Tuesday, March 24, 2015
An amusing new wrinkle on "ad hominem" argument
The latest brainwave of the Warmists below. Once again they refuse to discuss the science and instead focus on personalities. And their preamble about the sufferings of Warmists is just fantasy. No links to proof of the accusations
For nearly thirty years, climate scientists have been the targets of character assassination by the fossil-fuel industry’s hired guns. They’ve been mugged on the streets of public discourse, pounded by the fists of demagoguery and smear. Their lives have been upended in an effort to have their research suspended. They’ve been kicked, slapped, whipped, tripped, and called every ugly name in the book.
Now they’re fighting back, in a bold and innovative new campaign known as More Than Scientists. This campaign provides an inside look into the lives of the climate scientists whose extensive research led to the scientific verdict that greenhouse gas emissions were causing our planet’s temperature to increase to dangerous levels.
Eric Michaelman, a Seattle-based climate activist, is the creator of this effort. In an e-mail interview last week, Michaelman told me that this initiative “developed out of discussions and brainstorming between longtime climate activists in the Seattle area and scientists at the University of Washington who personally wanted to play a more constructive part in the public conversation about climate…[W]e felt that video would be the best medium with the goal of helping the public better get to know the scientists personally, since when you see and hear someone talking it’s easy to make your own impression of their sincerity and conviction.”
Rational-thinking people have long since been convinced of the sincerity and conviction of those who have labored tirelessly for decades to analyze the risk greenhouse gases pose to the planet. However, if you have any friends who still think Sean Hannity knows more about climate change than actual climate scientists, ask them to watch these videos and see if they change their minds…or just keep them closed.
Fossil fuels are here to stay
THE environmental movement has advanced three arguments in recent years for giving up fossil fuels: (1) that we will soon run out of them anyway; (2) that alternative sources of energy will price them out of the marketplace; and (3) that we cannot afford the climate consequences of burning them.
These days, not one of the three arguments is looking very healthy. In fact, a more realistic assessment of our energy and environmental situation suggests that, for decades to come, we will continue to rely overwhelmingly on the fossil fuels that have contributed so dramatically to the world’s prosperity and progress.
In 2013, about 87 per cent of the energy that the world consumed came from fossil fuels, a figure that — remarkably — was unchanged from 10 years before. This roughly divides into three categories of fuel and three categories of use: oil used mainly for transport, gas used mainly for heating, and coal used mainly for electricity.
Over this period, the overall volume of fossil-fuel consumption has increased dramatically, but with an encouraging environmental trend: a diminishing amount of carbon-dioxide emissions per unit of energy produced. The biggest contribution to decarbonising the system has been the switch from high-carbon coal to lower-carbon gas in electricity generation.
On a global level, renewable energy sources such as wind and solar have contributed hardly at all to the drop in carbon emissions, and their modest growth has merely made up for a decline in the fortunes of zero-carbon nuclear energy. (The reader should know that I have an indirect interest in coal through the ownership of land in Northern England on which it is mined, but I nonetheless applaud the displacement of coal by gas in recent years.)
The argument that fossil fuels will soon run out is dead, at least for a while. The collapse of the price of oil over the past six months is the result of abundance: an inevitable consequence of the high oil prices of recent years, which stimulated innovation in hydraulic fracturing, horizontal drilling, seismology and information technology. The US — the country with the oldest and most developed hydrocarbon fields — has found itself once again, surprisingly, at the top of the energy-producing league, rivalling Saudi Arabia in oil and Russia in gas.
The shale genie is now out of the bottle. Even if the current low price drives out some high-cost oil producers — in the North Sea, Canada, Russia, Iran and offshore, as well as in America — shale drillers can step back in whenever the price rebounds. As Mark Hill of Allegro Development Corporation argued last week, the frankers are currently experiencing their own version of Moore’s law: a rapid fall in the cost and time it takes to drill a well, along with a rapid rise in the volume of hydrocarbons they are able to extract.
And the shale revolution has yet to go global. When it does, oil and gas in tight rock formations will give the world ample supplies of hydrocarbons for decades, if not centuries. Lurking in the wings for later technological breakthroughs is methane hydrate, a sea floor source of gas that exceeds in quantity all the world’s coal, oil and gas put together.
So those who predict the imminent exhaustion of fossil fuels are merely repeating the mistakes of the US presidential commission that opined in 1922 that “already the output of gas has begun to wane. Production of oil cannot long maintain its present rate.” Or president Jimmy Carter when he announced on television in 1977 that “we could use up all the proven reserves of oil in the entire world by the end of the next decade.”
That fossil fuels are finite is a red herring. The Atlantic Ocean is finite, but that does not mean that you risk bumping into France if you row out of a harbour in Maine. The buffalo of the American West were infinite, in the sense that they could breed, yet they came close to extinction. It is an ironic truth that no non-renewable resource has ever run dry, while renewable resources — whales, cod, forests, passenger pigeons — have frequently done so.
The second argument for giving up fossil fuels is that new rivals will shortly price them out of the market. But it is not happening. The great hope has long been nuclear energy, but even if there is a rush to build new nuclear power stations over the next few years, most will simply replace old ones due to close.
The world’s nuclear output is down from 6 per cent of world energy consumption in 2003 to 4 per cent today. It is forecast to inch back up to just 6.7 per cent by 2035, according the Energy Information Administration.
Nuclear’s problem is cost. In meeting the safety concerns of environmentalists, politicians and regulators added requirements for extra concrete, steel and pipework, and even more for extra lawyers, paperwork and time.
The effect was to make nuclear plants into huge boondoggles with no competition or experimentation to drive down costs. Nuclear is now able to compete with fossil fuels only when it is subsidised.
As for renewable energy, hydro-electric is the biggest and cheapest supplier, but it has the least capacity for expansion. Technologies that tap the energy of waves and tides remain unaffordable and impractical.
Geothermal is a minor player for now. And bioenergy — that is, wood, ethanol made from corn or sugar cane, or diesel made from palm oil — is proving an ecological disaster: It encourages deforestation and food-price hikes that cause devastation among the world’s poor, and per unit of energy produced, it creates even more carbon dioxide than coal.
Wind power, for all the public money spent on its expansion, has inched up to — wait for it — 1 per cent of world energy consumption in 2013. Solar, for all the hype, has not even managed that: If we round to the nearest whole number, it accounts for 0 per cent of world energy consumption.
Both wind and solar are entirely reliant on subsidies for such economic viability as they have. Worldwide, the subsidies given to renewable energy currently amount to roughly $10 per gigajoule: These sums are paid by consumers to producers, so they tend to go from the poor to the rich, often to landowners.
It is true that some countries subsidise the use of fossil fuels, but they do so at a much lower rate — the world average is about $1.20 per gigajoule — and these are mostly subsidies for consumers (not producers), so they tend to help the poor, for whom energy costs are a disproportionate share of spending.
The costs of renewable energy are coming down, especially in the case of solar. But even if solar panels were free, the power they produce would still struggle to compete with fossil fuel — except in some very sunny locations — because of all the capital equipment required to concentrate and deliver the energy.
This is to say nothing of the great expanses of land on which solar facilities must be built and the cost of retaining sufficient conventional generator capacity to guarantee supply on a dark, cold, windless evening.
The two fundamental problems that renewables face are that they take up too much space and produce too little energy.
To run the US economy entirely on wind would require a wind farm the size of Texas, California and New Mexico combined — backed up by gas on windless days. To power it on wood would require a forest covering two-thirds of the U.S., heavily and continually harvested.
John Constable, who will head a new Energy Institute at the University of Buckingham in Britain, points out that the trickle of energy that human beings managed to extract from wind, water and wood before the Industrial Revolution placed a great limit on development and progress.
The incessant toil of farm labourers generated so little surplus energy in the form of food for men and draft animals that the accumulation of capital, such as machinery, was painfully slow. Even as late as the 18th century, this energy-deprived economy was sufficient to enrich daily life for only a fraction of the population.
Our old enemy, the second law of thermodynamics, is the problem here. As a teenager’s bedroom generally illustrates, left to its own devices, everything in the world becomes less ordered, more chaotic, tending toward “entropy,” or thermodynamic equilibrium. To reverse this tendency and make something complex, ordered and functional requires work. It requires energy.
The more energy you have, the more intricate, powerful and complex you can make a system. Just as human bodies need energy to be ordered and functional, so do societies. In that sense, fossil fuels were a unique advance because they allowed human beings to create extraordinary patterns of order and complexity — machines and buildings — with which to improve their lives.
The result of this great boost in energy is what economic historian and philosopher Deirdre McCloskey calls the Great Enrichment. In the case of the US, there has been a roughly 9000 per cent increase in the value of goods and services available to the average American since 1800, almost all of which are made with, made of, powered by or propelled by fossil fuels.
Still, more than a billion people on the planet have yet to get access to electricity and to experience the leap in living standards that abundant energy brings. This is not just an inconvenience for them: Indoor air pollution from wood fires kills four million people a year. The next time that somebody at a rally against fossil fuels lectures you about her concern for the fate of her grandchildren, show her a picture of an African child dying today from inhaling the dense muck of a smoky fire.
Notice, too, the ways in which fossil fuels have contributed to preserving the planet. As the American author and fossil-fuels advocate Alex Epstein points out in a bravely unfashionable book, The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels, the use of coal halted and then reversed the deforestation of Europe and North America.
The turn to oil halted the slaughter of the world’s whales and seals for their blubber. Fertiliser manufactured with gas halved the amount of land needed to produce a given amount of food, thus feeding a growing population while sparing land for wild nature.
To throw away these immense economic, environmental and moral benefits, you would have to have a very good reason. The one most often invoked today is that we are wrecking the planet’s climate. But are we?
Although the world has certainly warmed since the 19th century, the rate of warming has been slow and erratic. There has been no increase in the frequency or severity of storms or droughts, no acceleration of sea-level rise. Arctic sea ice has decreased, but Antarctic sea ice has increased.
At the same time, scientists are agreed that the extra carbon dioxide in the air has contributed to an improvement in crop yields and a roughly 14 per cent increase in the amount of all types of green vegetation on the planet since 1980.
That carbon-dioxide emissions should cause warming is not a new idea. In 1938, the British scientist Guy Callender thought that he could already detect warming as a result of carbon-dioxide emissions. He reckoned, however, that this was “likely to prove beneficial to mankind” by shifting northward the climate where cultivation was possible.
Only in the 1970s and 80s did scientists begin to say that the mild warming expected as a direct result of burning fossil fuels — roughly a degree Celsius per doubling of carbon-dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere — might be greatly amplified by water vapour and result in dangerous warming of two to four degrees a century or more.
That “feedback” assumption of high “sensitivity” remains in virtually all of the mathematical models used to this day by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, or IPCC.
And yet it is increasingly possible that it is wrong. As Patrick Michaels of the libertarian Cato Institute has written, since 2000, 14 peer-reviewed papers, published by 42 authors, many of whom are key contributors to the reports of the IPCC, have concluded that climate sensitivity is low because net feedbacks are modest.
They arrive at this conclusion based on observed temperature changes, ocean-heat uptake and the balance between warming and cooling emissions (mainly sulfate aerosols). On average, they find sensitivity to be 40 per cent lower than the models on which the IPCC relies.
If these conclusions are right, they would explain the failure of the Earth’s surface to warm nearly as fast as predicted over the past 35 years, a time when — despite carbon-dioxide levels rising faster than expected — the warming rate has never reached even two-tenths of a degree per decade and has slowed down to virtually nothing in the past 15 to 20 years. This is one reason the latest IPCC report did not give a “best estimate” of sensitivity and why it lowered its estimate of near-term warming.
Most climate scientists remain reluctant to abandon the models and take the view that the current “hiatus” has merely delayed rapid warming. A turning point to dangerously rapid warming could be around the corner, even though it should have shown up by now. So it would be wise to do something to cut our emissions, so long as that something does not hurt the poor and those struggling to reach a modern standard of living.
We should encourage the switch from coal to gas in the generation of electricity, provide incentives for energy efficiency, get nuclear power back on track and keep developing solar power and electricity storage. We should also invest in research on ways to absorb carbon dioxide from the air, by fertilising the ocean or fixing it through carbon capture and storage. Those measures all make sense. And there is every reason to promote open-ended research to find some unexpected new energy technology.
The one thing that will not work is the one thing that the environmental movement insists upon: subsidising wealthy crony capitalists to build low-density, low-output, capital-intensive, land-hungry renewable energy schemes, while telling the poor to give up the dream of getting richer through fossil fuels.
Your Pet Is a Global Warming Machine
Greenies hate pets too. They are consistent haters
Though some environmentalists love their dogs more than they love their Sierra Club reusable water bottles, a single dog can have a bigger ecological footprint than an SUV. And cats aren’t much better. According to research highlighted by the New Scientist, it takes an estimated 1.1 hectares of land per year to create the chicken and grain that a large dog eats for its food. A Toyota Land Cruiser SUV, driven 10,000 kilometres a year, would use .41 hectares of land, less than half that of the dog.
"Owning a dog really is quite an extravagance," Dr. John Barrett of the Stockholm Environment Institute in York, UK told the New Scientist, "mainly because of the carbon footprint of meat."
Cats and dogs also wreak havoc on the local wildlife. The estimated 7.7 million cats in the United Kingdom kill more than 188 million wild animals every year. And cat excrement, which can contain the disease Toxoplasma gondii, has been blamed for killing sea otters (and may have a hand in causing schizophrenia in humans, according to RadioLab).*
The New Scientist has some suggestions of how to lessen Fido’s ecological “pawprint,” including feeding him more environmentally friendly foods. Perhaps forcing people to consider the impact of their pets may keep the carbon footprint on a leash.
Global warming not to blame for mass starvation of sea lion pups, says NOAA
Yesterday it was reported that sea lion pups along the California coast are literally starving to death. According to scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), global warming has nothing to do with it. It's all part of an El Niño weather pattern that's wreaking havoc on the food chain supply. sick sea lion
NOAA released figures yesterday showing that since January 1, "more than 1,800 starving sea lion pups have washed up on California beaches since Jan. 1 and 750 are being treated" in marine mammal care centers across the state.
Scientists at NOAA believe the crisis hasn't reached its peak and expect more sea lions to show up on beaches for at least two more months. Meanwhile, thousands of adult maleCalifornia sea lions are "surging into the Pacific Northwest, crowding onto docks and jetties in coastal communities."
According to NOAA, the "Channel Islands rookeries where nearly all California sea lions raise their young sit in the middle of the warm expanse. Female sea lions have strong ties to the rookeries. They take foraging trips of a few days at a time before returning to the rookeries to nurse their pups."
But this warm expanse has risen from 2 to 6 degrees Fahrenheit (when compared to the long-term average), which is not an ideal environment for the sea lion's diet: fish and squid,including "salmon, hake, Pacific whiting, anchovy, herring, rockfish, lamprey, dogfish, and market squid." Sea lions will even eat clams.
It's believed their food source is moving north to cooler waters, forcing the mothers to abandon their pups as they travel further away from the nurseries in search of food, sometimes for over a week. As a result, "the pups aren't eating as much or as frequently and they are weaning themselves early out of desperation and striking out on their own even though they are underweight and can't hunt properly."
NOAA says that a particularly strong weather pattern known as El Niño is to blame, not climate change. “It’s a very regional patch of warm water and it doesn’t look like global warming to me,” said Nate Mantua, a NOAA research scientist based in Santa Cruz, California.
El Niño weather patterns are "associated with a band of warm ocean water that develops in the central and east-central equatorial Pacific," which in turn warms the ocean off the Southern California coast. The last El Niño of this magnitude was in 1998, when "2,500 sea lion pups were found washed up on California beaches."
On March 5, 2015, NOAA predicted this El Niño weather pattern would be weak, and have little influence on weather and climate. "NOAA scientists will continue to monitor the situation and will issue its next monthly update on April 9."
Meanwhile, NOAA says the sea pups rescued by animal centers are tube-fed, tagged, and then released back into the wild. Unfortunately, the vast majority of sea pups spotted and reported to authorities are beyond help, with some dying and others being euthanized.
It's Not "Global Warming." It's "Springtime."
By Alan Caruba
After decades of environmental claims that “global warming” would plunge the planet into catastrophic harm to its human and other inhabitants—at the same time blaming humans for causing it—the sheer arrogance and ignorance of these claims always ignores the real power that is represented by the Earth itself and the beginning of Spring should be proof enough for anyone paying any attention.
This year, Spring begins in the northern hemisphere on Friday, March 20 at 6:45 PM EDT. In the southern hemisphere it marks the beginning of Autumn.
Spring manifests itself in ways we take for granted yet it is a combination of many events that should make us marvel if we gave them any thought. For example, where does all the snow go? The U.S. and the rest of the world set records of snowfall levels throughout Winter.
As noted by the U.S. Geological Service, “in the world-wide scheme of the water cycle, runoff from snowmelt is a major component of the global movement of water.”
“Mountain snow fields act as natural reservoirs for many western United States water-supply systems, storing precipitation from the cool season, when most precipitation falls and forms snowpacks…As much as 75 percent of water supplies in the western states are derived from snowmelt.” Snowmelt ensures sufficient water for all of us and for the Earth that depends upon it for the growth of all vegetation.
How do the flowers know it is Spring? In a 2011 article for the Inside Science News Service, Katherine Gammon noted that “Just in time for the birds and bees to start buzzing, the flowers and the trees somehow know when to open their buds to start flowering. But the exact way that plants get their wake-up call has been something of a mystery.” A molecular biologist at the University of Texas, Sibum Sung, has been trying to solve that mystery and has discovered “a special molecule in plants that gives them the remarkable ability to recall Winter and to bloom on schedule in the Spring.”
Nothing on Earth happens by accident. It is a remarkable inter-related system to which we give little thought. The sheer power of all those blooming flowers and trees should tell us something about the power of Nature that dwarfs all the claims that humans have any influence whatever on the events of Spring or any other time of the year.
Then think about the role of the animals with whom we share the planet. In the Spring many come out of hibernation in their dens, while others such as birds make lengthy migrations from the warmer climes to those in the north. The huge migration of Monarch Butterflies should leave us speechless. Spring is a time when many animals give birth to their young.
A sign of the Spring that leaves us breathless is the way it is the season for the aurora borealis. Dr. Tony Phillips of NASA notes that “For reasons not fully understood by scientists, the weeks around the vernal equinox are prone to Northern Lights. From Canada to Scandinavia they provide a great show.
“Such outbursts are called auroral substorms and they have long puzzled physicists,” says UCLA space physicist Vassilis Angelopoulos. They represent “a potent geomagnetic storm.” The equinox in Spring and Autumn is a time when magnetic connections between the Sun and Earth are most favorable.
One book, “Silent Spring”, by Rachel Carson, first published in September 1962, started the environmental campaign against pesticide use for any reason, leading most famously to the ban on DDT in the U.S. What Carson neglected to tell readers was how they were supposed to cope with the trillions of insects that come with the advent of warm weather.
No pesticide use does not mean less mosquitoes, less termites, less flies, less ants, or less of any other insect species and the diseases they spread, property damage, and the damage they cause to crops of all descriptions. And, of course, the much of the pollination of crops and other vegetation depends on insect species.
Carson’s claims of a silent spring bereft of bird species was a blatant lie. Rich Kozlovich, an authority on pest management, noted that “Bird populations were never so high in North America” despite the use of DDT and other pesticides. “Carson’s claim about how the poor robin was going to disappear was not only wrong, she was deliberately lying.”
“Carson was a science writer for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and absolutely had to know that in 1960 there were 12 times more robins, 21 times more cowbirds, 38 times more blackbirds, 131 times more grackles, etc., compared to 1941 numbers.”
Spring is a time of renewal in the northern hemisphere and it occurs with enormous levels of natural power. Most people, however, are oblivious to that power as they enjoy the sight of flowers and trees blooming.
I could almost guarantee that you will read or hear about “global warming” or “climate change” being attributed to the arrival of Spring. Do yourself a favor. Keep in mind that those claims, like Rachel Carson’s, represent an anti-humanity, anti-energy, and anti-capitalism agenda of the environmental movement.
Instead, celebrate the seasonal renewal of life on Earth and give thanks for the energy that permits you to control the environment of the structures where you live and work, that provides you the means to get in your car and go anywhere, and that powers every device you use
Australia: Dredges will not damage reef
Greenie scaremongering has no scientific basis
The resources and ports sectors continue to defend their dredging practices as safe after the Queensland and federal governments unveiled a long-term Great Barrier Reef management plan.
The plan includes a ban on dumping dredge spoil anywhere in the world heritage area, a limit on port expansion to four sites and targets for reducing sediment, nutrient and pesticide contamination.
It will be a key factor in the UNESCO world heritage committee's decision on whether to list the reef as "in danger" in June this year.
The Greens on Monday urged the federal government to go further after the Australian Coral Reef Society released a report recommending against the expansion of the Abbot Point coal terminal in central Queensland.
Top coral reef scientists were presenting a choice between protecting the Great Barrier Reef and developing Queensland's Galilee Basin, Greens senator Larissa Waters said. "In an age of climate change, it's scientifically impossible to do both," she said.
"The Abbott and Palaszczuk government's Reef 2050 Plan for the World Heritage Committee completely ignores the impact of the Galilee Basin coal mines on the reef and other world heritage areas."
Ms Waters said increased shipping through the reef would lead to ocean acidification, more dangerous storms and coral bleaching.
But linking the basin's development to the reef's plight was "a new low point in a campaign of misinformation", GVK Hancock said.
Every reputable analyst agreed that global demand for coal would grow for many decades regardless of the basin's development, spokesman Josh Euler said. "If we as a nation don't develop the Galilee Basin then some other country will develop their equivalent resource," he said.
Mr Euler said this would allow competitors to gain significant financial and employment benefits. "The expansion of the existing Abbot Point Port will not impact the Great Barrier Reef."
The government's plan ignores a science-based approach to dredging, according to Ports Australia.
An unwarranted blanket ban on dredging was placing the long-term viability of the ports system at risk, according to chief executive David Anderson.
"The science has been discarded, and instead the policy has been dictated by an activist ideology, with the complicity of UNESCO, which has swayed these governments," he said.
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 1:41 AM