Monday, July 04, 2016

Upper atmosphere cooling, CO2 and bluish sunsets

Global warming causes everything and everything is caused by warming.  That seems to be the dogma of the Warmists.  So we must not be surprised that global warming has been drafted in to explain noctilucent clouds, or more precisely, their greater incidence in recent decades.  Their story is excerpted below.

The problem below lies with this statement: "While increasing carbon dioxide warms the surface of the Earth, those same molecules refrigerate the upper atmosphere".  It is a conventional explanation of the well known fact that atmospheric layers above the tropopause are indeed getting colder.

So how so?  What is the theory linking CO2 to upper atmosphere cooling?  It relies on an assumption, that heat rising off the earth is blocked by tropospheric CO2 and hence is not available to warm the mesosphere and the stratosphere generally. The mesosphere is the lower part of the stratosphere.

So the big underlying assumption is to conceive CO2 as forming some sort of blanket around the earth.  A blanket would indeed keep the heat in and deny it to the stratosphere.  But CO2 is NOT a blanket.  It is just lots of separate molecules jiggling away doing their own thing.  And ANY heated atmospheric molecule will emanate its radiation in ALL directions -- not just downward towards earth.  CO2 molecules  don't have little compasses in them telling them in which direction to focus their radiations.

So CO2 is not a blanket at all.  It will be just as likely to radiate upwards as downwards.  It will be just as likely to warm the stratosphere as the troposphere. So once again Warmism is fundamentally flawed.  CO2 does NOT explain stratospheric or mesospheric cooling.

One could argue that upward radiation is blocked by that peculiar layer called the tropopause but if we argue that way, what do we need CO2 for?  Why do we need it to explain tropospheric warming? The tropopause already does the blocking job that CO2 is supposed to do.  CO2 blocking becomes a surplus explanation that is put to death by Occam's razor. I don't think Warmists would want to go there.

So what, then, does explain the cooling of the stratosphere?  I don't really think I need to go there. I don't have to have all the explanations.  I will leave that pathology to the Warmists.  I do however have some ideas centred around the fact that column ozone levels do differ in different parts of the world:

The stratosphere is where most of the earth's ozone is located.  And incoming solar radiation breaks it up, producing warming. Where ozone levels are falling, there would be less warming and hence a cooling trend.  And ozone levels DO appear to be falling, at least in Antarctica.  The ozone hole there was at its largest late last year -- for all that the ozone hole warriors would have us think otherwise. I have dealt with their recent fantasy about that yesterday -- including their bizarre claim about how volcanoes work

So I can firmly say is that one part of the explanation for noctilucent clouds is faulty.  The mesosphere is indeed getting cooler but global warming has nothing to do with it.

The second part of the explanation -- that methane promotes PMCs by adding moisture to the mesosphere, because rising methane oxidizes into water -- I have no quarrel with

In the summer of 1885, sky watchers around northern Europe noticed something strange. Sunsets weren’t the same any more.  The red and orange colors they were used to seeing were still there—but those familiar colors were increasingly joined by rippling waves of luminous blue.

At first they chalked it up to Krakatoa, which had erupted just two years earlier. The explosion of the Indonesian super volcano hurled massive plumes of ash and dust into the atmosphere more than 50 miles high, coloring sunsets for years after the blast.

Eventually Krakatoa’s ash settled, yet the rippling waves of luminous blue didn’t go away.  Indeed, more than 100 years later, they are shining brighter than ever.

Today we call them, "noctilucent clouds" (NLCs). They appear with regularity in summer months, shining against the starry sky at the edge of twilight. Back in the 19th century you had to go to Arctic latitudes to see them. In recent years, however, they have been sighted from backyards as far south as Colorado and Kansas.

Noctilucent clouds are such a mystery that in 2007 NASA launched a spacecraft to study them. The Aeronomy of Ice in the Mesosphere satellite (AIM) is equipped with sensors specifically designed to study the swarms of ice crystals that make up NLCs.  Researchers call these swarms "polar mesospheric clouds" (PMCs).

A new study published in the Journal of Geophysical Research (doi:10.1002/2015JD024439) confirms what some researchers have long suspected:  PMCs in the northern hemisphere have become more frequent and brighter in recent decades—a development that may be related to climate change.

At altitudes where PMCs form, temperatures decreased by 0.5 ±0.2K per decade. At the same time, water vapor increased by 0.07±0.03 ppmv (~1%) per decade.

"These results settle the decades old question of whether or not the observed long-term change in PMCs is an indicator of changing temperature or humidity," says James Russell, AIM Principal Investigator. "It’s both."

These results are consistent with a simple model linking PMCs to two greenhouse gases. First, carbon dioxide promotes PMCs by making the mesosphere colder. (While increasing carbon dioxide warms the surface of the Earth, those same molecules refrigerate the upper atmosphere – a yin-yang relationship long known to climate scientists.) Second, methane promotes PMCs by adding moisture to the mesosphere, because rising methane oxidizes into water.


Leaders ignore climate change controversy at summit …..Political correctness trumps scientific realities (1)

The North America Leaders' Summit — or what the Investor’s Business Daily editorial board aptly calls the "‘Three Amigos’ summit" — began Wednesday in Ottawa, Canada, and it involves that Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau along with Barack Obama and Mexico’s Pena Nieto. According to the White House website, the trio is unveiling "[a] historic goal to achieve 50% clean power across North America by 2025."

"The administration calls it ‘ambitious,’" says Investor’s. "We call it ‘ludicrous.’" Here’s why:

"Since the U.S. accounts for three-quarters of the total energy produced by these three countries, the responsibility of living up to any such agreement would fall most heavily on the U.S. … According to the Department of Energy’s Energy Information Administration, ‘clean energy’ — nuclear, hydroelectric, solar, wind, biomass, etc. — makes up less than one-fifth of U.S. energy production. … So the only way to get there would be to dramatically increase one or all of these sources in nine years."

And even then, IBD elucidates, the problem becomes fourfold: 1. Ecofascists are opposed to an energy infrastructure that relies heavily on hydroelectric and nuclear power. 2. Even if America did decide to broaden its reliance on nuclear energy — and there are no plans to do so — the process for developing the infrastructure would take far longer than the White House’s timeframe. 3. On the remaining options — wind, solar and biomass — "production levels from these sources would have to increase something like 470% in nine years for clean energy to account for half of the nation’s energy production." Even the optimists would agree that’s an unrealistic expectation. 4. A pledge may look great on paper, but will Canada and Mexico follow through? That’s the trillion-dollar question.

"For a guy who is desperately fishing around for something to claim as a legacy," IBD concludes, "President Obama’s running around making promises that he knows will never be kept is an odd way to go about things." In other words, when it comes to Obama fulfilling his pledges, don’t hold your breath. On second thought, maybe you should. You might just save the world — and his legacy.


Leaders ignore climate change controversy at summit …..Political correctness trumps scientific realities (2)

In Wednesday’s Leaders’ Statement on a North American Climate, Clean Energy, and Environment Partnership, President Obama, Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau and Mexican President Pena Nieto agreed, "to work together to implement the historic Paris Agreement, supporting our goal to limit temperature rise this century to well below 2 degrees C."

Obama told Canada’s Parliament, "This is the only planet we’ve got, and this may be the last shot we’ve got to save it!"

Underlying such assertions is the unjustified belief that climate science is well understood. According to Obama, Trudeau, and Pena Nieto, a global warming catastrophe awaits if we do not reduce our carbon dioxide emissions by quickly moving away from fossil fuels.

Yet thousands of highly qualified, independent scientists do not share this opinion. Besides their scientific publications, they have made their views known through countless newspaper editorials and open letters. Perhaps the most straight-forward was the Climate Scientists Register of the International Climate Science Coalition (ICSC). In the space of only three days in 2010, 142 climate experts from 22 countries endorsed the following statement:

"We, the undersigned, having assessed the relevant scientific evidence, do not find convincing support for the hypothesis that human emissions of carbon dioxide are causing, or will in the foreseeable future cause, dangerous global warming."

Among the 64 signatories from the United States were Syun-Ichi Akasofu, Professor of Physics, Founding Director, International Arctic Research Center, University of Alaska; Robert W. Durrenberger, former Arizona State Climatologist and President of the American Association of State Climatologists, Professor Emeritus of Geography, Arizona State University; William Happer, Professor of Physics, Princeton University; and Richard S. Lindzen, Alfred P. Sloan Professor of Meteorology, Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Many scientists told ICSC that they agreed with the Register but feared reprisals from their employers or activists if they publicly endorsed the statement.

Such concerns are not unjustified. Two of ICSC’s scientists have had death threats and there have been cases of academic dismissal for espousing politically incorrect views on climate change. In recent months, we have seen attempts by state legislators in California and 16 state attorneys general to criminalize some forms of ‘climate change denial.’ On June 25, the Democratic Platform Drafting Committee unanimously agreed to call for the Department of Justice to investigate corporations who disagree with political correctness on climate science.

Despite such intimidation, debate rages in the scientific community about the causes and consequences of climate change. This is well revealed by the reports of the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC). Citing thousands of peer-reviewed references published in the world’s leading science journals, NIPCC reports demonstrate that today’s climate is not unusual, and the evidence for future climate calamity is weak. The NIPCC explains how the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has ignored much of the available scientific literature that does not conform to their position on climate change and so often comes to conclusions that do not match the facts.

Statements in support of dangerous anthropogenic global warming (DAGW) by national science academies are also tainted. Not a single one that officially supports the DAGW hypothesis has demonstrated that a majority of its scientist members agree with their academy’s position. Their statements are merely the opinions of the groups’ executives, or small committees appointed by the executives.

Yet last year, the White House tweeted: "97% of scientists agree: #climate change is real, man-made and dangerous." A few days later, Secretary of State John Kerry proclaimed, "97% of the world’s scientists tell us this is urgent."

This is unsubstantiated. There has never been a reputable, worldwide poll of scientists who study the causes of climate change that demonstrates that a majority of them support the DAGW hypothesis.

Even if someday a survey does show a scientific consensus in support of the position held dear by Obama, Trudeau, and Pena Nieto, it would still prove nothing about nature. Scientific ideas are not proven right by a show of hands, political correctness or intimidation. Were it otherwise, we would still believe that witches cause bad weather, Earth is the centre of the universe, and hand-washing is unimportant in public health.

It is not surprising that all three leaders erred in this way. They are relying on the IPCC which often labels its climate science conclusions unequivocal, or statements that cannot be wrong. In support of their position, the UN body presents empirical data. But data is always subject to interpretation, so cannot be used to prove truth.

We are best served when our leaders encourage scientists to be fearless intellectual explorers, going wherever their research leads, independent of contemporary fashion. Wednesday’s leaders’ summit did the opposite, merely reinforcing a point of view many scientists consider foolish. Citizens of all three countries deserve better.


Virgin Islands AG Drops Exxon Subpoena

The attorney general of the U.S. Virgin Islands withdrew his subpoena of oil giant Exxon Mobil on Wednesday afternoon, dealing the first setback to a group of Democratic officials seeking racketeering charges against the company.

Exxon told a federal court that AG Claude Walker had agreed to walk away if the company would drop a related lawsuit alleging that the subpoena violated its constitutional rights and the laws of its home state of Texas.

Walker was the third state attorney general, after New York and Massachusetts, to subpoena Exxon Mobil over allegations that it committed fraud and racketeering by misleading customers and shareholders about the risks of climate change.

Walker is the first to walk back the effort against Exxon, but he is also in litigation in Washington, D.C., over a separate subpoena sent to a libertarian nonprofit that received donations from Exxon more than a decade ago.

Both subpoenas have triggered legal action. In a federal lawsuit filed three weeks after it was subpoenaed, Exxon alleged that Walker’s subpoena violated its "rights under the First, Fourth, Fifth, and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution, the Texas Constitution, and Texas common law."

District Judge Ed Kinkeane ordered Exxon and Walker to meet no later than July 11 to discuss "the possibilities for a prompt resolution of the case." Exxon’s filing notified the court that they’d reached an agreement to withdraw both the subpoena and the resulting lawsuit.

Walker had asked for a massive number of internal Exxon documents, including documents pertaining to its internal deliberations and projections about climate change, but also requested communications with nearly a hundred nonprofit groups.

They included conservative and libertarian advocacy groups, but also more mundane organizations such as the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory, the Arizona State University office of climatology, and Africa Fighting Malaria.

New York attorney general Eric Schneiderman and Massachusetts attorney general Maura Healey asked for communications with many of the same research and advocacy groups, including the Heritage Foundation, the Competitive Enterprise Institute, and the Cato Institute.

Schneiderman is the leader of a group of 20 state attorneys general that have seized on reports from news organizations funded by environmentalist groups that allege that Exxon misled the public about the risks its product poses.

Exxon and other critics say it is an unconstitutional effort to use state governments’ legal authority to shut down political speech and advocacy with which the attorneys general disagree.

The attorneys general, all Democrats, have been planning the legal campaign for more than a year. When a Schneiderman aide emailed a questionnaire to other attorneys general involved in the effort, Walker said he was "eager to hear what other attorneys general are doing and find concrete ways to work together on litigation to increase our leverage."

Though Walker has withdrawn his Exxon subpoena, he also subpoenaed the Competitive Enterprise Institute, a libertarian group that used to receive Exxon funding, seeking evidence in its investigation into the company.

Walker has dropped his effort to enforce that subpoena in D.C., where CEI is based, but has not actually withdrawn it. The group is now alleging that the effort violated a DC law against lawsuits designed to censor, harass, or intimidate a public critic. A federal judge heard arguments on that motion on Tuesday.

The larger campaign was orchestrated behind the scenes with leaders of prominent environmental groups and deep-pocketed foundations that fund them and the news organizations whose reporting ostensibly spurred the investigation.

According to internal documents detailing the effort, its goals are to "delegitimize [ExxonMobil] as a political actor," "force officials to disassociate themselves from Exxon," "drive divestment from Exxon," and "to drive Exxon & climate into center of 2016 election."

Democratic lawmakers have also pressed the Justice Department to bring civil racketeering charges against Exxon over the same allegations. Attorney General Loretta Lynch has said that she referred the case to the FBI, which is deciding whether to prosecute.


Brexit’s energy lesson for California, et al.

"California’s largest utility and environmental groups announced a deal Tuesday [June 21] to shutter the last nuclear power plant in the state." This statement from the Associated Press reporting about the announced closure of the Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant should startle you. The news about shutting down California’s last operating nuclear power plant, especially after Pacific Gas & Electric Co. (PG&E) had sought a 20-year extension of the operating licenses for the two reactors, is disappointing — not startling. What should pique your ire is that the "negotiated proposal," as the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) called it, is between the utility company and environmental groups—with no mention of the regulators elected to insure that consumers have efficient, effective and economical electricity.

Who put the environmental groups in charge? Not the California voters. But unelected environmental groups — and their bureaucratic friends in various government agencies — have been dictating energy policy for the most of the past decade. Regarding the "negotiated proposal," WSJ points out: "The agreement wades deeply into intricate energy procurement, environmental and rate-setting matters that are normally the exclusive jurisdiction of state agencies."

California has a goal of generating half of its electricity from renewable sources by 2030 and environmental groups are calling for the state officials to replace Diablo’s generating capacity with "renewable power sources." Realize that this one nuclear power plant provides twice as much electricity as all of California’s solar panels combined.

Bloomberg Intelligence analysts’ research concluded that PG&E "would need 10,500 megawatts of new solar installations to replace all of Diablo Canyon’s output" and that, without including potential costs of new transmission lines or back-up resources for solar, will cost $15 billion — with totals, including decommissioning, estimated at $20 billion.

The Bloomberg report states: "PG&E will ask that customers make up any shortfall."

Actual costs, Bloomberg says: "could be lower because the company expects to compensate for lower demand and replace only part of the production." Why will there be lower demand? The WSJ explains: "the plan calls for new power sources to furnish only a portion of the electricity that Diablo Canyon generates, assuming that greater energy efficiency in the future will also curb some power demand."

All of this is announced while California is experiencing, and expecting more, blackouts due to "a record demand for energy" and because "there just aren’t enough gas pipelines for what’s needed," according to CNN Money. "Southern California," reports WSJ, "is vulnerable to energy disruptions because it relies on a complex web of electric transmission lines, gas pipelines and gas storage facilities — all running like clockwork — to get enough electricity. If any piece is disabled, it can mean electricity shortages. Gas is the state’s chief fuel for power generation, not coal. But the pipelines can only bring in about 3 billion cubic feet of working gas a day into Southern California, below the daily demand, which gets as high as 5.7 billion cubic feet."

California’s Independent System Operator, which runs the state’s power grid, therefore, has warned of "significant risk" that there may not be enough natural gas which could result in "outages for as many as 14 summer days." CNN Money reports: "Natural gas has played a bigger role for California as the state has tried to phase out coal and nuclear power" — environmental groups oppose the use of all of these three power sources.

It is expected that Diablo Canyon’s generating capacity will, in part, be replaced with more natural gas —  which is good news for fracking. Eric Schmitt, vice president of operations for the California Independent System Operator, said: "California needs more flexibility in how it generates power so it can balance fluctuating output from wind and solar projects. Gas plants can be turned off and on quickly."

As coal-fueled electricity has been outlawed in California, and environmental groups have pushed to close nuclear power plants, and routinely block any new proposed natural gas pipelines, black outs will become frequent. California’s energy demand doesn’t match solar power’s production.

This dilemma makes "energy efficiency" a key component of the environmental groups’ decrees — which parallels the European Union’s (EU) policies that were a part of Britain’s "exit" decision (known as "Brexit").

When the EU’s energy efficiency standards for small appliances were first proposed, then German EU energy commissioner, Gunther Oettinger, according to the Telegraph, said: "All EU countries agree energy efficiency is the most effective method to reduce energy consumption and dependence on imports and to improve the climate. Therefore there needs to be mandatory consumption limits for small electrical appliances." In 2014, the EU, in the name of energy efficiency, sparked public outcry in Britain when it banned powerful vacuum cleaners with motors above 1600 watts. It then proposed to "ban high powered kettles and toasters" as part of the "Eco-design Directive" aimed at reducing the energy consumption of products.

The EU’s Eco-design Directive’s specific requirements are to be published as "Implementing Measures" — which, according to, are made "as European Law Commission Regulations." It explains that this process allows the directives to "enter into force in all the member states without requiring a transcription process in their National Law. Thus they can be issued much more quickly than the usual Directive Process."

When the EU’s high-powered toaster/tea-kettle ban was announced, it became "a lightning rod for public anger at perceived meddling by Brussels" — which was seen as "intruding too much into citizens’ daily lives." When the ban was announced, retailers reported a spike, as high as 95 percent, in toaster and electric tea-kettle sales. The European overreach became such ammunition in Britain’s Brexit referendum, that Brussels stalled the ban until after the election and engaged in a now-failed public relations exercise with "green campaigners" to speak out in favor of the toaster and tea-kettle regulations that were believed to have "considerable energy saving potential."

The Brits didn’t buy it. It is reported that top of the list for "leave" voters were "EU Rules and Regulations." Matthew Elliot, chief executive of the Vote Leave campaign said: "If we vote remain we will be powerless to prevent an avalanche of EU regulations that Brussels is delaying until after the referendum."

Brussels’ toaster and tea-kettle ban, which were perceived as an assault on the British staples, has been called "bonkers" and "too barmy to be true." Specifically addressing the ban, Elliot said: "The EU now interferes with so many aspects of our lives, from our breakfast to our borders." David Coburn, a UK Independence party MEP from Scotland, who recently bought a new toaster and tea kettle grumbled: "I think I must have bought a euro-toaster, I have to put bread in it five times and it’s still pale and pasty. Perhaps it’s powered by windmills. And the kettle? Watching a kettle boil has never been so boring."

While energy efficiency directives banning Keurig coffee makers would be more likely to draw similar ridicule from Californians, there is a lesson to be learned from the Brexit decision: too much regulation results in referendums to overturn them. It is widely believed that, with Brexit and new leadership, many of the EU’s environmental regulations, including the Paris Climate Agreement, will be adjusted or abandoned.

More and more Americans are reaching the same conclusion as our British cousins about the overreach of rules and regulations. As Coburn concluded: "What we want is to let the free market reign, not this diktat by bureaucrat."


Greenie scare fails in Australia

Australia’s Great Barrier Reef named the best place in the world to visit.  Throughout the bleaching scare, tourism operators have never had any difficulty taking people to unspoiled areas of the reef

IN a much-needed boost for the Great Barrier Reef, the world’s largest living organism has been voted the best place in the world to visit by an influential US travel site.

US News and World Report’s World’s Best Places to Visit for 2016-17 ranked the Reef No.1 ahead of Paris and Bora Bora in French Polynesia.  Sydney also made the list — at 13th.

The site described the Reef as "holding a spot on every travellers’ bucket list".

"The Great Barrier Reef is a treasure trove of once-in-a-lifetime experiences," said the description.  "Whether you’re gazing at marine life through a scuba mask, letting the tropical breeze unfurl your sail, or in a plane gliding high above it all, the possibilities for exploration are nearly limitless."

It comes after a series of sinister reports about the Reef’s future following a major coral bleaching event found to have affected extensive areas.

Tourism and Events Queensland CEO Leanne Coddington said the Reef’s first placing on the list, was a vote of confidence in its worldwide tourism appeal.

"The Great Barrier Reef is a living treasure and a major tourism drawcard for visitors to Queensland," Ms Coddington said. "It is an unrivalled experience that tens of thousands of people are enjoying every day."

Other destinations to make the top ten included Florence in Italy; Tokyo, Japan; the archealogocial capital of the Americas — Cusco in Peru; London, Rome, New York and Maui.

Cape Town in South Africa and Barcelona in Spain finished ahead of Sydney, the only other Australian location on the list.

"Expert opinions, user votes and current trends" were used to compile this list.

Last year London was No.1, Bora Bora No.2 and Barcelona third — while Sydney was placed fifth.

Ms Coddington said this year’s result reaffirmed just how important the Reef was to Australia’s tourism economy.  "It’s ours to protect and share," she said.  "Experiences like the Great Barrier Reef help inspire visitors to experience Queensland, the best address on earth."



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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