Monday, September 01, 2014

Warmists invent magic ice

It melts and gets thicker at the same time, apparently.  There are lots of findings that antarctic ice is increasing -- e.g. here -- but the galoots below say it has been increasingly melting

Sea levels around Antarctica have been rising a third faster than the global average, a clear sign of high meltwater runoff from the continent's icesheet, scientists said on Sunday.

Satellite data from 1992 to 2011 found the sea surface around Antarctica's coast rose by around eight centimetres (3.2 inches) in total compared to a rise of six cm for the average of the world's oceans, they said.

The local increase is accompanied by a fall in salinity at the sea surface, as detected by research ships.

These dramatic changes can only be explained by an influx of freshwater from melting ice, warned the study.  "Freshwater is less dense than salt water, and so in regions where an excess of freshwater has accumulated, we expect a localised rise in sea level," said Craig Rye from Britain's National Oceanography Centre, who led the probe.

The estimate of ice loss and the precise source of it are hard to pin down, though.  According to the team's computer model, around 350 billion tonnes a year of freshwater influx, plus or minus 100 billion tonnes, would explain the rise.

This estimate puts together freshwater from the ground-based icesheet and also from the thinning of ice shelves -- floating ice that is attached to the coast and created by glaciers disgorging from the icesheet.

Most of the meltwater is being discharged around the Antarctic peninsula -- the giant finger of land that juts towards South America -- and in the Amundsen Sea.

"Accelerating discharge from the Antarctic icesheet has had a pronounced and widespread impact on the adjacent subpolar seas over the past two decades," said the study.

The stability of the Antarctic ice sheet is one of the big factors in the global warming equation.  The biggest single source of freshwater in the world, it would drown many coastal cities if a large part of it were to melt.

Getting an accurate fix on this risk, though, is bedevilled by unknowns, partly because the icesheet is also gaining mass in some places through greater snowfall.


“Sustainable” and superficial

By Donald J. Boudreaux

The pervasive proclamations issued by government officials, college professors, U.N. bureaucrats and Hollywood entertainers in favor of “sustainability” sound nice. But slogans aren't solutions. Merely declaring support for a good result hardly amounts to a serious analysis of how to make that result a reality.

The “sustainability” movement is populated with too many people who commit the classic offense against good economics: They assume that nothing exists except that which is immediately visible to the untrained eye.

Consider a favorite cause of the sustainability movement: locavorism. Champions of “sustainability” assert that, because local foods don't have to be shipped very far to their final consumers, such foods are more “sustainable” than are foods grown and raised at great distances from where they are consumed.

This analysis appears sound to people who are blind to all but the resources used to transport foods from farms to dining tables. Yet transportation consumes only a small portion of the resources required to feed us. Labor, fuel, water, irrigation equipment, tractors and other farm tools, fertilizers, pesticides, packaging and (of course) land must also be used.

What effect would eating only locally grown foods have on the use of these other resources? Locavores seldom ask this question.

Fortunately, this question has been asked by sensible economists.In their splendid 2012 book, “The Locavore's Dilemma,” Pierre Desrochers and Hiroko Shimizu conclude that the ecologically and economically best diet is one with foods from all across the globe. Among the most important reasons is that the amount of resources required to eat only locally grown foods would be stupendous.

Some lands and local environments are better suited than are other lands and local environments to growing particular kinds of crops. Obviously, South Florida is better suited to growing citrus than is Western Pennsylvania. This fact, however, doesn't mean that Pennsylvanians couldn't grow all of their own citrus. They could indeed do so if they were to build many huge hothouses.

Yet not only would such hothouses divert land in Pennsylvania from other valuable uses, these hothouses would have to be heated — a very energy-intensive procedure. We can be reasonably certain that the fuel costs of heating such hothouses are greater than the fuel costs of shipping oranges from Florida to Pennsylvania. The reason for our certainty is that if the transportation costs were greater than the costs of heating the hothouses, Pennsylvania farmers could earn profits by growing citrus in hothouses. These farmers would be able to sell their crops to Pennsylvania supermarkets at prices lower than the prices that those supermarkets now pay to stock their shelves with citrus fruits from Florida.

But in reality, no farmers in Pennsylvania grow citrus in hothouses — a pretty good sign that the amount of resources required to operate citrus hothouses there is greater than the amount of resources used to ship citrus to Pennsylvania from Florida.

What's true for citrus is true for wheat, peas, beef, pork, you name it. The lowest-cost place for producing any particular type of food is seldom close to home.


British schools warned of solar panel fire risk: Fears over free green scheme after three mystery blazes

British Gas has launched an investigation into solar panels at dozens of schools and businesses after a series of mystery fires.

Some 92 schools that signed up for free panels have been told their equipment will need improvements before it is considered safe to use.

It comes after solar panel fires in three schools were confirmed by British Gas following a tip-off to The Mail on Sunday.

Although an investigation after the first two was ruled 'inconclusive', it is believed the energy giant was forced to carry out improvements when a third roof blaze damaged two classrooms at Sutton Bonington Primary School in Nottinghamshire.

More than 90 schools and 27 business fitted with the suspect equipment have been left without free solar energy since April. The news is likely to come as a blow to Energy Minister Greg Barker, who the same month unveiled plans to put solar panels on the roofs of 24,000 schools.

British Gas has stressed that 160 other schools fitted with earlier versions of the panels are unaffected and that household ones are safe. A spokesman for Nottinghamshire County Council said the panels had been installed as part of British Gas's Generation Green project, which gives schools free equipment in return for a Government green subsidy payment.

A British Gas spokesman would not reveal the cost of the shutdown, although sources say it could run 'well into six figures' once compensation – for the extra cost of mains electricity – is included.

Gab Barbaro, managing director of British Gas Business Services, said: 'Safety is our number one priority. Following an incident in April, we decided to turn off solar panels at certain non-domestic sites as a precaution while we undertook a full investigation.

No one was hurt and we have worked with independent experts to establish the cause. 'As a further precautionary step, we are upgrading part of the solar installations at these sites.'

Professor Stuart Irvine, director of Glyndwr University's Centre for Solar Energy Research, said panel fires were unusual. He added: 'The cause here may lie in wiring or junction boxes, where power is converted for the grid, rather than the panels themselves.

'There's an argument that the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) needs to look at this. We must make sure there's adequate testing of components and sufficient protection for buyers.' A spokesman for the DECC said: 'As legal action is pending, it would not be appropriate to comment.'


Australia: The crazy world of Renewable Energy Targets

Nothing makes sense about Renewable Energy Targets, except at a “Bumper-Sticker” level. Today the AFR front page suggests* the federal government is shifting to remove the scheme (by closing it to new entrants) rather than just scaling it back. It can’t come a day too soon. Right now, the Greens who care about CO2 emissions should be cheering too. The scheme was designed to promote an  industry, not to cut CO2.

UPDATE: Mathias Cormann later says “that the government’s position was to “keep the renewable energy target in place” SMH.  Mixed messages indeed.

We’ve been sold the idea that if we subsidize “renewable” energy (which produces less CO2) we’d get a world with lower CO2 emissions. But it ain’t so. The fake “free” market in renewables does not remotely achieve what it was advertised to do — the perverse incentives make the RET good for increasing “renewables” but bad for reducing CO2, and, worse, the more wind power you have, the less CO2 you save. Coal fired electricity is so cheap that doing anything other than making it more efficient is a wildly expensive and inefficient way to reduce CO2. But the Greens hate coal more than they want to reduce carbon dioxide. The dilemma!

The RET scheme in Australian pays a subsidy to wind farms and solar installations. Below, Tom Quirk shows that this is effectively a carbon tax (but a lousy one), and it shifts supply — perversely taxing brown coal at $27/ton, black coal at $40/ton and gas at up to $100/ton. Because it’s applied to renewables rather than CO2 directly, it’s effectively a higher tax rate for the non-renewable but lower CO2 emitters.

Calculating the true cost of electricity is fiendishly difficult. “Levelized costs” is the simple idea that we can add up the entire lifecycle cost of each energy type, but it’s almost impossible to calculate meaningful numbers. Because wind power is fickle, yet electricity demand is most definitely not, the real cost of wind power is not just the construction, maintenance and final disposal, but also the cost of having a gas back-up or expensive battery (give-us-your-gold) storage. It’s just inefficient every which way. Coal and nuclear stations are cheaper when run constantly rather than in a stop-start fashion (just like your car is). So the cost of renewables also includes the cost of shifting these “base load” suppliers from efficient to inefficient use — and in the case of coal it means producing more CO2 for the same megawatts. South Australia is the most renewable-dependent state in mainland Australia, and it’s a basketcase (look at the cost stack below). Real costs only come with modeling, and we all know how difficult that is.

If the aim is really the research and development of renewables (and not “low CO2″) then I’ve long said that we should pay for the research and development directly, not pay companies to put up inefficient and fairly useless versions in the hope that companies might earn enough to pay for the research out of the profits. Tom Quirk points out that it’s all frightfully perverse again, because most innovations come from industry, not government funded research, but in Australia we hardly have any industry making parts used in power generation — we don’t have the teams of electrical engineers working on the problem anymore. I suppose the theory is that Chinese companies will profit from solar panels and do the R&D for us (keeping “our” patents too)? It would be cheaper just to gift them the money direct wouldn’t it — rather than pay an industry to produce and install a product that no one would buy, which doesn’t work, and hope that the “profits” translate into discoveries that will produce royalties and jobs for people overseas. I’m sure Chinese workers and entrepreneurs will be grateful. Yay.

Meanwhile, Green fans have suddenly discovered the idea of sovereign risk (where were they while the Rudd-Gillard team blitzed Australia’s reputation for stable, predictable policy?). According to the AFR, the government is scornful (and rightly so):

"The government source said the market was oversupplied with energy and there was no longer any cause for a mandated use of any specific type of power. The source said while there would be investment losses if the RET was abolished, or even scaled back, investors “would have to have been blind to know this wasn’t coming’’.

On Catalaxy files, Judith Sloan mocks the Fin for pushing a press release from a rent-seeking firm, and guesses the Abbott government will be too “gutless” to ditch this economic and environmental dog of a policy.

More HERE  (See the original for links)

Shaking, Quaking, and Freezing

By Alan Caruba

Have you noticed how much earthquake and volcanic activity has been occurring lately?

There was a major earthquake in Napa, California on Sunday, August 24th as well as considerable volcanic activity from Iceland to Papua, New Guinea. August was also a month that set records for colder U.S. temperatures.

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), there were some 1,097 “low max” temperature records broken in the U.S. between August 1 and August 23, meaning that the maximum temperature during that time period was the lowest it has ever been. NOAA reported that summer across much of the U.S. has been colder than normal.

Most of us, after decades of global warming predictions that became more and more absurd, rising sea levels drowning Manhattan and Miami, an upsurge in hurricanes, forest fires, and every other calamity, have concluded that none of these things have happened in the volume or intensity predicted. In the 70s we were told the Earth would get colder. In the 80’s and 90’s we were told it would get warmer.

A new book is advising us to prepare for a serious cold spell that is not only going to arrive in twenty to thirty years, but will likely stay around to become the next ice age. This time, though, the prediction is based on well-established climate cycles and the behavior of the Sun that was known as far back as Galileo’s day.

The new “normal” is colder weather and this is because the Sun’s sunspot activity has been in a cyclical decline since about 1998, producing the latest cooling cycle for the Earth.

In combination with the earthquakes and volcanic activity, says John L. Casey’s new book, “Dark Winter: How the Sun is Causing a 30-Year Cold Spell” ($24.95, Humanix Books, Boca Raton, FL) what we’re really looking at is a repeat of the Dalton Minimum, a solar sunspot minimum that occurred between 1793 and 1830. His earlier book, “Cold Sun” addressed this cyclical phenomenon.

Casey asks “Will we also experience volcanic activity that will add to the solar cooling?” and the answer, given the fifty active volcanoes around the world, is that “We should expect to deal with multiple geological disasters, including volcanoes and earthquakes, during the next solar hibernation.” We have in fact already entered that “hibernation.”

Casey is the president of the Space and Science Research Corporation. It specializes in independent research regarding the coming decades of cold weather. For thirty-five years Casey has been active in science and high tech industries. He has been a national space policy advisor to the White House and Congress, and a former space shuttle engineer, consultant to NASA headquarters.

Casey has formulated a “Bicentennial Cycle of 206 years correlated with near 100 percent accuracy to every major cold-temperature period of the past 1,200 years.” His Theory of “Relational Cycles of Solar Activity” accounts for its effects and those of other solar cycles.

He is not the first scientist to recognize the relationship of diminished sunspot activity and cooling cycles, but he is the first to have synthesized the earlier work of others who made comparable observations. His Relational Cycles theory, however, is more specific than preceding ones, pegging the arrival of significant global cold climate to begin as early as 2024 or as late as 2036. “My math says 2031” says Casey.

Casey’s book is a prediction of a coming ice age that will have devastating effects for all life on Earth, but my readers know I have been writing about this for several years based on Robert W. Felix’s book, “Not By Fire, But By Ice” ($15.95, Sugarhouse Publishing, Bellevue, WA). I have frequently referenced his website, for its daily updates on cold weather events, records established and broken, and reports on volcanic and earthquake activity around the world.

Before I proceed, the reader should contemplate the fact that not one single child entering or returning to school this year has ever lived in a period of “global warming.” The cooling cycle began around 1997.

You do not need to be a meteorologist to know nothing humans do affects or alters the weather. The claim that “greenhouse gases” such as carbon dioxide are making the Earth warmer is false.

We have been experiencing this as the Earth has cooled, along with increased volcanic activity and earthquakes, and yet on September 23rd the United Nations will hold a “Climate Change Summit” that will be attended by more than a hundred of the world’s presidents and prime ministers. They will continue the greatest international scientific fraud ever perpetrated.

Despite the cooling cycle that is occurring and which will grow in intensity, the U.S. government has devoted billions to global warming research and, as Casey notes, “not one research dollar has been dedicated to the science and planning needed for the United Sates to be prepared for the only climate change that we can expect—a long and potentially dangerous cold climate!”

The U.S. is not taking the steps necessary for the cold that is coming. It has not only failed to encourage the use of our multi-generational reserves of coal, the Obama administration has declared “war” on it, putting several hundred plants out of business, reducing the amount of electricity the nation needs now and will require. Power plants and refineries cannot be built overnight and the lack of them will severely impact our lives and the economy.

Despite thousands of miles of pipelines that safely distribute oil and natural gas, Obama has refused to permit a new one, Keystone XL, for oil to be shipped to gulf state refineries from Canada. Railroad cars needed to transport food crops in a timely manner are being diverted to transport oil. No new nuclear plants are being built on a scale that will be needed. The “grid” that distributes electricity nationwide is in vital need of repair and expansion.

Cold weather will reduce the amount of crops needed to feed the nation’s human population and the stocks of cattle, pigs, sheep, and chickens upon which we depend. This will happen here and worldwide. Famine will be rampant. In countless ways ours and worldwide societies that depend on all manner of technology will be impacted.

Nations and people will fail to prepare for what is coming because (1) they have been deceived by the global warming hoax and (2) we will be leaving behind one of the longest climate cycles other than an ice age, the interglacial warm period. Casey notes that “For the past 11,000 years, we have been living in one of these rare interglacial periods, called the Holocene warm period.”

What we call civilization is the result of the Holocene warm period and, without it, civilization and a global population nearing or surpassing eight billion will be largely decimated as the next, entirely predictable, ice age occurs.


Brazil Presidential Candidate Silva Moots Price on Carbon

Brazilian presidential candidate Marina Silva plans to put a price on greenhouse gas emissions and implement a national carbon market if elected, according to policy proposals released on Friday.

In the document, the coalition behind Silva's candidacy said the measures would help Brazil rein in emissions, which are on the verge of rising again after years of successfully being cut.

Brazil had reduced its carbon emissions from 2.85 billion tonnes of CO2e (carbon dioxide equivalent) in 1995 to 1.48 billion in 2012, mainly due to a sharp reduction in deforestation after the adoption of tougher legislation and a satellite-based system to monitor forest loss.

But large increases in thermal power generation and agricultural production have recently threatened to reverse the trend.

Besides carbon pricing and the carbon market, Silva's coalition plans to use tax tools to encourage the use of cleaner energy, enforce a halt on forest losses, and implement financial compensation for landowners who preserve biodiversity.

The Brazilian presidential race was upended by the late entry of Silva, a popular environmentalist, following the death of her party's previous candidate, Eduardo Campos, in a plane crash on Aug. 13.

Talking to journalists after the announcement of the proposals Friday, Silva said that she would deepen Brazil's commitment to reduce heat-trapping gases at the Paris round of climate talks, in 2015, when a new global deal to replace the Kyoto Protocol is expected to be clinched.

Brazil's current target is to reduce these gases by up to 39 percent against projected trends by 2020.



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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