Sunday, March 06, 2016

"Old sooty material"!  A change off CO2

Warmists are always telling us that Greenland ice is melting and it's all due to CO2 in the air.  But below we read that "Old sooty material" in the ice is the culprit

Greenland's snowy surface has been getting darker over the past 20 years, absorbing more heat from the sun and increasing snow melt.

That's the conclusion of a 30-year study of satellite data, which found that the darkening and melting have accelerated due to 'feedback loops'.

The trend is set to continue, with the surface's reflectivity - or albedo - decreasing by as much as 10 per cent by the end of the century, researchers said.

The findings have global implications, because fresh meltwater pouring into the ocean from Greenland raises sea levels and could affect ocean ecology.

While soot blowing in from wildfires contributes to the problem, experts were surprised to find they are not driving the change.

Professor Marco Tedesco, a researcher at Columbia University and adjunct scientist at Nasa Goddard Institute of Space Studies, said the darkening is caused by old sooty material locked below the surface of the ice sheet.

As the ice starts to melt in summer, dust and soot are exposed and darken the pristine snowy surface. Then, as the snow refreezes, the grains get larger because they become stuck together.

Both the old dark material and the new grainier snow decrease the reflectivity of the ice sheet – a property called the albedo – particularly in the infrared range.

This means that more solar radiation is absorbed, leading to faster melting in a potentially-disastrous feedback loop.

The study used satellite data from 1981 to 2012 and found that, at first, there was very little change.

But from about 1996, the darkening increased and the ice began absorbing about two per cent more solar radiation per decade.

At the same time, summer temperatures in Greenland increased by about 0.74°C per decade, due to the effects of the North Atlantic Oscillation.

This is a natural large-scale weather cycle bringing warm, moist air from the south.

The pattern shifted back again in 2013 to 2014, but by then the ice sheet had become more sensitive and surface melting spiked again in 2015.

'It's a complex system of interaction between the atmosphere and the ice sheet surface,' Professor Tedesco said.

'You don't necessarily have to have a "dirtier" snowpack to make it dark.

'It might look clean to our eyes but be more effective in absorbing solar radiation.'

'Overall, what matters, it is the total amount of solar energy that the surface absorbs. This is the real driver of melting.'


Are wind turbines killing whales?

Environmentalists say navy sonar hurts whales, but ignore impacts of offshore wind farms

Paul Driessen and Mark Duchamp

Between January 9 and February 4 this year, 29 sperm whales got stranded and died on English, German and Dutch beaches. Environmentalists and the news media offered multiple explanations – except the most obvious and likely one: offshore wind farms.

Indeed, that area has the world’s biggest concentration of offshore wind turbines, and there is ample evidence that their acoustic pollution can interfere with whale communication and navigation.

However, Britain’s Guardian looked for answers everywhere but in the right place. That’s not surprising, as it tends to support wind energy no matter the cost to people or the environment. After consulting with a marine environmental group, the paper concluded: “The North Sea acts as a trap.… It’s virtually impossible for [whales] to find their way out through the narrow English Channel.”

No it’s not. These intelligent animals would naturally have found their way to and through the Channel by simply following the coast of England or continental Europe. But the author seems determined to pursue his “explanation,” even when it becomes increasingly illogical. “The [trapped] whales become dehydrated because they obtain their water from squid,” he argues, before acknowledging that “the dead Dutch and German animals were well-fed,” and that the North Sea’s squid population has increased in recent years.

The article discards Royal Navy sonar and explosives, because “big naval exercises in UK waters are unusual in midwinter.” Finally, the author concludes with this quote from his purported expert: “When there’s a mass stranding, it’s always wise to look at possible human effects. But, at the moment, I don’t see anything pointing in that direction.” He should look a bit harder. Not everyone is so blind.

Indeed, “researchers at the University of St. Andrews have found that the noise made by offshore wind farms can interfere with a whale’s sonar, and can in tragic cases see them driven onto beaches where they often die,” a UK Daily Mail article  observed.

It is certainly possible that permanent damage to the cetaceans’ middle and inner ears, and thus to their built-in sonar, can result from large air guns used during seismic surveys and from violent bursts of noise associated with pilings being rammed into the rock bed. Wind promoters themselves admit that their pile-driving can be heard up to 50 miles (80 kilometers) underwater, and can be harmful to whales that happen to be nearby. But unless these injuries cause external bleeding, they are very difficult to detect.

Natural phenomena such as seaquakes, underwater volcanic eruptions and meteorites crashing into the oceans have likely been the cause of whale beachings throughout history, by injuring the animals’ inner ears and sonar organs, frightening and disorienting them, and causing them to seek refuge in shallow waters. In more recent years, “military exercises using mid-frequency sonar have been linked quite clearly to the disorientation and death of beaked whales,” says The Guardian.

Low frequency sonar can be even more dangerous, the Natural Resource Defense Council asserts. “Some systems operate at more than 235 decibels,” the NRDC has said, “producing sound waves that can travel across tens or even hundreds of miles of ocean. During testing off the California coast, noise from the Navy’s main low-frequency sonar system was detected across the breadth of the northern Pacific Ocean.”

The U.S. Navy itself has recognized the danger that sonar systems represent for marine mammals. As reported in Science magazine: “In a landmark study, the U.S. Navy has concluded that it killed at least six whales in an accident involving common ship-based sonar. The finding, announced late last month by the Navy and the U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), may complicate Navy plans to field a powerful new sonar system designed to detect enemy submarines at long distances,” despite how important that system and its submarine and surface ship counterparts are for national security.

It has been said the “low-frequency active sonar” from this system would be the loudest sound ever put into the seas, The Guardian states. But wind turbines also emit low frequency noise, including dangerous infrasound. At sea, these vibrations are transmitted via the masts to the water, and via the pilings to the rock bed. They can travel up to 31 miles (50 kilometers).

Granted, the acoustic pollution caused by sonar – particularly powerful navy systems – is greater than that from wind turbines. But wind turbine noise and infrasound are nearly constant, last as long as the turbines are in place and come from multiple directions, as in the areas where the whales were recently stranded.

On land, although the wind industry continues to deny any culpability, evidence is mounting that low frequency and particularly infrasound waves emitted by wind turbines have significant adverse effects on local residents, including sleep deprivation, headaches, tachycardia (abnormally rapid heart rates) and a dozen other ailments. Underwater, a milieu where sound waves travel much farther, it would be irresponsible and unscientific to argue that whales are not affected by operating wind turbines, all the more because cetaceans use their sonar to “see” what’s around them

As scientists have pointed out, “It is likely that acoustic masking by anthropogenic sounds is having an increasingly prevalent impact on animals’ access to acoustic information that is essential for communication and other important activities, such as navigation and prey/predator detection.”

“Blinded” by this masking, whales and dolphins could seek refuge in shallow waters, away from big ships and killer whales. There, low tides could surprise them, as large pelagic species have limited experience with tidal flows.

In September 2012, 19 pilot whales, a minke whale and a large sei whale beached on the coast of Scotland opposite an area where air guns were being used by ships surveying the ocean floor, as a prelude to installing offshore wind farms. “A second pod of 24 pilot whales was spotted in shallow water by Cellardyke around the same time, but [it] returned to sea without beaching,” the article noted.

Offshore turbines were also associated with “many” stillborn baby seals washing up onshore near the UK’s Scroby Sands wind farm in June 2005. “It's hard not to conclude the wind farm is responsible,” the author concluded.

Many more similar deaths may well have been caused by wind farms at sea. The scientific and environmental literature abounds in warnings about risks to marine mammals from man-made noise.

Modern 8-megawatt offshore turbines are 656 feet (200 meters) above the waves; their rotating blades sweep across a 538-foot (164-meter) diameter. Those enormous blades create powerful pulsating infrasound and exact a toll on many species of marine birds, and even on bats that are attracted to the turbines as far as 9 miles (14 km) offshore.

In a February 2005 letter, the Massachusetts Audubon Society estimated that the proposed Cape Cod wind project alone would kill up to 6,600 marine birds each year, including the roseate tern, which is on the endangered list.

Do we really want to add marine mammals to the slaughter of birds and bats, by expanding this intermittent, harmful, enormously expensive and heavily subsidized energy source in marine habitats?

In addition, having forests of these enormous turbines off our coasts will greatly increase the risk of collisions for surface vessels, especially in storms or dense fog, as well as for submarines. It will also impair radar and sonar detection of hostile ships and low-flying aircraft, including potential terrorists, and make coastal waters more dangerous for Coast Guard helicopters and other rescue operations.

The offshore wind industry makes no sense from an economic, environmental, defense or shipping perspective. To exempt these enormous installations from endangered species and other laws that are applied with a heavy hand to all other industries – and even to the U.S. and Royal Navy – is irresponsible, and even criminal.

Via email

The Inconvenient Facts the Media Ignore About Climate Change

Rep. Lamar Smith

Americans in large numbers are turning off TV newscasts, canceling subscriptions to newspapers, and seeking other sources of news. Distrust of the national media has hit an all-time high.

According to a recent Gallup poll, six in ten Americans now have little or no confidence in the national media to report the news fully, accurately, and fairly. A recent Pew Research Center survey found that 65 percent of Americans believe that the national news media have a negative effect on our country.

Americans are frustrated because they know that many of the “news stories” they read are only opinion columns in disguise. If the story does not fit the liberal worldview, then facts are ignored, dissent is silenced, and Americans are told what to think. Perhaps one of the worst examples of one-sided, biased reporting involves global warming.

Those who reject the liberal viewpoint that climate change is the greatest threat to our country are ridiculed and ignored. For example, the Associated Press recently amended its stylebook to recommend that those who question the science behind global warming be called climate change “doubters” instead of “skeptics.” But this is inaccurate, since many “skeptics” don’t doubt that climate change has occurred.

Liberal groups continue to attempt to silence debate. The repeated claims that “the debate is over” and that “97 percent of scientists agree that human-caused global warming is real” are false and mislead the public. In testimony before the Science Committee, a lead author of the United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change stated that the 97 percent estimate “just crumbles when you touch it.”

The source of this “97 percent” myth is a discredited study that attempted to categorize scholarly articles on climate change by the position the papers took on the issue. But most of the papers never took a position on climate change at all. This has not stopped the liberal national media from touting this illegitimate statistic.

Silencing debate is contrary to the scientific method. If these groups were confident about their arguments, they would welcome more debate to test their theories. However, some media outlets, such as the Los Angeles Times, have changed their policies and no longer accept letters to the editor from those who question human-made climate change. That this would happen in a democracy where free speech is enshrined in the Constitution is unbelievable.

Scientists who are not alarmists agree that climate change is a complex subject with many variables. But the liberal national media instead chooses to focus on human contributions and usually fails to provide both sides.

For example, the national media hyped NASA’s finding that 2014 was the hottest year on record. Ignored was the footnote that revealed that NASA was only 38 percent certain this was accurate. Less than fifty-fifty. Americans would have been better served by a coin toss.

Too often, these alarmist announcements are based on manipulations of existing data. And when Congress or independent researchers question federal agencies about the data, they are criticized as “attacking scientists.”

Particularly regrettable is that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) fails to include all relevant data sources in its monthly temperature news releases. Atmospheric satellite data, considered by many to be the most reliable, has clearly showed no warming for the past two decades. This fact is well documented, but it does not fit the liberal politics of the administration or the national media.

NOAA also published a controversial study last year where scientists altered global surface temperature data and widely publicized their results as refuting the two-decade pause in global warming. This week, a new peer-reviewed study was published in the journal Nature that, according to one of the authors, shows “reduced rates of surface warming” and “essentially refutes” NOAA’s study. Shouldn’t the media acknowledge that their alarmist headlines are based on incomplete information?

Americans will continue to distrust the liberal national media until the media provide objective coverage of the news. Americans deserve all the facts that surround climate change, not just those that the national media want to promote.


Roberts Undermines Last Year's Rebuke of EPA

It's become a stretch to call Chief Justice John Roberts a conservative justice, or even a consistent one. On Thursday, Roberts rejected a plea by the State of Michigan and 20 other states to block the implementation of the Environmental Protection Agency's new air pollution rules.

The states reasoned that the EPA should be blocked from enforcing regulations on power plants because the Supreme Court ruled last June in Michigan v. EPA that the rule was illegal. In that original ruling, the late Justice Antonin Scalia wrote for the majority, "[The] EPA strayed well beyond the bounds of reasonable interpretation in concluding that cost is not a factor relevant to the appropriateness of regulating power plants."

But despite those strong words issued less than a year ago, Roberts denied the states' petition. The EPA had argued its rule — though declared illegal by the high court — was being revised, and the states wouldn't be harmed by enforcement in the meantime. "He never even turned it over to the rest of the court for a decision," wrote Hot Air's Jazz Shaw. "Roberts just flatly and unilaterally rejected the case on his own. ... I don't see this decision going down in Supreme Court history on the same level as Roberts' botched Obamacare ruling, but it's certainly one more straw piled on the camel's back when it comes to his conservative bona fides."

In response to Roberts' action, the EPA said its now-protected standards will help protect "millions of American children" from pollution. Even though it lost last year, thanks to Justice Roberts, the EPA won and is encouraged in its hyper regulation of America.


Greenies love rattlesnakes too

Anything but people.  Charie Baker is what passes for a Republican in Massachusetts but we read of him:  

"Renewable energy and climate change were a major theme in Governor Charlie Baker's State of the Commonwealth speech, as he highlighted his support for "ambitious goals" to reduce our state's carbon pollution through a "diversified, sustainable, and affordable approach."

MOST POLITICIANS would be loathe to be associated with anything slithery and potentially deadly.

But Governor Charlie Baker must feel his sky-high approval rating leaves him some points to play with. Baker, who has been shy to endorse a candidate in the Republican presidential primary, has endorsed a plan to populate a perfectly good island, in the Quabbin Reservoir, with 150 poisonous rattlesnakes.

According to the state’s website, the endangered timber rattlesnake, aka Crotalus horridus, is a large, heavy-bodied snake in the pit-viper family. Adults grow anywhere from 36 to 60 inches long. The state’s science experiment would involve breeding these creatures at the Roger Williams Park Zoo, in Rhode Island, and, when they’re nice and big, releasing them on Mount Zion Island.

But don’t worry, says Tom French, assistant director of the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife: The snakes will be implanted with radio transmitters so we can know where they are at all times. That way, in the event one of these snakes survives the swim — oh yes, they can swim — to the mainland, the state will be able to grab them before they threaten an unsuspecting hiker.

Sorry, but that’s supposed to be a comforting thought? If anything, the idea of a bionic snake doubles the freaky factor.

If the state’s Fisheries and Wildlife officials are in the mood to bring things back, there are dozens of other species on the endangered list that may be a better pick for revival. For example, there’s the “tiny-flowered buttercup,” an “inconspicuous, spring-flowering member of the buttercup family.” Or if you really want to go the reptile route, how about the bog turtle?

At least the threatened piping plover — the bane of Massachusetts beachgoers, who are banned from large swaths of prime sand every summer to protect the birds — have some notion of cuteness about them. That, and you know, the fact that they aren’t poisonous to said beachgoers. There is nothing cute about a giant snake with two venom-conducting fangs in the front of its mouth.

If you’re not freaked out by the snake itself, perhaps this will do it: State officials will reportedly visit the island up to eight times a month to check on the slithery new residents. (I’m picturing Governor Baker as the star of one of those wildlife documentaries: “Crikey, it’s a giant poisonous rattlesnake!”)

In other words, your tax dollars will be paying for snake baby-sitting. As much fun as this Jurassic Park-like experiment sounds, perhaps those snake supervision resources would be better spent on something like full-day kindergarten for our human residents.

I have no doubt that the good people at Fisheries and Wildlife are well-intentioned. Their stated mission is “conservation — including restoration, protection and management — of fish and wildlife resources for the benefit and enjoyment of the public.”

But I do doubt how many Bay Staters are going to benefit from, and enjoy, having more snakes slithering around.

You’ve got to hand it to the snakes. Everyone dreams of having their own private island to live on someday. That’s exactly what the rattlers are getting, and they don’t even have to pay taxes.

Maybe they have one heck of a lobbyist. Even General Electric didn’t get that good a deal.

Or, maybe, this plan is just a ridiculous waste of the state’s time and resources.


Greenie crook

Congressional investigators have obtained an internal audit from George Mason University that suggests that one of its professors—a major proponent of man-made climate change—mismanaged millions of dollars in taxpayer money by “double dipping” in violation of university policy.

The professor, Jagadish Shukla, received $511,410 in combined compensation from George Mason University and his own taxpayer-funded climate change research center in 2014 alone, without receiving required permission from university officials, the audit found.

The audit looking at more than a decade of Shukla’s finances is disclosed in a letter sent this morning from Rep. Lamar Smith,  R-Texas, chairman of the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, to the inspector general of the National Science Foundation.

“The committee’s investigation has revealed serious concerns related to Dr. Shukla’s management of taxpayer money,” Smith writes in the letter, a copy of which was obtained by The Daily Signal.

Since 2001, Shukla used his research center to pay himself and his wife more than $5.6 million in compensation, “an excessive amount for a nonprofit relying on taxpayer money,” Smith writes.

In the letter, Smith offers to assist Allison Lerner, the National Science Foundation’s inspector general, in any investigation she “may deem appropriate” in response to the GMU audit.

The Daily Signal previously reported that the Texas Republican began making inquiries last fall about reports that Shukla had received tens of millions of dollars in taxpayer-funded grants to study climate change in addition to his publicly funded salary.

Shukla, 71, who specializes in atmospheric, oceanic, and earth studies at GMU, is also the founder and president of the Rockville, Md.-based Institute of Global Environment and Society, or IGES, a nonprofit outfit that is now the focus of congressional scrutiny.

Smith writes:

    "IGES has apparently received $63 million from taxpayer funded grants since 2001, comprising over 98 percent of its total revenue. These grants were awarded by the NSF [National Science Foundation], National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).  Since 2001, as president of IGES, Dr. Shukla appears to have paid himself and his wife a total of $5.6 million in compensation—an excessive amount for a nonprofit relying on taxpayer money. This information raises serious questions about Dr. Shukla’s financial management of IGES"

Steve McIntyre, a statistician noted for challenging the data and methodology used in United Nations reports on climate change, offers a detailed analysis of Shukla’s compensation and how it squares with university and government policies in his Climate Audit blog.

The India-born Shukla, who joined the faculty of Fairfax, Va.-based George Mason University in 1993, drew a salary there of $314,000 by 2014, according to Climate Audit.

Smith also raised concerns about the relationship between Shukla’s “partisan political activity” and taxpayer funds in a letter he sent to the professor in October.

Shukla’s name appears on top of a list of 20 signers of a letter sent to President Barack Obama; Attorney General Loretta Lynch; and John Holdren, director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy asking them to investigate corporations and other groups skeptical of climate change under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act.

Federal prosecutors typically use that law, known as RICO, to pursue organized crime.

Some who hold that man-made climate change is not established scientific fact say Shukla’s “RICO 20” letter essentially calls for the federal government to prosecute companies and scientists who dissent from the Obama administration’s views on climate change.

However, signatories who spoke with The Daily Signal said they advocated RICO investigations only if it could be demonstrated that certain climate change skeptics had “knowingly deceived the public.”

No such RICO investigations appear to be under way. But by putting his signature at the top of the letter to Obama and Lynch, Shukla drew scrutiny and attention to his own activities.

In the new letter, Smith details key findings of the George Mason University audit. He writes:

    "It appears IGES may have improperly commingled taxpayer funds with private charitable contributions when it shifted $100,000 to an education charity in India founded by Dr. Shukla, the Institute of Global Education Equality of Opportunity and Prosperity Inc.  This raises concerns that taxpayer money intended to be used for climate research was redirected to an overseas organization favored by Dr. Shukla".

The Texas Republican adds:

    "The recent audit conducted by GMU appears to reveal that Dr. Shukla engaged in what is referred to as “double dipping.” In other words, he received his full salary at GMU, while working full time at IGES and receiving a full salary there. This practice may have violated GMU’s university policy, his employment contract with the university, and Virginia state law.

    For example, according to GMU’s Faculty Handbook, ‘outside employment and paid consulting cannot exceed the equivalent of one day per work week without written authorization from the collegiate dean or institute director.’ Dr. Shukla violated this policy [in] five different time periods from 2003 to 2015 because he failed to receive approval for paid consulting in excess of one day per week. This allowed Dr. Shukla to double dip by receiving his full salary from GMU while receiving an excessive salary for working 28 hours per week at IGES.

    In another instance, in 2014, Dr. Shukla received $292,688 in compensation from IGES for working 28 hours per week while simultaneously receiving 100 percent of his GMU salary.  In total, Dr. Shukla received $511,410 in compensation from IGES and GMU during 2014, without ever receiving the appropriate permission from GMU officials, apparently violating university policy."

Instead of serving the public interest with his nonprofit research center on climate change, Smith concludes in the letter, Shukla put taxpayers in a position where they “picked up the tab for excessive double dipping salaries, nepotism, and questionable money transfers.”

‘Serious Risks’

“The irony here is over the top,” said Marlo Lewis Jr., a senior fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute who writes on global warming and energy policy, among other issues.

“First, Shukla appears to have made millions from taxpayers through funding improprieties,” Lewis said. “But Shukla also led the call for a RICO investigation of organizations challenging climate orthodoxy—a campaign which his co-ringleader at GMU admits aims to impose financial penalties on political opponents while yielding payouts to further underwrite the climate alarm movement.”

Last year, CEI asked the Internal Revenue Service to investigate Shukla’s nonprofit research center, the one now the subject of the House probe.

“We hope Congress’s progress spurs the IRS to turn a serious eye to our November complaint,”  Lewis said, adding:

    "Shukla and his comrades … accuse fossil fuel companies of hiding climate risks from the American people, an impossible offense given the billions in annual government, pressure group, and media spending on climate advocacy. Yet, they refuse to acknowledge that their agenda, which would put an energy-starved world on an energy diet, poses serious risks to the world’s people, especially the poorest of the poor. By hiding climate policy risk, Shukla and his allies have deceived the American people. By his own logic, he should be the target of a RICO investigation".



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