Sunday, May 15, 2016
Global warming won’t just change the weather—it could trigger massive earthquakes and volcanoes (?)
There's a grain of truth in what he says. Drastic warming would cause crustal uplift in circumpolar regions -- but all the rest is speculative, entirely dependent on CO2 causing warming. That there is no correlation between the two seems not to bother him
Bill McGuire is not optimistic about humanity’s future. In his book, Waking the Giant: How a changing climate triggers earthquakes, tsunamis, and volcanoes, he explains why.
By his estimation, carbon dioxide emissions from human activity since industrialization began have changed the trajectory of earth’s climate for the next 100,000 years. We are already experiencing the mayhem and destruction that these changes can wreak, and, in the long term, things are only going to get worse.
On the face of it, the hypothesis that a few degrees’ rise in the average temperature of the atmosphere can cause the earth’s tectonic plates to move sounds ludicrous. Yet, McGuire, professor of geophysical and climate hazards at University College London, shows through careful analysis of historical records that the relationship between the weather and the “solid” earth is incontrovertible.
We caught up with him recently to talk about his hopes and fears. Here’s an edited and condensed version of our conversation.
Q. How is that human activities in the last two centuries could have an effect on the earth’s climate for the next 100,000 years?
McGuire: The climate system takes so long to respond and return to normal. We had a period about 55 million years ago, called the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM). It was a period of about 10,000 years, where global temperatures rose by about 6°C [11°F]. This is extremely rapid in geological terms. We had palm trees in Russia; crocodiles swimming in the Arctic ocean.
It sounds incredible, but the really scary thing is that we could now see our temperatures go up by 6°C in a few hundred years.
What we are doing now, and if we carry on doing it for the next few centuries, is raise temperatures in 1/50th of time it took to do the same in the PETM. The rate at which we are raising the global average temperature is simply unprecedented.
Q. But wasn’t there a time when the global temperatures were even higher, like 15°C higher than pre-industrial times?
What we’ve done now is that we’ve taken all the carbon from hundreds of millions of years, which has been locked up in fossil fuels, and we’ve stuck it in the atmosphere in a time of two hundred years.
Then there are the feedback effects that will kick in. Human-caused warming will trigger natural events, which will increase temperatures further. One of those is the release of methane permafrost, especially that stuck under the Arctic.
We don’t need to wait till 2100 to trigger that. People who are working on this say that we could see the release of this permafrost at any time. There’s potential for tens of billions of tonnes of methane to be released just like that [snaps fingers]. Some of these releases could bring global warming prediction ahead by as much as 30 years.
People don’t understand these events. They think it’s a gradual ramping up of the temperature. The real impacts are extreme events—storms, droughts, floods—but also potentially even more extreme events, like these methane outbursts.
Q. OK, so, say that happens. Temperatures go up. When do we then see the effects on the solid earth?
We could see that very soon. The big worry is Greenland. It has 2-3 km (1.2-1.9 miles) of ice on top of its lithosphere. That weight is pushing down the crust. Taking that ice off could trigger earthquakes.
We’re seeing that in Alaska. A lot of ice has been lost in the last 100 years, and the faults there are lot more active now. Previously, because of the weight, they couldn’t move but they were accumulating strain because of the earth’s movement.
Trump Names Energy Adviser Who’s Dubious Of Global Warming Claims
Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has enlisted a congressman who is a strong proponent of fracking and a skeptic of global warming to be one of his key energy advisers.
Rep. Kevin Cramer of North Dakota has been asked by the campaign to write a white paper on energy policy.
“Cramer said in an interview his paper would emphasize the dangers of foreign ownership of U.S. energy assets, burdensome taxes, and over-regulation,” Reuters reported.
According to the Associated Press, North Dakota ranks second only to Texas in oil production in the United States, thanks to a fracking boom that has generated billions of dollars of wealth for the state. North Dakota enjoys the lowest unemployment rate in the nation at 3 percent.
Trump has signaled during the course of the primary campaign that he supports continued natural resource development in the United States. He promised the coal miners of West Virginia in the lead up to Tuesday’s election in the Mountain State that he would put them back to work. Thousands have lost their jobs thanks to EPA regulations adopted by the Obama administration to address “climate change.”
Cramer is a global warming skeptic. “These mandates and these wind farms are all based on this fraudulent science from the EPA,” he has said, “meaning their claim that CO2 is a pollutant and is causing global warming. … The idea that CO2 is somehow causing global warming is on its face fraudulent.”
As reported by Western Journalism, while President Obama has argued the science community has definitively proved man-man climate change as a fact, thousands of scientists question those findings.
The co-founder of the Weather Channel, John Coleman, also doubts the global warming claims, writing in an open letter last fall:
“The ocean is not rising significantly. The polar ice is increasing, not melting away. Polar Bears are increasing in number. Heat waves have actually diminished, not increased. There is not an uptick in the number or strength of storms (in fact storms are diminishing).
I have studied this topic seriously for years. It has become a political and environment agenda item, but the science is not valid.”
For Oil Drillers, Obama Methane Rule Is Worse Than originally Proposed
The Obama administration, yielding to environmentalists demanding action to address climate change, issued limits on methane emissions from oil and gas wells that are even tougher than those it proposed last year.
The final regulations unveiled Thursday will add an estimated $530 million in additional costs per year by 2025, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. That’s at least 25 percent higher than the preliminary version released in August, and it comes as low oil prices force the industry to pare spending on new exploration.
The administration estimates the costs will be offset by savings from averting severe storms, floods and other consequences of climate change. Those savings will total $690 million a year by 2025, according to the EPA. By contrast, the 2015 proposal was estimated to cost $320 million to $420 million in 2025, with potential benefits of as much as $550 million.
"The commonsense steps we’re rolling out today will help combat climate change and reduce air pollution that immediately harms public health," EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy told reporters on a conference call. The mandates, applying immediately to new and modified wells, are a "critical first step in tackling methane emissions from existing oil and gas sources."
The rule, part of a broader administration campaign to combat climate change, is one of the last major environmental measures President Barack Obama is likely to issue before leaving the White House.
The oil and gas industry is the leading source of methane, an intense but short-lived greenhouse gas shown to warm the atmosphere 84 times more than carbon dioxide when measured over two decades.
Under the rule, companies will have to upgrade pumps and compressors, while expanding the use of so-called “green completion” technology meant to capture the surge of gas that can spring out of newly fracked wells. Such green completion techniques have been required at new and modified natural gas wells since 2015, but Thursday’s rule would broaden the requirement to oil wells too.
The EPA expanded the final regulation in response to concerns from environmentalists, who said the draft proposal didn’t go far enough. For instance, the agency dropped its proposed waiver for low-producing wells that generate less than 15 barrels per day of oil or its equivalent. That could have exempted thousands of wells each year from the rule’s new leak detection requirements.
The EPA also yielded to environmentalists’ pleas for more frequent inspections, by requiring companies to hunt for methane at compressor stations four times a year instead of twice, as initially proposed. At wells and associated equipment, however, the agency stuck with a semiannual timetable.
The final rule "represents a solid improvement over the original proposal," said Conrad Schneider, advocacy director for the Clean Air Task Force, which had lobbied for the changes. "We feel great that EPA is finalizing the first-ever standards for methane emissions from any industry, and it’s totally appropriate that they’re doing it from the No. 1 emitter."
The regulation drew an angry response from oil and gas leaders, who insisted even the softer proposal was unnecessary in light of the industry’s work to cut methane emissions. Because methane is the primary ingredient in natural gas, energy companies have a financial incentive to keep it bottled up as it moves from the wellhead to compressor stations and into storage tanks.
The rule effectively asks an already battered industry to do more with less, amid low oil and gas prices, dwindling rig counts and thousands of lost jobs, said Sandra Snyder, a lawyer specializing in environmental regulation at Bracewell LLP.
“Industry has been making great strides to voluntarily reduce its methane emissions because doing so makes economic sense,” Snyder said. “Imposing additional reporting and regulatory paperwork obligations is even more burdensome at this time.”
Industry officials also warn that aggressive new mandates -- on top of other, still-proposed regulations clamping down on gas that is vented or burned on federal land -- could wipe out small, independent producers. Companies could spend more paring incremental methane emissions than they will recover by selling the natural gas they keep from leaking, industry groups said.
“It doesn’t make sense that the administration would add unreasonable and overly burdensome regulations when the industry is already leading the way in reducing emissions,” said Kyle Isakower, vice president of regulatory and economic policy for the American Petroleum Institute.
Environmentalists said the EPA’s changes made the rule more comprehensive. "The studies that we’ve done tell you that leaks and equipment malfunctions are randomly distributed across the industry and different types of facilities," said Mark Brownstein, vice president of the Climate and Energy Program at the Environmental Defense Fund. "Really the only way you get at it is if you are vigilant in terms of inspecting and maintaining your facilities."
The EPA rule will help the U.S. move closer to fulfilling Obama’s pledge to slash oil and gas sector methane emissions by 40 percent to 45 percent from 2012 levels by 2025. The new methane rule alone won’t be enough to meet the goal, but it provides a legal stepping stone to requirements for 1 million existing wells too.
Obama promised during a March summit with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau that the U.S. would go after existing oil and gas sources.
The EPA formally kicked off that process Thursday by releasing a draft information collection request asking oil and gas companies to turn over two waves of data about emissions, pollution-reducing equipment and associated costs. All owners and operators will be asked to respond to the first request, seeking information an Obama administration official said would be readily available. A smaller subset of facility owners would be to provide more detailed data.
Although most of the requirements for new wells would apply immediately, energy companies have a year to submit leak detection and repair plans. Green completion technology will be required at new oil wells within six months, but energy companies would still be forced to reduce emissions at those sites in the meantime, including by burning excess gas.
Some oil and gas companies have moved aggressively -- and voluntarily -- to plug methane leaks. But investors still worry the industry is moving too slowly to solve what could be an existential risk, said Andrew Logan, director of the oil and gas program at Ceres, a network of investors with $14 trillion in assets that promotes sustainable business practices.
"If the industry doesn’t address methane, natural gas risks becoming part of the problem instead of part of the solution to climate change," Logan said in a phone interview. "For an industry that is really betting the farm on natural gas as its key to relevancy in a low-carbon world, that’s a huge problem."
The EPA estimates the final standards will reduce 510,000 short tons of methane in 2025 -- roughly the same effect as slashing 11 million metric tons of carbon dioxide. The EPA didn’t calculate a dollar amount for lower rates of asthma and other potential public health benefits tied to the reduction in volatile organic compounds and other conventional pollutants.
Critics hinted at a possible legal challenge of the new methane rules, like the court battle that has stalled Obama’s Clean Power Plan.
"If these ‘commonsense standards’ for the EPA’s methane rule are anything like the ‘commonsense standards’ used for their power plant rules, we’re in for another long battle of correcting the agency’s mistakes," said Myron Ebell, director of the Center for Energy and Environment at the Competitive Enterprise Institute.
McCarthy stressed that the rule was grounded in science, squarely within the EPA’s authority under the Clean Air Act and "will be solid in the courts."
"It is tremendously cost effective," she said. "It is a rule that industry will be able to comply with."
Pop bottle science ‘grossly exaggerates’ CO2
One of the half dozen ways in which the proponents of what is increasingly known worldwide as “the global warming hoax” violate the basic fundamentals of scientific procedure is the selective manipulation and distortion of basic data.
The recent letter succeeds in providing a most graphic example of such blatant violation. The writer refers to a so-called “science class experiment” in which a comparison of heat retention is supposedly demonstrated with pop bottles. He conveniently omitted the fact that the concentration of pure CO2 was 2,500 times higher than in the atmosphere.
Since the molecular weight of CO2 is approximately 50 per cent higher than that of the components of air, the single CO2 molecule within the other 2,500 molecules in air would have a tendency to absorb more heat, but to an overall negligible effect.
The use of pure CO2 in the CO2 pop bottle therefore exaggerates the heat retention effect of the CO2 by 2,500 times.
I find this intentional attempt to grossly exaggerate the effect of CO2 to be appalling and disgraceful. It is disturbing that such deceitful measures are actually used in classrooms
This leads me to have serious questions regarding the ethics of any teachers agreeing to such practises, as well as all global warming alarmists in general. Snider suggests that this farcical “experiment” should be performed in local schools. I would hope that our local teachers place a higher value on ethics and respect for their students.
Some Canadian insanity
One of the busiest and most beautiful lakes in Alberta is Wabamun Lake.
What makes this even more extraordinary is that the area is also dotted with coal-fired power plants. They’re small, close to zero-emission, reliable, and provide cheap power.
Putting up the same number of wind turbines, for example, would turn the whole area into an ugly hundred square mile wind factory and bird sacrifice zone.
But that’s what Rachel Notley and the NDP are planning to do, remember: eliminate the clean coal power plants.
Well, Enmax, the power company for Calgary, recently announced that they are cancelling their contract to buy coal-fired power. Three other Alberta power companies have done the same thing: TransCanada, AltaGas and Capital Power.
You'd think Notley's government would be thrilled. Except that when all these energy companies bail out of coal-fired power, the province has to pick up the contract.
So now the NDP is panicking, obviously. The Alberta government is already collapsing under debt. Now they realize they will be on the hook for billions of dollars of coal-fired power that they themselves just made useless.
Did the NDP not know this would happen when they went on about “getting out of coal”?
South Australia is now coal-free -- so it imports coal-powered electricity from a neighboring state
Empty Greenie boasting
South Australia’s last coal-fired power station closed on Monday this week, leaving the state with only gas and wind power generators.
The Northern Power Station, in Port Augusta on the northern end of the Spencer Gulf, has joined Playford B – the state’s other coal-fired power station which has already been retired.
The coal mine at Leigh Creek that supplied brown coal to the power stations also closed earlier this year, so there is no easy option for re-opening the power stations.
The immediate impact of the closure was a brief wobble in wholesale electricity prices, with more energy brought in from Victoria’s brown coal power stations (adding to carbon emissions).
But how could it affect the state in the long term?
Could South Australia run out of power?
Average electricity demand in South Australia is 1.4 gigawatts, and the state record for peak demand of 3.4 gigawatts was set in January 2011. In the past two years the highest demand was 2.9 gigawatts.
Rollout of rooftop solar panels is one of the reasons demand from the grid has been going down. The impact on the peak demand – the time of day when most people are using appliances – is less clear, because if the peak occurs after sunset, solar panels will not reduce it.
With the closure of the 520 megawatt Northern Power Station, South Australia is left with 2,800 MW of capacity in its gas-fired generators, which can be fired up when needed, and 1,500 MW of wind farms, which of course produce energy only when the wind blows. Most gas generation capacity comes from the Torrens Island A (480 MW) and B (800 MW) installations, built in the 1960s and 1970s, respectively.
There have been discussions about retiring Torrens Island A (it was mothballed for a period in 2014), but the departure of Northern appears to have delayed those plans.
The state also has a total of about 600 MW of rooftop solar, but, as noted above, this technically counts as reducing demand rather than adding to supply.
South Australia is also connected to Victoria via two transmission lines, one at Heywood (recently upgraded to 650 MW) and one at Murray Link (220 MW). This gives the state access to a potential 870 MW of Victorian power.
If South Australia gets close to record demand, the state clearly outstrips the capacity of the local gas generators. If the wind isn’t blowing, then the state will depend on the interconnectors.
But there is an unfortunate factor that transmission lines tend to fail under very high temperatures, which correspond to the times of highest demand.
It may sound unlikely, but South Australia is at risk of failing to meet demand.
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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Posted by JR at 12:27 AM