Thursday, January 14, 2016
Billionaires Claim To Fight Global Warming
Private funding of energy research is fine. They might even come up with something useful. That whatever they come up with will affect the earth's temperature is however vanishingly unlikely. It could only do so if the figure for the climate sensitivity to CO2 was substantial -- and all the evidence is that it is negligible -- if it is positive at all
So what gives? It is just rich people buying approval for themselves: Good PR
The path toward acting on global warming is a long one, fraught with red tape and slow political processes. This prompted the emergence of two new initiatives at the 21st session of the conference of the parties (COP21) in Paris, the Breakthrough Energy Coalition and Mission Innovation.
These initiatives were spearheaded by tech billionaire Bill Gates who in a Washington Post report stated, “We need to move faster than the energy sector ever has.”
Despite the monumental commitments stressed at the close of COP21 these initiatives aim to do what governments cannot do — cut through the red tape. The groups intend to do this by pouring billions of dollars into innovative projects that strive to produce clean, affordable and carbon-free energy.
The billionaires that comprise the Breakthrough Energy Coalition include Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of Amazon; Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin Group; Mark Zuckerberg, founder and CEO of Facebook; Dr. Priscilla Chan Pediatrician and CEO of The Primary School; and of course Bill Gates, co-founder of Microsoft and co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
The Mission Innovation project requires that the 20 countries signed on, including the United States, double their financial contributions over a five-year period to clean energy solutions.
Through the Breakthrough Energy Coalition, investors from 10 different countries will work with countries through the Mission Innovation project. The Mission Innovation project requires that the 20 countries signed on, including the United States, double their financial contributions over a five-year period to clean energy solutions.
The Breakthrough Energy Coalition will focus on investment opportunities within the private sector of the 20 Mission Innovation countries. According to Tech Crunch, the idea behind the Coalition is akin to the “Giving” Pledge. The Giving Pledge is a pledged signed by the world’s wealthiest individuals, including Elon Musk and Michael Bloomberg, to give the bulk of their wealth to charities.
The difference between these initiatives is that the focus of the Breakthrough Energy Coalition is clean energy. For now, the success of these clean energy initiatives remains to be seen as they embark on funding new environmental innovations.
Greenie Lawfare in Massachusetts
All the court rulings in the world won't affect the global temperature
BOSTON — The Conservation Law Foundation appeared before the state's highest court today arguing that the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection failed to properly create regulations to cut greenhouse gas emissions as mandated under a 2008 law.
The Global Warming Solutions Act requires that Massachusetts cut its greenhouse gas emissions 25 percent below 1990 levels by 2020 and 80 percent by 2050. The landmark climate change law ordered MassDEP to adopt regulations to reach those targets by January 2012 and to implement the regulations by January 2013.
The suit filed by the foundation, the Mass Energy Consumers Alliance, and four high school students in was dismissed in March by a Suffolk County Superior Court judge who ruled that the Department is "substantially fulfilling the legislative expectations" of the act "in a reasonable manner."
The Supreme Judicial Court agreed to hear the matter on appeal.
Lawyers for the environmental activists argue that the state's "abject failure to promulgate regulations" establishing declining aggregate emissions limits "undermines the Commonwealth's efforts to mitigate climate change impacts." They say the Superior Court's interpretation of the law is wrong and should be rejected.
The state maintains that it has been a leader in reducing greenhouse gas emissions, points to a variety of steps it has taken, and contends that the statute does not require actual emission limits, but only "aspirational" emission-reduction targets.
The state further argues that the law gives the agency broad discretion on how to cut emissions, and charges that the appellants "seek to rewrite the statute and supplant the Legislature's objective with their own."
The lawsuit comes as Plymouth Nuclear Power Plant gears plans to shut down, and as the Baker administration pushes to import large amounts of hydropower into the state. Video feeds of SJC proceedings can be found online.
Did clean air laws make Katrina a stronger storm?
This is all theory and speculation. You can explain anything "post hoc"
The success of the Clean Air Act and similar European laws in scrubbing the atmosphere of sulfate and other aerosol particles may have helped increase the sea surface temperatures in the Atlantic Ocean, resulting in a stronger Hurricane Katrina in 2005, a key climate researcher said Monday (Jan. 11).
Speaking as part of a keynote panel at the annual meeting of the American Meteorological Society in New Orleans, Massachusetts Institute of Technology atmospheric scientist Kerry Emanuel focused part of his talk on traditional human-caused air pollution, rather than global warming linked to increases in carbon dioxide, showing how it, too, could have an effect on a major weather phenomenon, like hurricanes.
Emanuel also was quick to say that it's difficult to make a direct link between any meteorological trend, such as warming sea surface temperatures caused by reduced pollution levels, and a particular hurricane, like Katrina.
But in an interview after his talk, Emanuel said researchers are near agreement that the human-caused change in the atmosphere resulting from the air pollution laws tracks the increase in sea surface temperatures in the Atlantic that ended what some have called a drought in the number of hurricanes that lasted from the 1960s to the late 1980s and early 1990s.
Emanuel said his own research has shown that sea surface temperatures dropped from the 1950s through the 1980s, and then rose in the 1990s and during the last decade.
"It is controversial about why that happened,but I think the evidence is tilted now toward the idea that it was a consequence of aerosols, mostly sulfate aerosols," he said. The tropical Atlantic is strongly influenced by sulfate aerosols that flow southward over the Mediterranean Sea and then over the Sahara desert, where they combine with mineral dust "that seem very effective in reflecting sunlight."
"European and North American aerosol production soared from the post-war period into the late 1970s and early 1980s, and then almost as precipitously dropped after that because of the Clean Air Act and various European equivalents," he said.
In the United States and Europe, the clean air laws also were driven by efforts to halt the aerial deposit of sulfates, which are acidic, in forests, where they create what environmentalists and scientists call acid rain.
"So we bought ourselves a few decades of quiet, unwittingly," he said. "And during that time, there was a rapid buildup of the Gulf and East Coasts, and then we got slammed with hurricanes when things went back to normal."
Emanuel said he's also not convinced that a lull in hurricanes reaching the U.S. shoreline during the past 10 years is the beginning of a longer quiet period of tropical activity.
Instead, he said, its more likely that this most recent 10-year lull is just chance, a roll of the dice.
He said that experiments using long-term climate models indicate that while similar 10-year lulls don't happen very often when no climate change effects are added, whether caused by sulfate and other aerosols or by increases in carbon dioxide, such lulls do happen.
"And if you look at not just U.S landfalls, but all landfalls, in the Caribbean and on Mexican coasts, there's not really been a lag," he said.
Emanuel said he and other researchers also have come to a better understanding of the effects of climate change linked to increases in carbon dioxide and similar greenhouse gases on tropical storms and hurricanes.
During his talk, which followed discussions of improvements in emergency preparedness in the aftermath of Katrina by former National Hurricane Center Director Max Mayfield and former U.S. Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen, Emanuel posited, "The real question we should be asking here is how much longer will there be a New Orleans?"
After his talk, he said his concern is that sea level rise driven by global warming, combined with sinking soils along the Louisiana coast and in New Orleans, will eventually increase the chance of the city again being flooded by hurricane storm surge.
"What I do know is that sea level is going up and New Orleans is sinking, right? Sooner or later, unless a miracle occurs and we can stop the global warming phenomenon, it's just not going to be tenable to keep the city going," Emanuel said. "It's many generations off, lets hope, but still, its looming."
Obama Supports an Oil Pipeline in Kenya
The Obama administration’s drawn out rejection of the Keystone XL pipeline rivaled the pain of a Taylor Swift breakup. Therefore, it comes as a surprise that this same administration agreed to provide $18 billion to build an oil pipeline … in Kenya.
While Keystone was rejected to help Barack Obama score a political point regarding his climate change agenda, this Kenyan pipeline shows that Obama believes the developing world should play by a different set of rules from countries like the United States. Nothing like a bit of self-loathing to set national policy, eh?
All Africa reported that the project will help Kenya’s energy infrastructure, laying the foundation for the country to further industrialize. The project will also help the country become an oil exporter. There’s no argument that the pipeline is a positive step. But this comes while the company that was going to build Keystone takes the Obama administration to court over the rejection.
“These cases are worth watching, especially by those who still want the U.S. to welcome foreign investment,” wrote The Wall Street Journal editorial board. “Meanwhile, U.S. taxpayers will want to keep an eye out to see if their dollars are used to finance the Kenya project.”
An incandescent light bulb, the most efficient bulb
By Lubos Motl
One of the things that the government bureaucracy can't do is to predict the direction that the free scientific and technological progress will take in the future. No one can really do it, not even the best minds let alone stupid arrogant aßholes that have to be employed as regulators within the government structures.
MIT researchers have reminded us about one striking example. The Wikipedia contains a page titled Phase-out of incandescent light bulbs whose first sentence says:
"Governments around the world have passed measures to phase out incandescent light bulbs for general lighting in favor of more energy-efficient lighting alternatives".
You see, governments across the world "passed measures" based on their belief – a dogma, to be more precise – that there's something intrinsically and unavoidably wrong about incandescent light bulbs when it comes to their energy efficiency and this defect can't go away.
But the energy is conserved. It can't get lost, it may only be converted from one form to another. What we care about is whether the form of the energy that we get is "useful". Heat is often considered useful by many people – but sometimes it's not.
Incandescent light bulbs are based on the conversion of the electric current to heat which gets converted to light because heated objects emit electromagnetic radiation. The emitted light nicely carries all the frequencies, especially those within the interval of the visible spectrum, but also some frequencies that are "not useful", like the infrared waves. Those don't help us to see and only propagate as a form of heat.
But there's no reason to think that this problem can't be circumvented. There's no reason to be confident that the incandescent light bulbs won't return as the most widespread light bulbs. Yesterday, an MIT group has issued a press release ("Recycling light") about their Nature nanotechnology article
"Tailoring high-temperature radiation and the resurrection of the incandescent source"
which reports their results on the construction of a light bulb that that is going to be almost 3 times more efficient than the best LED light bulbs. The latter only convert 7-15 percent of the energy to light; the new MIT technology is estimated to get to 40 percent soon although with the efficiency of 6.6%, the prototypes only "match" some of the weaker LED competitors so far. That's still a 3-fold improvement from "bare" conventional light bulbs whose efficiency is 2-3 percent. Fluorescents stand at 5-13 percent.
To make things really old-fashioned, the most important light-emitting component of their light bulb is... a wolfram (tungsten) filament, the same one people have been using since the 19th century. It is heated to 3,000 kelvins. So far, everything sounds conventional. What's added is the stuff around,
which is designed so that it simply transmits the visible light while it reflects the infrared light. So the "invisible" infrared light that would normally escape and turn its energy into heat losses is (partly) reflected back to the filament and helps to increase the temperature of this filament so that you don't have to pump too much electricity into it. When the filament gets another chance (or another chance afterwards, and so on), it may emit the same energy in the form of the visible light.
In this way, Ilic, Bermel, Chen, Joannopoulos, Celanovic, and Soljacic simply "recycle the light". Some light that has the wrong frequency gets returned to the source and has an increased chance to come out as the light at a "right" frequency. The know-how behind the materials that may return one frequency and transmit another is known as the photonic crystals. They are periodic or nearly periodic nanostructures that act on the light of different frequencies much like the ordinary crystals.
The advantages of incandescent light bulbs are obvious. The flawless white light contains the electromagnetic radiation of all visible frequencies – pretty much fairly represented – and the light bulb has the right color and intensity a split second after you turn it on. I am sure that many people would welcome the comeback of Edison's light bulbs.
There exists a general reason to think that all similar plans to "switch the world's technology" from one type of a product to another (e.g. from incandescent bulbs to LED) is completely counterproductive: such communist-style planning doesn't work well at any timescales. What do I mean?
Well, such transitions can't be "prescribed" too quickly because the transition costs and the hassle would obviously be too high. You would need hundreds of millions of people to replace their light bulbs quickly. You don't even have this many new light bulbs and so on. So these regulators typically define a deadline – five years in the future or something like that – by which point the transition should take place.
However, this delayed implementation paradigm is completely flawed, too. It's flawed because the research in labs such as the MIT labs often takes place more quickly than that – more quickly than the time needed to replace products in the real world. And in five years, completely different products may be ready that totally change the game and that can make the bulbs (or other technologies) rendered obsolete the winners again.
Similar comments apply to much more serious questions than the light bulbs – such as the fossil fuels. Whether fossil fuels are going to be the best solution in 2040 or not depends on the answers to many questions that are currently unknown. Fossil fuels seem to be the most convenient source of energy today but this may very well be the case in the future, too. Many discoveries may take place. The CO2 climate sensitivity may turn out to be extremely low. CO2 may be captured in a way that will shut the mouth of the climate alarmists even if the sensitivity is high. Fossil fuels may become renewable and people will produce them from something else (plus another source of energy). And so on. Whenever something like that happens, it will mean that the rational way for the people to adapt will be different than before. It's totally harmful to predetermine how the people should behave in the next 5, 10, or 20 years.
It is a form of a terrorist attack for someone to try to eliminate the incandescent light bulbs or fossil fuels or anything else from the spectrum of competing technologies. People trying to ban whole segments of technology must be treated as Luddites and on par with other terrorists.
Record hot end to 2015 for Australia as giant El Nino dominates
I have left the heading above as it appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald, a major Left-leaning newspaper in Australia. The story was written by a shifty-looking guy named Peter Hannam, their Environment Editor.
And is Peter shifty! From the headline the casual reader would assume that Australia had had an exceptionally hot year overall. It's not until you get way down into a very long article that we find that the year as a whole was only the 6th hottest accordinmg to the BoM. And that's with El Nino helping to warm things up! Subtracting the El Nino effect would probably have shown cooling. But is that discussed? Not on your Nelly! Warmists are just shifty, period!
Australia has posted its hottest end to any year as the impact of one of the biggest El Ninos on record began to be felt across the continent.
Mean temperatures were 0.36 degrees above the previous record for the October to December period, capping what was Australia's fifth-hottest year since the Bureau of Meteorology began keeping national figures in 1910.
"For temperatures, it was a year of two halves - a relatively cool part of the year and then an extremely warm second half," Blair Trewin, senior climatologist at the bureau, said.
Spring was the standout season, with the past three September-November periods comprising the hottest trio on record. Such conditions have led to a busy fire season across southern Australia with a couple of months of summer still to run.
Among the major capitals, Sydney had its third-warmest year on record, just behind the record heat in 2013 and 2014. Statewide, temperatures were 1 degree above average, making it the seventh-hottest year since records began.
Melbourne was also on the warm side, with maximum temperatures ranging between 0.5 and 1 degree above average across the city. Victoria, too, was 1 degree warmer than average for maximums, making it the seventh-hottest year.
Perth was the standout state capital for warmth, recording its equal hottest year on record for maximums, matching 2011 and 2012. Statewide temperatures lagged only 2013 for record heat.
Brisbane had near-average temperatures for the year, while statewide temperatures were the third-warmest on record.
Three big exceptional heatwaves stood out - in March across northern Australia, and in October and December across the south. Tasmania was one place to have a cool winter and late-season snow across northern NSW and into Queensland was another cold weather extreme.
For the final three months of 2015, average mean temperatures were 1.93 degrees above the 1961-90 average, easily eclipsing the previous record of anomaly 1.57 degrees set just a year earlier. October itself was 2.89 degrees above the norm - the most for any month in the 106 years of records.
Warming to come
The monster El Nino in the Pacific, which rivals the 1997-98 and 1982-83 events, appears to have peaked in recent weeks, the bureau said on Tuesday.
The event, which may not break up until the autumn, will most likely give Australian temperatures a relatively warm start to 2016 - notwithstanding the unusually cool and wet week now under way across the eastern seaboard.
In the trailing year of El Ninos, "the first half of the year is often significantly warmer than average", Dr Trewin said.
For 2015 as a whole, area-averaged mean temperatures were 0.83 degrees above the 1961-90 average. Maximum temperatures were 0.96 degrees above average, the sixth hottest on record, the bureau said.
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 1:34 AM