Tuesday, December 23, 2014
Santa thinks the British parliament might need this
An oil conspiracy?
Conspiracy theories are resorted to by people who don't understand what is going on. Hence the absurdity below. Oil is cheap now because increased American production from shale has broken the back of the OPEC cartel. But I guess that is a rather complex truth, too complex for a local politician
Just as global warming gains international traction with treaties, targets and timetables the price of oil miraculously drops. A coincidence? I think not.
Just as solar, wind, biofuel and electric technologies become more competitive with high-priced oil and gain wider adoption worldwide the price of oil miraculously drops. A coincidence? I think not.
Big Energy, the oil and gas industry, has had its foot on the neck of the developed world for a very long time, and it knows all the ins-and-outs of making barrels of money. That oil prices suddenly drop to mid-$50-a-barrel while investment, supply and production increase shows Big Energy knows how to use the powerful weapon in its hands. As oil prices decline the value of alternative energy companies begin to collapse, their product no longer as competitive therm-for-therm. Some very innovative and brilliant young companies are going to be picked up by Big Energy at rock-bottom prices in the year or two to come.
As for the economies of countries dependent upon high oil prices, like Venezuela? They too will become vassals to the Big Energy syndicate. Facing economic failure, some political regimes hostile to Big Energy will be replaced with new and favorable regimes, which will enjoy the financial largesse Big Energy capital and projects provide. The global political order will hew to the common-denominator – energy prices – and the Big Energy masters of the world will demonstrate the hardball practice of power.
There are those who will say “market forces” are simply at work; supply has increased beyond demand, and thus the price has dropped. The problem with this naïve line of logic, however, is that Big Energy controls both the market and the forces. Americans are not going to complain about lower gas prices; to the contrary, most people are not obsessively thinking about Big Energy’s global squeeze-play as they fill their tanks for under $2.80/gallon.
A year or two of lowered profits at Big Energy is no big deal when compared with the chance to squeeze their competition out of the market for what might be another 25 years or more. We are talking about a TRILLION dollar industry here, not some five-and-dime operation with empty pockets. Big Energy knows their shareholders will hang in there for the ride, bumpy as it may appear to the uninitiated. Once the squeeze-out period has passed and Big Energy has consolidated the new technologies into its food-chain, it can feed or starve any alternative energy source at its whim.
Oil price declines from the near-monopoly-like-syndicate of Big Energy forces consumer complicity in the application of naked power. Public opinion, in our democracy now measured by the consumer price index and GNP, takes on the appearance of popular support, adding backbone to national politicians who otherwise, supported by Big Energy money, collude with it to block carbon-regulating legislation and provide new tax breaks.
When it’s all over, the well-established hegemony of Big Energy will be renewed. Innovation and energy competition will have been savaged, restive national economies brought to their knees, global corporations and politicians rewarded for their loyalty, the myth of supply and demand reified, and attention to global warming pushed aside by fears of deflation. All it will cost Big Energy is a few trillion and what’s that among friends?
More Warmist fraud
Caught red-handed: Geomar omits crucial 1960s Arctic sea ice melt phase in press release
By Fritz Vahrenholt and Sebastian Lüning
The most well-known historical Arctic region melting period took place 1000 years ago when the Vikings sailed through the Arctic Ocean, which had little sea ice. Eventually they colonized Greenland and Iceland. Today no one wants to hear it because it doesn’t fit with the climate catastrophe storyline.
In 1887 the topic was less important. Back then the planet was emerging from the Little Ice Age and people were glad about the warming. Warm was good. There was no IPCC back then. For example in the New Zealand daily The Press on 8 November 1887 there was a story about the Viking journeys and a sharply reduced sea ice extent – something that would be unimaginable today
But one does not need to go back so far into history. Also between 1920 and 1940 there was a strong phase of melting in the north polar sea. Former Max-Planck director Lennart Bengtsson summarized the knowledge of the warm phase in the Journal of Climate in 2004. Already back then he saw a relationship with ocean cycles that influenced the climate with a 60-year period.
What follows is the abstract of that paper:
The Early Twentieth-Century Warming in the Arctic —A Possible Mechanism
The huge warming of the Arctic that started in the early 1920s and lasted for almost two decades is one of the most spectacular climate events of the twentieth century. During the peak period 1930–40, the annually averaged temperature anomaly for the area 60°–90°N amounted to some 1.7°C. Whether this event is an example of an internal climate mode or is externally forced, such as by enhanced solar effects, is presently under debate. This study suggests that natural variability is a likely cause, with reduced sea ice cover being crucial for the warming. A robust sea ice–air temperature relationship was demonstrated by a set of four simulations with the atmospheric ECHAM model forced with observed SST and sea ice concentrations. An analysis of the spatial characteristics of the observed early twentieth-century surface air temperature anomaly revealed that it was associated with similar sea ice variations. Further investigation of the variability of Arctic surface temperature and sea ice cover was performed by analyzing data from a coupled ocean–atmosphere model. By analyzing climate anomalies in the model that are similar to those that occurred in the early twentieth century, it was found that the simulated temperature increase in the Arctic was related to enhanced wind-driven oceanic inflow into the Barents Sea with an associated sea ice retreat. The magnitude of the inflow is linked to the strength of westerlies into the Barents Sea. This study proposes a mechanism sustaining the enhanced westerly winds by a cyclonic atmospheric circulation in the Barents Sea region created by a strong surface heat flux over the ice-free areas. Observational data suggest a similar series of events during the early twentieth-century Arctic warming, including increasing westerly winds between Spitsbergen and Norway, reduced sea ice, and enhanced cyclonic circulation over the Barents Sea. At the same time, the North Atlantic Oscillation was weakening.”
Today in the press one hardly hears any mention of this melting phase. IPCC scientists would have us believe there has been only one single trend over the last 150 years, namely the steady death of Arctic sea ice.
In December 2013 in the journal PNAS a reconstruction of Arctic sea ice cover appeared for the past 650 years using algae as a proxy. The study was carried out by Jochen Halfar of the University of Toronto. Also involved in the study was Steffen Hetzinger of the Geomar Institute in Kiel, Germany. On November 19, 2013 a Geomar press release announced:
"Since the end of the Little Ice Age around 1850, the archives of the red algae show a continuous decrease of the ice, a trend which continues through today. This decrease is stronger than anything we previously observed in the 650 year long history of the red algae record.“
The Austrian national daily Standard sounded the climate alarms, informing its readers:
"For the first time a team of international scientists traced the development of sea ice in the Arctic all the way back to the Middle Ages. Here the scientists of the University of Groningen and others found out that the ice sheet has been melting continuously since the middle of the 19th century. They were helped by red algae which conserved the climate history of the last centuries. So far the data on the Arctic from satellites have gone back only to the late 1970s.”
The use of the word “continuously” leads us to understand that the ice is melting steadily, without any larger phases of ice growth in between. Only a very few readers have taken the time and effort to read the original paper. In press releases, authors certainly only tell the truth and nothing but the truth, right?
One look at the publication, however, delivers a bitter disappointment. Figure 2b of the study shows the development of the sea ice curve for Newfoundland for the past 150 years in detail (Figure 1). The result: In the 1960s, in the pre-satellite era, sea ice had shrunk to levels seen today. However in the press release, that inconvenient condition never got mentioned.
Figure 1: The blue curve depicts the development of sea ice near Newfoundland for the past 150 years. High peaks indicate shrinking, low peaks depict growth. Source: Halfar et al 2013.
In the paper itself the authors correctly attribute the development to the impact of Atlantic ocean cycles:
"Modeling studies have shown that the NAO exerts an influence on the spatial distribution of winter sea ice via wind-driven anomalies of sea-ice velocity, surface vertical heat flux, and possibly horizontal oceanic heat flux (7). There is strong observational evidence connecting Arctic sea-ice distribution with the positive NAO trend from the 1960s to the early 1990s.”
Conscious deception of the public
In the GEOMAR press release there is also not a word about the cyclic nature of sea ice. This is a conscious deception of the public. The ice is neither “shrinking continuously” nor is CO2 playing the only role as some scientists would like us to believe.
Does Steffen Hetzinger know what he is doing? He is a young man who probably is in search of a permanent position and thus has to play along with the climate panic game. Did the GEOMAR force him to write such a press release or what it his own idea to score big points with climate alarmism? One thing is clear: this has nothing to do with reputable science. Hardly a good way to begin a career.
German government deception: Satellite data from the 60s not mentioned. Why? Because the gaps in the ice were LARGER then than now. Compared to the '60s, the ice is "healing up". We live in a era of Arctic COOLING
What would the sea ice discussion be like today if systematic satellite-based measurement had begun already in 1960?
Measurements first began in 1979. The first IPCC report of 1990 was naively honest and openly revealed that shortly before satellite measurements began, there had been significantly less Arctic sea ice than there was during the measurement period beginning in 1979. In the subsequent IPCC reports, they truncated the inconvenient start of the chart, thus taking it out of the readers’ view.
Looking at the melt phase of the 1960s and 1970s shown in the above chart, one really has to wonder that the German Ministry of Environment is using a dubious IPCC chart which fails to show the melting of the 1960s
The discovery of old Nimbus satellite images must have been very awkward for the Federal Ministry of Environment. The images document huge holes in the Arctic sea ice. Spiegel Online reported on November 4, 2014:
‘Nimbus': Nasa releases old satellite images
They were forgotten in NASA archives: Scientists discovered satellite images from the 1960s. A huge hole in the Arctic sea ice, large masses of snow, intact lakes – the images offer some surprises.”
Already on October 21, 2014, Mashable had reported on the unexpected gaping holes in the north polar sea ice:
The Nimbus data provides the earliest known view of Antarctica’s sea ice, which has made headlines recently for setting a record for the largest ice extent, and spotted large breaks in Arctic sea ice where none were thought to have occurred. The modern satellite record of sea ice in the Arctic and Antarctic starts in 1979, so the added data gives scientists a longer-term view that informs their understanding of present-day events. […]
Sea ice extents in the Arctic were much larger in the 1960s than they are now, Gallaher said, which is consistent with the global warming-induced decline in Arctic sea ice. Still, even in years with higher volume’s of sea ice, the satellite spotted ice-free areas near the North Pole that were 200 to 300 miles across. “We found holes in ice at North Pole that we didn’t expect to find,” he said. “It’s a big hole,” said Garrett Campbell, who also works on the Nimbus project from the NSIDC.”
Obama’s Keystone Confusion
In his appearance last week on The Colbert Report, President Obama restated his approach to the Keystone XL pipeline decision, a mindset that can only be described as confused.
The president summarized his strange dilemma as follows: “[Keystone] could create a couple of thousand potential jobs in the initial construction of the pipeline, but we’ve got to measure that against whether or not it is going to contribute to an overall warming of the planet that could be disastrous.”
But this thinking hinges on three key — and false — assumptions.
First, that whatever carbon dioxide or pollution (note that I did not say “or other pollution” since CO2 is plant food, not pollution) would be generated in the building or operation of Keystone will not be generated in whatever other method ends up being used to transport oil from Canada through the United States.
Second, the usual climate alarmist assumptions, namely that humans are having a substantial impact on the climate and that a warming of the planet is likely to be harmful.
Third, and most important, the implicit assumption that climate change — even if you believe the alarmists’ claims — is the only risk worth considering.
Regarding ignoring the theoretical climate impacts of alternatives to Keystone: Opponents of Keystone (or more precisely of the section of Keystone that connects Alberta, Canada, to Nebraska) seem to believe that if we don’t allow a way to transport Canadian oil here, our neighbors to the north will then just leave it in the ground. This is, of course, preposterous. Since every potential alternative form of transportation, whether via truck, ship, train, or any combination likely creates more pollution than a pipeline, particularly if transported by people other than Americans or Canadians, and since any pipeline built by American and Canadian companies is likely to be constructed more environmentally sensitively than pipelines built overseas, a concern over carbon or pollution argues strongly for, not against, building Keystone XL.
As far as climate change overall: In short, depending on which data set you look at, planetary warming has either been much less than predicted or completely non-existent for at least the last 18 years. Since global carbon dioxide concentrations have increased steadily over the time period (even as U.S. CO2emissions slowed temporarily during the recession), it demonstrates that CO2 simply does not have the climate-controlling power that the alarmist industry wants us to believe. Additionally, climate fears are based on an unjustifiable assumption that a modest global warming would be a negative for humanity when it fact the opposite is true.
And then there is Obama’s implicit assumption that the overriding risk to be considered is the climate. Environmentalists who claim to care deeply about the planet should be far more concerned about real, demonstrable risk than about the unproven (and increasingly disproven) hypothesis of human-caused climate change. One such demonstrable risk is that of oil spills and terrible accidents within other forms of oil transportation, particularly the trucks and trains that will continue, in the absence of Keystone XL, to carry the oil through the United States.
Even the Obama administration’s State Department recognizes this: “The increased number of unit trains… would affect communities through elevated air emissions and noise from the trains, and increased risk of spills and collisions.”
This is not to say that one form of transportation is utterly unsafe while another is utterly safe: Spill statistics are a close call: pipelines spill at lower frequencies but higher volumes than rail transportation of oil. Similarly, trains have more accidents but fewer fires and explosions. (There are similar comparisons made for transporting the oil by ship: very few incidents but potentially many barrels may spill in an incident.)
One of the most important statistics should be rates of injury and death, and on this score pipelines fare very well compared to trains: Overall, State concludes that transporting the Canadian oil by rail would add 49 injuries and 6 fatalities each year as compared to one injury and no deaths if the oil goes through Keystone XL.
In fact, State says that “Annual baseline injuries and fatalities without an increase in transport volume from rail transport or pipeline are projected to be approximately 712 injuries and 94 fatalities compared to three injuries and two fatalities for petroleum pipeline.” This argues not only for using Keystone to transport the new Canadian oil production but also to use it, and other new pipelines, to substitute for current rail transportation of oil.
A final point: Some argue against Keystone because they say the oil will make its way to the Gulf Coast to be refined and then exported rather than being used in the United States. Radical environmentalists go so far as to conclude that Keystone is therefore a “scam being played on the American people.”
Exporting American oil would require Congress or the president to lift the current export ban. I expect the upcoming Republican-controlled Congress to send such a measure to the president’s desk in short order. Former Obama chief economic adviser Larry Summerssupports lifting the ban but one of the president’s closest current counselors, John Podesta, has not made clear his position. Podesta’s prior job was running the Center for American Progress whose energy “expert,” Dan Weiss (a card-carrying member of the Cult of Algore and a man who seems proud of his comprehensive economic ignorance), is against lifting the ban.
Not surprisingly, socialist senators and their friends in the environmental fear-mongering industry don’t understand even basic economics. Oil is traded worldwide with the two major benchmarks being the U.S.’s West Texas Intermediate (WTI) and Europe’s Brent Crude. The prices track each other closely, though in recent years American oil has been less expensive because of large supply in the Midwest.
If we export Canada’s increased oil production to the rest of the world, we will lower oil prices in the aggregate, including here in the United States. Yes, there may be regional effects of pipelines and yes, it is possible that Midwestern oil and gas prices would lose their current discount relative to the rest of the United States, but overall the United States would have lower energy prices. And that’s what matters.
Domestically, the more we lower oil prices, the lower Americans’ cost of living is and the more money we have to spend on things we want to buy rather than things we have to buy, such as gasoline and heating oil. Internationally, the more we can lower world oil prices, the more we prevent our enemies like Vladimir Putin and the radicals running Venezuela from being able to fund adventurist, militaristic, and anti-Western foreign policies, and the more we prevent our so-called friends in the Middle East from being able to use American, European, and Chinese money to support Wahhabism, Hamas, ISIS, and CAIR, and others who want us dead or destroyed as a free society.
Given all these factors, President Obama’s suggested calculus — balancing “a couple thousand jobs” versus what he perceives as the risks involved in building and operating the Keystone XL pipeline — is preposterous: The jobs it creates are a nice bonus (and are what the many labor unions who support the project care about), but they are not the most important benefit of the project.
Keystone XL won’t increase pollution but it will save American lives and hurt our enemies. Those who oppose it should be forced to justify their opposition in that context.
The Paris Climate Negotiations Next Year Will Be a Fiasco
Why there will not be a global climate change treaty in 2015
Next December, the nations of the world are supposed adopt a "protocol, another legal instrument or agreed outcome with legal force" in Paris to comprehensively address the problem of man-made climate change. That's not going to happen.
Consider what happened earlier this month at the 20th Conference of the Parties (COP-20) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Lima, Peru. The rich countries, including the United States, sought to get an agreement that focused chiefly on persuading all nations to make firm commitments about how they planned to handle their greenhouse gas emissions in the coming decades. The developed world wanted every country to submit their "intended nationally determined contributions" (INDCs) by the end of March 2015.
From the rich nations' point of view, the INDCs should aim at achieving the 1992 UNFCCC's goal of stabilizing "greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system." This means that INDCs should be primarily about reducing emissions—in climate-negotiators' parlance, at mitigation.
The developed world also wanted to set up a formal process in which all INDCs would report roughly comparable information: baseline dates, the current sources and amounts of emissions, the projected trajectories of future emissions, and so on. They further proposed that every country's INDC be rigorously assessed by next June to see whether, when combined, they would be adequate to keep the global average temperature from increasing more than the 2 degree Celsius temperature limit set at the Cancun climate change conference in 2010.
When a draft version of the Lima Call for Climate Action reflecting this agenda was issued toward the end of the negotiating session, the poor countries rebelled. They were particularly vociferous in arguing that the draft agreement violated the principle of "common but differentiated responsibilities" enshrined in the UNFCCC. Without going into legalistic detail, the developing countries—including China—interpret that principle as requiring only the countries that were rich and developed in 1992 to cut their emissions. Nations that were then poor, they argue, are not obliged to do so. In addition, the poorer states want to be paid for the damage the wealthier countries did to the atmosphere by burning fossil fuels as they got rich.
In the face of a threatened walkout by the poor countries, the Lima Call for Climate Action was substantially modified. The draft document had contained no promises with regard to financing or technology transfers from rich to poor countries. The new version, instead of focusing on emissions cuts, now states that the Paris agreement "shall address in a balanced manner, inter alia, mitigation, adaptation, finance, technology development and transfer, and capacity-building, and transparency of action and support." In addition, the mandate detailing the information that that all countries, rich and poor, were supposed to provide in their INDCs was scrapped and replaced with provisions that allow countries to present information "as appropriate." Basically, governments can decide for themselves if they even want to cut their emissions and what information they want to provide.
From the poor countries' point of view, the Paris agreement next December must include provisions requiring rich countries to provide them with climate financing to aid their adaptation to a warming world, plus funds to pay for the loss and damage that they suffer from climate change. Notionally, financing for adaptation is supposed to cushion poor countries against future climate change, whereas loss and damage payments compensate countries and communities for climate change damage to which they cannot adapt. The poor states are demanding $100 billion in climate aid by 2020. After that, climate aid payments might exceed $1 trillion annually.
Attached to the Lima Call for Climate Action is a preliminary draft document outlining various options for a Paris agreement. It is a Chinese menu of provisions that highlights just how much discord there is over global climate policy. For example, the draft offers several options with regard to setting a firm goal for greenhouse gas emissions cuts. Countries might agree to cut emissions to 40 to 70 percent below their 2010 levels by 2050; or cut them by 50 percent below their 1990s levels with a continued decline thereafter; or go for full decarbonization by 2050. Or rich countries could agree that their emissions will peak in 2015 and then aim for zero net emissions by 2050.
The section on the financial resources to be provided to poor countries suggests an annual floor of $100 billion; or, alternately, the agreement might not specify any amount of climate aid at all. Under the proposed provisions dealing with sources of finance, Option 1 states that climate aid should primarily come from the rich countries' government budgets. Under Option 2, private funds would play a greater role. Also undecided is whether countries will have the right to assess and challenge data issued by other countries with regard to their treaty commitments. They also need to figure out whether the parties will have to update their INDCs every five years or every 10 years.
According to the Lima Call for Climate Action, climate negotiation sessions this coming spring are supposed to reduce these options and produce a slimmer "negotiating text" before May.
The interests of the rich and poor countries just don't converge on this issue. The poor nations are not going to forego using cheap fossil fuels to energize their economic growth unless the rich states agree to fork over huge sums to them annually. And the rich countries aren't about to give hundreds of billions to corrupt governments in the developing world, particularly when many of the latter are declining to make any commitments until they see the money—and are refusing to let anyone monitor and assess whatever commitments they do make.
So there will be a big flop in Paris this time next year. And then the climate-crisis circus will roll urgently on to still more venues in the years after that.
Warmer Is Better... Especially at this Time of Year
Climate alarmists assume global warming will restart in the coming years. Based on that assumption and model projections, they warn of a coming catastrophe for humans and the planet.
But global warming, whether natural or human-caused, is more likely to result in benefits than harms. Climate alarmists ignore the possible benefits from a warmer world because to do otherwise would undermine their efforts to control humankind’s use of fossil fuel energy.
In late November, the U.K. Office of National Statistics published its latest figures on “excess winter deaths” – a figure that acknowledges more people die in the winter months (December, January, and February) than in the summer months (June, July, and August). There were 18,200 more deaths in the U.K. between December 2013 and February 2014 than there were between June and August 2013. While that sounds like a lot of excess winter deaths, it’s actually the lowest recorded figure in 65 years. During the 2012–13 winter, for example, there were more than 31,280 excess winter deaths.
Why so many fewer excess winter deaths in 2013–14 than in the previous year? Because December 2013 and January 2014 average temperatures winter were 2° Celsius above the long-term average.
Fewer excess winter deaths isn’t the only benefit of a warming world routinely ignored by climate alarmists. They don’t like to talk about the increased water availability that warming would bring about for some parts of the world, or the increase in farmable acreage and crop yields that would result from warming temperatures and increased atmospheric carbon dioxide.
The alarmists also refuse to acknowledge the very real harms their anti-energy policies cause in the here and now, not some climate-model-predicted future. As just one example, their preference for expensive solar and wind energy and restrictions on the use of less-expensive fossil fuels have caused energy prices to rise, making it difficult for the poor and those on fixed incomes to pay their electric bills. At least some of those who can’t pay their bills save money by keeping the air conditioning off in the summer and the heat off in the winter. They may scrimp even further by not paying for needed medicines or food.
The climate alarmists’ policies are putting people into poverty – energy poverty. If they continue to get their way, we can expect many more “excess deaths” in the winter, the summer, and year ‘round.
The Greens: Australia's party of "social justice"
If it really were justice, it would not need the adjective "social"
No sooner had he won the Greens first seat in the House of Representatives, than Adam Bandt -- now Deputy Leader of the Greens -- was explaining to ABC radio that "social justice concerns have been...in our DNA since the Greens started". Social justice is a nebulous policy term. Everyone supports social justice because no one would consciously promote social injustice. But what does social justice mean to the Greens?
Apparently social justice involves increasing taxpayer funded Paid Parental Leave (PPL) payments from $11,539 to 26 weeks of parent's replacement wages. Social justice requires taxpayers to fork out $50,000 to parents earning above $100,000, in addition to any PPL workplace entitlements they might have, while those earning less than the (full-time) minimum wage get $16,667. Stay-at-home parents get nothing.
This is an interesting policy position for a party that purports to believe "...the social problems we have today...could be dramatically improved if we focus on eliminating extreme inequality in Australia...". It would seem using taxpayer's money to entrench certain types of inequality is ok provided it benefits your professional inner-city constituency.
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
Posted by JR at 1:38 AM