Thursday, December 17, 2015

Plankton and global warming:  Another big crock of the brown stuff

A totally boring finding to the effect that warm-water creatures tend to live in warm water has been hyped into a threat to our fish dinners

I noted yesterday a new report that said plankton were dying out due to global warming.  And plankton are an important part of the marine food chain so the implication was that our fish dinners are threatened!  As someone who likes fish dinners I take that seriously, but I recently noted another threat to my fish dinners that turned out to be "poorly understood" so I was inclined to be suspicious of this threat too.   But I was a bit rushed for time yesterday -- I had to set aside some time for a sociable  dinner of excellent chili con carne -- so I contented myself with noting just a few immediately apparent oddities in the news report yesterday.

But today I have had time to look up the underlying academic document. It is Plankton 2015: State of Australia’s oceans, by Anthony Richardson et al., which describes itself as a "brochure".  It is NOT an academic journal article that has undergone the rigors of peer review etc. And the apparently most relevant piece of research by others that they cite turns out to be an unpublished honours thesis!  Rigor get thee behind me!

It is basically a bureaucratic document from the CSIRO, a once respectable but now rather controversial publicly-funded Australian scientific research organization.  Warmists have got hold of it so there goes scientific caution and integrity.

And the latest "brochure" is a good example of its intellectual decline and irresponsibility.  The very first statement in their "Summary for Policymakers" is: "Climate change is altering plankton distributions".  That is partly all well and good:  Plankton distributions along the long East coast of Australia do appear to have changed in various ways.  But no evidence that any have died out is presented and there is no note of any significant shrinkage in overall abundance -- so the threat to our fish dinners dies at that point.

But what about the first part of that sentence?  Is "Climate change" behind the plankton change?  We delve further into the report and find that claim most interestingly expanded:

"Water temperature off Maria Island (east coast of Tasmania) has warmed by 1.5°C since 1944, and is a consequence of global warming and its influence on the intensification of the warm, poleward-flowing East Australian Current (EAC). The EAC now makes more incursions into Tasmanian waters than previously. The increase in strength of the EAC is likely to be a response to climate change, and has contributed to ocean warming off Australia ~3–4 times the global average."

Isn't that fun? It's changes in ocean currents that are now the culprit and those changes are now only "likely" to have been effected by global warming!  Not a single piece of evidence or reference is given to support that "likelihood" however.  Let me guess why:  There isn't any.  It's just a statement of Warmist faith.

So they have NO data about effects of global warming.  And in fact it is worse than that.  Their findings are demonstrably NOT an effect of global warming.  They are a result of LOCAL warming.  How do we know that?  Because, as they themselves admit, the warming in Australian waters is much greater than the global average.  If it's not global, it's not global, if I need to put it that way.

So what the report amounts to is a report of totally predictable effects of a change in ocean currents.  And ocean currents change all the time and tend to be cyclic anyway.  So the opportunistic  pseudo-scientists of the CSIRO have dressed up a perfectly routine and uninteresting piece of research as if it proved something dramatic:  A threat to our food chain from global warming.  It does nothing of the sort.  It is just self-serving propaganda designed to shore up their research grants -- JR.

Arctic has its warmest year in history as experts say temperatures there are rising TWICE as fast as anywhere else in the world

Which means that what is going on there is NOT global warming.  It is LOCAL warming.  Yet another desperate attempt to seize on a local phenomenon as if it proved something global. And with the long line of active volcanoes in the Gakkel ridge right underneath it, there is no real doubt where the Arctic's warming is coming from

The warming Arctic has set another record.  The average air temperature over Arctic land reached 2.3 degrees F (1.3 degrees C) above average for the year ending in September.

Maximum Arctic Ocean sea ice extent, which occurred February 25, 2015, 15 days earlier than average, was the lowest extent recorded since records began in 1979

The average air temperature over Arctic land reached 2.3 degrees F (1.3 degrees C) above average for the year ending in September.

The new mark was noted in the annual Arctic Report Card, released Tuesday by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

'Warming is happening more than twice as fast in the Arctic than anywhere else in the world,' NOAA chief scientist Rick Spinrad told reporters in San Francisco at a meeting of the American Geophysical Union.  'We know this is due to climate change' [How>]

LOL. Are vegetarians to blame for climate change? Researchers find lettuce is 'three times worse than BACON' for emissions

This is going to put a lot of noses out of joint

Sticking to a vegetarian diet may not be as beneficial to the environment as you think — in fact, it might be helping to destroy it.

A study from Carnegie Mellon University has found that many common vegetables require more resources per calorie, and produce higher greenhouse gas emissions than some types of meat.

While lowering the weight of the general population has been shown to positively affect the environment, the researchers found that healthy eating leads to a higher environmental impact.

The study examined the impact of food from growing, processing and transporting, to food sales, service, and household storage, according to Carnegie Mellon.

Researchers also measured the changes in energy use, blue water footprint, and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

'Eating lettuce is over three time worse in greenhouse gas emissions than eating bacon,' said Paul Fishbeck, professor of social and decisions sciences and engineering and public policy.

'Lots of common vegetables require more resources per calorie than you would think. Eggplant, celery, and cucumbers look particularly bad when compared to pork or chicken.'

Michelle Tom, a Ph.D student in civil and environmental engineering and Chris Hendrickson, the Hamerschlag University Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering examined the food supply chain to understand the relationship between obesity in the U.S. and the environment.

The researchers found that eating fewer calories and reducing the weight of the population would lead to reductions in energy, along with a 9 percent drop in water use and GHG.

Eating these healthier foods, however increased the environmental impact.

Fruits, vegetables, dairy, and seafood contribute to a 38 percent increase in energy use, along with a 10 percent increase in water use, and 6 percent GHG emissions.

'There's a complex relationship between diet and the environment,' says Tom.

'What is good for us health-wise isn't always what's best for the environment. That's important for public officials to know and for them to be cognizant of these trade-offs as they develop or continue to develop dietary guidelines in the future.'


Scientists Who Back Paris Agreement Say to End Global Warming World Must ‘Abandon Fossil Fuels Completely’

So no coal, natural gas, oil or gasoline?  They're dreaming wet dreams

Scientists who back the United Nations-backed climate change agreement adopted in Paris say it won’t stop global warming and to reach that goal will require future commitments that will eventually put an end to the use of fossil fuels.

On Saturday, “Weekend Edition” host Scott Simon asked reporter Christopher Joyce whether the agreement would actually reduce global warming.

“Actually, scientists say the emission reductions that have been pledged so far here are not enough to keep the world from a dangerous level of warming,” Joyce said. “So the latest text says everyone has to keep coming back and reducing omissions more and more.

“This has been quite controversial,” Joyce said. “And eventually, they say, the world has to just abandon fossil fuels completely.

Joyce noted in the story that Republicans in Congress are against the agreement and that lawmakers would have to approve funding the agreement.

“President Obama knows that Senate Republicans won't buy this,” Joyce said, “but the strategy is - the pledges to reduce emissions are really not legally binding, only the mechanisms to make it happen.

“So this is the way they figure they'll finesse it,” he said, “but then there's the whole notion of getting the money to pay for all of this.

“That's the next chapter in this saga,” Joyce said.


Study: Allowing Energy Production on Federal Lands Would Create ‘Broad Based Economic Stimulus’

Opening federal lands that are statutorily or administratively off-limits to oil, gas and coal extraction would amount to a “broad based economic stimulus… without any increase in direct government spending”, according to a new study commissioned by the Institute for Energy Research (IER).

It would raise the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by $127 billion annually over the next seven years and generate 552,000 jobs, the study found.

“Wages would increase by $32 billion annually in the short run, with long run annual effects of $163 billion.”

Over the next 37 years, tapping these domestic energy sources would increase the nation’s GDP by $20.7 trillion and create 2.7 million jobs, according to Louisiana State University Finance Professor Joseph Mason, the study’s author.

Twenty-trillion dollars is about the same size the national debt will be when President Obama leaves office.

“The economic impulses created by opening federal lands and waters to oil, gas, and coal extraction could help…break the economy out of it sluggish post-recessionary malaise…without any increase in direct government spending.

"Rather, increased output would refill national, state, and local government coffers without additional government outlays,” the study found.

“Production on federal lands has lagged significantly behind the private sector,” IER President Tom Pyle said during a conference call with reporters last week. “We know that energy drives economic growth, so when we produce more, we see a better economy.

“And we hear all this talk in Paris about de-carbonizing the global economy, we hear presidential candidates like Bernie Sanders introduce legislation called the Keep It InThe Ground Act, which in essence would mean that there would be no production on federal lands.

“And so we’re here to show that these policies have consequences, real consequences,” he said.

Those consequences include forgoing the “broad based economic stimulus” that fossil-fuel production on federal lands would deliver as well as imposing massive “switching costs” that would be needed to power the national economy with alternative sources of energy, Mason noted.

“So the point here is that with a full economic analysis of energy, we have to admit that we would be willing to forgo $20.7 trillion in GDP over 30 years, 81 million jobs, $5.1 trillion in wages, $1.9 trillion in state and local taxes, and $3.9 trillion in federal taxes," Mason said.

"Forgo those amounts before trying to make those up in other energy sectors, and of course maintain other economic growth throughout the economy in the meantime.

“So this talk in Paris of switching to different energy sources embeds in it a lot of very complex switching costs which need to be completely taken into account, and I hope that this study fills a void in that analysis.” he said.


After Britain's floods: More development needed

Greens are using Cumbria's troubles to argue for tough climate action. Bad idea.

‘Countries across the world must cut carbon emissions quickly or we’ll face many more storms like Desmond. This week’s climate talks in Paris are a perfect chance for leaders to act.’ So say eco-ambulance-chasers Friends of the Earth, exploiting the flooding in Cumbria to make the case for cutting greenhouse-gas emissions. But flooding is hardly new in what is the wettest part of England. Instead of trying to blame our apparently planet-wrecking lifestyles for flooding, it would be far better to figure out how to make ourselves resistant to future deluges.

It is impossible to attribute any particular weather event to climate change. At most, climate change may increase the risk of bad weather, but how exactly that will manifest itself, and where, is beyond us at the moment.

Those demanding action on climate change understand this uncertainty, so prefer more circuitous formulations. So Professor Dame Julia Slingo, the Met Office’s chief scientist, said: ‘It’s too early to say definitively whether climate change has made a contribution to the exceptional rainfall. We anticipated a wet, stormy start to winter in our three-month outlooks, associated with the strong El Niño and other factors. However, just as with the stormy winter of two years ago, all the evidence from fundamental physics, and our understanding of our weather systems, suggests there may be a link between climate change and record-breaking winter rainfall.’

It’s a very convenient message to be able to deliver during the Paris climate talks: if we don’t do something about our wicked, carbon-spewing ways, then the waterlogged streets of Kendal will soon become the norm.  Which is a bit odd, since, in 2013 – when Britain was just getting over a period in which water supplies had been running low due to dry winters – the Met Office’s Hadley Centre reported that ‘droughts could become more severe in the UK, particularly in the winter months and towards the latter half of the century’.

In its fifth assessment report in 2013, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was non-committal on whether flooding had increased as temperatures have risen, observing that ‘there is currently no clear and widespread evidence for observed changes in flooding except for the earlier spring flow in snow-dominated regions… there continues to be a lack of evidence and thus low confidence regarding the sign of trend in the magnitude and/or frequency of floods on a global scale’. In other words, there might be more flooding around the world or less – we don’t know.

Events like those in Cumbria last week, and in Hebden Bridge in Yorkshire in 2012, were the result of quite specific circumstances – heavy showers getting stuck over a specific area for hours at a time, magnifying the impact of otherwise normal, if very wet, weather. More generally, the particularly wet weather we’ve had at times in the past couple of years seems to have more to do with variations in the jet stream, the fast-moving winds that circle the Earth. It’s not clear how driving a Toyota Prius or turning the heating down a little could prevent those variations.

Much more important than fretting about greenhouse-gas emissions is figuring out how to control such inundations to minimise damage to communities in their path. This means spending more money on flood defences, but it also requires more imagination about other flood-mitigation measures. As has been widely noted, flood defences in Kendal had been raised after major flooding in 2009, yet the recent torrent topped these new defences. Those defences still helped to reduce the amount of water entering the streets, but perhaps in retrospect other kinds of measures may have been better.

Coping with flooding may also require households and businesses to spend money on making their properties more resistant when flooding does come. Adding flood protection to your own house may, in the future, be as much a part-and-parcel of living on a flood plain as having substantial home insulation and powerful heating systems if you want to live in chilly Norway or Canada.

Adapting to possible climate change – or better still, innovating around climate change – seems a better bet than making feeble and highly expensive steps to cut greenhouse-gas emissions in order to produce marginal reductions in global temperatures. Preparing for reasonably predictable problems like floods in the right manner will protect us against all such floods. The same sums spent on reducing emissions could only, at best, protect us against some possible future floods.

The real danger here is to give in to the anti-development mood of our times. Building homes on flood plains does create the risk of those homes being flooded from time to time, but we can surely do a lot to reduce that risk, from the way we design new homes to manipulating river courses so that the worst of any excess water is diverted away from settlements or slowed down so it doesn’t arrive in a single torrent.



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


No comments: