Friday, March 11, 2016

Earth's 'delicate balance' has shifted: Emissions now far outweigh the amount of CO2 the planet can absorb, study finds

What is claimed below may well be true but there is no demonstration that it has any effect on global temperature

Despite claims and reports blaming global warming on human activity, it has reached a point where Earth is itself contributing to climate change.

Until now, the Earth's landmass had been considered a 'sink' for carbon dioxide, soaking up some of the emissions of the greenhouse gas from human activity.

But after being overwhelmed by other greenhouse gas emissions, scientists now believe the land has reached saturation point and the emission of gas from plants, for example, is contributing to global warming.

In a new study, an international team of researchers has demonstrated that emissions of methane and nitrous oxide have 'overwhelmingly' surpassed the land's ability to soak up carbon dioxide.

They suggest that this saturation means the land may now actually be contributing to climate change, instead of slowing it down.

The scientists looked at the 'biogenic fluxes' of the three main greenhouse gases over the last three decades, and subtracted out emissions that existed in pre-industrial times.

These biogenic sources include gas emitted by plants, animals, and microbes, such as methane produced by wetlands, and nitrous oxide released by soil.

But the amounts of these gases have been changed by human activity, plus new sources created by sewage, fertilisers, and cattle.

The scientists added up all the biogenic emissions of carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide, then subtracted those that occurred naturally.

The study did not include gas emissions from fossil fuel burning or natural gas production.

The surprise finding in the report is that human impact on biogenic methane and nitrous oxide emissions far outweighs the impact on the uptake of carbon dioxide.

In other words, they say this so-called terrestrial biosphere is now contributing to climate change rather than mitigating climate change - and it's all because of human action.

Scientists at the Carnegie Institute's department of global ecology in Washington DC acknowledge that this runs counter to conventional thinking.

They said that previous studies had focused only on carbon dioxide rather than considering methane and nitrous oxide, and had emphasised the mitigating effect of carbon uptake.

Lead author Hanqin Tain, director of the International Center for Climate and Global Change Research at Auburn University, said: 'This reveals for the first time that human activities have transformed the land biosphere to become a contributor to climate change.'

They added that reducing the emissions of methane and nitrous oxide from agriculture, particularly in southern Asia, could help to mitigate climate change.

The findings have been published in the journal Nature.

If the land is losing its ability to soak up carbon dioxide as the scientists claim, then it marks a worrying trend.

Researchers have previously suggested that the world's oceans are losing their ability to absorb greenhouse gases.

This points to a shift in the fine global balance, where carbon dioxide is absorbed from the atmosphere by the land and oceans.

Alongside increased atmospheric concentration of the gas, the warming oceans are not able to store as much carbon, meaning they are able to soak up less carbon dioxide.


Record Warm Winter: What Alarmists Overlook

Meteorological winter is now in the books, and if you live anywhere in the U.S. you won’t be surprised to learn it was a warm one. Virtually every region experienced warmer, and in many cases much warmer, than normal conditions. In fact, persistent intrusions of mild air, promulgated by a super El Niño, pushed Winter ‘15-16 temperatures to their seasonal warmest in at least 121 years. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) says the mean temperature for December, January and February was an impressive 4.6 degrees Fahrenheit higher than average, and satellite measurements confirm that February’s warmth dwarfed all previous records. However, that’s not to say it was “America’s year without a winter,” as stipulated in a Washington Post headline.

For example, numerous cities in the Mid Atlantic broke record snowfall during January’s epic blizzard — humorously nicknamed “Snowzilla” — and in February the Boston Globe reported, “Valentine’s Day in Boston was the coldest on record for more than 80 years, as temperatures plunged to levels that could even keep an intrepid Cupid indoors. Sunday morning, the temperature plummeted to minus 9, with a windchill of minus 36, shattering the record by 6 degrees.” That’s a remarkable feat in any winter, but even more so considering the strength of El Niño. And let’s not forget history. The Washington Post’s Capital Weather Gang notes, “The warmth of this winter marked a stunning reversal from the previous year in New England, when it witnessed one of its harshest winters on record.” Extreme temperature swings are more common than we realize. Yet how quickly we forget them…

There’s no question El Niño drove much of this past winter’s warmth. The question, as always, is to what extent. Meteorologist Joe Bastardi stipulates that we’re now in a test period. What comes up must come down, and with La Niña looming, these trends should go the opposite direction in the years ahead. But regardless of what the next few years bring, what we’ll never know conclusively is how today’s trends compare to the past thousands of years. Are we experiencing climate change? You bet. Is it something to be so concerned about that we rearrange the entire economy to combat it? Probably not.


Senator Slams State Dept. for $500M Payment to Green Climate Fund

Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) on Tuesday slammed the administration’s handover of $500 million to the U.N. Green Climate Fund, asking a State Department official how the “handout to foreign bureaucrats” could be justified at a time when there were “real problems” that need to be addressed at home.

Barrasso told Deputy Secretary for Management and Resources Heather Higginbottom he viewed the payment to the “new international climate change slush fund” – the first installment of a $3 billion pledge – as both a misuse of taxpayer dollars and a violation of legislation that prohibits federal agencies from spending federal funds in advance or in excess of an appropriation.

“It appears to be latest example of the administration going around Congress because the American people don’t really support what the president is doing with this initiative,” he said.

Higginbottom, appearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, confirmed that an agreement for the $500 million had been signed on Monday.

“We have reviewed our authorities and made a determination that we can make this payment to the Green Climate Fund,” she said. “We do not believe we are in violation of the Anti-Deficiency Act, and clearly our lawyers and others have looked at our authorities and our abilities to do this.”

“I firmly oppose what the president is doing here and this misuse, I believe, of taxpayer dollars, I think completely in violation of the law,” Barrasso told her.

“The United States’ national debt currently is $19 trillion. We have struggling communities across this country in need of help,” he said.

“There was a debate in Flint the other night and I just think it’s hard to explain to taxpayers in struggling communities across our country – even places like Flint – that the president and this administration is willing to give $500 million as a handout to foreign bureaucrats instead of addressing real problems here at home.”

The GCF is designed to help developing countries curb greenhouse gas emissions and cope with challenges attributed to climate change, such as floods, drought and rising sea levels. President Obama in November 2014 pledged $3 billion for the initiative, which aims to raise $100 billion a year globally from public and private sources by 2020.

Barrasso noted that Congress has not authorized or appropriated any funding for the GCF, and that the most recent fiscal year appropriations bill also “specifically prohibited the transfer of funds to create new programs.”

He asked Higginbottom how the administration was able to divert and reprogram funds to meet Obama’s pledge.

“We reviewed the authorities and opportunities available to us to do that, and believe we are fully compliant with that,” she said. “I’ll be happy to follow up with you and your staff.”

‘Nothing is overfunded’

Barrasso asked what accounts had been overfunded to the extent that allowed the State Department to divert $500 million away from them, to the GCF.

Higginbottom pointed out that the administration asked for funding for the GCF in both its FY 2016 and FY 2017 requests.

“As we do our budgeting process we didn’t look around and say ‘Where are excess funds we can put in this?’ We built it into our budget request,” she said.

“What exact accounts were then overfunded to be able to move the money out?” Barrasso pressed.

“Nothing is overfunded,” Higginbottom replied. “We looked across the appropriations bills and made allocations based on what our budget was and what resources were provided to us.”

The GCF currently has $10.3 billion in pledges from more than 40 governments. Aside from Obama’s $3 billion pledge, the next biggest ones have come from Japan ($1.5 bn), Britain($1.2 bn) and Germany ($1.0 bn).

Last year, Republican lawmakers threatened to block funding for the fund unless the U.N. climate agreement reached in Paris last December was submitted to the Senate for ratification.

Barrasso and 36 other GOP senators warned the president that they would block taxpayer funds for the GCF “until the forthcoming international climate agreement is submitted to the Senate for its constitutional advice and consent.”

The administration maintains that the agreement reached in Paris does not require additional Senate advise and consent.

Nonetheless, when Congress passed a $1.1 trillion spending bill days after the Paris deal was finalized, the package neither blocked nor included funding for the GCF.

Asked at the time whether the administration would as a result be able to repurpose funds for the GCF under the omnibus, White House press secretary Josh Earnest replied that, “based on what we have reviewed so far, there are no restrictions in our ability to make good on the president’s promise to contribute to the Green Climate Fund.”


Climate change isn’t starving us

A paper published today in the Lancet claims that, thanks to climate change, more than half a million people per year will die due to lower food availability in 2050. It’s a shocking figure. But a bit of digging quickly reveals that such claims should be treated with a whole tub of salt.

The paper is the result of entering estimates into a model on a variety of factors: how much temperatures and rainfall will change, the ability of the world to grow more food and the health impacts of eating one kind of diet over another. The headline results are that global food production will be 3.2 per cent lower thanks to a warming world than it would otherwise have been, with falls of four per cent in fruit and vegetable consumption and 0.7 per cent in red meat consumption. The world will produce a lot more food in 2050 than it does now, but not quite as much it would have done if global temperatures had remained the same. Or at least, that’s the claim.

First, a bit of perspective, with a few things we know. Currently, the global death rate per year is estimated at 7.8 deaths per every 1,000 people, or 0.78 per cent per year. It is also estimated that the world population will be around nine billion by 2050. So, if the death rate remained the same, by 2050, roughly 70million people would die each year. If the paper is correct, then based on these back-of-an-envelope figures, climate change would increase deaths by less than one per cent compared to a steady-temperature scenario.

Given that the figure of half a million is based on a whole host of assumptions and estimates, and that computer models are always imperfect, this tiny relative outcome is meaningless. The potential inaccuracies far outweigh the end result. But it gets worse. The biggest cause of death found (amounting to more than the final result) came from a decline in fruit and vegetable consumption – 534,000. The increased number of deaths from being underweight was cancelled out in the model by the fall in deaths from obesity and being overweight, presumably because chubby people would have less to eat. This assumes that eating a certain amount of fruit and veg, or being obese, are huge risk factors in and of themselves for health. These are contested ideas, to say the least.

In any event, the paper doesn’t seem to have considered the proper counterfactual – not just zero climate change, but the policies that could achieve zero climate change. What would happen to food availability in the future if we quickly dispensed with fossil fuels for transport, agricultural machinery, fertilisers, pesticides, etc? Surely that would reduce food production and raise prices? How does the world’s diet look in that scenario?

But the purpose of this paper is not to give us a sensible guide to the future. The aim is to produce a scary headline in order to galvanise action on reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Yet a dash for low-carbon alternatives would be much more likely to result in poorer diets and mass malnutrition. What’s healthy about that?


The Green/Left’s Fuel Economy Regulations Could Cost You $3,800

As Michigan voters head to the polls on Tuesday, they should ask candidates whether they will leave in place costly regulations that have added thousands to the price of new cars and depressed sales for the state’s iconic industry.

Federal regulations that force ever-increasing automobile fuel economy standards cost consumers thousands of dollars more than what they save on using less gas. These burdensome regulations also reduce new car purchases and, therefore, auto worker employment.

How much more expensive are the gas mileage gains?

Scholars estimated that the new standards would add at least $3,800 to the cost of a car in 2016 and at least $7,200 in 2025. This cost includes the gasoline savings. Empirical Heritage Foundation research supports those estimates. You get only what you pay for, and you have to pay for what you get.

Getting cars to meet the tighter efficiency standards means deploying expensive technology instead of using cost-effective engineering.

High prices are bad for consumers and bad for auto workers. At higher prices, consumers demand fewer vehicles, and automakers hire fewer workers.

Thus, fewer U.S. auto workers are employed now than in 2007 despite a drop in wages. Although the regulations may not hurt many corporations as much (because they can lay off workers and pass higher costs on to consumers), consumers and auto workers have been the lab rats of this failed environmentalist experiment.


Australia’s record-breaking heatwaves haven’t convinced its ruling party of climate change

Nor should they.  Below is just another exercise in cherrypicking by hack journalist Steve Mollman.  The BoM says 2015 was only Australia's 5th hottest year so it's unlikely that much has changed in two months.

An average implies events both above and below the average so determined cherry pickers can always find some places that are above average.  It does seem that parts of Southern Australia have had a lot of unusually hot weather in recent months but some parts of Northern Australia have been unusually cool -- creating a balance that produced the BoM figure.

And if it's only anthropogenic global warming that could have created the unusual highs in some places, how come it was so hot in Sydney in 1790 (yes: 1790; not 1970) that birds were falling out of the trees with heat exhaustion?  Watkin Tench recorded it all.  See here and also here for a confirmation of Tench's observations

The guff below is just another example of the famous but illogical Warmist dictum that hot weather proves global warming but cold weather does not prove global cooling

The guff appeared in an online business magazine called "Quartz".  They claim that they publish "bracingly creative and intelligent journalism with a broad worldview".  On the basis of the guff below I would say that they publish unintelligent hack journalism with no originality and a conventional worldview

It’s late summer/early autumn in Australia, and few can remember the weather being so persistently hot this time of year.

Mildura, a small town about six hours to the northwest of Melbourne, has suffered through eight straight days of extreme heat, with temperatures of around 40 °C (104 °F). Sydney, meanwhile, has had a record 30-plus straight days above 26 ? (79°F), breaking the previous record of 19 set in 2014. Melbourne, a famously drizzly city, yesterday (March 8) endured the hottest night on record for March, with temperatures lingering around 30 °C (86 °F) and residents tossing and turning in their beds.

Climate change has been politicized all around the world, but perhaps nowhere so intensely as Australia, where the previous prime minister, the Liberal party’s Tony Abbott, was adamant in his denial of it, and his successor, Malcolm Turnbull, is under pressure to hold hearings on it.

Scientists are seizing on the heatwaves now hitting southeastern Australia as proof that something is seriously amiss. They “have the fingerprints of climate change all over them,” Will Steffen, a climate science professor at Australian National University, told the Guardian.

Andrew King, a climate scientist at the University of Melbourne, told the heatwave could be attributed to climate change. “The future is not looking good,” he said. “We’ll continue to get future record-breaking heat extremes, and there will be hotter summers with bigger impacts in Australia.”

In politics, however, there remains stiff resistance to the very idea of manmade climate change. Many in the ruling center-right Liberal party agreed when Abbott famously said in 2009, “The argument [on climate change] is absolute crap… however, the politics of this are tough for us… 80% of people believe climate change is a real and present danger.”

Although the current prime minister, Turnbull, was seen as a repudiator of Abbott’s position when he took office last September, conservative members of his Liberal party warned him not to abandon the party’s stance of questioning the reality of climate change. Turnbull favors cutting Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions—for which he has been heckled by members of his own party.

Today (March 9) conservative members of the Liberal party in the state of New South Wales formally called upon the Turnbull government to organize a series of public debates to test climate scientists’ claims about global warming.

The opposing Labor party has warned against the move. “If Mr. Turnbull now bends to the will of the NSW Liberals and conducts public debates about climate change,” said Mark Butler, a Labor MP, “he will solidify his party as one of climate change skeptics.”

Victoria, meanwhile, is suffering from both blistering heat and a drought. “It’s just hotter than normal,” one farmer and sheep rancher told the Age, “and that might be the way we’re going, given climate change.”



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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