Thursday, October 08, 2015
Global warming can alter shape of the planet, as melting glaciers erode the land (?)
Howzat for a big and dramatic heading? The article is however almost entirely speculation. It is allegedly based on a recent research report about glacier-caused erosion but what did the research report actually find? I quote:
"We find that basin-averaged erosion rates vary by three orders of magnitude over this latitudinal transect"
That's it! All the rest is speculation. Jo Nova also had some laughs at these drama queens. See her comments at the link below
Climate change is causing more than just warmer oceans and erratic weather. According to scientists, it also has the capacity to alter the shape of the planet.
In a five-year study published today in Nature, lead author Michele Koppes, assistant professor in the Department of Geography at the University of British Columbia, compared glaciers in Patagonia and in the Antarctic Peninsula. She and her team found that glaciers in warmer Patagonia moved faster and caused more erosion than those in Antarctica, as warmer temperatures and melting ice helped lubricate the bed of the glaciers.
“We found that glaciers erode 100 to 1,000 times faster in Patagonia than they do in Antarctica,” said Koppes. “Antarctica is warming up, and as it moves to temperatures above 0 degrees Celsius, the glaciers are all going to start moving faster. We are already seeing that the ice sheets are starting to move faster and should become more erosive, digging deeper valleys and shedding more sediment into the oceans.”
The repercussions of this erosion add to the already complex effects of climate change in the polar regions. Faster moving glaciers deposit more sediment in downstream basins and on the continental shelves, potentially impacting fisheries, dams and access to clean freshwater in mountain communities. “The polar continental margins in particular are hotspots of biodiversity,” notes Koppes. “If you’re pumping out that much more sediment into the water, you’re changing the aquatic habitat.”
The Canadian Arctic, one of the most rapidly warming regions of the world, will feel these effects acutely. With more than four degrees Celsius of warming over the last 50 years, the glaciers are on the brink of a major shift that will see them flowing up to 100 times faster if the climate shifts above zero degrees Celsius.
The findings by Koppes and coauthors also settle a scientific debate about when glaciers have the greatest impact on shaping landscapes and creating relief, suggesting that they do the most erosive work near the end of each cycle of glaciation, rather than at the peak of ice cover. The last major glacial cycles in the Vancouver region ended approximately 12,500 years ago.
BBC apologises for letting the truth slip out
The BBC has apologised for airing a half-hour radio show earlier this year in which a series of high-profile climate sceptics lined up to disparage the science behind global warming.
What’s the point of the Met Office, aired in August, did not make clear sceptics are a “minority voice, out of step with scientific consensus,” the corporation said in an email to climate scientist Andy Smedley.
“This was an unfortunate lapse for which we apologise and we would like to assure you we remain committed to covering all aspects of the subject in the most accurate and responsible way possible.”
Presented by Daily Mail columnist Quentin Letts, the show featured Peter Lilley MP, Graham Stringer MP, forecaster Piers Corbyn and Andy Silvester from the TaxPayers’ Alliance.
All had previously questioned the veracity of climate science. They took the opportunity to mock the Met Office over its weather forecasting and climate modelling work.
In reply, the show featured a brief clip of Met Office head of communications Helen Chivers, which did not address the show’s critique of recent climate research.
The BBC said it had carried out an internal review and emphasised that the programme emerged from “an unusual combination of circumstances which we have now rectified”.
Joaquin Veers Offshore, Leaving Major Hurricane Drought Record Intact at 3,633 Days
Hurricane Joaquin, which reached Category 4 over the Bahamas on Thursday with maximum sustained winds of 120 miles per hour, was downgraded to Category 1 on Monday after failing to make landfall in the U.S., leaving intact an historic record of 3,633 days without a major hurricane striking the U.S. mainland.
Hundreds of people had to be rescued after torrential rains lashed the Carolinas and caused major flooding over the weekend, but a forecaster for the National Weather Service in Columbia, S.C. told CNSNews.com that “a nearly stationary low” pressure system was mostly responsible for funneling up to 20 inches of precipitation generated by Joaquin into the area as the hurricane veered offshore.
Joaquin’s failure to make landfall means that President Obama is still the longest-serving president to have no major hurricanes strike the U.S. during his term of office. The previous record was an eight-year hurricane drought in the 1860s, when Benjamin Harrison was president.
The last major hurricane to make landfall on the U.S. mainland was Hurricane Wilma, which came ashore on October 24, 2005 during one of the most active hurricane seasons in recorded history, according to NOAA’s National Hurricane Center.
According to the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale, which categorizes cyclones on a scale of 1 to 5, Category 1 and 2 hurricanes have wind speeds between 74 and 110 miles per hour.
Major storms are classified as Category 3 or above if they have sustained wind speeds of more than 111 mph and are capable of causing “devastating” or “catastrophic” damage.
Four hurricanes have made landfall in the U.S. since Obama assumed the presidency in 2009, none of them classified as a Category 3 or above: Irene in 2011 (Category 1); Isaac and Sandy in 2012 (both Category 1); and Arthur in 2014 (Category 2).
However, meteorologists at NOAA point out that even Category 1 and 2 hurricanes are capable of causing death and widespread destruction.
Although Hurricane Sandy was downgraded to a Category 1 before it hit heavily populated coastal areas in New York and New Jersey on Oct. 29, 2012, it generated widespread flooding, causing the second highest property damage ($68 billion) in U.S. history after Katrina, according to AccuWeather.
Sandy was also responsible for 117 deaths, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). “Drowning was the most common cause of death, and 45% of drowning deaths occurred in flooded homes in Evacuation Zone A,” a CDC report stated.
Katrina, which reached Category 5 strength with peak sustained winds of 175 mph, weakened to a Category 3 storm before making its second landfall in southeast Louisiana on Aug. 29, 2005.
“Hurricane Katrina was responsible for 1,833 fatalities and approximately $108 billion in damage,” making it the costliest and one of the five deadliest hurricanes to ever hit the United States, according to NOAA.
For Sustainable Energy, Choose Nuclear
By S. Fred Singer
Many believe that wind and solar energy are essential, when the world “runs out” of non-renewable fossil fuels. They also believe that wind and solar are unique in providing energy that’s carbon-free, inexhaustible, and essentially without cost. However, a closer look shows that all three special features are based on illusions and wishful thinking. Nuclear may be the preferred energy source for the long-range future, but it is being downgraded politically.
Fossil fuels, coal, oil, and natural gas, are really solar energy stored up over millions of years of geologic history. Discovery and exploitation of these fuels has made possible the Industrial Revolution of the past three centuries, with huge advances in the living standard of an exploding global population, and advances in science that have led to the development of sustainable, non-fossil-based sources of energy—assuring availability of vital energy supplies far into the future.
Energy based on nuclear fission has many of the same advantages and none of the disadvantages of solar and wind: it emits no carbon dioxide (CO2) and is practically inexhaustible. Nuclear does have special problems; but these are mostly based on irrational fears.
A major problem for solar/wind is intermittency—while nuclear reactors operate best supplying reliable, steady base-load power. Intermittency can be partially overcome by providing costly “stand-by” power, at least partly from fossil fuels. But nuclear also has special problems (like the care and disposal of spent fuel) that raise its cost—and inevitably lead to more emission of CO2. Such special problems make any cost comparison with solar/wind rather difficult and also somewhat arbitrary.
At first glance, neither solar/wind or nuclear generate electric power without emitting the greenhouse (GH) gas carbon dioxide. But this simple argument is misleading. All three sources of energy require the manufacture of equipment, and that usually involves some CO2 emission; a rough measure is given by comparing the relative capital costs of site preparation and construction, as well as of operation and maintenance (O&M). Caution must be exercised here: a nuclear plant has a much longer useful life (up to 60 years, and beyond). We don’t have much experience yet with corresponding lifetimes and O&M costs for solar and wind, but they are likely to be higher than for nuclear reactors—excepting for the preparation cost of nuclear reactor fuel.
There is general agreement that both solar and wind energy are truly inexhaustible and satisfy the principle of sustainability. However, both are very dilute and require large land areas—as well as special favorable locations—and subsequent transmission of electric power. On the other hand, nuclear power plants have only a tiny footprint and can be placed at many more locations, provided there is cooling water nearby.
Nuclear Energy is Sustainable
Surprisingly, nuclear energy is also inexhaustible—for all practical purposes. Uranium is not in short supply, as many assume; this is true only for high-grade ores, the only ones considered worth mining these days. Beyond lower–grade ores, there is uranium in granites—and an essentially infinite but currently uneconomic amount in the world’s oceans.
Only 0.7% of natural uranium is in the form of the fissionable U-235 isotope; the remainder is inert U-238. For use in power reactors, the uranium fuel must be enriched in U-235 to at least to the 2%-level; for weapons, the required level rises to about 80%.
Currently, uranium is cheap enough to justify “once-through” use in light-water power reactors; the fuel rods are replaced after a fraction of the U-235 is “burnt up;” actually, some fissionable plutonium (Pu) is also created (from U-238) and generates heat—and electric power. The spent fuel is mostly U-238, plus radioactive fission products with lifetimes measured in centuries, and small amounts of long-lived radio-active Pu isotopes and other nasty heavy elements.
But as every nuclear engineer knows, the spent fuel is not “waste” but constitutes an important potential resource. The inert U-238 can be transformed into valuable fissionable reactor fuel in “breeder” reactors—enlarging the useful uranium resource by a factor of about 100. And beyond uranium ores, there are vast quantities of thorium ores that can also yield fissionable material for reactor fuel. It is mainly a matter of reactor design—not wasting any neutrons used for “breeding.”
And we haven’t even mentioned nuclear fusion, the energy source that powers our Sun. Fusion has been the holy grail of plasma physicists, who after decades of research have not yet been successful in building a stable fusion reactor; the hydrogen bomb is a version of unstable fusion. I hate to admit this: We may not need fusion reactors at all; uranium fission works just fine. However, a hybrid fusion-fission design might make sense; it would use pulsed fusion as a source of neutrons for breeding inert uranium or thorium into fissionable material for reactor fuel.
So why are we not moving full speed ahead with all forms of nuclear, destined to become our ultimate source of energy for generating heat and electricity? Are we wasting precious time and dollars on marginal improvements to solar photovoltaic and wind technology? What seems to be holding back nuclear is public concern about safety, proliferation, and disposal of spent fuel.
Safety: It should be noted that there have never been lives lost in commercial nuclear accidents; Chernobyl was a reactor type not commercially used in the West. Proper design is constantly improving safety by reducing the number of valves and pipes, by relying on gravity in inherently safe designs, and by properly training human operators.
Nuclear proliferation: Over past decades, many things have changed. There is no longer a nuclear duopoly of US and USSR. The horses have left the stable: If terrorist North Korea and Iran can build weapons—and delivery systems—it may be time to rethink international proliferation policy.
Disposal of spent reactor fuel: I am assured there are no real technical problems; there are even reactor designs (like IFR –Integral Fast Reactor) that can eliminate all waste. Reprocessing of spent reactor fuel works just fine, but has been discouraged because of historic concerns with proliferation based on plutonium; but power reactors don’t produce plutonium suitable for weapons.
It is doubtful that future generations will ever enjoy the truly low cost of fossil fuels. In a rational world, low-cost deposits are exploited first and costs rise gradually; this has not been the case for petroleum, mainly for geopolitical reasons, but it is more or less happening with coal, where many low-cost deposits around the world compete with each other.
For wind and solar, technical limits may soon be reached for conversion devices (wind turbines and photovoltaic cells), and a lower cost limit may then be set by O&M costs, by the opportunity cost of the land occupied, and/or by transmission costs of electric power.
For nuclear, there are still many ways to lower cost, widely discussed in technical journals: construction of modular, low-power (~100 megawatt) reactors in factory mass production rather than costly on-site construction of gigawatt reactors. The biggest savings would come from more rapid construction and less delay, involving pre-approval of reactor sites and blanket approval of standardized, mass-produced reactor designs.
In spite of its obvious advantages, why then is nuclear being downgraded compared to wind and solar? Call me a cynic if you want; but I think the main reason is money. Another reason is the ingrained hatred by Green groups of all things nuclear.
A classic example by now is Solyndra, which managed to waste more than half-a-billion dollars of federal money. In addition to innumerable small projects (that add up to an impressive total), one can cite some major boondoggles: How about the government’s third (!) attempt to build a solar power tower? [The first one failed during the Nixon-Carter administration’s Project Independence some 40 years ago.]
None of these projects can survive without generous subsidies, “feed-in tariffs,” and tax breaks. The costs are borne by ordinary ratepayers; for example, electric energy costs in Denmark and Germany, leaders in wind power, are 3-4 times US costs. In the US, the policy disaster has been strictly bipartisan. While George W. Bush disavowed the Kyoto Protocol, he missed the opportunity to phase out and kill subsidies for solar and wind. We are currently witnessing the consequences of this failure.
Kerry: 'We Have Climate Refugees Today'
Speaking Monday in Valparaiso, Chile, Secretary of State John Kerry was asked why the term "climate refugees" does not exist in international law.
Kerry said the question was "right on point," and although the term is a new one, he expects it's "just a matter of time" before it is incorporated into international policy.
"We have climate refugees today," Kerry told a town hall meeting on the sidelines of an Oceans conference.
"There are people who have to leave where they were living because the drought is so significant they can't grow food, or they've lost their water, or there are fights over wells in certain places and so they have to move in order to find a place. There are climate refugees in the world today -- people who've had to move because of the rise of sea level or the changes in the thawing of the permafrost and so forth.
"Now, it hasn't reached a crescendo. It's not at a level where the international community has yet codified, put it into law," he explained.
"But the day could come, if we don't respond rapidly, you could have millions of climate refugees. You could have people moving from whole areas where today you can grow things and tomorrow you can't.
"So I'd just say to you very quickly I think there is an increasing awareness -- I hear this in all our international meetings now -- people are talking about climate refugees. So I think it's just a matter of time before it fits in under a category and countries have -- and the refugee process has legitimately incorporated it into our policy."
Kerry -- from the former fishing state of Massachusetts -- was in Chile to discuss illegal fishing, ocean pollution, and climate change, which he blames for acidification and the warming of the ocean.
On the same day Kerry spoke about climate refugees, António Guterres, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, said there are now more than 60 million political refugees, asylum-seekers and internally displaced people in the world -- and he said that number is rising.
Ten years ago, Guterres noted, the number was 38 million and falling.
"The number of people globally displaced by conflict every single day has nearly quadrupled in that time – from almost 11,000 in 2010 to 42,500 last year," he told the U.N. refugee agency in Geneva.
Guterres said that 15 new conflicts have broken out or flared up again in the last five years, without any of the old ones getting resolved.
Warmist attack on Free Speech
By Walter E. Williams
I receive loads of mail in response to my weekly nationally syndicated column. Some recent mail has been quite disturbing. Here's a sample: "Given your support of freedom on a great many issues, I wish to bring to your attention the following George Mason University staff who have formally called on the President to use RICO statutes to punish organizations and individuals who dispute the 'consensus' of the" Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
The writer goes on to say, "I am appalled that anyone associated with George Mason would so misuse the power of the Federal government." The writer names 20 signatories, six of whom are GMU faculty members (http://tinyurl.com/nke4l5z).
This letter writer's problem, like that of many others, is a misperception of George Mason University, where I am an economics professor. We have a distinguished economics department that can boast of having had two homegrown Nobel Prize winners on our faculty. Plus, we have a worldwide reputation as a free market economics department. The university can also boast of a distinguished law school with professors who, in contrast with many other law schools, have respect for the United States Constitution and the rule of law. We can boast of the excellent Law & Economics Center, too.
With this kind of intellectual firepower at George Mason University, most people assume that it is like its namesake, a libertarian or free market university. Little could be further from the truth. My university, at which I've toiled for 35 years, has a political makeup like that of most other universities — middle of the road to liberal/progressive. What distinguishes my liberal/progressive colleagues is that they are courteous and civilized, unlike many of those at universities such as the University of Massachusetts and the University of California, Berkeley.
So I investigated this call for the use of RICO, or the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act. It turns out that Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., has called for the criminal investigation of people and organizations who are seen as global warming deniers.
This would include lawsuits against the coal and oil industries, certain think tanks, and other organizations that question the global warming religion. By the way, so that Whitehouse and his gang don't appear silly, they've changed their concern from global warming to climate change. That's stupid in and of itself, for when has the climate not been changing, even before mankind arrived?
It turns out that George Mason University meteorologist Jagadish Shukla is the lead signatory of the letter sent to the president and attorney general asking them to use RICO laws to prosecute "corporations and other organizations that have knowingly deceived the American people about the risks of climate change." This GMU professor calling for the prosecution of climate skeptics has been recently revealed as "climate profiteer." From 2012 to 2014, this leader of the RICO 20 climate scientists paid himself and his wife $1.5 million from government climate grants for part-time work (http://tinyurl.com/p2c8nx3).
The effort to suppress global warming dissidents is not new. Grist Magazine writer David Roberts said, "When we've finally gotten serious about global warming, when the impacts are really hitting us and we're in a full worldwide scramble to minimize the damage, we should have war crimes trials for these bastards — some sort of climate Nuremberg." Professor Richard Parncutt has called for the execution of prominent "GW deniers." Climate Progress Editor Joe Romm called for deniers to be strangled in their beds. James Hansen, who has headed NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies, has likewise called for trials of global warming deniers.
The global warming agenda is a desperate effort to gain greater control over our lives. Political commentator Henry Louis Mencken (1880-1956) explained that "the whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary." That's the political goal of the global warmers.
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 1:37 AM