Sunday, March 20, 2016

Blame global warming, New Zealand is losing glaciers

More lies below, and obvious ones at that.  From Wikipedia: "The Franz Josef glacier ... exhibits a cyclic pattern of advance and retreat, driven by differences between the volume of meltwater at the foot of the glacier and volume of snowfall feeding the névé.  The glacier advanced rapidly during the Little Ice Age, reaching a maximum in the early eighteenth century. Having retreated several kilometres between the 1940s and 1980s, the glacier entered an advancing phase in 1984 and at times has advanced at the phenomenal (by glacial standards) rate of 70 cm a day"

New Zealand is renowned for its wondrous scenery, and among the country's top tourist attractions are two glaciers that are both stunning and unusual because they snake down from the mountains to a temperate rain forest, making them easy for people to walk up to and view.

But the Fox and Franz Josef glaciers have been melting at such a rapid rate that it has become too dangerous for tourists to hike onto them from the valley floor, ending a tradition that dates back a century.

With continuing warm weather this year there are no signs of a turnaround, and scientists say it is another example of how global warming is impacting the environment.

Tourism in New Zealand is booming and nearly 1 million people last year flocked to get a glimpse of the glaciers and the spectacular valleys they've carved. But the only way to set foot on them now is to get flown onto them by helicopter.

Tour operators offer flights and guided glacier walks, although logistics limit this to 80,000 tourists per year, half the number that once hiked up from the valley floor.

Up to another 150,000 people each year take scenic flights that land briefly at the top of the glaciers.

Flying in the Unesco World Heritage area comes with its own risks, highlighted in November when a sightseeing helicopter crashed onto the Fox Glacier, killing all seven aboard.

Sitting near the base of the Franz Josef Glacier, Wayne Costello, a district operations manager for the department of conservation, said that when he arrived eight years ago, the rock he was perched on would have been buried under tons of ice. Instead, the glacier now comes to an end a half-mile (800 meters) further up the valley.

"Like a loaf of bread shrinking in its tin, it's gone down a lot as well," Costello said. "So it's wasted away in terms of its thickness, and that's led to quite a rapid melt."

Because of that melt, the valley walls that were once braced by the glaciers have been left exposed and vulnerable to rock falls, making hiking up too dangerous. Tour operators stopped taking guided hikes onto the Franz Josef in 2012 and the nearby Fox in 2014.

A 2014 paper published in the journal Global and Planetary Change concluded the two glaciers have each melted by 3 kilometres in length since the 1800s, making them about 20 percent shorter.

The glaciers have recently been melting at a faster pace than ever previously recorded, the authors said.


More evidence that the recent global temperature uptick is not the result of human activities

The Cape Grim figures show that CO2 levels have been static during the recent temperature uptick and these new figures below show the same thing. But if CO2 figures have been static, they cannot have been driving a temperature uptick. These latest CO2 emission figures are probably a bit shaky, but no more so than other climate-related figures. At least there seems to be no evidence that they are massaged, unlike temperature data from NOAA and GISS

Global energy-related carbon dioxide emissions held steady for the second year in a row while the economy grew, according to the International Energy Agency.

In a simple, two-column spreadsheet released yesterday, IEA showed that the world’s energy sector produced 32.14 metric gigatons of carbon dioxide in 2015, up slightly from 32.13 metric gigatons in 2014. Meanwhile, the global economy grew more than 3 percent.

Analysts credited the rise of renewables—clean energy made up more than 90 percent of new energy production in 2015—for keeping greenhouse gas emissions flat.

“The new figures confirm last year’s surprising but welcome news: we now have seen two straight years of greenhouse gas emissions decoupling from economic growth,” said IEA Executive Director Fatih Birol in a press release. “Coming just a few months after the landmark COP21 agreement in Paris, this is yet another boost to the global fight against climate change.”

IEA, an energy cooperative and research firm with 29 member countries, has tracked global greenhouse gas emissions for 40 years and in that time witnessed only three other periods when global emissions fell, each associated with an economic recession.

The findings challenge assumptions that billowing smokestacks are harbingers of growing economies. They also indicate that a similar report last year was not a fluke but part of a larger trend of decoupling emissions from growth.

Mixed reactions greeted the findings.

Doug Vine, a senior energy fellow at the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions, said IEA’s announcement echoes past trends within many developed nations in which gross domestic product grew much faster than greenhouse gas emissions.

“This is the first time it’s showed up at the global level,” he said.


Why does Inhofe back Kasich?

Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) held a large snowball during a Senate floor speech early last year to parody believers in global warming. In 2012, his book was titled “The Greatest Hoax: How the Global Warming Conspiracy Threatens Your Future.”

So it might be surprising that in the 2016 Republican presidential primary Inhofe announced this week he is behind Ohio Gov. John Kasich. Even when the field was 17 strong, Kasich was the only GOP candidate who said climate change is a problem and humans have something to do with it.

In a debate in March, Kasich said, “I do believe we contribute to climate change.”

Last month, campaigning in South Carolina, Kasich asked rhetorically, “Am I not a conservative because I think human beings affect the climate? I’m for the environment.”

Kasich has made similar comments numerous other times but has never supported cap-and-trade legislation backed by Democrats.

So what could prompt Inhofe to back Kasich for president when the senator doesn’t believe the science is settled?

“[Inhofe] believes the climate is changing, as it always has been, but he does not believe man is the driver of that change,” Inhofe spokesman Donelle Harder told TheBlaze. “Gov. Kasich has said time and again that the ‘EPA is too punitive’ and that he would ‘scrap’ the Clean Power Plan.”

Further, Harder notes that Kasich believes fossil fuels would always be part of the American economy.

“Inhofe, having a personal relationship with Kasich, knows he is a man of his word and believes Kasich would follow through on his plans to rein EPA in and overturn economically harmful climate regulations,” Harder said

The personal relationship, which began when the two men served together in Congress, seems to have played a key role in the endorsement.

“During this time, I also attended a weekly Bible study with him for eight years,” Inhofe said in a statement announcing the endorsement. “You learn a lot about a person when you attend a Bible study together, so I can tell you personally that he is a man of his word. When he talked, people listened. Now the country is listening to his message of optimism and results.”

Kasich is generally characterized as a moderate in the race against front-runner Donald Trump and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz. However, Inhofe has scored well in conservative rankings, with a 92 percent score by the American Conservative Union and a 74 percent liberty score by Conservative Review.


Global Warming Hiatus To Be Investigated In Multidisciplinary Research Project

A bit hard to know what to make of this but it appears that some government scientists have kept an open mind

After recent research pointed to data discrepancies as the cause of the global warming hiatus that many in the field debate, scientists from the U.K.'s National Oceanography Centre (NOC) are planning to investigate the issue and determine why the global warming trend varies from decade to decade. The NOC will work alongside researchers from nine other organizations, which marks the start of a major new multidisciplinary research project.

The NOC claims that a slowdown has been observed in the global warming of the Earth's surface over the last decade, although they note that despite this decrease, heat is still increasing in other parts of the climate system, such as the deep ocean.

The new project, called Securing Multidisciplinary Understanding and Prediction of Hiatus and Surge events (SMURPHS), will investigate the potential causes of this slowdown including volcanic activity, solar radiation and greenhouse gases, among others, and determine the impacts that each of these factors have on the variation in global warming.

NOC scientists previously observed that the absorption of heat by the North Atlantic, Tropical Pacific and Southern Oceans plays a key role in the recent global warming slowdown. In addition to the factors mentioned above, the team plans on continuing to investigate the role of the ocean in global warming variability

Global warming is viewed by most environmental scientists as one of the Earth's most important problems, but so far, effective policies to address it have had mixed results. The new study aims to uncover why the rate of surface warming varies so much by the decade and use the findings to better inform government policies regarding climate change adaptation.

Despite the global warming slowdown observed over the recent years, some claim that the "hiatus" has been broken by the weather phenomenon El Niño, pointing to the recent warm surge as evidence.


Maine: LePage opposes compromise to rapidly expand solar power

A compromise proposal to boost solar power development in Maine 12-fold over five years is being opposed by Gov. Paul LePage, casting a shadow over the hopes of clean-energy advocates and setting the stage for a fight in the Legislature.

The proposal, which is being drafted into a bill, has won the support of interest groups that don’t often see eye to eye. They include solar installers, Maine’s Office of Public Advocate and the state’s two investor-owned utilities, Central Maine Power Co. and Emera Maine. They are backing a plan that they say would create an estimated 800 jobs and help all ratepayers.

But staffers at LePage’s energy office who have participated in negotiations on the compromise have reached a different conclusion. They say the plan maintains subsidies for homeowners who install solar-electric panels on their rooftops at levels that hurt other ratepayers.

“We’re not opposed to solar,” said Lisa Smith, a senior planner in the energy office. “But we’re looking out for the cost to all ratepayers. We were in favor of a mechanism that went in a market-based direction, but this isn’t it.”

Critics and backers are preparing to make their cases next week, at a yet-to-be-scheduled public hearing before the Legislature’s Energy, Utilities and Technology Committee.

Government support and falling equipment prices have sent solar installations soaring across the country. The federal Energy Information Administration estimates that large, utility-scale solar projects being proposed this year will exceed the generation of any other single energy source.

New England is sharing in this movement, particularly in states where policies encourage solar energy. But in Maine, clean-energy advocates lament the lack of rebates and incentives, driven by LePage’s view that homeowners who can afford the upfront cost of installing solar panels are benefiting from the rates that power companies charge all of their customers to maintain the grid.

Advocates counter that the governor isn’t taking into account how all Mainers would benefit from solar power because of things such as cleaner air and job creation.


"Divestment" mania comes to Australian National University

Several hundred academics and staff members at Australian National University signed an open letter requesting the school jettison its oil and gas assets, even as the school promises to table the measure, citing the need to keep the school financially stable.

The ANU letter calls on the university to make its fossil fuel assets transparent, as well as ending whatever oil assets the school currently has by 2021.

Activist with Fossil Free, a group associated with the controversial environmentalist Bill McKibben, delivered the letter signed by 450 staff and academics to the school’s vice-chancellor Brian Schmidt.

The University currently has $43 million sunk in fossil fuel assets, according to Fossil Free spokeswoman and ANU student Zoe Neumayer, which would place it among a handful of universities gathering more than $40 million in fossil fuel assets.

Among those rebuking the divestment charge are Harvard University, which has $107.8 million in fossil fuel assets, as well as Yale University, with a lofty oil and coal asset portfolio of $51.09 million.

"(We believe) the ANU needs to divest from fossil fuels in order to properly be a global climate leader," Neumayer told reporters Tuesday, noting also that nearly 82 percent of students voted for divestment

The University Council’s decision to table the open letter comes two years after the school divested shares in 7 mining companies.

ANU moved in 2014 to purge assets from Australia mining companies Santos and Iluka Resources, following calls from independent groups for the school to become more socially responsible.

Officials condemned the move at the time.

"Sadly, no, the universities govern themselves. But I think to suggest that companies like Santos and Iluka, which are both excellent companies, are somehow not ethical investments is a bizarre decision," Federal Education Minister Christopher Pyne, told reporters.

That was then, this is now.

Schmidt, an astrophysicist who was recently appointed the school’s vice chancellor and an avowed proponent of fighting the advent of man-made global warming — said he still recognizes the school has responsibilities to its faculty and staff.

"The council has to balance both its fiduciary responsibilities to provide the funds for students and staff needs, such as superannuation payments and student scholarships, with that of socially responsible investments," he said.

Schmidt added: "It is a complex issue, and both the council and I welcome the views of staff and students."  He said the school would continue to fight global warming despite ANU’s decision to table requests to divest.



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