Thursday, January 26, 2017
Changing climate has stalled Australian wheat yields (?)
As Warmist articles go, the study below shows unusual statistical sophistication. But the connection to Warmism is tokenistic. The article would read much the same without reference to Warmism. And it is refreshing that the model they use has had extensive validation. Most unusual! Warmist models normally have no predictive skill whatever.
In the end, however, they find that weather has reduced potential crop yields, not mainly via warming but mainly by reduced rainfall: "lower rainfall accounted for 83% of the decline in yield potential, while temperature rise alone was responsible for 17% of the decline"
And that is a problem. Warmer seas should usually produce MORE rainfall. How come the alleged warming was accompanied by LESS rainfall? The authors do not know, or, if they do, they are not saying. So the statistics are in fact incompatible with anthropogenic global warming. A warmer globe should have produced more rainfall. But there was LESS rainfall.
All one can reasonably say in the circumstances is that there were poorly-understood local factors at work, not global ones. From any point of view, what they have to account for is the reduced rainfall and they have not done that
Australia’s wheat yields more than trebled during the first 90 years of the 20th century but have stalled since 1990. In research published today in Global Change Biology, we show that rising temperatures and reduced rainfall, in line with global climate change, are responsible for the shortfall.
This is a major concern for wheat farmers, the Australian economy and global food security as the climate continues to change. The wheat industry is typically worth more than A$5 billion per year – Australia’s most valuable crop. Globally, food production needs to increase by at least 60% by 2050, and Australia is one of the world’s biggest wheat exporters.
There is some good news, though. So far, despite poorer conditions for growing wheat, farmers have managed to improve farming practices and at least stabilise yields. The question is how long they can continue to do so.
While wheat yields have been largely the same over the 26 years from 1990 to 2015, potential yields have declined by 27% since 1990, from 4.4 tonnes per hectare to 3.2 tonnes per hectare.
Potential yields are the limit on what a wheat field can produce. This is determined by weather, soil type, the genetic potential of the best adapted wheat varieties and sustainable best practice. Farmers’ actual yields are further restricted by economic considerations, attitude to risk, knowledge and other socio-economic factors.
While yield potential has declined overall, the trend has not been evenly distributed. While some areas have not suffered any decline, others have declined by up to 100kg per hectare each year.
The distribution of the annual change in wheat yield potential from 1990 to 2015. Each dot represents one of the 50 weather stations used in the study. David Gobbett, Zvi Hochman and Heidi Horan, Author provided
We found this decline in yield potential by investigating 50 high-quality weather stations located throughout Australia’s wheat-growing areas.
Analysis of the weather data revealed that, on average, the amount of rain falling on growing crops declined by 2.8mm per season, or 28% over 26 years, while maximum daily temperatures increased by an average of 1.05℃.
To calculate the impact of these climate trends on potential wheat yields we applied a crop simulation model, APSIM, which has been thoroughly validated against field experiments in Australia, to the 50 weather stations.
Climate variability or climate change?
There is strong evidence globally that increasing greenhouse gases are causing rises in temperature. Recent studies have also attributed observed rainfall trends in our study region to anthropogenic climate change.
Statistically, the chance of observing the decline in yield potential over 50 weather stations and 26 years through random variability is less than one in 100 billion.
We can also separate the individual impacts of rainfall decline, temperature rise and more CO₂ in the atmosphere (all else being equal, rising atmospheric CO₂ means more plant growth).
First, we statistically removed the rising temperature trends from the daily temperature records and re-ran the simulations. This showed that lower rainfall accounted for 83% of the decline in yield potential, while temperature rise alone was responsible for 17% of the decline.
Next we re-ran our simulations with climate records, keeping CO₂ at 1990 levels. The CO₂ enrichment effect, whereby crop growth benefits from higher atmospheric CO₂ levels, prevented a further 4% decline relative to 1990 yields.
So the rising CO₂ levels provided a small benefit compared to the combined impact of rainfall and temperature trends.
Badlands National Park tweets on climate change
There was nothing subversive or awkward about the tweets in question. They just set out well-known facts, facts that are not in dispute. What is in dispute is the sensitivity of the climate to CO2 levels -- and the tweets did not address that. Somebody in the administration may or may not have asked for the tweets to be taken down but it made no difference to anything anyway
Apparently defying the Trump administration’s new social media policy, the Badlands National Park went rogue for a few hours on Tuesday and tweeted several scientific facts related to climate change — but the tweets were deleted as the White House apparently reeled in the wayward park.
The tweets, from the South Dakota park’s official account, came on the same day Mr. Trump signed executive orders reviving the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines, signaling he’ll put a priority on developing energy sources over concerns about climate change.
“The pre-industrial concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere was 280 parts per million (ppm). As of December 2016, 404.93 ppm,” read one tweet on the park’s Twitter feed. “Today, the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is higher than at any time in the last 650,000 years. #climate.
Flipside of the atmosphere; ocean acidity has increased 30% since the Industrial Revolution. “Ocean Acidification.” #climate #carboncycle.”
After its initial tweets around 3 p.m. Tuesday, the barrage continued later in the afternoon. Just before 5 p.m., the Badlands account tweeted more climate change information.
“Burning one gallon of gasoline puts nearly 20lbs of carbon dioxide into our atmosphere. #climate,” the follow-up tweet reads.
The posts were deleted around 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, but not before generating a slew of online stories about who and what was behind the tweets. The tweets on the surface may appear innocuous, but they come at the very instant the new Trump administration has moved to scrub all mentions of climate change from federal websites. The official White House page, for example, no longer mentions global warming, as was the case under President Obama, and instead only discusses Mr. Trump’s energy policy.
Democrats seized on the incident to attack the Trump administration’s climate policy and its attitude toward dissent in the ranks. Name-checking the authoritarian Russian president, Democratic National Committee national press secretary Adrienne Watson said in a statement, “Vladimir Putin would be proud.”
The National Park Service, a division of the Interior Department that oversees all parks, has been at the center of the social media storm, making Tuesday’s tweets all the more noteworthy.
The NPS had its Twitter account temporarily taken off-line over the weekend after tweeting photos showing what appeared to be the disparity in crowd size between Mr. Trump’s inauguration last week and that of former President Obama in 2009. The tweets were quickly deleted.
The Beginning of the End of EPA
At the Republican National Convention last summer, the GOP approved a platform that stated: “We propose to shift responsibility for environmental regulation from the federal bureaucracy to the states and to transform the EPA [Environmental Protection Agency] into an independent bipartisan commission, similar to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, with structural safeguards against politicized science.” It also says “We will likewise forbid the EPA to regulate carbon dioxide, something never envisioned when Congress passed the Clean Air Act.”
The GOP followed the lead of President Donald Trump, who in a March debate said he would abolish EPA, and in a May speech in North Dakota condemned “the Environmental Protection Agency’s use of totalitarian tactics” that has “denied millions of Americans access to the energy wealth sitting under our feet. This is your treasure, and you – the American People – are entitled to share in the riches.”
Trump and the GOP are saying, finally, what millions of people have been thinking for a long time: EPA has become the cause of, not the solution to, the nation’s major environmental problems. It’s time to end EPA.
A Promising Beginning
In the late 1960s, the United States faced real problems regarding the quality of its air and water, waste disposal, and contamination from mining and agriculture. Pollution crossed borders – the borders between private property as well as between cities, states, and nations – and traditional remedies based on private property rights didn’t seem to be working. The public was overly complacent about the possible threat to their safety.
Many scientists, myself included, lobbied the federal government to form a cabinet-level agency to address these problems.  In 1971, EPA was born. During the agency’s first 10 years, Congress passed seven legislative acts to protect the environment, including the Water Pollution Control Act (later renamed the Clean Water Act), Safe Drinking Water Act, Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, and the Clean Air Act.
At first, these laws worked well, protecting the environment and the health of our citizens. Problems were identified, measured, exposed, and major investments were made to reduce dangerous emissions and protect the public from exposure to them. EPA and other government agencies regularly report the subsequent dramatic reduction in all the pollutants we originally targeted. By the 1980s, nothing more needed to be done beyond monitoring our continuing success in cleaning up the environment. It was time to declare victory and go home.
EPA Is Now an Obstacle
Beginning around 1981, however, radical Leftists realized they could advance their political agenda by taking over the environmental movement and use it to advocate for ever-more draconian regulations on businesses. Environmentalists allowed this take-over to occur because it brought massive funding from liberal foundations, political power, and prestige. 
Politicians realized they could win votes by pandering to the environmental movement, repeating their pseudo-scientific claims, and posing as protectors of nature and the public health. The wind, solar, and ethanol industries saw they could use regulations to handicap competitors or help themselves to public subsidies.
Today, EPA is a captive of activist and special-interest groups. Its regulations have nothing to do with protecting the environment. Its rules account for nearly half of the $2 trillion annual cost of complying with all national regulations in the United States.
In 2008, The Heritage Foundation estimated the costs of EPA’s first proposal to regulate greenhouse gases in the name of fighting global warming were “close to $7 trillion and three million manufacturing jobs lost.” According to Heritage, “the sweep of regulations … could severely affect nearly every major energy-using product from cars to lawnmowers, and a million or more businesses and buildings of all types. And all of this sacrifice is in order to make, at best, a minuscule contribution to an overstated environmental threat.”
President Barack Obama has routinely used EPA to circumvent Congress to impose severe regulations on farmers, ranchers, other private landowners, fisheries, and the energy sector. Just last week, the agency rushed through approval of new fuel efficiency standards for automobiles more than a year ahead of schedule to thwart any attempts by the Trump administration to stop it. Courts and Congress have objected to and tried to limit EPA’s abuses, but without noticeable success. Once a genuine success story, EPA has become the biggest obstacle to further environmental progress.
The solution is to return this authority to the states, replacing EPA with a Committee of the Whole of the 50 state environmental protection agencies.
State EPAs already have primary responsibility for the implementation of the nation’s environmental laws and EPA regulations. With more than 30 years of experience, these state agencies are ready to take over management of the nation’s environment.
Accountable to 50 governors and state legislatures, state EPAs are more attuned to real-world needs and trade-offs. Located in 50 state capitols, they are less vulnerable to the Left’s massive beltway lobbying machine.
The Committee would be made up of representatives from each state. EPA could be phased out over five years, which could include a one-year preparation period followed by a four-year program in which 25 percent of the agency’s activities would be passed to the Committee each year.
Seventy-five percent of EPA’s budget could be eliminated and most of the remainder would pay for national research labs. A small administrative structure would allow the states to refine existing environmental laws in a manner more suitable to protecting our environment without thwarting the development of our natural resources and energy supplies.
Benefits of Replacing EPA
The federal budget for environmental protection could be reduced from $8.6 billion to $2 billion or less. Staffing could be reduced from more than 15,000 to 300. The real savings, of course, would be in reduction of the $1 trillion in annual regulatory costs EPA imposes each year.
This reform would produce a second huge benefit by ending the government’s war on affordable energy. EPA is the principal funder and advocate of global warming alarmism, the myth that man-made climate change is a crisis. That movement would end on the day EPA’s doors shut, allowing Congress to return to taxpayers and consumers a “peace dividend” amount to some of the $4 billion a day currently spent world-wide on climate change.
Dismantling EPA is one part of a comprehensive set of reforms, many of them discussed by Trump and referred to in the GOP platform, to lighten the massive weight of government regulations on the American people. The nation needs a pro-energy, pro-environment, and pro-jobs agenda that recognizes the tremendous value of the natural resources under our feet.
While the rest of the world stumbles blindly in the grip of an anti-energy and anti-freedom ideology, the U.S. can march ahead and regain its place as the world’s economic and technological leader.
The nation’s environment is in terrific shape, thanks to early efforts by EPA and more recent efforts by state governments and businesses. The nation’s economy and environment will be even better if the federal government gets out of the way.
EPA has long outlived its usefulness. Let’s return its powers to the states, where they belong.
Domestic Wood Burning Leads To “Very High Pollution Alert” For London
By Paul Homewood
From the BBC:
"A "very high" air pollution warning has been issued for London for the first time under a new alert system.
Warnings are being issued at bus stops, roadside signs and Tube stations under the new system set up by London Mayor Sadiq Khan.
The rise has been attributed to cold, calm and settled weather, meaning winds are not dispersing local pollutants.
The mayor said "the shameful state of London’s toxic air" meant he had to trigger the alert.
"This is the highest level of alert and everyone – from the most vulnerable to the physically fit – may need to take precautions to protect themselves from the filthy air," he said.
A spike in pollution on Sunday was the highest level recorded since April 2011……
The last time pollution reached this level was early last month, according to pollution monitoring stations run by King’s College London.
However, a spike in pollution levels on Sunday "when there wasn’t much traffic on the road, was significant" Dr Fuller said.
In recent weeks several "high" alerts have been issued.
The current weather conditions, coupled with an "unusually high amount of domestic wood burning", has led to the highest pollution alert being issued"
I was too young to remember the great London smogs of the 1950s, but they led to Clean Air Acts, which amongst other things introduced smokeless zones where only certain types of coal could be burnt.
Unfortunately because of our obsession with “clean” renewable energy, we appear to be going backwards again.
British government runs dead on climate alarmism
There was probably some awareness that this was just the same-old same-old tripe
The Government has been accused of trying to bury a major report about the potential dangers of global warming to Britain – including the doubling of the deaths during heatwaves, a “significant risk” to supplies of food and the prospect of infrastructure damage from flooding.
The UK Climate Change Risk Assessment Report, which by law has to be produced every five years, was published with little fanfare on the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs’ (Defra) website on 18 January.
But, despite its undoubted importance, Environment Secretary Andrea Leadsom made no speech and did not issue her own statement, and even the Defra Twitter account was silent. No mainstream media organisation covered the report.
One leading climate expert accused the Government of “trying to sneak it out” without people noticing, saying he was “astonished” at the way its publication was handled.
In the report, the Government admitted there were a number of “urgent priorities” that needed to be addressed.
It said it largely agreed with experts’ warnings about the effects of climate change on the UK. These included two “high-risk” issues: the damage expected to be caused by flooding and coastal erosion; and the effect of rising temperatures on people’s health.
The report concluded that the number of heat-related deaths in the UK “could more than double by the 2050s from a current baseline of around 2,000 per year”.
It said “urgent action” should be taken to address overheating in homes, public buildings and cities generally, and called for further research into the effect on workers’ productivity.
The Government also recognised that climate change “will present significant risks to the availability and supply of food in the UK”, the report said, partly because of extreme weather in some of the world’s main food-growing regions.
The report also said the public water supply could be affected by shortages and that the natural environment could be degraded.
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Posted by JR at 1:37 AM