Tuesday, October 01, 2013

Why gamble with America's Economy?

Below is an article dated September 26, 2013 by congressman David McKinley, representing the 1st district of W. Virginia for the GOP.  He has an engineering background and recognizes that the coal industry is the backbone of West Virginia's economy and that the attacks on coal from Washington must be stopped.

Gambling has consequences - whether it is a card game or making energy policy. Engineers, scientists, and physicists around the world continue their efforts to define the role of CO2 in climate change and wrestle with whether the condition is man-made or occurring naturally.

But first a quick reminder from our science classes:  CO2 emissions come from bodies of water, the exhausts of cars and trucks, heating, power generation, volcanic activity, respiration, and deforestation, among other sources.  These emissions have been typically absorbed by land masses and oceans or transformed into oxygen by plants through a process known as photosynthesis.  Since the industrial revolution there are more emissions entering the atmosphere than can be absorbed or transformed; therefore, the level of CO2 has been on the rise.

Some will argue that recent levels of CO2 in the atmosphere, measuring 400 parts per million are a prelude to an environmental catastrophe.  Their climate models predict that rising CO2 levels will cause higher global temperatures which they assert will result in hurricanes, rising ocean levels, droughts, and other disasters.

On the other side of the argument, researchers contend that plant life hungers for CO2 concentration higher than at the present and that humans are able to accommodate greater levels.  These scientists also demonstrate graphically the flaws in their opponents' climate models.

Both sides agree however that 96% of all CO2 emissions occur naturally and man-made sources make up the rest.

The United Nations has been at the forefront of this debate and recently released an updated, fifth edition of their IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) findings. Portions of the assessment have sent shock waves through this debate.  For example, the IPCC and other experts have noted either collectively or independently that despite the increased level of atmospheric CO2:

1. both the Arctic and Antarctica sea ice are expanding not contracting,

2. for the next 70 years, i.e. until 2083, the benefits of climate change will likely outweigh the harm, and;

3. since the mid-1970s, global temperatures have increased merely 0.25 degrees Centigrade despite the climate models used by environmental alarmists that forecast temperatures 4 and 7 times higher.

To its credit the United Nations is walking back some of its previous environmental warnings embodied in earlier IPCC reports, lowering its alarm level, and suggesting more research is necessary.  In essence a "time out" may be warranted.

But this has not deterred the Obama Administration in their relentless pursuit of an ideologically motivated energy policy.  Just this month the EPA announced yet another controversial regulation that would prevent America from constructing any new coal-fired power plants.  This rule was proudly announced even though EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy acknowledged that enforcing its compliance would result in "negligible" reductions in CO2 levels.

So let's put all of this into some form of perspective.  If the regulators in Washington were to shut down every coal-fired power plant in America, the global CO2 emissions levels would be reduced by a mere two tenths of one percent.  The deforestation of our tropical rainforest is five times worse for carbon emissions. And the Science and Public Policy Institute has projected that by similarly halting all coal-fired power generation in America, the global temperature reduction would be just 0.08 degrees Centigrade by the year 2050.

 So in achieving virtually no environmental benefits, this Administration is using regulatory authorities, not Congress, to pursue an energy policy that will cause the loss of hundreds of thousands of good paying jobs, markedly increase utility bills for families and businesses, and watch more companies go off shore.

President Obama has acknowledged that all the nations of the world need to be engaged for his global climate initiatives to be successful.  But key nations are not following his lead.  China, India, Germany and Russia are among the vast number of countries that are embarking on energy programs based on using low cost, dependable coal for their power generation.  And their plans for using coal dwarf America's current consumption of coal.  Our nation produces approximately 320 gigawatts of power from coal; but these four nations alone have plans to expand their power base by nearly 1,200 gigawatts over and above their current capacity in the next 20 years.

 To summarize:

1. The United Nations panel on climate change has downgraded its concerns for environmental threats.

2. If America were to stop its dependency on coal, it would result in only a miniscule reduction in global CO2 emissions.

3. If America were to totally halt the use of coal, the change in temperature would be insignificant.

4. The EPA acknowledges that their latest attack on use of coal-fired generation plants will have a "negligible" impact on CO2 levels.

5. Our economic competitors are ignoring America's de-carbonization policies and expanding their use of coal.

Therefore, more questions need to be asked:  Why is President Obama gambling America's economic stability in order to pursue an unproven agenda that the rest of the world and the many within the science community are still questioning?  And why would this Administration choose a policy that will cost jobs and cause families, manufacturers and businesses to endure higher utility bills?

Proponents of the President's climate change agenda often say they are trying to leave a better earth for the next generation. My question is what type of economy will they leave with it? All of us on both sides of this debate need to continue asking that question.

Via email

Hunger Seen Worsening by Oxfam as Climate Change Heats Up World

Odd that Britain has just had a bumper crop of oats, then  -- 50% up on 2012.  The crop is so big that it has knocked oat prices for six.  Other countries (e.g. Finland & Sweden) are very oaty this year too.  Whether you eat porridge or Muesli, our breakfasts certainly seem secure.

Specifics do tend to upset vague generalities about some future never-never land.  Certainly, the need for "urgent and aggressive action" seems hard to discern

British oat harvest

World hunger is expected to worsen as climate change hurts crop production and disrupts incomes, with food-price spikes due to extreme weather set to increase, charity Oxfam said.

The number of people at risk of hunger may climb by 10 percent to 20 percent by 2050 as a result of climate change, with daily per-capita calorie availability falling across the world, Oxfam wrote in an e-mailed report today.

The world risks "cataclysmic changes" caused by extreme heat waves, rising sea levels and depleted food stocks, as average temperatures are headed for a 4 degree Celsius (7.2 degrees Fahrenheit) jump by 2100, the World Bank reported in November.
"The changing climate is already jeopardizing gains in the fight against hunger, and it looks set to worsen," Oxfam said. "A hot world is a hungry world."

More extreme and unpredictable weather due to global warming may result in crop losses as well as damage or destroy distribution and transport systems, with severe consequences for food supply and availability, according to the report.

"If the remainder of the 21st century unfolds like its first decade, we will soon experience climate extremes well outside the boundaries of human experience, ever since agriculture was first developed," Oxfam said.

Avoiding dangerous climate change requires a "dramatic shift" in political ambition, the charity said. Ensuring the long-term prospect of hunger eradication means lowering emissions fast, with "deep cuts" needed by 2020, Oxfam said.

The world food system can't cope with unmitigated climate change, which could lead to a permanent increase in yield variability, "excessive" food-price fluctuations and a permanent disruption to livelihoods, Oxfam said.

Low-income countries in tropical and subtropical regions will probably face "sharp" changes in annual rainfall and climate conditions that will put them at risk of greater food insecurity, particularly in Africa and Southeast Asia, the report said. Crop yields there may fall by 10 percent to 20 percent by 2050 due to climate change, Oxfam wrote.

"These creeping, insidious changes in the seasons, such as longer, hotter dry periods, shorter growing periods and unpredictable rainfall patterns are bewildering farmers," the group wrote.

An increase of 4 degrees Celsius in world temperatures would reduce the length of the growing period in some parts of Africa by as much as 20 percent by 2090, the charity said.

Lacking "urgent and aggressive action" on climate change, the average price of staple foods may double in the next 20 years compared with 2010 levels, Oxfam said.


Global warming can have a positive side, says British food boss

And it's reported in "The Guardian"!

Secretary of state for environment, food and rural affairs, says global warming could allow food to be grown further north

The cabinet minister responsible for fighting the effects of climate change claimed there would be advantages to an increase in temperature predicted by the United Nations including fewer people dying of cold in winter and the growth of certain crops further north.

Owen Paterson told a fringe meeting at the Conservative party conference on Sunday night that predictions by scientists - that there could be major increases in temperature resulting in melting ice caps and worldwide flooding - should not be seen as entirely negative.

His comments came after the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change found last week that within two or three decades the world will face nearly inevitable warming of more than 2 degrees, resulting in rising sea levels, heatwaves, droughts and extreme weather.

Asked at a fringe meeting organised by the RSPB if the report proved that the climate is "broken", Paterson said:

"People get very emotional about this subject and I think we should just accept that the climate has been changing for centuries.

"I think the relief of this latest report is that it shows a really quite modest increase, half of which has already happened. They are talking one to two and a half degrees.

"Remember that for humans, the biggest cause of death is cold in winter, far bigger than heat in summer. It would also lead to longer growing seasons and you could extend growing a little further north into some of the colder areas.

"I actually see this report as something we need to take seriously but I am rather relieved that it is not as catastrophic in its forecast as we had been led to believe early on and what it is saying is something we can adapt to over time and we are very good as a race at adapting," he said.

Paterson's views were taken to task by Guy Newey, head of environment and energy at the Policy Exchange thinktank.

"The point that the climate has been changing for centuries understates the size of the problem that we are facing and the size of the action we need to overcome it. We really have no idea of knowing what is going to happen in terms of temperature. The risk is really very scary . I worry that some of the language that Owen uses - that we can actually wait and see what happens - is a big risk," he replied, to applause from the audience.

Paterson has long been suspected of being a climate change sceptic. He has previously called for a reduction in the subsidies given to wind farms and other green energy initiatives.

He also defended the government's plans for a badger cull, revealing that he had two pet badgers when he was a child.


Climate Scientist: 73 UN Climate Models Wrong, No Global Warming in 17 Years

Global temperatures collected in five official databases confirm that there has been no statistically significant global warming for the past 17 years, according to Dr. John Christy, professor of atmospheric science and director of the Earth System Science Center at the University of Alabama Huntsville (UAH).

Christy's findings are contrary to predictions made by 73 computer models cited in the United Nation's latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Fifth Assessment Report (5AR).

Christy told CNSNews that he analyzed all 73 models used in the 5AR and not one accurately predicted that the Earth's temperature would remain flat since Oct. 1, 1996. (See Temperatures v Predictions 1976-2013.pdf)

"I compared the models with observations in the key area - the tropics - where the climate models showed a real impact of greenhouse gases," Christy explained. "I wanted to compare the real world temperatures with the models in a place where the impact would be very clear." (See Tropical Mid-Troposphere Graph.pdf)

Using datasets of actual temperatures recorded by the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies (NASA GISS), the United Kingdom's Hadley Centre for Climate Prediction and Research at the University of East Anglia (Hadley-CRU), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), satellites measuring atmospheric and deep oceanic temperatures, and a remote sensor system in California, Christy found that "all show a lack of warming over the past 17 years."

"All 73 models' predictions were on average three to four times what occurred in the real world," Christy pointed out. "The closest was a Russian model that predicted a one-degree increase."

"October 1st marks the 17th year of no global warming significantly different than zero," agreed Dr. Patrick Michaels, director of the Cato Institute's Center for the Study of Science. "And those 17 years correspond to the largest period of CO2 emissions by far over any other 17-year period in history."

The 5AR's "Summary for Policymakers," released last week, acknowledged that "the rate of warming over the past 15 years.is smaller than the rate calculated since 1951," before concluding that "warming of the climate system is unequivocal." (See IPCC 5th Assessment Report.pdf)

"It is extremely likely that human influence has been the dominant cause of the observed warming since the mid 20th century," the IPCC report noted, adding that "continued emissions of greenhouse gases will cause further warming and changes in all components of the climate system."

However, the same report also acknowledged that there are "differences between simulated and observed trends over periods as short as 10 to 15 years."

"It's a very embarrassing result for the climate models used in the IPCC report," Christy told CNSNews. "Our own UAH measurement of a 0.1 degree Celsius increase per decade in the upper atmosphere was actually the warmest of all the datasets."

Reaching the 17-year mark with no significant warming is a milestone because a climate change research team at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory defined it as the minimum length of time necessary to "separate human-caused global warming from the `noise' of purely natural climate fluctuations," according to a 2011 press release.

Michaels pointed out that 18 separate experiments published since Jan. 1, 2011 show that the IPCC's climate models are off by 46 percent when it comes to temperature CO2 sensitivity. "The pressure to warm the atmosphere by CO2 has somehow been cancelled out completely by natural forces," he said. "Surface temperature is simply not as sensitive to changes in CO2 as was assumed by the climate modeling community."

"Nature bats last," Michaels added. "And Nature came up in the 9th inning 17 years ago."

Seventeen years without a temperature increase is also at odds with a report by the United Kingdom's Met Office that said "global mean surface temperatures rose rapidly from the 1970s, but have been relatively flat over the most recent 15 years to 2013." (See Met Office July 2013.PDF)

"The Met Office simply didn't go back 17 years," Christy said to explain the two-year discrepancy.

When CNSNews asked Christy how the IPCC could claim "95 percent certainty" that human activity is causing global warming when it failed to predict that global temperatures would remain flat over the past 17 years, he replied: "I am baffled that the confidence increases when the performance of your models is conclusively failing. I cannot understand that methodology."

When asked how useful the just-released IPCC report will be in predicting future global temperatures, he said: "Not very. When 73 out of 73 [climate models] miss the point and predict temperatures that are significantly above the real world, they cannot be used as scientific tools, and definitely not for public policy decision-making."

In 2012, Christy testified before the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, telling senators that "the recent anomalous weather can't be blamed on carbon dioxide."

"We've had 17 years of no global warming, yet we have an energy policy right now that continues to harm American communities and will lead to much higher electricity prices all based on the 'fact' that the world is warming," Daniel Kish, vice-president of the Institute for Energy Research, told CNSNews.com.

"Yet they cannot explain why all their projections are wrong. They're putting coal miners out of work all based on a 17-year history that doesn't exist."


Green levies on energy bills 'unfair', says British minister

Michael Fallon, the energy minister, has said it would be "unfair" to add further costs and green levies onto consumer bills.

The comments are the strongest indication yet that the Conservatives may pledge to scale back existing green policy costs, as the party scrambles to counter Ed Miliband's energy price freeze plan.

"Piling further costs and green levies on to energy bills is unfair to consumers," said Mr Fallon at a reception by industry body EnergyUK at the Conservative Party Conference.

"We shouldn't put British industry at a disadvantage against Europe and the US: for our manufacturers this would be assisted suicide."

The Conservatives are understood to be reviewing all policies that are currently paid for through energy bills and looking at further exemptions from policy costs for SMEs and industry.

Energy suppliers say that policies initiated by the Coalition - such as the "energy company obligation" (ECO) efficiency scheme, and the carbon price floor tax - are already adding to their costs.

The "Big Six" suppliers are expected to raise their household energy tariffs by up to 10pc in coming weeks and are likely to blame the costs of ECO, which they say ministers have grossly underestimated, as well as rising network charges.

The Telegraph revealed ministers are already in talks over potentially extending the deadline for completing the ECO scheme, to try to stem further price rises. An extension is expected to be included in a consultation on the future of the scheme next year.

A new system of subsidies for nuclear power plants and wind farms, devised by the Coalition, will also be paid for by levies on energy bills. Households and businesses will have to pay œ7.6bn a year toward building greener power plants by 2020 - about œ95 per household - up from œ2.35bn now.

Mr Fallon argued on Monday night that Labour's pledge of a 2030 target for decarbonising the power sector - which would require an even greater deployment of green technologies such as wind farms - would "threaten our recovery".

The minister, who recently ruled out subsidies for gas storage plants, despite fears over Britain running out of gas, said: "It's time to move energy policy back to the market."

Mr Fallon's comments echo those of Chancellor George Osborne, who pledged last weekend to "keep a very, very close eye on the affordability of energy prices going forward" and "constantly assess the value for money of your energy policies and obligations".

Energy giants SSE and E.On have called for ministers to go further and remove environmental and social levies from energy bills altogether, paying for them through general taxation instead.

SSE revealed on Monday that its retail business had been loss-making in the first half of the year and that it expected first-half profits for the group to be down as a result.

The business had been hurt by "higher wholesale gas costs and the heightened impact of fixed distribution and other costs, which themselves were rising, during the spring and summer period of lower energy consumption".


The Major Alpine Glaciers Are Growing Again

Once again, it is precipitation, not temperature that has been  the key to variations

For the Swiss Alps 2013 was a good summer. Not since ten years ago have the glaciers lost as little mass as this year. And some seem to be gaining a little weight.

The Findel glacier high above Zermatt presents itself proudly these days. The nearly eight-kilometre long white tongue shines brightly in the autumn sun. "It has been a long time since so little ice has melted. It even looks as if the glacier had gained a little weight, "says glaciologist Matthias Huss of the University of Freiburg. He attributes this positive development to the long and snowy winter. "And although July and August were very hot, the thick layer of snow protected the ice."

In recent summers, the glaciers in Switzerland lost a meter in thickness on average. Particularly disastrous were the years 2011, 2006 and 2003, in which the loss was two to three meters for some glaciers. At that time there was little snow in winter and in spring, and it got warm very early.

The consequences were also felt by the Swiss Alpine Club (SAC). Lakes came into existence where glaciers paths used to be, and rock appeared where ice had been. "We had to adapt the approach routes to our huts," says Ulrich Delang, head of the SAC huts. About 30 ascents to huts have been affected by glacier retreat.

To measure the volume changes of glaciers, researchers drilled rods into the ice. In spring and autumn they then measure how much of the rods are sticking out of the ice. In this way they can calculate the volume of the increase or the melting.

This week glaciologist Matthias Huss and his team completed the measurements on these glaciers: Findelgletscher, Pizolgletscher, St. Annafirn, Vadret dal Corvatsch, the Glacier du Tsanfleuron and the Glacier de la Plaine Morte. The data have not been fully evaluated yet, but it turns out that the melting has slowed compared to in previous years. For example, the Pizolgletscher has only lost about 50 centimetres in thickness. "In general the glaciers have lost less mass than in any of the last ten years," says Huss.

This is also the result of measurements by the glacier researcher Andreas Bauder of the ETH Zurich. "There are signs of a positive balance, especially in the north of the canton Ticino and in the southern Valais," says Bauder. He has studied the following glaciers: Silvrettagletscher, Rhone glacier, Gitro, Glacier de Corbassire, Allalingletscher and the Basodino.

But it is too early to speak of a relaxation of the situation, says Bauder. "There have always been years in which individual glaciers developed positively. It takes several favourable years in a row to stop the general trend of shrinkage."

In addition: Over the last hundred years, the annual mean temperature in most areas of the Alps has warmed by about one degree. And even if this week the IPPCC reported that global temperatures have not risen for 15 years, this has no direct effect on the Swiss glaciers. "The reactions of large glaciers are delayed by up to 50 years," says Bauder. And in Switzerland the last 20 years were the warmest since measurements began.

Nevertheless, the latest research shows: Glaciers can still grow back. "We have been doubting whether this is even possible at all. Now we know: It is possible," says the glaciologist Bauder.




Preserving the graphics:  Most graphics on this site are hotlinked from elsewhere.  But hotlinked graphics sometimes have only a short life -- as little as a week in some cases.  After that they no longer come up.  From January 2011 on, therefore, I have posted a monthly copy of everything on this blog to a separate site where I can host text and graphics together -- which should make the graphics available even if they are no longer coming up on this site.  See  here or here


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