Wednesday, March 09, 2016

Hooray!  A study that comes to a logical conclusion about warming

Warming causes more rain!  Who woulda thunk it?  The journal article is "More extreme precipitation in the world’s dry and wet regions".  The findings run counter to the usual Warmist claim that dry regions will get drier

The latest climate predictions show that both wet and dry places will experience more rainfall in the future

The study was carried out by Dr Markus Donat and his team at the University of New South Wales, Sydney.

Using a combination of observations and climate models, Dr Donat found that extreme daily precipitation over the last six decades shows 'robust increases' in both wet and dry areas.

He found that precipitation extremes have increased by about 1 to 2 per cent per decade since 1950, in both wet and dry regions, and there are 'statistically significant' trends towards wetter conditions for both total precipitation and extreme events.

Critically, the steady increases in rainfall were found to be directly related to the rise in global temperature.

With temperatures expected to rise further, according to climate models, this will mean more rainfall everywhere - including places that have historically been dry.

This surprise finding overturns what was previously expected.

When analysing local rainfall patterns, Dr Donat reports that 'a wet-get-wetter, dry-get-drier pattern was not seen over most global land areas.'

Projections show the trend of increasing rainfall is expected to continue until at least the end of the 21st century.

The researchers said this is due to the increased moisture content the atmosphere can carry as it becomes warmer.

While increased rainfall in the world's drought zones may be welcomed, the researchers say this may not lead to more water being available because it could evaporate quickly.

It might, though, lead to many more cases of flooding because these regions do not have the right infrastructure to cope with extreme rainfall.

The findings are published in the journal Nature Climate Change.


It’s Coming….’Climate Hustle’ film hits Theatres May 2nd! One night national theater event! – Watch New Trailer

Watch Now: Hannity on Fox News features exclusive clips of ‘Climate Hustle’: First Time Broadcast of Select Clips

“Climate Hustle” assembles an impressive group of experts in climate science and policy, many of whom worked on the UN’s climate assessments, but left after the UN ignored overwhelming evidence that contradicts its position.

Nationally syndicated columnist Cal Thomas calls Climate Hustle “tremendous” and says “anyone who still believes in ‘climate change’ after watching this film needs the type of reprogramming given to cult members.”

Noted climatologist Dr. Judith Curry of the Georgia Institute of Technology, who is featured in the film, adds “Climate Hustle is a refreshing and entertaining antidote to the sillier and alarming claims about climate change and its impacts that people regularly hear from politicians and the media.”


House Natural Resources Chairman: EPA’s Removal of Gold Mine Plug Was ‘Done On Purpose’

The chairman of the House Committee on Natural Resources stated that the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) removal of a natural plug sealing the Gold King Mine near Silverton, Colorado last August was “done on purpose,” challenging Interior Secretary Sally Jewell to retract her previous testimony that the resulting blowout was “an accident.”

Jewell, whose agency conducted an independent review of the environmental disaster that affected three states, testified on Dec. 9, 2015: “We did not see any deliberate attempt to breach a mine. It was an accident.”

But committee chairman Rep. Rob Bishop (R-UT) pointed out at a congressional oversight hearing on Monday that according to a subpoenaed email from one of Jewell’s own employees, EPA workers had deliberately been removing parts of the Gold King Mine’s natural plug when the blowout occurred.

“There was nothing unintentional about EPA’s actions with regard to breaching the mine. They fully intended to dig out the plug and breach it. It was a major mistake and due to a lack of engineering planning, but it was done on purpose,” Bishop charged.

The Associated Press reported that a June 2014 EPA work order acknowledged the possibility of a blowout at the abandoned mine that “could cause a release of large volumes of contaminated mine waters and sediment from inside the mine.”

The subpoenaed email was sent from Brent Lewis, the Abandoned Mine Lands program lead at the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), to senior BLM officials on August 7, 2015 – two days after the disaster that sent three million gallons of bright orange toxic wastewater rushing into Colorado’s Cement Creek and Animas and San Juan Rivers.  

Lewis had prepared a summary of the incident after talking to Steven Way, EPA’s on-scene coordinator at the mine, who told him that EPA employees were removing “small portions of the natural plug” from the long inactive gold mine at the time of the blowout.

“On 8/5/2015, the EPA was attempting to relieve hydrologic pressure behind a naturally collapse[d] adit/portal of the Gold King Mine. The EPA's plan was to slowly drain and treat enough mine water in order to access the inner mine working and assess options for controlling its discharge. While removing small portions of the natural plug, the material catastrophically gave-way and released the mine water,” Lewis’ email stated.

The email was one of thousands of heavily-redacted documents released on February 11 by the Department of Interior - the same day the committee released its own investigative report highly critical of both EPA and DOI for a “morass of errors, half-truths, and outright falsehoods” regarding the spill.

“The Committee’s oversight of the Gold King Mine disaster has revealed that each of the three reports issued by EPA and DOI in 2015 contains numerous errors and omissions and demonstrably false information,” the committee report stated, including the “false claim that the EPA crew was digging high when the plug somehow eroded on its own.

“Nevertheless, the EPA’s Internal Review concludes that the EPA crew ‘followed standard procedures of a well thought out work plan’ and that ‘the Adit blowout was likely inevitable.’ Cast in the most favorable light, the EPA Internal Review sets forth the best possible explanation from EPA’s perspective, but it is not the truth,” the committee report stated.

Among many other omissions, DOI’s independent Technical Evaluation of the blowout does not “explain how or why EPA failed to test for hydrostatic pressure” in the abandoned mine before removing “the top four feet of the plug,” the report added.

“The many problems with the Technical Evaluation...make Secretary Jewell’s statement that she is proud of the report all the more astounding.”


Obama’s climate change legacy to be determined by next president

After months of debate and public comments, President Obama’s controversial Clean Power Plan (CPP) was issued in August 2015 and published in the Federal Register on October 23, 2015. But that is hardly the end of the story. Instead the saga is just beginning — with the ending to be written sometime in 2017 and the outcome highly dependent on who resides in the White House.

The CPP is the newest set of Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations that the Atlantic states: “anchors the Obama administration’s climate-change policy. It seeks to guide local utilities away from coal-fired electricity generation, and toward renewable energy and natural gas” —  with a goal of reducing CO2 emissions from existing power plants by 32 percent from 2005 levels by 2030. States are required to submit implementations plans by September 6, 2016 with emission reductions scheduled to begin on January 1, 2022.

Immediately following the rule’s publication, a coalition of 24 states and a coal mining company, led by West Virginia Republican Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, filed a lawsuit to challenge the CPP. Morrisey called it: “flatly illegal and one of the most aggressive executive branch power grabs we’ve seen in a long time.”

The Hill reports: “They are asking the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit to overturn the rule. They also want the court to immediately stop its implementation while it works its way through the courts.” Differing from the Cincinnati-based Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit that in October issued a stay for the Waters of the U.S. rule, on Jan.  21, 2016, the federal court refused to put a hold on the CPP while the litigation proceeds. It did, however, agree to expedite the case with oral arguments beginning on June 2.

Days later, Jan. 26, in an unusual move, the petitioners — which now include 29 states (Nevada is the latest to oppose CPP, to protect “Nevada’s vital tourism industry.” On Feb. 24, Attorney General Laxalt filed a brief to highlight the federal agency’s overreach and disregard for the rule of law associated with CPP.) and a large group of utility companies and energy industry trade groups — turned to the Supreme Court (SCOTUS). Morrisey acknowledged: “While we know a stay request to the Supreme Court isn’t typical at this stage of the proceedings, we must pursue this option to mitigate further damage from this rule.” Knowing that SCOTUS has never before engaged in a case before a federal court even heard the initial arguments, CPP supporters, like Sierra Club Chief Climate Counsel Joanne Spalding, apparently felt confident, calling the appeal: “another ‘Hail Mary’ challenge to the Clean Power Plan.”

Citing SCOTUS’ 2015 ruling that reversed the Mercury Air Toxics Standards (MATS) rule, petitioners argued that the damage from MATS had already been done by the time the decision came down. In a Client Alert, international law firm Milbank — which works in the energy space — said: “The EPA itself acknowledged that the ruling had virtually no impact, as states had already largely complied with the regulation by the time the Court’s order was issued.”

Despite the historic nature of the request, on February 9, in a 5 to 4 majority, SCOTUS granted an emergency stay of CPP. Milbank states: “The issuance of stay signaled that five of the Supreme Court justices had significant reservations about the EPA’s attempt to regulate emissions from power plants in the way the CPP is currently designed. To grant the stay, the Supreme Court must have found that there was a ‘fair prospect’ that a majority of the Court would vote to reverse a judgment if the D.C. Circuit were to uphold the CPP.” Morrisey agrees: “the decision reinforces confidence in the broader challenge as the Supreme Court found the coalition’s arguments strong enough to stop the EPA even before the lawsuit concludes.” The victory means the EPA is prohibited from implementing or enforcing the CPP until the D.C. Circuit issues a decision on the challenge — which is expected as early as this fall. FuelFix reports: “The conventional wisdom is the three-member court panel will rule favorably for the White House.”

As 18 states opposed the application for the stay, whatever decision the lower court reaches, most experts agree SCOTUS will eventually hear the case — likely in 2017.

CPP opponents saw the stay as a sign SCOTUS might strike down the rule. Seth Jaffe, a former president of the American College of Environmental Lawyers, according to the Atlantic, sees it as an “ominous sign for the regulations.” Jaffe said: “One has to conclude that five justices have decided that the rule must go.”

Confidence ebbed, however, with the death of Justice Antonin Scalia — just four days after the court’s unprecedented stay order. As a conservative voice on the court, Scalia had a history of limiting government regulation and was a scathing critic of EPA’s regulation of greenhouse gas emissions. Depending on who fills the empty seat, and when, the court’s decision could go one way or the other.

Regardless, the EPA is continuing to move forward and is encouraging states to take voluntary steps toward compliance and is supporting those who do.

States have reacted differently to the stay. Many states, such as Massachusetts, Arizona, and Virginia are moving ahead with their plans. Some are already well into their CPP compliance plans, with California expected to submit its plan ahead of schedule. Ohio Public Utility Commissioner Asim Haque, reports that they were “already close to completion,” but the commission has put analysis on hold for now.

Texas, whose Attorney General Ken Paxton (R) shared the lead with Morrisey on requesting the stay, is in a holding pattern. Toby Baker, a commissioner on the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, according to FuelFix, said: “I’ve watched states get in front of their skis on federal regulations, and then the regulations come out and they don’t match. I do feel like the [clean power plan] will change from what it is right now.”

Following the SCOTUS decision, Wisconsin Republican Governor Scott Walker issued an executive order prohibiting state agencies from doing any work to prepare for the CPP until the stay expires. Citing “undue burden” on state ratepayers and manufacturers, he argued that the rule could have a “devastating impact.”

Because the SCOTUS stay halts enforcement of the CPP until the court challenge concludes, and delays the EPA’s deadlines, Morrisey and Paxton, in a February 12 letter to the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners and the National Association of Clean Air Agencies, encouraged them to “put their pencils down.” They point out: states “have no legal obligation to continue with spending taxpayer funds on compliance efforts for a suspended and likely unlawful Power Plan. …Any taxpayer dollars spent during the judicial review process are unnecessary and likely to be entirely wasted.”

Pennsylvania Coal Alliance CEO John Pippy, a leading advocate for the coal industry in his state, argues that there are “serious concerns regarding the resources that will be wasted attempting to develop a compliance plan, at the expense of the taxpayers, for a rule that may be significantly altered or thrown out by the Federal Courts.”

With the court challenge coming up in a few months, last week, February 23, led by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Senate EPW Committee Chairman James Inhofe (R-Okla.), 34 Senators and 171 Representatives filed an amicus brief urging the Circuit Court to “block the EPA’s attempts to transform the nation’s electricity sector.” As the press release states, the lawmakers believe the rule “goes well beyond the clear statutory directive.” It points out: “States will face unprecedented new regulatory burdens, electricity ratepayers will be subject to billions of dollars in compliance costs, and American workers and their families will experience the hardship of job losses due to power plant shutdowns, higher electricity prices, and overall diminishment of the nation’s global economic competitiveness.”

Congressman Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.) says he joined his colleagues in filing the brief because “The EPA’s actions are clearly illegal and violate the expressed intent of Congress.” He sees that his state has been singled out. The initial proposed rule required South Dakota to reduce emissions by 11 percent, but the final rule required a “detrimental 45 percent.” Cramer concludes: “North Dakota’s electricity producers provide some of the most affordable electricity and maintain some of the cleanest air, but this Admiration’s focus on implementing a radical environmental agenda threatens our economic future.”

Now, we wait for the CPP to make its way through the courts — first the D.C. Circuit Court and then, in 2017, the Supreme Court. But, since the CPP is on hold until at least 2017, its future will really be decided by the next president. Milbank states: “the next administration could seek to alter, cease or continue efforts to implement the existing CPP. Should a Republican reach the Oval Office, this could result in a permanent halt of the EPA’s implementation of the plan altogether, or a significant departure from current emission reduction targets. Yet, should a Democrat be elected, the new administration could push forward with the CPP while exploring additional provisions of the Clean Air Act.”

Of course, as things stand now, the next president will be appointing Justice Scalia’s replacement. “If a Republican wins the White House, the Atlantic observes, “their nominee would almost certainly join the Supreme Court’s conservative wing. That justice would be unlikely to vote to support the Clean Power Plan — but it wouldn’t matter, because no remaining Republican supports Obama’s climate policies, anyway, so they’d likely be reversed administratively.”

With a Republican president, there’ll be other changes that could impact the CPP. The EPA, should it not be eliminated, will have a new Administrator. Gina McCarthy will no longer be in charge and influencing policy. If the CPP were actually argued before the court, it would be under the guidance of new leadership and could be presented in a very different way.

Since the CPP will not be argued in the Supreme Court until 2017, when the next president will be in office, it really is the winner on November 8, 2016, who determines the legal battle of the CPP — which will either embrace or eradicate Obama’s climate change policies and the Paris Agreement. Considering the CPP will, as Morrisey pleads, cause “even more destruction of untold number of jobs, skyrocketing electricity bills and the weakening of the nation’s electric grid,” the stakes couldn’t be higher.


The laughable idea that renewable energy is or ever will be 'least cost'

The Utilities Commission has approved Duke's plan for converting one of its coal plants to natural gas. Duke will build two combined cycle turbines with an option to seek a third (the commission rejected the third but left the option open). Capacity at the plant will go from 376 megawatts to 560 megawatts.

Environmental activists are peeved, apparently. A Sierra Club representative quoted in the Asheville Citizen-Times was not only upset, she was spouting demonstrable nonsense:

    Emma Greenbaum, North Carolina organizing representative for Sierra Club, said she is pleased the commission turned down the third turbine but "disheartened that the approved plan allows for this oversized natural gas project to go forward.

    "It is unfortunate that we're being forced to continue on a climate-polluting path when energy efficiency and renewables continue to be the best, least cost solution for consumers and the environment. We will continue to advocate for the expansion of clean energy in our region and across the state as a transition to clean energy is the only responsible long-term solution to our energy needs," she said.

No, really: "the best, least cost solution for consumers and the environment." Let's examine that further, because renewable energy sources are not even close to being cost-competitive, let alone "least cost."

Cost-competitiveness is the hallowed deception of the renewables industry. They are very dedicated to inducing people into somehow thinking renewables are actually cheaper for consumers. But that is absolute rubbish.

Throwing "energy efficiency" into the equation is one way they try it. As economists at the Beacon Hill Institute showed in their peer review of the renewable energy lobby's report purporting to show great gains from the renewable energy portfolio standards,

    Hidden in the text, tables, and charts is that there is little to be said for the renewable energy subsidies themselves. The cost savings will be the result of "energy efficiency," not renewable energy. Everything else is trivial. But by giving the impression that "not using energy" counts towards "renewable energy," they claim renewable energy is cheaper.

Think of it this way. It's like a marshmallow-laden high-sugar kids' cereal advertising itself as part of a healthy breakfast. Which means if you eat a little with a healthy breakfast, it would be part of it. But by itself it's rather unhealthy.

Renewable energy is part of lower energy costs when you have a little with, well, not using energy at all. By itself, however ...

Well, let's consider:

It's not least-cost now.

When you're not looking, the same renewable energy lobby telling politicians and ratepayers that your electricity bill is "Better off with REPS" urges the Utilities Commission not to allow lower rates because lower rates would be bad for renewable energy sources.

It certainly can't be least-cost if you shutter working coal plants to start up replacement renewable plants.

As it is, electricity generation from new plants is more expensive than electricity from existing plants; that'll be worse when you replace an existing plant generating electricity from an efficient source like coal with ones relying on vastly inefficient sources.

It's definitely not least cost when you fully account for the realities of nondispatchable renewable energy.

Those would include their well-known inefficiencies and flat-out inability to work when either the sun isn't shining enough or the wind isn't blowing.  Nature, economics, simple math, and physics all work against nondispatchable renewable energy sources with respect to whether they can ever be cost-competitive with traditional sources.

Showering renewable sources with far more federal subsidies than other energy sources get hasn't helped, either.

It can't even be cost-competitive in the near future, let alone least-cost.

Renewable energy sure hasn't become cost-competitive despite four decades' worth of promising it'll be cost-competitive in the near future. Six years ago the Institute for Energy Research felt prompted to ask "Will renewables become cost-competitive anytime soon?" and found the "almost there" keep-subsidies-flowing rhetoric going back to the 1970s.

Meanwhile, new MIT research is advocating an adjustable carbon tax to deal with the inescapable reality that renewables will never be cost-competitive with traditional energy sources on their own. They want cost-competitive renewable energy so badly they are willing to artificially spike traditional energy prices to cause that to happen by default (take that, poor ratepayers!).

This approach to competition is like Commodus secretly stabbing Maximus in the back before they fought, thinking that was the only way he might win their duel.

Furthermore, as Daily Caller reports,

    The U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) is currently investigating how green energy undermines the reliability of the electrical grid. FERC believe there is a "significant risk" of electricity in the United States becoming unreliable because "wind and solar don't offer the services the shuttered coal plants provided." Environmental regulations could make operating coal or natural gas power plant unprofitable, which could compromise the reliability of the entire power grid.

It is far from least-cost even when you try to factor in the environment.

A Brookings Institute study tried to incorporate the "social cost" of carbon dioxide emissions along with nondispatchable renewable energy sources' need for backup baseload generation and levelized costs. The study found that "solar power is by far the most expensive way of reducing carbon emissions" and that "Wind is the next most expensive."

Attendees of the joint John Locke Foundation and NC WARN energy policy forum will remember that the panelists all agreed (see the end) that trying to generate a "social cost" measure of carbon dioxide emissions was futile.

Not to mention, trying to account for all social costs would require having to account for the many ecological impacts of the highly land-intensive facilities as well, and the hazardous materials they require.


Australian Scientists Claim Human-Caused Global Warming in The 1930's

This is just modelling nonsense.  Amusing that they found an effect in the 1930s, though.  The usual Warmist story is that the human effect did not start until the LATE C20.  But that discrepancy will be dismissed with an armwave, no doubt

The last 16 record-breaking hot years globally clearly show the influence of human caused climate change with the first signs appearing as far back as the 1930s, according to new Australian research released today.

“Globally all the record-breaking hot years we’ve had since the 1990s are so much outside natural variability that they would be almost impossible without climate change caused by humans,” said Dr Andrew King, from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Climate System Science.

But even at country and regional scales, where it is often much harder to detect global warming signals, the influence of human caused climate change still became unmistakable in many regions in the 1990s and for Australia as far back as 1980.

“In Australia our research showed the last six record-breaking hot years and last three record-breaking hot summers were made much more likely due to global warming,” said lead author, Dr King.

“We were able to see climate change more clearly in Australia because of its position in the Southern Hemisphere in the middle of the ocean, far away from the cooling influence of high concentrations of industrial aerosols.”

Previous research has shown that aerosols in high concentrations over specific regions had a cooling effect, reflecting more heat back into space. However, when those aerosols were removed from the atmosphere, the warming returned rapidly.

This cooling impact was seen very clearly by the researchers when they looked at five different regions, Central England, Central Europe, Central US, East Asia and Australia.

Cooling periods, likely caused by aerosols, occurred in Central England, Central US, Central Europe and East Asia during the 1960s and 1970s before accelerated warming returned. These heightened aerosol concentrations also delayed the emergence of a clear human caused climate change signal in all regions studied except Australia.

“In regards to a regional human caused climate change signal, Australia was the canary in the coal mine for the rest of the world. The signal appeared there first and then over the coming years it became apparent elsewhere,” Dr King said.

“Recent increases in aerosols over East Asia has started to slow the rise in the number of the region’s record hot years and summers, again masking the clear climate change signal we are finding in other areas.

“High aerosol concentrations also significantly delayed the climate signal in the Central US.”

To get their results the researchers took a new approach. In the past, most researchers searching for a human caused climate change signal selected specific events and then tried to determine the role of climate change in those events.

By contrast, this study looked at when events started exceeding the range of natural variability. Using climate models, they looked at a world without human produced greenhouse gases and compared it to a world where the composition of the atmosphere corresponded with those found over time in the real world.

Where real world observations rose above the range of natural variability produced in climate models showing temperatures in a world without industrial activity, this indicated the unequivocal influence of human caused global warming.

“Everywhere we look the climate change signal for extreme heat events is becoming stronger. The key now is to determine how much warmer the climate will continue to get, so we can respond to the impacts this will inevitably bring,” said Dr King.

“This is particularly true for Australia, which appears to have one of the strongest climate change signals for a populated country. As a nation, it will need to respond more quickly and understand clearly what future climate change brings.”



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