Sunday, January 04, 2015

Vineyards are ditching grape varieties that can't cope with rising global temperatures (?)

Amusing:  Wine wisdom from Sweden.  An unusual domaine, surely.  I suppose you could grow grapes in glasshouses there but then how would you describe the terroir? Risibly, I guess.

Sarcasm aside, however, the whole thing is demonstrable nonsense.  The thermometers tell us that global temperatures have changed by only hundredths of one degree over the last 18 years  -- not remotely enough to affect anything.  Grapes are grown over a far wider temperature range than that.  They even grow them in Townsville, in Australia's tropical North. And they are lush grapes from there too -- "red globes" is their variety if I am not mistaken. So if  ever global warming does come, it won't bother grapes.  The changes described below are either totally imaginary or some overgeneralized local phenomenon

I don't generally see the point of beating a dead horse but the sheer stupidity of the article below astonishes me. Let's concede that their alarm over the Pinot noir grape is fully justified and that warming is bad for it. There are wine grapes grown in many places cooler than France -- like Germany. If the world DID get warmer, what is to stop vignerons in places like Germany planting Pinot noir? Nothing. The area suitable for Pinot noir might move slightly Northward but in a free market environment that move would be accomplished without a murmur. Profit-seeking German farmers would see an opening and grab it. And Germans make very good wine.  Pinot noir fanciers can rest easy. I prefer Merlot myself

And where white wines are concerned, my favourites at the moment are Alsatian wines. And Alsace is of course in the cooler North of France. If there was money in it, the Alsatians would no doubt gradually root out their
Gewuertztraminer vines and plant Pinot instead -- all within the confines of the Hexagon (Metropolitan France!)

If global temperatures continue to rise, the taste of your favourite wine could either drastically change, or the drink could be off the menu completely.

A wine expert has warned that fine wines in particular, such as Pinot Noir, are having their flavour significantly altered due to climate change.

And, as a result, vineyard owners are ditching these grape varieties in favour of those that are better equipped to handle the increases in global temperature.

The effects are said to be most prominent in France, Italy and Spain - although parts of America, including California, would also be affected.

The primary reason is that the grapes are growing faster than before due to increased temperatures - an effect more prominent for wines such as Pinot Noir.

Experts also said that grapes lack colour when they ripen faster.

This is making it hard for vineyard owners to know when to pick the grapes at the right time to maintain a wine’s particular taste.

In her study, wine industry consultant Kimberly Nicholas, associate professor of sustainability science at Lund University in Sweden, wrote: ‘Climate change is beginning to affect the singular flavours that people expect from different wines - the experience you come to know and trust from your favourite reds and whites.’

She continued: ‘As the atmosphere warms, the desired ratio of acid to sugar occurs earlier in the season.’

‘The optimal flavour moment may occur earlier too - but not as much - leaving a gap between the ideal sugar-to-acid ratio and the ideal flavour.’

She also said that grapes lack colour when they ripen faster.

According to the Telegraph, the wine industry has already begun adapting to the problem, with vineyards dropping Pinot Noir in favour of grapes that can tolerate higher temperatures.

Earlier this year, researchers also warned that climate change could increase the chances of wine becoming corked.

The bark of the trees might be being chemically changed by increased exposure to ultraviolet light as a result of climate change.

The genetic study was led by Dr Rita Teixeira of the University of Lisbon and shows how the £1.2 billion ($2 billion) cork industry is at risk.

While cork struggles to maintain its consistency, plastic and metal wine stoppers are on the rise.

To produce a good product, cork producers need bark at least one inch (25 millimetres) thick. If the cork is too thin, it will let air into the bottle and ruin the wine.

But the trees, called Quercus suber trees, have undergone a drastic decrease in quality to the point where there bark is now as little as 0.1 inches (three millimetres) thick - just 10 per cent the optimum level.

The reason for this dramatic drop in just two decades was unknown but now Dr Teixeira and colleagues think the blame can be pointed at climate change - although she said there could be other culprits.


"Healthy" eating is not enough.  Now it has to be "Green" as well

For years, the government has been issuing guidelines about healthy eating choices. Now, a panel that advises the Agriculture Department is ready to recommend that you be told not only what foods are better for your own health, but for the environment as well.

That means that when the latest version of the government's dietary guidelines comes out, it may push even harder than it has in recent years for people to choose more fruits, vegetables, nuts, whole grains and other plant-based foods — at the expense of meat.

The beef and agriculture industries are crying foul, saying an environmental agenda has no place in what has always been a practical blueprint for a healthy lifestyle.

The advisory panel has been discussing the idea of sustainability in public meetings, indicating that its recommendations, expected early this year, may address the environment. A draft recommendation circulated last month said a sustainable diet helps ensure food access for both the current population and future generations.

A dietary pattern higher in plant-based foods and lower in animal-based foods is "more health promoting and is associated with lesser environmental impact than is the current average U.S. diet," the draft said.

That appears to take at least partial aim at the beef industry. A study by the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences last year said raising beef for the American dinner table is more harmful to the environment than other meat industries such as pork and chicken.

The study said that compared with other popular animal proteins, beef produces more heat-trapping gases per calorie, puts out more water-polluting nitrogen, takes more water for irrigation and uses more land.

As the advisory committee has discussed the idea, doctors and academics on the panel have framed sustainability in terms of conserving food resources and also what are the healthiest foods. There is "compatibility and overlap" between what's good for health and good for the environment, the panel says.

Once the recommendations are made, the Agriculture and Health and Human Services departments will craft the final dietary guidelines, expected about a year from now. Published every five years, the guidelines are the basis for USDA's "My Plate" icon that replaced the well-known food pyramid in 2010 and is designed to help Americans with healthy eating. Guidelines will also be integrated into school lunch meal patterns and other federal eating programs.

The meat industry has fought for years to ensure that the dietary guidelines do not call for eating less meat. The guidelines now recommend eating lean meats instead of reducing meat altogether, advice that the current advisory committee has debated. A draft discussed at the panel's Dec. 15 meeting says a healthy dietary pattern includes fewer "red and processed meats" than are currently consumed.

In response, the National Cattlemen's Beef Association sent out a statement by doctor and cattle producer Richard Thorpe calling the committee biased and the draft meat recommendations absurd. He said lean beef has a role in healthy diets.

The American Meat Institute issued a statement calling any attempt to take lean meat out of a healthy dietary pattern "stunning" and "arbitrary."

Objections are coming from Congress, too.

A massive year-end spending bill enacted last month noted the advisory committee's interest in the environment and directed Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack "to only include nutrition and dietary information, not extraneous factors" in final guidelines. Congress often uses such non-binding directions to put a department on notice that lawmakers will push back if the executive branch moves forward.

Environmentalists are pushing the committee and the government to go the route being considered.

"We need to make sure our diets are in alignment with our natural resources and the need to reduce climate change," said Kari Hamerschlag of the advocacy group Friends of the Earth.

Michael Jacobson of the Center for Science in the Public Interest said the idea of broader guidelines isn't unprecedented. They have already been shaped to address physical activity and food safety, he said.

"You don't want to recommend a diet that is going to poison the planet," he said.


Gore Champions Dark Money in Global Warming Debate

Al Gore’s Climate Reality Project is promoting dark money to spread alarmist global warming propaganda. In a mass email sent Dec. 30, Climate Reality Project president Ken Berlin proudly announces an anonymous donor will match all Climate Reality Project donations through the end of the year. Berlin explicitly invokes Gore’s name, calling attention to a previous email from Gore announcing the same dark money promotion.

“I wanted to make sure you saw Vice President Gore’s email yesterday,” writes Berlin in his email. “I’m sure you wouldn’t want to miss this limited time opportunity to double your support for climate action! When you make your year-end contribution right now, your gift will be matched, dollar for dollar, helping us reach our critical year-end goal of $250,000.”

The Climate Reality Project posted a similar dark money appeal on its webpage.

Despite Berlin’s claim that this dark money opportunity is a limited-time opportunity, the Climate Reality Project frequently launches dark money promotions promising an anonymous donor will match all donations to the activist group.

Ironically, alarmists frequently claim dark money is particularly pernicious in the global warming debate because activists cannot hold dark money donors accountable for their charity. Also, as I documented earlier this year in a column, alarmists grossly exaggerate the dark money supporting climate realists.

The next time a global warming activist claims dark money is tainting the global warming debate, feel free to enthusiastically agree with them and show them this article.


Wheat Crops Grow Despite Climate Alarmists’ Lies

Environmentalists delivered a dire report this Christmas season: Human-caused global warming is causing wheat harvests to fall. The message was repeated uncritically by much of the mainstream media.

Had they bothered to check the facts, the media would have discovered climate alarmists were lying once again. Wheat yields are rising dramatically in the U.S. and internationally – due in part, no doubt, to the fertilizing effect of increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations.

In his regular column at, James M. Taylor – a senior fellow of The Heartland Institute, which distributes Climate Change Weekly – refutes alarmists’ claims concerning wheat production by going directly to the data. The U.S. Department of Agriculture reports global wheat yields have risen by 33 percent since 1994. In addition, there has been a 4 percent increase in land acreage growing wheat. Combined, the 33 percent increase in per-acre wheat yield and the 4 percent increase in land harvested for wheat equal an almost 40 percent increase in the global wheat harvest since 1994. Rather than slowing, yields set records in 2013 and again in 2014.

Alarmists and media lied both about general wheat trends and wheat production in specific countries and continents. For instance, Reuters cited a single report to claim wheat yields had fallen in hotter regions such as in Africa, Australia, Brazil, and India. The real data, highlighted by Taylor, tell a quite different story:

    "Wheat production in Egypt, the only significant producer of wheat in Africa, has quadrupled during the past 30 years, “with the past 10 years producing the 10 highest wheat crops in Egyptian history.”

    In addition, “Africa’s second largest wheat producing country, Morocco, produced its highest wheat crop in history in 2013,” and South Africa produced record wheat yields in 2014.

    Brazil also produced consecutive years of record wheat yields in 2013 and 2014, 2014’s wheat crop being 30 percent larger than 2013’s record yield.

    India appears likely in 2014 to surpass its previous wheat production record, set in 2012.

    Of the countries cited by Reuters as having falling wheat production, only Australia failed to produce a record crop in 2013 or 2014. However, as Taylor points out, “its 2014 wheat crop was the eighth largest in its history,” with the record yield set just three years ago in 2011. Australia’s wheat production has risen steadily for four decades, with 2014’s wheat crop being four times larger than the yield in 1972."

For far too long, environmentalists and their willing dupes in the media have been allowed to make false claims unchallenged. Once the facts are checked, global warming-related food fears should fade, like darkness before the light of day.


Yet another windmill down  -- in Scotland

And they are installing them in or near school yards, despite the risk of them flying apart

A homeowner near the north-east village of New Deer was left bewildered yesterday after a wind turbine crashed to the ground through the night.

The structure is one of three 72ft turbines near the former Cairnorrie Primary School on the B9170 Methlick to New Deer road.

David Richards, who lives in view of the toppled turbine, described last night how he had first noticed that it had fallen over in the early morning of yesterday.

He said: “I don’t know when it happened. It was there – fine – on Wednesday afternoon when I went out to feed the animals. Then I came downstairs this morning and looked out the window and saw it was lying flat and sort of bent. It was a bit of a shock.

“We’ve not had it too bad around here. In fact, for a windy place, it’s actually been quite calm.”

“The people who put it up came and chopped it up and took away the top.”

Mr Richards, who has lived at his property near the B-road for nine years, said that he had originally objected to the plans when they were first submitted to the local authority.

“I just don’t like wind turbines. I think they’re a blot on the landscape. When we came, there weren’t any turbines. Then a new power line was put up, then the application for those went in. There were quite a few objections.

“They’re closer to us than they should be, and they’re closer to us than we want them to be. Some people love them, some people can’t be bothered by them, and some people don’t like them very much at all. I fall into that last category.

“The place is becoming a bit like ‘turbine alley’,” he added.

Brenda Herrick penned this letter published by her local rag, The John O’Groats Journal, in response to the local Council’s  indifference to the risks to little lives and limbs

It is interesting that the Council responded to your article on the safety of school turbines last week by emphasising that they are ensuring they get value for money. It is unlikely these turbines will ever pay for themselves but that’s not the point. The Council did not consider the risks of installing fast spinning machines where children at school are forced to play until I alerted councillors to the danger and others became involved. No risk assessments were carried out at individual schools prior to installation.

Following publicity the Council braked the turbines and engaged the Building Research Establishment to produce a risk assessment process. The actual assessments were carried out by Council personnel. At installation each turbine had been surrounded by a small wooden fence, easily climbed by children. Following the assessment these were replaced by higher metal fences, which prevent children climbing in but do not protect them from falling parts, and maintenance intervals were halved. I am not sure what the Council’s “robust risk assessments” are designed to achieve but they cannot guarantee the safety of children.

The BRE report recommended “turbine siting safety zones” consisting of a Fall zone, a wider Topple zone and a wider still Ejection zone (parts flying off).

When I asked the Council “What is the actual diameter of an ejection zone as referred to in the reports, say for a 15m tower turbine?” the reply was “The Council’s approach has been on prevention of risk, thereby negating the need for exclusion.” So having commissioned a report they decided to ignore parts of it, presumably because in most school playgrounds there is no room for an ejection zone.

A blade flying off at speed can travel a considerable distance. They have apparently forgotten the incident on Skye in 2009 when a Highland school turbine started shedding springs and had to be taken down by the Head Teacher. The Council’s own sensible recommendations in its report of that incident included “Ensure that there is an adequate buffer zone from the main pathways and occupied area, in schools this should include entrance and regularly used pathways and playground areas.” There are no “buffer zones”.

The following are examples of school turbine failures I am aware of from press reports, so by no means a complete record:

The school’s wind turbine collapsed December 8 about 7 a.m., knocking down a power line and causing school to be cancelled for the day.

Last month the revolutionary eco-friendly school lost its green energy supply after a damper, used to control the blades, came off when bolts broke. The three-inch-square part, weighing several kilos, plunged to the ground, luckily outside school hours when there were no children around.

But soon after being installed the wind turbine became faulty and after a few months seized up – showering the school’s playing field with debris.

A wind turbine at a school in Flackwell Heath has been repaired after part of it fell off into the school playground.

School wind turbine at Akron-Westfield school reported to be running out of control, suspected braking failure. School Superintendent described it as “life threatening”.

The turbine then collapsed, landing in the school’s playground, although no one was hurt.

Stunned students watched as a 40ft wind turbine crashed to earth during its installation on Fakenham High School playing field this lunchtime.

Within two years after installation, one of the three Proven 35-2 Wind Turbines installed at our Local High School came loose and crashed to the ground. It landed outside of the fenced off “Fall-Zone” behind the school.

A wind turbine came crashing down near Western Reserve High School.

Blade on the turbine at Seascale School blown off and landed 200m away in a field.

A FAMILY were left traumatised after a 4ft blade broke from a wind turbine in the grounds of a Rowley Regis school and spun out of control narrowly missing their house.

It is only luck that no-one so far has been injured at school.

There is a general denial of risk, presumably based on ignorance of the number of turbine failures occurring world-wide. One reason for this is that Renewable UK, the industry body, guarantees confidentiality to its members when reporting incidents.

Even the Health & Safety Executive cannot access their records and stated recently: “Consequently the HSE do not currently have a database of wind turbine failures on which they can base judgements on the reliability and risk assessments for wind turbines.” This is a disgraceful situation when turbines are so frequently close to people and buildings. Parents have a right to believe their children are not exposed to unnecessary risk in school grounds.


Global Sea Ice Hits Record, Warming 'Pause' Continues; Alarmists and Their Media Friends Hardest Hit

The Associated Press is obsessed with global warming. It currently has seven items at its national site containing that term.

Two of them relate to how the U.S. is allegedly exporting more pollution, and therefore more global warming, to other countries even as it supposedly is cleaning up its act. These are the kinds of stories which the rest of the press would eagerly jump on if a Republican or conservative were in the White House, but they're basically getting the silent treatment (AP's Monday afternoon before Christmas publication may also have dampened interest).

But the item I want to pick on predictably comes from the wire service's "Science Writer" and chief global alarmist Seth Borenstein, who two weeks ago set out to convince readers, with the help of a ginned-up federal report, that "The ice is melting! The ice is melting!"

"The Arctic and its future are looking dimmer every year, a new federal report says.

In the spring and summer of 2014, Earth's icy northern region lost more of its signature whiteness that reflects the sun's heat. It was replaced temporarily with dark land and water that absorbs more energy, keeping yet more heat on already warming planet, according to the Arctic report card issued Thursday.

Spring snow cover in Eurasia reached a record low in April. Arctic summer sea ice, while not setting a new record, continued a long-term, steady decline. And Greenland set a record in August for the least amount of sunlight reflected in that month, said the peer-reviewed report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and other agencies.

... The report illustrates instead a relentless decline in cold, snow and ice conditions and how they combine with each other. And several of those have to do with how the Arctic reflects sun heat

The Arctic's drop in reflectivity is crucial because "it plays a role like a thermostat in regulating global climate," Jeffries said, in an interview. As the bright areas are replaced, even temporarily, with dark heat-absorbing dark areas, "That has global implications."

The world's thermostat setting gets nudged up a bit because more heat is being absorbed instead of reflected, he said."

Somehow, while all of this alleged "nudging" has been going on, global warming has been at a standstill, or "pause" (the alarmists' preferred term) for over 18 years, as Christopher Monckton noted earlier this month at Climate Depot

What will the chart look like this time next year, at the beginning of the Paris world-government conference, at which the Treaty of Copenhagen will be dusted off and nodded through by the scientifically illiterate national negotiating delegates of almost 200 nations, ending the freedom and democracy of the West and putting absolute economic and political power in the hands of the grim secretariat of the UN climate convention?

I don't know, but I guess we had better figure out how to stop it, don't you think, folks?

Meanwhile, Steven Goddard at Real Science noted today that the fear of disappearing sea ice about which Borenstein has repeatedly written are unfounded:

"The area of Arctic sea ice is nearly identical to 30 years ago.

Arctic sea ice is cyclically returning to the NSIDC (National Snow & Ice Data Center) cherry-picked date of 1979.

... When it was declining, they blamed it on global warming. Now that it is increasing, they blame it on global warming.

... All of these things are the exact opposite of what experts forecast.

Look for them to continue to lie about this for as long as they can get away with it."

Given the Paris meeting cited above, one certainly hopes that the lying can't sustain itself much longer. The liars' cause is certainly helped by the press's contrary information blockade in these matters.

Thus, December has been a particularly rough month for the alarmists.  May the rough patch continue, and worsen.



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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