Monday, May 18, 2015

No, Antarctica Is Not Experiencing Rapid Ice Melt

Antarctic sea ice is so expansive that researchers are exploring ways to avoid more embarrassing mishaps. Writing in The Daily Caller, Michael Bastasch says, “50 scientists have gathered in Tasmania to discuss more accurate ways to predict Antarctic sea ice levels so researchers don’t get stuck in ice pack when traveling southward.”

So it was richly ironic when CBS News reported this week that “Antarctica is melting from above and below.” The article, which documents a new alarming study on how global warming is supposedly eating away at the giant ice cap, begins with an outrageous claim — “It’s no secret that ice shelves in Antarctica are thinning” — and warns that “warming air temperatures and warmer ocean currents together could explain why the Antarctic Peninsula’s floating ice shelves are losing volume and becoming more vulnerable to collapse.”

The truth? As of Wednesday, sea ice extent was breaking the previous record high set just last year, according to data from the National Snow & Ice Data Center, and the trend for decades now has been a steady increase in areal ice coverage.

In fairness, the exception is the western portion of the continent, where ice is lagging behind the 1981-2010 average. But averages are based on the whole, not cherry-picked portions of the data. This is nothing more than selective outrage.

Addendum: Between 1981 and 2010, Arctic sea ice extent decreased by an average of 2.4 (+/- 0.6) percent per decade. Meanwhile, Antarctic ice increased by 4.1 (+/- 2.6) percent per decade. Source: NSIDC.


Lewandowsky and Oreskes: normal service resumed
For those who have been following the unfolding saga of the latest Lew paper, the said work of art has now been published at Global Environmental Change. There is little that will cause anyone any great surprise - it's all out of the standard Lewandowsky playbook: strawman following nonsense following outright falsehood. Take the case he outlines for why there is no pause:

Claims about a “pause” typically invoke a period commencing in 1998; the  top panel of the figure shows that that year saw particularly high  temperatures owing to an extreme El NiƱo event. When this single  outlying year is omitted (as illustrated in the bottom panel), the  purported pause in warming is no longer apparent. Statistically, what  one observes is a decrease in the rate of warming—a slowdown, if you  will—but this slowdown is at most modest: during the last 15 years  (1999–2013) the linear trend is .13 °C/decade, compared to the trend for  the overall period (1970–2013) which is .18 °C/decade. It is only when  1998 is arbitrarily used as the starting point to define the “pause”  that the recent rate of global warming has been appreciably lower  (.10 °C/decade) than the long-term trend....

Thus, arguments about a “hiatus” or “pause” can only be sustained by  ignoring the fact that the most recent trend is statistically nearly  identical to that of other decades unless a single particular year is  used as a starting point—in other words, only by cherry-picking.

I love the way the reviewers of the paper have turned a blind eye to Lew's failure to actually cite any examples of people picking 1998 as their start point, instead letting him set about this straw man with all of the rhetorical tools at his disposal, quickly beating him a pulp.

Then there are the outright falsehoods, for example this one:
Likewise, the positive fluctuation from the long-term trend leading up  to 2007 was not used to re-assess (transient) climate sensitivity, in  contrast to endeavours that have used the current departure from the  long-term trend for that purpose (e.g.,  Lewis, 2013, Lewis and Curry, 2014, Otto et al., 2013 and Stott et al., 2013).

That statement is so completely divorced from the truth that it's hard to know where to begin. The whole point of the Lewis studies, and Otto et al as well, was to consider the changing climate from preindustrial up to the present day. Here is an extract from Lewis and Curry 2014, the main results of which put TCR in the range 1.22-1.33. I've bolded two alternative sets of results presented by the authors, based on periods that exclude the pause:
Although final periods with end dates considerably before 2011 provide less well constrained
ECS and TCR estimates, it is worthwhile investigating to what extent the low increase in GMST in the 21st century affects ECS and TCR best estimates. Accordingly, we estimated ECS and TCR using final periods from 1987 and 1971 to each of 2000, 2001, 2002 and 2003. As volcanic forcing is much higher than when 2011 is used as the end date, 1850–1900 is used as the best-matching base period. With a 1987 start date, the resulting ECS best estimates vary between 1.58 K and 1.70 K; those for TCR vary between 1.35 K and 1.37 K. With a 1971 start date, ECS best estimates vary between 1.45 K and 1.53 K; those for TCR vary between 1.20 K and 1.22 K. With a volcanic efficacy of 0.55 assumed, the ECS and TCR best estimates are all slightly lower.

Extending the final year to 2012, and estimating changes from 2011 in radiative forcings and in energy accumulation where necessary, has a negligible effect on ECS and TCR estimates.

So the Lewis and Curry results are  almost entirely impervious to short-term fluctuations in surface  temperatures. Yet here we have Lewandowsky and Oreskes and their motley band of co-authors telling their readers the exact opposite.

What kind of a journal lets this sort of thing get published?



EPA Looks to Hammer Nail Salons

May 12, 2015 Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy will take a trip to a San Francisco nail salon Wednesday—a visit intended to shine a spotlight on health risks posed by the industry.

McCarthy's West Coast trip arrives on the heels of a New York Times expose published last week that documented poor working conditions in New York City-area nail salons, detailing how workers are routinely underpaid and overworked. The article sparked public outcry and prompted Gov. Andrew Cuomo to call for an investigation into worker treatment at nail salons.

"We know more visibility needs to be raised for these issues and we're working hard to reach communities and to educate folks," McCarthy said Tuesday at the White House Summit on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in Washington, where she announced her nail salon visit.

During her trip, McCarthy will meet with a local nail salon owner along with members of the California Healthy Nail Salon Collaborative, which is a coalition of salon workers, environmental groups, nonprofits, and government agencies.

Nail polish and other products found in salons contain an array of chemicals that may pose a threat to public health and the environment. Without proper handling, exposure to chemicals such as formaldehyde can lead to difficulty breathing, skin irritation and other health problems.

EPA already has put together a federal working group and doled out grants to organizations tackling the industry's public health and environmental impact created by the use of chemicals in nail salons, McCarthy noted.

"We've put together funding strategies, grants, that local communities and individual companies can access and we've put together a technical assistance team and all of this is done in a way that is multilingual so that we can reach the target audience, but there is so much more work to be done," McCarthy said.

McCarthy signaled optimism that headlines generated by The New York Times would raise awareness, but added that more needs to be done to shine a spotlight on the issue. "Not everybody—unbeknownst to The New York Times—reads The New York Times," she said.


NY fracking idiocy

Marian’s Pizza Shack sits 10 miles north of the Pennsylvania line, an invisible boundary that separates this small business from economic opportunity.

After 23 years in business, owner Marian Szarejko has decided to sell her pizza shack.

“There are no jobs here,” Szarejko said. “Business has gone down so much that I am dipping into my savings just to keep this afloat.”

Szarejko’s decision echoes a common theme that has plagued the southern tier of upstate New York for years—a lack of economic development.

“If I owned a place in Pennsylvania, I wouldn’t be thinking of closing. I would be thinking about expanding,” Szarejko said. “The difference is they did fracking.”

The issue of high-volume hydraulic fracturing, commonly referred to as fracking, has emerged as a contentious national debate. Communities and states are deciding whether to embrace or ban the new form of natural gas extraction.

But nowhere is the issue as real as it is for upstate New Yorkers who see the prosperity of neighboring communities in Pennsylvania.

New York and Pennsylvania are two of five states that sit above the nation’s largest natural gas field, the Marcellus Shale.

New York bans fracking. Pennsylvania allows it.

The Daily Signal traveled to the two states’ border to talk to residents about which policy has improved lives.

Since 2007, Pennsylvania has seen a rapid expansion of the natural gas industry though fracking, resulting in economic opportunity and growth.

This is a drastic contrast to communities just a few miles north in upstate New York, which have been under a statewide fracking moratorium since 2008.

Carolyn Price, town supervisor of Windsor, N.Y., says high taxes and regulations are holding back the southern tier of upstate New York, an area that has rich natural resources.

“Our town is blessed with natural resources, blue stone, timber, natural gas, and wonderful people,” Price said. “We are trying to make all of this come together, so this town can truly prosper.”

Price believes that accessing local natural resources could encourage new industries and economic development in this small rural town.

“I’ve said this from the very beginning, what would truly save this town and move economic development very fast would be the development of the Marcellus Shale,” Price said. “But, we wanted to make sure this is what the people want.”

Last fall, the town conducted a survey of property owners and residents asking them if they wanted the town to allow the extraction of natural gas and oil. Over 5,000 surveys were sent out, 3,000 returned, and 66 percent of the respondents said yes.

“We continue to try and met the needs of what the people want,” Price said.

On Dec. 17, 2014, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that his administration would permanently block the development of high-volume hydraulic fracturing for natural gas in New York State, because of environmental and health concerns.

“What can we do in these areas to generate jobs and generate wealth, for people who can’t pay their mortgage and can’t pay their taxes as an alternative to fracking?” Gov. Cuomo said at the time. “The point is they need jobs and they need incomes.”

The governor’s decision came on the same day that a proposed upstate casino was rejected by a state board. Both decisions left many in the southern tier worried about their economic future.

“We are New Yorkers, we have been New Yorkers, we should not have to move into another state to access what is right in our state,” Szarejko said.

Gerald Urda, an organic fruit farmer in Windsor, N.Y., says the governor is ignoring the needs of the southern tier.

“I think our governor has forgotten about Broome County,” Urda said. “If he came here and looked at mainstreet, he could see that we would need some help. I think the help would have come from gas drilling.”

Doug McLinko, chairman of the Bradford County Board of Commissioners, has seen the impact natural gas has had in Pennsylvania and his county.

“We are the most drilled on county in the Marcellus Shale,” McLinko said. “We flow the most gas in the state. The last eight to ten years has been the most incredible boom of prosperity I have ever witnessed in my life.”

According to a 2014 report published by The Center for Rural Pennsylvania, Bradford County saw a 19 percent increase in taxable income from 2007 to 2010, providing additional revenue for investment in the county.

“We have seen 200 million dollars in market value go into our county,” McLinko said. “The ripple effects are we have cut taxes and eliminated out county debt.”

“When I look across the border to New York State, once again it is bad policy affecting awfully good people up there.”

Here’s Why Some New York Towns Want to Secede to Pennsylvania >>>

According to the Upstate New York Towns Association, small businesses in New York pay significantly more in payroll and property taxes than businesses just a few miles south in Pennsylvania.

“High taxes and high regulations are holding Windsor back,” Price said.

Szarejko worries about the the future of upstate New York.

“I want upstate New York to grow and thrive, that’s what I want to see for this community, Szarejko said. “If we continue the way we are going, on the road we are on right now, your kids are going to be gone, us older people are going to die, and there will be nothing left.”

Price is still holding out some hope.

“We have become the valley of missed opportunity,” Price said. “We are trying to restore hope and optimism in people that we can still do this.”


Make Sure Your Pollution Is Racially Fair

Readers of The Corner know that I don’t like the “disparate impact” approach to civil-rights enforcement, and while it’s a bad idea when used to challenge firefighter exams, criminal background checks, English proficiency, school discipline policies, policing, mortgage lending, and voter ID laws – to give just a few examples – I’ve always had a special place in my heart for its use by bureaucrats to challenge pollution that fails to strike the right racial balance. But, “[i]n recognition of Earth Day and Arbor Day,” the Obama administration today highlighted those efforts in this publication.

Now, I’m prepared to believe that the government needs to consider stepping in from time to time to stop pollution, but what I don’t understand is why racial considerations should ever be part of that consideration. That is, if the pollution is dangerous, then why should it be allowed — or not allowed — depending on the racial makeup of its victims? If a polluter’s activity will hurt those living nearby, why is it acceptable if that population is white or racially balanced, but not acceptable if those being hurt belong to a racial or ethnic minority group?

But this is exactly the approach the government overtly takes. To quote from an example proudly showcased in today’s publication, a violation was found “when the cities failed to assess the potential adverse disparate impacts stemming from relocation of a trolley maintenance facility to a historically Black neighborhood. As a direct result of [the federal government agency’s] involvement in the matter, city officials agreed to keep the facility near its current location.” That may be fine for the “historically Black neighborhood,” but what about the folks “near its current location”?

Too bad for them. The agency here insisted that those getting federal money “must consider and analyze alternatives [in location] to determine whether those alternatives would have less of a disparate impact on the basis of race, color, or national origin, and then implement the least discriminatory alternative.” In other words, the government insists that whether or not there is an environmental problem worthy of federal intervention depends in part on the skin color and ancestral origin of those put at risk.

Happy belated Earth and Arbor Days!


Warmists are wailing about the latest Australian budget

What the Warmist below says would make sense if there really were any climate danger but conservative politicians everywhere know it is a just another Leftist crock.  It would be dangerous for them to say so but deeds speak louder than words  -- we see some such deeds described below

As the Treasurer was finalising his Budget speech on Tuesday, the World Bank released a report on Decarbonising Development: Three Steps to a Zero Carbon Future and our Bureau of Meteorology announced that El Nino is back - a big problem for Australia as global warming puts our already extreme weather on steroids.

These are hardly 'radical' organisations. Yet the Treasurer's speech made no mention of policies to modernise and decarbonise our economy. There was no mention of climate costs and the physical impacts of climate change that CSIRO has now repeatedly warned are happening now, and will only grow. The Treasurer did laud the truly awesome power of our fossil fuel exports - sufficient to power Mumbai, Tokyo and Singapore apparently.

Last night's budget highlights a number of problems with the government's approach to climate and economic policy. The budget continued the assault on the institutions and policies that form the infrastructure necessary for decarbonisation and, in a new twist, for increasing climate resilience. It entrenched concerns about the ability of Australia to achieve even its minimum 2020 pollution reduction targets. It maintained the perversity of taxpayers rather than polluters taking responsibility for emissions reduction.

On the last point, Economist Frank Jotzo from ANU contrasts the around $400 million a year of taxpayers money being spent under the government's Emissions Reduction Fund with an estimated $2 billion of revenue per year from polluters under emissions trading. That's twice the recent foreign aid cut. Worth repeating - the budget could be $2.4 billion a year better off.

Perhaps more importantly, just the default declining pollution cap under the previous carbon laws would, with a high degree of certainty, have achieved pollution reduction of 15 per cent below 2000 levels by 2020.

Now it is highly unlikely that the government can meet the insufficient emissions reduction target it's aiming for - 5 per cent of 2000 levels by 2020.

As UNFCCC head Christiana Figueres reminded Lateline on Friday night, this is the minimum of the 5 to 25 per cent reduction range both parties have supported in the past. Stronger reductions were supposed to follow if the world was acting, which by all accounts it more than is. And let's not forget that the independent Climate Change Authority recommended at least 15 per cent reductions as our fair contribution to global action underway.

Another problem with the budget is its funding shortfall for the government's inefficient policies.

The first auction under the ERF just weeks ago priced carbon at $13.95 per tonne of emissions. If the around $1.6 billion forecast to be spent in the ERF's first five years ($75 million was to be spent this year) is spent at the $13.96 average carbon price, then 115 million tonnes of pollution reductions is achieved. The government recently estimated that it would require an extra 236 million tonnes reduction by 2020 to achieve the minimum reduction target of 5 per cent below 2000.

In other words, the government will need to buy as much reductions in the final year before its 2020 target as it achieved in the combined five years before it.

And that depends on broader pollution remaining in check, which is questionable with the sustained assault on renewable energy and the loophole ridden pollution safeguard mechanism that is supposed to stop pollution from rising.

The programs and institutions that track our emissions and are there to facilitate the required economic transition are under continued assault. While the Climate Change Authority is given a welcome lifeline of an extra year till end-2016, it remains on the chopping block longer term, along with the Clean Energy Finance Corporation and the Australian Renewable Energy Agency.

All of these agencies provide significant value for taxpayers, credible independent advice and support for economic innovations crucial for a modern, smart and clean economy.

It is welcome that the budget makes some allowances for drought and disaster funding, especially in Australia's regional areas. But at the same time the National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility was added to the list of climate and clean energy agencies to be wound up in 2017 - an organisation that highlights best practice in building greater resilience to climate impacts.

The gutting of agencies like these occurs just as leading global and domestic scientists, and the CSIRO, are telling us that we're experiencing rising climate impacts here and in our Asia-Pacific region. The unconscionable slashing of the overseas aid budget, and its threat to a viable foundation for financing greater resilience and cleaner development in our region, was yet another problematic aspect of last night's budget.

The risks to our future prosperity in a world focusing on a zero carbon global economy are not going away. This week's World Bank report is part of a growing realisation not only that we must decarbonise the economies if we are to avoid the goal of avoiding two-degree warming that was highlighted in the recent Intergenerational Report. It is part of a growing realisation that the benefits of action far outweigh the costs.

The benefits of our fossil fuel past are fast turning into the liabilities of the zero-carbon future.



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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