Sunday, June 12, 2016

The SPY PHOTOS that reveal an early start to Antarctic melt: Biggest ice shelf collapse on record began in the 1960s

This is nothing new.  The Antarctic Peninsula  has long been known to be anomalous, partly melting while the major area of Antarctica GAINS ice mass.  Known subsurface volcanoes in the area would appear to be responsible

When an enormous section of the Antarctic ice shelf equivalent to the size of Rhode Island disintegrated in a matter of days, it sparked worldwide concern.

But analysis of recently declassified images from spy satellites have revealed that the destabilisation of the Larsen B ice shelf on the Antarctic Peninsula was already underway in the 1960s.

Researchers who have examined the images say the ice shelf was already accelerating in the 1960s and 1970s, and by the late 1980s it was 20 per cent faster than the previous decades.

They say it appears rising temperatures in the region were having an impact on the movement of the vast ice sheets long before the problem came to worldwide attention.

The collapse of the Larsen B ice shelf on the east side of the Antarctic Peninsula in 2002 saw a 1,235 square miles (3,200 square km) section of ice break apart into thousands of icebergs in just 35 days.

Larsen B was thought to have been stable for up to 12,000 years, according to studies on the collapse, but had become a hotspot of global warming.

Previous studies had suggested that the ice shelf’s began melting only a few years before it disintegrated in 2002.

Rising summertime temperatures are thought to have increased the water flow into cracks which then acted like wedges to lever the ice shelf apart.

It sparked widespread concern about the impact that climate change is having on the ice sheet balance in Antarctica, although a recent study showed ice mass on the continent has actually increased.

But analysis of a series of images taken by the CIA's ARGON spy satellites have allowed scientists to reconstruct the ice shelf's movements further back into history than previously possible.

Writing in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, Shujie Wang, a glaciologist at the University of Cincinnati, and her colleagues said: 'This allowed us to extend the ice velocity records of Larsen Ice Shelf back into 1960s ~ 1970s for the first time.

'The retrospective analysis revealed that acceleration of the collapsed Larsen B occurred much earlier than previously thought.'

The researchers say the acceleration of ice flow seen in the Larsen B ice shelf may be due to changes in the properties of the ice itself.


Paris Climate Deal Vulnerable To A Trump Presidency

Donald Trump is sowing doubt over the Paris climate change pact as his hostility towards the deal and the growing swagger of his campaign focus attention on how he could undermine it as president.

The Republican candidate last week vowed to “cancel” the painstakingly negotiated agreement, a threat experts said was unrealistic. But his comments put a spotlight on its slow ratification and weak spots in President Barack Obama’s climate legacy.

While Mr Trump could not single-handedly scrap the agreement — which Washington and Beijing had rallied more than 190 countries to join — he could withdraw the US, the second largest greenhouse gas emitter after China, or block the action needed to cut emissions to the levels promised by Mr Obama.

But if Mr Trump used the presidency to cast doubt on the need for climate action, he could weaken the resolve of other leaders sceptical about the deal.

Attacks on the Paris agreement could occur at three different levels under a Trump presidency.

No single country can “cancel” the deal because it would require each of the nearly 200 nations that negotiated it to agree to abandon it. Once the agreement is in force it is also impossible for a country to withdraw overnight…

The Paris accord cannot take effect until it is formally ratified or joined by 55 countries accounting for 55 per cent of global emissions. So far, only 17 countries representing 0.04 per cent of emissions have ratified it.

China and the US have said they plan to join this year but they account for only about 40 per cent of emissions. Even under the most optimistic scenarios, the agreement may not start until 2018.


Saudi Arabia Scales Back Renewable Energy Goal to Favor Gas

Saudi Arabia is curtailing renewable-power targets as the world’s biggest oil exporter plans to use more natural gas, backing away from goals set when crude prices were about triple their current level, according to Energy Minister Khalid Al-Falih.

The kingdom aims to have power generation from renewable resources like the sun make up 10 percent of the energy mix, a reduction from an earlier target of 50 percent, Al-Falih said in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Al-Falih provided new details of the country’s solar power program as he joined other ministers to announce parts of a plan adopted by the cabinet on Monday to overhaul the country’s economy.

“Our energy mix has shifted more toward gas, so the need for high targets from renewable sources isn’t there any more,” Al-Falih said. “The previous target of 50 percent from renewable sources was an initial target and it was built on high oil prices” near $150 a barrel, he said.

Saudi Arabia, which holds the world’s second-largest crude reserves, will double natural gas production, according to Al-Falih, and the government will expand the distribution network to the western part of the nation. Generating more power from gas and renewables should make more crude available for export, which would otherwise be burned for electricity for domestic use.

Saudi Arabia has for years sought to develop gas resources to provide fuel for power plants and industries and to free up more oil to sell overseas. Saudi Arabian Oil Co., the state-run producer, set up several ventures with international partners to explore for gas, but results were disappointing and most of the companies withdrew from their ventures. Production of dry gas, or fuel for use in power plants or factories, will rise to 17.8 billion cubic feet per day from 12 billion, according to the plan.

“Gas currently makes up around 50 percent of the energy mix in Saudi Arabia, and we have an ambition to see this grow to 70 percent in the future, either from local sources or from abroad,” Al-Falih said.

Achieving the targets will be a challenge, said Robin Mills, chief executive officer at consultant Qamar Energy in Dubai. Gas projects usually require a lead time of at least three to four years before production begins, said Mills, a fellow at the Brookings Institution in Doha.

“Anything that’s going to produce that much gas by 2020, you’ve got to be doing it today,” Mills said.

Solar-power should be the main renewable-energy option for the nation, Ibrahim Babelli, the country’s deputy minister for economy and planning, said last month in Dubai. Babelli directed strategy at the government agency previously responsible for renewables policy. The cost of building solar power plants is declining globally as Chinese panel makers boost manufacturing capacity and slash costs.

Saudi Arabia is seeking to increase renewable-energy production to 9.5 gigawatts, according to a plan announced in April. Saudi Aramco has a 10-megawatt solar installation on the roof of a parking lot at its headquarters in Dhahran.

The Persian Gulf nation has previously scaled back its ambitions for renewables. In January 2015, it delayed by nearly a decade the deadline for meeting its solar-capacity goal, saying it needed more time to assess technologies. The kingdom’s earlier solar program forecast more than $100 billion of investment in projects aimed at generating 41 gigawatts of power by 2040.


Finally, courage to counterpunch the green bullies

When the name Resolute was chosen in 2011, after the merger of Bowater and Abitibi-Consolidated, the Canadian company, a global leader in the forest products industry and the largest producer of newsprint in the world, likely didn’t know what a harbinger it was. Today, it stands alone, set in purpose, with firmness and determination. Displaying the rare courage to stand up to the typical environmental extremists’ campaign of misinformation and shaming designed to shut it down, Resolute Forest Products is fighting back.

Many people are probably unaware of the shakedown tactics used by groups whose touchy-feely names belie their true goals.

Like most companies, Resolute originally went along. As Peter Foster explains in the Financial Post: “a cabal of radical environmental non-governmental organizations, ENGOs — including Greenpeace, ForestEthics and the David Suzuki Foundation — agreed to stop their campaigns of customer harassment in return for the members of the Forest Products Association of Canada, FPAC, agreeing to sanitize a swathe of the Canadian Boreal forest, and to ‘consult’ on development plans. Astonishingly, governments played no part.” The result was the Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement. The ENGOs ultimately aspired to put the majority of the Boreal forest off limits — ending economic development. Regarding the Greenpeace-promoted concept of “intact forest landscape protection,” Laurent Lessard, Quebec’s Minister of Forest, Wildlife and Parks, says it threatens “absolutely devastating” economic implications.

Resolute had been a major supporter of the Agreement and has participated in other efforts between ENGOs and industry to work out differences. Despite that, using a campaign of lies and intimidation, ENGOs have constantly attacked Resolute. At one point, in 2012, the false claims were so egregious, Resolute threatened legal action against Greenpeace — which garnered an unprecedented apology and retraction from Greenpeace. However, they came back with vengeance. Greenpeace continued to publicize the same false statements and dubbed Resolute a Boreal forest “destroyer.”

Engaged in a war without violence, Greenpeace has since attacked Rite-Aid Pharmacy for “getting millions of pounds of paper from controversial logging giant Resolute Forest Products,” calling Resolute: “a company with a history of environmental destruction.” Greenpeace was successful with a similar harassment campaign against Best-Buy. Resolute was the company’s primary paper supplier, but due to the shaming, Best-Buy announced it would seek other sources. Greenpeace has no plans to stop the tactic. Other targeted companies include Canadian Tire (a retailer with more than 1700 outlets), Home Depot and Office Depot, Proctor & Gamble and 3M. Foster reports: “Greenpeace itself has calculated that its campaigns have cost Resolute at least $100 million.”

Somewhere between the Greenpeace retraction and May 2013, an epiphany — similar to what occurred between the president of the U.S. and the space alien in the movie Independence Day — must have taken place. In the clip, the captured alien is choking someone with its tentacle and the president is trying to negotiate with it. He tries to reason with the alien and suggests that they could “coexist.” He asks the alien what it wants them to do. The alien simply responds: “die.” Resolute must have realized that no matter how many agreements it might sign, the global network of ENGOs come back with more and more rigid requirements until the tentacles choke the company out.

On May 23, 2013, Resolute filed a lawsuit against Greenpeace claiming it damaged the company’s “business, goodwill and reputation.” The suit asserts defamation, malicious falsehood and intentional interference with economic relations and seeks damages of $5 million as well as punitive damages of $2 million, plus costs. Greenpeace says the suit “is an effort to subdue Greenpeace into silence and send a message to other groups that they should stay quiet.” It believes the suit should have been thrown out, but despite several attempts, the Judge has disagreed and allowed unflattering accusations about Greenpeace’s global law-breaking activities to remain.

While the Canadian lawsuit makes its way through the courts and the appeals process, Resolute has just taken another bold step to defend itself against the green bully’s attacks.

On May 31, Resolute took a page from the ENGO’s playbook and, in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Georgia, filed a civil RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations) suit against Greenpeace and a number of its associates who, though they claim to be independent, act cooperatively. The RICO Act intended to deal with the mob as a loose organization, or “enterprise,” with a pattern of activity and common nefarious purposes, such as extortion. (Greenpeace has asked the Justice Department to use the RICO Act to investigate oil companies and organizations that sow doubts about the risks of climate change.)

The 100-page complaint alleges that Greenpeace and its affiliates are a RICO “enterprise.” According to the Resolute news release, it describes the deliberate falsity of the malicious and defamatory accusations the enterprise has made and details how, to support its false accusations, “Greenpeace has fabricated evidence and events, including, for example, staged photos falsely purporting to show Resolute logging in prohibited areas.”  The suit also calls Greenpeace a “global fraud” out to line its pockets with money from donors and says that “maximizing donations, not saving the environment, is Greenpeace’s true objective.” Additionally, it cites admissions by Greenpeace’s leadership that it “emotionalizes” issues to manipulate audiences.

In the U.S. lawsuit, Resolute is seeking compensatory damages in an amount to be proven at trial, as well as treble and punitive damages.

Patrick Moore, one of the original founders of Greenpeace, is disappointed that the group that originally wanted to help, is now an extortion racket. He told me: “I am very proud to have played a small role in helping Resolute deal with these lying blackmailers and extortionists”

Discovery in both the Canadian and U.S. lawsuits will open up records and could well peel back the moralist tone to expose a global job-destroying, anti-development agenda. For too long ENGOs have been allowed free rein over regulating natural resources in what is really economic warfare on workers.

At a recent meeting, the Canadian Council of Forest Ministers, according to Foster, “acknowledged that it was time to stand up and recognize ‘the significant economic implication of misinformation’” — though one has to wonder what took them so long.

Resolute is counter-punching the green bullies — and it’s about time. Just ask the coal miners in West Virginia or the farmers in Central California who are wild with enthusiasm for the Trump candidacy that promises to end the regressive regulations and return the U.S. to economic strength.

Hopefully other companies will now tune into the public’s change in attitude and, with firmness and determination, will, also, fight back to protect shareholders and workers.

The author of Energy Freedom, Marita Noon serves as the executive director for Energy


A carbon tax has not been imposed, although the Obama administration continues to try

The House is expected to vote on a non-binding resolution later this week opposing a nationwide carbon tax on fossil fuels as part of any policy to address global warming.

The floor vote is sparking a conservative rush to rally lawmakers to back the measure.

The free-market American Energy Alliance began an Internet ad blitz Tuesday as part of a campaign to gain votes to show the Congress is standing firm against the idea of placing a carbon tax, or fee, on fossil fuels.

"The resolution opposes any carbon tax proposals and expresses the sense of Congress that a carbon tax would be detrimental to the United States economy," the group said.

The group says it is running an initiative all week to urge lawmakers to support the "anti-carbon tax resolution" introduced by Majority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La.

"The ads call on constituents to contact their representatives and tell them to vote in favor of the Scalise resolution," it said. "AEA will also issue a key-vote later this week urging lawmakers to support the Scalise resolution." The vote is expected on Thursday.

A carbon tax has not been imposed by the U.S., although the Obama administration continues to try.

President Obama wants to attach a $10 tax to each barrel of crude oil produced in the country. The idea has been met by lawmakers' concerns that such a fee would drive up the cost of energy.

The administration says recent low oil prices make it an ideal time to enact such a fee. The president wants to use the revenue collected from the tax to fund an advanced transportation system that would support his climate change agenda.


Solar Versus Nuclear

Solar energy might be free, but harvesting it is very costly, both in dollar terms and on the environment, writes Geoff Russell.  The references are to Australia but the argument is generally applicable

I’d be guessing that large screen TVs in the pubs around Mt Isa, Broken Hill and the Northern Territory’s McArthur River mine are hard wired to show nothing but Fox Sports, but they really should have been tuned to the ABC back in November last year for Kitchen Cabinet.

They’d have been a cheerin’ and a hollerin’ over their beers as Australian Greens leader Richard Di Natale stood before the altar of his large bank of lead acid batteries and announced with messianic fervour, “This is the future!”

Sunshine may be considered a renewable energy source but the resources needed to harvest it are the same as for any other energy source; they involve land, mines, tailings dams, metals, smelting, concrete, trucks, bulldozers; the whole gamut.

But because sunshine and wind are both intermittent and unpredictable, it’s best to squirrel away what you harvest; which means more mines, smelting, tailings dams, trucks and the like.

Focusing on the renewability of the sunshine and ignoring the harvesting infrastructure is like focusing on the oh-so-low-low price of a colour printer, while ignoring its $500-a-refill toxic toner cartridges.

Aboriginal people living around the McArthur River zinc, lead and silver mine are at the pointy end of battery production, and may not share Di Natale’s enthusiasm.

The McArthur River mine has been getting some worrying news coverage lately. Threatening disaster with fires and (claims of) tailing dam leaks, and consequently threatened with closure.

A tailings dam is where miners put all the stuff that nobody will pay them for after extracting the stuff they reckon they can sell from whatever they dig out of their bloody big holes. The extraction process generally involves water, hence the term “dam”. Typically, tailings dams contain significant amounts of material that is toxic and dangerous, forever.

As the crow flies, the McArthur River mine is about 90 km from the coast in the Northern Territory.....

But let’s get back to the mine itself. Who the hell needs zinc, lead and silver anyway?

Zinc mines have always been important because zinc is incredibly widely used. About half of the world’s zinc is used in galvanising iron, but the rest is used in everything from brass to electrical solder to vitamin pills.

Zinc mines are particularly hot property at the moment because of interest in bloody big batteries to spackle over the gaping holes in energy output from solar panels and wind farms.

There is a major battle between zinc and lithium technologies, and if zinc were to win that battle, then we’d need more mines like McArthur River, Mt Isa and Broken Hill.

Zinc currently has an edge because it’s cheaper… partly because its many uses have driven the construction of big mines… like McArthur River.

Will zinc stay cheap? Probably not, it’s on the American Chemical Society’s (ACS) endangered chemical list. But the thing about lithium batteries is that the ones being touted for cars and home backup systems have (by weight) eight times more cobalt than lithium. And the thing about cobalt is that the biggest producer on the planet is the Democratic Republic of Congo, which produces fully 50 percent of current world production.

Here’s a picture of some children mining cobalt in DR Congo for the green big battery future. Amnesty International released a report on these horrors back in January this year.

After zinc, lead is the second major product of the McArthur River mine. Globally we use about 10.6 million tonnes of lead annually, with about 5 million coming from mines and the rest coming from recycling.

It’s used in everything from paints to shotgun pellets, but about 85 percent of global lead production is used in batteries; like those used in Richard Di Natale’s battery room.

While zinc and lithium are fighting for the high-end market with superior energy density, lead will always be a winner in the battery wars because it is cheaper than both. But if you want a serious battery backup system, then you typically need a spare room for what ends up as a really large battery set.

Imagine if all the households on the planet who have a car also emulated Di Natale’s PV system with battery backup. Instead of one standard car battery, each household would have a dozen batteries of more than double the size.

Can enough lead deposits be found and developed to meet such a rise in demand? Lead isn’t on the ACS endangered list but it is listed as “Limited Availability… Future risk to supply”. The same is true of cobalt and nickel, the other key battery components.

So a large expansion of lead or any other battery technology may not be trivial. But even assuming you can find and extract more lead, building clean smelting and recycling processes is challenging. Even rich countries like Australia have persisted with poor processes resulting in children at Port Pirie in South Australia having elevated blood lead levels for decades.

And even if the proposed Nyrstar redevelopment at Port Pirie finally results in cleaner processes, lead is still smelted and processed in filthy conditions and poisoning children in many countries; one study estimated that 15 percent of Mexican children have lost 5 IQ points due to lead poisoning.

So while the Greens are worried about nuclear waste – which has never hurt anybody – their leader spruiks an industry of monumental toxicity.

The global nuclear industry has been looking after its waste safely for decades. Not so the lead industry, and lead doesn’t have a half life… it’s toxic forever.

Mining isn’t something anybody should undertake lightly. You want to maximise the social value while minimising the area you trash in the process. So let’s run some Ranger numbers.

How much electricity has been generated during the last decade from Ranger’s uranium?

It takes about 280 tonnes of uranium to power a South Korean APR1400 reactor. So Ranger’s output over the past decade could supply about 13.45 of these reactors annually.

How much electricity would that supply? About 148 terawatt hours annually; which is about 60 percent of Australia’s total electricity demand.

Add in the Olympic Dam uranium, and we could easily power Australia from these two mines if we had the reactors.

Let’s compare this to a solar and battery alternative. Australia’s largest solar farm is at Nyngan. It covers 250 hectares and generates 230 gigawatt hours per year.

These 13.45 APR1400s would generate as much electricity annually as 637 Nyngans, covering 159,250 hectares… without needing any batteries. This is like 81,000 Melbourne Cricket Grounds.

Join them end-to-end and you have a 41-lane highway stretching from Sydney to Perth … and back to Sydney … and back to Perth and then some.

But what if we didn’t use lead, zinc or lithium to store the electricity from all those Nyngans? How about molten salt storage?

Plenty of people talk about molten salt storage, but when the public hear about it, almost everybody imagines scraping a little off the top of Lake Eyre and putting it in a few trucks. Not quite.

The salt used is a mix of sodium and potassium nitrate, produced in chemical plants using stuff that is first mined and then transformed.

Nonetheless, this kind of salt storage is well understood, but only ever been used in small powerplants.

Why? It’s easy to calculate the amount of salt needed to provide 12 hours of storage for 637 Nyngans; it comes to about 22 million tonnes.

The current global production of potassium nitrate is about 1.4 million tonnes, and that of sodium nitrate is similar.

So first find sites for a very large number of chemical factories, do an EIS for each one, survive local objections, or better still, build them in some developing country with more friendly tax laws and lower environmental standards, then make your 22 million tonnes and deliver them to where you want them in half a million B-double truck loads.

Like I said, sunshine might be free, but harvesting it is a bugger and storing it is even worse.

The environmental costs of a Ranger sized uranium mine are certainly significant, but tiny compared to the solar + battery alternative. And it just keeps getting better the more you understand about nuclear reactor technology.

The Chinese expect their ‘fast reactors’ to dominate the market in about 15 years time. With these reactors, you can multiply the electricity generated with a tonne of uranium by a factor of about 100. Which is exactly what the Chinese need, because they don’t have much uranium.

So what’s on the horizon for solar and batteries? Exactly the same snail pace development with tiny incremental improvements of an already resource hungry technology.



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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