would be at least as hard to rule it out as "hogwash".
Temperature is one of the key factors influencing fire danger ratings - along with wind, humidity, and dryness of the fuel load.
The science is less certain about wind and humidity trends, but hotter temperatures are among Australia's clearest climate signals. It's not a huge leap to figure that hotter temperature would tend to dry out fuel loads more than cooler ones.
And you don't need to be a climate scientist to observe a clear warming trend - assuming, of course, you accept the integrity of the Bureau and the CSIRO.
Australia has warmed up by roughly 0.7 degrees nationally since 1960, the two organisations say.
But we're a big country and have seasons, so it's worth looking at spring maximums, since that's the current problem in NSW and also the season when the rate of warming happens to be fastest:
So Australia is getting hotter, especially NSW in spring.
Bushfire experts such as Hamish Clarke, Christopher Lucas and Peter Smith, have examined the data from weather stations across the country where the data is considered of sufficient quality and duration.
(Mr Smith was the head of climate science before leaving the NSW government in March, noting this week how the O'Farrell government has slashed in-house research into the issue; Dr Lucas remains a researcher with CSIRO and the bureau; and Mr Clarke continues to work for the NSW government, and is understood to have been busy defending his home in this week's blazes.)
Between 1973 and 2010, they found the Forest Fire Danger Index (FFDI) – the measure used by fire authorities to determine whether the day will have a “low/moderate” to “catastrophic” fire danger – increased significantly at 16 of the 38 stations during the period. Not one registered a decrease.
The FFDI is complex, not least because it combines meteorological data and dryness of fuel. (For Sydney this year, July-October will smash records for average maximums, with each month the hottest or second hottest on record, while much of the eastern part of the state has been very dry since mid-June after a couple of wet years.)
That complexity is one reason why it's unwise to jump to a precise attribution of the NSW fires to global warming - but also why it's absurd to rule it out completely.
Sarah Perkins, an expert in heatwaves at the ARC Centre for Excellence in Climate System Science at the UNSW, can understand why some blanch at discussing climate change amid the past week's destructive fires, with hundreds of homes lost and thousands of lives disrupted.
But it's an issue that's unlikely to go away. “The eastern half of Australia is seeing an increase in the number of heatwave days,” Dr Perkins said, with heatwaves defined as three consecutive days when temperatures are in the top 10 per cent of warmth for that particular day.
“Those heatwaves outside summer are actually increasing faster than summertime events,” said Dr Perkins. “That is quite worrying for bushfire events and bushfire risk because it can induce this earlier drying of the fuel load.”
And, as fire authorities and many of their volunteers appear to accept, the science is pointing to 2013 being less extraordinary in the future. “It's more likely that these conditions will continue more often in spring, in the future,” Dr Perkins said.
NSW, of course, is hardly alone. Roger Jones, a researcher at Victoria University and former CSIRO scientist, says levels of fire dangers "have done the same thing as extreme temperatures".
For Victoria, that means the FFDI is about a third higher since 1996-97 than before. "That's generally not recognised," Dr Jones said, who is also a co-ordinating lead author for the latest report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
Dr Jones' work for the IPCC focused on decision making, aimed at resolving perhaps the most challenging link of them all - how to connect policymakers with the overwhelming findings of climate science.
Al Gore has no answers so resorts to ad hominem abuse
Junk Science: Al Gore, patron saint of climate fraud, argues with Australia's prime minister that its brushfires are not caused by warming and that the record shows the koala bear, like the polar bear, is quite safe.
They were the largest Australian bushfires in a populous region in recorded history, consuming half the state of Victoria, claiming 12 lives and destroying an estimated 1 million sheep and thousands of cattle. And they occurred in February 1851 during one of the coldest years on record.
Bushfires have been part of Australian life for centuries, long before the Industrial Revolution and the sale of the first SUV.
Since the 1851 fires, there've been the 1898 fires in Victoria, which consumed 2,000 buildings, fires in Victoria in 1938 that killed 71 and destroyed 3,700 buildings, and the Ash Wednesday fires in the early 1980s that left 71 dead in the state of South Australia.
Australia has been battling another round of massive bushfires west of Sydney for more than a week now, fires not unlike those that have occurred throughout its history. The difference is that this time we have Al Gore and his climate co-conspirators at the U.N., the corrupt and fraudulent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, to blame the fires on climate change.
Gore is upset with Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott's insistence that the recent New South Wales wildfires are not linked to climate change and his statement on Australian radio that "these fires are certainly not a function of climate change, they are just a function of life in Australia."
Abbott has also dismissed U.N. climate chief Christiana Figueres' assertion that there was "absolutely" a connection between wildfires and rising global temperatures.
In an interview with CNN's Christiane Amanpour on Monday, Figueres, the head of the U.N.'s climate change negotiations, said there was a clear link between climate change and bushfires such as those raging in New South Wales.
That global temperatures have flat-lined for the past 15 years or so doesn't seem to bother Gore or Figueres. Ignoring the historical record and current satellite observations and measurements, Gore equated Abbott's comments to the insistence by tobacco companies for decades that there was no link between cigarette smoking and lung cancer.
"It reminds me of politicians here who got a lot of support from the tobacco companies and who argued to the public that there was absolutely no connection between smoking cigarettes and lung cancer," Gore said on ABC's Los Angeles affiliate Wednesday night.
$1Billion/Day To Prevent Global Warming As Antarctic Sea Ice Hits Record High
Governments and private entities throughout the world spent $359 billion last year – or nearly $1 billion per day – to prevent global warming even though the Earth’s temperature has remained virtually flat for the past 17 years.
But even $1 billion a day is apparently not enough, according to the Climate Policy Initiative’s (CPI) “Global Landscape of Climate Finance 2013” report released Tuesday, exactly one month after NASA researchers recorded a new record for sea ice in the Antarctic.
“An additional investment of USD 5 trillion is required by 2020 for the clean energy transition consistent with limiting global warming to below 2 degrees Celsius,” CPI, which is partially funded y grants from George Soros’ Open Society Foundations, stated. (See The-Global-Landscape-of-Climate-Finance-2013.pdf)
“Landscape 2013 finds that global climate finance flows have plateaued at USD 359 billion, or around USD 1 billion per day – far below even the most conservative estimates of investment needs,” the report concludes.
Of that $359 billion, 94 percent was spent to support “greenhouse gas mitigation,” including 2,016 large-scale renewable projects based in 19 countries” and various “sustainable transportation projects” worldwide.
In addition to spending vast sums on renewable energy projects, various government and quasi-government agencies are tightening the flow of capital to more traditional sources of energy. For example, the report noted that the World Bank Group and the European Investment Bank both “recently pledged to limit or cease funding for coal-fired power generation projects, while committing to reinforce support for renewables and energy efficiency investments.”
Bemoaning the fact that climate-related investment from “private investors, who can and should provide the lion’s share of global climate finance,” have remained flat in recent years because they “only invest their money when the returns on offer outweigh the costs,” CPI called for more public resources to “alter the balance between risk and return in ways that drive the supply and demand for finance.”
“Private capital flows into climate investments when public incentives and money make them commercially attractive by taking off risk and reducing incremental costs,” the report stated, identifying “five entry points for public money, ranging from direct investments in low-carbon, climate-resilient projects, active shareholding, and provision of financial incentives, to covering risks, or paying for incremental costs, viability gaps, knowledge and capacity.”
Public financing, which currently accounts for “38 percent of global climate finance,” can involve “low-cost loans, risk coverage mechanisms, direct project investment, and technical support,” the report suggested.
WARMING DOES EVERYTHING
Guy Williams, sea ice specialist with Hobart’s Antarctic Climate and Ecosystems Co-operative Research Centre, explains the massive growth in Antarctic ice coverage:
“It’s a common myth and should be dispelled: that if sea ice disappears one season in the Arctic it magically reappears in the next season in the Antarctic. That couldn’t be further from the truth. They are two completely different (climate) systems, responding to (global) warming in different ways.”
So if the ice vanishes, it’s due to global warming. And if it increases, it’s also due to global warming. Interesting.
GM food controversy is over, British minister claims, and the public only care about the cost of food
Consumers no longer care about the issue of GM crops, the Environment Secretary claims. Owen Paterson insisted genetically modified products should be cultivated and manufactured in Britain and said they would cut costs for hard-pressed shoppers.
Mr Paterson, a Government cheerleader for the technology, which Britain has resisted, said consumers had accepted a move to allow shops to sell meat from animals raised on GM feed, suggesting public opposition had softened.
He added: ‘It is impossible to detect. If an animal, a chicken or a pig, has eaten GM material, you can’t tell. The fact that the public didn’t react to that was very interesting.’
His latest intervention prompted an angry response from anti-GM campaigners, who accused him of misrepresenting the evidence and taking voters’ views for granted.
Mr Paterson, in an interview for political magazine, The House, said consumers had happily accepted a move to allow meat from animals fed on GM animal feed, suggesting controversy had dimmed.
‘I thought it was very interesting when some of the main retailers [Tesco and others] felt that they could no longer tell their consumers that they were selling meat products which had not consumed GM material at some stage because nearly all our animal feed now has contained some GM.
‘Of course it is undetectable, it is impossible to detect. If an animal, a chicken or a pig has eaten GM material, you can’t tell. I thought the fact that the public didn’t react to that was very interesting.’ The minister insisted that GM had been grown across much of the rest of the world for many years and there were no reports of any adverse impact.
‘There are 17 million farmers cultivating 170m hectares which is 12 per cent of the world’s arable land, which is seven times the surface area of the UK and not a single person has come to me with a report of any health problem,’ he said.
‘The fact that every single member of the House of Commons has been on holiday to America and has come back happily, healthy and sane shows that this is a technology which can feed the world. It’s not the only solution but it is a very valuable technology.’
The Environment Secretary, who is thought to want GM products widely available on supermarket shelves by the end of the decade, added: ‘It would be good to grow some GM crops in this country because some of these products would be cheaper which helps our consumers, who are under a lot of pressure. We all know the cost of living and the cost of food has become an issue.’
He also claimed there were ‘massive environmental gains’. ‘There are huge reductions in spraying... there would be massive savings in pretty strong chemicals which we spray the whole time, huge savings in diesel, huge savings in compaction of soil, there’s no doubt about it. That’s a straight help to agriculture.’
Mr Paterson also saidn ‘agritechnology’, which covers GM crops and conventional crop manipulation, represents a major business opportunity for Britain and was an industry in which the country should become a world leader.
‘We have top class research institutions... when I was in Germany I was talking to other companies and I would love them to come here.
'This doesn’t have to be GM. We are looking at a conventional wheat development which could increase the yield of wheat by 25 per cent, I would love that to be done here.
‘I would like the UK to become the leading nation in Europe for agritechnology. I would really like to go a whole step further.’
Mr Paterson insisted that products were being cleared by watchdogs for human consumption, but then blocked across Europe because of political resistance.
‘Time and again, products pass through the very rigorous scientific process and then get stuck at the political level. So we are talking at member state level to other member states to see if we can get this moving. Because at the moment Europe is going to fall further and further behind,’ he said.
Mr Paterson caused controversy earlier this month when he said millions of children in the developing world are ‘dying or going blind’ because GM crops, some of which are desgined to boost vitamin content, have not been more widely adopted.
Dr Helen Wallace, of GeneWatch, which campaigns to ensure any use of GM is in the public interest, said: ‘There would be a massive disadvantage to Britain’s reputation for good farming if we grew GM crops in Britain.
‘The evidence shows that GM crops which are resistant to weedkillers actually increase the amount of spraying which harms wildlife. Polls show that the public wants meat, milk and dairy products fed on GM animal feed to be labelled. Then we would have a better gauge of whether people actually want to buy it.
‘I think Owen Paterson will be surprised by the reaction if he tries to have GM crops grown in this country. There are still very many people who are strongly opposed to this technology, and growing them here would cause a big backlash.’
Due to the controversy when GM technology was first adopted in the 1990s, there are only a handful of products containing GM crops currently available on British high streets.
Currently, there are no commercial GM crops in Britain, but livestock is commonly reared on imported GM feed.
But the Prime Minister, the Government’s chief scientific adviser, Sir Mark Walport, and Science Minister David Willetts have all voiced support for GM. The scientific community also overwhelmingly supports its wider use, with experts insisting each product must be judged on its merits rather than damning a whole technology.
UN Climate Fund Approves Business Class Travel--With Higher Carbon Footprint
The U.N.’s $100 billion Global Climate Fund, currently establishing itself but struggling to attract donor support, has adopted a travel policy that will allow eligible board members to fly business class on trips of more than nine hours’ duration.
“The Fund is committed to reducing the greenhouse gas emissions [carbon dioxide and other substances blamed for climate change] arising from its travel operations,” reads the policy, adopted at a GCF board meeting in Paris this month.
It mandates economy class for flights shorter than nine hours, and encourages train travel “wherever this is a viable option.”
A World Bank study this year concluded that, for purposes of calculating the amount of CO2 emitted during a flight, the “footprint per mile” for a premium (first or business) class seat is “substantially greater than for economy class.”
This is because premium class seats are heavier, premium class passengers have a bigger baggage allowance, and their seats take up aircraft floor space disproportionate to the number of passengers they accommodate.
The authors noted that although most major institutions now accept the principle of “offsetting” carbon emissions from staff travel, none “has to date any offset program based on calculations developed in this report.”
One popular online carbon calculator says a return flight from Paris, France to Seoul, South Korea – a direct flight of 11 hours – racks up 1.57 tons CO2-equivalent (CO2e) when flown on economy class, but it jumps to 4.56 tons when flown on business class.
The Green Climate Fund was launched in 2011 as a result of an agreement reached at a Dec. 2009 climate conference in Copenhagen. It aims to help developing countries curb greenhouse gas emissions and cope with phenomena blamed on climate change, such as droughts and rising sea levels.
The ambitious project is meant to raise $100 billion a year from public and private sources by 2020. As of June 30, 2013, it had received pledges and contributions amounting to just $9 million – just $1.7 more than it reported the previous October. Of that, $7.5 million had been actually received, from 10 donor countries (seven in Europe plus South Korea, Japan and Australia).
Undeterred by the apparent lack of early success, the board said in a statement that fundraising would begin “within three months of the adoption of a set of key policies and procedures that enable the fund to receive, manage and disburse funds.”
“We are getting ready for business,” said the fund’s Tunisian executive director Hela Cheikhrouhou after the meeting, which was described as having “marked the end of the interim phase.”
Meanwhile, for the 2014 calendar year the GCF has proposed a budget of $18.8 million, of which $11.8 million will cover consultancies and salaries for secretariat staff, comprising up to five directors, 31 mid- to senior-level posts, two entry-level posts, 10 support staff, and the executive director.
Travel for 2014 is budgeted at $904,500: $814,500 to get attendees to and from board meetings and $90,000 for secretariat travel.
The board comprises 12 members, plus 12 alternate members, from developing countries; and 12 members, plus 12 alternate members, from developed countries. Board members who will be eligible for funded travel are the 12 from developing countries, plus their 12 alternate members.
Also eligible for funded travel are 24 advisors (one for each of the funded board members) plus any civil society or non-governmental organization (NGO) representatives from developing countries whose participation as “active observers” has been approved by the board.
For the 24 funded board members, “the class of service will be business class for travel times exceeding nine hours,” the travel policy says. Advisors and observers” “will travel least costly (usually economy class), regardless of the travel time.”
The board meeting in France was the fifth since August 2012, with earlier ones held in Switzerland, Germany, and twice in South Korea which is set to become the GCF secretariat’s permanent headquarters. The next meeting is scheduled for February 2014 in Indonesia.
According to the U.N.’s 2007 “climate neutral strategy,” U.N. bodies are urged “to undertake efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to the greatest extent possible.”
“Air travel is consistently reported to be the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions for UN agencies, representing slightly over 50 percent of total emissions on average,” says the latest edition of an annual report on “the U.N.’s footprint and how to reduce it.”
The report lists CO2-equivalent emissions for 49 U.N. entities for 2012. The average across the 49 is 7.3 tons per staff member.
In the breakdown, many U.N. bodies fall below that average – for example, the U.N. High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) recorded just 2.5 tons CO2e per staff member and the U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) 4.0 tons.
But among those recording CO2 emissions higher than the average were three agencies responsible for the environment. They were the U.N. Environment Program (9.3 tons per staff member), the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (13.6 tons) and the U.N. Convention to Combat Desertification (topping the list at 26 tons). The GCF is not listed.
For those three agencies, the proportion of the emissions recorded as having arisen from staff air travel was 88 percent, 98 percent and 97 percent respectively.
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Posted by JR at 9:43 PM