Thursday, March 31, 2016

Arctic news

Sea ice was down a bit for most of March but it has now popped back up to a level similar to that in other recent years.  The graph tells all:

2016 is the black line

How awful for the Warmists.  The Arctic is all they've got.  I imagine they will console themselves by saying today is the 15th lowest or some such.  You have to be creative with the truth to be a Warmist -- which mostly means taking refuge in trivialities

SOURCE for the graph


The following is amusing.  It looks like the upswing began on 25th.

"Scientists at the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC)  said that the sea ice cover attained an average maximum extent of 14.52m sq km (5.607m sq miles) on 24 March, the lowest winter maximum since records began in 1979. The low beats a record set only last year of 14.54m sq km (5.612m sq miles), reached on 25 February 2015.


No matter how warm or cool a year is, it always proves global warming

As we all know, Warmists have seized on the slight warming in 2015 as "proving" Warmism to be right.  El Nino is ignored. So the year 2011 must have been hard for them.  I downloaded the 2011 chart from CRU in 2012.  It is below.  That was only the 12th Warmest year on record.  So did such a dismal figure shake their faith in Warmism at all?  No way!  They went on proclaiming their twisted gospel as before

Why renewable energy is a worse option than nuclear

Comment from South Africa

THERE is a strange belief in the new green religion that "renewable" always means "good". It doesn’t. Slave labour is a form of renewable energy but is far from good. Wood is renewable but the burning of trees for firewood is causing environmental calamity in Africa. Solar and wind energy are both excellent for many applications such as solar water-heating, windmills on Karoo farms and the provision of small amounts of electricity in remote households, clinics and schools. But they are bad for generating grid electricity — bad for the environment and bad for the economy.

The Western Cape provides a good demonstration of energy realities. About 30km north of Cape Town is Koeberg Nuclear Power Station; a further 30km north is the Darling Wind Farm. A comparison of the two is instructive.

Koeberg consists of two units of 900MW capacity each. It was built in nine years, which included a long delay for sabotage, and completed in 1985. Its average electricity production is about 12,600 gigawatt hours (GWh) a year.

The Darling Wind Farm consists of four wind turbines of 1.3MW capacity each. It was built in eight months and completed in 2008. According to its website, it is estimated to produce 8.6GWh a year. Wind farms typically produce less electricity than predicted, but let us accept this figure.

The "load factor" or "capacity factor" of a power plant tells what the plant actually generates compared with its capacity. If it has a capacity to generate 100MW but over a period of time actually produces an average of 70MW, its load factor is 70%.

On these figures, Koeberg has a load factor of 80%. This is not bad but it is by no means the best for nuclear stations. In the US, the load factor for nuclear power is 90%. The Darling Wind Farm has a load factor of 18.9%. This is pretty good for wind. In Germany, Europe’s biggest generator of wind power, the load factor is 17%.

It would require 5,860 Darling wind turbines to generate the same amount of electricity as Koeberg. Imagine 5,860 of these huge machines, each 81m high, compared with Koeberg’s two reactor buildings, each 57m high. Imagine the thousands of kilometres of transmission lines. Imagine the colossal, wasteful, inefficient use of the earth’s resources (wind requires 10 times more concrete and steel than nuclear per kilowatt hour, or kWh).

Wind turbines elsewhere are even bigger than Darling’s, looming over local landscapes like Goliaths. "Gigantic is beautiful!" could be the slogan of wind power.

If these 5,860 wind turbines were built at the same rate as the Darling Wind Farm, it would take 970 years. If they were built in the same time as Koeberg, it would mean building more than 12 wind turbines every week for nine years. It is a fallacy that wind turbines can be built more quickly than nuclear power plants.

But this does not tell half of wind’s problems. With nuclear (or coal or gas), the electricity is generated when you want it for as long as you want it. It is reliable and predictable. With wind, the electricity is produced only if the wind happens to be blowing at the right strength, which is seldom and unpredictable. Because of this, one kWh of wind electricity has far less value than one kWh of nuclear electricity, if indeed it has any value at all. (In 2008, our gold mines shut down because Eskom could not guarantee electricity supply. Unreliable electricity was worthless to them.)

Wind for grid electricity depends completely on governments. Because it is so expensive and unreliable, nobody will put a single cent into it unless the government forces taxpayers or consumers to pay huge operating subsidies for it. Governments compel utilities to buy wind electricity at very high prices, whether they want it or not, whenever the wind happens to be blowing. With nuclear, coal and gas, the generator serves the customer. With wind, the customer serves the generator.

The UK has more than 3,000 wind turbines with a capacity of more than 5,000MW. Because of its latitude, the UK has relatively good wind conditions. But a study by the John Muir Trust (which looked only at the records of electricity production) showed that on 124 occasions from November 2008 to December 2010, the total generation of wind power was less than 20MW. The load factor over these periods was less than 0.4%.

This exposes another fallacy of wind power, that "the wind is always blowing somewhere". In recent cold winters in northern Europe, when electricity was desperately demanded, the wind turbines from Ireland to Germany were producing next to nothing.

If you look at any graph of a nation’s electricity demand, you will see a fairly predictable curve that peaks at breakfast and supper time on weekdays and dips on weekends and at night. The difference between minimum and maximum demand is about two to one. Now look at a graph of wind electricity production. It shows violent, unpredictable fluctuations. The difference between minimum and maximum production is hundreds to one or more.

Nuclear power has by far the best safety record of any energy technology, much better than wind.

The Fukushima nuclear accident last year provided a spectacular demonstration of nuclear safety. A monstrous earthquake and tsunami, which killed 25,000 people, hit old-fashioned Japanese nuclear plants run by a negligent and corrupt utility; four were severely damaged and thousands of people were evacuated, yet the radiation from the accident has killed nobody and is unlikely to do so.

Meanwhile, in recent years, thousands of people have been killed in accidents in coal, gas, hydro, oil and wind.

Because of the vast amounts of uranium and thorium on earth, nuclear power is sustainable for the remaining life of the planet. Nuclear waste, tiny in volume, solid and stable, is easy to store so that it presents no danger to people or the environment.

The waste from wind includes the toxic, long-lived wastes from the mining of neodymium, used in wind generators, which are causing death and disease in Chinese mining communities. (It is literally true that every single energy technology, including wind and solar, produces "deadly waste that lasts for thousands of millions of years" but with proper care we know how to deal with it from generation to generation. Nuclear waste presents nothing new, including plutonium and fission products.)

Solar energy, especially in sunny South Africa, seems better than wind but, for grid electricity, it is even more expensive and with even lower load factors.

Nuclear versus renewable energy boils down to this simple question: do you want to work with nature or against it?

Nature has made nuclear energy highly concentrated and reliable, allowing us to generate large amounts of electricity from small amounts of materials, very economically and with the least disruption to the environment. Nature has made wind and solar power diluted and unreliable.

It would be stupid to build a nuclear reactor plant in your attic to heat your water; solar power is far better. Similarly it is stupid to use solar or wind for grid electricity; nuclear is far better.


New Study Debunks Polar Bear Scare

If past predictions are any indication, enough ice should have melted by now as a result of anthropogenic global warming to threaten the existence of polar bears. That’s not to say Arctic sea ice is doing exceedingly well or even that it’s near average. For the record, ice extent appears to have registered a new record low this winter, though any alarm is dampened by the fact El Niño and an overall warm Pacific ocean contributed to more heat across the globe, and likely significantly so. On the flip side, it’s true also that the Arctic has not experienced the death spiral that was predicted by so many. That goes for both ice and polar bears. A new study conducted by scientists at Lakehead University in Canada should help alleviate any concerns we might have that polar bears are nearing extinction.

The authors write, “[W]e suggest that the current status of Canadian polar bear subpopulations in 2013 was 12 stable/increasing and one declining (Kane Basin). We do not find support for the perspective that polar bears within or shared with Canada are currently in any sort of climate crisis.” They continue: “We show that much of the scientific evidence indicating that some polar bear subpopulations are declining due to climate change-mediated sea ice reductions is likely flawed by poor mark–recapture (M-R) sampling and that the complex analysis models employed to overcome these capture issues apparently fail to provide accurate estimates of the demographic parameters used to determine subpopulation status.”

These findings are more or less in line with other studies, including one by Dr. Susan Crockford of the Global Warming Policy Foundation. Last year she wrote, “On almost every measure, things are looking good for polar bears. Scientists are finding that they are well distributed throughout their range and adapting well to changes in sea ice. Health indicators are good and they are benefiting from abundant prey.” Moreover, other estimates show that the polar bear population has increased significantly over the years and now sits in the tens of thousands, perhaps as high as 30,000.

Paradoxically, alarmists may be looking at the situation totally backwards — and again we turn to Crockford for explanation. As The Daily Caller’s Michael Bastasch writes, “Shrinking Arctic sea ice may not be the real threat to polar bears. Veteran zoologist Susan Crockford argues that thick spring ice is a bigger problem for polar bears than sparse summer ice.” Crockford says, “Thick spring ice near shore drives seals to give birth elsewhere because they cannot maintain their breathing holes in the ice. This leaves mothers emerging from onshore dens with newborn cubs with nothing to eat at a time when they desperately need food: cubs die quickly, mothers more slowly.”

We conclude by noting the Lakehead University researchers aren’t what we would label climate “deniers.” In the report, they write, “We see reason for concern, but find no reliable evidence to support the contention that polar bears are currently experiencing a climate crisis. We suggest that the qualitative projections for dramatic reductions in population numbers and range are overly pessimistic given the response of polar bears, climate, and sea ice to the present.” In other words, they’re demonstrating an objective approach to the scientific evidence. And that’s something the entire climate community should emulate.


The EPA Is Using Private Emails to Talk to Lobbyists

A recent report from the Daily Caller highlights how the Environmental Protection Agency frequently uses private email accounts to communicate with environmental lobbyists, ducking the transparency and record-keeping requirements that are supposed to bind the agency.

One characteristic email from a lobbyist for green advocacy groups, obtained under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), explicitly requested that EPA Senior Counsel Joe Goffman forward an email to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy's private account.

“Joe," the email begins, "Would you please send this email to Gina for me? I would have sent it to her directly with a cc to you but I don’t have a private email address for her and would prefer to not use an office email address,” Following that introduction is a message outlining specific concerns about a pending regulation, and how it would impact the author's clients.

Upon seeing the report, Executive Director of FreedomWorks Foundation Curt Levey, who heads the organization’s regulatory reform project, commented: "Under the best circumstances, the growth of the regulatory state is a threat to the constitutional limits on the power of the federal government. The cronyism and contempt for accountability at these executive branch agencies only makes the problem worse. Not only are the regulatory agencies run by unelected bureaucrats, with no incentive to do right by the American people, but they continue to act in ways that indicate that they think they are above the law."

While the private email server used by Hillary Clinton when she served as Secretary of State may be the most outrageous example, it appears that this type of behavior is far from an anomaly in Washington. Transparency guidelines exist for a good reason; government is uniquely positioned to impose burdens on businesses and individuals, and enforce them with any legal means necessary. Such power is dangerous if unchecked, and so the American people have a right to know what regulators at the EPA are up to. By using private email accounts, the agency robs the public of that ability.

Private communications with lobbyists indicate a desire to cut deals or trade favors far away from the watchful eyes of the citizenry, a motivation that can't be good for freedom of any kind. The EPA is doing this in more than a few cases, and who knows what other federal agencies are doing the same or worse. So long as government bureaucrats sufficiently cover their tracks, even FOIA requests are unlikely to uncover the truth.

Al this underscores the need for restoring the separation of powers originally intended by America's Founding Fathers and enshrined in the Constitution – that is, Congress makes the laws and the executive branch executes them. Federal bureaucrats, who have little accountability to voters in the best case and even less when they evade transparency requirements, must be prevented from writing de facto laws under the guise of interpreting legislation.


Health Officer Gets Migraines When Visiting Wind Project

DENMARK, WI - Brown County appears to be digging a deeper and deeper hole for itself as more facts come to light surrounding Duke Energy’s Shirley Windpower. After an unusually long almost 3 month delay in satisfying a resident’s open records request, the records ultimately provided expose that former Brown County Health Officer Chua Xiong feels ill when visiting the Shirley Wind facility. In an email to her intern Carolyn Harvey she states:

“Carolyn the times I have been out there by the Wind Turbines, l get such migraine headaches. I think I should take some preventative Tylenol before I head out there.”

Despite this admission, approximately one month later Ms. Xiong went on to make her declaration that “Currently there is insufficient scientific evidence-based research to support the relationship between wind turbines and health concerns.” She then went further in saying that this was her “final decision” and that she would only monitor the situation “on an annual basis”. In this decision she completely ignored the real world health impact of Duke Energy’s wind turbines on Brown County families as evidenced through their sworn affidavits and their documentation of past and continued suffering, not to mention her own repeated migraines when in proximity to Duke’s turbines.

So what has happened between Ms. Xiong’s declaration and the March 18th release of the open records showing that Brown County’s Health Officer Chua Xiong suffers migraines when she is by the Shirley Wind turbines? On March 4th, Ms. Xiong submitted her resignation to County Executive Troy Streckenbach. He did not share this with County department heads until just two days prior to March 18th, Ms. Xiong’s last day. This date also coincides with Executive Streckenbach’s announcement of Brown County Corporation Counsel Juliana Ruenzel’s resignation.

Ms. Ruenzel served as head legal counsel who participated in all closed sessions meetings regarding Shirley Wind, and was in charge of reviewing open records requests. The facts of her resignation have not been disclosed. According to sources, Ruenzel opted to not state why the sudden departure.

It is high time that Brown County and its Health Director follow the lead of its own Board of Health who unanimously declared Duke’s wind turbines in Glenmore a “Human Health Hazard”. They need to recognize that residents are sick, homes have been abandoned, that outsiders (even the County’s own Health Director) feel ill while in the project area, and FINALLY do whatever is necessary to protect the health and safety of southern Brown County residents. Brown County does not need Shirley Wind to become its Flint, Michigan. Until the County does the right thing and takes action, families will continue to suffer, the County’s inaction will escalate their legal liability, and this issue will not go away.


Australia: Great Barrier Reef coral bleaching at 95 per cent in northern section -- attributed to global warming

What bulldust!  For a start, coral bleaching is NOT coral death.  It is a stress response that leads to the expulsion of symbiotic algae.  There are about half a dozen things that can cause it.  And the ONE thing that can be excluded as a cause is anthropogenic global warming.  Why?  Because there has been none of that for nearly 19 years.  Things that don't exist don't cause anything.  

The ocean waters MAY have warmed but that will be due to natural factors such as El Nino.  The 2015 and early 2016 temperature upticks were DEMONSTRABLY due to El Nino and other natural factors, as CO2 levels were plateaued at the relevant time.

And it is not at all certain that a small temperature rise causes bleaching.  An ancient coral reef specimen now on display at the Natural History Museum in London is instructive.  It goes back to  160 million years ago.  The exhibit is proof that ancestors of modern corals somehow thrived during the Late Jurassic period when temperatures were warmer and atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide higher than they are today.

And if that's ancient history, how come corals survive in the Persian Gulf today at temperatures up to 8 degrees hotter that what we see in the tropical Pacific?

Bleaching may even be a positive thing. In recent years, scientists have discovered that some corals resist bleaching by hosting types of algae that can handle the heat, while others swap out the heat-stressed algae for tougher, heat-resistant strains.

And a recent study by the Australian Institute of Marine Science showed that warming in Australian waters actually INCREASED coral growth over the 20th century.

I could go on but I think I have said enough

All the points I have made above could have been made by any competent marine biologist  -- and I can provide references for  them all.  But I am not a marine biologist.  I am a psychologist.  What a harrowed world we live in where a psychologist has to give the basic information that marine biologists dare not give.

An aerial survey of the northern Great Barrier Reef has shown that 95 per cent of the reefs are now severely bleached — far worse than previously thought.

Professor Terry Hughes, a coral reef expert based at James Cook University in Townsville who led the survey team, said the situation is now critical.

"This will change the Great Barrier Reef forever," Professor Hughes told 7.30.

"We're seeing huge levels of bleaching in the northern thousand-kilometre stretch of the Great Barrier Reef."

Of the 520 reefs he surveyed, only four showed no evidence of bleaching.  From Cairns to the Torres Strait, the once colourful ribbons of reef are a ghostly white.

"It's too early to tell precisely how many of the bleached coral will die, but judging from the extreme level even the most robust corals are snow white, I'd expect to see about half of those corals die in the coming month or so," Professor Hughes said.

This is the third global coral bleaching since 1998, and scientists have found no evidence of these disasters before the late 20th century.

"We have coral cores that provide 400 years of annual growth," explains Dr Neal Cantin from the Australian Institute of Marine Science.

"We don't see the signatures of bleaching in reduced growth following a bleaching event until the recent 1998/2000 events."

Environment Minister Greg Hunt flew over the reef just eight days ago, before Professor Hughes' aerial survey, and announced some additional resources for monitoring the reef.

"There's good and bad news — the bottom three quarters of the reef is in strong condition," he said at the time.

"[But] as we head north of Lizard Island it becomes increasingly prone to bleaching."

The northern part of the Great Barrier Reef is the most pristine part of the marine park — and that is one possible glimmer of hope.

"On the bright side, it's more likely that these pristine reefs in the northern section will be better able to bounce back afterwards," Professor Hughes said.

"Nonetheless we're looking at 10-year recovery period, so this is a very severe blow."

Professor Justin Marshall, a reef scientist from the University of Queensland, said the reason for these bleaching events was clear.

"What we're seeing now is unequivocally to do with climate change," he told 7.30.

"The world has agreed, this is climate change, we're seeing climate change play out across our reefs."

Professor Hughes said he is frustrated about the whole climate change debate.

"The government has not been listening to us for the past 20 years," he said.

"It has been inevitable that this bleaching event would happen, and now it has.

"We need to join the global community in reducing greenhouse gas emissions.



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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