Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Will plants' response to increased CO2 make heatwaves more intense than thought?

The report by Peter Hannam below seemed like a possible real concern if ever we do get global warming.  But I somehow knew that they would have ignored something important so I looked up the underlying journal article -- abstract thereof also reproduced below.  It is all just modelling rubbish.  When Warmist models show predictive skill will be the time to take notice of them.  It hasn't happened yet.

But there is something amusing in the article nonetheless. They seem to base their claims on how an individual leaf stoma reacts to higher CO2 but forget to look at  the whole plant.  That higher CO2 levels will produce bigger plants and hence more stomata seems to be overlooked.  With more stomata the overall water release may remain unchanged.

Warmists are such a laugh!  Junk science all the way.  It's such junk that even a humble social scientist like me can see through it.  And shifty old Peter Hannam swallows it all hook, line and sinker.  He must never ask any questions

Peter Hannam

Heatwaves in the northern hemisphere may become as much as 5 degrees warmer than previously estimated by mid-century because plants' response to higher carbon dioxide levels has been miscalculated, according to new research by Australian scientists.

As atmospheric levels of the greenhouse gas increase, plant stomata – the tiny pores on leaves that open to take in CO2 and let out water vapour – won't need to open as much.

"There's less water vapour being lost so you have a net warming effect," said Jatin Kala, a lecturer from Murdoch University and lead author of the paper that was published Monday in Nature Scientific Reports.

The researchers used data from 314 plant species across 56 field sites to examine how plants responded. Existing climate models had assumed all plants would trade water for carbon in exactly the same way.

Needle-leaf forests, tundra and agricultural land used for crops would likely suffer the biggest temperature increases. Heatwaves from Europe to China were likely to become 3-5 degrees hotter than the already higher base expected from global warming, Dr Kala said.

"These more detailed results are confronting but they help explain why many climate models have consistently underestimated the increase in the intensity of heatwaves and the rise in maximum temperatures when compared to observations."

The results do not necessarily apply to southern hemisphere regions to the same extent. "We don't have an observation of how Australian vegetation will respond to rising CO2," he said.

CSIRO, the Bureau of Meteorology and the ARC Centre of Excellence for Climate System Science developed the Australian Community Climate and Earth System Simulator (ACCESS) model used in this study.


Impact of the representation of stomatal conductance on model projections of heatwave intensity

Jatin Kala et al.


Stomatal conductance links plant water use and carbon uptake, and is a critical process for the land surface component of climate models. However, stomatal conductance schemes commonly assume that all vegetation with the same photosynthetic pathway use identical plant water use strategies whereas observations indicate otherwise. Here, we implement a new stomatal scheme derived from optimal stomatal theory and constrained by a recent global synthesis of stomatal conductance measurements from 314 species, across 56 field sites. Using this new stomatal scheme, within a global climate model, subtantially increases the intensity of future heatwaves across Northern Eurasia. This indicates that our climate model has previously been under-predicting heatwave intensity. Our results have widespread implications for other climate models, many of which do not account for differences in stomatal water-use across different plant functional types, and hence, are also likely under projecting heatwave intensity in the future.


Humans are releasing carbon 10 TIMES faster than ever before

They may be but so what?  All the evidence is that CO2 is NOT linked to warming.  In fact the PETM (discussed below) seems to be a good example of that.   Global temperatures in the PETM increased by 5–8°C. But the findings below are that CO2 release rates then were much LESS than what we see today.  So LOW CO2 levels apparently went with high temperatures.  No wonder the author below made the rather despairing comment I have highlighted below

The Earth's climate is entering 'uncharted territory' and the rate at which carbon is being released is said to be to blame.

By studying deep sea sediments, researchers have discovered humans are releasing carbon 10 times faster than during any event in the past 66 million years.

And in 2014, carbon release rates from human sources reached a record high in 2014 of about 37 billion metric tons of CO2.

The earliest instrumental records of Earth's climate, as measured by thermometers and other tools, start in the 1850s.

To look further back in time, scientists investigate air bubbles trapped in ice cores, which expands the window to less than a million years.

But to study Earth's history over tens to hundreds of millions of years, researchers examine the chemical and biological signatures of deep sea sediment archives.

New research published today in Nature Geoscience by Richard Zeebe, professor at the University of Hawai'i Mānoa School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology (SOEST), and colleagues looks at changes of Earth's temperature and atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) since the end of the age of the dinosaurs.

The research team developed a new approach and was able to determine the duration of the onset of an important past climate event, the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum, PETM for short, 56 million years ago.

Their new method allows them to extract rates of change from a sediment record without the need for an actual sediment age model.

Applied to the PETM, they calculated how fast the carbon was released, how fast Earth's surface warmed, and constrained the time scale of the onset, which was at least 4,000 years.

The rate of carbon release during the PETM was determined to be much smaller than the current input of carbon to the atmosphere from human activities.

Carbon release rates from human sources reached a record high in 2014 of about 37 billion metric tons of CO2.

Whereas large climate transitions in the past may have been relatively smooth, there is no guarantee for the future.

The climate system is non-linear, which means its response to a forcing (such as our CO2 emissions) is a complex process involving a whole suite of components.

The research team developed a new approach to determine the duration of the onset of an important past climate event, the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum, PETM for short, 56 million years ago.

'As far as we know, the PETM has the largest carbon release during the past 66 million years,' said Zeebe.

Zeebe and his team combined analyses of chemical properties of PETM sediment cores with numerical simulations of Earth's climate and carbon cycle.

Their new method allows them to extract rates of change from a sediment record without the need for an actual sediment age model.

Applied to the PETM, they calculated how fast the carbon was released, how fast Earth's surface warmed, and constrained the time scale of the onset, which was at least 4,000 years.

The rate of carbon release during the PETM was determined to be much smaller than the current input of carbon to the atmosphere from human activities.

Carbon release rates from human sources reached a record high in 2014 of about 37 billion metric tons of CO2.

The researchers estimated the maximum sustained carbon release rate during the PETM had to be less than 4 billion metric tons of CO2 per year - about one-tenth the current rate.

'Because our carbon release rate is unprecedented over such a long time period in Earth's history, it also means that we have effectively entered a 'no-analogue' state.

'This represents a big challenge for projecting future climate changes because we have no good comparison from the past,' said Zeebe.

Whereas large climate transitions in the past may have been relatively smooth, there is no guarantee the same will happen in the future.

The climate system is non-linear, which means its response to a 'forcing' - such as our CO2 emissions - is a complex process involving a variety of components.

'If you kick a system very fast, it usually responds differently than if you nudge it slowly but steadily', said Zeebe.

'Also, it is rather likely that future disruptions of ecosystems will exceed the relatively limited extinctions observed at the PETM,' Zeebe added.

'In studying one of the most dramatic episodes of global change since the end of the age of the dinosaurs, these scientists show that we are currently in uncharted territory in the rate carbon is being released into the atmosphere and oceans,' says Candace Major, program director in the National Science Foundation (NSF)'s Division of Ocean Sciences, which funded the research.

Scientists like Zeebe also study the PETM to better understand long-term changes in Earth's future climate.

Most of the current climate debate concentrates only on this century but the PETM suggests that the consequences of our massive fossil fuel burning will have a much, much longer tail.

'Everyone is focused on what happens by 2100. But that's only two generations from today. It's like: If the world ends in 2100 we're probably OK!' said Zeebe.

'But it's very clear that over a longer timescale there will be much bigger changes.'

Zeebe and his colleagues continue their work on the PETM to study other aspects of the event - for example, determining how severe ocean acidification was during the PETM and what impact it had on calcifying organisms in the ocean.

This may provide insight about what to expect in the future as Earth's climate continues to warm and oceans keep acidifying.


Highway death tolls will skyrocket as 54.5 mpg standard takes effect

The Environmental Protection Agency in June will begin its multistep midterm review of the fuel economy standards it wants cars and light trucks to meet by the 2025 model year.

Put in place in August 2012, the EPA standards would require new American-made cars and light trucks to average 54.5 miles per gallon less than 10 years from now. The standard today (for model year 2016) is 34.5 mpg.

Enacted in 1975 following the Arab oil embargo, the corporate average fuel economy, or CAFE, standards were first sold to voters as a way of reducing American dependence on imported oil.

Today the standards are sold as an uncontroversial means of reducing fossil fuel consumption to save the planet from climate change Armageddon.

But it’s important to recognize that fuel economy standards are mostly the stuff of fiction.

Because the standards are based on averages, few motorists will be driving 54.5-mpg vehicles anytime soon. Automakers can still produce gas-guzzling SUVs as long as they also produce gas-sippers.

Further, the fuel efficiency ratings posted on the side windows of new vehicles are determined by running the engines of various with ethanol-free gasoline in an indoor factory laboratory.

Consequently, mileage ratings gathered on the highway by vehicles burning blended fuels predictably fall short of EPA marks - much as then-Sen. Hillary Clinton missed the mark when she claimed in a May 2008 speech at the North Carolina Democratic Party’s 2008 Jefferson-Jackson Dinner in Raleigh, N.C., that automobiles getting between 100 and 150 miles per gallon would be in our garages “in a couple of years.”

What EPA bureaucrats appear not to understand - or refuse to acknowledge - is that improved fuel efficiency also can generate rebound effects.

Because the cost per mile of driving a 54.5 mpg car is lower than that of a 34.5-mpg car, consumers rationally may respond to tougher standards by driving more miles, offsetting the standard’s intended effect.

The main problem with the mandated fuel economy standards is that the least expensive way for automakers to comply is by making vehicles lighter.

Replacing steel with aluminum and fiberglass is cheaper than re-engineering already highly fuel-efficient engines. In fact, that may be the only way to meet the latest rules, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Lighter cars and trucks are less crash-worthy than heavier ones. Stricter mileage standards therefore will lead to more injuries and deaths on the nation’s highways.

So while Washington politicians and EPA bureaucrats focus on being green, they ignore the death and destruction their mandates trigger.

Another way to meet tougher mileage rules, of course, is to produce more hybrid or plug-in cars and trucks. That strategy may have made sense to automakers when the retail price of gasoline was $4 per gallon, but not when a gallon of gas costs less than $2 in many places.

It is no surprise that President Barack Obama wants to curry more favor with environmentalists before leaving the White House, but the administration’s micromanagement of the auto industry will, as usual, fall on the backs of American consumers.

Designed in D.C. for a world fearing that crude oil would soon run out, the CAFE standards mean that cars and light trucks will carry much bigger price tags and offer their occupants less protection in crashes than the gas guzzlers of a bygone era.


‘Green’ — the status symbol the affluent can afford that costs the poor

Researchers have found that some buyers are willing to pay for environmentally friendly products because those products are “status symbols.” A report in the Atlantic states:

“Environmentally-friendly behaviors typically go unseen; there’s no public glory in shortened showers or diligent recycling. But when people can use their behavior to broadcast their own goodness, their incentives shift. The people who buy Priuses and solar panels still probably care about the environment—it’s just that researchers have found that a portion of their motivation might come from a place of self-promotion, much like community service does good and fits on a résumé.”

With “green” having become a status symbol, the affluent can afford it. Yet, their desire to “broadcast their own goodness” actually results in higher costs to those who can least afford it.

Solar power is a great example. On the website for SunRun, a solar panel leasing company, through the story of customer “Pat,” they even encourage the “green status symbol” as a sales feature. While Pat may be happy with her solar panels and “hopes that all her neighbors will go solar, too,” her “green status symbol” costs all the utility’s customers who mostly can’t afford to “go solar.”

As I’ve written on many times, the idea of solar leasing works because of tax incentives and a system called “net metering.” First, those tax incentives are paid for by all taxpayers.

Anytime the government gives something away, everyone pays for it. Net metering is a little harder to understand. In short, the utility is required by state laws to purchase the extra electricity generated by rooftop solar panels at the full retail rate—even though they could purchase it at a fraction of the cost from the power plant. As more and more people sign up for these programs, it increases the overall cost of electricity.

Remember, however, those with solar panels could have a zero dollar utility bill but they are still using electricity from the utility company at night and generate additional customer service costs such as transmission lines. Ultimately, the cost of electricity goes up on the bills of non-solar customers.

Due to this “cost shifting,” many states are changing the net metering policies so solar customers cover the unpaid grid costs. However, as has happened recently in Nevada, the revised programs change the economics and make it unprofitable for companies to operate in the state.

This is clear to see in overall rising electric costs—about 34 percent per year according to the Institute for Energy Research—despite the main fuel costs (coal and natural gas) being at all-time lows.

Earlier this month, Investor’s Business Daily (IBD) addressed another interesting angle: “Green energy can’t compete with $30 oil.” The only way for “green” energy to survive,” it says, is: “by the government forcing people to buy them and jacking up electricity and heating prices to families and businesses.”

A new study from the University of Chicago, referenced by IBD, concludes that for an electric vehicle to be cheaper to operate than the modern internal combustion engine, “the price of oil would need to exceed $350 a barrel.” The IBD states: “without massive additional taxpayer subsidies to companies such as Tesla, the price of oil would have to not just double or triple, but rocket more than 10-fold before battery-operated cars make financial sense.”

Yet, sales for the Tesla Model S, the International Business Times (IBT), reports: “actually rose 16 percent last year, in part because they serve as status symbols or appeal to the environmental concerns of well-to-do drivers.”

On March 11, in the Wall Street Journal, columnist Holman Jenkins writes: “Voters should be mad at electric cars.” Why? Because, as he explains: “how thoroughly Tesla’s business model depends on taxpayer largess.” Jenkins states: “Tesla’s cars have status cachet, yes. Even some middle-class customers might be attracted, notwithstanding low gas prices, as long as helped by an enormous dollop of taxpayer favoritism.”

As he lays out for the reader the “absurdity of their subsidy regime,” Jenkins concludes: “And you wonder why, on some level voters sense that our political class has led America into a dead-end where the only people doing well are the ones who have subsidies, regulation and political influence stacked in their favor.”

Alternative fuels have also taken a hit with low oil prices. According to IBT: “corn ethanol and algae-based diesel need oil prices at around double today’s levels—or higher—to compete with fossil fuels.”

Another fixture of the “green” social movement that has taken a toll in the low oil-priced environment is, surprisingly, recycling. Calling recycling a “$100-billion-a-year business,” National Public Radio reporter Stacy Venek Smith, points out: “Plastic is made from oil, so when oil gets cheap, it gets really cheap to make fresh plastic. When the price of oil gets really low, using recycled plastic can actually be more expensive because it has to be sorted and cleaned.”

In Salt Lake City, KUTV reported: “Many businesses are finding it cheaper to manufacture new plastic than to use recycled materials.” In Montana, according to the Philipsburg Mail, plastics are no longer being picked up for recycling “because the price per pound was so low, it didn’t cover the cost of gas and mileage to make the trip.”

The problem is international. Germany has a reputation as a recycling model with a goal of 36 percent of its plastic production coming from recycled materials and “German consumers finance recycling via licensing fees, which are added on to the price of the products they purchase,” says Deutsche Welle, Germany’s leading organization for international media development, in a report titled: “Low oil prices threaten Germany’s plastics recycling.” It states: “For manufacturers with eyes firmly fixed on costs, opting for cheaper new plastics would be the more economically attractive option.”

However, many companies, wanting to appear “environmentally friendly” will still “pay up for recycled plastics, despite higher costs”—meaning higher consumer prices for the plastics they produce.

Addressing the recycling problem, the Guardian states: “Recycling only works when there’s someone on the other side of the equation, someone who wants to buy the recycled material.”

Fortunately for the recycling industry, but bad for consumers who pay higher prices for plastic products, the Philipsburg Mail concludes: “A lot of Fortune 500 Companies still want to purchase recyclables to meet sustainability goals.”

Despite claims of “green prosperity” that implies such policies can “fight poverty and raise living standards,” the opposite is true. Everyone pays more—even those who can least afford it—so the elites, seeking green status symbols, can feel good and appear to be community leaders.


Wildlife Preservation and the ‘Balance of Nature’ Myth

Government programs often entail contradictions. The classic type is a policy that goes against the original justification for a program, such as anti-poverty policies that penalize people when their incomes rise. The National Wildlife Refuge System, which turned 113 years old on March 14, exemplifies a contradiction pervasive in environmental policy, according to Ryan M. Yonk, co-author of Nature Unbound: Bureaucracy vs. the Environment. What’s the contradiction?

On the one hand, many government-designated wildlife preserves and wilderness areas were created to prevent humans from upsetting the “balance of nature”—the notion that a natural eco-system represents an ideal equilibrium with just the right proportion of plant and animal species so that they can sustain their populations indefinitely. On the other hand, left to their own devices, flora and fauna work ceaselessly to push each other out of the equation, unbalancing the supposed “balance of nature.” Thus, letting nature “do its thing” can be good for some species and bad for others, sometimes to the point of reducing another vaunted environmental goal: biodiversity.

There are variations on this theme. Conservation managers at Idaho’s Minidoka Wildlife Refuge, for example, had a policy of protecting migratory pelicans—an effort to maintain the “proper” number of pelicans. But such favoritism has been “unbalanced,” leading to diminished numbers of cut-throat trout. Now the refuge personnel are trying to save the trout. “Continuing to manage using the notion of a balance of nature will continue to lead to perverse outcomes like those presently occurring in Idaho,” Yonk writes in a recent op-ed. “Because as long as ‘balance’ itself is the goal, what we will see are simply men’s ideas of what balance should look like. After all, a ‘human-less’ reality would be one that did not even include wildlife management.”


Australia: Earth hour skepticism

The Sydney skyline during Earth Hour in Sydney over the weekend

THE organisers of Earth Hour have hit back at criticism that the now nine-year-old campaign is a “silly fad” that should be “ignored”.

On Sky News’ Viewpoint program last night, host Chris Kenny joined social media naysayers and called out the campaign for being a “pet rock”.

Meanwhile, Earth Hour organisers have criticised Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull for not switching off over the weekend “despite countless requests…to protect the places we love” and despite international momentum including support from the United Nations.

Today, Earth Hour Australia’s Manager Sam Webb responded to the criticism, calling out Australian leaders - namely PM Turnbull - for “still dragging their feet”.

“There are some very cynical people in the world,” Ms Webb told

“There are also those who have very closely held interests that are threatened by the move away from fossil fuels on to clean, renewable energy. Sadly, a small number of powerful people make a lot of money from creating the pollution that is causing global warming and they are doing all they can to keep polluting, with no regard for the devastating impact this is having around the world.”

Ms Webb said Australian leaders aren’t keeping “up with the demands of the Australian people by putting strong policies in place to transition Australia as a whole away from dirty fossil fuels that are causing rising temperatures and more extreme weather, and onto clean, safe, renewable energy”.

Opponents have long fought against the campaign since its inception in 2007, arguing that switching off for an hour one day a year will make no difference to the planet’s fragile ecosystem, and in fact, could cost the planet more by switching your lights on and off.

“We need something more. Much more. An hour is just a gimmick,” wrote the Australian Business Review’s Daniel Palmer in a 2013 editorial.

“It’s a bit like the Valentine’s Day of the environmental movement. Aside from the strident environmentalists, most people who commit to it are ‘guilted’ into it. Flowers on Valentine’s Day can’t make up for 364 days of selfishness, just as turning the lights off for an hour can’t make up for 8,759 hours of lazy energy inefficiency (or 8,783 in a leap year).”

But Ms Webb says the awareness that Earth Hour generates does more for the planet than not doing it at all.

“One of the most valuable things about Earth Hour is that it is a catalyst for millions of people to have a conversation about climate change, what this means for us in Australia in particular, and why it is so important that we take action now to ensure we avoid the worst impacts of rising temperatures and extreme weather that we are currently facing,” Ms Webb said.

“We need moments like Earth Hour each year to ensure that climate change stays at the top of the agenda and so that we can continue to demonstrate to our leaders that there is huge support in the Australian community for transitioning away from dirty fossil fuels like coal, oil and gas that are causing the impacts of global warming and onto clean, renewable sources of energy like solar and wind, that Australia has in abundance.”

Earth Hour could not confirm to how many Australians participated in the event this year, citing its most recent figures dating back to 2014, which “found that 1 in 3 Australians, or over 7 million people, took part in Earth Hour Australia”.

The campaign began in 2007 when 2.2 million Sydneysiders switched off their lights. By 2014, they told, over 7 million Australians had joined the switch across the country.



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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