Thursday, May 19, 2016

China building at sea level

On DISSECTING LEFTISM yesterday, I wrote about China's island-building in the East China sea.  I pointed out that there were both good military and good economic reasons for building the islands and that they are there to stay.

What is amusing about it, however, is that the islands are just  slightly above sea level -- which shows that China does NOT believe the global warming story.  If they really did expect a sea level rise they would not be spending billions of Renminbi on building things that were due to be swamped soon.

GM farming is creating superweeds and resistant bugs: Controversial technology has created a 'major agricultural problem'

Everything said below may be true.  Resistance to the chemicals men use to suppress disfavoured plants and organisms  has long been common.  So the issue is not what present practices do so much as what alternative practices would do.

In the absence of GM crops much more pesticide spray would have been used.  Might that not have created MORE resistant organisms than present practices create?  It seems likely.  So use of GM crops may be no miracle but it seems likely that it is better than any alternative.  What we have below is in fact typical Leftist argumentation:  Failure to tell the whole story

Superweeds and toxin resistant pests have been created by GM farming, according to a landmark study.

New research from the American National Academies of Science reveals that many promises for the controversial technology have not been fulfilled.  Significantly, the experts concluded that the emergence of mutated weeds and pests created by GM farming is 'a major agricultural problem'.

In some cases, superweeds have taken over vast tracts of previously productive farmland in North America.

Farmers have had to resort to drastic measures, including spraying with highly toxic chemicals such as DDT and even using flamethrowers, to try and destroy them.

There is also evidence that some insect pests have developed a resistance to toxins inserted into GM crops. As a result, they survive to damage important commercial crops, such as GM cotton, which is grown in India.

GM crops were first developed more than 20 years ago on the back of promises to increase yields, cut the use of chemical sprays and boost farmers' profits.

One group of crops, such as soya and maize or corn, had genes inserted into them to make them immune to chemical weedkillers like Monsanto's Roundup or glyphosate. Farmers could then douse their crops in these chemicals, killing off the weeds but allowing the GM plants to survive.

However, many weeds, such as Palmers pigweed, which can grow seven feet tall, subsequently developed resistance to glyphosate and are difficult to control as a result.

The study said: 'In many locations some weeds had evolved resistance to glyphosate, the herbicide to which most genetically engineered crops were engineered to be resistant.'

A second group of crops, such as cotton and corn, had a toxin inserted into them – known as Bt – which would kill any pests that fed on the plants. However, pink bollworms have developed resistance to a toxin inserted into GM cotton.

The US researchers found: 'Evidence shows that in locations where insect-resistant crops were planted but resistance-management strategies were not followed, damaging levels of resistance evolved in some target insects.'

In light of these concerns, the academics concluded that strict policing regimes are needed to vet new crops and the way they are grown.


They must have sold a lot of these keyboards, it is like every Warmist is using them!

New Paper on Climate Sensitivity Supports Low (≈1C) Estimates

Just a quick-fire post on climate sensitivity, because that is, after all is said and done, what all this business is about.

We keep hearing from alarmists on here and elsewhere that ‘uncertainty’ in estimates of climate sensitivity means that we cannot disregard the high end estimates generated from the GCMs, meaning, effectively, that current urgent CO2 emissions reductions are justified. This is despite the fact that empirically derived observationally based estimates are generally lower than those estimates emergent from the GCMs. Climate scientists have attempted to justify the higher estimates and downplay the lower estimates, most notably a recent attempt from Marvel, Schmidt et al—which fell flat on its face here and here.

A new paper by (fairly unusually in climate science) a single author, Prof. J. Ray Bates, on climate sensitivity has just been published:


Estimates of 2xCO2 equilibrium climate sensitivity (EqCS) derive from running global climate models (GCMs) to equilibrium. Estimates of effective climate sensitivity (EfCS) are the corresponding quantities obtained using transient GCM output or observations. The EfCS approach uses an accompanying energy balance model (EBM), the zero-dimensional model (ZDM) being standard. GCM values of EqCS and EfCS vary widely [IPCC range: (1.5, 4.5)°C] and have failed to converge over the past 35 years. Recently, attempts have been made to refine the EfCS approach by using two-zone (tropical/extratropical) EBMs. When applied using satellite radiation data, these give low and tightly-constrained EfCS values, in the neighbourhood of 1°C. These low observational EfCS/two-zone EBM values have been questioned because (a) they disagree with higher observational EfCS/ZDM values, and (b) the EfCS/two-zone EBM values given by GCMs are poorly correlated with the standard GCM sensitivity estimates. The validity of the low observational EfCS/two-zone EBM values is here explored, with focus on the limitations of the observational EfCS/ZDM approach, the disagreement between the GCM and observational radiative responses to surface temperature perturbations in the tropics, and on the modified EfCS values provided by an extended two zone EBM that includes an explicit parameterization of dynamical heat transport. The results support the low observational EfCS/two-zone EBM values, indicating that objections (a) and (b) to these values both need to be reconsidered. It is shown that in the EBM with explicit dynamical heat transport the traditional formulism of climate feedbacks can break down because of lack of additivity.

Take home message:

The central conclusion of this study is that to disregard the low values of effective climate sensitivity (≈1°C) given by observations on the grounds that they do not agree with the larger values of equilibrium, or effective, climate sensitivity given by GCMs, while the GCMs themselves do not properly represent the observed value of the tropical radiative response coefficient, is a standpoint that needs to be reconsidered.

More inconvenient peer-reviewed science for those who wish to promote the idea of a global ‘climate emergency’ supposedly based upon sound science and a >90% consensus of experts. Mind you, with the way Cook’s 97% ‘consensus’ was confected, Prof. Bates would probably be included as one of those experts—even after publishing this paper!


Obama preaches his Climate Change religion

President Barack Obama told graduates at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, N.J., “to insist upon and shape an informed debate” about climate change, adding that climate change is not subject to “political spin.”

“Climate change is not something subject to political spin. There is evidence. There are facts. We can see it happening right now,” he said in a commencement address.

Obama said the debate about climate change is “a perfect example” of astronomer Carl Sagan’s quote, “We can judge our progress by the courage of our questions and the depths of our answers, our willingness to embrace what is true rather than what feels good.”

“Now, I recognize it doesn’t feel like the planet is warmer right now. I understand. There was hail when I landed in Newark, but think about the climate change issue,” he said.

“Every day, there are officials in high office with responsibilities who mock the overwhelming consensus of the world’s scientists that human activities and the release of carbon dioxide and methane and other substances are altering our climate in profound and dangerous ways,” the president said.

“A while back, you may have seen a United States senator trotted out a snowball during a floor speech in the middle of winter as ‘proof’ that the world was not warming,” Obama said, referring to Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.), chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works.

“I mean, listen, climate change is not something subject to political spin. There is evidence. There are facts. We can see it happening right now. If we don’t act, if we don't follow through on the progress we made in Paris, the progress we've been making here at home, your generation will feel the brunt of this catastrophe,” Obama said.

“So it’s up to you to insist upon and shape an informed debate. Imagine if Benjamin Franklin had seen that senator with the snowball, what he would think. Imagine if your 5th grade science teacher had seen that. He’d get a D. And he’s a senator!” Obama added.

“Look, I'm not suggesting that cold analysis and hard data are ultimately more important in life than passion, or faith, or love, or loyalty,” he said. “I am suggesting that those highest expressions of our humanity can only flourish when our economy functions well, and proposed budgets add up, and our environment is protected.

“And to accomplish those things, to make collective decisions on behalf of a common good, we have to use our heads. We have to agree that facts and evidence matter, and we got to hold our leaders and ourselves accountable to know what the heck they’re talking about,” Obama said.


Failure to tackle food demand could make 1.5C limit unachievable

The ecofascists go even further than Hitler and Stalin. They  want to choose your breakfast, lunch and dinner for you.  For your own benefit, of course.  Some amusing gloom below, though

In Paris in December last year, 195 countries agreed to try and keep global temperature rise to “well below” 2C above pre-industrial levels, and to “pursue efforts” towards 1.5C.

Many had expected the 1.5C temperature goal to drop out of the draft text during the fortnight of negotiations. Now, as the dust settles after the landmark agreement, scientists are grappling with the feasibility of meeting this more ambitious target.

But there was one sector that was largely absent from the talks in Paris. It’s something that we rely on everyday, and continuing to ignore it could mean waving goodbye to that 1.5C goal. It’s food.

30% of emissions

Agriculture and the production of food, or “agri-food” for short, is a very significant emitter of greenhouse gases.

Producing our three square meals a day causes emissions of CO2 through agricultural machinery and transporting crops and animals, nitrous oxide from the use of fertilisers (synthetic and manure), and methane from livestock and flooded paddy fields for rice.

Furthermore, the demand for food has led to global expansion of farmland at a rate of about 10m hectares per year during the last decade. Some of this cleared land is – or was – tropical rainforest, adding more emissions and reducing the capacity of land to absorb and store carbon.

When you consider emissions according to the services we use on a day-to-day basis, agri-food accounts for approximately 30% of all greenhouse gas emissions. As you can see from the chart below, that means producing and cooking the food we eat causes approximately the same amount of emissions as those from personal travel, lighting, heating and air conditioning, and washing machines put together.

Rising demand and emissions

During the mid-20th century, global food production benefitted from a “Green Revolution”, where improvements in farming technology across the world gave a huge boost to crop yields. But, more recently, there has been a worldwide deceleration in yield growth of major crops.

At the same time, as the world’s population grows and becomes richer, the demand for food is expected to increase by 60% or more by 2050. Given recent trends, demand is likely to rise more quickly than supply towards the middle of the 21st century. This will increase pressure to convert land for farming.

Putting these drivers together suggests that emissions from agri-food will continue to grow. Changing farming practises could offset some of this increase, but achieving such changes is easier said than done.

A paper published this week, for example, reviews the various ways we can cut emissions from raising livestock. Options include using feed additives to reduce how much methane is created in the stomachs of animals, and sequestering carbon in the soils of grasslands where they graze. But limited take-up of new farming methods and high costs means that less than 10% of what is technically possible is currently economically viable.

So what does this mean for keeping temperature rise below 1.5C?

The emissions pathway we’d need to follow for a 66% chance of staying within 1.5C suggests that food-related emissions at current levels would take up our entire greenhouse gas budget in 2050.

That means unless things change – radically – our demand for food could leave no space for emissions from any of the other services we require to live our daily lives.

In short, our demand for food alone could virtually guarantee that the Paris aspirations are unachievable.


Colorado Supreme Court embraces the rule of law, not the fear mongering of the anti-fossil-fuel movement

On Monday, May 2 the Colorado Supreme Court ruled on what the New York Times (NYT) called: “a lengthy battle for energy production.” The court’s unanimous decision to strike down two cities’ limits on fracking is a victory for oil-and-gas companies and a “disappointment” to anti-fossil-fuel activists. Several states, including Colorado’s neighbors, New Mexico and Texas, have faced similar anti-oil-and-gas initiatives that have also been shot down.

The Colorado Supreme Court reached the same conclusion as the lower court: the fracking bans put in place by Fort Collins and Longmont are “invalid and unenforceable” because state law trumps the local ordinances. A report from Colorado Public Radio states: “The ruling will have an impact on other Front Range communities — including Broomfield, Lafayette, and Boulder — that have approved restrictions on fracking. The court clearly said that these efforts are illegal.”

The consequences of the decision are “comparatively small,” according to NYT, as the land now opened up for exploration represents only a fraction of Colorado’s oil-and-gas development. “More significant, said experts on both sides of the conflict, is that the rulings shut down future efforts to stop fracking in local jurisdictions.” Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman said that she fears the ruling will not end the divisive debate. “Instead some activists will continue to push anti-development initiatives undermining the state’s record of local cooperation on these policy issues.”

The NYT points out: “Spurred by the rise of hydraulic fracturing, Colorado has become one of the nation’s largest producers of oil and gas. The state has more than 50,000 active oil and gas wells.”

According to a press release, the Colorado Petroleum Council “welcomed the decisions for upholding the state’s primacy in overseeing oil and natural gas permitting and curtailing ‘arbitrary bans’ on fracking that could cost local jobs, deprive state and local governments of tax revenue and limit access to energy resources.”

Upon hearing the news, I tweeted: “Great news! Colorado Supreme Court Strikes Down Local Fracking Bans.” Almost immediately, @AllNewSux responded: “@energyrabbit Hooray…now we can all drink poisoned water here in Colorado!”

What is @AllNewSux thinking? He is regurgitating outdated propaganda as study after study — though funders are disappointed with the results — determine, as did the three-year study by the University of Cincinnati released in February: “hydraulic fracturing of oil and gas wells … does not contaminate ground water.”

The University of Cincinnati study, reports the Free Press Standard: “aimed to measure methane and its sources in groundwater before, during and after the onset of fracking.” It concluded, “dissolved methane was detected in all sampled wells, however, no relationship was found between the methane concentration and proximity to natural gas wells.” The results of the study were released by Dr. Amy Townsend-Small, the lead researcher, during a February 4 meeting of the Carroll County Concerned Citizens in Carrollton, Ohio — part of a coalition of anti-fracking groups. Townsend-Small stated: “We haven’t seen anything to show that wells have been contaminated by fracking.” Her revelations must have been a shock to the group whose pre-meeting promotion included this comment: “We saw the debate about fracking’s impact on groundwater methane in Pennsylvania and the results of failing to have predrilling or baseline data for comparisons. Dr. Townsend-Small’s study provides landowners with that baseline data and helps to differentiate shale sources from non-shale sources of methane.”

The Free Press Standard asked Townsend-Small about plans to “publicize the results.” She said there were “no plans to do so.” Why? “I am really sad to say this, but some of our funders, the groups that had given us funding in the past, were a little disappointed in our results. They feel that fracking is scary and so they were hoping this data could lead to a reason to ban it.”

Just a few months earlier, October 2015, a Yale study, reported in Nature World News, came to the same conclusion: “Fracking does not contaminate drinking water.” The article, which ties in an earlier EPA report, states: “Yale researchers have confirmed that hydraulic fracturing — also known as ‘fracking’ — does not contaminate drinking water. The process of extracting natural gas from deep underground wells using water has been given a bad reputation when it comes to the impact it has on water resources but Yale researchers recently disproved this myth in a new study that confirms a previous report by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) conducted earlier this year.”

Then there is the 2014 research from Duke University’s Nicholas School of the Environment that found: “(The) gas data appear to rule out gas contamination by upward migration from depth through overlying geological strata triggered by horizontal drilling or hydraulic fracturing.” Addressing the study, Hoppy Kercheval, in the West Virginia MetroNews, said: “Fracking opponents should be held accountable as well, and this new research illustrates some of their alarmist proclamations are just wrong.”

In 2013, the “highlights” of a study on the Fayetteville Shale in north-central Arkansas announced: “No relationship between methane and salinity in groundwater and shale-gas wells.”

A year earlier, an EPA study that sampled well water at 61 homes in the famed Dimock, PA area, and “found health concerns in only five of them.” According to the Washington Times, “drilling is not the root of the problems in Dimock” as “the substances found include arsenic, barium and manganese, all of which are naturally occurring.”

The aforementioned studies don’t include myriad comments from public officials stating the same thing.

Perhaps, this preponderance of evidence is what caused so-called expert Anthony Ingraffea to base his recent testimony at the federal trial regarding whether Cabot Oil & Gas was a “nuisance to two families” on “speculation.” In its coverage of the “sparsely attended” February 2016 trial, points out: the plaintiffs were “unable to establish that chemicals from hydraulic fracturing got into their water, or that the drilling caused illness.” Coverage at the conclusion of the trial added: the plaintiffs “maintained that the methane contamination disrupted their lives and deprived them of the enjoyment of their property.”

During the trial, the plaintiff’s expert witnesses, both known anti-drilling activists, each acknowledged that they had no direct proof of claims they were there to support. Under cross-examination, hydrogeologist Paul Rubin admitted that he had not identified a specific pathway from any of Cabot’s natural gas wells to the plaintiff’s water supply. Regarding his “theory” about causation of the plaintiff’s allegedly impacted water, Ingraffea, was asked: “In fact, you’re going to tell me I think or I’ll ask you that’s speculation on your part, it is not?” He responded: “You can call it that, sure.” The questioning continued: “You don’t have any direct proof of that, right?” Ingraffea agreed that he didn’t have direct proof and said his theory was “most likely” the cause.

Additionally, the trial discovered that the plaintiff’s water troubles actually began months before Cabot began drilling nearby. The judge repeatedly called out the plaintiff’s attorney for going “over the line.” U.S. Magistrate Judge Martin C. Carlson dismissed the property damage claim against Cabot, because as reports: “the plaintiffs introduced no evidence that their property values had been affected.” Additionally, one of the plaintiffs, Scott Ely, “spent $700,000 to build his 7,000-square-foot home — after the water went bad.” Carlson, however, ruled that the plaintiffs had “elicited enough evidence that Cabot had been a nuisance.” A jury awarded $4.24 million to the two families based on nuisance.

Anti-fracking activists, like @AllNewSux, likely point to the award (which is being appealed) and see it as proof that fracking contaminates ground water. Though, a careful read reveals that no such evidence was found — only the “most likely,” theory, and speculation common among anti-fossil fuel claims.

One has to wonder how many more studies and court cases have to be carried out before the fear mongering and activist community finally stop wasting public money to kill jobs and raise energy costs.



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.  

Preserving the graphics:  Most graphics on this site are hotlinked from elsewhere.  But hotlinked graphics sometimes have only a short life -- as little as a week in some cases.  After that they no longer come up.  From January 2011 on, therefore, I have posted a monthly copy of everything on this blog to a separate site where I can host text and graphics together -- which should make the graphics available even if they are no longer coming up on this site.  See  here or here


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