Monday, May 30, 2016

Trump freaks the Greenies

WHEN you think of saving the planet, Donald Trump probably isn’t exactly the first name to come to mind.

He’s previously described global warming as “an expensive hoax!”, warned Obama that the Environmental Protective Agency is “an impediment to both growth and jobs”, and admitted he’s “not a big believer in man-made climate change”.

But the Republican frontrunner’s latest speech was something next-level. Speaking at the Williston Basin Petroleum Conference in Bismarck, the capital of oil-rich North Dakota, Trump proudly trumpeted a series of anti-environmental measures to be enforced if he becomes President.

If elected President, Donald Trump said he would pull the United States out of the UN global climate accord, and slash environmental regulations on the energy industry if elected President.

“We’re going to cancel the Paris climate agreement,” he said, vowing to oppose “draconian climate rules”. He also pledged to axe any funding for United Nations programs related to global warming.

The Paris Agreement is basically a big international effort to reduce global warming and move towards more clean sources of energy.  America’s own commitments are to cut emissions by 26 to 28 per cent under 2005 levels by 2025.

But now, Trump has basically dumped all over that, effectively sending a global message that America is not with the rest of the world on this issue.

Less than a fortnight ago, he said he wanted to rewrite the agreement, claiming it wasn’t fair for the US.  “I will be looking at that very, very seriously, and at a minimum I will be renegotiating those agreements, at a minimum,” he said in an interview with Reuters. “And at a maximum I may do something else.”

He also said we should never give “foreign bureaucrats control over how much energy we use”.

But with the pledge to scrap it entirely, Trump has clearly cranked things up a notch. He’s previously stated that he doubts other big emitters — namely China — will actually meet the pledge to scale up its use of renewable energy technologies, thus he believes the US shouldn’t have to.

China signed the Paris Agreement last month, and pledged to honour its commitment. It was the 21st country to do so.

Here’s the thing: the Paris Agreement can’t come into force until at least 55 countries accounting for 55 per cent of global emissions formally agree to “join”. The US is the world’s second biggest emitter (next to China), and biggest historical emitter.

While Trump’s speech was met with loud applause from oil executives, environmental activists have been quick to criticise his comments, deeming his proposals “frightening”.

“Trump’s energy policies would accelerate climate change, protect corporate polluters who profit from poisoning our air and water, and block the transition to clean energy that is necessary to strengthen our economy and protect our climate and health,” said Tom Steyer, a billionaire environmental activist.

In the same speech yesterday, Trump said he wanted to approve the Keystone XL oil pipeline from Canada.  “I would absolutely approve it, 100 per cent, but I would want a better deal,” he announced. “I want it built, but I want a piece of the profits. That’s how we’re going to make our country rich again.”

The Keystone XL pipeline is a proposed pipe of 1897km, which would run from the oil sands in Alberta, Canada, to Nebraska in the US. It would have the capacity to carry 830,000 barrels of oil each day.  Canada already sends 550,000 barrels of oil per day to the US, so this proposal would heavily increase that, making the US less dependent on the Middle East.

President Obama refused to approve the XL pipeline late last year, on the basis that the consequences for the planet would be too great. For the environmental movement, this decision was a huge symbolic victory.

Environmental experts have cited a number of reasons to oppose the pipeline’s approval. Some say developing the oil sands will make fossil fuels a lot more available, meaning there’ll less likely be a push towards renewable energy.

They’ve said Keystone will multiply emissions and speed up climate change — a view shared by Obama — which will plague Americans with toxic air pollution and have severe consequences for Americans’ health.

But Trump is having none of it. “As bad as President Obama is, Hillary Clinton will be worse,” he warned. “She will escalate the war with the American worker like never before and against American energy.”

He attacked both Clinton and Bernie Sanders, saying their policies would kill jobs and force the US “to be begging for oil again” from Middle Eastern producers.

He was especially hard on Clinton, saying her “agenda is job destruction” and warning that she would put coalminers out of work. “Hillary Clinton will unleash the EPA to control every aspect of our lives, and every aspect of energy,” he said. “They’ll make it impossible for the workers.”


Democrats urged the Interior Department Friday to reverse four decades of easy lease approvals for coal in favor of clean energy and climate change goals

"The fact that 90 percent of federal lease sales since 1990 had single bidders suggests that Western coal markets are structurally non-competitive," reads a letter sent by 14 Senate Democrats to Interior Secretary Sally Jewell on Friday.

"Too often the government has been a passive auctioneer, rather than a steward," the letter reads. "Given the diverse sources of electricity generation available today and the high costs of climate change, the current policy is unwise and outdated."

The letter was led by Sen. Maria Cantwell of Washington and Sen. Barbara Boxer of California, the top Democrats on the energy and environment committees, respectively.

Jewell enacted a moratorium on new coal leases earlier this year, as the Interior Department re-evaluates how it treats coal under the federal leasing program in light of the social costs of mining and its environmental impacts.

The senators say they want the agency to get the science right, given coal's contribution to global greenhouse gas emissions, blamed by scientists for raising the temperature of the Earth. They also want the agency to address the "huge disparity" between the high cost of burning coal and the "low, short-term return from selling it."

The senators point out that the effects of mining a ton of the public's coal may rebound for centuries and damage other opportunities to use the land for recreation, water supply management and wildfire resilience, as well as for grazing cattle and harvesting timber.

The senators want Jewell to get the leasing policy right, giving it "teeth." They say previous policies have encouraged the government to make obtaining mining leases an easy process due to the energy shortages of the 1970s.

"Given the diverse sources of electricity generation available today and the high costs of climate change, what may have been a wise policy in the context of fuel shortages and disruptions in the 1970s is now unwise and outdated," they write.

In the 1970s, most U.S. power plants were fueled by petroleum. The Arab oil embargo placed electricity supplies in jeopardy, forcing the government to push the industry toward greater coal use. Some power producers from that era, perplexed by the current direction of the administration, readily point out the irony.


Unprecedented? Central England Warming Of 1692 – 1737 Twice As Fast As Late 20th Century Warming!

The Warmunists are fond of stating that the warming in the late twentieth century was unusual and unprecedented, and could only have been caused by rising CO2. They refuse to recognize that the early twentieth century warming was just as rapid. Of course that statement is also based on the lack of data for earlier times.

But there ARE data for earlier times. The Central England Temperature (CET) data set extends all the way back to 1659 and has been maintained to this day. Here is a window into an early 90-year section of that data set, overlaid with the last 90 years.

Figure 1 is CET and GHCN temperatures from 1925 to the present, compared to CET temperatures from 1660 to 1750. The 45-year span from 1692 to 1737 is highlighted in red.

If the trends for all three 90-year data sets are compared, they are nearly identical, from 0.084 to 0.091°C per decade warming.

But the 45-year span from 1692 to 1737 was warming at nearly five times that rate, 0.4°C per decade. This warming rate is more than twice as fast as the late twentieth century rate, for twice as long.

Central England warmed by two degrees, three degrees if one measures from the coldest year to the warmest in that interval. For comparison, here is the GHCN data for the modern period.

Figure 2 is the modern era from GHCN with the modern warming in red and the early twentieth century warming in green.

Please note that I have picked the time period with the most warming in that interval, including from the bottom of the 1976 La Niña to the top of the 1998 El Niño. The early twentieth century warming began with the 1914-15 El Niño. If the El Niño and La Niña events are removed, both warming periods have a trend of about 0.16°C per decade. The 0.4°C/decade warming period from 1692 to 1737 must have been very scary for the eighteenth century climatologists.

It all came to an abrupt end, however, in 1739 and 1740. The temperature dropped three degrees practically overnight in climate terms. See figure 1. What caused that? A volcano!

On the southern end of Hokkaido, in Japan, there is a large caldera called Shikotsu. It is now filled with a lake. This caldera was formed about 35,000 years ago. On the edge of the caldera three volcanic vents have been intermittently active since then. One of those, Tarumai, (or Tarumae) is active to this day, including four VE5, very large eruptions in 6950 BCE, 800 BCE, 1667, and 1739. Though both the 1667 and 1739 eruptions were classed as VE5, the 1739 event pushed enough gas into the stratosphere to affect global climate.

“In the northern hemisphere density of yearly tree ring [sic] have changed in AD 1740 (Briffa et al., 1998) suggesting the eruption of 1739 affected global climate.”

Sheveluch, on Kamchatka, is also implicated, but that eruption was only a VE3.

The resulting cold caused the “Great Irish Frost” of 1740, where Irish harbors and rivers froze over, preventing import of grain, frost killed the potato crop, and 20 to 30% of the Irish population died of cold and famine. The cold affected all of northern Europe, but was a disaster for Ireland due to the politics of the time. For a scholarly treatise on it see The Irish famine of 1740–1741: famine vulnerability and “climate migration”, here. The implication is that the good years prior to 1740, made Ireland in particular, vulnerable to a cold snap. This is the thing to be feared in our future rather than continued warming.


British Households could be charged annual ‘insurance premium’ for access to electricity grid

Every UK household could have to pay an annual “insurance premium” for access to the UK electricity grid, under plans to overhaul the way networks are paid for.

Energy regulator Ofgem is worried that people who can afford to install solar panels and generate their own power for much of the day may end up not paying their fair share of the costs of the UK’s electricity pylons and cables.

Dermot Nolan, chief executive, told the Telegraph the question of how to charge for networks in an equitable way a “huge challenge” facing the UK energy system in coming years. Currently, the cost of maintaining and upgrading the networks is factored into the prices energy suppliers charge for electricity, accounting for about £140 a year on a typical household bill.

Households that install their own panels will need to buy less electricity, so will avoid paying as much toward the costs of the network.

“One of the biggest challenges for the country in energy… is how will you charge for the grid in that kind of situation?”

Mr Nolan said the regulator was thinking about the issue “pretty intensively” and had not yet decided the solution. However, he said one option would be for households to “basically pay an insurance premium for access to the grid”.

Mr Nolan said the issue would be “difficult” to resolve as “people might feel ‘I’ll pay it when I need it’” but this would not reflect “the fact there is an infrastructure there and you have to pay for it”.


Rebutting Climate Alarmism with Simple Facts

The answers below are not necessarily the ones I would give but they should be useful nonetheless -- JR

What to do if you don’t believe that man-made emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) are causing a global warming catastrophe? Here are some ready-made responses, the next time someone questions you.

Q. You don’t believe in global warming?

Yes, I do. The earth has warmed by roughly 0.8 degrees Celsius over the past century or so.

Q. You don’t believe in climate change?

Yes, I do. The earth’s climate has changed several times, just in the past 1,000 years.

Q. CO2 levels are rising and the earth is warming.

Carbon dioxide concentrations have risen from roughly 0.028% of the earth’s atmosphere in the late 1800s to the current 0.040%. However, solar output has also increased significantly in that time. If the correlation between solar variability and the climate swings of the past few thousand years is any indication, this rise in solar activity offers a valid explanation for the overall increase in temperatures seen over the past century.

Q. Solar activity and temperature trends don’t match up in recent years.

Solar activity actually peaked somewhere around the middle of the 20th Century, and at elevated levels not seen since the Medieval Warm Period (1,000 years ago) or the Roman Warm Period (1,800 years ago.) Solar activity remained at this high level through the start of the 21st Century, with temperatures rising at the same time. While the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) claims that changes in solar “irradiance” have little impact on climate, other research argues that accompanying variations in the solar wind and solar magnetic field contribute significantly to changes in global climate. In fact, Russian scientists studying solar variability now worry that declining solar activity could lead to globally cooler temperatures by 2030.

Q. But CO2 levels are the highest in 800,000 years.

CO2 levels in the atmosphere are currently among the lowest ever recorded in the earth’s long history. The past 800,000 years is a convenient timeframe to cite, however, since the earth has undergone repeated glacial cycles in that time—which has reduced atmospheric CO2.

Q. CO2 is a greenhouse gas. More CO2 means more warming.

CO2 possesses a major limitation as a greenhouse gas, and one that casts doubt on its ability to function as the sole agent of climate change. As demonstrated in laboratory studies, CO2 exponentially loses heat-trapping capacity as its concentration increases. This happens because, even in minuscule quantities, CO2 quickly becomes opaque to a certain spectrum band of infrared radiation. Essentially, CO2 rapidly absorbs all of the infrared radiation it can. Adding additional quantities of CO2 to the atmosphere will not contribute much additional heat-trapping function. CO2 is also a “well-mixed gas,” which means that its concentrations are distributed throughout the atmosphere. Consequently, its heat-trapping function is essentially reaching a saturation point throughout the troposphere and stratosphere.

Q. But higher CO2 levels mean higher temperatures. I saw that graph in “An Inconvenient Truth.”

Al Gore left out a key point when citing the parallel relationship between historical levels of atmospheric CO2 and temperature. Carbon dioxide dissolves in water, with cold water able to hold more CO2 than warm water. When the climate cools, the oceans cool—and draw in more CO2 from the atmosphere. When the climate warms, as seen at the start of the most recent interglacial period (roughly 18,000 years ago), the oceans gradually warm, releasing CO2 into the atmosphere. (A good visualization for this is a bottle of soda kept in hot sunlight. If the temperature rises high enough, the bottle will leak or burst— because the warmer soda water is no longer able to hold all of the dissolved CO2.) The point is, when global temperatures change, atmospheric CO2 inevitably follows along.

Q. Scientists say that CO2 is warming the earth.

Yes, CO2 is a greenhouse gas, and it helps to maintain warmth in the atmosphere. But as noted above, CO2’s heat-trapping function is essentially saturated by the current level of 0.04%. Furthermore, climate models actually project that most of the presumed “man-made” warming will come from an increase in atmospheric water vapor. The principal idea of “anthropogenic global warming” (AGW) is that the small amount of additional warming contributed by CO2 (before it becomes saturated) will cause more water vapor to enter the atmosphere. Since water vapor is the primary greenhouse gas of the atmosphere (and is responsible for roughly 80% of the “greenhouse effect”), this water vapor will create “positive feedback” for further warming. Unfortunately, the AGW theory essentially disregards the cooling feedback caused by clouds (since atmospheric water vapor inevitably transitions to cloud cover.) Clouds provide net cooling by reflecting solar radiation back into space, shading ground surfaces, and producing rain (which not only cools surface temperatures but also scrubs atmospheric CO2.)

Q. But 97% of scientists believe in global warming.

What’s most amusing is that, truthfully, no one really knows how many scientists there are in the world. Or what they all think about global warming. Or how many of them work in relevant scientific disciplines. However, the “97% consensus” is a flawed statement. Only 32.6% of the papers examined in the infamous John Cook study actually stated a position endorsing anthropogenic global warming. However, 97% of those said that “recent warming is mostly man-made.” And so what we have is a misleading statement that has become misrepresented and cited as fact. (Interestingly, there is a website called The Petition Project that lists more than 30,000 scientists who have publicly declared their disagreement with the theory of catastrophic man-made warming.)

Q. 2015 was the hottest year ever, and now 2016 is even hotter.

The warm temperatures experienced in 2015-2016 are the direct result of a strong El Nino.

Q. El Nino is caused by global warming.

El Nino is a naturally occurring phenomenon. It happens when prevailing winds start to fade after several years of progressively “piling up” water in the western Pacific Ocean. This surplus, warm water washes back over the eastern Pacific, releasing tremendous amounts of heat. 2015’s spike in temperatures was due to El Nino. It would be dishonest and inaccurate to claim that 2015’s increase in surface temperatures was simply due to man-made warming. And even climate “alarmists” admit that El Nino is not a manifestation of man-made warming.

Q. The “pause in global temperatures” is just people denying that the earth is getting hotter and hotter.

Satellite measurements from both UAH-Huntsville and RSS clearly show a “pause” in global temperatures (I.e. a net flatlining of temperatures) over the past 15-20 years. As the current El Nino fades, it’s reasonable to expect a resumption of recent global temperatures. More significantly, the “pause” has been the subject of numerous debates and research papers. Climate alarmists don’t deny that it has happened, and instead offer varying explanations. Even Michael Mann, creator of the infamous “Hockey Stick” graph, says that the pause occurred and was not foreseeable.

Q. NOAA says there’s no “pause” in global warming.

There is legitimate concern as to the accuracy and reliability of recent temperature measurements being reported by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA.) Last year, NOAA reported adjustments to global temperature records that suddenly “erased” the pause. I.e. Earlier decades were revised to be “cooler,” while recent years were suddenly marked as “warmer” by factoring in measurements that included seawater temperature readings from the engine manifolds of ocean-going vessels. Various academic papers have debunked NOAA’s “new” temperature findings, but NOAA’s revised measurements continue to be used to make claims such as “warmest year ever.” The questionable methods utilized by NOAA to assemble its “pause buster” study are now the subject of a Congressional investigation.

Q. But the oceans are becoming acidic.

The oceans remain comfortably alkaline, as they have for millions of years. As noted above, atmospheric CO2 levels have typically ranged far higher throughout the earth’s history, yet the oceans never became acidic. In fact, if they had, submarine fossil layers would have readily dissolved. Claims of the ocean “becoming acidic” are actually a misrepresentation of variations in the ocean’s pH scale. Seawater has typically measured roughly 8.18 on the pH scale. Recent, pH levels of 8.10 have been noted, which would mean slightly less alkaline oceans. But it’s misleading to say that the oceans are “becoming acidic,” particularly when ocean pH often varies greatly, based on season and location.

Q. But the glaciers are melting.

Even NASA has stated that Antarctica’s ice cover is growing, not shrinking.

Q. But there are more hurricanes and more tornadoes.

The U.S. has reached a record 127 months without a major hurricane. The U.S. is also at its lowest 3-year tornado total since 1950.

Q. But we need to cut dangerous carbon pollution.

The “carbon pollution” you hear so much about is carbon dioxide, also known as CO2. It’s what all animals (including humans) breathe out, and what plants absorb. In fact, rising CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere have led to a progressive “greening” of global plant life in recent decades. Because atmospheric CO2 is at such historically low levels, the world’s plants and oceanic phytoplankton are currently rejoicing in this slightly more abundant supply of nourishment.

To conclude, it’s helpful to study the basic issues involved in the climate debate (as well as recent geologic history) when considering various aspects of global warming.


Far from bleached, reef’s in the pink

West Australian coral is doing fine while Queensland (Eastern) coral is extensively bleached.  So any pretense that the Queensland situation is part of a global phenomenon is at least dubious.  There's some very confused thinking about El Nino and La Nina below.  The journalist appears to have the two mixed up

Scientists have discovered that the World Heritage-listed Ningaloo Reef off the West Australian coast — the largest fringing reef in Australia — has escaped any recent coral bleaching and that some areas are in the same condition as 30 years ago.

CSIRO ecologist Damian Thomson said yesterday a major study of the reef that ended this month had found that Ningaloo was unaffected by the current bleaching "event” that has hit Queensland’s Great Barrier Reef and other reefs off WA’s northern coast.

He said the research — funded by CSIRO and BHP Billiton through a $5.4 million partnership — showed Ningaloo was more resilient than expected.

"It’s really pleasing that Ningaloo hasn’t undergone any bleaching — it’s fantastic news actually,” Mr Thompson said.

The clean bill of health will be welcomed by the tourism industry around Exmouth, a town ­reliant on thousands of visitors visiting the reef every year ­between April and July to snorkel with migrating whale sharks. Later this year, tourists will also be able to swim with humpback whales, which is expected to double the length of Exmouth’s $6m tourist season.

Conservationists are worried about the human impact on the reef and have also raised concerns in recent years about ­increased oil and gas exploration — including by BHP — close to Ningaloo Marine Park.

Mr Thomson said while coral bleaching remained a possible future threat to the reef, the sheer number of people visiting the area was its major challenge.

"It’s a relatively small tract of reef when you look at the extent of the Australian coastline, but the number of people that love holidaying there or going there for other activities, it is very well used. That is probably the main challenge, managing that.”

Mr Thomson said bleaching tended to occur on Australia’s west coast during La Nina years, when strong currents from ­Indonesia pushed warm water south to Ningaloo. But during the recent El Nino, those strong currents had not ­occurred, ­resulting in cooler waters.

CSIRO research surveyed 70 sites at Ningaloo and found no coral bleached at locations where bleaching was recorded in 2010. At Osprey, on the western part of Ningaloo, results were as good as those taken in 1987. Ningaloo was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2011 for its biological diversity and conservation significance.

The findings are for the first year of field work undertaken by the Ningaloo Outlook project, which aims to increase the ­ecological understanding of the reefs.



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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