Wednesday, February 12, 2014
Evidence points to climate change role in floods, says official UK scientist
Dame Julia is just a silly old lady who does not know what she is talking about. Her agency predicted a DRY winter. That's how much she knows and understands about the weather
Climate change almost certainly lies behind the storms that have been lashing Britain this winter, according to the Met Office’s chief scientist.
Dame Julia Slingo said while there was not yet “definitive proof”, “all the evidence” pointed to a role for the phenomenon.
She also delivered a grim warning that the country should prepare itself for more similar events in future.
The comments came at a briefing for journalists as the latest wave of storms crashed into southern England. It is the strongest link yet made by the Met Office between the intense weather and climate change, and backs David Cameron’s remark last month that he “very much suspects” a connection.
“The severe weather in the UK coincided with exceptionally cold weather in Canada and the USA,” the document said. “These extreme weather events on both sides of the Atlantic were linked to a persistent pattern of perturbations to the jet stream over the Pacific Ocean and North America.
“There is a strong association with the stormy weather experienced in the UK during December and January and the up-stream perturbations to the jet stream over North America and the North Pacific.
“The North Atlantic jet stream has also been unusually strong; this can be linked to an unusually strong westerly phase of the stratospheric Quasi-biennial oscillation deep polar vortex and strong polar night jet.”
Dame Julia said none of the individual storms had been exceptional but the “clustering and persistence” were extremely unusual.
“We have seen exceptional weather. We cannot say it’s unprecedented, but it is certainly exceptional,” she said.
“Is it consistent with what we might expect from climate change? Of course, as yet there can be no definitive answer on the particular events that we have seen this winter, but if we look at the broader base of evidence then we see things that support the premise that climate change has been making a contribution.”
Recent studies have suggested storms are developing a more southerly track, and that has been “typical” of the weather patterns here over the winter.
“One of the most unusual aspects of the winter’s weather has been the southerly track of the storms. We expect them to go well north of Scotland,” Dame Julia said.
“They have been slamming into the southern part of Britain. We also know that the subtropical, tropical Atlantic is now quite a lot warmer than it was 50 years ago.
“The air that enters this storm system comes from that part of the Atlantic where it is obviously going to be warmer and carrying more moisture. “This is just basic physics.
“We also now have strong evidence that extreme daily rainfall rates are becoming more intense. That is emerging in the UK records, and it is seen very definitely around the world in other countries like India and China. [But not in Australia].
“There is indeed as far as I can see no evidence to counter the premise that a warmer world will lead to more intense daily and hourly heavy rain events.”
Dame Julia said sea levels were expected to rise by a foot over time, causing more problems for those trying to deal with flooding. “That might not sound a lot, but when you are looking at storm surges, when you are looking at moving water from the Somerset Levels out to sea, it does matter,” she added.
Private weather forecaster Piers Corbyn also sinks the boot into silly Slingo
British environmental agency responsible for much of Britain's disastrous floods
They want a drained area to "revert to nature". Too bad about the people living there
The Environment Agency put water voles, greater water parsnips, silver diving beetles and large marsh grasshoppers ahead of people in the flood-ravaged Somerset Levels
A 250-page agency document issued in 2008 shows that years of neglecting vital dredging which used to let water drain away much faster is part of a deliberate policy to increase flooding in the areas now worst affected.
The policy was revealed as agency director of operations David Jordan angered residents yesterday by calling the flood defences a ‘success story’.
He said: ‘We need to recognise that 1.3 million other properties would have flooded if these flood defences had not been built. That is the success story, if you like, that we are talking about.’
Tory MP Ian Liddell-Grainger, whose Bridgwater & West Somerset constituency has been among the worst affected areas said: ‘What a stupid man – this is absolute stupidity and arrogance. This is a tragedy and disaster.’
The 2008 agency document shows the objective for the Levels was to ‘take action to increase the frequency of flooding to deliver benefits locally or elsewhere’.
In the document the agency says flooding on the Somerset Levels 'is not in itself a major problem' because it will be beneficial to wildlife including greater water parsnips (right) and greater silver beetles (left)
The agency claimed this might ‘constitute an overall flood risk reduction’.
But it added: ‘This policy option involves a strategic increase in flooding in allocated areas [the area of the Levels on the Rivers Tone and Parrett now underwater], but is not intended to affect the risk to individual properties.’
Under European Union directives, the policy document says, ‘we have obligations to protect the habitats that have developed hand in hand with the man-made flood-risk infrastructure’.
‘From an economic point of view, a lot of money is required to protect relatively little when considered at a £ per square kilometre point of view,’ it says, adding that farming and housing, first established 250 years ago when the Levels were drained, might suffer from what it called the ‘redistribution’ of future floods.
However, the use of the land by humans was ‘based on historical practice which should be challenged in the future’.
‘This will have social and financial implications which will have to be considered carefully . . . We are aware that challenging centuries of drainage operations may be difficult, and it requires good communication and co-operation between various authorities.’
The document says the agency might have to close pumping stations built to move floodwater from the fields into the rivers and aqueducts: ‘It is likely that there are some pumping stations that are not economic.
‘Many pumping stations are relatively old and in some cases difficult to maintain . . . Redistributing floodwater, while logical in some areas, may be difficult to promote because individual farms will be affected in different ways.
'From an agricultural perspective, some may gain financially but some may also lose.’
The document, the Parrett Catchment Flood Management Plan, went through five successive drafts, the last in March 2008, shortly before the agency’s then chairman, Baroness Barbara Young, stepped down.
Last Friday, her successor, former Labour MP Lord Smith, was given a hostile reception when he toured the flood-affected area.
As he tried to address the TV cameras at Stoke St Gregory, a village on the shores of what has become a vast inland sea, one heckler told him he was ‘toast’.
On the ground – what is left of it – the reasons for the bitterness were readily visible.
Lord Smith had claimed that all the pumping stations were working flat-out, but on the Tone and Parrett, they are deserted and not functioning – because the silt which has clogged the rivers means there is nowhere for pumped water to flow.
The last dredging took place in 2003, and since that time, an agency spokesman admitted, the rivers’ water-carrying capacity has declined by almost half.
Even in mid-stream, clumps of weeds and islands of willow mark the areas now clogged with mud.
Last year, after another flood, Lord Smith stood on a bridge over the Parrett and promised residents there would be dredging in 2013.
But all that took place before the onset of the current floods in December was the removal of a few ‘pinch points’ on the Tone.
In his own flying visit to the Levels on Friday, David Cameron described the floods and waves of storms as ‘biblical’ events.
But the point being made by locals is that while some flooding this year would have been inevitable, when the rivers were not clogged and the pumping stations were working, water levels could be drastically reduced in a day or two.
If the drainage system had still been functioning, this could have been done in the gaps between each storm – greatly reducing the floods’ impact.
Dramatic confirmation can be seen just a few miles away, in the northern part of the Levels.
At the Gold Corner pumping station, three giant pumps are still lifting the waters from the rivers Axe and Brue up seven feet into the Huntspill Drain – an artificial watercourse about 100ft wide which runs straight to the sea.
But unlike the southern Levels rivers, the Huntspill is not silted up. The land for miles around is just as low-lying as the drowned villages and fields near the Parrett, but the flooding is far less severe.
‘The purpose of the rivers has been forgotten,’ said farmer Ray Adlem, 65. It should be to get rid of the water as quickly and efficiently as possible.
'You can read that 2008 document and conclude that running the system down has been deliberate. The Levels has always been an artificial landscape. 'If you don’t maintain an artificial landscape, it reverts to nature – and that’s what some people wanted.’
The tragedy is that even the intended beneficiaries of the agency policy have suffered.
‘Any time you went for a walk in the Levels, you’d hear plopping – the sound of the water voles diving into the rivers,’ said farmer Edwin White. ‘I haven’t seen a vole for ten years. They’ve all been drowned.’
Climate Change This Week: Faulty Accounting
An audit by the Office of the Inspector General found that the State Department's $75 million tab for climate change programs included $600,000 that couldn't be accounted for. That may be seen as nothing more than a rounding error, but it was also a sign of burning cash and fudging data. The OIG pointed out the recipients in question “did not fully … ensure that the data used in reporting programmatic results were complete, accurate, consistent, and supportable.”
Buttressing this revelation about “fudging” the data, at a time when earlier climate models estimated we had been significantly warmer, the amount of ice and snow cover burying most of the nation signifies otherwise. Satellite reporting this week showed the Great Lakes had their greatest ice cover in two decades, with Lake Superior and Lake Erie being almost totally frozen.
Yet there are some in Congress who continue to use incomplete, inaccurate, inconsistent and unsupportable data to plod on with their tired tales of man-made climate change. After all, there's a lot of government money to be redistributed and regulations to be handed down from on high. The Safe Climate Caucus (yes, that's a real thing), chaired by retiring Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA), can't get the time of day in a GOP-controlled House, so the Caucus is enlisting the help of an all too willing Leftmedia. Regardless of the evidence mounting against man-made climate change, Waxman believes the American people will “wake up” and ask “how can you deny this?”
But the chances are greater that a new skepticism of science could arise, argues Australian climate scientist Garth Paltridge. He writes that “the average man in the street … is beginning to suspect that it is politics rather than science which is driving the issue,” fretting that this may put an end to the belief in the honesty of science for years to come. Having to dig out from another foot of snow may also be a sign of this challenge to conventional wisdom.
Cruz Calls for an 'American Energy Renaissance' to Restore Economic Growth
Outside the Beltway, Americans care most about jobs and economic growth, but Washington isn't listening, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) told a conservative gathering in Washington on Monday.
Cruz called for an "American energy renaissance" as the best way to restore the growth that people want but politicians won't even discuss.
"What an incredible opportunity we have right now," Cruz said. "The only thing that can stop this great energy renaissance is the government getting in the way."
He pointed to North Dakota, a fracking hub, where the average hourly wage in the oil and gas industry is $45.90 an hour and the unemployment rate is 2.6 percent.
Cruz said the same thing is happening in Texas, where increased oil revenue is turning around poorer school districts and allowing high school graduates to earn $80,000 driving trucks.
Cruz said the energy revolution "didn't come from the U.S. Department of Energy" or any other government agency: "It came from entrepreneurs putting capital at risk and meeting a need," he said, in states where regulation didn't strangle experimentation.
"In coming weeks, I will be introducing a bill, the American Energy Renaissance Act, that is designed to do two significant things: number one, to prevent the federal government from stopping the energy renaissance that is blossoming across the country; and number two, to expand the lands, the resources that are available for the private sector to develop so that we can answer what the American people are asking for, which is jobs and economic growth.
"This opportunity is right in front of us if the federal government will simply listen to the American people."
Cruz said his bill will:
-- prevent federal regulation of hydraulic fracturing;
-- improve domestic refining capacity;
-- approve the Keystone pipeline and remove the barriers for approving additional pipelines:
-- stop EPA overreach and the war on coal;
-- require Congress and the president to sign off on EPA regulations that kill jobs;
-- broaden energy development on federal lands;
-- expand offshore exploration and development;
-- expand U.S. energy exports.
"Preventing Washington from stopping the American energy renaissance has enormous benefits, will produce millions of high-paying jobs across this country, and also will generate significant additional revenues to Washington -- and the final element in this bill is that the additional revenues coming in will be dedicated in a trust fund to paying down our crushing national debt," Cruz said.
In his speech to the Heritage Action for America Conservative Policy Summit, Cruz said he's spent 13 months in Washington, but the Senate in that time has not addressed economic growth at all.
"We spent six weeks talking about guns and the president's agenda to restrict the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens and virtually no time talking about fundamental tax reform, about regulatory reform, about reducing the barriers coming from Washington that are making it harder and harder for people who are struggling to achieve the American dream."
Cruz has been mentioned as a possible presidential candidate for 2016, and if he does plan to run, it appears he's settled on energy as his campaign theme.
Infographic: North America sits on enormous natural gas reserves
The natural gas industry has grown exponentially over the last several years and continues to make great strides in the United States. Natural gas is a natural resource that has the potential to safely and cleanly fuel the next generation of American innovation and economic expansion with enough quantity in the United States alone to last for hundreds of years.
This infographic from the Unconventional Oil & Gas Center highlights the growth of the natural gas sector of the last several years as well as potential for greatly expanded production in the future:
SHUT UP AND SKI: 105 Olympians conned into calling for climate treaty… good news is 2,795 Olympians NOT conned
Snow cover is largely a matter of precipitation, not temperature. The dupes below apparently do not realize that the earth's temperature has been stable for 17 years
Today, US Ski Team member, 2014 Olympian Andrew Newell, 105 Olympians and Protect Our Winters released a statement calling on world leaders to take action on climate change and to prepare a commitment to a global agreement prior to the UN Framework Convention in Paris in 2015.
“Recognize climate change by reducing emissions, embracing clean energy and preparing a commitment to a global agreement at the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change in Paris 2015.”
The letter has been signed by 105 Olympians from countries that include: The United States, Switzerland, Norway, Estonia, Canada, Australia, Germany, France, Italy and Sweden. In addition to Newell, some of the 105 athletes include: US snowboarders Danny Davis and Arielle Gold, Switzerland’s Bettina Gruber, Norway’s Astrid Jacobsen and Italian ski jumper Elena Runggaldier.
This year alone, nearly half of the FIS cross country World Cup international competitions have taken place on artificial snow. Even last year in Sochi, several pre-Olympic skiing and snowboarding events had to be canceled because of poor conditions, something that has been a consistent problem both in Central Europe and Scandinavia.
Snow conditions are becoming much more inconsistent, weather patterns more erratic, and what was once a topic for discussion is now reality and fact. Our climate is changing and we are losing our winters.
Given this, and after having seen climate change affecting his local training grounds in Vermont, Newell decided that the Olympics would be a good opportunity to galvanize the global community of winter Olympians, raise the level of awareness at the policy level and take action on a global stage.
The athletes are calling on world leaders to come together at the UN Framework Convention in Paris in 2015 to finally take bold and immediate measures to tackle climate change.
“We know that as the snowpack declines, the sobering economic impacts start to impact communities everywhere”, says Chris Steinkamp, POW’s Executive Director. “Having this quantity and caliber of Olympians make this statement this week should be one more wake up call for world leaders.”
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Posted by JR at 6:59 PM