Sunday, October 26, 2014

Rahmstorf gives up

He doesn't seem to realize that he has but he has abandoned the last hope of the Warmists:  Ocean heat. He is one of Germany's most prominent academic Warmists

Ocean heat content is unsuited as a climate policy target. Here are three main reasons why.

1. Ocean heat content is extremely unresponsive to policy.

While the increase in global temperature could indeed be stopped within decades by reducing emissions, ocean heat content will continue to increase for at least a thousand years after we have reached zero emissions. Ocean heat content is one of the most inert components of the climate system, second only to the huge ice sheets on Greenland and Antarctica (hopefully at least – if the latter are not more unstable than we think).

2. Ocean heat content has no direct relation to any impacts.

Ocean heat content has increased by about 2.5 X 1023 Joules since 1970 (IPCC AR5). What would be the impact of that? The answer is: it depends. If this heat were evenly distributed over the entire global ocean, water temperatures would have warmed on average by less than 0.05 °C (global ocean mass 1.4 × 1021 kg, heat capacity 4 J/gK). This tiny warming would have essentially zero impact. The only reason why ocean heat uptake does have an impact is the fact that it is highly concentrated at the surface, where the warming is therefore noticeable (see Fig. 1). Thus in terms of impacts the problem is surface warming – which is described much better by actually measuring surface temperatures rather than total ocean heat content. Surface warming has no simple relation to total heat uptake because that link is affected by ocean circulation and mixing changes. (By the way, neither has sea-level rise due to thermal expansion, because the thermal expansion coefficient is several times larger for warm surface waters than for the cold deep waters – again it is warming in the surface layers that counts, while the total ocean heat content tells us little about the amount of sea-level rise.)

3. Ocean heat content is difficult to measure.

The reason is that you have to measure tiny temperature changes over a huge volume, rather than much larger changes just over a surface. Ocean heat content estimates have gone through a number of revisions, instrument calibration issues etc. If we were systematically off by just 0.05 °C throughout the oceans due to some instrument drift, the error would larger than the entire ocean heat uptake since 1970. If the surface measurements were off by 0.05 °C, this would be a negligible correction compared to the 0.7 °C surface warming observed since 1950....

So why do Victor and Kennel propose to use deep ocean heat content as policy target?

In a recent interview, David Victor has explained why he wants to “ditch the 2 °C warming goal”, as the title of his Nature commentary with Charles Kennel reads: "There are some other indicators that look much more promising. One of them is ocean heat content."

The reason that Victor and Kennel gave for preferring ocean heat content over a global mean surface temperature target is this: "Because energy stored in the deep oceans will be released over decades or centuries, ocean heat content is a good proxy for the long-term risk to future generations and planetary-scale ecology."

I criticized this because the deep ocean will not release any heat in the next thousand years but rather continue to absorb heat. In his response at Dot Earth, Victor replied that I had “plucked this sentence out of context”. However, in their article there simply is no context that would explain how “energy stored in the deep oceans will be released over decades or centuries” or how this would make it “a good proxy for the long-term risk”. This statement is plainly wrong, and Victor would have been more credible to simply admit that. Victor there further argues that “the data suggest [OHC] is a more responsive measure” than surface temperature, but what he means by that, given the huge thermal inertia of the oceans, beats me.


Weather Channel Founder Challenges UCLA to Offer Balanced Climate Change Debate on Thursday

John Coleman, founder of The Weather Channel, is urging UCLA’s Hammer Museum to provide balance to a presentation titled “Tackling Climate Change Nationally and Globally” on Thursday, October 23. The presentation, according to the museum’s website, will “examine the issue” that “despite the overwhelming scientific consensus that global warming is a danger to the planet, little progress has been made to reduce CO2 emissions.” The only presenters are controversial global warming alarmists Michael Mann and Brenda Ekwurzel.

In an open letter to UCLA and the Hammer Museum, Coleman notes many esteemed scientists and climate experts dispute the hypothesis that human activity is causing catastrophic global warming and that carbon dioxide emissions need to be curbed drastically to reduce the “danger to the planet.”

Coleman’s open letter below was sent to the Los Angeles Times as well as the television stations KCBS, KTLA, and NBC4 in Los Angeles.

Dear UCLA Hammer Forum officials,

There is no significant man-made global warming at this time, there has been none in the past and there is no reason to fear any in the future. Efforts to prove the theory that carbon dioxide is a significant “greenhouse” gas and pollutant causing significant warming or weather effects have failed. There has been no warming over 18 years. William Happer, Ph.D., Princeton University, Richard Lindzen, Ph.D., Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Willie Soon, Ph.D., Harvard Smithsonian Observatory, John Christy, Ph.D., University of Alabama and 9,000 other Ph.D. scientists all agree with my opening two sentences. Yet at your October 23 Hammer Forum on Climate Change you have scheduled as your only speakers two people who continue to present the failed science as though it is the final and complete story on global warming/climate change. This is [a] major mistake.

I urge you to re-examine your plan. It is important to have those who attend know that there is no climate crisis. The ocean is not rising significantly. The polar ice is increasing, not melting away. Polar Bears are increasing in number. Heat waves have actually diminished, not increased. There is not an uptick in the number or strength of storms (in fact storms are diminishing). I have studied this topic seriously for years. It has become a political and environment agenda item, but the science is not valid.

I am the founder of The Weather Channel and a winner of the American Meteorological Society honor as Broadcast Meteorologist of the Year. I am not a wacko flat-Earther. Nor am I a “paid shill” (as has been claimed) of the Koch Brothers. I am a serious professional. I am strongly urging you to reconsider your plan.

I will be pleased to discuss this matter with you and answer questions. I will be happy to provide links to all of the points I have made in this email. As a quick scientific reference you may wish to look at the website of the Nongovernmental [International] Panel on Climate Change.


Britain's nutty energy policy

Consumers will be forced to pay higher energy bills to fund policies that simultaneously tax coal plants to the brink of closure and then pay them to stay open, the head of Britain’s biggest energy supplier has warned.

Sam Laidlaw, chief executive of British Gas owner Centrica, warned there was an “inherent paradox” in Government policies, which risked ending up being neither green nor affordable.

As part of plans to switch to greener energy, ministers last year introduced a rising carbon tax, the so-called “carbon price floor”, which charges power plants for burning fossil fuels.

The tax was intended initially to phase out the use of coal – the dirtiest fuel – in favour of more environmentally-friendly gas plants, and eventually restrict all fossil fuel plants in favour of green technologies such as wind farms and nuclear power.

The levy has the effect of pushing up wholesale power prices, costing every household about £5 last year, increasing to an estimated £32 a year by 2020.

Yet at the same time another policy, the “capacity market”, is being introduced to ensure there are enough reliable fossil fuel power plants to keep the lights on and act as back-up for intermittent renewables.

The policy was initially regarded as a way of encouraging a new “dash for gas” by aiding construction of new gas plants.

But in practice it is primarily expected to result in subsidies being paid to existing coal, gas and nuclear plants – including coal plants that were otherwise at risk of closure from the carbon tax.

In a speech on Thursday, Mr Laidlaw said it was “clear that old, dirty coal stations will be paid extra to stay online for longer” as a result of the policy.

He warned: “The cost of this will be levied on customers’ bills, alongside the cost of the carbon price floor, which is designed to encourage switching away from coal. There’s an inherent paradox here.”

The capacity market policy is likely to cost each household £14 a year on their energy bill from 2018, official estimates suggest.

Sam Laidlaw, chief executive of Centrica

Peter Atherton, energy analyst at investment bank Liberum Capital, said: “We have one set of market interventions trying to kill coal, but then we worry about the lights going out so we have another intervention trying to keep coal going. [It’s] difficult to make this stuff up.”

He estimated that coal plants could receive subsidies to the tune of £610m a year through the capacity market. Subsidies will be awarded through an auction process in early December.

Defenders of the policy say it is right to keep old coal plants running if they are cheaper than building new gas plants.

Centrica does not own any coal plants, but is hoping to secure subsidies for a new gas plant.

But Lawrence Carter, energy campaigner at Greenpeace, said: “The most influential energy boss in the country is now confirming what Greenpeace and others have been warning all along. A big chunk of these new energy hand-outs will be pocketed by coal plant operators and used to extend the lifespan of some of Europe's most polluting power stations.

“Even some of the biggest players in the energy industry think this new policy doesn't make sense. Ed Davey needs to listen to these concerns and make sure dirty coal plants don't get a penny of public money.”

Ed Matthew, director of the Energy Bill Revolution campaign group, said the use of the carbon tax was "totally illogical" as it simply went to the Treasury, and should at least be used for good purpose such as improving home energy efficiency.

A spokesman for the Department of Energy and Climate Change said: "There is no paradox. The carbon price floor and the capacity market work together to ensure we move to low carbon generation in a way that keeps the lights on at peak demand at lowest cost to the consumer."


Drill, baby, drill

Every autumn, gas prices fall providing consumers weary from peak summer prices a windfall.  In 2014, Michael Green a spokesman for AAA estimated that Americans are spending about $230 million a day less on gasoline than on July 4th, and the price continues to plummet.

In fact, according to retail gasoline prices on average have reached levels not seen since 2010 as a combination of the seasonal demand drop off, a slowing global economy, and declining world oil prices continue to create downward pressure.

The non-partisan, apolitical AAA, best known for maps and travel guides, goes so far in their October report to make a bold proclamation writing,

“Gas prices generally have been less expensive than in recent years due to the dramatic boom in North American petroleum production. U.S. refineries have taken advantage of increased crude oil supplies to make more gasoline. In addition, increased domestic production has helped insulate U.S. consumers from conflicts and instability overseas.”

If you are an anti-drilling environmental activist, you might want to put your fingers in your ears and start making nonsense sounds if someone read this report out loud to you.

The AAA attributes the development of shale oil fields in North Dakota, Texas and around the country for not only stabilizing and decreasing gasoline prices, but also for protecting our nation from energy price shocks resulting from Middle East oil country’s blackmailing the world by manipulating oil availability.

In fact, the United States Energy Information Agency (EIA)  concurs reporting, “Record-setting liquid fuels production growth in the United States has more than offset the rise in unplanned global supply disruptions over the past few years.”

Now, on top of the rapidly growing U.S. and Canadian production, those same OPEC countries that historically have ruled the market with an iron fist have opened their oil spigots as they need to maintain cash flow and market share.

Oil is still a weapon in the Middle East, but due to a private sector led energy renaissance in the United States and Canada, it is not aimed at us.  Instead, cash strapped Iran is under extraordinary economic duress, while at the same time attempting to expand their empire.  The Saudis, who are Sunni Muslim, have an interest in stifling Shia Iran’s rise. And lower prices has just that effect.

Adding to the drop in worldwide oil prices is the decrease in demand for oil amongst industrialized countries, which the U.S. Energy Department reported was down 200,000 barrels a day this year compared to last.

The New York Times reports that, “the government expects American consumption, which increased by nearly 500,000 barrels a day in 2013, to decline by 40,000 barrels a day this year.”

With Europe continuing in recession bordering on depression, Japan’s stagnant economy on the verge of another recession, and China’s economy rapidly slowing, the drop in demand for oil worldwide is a symptom of a potential major economic crisis.

However, this same drop in oil prices resulting from what some view as a glut of crude on the market has a palliative impact on economies around the world.  Lower energy costs put more dollars in consumers’ and business owners’ pockets, providing every bit as much of a stimulative effect as lowered interest rates or tax cuts.

A primary example of the market providing the exact remedy that the world’s economies need.

And back in America, consumers are, according to AAA, saving, “between $5 to $15” per fill-up.  Providing extra cash to spend or save as each individual chooses, with even more savings expected to come as the fall turns to winter.

The only people who could complain about an American and indeed, worldwide, economy being bolstered by an oil boom would be the perpetually sour environmentalists who have a long history of openly pining for high priced “fossil fuels” to make their preferred alternative energy schemes more attractive in the marketplace.

Unfortunately, with these curmudgeons in charge of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), some of the savings at the pump will be eaten up by anti-coal, regulation generated increased electricity costs.

Yet, somehow in spite of the environmentalist war on real energy sources like coal, oil and natural gas, North America is on the verge of energy independence, insulated from the whims of far-away dictators and free to begin thriving due to this energy certainty.


Warmists want to censor Texas textbooks

There is a controversy over proposed new school textbooks in Texas—not over what is actually in the books but instead over scientific facts environmental lobbyists want the publishers to keep out of them. The activists want to censor the textbooks.

Texas is a huge market for textbook publishers, so publishers listen seriously to questions raised by the Texas Board of Education (TBOE). When TBOE adopts a textbook, much of the nation follows.

The TBOE is in the midst of adopting new social studies textbooks for the first time in 12 years. The books approved will probably be used in schools for more than a decade.

Thus the controversy. With the ability to influence the thoughts of millions of schoolchildren regarding environmental issues, especially climate change, these alarmists want to censor the textbooks. They want to pressure the TBOE to remove passages which are accurate but, in being so, question the alarmists’ beliefs.

The global warming dogma is fairly simple (although the array of arguments used to support it are complex even though simpleminded): Humans are causing climate change; the results will be catastrophic; and governments must force people to use less energy and live poorer and simpler lives in order to prevent disaster. These activists want textbooks to teach students what to think about climate change, not how to think.

The TBOE and textbook publishers are not following the activists’ lesson plan. Instead, they recognize each of the dogma’s key points is still open to question and subject to lively debate within the scientific, economic, and public policy communities.

The National Center for Science Education (NCSE) has been at the forefront in criticizing Texas’ textbook selection process. The NCSE is not a group of scientists or science teachers, but instead an activist group devoted in part to promoting global warming alarmism. That’s why it issued a report condemning the proposed textbooks for recognizing basic questions of climate science are still up for debate. Dr. Minda Berbeco, director of the NCSE, has stated, “The scientific debate over whether climate change is happening and who is responsible has been over for years.” That comes as a big surprise to the plethora of climate scientists who have published and continue to publish peer-reviewed academic journal articles skeptical of one or more of the three tenets of the climate dogma.

The NCSE falls back on the tired old claim that 97 percent of climate scientists agree humans are causing dangerous global warming. First, it’s important to note consensus is a political term, not a scientific one. The ability of a theory to be disproved is essential to the scientific method. Second, although the 97 percent claim is based on faulty (and in fact phony) studies, there is indeed consensus on two points: Carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas, and humans have had some effect on the earth’s climate.

The important questions remain unanswered, however. Are humans or other natural conditions responsible for the majority of the past century’s warming? Would a global warming be bad or good for humanity, on balance? And if humans are responsible and the results are generally harmful, what are the best responses? There is widespread disagreement on each of these points, and anyone who says otherwise is lying.

The proposed textbooks don’t deny human-caused global warming is happening; they just accurately report scientists are still debating the matter. They present the evidence and invite the students to make up their own minds. That’s what real scientists do.

Openness to evidence and ongoing questioning are the cornerstones of scientific discovery, but this is what critics of the social studies textbooks fundamentally dispute. They aren’t just questioning the value of continued debate concerning global warming but actually denying the foundations of the scientific method and calling for censorship to enforce their bigotry. The NCSE wants to replace observation, hypothesis, testing, and success or retraction with dodgy polls of self-described experts. Their agenda is not science; it’s censorship.


Say no to Australia's  coal killers

CONVICTED killer, now Anglican priest, Evan Pederick is the perfect poster boy for the fossil fuel divestment campaign. The convicted and self-confessed terrorist has been taken into the bosom of the Anglican Church and joined forces with other churches to divest their institutions of investments in fossil fuels (and some minerals).

That other church of green ideology, the Australian National University, has done the same.

Pederick willingly and knowingly set out to destroy a life, that of the Indian prime minister, by planting a bomb in Sydney in 1978. He missed and killed three others instead. Divestment activists, perhaps unwittingly, also will harm innocent people.

Instead of Killers against Coal, why not Christians for Coal?

The moral calculation is simple. An effective divestment campaign would increase the cost of power and harm the poor.

It would substitute the possible risk of some harm to life from climate change decades into the future with the certain harm to life from denial of access to cheap ­energy now. An ineffective campaign, which is more likely, would waste the opportunity to put funds to better use.

Had the ANU, for example, announced that it would devote more of its (taxpayer supported) trust’s investments to low carbon energy research, building on its actual contribution to society, education, few outsiders would have quibbled. Except, of course, the trustees, who bypassed the opportunity because the investment would have been high risk and harmed its own income.

Instead, ANU trustees took a moral preening stance with low risk to its own income and high risk of harm to the poor. While accepting taxpayers’ money to train engineers, the ANU trustees and its vice-chancellor treat the work of those engineers with a likely future in fossil fuel and minerals mining with disdain. In the spirit of undergraduate activism that now infects the ANU at the highest levels, I urge all engineering aspirants to boycott the ANU.

The mystery is why the disease of divestment has spread so far and wide. Partly, it is because the climate change research pool has been tainted by a culture of silencing dissent in pursuit of public funds. Partly, it is a consequence of the growth of green non-government organisations, most with taxpayer privileges, and partly because industry has given up arguing the case for science in the service of progress.

Industry, especially companies with head offices in Europe, allowed itself to be demonised. It got sucked into the social licence to operate gibberish. It ceded legitimacy to a bunch of moralists who would keep the poor poor.

“Beyond Petroleum” was the tag adopted by a BP too embarrassed to face the public about the fact the public, indeed, the poor, needed hydrocarbons. BP chief executive John Browne’s ­famous 1997 speech signalled that “We in BP … must now focus on what can and what should be done, not because we can be certain climate change is happening but because the possibility can’t be ignored. If we are all to take responsibility for the future of our planet, then it falls to us to begin to take precautionary action now.”

At that time of climate change hyperbole BP (and many others) failed to defend its role in society. Of course, the greens never accepted the ploy, renouncing it as Beyond Belief. Indeed, from its 2000 announcements of investments in bio fuels, wind and solar, by 2011 BP had sold the solar business and by 2013 had attempted to sell the wind business. Bio-fuels remain beholden to huge taxpayer subsidies, harming the poor.

As Browne wrote in his 2013 book Seven Elements That Have Changed the World, one of which is carbon, “the prospects for meaningful international agreement on climate changed (sic) have diminished with each passing year”. He also concedes that political leaders “need to prepare us to adapt to a different set of climatic conditions”. Adaptation is the new reality, not the fantasy of abatement, which is at the heart of the divestment strategy.

Shell, on the other hand, has decided to fight back. Last week, Shell’s chairman in Australia, ­Andrew Smith, said rising activism was “fast becoming one of the greatest challenges facing Australian growth”.

Many more must join the fight, the first task of which is to name the enemy within — the killer priest, the ANU vice-chancellor and trustees, and scores of green NGOs. These should be made to feel the cold steel of rationality, which by the way, cannot be made without coking coal.



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.  

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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