Wednesday, November 12, 2014

The prophecies never stop

They've got a shiny new model

Global warming caused by greenhouse emissions may slow down before it speeds up again, scientists claim.

Man-made carbon dioxide in the atmosphere forms a blanket around Earth, trapping heat and preventing it from escaping back into space, causing temperatures to rise.

While this blanket-effect may cause a brief pause, global warming is expected to speed up because of the amount of carbon dioxide that has been emitted into the atmosphere, researchers warn.

A team from the University of Washington and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) explained that instead of carbon dioxide simply creating a blanket to slowly warm the planet, the story is more complicated - although the ending is the same.

Carbon dioxide being belched out by factories and vehicles acts as a blanket, trapping long-wave infrared energy coming off the Earth.

The atmosphere then emits less of this long-wave radiation to space because the upper atmosphere is cooler than the Earth's surface.

But the Earth gradually heats up under this ‘blanket’ and hotter objects emit more long-wave radiation, according to the Pnas study.

So within about a decade the effect of adding the thicker ‘blanket’ has been cancelled by the warmer body emitting more energy, the experts explained.

In the longer term, the study and its computer models show that the Earth will begin to absorb more shortwave radiation - the high-energy rays coming directly from the sun.

Experts have previously shied away from talking about shortwave radiation because clouds can reflect this visible light back to space and clouds remain one of the big unknowns under climate change. [A crucial admission]

The researchers warn that the planet is likely to have less ice and the air will become more humid under climate change, both of which will act to absorb more shortwave radiation from the sun.

Those effects will be like putting tanning oil on the planet, letting it absorb more of the sun's incoming rays, they explained.

Melting ice creates darker surfaces that can absorb more heat, and the more melting, the more heat it can absorb. Likewise, warmer air holds more water vapour, causing it to absorb solar radiation that might otherwise bounce back off clouds, ice or snow.

‘While greenhouse gases trap one type of radiation, it's the other type - visible, shortwave radiation - that is really sustaining global warming over the long term,’ said co-author Kyle Armour, a postdoctoral researcher at MIT.

The computer models should help scientists better detect climate change in satellite data, which can measure both shortwave radiation reflected by the Earth and long-wave radiation emitted by the Earth.

Most of the study's simulations involved a one-time addition of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

Yet one scenario simulated continuously increasing carbon dioxide, as is happening now, and found the long-wave radiation effect lasted about 20 years before the shortwave effect took over.

Professor of atmospheric sciences David Battisti at Washington University said: 'Our results do not change our overall expectation that the planet will continue to warm due to the burning of fossil fuels, but they do change our fundamental understanding of how that warming comes about.'


UK: Fracking firms should be allowed to cause bigger earth tremors, academics claim

Fracking firms must be allowed to cause far more significant earth tremors if the Government wants the shale gas industry to succeed, leading academics have warned.

Current regulations, imposed two years ago, are equivalent to banning buses from driving past houses or prohibiting the slamming of wooden doors, according to Dr Rob Westaway and Professor Paul Younger, of the University of Glasgow's School of Engineering.

The academics claimed that the overly-stringent rules, which force fracking operations to be stopped if tremors above 0.5 on the Richter scale are detected, were acting as a deterrent to would-be investors in Britain’s hoped-for shale gas boom.

Fracking involves pumping water, sand and chemicals into the ground at high pressure to hydraulically fracture rocks, releasing gas trapped within them.

Ministers drew up the current restrictions following a moratorium on fracking, imposed after Cuadrilla caused two earth tremors while fracking near Blackpool in 2011. The tremors measured 1.5 and 2.3 on the Richter scale.

Earthquakes below 3 on the Richter scale are not generally felt on the surface and only those above magnitude 4 are regarded as “significant” by the British Geological Survey, according to fracking trade body the UK Onshore Operators Group (UKOOG).

A report commissioned by Cuadrilla had originally suggested a much higher limit of 1.7 on the Richter scale before fracking operations should cease.

Dr Westaway said the current rules were “ridiculous”.  “The present regulation is a deterrent to investment and will need to be changed before energy companies are willing to invest the large sums that will need to be spent to develop shale gas in the UK,” he said.

"If regulations for other vibration-causing activities were similarly restrictive you'd have to prevent buses from driving in built-up areas or outlaw slamming wooden doors."

In a paper published in the Quarterly Journal of Engineering Geology and Hydrogeology, the academics said they had concluded that the maximum possible tremor that could be caused by fracking would be 3.6 on the Richter scale – and this was “very unlikely”.

Professor Younger said: "That might be sufficient to cause minor damage on the surface such as cracked plaster.”

But he said there was “already regulation in place for compensation for similar incidents caused by RAF fly-bys or mining operations”.  He suggested it would "make sense for similar schemes to be put into place for fracking".

"For example, induced earthquakes of magnitude 3 from fracking activities 1.6 miles below the earth's surface will create surface vibrations similar to the limits allowable from quarry blasting," he said.

These surface vibrations caused by a magnitude 3 earthquake would be roughly 25 times those that would be likely to be caused by the current limit of a 0.5 magnitude quake.

A spokesman for Cuadrilla said: “Whilst Professor Young and Dr Westaway are correct that the current seismic restrictions in place for hydraulic fracturing are low compared with other industries we support the Government’s undertaking that for the exploration phase of shale gas, seismic levels will be stringent with a view to further review once it can be confirmed that levels can be adjusted upwards without compromising safety.”

A spokesman for UKOOG said the industry was “committed to working within” the existing regulations set by the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC).

“The system was designed by DECC in consultation with the industry to control the effects of induced seismicity during the shale exploration phase,” he said.

“It is recognised by both DECC and industry that the current [threshold] is subject to review as more is known about local geology, faulting systems and well performance. Only time will tell how restrictive or not the current threshold is, but it is important that the industry is aligned on managing induced seismicity in a pro-active manner.”

A DECC spokesman said: “The threshold was set on the basis of a report by a group of independent experts. Our robust regulatory regime will allow shale exploration to take place while keeping the public safe.”

A spokesman for IGas said it was happy with the current regulations.


A Physicist Ponders the "Pause"

After surviving a storm-tossed voyage, King James I concluded that witches must have conjured tempests to do him ill because nothing ever happens by chance. In promoting the notion that climate trends are shaped by an industrialised world's CO2 emissions, warmists are in the same boat

John Reid

What bothers me, in the light of the continued denial by some of The Pause — the global climate’s prolonged refusal to grow warmer as the “settled science” predicted — is how this whole climate issue reflects a deeper malaise. It suggests a sort of Calvinistic determinism in which the future is cast in concrete and all that remains for us to do is to remove the form-work. This is in sharp contrast to Eastern philosophy, such as Taoism and the I Ching, which are based on the idea of continuous change. As Heraclitus noted quite some time ago, we may never step twice into the same river.

Determinism has long been there, underlying Western Christian thought, but it has recently come to dominate (or perhaps replace) scientific thinking. I believe that this is an unintended consequence of numerical modeling which is now widespread in science. Computers have, in general, been such a boon to science that no-one any longer questions the validity of some applications, particularly those numerical models which are based on differential equations. All such models rest on certain assumptions — assumptions which are very rarely questioned or even acknowledged. These include assumptions about the complete absence of discontinuities — cliffs and fronts and shocks — which are, in reality, widespread in nature.

However, by far the most subtle and far-reaching hidden assumption is that of determinism, the idea put forward by Pierre-Simon Laplace that if une intelligence knows the precise state of the universe at one instant it can predict the state of the universe at any future time. This idea underlies computer modeling and, in my view, is the root cause of much of the vitriol expressed by warmists. It goes hand-in-hand with ideas of omniscience and perfectability.

The other edge of this deterministic sword is the idea of the Malevolent Force. Under this mentality nothing ever happens by chance and so, when things go wrong and our predictions fail, then there must be a reason. The reason is usually human. If a divinely appointed king is threatened by a storm at sea then it must be the fault of witches, as  James I concluded after a pair of tempest-tossed voyages. If a Communist utopia fails, then it must be the fault of recidivists. If a climate model is called into question, it must be the mischief of deniers.

This is not science. This is not physics. Physicists have understood the underlying stochastic (i.e.random) propensities of nature for more than a century. To a physicist, deterministic, numerical models of natural processes may have their uses, but they are known to be limited in scope. Meteorological models cannot predict beyond about a week ahead. These models are typically time-domain models and their underlying assumption of continuity is known to be wrong, no more than a useful approximation.

On the other hand stochastic models (i.e. models which contain some random elements) are usually frequency-domain models and are much more powerful. If the theory doesn’t fit the data, then the theory is wrong; there is no room for special pleading. Stochastic models frequently involve an examination of the distribution of energy or variance with frequency known as a “power spectrum”. It was this sort of modeling which led to the invention of quantum mechanics in the last decade of the nineteenth century, one of the great triumphs of modern physics.

Today the climate field is once again dominated by time-domain, deterministic modeling; computer programmers have replaced physicists. A deterministic modeler looks at the graph of global average temperature for the last century and sees that it is increasing. This small change in temperature must have a cause because everything has to have a cause, according to his or her world view. A good candidate must be increasing levels of atmospheric CO2 due to modern industry. In the laboratory CO2 absorbs radiant heat, so this must be more of the same on a global scale. The modeler ignores the simple physical facts that total man-made production of CO2 since the start of the Industrial Revolution only accounts for about one percent of the total CO2 in the ocean-atmosphere system and that convection completely dominates radiation in the transport of heat through the atmosphere. Never mind, they tell themselves, we can always plug in enough feedbacks and fudge factors to make the model work.

At least in the short term.

A stochastic modeler (i.e. a physicist) looks at the same data and sees quasi-cyclic random fluctuations superimposed on a linear trend. It looks like red noise, which means that random variations are bigger at longer time scales than at shorter time scales. The apparent linear trend in recent global average temperature is quite possibly the outcome of noise components which are longer than the record length. Examination of much longer records of temperature data from ice-cores shows that this is indeed the case. The data does indeed have a red spectrum, and the observed temperature record is typical of what you get when you take a short sample from such a red noise time series. There is nothing unusual about the twentieth century climate.

The stochastic modeler then takes a longer look at the ice core time series over the last half million years or so. It is very interesting. There have indeed been large swings in climate. The last one ended 11,000 years ago. Climate at this longer time scale looks very much like a particular type of red spectrum known as  a “random walk”. (A random walk is the sum that you get if you throw a coin over and over again and add one for heads and subtract one for tails after each throw.) There is a big difference though. Random walks tend to wander further and further away from zero (variance increases with time) but the temperature throughout the succession of ice ages remains within a narrow channel (between about -18 and +10 deg C). It is a “bounded random walk”.

Why should it be bounded?

Simple physics tells us that, even in the complete absence of greenhouse gases, the planet cannot get any colder than the Ice Age temperature of -18 C because, at that temperature, the earth’s surface radiates the same amount of heat that it receives from the sun. This is the Stefan-Boltzman Law and it accounts for the lower boundary.

It is an observed fact that, in the present epoch, the surface temperature of the sea under natural conditions in the tropics rarely rises above 28 deg C. Any extra heat causes no increase in temperature. Instead, adding heat causes more rapid evaporation, followed by more vigorous turbulent convection (a stochastic process) which carries the extra heat to the top of the atmosphere where radiates into space. This accounts for the upper boundary.

The stochastic modeler’s theory of climate as a bounded random walk is physically reasonable.

On the other hand, a deterministic modeler (e.g. the palaeoclimatologist Richard Ally in the video below) looking at the same Ice Age temperature time series, sees that there have been large, rapid fluctuations which he cannot explain because he does not understand stochastic process. His response? Climate is obviously highly unstable and we don’t understand it and so we cannot be too careful, therefore we must de-industrialise the world immediately.

And the present pause? To a stochastic modeler it comes as no surprise. It could have been predicted 20 years ago on a desktop computer using a simple autoregressive (AR) model. However, such mundane predictions are rarely published or funded. Only alarmism works.


UK: Hinkley Point C verdict clears the way for new UK nuclear; opens possibilities in Europe

The prospects for new nuclear plants in the UK have been given a boost with a European Commission approval of the Contract for Difference funding mechanism. While there are some organisations against the project, the CfD mechanism could open the door to new-build projects in Europe.

EDF Energy’s plans for a new reactor in the UK have cleared a major hurdle with European Commission (EC) approval of the funding mechanism involved.

The Hinkley Point C project in Somerset, west England, was dependent on EC acceptance of the UK government’s proposed Contract for Difference (CfD) scheme.

Over the last year the EC has led a probe into whether the CfD concept, which would guarantee EDF an income of GBP£92.50 (USD$155/€112) per megawatt-hour for the 35-year contract term of the plant, constituted state aid.

“The Commission found that the long-term contract and the guarantee constitute an appropriate and proportionate way for the UK to meet its need for secure, low carbon energy,” said EDF in a press release.

In theory, the ruling clears the way for EDF and its project partners to make a final funding decision, which is expected to happen before the end of this year.

Legal challenges

Meanwhile, however, the non-nuclear Republic of Austria and Ecotricity, a UK renewable energy supplier, are both said to be pondering legal challenges to the EC decision, according to press reports.

Austria’s opposition to the funding mechanism was made public before the outcome of the EC investigation. A source at EDF said the company had not yet seen any further evidence of the lawsuits.

It is understood any parties wishing to contest the EC finding would first have to demonstrate that they would be directly affected by the decision.

Whether or not the legal threats translate into formal lawsuits remains to be seen; neither the Austrian government nor Ecotricity responded to requests for information from Nuclear Energy Insider. It is also unclear whether other parties will come forward to challenge the EC finding.

In the meantime, though, a number of parties in the UK and elsewhere in Europe are also said to be watching developments with interest, but with a possible view to using similar funding arrangements elsewhere.

CfD scheme

“We understand that other countries in Europe, such as Poland, have already expressed an interest in the CfD scheme,” says Dr Jonathan Cobb, senior communication manager at the World Nuclear Association in London.

“Existing measures, such as the carbon price floor or the Emissions Trading Scheme, do not adequately meet the market failure which exists in the UK market. Where similar market failures exist elsewhere in Europe, the CfD scheme will be one option to address these failures.”

Similar schemes could be applied to funding for nuclear, or indeed a range of low-carbon generation projects, elsewhere in Europe, Cobb points out.

“Although this judgement relates only to the Hinkley Point C project, the approval establishes the CfD as a valid option for such projects.”

For now, EDF is preparing for the outcome of the final investment decision later this year.

Preparation work

The company is already carrying out some preparation work on site, including road improvements and engagement with suppliers, although EDF Energy emphasises that this is “at their own commercial risk.”

Pending a positive go-ahead on investment, EDF says Hinkley Point C, which is forecast to cost expected to be £14bn in 2012 money, is still on track for commissioning in 2023.

In parallel, the EC and the UK Secretary of State will need to approve waste transfer contract arrangements. EDF also hopes the European decision could spell good news for its next new-build project, Sizewell C, which too is expected to rely on CfD funding in order to be viable.

If this second project goes ahead then EDF has agreed with the UK government that the CfD ‘strike price’ for both plants will drop to £89.50 per megawatt hour.

In addition, says EDF: “As proposed in October 2013, the Contract for Difference already contained a series of ‘gainshare’ mechanisms in which customers would benefit if the project construction costs or equity returns were more favourable than forecast.


Voters Reject the Green Political Agenda

By Alan Caruba

What the midterm voters wanted was an economy that returned to its average 3.3% annual growth since the end of World War II. For six years of the Obama presidency, growth has all but disappeared. In 2013, as measured by the World Bank, it was barely 1.9% That translated into a lack of jobs, stagnant middle class income, and what Obama correctly called the Great Recession, but could not end.

Instead, in the lead-up to the midterm elections, he was still talking about “climate change” as the greatest threat to the nation and the world. For the voters, however, climate change wasn’t even on its list of priorities and with good reason, there is nothing anyone or any nation can or should do about the great forces of nature that determine what the Earth’s climate will be; starting with the Sun.

The day after the elections two major environmental organizations, the Sierra Club and Friends of the Earth (FOE), wrote to their members. Their message was similar and their conclusions were absurd.

“The election’s over and the planet lost,” wrote Erich Pica, FOE president. “The next Congress will be controlled by politicians elected with millions of dollars of the Koch brothers’ oil money—putting at risk the vital environmental protections we’ve fought so hard to achieve.” FOE has more than 2 million activists in 75 nations including the U.S.

What Pica does not mention in his letter is the estimated $85 million spent on six Senate races by what The Hill described as “the nation’s top environmental groups including the League of Conservation Voters, the Sierra Club, the Environmental Defense Fund, the Natural Resources Defense Council, and billionaire Tom Steyer’s NextGen Climate…”

So the Koch brother’s money is evil, but environmental organizations’ money is okay?

As far as FOE’s Pica is concerned, “The truth is, President Obama hasn’t always done the right thing for the environment. He should have denied the Keystone Pipeline years ago, he should be rolling back unchecked fracking, and he should have taken stronger action on climate both at home and in international negotiations.”

FOE could care less about the thousands of jobs the Keystone pipeline would create, plus the revenue from refining the oil it would transport to the Gulf States. As for fracking, it is not “unchecked.” It has to be done within the context of safety and environmental laws. As for the climate, China and India are just two nations increasing the use of coal to generate the electrical power they need to stimulate industrialization and improve the lives of their citizens by bringing power where he has never been before.

Michael Brune, executive director of the Sierra Club, wrote that “Friends of Big Oil have taken control of the Senate” claiming they have “a 100-day action plan that reads like Big Oil’s wish list. Our opposition is about to have free reign to implement their anti-environment agenda. And approving the Keystone XL pipeline and destroying proposed environmental regulations top their list.”

Oh, really? If the polls and elections are any indicator, a lot of Americans want to see the pipeline construction. As for the “anti-environment agenda”, that too is pure fiction. What Americans oppose is the forced closure of electricity generation plants in the name of a global warming that is not happening. Or a climate change over which no government has any role or control.

To drive home his doom-and-gloom message, Brune added that “Rare species of wildlife already hanging by a threat will not survive this onslaught.”  Consider the absurdity of the claim that a Republican controlled Congress will be responsible for species extinction. For good measure, Brune, like the FOE, mentioned the Koch brothers, labeling them “big polluters.” Since when is drilling for oil and providing it to a world that runs on it “pollution”? It’s not. It’s progress that benefits humanity.

Commenting on the elections, Dr. Jay Lehr, the Science Director of The Heartland Institute, a free market think tank, characterized them as “the repudiation of the President’s policies” and the nation’s political pundits all agree. Dr. Lehr called for “a bill to require the construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline which has bipartisan support and has passed every environmental test.”

Dr. Lehr called on Congress to “require the government to open up public lands to environmentally safe mineral and energy exploration as well as speed up approval of permits to drill and mine for resources on already approved lands. This will ensure our resource independence in both areas for centuries to come.”

High on my list of priorities was reflected by Dr. Lehr’s call for Congress “to take charge of the funding of the Environmental Protection Agency which has gone rogue in efforts to impede virtually all economic development in our nation, and eventually phase out the EPA, passing on its responsibilities to a committee of the whole of our fifty state environmental protection agencies.”

A November 6 article, “Climate change supporters suffer losses”, published in The Hill, reported that “Despite millions spent to make climate change a wedge issue during the midterms, environmentally friendly candidates didn’t fare well on Election Day.” Even so, the Sierra Club’s Brune was quoted saying, “Public support is solidly behind action to tackle the climate crisis. While we have lost friends in Congress, we are gaining them in the streets, as our movement grows stronger and broader.” NOT!

Frances Beinecke, president of the Natural Resources Defense Council, echoed Brune’s empty boasts. “Whatever may have driven individual races, the American people want action on climate change.” NOT!

As far as the environment is concerned, it is way down on the list of the voter’s priorities and the change of leadership and control of Congress reflects that. The voters don’t want a lot of vapid, idiotic talk of climate change and other environmental fantasies. They want jobs. They want an economy that will provide them. They want a better future for themselves and their children. And whether they know it or not, they want a conservative approach to government.


The ideas of a hate-filled eco-Fascist: Finland's Pentti Linkola

Pentti Linkola carries Greenie assumptions to their logical conclusions.  He would make Stalin look like a humanitarian if he ever got any power

Quotations from Linkola:

"What to do, when a ship carrying a hundred passengers suddenly capsizes and there is only one lifeboat? When the lifeboat is full, those who hate life will try to load it with more people and sink the lot. Those who love and respect life will take the ship's axe and sever the extra hands that cling to the sides."

"The composition of the Greens seems to be the same as that of the population in general — mainly pieces of drifting wood, people who never think."

"A minority can never have any other effective means to influence the course of matters but through the use of violence."

"Any dictatorship would be better than modern democracy. There cannot be so incompetent dictator, that he would show more stupidity than a majority of the people. Best dictatorship would be one where lots of heads would roll and government would prevent any economical growth."

"The most central and irrational faith among people is the faith in technology and economical growth. Its priests believe until their death that material prosperity bring enjoyment and happiness - even though all the proofs in history have shown that only lack and attempt cause a life worth living, that the material prosperity doesn't bring anything else than despair. These priests believe in technology still when they choke in their gas masks."

"That there are billions of people over 60kg weight on this planet is recklessness."

"Alternative movements and groups are a welcome relief and a present for the society of economic growth."

"We will have to...learn from the history of revolutionary movements — the national socialists, the Finnish Stalinists, from the many stages of the Russian revolution, from the methods of the Red Brigades — and forget our narcissistic selves."

"Everything we have developed over the last 100 years should be destroyed."

"A fundamental, devastating error is to set up a political system based on desire. Society and life are been organized on basis of what an individual wants, not on what is good for him or her...Just as only one out of 100,000 has the talent to be an engineer or an acrobat, only a few are those truly capable of managing the matters of a nation or mankind as a whole...In this time and this part of the World we are headlessly hanging on democracy and parliamentary system, even though these are the most mindless and desperate experiments of the mankind...In democratic coutries the destruction of nature and sum of ecological disasters has accumulated most...Our only hope lies in strong central government and uncompromizing control of the individual citizen."

"If the present amount of Earths population is preserved and is reduced only by the means of birth control, then:

Birthgiving must be licenced. To enhance population quality, genetically or socially unfit homes will be denied offspring, so that several birth licences can be allowed to families of quality.

Energy production must be drastically reduced. Electricity is allowed only for the most necessary lighting and communications.

Food: Hunting must be made more efficient. Human diet will include rats and invertebrate animals. Agriculture moves to small un-mechanized units. All human manure is used as fertilizer.

Traffic is mostly done with bicycles and rowing boats. Private cars are confiscated. Long-distance travel is done with sparse mass transport. Trees will be planted on most roads.

Foreign affairs: All mass immigration and most of import-export trade must stop. Cross-border travel is allowed only for small numbers of diplomats and correspondents.

Business will mostly end. Manufacture is allowed only for well argumented needs. All major manufacturing capacity is state owned. Products will be durable and last for generations.

Science and schooling: Education will concentrate on practical skills. All competition is rooted out. Technological research is reduced to extreme minimum. But every child will learn how to clean a fish in a way that only the big shiny bones are left over."

In the eyes of the most credible sources, planet Earth can sustain a half-billion humans without any sizable destruction of our habitat, or any loss in species or stability of our ecosystem. Any numbers higher than that, no matter how much they recycle, will cause environmental chaos.

The modern leftist-tinged environmental movement is terrified of telling anyone that they cannot breed and keep buying whatever strikes their fancy, but someone must do this in the future. The sooner we do it, the fewer people in the future will be left without a means of sustenance and thus require termination.

"We still have a chance to be cruel. But if we are not cruel today, all is lost."



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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