Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Arctic shipping passage 'still decades away'

For years now, Warmists have been saying that this will happen "real soon now".  Reality bites fantasy once again

Ordinary merchant ships will not be able to take an ice-free shortcut from China to Europe until at least 2040, report predicts

It will be decades before big cargo ships link China and northern Europe by taking a shortcut through the Arctic Ocean, a report predicts.

Climate change, retreating summer ice and the prospect of shorter journey times and 40% lower fuel costs has led Russia, European governments and some industries to expect a major ice-free shipping lane to open above Russia, allowing regular, year-long trade between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans within a few years.

But, says the Copenhagen Business School in a new paper, low bunker fuel prices, a short sailing season and continuing treacherous ice conditions in the Arctic even in summer months means it could be 2040 at the earliest before it is commercially viable for ordinary merchant ships to pass through what is known as the northern sea route.

Until then it will remain cheaper to send trade between Europe and the east via the Suez canal, it says.

The conclusions of the report were backed this month by the powerful Danish Shipowners’ Association, which includes 40 major shipping companies such as Maersk, the world’s largest. Denmark has the eighth largest fleet in the world and would stand to gain the most in Europe if the northern sea route opened.

We have gone from hyper-optimism to total realism. The world economy was developed on the basis of a high oil price. The northern sea route seemed viable [a few years ago] but now it’s not the case. The route has vast potential but it will take a long time to open up, said Anne H. Steffensen, director of the association at a meeting of Arctic country ministers and industry in Tromsø.

Russia has tried to open up the Arctic to international traffic by offering icebreaker service and better port facilities. But cargo in transit along the northern sea route dropped from 1.3m tonnes in 2013 to 300,000 tonnes in 2014. Last year only 100,000 tonnes was transported between Asia and Europe on the route. However, there was a big rise in the number of vessels going to and from Russian Arctic ports.

The Copenhagen Business School report, which compares the costs of building ice-reinforced ships suitable for the northern sea route, to existing costs of using the Suez canal, includes fuel prices, wait times, lengths of journey, canal fees and different sea conditions. It concludes that trade is unlikely to open up the northern route for decades.

It expects the Arctic sea ice to be too thick and treacherous for many years, requiring expensive ice breakers and strengthened hulls.

The Arctic navigation season is currently too short and ice conditions are too unpredictable for liner shipping to be feasible. Arctic liner shipping will only become a viable alternative to the contemporary shipping lanes if global warming continues to melt the ice cover along the North-west passage and the Northern sea route.

It is highly unlikely that large-scale containerised cargo transports will appear in the near future. The question then arises: when, if ever, will the ice conditions allow for continuous and economically feasible container transport along the route?

The greatest potential for the use of ice-reinforced container ships was found if the speed of global warming increased and the price of fuel is high. But even in this scenario, the cost per container was about 10% higher than going via the Suez canal route.

Scientists have predicted that ordinary vessels would be able travel easily along the northern sea route, and moderately ice-strengthened ships should be able to pass over the pole itself by 2050.

Russian authorities still sees a bright future for shipping along its northern shoreline, but not as a busy international shipping route. It is 100% sure that the northern sea route will be no alternative to the Suez Canal, Russia’s deputy minister of transport, Viktor Olersky, told the Arctic Circle 2015 assembly.


What Do We Know About CO2 and Global Atmospheric Temperatures?

by Willie Soon, David R. Legates, & Christopher Monckton of Brenchley

How much will the doubling of CO2 in the air warm the global temperature? How do scientists take an accurate measurement of the temperature of the Earth’s atmosphere? Why can scientists better measure atmospheric temperatures from satellites than surface temperatures from ground thermometers?

Despite large uncertainties and many unknowns in Earth Science, scientists have a reasonable understanding of the answers to these questions.

Atmospheric CO2 is a greenhouse gas, and therefore, an increase of its concentration in the atmosphere will tend to warm the air. But the latest scientific research by William Happer of Princeton University has shown that the belief that a doubling of atmospheric CO2 will cause directly a 1°C warming of the globe may be incorrect. Indeed, the more likely answer is that a doubling of CO2 will cause only a 0.6°C warming, or about 40% less than previously thought. This makes it even more important to take with caution the excessive impact of CO2 on global air temperatures.

Complicating our understanding is that many processes involving the atmosphere, the ocean, and the land surface which affect the warming effect of CO2 are highly complex and largely incompletely understood. Those rushing to transition from a fossil fuel-based world economy to the wickedly named decarbonized future tout a relationship between a doubling of CO2 and global temperatures as large as 4 to 5°C. But how can such a calculation have any basis in scientific fact when the processes that form clouds, rainfall, snow, and ice — as well as the flow of air and ocean currents — are so imprecisely understood? How is it possible to create an accurate climate model given such uncertainties?

So, how well can we measure the consequences of CO2 on global air temperatures? Even this simple question is marred with half-truths and distortions arising from the politics of global climate change.

It is universally accepted that the most direct impact of atmospheric CO2 will be the warming of the lowest six miles of air. This is the layer that is best measured by satellites and balloon-borne instruments rather than surface-based thermometers which under-represent the poles, the tropics, the high altitudes, and the oceans. In short, thermometers are biased to where people live and confined to measure only the air within six feet of the ground. Satellites, by contrast, are not limited spatially and can estimate global temperatures in the lowest six miles, not six feet, of air.

But of late, anthropogenic climate change believers are pushing thermometer-based analyses and dismissing satellite observations. Why? For nearly the last two decades, satellite- and balloon-borne instruments have not detected any significant warming -- which does not support the climate change disaster scenarios the believers wish to promote. Besides, the bias associated with surface thermometers can easily be manipulated with subjective bias adjustments which allows the data to support the global warming hype.

A recent paper published in Earth Science Reviews (by W. Soon, R. Connolly and M. Connolly) discusses and demonstrates that the post-1970 warming, as measured by surface-based thermometers, was highly exaggerated by non-climate related factors such as changes in location, the time-of-observation bias, urbanization effects, and changes in land use as well as by changes in the measurement of sea-surface temperature and the fair-weather bias (ships tend to avoid storms) to estimate air temperature over the oceans.

However, the most important problem with thermometer/surface-based assessments is that the most important signal arising from CO2 impacts lies higher in troposphere — at about six miles — rather than at the surface. Satellite observations have provided a nearly complete global coverage since about 1979, providing us with an excellent record extending more than 35 years. These observations indicate that the atmosphere warmed slightly since 1979 but its temperature has remained relatively constant over the past fifteen years or so — despite the dramatic increase in CO2 concentrations.  This makes it hard to argue that global temperature changes are largely driven by changes in atmospheric CO2 concentrations.

Scientists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) cling to their bias-adjusted surface temperature record because it yields a far more continuous and rapid rate of warming than what was deduced from satellites and weather balloons records. This is consistent with the exaggerated CO2 disastrously warms the planet meme that, in part, keeps their funding levels high. Recently, they released a newer version that exaggerates the warming even further. Detailed explanations for their revisions — published in Science in June of 2015 — are not convincing but it is clear that their main effort was focused on making sure that the pause in air temperature increases over the past two decades vanished. The editor-in-chief of Science magazine, Dr. Marcia McNutt, proclaimed at a climate symposium in January that the revision eliminates the [global warming] hiatus. Scientists from NOAA and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory also wrote in Science that whether or not the early 21st century global warming hiatus existed is not important.

It is appropriate for us to offer a reminder from our colleague, the late Professor Bob Carter, who as early as 2006 warned that There IS [sic.] a problem with global warming… it stopped in 1998… In truth, however, the biggest part of the problem is neither environmental nor scientific, but a self-created political fiasco.

From a physics standpoint, the impact of increasing CO2 causes a relatively and disproportionately larger warming in the atmosphere than near the ground. Is there a problem, therefore, with the satellite record or the way in which it measures air temperature?

As previously mentioned and usually ignored by the believers, thermometers provide a poor spatial coverage of the Earth’s surface. By contrast, satellites carry instruments that accurately measure the amount of energy in thermal infrared and microwave wavelengths which directly relates to the temperature of the lower atmosphere (where most of the air resides and where the CO2 signal should be strongest) with nearly complete spatial coverage.

Global estimates of air temperature by satellites are independently produced by scientists from Remote Sensing Systems (RSS) and the University of Alabama-Huntsville (UAH), and their methods have been well-discussed and compared in the scientific literature.  Both groups show that global temperatures in the lowest six miles show no warming trend since 2002 (we start in 2002 mainly because the new global atmospheric temperature data record [labeled ROM SAF in the top panel] is available only starting September 2001 and partly to avoid the effect of the strong El Nino and La Nina between 1997 and 2001 – see graph below).

The big complaint leveled against the satellite record is that their estimates are contaminated by the decay of satellite orbits, changes in the satellite orientation over time, and the piecing together of several satellites to complete the record since 1979. While these issues allow for more physically-based adjustments than with the thermometer record (note that new satellites overlap with older ones and that satellite orbital decay is well-documented), the balloon data corroborate the satellite record.

In addition, a third method of measuring global temperature over the lower atmosphere — using the series of GPS (Global Positioning System) satellites — can be obtained by accurately  measuring the propagation of radio waves through the atmosphere. The importance of this new method is that a near-complete coverage of the Earth is afforded and that global atmospheric temperature can be determined without requiring any complex satellite inter-calibration. Only the precise atomic clock is needed to measure the relative delay in propagation of radio waves through the atmosphere which, in turn, allows for a direct assessment of the atmospheric temperature over the lower portion of the atmosphere.

Unsurprisingly, the GPS-based method confirms what was measured by the thermal infrared/microwave radiometers aboard other satellites; that the nearly-two-decade-long temperature hiatus is real and the thermometer-based record is the oddball. More specifically, global atmospheric temperatures are not warming in the way predicted by the CO2-driven climate models, which serves to argue that CO2 does not act as the thermostat for global atmospheric temperatures.

An objectively science-based decision is clear: The preponderance of the evidence suggests that a discernable CO2-influence on the climate has been grossly overstated. So will you choose the scientific decision or rely on the politically-driven thermometer adjustments? Our future rides on the answer to this question.


The Windmills of Bernie’s Mind

Presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders in December introduced a sweeping renewable-energy plan that would, among other things, require tens of thousands of new wind turbines. Sen. Sanders’s “people before polluters” proposal may help rally his followers, but it won’t be so well received in rural America, where resistance to wind farms has been building. Nowhere is the backlash stronger than in Mr. Sanders’s state.

On Jan. 5, Vermont state Sens. John S. Rodgers and Robert Starr, both Democrats, introduced a bill (S. 210) that would ban wind projects above 500 kilowatts (an average industrial wind turbine has a capacity of 1.5 megawatts or more). Twenty-four co-sponsors filed an identical bill in Vermont’s lower chamber on Jan. 20.

Mr. Rodgers called the growing resistance to wind projects “a rebellion” at a news conference in Montpelier, the state capital. “I know of no place in the state where we can place industrial wind turbines without creating an unacceptable level of damage to our environment and our people.”

Wind-generated electricity in the U.S. has more than tripled since 2008, but opposition to the gigantic turbines, which can stand more than 500 feet, has been growing. In Vermont several protesters were arrested in 2011 and 2012 while trying to stop work on a wind project built on top of Lowell Mountain.

In March 2015 the Northeastern Vermont Development Association, a regional planning commission that covers 21% of the state’s land area, voted unanimously in favor of a resolution that said “no further development of industrial-scale wind turbines should take place in the Northeast Kingdom.”

In October residents of Irasburg overwhelmingly voted down, 274-9, a proposed five-megawatt wind project near their town. In November residents of Swanton met to consider a seven-turbine wind project proposed to be built atop nearby Rocky Ridge. The tally: 731 votes against, 160 in favor. And in December the town select board in Fairfield, a few miles southeast of Swanton, declared its opposition to the same project.

Mr. Sanders’s target is for the U.S. to get 80% of its energy from renewables by 2050. The plan calls for 25% of Vermont’s energy needs to be produced from wind—a giant expansion. In 2014, according to the American Wind Energy Association, Vermont’s 119 megawatts of installed turbine capacity generated about 4% of the electricity produced in the state.

Vermont’s bill appears to be the first effort by state legislators to outright ban large wind projects, but dozens of governmental entities have rejected or restricted such developments over the past year. In May 2015 commissioners in Stark County, N.D., rejected a $250 million wind project being pushed by Florida-based NextEra Energy, America’s biggest wind-energy producer.

In July the town board of Somerset, N.Y., voted to oppose a proposed 200-megawatt project known as Lighthouse Wind. And the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a ban on large wind turbines in the county’s unincorporated areas.

“Wind turbines create visual blight,” said Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich. Skyscraper-size turbines, he added, would “contradict the county’s rural dark skies ordinance which aims to protect dark skies in areas like Antelope Valley and the Santa Monica Mountains.”

In Iowa, a three-turbine wind project pushed by a company called Optimum Renewables has been rejected by three different counties, most recently in August by the Black Hawk County Board of Adjustment, after more than 100 local residents expressed concerns.

And in December Maine’s Partnership for the Preservation of the Downeast Lakes Watershed, a tiny group that had been fighting a $100 million, 40-megawatt project known as Bowers Wind, prevailed when the Maine Supreme Judicial Court upheld a ruling by the state’s Board of Environmental Protection, which had previously rejected the project.

Why are so many Vermonters opposed to wind energy? The Sanders presidential campaign did not respond to questions. But Sen. Rodgers told me by email that the state must protect its tourism industry. “People come here from around the world for our scenic vistas and rural working landscape.” Asked whether concerns about climate change should trump the concerns of rural communities, Mr. Rodgers was frank: “Destroying the natural environment in the name of climate change is moronic.”


Marine species can survive in very hot and acidic conditions

The exact opposite of what Warmists often assert

They don't have laser beams attached to their heads, but these sharks are living in a volcano.

Kavachi, near the Solomon Islands, is one of the most active submarine volcanoes in the world.

The volcano's peak lies 25 metres below the surface, and when it isn't erupting the crater is overflowing with orange hydrothermal fluid which can be seen for a kilometre or more downstream.

A team of scientists studying its geothermal activity made the unexpected discovery of sharks swimming around in the hot, acidic waters inside its crater.

Researchers from the University of Queensland and the Queensland University of Technology sent expendable drifting robots over the surface plume to measure temperature and gas exchange, according to The Coral Triangle.

At least two species of shark, a sixgill stingray, and snapper fish, have been filmed living in the crater at a depth of 45m.

The discovery of fish in such hostile conditions, dubbed the "Sharkcano", has introduced a slew of new questions about the ecology of submarine volcanoes and hydrothermal vents.

Ocean engineer Brennan Phillips told National Geographic: "These large animals are living in what you have to assume is much hotter and much more acidic water.

"It makes you question what type of extreme environment these animals are adapted to. What sort of changes have they undergone? Are there only certain animals that can withstand it?"


Lawrence Solomon: It’s ‘game over’ for global warming activists

Environmentalists’ faint hope that they can get international action on climate change gets fainter by the day. This week the United States Supreme Court added to their despair by kiboshing President Obama’s pledge, at December’s climate talks in Paris, to lead the world on climate change. This could be the proverbial string which causes Paris to unravel, The New York Times reported.

At the heart of Obama’s Paris pledge was his Clean Power Plan, an executive order hyped as the first-ever carbon pollution standards for existing power plants. The plan, rolled out with much fanfare prior to the Paris meetings to create a sense of momentum, was designed to shut down America’s fleet of coal-powered generating plants. The White House boasted its plan would help reduce CO2 emissions by 32 per cent by 2030 and lead to 30 per cent more renewable energy generation in 2030.

Except it was an empty boast based on an unconstitutional plan, said 29 states and state agencies, which successfully argued that the Obama plan needed congressional approval to proceed. The Supreme Court agreed to an immediate halt of Obama’s plan, sending it to a lower court and all but guaranteeing that, when Obama leaves office in 2017, the plan will remain in deep freeze.

India, China and other countries that were cajoled into making carbon-cutting commitments at Paris are now under no pressure to cut emissions either. As one adviser to China’s Paris delegation put it, Look, the United States doesn’t keep its word. Why make so many demands on us? U.S. environmental groups concur. If the U.S. isn’t moving on climate action, it makes it really hard to go back to other countries and say, ‘Do more, we’re delivering,’ admits the Natural Resources Defense Council.

Not that any of the carbon reduction demands were binding, or even meaningful. The Paris talks succeeded only in continuing the pretense that the countries of the world were morally committed to action on climate change. Now even that pretense is vanishing. Seven years after Obama declared that, under his transformative presidency, the oceans would stop rising, it is dawning on environmentalists that his entire contribution to the debate amounts to no more than lofty rhetoric. Obama’s climate change legacy will be remembered for two terms of hope without change.

Environmentalists last year had more than a transformative president going for them — they had El Nino, the Pacific Ocean phenomenon that periodically brings unusually warm weather to us, and opportunities for propaganda to global warming enthusiasts. Yet the public yawned at the claims that the Earth was experiencing its hottest year in record — people have tired of this mantra, as polling consistently shows. And environmentalists must know that, if they can’t be persuasive in an El Nino year, what are their chances in subsequent years, during which La Nina typically brings unusually cold weather?

The presidential election season can only add to the environmentalists’ funk. With the Democrats fielding either an unpopular Hillary Clinton or an unelectable, socialist Bernie Sanders, the Republicans are widely believed to be favoured to win, landing a deathblow to climate change activism. With both Republican front-runners, Donald Trump and Ted Cruz, considering global warming claims to be outright shams, funding for the climate change industry will dry up. Cruz promises to defund the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the world’s premier global warming lobbyist, along with every other program promoting climate change alarmism. Trump likely would, too, given his belief that global warming policies hurt American business.

Even if a Democrat should win the presidency, the climate change industry has no hope for a comeback. Republicans will still hold the purse strings through their control over the legislature — that’s why Obama resorted to an executive order to impose his Clean Power Plan, in a faint hope of his own that he could further the agenda he so passionately believes in.

So much hope in that fount seven years ago; so little left today. For those environmentalists still clinging to climate change beliefs, hope does not spring eternal.


The Science Is Settled, So Australia Will Fire 100 Climate Scientists

In an attempt to promote fiscal responsibility, some 350 of Australia’s climate scientists were given layoff notices. The argument to keep these positions was revealing. Before: they have high confidence computer models, and strong certainty that we understand the climate. After: there are many climate unknowns, and the models need a lot more work

Leftist politicians like to say the science behind global warming is settled, so what’s the point of having any climate scientists?

Australian officials have decided to axe 350 jobs from its government-backed science bureaucracy last week, as they switch from climate research into ways to mitigate and adapt to global warming. The announcement set off a media firestorm, and the scientists who could lose their jobs are livid.

Firstly the overall number of people in CSIRO is projected to be unchanged at the end of a two year period, however up to 350 people may lose their positions as we change the focus of our work program, Larry Marshall, chief executive of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), said in a Monday statement in response to media criticism.

No one is saying climate change is not important, but surely mitigation, health, education, sustainable industries, and prosperity of the nation are no less important, Marshall said.

For years, scientists have argued the science behind global warming is largely settled — human activities are driving up the Earth’s temperature. In light of this, Australian officials have decided to take their research in a new direction, away from the causes of global warming to technologies to adapt to it.

Our climate models are among the best in the world and our measurements honed those models to prove global climate change, Marshall wrote in an email to his staff Thursday. That question has been answered, and the new question is what do we do about it, and how can we find solutions for the climate we will be living with?

Marshall announced some 110 layoffs in CSIRO’s Oceans and Atmosphere division, the group responsible for climate research. Marshall clarified Monday that the unit’s staff would only be reduced by 65 employees.

In total, 350 CSIRO employees would be laid off over two years. Job cuts will also come from divisions dealing with big data and manufacturing. Critics still expect at least 100 jobs to be cut from climate research.

Climate will be all gone, basically, one senior scientist told The Sydney Morning Herald before the announcement was made public last week.

Once the layoffs were announced, scientists whose jobs were on the chopping block fired back and argued there was much more to know about global warming science.

It’s the sad irony of the debate surrounding global warming. Politicians, activist and some scientists have long argued there was nothing more to debate in climate science — a talking point often used to disparage skeptics.

Though now, that line is coming to bite the very people it was meant to aggrandize — climate scientists.



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


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