Sunday, February 09, 2014

Cartoon corner

Denying the cold

The future according to Greenies

Hawaii is getting cooler

Discussing:  Safeeq, M., Mair, A. and Fares, A. 2013. Temporal and spatial trends in air temperature on the Island of Oahu, Hawaii. International Journal of Climatology 33: 2816-2835.

According to Safeeq et al. (2013), daily temperature (T) measurements of Tmin and Tmax that were collected during 1969-2007 from twelve different stations scattered across the island of Oahu were downloaded from a repository at the U.S. National Climate Data Center, after which they computed the trends of each parameter over the 39-year period of 1969-2007 and the 25-year period of 1983-2007.

Based on their analysis of such trends, the authors report that over the longer 39-year period, island-wide minimum temperature increased by 0.17°C/decade, while there was no detectable trend in the corresponding maximum temperature.

And during the more recent 25-year period, they found annual maximum temperature actually showed a decline, while minimum temperature continued to increase. And they thus calculated that the trend in the diurnal temperature range (DTR) "shows a decline during the past 39 years with a stronger decreasing trend during the recent 25 years."

Perhaps one of the most significant implications of the researchers' findings - which they do not mention, however - is the finding of Yang et al. (2013), who while working in Guangzhou City (the largest metropolis in Southern China) discovered "a linear DTR-mortality relationship, with evidence of increasing mortality with DTR increase," where "the effect of DTR occurred immediately and lasted for four days," such that over that time period, a 1°C increase in DTR was associated with a 0.47% increase in non-accidental mortality, and who also found this effect to be most prevalent among "the elderly, females and residents with less education."

Thus, with Oahu's decreasing DTR trend, and its increasingly decreasing value, many of the inhabitants of Oahu should be able to expect a modest increase in the livability of their island home.


Atmospheric CO2 Helps Oak Trees Recover from Natural Disasters

Discussing:  Day, F.P., Schroeder, R.E., Stover, D.B., Brown, A.L.P., Butnor, J.R., Dilustro, J., Hungate, B.A., Dijkstra, P., Duval, B.D., Seiler, T.J., Drake, B.G. and Hinkle, C.R. 2013. The effects of 11 years of CO2 enrichment on roots in a Florida scrub-oak ecosystem. New Phytologist 200: 778-787.

Day et al. investigated the belowground root responses of a scrub-oak ecosystem located at the Kennedy Space Center on Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge on the east coast of Florida, USA.

At this location the soil is acidic, well-drained and nutrient-poor, and the climate is subtropical with a wet season between late June and October and a dry season between April and early June. In addition, lightening-induced fire is the chief ecosystem disturbance, exhibiting a 7-15-year cycle, while other natural disturbances are periodic drought and severe weather from tropical storms and hurricanes.

In their particular experiment, half of the study's open-top chambers enclosing groups of trees were exposed to eleven years of atmospheric CO2 enrichment to approximately 350 ppm above the ambient concentration. Fine root production, turnover and biomass were measured using mini-rhizotrons, while coarse root biomass was measured using ground-penetrating radar, and total root biomass using soil cores.

The twelve researchers report "total root biomass was as much as five times greater than aboveground biomass in this system, reflecting the importance of belowground structures as a carbon reservoir." They also note the belowground biomass was temporally dynamic and underwent natural cycles "affected by ecosystem disturbances in systems with strong disturbance regimes." More specifically, they state "strong CO2 effects on fine root biomass were seen after disturbance by fire and hurricane during periods of recovery followed by periods in which CO2 effects diminished."

In the concluding words of Day et al., "elevated CO2 may enhance root growth following disturbance and potentially speed up the recovery." Indeed, it would appear even following the massive aboveground destruction caused by both fires and hurricanes, atmospheric CO2 enrichment is able to bring scrub-oak ecosystems back from the brink, so to speak, to once again flourish, as the life-giving gas stimulates root production and the acquisition of needed-but-scarce soil nutrients.


The Polar Vortex: Climate alarmism blows hot and cold

Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson posted a January 28 Investor’s Business Daily Op-Ed piece titled “Beyond Vortex Lies a Lesson for Denialists.”  His thesis was that recent cold waves bringing subzero and single-digit temperatures too much of the nation provide an excuse for global warming skeptics (us “denialists”) to claim that “it’s really cold outside, so global warming must be a crock!” He emphasizes that we skeptics “forget that it’s winter, and apparently they [we] don’t quite grasp that even when it’s cold in one part of the world, it can be hot in another.”

Frankly, while my fellow skeptics may seriously doubt that any evidence of a human-caused, or even nature-caused, climate crisis exists, I don’t know of any who disagree with Robinson about not concluding much of anything about “climate change” based upon conditions occurring over a few days, weeks, months, or even years of unseasonably cold (or warm) weather over part or most of the world. After all, “climate” is a term typically applied to cycles lasting at least 30 years which depend a lot upon when you start measuring.

There is certainly no dispute regarding the fact that climate changes, and does so for many reasons. In fact the past century has witnessed two distinct periods of warming and cooling. The first warming occurred between 1900 and 1945. Since CO2 levels were relatively low then compared with now, and didn’t change much, they couldn’t have been the cause before 1950.

The second warming shift began in 1975 and rose at quite a constant rate until 1998, a strong Pacific Ocean El Niño year…although this later warming is reported only by surface thermometers, not satellites, and is legitimately disputed by some. (There’s some background on this in my June 18 column.)

Incidentally, about half of all estimated warming since 1900 occurred before the mid-1940s despite continuously rising CO2 levels since that time. As for continued warming (up until a recent 17-year “pause”), we have been witnessing a pretty constant trend of temperature increases ever since the last “Little Ice Age” (not a true Ice Age) ended in about 1850.

Robinson cited a January 2 article in the journal Nature arguing that human-generated carbon emissions will lead to even greater warming than was previously anticipated. This will allegedly result from the impact of warming on cloud cover causing average global temperatures to possibly rise a full 7° F by the end of the century.

The study’s lead author, Steven Sherwood of the University of New South Wales, told the Guardian newspaper that this: “would likely be catastrophic rather than simply dangerous” and “would make life difficult, if not impossible, in much the tropics.”

Some other January articles posted in Nature might be noted as well. For example, an unsigned editorial in the January 16 issue titled “Cool Heads Needed,” warns that unusual cold weather doesn’t prove or disprove the theory of that anthropogenic (human-caused) global warming that “climate skeptics” have “celebrated”. It also theorizes that “global warming might in fact be contributing to the string of abnormally cold U.S. winters in recent years,” yet also observes that “the average global temperature… has plateaued since 1998.”

The editorial admits that: “plenty of questions remain … Exactly how sensitive is Earth’s climate system to increasing atmospheric levels of greenhouse gases?” It finally concludes that “if the past is any indication, we may have to live with a fair degree of uncertainty.”

Another Nature journal article of the same date titled “The Case of the Missing Heat,” by Jeff Tollefson, reviews research on why “the warming stalled” in 1998. He reports “the pause has persisted, sparking a minor crisis of confidence in the field.”

Tollefson then claims that: “climate skeptics have seized on the temperature trends as evidence that global warming has ground to a halt. Climate scientists, meanwhile, know that the heat must be building up somewhere in the climate system, but they have struggled to explain where it is going, if not into the atmosphere.”

Then his wrenching dilemma: “Some have begun to wonder whether there is something amiss in their [climate] models.”

Something amiss in their models…is that truly possible? Golly, I thought only radical “skeptics” entertained that rash possibility!

And by the way, there are also some really smart climate scientists who believe that the global climate warming “pause” we have been experiencing since the time most of today’s high school students were born will not only continue, but now introduces a much longer-term cooling cycle.

As I discussed in my January 21 column, Dr. Habibullo Abdussamatov who heads Russia’s prestigious Pulkovo Observatory in St. Petersburg predicts that: “after the maximum of solar Cycle-24, from approximately 2014, we can expect the start of the next bicentennial cycle of deep cooling with a Little Ice Age in 2055 plus or minus 11 years” (the 19th to occur in the past 7,500 years).

Abdussamatov and others primarily link their cooling predictions to a 100-year record low number of sunspots. Periods of reduced sunspot activity correlate with increased cloud-forming influences of cosmic rays. More clouds tend to make conditions cooler, while fewer often cause warming. He points out that Earth has experienced such occurrences five times over the last 1,000 years, and that: “A global freeze will come about regardless of whether or not industrialized countries put a cap on their greenhouse gas emissions. The common view of Man’s industrial activity is a deciding factor in global warming has emerged from a misinterpretation of cause and effect.”

But back to that “polar vortex” thing. As Robinson and other members of the Four-Alarm Fire Brigade insist, with the planet obviously in flames, those numbing temperatures over much of the country (the ones we “skeptics/denialists” are so eager to flaunt) must be an anomaly…a rare exception… certainly not something that can be correlated with any natural climate change that would suggest a possible cooling trend. Giving it a special, exotic-sounding name is a great way to distinguish this from a common old run-of-the-mill weather phenomenon.

Actually however, it’s really not such a new name after all. And the warministas are right that it apparently has nothing to do with global warming, with human fossil-burning carbon emissions, or with flatulent cattle and kangaroos either for that matter.

Princeton University physicist Dr. Will Happer provides a good thumbnail sketch of the physics involved in an interview posted on Marc Morano’s Climate Depot website. Emphasizing that polar vortices have been around forever, he explains: “The poles have little sunshine even in summer, but especially in winter, like now in the Arctic. So the air over the poles rapidly gets bitterly cold because of radiation to dark space, with negligible replenishment of heat from sunlight.”

Dr. Happer continues: “The sinking cold air is replaced by warmer air flowing in from the south at high altitudes. Since the Earth is rotating, the air flowing in from the south has to start rotating faster to the west, just like a figure skater rotates faster if she pulls in her arms. This forms the polar vortex. The extremely cold air at the bottom of the vortex can be carried south by meanders of the jet stream at the ends of the vortex.”

Happer concludes that “we will have to live with polar vortices as long as the sun shines and the Earth rotates.”

My meteorologist friend Joe Bastardi notes two fairly recent examples when Arctic polar vortices dropped blasts of very cold air into the U.S. One occurred during January 1977, and the other came along at the time of President Ronald Reagan’s second inauguration in January 1985…when Chicago’s temperatures then reached a record low of 28°F below zero.

As a matter of fact, a polar vortex back in 1777 can potentially be credited with influencing the course of American history. That was just before the Battle of Princeton when Cornwallis’s men marched south of New York City in an attempt to trap George Washington’s small Continental Army in Trenton. Fortunately for the home team, a vortex swept across New Jersey which enabled Washington to avoid encirclement by evacuating his troops and artillery over frozen roads. Upon reaching Princeton, they successfully attacked the British garrison.

Can we thank climate change, global warming, or even global cooling for that? Well, while it did occur near the end of that last Little Ice Age, probably not. But let’s at least finally give that polar vortex some long overdue recognition.


The EPA is Helping Environmental Groups Sue the EPA

Why is it not surprising to see extensive collaboration between federal agencies and private groups? Especially when it’s the EPA and environmental groups doing it. Emails released earlier show this relationship.

Emails show EPA used official events to help environmentalist groups gather signatures for petitions on agency rulemaking, incorporated advance copies of letters drafted by those groups into official statements, and worked with environmentalists to publicly pressure executives of at least one energy company.

This is a major issue because this basically shows that the EPA worked with these private groups in order to make these strict regulations on carbon, which effectively killed many coal projects. But what’s funny is that this relationship is not new.

Basically every major federal law regarding the environment has provisions that allow private organizations to sue the EPA if they don’t think the EPA is doing enough to protect the air quality. But the EPA is most often sued by environmental groups! And of course it folds to the pressure without putting up a fight.

This type of corruption is completely out of control. As if we didn’t already know the EPA is a complete waste of federal funds, now we know that they are also crooked. Talk about a not so hidden agenda!

The DOJ spent $43 million on defending the EPA against suits brought by environmental groups in a 12 year period of time. What a waste of tax dollars! And additionally, this certainly makes it look like the EPA is using the activist lawsuits as a way to increase regulations.

Whatever happened to the government being accountable to the American people instead of special interests? And remind me, which party is it that is the one that represents the special interests more? Yeah, that’s what I thought.


Europe Starts To Run, Not Walk, Away From Green Economics

The media aren't paying much attention, but in recent weeks Europe has decided to run, not walk, as fast as it can away from the economic menace of green energy.

That's right, the same Europeans who used to chastise us for not signing the Kyoto climate change treaty, not passing a carbon tax and dooming the planet to catastrophic global warming.

In Brussels last month, European leaders agreed to scrap per-nation caps on carbon emissions. The EU countries — France, Germany, Italy and Spain — had promised a 40% reduction in emissions by 2030 (and 80% by 2050!). Now those caps won't apply to individual nations.

Brussels calls this new policy "flexibility." Right. More like "never mind," and here's why: The new German economic minister, Sigmar Gabriel, says green energy mandates have become such an albatross around the neck of industry that they could lead to a "deindustrialization" of Germany.

Chancellor Angela Merkel said earlier this year that overreliance on renewable energy could cause "a problem in terms of energy supply" — and she's always described herself as a green politician and a champion of these programs.

But green dreams have collided with cold economic reality. Green programs aren't creating green jobs but green unemployment at intolerable double-digit rates. The quip in economically exhausted Europe these days is that before we save the planet, we have to save ourselves.

Now European leaders are admitting quietly that they want to get into the game of fracking and other new drilling technologies that have caused an explosion of oil and gas production in the U.S.

According to energy expert Daniel Yergin, if Europe wants to remain competitive, these nations must tap the fountain of abundant and cheap shale gas and oil. He recently wrote that European leaders now realize a major factor behind the economic woes in euroland is that electric power costs are "two to three times more expensive" than in the U.S.

Consider the price of natural gas in the U.S. vs. other nations in the chart below. U.S. prices are about three to four times lower, and in states like Ohio, Michigan and Pennsylvania this is causing a renaissance in manufacturing. German engineering and manufacturing firms are looking to relocate to the U.S. where power costs are lower.

What's amazing about this story is that so few American politicians get it. President Obama talked in his State of the Union speech about doubling renewable energy output over the coming years. Mr. President, these are exactly the goals the Europeans are abandoning. Why chase the losers?

Why not try a different approach to energy policy? Get rid of all taxpayer subsidies for energy — oil, gas, wind and solar power, biofuels, electric-battery-operated cars and others — and create a true level playing field where every energy source competes on efficiency and cost rather than political/corporate favoritism?

The answer is that the green lobby knows it can't possibly compete on a level playing field. Not with natural gas at $4 and 150 years' worth of this power source in Appalachia's Marcellus shale basin and more out West.

The Europeans made nearly a $100 billion wrong bet on renewable energy, and their economies and citizens have taken a big hit. Now they've awakened to their mistakes. The shame is Washington is still slumbering.



For more postings from me, see  DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC and AUSTRALIAN POLITICS. Home Pages are   here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here.  

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1 comment:

Joseph said...

"The future according to Greenies" reminds me of Windwagon Smith.