Thursday, December 29, 2016

Arctic heatwave could break records

Warmists love the Arctic because it is the only place where florid heating episodes sometimes occur (mainly due to subsurface vulcanism).  But that is in fact a problem.  What are we to make of a warming Arctic when the overall global temperature has been falling -- as it has for all of this year?

Which tells us of global temperature trends?  The Arctic or the rest of the world?  Can a warming Arctic be a function of global warming when the globe is not warming?

Warmists are incapable of elementary logic.  When I write about Warmist claims I often feel that I am talking to a four-year-old

Temperatures at the North Pole could be up to 20 degrees higher than average this Christmas Eve, in what scientists say is a record-breaking heatwave.

Climate scientists say these unseasonably warm weather patterns in the Arctic region are directly linked to man-made climate change.

Temperatures throughout November and December were 5C higher than average.

It follows a summer during which Arctic sea ice reached the second-lowest extent ever recorded by satellites.

Dr Friederike Otto, a senior researcher at Oxford's Environmental Change Institute told BBC News that in pre-industrial times "a heatwave like this would have been extremely rare - we would expect it to occur about every 1,000 years".

Dr Otto added that scientists are "very confident" that the weather patterns were linked to anthropogenic climate change.

"We have used several different climate modelling approaches and observations," she told BBC News.

"And in all our methods, we find the same thing; we cannot model a heatwave like this without the anthropogenic signal."

Temperatures are forecast to peak on Christmas Eve around the North Pole - at near-freezing.

The warm air from the North Atlantic is forecast to flow all the way to the North Pole via Spitsbergen, giving rise to clouds that prevent heat from escaping.

And, as Dr Otto explained to BBC News, the reduction in sea ice is contributing to this "feedback loop".

"If the globe is warming, then the sea ice and ice on land [shrinks] then the darker water and land is exposed," she said.

"Then the sunlight is absorbed rather than reflected as it would be by the ice."

Forecasting models show that there is about a 2% chance of a heatwave event occurring every year.

"But if temperatures continue to increase further as they are now," said Dr Otto, "we would expect a heatwave like this to occur every other year and that will be a huge stress on the ecosystem."

Dr Thorsten Markus, chief of NASA's Cryospheric Sciences Laboratory, said the heatwave was "very, very unusual".

"The eerie thing is that we saw something quite similar (temperatures at the North Pole of about 0C in December) almost exactly a year ago," he told BBC News.

The freeze and thaw conditions are already making it difficult for reindeer to find food - as the moss they feed on is covered by hard ice, rather than soft, penetrable snow.


EPA Makes an About-Face on Fracking Report: Science or Politics?

Gordon Tomb pays about $40 per month to heat his home in central Pennsylvania. And he wants to keep it that way.

“I’ve lived in Pennsylvania for more than 60 years and have never paid so little for my home heating,” Tomb, a senior fellow with the free market Commonwealth Foundation, said in an interview.

He credits his low heating bills to the boom in natural gas production brought on by hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”), which enables energy companies to tap into the state’s gas-rich Marcellus Shale formation.

“The natural gas industry has been the brightest spot in the Pennsylvania economy for the past decade and it’s likely to be for a long time,” Tomb said “It’s contributed billions to property owners in royalties and leases alone. There are hundreds of millions of dollars in tax revenues and in wages by the economic activity of hundreds of thousands of jobs.”

In 2009, a handful of Dimock, Pennsylvania, homeowners sued a Houston-based company, alleging their drinking water was tainted by fracking.

The Pennsylvania complaint and others like it from across the country prompted a five-year, $29 million Environmental Protection Agency study, which, according to a draft report released in June 2015, “did not find evidence that these mechanisms have led to widespread, systemic impacts on drinking water resources in the United States.”

This was a relief to the oil and gas industry, given that fracking currently accounts for half of the nation’s crude oil production and two-thirds of the natural gas production, yet has also been controversial.

But something happened between last year and last week to make the EPA change its tune.

In its final report released last week, “Hydraulic Fracturing for Oil and Gas: Impacts from the Hydraulic Fracturing Water Cycle on Drinking Water Resources in the United States,” the EPA said fracking can affect drinking water resources “under some circumstances.”

But it cited no cases in which such contamination was confirmed. Instead, the EPA concluded that there is a paucity of data on which to base a conclusion, and in the instances where data is available, there are too many uncertainties to conclude anything with confidence.

“Because of the significant data gaps and uncertainties in the available data, it was not possible to fully characterize the severity of impacts, nor was it possible to calculate or estimate the national frequency of impacts on drinking water resources from activities in the hydraulic fracturing water cycle,” the study says. “We were, however, able to estimate impact frequencies in some, limited cases (i.e., spills of hydraulic fracturing fluids or produced water and mechanical integrity failures).”

On that thin reed, environmentalists are taking a victory lap. But what changed?

It wasn’t the science, according to Jeff Stier, senior fellow at the National Center for Public Policy Research, but politics.

“The EPA already said in its draft report that there was no systemic effect on the water supplies from fracking. Nothing in the underlying science of the report was changed, it’s simply a change in their framing of it,” Stier said. “There’s been a concerted political campaign to apply pressure to the EPA. Certainly the report as it was written in draft form would have taken away any leg that activists had to stand on.”

Specifically, Stier says, certain members of Congress, environmental activists, and the EPA’s independent researchers pushed for the scholarly flip-flop.

The draft report, and its fracking-favorable findings, remained status quo for more than a year.

Then in August of this year, the agency’s Science Advisory Board sent a letter to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy. The board complained in the 180-page letter that the statement about “widespread, systemic impacts” was not supported and needed revision. The board also advised the EPA add specific research on places with a track record of reported problems—including Dimock, Pennsylvania.

On Oct. 20, McCarthy got a scathing follow-up letter signed by 51 members of Congress. The note blasted not only the 2015 draft report, but the EPA’s public handling of the report, and urged the EPA to either revise the “widespread, systemic impacts” statement, or delete it.

The EPA opted for the delete button, offering this explanation on its website:

After receiving comments from the [Science Advisory Board], EPA scientists concluded that the sentence could not be quantitatively supported. Contrary to what the sentence implied, uncertainties prevent EPA from estimating the national frequency of impacts on drinking water resources from activities in the hydraulic fracturing water cycle. Additionally, EPA scientists and the [Science Advisory Board], came to the conclusions that the sentence did not clearly communicate the findings of the report.

‘Hanging on by a thread’

U.S. Rep. Matthew Cartwright, D-Pa., was among those who pressed the EPA to change its conclusion. He said that he has been at the forefront of federal efforts to crack down on fracking to protect communities and environment in which fracking occurs, including his home state.

“I am pleased that the EPA took seriously the issues raised by the Scientific Advisory Board, and revised its report accordingly,” he said. “My priority has always been to see that the fracking industry operates safely and responsibly, and I have repeatedly introduced legislation aimed at encouraging that.”

Tomb, however, is wary of any regulations coming from Washington to a state that’s well-schooled in natural resources and well-equipped with fracking regulations.

“I see nothing good about additional federal regulations in this area,” he said. “The first oil well was drilled in Pennsylvania in the mid-1800s. So this state has been dealing with this industry going on 200 years. And in my lifetime, it’s done very well.”

Stier says the push by the congressmen and the review board is part of a much broader “keep it in the ground” movement.

“The big picture opposition to fracking has nothing to do with drinking water. It’s opposition to humans taking energy out of the earth,” Stier explained. “These opponents realize they would not be able to win a political argument in the court of public opinion considering they don’t want us taking energy out of the ground. So they had to argue that this threatened our drinking water because that’s a way to get everyone to agree because we all want clean drinking water.”

Swapping out the previous conclusion is, according to Stier, a last leg for the anti-frackers on the eve of the Trump administration. “They’re hanging on by a thread to sow doubt about the safety of fracking. But I don’t think it’s a very strong leg to stand on because it’s simply a political document now.”

Indeed, a hostile letter-writing campaign will likely not have the same effect on Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt—President-elect Donald Trump’s pick to replace McCarthy at the EPA. Pruitt has been a frequent and effective critic of EPA overreach, and took a leading role in efforts to put the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan on hold.

“From what I’ve seen so far from the Trump administration, they don’t care about idiotic claims by people looking to advance their own skewed view of how the world should be, who want to meddle in everybody’s lives and everybody’s business,” Tomb added. “Most people want to live their lives, raise their families—all that can be done and has been done, while protecting the environment.”


Rick Perry will give back energy to the American people

During the second presidential debate, now President-elect Donald Trump discussed making the nation’s energy sector a priority. Trump laid out a plan to empower energy companies, return energy workers to their job, and explore new, efficient energy sources.

With his latest decision to select former Texas Governor Rick Perry as head of the Department of Energy Trump has taken the crucial step toward increasing production in the American energy sector he has promised the country. Perry will give back energy to the American people.

Trump represents a shift away from the exotic, green energy programs implemented under the Obama administration which prioritize clean energy over efficient and job creating energy options in the petroleum, coal and nuclear industries.

As Jack Gerard, president of the Washington-based American Petroleum Institute representing oil and natural gas companies, explained to Reuters on Dec. 15, “As the former governor of Texas, Rick Perry knows the important impact that energy production has on our nation’s economy. In his new role at the Energy Department, he has the opportunity to encourage increased exports of domestically produced natural gas.”

Rather than seeing the Department of Energy as a tool for regulating energy production, Perry will use the department to fuel energy production in the private sector.

Using his experience and close ties with the Texas oil industry, Perry hopes to recreate the job boom he helped foster through empowering Texas’s oil and gas industries from 2000 to 2015. As energy transition spokesman Sean Spicer reminds us, this is ultimately Trump’s plan, and Perry will be integral in implementing the Trump agenda above all else.

This Trump agenda spans far past oil and gas. The Department of Energy also shares powers including implementation of the Iran Nuclear Deal, and the maintenance and production of the American nuclear supply.

This is critical, because Perry will finally be able to carry out his goal of the completion and utilization of Yucca mountain which President Barack Obama defunded in 2011.

Since 2014, Perry has been fighting to re-establish Yucca mountain and thus, re-establish a nuclear energy option in the United States. Despite a congressional act entitled the Nuclear Waste Policy Act of 1982 directly outlining that the federal government would take possession and provide a disposable solution for all nuclear waste, in 2009 President Obama abandoned the project at Yucca mountain which would act as an ultimate waste zone. After more than $15 billion was spent developing the site, President Obama had the entire project defunded.

Now, American nuclear energy production is at a standstill. In 2014, Perry supported a Texas Commission on Environmental Quality report on nuclear waste disposal. The report outlined options including reopening Yucca Mountain, building a long-term, commercial nuclear fuel reprocessing capability and having multiple disposal options, so that the nation’s nuclear industry is not dependent upon the politics of Nevada.

The report warned, “Early in 2013, the U.S. Department of Energy announced that it was developing a new plan to replace Yucca Mountain — estimating that an HLW disposal solution would not be available until 2048. However, in November 2013, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia determined that the federal government has ‘no credible plan’ to dispose of HLW. 2048, or whatever year Washington forecasts that a solution will be provided, is too long to wait.”

In Texas alone, the delay of opening Yucca Mountain had cost taxpayers more than $700 million.

Perry has also made gas and oil production economically efficient in his home state, and has been eager to pursue new frontiers for energy development. The Obama administration prevented state governors like Perry from bringing national solutions to American energy and job growth to the table, but now all that is changing.

As James Taylor, President of the Spark of Freedom Foundation a leader in affordable energy production research, told Forbes on Dec. 14, “Affordable energy is a powerful economic stimulant. Energy costs are a factor in virtually all goods and services bought and sold in our economy. When energy prices are lower, the costs of producing goods and services are lower, which operates like a tax cut…  Benefiting from these pro-energy, pro-growth policies, Texas electricity prices have declined nearly 25 percent since 2008. National electricity prices, by contrast, are higher now than in 2008.”

Trump has made it clear since the beginning that he wanted to revitalize our job market and make America efficient again. And Texas led the nation on energy under Perry’s guidance and saw the economic prosperity it generated, now it is Perry’s turn to show the rest of the country he can do it again.



Excerpts from the opening of a June paper by  PATRICK MOORE (Formerly of Greenpeace) below:


This study looks at the positive environmental effects of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, a topic which has been well established in the scientific literature but which is far too often ignored in the current discussions about climate change policy.

All life is carbon based and the primary source of this carbon is the CO2 in the global atmosphere. As recently as 18,000 years ago, at the height of the most recent major glaciation, CO2 dipped to its lowest level in recorded history at 180 ppm, low enough to stunt plant growth. This is only 30 ppm above a level that would result in the death of plants due to CO2 starvation.

It is calculated that if the decline in CO2 levels were to continue at the same rate as it has over the past 140 million years, life on Earth would begin to die as soon as two million years from now and would slowly perish almost entirely as carbon continued to be lost to the deep ocean sediments.

The combustion of fossil fuels for energy to power human civilization has reversed the downward trend in CO2 and promises to bring it back to levels that are likely to foster a considerable increase in the growth rate and biomass of plants, including food crops and trees. Human emissions of CO2 have restored a balance to the global carbon cycle, thereby ensuring the long-term continuation of life on Earth.

This extremely positive aspect of human CO2 emissions must be weighed against the unproven hypothesis that human CO2 emissions will cause a catastrophic warming of the climate in coming years.

The one-sided political treatment of CO2 as a pollutant that should be radically reduced must be corrected in light of the indisputable scientific evidence that it is essential to life on Earth.


There is a widespread belief that CO2 emissions from the burning of fossil fuels for energy are a threat to the Earth’s climate and that the majority of species, including the human species, will suffer greatly unless these emissions are drastically curtailed or even eliminated. This paper offers a radically different perspective based on the geological history of CO2.

CO2 is one of the most essential nutrients for life on Earth. It has been approaching dangerously low levels during recent periods of major glaciation in the Pleistocene Ice Age, and human emissions of CO2 may stave off the eventual starvation and death of most life on the planet due to a lack of CO2.

This is not primarily a discussion of the possible connection between CO2 and global warming or climate change, although some mention must be made of it. There has been a great deal of discussion on the subject, and it is hotly contested in both scientific and political spheres.

There is no question that the climate has warmed during the past 300 years since the peak of the Little Ice Age. There is also no question that CO2 is a greenhouse gas and all else being equal, the emissions would result in some warming if CO2 rose to higher levels in the atmosphere.

Yet, there is no definitive scientific proof that CO2 is a major factor in influencing climate in the real world. The Earth’s climate is a chaotic, non-linear, multivariant system with many unpredictable feedbacks, both positive and negative.

Primarily, this is a discussion about the role of atmospheric CO2 in the maintenance of life on Earth and the positive role of human civilization in preventing CO2 from trending downward to levels that threaten the very existence of life.

It is an undisputed fact that all life on Earth is carbon based and that the source of this carbon is CO2, which cycles through the global atmosphere. The original source of CO2 in the atmosphere is thought to be massive volcanic eruptions during the Earth’s early history, the extreme heat of which caused the oxidation of carbon in the Earth’s interior to form CO2.

Today, as a minor gas at 0.04 per cent, CO2 permeates the entire atmosphere and has been absorbed by the oceans and other water bodies (the hydrosphere), where it provides the food for photosynthetic species such a phytoplankton and kelp. If there were no CO2 or an insufficient level of CO2 in the atmosphere and hydrosphere, there would be no life as we know it on our planet.

On a relatively short-term basis (years to hundreds of years), the carbon cycle is a complex series of exchanges among the atmosphere, the hydrosphere, living species and decomposing organic matter in soils and sediments. Over the long term (millions to billions of years), the majority of the carbon that has been absorbed from the atmosphere by plants has been lost to the cycle into deep deposits of fossil fuels and carbonaceous rock (minerals) such as chalk, limestone, marble and dolomite.

By far the majority of the carbon sequestered over the long term is in the form of carbonaceous rock. We do not have a good estimate of the total amount of CO2 that has been emitted from volcanic activity into the global atmosphere. We do not know the total amount of carbon that has been lost to long-term sequestration in fossil fuels and carbonaceous rock, but we do have order-of-magnitude estimates.

We do have quantitative estimates of the level of CO2 in the atmosphere going back more than 600 million years, i.e., the net result of additions from volcanic events, losses to deep deposition in carbonaceous rocks and fossil fuels, the biomass of living species and decomposing organic matter. These estimates become more accurate the closer they are to the present. This paper will focus on the past 540 million years and in particular the past 140 million years.

The best estimate of CO2 concentration in the global atmosphere 540 million years ago is 7,000 ppm, with a wide margin of error.  For the sake of discussion, we will accept that number, which indicates a mass of more than 13,000 billion tonnes (Gt) of carbon in the atmosphere, 17 times the present level, during the Cambrian Explosion, when multicellular life evolved. This is considered the advent of modern life, when both plant and animal species diversified rapidly in warm seas and later colonized the land during a warm terrestrial climate.

Prior to this, for more than three billion years, life was largely unicellular, microscopic and confined to the sea.

Note both temperature and CO2 are lower today than they have been during most of the era of modern life on Earth since the Cambrian Period. Also, note that this does not indicate a lock-step cause-effect relationship between the two parameters.


Unsustainable solar scheme being wound down in NSW, Australia

Less than a week before the lucrative NSW solar bonus scheme ends, there is still "mass confusion" among the 146,000 affected households, industry figures say.

The scheme, which was launched in 2011 to encourage the uptake of renewable energy, handed homeowners 60¢ or 20¢ "feed-in" tariffs per kilowatt hour, for the solar energy they put back into the grid.

But from December 31 those homeowners are set to face "bill shock", when their tariff rates drop to around 6¢, which is less than the amount they will be charged for accessing electricity from the grid.

The biggest change for all affected consumers has been the need to switch from a gross meter to a net meter, a process that has been beset by lengthy delays.

Michael Furey, the NSW chairman of the non-profit Australian Solar Council, said: "From the customer side there is mass confusion, and also a huge amount of frustration, because customers have been told to get information from their energy retailers and that has been either difficult to access or confusing."

From January 1, households that already have a net meter can use the electricity they generate to power appliances in the home at the time, while any excess energy is exported to the grid, earning the homeowner an unsubsidised feed-in tariff of around 6¢.

According to the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal, changing from a gross to a net meter could leave NSW customers between $234 and $461 better off each year.

Mr Furey estimates that an average-sized two-kilowatt system that has not been switched to net metering will cost a homeowner around $1.20 a day, from January 1.

An EnergyAustralia spokesperson said that it understood customers were confused about delays, but it expected to have all net meters installed by the middle of 2017.

"We do not think our performance to date has been good enough ... To make sure not a single EnergyAustralia customer is disadvantaged, we're crediting $40 each month to our NSW solar customers who ... haven't yet had their meter installed."

The feed-in tariffs offered by the major providers from January 1 are 10¢ from Origin, 6.1¢ from AGL and EnergyAustralia and up to 12¢ from smaller market players such as Enova Energy.



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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