Global warming forcing planes to spend up to 11 minutes longer in the air battling strong winds
Another entertaining bit of nonsense. It may be that winds have got stronger in recent times but even the IPCC does not claim any upsurge in extreme weather as a result of climate change -- and there has been no climate change for 18 years anyway. This is at best just propaganda
Global warming might be creating a vicious cycle of rising temperatures as its effects exacerbate its causes.
Strong winds caused by extreme weather are fuelling this rise as planes spend longer in the air battling them to create a warming feedback loop, a new report reveals.
According to the study, there are approximately 30,000 commercial flights per day in the US.
If the total round-trip flying time changed by one minute, commercial jets would be in the air approximately 300,000 hours longer per year.
This translates to approximately one billion additional gallons (4.5 billion litres) of jet fuel, which costs an extra $3 billion (£1.9 billion) and 22 billion lbs (10 billion kg) of carbon dioxide (CO2) emitted per year.
'Upper level wind circulation patterns are the major factor in influencing flight times,' said Dr Kris Karnauskas, associate scientist at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts.
The consequent additional input of CO2 into the atmosphere can feed back and amplify emerging changes in atmospheric circulation.
'We already know that as you add CO2 to the atmosphere and the global mean temperature rises, the wind circulation changes as well - and in less obvious ways. [A cheeky little "and" there. The temperature is NOT rising as CO2 levels increase]
'The airline industry keeps a close eye on the day-to-day weather patterns, but they don't seem to be concerned with cycles occurring over a year or longer.
'They never say "Dear customer, there's an El Niño brewing, so we've lengthened your estimated flight duration by 30 minutes." I've never seen that.'
Passenger jets contribute 3.5 per cent of all greenhouse gas emissions globally according to the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), but changes in wind speeds as a result of global warming can cause aircraft to burn more fuel, which in turn accelerates climate change.
Comparing 20 years of US flight data to recorded wind speeds, the researchers showed that the atmospheric circulation affects how long planes are in the air.
After smoothing out the seasonal differences, 91 per cent of variation in flight times could be explained by flight-level wind speed, the researchers said.
The result also pointed toward the influence of the El Niño weather pattern.
As the temperature of the equatorial Pacific Ocean rises and falls, atmospheric waves are set off toward the higher latitudes of both hemispheres, where they can change circulation patterns.
Just by looking at the state of the tropical Pacific Ocean, Dr Kris Karnauskas claims he could predict what the airline's flight time had been.
'We're talking about anomalies happening down at the equator that are affecting the atmosphere in such a spatially broad way that it's probably influencing flights all around the world,' he said.
The researchers also found that while the jet stream blows west to east, when an eastbound flight became 10 minutes shorter, the corresponding westbound flight became 11 minutes longer, meaning effects were not cancelled out.
The study, published in Nature Climate Change said that while minor for each flight, the cost is huge for major airlines.
"C. of E." now stands for the Church of the Environment
Salvation by Al Gore? Who was that JC guy anyway?
Leaders of the Church of England declared yesterday(Mon) that fighting climate change is a holy duty.
They called for a new generation of vicars to be trained in ‘ecotheology’ as well as the Bible and ‘eco-justice’ alongside Christian ethics.
Churchgoers are to be encouraged to skip lunch on the first day of every month in a fast against climate change after the General Synod, the CofE’s parliament, adopted a wholesale programme of green activism.
It backed a motion which said creation is holy and the Church is ‘called to protect the earth now and for the future’. It called on governments around the world to limit the global rise in temperatures to no more than two degrees celsius.
The Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev Justin Welby, said the CofE faithful must set an example to others. He suggested the Synod could make the gesture of using less paper and that its members might cut back on their travel.
Other speakers in the debate in York said that people could help save the planet by downloading fewer photographs from their mobile phones and by attaching solar panels to vicarage roofs.
Each of the CofE’s local dioceses will be asked to appoint its own environmental officer to encourage green behaviour – a new breed of officials instantly dubbed ‘ecommissars’ by Synod sceptics.
The Bishop of Sheffield, the Right Rev Steven Croft, called for ‘an ecological conversion of individuals and communities’.
But the Synod drew back from instructing all churchgoers that skipping a sandwich to save the planet on the first day of every month is a duty. Instead it voted to ‘encourage prayer and fasting for climate justice’ on the first of the month.
The Church’s chief spokesman on climate change, the Bishop of Salisbury, the Right Reverend Nicholas Holtam, said: ‘There has been some puzzlement about encouraging prayer and fasting.
‘It’s not just about skipping a sandwich but helping those of us who are well fed to notice what it means to be hungry and to hunger for justice.’
Bishop Holtam added that the Church would ‘develop and promote new ecotheological resources. ‘It is a new word to me too,’ he said. ‘But it was used at the Anglican Communion Environmental Network conference in February. ‘Christians will want to use ecotheology and seek eco-justice for the love of God and our neighbour.’
The Environmental Network meeting in February was staged in Cape Town and 15 bishops from around the world flew to South Africa to take part. Bishop Holtam has said the importance of face-to-face talks outweighed the damage done to the environment.
Archbishop Welby told the Synod: ‘We are to be exemplary in what we do ourselves. ‘That comes down to some very basic things about use of our buildings and imaginative work there; about how use our heritage; about how we use and invest our finances; and around how we heat and light things.
‘Symbolic action such as use of paper at General Synod, the amount we travel, and disinvestment or the tackling and engagement with companies in certain areas, such as arctic drilling, are equally important.’
Canon Margaret Swinson of Liverpool told the Synod that 97 million tonnes of carbon dioxide are generated each year running data storage clouds in the US. ‘Think before you download on to cloud storage 100 photographs of which 25 are out of focus,’ she said.
Alexandra Podd of the CofE Youth Council said the Church should consider a policy to ‘put solar panels of the roofs of vicarages.’
Only six of the 479 Synod members voted against the declaration.
But Rochester lay representative and former Green Party activist Martin Sewell said that in the mid-1980s environmental campaigners had claimed that climate change would make the world uninhabitable by 215.
‘If there was a Nobel Prize for failed apocalyptic warnings, the green movement would win it every year,’ he said.
‘The capitalism we despise has reduced the proportion of the world’s people who are in absolute poverty from 53 per cent to 17 per cent since 1981. This is astonishing. How did it happen? It happened because of two forces – cheap energy and free trade.
‘What if the choice is not green energy and helping the poor? What if the choice is between green energy or helping the poor?’
Gates: Renewable energy can't do the job. Gov should switch green subsidies into R&D
Cost of cost of using renewables only would be "beyond astronomical"
Retired software kingpin and richest man in the world Bill Gates has given his opinion that today's renewable-energy technologies aren't a viable solution for reducing CO2 levels, and governments should divert their green subsidies into R&D aimed at better answers.
Gates expressed his views in an interview given to the Financial Times yesterday, saying that the cost of using current renewables such as solar panels and windfarms to produce all or most power would be "beyond astronomical". At present very little power comes from renewables: in the UK just 5.2 per cent, the majority of which is dubiously-green biofuel burning1 rather than renewable 'leccy - and even so, energy bills have surged and will surge further as a result.
In Bill Gates' view, the answer is for governments to divert the massive sums of money which are currently funnelled to renewables owners to R&D instead. This would offer a chance of developing low-carbon technologies which actually can keep the lights on in the real world.
“The only way you can get to the very positive scenario is by great innovation,” he told the pink 'un. “Innovation really does bend the curve.”
Gates says he'll personally put his money where his mouth is. He's apparently invested $1bn of his own cash in low-carbon energy R&D already, and “over the next five years, there’s a good chance that will double,” he said.
The ex-software overlord stated that the Guardian's scheme of everyone refusing to invest in oil and gas companies would have "little impact". He also poured scorn on another notion oft-touted as a way of making renewable energy more feasible, that of using batteries to store intermittent supplies from solar or wind.
“There’s no battery technology that’s even close to allowing us to take all of our energy from renewables," he said, pointing out - as we've noted on these pages before - that it's necessary "to deal not only with the 24-hour cycle but also with long periods of time where it’s cloudy and you don’t have sun or you don’t have wind."
So what are the possible answers, in Gates' view?
Gates is already well known as a proponent of improved nuclear power tech, and it seems he still is. He mentioned the travelling-wave reactors under development by his firm TerraPower, which are intended to run on depleted uranium stockpiled after use in conventional reactors. He also spoke of methods of using solar power to produce liquid hydrocarbons, which, unlike electricity, can be stored practicably in useful amounts: "one of the few energy storage things that works at scale", as he put it.
Gates also spoke of the radical plan of high-altitude wind farming using kite-balloons flying high up in the jet stream - though he admitted that that one was something of a long shot.
In Gates' view, decades from now a few of today's new-energy companies will have become massive and early investors will have reaped the sort of rewards that he, Paul Allen and Steve Ballmer have from Microsoft. But many others won't be so lucky.
"Now there’s a tonne of software companies whose names will never be remembered," he told the FT interviewers.
Gates has said a lot of this before. The main new thing is the firm assertion that renewable energy technology as it now is has no chance of powering a reasonably numerous and well-off human race. This is actually a very simple thing to work out, and just about anybody numerate who thinks about the subject honestly comes to the same conclusion - examples include your correspondent, Google renewables experts, global-warming daddy James Hansen, even your more honest hardline greens (they typically think that the answer is for the human race to become a lot less numerous and well-off).
Unfortunately a lot of people aren't numerate and/or aren't honest, so it's far from sure that the colossal subsidies pumped into today's useless renewables will get diverted into R&D which could produce something worthwhile. In the UK at least this would be quite difficult, as the subsidies are not actually subsidies as such - no tax money is paid out to windfarmers and solar-panellists from the Treasury.
Rather, the system works by artificially pumping up the price of 'leccy and gas and channelling the extra cash - minus various margins for various people involved - to the windfarmers and panel people, such that they get paid vastly more than the market price of the power they produce.
A lot of people - including the government at times - prefer to pretend that this isn't happening at all: that prices are going up because of the gas market, or corporate profiteering, or something, and that green policy is actually saving people money in some way.
So given that officially nobody is paying any more money and therefore there aren't any subsidies, they probably can't be diverted to anywhere. The newly-reelected Chancellor is trying to stop them getting bigger, but he probably won't manage to seriously reduce them overall, let alone re-purpose them. ®
Germany’s Energiewende Finds the Sour Spot
German Energy Plan Based on Unexamined Green Movement Beliefs
Every time we see Germany’s eco-energy transition, dubbed the energiewende, in the news lately, someone’s upset about it. The plan is a raft of different energy policies that can be boiled down to the following plan: phase out nuclear energy while boosting wind and solar by guaranteeing producers long-term, above-market rates called feed-in tariffs. It was a plan that from the outset reflected all the unexamined beliefs central to the modern green movement, and it’s been plagued by problems at every step.
Der Spiegel criticized the energiewende‘s “aggressive and reckless expansion of wind and solar power,” rightly pointing out that German consumers are shouldering the costs of those feed-in tariffs in the form of sky-high electricity bills. Those power bills have encouraged some of Germany’s heavy industry to look abroad for a better environment in which to do business. The Financial Times observed that by shuttering its nuclear reactors, Berlin was increasing its consumption of much dirtier coal and making it “ever more reliant on imports of Russian natural gas.” Shutting down those reactors hasn’t been a cheap undertaking, costing much more than was initially estimated.
When Germany decided against levying an extra charge on its older coal plants last week, we noted that Berlin was struggling to find a balance between its vaunted green ideals and harder economic realities. Now, as Reuters reports, some analysts are saying that, by failing to bill those dirtier facilities, Germany has taken a route that satisfies neither green nor economic goals:
Analysts warn that safeguarding the utilities’ income stream could drive up climate protection costs and hurt consumers, and prevent the depressed power market from shedding overcapacity. […]
“It may make sense politically, but it is not economic and not the best solution for climate policy,” [said Roland Vetter, head of research at energy risk management firm CF Partners].
If this were some computer simulation it might be worth celebrating—creating an energy policy that so consistently fails to satisfy the concerns of such a wide variety of stakeholders is truly remarkable. But this isn’t a virtual strategy, and it’s hurting real businesses and real households. The energiewende does manage to do some good by serving as a cautionary tale to the rest of the world: this is what happens when you let starry-eyed greens take the reins.
Wind turbines may trigger danger response in brain
Living near a wind turbine could harm emotional wellbeing after scientists discovered that low frequency sounds generated by rotor blades trigger a part of the brain which senses danger.
Wind farm critics have long complained of the detrimental impact of turbines on their mental health, sleep patterns and physical wellbeing.
But now a study suggests that the brain can register low frequency sounds even below the level of normal human hearing.
Brain scans show that even infrasound as low as 8hz – a whole octave below the traditional cut off point for human hearing – is still being picked up by the primary auditory cortex, the part of the brain which translates sounds into meaning.
And a separate part of the brain, linked to emotions, also lit up when the seemingly ‘inaudible’ noises were played to volunteers in a lab.
Dr Christian Koch of the Max Planck Institute for Human Development in Berlin said: “The observations showed a reaction in certain parts of the brain which play a role in emotions.
“This means that a human being has a rather diffuse perception, saying that something is there and that this might involve danger.
“All persons concerned explicitly stated that they had heard something.”
People living in the vicinity of wind farms have long reported experiencing sleep disturbances, a decline in performance, and other negative effects, apparently from the “infrasound” generated by the turbines
But the wind energy sector has always maintained that the sounds created by rotor blades are too low a frequency to be picked up by humans.
To test whether sounds could be heard the team generated an infrasonic source which is able to create sounds that are completely free from harmonics.
Volunteers were asked about their hearing experience, and these statements were then compared by to their brain scans.
The results revealed that humans hear lower sounds from around 8 hertz on - a whole octave lower than had previously been assumed.
Infrasound is not only produced by wind turbines, but also sometimes when a truck thunders past a house, or when a home owner installs a power generator in his basement.
Last year the University of Munich found that living near wind farms could lead to severe hearing damage of even deafness.
But then wind farm owners pointed out that the level of sound used was significantly higher than the levels now emitted from turbines. A separate report a report by the Energy and Policy Institute in Washington, also concluded that sickness caused by wind turbines was not a real illness. The authors concluded that symptoms such as nausea, dizziness and migraines were simply imagined by those living nearby.
Dr Koch added: Neither scaremongering nor refuting everything is of any help in this situation. Instead, we must try to find out more about how sounds in the limit range of hearing are perceived, Further research is urgently needed.”
RenewableUK’s Director of Onshore Renewables, Gemma Grimes: “The wind industry takes all health and safety issues very seriously. This piece of work was, by the author’s own admission, just him thinking aloud and raising a number of possible issues relating to all types of infrastructure that could be researched further - he undertook no research at wind farms.
"The author himself stated that it would be scaremongering to make any a connection between wind farms and public health issues. There is an existing body of peer-reviewed scientific research, which clearly shows that living near a wind farm has no adverse effect on anyone’s health, and to suggest otherwise is inaccurate and irresponsible”.
The project, which is part of the European Metrology Research Programme (EMRP), was coordinated by the German National Metrology Institute (PTB).
The Climate Wars’ Damage to Science
For much of my life I have been a science writer. That means I eavesdrop on what’s going on in laboratories so I can tell interesting stories. It’s analogous to the way art critics write about art, but with a difference: we “science critics” rarely criticise. If we think a scientific paper is dumb, we just ignore it. There’s too much good stuff coming out of science to waste time knocking the bad stuff.
Sure, we occasionally take a swipe at pseudoscience—homeopathy, astrology, claims that genetically modified food causes cancer, and so on. But the great thing about science is that it’s self-correcting. The good drives out the bad, because experiments get replicated and hypotheses put to the test. So a really bad idea cannot survive long in science.
Or so I used to think. Now, thanks largely to climate science, I have changed my mind. It turns out bad ideas can persist in science for decades, and surrounded by myrmidons of furious defenders they can turn into intolerant dogmas.
This should have been obvious to me. Lysenkoism, a pseudo-biological theory that plants (and people) could be trained to change their heritable natures, helped starve millions and yet persisted for decades in the Soviet Union, reaching its zenith under Nikita Khrushchev. The theory that dietary fat causes obesity and heart disease, based on a couple of terrible studies in the 1950s, became unchallenged orthodoxy and is only now fading slowly.
What these two ideas have in common is that they had political support, which enabled them to monopolise debate. Scientists are just as prone as anybody else to “confirmation bias”, the tendency we all have to seek evidence that supports our favoured hypothesis and dismiss evidence that contradicts it—as if we were counsel for the defence. It’s tosh that scientists always try to disprove their own theories, as they sometimes claim, and nor should they. But they do try to disprove each other’s. Science has always been decentralised, so Professor Smith challenges Professor Jones’s claims, and that’s what keeps science honest.
What went wrong with Lysenko and dietary fat was that in each case a monopoly was established. Lysenko’s opponents were imprisoned or killed. Nina Teicholz’s book The Big Fat Surprise shows in devastating detail how opponents of Ancel Keys’s dietary fat hypothesis were starved of grants and frozen out of the debate by an intolerant consensus backed by vested interests, echoed and amplified by a docile press.
Cheerleaders for alarm
This is precisely what has happened with the climate debate and it is at risk of damaging the whole reputation of science. The “bad idea” in this case is not that climate changes, nor that human beings influence climate change; but that the impending change is sufficiently dangerous to require urgent policy responses. In the 1970s, when global temperatures were cooling, some scientists could not resist the lure of press attention by arguing that a new ice age was imminent. Others called this nonsense and the World Meteorological Organisation rightly refused to endorse the alarm. That’s science working as it should. In the 1980s, as temperatures began to rise again, some of the same scientists dusted off the greenhouse effect and began to argue that runaway warming was now likely.
At first, the science establishment reacted sceptically and a diversity of views was aired. It’s hard to recall now just how much you were allowed to question the claims in those days. As Bernie Lewin reminds us in one chapter of a fascinating new book of essays called Climate Change: The Facts (hereafter The Facts), as late as 1995 when the second assessment report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) came out with its last-minute additional claim of a “discernible human influence” on climate, Nature magazine warned scientists against overheating the debate.
Since then, however, inch by inch, the huge green pressure groups have grown fat on a diet of constant but ever-changing alarm about the future. That these alarms—over population growth, pesticides, rain forests, acid rain, ozone holes, sperm counts, genetically modified crops—have often proved wildly exaggerated does not matter: the organisations that did the most exaggeration trousered the most money. In the case of climate, the alarm is always in the distant future, so can never be debunked.
These huge green multinationals, with budgets in the hundreds of millions of dollars, have now systematically infiltrated science, as well as industry and media, with the result that many high-profile climate scientists and the journalists who cover them have become one-sided cheerleaders for alarm, while a hit squad of increasingly vicious bloggers polices the debate to ensure that anybody who steps out of line is punished. They insist on stamping out all mention of the heresy that climate change might not be lethally dangerous.
Today’s climate science, as Ian Plimer points out in his chapter in The Facts, is based on a “pre-ordained conclusion, huge bodies of evidence are ignored and analytical procedures are treated as evidence”. Funds are not available to investigate alternative theories. Those who express even the mildest doubts about dangerous climate change are ostracised, accused of being in the pay of fossil-fuel interests or starved of funds; those who take money from green pressure groups and make wildly exaggerated statements are showered with rewards and treated by the media as neutral.
The cheesy lady
Look what happened to a butterfly ecologist named Camille Parmesan when she published a paper on “Climate and Species Range” that blamed climate change for threatening the Edith checkerspot butterfly with extinction in California by driving its range northward. The paper was cited more than 500 times, she was invited to speak at the White House and she was asked to contribute to the IPCC’s third assessment report.
Unfortunately, a distinguished ecologist called Jim Steele found fault with her conclusion: there had been more local extinctions in the southern part of the butterfly’s range due to urban development than in the north, so only the statistical averages moved north, not the butterflies. There was no correlated local change in temperature anyway, and the butterflies have since recovered throughout their range. When Steele asked Parmesan for her data, she refused. Parmesan’s paper continues to be cited as evidence of climate change. Steele meanwhile is derided as a “denier”. No wonder a highly sceptical ecologist I know is very reluctant to break cover.
Jim Hansen, recently retired as head of the Goddard Institute of Space Studies at NASA, won over a million dollars in lucrative green prizes, regularly joined protests against coal plants and got himself arrested while at the same time he was in charge of adjusting and homogenising one of the supposedly objective data sets on global surface temperature. How would he be likely to react if told of evidence that climate change is not such a big problem?
Michael Oppenheimer, of Princeton University, who frequently testifies before Congress in favour of urgent action on climate change, was the Environmental Defense Fund’s senior scientist for nineteen years and continues to advise it. The EDF has assets of $209 million and since 2008 has had over $540 million from charitable foundations, plus $2.8 million in federal grants. In that time it has spent $11.3 million on lobbying, and has fifty-five people on thirty-two federal advisory committees. How likely is it that they or Oppenheimer would turn around and say global warming is not likely to be dangerous?
Why is it acceptable, asks the blogger Donna Laframboise, for the IPCC to “put a man who has spent his career cashing cheques from both the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and Greenpeace in charge of its latest chapter on the world’s oceans?” She’s referring to the University of Queensland’s Ove Hoegh-Guldberg.
These scientists and their guardians of the flame repeatedly insist that there are only two ways of thinking about climate change—that it’s real, man-made and dangerous (the right way), or that it’s not happening (the wrong way). But this is a false dichotomy. There is a third possibility: that it’s real, partly man-made and not dangerous. This is the “lukewarmer” school, and I am happy to put myself in this category. Lukewarmers do not think dangerous climate change is impossible; but they think it is unlikely.
I find that very few people even know of this. Most ordinary people who do not follow climate debates assume that either it’s not happening or it’s dangerous. This suits those with vested interests in renewable energy, since it implies that the only way you would be against their boondoggles is if you “didn’t believe” in climate change.
What consensus about the future?
Sceptics such as Plimer often complain that “consensus” has no place in science. Strictly they are right, but I think it is a red herring. I happily agree that you can have some degree of scientific consensus about the past and the present. The earth is a sphere; evolution is true; carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas. The IPCC claims in its most recent report that it is “95 per cent” sure that “more than half” of the (gentle) warming “since 1950” is man-made. I’ll drink to that, though it’s a pretty vague claim. But you really cannot have much of a consensus about the future. Scientists are terrible at making forecasts—indeed as Dan Gardner documents in his book Future Babble they are often worse than laymen. And the climate is a chaotic system with multiple influences of which human emissions are just one, which makes prediction even harder.
The IPCC actually admits the possibility of lukewarming within its consensus, because it gives a range of possible future temperatures: it thinks the world will be between about 1.5 and four degrees warmer on average by the end of the century. That’s a huge range, from marginally beneficial to terrifyingly harmful, so it is hardly a consensus of danger, and if you look at the “probability density functions” of climate sensitivity, they always cluster towards the lower end.
What is more, in the small print describing the assumptions of the “representative concentration pathways”, it admits that the top of the range will only be reached if sensitivity to carbon dioxide is high (which is doubtful); if world population growth re-accelerates (which is unlikely); if carbon dioxide absorption by the oceans slows down (which is improbable); and if the world economy goes in a very odd direction, giving up gas but increasing coal use tenfold (which is implausible).
But the commentators ignore all these caveats and babble on about warming of “up to” four degrees (or even more), then castigate as a “denier” anybody who says, as I do, the lower end of the scale looks much more likely given the actual data. This is a deliberate tactic. Following what the psychologist Philip Tetlock called the “psychology of taboo”, there has been a systematic and thorough campaign to rule out the middle ground as heretical: not just wrong, but mistaken, immoral and beyond the pale. That’s what the word denier with its deliberate connotations of Holocaust denial is intended to do. For reasons I do not fully understand, journalists have been shamefully happy to go along with this fundamentally religious project.......
None of this would matter if it was just scientific inquiry, though that rarely comes cheap in itself. The big difference is that these scientists who insist that we take their word for it, and who get cross if we don’t, are also asking us to make huge, expensive and risky changes to the world economy and to people’s livelihoods. They want us to spend a fortune getting emissions down as soon as possible. And they want us to do that even if it hurts poor people today, because, they say, their grandchildren (who, as Nigel Lawson points out, in The Facts, and their models assume, are going to be very wealthy) matter more.
Yet they are not prepared to debate the science behind their concern. That seems wrong to me.
Much more here
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