Friday, April 08, 2016
Some Whales Like Global Warming Just Fine
What they are talking about below is Arctic warming, not global warming. Arctic warming is not global. It's way out of step with global temperature
Humpbacks and bowheads are benefiting—for now, at least—from the retreat of polar sea ice: It's making it easier for them to find food.
In May 2009, Ari Friedlaender, an ecologist with Oregon State University’s Marine Mammal Institute, was cruising along the Western Antarctic Peninsula when he encountered something he’d never seen. In Wilhelmina Bay, the water was so thick with humpback whales that “we couldn’t count them fast enough,” he recalls.
In the end, he and his colleagues counted 306 whales feeding on an immense aggregation of krill. It was the highest density of humpbacks ever documented in the region.
The humpback population has been recovering ever since commercial hunting was banned in 1966. But the whales are also being helped by another factor: climate change.
In the past, there wouldn’t have been any humpbacks at all in Wilhelmina Bay in May, because the sea would have been covered with ice. The whales typically departed their feeding grounds along the Western Antarctic Peninsula by April, migrating thousands of miles north to spend the winter breeding in tropical waters.
But the sea ice is now advancing nearly two months later than it did in the 1970s and retreating a month earlier. Humpbacks can now stay in the Antarctic much later in the season and follow the krill moving inshore in large aggregations. Since that 2009 expedition, Friedlaender has been hearing the whales sing late in the season, a sign that they might be starting to breed right in Antarctic waters, without waiting to migrate north. That would be a fundamental change in their life history.
“We are just beginning to paint the picture of how quickly and well the humpback whales are able to use this habitat that was probably not available to them in the recent past,” Friedlaender says.
A World With Less Ice
It’s not just humpbacks, and not just the Antarctic: Around the planet, as whale populations recover from commercial hunting, they’re coming back to a different world. In the Arctic, north of the straits that connect it to the Pacific and the Atlantic Oceans, the seasonal open-water period has increased over the past thirty years by between one-and-a-half and three months.
For species such as polar bears, which depend on ice for their feeding behavior, that’s bad news. But humpbacks and other large whale species are benefitting from the change—at least for now.
In the North Pacific off British Columbia, the humpback population has been growing steadily at a rate of about 7 percent per year and is now estimated at more than 21,000 animals. Two years ago the Canadian government downlisted the population from “threatened” to “species of special concern.”
In both the Pacific and the Atlantic, sub-Arctic species such as humpback and fin whales are spending more time in the Arctic waters around the Bering, Davis, and Fram Straits. Over the past five years researchers using underwater hydrophones to record whale calls have documented the increase in “summer” whales.
“Recovering populations of summer whales are taking advantage of a productive and more open Arctic,” says Sue Moore, a biological oceanographer with the Marine Ecosystems Division at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The retreat and the thinning of the sea ice, she says, has led to increased and earlier blooms of microscopic plant plankton. They in turn feed an increase in the tiny crustaceans—copepods and krill—that feed the whales.
Like their Antarctic relatives, the North Pacific humpbacks are staying late on the Arctic feeding grounds. “They might be up there still in November,” Moore says, “when people in Hawaii are starting to think that humpbacks should be coming down their way for mating.”
Good for the Natives Too
Bowhead whales, which spend their whole lives in and around the Arctic, are feeding better these days too. “It is a good time to be a bowhead,” Moore says.
The Alaska population, which migrates between the Bering Sea and the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas, had been reduced to just a few thousand animals when commercial whaling ended in 1910. It now stands at 17,000. A population that lives in the waters off eastern Canada and Greenland is increasing too.
“It is dramatic,” says Craig George, a senior wildlife biologist with the North Slope Borough's Department of Wildlife Management, who has monitored bowheads for the last 35 years in Alaska in partnership with the Inupiat hunters who still harvest bowheads. “The hunters say that back in the 1940s they would wait all day and see a couple of blows. Now it is hundreds of blows.” George has also documented a marked improvement in the body condition of young bowheads between 1989 and 2011.
Bowhead, humpback, and fin whales all use the same environment, but for now, not at the same time. Kristin Laidre of the University of Washington has studied the whales in Disko Bay in West Greenland. “You see bowheads leave, and within a week humpbacks move in,” she says. “It is amazing.”
As the sea ice retreats and whales change the timing of their migrations, however, they may eventually overlap and start competing for food. Things could get confusing for bowheads and humpbacks, which are both remarkable singers, says Kate Stafford of the University of Washington: “Because bowheads are spectacular mimics, it wouldn't surprise me if a bowhead started sounding like a humpback.”
Scientists Say New Study Is A ‘Death Blow’ To Global Warming Hysteria
A new study out of Germany casts further doubt on the so-called global warming “consensus” by suggesting the atmosphere may be less sensitive to increases in carbon dioxide emissions than most scientists think.
A study by scientists at Germany’s Max Planck Institute for Meteorology found that man-made aerosols had a much smaller cooling effect on the atmosphere during the 20th Century than was previously thought. Why is this big news? It means increases in carbon dioxide emissions likely cause less warming than most climate models suggest.
What do aerosols have to do with anything? Well, aerosols are created from human activities like burning coal, driving cars or from fires. There are also natural aerosols like clouds and fog. Aerosols tend to reflect solar energy back into space, giving them a cooling effect that somewhat offsets warming from increased CO2 emissions.
The Max Planck study suggests “that aerosol radiative forcing is less negative and more certain than is commonly believed.” In layman’s terms, aerosols are offsetting less global warming than was previously thought. And if aerosols aren’t causing as much cooling, it must mean carbon dioxide must be causing less warming than climate models predict.
“Going forward we should expect less warming from future greenhouse gas emissions than climate models are projecting,” write climate scientists Pat Michaels and Chip Knappenberger with the libertarian Cato Institute, adding that this study could be a “death blow” to global warming hysteria.
Independent climate researcher Nick Lewis put out a study last year with Georgia Tech’s Dr. Judith Curry that found that the climate’s response to a doubling of atmospheric CO2 levels — a measurement called “climate sensitivity” was 1.64 degrees Celsius.
Lewis revised his findings based on the Max Planck aerosol study and found something astounding: climate sensitivity drops dramatically. Lewis also looked at climate sensitivity estimates given by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change — often regarded as the world’s top authority on global warming.
The IPCC’s latest assessment put climate sensitivity between 1.5 and 4.5 degrees Celsius. The IPCC says that despite “the large uncertainty range, there is a high confidence that aerosols have offset a substantial portion of [greenhouse gas] global mean forcing.”
Basically, the IPCC says aerosols deflect a lot of warming — the opposite of the Max Planck study’s finding.
But incorporating the results from the Max Planck study dramatically reduces the upper bound estimate of climate sensitivity from 4.5 degrees to 1.8 degrees Celsius.
To put this into perspective, atmospheric concentrations of CO2 currently stand at around 400 parts per million, if this were to double, according to the IPCC’s estimates temperatures could rise as high as 4.5 degrees Celsius.
But incorporate the Max Planck study results and warming would only be as high as 1.8 degrees Celsius — less than half what the IPCC originally predicted.
Michaels and Knappenberger say Lewis’s findings basically eliminate “the possibility of catastrophic climate change—that is, climate change that proceeds at a rate that exceeds our ability to keep up.”
“Such a result will also necessarily drive down estimates of social cost of carbon thereby undermining a key argument use by federal agencies to support increasingly burdensome regulations which seek to reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” write Michaels and Knappenberger.
British PM decides to do without a climate change envoy
David Cameron has no plans to appoint a new climate change envoy, a role he created in the run-up to the landmark Paris climate summit.
Opposition politicians said it showed Cameron had given up any pretence of leadership on climate change and that he was sending out the wrong signals by not filling the role.
Lord Barker of Battle was appointed in September 2014 to the position, which Cameron created days before he addressed a high-profile UN summit and warned climate change was “one of the most serious threats facing our world”.
Cameron told Barker in a letter last year that the role was an important post and thanked him for putting the UK in “such a strong position for international climate change negotiations”.
Barker, a loyal ally of Cameron who accompanied him in 2006 to the Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard where the then opposition leader was famously photographed hugging a husky, stepped down from the envoy role and as an MP last year.
It was then unclear whether a new climate envoy would be appointed to replace him, but Cameron said in a recent written answer: “The focus now is on implementation [of the Paris deal]. There are no plans to appoint a new envoy on climate change at this time.”
The shadow climate and energy minister, Clive Lewis, said: “The prime minister promised the greenest government ever but he is axing carbon capture, cutting energy efficiency, blocking wind power, threatening the solar industry and selling off the green bank.
“Now he’s giving up even the pretence of leading the battle against climate change
Anti-Carbon Tax Movement Gains Momentum Around the Globe
Coalitions are rising up in the U.S. and Europe to oppose taxes on carbon dioxide emissions to keep industries from fleeing high energy prices.
In The U.S., conservative groups have joined together to oppose attempts by federal lawmakers to impose a CO2 tax, and in Europe, steel companies are fighting for their lives as high energy taxes and competition from cheap Chinese steel threatens their economic prospects.
In the United Kingdom the plight of the steel industry has moved at least one Conservative Party member to propose abolishing the country’s minimum carbon tax that’s hampering businesses.
“The carbon floor price must go,” said Scottish Conservative Ian Duncan, who promised to write to British Business Secretary Sajid Javid to end the country’s carbon tax floor. Duncan and other conservatives are scrambling to stave off job losses from Tata Steel’s sell-off of U.K. plants.
British manufacturers have joined Duncan’s calls to scrap the U.K.’s carbon tax scheme, especially those in energy-intensive industries like steel producers. The steel industry is under intense competition from Chinese producers and high energy taxes are cramping their business models.
India-based Tata Steel recently sold one of its British plants, and the one company interested in buying the plant will only do so if the U.K. reforms its carbon tax system.
“German and Italian producers are not subject to the same carbon tax giving them an unfair advantage and that discussion will need to be had,” the company Liberty House told the U.K. paper City AM.
In Germany, steel companies are railing against proposed reforms to the European Union’s cap-and-trade system to boost the price of emitting carbon dioxide.
EU policymakers are proposing to raise the price of CO2 permits and reduce the number available in the government-mandated trading market. The EU wants to raise prices to make green energy more economical after the price of CO2 permits fell over the last few years — the price collapse made coal competitive with wind and solar.
“The industrial business model of the German economy is at stake,” Hans Jürgen Kerkhoff, president of the German Steel Association, said of the EU proposal. “The consequences for the German economy would be grave.”
Germany is already saddled with some of the highest energy prices in Europe, largely thanks to taxes slapped on electricity bills to pay for green energy production. Industry, however, gets compensation from the government to offset the higher energy costs, but companies are still required to comply with the EU’s cap-and-trade system.
Proposed EU reforms could cost Germany 380,000 jobs economy-wide, according to a steel industry-backed study, and as much as 30 billion euros in lost economic output.
Across the pond, some 21 U.S. conservative groups signed a petition opposed to a carbon tax. The anti-carbon tax petition, sent out by the American Energy Alliance (AEA), has even caught the attention of Republican presidential candidates who oppose President Barack Obama’s regulatory push to fight global warming.
Republican candidates Donald Trump and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz signed AEA’s petition opposing a carbon tax. The petition also included questions on whether the candidates opposed the federal ethanol mandate, energy subsidies and more restrictions for energy production on federal lands.
The U.S. currently has no federal tax on CO2 emissions, but there have been efforts by Democratic lawmakers to impose such a tax in recent years. Also, many conservatives see the Environmental Protection Agency’s so-called Clean Power Plan as a “backdoor” tax on carbon dioxide.
“The next president’s approach to energy will not only shape our nation’s policies, but will also determine the direction of our economy,” Tom Pyle, AEA’s president, said in a statement. “The responses to our questionnaire provide the American voters with useful insight into how some of the candidates will handle the most pressing energy issues if elected.”
Trump and Cruz aren’t the only Republicans to oppose taxing carbon dioxide emissions. The Republican National Committee recently passed a resolution opposed to a carbon tax.
“That the Republican National Committee hereby resolves that we should protect American families and businesses by not imposing a carbon tax but by opposing a carbon tax and federal and state regulations that create or lead to a carbon tax,” according to the resolution.
The political fights brewing in the U.S. and Europe come after Australia voted in a conservative governing coalition in 2013 on the promise of repealing a carbon tax put in place by the country’s former Labor Prime Minister Julia Gillard. The conservative coalition, led by former Prime Minister Tony Abbott, ran on a low-tax, pro-energy platform promising to eliminate the carbon tax and lower people’s energy bills.
Aussie lawmakers officially repealed the carbon tax in 2014. The tax cost Australians an estimates $8.5 billion a year during its two years of life.
“I should say that at the election, we said to the Australian people, we said to you, that we wanted to build a strong and prosperous economy for a safe and secure Australia, and every day that is what we have been working to bring about,” Abbott said in a press conference following the repeal vote.
To Protect the Poor: Ten Reasons to Oppose Harmful Climate Change Policies
Dr. E. Calvin Beisner
As governments consider far-reaching, costly policies to mitigate any human contribution to global warming, Christian leaders need to become well-informed of the scientific, economic, and ethical debates surrounding the issue.
Consistent with the findings of A Call to Truth, Prudence, and Protection of the Poor 2014: The Case against Harmful Climate Policies Gets Stronger, an analysis by professor of climatology David Legates and professor of economics Cornelius van Kooten, which argues that Abundant, affordable, reliable energy is indispensable to lifting and keeping people out of poverty and mandatory reductions in CO2 emissions would greatly increase the price of energy, goods and services. And would harm the poor more than the wealthy, we believe the following:
1. As the product of infinitely wise design, omnipotent creation, and faithful sustaining (Genesis 1:1–31; 8:21–22), Earth is robust, resilient, self-regulating, and self-correcting. Although Earth and its subsystems, including the climate system, are susceptible to some damage by ignorant or malicious human action, God’s wise design and faithful sustaining make these natural systems more likely—as confirmed by widespread scientific observation—to respond in ways that suppress and correct that damage than magnify it catastrophically.
2. Earth’s temperature naturally warms and cools cyclically throughout time, and warmer periods are typically more conducive to human thriving than colder periods.
3. Athough human addition of greenhouse gases, particularly carbon dioxide (CO2), to the atmosphere may slightly raise atmospheric temperatures, observational studies indicate the climate system responds more in ways that suppress than in ways that amplify CO2’s effect on temperature, implying a relatively small and benign effect rather than a large and dangerous warming.
4. Empirical studies indicate natural cycles outweigh human influences in producing the cycles of global warming and cooling, not only in the distant past but also recently.
5. Computer climate models, more than 95 percent of which point toward greater warming than has been observed during the period of rapid CO2 increase, do not justify belief that human influences have come to outweigh natural influences, or fears that human-caused warming will be large and dangerous.
6. Rising atmospheric CO2 benefits all life on Earth by improving plant growth and crop yields, making food more abundant and affordable, helping the poor most of all.
7. Abundant, affordable, reliable energy, most of it now and in the foreseeable future provided by burning fossil fuels, which are the primary source of CO2 emissions, is indispensable to lifting and keeping people out of poverty.
8. Mandatory reductions in CO2 emissions, pursued to prevent dangerous global warming, would have little or no discernible impact on global temperatures but would greatly increase the price of energy and therefore of everything else. Such policies would put more people at greater risk than the warming they are intended to prevent, because they would slow, stop, or even reverse the economic growth that enables people to adapt to all climates. They would also harm the poor more than the wealthy, and would harm them more than the small amount of warming they might prevent.
9. In developed countries, the poor spend a higher percentage of their income on energy than others, so rising energy prices, driven by mandated shifts from abundant, affordable, reliable fossil fuels to diffuse, expensive, intermittent “Green” energy, are in effect regressive taxes, taxing the poor at higher rates than the rich.
10. In developing countries, billions of the poor desperately need to replace dirty, inefficient cooking and heating fuels, pollution from which causes hundreds of millions of illnesses and about 4 million premature deaths every year, mostly among women and young children. To demand that they forgo the use of inexpensive fossil fuels and depend on expensive wind, solar, and other “Green” fuels to meet that need is to condemn them to more generations of poverty and the high rates of disease and premature death that accompany it.
A Call to Action
In light of these facts,
1. We call on Christians to practice creation stewardship out of love for God and love for our neighbors, especially the poor.
2 We call on Christian leaders to study the issues and embrace sound scientific, economic, and ethical thinking on creation stewardship, particularly climate change.
3. We call on political leaders to abandon fruitless and harmful policies to control global temperature and instead adopt policies that simultaneously reflect responsible environmental stewardship, make energy and all its benefits more affordable, and so free the poor to rise out of poverty.
Want to fight global warming? Forget fuel economy standards and focus on land use
Having led and won the fight in the 1960s and ‘70s to reduce air pollution from automobiles, California's road regulators turned their sights on a more ambitious goal: curbing global warming at the tailpipe through fuel-economy standards. But powerful evidence shows that these standards are costly for consumers and have almost no impact on the environment.
Of course, one particular failure does not mean it's impossible to reduce the overall vehicular contribution to climate change. Rather than trying to make car trips more efficient, governments could help citizens reduce their reliance on long daily commutes.
One smart reform: Better land use policy. Let's take Los Angeles as an example. Despite a strong history of environmentalism and weather that is the envy of the world, the built environment in L.A. makes it unrealistic for most people to walk or bike to work.
Perversely, sprawl is encouraged by environmental review boards and neighborhood preservation campaigns. To allow denser, environmentally conscious construction, Sacramento should repeal the “private right of action” in the California Environmental Quality Act. The provision allows anonymous front groups to tie up construction projects in court, dissuading developers from investing in the first place. Los Angeles should also streamline its permitting processes and write more permissive zoning laws. None of these changes would hurt consumers; all of them would make residents less dependent on cars.
We don't need to pit the environment against prosperity.
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Posted by JR at 12:37 AM