Tuesday, December 29, 2015

China is officially Warmist

Mainly because they are desperate to get their appalling particulate air pollution down.  So they are trying all alternatives to coal -- with nukes the big alternative

Chinese scientists have published two alarming reports in a matter of weeks. Both conclude that the Himalayan glaciers and the Tibetan permafrost are succumbing to catastrophic climate change, threatening the water systems of the Yellow River, the Yangtze and the Mekong.

The Tibetan plateau is the world’s "third pole", the biggest reservoir of fresh water outside the Arctic and Antarctica. The area is warming at twice the global pace, making it the epicentre of global climate risk.

One report was by the Chinese Academy of Sciences. The other was a 900-page door-stopper from the science ministry, called the “Third National Assessment Report on Climate Change”.

The latter is the official line of the Communist Party. It states that China has already warmed by 0.9-1.5 degrees over the past century – higher than the global average - and may warm by a further five degrees by 2100, with effects that would overwhelm the coastal cities of Shanghai, Tianjin and Guangzhou. The message is that China faces a civilizational threat.

Whether or not you accept the hypothesis of man-made global warming is irrelevant. The Chinese Academy and the Politburo do accept it. So does President Xi Jinping, who spent his Cultural Revolution carting coal in the mining region of Shaanxi. This political fact is tectonic for the global fossil industry and the economics of energy.

Until last Saturday, it was an article of faith among Western climate sceptics and some in the fossil industry that China would never sign up to the COP21 accord in Paris or accept the "ratchet" of five-year reviews.

They have since fallen back to a second argument, claiming that the deal is meaningless because China will not sacrifice coal-driven growth to please the West, and without China the accord unravels since it now emits as much CO2 as the US and Europe combined.

This political judgment was perhaps plausible three or four years ago in the dying days of the Hu Jintao era. Today it is clutching at straws.

Eight of the world’s biggest solar companies are Chinese. So is the second biggest wind power group, GoldWind. China invested $90bn in renewable energy last year and is already the superpower of low-carbon industries. It installed more solar in the first quarter than currently exists in France.

The Chinese plan to build six to eight nuclear plants every year, reaching 110 by 2030. They intend to lever this into worldwide nuclear dominance, as we glimpsed from the Hinkley Point saga.

Home-grown energy is central to Xi Jinping's drive for strategic security. China's leaders know what happened to Japan under Roosevelt's energy embargo in the late 1930s, and they don't trust the sea lanes for supplies of coal and liquefied natural gas. Nor do they relish reliance on Russian gas.

Isabel Hilton from China Dialogue says the energy shift has reached a point where Beijing has a vested commercial interest in holding the world to the Paris deal. “The Chinese think they can dominate low-carbon technologies,” she said.

This is why they feel confident enough to forge ahead with a cap-and-trade system for carbon emissions in 2017, covering more CO2 than all of the world's 40 existing schemes put together.

China is changing fast. The energy intensity of Chinese GDP is in freefall as Xi Jinping tries to wean the economy off primitive metal-bashing and move up the technology ladder.

The "tertiary sector" has jumped from 42pc to 51pc of the economy since 2007, taking the baton as the Party starts to tackle vast swathes of excess capacity in steel, cement and shipbuilding.

It comes at a time when the cost curve for renewables has fallen far enough to make the post-carbon switch economically painless. "The average cost of global solar was $400 a megawatt/hour worldwide in 2010. It fell to $130 in 2014, and now it has fallen below $60 in the best locations. Almost nobody could have imagined this six years ago," said Mark Lewis from Barclays.

China installed a record 23 gigawatts (GW) of windpower in 2014. It did so because wind is quick and cheap. Lazard calculates that the "levelized cost" of unsubsidized onshore wind has dropped 61pc globally, thanks to smart software, better blades and higher turbines that catch the sweet spot. It thinks wind now undercuts coal and gas, and by a wide margin in optimal spots.

Specifically, the levelized cost has fallen "well below" coal in Jilin, Jiangsu and Zhejiang with new turbines, according to a study by the North China Electric Power University.


Will Global Warming Heat Us Beyond Our Physical Limits?

The report below is a little less frank than one in "New Scientist" on the same topic recently.  It did not for instance say how many degrees of global warming were assumed in the MIT study.  So I will say again what I said a couple of months ago about the MIT study:

This is a typical bit of brainlessness from the Warmists.  They assume a very high global temperature rise (4 degrees) and calculate from that a wet-bulb temperature in the Gulf states of 35 degrees, which they say would make life impossible in the Gulf.  They then inform us that Gulf temperatures already run as high as 34.6.  But these things all operate on a continuum so if 35 is fatal, 34.6 should be extremely stressful too and more vulnerable people should start dying off at that point.  Yet there is no claim of that.  Half the Hajjis were not wiped out this year.

Clearly the 35 figure is just a theoretical one divorced from reality.  And I know from my own early life in the tropics that heat-adaptation does occur in humans.  The wet-bulb temperatures I experienced in Cairns would have been close to those recorded in the Gulf but we all just went about our business pretty much as usual.  We just took it a bit easy and drank a lot of beer. A cold beer on a hot day is one of life's great pleasures.  But our heat adaptation betrays us when we move away from the tropics.  A temperature that a Scot would experience as a pleasant summer's day becomes to us quite chilly

If greenhouse gas emissions are not reduced, rising temperatures and humidity wrought by global warming could expose hundreds of millions of people worldwide to potentially lethal heat stress by 2060, a new report suggests.

The greatest exposure will occur in populous, tropical regions such as India, Southeast Asia, the Middle East, and Africa. But even in the northeastern United States, as many as 30 million people might be exposed at least once a year to heat that could be lethal to children, the elderly, and the sick, according to the new study.

It’s the first study to look at future heat stress on a global basis, says Ethan Coffel, a PhD candidate in atmospheric sciences at Columbia University, who presented the results on Monday at the American Geophysical Union meeting in San Francisco. Coffel and his colleagues used climate models and population projections to estimate how many people could face dangerous heat in 2060—assuming that greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise sharply on a “business-as-usual” course.

The findings are based on forecasts of “wet bulb” temperatures, in which a wet cloth is wrapped around a thermometer bulb. Whereas standard thermometer readings measure air temperature, a wet bulb measures the temperature of a moist surface that has been cooled as much as possible by evaporation.

That reading depends on both the heat and the humidity of the surrounding air. It’s generally much lower than the dry-bulb temperature, and it’s a better indicator of the humid heat that humans and other large mammals find hardest to deal with.

The normal temperature inside the human body is 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit, or 37 degrees Celsius. Human skin is typically at 35°C. When the wet-bulb temperature of the air exceeds that level, it becomes physically impossible for the body to shed its own metabolic heat and cool itself, especially by evaporating sweat. Even a fit individual would be expected to die from such heat within six hours.

Today, even in Earth’s hottest, muggiest spots, the wet-bulb temperature does not rise above 31°C. (The highest dry-bulb temperature ever recorded is 56.7°C, or 134°F.)

But a study published in October by MIT researchers found that by 2100, in Persian Gulf cities such as Abu Dhabi or Dubai, the 35°C threshold of human survival may occasionally be exceeded—again, assuming that greenhouse emissions continue to rise unabated.
Where Heat, Humidity, and People Intersect

In practice, wet-bulb temperatures below the 35°C threshold are dangerous for children, the elderly, people with heart or lung problems—or anybody actively working outside. By the 2060s, according to Coffel and his colleagues, 250 million people could be experiencing 33°C at least once a year. As many as 700 million could be exposed to 32°C. For many people, those conditions could be lethal.

“You have a large portion of the world that’s very densely populated and potentially at risk,” says Coffel. “Populations which right now work primarily outdoors and have very little access to air conditioning. It’s hard to function outdoors in those kinds of temperatures.”

The MIT study concluded that wet-bulb temperatures of 32°C or 33°C could be expected to arise later this century in Mecca, for example, where they might sometimes coincide with the Hajj, when millions of pilgrims pray outdoors all day long.

But as rising temperatures push more moisture into the atmosphere, particularly near warming oceans, spells of extreme heat and humidity will become more frequent and intense in many parts of the world. Even residents of cities like New York and London could encounter future temperatures that are near the limits of what their bodies can tolerate, according to the Columbia researchers.

“Local ocean temperatures can be a really big driver for the extent of these high heat and humidity events,” says co-author Radley Horton of Columbia. “How far inland away from the coasts will we see some of these really deadly high heat and humidity events penetrate? Will this impact where people are able to live?”

Bryan Jones, a postdoctoral fellow at the City University of New York who also studies future heat exposures but was not part of the Columbia study, said its “projections of exposure to extreme heat stress seem very reasonable. In fact, they may even be conservative, depending on how populations in West Africa, India, and Southeast Asia are distributed in the coming decades.”
Heat Is Already A Big Killer

Heat already kills more people than any other form of extreme weather. In the past decade, heat waves that featured wet-bulb temperatures between 29°C and 31°C have caused tens of thousands of deaths in Europe, Russia, and the Middle East.

Last summer more than 2,300 died from extreme heat in India, where air temperatures reached 122°F. High humidity and temperatures topping 116°F also proved deadly in Egypt this year. And work stopped for several summer days in Iraq while thermometers hovered around 120°F.

Air conditioning protects those who have access to it and can afford it. The spread of high-heat-stress events is likely to produce a surge in demand, says Horton. Air conditioners don’t function as efficiently in humid conditions, however—and as long as the electricity for them is generated with fossil fuels, they add to the underlying problem.

The other approach to coping with dangerous heat, Coffel says, is “reorganizing your society, like when you work outside, like giving people the day off when it’s hot.”

Neither air-conditioning nor staying inside is an option for other large mammals, which are affected by climbing heat and humidity in much the same way as humans. The impact on them is a “wild card,” says Horton. Little research has been done.


Vatican rumblings

If the Pope wants his teaching on global warming to be regarded as authoritative, he should declare it to be infallible.  That would put the cat among the pigeons.  He could do so but he has not

A heated exchange regarding global warming and magisterial teaching between a top Vatican official and various other presenters ended a December 3 Acton Institute conference in Rome.  Argentinean Bishop Marcelo Sánchez Sorondo, a close advisor to Pope Francis and the Chancellor of both the Pontifical Academy of Sciences and the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences stressed that the pope’s declarations on the gravity of global warming as expressed in the encyclical Laudato Si’ are magisterial teaching equivalent to the teaching that abortion is sinful.

Father Joseph Fessio, SJ, the founder of Ignatius Press who obtained his doctorate in theology under Joseph Ratzinger prior to his elevation to the pontificate, told LifeSiteNews, “Neither the pope nor Bishop Sorondo can speak on a matter of science with any binding authority, so to use the word ‘magisterium’ in both cases is equivocal at best, and ignorant in any case.” Fr. Fessio added, “To equate a papal position on abortion with a position on global warming is worse than wrong; it is an embarrassment for the Church.”

The conference, "In Dialogue with Laudato Si': Can Free Markets Help Us Care for Our Common Home?" was held at the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross with over 200 attendees including members of the media, professors, and students of the Pontifical Universities.

The controversy was sparked when in his address Bishop Sorondo spoke of “global warming” saying that in Laudato Si “for the first time in the Magisterium” Pope Francis “denounces the scientifically identifiable causes of this evil, declaring that: ‘a number of scientific studies indicate that most global warming in recent decades is due to the great concentration of greenhouse gases released mainly as a result of human activity.’” He repeated the point later, saying, “faith and reason, philosophical knowledge and scientific knowledge, are brought together for the first time in the pontifical Magisterium in Laudato Si'."

These points were contradicted in the presentation by Acton Institute founder and President Father Robert Sirico who said it is “important to underscore the distinction between the theological dimension of Laudato si’ and its empirical, scientific, and economic claims.” He explained, “The Church does not claim to speak with the same authority on matters of economics and science… as it does when pronouncing on matters of faith and morals.”

Quoting the Compendium of Catholic Social Doctrine to support his point, Fr. Sirico said: “Christ did not bequeath to the Church a mission in the political, economic or social order; the purpose he assigned to her was a religious one.  . . . This means that the Church does not intervene in technical questions with her social doctrine, nor does she propose or establish systems or models of social organization. This is not part of the mission entrusted to her by Christ” (CCSD 68).

Father Joseph Fessio: “To equate a papal position on abortion with a position on global warming is worse than wrong; it is an embarrassment for the Church.”

When asked in a question and answer period that concluded the conference about the weight of the pope’s opinions regarding global warming in Laudato Si’, Bishop Sorondo distinguished between infallible statements and statements of the pope’s “Ordinary Magisterium.”  The distinction is important because ex-cathedra statements are in Catholic teaching “infallible” or never in error and require absolute adherence by all Catholics, while some of those in the “Ordinary Magisterium” could be in error but nonetheless teachings to which Catholics should submit “in mind and will.”

However, even asserting Pope Francis’ reflections on global warming in Laudato Si’ are part of his Ordinary Magisterium would propose a grave challenge to all those scientists who have asserted global warming is a hoax.

Comparing the Pope’s teaching on global warming to the Church’s teaching on abortion, Bishop Sorondo said the “judgement must be considered Magisterium – it is not an opinion.”

“It is under Ordinary Magisterium,” he explained, “that abortion is a grievous sin – this is Ordinary Magisterium because there is not the revelation of it.” So there is an assumption of “moral doctrine,” he continued, that even though the majority opinion is contrary, we accept that “abortion is a grievous sin” is Magisterium.

This led to a heated exchange with panel presenters at the conference, especially journalist Riccardo Cascioli, who objected to the suggestion that Catholics must submit to pronouncements on “scientific theories” rather than “faith and morals.”

Sorondo retorted by saying, “When the Pope has assumed this, it is Magisterium of the Church whether you like it or not -- it is the Magisterium of the Church just as abortion is a grievous sin – equal (it is the same)…  it is Magisterium of the Church... whether you like it or not.”

Pope Francis in Laudato Si’, says, “The Church does not presume to settle scientific questions or to replace politics,” and that he seeks to “encourage an honest and open debate” (para 188). Nevertheless Bishop Sorondo seemed to oppose the contestability of global warming theories.

When Cascioli suggested Catholics could follow their consciences on the theoretical scientific matters, Sorondo rejoined, “If you were a scientist and had a serious (difference of) opinion,” then you could follow your conscience, “but since you are a journalist it is better you follow the opinion of the Pope!” Cascioli reminded the bishop that he too was not a scientist, to which Sorondo replied, “But I am in the Academy of Science of the Pope.”

When Fr. Sirico suggested that there are other experts or scientists with different opinions on the matter of global warming, Sorondo fired back, “But don’t follow them, follow these.  Just like in philosophy, there are many philosophers.. But the Magisterium of the Church follows the philosophy of the being, the person. There are many who say the person does not exist – the Pope does not follow them.... I say it is Magisterium.”

Fr. Fessio was unabashed in his criticism. “Bishop Sorondo is unknown to me, and – judging by this statement – eminently worthy of that ignorance,” he commented. “The best I can say of his remarks is that they seem to have been unprepared.”


Chilling climate of UN control


Like ancient Druids pleading with the gods for good seasons, world leaders and their aides recently devoted a fortnight in Paris to pleading with each other to stop global temperatures from rising more than an average 2C above pre-industrial levels, when the Earth was emerging from the Little Ice Age.

Of the 196 nations represented at the COP21 conference, 154 were developing economies. Regardless of the direction of world temperatures, they left Paris happy that the UN’s Green Climate Fund, which aims to reach $US100 billion a year by 2020, will give them cash for anything they can pass off as remotely ­related to their intended national contributions to world CO2 ­reduction. They argue this is only fair. Poor countries fare worst from climate change and must be compensated for unspecified damage and their share of repairing the West’s legacy. You can bet $US100bn a year won’t do it.

Overwhelmingly, the money for the fund will come from 42 guilt-racked wealthy nations. That is their moral responsibility. They caused the warming. They threaten the planet. It’s time for them to repay their climate debts.

It matters not that there is no empirical scientific evidence to support these claims. Even the 2C target is not based on science, it was originally plucked out of thin air by the European People’s Party for election purposes. But then climate change is not about credible scientific evidence. It has its roots in Marxism, and ultimately the Green Fund is presided over by the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, run by Costa Rican Marxist Christiana Figueres. The “paradigm-shifting” fund will provide employment for an army of green bureaucrats who will offer “concessional finance” for the development needs of less advanced countries.

China, the leading emitter, venting one billion tonnes of CO2 a year more than it admits to, has been adroit in dealing with the politics. It approaches its domestic air quality crisis under the banner of climate action and so turns a domestic necessity into a global virtue. From this and its lack of interest in aid for itself, China projects moral authority and, while there is no cap on its emissions and only a promise that they will peak by 2030, promotes emission restraints for others, for its own competitive advantage.

India has adopted a similar line. The world’s third largest emitter is set to overtake China. It will not accept constraints on ­development and does not spell out when emissions will peak. Like China, it will adopt cleaner energy to improve air quality and will claim UN compensation.

Having successfully captured the West, post-Paris, the noose will tighten. Despite assurances that intended nationally determined contributions, delivered before the conference, would keep temperature increases to no more than 2C, we are now told that even if fully implemented, temperatures will rise by 2.7C by 2100. So the Paris agreement will “only lay the groundwork” and all those hard-won pledges were based on a miscalculation.

How disappointing. But there is now an aspirational 1.5C ambition on the table that Figueres quickly endorsed. Should it ever be agreed to, expect more ambit claims. And without a Tony ­Abbott in Canberra or a Stephen Harper in Ottawa, no world leader utters a peep in protest.

Caught in a moral dilemma of its own making, the developed world concedes its culpability. Its representatives succumb to propaganda and bullying and credulously accept bogus science and catastrophism. They pay no heed to alternative views. They consider abandoning fossil fuels, the world’s cheapest, most ­efficient and wealth-creating power source, and baulk at ­nuclear alternatives.

Instead, they pour hundreds of billions of dollars into costly, ­­in-efficient renewable energy, robbing their industries of flexibility and competitiveness and, punishing the world’s poorest citizens.

Indeed, Western capitalist societies have given up on rational thinking. They embrace junk ­science and junk economics and adopt wealth-destroying postmodern pseudo-economics, which teaches that taxpayer subsidies can produce desirable “economic transformation” and faster growth. Pigs may also fly.

Climate change has cowed once great powers into meekly surrendering sovereignty and independent thought to unelected bureaucrats in Geneva. From the White House to the Lodge, private choice now runs a distant second to collectivist visions.

Although only an aspiration now, the 1.5C target will be relentlessly pursued until adopted. The media, in step with the Green ­Machine, will bombard us with climate alarmism to the applause of the leader of the free world, Barack Obama, who says: “My mission is to make the world aware that climate change is a bigger threat than terrorism.” ­Really? That’s serious. Clearly authority, not common sense or science, now rules the world.

While some activists such as James Hansen may criticise the Paris agreement as “worthless words”, those such as Figueres, interested in reconfiguring the world’s political and economic structure, will be pleased with progress. We are another step closer to her ideal of ‘‘centralised transformation”, with the UN at the authoritarian centre, calling the shots and doling out transfer payments from the rich to ensure poor countries remain her ­mendicants. As UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon says: “If we really want to put an end to global poverty, if we really want to make the world healthier and planet Earth environmentally sustainable, we have first to address the climate change issue.”

The only certainty to come out of COP21 is that there will be a COP22.


Are Record Breaking Christmas Temperatures Proof of Global Warming?

It’s not every year that New Yorkers get to experience Christmas in a t-shirt. This year, New Yorkers, as well as others on the United States east coast got to experience some of the warmest Christmas temperatures on record.

Are these record breaking Christmas temperatures proof of global warming or simply a fluke of nature? According to CNN, some meteorologists have referred to these unusually warm December temperature patterns as the “blowtorch.”

National Geographic attributes the warmer than usual Christmas temperatures to El Nino and climate change. El Niño, which is the periodic warming of the Pacific Ocean, tends to bring with it more moisture and warmer than usual air temperatures. Some experts state that the same El Niño air patterns that are bringing warm weather to the east coast are also responsible for the heavy snow in areas like Denver.

As of last week, December alone already brought over 2,600 record high temperatures along the east coast, and even more are expected before ringing in the New Year. Accuweather reported that some locations across the southeast and up to New England have broken their previous record temperatures by 10 degrees or more.

“One of the most impressive records on Christmas Eve occurred in Burlington, Vermont, when the city set their all-time December high temperature. New York City and Baltimore are some of the cities that could break records yet again on Sunday before a cold front washes away the warmth,” said Brian Lada, an AccuWeather Meteorologist.

On Christmas Day, five locations around New York shattered previous Christmas day temperature records. It’s reported that some people were even playing volleyball in Central Park; something that is completely unheard of for winter in New York.

According the New York Times, the unusually warm Christmas weather interfered with typical Christmas traditions, as New Yorkers traded snowmen and ice skating for ice cream and summer sports.

The only location across the northeast that reported a white Christmas was northern Maine with about an inch of snow. Yet, some are still skeptical to attribute the heat wave to global warming and climate change.

The blog Real Science stated their opposition to the global warming argument by saying, “Christmas Eve 1955 was much warmer. Three-fourths of the country was over 60 degrees, and Ashland Kansas, Geary Oklahoma and Encinal Texas were all over 90 degrees. Fort Lauderdale was 85 degrees. Last winter, the East Coast had record cold. That was ignored because it was ‘less than 1% of the Earth.’ But this week, the Eastern US defines the global climate.”

Meanwhile, alternative news site Common Dreams explained that the correlation between El Niño, climate change and global warming often gets muddied, but that global warming is a factor in the record breaking December temperatures.

Erika Spanger-Siegfried senior analyst in the Climate and Energy program at the Union of Concerned Scientists said, “2015 is the hottest year on record by a wide margin, topping 2014. 2014 became the hottest year even in the absence of El Niño. We’re climbing the stairs, picking up pace, and taking some two at a time. So. Whatever we want to call December’s freakishly warm weather, whatever we’re tempted to call the punishing cold and snow that could follow, we ought not to leave out the global warming propping it all up.”


Manufacturers, Chamber of Commerce Sue EPA Over Its New Ozone Rule

The National Association of Manufacturers and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce filed a lawsuit on Wednesday against the EPA over its revised ozone rule, calling it “unworkable and overly burdensome.”

In October, the EPA changed the standard for ground-level ozone from 75 parts per billion, which was set in 2008, to 70 parts per billion.

“The EPA’s ozone regulation, which could be one of the most expensive in history, is unworkable and overly burdensome for manufacturers and America’s job creators," said Linda Kelly, NAM's senior vice president and general counsel, in a statement. "Manufacturers across the United States need regulations that provide balance and allow us to be globally competitive."

The Chamber of Commerce agreed.

“The EPA has created a web of regulations that makes it almost impossible for businesses to succeed in this already tough economic climate,” said William Kovacs, the Chamber’s senior vice president for environment, technology and regulatory affairs, reports The Hill.

NAM led the charge against the ozone rule while the EPA was considering updating the standard. The group commissioned a report saying that a standard of 65 parts per billion — which the EPA had considered — could cost up to $1.1 trillion to implement.
The EPA and the rule’s supporters have questioned those analyses, and have said the rule will help improve public health. Green groups and health organizations, though, have criticized the rule for not going far enough toward cutting down smog.

NMA and the Chamber of Commerce are just the latest groups suing the EPA over the revised rule. Murray Energy Corp., a coal company, and five states—Arkansas, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, and Arizona—also filed lawsuits shortly after the rule was announced in the fall.



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.  

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