Friday, January 02, 2015

Climate change caused the AirAsia crash

You knew it, didn't you?

The AirAsia jet in which 162 people lost their lives this week behaved in ways "bordering on the edge of logic" according to Indonesian aviation analyst Gerry Soejatman citing leaked information from the air crash investigation team.

The Airbus 320-200 climbed in a way that was impossible to achieve by the pilot, adding that it subsequently "didn't fall out of the sky like an aeroplane", he told Fairfax Media.

"It was like a piece of metal being thrown down. It's really hard to comprehend … The way it goes down is bordering on the edge of logic".

But Australian aviation expert, Peter Marosszeky, from the University of NSW, disputed some of the figures cited, saying the descent figures particularly were "highly unlikely".

Mr Soejatman said that at least as baffling was "the extremely low ground speed" which was as low as 61 knots during the descent. This would suggest the plane was heading almost straight down, explaining why it was found in the water just 10km from its last point of radar contact.
Leaked information on AirAsia flight QZ8501 from the air crash investigation team, provided by Indonesian aviation analyst Gerry Soejatman.

Leaked information on AirAsia flight QZ8501 from the air crash investigation team, provided by Indonesian aviation analyst Gerry Soejatman.

The new claims lend weight to the impression that the plane was subject to extraordinary forces from the weather. AirAsia chief executive Tony Fernandes said earlier this week that preliminary investigations suggested the jet encountered "very unique" weather on its flight last Sunday morning from Surabaya to Singapore.

Mr Soejatman, a respected analyst in Indonesia, said the extremity of the forces on the plane meant the "black box" flight recorder would be of less use in explaining what happened than forensic examination of the pieces of wreckage currently lying in about 50m of water in the Karimata Strait between Borneo and the Belitung Islands off Sumatra.

"We are fortunate that it crashed in shallow water so we can find physical evidence outside the black box. It puts great emphasis on the importance of recovering pieces of the wreckage," he said.

Navy and search and rescue divers were at the scene for the first time on Thursday.

Mr Soejatman said the plane was equipped with a Mode S radar, a relatively new piece of equipment which sends more comprehensive information, in real time, from aircraft to ground.

Leaked figures show the plane climbed at a virtually unprecedented rate of 6000 to 9000 feet per minute, and "you can't do that at altitude in an Airbus 320 with pilot action".

The most that could normally be expected would be 1000 to 1500 feet on a sustained basis, with up to 3000 feet in a burst, he said.

The plane then fell at an even more incredible rate: 11,000 feet per minute with bursts of up to 24,000 feet per minute.

He said the Air France A330 Airbus that crashed in 2009 killing 228 passengers also reached dizzying ascent and descent rates, but some of the figures cited by Mr Soejatman are higher.

"We can't rule out that the data is wrong," he said, but added that they came from the aircraft itself, transmitted over the Mode S radar.

As for an explanation, he said it was a "mystery".

"One possibility is a strong updraft followed by strong ground draft, or structural failure of the aircraft."

Mr Marosszeky, a Research Fellow at the University of NSW School of Aviation, said a climb rate of 6000 feet per minute would indicate "a severe weather event", because that rate of climb was "a domain for jet fighters". It was possible at this height in the tropics, he said.

He said the black box flight recorder would still provide investigators with "very useful data", and that it was unlikely that the Mode S radar would give misreadings.

He was sceptical, however, that the figure cited of up to 24,000 feet per minute descent was possible, saying that terminal velocity is nowhere near that speed.

In the Air France case, an investigation revealed that pilot error had compounded difficult weather conditions to cause the crash.

In the AirAsia case, Captain Iriyanto, the pilot, was a respected former airforce pilot and pilot trainer with 23,000 hours flying experience, 6000 of them for AirAsia. His plane was six years old and had last been through routine maintenance in November.

AirAsia chief executive Tony Fernandes said earlier this week he had "full confidence in my fleet and crew". Without giving details, he steered blame towards the weather, saying his airline would continue business as usual, but suggesting that climate change was making weather worse and flying riskier, particularly in the tropics.


UK: Offshore wind farms drawing electricity from grid to keep turning in icy conditions

Offshore wind farms are drawing power from the National Grid to keep turning and prevent them icing up in subzero temperatures, it has emerged.

The turbines need to idle slowly when temperatures plunge in calm conditions to stop ice forming and to power hydraulic systems that turn the blades into the wind.

Critics of wind farms, which cost three times as much as conventional power stations per unit of energy produced, said it was “another example of why wind farms are difficult and expensive to manage”, but industry bodies pointed out that all power stations use electricity as well as generating it.

The phenomenon was pointed out in the Telegraph’s letters page by Brian Christley, of Conwy, who said that “over the weekend just gone, the coldest of the year so far, all 100-plus offshore wind turbines along the North Wales coast were idling very slowly, using grid power for de-icing”.

Rob Norris, a spokesman for the industry body RenewableUK, confirmed that wind farms used electricity to keep their systems running, but said it was a “tiny fraction” of the amount of power they generated.

He said: “The best comparison is to think of how much electricity you’d use to boil a kettle compared to how much an entire village would need to power everything. All generators, including gas and nuclear plants, use some electricity as well as producing it.”

John Constable, of the Renewable Energy Foundation charity, said: “We know that in Denmark there are days when their wind farms are net consumers of electricity, so in some ways this is not surprising.  “It’s another example of how wind power is difficult and expensive to manage.”

The energy firm RWE, which owns 30 turbines off the North Wales coast, said that on the days in question they were net contributors to the National Grid.

A spokesman said: “All energy generators use a small amount of electricity to keep their systems running smoothly, in the case of wind farms drawing power from either an adjacent operating turbine or the grid.”

Wind power makes up around 10 per cent of the electricity used in the UK, with coal and gas making up around 30 per cent each and nuclear another 20 per cent.


Ethanol policy reform: The rare place where environmentalists and energy advocates agree

We all expect to pay a price for missing deadlines — fail to pay a parking ticket on time, and you may find a warrant out for your arrest. People have lost their jobs when they can’t get the work done on schedule. Students, who turn in papers late, get lower grades—maybe even fail the class.

But the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) can apparently miss deadlines (many) with impunity. For the past two years, the EPA has failed to meet the statutory deadline under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), requiring the agency to tell refiners how much ethanol to blend into the nation’s motor fuels.

In November 2013, the EPA did make an attempt to announce the proposed 2014 blend levels — which by then were already months past the legally mandated deadline. The EPA surprised and pleased the RFS opponents when it utilized its authority to adjust the mandate and took market conditions into consideration. The EPA set the proposed 2014 standard to a level lower than 2013’s, even though the law requires increasing amounts. Ethanol producers, who were expecting the usual uptick, loudly opposed the reduction. They made so much noise, the EPA agreed to reconsider. To date, the 2014 standards have not yet been announced.

Then, on November 21, 2014, the EPA announced it would make a decision next year (2015) on how much ethanol refiners had to add to gasoline this year (2014) — yet, if refiners don’t meet the unknown requirement, they get fined. That’s akin to handing out the class syllabus after the students have failed the final exam.

With the goal of a reduction in foreign oil imports, Congress enacted the RFS in 2005 and revised it in 2007 — which also provided incentives to America’s fledgling ethanol industry. At the time, gasoline demand was rising to an all-time high and oil imports comprised more than 58 percent of U.S. oil consumption. No doubt Congress believed it was saving American consumers from their addiction to oil.

Then the world changed. The U.S. economy plunged into its worst recession ever, unemployment soared, and gasoline demand fell sharply. Meanwhile, advanced drilling technologies, including the long-used hydraulic fracturing and newer horizontal drilling, began producing oil and natural gas from U.S. shale formations — which were previously uneconomic to develop — leading to America’s 21st Century energy boom.

Today the U.S. is the world’s largest natural-gas producer and is projected to pass Saudi Arabia as the number one oil producer. With crude oil supplies flooding the market, prices have been cut in half. Although fears over foreign-oil dependence have abated, the U.S. remains stuck with an ethanol mandate that is outdated, unworkable, and even harmful to vehicles, engines, and the environment.

Consider just some of the RFS’s flaws.

The law requires refiners to cap their blending of corn ethanol and use more cellulosic biofuels. Never mind that very little cellulosic biofuel has ever been produced — even according to EPA’s own data. But that fact hasn’t prevented the EPA from levying millions of dollars in fines against refiners for failing to use the phantom fuel, without any assurance that enough cellulosic biofuel will ever be available. It’s kind of like receiving a bill for something you cannot buy because it doesn’t exist, but you’re being charged anyway.

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office reports cellulosic biofuels are: “complex, capital-intensive, and costly.” Given the difficulty of producing them, capacity will “fall far short of what would be necessary to achieve the very rapid growth in the use of cellulosic biofuels required” under the RFS.

Then there is the “blend wall” problem. With less gasoline being sold than Congress anticipated, refiners cannot add ever-rising amounts of ethanol to gasoline without exceeding E10 — the fuel consisting of 10 percent ethanol and 90 percent gasoline sold virtually everywhere in the country today. To get around the blend wall issue, the EPA granted a “partial waiver” allowing the sale of E15, a fuel blend containing up to 15 percent ethanol for model-year 2001 and newer vehicles.

The EPA’s quick fix made a bad situation much worse, and all at the taxpayers’ and consumers’ expense. Ethanol levels higher than 10 percent can damage or destroy vehicle engines, according to a study conducted by the well-respected Coordinating Research Council. Automakers are voiding warranties and refusing to be held responsible for mechanical problems caused by fuels containing more than 10 percent ethanol. And the marine industry warns of potential engine failures on various types of watercraft powered by the industry’s most common engines.

The Outdoor Power Equipment Institute (OPEI) is so concerned about safety hazards that it has launched a campaign telling consumers to “Look Before You Pump.” OPEI says equipment ranging from lawn mowers to “jaws of life” devices could be damaged by ethanol’s corrosive properties if used in concentrations above 10 percent. Do want your expensive new lawn mower to quit the third time you use it? You certainly want life-saving devices to work on demand.

And that’s not all. Ethanol contains less energy than gasoline, forcing motorists to fill up more often, thereby causing more consumer expenditures. Ethanol production has driven up food prices here and abroad. Additionally, some studies indicate ethanol usage increases greenhouse gas emissions. Politico reports: “Some green groups have vocally abandoned their support for corn ethanol, blaming the crop for polluting water supplies, wiping out conservation land and even increasing carbon emissions.” According to Craig Cox, director of the Ames, Iowa, office of the Environmental Working Group, an environmental group that opposes the mandate as it is now structured: “Corn ethanol’s brand has been seriously dented in the last 18 months. …it certainly doesn’t occupy the same pedestal that it occupied two years ago.”

But then, despite the fact that the EPA says decisions are made on merits, politics entered the scene. Rumors flew that the announcement of the 2014 blend levels was delayed to help Rep. Bruce Braley (IA-D) in his Senate bid. Braley was pushing for an increase in the proposed levels and was hoping that he would be able to influence the White House to raise the targets. Additionally, a Republican-controlled Senate would be more likely to pass legislation to reform or repeal the RFS. Braley was quoted in Politico saying: “Voters in Iowa look at where I stand on this issue and where my opponent stands, who’s supporting me in this campaign and who’s supporting [Ernst].” The Politico story states: “Iowans say wavering on corn ethanol once would have been certain political suicide in a state where 90 percent of the land is farm acreage. So Braley sought to capitalize on Ernst’s expressed qualms about big government, portraying her as someone Iowans can’t trust to fight for them.” Yet, Ernst, a Republican, won the Senate seat formerly held by Democrat Tom Harkin by 8.5 percentage points.

The EPA’s unwillingness to do its job by setting ethanol volumes — along with ethanol’s loss of “political heft” —  should provide the impetus for ending the complex and wasteful RFS program. Ethanol is a rare topic where environmentalists and energy advocates agree. Now is the time to get our elected officials all on board. As soon as the new Congress convenes in January, it should give the RFS an “F” and reform, revise, or even repeal it.


Biblical in Scale: Guess How Many Pages It Takes to Print Obama’s Environmental Rules

Americans will find few books that rival the number of pages of regulations issued by the Environmental Protection Agency since President Obama took office, not even the Gutenberg Bible.

Obama made protecting the environment a cornerstone of his administration early on, and during his tenure the Environmental Protection Agency has sought to cut vehicle emissions, regulate coal ash from power plants and subsidize “green energy”companies.

According to a review by, the EPA has issued more than 3,100 final rules — totaling close to 28,000 pages in the Federal Register — since Obama entered the White House in January 2009.

The Federal Register gives Americans access to all documents published by federal agencies.

“Even such immense page counts fail to convey the real damage overregulation imposes on Americans,” James Gattuso, a senior research fellow in regulatory policy at The Heritage Foundation, told The Daily Signal. “We don’t need just shorter rules, but less burdensome rules.”

The most recent final rule from the EPA involves management and disposal of coal ash. The regulation, not yet published in the Federal Register, totals 745 pages.

In comparison to the 28,000 pages of rules from the EPA, the Gutenberg Bible has just 1,282 pages.

Gattuso and other advocates of limited government have criticized the Obama administration, like previous ones, for imposing too many regulations on American life. Before Thanksgiving, the Obama White House quietly announced it had 3,400 regulations in the pipeline for next year.

Over the six years of Obama’s presidency so far, the average cost of complying with new government rules hovers around $16 billion per year.

This year’s announcement of 3,400 regulations to come isn’t a record for the Obama administration. The White House had more than 4,000 regulations in the pipeline in 2012, Gattuso told The Daily Signal. The number decreased in 2013.

Obama issued 157 major federal regulations from 2009 to 2013, according to a report by Gattuso and a Heritage Foundation colleague, Diane Katz. By contrast, President George W. Bush issued 62 major regulations in the first five years of his presidency.


The Greenpeace ‘archaeologist’

When the Nazca lines fiasco broke, Greenpeace's response was to assure the world it worked with an archaeologist, taking every possible precaution.  Questions arose immediately:

The archaeologist was eventually identified in a New York Times report of the incident. It named Wolfgang Sadik, an 'archaeologist-turned activist' who we were told had 'set aside his studies to work for Greenpeace'. The NYT relied on a Reuters video to relay how Sadik seemed to be directing 'some of the other activists'. It quoted photographer Rodrigo Abd:

    “The archaeologist explained where to walk and where not to walk... There was a great concern not to even leave a mark of your shoes on the ground, and if a rock was moved put it back in its place.”

The article further quoted Wolfgang Neubauer of the University of Vienna who informed Sadik was his doctoral candidate and had 'put off his studies to work with Greenpeace.'

This blog will show there's more than what the New York Times let its readers in for. Far from being an archaeologist, Wolfgang Sadik is a committed long-time Greenpeace member and activist, who has conducted several campaigns for the organization including some in leadership positions.

Sadik's recorded Greenpeace activism appears to begin over a decade ago in 2003 when he appeared in Tuwaitha, Iraq near Baghdad as a 'Greenpeace spokesman'. Sadik was part of a 6-member Greenpeace team that measured radiation and radiation sickness at sites where looted material from the Tuwaitha nuclear facilities had made their way.

In 2007, Greenpeace planned for a symbolism-laden stunt at Mount Ararat near Turkey. Sadik was the leader. Battling skepticism within Greenpeace ('too sentimental, too American, not serious enough') Sadik pushed plans for building a boat-shaped 'Noah's ark' structure on the slopes of the mountain to coincide with a G8 summit at Heiligendamm.

In one respect, similarities between the Nazca stunt and Greenpeace's Ark are striking. Sadik the team's 'action coordinator' reasoned: "The Ark was an available and widely-known symbol, so why not use it?"

Sadik's ark project was successful in attracting month-long 'international media attention' (Greenpeace criterion for success); he is reported to have said the stunt 'had had the biggest impact of any campaign Greenpeace had ever created in that part of the world'.

In the period afterward, Sadik appears to have shifted to archaeology, working with Wolfgang Neubauer on archaeological excavations in Hallstatt, Austria. A 46-page glitzy pamphlet produced in 2008 highlights his work on the site. It is not clear when he stopped in archaeology.

In February 2011 Sadik surfaced in Fukushima, Japan, once again measuring radiation levels. This time, Der Speigel was laundering Sadik's views as a 'Greenpeace expert' as it warned of a possible reactor meltdown. Sadik was already back with Greenpeace earlier in the year: in January he was in a round-table discussion with host Reinhard Ueberhorst in his capacity as Greenpeace's 'Energy 2010 campaign manager'. Last year Sadik was part of another ark building project 'Arche2020' as 'project coordinator' from Greenpeace Germany.

From the above, it is evident Greenpeace performed little to no archaeological due diligence in planning their Nazca act. Instead of employing external and independent expertise, it went with what was available inside, using wrong advice from an activist member as cover for its actions. These are things one frequently finds Greenpeace criticizing corporations and governments for.


Australian conservative politician promotes natural gas rather than coal as the future for developing nations

NSW Liberal MP Angus Taylor, who was elected the member for Hume in the 2013 election, says gas is the better way to reduce carbon emissions and supply countries such as China and India with the energy they need to continue their rise.

Mr Taylor, a Rhodes scholar and former partner at McKinsey, told Fairfax Media that the fastest way for the world to reduce carbon emissions while containing energy prices "is to build new natural gas generators, instead of coal generators, in the developing world".

"This is an enormous economic and environmental opportunity for Australia – as a supplier of relatively cheap, secure, lower-emission natural gas," he said.

"The IPCC itself accepts that gas can drive sharp reductions in emissions," he said.

Mr Taylor said Australia's impact on reducing global emissions through encouraging gas-fired power in the developing world would "dwarf any domestic emissions reductions efforts".

Economist Frank Jotzo said Australia is uniquely placed to exploit all changes in global energy demand. "Australia is not just rich in coal, Australia is rich in gas, Australia is rich in uranium, Australia is rich in renewable energy potential," he said.

He said natural gas was an option but not the end game for the developing world.  "Gas is about half the carbon intensity for coal for electricity generation so it can be a useful transition fuel on the way to a low-carbon energy system," he said.

However he said because gas is expensive, developing countries were investing in renewables and also coal.  "India is the standout, where expansion of power generation is happening in coal or solar," he said.

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said in December that Australia's natural gas exports increased by nearly 20 per cent last year, making it the third largest exporter of LNG in the world.   But natural gas is Australia's fifth largest export item behind iron ore, coal, gold and education services.

Australian company Origin Energy will begin exports of natural gas to China and Japan in mid-2015.  When both its production plants are fully operational, it will be capable of producing 9 million tonnes per annum (mtpa).

Under existing supply contracts, 7.6 mtpa will be sold to China's Sinopec and 1 mtpa to Japan's Kansai Electric.

A company spokesman said: "Each tonne of emissions produced in Australia as part of LNG production reduces emissions in China by four tonnes when it's used in place of coal to generate electricity."

Recently, Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop said any honest conversation about reducing Australia's domestic emissions had to include a debate about nuclear power, describing it as an "obvious direction" for a country blessed with uranium supplies.



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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