Wednesday, November 30, 2016
Another shriek about bleaching on the Great Barrier Reef
This is just a repetition of a story that has been going on for a year or more. Previous claims of this nature have been shown to be highly exaggereated so a repetition of the claims from the same people as before has no credibility.
I was born and bred in an area close to the reef and have been hearing cries of alarm about the reef for 50 years. But somehow the reef still seems to be there. It has always had episodes of retreat but coral is highly resilient and bounces back quite rapidly.
One thing we can be sure of is that the problems were not caused by anthropogenic global warming. Why? Because that theory says that warming is caused by increased levels of CO2 in the atmosphere. But the latest readings show NO increase in CO2 during 2015 and 2016
There WAS warming up until recently but that was caused by the El Nino weather cycle, not CO2. Once again we had the chronic Warmist problem that CO2 levels and temperatures do not correlate. Below is a picture of the El Nino effect on global temperatures. You see it peaked late last year and has been falling ever since. So if warmth was the cause of the reef problems, the reef should soon start to recover
Two-thirds of the corals in the northern part of the Great Barrier Reef have died in the reef’s worst-ever bleaching event, according to our latest underwater surveys.
On some reefs in the north, nearly all the corals have died. However the impact of bleaching eases as we move south, and reefs in the central and southern regions (around Cairns and Townsville and southwards) were much less affected, and are now recovering.
In 2015 and 2016, the hottest years on record, we have witnessed at first hand the threat posed by human-caused climate change to the world’s coral reefs.
Heat stress from record high summer temperatures damages the microscopic algae (zooxanthellae) that live in the tissues of corals, turning them white.
After they bleach, these stressed corals either slowly regain their zooxanthellae and colour as temperatures cool off, or else they die.
The Great Barrier Reef bleached severely for the first time in 1998, then in 2002, and now again in 2016. This year’s event was more extreme than the two previous mass bleachings.
Surveying the damage
We undertook extensive underwater surveys at the peak of bleaching in March and April, and again at the same sites in October and November. In the northern third of the Great Barrier Reef, we recorded an average (median) loss of 67% of coral cover on a large sample of 60 reefs.
The dieback of corals due to bleaching in just 8-9 months is the largest loss ever recorded for the Great Barrier Reef.
To put these losses in context, over the 27 years from 1985 to 2012, scientists from the Australian Institute of Marine Science measured the gradual loss of 51% of corals on the central and southern regions of the Great Barrier Reef.
They reported no change over this extended period in the amount of corals in the remote, northern region. Unfortunately, most of the losses in 2016 have occurred in this northern, most pristine part of the Great Barrier Reef.
The bleaching, and subsequent loss of corals, is very patchy. Our map shows clearly that coral death varies enormously from north to south along the 2,300km length of the Reef.
The southern third of the Reef did not experience severe heat stress in February and March. Consequently, only minor bleaching occurred, and we found no significant mortality in the south since then.
In the central section of the Reef, we measured widespread but moderate bleaching, which was comparably severe to the 1998 and 2002 events. On average, only 6% of coral cover was lost in the central region in 2016.
The remaining corals have now regained their vibrant colour. Many central reefs are in good condition, and they continue to recover from Severe Tropical Cyclones Hamish (in 2009) and Yasi (2011).
In the eastern Torres Strait and outermost ribbon reefs in the northernmost part of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, we found a large swathe of reefs that escaped the most severe bleaching and mortality, compared to elsewhere in the north. Nonetheless, 26% of the shallow-water corals died.
We suspect that these reefs were partially protected from heat stress by strong currents and upwelling of cooler water across the edge of the continental shelf that slopes steeply into the Coral Sea.
For visitors, these surveys show there are still many reefs throughout the Marine Park that have abundant living coral, particularly in popular tourism locations in the central and southern regions, such as the Whitsundays and Cairns.
The northern third of the Great Barrier Reef, extending 700km from Port Douglas to Papua New Guinea, experienced the most severe bleaching and subsequent loss of corals.
On 25% of the worst affected reefs (the top quartile), losses of corals ranged from 83-99%. When mortality is this high, it affects even tougher species that normally survive bleaching.
However, even in this region, there are some silver linings. Bleaching and mortality decline with depth, and some sites and reefs had much better than average survival. A few corals are still bleached or mottled, particularly in the north, but the vast majority of survivors have regained their colour.
What will happen next?
The reef science and management community will continue to gather data on the bleaching event as it slowly unfolds. The initial stage focused on mapping the footprint of the event, and now we are analysing how many bleached corals died or recovered over the past 8-9 months.
Over the coming months and for the next year or two we expect to see longer-term impacts on northern corals, including higher levels of disease, slower growth rates and lower rates of reproduction. The process of recovery in the north – the replacement of dead corals by new ones – will be slow, at least 10-15 years, as long as local conditions such as water quality remain conducive to recovery.
As global temperatures continue to climb, time will tell how much recovery in the north is possible before a fourth mass bleaching event occurs.
Swiss reject plan to speed up exit from nuclear energy
Swiss voters have rejected a plan to force their government to accelerate the country’s exit from nuclear energy.
A majority of cantons voted against the plan in Sunday’s referendum. Under Switzerland’s direct democracy system, proposals need a majority of both the states and overall votes to pass.
The plan promoted by the Green Party would have meant closing three of Switzerland’s five nuclear plants next year, with the last shutting in 2029. A projection for SRF public television showed the initiative failing by 55 percent to 45.
After the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan, the Swiss government adopted a gradualist approach toward transitioning the country to renewable energy by 2050.
The five Swiss nuclear power plants now generate 40 percent of the country’s electricity.
A similar movement is underway in neighboring Germany, where officials are stepping up transition to renewables like solar energy in time to be done with nuclear energy by 2022, a deadline also set after the Japanese tsunami.
As part of an energy plan that runs through 2050, the Swiss government has already agreed not to replace its existing nuclear plants, which can operate as long as they’re deemed safe. The plants are to be closed progressively as their life spans expire, and the government says it needs time to switch to other sources such as wind, solar, and biomass energy.
Switzerland regularly holds referendums as part of its particular form of direct democracy, which allows voters in the country of about 8.2 million to set policy on major issues — at times causing hassles for officials to carry out the public’s will.
The two chambers of the Swiss legislature and the executive Federal Council have variously argued that the earlier shutdown of the nuclear energy program would have forced Switzerland to import more electricity, such as from carbon-spewing coal-fired plants in Germany.
Plus, early shutdowns could make the government — and thus taxpayers — liable to pay penalties to the nuclear plant operators.
‘‘The initiative will compromise the security of our energy supply,’’ Federal Councilor Didier Burkhalter warned in a government video.
But Ilias Panchard, secretary general of a group whose French name translates as ‘‘Get Out of Nuclear,’’ said Switzerland’s nuclear power complex is dangerous, aging, and beset by problems — with two of the five Swiss plants not operating at the moment for safety or technical reasons.
His group insisted that now is the time to set a fixed timetable, before it’s too late to move to a proper replacement.
‘‘If we just wait until an accident or a problem with the plants, then we do not have the time, the energy to replace it. So the idea of the initiative, the referendum, is to say: In 2029 we will have no more nuclear energy in Switzerland,’’ he said in an interview in Geneva.
The initiative would have limited the life span of nuclear plants to 45 years, and force the closure next year of three of the plants, Beznau 1 — which Panchard called the world’s oldest operating nuclear plant, built in 1969 — as well as Beznau 2 and Muhleberg.
‘‘Concretely, that means that in 2017, about one-third of the electricity generated by nuclear energy will be lacking. That amounts to the average annual electricity consumption of close to half of Swiss households,’’ Burkhalter said, adding that renewables won’t be able to make up the difference right away.
Two other plants would shut over the next 13 years: Goesgen would close in 2024 and Leibstadt in 2029.
Solar, wind industries hope years courting Republicans pays off under Trump
U.S. wind and solar companies for the first time gave more money to Republicans than Democrats during the 2016 election cycle, according to federal campaign disclosures, part of a years-long effort to expand renewable energy’s appeal beyond liberal environmentalists.
The industry is now hoping its strategy of reaching across the political divide will pay off in the form of Congressional support as Republican Donald Trump, a climate change skeptic who has expressed doubts about the role of clean energy, takes the White House in January.
"We're not starting from ground zero," said Isaac Brown, a principal at 38 North Solutions, which lobbies on behalf of clean energy clients.
The U.S. wind and solar industries employ over 300,000 people, making clean energy an important political constituency that is about five times bigger than the coal sector for jobs, thanks to years of rapid growth fueled by government incentives and declines in the cost of their technologies.
They have also fought to win over a new breed of backer: conservatives skeptical of climate change but interested in supporting homegrown energy alternatives that increase national security, boost competition, and create well-paying blue collar jobs.
But Trump’s upset victory over Democrat Hillary Clinton in the Nov. 8 presidential election has cast doubt on the future of a federal tax break for renewable energy seen critical to the industry’s continued growth.
Trump has never specifically called for those credits to end, but has expressed skepticism about the role of solar and wind in the U.S. energy landscape, calling both "so expensive" and blaming wind turbines for killing birds and ruining picturesque landscapes.
During his campaign, Trump also called global warming a hoax and promised to quit a global accord to cut greenhouse gas emissions, though he has since softened his stance and said he is keeping an "open mind" about the deal.
The renewable energy industry got a boost last year when Congress approved a five-year extension of tax credits for new power projects fueled by solar panels and wind turbines, and the industry's main concern in Washington is to ensure they are not withdrawn in Trump's first term, or allowed to expire should he win a second.
A Trump official did not respond to a request for comment about how he will approach renewables as president. But one of Trump's potential picks for Energy Secretary, Oklahoma oil and gas drilling mogul Harold Hamm, has been a vocal opponent of subsidies for renewable energy.
Renewable stocks took a beating immediately after Trump’s election but have since mostly recovered.
During the 2016 cycle, the wind and solar industry's political action committees contributed more than $225,000 to Republican candidates for office, compared with $185,000 for Democrats. The numbers are not large by the standards of political donations but they mark the first time the industry has tilted its contributions toward Republicans, according to federal records.
In 2012, Democrats got about two-thirds of the industry’s contributions.
Though Democrats have historically been viewed as the strongest supporters of renewable energy, utility-scale wind farms and solar installations are found throughout the nation - including in Republican-leaning states like Arizona, North Carolina, Oklahoma and North Dakota - and enjoy bipartisan support among Americans.
A Pew Research Center poll from October found 83 percent of conservative Republicans favor more solar installations, and 75 percent favor more wind farms. Those figures were 97 percent and 93 percent for liberal Democrats.
The expansion of solar beyond liberal strongholds like California and the Northeast has been critical to garnering Republican support over the last few years. The wind industry has been established in red states for far longer than solar and has a longer track record of support from Republican lawmakers in those states.
The Growth Of Global Warming Nonsense: Surely We've Reached Peak Madness
Time magazine said Donald Trump's election has climate change negotiators down, but not out, and has "cast a long shadow over progress made at" the United Nations climate conference held earlier this month in Morocco. Seems the alarmist community is still stuck in the denial phase of the five stages of grief.
The negotiators' denial is not their attempt to pretend that Trump didn't win, a road that some on the left have taken. It is more deeply rooted in the fact that their predictions of disaster have not materialized.
They have tried for decades to frighten everyone on the planet and all this time later, few are scared because they see the gaping holes in the narrative, the miserably failed forecasts, the glaring lack of evidence and the garbage dump of lies.
Yet the activists continue to behave and screech as if the world is on the brink and there are only days left to save it.
Average Westerners simply trying to live their lives honestly and work hard for their families aren't moved by the braying. They see insane proposals, such as the one from Oxford University that suggests foods should be priced according to their climate impacts, and shake their heads as if their loony uncle living in the room over the garage is talking to Moses again.
But it's more than that, isn't it? It seems we are watching the psychological breakdown of a segment of the Western population that is desperately trying control other people and greedily snatch the world's economic levers, and employing harsh scare tactics in its effort to achieve these goals.
Let's not even pretend that this group cares about the environment. The international Paris agreement that President Obama unilaterally signed on to without input from Congress, the agreement that the alarmist community has declared to be absolutely vital to putting off climate change, would do little to stop projected warming into the next century.
Researcher Bjorn Lomborg, who believes that man's carbon dioxide emissions are having some impact on the planet, says that if every nation fulfilled its promise to cut emissions by 2030, "the total temperature reduction will be 0.048" degrees Celsius by 2100.
In other words, Paris won't change a thing.
Despite the fact that the Paris accord will produce no climate benefit, the political left, which includes the agenda-driven media, continues its deranged behavior over the election of Trump because he has indicated that he will pull the U.S. from Obama's unethical deal.
This lunacy, consciously chosen, is possibly best illustrated by the Democratic National Committee staffer who whined that Clinton's loss means that he's "going to die from climate change," and marched out of a meeting in which the Democrats were trying to rally from their election defeat.
The unfortunate dupe, who must be a recent campus emission, as he acted like one of higher education's delicate snowflakes, is the product of the hysteria his own party has whipped up.
Global warming raving has also affected a group of eight kids from Washington, who are suing their state over climate change. The Associated Press says they are "part of a nationwide effort by young people to try to force action on global warming."
They've been incited, no doubt, by the Democrats' unrelenting fanaticism about the subject.
But isn't the Democratic Party the party of science? That's the label its members have awarded it. Aren't the kids and the Democratic staffer simply reacting to the party's rational position on global warming? Journalist John Tierney probably wouldn't agree.
"The only successful war on science is the one waged by the Left," Tierney, a New York Times reporter, wrote in the Autumn 2016 City Journal.
He acknowledges that "there's plenty of ignorance all around," but also reports that "some surveys show that Republicans, particularly libertarians, are more scientifically literate than Democrats."
Remember this the next time outgoing (thankfully) Secretary of State John Kerry says anything about global warming. He might be one of the many members of his party who doesn't know that astrology isn't a science and that it takes a year for Earth to revolve around the sun.
Army Corps to close Dakota pipeline protesters’ camp
The Army Corps of Engineers plans to close off a swath of North Dakota land that for months has housed a campsite for anti-pipeline protesters.
The Army Corps sent a letter to the chairman of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe Friday that said all lands north of the Cannonball River will be closed on Dec. 5, the Associated Press reported.
“To be clear, this means that no member of the general public, to include Dakota Access pipeline protesters, can be on these Corps lands,” the letter from Col. John Henderson reads.
Tribe Chairman Dave Archambault told the AP that the land to be closed includes the Oceti Sakowin camp on Army Corps land where many protesters have set up.
Another camp, Sacred Stone, sits on the opposite of the river and will not be affected by the Army Corps decision.
Henderson said that the decision “is necessary to protect the general public from the violent confrontations between protestors and law enforcement officials that have occurred in this area, and to prevent death, illness, or serious injury to inhabitants of encampments due to the harsh North Dakota winter conditions."
He said that necessary services, including emergency and medical resources, can not be properly provided to protesters there.
“I do not take this action lightly, but have decided that it is required due to the concern for public safety and the fact that much of this land is leased to private persons for grazing and/or haying purposes as part of the Corps' land management practices,” he wrote.
The letter goes on to say that a “free speech zone” will be set up on the south side of the Cannonball River for peaceful protests.
“In these areas, jurisdiction for police, fire, and medical response is better defined making it a more sustainable area for visitors to endure the harsh North Dakota winter.”
The Army Corps warned that anyone on the lands north of the river after Dec. 5 will be considered trespassing and could face prosecution. They added that anyone who stays there does so at their own risk and liability.
The Standing Rock and Cheyenne River Sioux tribes, joined by a flood of other tribe members and supporters, are fighting the final stretch of the 1,200-mile pipeline, that they say could threaten drinking water and cultural sites. Tensions between protesters and police have escalated in recent weeks, with law enforcement using water cannons and allegedly concussion grenades.
Britain’s Stupid Climate Policy Needs the Donald Trump Treatment
by James Delingpole
Britain has now officially ratified the COP21 Paris climate agreement.
The good news is that this will make no difference to anyone or anything because the agreement is toothless and non-binding. The bad news – as you can tell from some of the ministerial comments – is that it serves to remind us that Britain’s climate and energy policy is still in thrall to the environmentalist lunacy which wiser heads like Donald Trump are trying to write out of history.
Wiser heads? Donald Trump?? Yes, I can almost hear the sneering and the jeering from the usual suspects.
But even if you disagree with Trump’s environmental and energy policy – which I don’t – it remains an unarguable fact that the world’s most powerful nation is heading in a very clear direction for at least the next four years: pro-fossil-fuels, anti-renewables. This is going to have a massive, largely positive impact on the U.S. economy because by bringing down the cost of energy, it will give consumers more disposable income and enable businesses – especially in energy-intensive heavy industry – to increase their profit margins or cut costs to the benefit of their bottom line.
At this point, America’s global economic competitors have one of two options: either they wake up and smell the coffee and move in America’s direction; or they bury their heads in the sand, pretend we’re still living in the status quo ante and sit, helpless, while America’s new higher-carbon economy steals half of their business.
Judging by the comments of the Minister for Climate Change and Industry – about as fatuous a title as being Minister for Veganism and Meat – Britain has already made up her mind:
“The UK is ratifying the historic Paris Agreement so that we can help to accelerate global action on climate change and deliver on our commitments to create a safer, more prosperous future for us all,” Nick Hurd, Minister of State for Climate Change and Industry, said.
“We are going to use this positive momentum to grow the UK low-carbon sector, which is already worth over 46 billion pounds, as we continue to provide secure, affordable and clean energy to our families and businesses,” he said."
Nick Hurd, it should be noted, had the best education money can buy at Eton. Clearly, it was utterly wasted if this is the sort of bilge he comes up with.
What can government-imposed limits on carbon dioxide emissions (which inevitably lead malinvestment, cronyism, tariffs and subsidies) possibly have to do with prosperity? Or indeed safety?
It is weapons-grade bollocks and inspires very little faith that Theresa May, despite her axing of the Department of Energy and Climate Change, has any real grasp of the rapidly changing nature of the climate debate. We got a depressing taste of this when she gave the monstrously expensive, outdated, and generally rubbish Hinkley Point C power station the go-ahead.
If the even crazier exercise in green virtue-signalling and crony capitalism the Swansea Bay Tidal Project gets approved, we shall know that the government has lost the plot completely.
Perhaps had Hillary Clinton won the presidential election, this would make a sort of sense. Britain would be merely going with the flow of international policy.
But Trump won and now Britain faces a stark choice, described here by Rupert Darwall who has been in Marrakech at the COP22 conference.
"Although Britain is formally leaving the EU, its climate and energy policies look set to remain exactly the same. Indeed, when it comes to climate and energy, Britain is being more Catholic than the Pope.
The German government has stated its intention to keep burning coal for at least the next two decades; Greg Clark’s business department has just launched a consultation on phasing it out by 2025.
That is unlikely to play well in Washington, to say the least. Coal is important to Republicans. Over the last two years, Britain imported 16.5 million tonnes of coal from America, worth $1.4 billion.
Four of the top five coal-producing states voted Republican – including Pennsylvania, which switched from the Democrats. Of the top 10 coal-burning states, seven voted Republican last week, including Vice President-elect Mike Pence’s Indiana and swing state Ohio.
An iron rule of American politics is that domestic politics trump international considerations. As Henry Kissinger told The Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg after the election, Trump’s victory “could enable us to establish coherence between our foreign policy and our domestic situation”.
And it is very hard to envisage the Trump Administration looking kindly on a potential trade deal with a partner that is in the process of banning imports of American coal – and putting American miners out of work"
So far it looks like Britain is hell bent on taking the wrong decision. Business Secretary Greg Clark looks to be clueless and it seems depressingly likely that all the green activists who infested the defunct Department of Energy and Climate Change have simply been dispersed within other ministries, spreading their environmentalist crony capitalist poison.
Here is John Constable’s depressing take:
"The UK’s new secretary of state for Business, Greg Clark, has just given his first public speech on energy. It suggests, unfortunately, that he is not yet sufficiently confident of his brief to resist the views of his civil servants. Indeed, this speech could easily have been written for Ed Miliband, or Chris Huhne, or Ed Davey, and suggests that the rent-seeking green interests in the electricity sector are re-injecting themselves into the national bloodstream through an interventionist industrial strategy. This will result in overcapitalisation and reductions in productivity"
We have scotched the Green Blob but not killed it. A long hard battle lies ahead of us.
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Posted by JR at 1:27 AM