Monday, June 13, 2016

Norway Bursts Global Warming's Methane Bubble

Atmospheric CH4 concentrations should be highest near the ocean surface.  They are not

Global warming is undoubtedly the greatest threat to the Arctic's fragile environment. Rising temperatures have so far been largely blamed on methane escaping from the seabed. However, Norwegian scientists argue that the greenhouse gas might not necessarily be the culprit.

For years, the seepage of methane from the ocean bed was blamed for the accumulation of the greenhouse gas in the atmosphere. With the Arctic Ocean getting progressively warmer, scientists believe that even more methane will be released and dissolved in the atmosphere. Surprisingly, this is not the case around the polar archipelago of Svalbard, Norwegian scientists say.

In 2014, a task group comprised of researchers from the University of Tromsø and Cicero got down to work in the Arctic to find out what happens to methane leaking from the sea and gauge how much of it is released into the air.

Subsequently, samples of ocean water and air were taken from a boat, and a research plane measured the concentration of methane from 15 to 30 meters above the surface. These were later compared with samples which were collected at a weather station on Svalbard. The results have sent shockwaves through Norway's scientific community: the concentration of methane at the sea surface was as high as that in Svalbard's mountains.

​"This means that the ocean is not the source of the methane in the air, at least in this area, Cathrine Lund Myhre, senior scientist at the Norwegian Institute for Air Research NILU and project manager, told Norwegian national broadcaster NRK.

However, this does not mean we do not have to stop worrying about methane leaks from the ocean, as the measurements were only made during a short period of time when the sea was comparatively quiet.

"During the summer, the ocean water is strongly layered. On the surface, there is fresh and light water, while the heavy, methane-rich water stays on the bottom. When the first autumn storms come, it is natural to expect the water layers to mix up," Tore Furevik, director of the Bjerknes Centre for Climate Research said, calling for continued research.

A marked increase in the methane content of the atmosphere around Svalbard has been measured recently. However, the source of methane was never established. The recent research will most likely reduce the uncertainty concerning the natural emission.

"In recent years, the temperature on Svalbard in February has remained 10-12 degrees above normal. This temperature increase is likely to invoke major climate changes," Lund Myhre said.


More job-killing rules from EPA

Social cost of methane regulations will further constrain energy production, for no benefit

Paul Driessen

Having already done yeoman’s work stifling economic growth and job creation, President Obama’s Environmental Protection Agency is doubling down again.

The United States created a paltry 38,000 new jobs in May: one for every 8,000 Americans. Its labor force participation rate is a miserable 63% – meaning 93 million Americans are not working, while 6.4 million more are trying to feed their families on involuntary part-time positions and a fraction of their previous salaries. Manufacturing lost another 20,000 jobs in May, as the economy grew at an almost stagnant 0.8% the first quarter of 2016. Middle class family incomes and net worth continue to slide.

Meanwhile, well-paid federal bureaucrats increasingly regulate our lives, livelihoods and living standards, hand down fines and jail terms for some 5,000 federal crimes and 300,000 criminal offenses, and inflict $1.9 trillion in annual regulatory compliance costs on families and businesses.

EPA’s war on coal has already cost thousands of jobs in mines, power plants and dependent businesses. Low oil prices amid a tepid, over-regulated, climate-fixated, crony-corporatist American, European and international economy have already killed thousands of US oil patch jobs.

On June 3 EPA issued more rules: methane emission standards for new and modified oil and natural gas drilling, fracking, pipeline and other operations. Under steady environmentalist pressure, it may be only a matter of time before the agency covers existing operations – and maybe even livestock, rice growing, landfills, sewage treatment plants and other methane-emitting activities.

The agency justifies these new job-killing rules by citing something it calls the “social cost of methane,” which is patterned after its equally arbitrary, speculative, infinitely malleable “social cost of carbon.” (Carbon, of course, actually means carbon dioxide – the miracle molecule that enables plant growth and makes all life on Earth possible.) Both the SCM and SCC are needed, EPA insists, to prevent dangerous manmade global warming and climate change, which it claims are driven by these two trace gases.

EPA’s methane claims are absurd. Methane emissions from US hydraulic fracturing operations have plummeted 79% and from the overall US natural gas sector by 11% since 2005.

Moreover, methane is a tiny 0.00017% of the atmosphere, the equivalent of $1.70 out of $1 million. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, 17% of that is from energy production and use; 26% comes from agriculture, landfills and sewage; and the remaining 57% is from natural sources. (Carbon dioxide, the other climate bogeyman, is 0.04% of the atmosphere – 400 ppm.)

The United States accounts for a mere 9% of the world’s total manmade methane – and just 29% of that is from oil and gas operations that provide 63% of all the energy that powers America. That means US oil and gas account for less than 3% of global manmade methane emissions – and thus just 0.000004% of all the methane in Earth’s atmosphere. That’s equivalent to 4 cents out of $1 million!

EPA insists that this undetectable amount will cause a global climate catastrophe, and forcing the oil industry to spend billions of dollars to reduce its already minimal methane emissions will bring billions in health and environmental benefits via climate change prevention. It says methane is 23 (or 28 or 35) times more potent than carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas, and the USA must lead the way. What nonsense.

The atmosphere contains 235 times more carbon dioxide than methane – so this “ultra-potent” greenhouse gas will have only 10-15% of CO2’s supposed global warming power. The US petroleum industry’s contribution is utterly meaningless, especially compared to the solar, oceanic, cosmic and other powerful natural forces that have driven climate change throughout Earth and human history.

Of course, EPA’s shenanigans don’t end there.

The agency’s “social cost of methane” calculations rely on arbitrary 2.5, 3 and 5 percent “discount rates” that supposedly quantify the present value of future regulatory benefits, derived from preventing climate chaos 20, 50 or 100 years from now. The rates yield miraculous compounded benefits up to $1,700 per ton of methane emissions prevented by 2020 to $3,300 per ton by 2050. They could bring up to $550 million in alleged health benefits by 2025 – for “only” $330 million in oil industry costs.

But if EPA had used the 7% discount rate required under Office of Management and Budget guidelines, the supposed benefits would plummet to only $259 per ton by 2020. Naturally, EPA didn’t use that rate.

Even more dishonest, as it did for its “social cost of carbon,” EPA’s analysis incorporates virtually every conceivable “cost” of methane emissions and thus alleged “dangerous climate change” – to agriculture, forestry, water resources, “forced migration” of people and wildlife, human health and disease, rising sea levels, flooded coastal cities, ecosystems and wetlands harmed by too much or too little rain, et cetera.

But it completely ignores every obvious and enormous benefit of using oil and natural gas: generating reliable, affordable electricity for lights, heat, air conditioning, computers, electric vehicles and countless other applications; manufacturing fertilizers, plastics, paints and pharmaceuticals; and even reducing CO2 emissions by replacing coal in electricity generation. EPA also ignores the real, obvious and enormous health impairment from millions more people rendered unemployed, poor and unable to heat their homes.

That is the critical point. But almost as important, the alleged, exaggerated, computer-conjured and illusory benefits from these SCM regulations accrue to the world as a whole – while the very real costs are incurred solely by American companies, consumers and taxpayers. EPA doesn’t mention that.

And to top it off, the mandated reductions in US methane emissions will be imperceptible amid the world’s enormous and rapidly increasing oil, natural gas and coal production and use. In fact, 59 nations are already planning to build more than 1,200 new coal-fired power plants – on top of what they and developed nations are already building.

China, India, Russia and Europe together emit more than five times the methane that the USA does, and the world just set new oil and natural gas consumption records. In fact, the net increase in petroleum consumption was 2.6 times the overall increase in renewable energy use.

Indeed, fossil fuels now account for 79% of total global energy consumption – compared to 0.7% for wind and solar energy combined. The much-touted figure of 19% global renewable energy cleverly hides the fact that 68% of that consumption total is wood, animal dung and hydroelectric energy. Even more astounding, wood and dung account for 13 times more energy worldwide than wind and solar combined!

India has said it will not ratify the Paris treaty anytime soon, and will continue using fossil fuels to bring electricity to people and businesses and improve living standards. Meanwhile, renewable energy spending fell 46% in Germany and 21% overall in Europe in 2015 from the previous year.

EPA’s SCC and SCM scam underscores the religious dogma that drives the Obama Administration’s climate change agenda and ideological determination to end hydrocarbon use in America. Perhaps worse, presidential candidate Hillary Clinton has bragged about putting still more coal miners out of work. She has also said she would ban drilling on all onshore and offshore public lands, and regulate fracking into oblivion on state and private lands. Senator Bernie Sanders will almost assuredly push her and the Democratic Party even further to the Left on energy policies.

These policies would put even more Americans out of work, landing them on welfare rolls and forcing them to depend on unsustainable government handouts that rely on taking more money from an ever-shrinking workforce. Americans would have to get used to the idea of having lights, AC and computers when increasingly expensive electricity is available – instead of when we need it. What a depressing future that would be for our children and grandchildren.

Via email

Climate Scientists Say Global Warming Likely Caused Paris Flooding

They would.  They talk about the probability of it and claim to know that but that is absurd.  How can you assign probabilities to such a rare event?  You would have to sample thousands of years to calculate a probability for such a rare event.  It's just arbitrary modelling

An extreme shift in the weather brought on by manmade emissions likely caused the torrential rains that flooded Paris last month, a new study says.

Researchers at the Laboratory for Climate and Environment Sciences (LSCE) in France said the likelihood of unusual heavy rainfall, such as the one that caused the flooding of areas along the Seine River in May, has doubled in the past five decades as a result of global warming.

They found that the probability of such extreme weather patterns happening had increased by more than 40 percent at the very least.

LSCE senior scientist Robert Vautard said the rainstorms that flooded the French capital recently can be tied directly to the impacts of global warming on the Earth.

During the three days of heavy raining, the water in the river Seine reached 6.07 meters (19.9 feet), which is the highest point it has ever been in the past three decades. The overflow from river tributaries forced thousands of people living in nearby towns to be evacuated.

Torrential rains also caused widespread flooding in southern Germany, which destroyed several houses and vehicles. Reports say at least 18 people were killed in subsequent flooding in four European countries.


Taming the Greenland Melting Global Warming Hype

There is a new paper generating some press attention (e.g. Chris Mooney at the Washington Post) that strongly suggests global warming is leading to specific changes in the atmospheric circulation over the Northern Hemisphere that is causing an enhancement of surface melting across Greenland—and of course, that this mechanism will make things even worse than expected into the future.

We are here to strongly suggest this is not the case.

The new paper is by a team of authors led by Marco Tedesco from Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory. The main gist of the paper is that Arctic sea ice loss as a result of human-caused global warming is causing the jet stream to slow down and become wigglier—with deeper north-south excursions that hang around longer.  This type of behavior is referred to as atmospheric “blocking.”

If this sounds familiar, it’s the same theoretical argument that is made to try to link wintertime “polar vortex” events (i.e., cold outbreaks) and blizzards to global warming. This argument which has been pretty well debunked, time and time again.

Well, at least it has as it concerns wintertime climate.

The twist of the new Tedesco and colleagues’ paper is that they’ve applied it to the summertime climate over Greenland. They argue that global warming is leading to an increase in blocking events over Greenland in the summer and that is causing warm air to be “locked” in place leading to enhanced surface melting there. Chris Mooney, who likes to promote climate alarm buzzwords, refers to this behavior as “weird.” And he describes the worrysome implications:

The key issue, then, is whether 2015 is a harbinger of a future in which the jet stream keeps sending Greenland atmospheric systems that drive major melt — and in turn, whether the Arctic amplification of climate change is driving this. If so, that could be a factor, not currently included in many climate change simulations, that would worsen the ice sheet’s melt, drive additional sea level rise and perhaps upend ocean currents due to large influxes of fresh water.

As proof that things were weird over Greenland in recent summers, Tedesco’s team offers up this figure in their paper:

This chart (part of a multipanel figure) shows the time history of the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO—a pattern of atmospheric variation over the North Atlantic) as red bars and something called the Greenland Blocking Index (GBI) as the black line, for the month of July during the period 1950-2015. The chart is meant to show that in recent years, the NAO has been very low with 2015 being “a new record low of -1.23 (since 1899),” and the GBI has been very high with the authors noting that “[c]oncurrently, the GBI also set a new record for the month of July [2015].” Clearly the evidence is showing that atmospheric blocking increasing over Greenland which fits nicely into the global warming/sea ice loss/wiggly jet stream theory.

So what’s our beef?

A couple of months ago, some of the same authors of the Tedesco paper (notably Ed Hanna) published a paper showing the history of the monthly GBI going back to 1851 (as opposed to 1950 as depicted in the Tedesco paper).

Here’s their GBI plotted for the month of July from 1851 to 2015:

This picture tells a completely different story. Instead of a long-term trend that could be related to anthropogenic global warming, what we see is large annual and multidecadal variability, with the end of the record not looking much different than say a period around 1880 and with the highest GBI occurring in 1918 (with 1919 coming in 2nd place). While this doesn’t conclusively demonstrate that the current rise in GBI is not related to jet stream changes induced by sea ice loss, it most certainly does demonstrate that global-warming induced sea ice loss is not a requirement for blocking events to occur over Greenland and that recent events are not  at all “weird.”  An equally plausible, if not much more plausible, expectation of future behavior is that this GBI highstand is part of multidecadal natural variability and will soon relax back towards normal values.  But such an explanation isn’t Post-worthy.

Another big problem with all the new hype is that history shows the current goings-on in Greenland to be irrelevant, because humans just can’t make it warm enough up there to melt all that much ice. For example, in 2013, Dorthe Dahl-Jensen and her colleagues published a paper in Nature detailing the history of the ice in Northwest Greenland during the beginning of the last interglacial, which included a 6,000 year period in which her ice core data showed averaged a whopping 6⁰C warmer in summer than the 20th century average. Greenland only lost around 30% of its ice with a heat load of (6 X 6000) 36,000 degree-summers. The best humans could ever hope to do with greenhouse gases is—very liberally—about 5 degrees for 500 summers, or (5 X 500) 2,500 degree-summers. In other words, the best we can do is 500/6000 times 30%, or a 2.5% of the ice, resulting in a grand total of seven inches of sea level rise over 500 years. That’s pretty much the death of the Greenland disaster story, despite every lame press release and hyped “news” article on it.

While you won’t find this kind of analysis elsewhere, we’re happy to do it here at Cato.


Coral corruption: An honest environmentalist in trouble in Australia

Honest scientists are an endangered species.  Must toe the conventional line.  Below are three recent articles referring to Prof. Peter Ridd.  You can see why he's got the Warmists steaming

When marine scientist Peter Ridd suspected something was wrong with photographs being used to highlight the rapid decline of the Great Barrier Reef, he did what good scientists are supposed to do: he sent a team to check the facts.

After attempting to blow the whistle on what he found — healthy corals — Professor Ridd was censured by James Cook University and threatened with the sack. After a formal investigation, Professor Ridd — a renowned campaigner for quality assurance over coral research from JCU’s Marine Geophysics Laboratory — was found guilty of "failing to act in a collegial way and in the academic spirit of the institution".

His crime was to encourage questioning of two of the nation’s leading reef institutions, the Centre of Excellence for Coral Studies and the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, on whether they knew that photographs they had published and claimed to show long-term collapse of reef health could be misleading and wrong.

"These photographs are a big deal as they are plastered right across the internet and used very widely to claim damage," Professor Ridd told The Weekend Australian.

The photographs were taken near Stone Island off Bowen. A photograph taken in the late 19th century shows healthy coral. An accompanying picture supposedly of the same reef in 1994 is ­devoid of coral. When the before-and-after shots were used by GBRMPA in its 2014 report, the authority said: "Historical photographs of inshore coral reefs have been especially powerful in illustrating changes over time, and that the change illustrated is typical of many inshore reefs."

Professor Ridd said it was only possible to guess within a kilometre or two where the original photograph was taken and it would not be unusual to find great coral in one spot and nothing a kilometre away, as his researchers had done. Nor was it possible to say what had killed the coral in the 1994 picture.

"In fact, there are literally hundreds of square kilometres of dead reef-flat on the Great Barrier Reef which was killed due to the slow sea-level fall of about a meter that has occurred over the last 5000 years," he said. "My point is not that they have probably got this completely wrong but rather what are the quality assurance measures they take to try to ensure they are not telling a misleading story?"

A GBRMPA spokesman said last night "the historical photos serve to demonstrate the vulnerability of nearshore coral reefs, rather than a specific cause for their decline.

"Ongoing monitoring shows coral growth in some locations, however this doesn’t detract from the bigger picture, which shows shallow inshore areas of the Great Barrier Reef south of Port Douglas have clearly degraded over a period of decades." Centre of Excellence for Coral Studies chairman Terry Hughes did not respond to questions from The Weekend Australian.

Professor Ridd was disciplined for breaching principle 1 of JCU’s code of conduct by "not displaying responsibility in respecting the reputations of other colleagues". He has been told that if he does it again he may be found guilty of ­serious misconduct.

A JCU spokesman said it was university policy not to comment on individual staff, but that the university’s marine science was subject to "the same quality assurance processes that govern the conduct of, and delivery of, ­science internationally".

This is the crux of the issue for Professor Ridd: "I feel as though I am the whistleblower."

His potential downfall is the ­result of a long campaign for better quality assurance standards for ocean and reef research, which has come under fire globally for exaggerating bad news and ignoring the good. Reef politics is a hot topic in the wake of widescale bleaching of corals on the Great Barrier Reef as part of what US agencies have called the world’s third mass-bleaching event.

About a quarter of the Great Barrier Reef has died and could take years to rebuild. The damage is concentrated in the northern section off Cape York. The scientific response to the bleaching has exposed a rift ­between GBRMPA and the JCU’s Coral Bleaching Taskforce led by Professor Hughes over how bleaching data should be treated and presented to the public. Conservation groups have run hard on the issue, with graphic ­images of dying corals. All sides of politics have responded with ­increased funding to reduce sediment flow and to combat crown of thorns starfish.

University of Western Australia marine biologist Carlos Duarte argued in BioScience last year that bias contributed to "perpetuating the perception of ocean calamities in the absence of robust evidence".

A paper published this year claimed scientific journals had exaggerated bad news on ocean acidification and played down the doubts. Former GBRMPA chairman Ian McPhail accused activists of "exaggerating the impact of coral bleaching for political and financial gain". Dr McPhail told The Weekend Australian it "seems that there is a group of researchers who begin with the premise that all is disaster".

Concerns about quality assurance in science are not confined to the reef. Drug-makers generated headlines when they were unable to replicate the results of landmark studies in the basic science of cancer. Professor Ridd poses the question: "Is the situation in marine science likely to be worse than in medicine and pharmaceuticals, psychology, education? Do we have a decent system of replication and checking of results?

"Is there a chance that many marine scientists are partially driven by ideology? Is there a chance that peer review among this group is self-selecting of the dominant idea? Is there a robust debate without intimidation?"

Professor Ridd wants an independent agency to check the science before governments commit to spending hundreds of millions of dollars.

There is no doubt the current bleaching is a serious event but there are also many questions still to be answered. The consensus position of reef experts is that bleaching events will get worse as ocean temperatures continue to rise because of climate change.


Great Barrier Reef death in five years is "laughable"

CLAIMS by a James Cook University professor that the Great Barrier Reef will be "terminal" in five years have been rubbished by one of his own colleagues.

In a scientific paper released this week, JCU’s Dr Jon Brodie and Professor Richard Pearson warned the natural wonder would be in a terminal condition within five years without a $10 billion commitment during the federal election campaign to improve water quality.

They said many parts of the Reef were in bad shape from pollution, climate change, and overfishing, and they were continuing to decline.

The researchers predicted a wave of crown-of-thorns starfish outbreaks in 2025 triggered by poor water quality.

But JCU marine geophysicist Professor Peter Ridd said his colleagues’ claims were "laughable". "I think the threats to the Barrier Reef are greatly exaggerated and mostly based upon science that is very poorly quality assured," he said.

Latest findings by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority show 93 per cent of the natural wonder has varying levels of coral bleaching which was worse in remote parts off Cape York.

Prof Ridd said bleaching was an entirely natural event. "It has always occurred over the millennia, and this is nothing special," he said. "It’s no different to say that on the land, when in extremely dry conditions for example, eucalypt trees lose their leaves.

"There are all sorts of ­response mechanisms to extreme conditions. "High temperature is one of those, and bleaching is the ­response corals have."

Mr Brodie said if climate change continued at its current pace the combination of its ­effects and a starfish outbreak or similar event could lead to permanent loss of the coral.

He said the current federal election campaign was probably the last chance for politicians to put forward their plans of action on water quality and climate change if the GBR was to avoid permanent damage.

"It takes time for change to happen and we need to start fast. If something is not done in this election cycle then we may not see good coral again in our children’s lifetime," he said.

Prof Ridd agreed that coral bleaching needed to be studied, but questioned spending too many resources to do it.  "Australia faces far worse environmental problems than threats to the Reef," he said.

"Invasive species and noxious weeds on our rangelands are a much greater threat than the small amount of loss that we may or may not have had on the Barrier Reef."


Great Barrier Reef science needs 'quality assurance' to guarantee accuracy and better policy decisions: academic

 A James Cook University academic claims a lack of 'quality assurance' of science about the Great Barrier Reef is failing policy makers

Audiences in far north Queensland have been told scientific claims made about the health of the Great Barrier Reef are not subjected to the same level of "antagonistic rigour" as those made in the private sector.

Physical oceanographer Peter Ridd, from James Cook University, says quality assurance is a well-understood concept in just about every industry, but not in the scientific world, where arguably claims and predictions are frequently used to influence decision and policymakers.

Professor Ridd reviewed the data and found "major problems and statistical errors" in several scientific papers in which claims were made, for example, about calcification rates and a reduction in coral cover on the Great Barrier Reef.

The widely-accepted system of scientific peer review was failing to deliver the antagonistic scrutiny or rigour required, he claimed.

"They may be your mates, they could hate you and really give you a hard time, but the crucial thing is peer review is only a read of the actual paper," he said.

"It won't delve into the data and some of the data sets are enormous and it can take you months and months of work to really check if there's not another interpretation and that's the problem.

"The peer review is a great start in terms of quality assurance and we need it for all science, but for the really important science where you're going to make big policy decisions...

"When you're going to spend a billion dollars to save the reef or you're going to close down the fishing or the coal industry, you need to have a better system of quality assurance than this peer review process and that is what we don't do.

"It does happen in the private industry, but it doesn't happen for the public good science that we're talking about."

Professor Ridd said in the absence of a guaranteed method of "proper antagonistic review", enormous resources and attention was being directed at some environmental threats at the expense of others.

"A lot of the science is proposing hypothesises that there is perhaps a threat, but the data, in many cases, doesn't actually support that there's a huge risk, that there's a risk there but maybe not as large as we thought.

"For example, we have diabolical problems with feral animals and noxious weeds, but almost no money is spent on those problems while we spend a lot of money on the reef.

"I am not totally sure the Great Barrier Reef isn't majorly threatened or majorly damaged, but what I'm totally sure about is the scientific system is not working, that we're not guaranteeing debate."



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