Tuesday, March 15, 2016
February spike in global temperatures stuns scientists
Rubbish. The recent temperature rise was a long expected effect of the cyclical El Nino weather process.
Global temperatures leapt in February, lifting warming from pre-industrial levels to beyond 1.5 degrees, and stoking concerns about a "climate emergency".
According to NASA analysis, average temperatures last month were 1.35 degrees above the norm for the 1951-1980 period.
They smashed the previous biggest departure from the average - set only in the previous month - by 0.21 degrees.
"This is really quite stunning ... it's completely unprecedented," said Stefan Rahmstorf, from Germany's Potsdam Institute of Climate Impact Research and a visiting professorial fellow at the University of NSW, noting the NASA data as reported by the Wunderground blog.
The blog's authors, Jeff Masters and Bob Henson, described February's spike as "a true shocker, and yet another reminder of the incessant long-term rise in global temperature resulting from human-produced greenhouse gases".
The monster El Nino event had contributed to the current record run of global temperatures by increasing the area of abnormally warm water in the central and eastern Pacific.
Compared with the rival record giant El Nino of 1997-98, global temperatures are running about 0.5 degrees hotter.
"That shows how much much global warming we have had since then," Professor Rahmstorf said. [Rubbish. There is no proof of that. It is easily attributable to natural variation. Records of El Nino processes are quite recent]
The first half of March is at least as warm, he added, and it means temperatures "are clearly more than 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial levels".
"We are in a kind of climate emergency now," Professor Rahmstorf said, noting that global carbon dioxide levels last year rose by a record rate of more than 3 parts per million. [More nonsense. Mauna Loa shows monthly CO2 levels in 2015 just oscillated up and down around the 400 mark with no overall trend. See here]
The most northerly latitudes of the planet were the most abnormally hot regions in February, with large areas reporting temperatures 12 degrees or warmer than average, the NASA data shows.
The unusual heat in the far north means the Arctic sea ice will be thinner and more vulnerable to melting as the region heads into the warmer months, Professor Rahmstorf said.
Arctic sea ice is already at its smallest extent for this time of year on record. The relatively warm seas are contributing to a warmer atmosphere, reinforcing the long-term trend.
As the Wunderground blog noted, the impacts of the unusual global heat have been felt far and wide, including in severe droughts in Vietnam and Zimbabwe.
Fiji, meanwhile, continues work to recover from Cyclone Winston, the most powerful storm recorded in the southern hemisphere.
"[This warming] is not harmless," Professor Rahmstorf said. "It has quite a negative impact on society and the biosphere."
While February's global heat spike is unlikely to be sustained as the El Nino winds down, the latest indicators "are all symptoms of the general warming trend", Professor Rahmstorf said.
Climate Change Deniers, Loretta Lynch, and the Government War on Free Speech
Ron Paul comments:
During her appearance before the Senate Judiciary Committee last week, Attorney General Loretta Lynch admitted that she asked the FBI to examine whether the federal government should take legal action against so-called climate change deniers. Attorney General Lynch is not responding to any criminal acts committed by climate change skeptics. Instead, she is responding to requests from those frustrated that dissenters from the alleged climate change consensuses have successfully blocked attempts to create new government programs to fight climate change.
These climate change censors claim that the argument over climate change is settled and the deniers' success in blocking congressional action is harming the public. Therefore, the government must disregard the First Amendment and silence anyone who dares question the reigning climate change dogma. This argument ignores the many reputable scientists who have questioned the magnitude, effects, and role of human action in causing climate change.
If successful, the climate change censors could set a precedent that could silence numerous other views. For example, many people believe the argument over whether we should audit, and then end, the Federal Reserve is settled. Therefore, the deniers of Austrian economics are harming the public by making it more difficult for Congress to restore a free-market monetary policy. So why shouldn't the government silence Paul Krugman?
The climate change censorship movement is part of a larger effort to silence political speech. Other recent examples include the IRS's harassment of tea party groups as well as that agency's (fortunately thwarted) attempt to impose new rules on advocacy organizations that would have limited their ability to criticize a politician's record in the months before an election.
The IRS and many state legislators and officials are also trying to force public policy groups to hand over the names of their donors. This type of disclosure can make individuals fearful that, if they support a pro-liberty group, they will face retaliation from the government.
Efforts to silence government critics may have increased in recent years; however, the sad fact is the US Government has a long and shameful history of censoring speech. It is not surprising that war and national security have served as convenient excuses to limit political speech. So-called liberal presidents Woodrow Wilson and Franklin Roosevelt both supported wartime crackdowns on free speech.
Today, many neoconservatives are using the war on terror to justify crackdowns on free speech, increased surveillance of unpopular religious groups like Muslims, and increased government control of social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter. Some critics of US foreign policy have even been forbidden to enter the country.
Many opponents of government restrictions on the First Amendment and other rights of Muslims support government actions targeting so-called "right-wing extremists." These fair-weather civil liberties defenders are the mirror image of conservatives who support restricting the free speech rights of Muslims in the name of national security, yet clam to oppose authoritarian government. Defending speech we do not agree with is necessary to effectively protect the speech we support.
A government that believes it can run our lives, run the economy, and run the world will inevitably come to believe it can, and should, have the power to silence its critics. Eliminating the welfare-warfare state is the key to protecting our free speech, and other liberties, from an authoritarian government.
The bully pulpit of climate change
According to a spokesman from ExxonMobil, the company has spent 40 years doing climate research in conjunction with the Department of Energy, academics and the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and the company has made that research publicly available. But since the company exercised its right not to reach definitive conclusions on climate change — despite the fact that, at the same time, many of the world’s experts were also exercising that same right — ExxonMobil says it has been the target of environmental activists, who have been deliberately distorting materials from the company’s archives in an attempt to get the government to investigate ExxonMobil.
Sadly, their efforts were successful.
As reported by Kate Sheppard of the Huffington Post, Reps. Ted Lieu and Mark DeSaulnier, House Democrats from California who were persuaded by environmental groups’ smear tactics, approached the Department of Justice last fall to look into whether ExxonMobil violated the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act or any other federal laws. The company was allegedly “organizing a sustained deception campaign disputing climate science and failing to disclose truthful information to investors and the public.”
Rep. Lieu says he believes the company was working publicly to undermine climate science, and that its actions are on par with tobacco companies who were guilty of “lying to the American people” by denying the link between smoking and cancer in order “to better sell their product.” Just as the DOJ used RICO law to prosecute tobacco companies in the late 1990s, Rep. Lieu says he would “would hope for a prosecution” of ExxonMobil if the facts warrant it.
While there is no clear indication of how seriously the DOJ is considering the congressmen’s witch hunt, the agency has at least humored the congressmen by announcing that it has forwarded the case to the FBI in order to determine the validity of such an investigation — an investigation that the environmental lobby and Democratic presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders fully support.
If the FBI decides to open an investigation, the move would be motivated entirely by political considerations. The last time we checked, there is no crime in being skeptical of climate change or advocating for policies that aid ExxonMobil’s interests. An investigation would simply be Democrats and the environmental lobby seeking a big scalp.
Furthermore, such an investigation is a trampling of First Amendment rights. ExxonMobil is under no obligation to worship at the altar of climate change, nor is any other company or individual. There is no constitutional rationale for punishing the company for its actions relating to dubious climate change claims, and the FBI shouldn’t humor Democrats or environmental lobbyists any longer on this issue. There should be no further investigation.
Five years after the Fukushima nuclear disaster, India and China have embraced nuclear power
Other countries in the region also want to build more plants - even in high-risk areas prone to earthquakes and tsunamis.
When Sun Qin talks about the future of nuclear power, his eyes light-up. In China alone, there are 31 nuclear power plants and another 24 are under construction, according to the International Atomic Energy Agency.
Now, the president of the China's National Nuclear Corporation wants (CNNC) wants to build 30 additional nuclear power stations - not only in China, but also in the neighboring states along the so-called "New Silk Road." CNNC has already exported six reactors abroad, but the Chinese want to expand further.
"We face very strong competition in the international nuclear market," says Sun Qin, adding that "countries like Russia, South Korea, Japan and the United States are all exploring the global nuclear market aggressively."
Following the Fukushima disaster, China's government initially suspended the construction of additional nuclear power plants. Instead, comprehensive security policies were adopted. But in the autumn of 2012, Beijing lifted the moratorium on future development - and since then, has pursued a more ambitious nuclear program.
China needs to restructure its massive energy sector. Currently, the country produces some two-thirds of its total energy from outdated coal power plants. The Chinese people complain of air pollution and other environmental damage, which is why the government in Beijing will shut down about 1,000 coal plants by the end of this year.
Nuclear power, on the other hand, is considered a relatively "clean" alternative to coal. In daily congressional meetings, the Communist Party has been discussing plans for a massive expansion of nuclear energy. By 2030, a total of 110 nuclear power plants will be in operation.
With this, China would overtake the US as the country with the most nuclear power plants connected to the grid. Greenpeace nuclear expert Heinz Smital views the speed at which the reactors are being developed as problematic: "The Chinese safety authorities do not have the capacity to examine the buildings properly," said Smital. "They will likely wave things through, rubber-stamp everything and not mess with the state-run construction consortiums. There is a big security risk."
India's economy grows at a rate of about six percent per annum. But its ailing energy infrastructure inhibits economic development. Large areas of the country suffer from regular blackouts and obsolete infrastructure.
Like China, India's renewable energy sector needs to be massively expanded. But the country's political elite are convinced that India must exhaust all possibilities of electricity. Therefore, Delhi is planning a far-reaching expansion of nuclear power. Prime Minister Narendra Modi wants to build dozens of new reactors in the next 15 years.
The technical know-how is sourced internationally. Over the past decade, India has reached civil nuclear agreements with the United States, Canada, France and Russia. 21 nuclear power plants are already in operation. Two of the plants are in Kudankulam and Kalpakkam, located on the southeast coast of the country – areas prone to tsunamis. In December 2006, a tsunami hit Kalpakkam causing extensive damage, but not to the nuclear power plant, according to its operator.
Pakistan: Reactors in flood-prone areas
India's neighbor, Pakistan, is also struggling with blackouts and outdated infrastructure. The country currently operates three small reactors, with the nuclear plant west of Karachi - located in a flood-prone area - being one of the oldest in the world.
The remaining two reactors are situated in an earthquake-prone area some 300 kilometers (186.4 miles) south of the capital Islamabad. The government is planning to build two other reactors in the same area. According to Pakistan's Atomic Energy Commission, Islamabad wants to build a total of seven new reactors by 2030 - with assistance from China.
South Korean expansion
Although South Korea is about the size of the former German Democratic Republic (GDR), the country boasts 25 active nuclear plants. Three additional ones are under construction, while two others are set to be completed by 2029. The government plans to increase the share of nuclear power in the country's overall energy mix from currently 30 to 40 percent.
Still, South Koreans are becoming increasingly skeptical about nuclear energy - and not just because of the 2011 Fukushima disaster. In 2012 and 2013, a scandal related to the use of fake safety certificates rocked the country's nuclear industry lobby. State-owned (KHNP) had thousands of small components featuring falsified certificates fitted into the country's nuclear plants. As it turns out, large amounts of bribe money changed hands between KHNP employees, construction firms and politicians.
This led not only to Korean media speaking of a "nuclear mafia," but also to a massive drop in the approval ratings for nuclear energy - from 70 percent before the Fukushima disaster to 35 percent. In spite of this, Seoul is sticking to its plans to expand the use of nuclear power in the East Asian country.
No drought in Israel
Warmists are always moaning about present and future droughts. Israel shows how hollow that scare is
"Israel is a water superpower." So wrote Renaissance man and entrepreneur-commentator Seth M. Siegel in his recent bestselling book "Let There Be Water: Israel's Solution for a Water-Starved World."
This fascinating volume analyzes the amazing pioneering story of how a once-poor, parched Israel became a prosperous, high-tech startup nation, offering solutions unto the countries of an increasingly water-starved world.
Siegel presented Israel as a laboratory for a growing global population endangered by impending socioeconomic and national security water crises examined by official top-secret American studies. "Sixty percent of Israel is desert, and the rest is semiarid," he noted, adding that Israel's "annual rainfall, not generous to begin with, has dropped by more than half."
Nonetheless, this former third-world country at its independence in 1948 "now has one of the world's most rapidly growing economies. Middle-class life is the norm in Israel."
Siegel said that "despite its challenging climate and unforgiving landscape, Israel not only doesn't have a water crisis, it has a water surplus." Prior to World War II, British economists gloomily predicted that the territory of the British Palestine Mandate on which a Jewish national home was to emerge could sustain no more than 2 million people. By contrast, the "geographic area of Palestine today is home to more than 12 million people" in Israel and the Palestinian territories, and Israel exports annually water-intensive produce worth billions of dollars.
Siegel examined in detail the various elements contributing to Israel's life-giving liquidity in a once barren wilderness where pre-Israeli Zionist pioneers in the Yishuv depended upon simple wells. Completed in 1964, the National Water Carrier - which transports water in pipes from the Sea of Galilee in Israel's north to the southern Negev Desert - symbolizes Israel's national commitment to water infrastructure planning and development. Per capita, the NWC costs far more than American iconic public works like the Golden Gate Bridge, Hoover Dam or Panama Canal.
The author noted that unique Israeli mindsets concerning water complement material hardware, such as a rejection of water property rights common in other countries. In Israel, "all water ownership and usage is controlled by the government acting in the interest of the people. [Israelis] have surrendered private ownership and the benefits of a market economy in water for a system that offers universal access to high-quality water."
On the other hand, this nationalized water system began charging real water prices in 2008, a dramatic contrast with enormous water subsidies enjoyed by consumers around the world. "The promise to the public was that water fees would henceforth be spent exclusively on the nation's water needs "with nothing diverted to help balance other parts of municipal or national budgets," Siegel said. This dedicated spending has procured modern water technology such as pipe-checking robotic cameras, reducing by 2013 Israel's rate of lost municipal water to under 11 percent; by comparison, Chicago's rate is about 25 percent.
Real water pricing caused an immediate decline in Israeli household water use by 16 percent, but Israelis have a longstanding national culture of water conservation. Signs reading "Every Drop Counts" in Hebrew permeate a country that was the first to make dual-flush toilets obligatory. Similarly, Israel treats and recycles more than 85 percent of its sewage for agricultural and other non-drinking uses, while the reclaimed water rate is under 10 percent for most developed countries like the United States.
Yet, as Siegel pointed out, farmers around the world - including in Israel - are the largest water consumers, making water savings in this sector especially significant. Israel has pioneered drip irrigation with pipes on or in the ground delivering water directly to plant roots, saving 40 percent of the water used in traditional irrigation methods, as well as doubling harvest yields. "Around the world today, only about 5 percent of the irrigated agricultural fields utilize drip irrigation or other micro-irrigation techniques," he wrote, adding that 75 percent of Israel's irrigated fields use drip irrigation. While approximately 80 percent of irrigated fields globally "still use some form of the ancient, and wasteful, flood-irrigation method," usually wasting more than 50 percent of the used water, "not one farm in Israel has used flood irrigation in several decades."
Israel has also exploited its global leadership plant research for water savings. New plant types thrive on diluted, brackish water that changes their cell structure, reducing water while releasing sugars to create sweeter produce with better texture. Because of Israel's unique agricultural technological adaptations, the "best place in Israel to grow crops today is in the desert," an Israeli scientist told Siegel.
Necessity has been the mother of invention domestically in Israel, and the country's water technology has gone global in the marketplace. Siegel noted that 200 Israeli water-based startups in about the last decade constitute some 10 percent of such startups worldwide; Israeli firms helped build the Western hemisphere's largest desalinization plant near San Diego. They drew upon Israel's experience with the largest and most energy efficient desalinization plant in the world near Tel Aviv, along with four others on Israel's short Mediterranean coast.
Water is good diplomacy as well as good business for Israel. Solving water problems helped improve Israel's relations with once-unfriendly nations like China and India, while closer to home, Jordanians and Palestinians receive Israeli water exports often at discounted prices. "While it is still impossible to create new land or to return refugees to villages where cities or highways now stand, Israel has shown that it can produce new water," Siegel wrote, about Israel's conflicts with its Arab neighbors. Approximately 96 percent of some 2.4 million West Bank Palestinians access piped running water, thanks to Israeli infrastructure improvements following the 1967 war.
In his book, Siegel showed how this small Jewish state gives hope for gargantuan global water challenges, a modern David versus Goliath story. "Israel is the only country in the world which has less area covered by desert today than 50 years ago," he noted. While often associated with conflict, Israel offers technological fountains of life.
'Living near a power station WON'T damage your health': Leading scientist busts myths about the dangers of radiation - and says being FAT is more likely to kill you
With it's bright yellow and black, wasp-like warning symbol, it's hardly surprising there is some level of fear and trepidation when it comes to radiation.
It's lethal potential overshadows its other vital role as a life-saver, providing cancer treatment and X-rays to those in need.
Today marks five years since a magnitude nine earthquake triggered a triple nuclear meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Reactor on the north-east coast of Japan.
Although making the headlines as the biggest nuclear disaster since Chernobyl, radiation expert Professor Gerry Thomas, says there have been no radiation-related deaths from the accident.
Professor Thomas, who works at the department of surgery and cancer at Imperial College London, says the public have got radiation all wrong – and think it is much more dangerous than it actually is.
She argues radiation saves far more people every year than it kills but is still perceived as a great danger.
Professor Thomas goes as far as to compare it to other toxins - alcohol and even salt - saying it is safe in small doses but dangerous in high amounts.
Here, she addresses the most common radiation myths and explains why your waistline poses a greater danger to your health than radiation.
MYTH: LIVING NEAR A NUCLEAR POWER STATION IS BAD FOR YOUR HEALTH
Studies have shown that an operational coal-fired power station releases three times more radiation than an operational nuclear power plant.
This is because fossil fuels naturally contain radioactive elements, which is released when they are burnt.
However, the levels of radiation emitted would not pose any danger to health.
Many people still believe there were radiation-related deaths following the Fukushima accident when in fact there have been no radiation-related deaths from the incident.
This was because the clean-up workers were on a strict rotation pattern, which kept their doses well below the level at which any direct effects would be seen from radiation exposure.
Doses to the population at large were kept low by sheltering, evacuation and removing contaminated food from the food chain.
These actions meant the doses to members of the general population were kept to below that of a single whole body CT scan – and in more than 90 per cent of cases to less than a tenth of a CT scan.
We learnt the lessons from previous accidents such as Chernobyl, and put them into action.
MYTH: RADIATION IS ALWAYS DEADLY
Many people believe any exposure to radiation is dangerous - yet we are exposed to radiation every moment throughout our lives.
Every year we are exposed to a dose of radiation of 2 milli Sieverts (which is a measure that adds our exposure from different types of radiation).
By comparison one X-ray delivers 0.2 milli Sieverts.
We receive radiation from space - so called cosmic radiation - which is why we receive higher amounts of radiation when we fly (around 0.1mSv for a return flight from London-Tokyo), and why astronauts receive high levels of radiation in space.
Radiation is all over the planet, released from natural sources including soil and rocks due to the naturally occurring element Radon. And it is released in the soil and from rocks such as granite.
If you measured radiation levels in Aberdeen, which is built on granite, there would be higher background levels of radiation than in Fukushima.
And in comparison to other lifestyle factors, the risk of radiation to our health is tiny.
Research has suggested that being close to the nuclear bomb when it detonated in Hiroshima would be less of a threat to your health than being severely obese.
Research published in 2007 calculated a person would lose 2.6 years of life if you were 1.5 km from the atomic bombs when they detonated. In comparison, if you're severely obese you lose 10 years of your life.
MYTH: PEOPLE CAN BE RADIOACTIVE
Many people believe that once someone has been exposed to radiation they are somehow contaminated, and can cause people around them to be harmed
However, being exposed to radiation beams - for example during an X-ray or when a patient is receiving conventional radiotherapy for cancer, does not leave any lingering radiation.
This is because the radiation passes straight through the body. If someone ingests radiation, their body can remain radioactive.
But, crucially, it is not their actual body that remains radioactive - but their bodily fluids such as sweat, saliva and urine.
An example of this is when medics give patients with thyroid cancer a drink that contains radioactive iodine. Following surgery to remove the thyroid gland, patients are given radioiodine to kill any remaining thyroid cells that remain in the body. The thyroid cells absorb the radioiodine, and this kills the cells.
However these patients must remain in isolation for around 24 hours until they have excreted all the radioactive iodine from their body.
We all carry a small amount of radiation, because the food we eat, such as fruit and vegetables, contain radioactive chemical elements absorbed from the ground.
The radioactive elements from food cause our body to emit small amounts of radiation in our sweat and bodily fluids.
So if you sleep next to somebody you'll receive greater amounts of radiation at night than if you sleep alone.
MYTH: MEDICAL AND SECURITY BODY SCANNERS ARE DANGEROUS
Medical scans, such as X-rays and CT scans, and security scanners at airports deliver very small amounts of radiation.
If a doctor suggests you have an X-ray or CT scan the benefits to your health far outweigh any risks.
And airport scanners only deliver 0.00002 mSv.
However, 'leisure scans' should be avoided.
I sometimes see adverts for private CT scans, offered to people who are fit and healthy but just want to check whether they have anything lurking. Almost like a yearly check-up with your doctor.
I personally wouldn't opt for these, as you are exposing yourself to radiation to 5 years’ worth of background radiation (around 10mSv) for no clear benefit.
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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Posted by JR at 1:34 AM