Sunday, February 07, 2016

If ifs and ans were pots and pans, there'd be no room for tinkers

My heading above is an old English proverb expressing skepticism about all sorts of theories, prophecies and maybes.  It dates from the time when the Middle English word "an" (meaning "if") was still understood in the Middle English sense.  

Tinkers were itinerant handymen who fixed up damaged pots and pans -- as pots and pans were valuable household goods in those days. Few people reading this will have seen a saucepan with a hole in it -- but I have.  A couple of my mother's saucepans developed holes in them at one time when I was just a lad.  Being a handy kid, however I went to Woolworths and bought a set of "Mendets" -- which I used to fix the saucepans concerned.  So tinkering in its original sense existed within living memory.

I tell that little story because the article below immediately brought that old proverb to my mind.  Putting it in modern English, I might have said:  "More useless speculation".  All it tells us is what would happen IF one of the hot periods of the earth's past were to be repeated.  They assign no probability to that occurring, however.  I wonder why?

They do however pop in a little bit of deceit.  They talk of global warming "continuing".  But it is not ongoing so it cannot continue.

Warming stopped over 18 years ago so all that can continue is stasis. And they claim that Antarctica is losing mass, when it isn't.  It is gaining mass.  Even Warmist scientists such as Zwally admit that. See here and here

Just the usual Warmist claptrap but it will worry some people

If the West Antarctic ice sheet was to melt in response to increasing global temperatures, sea levels could swamp coastal towns and cities around the world.

That's the warning from Scottish researchers who have plotted how the ice sheet is expected to respond to global warming.

In particular, they claim that loss of ice in West Antarctica caused by a warming ocean could raise sea levels by a staggering 10ft (3 metres).

In the first study of its kind, researchers were able to gauge how levels of ice covering the land have changed over hundreds of thousands of years.

They did this by studying peaks protruding through ice in the Ellsworth Mountains, on the Atlantic flank of Antarctica.

The team assessed changes on slopes at various heights on the mountainside, which indicate levels previously reached by the ice sheet.

They also mapped the distribution of boulders on the mountainside, which were deposited by melting glaciers.

Chemical technology - known as exposure dating - showed how long rocks had been exposed to the atmosphere, and their age.

Their results indicate that during previous warm periods, a substantial amount of ice would have been lost from the West Antarctic ice sheet by ocean melting, but it would not have melted entirely.

This suggests ice would have been lost from areas below sea level, but not on upland areas.

The study shows that parts of the West Antarctic ice sheet have existed continuously for at least 1.4 million years.

However, if global temperatures continue to rise, causing the oceans to become warmer, the a substantial amount of ice could be lost from the sheet.

This could see sea levels rise by as much as 10ft (3 metres).

Dr Andrew Hein, of the University of Edinburgh's School of GeoSciences, joint leader of the study, said: 'Our findings narrow the margin of uncertainty around the likely impact of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet on sea level rise.

'This remains a troubling forecast since all signs suggest the ice from West Antarctica could disappear relatively quickly.'

Professor John Woodward of the University of Northumbria, who co-led the study, said: 'It is possible that the ice sheet has passed the point of no return and, if so, the big question is how much will go and how much will sea levels rise.'

The study, published in Nature Communications, was carried out by researchers at the University of Edinburgh with Northumbria University and the Scottish Universities Environmental Research Centre.


Electric cars: Another failed Obama Campaign promise, and that’s a good thing

While campaigning in August 2008, President Obama called for 1 million plug-in hybrid and electric vehicles (EV) on the road by 2015. According to, the campaign circulated an “8-page fact sheet” that contained this promise: “Half of all cars purchased by the federal government will be plug-in hybrids or all-electric by 2012.”

Once in office, he backed that up with a March 2009, executive order that offered “$2.4 Billion in Funding to Support Next Generation Electric Vehicles” to “help meet the President’s goal of putting one million plug-in hybrid vehicles on the road by 2015.” He continued the electric-car drumbeat in his January 2011 State of the Union Address: “We can break our dependence on oil…and become the first country to have one million electric vehicles on the road by 2015.”

A February 2011 Scientific American analysis titled: “Raising the Volt-Age: Is Obama’s Goal of 1 Million Electric Vehicles on U.S. Highways by 2015 Realistic?” states: “the Obama administration realizes that attaining such a goal will be impossible without help from the federal government.” It then delineates the billions of dollars in federal spending aimed at reaching what it acknowledges “may still be just a pipe dream.” It concludes: “So much federal involvement has helped spur state governments and private industry to make significant investments in the EV sector as well.”

That same month, a Department of Energy (DOE) report called the 1 million electric cars by 2015 “ambitious,” and “achievable.” It states: “For that reason, President Obama has proposed steps to accelerate America’s leadership in electric vehicle deployment, including improvements to existing consumer tax credits, programs to help cities prepare for growing demand for electric vehicles and strong support for research and development.”

In 2013, the DOE “eased off” the “quixotic” objective, as called it. According to Reuters, on January 2013, the DOE said: “Whether we meet that goal in 2015 or 2016, that’s less important than that we’re on the right path to get many millions of these vehicles on the road.” Then, a year ago, with only 11 months left to fulfill Obama’s pledge, Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz acknowledged reality: “We’re going to be a few years after the president’s aspirational goal of the end of 2015, but I think that we are within a few years of reaching that goal.”

2015 is now in the record books and, after billions of U.S. taxpayer dollars in EV subsidies for consumers and industry, Reuters reports: “only about 400,000 electric cars have been sold. Last year, sales fell 6 percent over the previous year to about 115,000, despite the industry offering about 30 plug-in models, often at deep discounts.” Though 400,000 EVs may have been sold, the actual number on the road is likely far less. Most of the “sales” are actually leases and when the lease term is over, the EVs get turned back into the dealer, and then the manufacturer. Drivers, even with generous incentives to buy the model they are driving, don’t want them. According to the Wall Street Journal, there is little demand for used electric cars.

Regardless of the slow sales, Reuters says: “the industry continues to roll out new models in response to government mandates and its own desire to create brands known for environmental innovation.” And there is the crux of the EV effort: “environmental innovation”—there is a sense that EVs are the right thing for the environment. Reuters continues: “Many automakers worry that consumers will perceive them as technologically backward if they don’t build electric cars—even if they can’t sell them in large numbers.” Green car advocates say: “EVs are a crucial part of the effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”

While sales have been disappointing, the industry is ramping up EV production, in response to “an influx of state and federal cash and related mandates” which is cramming EVs into the market “at way below what it costs to make them.” Throwing good money after bad, a year ago, Moniz declared that the DOE “will award $56 million in new grants for research projects that aim to reduce and improve the efficiency of plug-in electric cars.”

All of this, to reduce carbon dioxide emissions and appear environmentally innovative and technologically forward is missing the mark.

In December 2014, a study was released that claimed that electric cars actually produced “3.6 times more soot and smog deaths than those powered by gas.” Study co-author Julian Marshall, and engineering professor at the University of Minnesota, says: “It is kind of hard to beat gasoline. …A lot of technologies that we think of as being clean are not better than gasoline.” In reality, these zero-emissions vehicles are generally fueled by coal.

Reading the comments on the CBS coverage of the study, EV advocates dismiss the conclusion that EVs are not as green as we are made to think they are. One even states: “Do I get a whiff of the not-so faint smell of Big Oil adjusted results studies here???”

According to Popular Mechanics, researchers “set out to study the effects on human health of various alternative ways to power a car.” Surprisingly, “Internal combustion vehicles running on corn ethanol and electric vehicles powered by electricity from coal were the real sinners.”

While EV advocates want to claim, as one did, that EVs are powered by wind and solar energy, the facts don’t support the fantasy.

In November, the Washington Post (WP) ran a major story: “Electric cars and the coal that runs them.” It points out: “Alongside the boom has come a surging demand for power to charge the vehicles, which can consume as much electricity in a single charge as the average refrigerator does in a month and a half.”

The Dutch city of Rotterdam is banning “the oldest exhaust spewing vehicles” from the city center. “Thanks to generous tax incentives, the share of electric vehicles has grown faster in the Netherlands than in nearly any other country in the world.”  How are they meeting the “surging demand for power?” With three new coal-fueled power plants.

The WP concludes: “But for all its efforts locally and nationally, the Netherlands will blow past its 2020 emissions targets, the result of the new coal-fired power plants.” More new coal-fired plants—powered by cheap American coal—are projected due to the increased demand from EVs.

The results are similar in China where EV sales have quadrupled. WP states: “Chinese leaders have embraced electric cars as a way of cleaning up cities that have some of the worst air quality in the world. But the Chinese electricity market is heavily dependent on coal; the pollution is simply being taken from the centers of cities and moved to their outskirts.” Last week Reuters addressed a series of studies by Tsinghua University. The results? “Electric cars charged in China produce two to five times as much particulate matter and chemicals that contribute to smog versus petrol engine cars.”

Since the ‘70s, car manufacturers, thanks to American innovation and initiative, have dramatically cleaned up exhaust. Moving the global transportation fleet to EVs, as tax incentives have tried to do, makes no sense environmentally or economically. Former GM vice chairman Bob Lutz, who headed up development of the original Chevy Volt explains: “If gasoline was $8 a gallon, consumers would amortize the cost of an electric vehicle pretty quickly. But at $1.50 a gallon, who is going to be willing to pay the $8,000 or $10,000 premium?”

It turns out, Obama’s 1 million EVs by 2015 was a “pipe dream” after all. Even the federal government didn’t buy the projected quantities. His ideals are not consistent with either consumer interest or technology.


US Bound by Climate Change Deal That Skirts Constitution, House Panel Told

President Barack Obama bound the United States to an international agreement on climate change, but the administration’s decision to circumvent Congress to implement the deal has lawyers questioning its constitutionality.

Despite legally binding elements in the Paris Protocol, which require Senate ratification, negotiators worded the deal in a manner that enables Obama to handle it as an executive agreement and avoid congressional input.

“The president’s decision to treat the Paris agreement as an executive agreement instead of a treaty is just his latest use of executive power to achieve an end that he knows full well would not pass congressional muster,” Steven Groves, a lawyer who is an expert on treaties at The Heritage Foundation, testified Tuesday before a congressional committee.

Appearing at a hearing held by the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, Groves argued that the Obama administration knew that the Republican-led Congress would reject the climate plan.

Instead of risking failure, he testified, Obama chose to sidestep the constitutional requirement that a president secure approval from two-thirds of the Senate before he may subject the U.S. to a legally binding treaty.

Negotiators representing 195 United Nations member states met in Paris at the end of last year to finalize an international agreement aimed at cutting carbon emissions in hopes of slowing the potentially detrimental effects of climate change. Those effects, and their causes, continue to be hotly debated among scientists.

Under the deal, the U.S. and participating countries will be legally required to meet every five years beginning in 2020 to present new plans intended to make deeper cuts in carbon emissions. Beginning in 2023, countries will be legally compelled to meet every five years to report on emissions levels and reductions.

Although it isn’t legally binding, Obama also has pledged to pour $3 billion into the Green Climate Fund, a pot of international aid funded by developed countries to assist developing, poverty-stricken countries in reducing carbon emissions.

Groves testified that the White House’s decision to avert congressional input “flies in the face” of the climate change treaty brokered during the 1992 United Nations Framework Convention. The goal of that treaty was to stabilize greenhouse gas emissions within a set time frame.

Groves argued that President George H.W. Bush agreed with the Senate, then led by Democrats, that the chamber would ratify the 1992 treaty with the requirement that any future agreement containing targets and timetables be submitted to the Senate.

Proponents of the Paris Protocol, including Andrew Steer, president and CEO of the World Resources Institute, contend that the deal is a “hybrid” agreement. They say it includes both legally binding conditions and voluntary pledges, and so does not require Senate ratification.

“Having looked at this very carefully with our legal scholars, our scientists, and our economists, our view is that the agreement strikes the right balance between legally binding and nonbinding, given where we are as a global civilization,” Steer testified to the committee.

The Obama administration intends to implement the agreement domestically through regulations written by the Environmental Protection Agency, including those created under the agency’s controversial Clean Power Plan.

“It’s a clever thing that the White House did —you go and you make an international commitment in Paris, you bypass Congress completely, and then you go to enforce it domestically through EPA regulations,” Groves said. “There’s a lack of democratic legitimacy on almost every level of the creation of this document and its enforcement.”

Groves, the Lomas senior research fellow in Heritage’s Margaret Thatcher Center for Freedom, predicted that the EPA regulations will be litigated among cities and corporations.

Meanwhile, congressional Republicans have adopted resolutions disapproving of the administration’s plans.

“If you want a durable climate change agreement, you have to involve Congress. This administration has chosen not to do that,” Stephen Eule, vice president for climate and technology at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, testified during the hearing.

“So, the question is, is this a durable and legal agreement? I would say no.


Is the Christmas tree to blame for global warming?

Makes a change from CO2 being the culprit, I guess

An expansion of Europe's forests towards dark green conifers has stoked global warming, according to a study on Thursday at odds with a widespread view that planting more trees helps human efforts to slow rising temperatures.

Forest changes have nudged Europe's summer temperatures up by 0.12 degree Celsius (0.2 Fahrenheit) since 1750, largely because many nations have planted conifers such as pines and spruce whose dark colour traps the sun's heat, the scientists said.

Overall, the area of Europe's forests has expanded by 10 percent since 1750.

'Two and a half centuries of forest management in Europe have not cooled the climate,' the team led by France's Laboratoire des Sciences du Climat et de l'Environnement wrote in the journal Science.

They said the changes in the make-up of Europe's forests outweighed trees' role in curbing global warming. Trees absorb carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas from burning fossil fuels, from the air as they grow.

'It's not all about carbon,' lead author Kim Naudts told Reuters, saying government policies to favour forests should be re-thought to take account of factors such as their colour and changes to moisture and soils.

A Paris agreement among 195 nations in December, meant as a turning point from fossil fuels, promotes forests to help limit a rise in temperatrues, blamed for causing more floods, heatwveas and rising sea levels.

Average world temperatures have risen by 0.9C (1.6F) since the Industrial Revolution.

Since 1750, Europe's forests have gained 196,000 sq kms (76,000 sq miles) - an area bigger than Greece - to reach 2.13 million sq kms in 2010, the study said.

In the same period, conifer forests expanded by 633,000 sq kms while broad-leaved forests shrank by 436,000 sq kms. Over the period, Europeans have harvested ever more wood from the forests, reducing their role in storing carbon.

Thursday's study was restricted to Europe but said similar effects were likely in other parts of the world with big forest planting programmes such as China, the United States and Russia.


$12 Trillion Won't Save the World

Two degrees Celsius. That’s the maximum amount of future global warming environmentalists say the world can tolerate. Anything more, they claim, and our efforts to stave off a climate catastrophe will fall flat. It’s a spurious magic number, but one that was formally adapted into the Paris climate agreement in December. And it won’t come cheap.

"If the world is serious about halting the worst effects of global warming, the renewable energy industry will require $12.1 trillion of investment over the next quarter century," according to a new report published in Bloomberg. For perspective on just how much money we’re talking about here, consider that gross domestic product in the United States was $17.4 trillion in 2014, according to the World Bank. That’s good for number one in the world. But China, which came in at number two, produced $10.4 trillion in GDP. That means an entire year’s worth of Chinese economic output wouldn’t be enough to cover the low-carbon investments the Bloomberg report says is needed over the next quarter century. So it comes as no surprise that current funding projections are well short of the goal:

The findings from Bloomberg New Energy Finance and Ceres, a Boston-based coalition of investors and environmentalists, show that wind parks, solar farms and other alternatives to fossil fuels are already on course to get $6.9 trillion over the next 25 years through private investment spurred on by government support mechanisms. Another $5.2 trillion is needed to reach the United Nations goal of holding warming to 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) set out in the climate agreement."

And no doubt that gap will be filled via wealth redistribution. Even worse, these numbers aren’t as bad as depicted in other studies, such as the International Energy Agency’s $16.5 trillion cost estimate. And that’s just through 2030. Instead of redistributing trillions of dollars, the better option would be for poorer countries to invest in energy sources we already know save lives — and let the free market figure out the future of energy.


Don't shrink Australia's ocean sanctuaries, scientists urge ministers

On "environmental" grounds, the previous Labor party government banned fishing in so much of Australian coastal waters that there are now few areas open to fishermen.  So despite its enormous expanse of coastal waters, Australia has to import a lot of the fish it needs.  There has to be compromise but when did you ever hear a Greenie compromise?

Australia’s leading marine scientists are appealing to the federal government to reject a review expected to recommend a significant reduction in the size of ocean sanctuaries and an expansion of areas permitted for commercial fishing.

Tony Abbott announced the review of the boundaries of Labor’s marine parks, counted by the former government as one of its greatest environmental achievements, during the 2013 election campaign, and said he would scrap the just-finished management plans so that the fishing industry could be given a greater say.

The leading scientists understand the review, now finally completed, recommends a sizeable reduction in some areas previously designated as closed to fishing and trawling, particularly in the Coral Sea, and say it has ignored expert scientific advice.

“If the government winds back what was already just partial environmental protection it would be terrible for the environment and send a terrible message to the world,” said West Australian marine science professor Jessica Meeuwig.

“We have no faith in this process. They haven’t spoken to marine scientists, despite our best efforts. They spent a lot of time talking to the extractive industries. If Malcolm Turnbull is serious about being guided by science and by evidence he will reject recommendations to reduce marine sanctuary zones,” she said.

Meeuwig is one of 10 leading marine researchers who have formed the Ocean Science Council of Australia and have published benchmarks against which the review should be judged, including:

    No further diminishment of marine national park zoning in bioregions and key ecological features should occur as these are already significantly under-represented in the 2012 plans

    The international standard for ocean protection of a minimum of 30% of each marine habitat in highly protected no-take marine national parks should be met;

    Very large marine national parks such as that proposed for the Coral Sea should be preserved

“We have seen little evidence that the review process has focused on scientific evidence, rather it appears to have largely been an exercise in appeasing stakeholders with extractive interests,” the OSCA members state in the analysis report.

“We further note that there has been no formal consultation with OSCA despite our significant capacity to provide input to a scientific review.”

Osca’s members also include Hugh Possingham, the director of the Australian Research Council Centre for environmental decisions at the University of Queensland and Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, director of the Global Change Institute and professor of marine science at the University of Queensland.

After fierce lobbying from recreational and commercial fishers and colleagues, Abbott announced the review during a visit to a fishing trade show on the Gold Coast, saying the Coalition would not “lock up the oceans.”

“We know that the biggest supporter of environmentally responsible fishing practices is the fishing industry – because they do not want to harm the very environment that is providing them with a living,” the Coalition said in its policy statement.

“Australians aren’t just proud fishers, they are smart fishers – and they know that Labor’s marine park lockouts are about managing the Greens, not managing the environment.”

Labor always rejected concerns by the fishing industry that it was “locking up oceans”, saying less than 2% of commercial fisheries’ catches would be affected by the new protected areas and recreational fishers would not be affected at all because the parks were hundreds of kilometres offshore and therefore well out of reach of a fisherman in a tinnie.

After a long period of consultation, Labor announced its decision to protect more than 2.3m sq km of ocean in marine parks in late 2012, offering $100m in compensation to the fishing industry.

Environmental groups declared a historic victory, but fishers and charter operators began a furious campaign against the move, strongly backed by some Liberal and National party MPs.

The then environment minister Tony Burke said the marine parks would protect “some incredible marine environments, including the Perth Canyon in the south-west and the stunning reefs of the Coral Sea, and this announcement cements Australia’s position as a world leader on environmental protection’’.

Restrictions on fishing in the reserves varies from a total ban to a trawling ban, to areas where recreational catch and release are permitted.

Announcing the panels conducting the review in 2014 environment minister Greg Hunt said it would be based on science and aimed to “restore community confidence” in the marine reserve system.

“Unlike the previous government, we are committed to getting the management plans and the balance of zoning right, so we have asked the expert panels to consider what management arrangements will best protect our marine environment and accommodate the many activities that Australians love to enjoy in our oceans,” he 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.  

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