Monday, February 22, 2016
The enigmatic Arctic
Warmists have long been fascinated by the temperature fluctuations of the Arctic -- mainly because it is the only part of the globe that has warmed up significantly in recent years. They hint that Arctic warming proves global warming but fail to explain how. The whole point of the matter is surely that the Arctic warming is NOT global so how is it a proof of something global?
In fact, one could argue that Arctic warming is so anomalous that it should be excluded from global figures. That would be an "adjustment" or "correction" well in line with what Warmists routinely do to the temperature record. And if one did make the correction, what would we see? GLOBAL COOLING! How strange that the adjustment kings at NOAA, NASA and elsewhere don't make that correction! Tom Karl, are you listening?
But the erratic Arctic has just excelled itself. It showed a huge temperature leap in January and the Warmists don't know why. The pesky old Arctic has made it abundantly clear that it runs its own race and is not part of global temperature trends.
But the Warmists are puzzled by what is going on in the Arctic only because they keep their eyes firmly closed to things that lie outside their normal areas of discourse. If we broaden our vision slightly, we would conclude that the erratic Arctic is exactly what we would expect if there was a lot of volcanic activity under its floating ice. Volcanoes are hot but erratic.
And that is in fact exactly what we have in the Arctic. Most of the Arctic is covered not by land but by floating ice (sea ice) and close to the center of the action is the undersea Gakkel ridge -- which has more volcanic activity than anywhere else on earth. And those volcanoes are BIG. And all that has been known for a long time now. See here.
So the only mystery about Arctic temperatures is why they are thought to be an effect of climate.
New data from NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration suggest that January of 2016 was, for the globe, a truly extraordinary month.
Coming off the hottest year ever recorded (2015), January saw the greatest departure from average of any month on record, according to data provided by NASA.
But as you can see in the NASA figure above, the record breaking heat wasn’t uniformly distributed — it was particularly pronounced at the top of the world, showing temperature anomalies above 4 degrees Celsius (7.2 degrees Fahrenheit) higher than the 1951 to 1980 average in this region.
Indeed, NASA provides a “zonal mean” version of the temperature map above, which shows how the temperature departures from average change based on one’s latitude location on the Earth. As you can see, things get especially warm, relative to what the Earth is used to, as you enter the very high latitudes:
Global warming has long been known to be particularly intense in the Arctic — a phenomenon known as “Arctic amplification” — but even so, lately the phenomenon has been extremely pronounced.
This unusual Arctic heat has been accompanied by a new record low level for Arctic sea ice extent during the normally ice-packed month of January, according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center — over 400,000 square miles below average for the month. And of course, that is closely tied to warm Arctic air temperatures.
“We’ve looked at the average January temperatures, and we look at what we call the 925 millibar level, about 3,000 feet up in the atmosphere,” says Mark Serreze, the center’s director. “And it was, I would say, absurdly warm across the entire Arctic Ocean.” The center reports temperature anomalies at this altitude of “more than 6 degrees Celsius (13 degrees Fahrenheit) above average” for the month.
The low sea ice situation has now continued into February. Current ice extent is well below levels at the same point in 2012, which went on to set the current record for the lowest sea ice minimum extent:
“We’re way down, we’re at a record low for this time of year right now,” says Serreze. When it comes to the rest of 2016 and the coming summer and fall season when ice melts across the Arctic and reaches its lowest extent, he says, “we are starting out in a deep hole.”
So what’s causing it all? It’s a complicated picture, say scientists, but it’s likely much of it has to do with the very strong El Niño event that has carried over from 2015. But that’s not necessarily the only factor.
“We’ve got this huge El Niño out there, we have the warm blob in the northeast Pacific, the cool blob in the Atlantic, and this ridiculously warm Arctic,” says Jennifer Francis, a climate researcher at Rutgers University who focuses on the Arctic and has argued that Arctic changes are changing mid-latitude weather by causing wobbles in the jet stream. “All these things happening at the same time that have never happened before.”
Serreze agrees that the El Niño has something to do with what’s happening in the Arctic. “I think this is more than coincidence. That we have this very strong El Niño at the same time when we have this absurd Arctic warmth. But exactly what the details are on that, I don’t think we can say right now,” he says.
In Alaska, matters have been quite warm but not record-breaking this winter, says Rick Thoman, climate science and services manager for the National Weather Service in the state.
“I think this winter is going to get studied like crazy, for quite a while,” says Francis. “It’s a very interesting time.”
Ratbag U.N. Warmist steps down
Good riddance. Those of us who can remember how protective of the Soviet Union American Leftists once were will not be surprised at praise of Communist regimes coming from anybody on the Green/Left. So the fact that a nutty Costa Rican Leftist praised Communist China seems unremarkable. Exactly what she praised China for is the interesting bit. Christiana Figueres praised China for its attention to the atmosphere and pollution. She thinks they are doing a great job on combatting global warming. Yet China is undoubtedly the most polluted country on earth. She praises the earth's biggest polluter for fighting pollution! There is no logic in a Green/Left mind. They have totally lost their grip on reality
After six years as the United Nations’ top global warming bureaucrat, Christiana Figueres is finally stepping down.
The 59-year-old Costa Rican may be done with the U.N., but she will long be remembered for her remarks castigating democracy and praising communist China’s progress on global warming.
“It is with deep gratitude to all of you that I write to formally announce that I will serve out my term as Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change which finishes on July 6, 2016, and not accept an extension of my appointment,” Figueres wrote in a public letter Friday.
Figueres’s decision to leave the U.N. comes after nearly 200 countries agreed to cut carbon dioxide emissions in Paris late last year. The Paris deal was hailed as a major achievement by environmental groups, but there are already indications the deal may end up being more talk than action.
“The Paris Agreement is a historical achievement, built on years of increasing willingness to construct bridges of collaboration and solidarity,” Figueres wrote. “It has been an honor to support you along this path over the past six years.”
Aside from Paris, Figueres was also known for her comments about how democracy put up too many hurdles to fighting global warming. Figueres praised communist China’s efforts to deploy more green energy and said it was “doing it right” when it came to fighting warming.
“They actually want to breathe air that they don’t have to look at,” Figueres said of China in 2014. “They’re not doing this because they want to save the planet. They’re doing it because it’s in their national interest.”
Figueres also lamented that the deep partisan divide in the U.S. Congress is “very detrimental” to the global warming crusade.
Figueres doubled-down on her support for China’s central planning, telling reporters in 2015 that China “understands that this is what is coming down the pike, this is where job creation is.”
“Why would the United States want to leave that to China?” she said in a somewhat ironic speech since China had just announced its intention to use more fossil fuels as well as green energy.
In 2012, Figueres called for a “centralized transformation” of the world’s economy to fight global warming. Figueres told environmentalist Elizabeth Kolbert this “is a centralized transformation that is taking place because governments have decided that they need to listen to science.”
“So it’s a very, very different transformation and one that is going to make the life of everyone on the planet very different,” Figueres said.
What Scalia’s Death Means for Obama Climate Agenda’s Implementation
Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia’s death will likely help the Obama administration implement its landmark climate change plan regulating coal emissions.
The shift in momentum comes after the Supreme Court last week, before Scalia’s death, voted to temporarily block the Clean Power Plan from being enforced as it makes its way through the legal process.
That decision was seen as a major blow to President Barack Obama’s climate change agenda, since the plan is the central element of the U.S.’ pledge to reduce emissions as part of a U.N. climate change pact signed in Paris in December.
The Clean Power Plan, an Environmental Protection Agency regulation meant to encourage the use of renewable fuels and natural gas, would commit the U.S. to lower carbon dioxide emissions from coal-fired power plants by 32 percent by 2030 compared to 2005 levels.
It would require every state to submit a plan between 2016 and 2018 for reducing carbon emissions.
Business and industry groups, and 27 states—led by West Virginia and Texas—are challenging the rule in court, arguing that the EPA doesn’t have authority under the Clean Air Act to regulate carbon dioxide in such a way.
These opponents argue that the shift away from coal as a power source will increase electricity prices. The EPA, meanwhile, predicts consumers would save money through improvements in energy efficiency.
The Supreme Court has not yet considered the plan’s legality because the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit still has to review it.
The appeals court is set to hear oral arguments in the case on June 2.
But the Supreme Court’s 5-4 vote last week issuing a “stay” on the plan suggested that the five Republican-appointed justices were prepared to strike the plan down when they got the chance.
“The short answer is this development makes it substantially more likely the Clean Power Plan will ultimately survive in court,” said Michael Gerrard, a law professor at Columbia University and the director of the Sabin Center for Climate Change Law.
“The 5-4 vote imposing the stay on the plan was a very bad omen about how the Supreme Court felt about the Clean Power Plan. Now that the 5th vote is gone, the ultimate result will depend very heavily on who fills the empty seat.”
Most experts expect a three-judge panel of the D.C. Circuit Court to uphold the climate plan, since it declined to grant a “stay” before the Supreme Court did so. The randomly drawn appeals court panel includes two Democratic appointees and one Republican.
If the D.C. Circuit Court found the climate plan to be legal, the industry groups and 27 states that are suing to overturn the plan will inevitably ask the Supreme Court to review the case.
The high court will undoubtedly accept the request to review the case.
If the Supreme Court took up the case this term and voted 4-4, with a split between the Republican- and Democratic-appointed justices, the lower court’s ruling would be upheld.
In that scenario, the stay on the plan would end at that moment, and it could be implemented.
“If the D.C. Circuit Court upholds it and the Supreme Court splits 4-4, the lower court ruling stands, and that ends the stay,” Gerrard said.
While a 4-4 split would temporarily leave the prior court ruling in place, the Supreme Court will likely order the case reargued once a new justice is confirmed. So the ultimate future of the climate plan will likely depend on the vote of whoever succeeds Scalia.
And with the Senate threatening to not let Obama advance his choice for Scalia’s successor, the ideological makeup of the next Supreme Court justice, and that person’s vote on the climate plan, could very well swing on which party wins the presidency.
“The next vote will probably be the deciding one,” said Carrie Severino, the chief counsel and policy director at the conservative Judicial Crisis Network, and a former law clerk to Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.
“This was already an election for the ages, and it just went up to an 11 on a one-to-10 scale,” Severino told The Daily Signal. “The presidential election is really the opportunity for the American people to say what direction they want to take the Supreme Court.”
If a Republican who opposes the carbon regulations won the White House, that person won’t necessarily need to depend on the judiciary branch to overturn the EPA’s plan.
A Republican president could work with a GOP-controlled Congress to pass a bill repealing the plan. That person could also reverse Obama’s climate policies administratively, but that would be a difficult process.
“If there is a final order upholding the EPA rule, the president cannot willy-nilly immediately overturn it,” said Alden Abbott, a senior legal fellow at The Heritage Foundation. “It has to go through the Administrative Procedure Act, meaning the president has to have some justification to overthrow the rule.”
And no matter the outcome in the courts, or whatever the next president decides to do, some states will undertake action on their own to reduce carbon emissions from coal-fired plants.
“If there were no EPA Clean Power Plan, it’s not a prohibition on anyone doing planning that they want to do; it would just mean they can’t be forced to act,” Gerrard said. “Several states are already preparing their plans despite the stay.”
The Georgetown Climate Center has been tracking which states have publicly stated they plan to comply with the Clean Power Plan in some form, even as the regulation faces an uncertain future.
Kate Zyla, the deputy director of the center, tells The Daily Signal that 21 states have made such a commitment.
“I think the stay introduced uncertainty, and Scalia’s death brought additional uncertainty, so a lot of states are saying, in the face of uncertainty, it’s prudent to keep going, even if they are not fans of the rule,” Zyla said.
CHART OF THE DAY: Here’s Why The UN’s Global Warming Treaty Is Useless
The United Nations carbon dioxide emissions deal of 2015 may not be enough to exert any meaningful impact on projected global warming.
A new report by the oil giant BP shows CO2 emissions significantly growing, despite huge gains in energy efficiency and countries forcing more green energy onto the grid. It looks like economic growth in developing countries, like China and India (the “non-OECD”), will overshadow global warming regulations in rich countries.
“Despite the slowdown in emissions growth, the level of carbon emissions continues to grow, increasing by 20% between 2014 and 2035,” BP reported in its latest energy outlook.
“The widening gap between the projected path for emissions… illustrates the remaining challenge, despite the expected reduction in the growth of carbon emissions,” BP noted.
President Barack Obama and other world leaders hailed the UN global warming deal hashed out in December. As part of the deal, countries voluntarily pledged to cut CO2 emissions, but major developing economies, like India and China, did not make any concrete promises to cut emissions.
BP projects both those countries will emit more CO2 and, along with other developing nations, wipe out any emissions cuts made by the U.S. and other rich countries.
Organic food could give you cancer
Organic vegetables are much higher in carcinogens than are vegetables grown sprayed with pesticides. This fact was discovered by Bruce Ames who was, at that time, the chair of biochemistry at UC Berkeley.
The discovery was easily understood. To grow foods without pesticides, you have to pick those subspecies that are "naturally resistant" to insects and fungus. That invariably means that they have higher levels of "natural" poisons in their skin and in their flesh. So those farmers who picked the plants that didn't need pesticides were picking plants that (to use Ames' terminology) were surviving by engaging in chemical warfare.
Non-organic foods are grown using pesticides that are extensively tested by the FDA to be non-cancer inducing (or at least minimally so). Moreover, they are on the outside of the skin, not in the meat itself, and so can be washed off easily.
I eat many organic foods because they often taste better; they are frequently grown by farmers who care more about taste than appearance. I don't delude myself into thinking that they are healthier.
Bruce Ames, by the way, is the inventor of the "Ames test" — the most widely used method to determine if materials are mutagenic.
His professional publication describing what I just said is Science, Volume 236, Issue 4799 (Apr. 17, 1987), 271-280.
Nobody disputes his scientific findings, but those who favor organic food often ignore them. They fool themselves into thinking that natural poisons are somehow better than mild human-manufactured pesticides.
Global satellite map highlights sensitivity of Australia's plants to changes in rainfall and temperature
The report below is about warm dry conditions in Australia and the effect of that on plant life in Australia. Warm dry conditions are normal for most of Australia so any attribution of such effects to global warming is just empty assertion
A point not drawn out below is that the adaptation to warm dry conditions shown by Australian plant life might make them particularly resilient to effects of global warming, if we ever have any
The plant life of Australia's outback may have "given up", according to satellite-based maps tracking the impact of changing climatic conditions, such as rainfall and temperature, on the world's ecosystems.
The study suggests the vegetation of our interior does not respond to sudden increases in rainfall because it has "learned" that drought will soon follow.
It also indicates the Murray-Darling Basin is one of the world's most ecologically sensitive zones, and highlights the fact that Australian flora is most sensitive to changes in water availability.
The maps are part of a study, published today in the journal Nature, that analyses 14 years of satellite data measuring the key climate variables of air temperature, water availability and cloud cover.
The researchers, from Norway and the UK, have developed a new measure, known as the vegetation sensitivity index, which compares on a global scale the productivity of vegetation under changing climate.
How ecosystems will adapt to climate change into the future is based on their responses to many of these climate variables.
Through this modelling the team was able to pinpoint regions across the globe that are showing an "amplified" response to climate variation and may be at risk of collapse.
The eastern region of Australia is included in this category along with the Arctic Tundra, the wet tropical forests of South America, western Africa, south-east Asia and New Guinea, the world's alpine regions, Brazil's Caatinga biome and the steppe and prairie regions of central Asia and the Americas.
Professor Angela Moles, of the Evolution and Ecology Research Centre at the University of New South Wales, said the study was unique because it gave a deeper insight into the impact of extreme events on ecosystems.
"Most research on the effect of climate change has focused on changes in mean temperature or mean rainfall," said Professor Moles, who was not involved in the study. "However, climate models predict that climate extremes are going to change far more dramatically than are climate means.
For some reason the vegetation is not responding to the variability in the climate that we are experiencing. Large portions of plants in the interior don't seem to do anything."
Professor Alfredo Huete, from the Plant Functional Biology and Climate Change Cluster at the University of Technology, Sydney, agreed. "[With this study] we are getting a lot closer to what the plant actually experiences," he said. "You can have all of your rainfall in one week and the statistics will show it was a good year. But it can just take one month of no rain and that might be what drives a plant to the edge."
Professor Moles said the paper also gave insights into which aspects of climate were the most important in shaping different vegetation types around the world. "For instance, the study confirms that most of Australia is most sensitive to variability in water, rather than to temperature, which highlights the importance of thinking of the problem we face as climate change, rather than global warming," she said.
Professor Moles said it was also interesting that while there were areas of very high climate sensitivity in the east of Australia, the study showed our inland ecosystems were among the world's least sensitive to climate variability, particularly in terms of rainfall.
Professor Huete said the researchers suggested this constant level of low productivity was the result of "memory". "Sometimes when you subject an ecosystem to some kind of disturbance, such as a drought or fire, they behave differently depending on their past," he explained.
The study indicated significant areas of the Australian interior seemed to be having strong memory effects, said Professor Huete, who wrote an opinion piece for Nature to accompany the new study. "For some reason the vegetation is not responding to the variability in the climate that we are experiencing. Large portions of plants in the interior don't seem to do anything," he said.
Professor Huete said it was possible plants in the Australian outback had "given up". "They don't care if it is good favourable conditions now, because they know it is temporary and it is not worth investing in growing more at this time because they become bigger and it is a lot more to care of when the drought returns," he said.
He said the maps were a useful tool in better understanding how ecosystems were reacting to climate change, but there was still a long way to go before scientists would be able to predict "when a forest is going to experience mortality".
"The satellite is taking pictures of what has happened on the ground. They can tell you there is something going on, but rarely can the satellite pictures tell you what is happening or why," he said.
Professor Moles said while large-scale remote-sensing studies could provide high-quality quantitative information on large-scale processes, it could never replace on-ground research.
"For instance, remote sensing will never be a good way to survey rare and threatened species, such as little orchids," 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.
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 1:37 AM