Wednesday, March 05, 2014

Is global warming killing the oysters and other shellfish?

Oyster die offs in the West coasts of the USA and Canada have been in the news for some time now.  The latest story below.  The claim that the die-offs are due to ocean acidity caused by global warming is absurd for a number of reasons so just some comments received from Lord Monckton:

"There are two knockdown arguments against ocean "acidification". The first is that notwithstanding CO2 concentrations many times higher than today's, the oceans have remained pronouncedly alkaline for 540 million years (with the exception of a brief and little-understood period 55 million years ago). The reason for the pronounced alkalinity is that the oceans are buffered by the basalt rock basins in which they lie.

The second argument is that there is far greater natural variability in ocean pH than the bed-wetters realize. It can vary by 1.4 pH units close to some coasts. Yet the various marine species, including calcifying organisms, thrive. In mid-ocean, the variance is much smaller."

Lord Monckton has also provided a more detailed coverage which I reproduce at the foot of the article below

When Yves Perreault looks out over the pristine waters of Desolation Sound, where his family annually harvests half a million oysters, he fears for the future of the ocean – and the industry that supplies Canada with half its shellfish.

Something is killing oysters and scallops in dramatic numbers, causing suppliers to warn of shortages and producers to worry about the future of their businesses. The cause is unknown, but ocean acidification is the main suspect.

“It’s a remote area, the water is clean … we haven’t had any environmental concerns, so I’m not sure what’s going on,” said Mr. Perreault, who owns Little Wing Oysters and is president of the BC Shellfish Grower’s Association.

Over the past two years, Mr. Perreault’s oyster farm on B.C.’s south coast has experienced 80 to 90 per cent mortality of young shellfish – the normal attrition rate is 50 per cent – and last year, nearby Pendrell Sound had a massive die-off of wild oysters.

“It was in the billions,” he said of the Pacific oysters that died only a few months after they hatched.

“It’s hard to say without having somebody there monitoring what’s going on. It could be food related. Maybe there were too many oysters and there was not enough food and they just starved – or something else [is happening] in the water like the acidity level,” he said. “To be frank, we don’t know a lot about it and that’s what’s scary.”

Mr. Perreault routinely monitors the ocean for food abundance, temperature and salinity – but thinks he should test the pH level too, to keep track of how acidic the water is.

The Vancouver Aquarium has been doing just that – and its records show the pH level in Vancouver’s harbour steadily declining, from 8.1 (1954-74) to a low of 7.3 by 2001.

A pH unit measures acidity with a range of 0-14. The lower the value, the more acidic the environment.

The U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has noted a direct correlation between rising levels of C02 in the atmosphere and levels in the ocean. As more C02 accumulates in the Pacific, the pH decreases and the acidic level rises.

Sophia Johannessen, a research scientist with the federal Institute of Ocean Sciences in Sidney, said it is clear oceans are becoming more acidic.

Asked if ocean acidification is to blame for oyster die-offs – and the recent collapse of scallop stocks in a Vancouver Island operation – she said: “I’m not sure yet. … We need to know if there is some local problem.”

Dr. Johannessen said waters off the coast of B.C. are getting warmer and there has been a change in the timing of zooplankton blooms, which shellfish eat. She said a shortage of food, or increased temperatures, could have put shellfish under stress, and then a slight change in pH could knock them out. Chris Harley, a zoology professor at the University of B.C., feels the same way.

“It’s an interesting puzzle. … I’m not sure what’s killed all those scallops out in the Strait of Georgia. … It might have been low pH, but I’m not sure we can say that with much confidence,” he said.

But Rob Saunders, CEO of Island Scallops, says he has tracked pH levels closely and sees a link between increased acidity and shellfish die-offs.

“I’m convinced the ocean is getting much more acidic, and much more acidic than anyone anywhere believed it could happen that fast,” he said.

“It’s definitely a sign. It’s like the canary in the coal mine,” he said. “That is the early indicator of climate change and how it is going to affect the availability of various products.”


More detail from Lord Monckton:

The acid-base balance of the oceans, measured in pH units (where rainwater is strongly acid at 5.6, and 7.0 is neutral), is pronouncedly alkaline at 7.8-8.3. The oceans have been alkaline for 540 milllion years, except for a brief and little-understood interval 55 million years ago. Because they are buffered by the basalt rock basins within which they lie, they cannot become acid. Indeed, they cannot even become significantly less alkaline.

Rainwater reacts with feldspar, the commonest mineral, in an acid-consuming reaction to produce clays. Alkali and alkaline earths are leached into the oceans, accounting for their salinity. Silica is redeposited in sediments in the form of cements in another acid-consuming reaction accelerated by temperature.

Since pH is a logarithmic scale, there is insufficient CO2 in recoverable fossil fuels to acidify the oceans, for most of the planet’s CO2 is securely fixed in rocks.

In the Precambrian era, these reactions responded rapidly to major changes in temperature (–40 to +50 Cº) and sea level (+600 m to –640 m) over a few thousand years from snowball Earth to very hot conditions. For instance, 750 million years ago Neoproterozoic cap carbonates that formed in water at ~50 deg C lie directly on glacial rocks. In the Neoproterozoic, the partial pressure of CO2 in the atmosphere was 30%, compared with 0.04% today.

During these times, there were rapid changes in oceanic pH and CO2 was removed from the oceans as carbonate. From this time onward, life began to extract substantial amounts of CO2 from the oceans. This process continues. CO2 concentration was 15 times today’s in the Ordovician-Silurian glaciation and five times today’s in the Cretaceous-Jurassic glaciation. During the Permian glaciation, both methane and CO2 concentrations were above today’s.

The process of removing CO2 from the atmosphere via the oceans has led to CO2 sequestration by way of carbonate deposition. CO2 concentration today is the lowest it has been for billions of years, and carbonate sedimentation continues to remove it from the oceans, which continue to be buffered by the basalt basins in which they lie, as shown by Walker et al. (1981). The feldspar and silicate buffering reactions are well understood. The oceans cannot acidify.

The latest temperature graph

As used by Greenpeace heretic Patrick Moore on Fox Business News with Stuart Varney & Co.

Monckton comments:

1: This graph is highly topical. It is right up to date. Remote Sensing Systems, Inc. (RSS) is one of the two satellite-based datasets (the other is the University of Alabama at Huntsville (UAH). And RSS is one of the five standard global temperature datasets, which include the two satellite datasets and the three terrestrial datasets - Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS); the Hadley Centre/CRU dataset, version 4 (HadCRUT4); and the National Climatic Data Center (NCDC). As this month, RSS is usually the first to report, and its latest monthly value, for February 2014, became available just hours ago. As far as I know, no one else yet has a graph including this hot-off-the-press data point.

2: The satellite datasets are based on measurements made by the most accurate thermometers available - platinum resistance thermometers, which not only measure temperature at various altitudes above the Earth's surface via microwave sounding units but also constantly calibrate themselves by measuring the known temperature of the cosmic background radiation, which is 1% of the freezing point of water, or just 2.73 degrees above absolute zero. It was by measuring minuscule variations of the cosmic background radiation that the NASA anisotropy probe enabled the age of the Universe to be determined: it is 13.82 billion years.

3: The graph is accurate. The data are lifted monthly directly from the RSS website. They are read down from the text file by a computer algorithm and plotted automatically using an advanced routine that automatically adjusts the aspect ratio of the data window at both axes so as to show the data at maximum size. The latest monthly data point is visually inspected to ensure that it has been correctly positioned. The light blue trend line plotted beneath the dark blue spline-curve showing the actual data is calculated by the method of least-squares linear regression, which determines the y-intercept and slope of the line via two well-established and functionally identical equations that are compared with one another to ensure no discrepancy between them. Least-squares linear regression is used by the IPCC and by most other agencies for determining global temperature trends. Interestingly, it is recommended by Professor Phil Jones of the University of East Anglia in one of the Climategate emails, so no one on the true-believing side will challenge its appropriateness. The reliability of the trend calculation by the algorithm was verified by Dr Stephen Farish, Professor of Epidemiological Statistics at the University of Melbourne.

4: The graph is visually very clear. The design, the layout, the colors used, the text font, and the line thicknesses are intended to be as clear and comprehensible as possible. The aspect ratio of the graph is similar to that of most modern television monitors, so that the graph can be displayed full-screen.

5: The graph is news. Not only is it very recent: it is also something that the mainstream news media very seldom reveal. They tend to keep the now embarrassingly long hiatus in global warming secret, so that this graph will astonish many viewers. I do not know of a more recent, more reliable, more accurate, more visually appealing graph.

Via email

Green eugenics taking off

Green/Left Fascism reverts to type.  Nazis believed in selective breeding too

All life on our planet has changed as our planet has changed. From the birth of our planet out of the cosmic Big Bang, to the time of the dinosaurs, through the ice ages, life has gone extinct, been reborn, and evolved to survive. Could the high-tech scientific world genetically alter a future version of you to survive climate change?

Over the past three-years, about 30 healthy genetically modified people have been born in the United States. Genes from three or more “parents” were used to alter these genetically modified babies, in couples that had trouble conceiving children. Although this allowed people unable to conceive children to have kids, it is a new science, and a controversial one, raising numerous ethical dilemmas about weeding out the very faults which make us human.

For years, scientists have been researching ways to alter us through the building blocks of life. From preventing baldness and heart disease, to changing the color of an unborn baby’s eyes from brown to blue. So far, the genetic engineering of people has focused on the obvious traits that we all desire. Genetic researchers want to make us stronger, faster and more intelligent people.

What if we put aside the ethical issues and looked at the genetic engineering of our species not as a tool to make us better, but a necessity for our species to survive? Although there is much debate about who is to blame for climate change, the real issue is our very survival as a species.

Over 280,000 people have died in the United Kingdom so far, due to the dramatically brutal winter they are experiencing this season. That’s pretty close to the estimated 300,000 people globally that die every year from climate change, according to a United Nations Global Humanitarian Forum report.

But what if instead of focusing on making us stronger, faster and smarter, genetic researchers tried to make us more resistant to the effects of climate change? Human beings are very fragile and weak when compared to most other living things on our planet – if it wasn’t for our brain power, we’d never have made it out of the stone age.

Heatstroke occurs when the core temperature of the body exceeds 40°C (105°F), which can happen in temperatures over 30°C (86°F). At these high temperatures, our body’s cooling system fails, and you simply cannot cool down, leading to nausea, seizures, disorientation, unconsciousness, coma and death.

Instead of trying to tweak us humans to be smarter, perhaps science could re-engineer us to resist these temperature extremes? Other animals over hundreds of thousands of years have evolved to withstand the elements.  The polar bear has evolved over time to take the frigid Arctic cold, able to handle temperatures from 25°C to -67°C (77°F to -90°F). Camels can go eight days without water, and take temperatures as high as 49°C (120°F). However, the winner has to be the tardigrade, which can go 10 years without water and handle temperatures from 151°C to -273°C (304°F to -459°F).

Tardigrades are teeny-tiny waterbears that live in the farthest northern reaches of our planet, including Iceland and northern Russia, and measure a mere 0.5mm (0.020 inches) long.

Although we can’t handle temperatures that extreme, science may one day be able to make us more resilient to survive climate change.


New Rule From Obama's EPA Means Higher Gas Prices

The Obama administration is driving ahead with a dramatic reduction in sulfur in gasoline and tailpipe emissions, declaring that cleaner air will save thousands of lives per year at little cost to consumers.

Public health groups and automakers cheered the new rules, finalized Monday by the Environmental Protection Agency, with some insisting they could prove to be President Barack Obama's signature environmental accomplishment in his second term. The oil and gas industry, meanwhile, panned the move, calling it gratuitous and accusing the government of grossly underestimating the increased cost at the pump.

"The benefits far outweigh the costs," said EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy, calling it a win for both consumers and automakers. "These standards will reduce pollution, they'll clean the air we breathe and protect the health of American families."

In the works for years, the rules require refineries to cut sulfur levels in the gasoline by about two-thirds by 2017. Less sulfur in gasoline makes it easier for a car's pollution controls to effectively filter out emissions, resulting in cleaner air, the EPA says. For car manufacturers, stricter limits on tailpipe emissions will require engineering changes so that cars weed out more pollution.

More than 2,000 premature deaths and about 50,000 cases of kids with respiratory problems will be avoided by 2030 if the rules go into effect, the EPA said.

The cost to consumers: Less than a penny per gallon of gas, McCarthy said. The EPA also projects the rules will raise the average cost of buying a vehicle by $72 in 2025.

But not everyone agrees.

The American Petroleum Institute, which represents the oil and gas industry, pointed to studies it has commissioned estimating that the limits would add 6 cents to 9 cents a gallon to refiners' manufacturing costs while requiring $10 billion in capital costs. American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers, a trade group, called it "the most recent example of the agency's propensity for illogical and counterproductive rulemaking."

"This rule is all pain and no gain," said House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton, R-Mich. "This winter's cold snap underscores just how vulnerable American families and businesses are to any increases in energy costs, and yet the administration is moving forward to raise prices at the pump."

Pushing back on those charges, McCarthy said that API's study constituted an "outdated estimate" that didn't account for changes the EPA made to the rules after receiving public comment — such as a phasing-in that gives some refineries more flexibility to come into compliance.

"We stand behind our estimate," said Bob Greco, API's downstream group director.

The political wrangling over the latest round of regulations to hit the energy industry offered a familiar reprise of a long-running debate over Obama's attempts to use his regulatory power to clean up the nation's sources of fuel.

With just a few years left in his term and no appetite in Congress for major environmental legislation, Obama has vowed to take action unilaterally to tackle climate change and other pollution. Energy advocates have staunchly opposed Obama's proposed emissions limits on new and existing power plants, and accuse him of dallying on approval for the Keystone XL pipeline. The issue promises to play a prominent role in the 2014 midterm elections, as Democrats from energy-dependent states find themselves squeezed between economic and environmental concerns.

Tellingly, there was little pushback from the auto industry, with major automakers like Ford, Toyota and Honda praising the EPA for setting one standard for emissions that will apply nation-wide. California already uses the new sulfur standard, and while the U.S. has tightened sulfur limits twice before, it still lags behind many other countries.

"The EPA has effectively harmonized the federal and state emissions requirements, and that's a big deal for us," said Mike Robinson, a vice president at General Motors Co. "It allows us to engineer, build and calibrate vehicles on a national basis."

Breathing the pollutants that come out of a car's tailpipe leads to coughing and shortness of breath for healthy adults, but for those with underlying conditions like asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder, the implications can be grave: asthma attacks, heart attacks, strokes and ultimately death, said Paul Billings, the American Lung Association's vice president.

The Obama administration already has moved to clean up motor vehicles by adopting rules that will increase fuel efficiency and putting in place standards to reduce the pollution from cars and trucks blamed for global warming.


Modern wind power

George Boyce

Where to start on this one? The proliferation of wind turbines is one of the greatest boondoggles in human history. Driven by the myth that carbon dioxide is pollution, governments have spent billions in taxpayer money on technology that is, like our earlier example of generating power from lemons, more of a laboratory curiosity than a practical energy source.

These wind turbines are a major environmental problem, encouraged by those who somehow think an invisible trace gas is a problem. If anything human-made has the potential to create an environmental catastrophe, then this is it. It is now clear - as should have been obvious from the outset - that wind turbines rob the very wind that drives them of energy, thereby reducing the efficiency of other turbines behind them, but more seriously affective the micro- climate of the area. If we erect enough of these monstrosities, then there is a real chance that we will affect bigger weather patterns.

Also from an environmental point of view: modern wind turbines each require a massive foundation made from hundreds, if not thousands of tons of concrete. Should the turbines be taken down at some future date, this land will be rendered useless for farming, recreational and other purposes, as these bases would probably never be removed. Furthermore, they require hundreds of kilometres of cable to join them to the electricity network. A nuclear power station can be erected on two square kilometres of land. The equivalent rated wind power requires two thousand square kilometres of land, criss-crossed with electrical cables to connect the individual turbines. Note that the rated (or "sticker") power of wind turbines is grossly misleading. They very seldom deliver more than 15% to 20% of their rated capacity, for obvious reasons: they only work when the wind blows. Too low or too high wind speeds incapacitate them.

Without massive government subsidies, there would be no wind turbines: they can never recover the cost of manufacturing, installing and running over their useful lifetime, originally touted as twenty years, but turning out to be closer to ten years.

From cradle to grave, wind turbines create more pollution, more carbon dioxide and consume more energy than they will produce over their lifetime:

 * Wind turbines contain large quantities - several tons each - of rare earths. These create extreme mining and production health hazards, and a disposal problem on a par or exceeding that of nuclear waste.

 * During cold, windless conditions, wind turbines actually draw electricity from the grid to keep the machinery warm. So, just when power is most in demand, they create an additional burden on conventional power stations. The blades have to be heated in cold weather to avoid ice build-up, which renders them useless. (Like an airplane's propeller, the ice deforms the blade so that it produces less or no lift.) The generating equipment must also be kept warm in windless conditions to avoid damage.

 * Some researchers now believe that some wind farms may be net users of electricity. Power is drawn from the grid for heating, as mentioned above, but also for other reasons: During windless conditions, the massive blades must be rotated continuously by using the generators as motors to prevent gravitational warping of the blades, prop shafts and gears. During operation, power is consumed to change the pitch and angle of incidence of the blades relative to the wind. The entire mechanism, weighing many tons, needs to be rotated by electrical motors from time to time to untangle the cables linking the generator to the grid. (The cables get wound up as the head of the installation follows the wind, rotating through 360 degrees repeatedly over a period of time). The energy drawn from the grid for heating and other purposes is never monitored, but is estimated to consume, at the very least, as much as half of the already low actual output, reducing the 15 to 20% mentioned above to as little as perhaps less than 10% of the rated output.

There is a very simple test to determine the value of this technology: the operators of conventional power stations will tell you that they generate no less power and consume no less fuel than before the windmills came along.

 * Because the rated capacity is a fictional number, never achieved in real life by a wide margin, wind turbines cannot make up for the energy that went into manufacturing, transport, erection and maintenance, even assuming generous life times. They are therefore net carbon dioxide emitters - as if that mattered - and add to overall emissions.

 * Conventional generating power equivalent to the entire capacity of the wind infrastructure must be brought on line in windless conditions to keep industry, businesses and our homes running. This is a total duplication of resources, at enormous expense.

 * The backup power required for wind and solar is sometimes called "spinning reserve". This means that these power stations are always running, and can never be turned off, even when not producing power: they need to respond instantly when the "renewable" resources go offline. During these idle periods, backup stations actually produce more pollution that when running under the design load, a result of inefficient fuel combustion.

 * One of the most serious problems with wind turbines is that they kill thousands of birds and bats. The tips of the blades move at deceptively fast speeds - literally hundreds of miles per hour - and birds simply don't detect the danger of a side-swipe from a blade whilst flying into what appears to be empty space. Bats are killed by the high pressure generated by the rotating blades, exploding lungs and ear drums.

Excerpt from forthcoming book: "CORNUCOPIA -- Our Inexhaustible Resources".

Cornucopians say  that there is no reason to believe that we will ever run out of anything.  So far we haven't, despite may dire predictions of it going back centuries

Carbon tax costs struggling Australian airline over $100 million

The Prime Minister urged Labor to help axe the carbon tax, rejecting claims by the Shadow Transport Minister Anthony Albanese that the airline reportedly agreed to voluntarily pay the tax.

“This idea that Qantas somehow likes the carbon tax even though the carbon tax adds $106 million to its costs … is just crackers,” Mr Abbott said.

“Tell them they’re dreaming,” he added, directing the comment to Labor MPs.

Earlier Mr Abbott talked up the need to liberate Qantas during the Coalition joint party room meeting.

Channelling Ben Chifley’s “light on the hill’, Mr Abbott argued the government will be successful if it is principled.

“Our light is freedom, we are the freedom party,” he told colleagues.

Deputy PM Warren Truss conceded there is no guarantee their proposal to change the Sale Act will get through the Senate.

Mr Truss claimed both the Flying Kangaroo and Virgin are bleeding, but he warned if they were to back Qantas in a domestic war it would be unfair to its competitor.

Four colleagues are said to have congratulated Cabinet on its decision during the meeting



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