Sunday, April 16, 2017

Arctic meltdown: Sea and land ice are cracking up at a record pace (!)

I imagine that the figures below are all carefully cherrypicked in the usual Green/Left way but whether they are or not they are no disaster.  As Archimdes discovered over 2,000 years ago, melting sea ice does NOT raise the water level. And the only substantial land mass in the Arctic is Greenland. And while there is some melting of Greenland coastal ice the interior icecap is and always has been stable.  So it is only the coastal ice that could have some effect.  But in a recent study it was projected to raise global sea levels by a whole 1.5 inches by 2100!  So the shrieks of horror below are entirely without justification

The images from the Arctic ice death spiral are haunting. The impacts will be terrifying.

Driven by warming air and water temperatures, Arctic sea ice continues its death spiral. A big new crack has been found in a major outlet glacier of the Greenland ice sheet, whose disintegration is speeding up.

Last month set records for the lowest Arctic sea ice extent ever in March, as well as the lowest sea ice volume and lowest sea ice thickness.

The Pan-Arctic Ice Ocean Modeling and Assimilation System (PIOMAS) at the University of Washington’s Polar Science Center provides monthly updates of Arctic sea ice volume. They using numerical modeling based on “observations from satellites, Navy submarines, moorings, and field measurements.”

Ice volume is determined by figuring out sea ice extent or surface area — and then factoring in the ice thickness.
The National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) tracks sea ice extent with satellites, and this year has seen record lows set every month. Indeed, as this figure shows, sea ice extent has been unusually flat over the last three months, which is normally a time of significant refreezing.

But not only has sea ice extent been setting records for months, so has sea ice thickness.

Arctic sea ice is in a state of meltdown, and at some point soon will simply become too thin and fragmented to be called an “ice cap.”

Significantly, what happens in the Arctic does not stay in the Arctic. Arctic amplification drives more extreme weather in North America, while accelerating the defrosting of carbon-rich permafrost, which releases CO2 and methane that each cause faster warming — a dangerous amplifying feedback.
Earth’s melting permafrost threatens to unleash a dangerous climate feedback loop

In addition, as the sea ice disappears and Arctic warming speeds up, that causes faster melting of the land-based Greenland ice sheet, which in turn causes faster sea level rise. A recent study found that Greenland ice mass loss has tripled since 1997.
So perhaps it’s not totally surprising that, as the Washington Post reported, “Scientists just found a strange and worrying crack in one of Greenland’s biggest glaciers.”

The implications of the ice cracking up at an accelerating rate are terrifying for humanity. The images created by it are haunting.


EPA chief calls for exit from Paris climate agreement

President Trump’s top environment official called Thursday for an exit from the historic Paris agreement, in what appeared to be the first time such a high-ranking official has so explicitly disavowed the agreement endorsed by nearly 200 countries to fight climate change.

Speaking with "Fox & Friends," Environmental Protection Agency administrator Scott Pruitt said, "Paris is something that we need to really look at closely. It’s something we need to exit in my opinion."

"It’s a bad deal for America," Pruitt continued. "It was an America second, third, or fourth kind of approach. China and India had no obligations under the agreement until 2030. We front-loaded all of our costs."

Pruitt had called the Paris accord a "bad deal" in the past but does not appear to have previously gone so far as to call for the United States to withdraw.

The Trump administration has previously said it is currently reviewing its position on climate change and energy policy and remains noncommittal, for now, on whether it will follow through on the president’s campaign pledge to "cancel" the 2015 Paris climate agreement.

Trump’s recent executive order on energy policy, which set in motion the rollback of Obama’s domestic Clean Power Plan, was silent on the matter of Paris.

"You might have read in the media that there was much discussion about US energy policy and the fact that we’re undergoing a review of many of those policies," Energy Secretary Rick Perry said in Texas on Thursday, according to prepared remarks. "It’s true, we are and it’s the right thing to do."

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer has said the administration will resolve its view on the Paris accord "by the time of the G7 Summit, late May-ish, if not sooner."

Amid this uncertainty, the statement aligns Pruitt with a more hard-line approach held by some in the Trump administration, such as Chief Strategist Stephen Bannon, rather than the more moderate take of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

Tillerson said in his confirmation hearing that the United States should have a "seat at the table" in the Paris negotiations, and Ivanka Trump and her husband and Trump confidant Jared Kushner.

Tillerson’s former company, ExxonMobil, has also supported the Paris accord, and in late March wrote a letter to the White House reiterating its view that "the United States is well positioned to compete within the framework of the Paris agreement, with abundant low-carbon resources such as natural gas, and innovative private industries, including the oil, gas, and petrochemical sectors."

If the Trump administration wants to take a more moderate approach to the Paris deal, it could consider modifying the United States’ current pledge to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions, rather than seeking to exit altogether.

That’s a tack advanced in a letter to Trump, previously reported on by E&E News, by Representative Kevin Cramer, Republican of North Dakota, who argued that the United States “should present a new pledge that does no harm to our economy," including highly efficient and low-emission coal-fired generators and nuclear power plants.

It is far from clear how the Trump administration could actually "exit" the Paris agreement, if it determines that it wants to. Now that the agreement is in effect, it takes three years under its terms for a party to withdraw, followed by a one-year waiting period — a length roughly equal to Trump’s first term in office.


The Magic Disappearing $100 Billion Climate Fund

Walter Russell Mead

Shocking news—the magic $100 billion climate fund appears not to be taking shape! Even optimistic estimates sat the fund is $40 billion short, and developing countries say that understates the problem. The Financial Times:

Climate ministers from Europe, India, Brazil and South Africa have gone to Beijing in recent weeks, hoping to sustain momentum from the Paris talks despite the Trump administration’s dismantling of US regulations meant to limit American emissions.

But discussions have quickly run up against the issue of financing. “Developed countries have not met their commitments. In their reports a lot of their commitment is in the form of development aid. That doesn’t meet the commitment to contribute to new funds,” China’s top climate change negotiator, Xie Zhenhua, told a briefing on Tuesday. “A lot of countries don’t want to chip in. I said to the European minister: that’s your problem as developed countries. It’s your responsibility to work together and sort it out.”

First world donors have been busily relabeling other foreign aid as contributions to the climate kitty. For developing countries, this is a cheat—they expect $100 billion in new money.

Or, to put it more accurately, they are not nearly stupid and naive enough to believe the lies Western diplomats tell when trying to bamboozle naive green voters at home that they are “Doing Something” about climate change. So they don’t really expect all that money, but hope to use these commitments to pry something out of the West. Also, since the West will certainly default on these bogus commitments, developing countries have all the justification they need to blow off their own commitments when the time comes.

This, one notes, is the house of cards that the last Administration claimed was a big piece of its legacy.

In any case, China, who the clueless Western press has tried to spin as the new hero and leader of the climate movement, is craftily working to widen the north south rift, piously calling on the selfish northern countries to make good on the $100 billion in new money. This failure will, of course, provide China with justification to walk away from any targets it wishes. After all, the West welshed first.

Climate diplomacy has become the leading forum in our time for hypocritical posturing and the politics of pretense. Until the green movement wises up, develops a serious and pragmatic agenda, and pursues a strategically sound political approach, this sorry state of affairs is likely to continue.


Coal's Potential Comeback?

There are still signs of life in the industry, but it's going to take further deregulation and a favorable market.  

It’s the politically correct idea among many Americans that coal as a major industrial fuel is dead, or at least dying, and that “cleaner” fuels like natural gas, wind and solar energy (and maybe unicorn dust) are taking over. There is some reality there, especially for natural gas due to the advancement of technology making it cheaper. But there are other influences on coal’s recent decline.

Less costly natural gas has become the fuel of choice in power plants and for other industrial uses. That’s not entirely because of the natural relative price of the fuels, but because the regulatory overkill on mining and burning coal requires enormous investments that have priced coal higher than natural gas. Remember Barack Obama’s prediction: “So if somebody wants to build a coal-powered plant, they can. It’s just that it will bankrupt them.”

These regulations produced the closing of more than 400 coal-burning power plants, which dropped the demand for coal. That in turn put 63,000 people in the coal industry, electric production industry and related support industries out of work in just the last few years.

At the same time hydraulic fracturing (fracking) became popular, after lying mostly dormant since its first commercial application in 1957. That produced a boom in natural gas production at attractive prices to compete with coal.

Many think burning less coal is a great thing, because burning coal fouls the air and is dangerous to our health. But that “truth” loses importance when you know the actual infinitesimal improvement in air quality derived from burning less coal.

However, considering all those factors, and paraphrasing a famous quote attributed to Mark Twain, the rumors of coal’s demise have been greatly exaggerated.

Coal likely will never regain its former dominance among industrial fuels. Time and technological/industrial evolution would just as certainly, although much more gradually, have eaten into coal’s popularity without the help of Obama’s War on Coal.

But several things point to a continued market for American coal: Trump’s regulatory relief, the growing acceptance of the idea that the climate change/global warming mania is dramatically overstated, the reality that coal is still the best fuel for many things, the fact that many countries that do not have domestic coal supplies depend upon it for fuel, and the improvement in coal-burning technology.

And let’s not forget that fossil fuels made up 81% of the fuels used to produce electricity in 2016, and coal is still the primary fossil fuel in electricity production.

Industry insiders like Murray Energy CEO Robert Murray see a partial resurgence in coal. “Coal will grow back,” he told Fox Business Network’s Stuart Varney. “But we’re in a decline right now.”

He went on to say that Trump “can bring back at least half of those [63,000 lost] jobs as the economy grows and as he ends the regulations on coal.” He noted that we have not had a level playing field in coal because, instead, “the government has been picking winners and losers.”

And he told Maria Bartiromo, also on Fox Business Network, that Obama closed 411 coal-fired plants, and that the Clean Power Plan, which Trump ended recently, would have closed 56 more plants. That, he said, would have caused a steep spike in electric rates. “As [Trump] grows the economy [and] brings jobs back to America, coal will participate in that growth because we are one-sixth the cost of a windmill and one-fourth the cost of natural gas,” per kilowatt-hour, Murray said.

Rep. Bill Johnson (R-OH), “The coal industry knows and understands how to mine coal … and protect our environment. We don’t do it the way it was done 50, 60 years ago.”

Here are a few pieces of evidence that coal isn’t dead yet:

Reports from the Kentucky, West Virginia and Virginia coalfield regions say that mines are cranking back up and miners are being rehired. Train yards are seeing cars filled with coal moving through them in greater numbers.

Kingdom Resources plans to take over operations of one of the old Enterprise mines in Knott County, Kentucky. The company plans to hire 60 workers.

A southern West Virginia college recently held a Job Fair to immediately fill 85 open coal positions in mines in two counties. The coal from these mines is used in making steel.

Coal exports through Hampton Roads last month rose more than 50% from last year’s level, led by a nearly five-fold increase at Newport News' Pier IX, according to the most recent Virginia Maritime Association statistics. “A lot of mines are open again,” said Harry Childress, president of the Virginia Coal and Energy Alliance.“

Fox News reports that in Wise County, Virginia, "A long-awaited revival is under way in this beleaguered Central Appalachia community where residents see coal as the once and future king. Trucks are running again. Miners working seven days a week cannot keep up with current demand.”

Few if any argue that the coal industry will return to its former greatness, but it will certainly endure for many years at a lower level if natural forces are allowed to work, free of politically correct environmental engineering. These aforementioned items represent the beginning of coal’s potential comeback.

When you replace regulations resulting from shortsighted ideological goals with a level of business regulations based upon common sense, good things can happen.


Australia: Another Greenie lie about coal

Green groups opposed to the $16.5 billion Adani coalmine have been accused of propagating “fake news” after circulating images of “coal dust” on beaches near the Abbot Point coal ­terminal that was revealed to be black mineral sand called ­magnetite.

Queensland government environment officials yesterday confirmed they had “no immediate concerns” about environmental damage near the north Queensland port, noting that beaches had “regular depositions of minerals”.

Aerial images depicting black streaks on Dingo Beach near the coal terminal were released by the Australian Conservation Foundation and the Australian Marine Conservation Society and splashed across the front page of The Sydney Morning Herald on Thursday.

The picture ran under the heading “black tide” and environmental groups used the photograph to rail against “Adani’s coal spill”.

They said the beach appeared to be “scattered with lumps of coal” that threatened a turtle ­nesting ground and the nearby habitat of the Australian Painted Snipe.

Green groups also warned about a “thick black sludge of coal” flowing from the Abbot Point ­terminal after satellite images, ­released by the Mackay Conservation Group, purported to show coal-laden water spilling into the neighbouring Caley Valley wetlands following tropical Cyclone Debbie.

The Queensland Department of Environment and Heritage Protection said “no conclusions can yet be made”, but initial monitoring results indicated releases into the wetlands were “in accordance with temporary emissions ­licence conditions”.

A coalition of politicians, ­resources groups and Queensland’s peak environment agency yesterday dismissed suggestions that coal had washed ashore.

A spokeswoman for the Australian Marine Conservation ­Society said it was unable to verify the presence of coal on the beach before releasing the images.

Mike Brunker — a former mayor and current Whitsunday councillor who is tipped to win ALP preselection for the new north Queensland state seat of McMaster — said yesterday there was no coal in the wetlands.

He said the black deposits on the beach were magnetite and naturally occurring. He added that locals distrusted the claims made by the ACF and AMCS.

“I understand they are on the opposing side,” Mr Brunker said. “They want to save the planet but it’s the extremes they go to prove a point. They are losing credibility.

“It’s naturally there. You can see the formation of the sand. It’s a naturally occurring thing. If you get a magnet on it, the magnet picks it up.”

The Queensland Department of Environment and Heritage Protection debunked the environmental groups’ claims, saying it had “no immediate concern regarding images in the media showing black deposits on beaches adjacent to the Abbott Point coal terminal”.

“Regional shorelines are known for regular depositions of minerals in sand,” a department spokesman said. “The department is undertaking sampling to confirm that it is mineral sand.”

Resources Minister Matt Canavan attacked the integrity of the groups campaigning against the Adani mine. “Unless Cyclone Debbie was so powerful it changed the chemical composition of coal, there’s no evidence at all that coal has washed up on the beach,” Senator Canavan said. “These green groups have absolutely no credibility now. And nothing they say can be trusted.”

AMCS Great Barrier Reef campaign director Imogen Zethoven yesterday defended the decision to release the images, saying no one had yet tested the sand for traces of coal. “The purpose of us releasing those photos ... was to draw public attention to the issue and to call for an urgent transparent and independent investigation,” she said.

Ms Zethoven said the head of corporate affairs at Adani had ­offered the conservation group an opportunity to visit Dingo Beach, but withdrew the offer after AMCS asked to bring an ecologist, soil scientist and a photographer.

Adani spokesman Ron Watson said the sand along the beaches in the area varied between white and black. He also said preliminary testing of the Caley Valley Wetlands by the environment department, following the release of the satellite imagery, had found “the water quality was within the ­required limits”.

“It’s a basalt magnetite mix,” he said, describing the black sand. “It’s very heavy and magnetic in parts which is what Captain Cook discovered in 1770 when he sailed by the nearby Magnetic Island. We offered to take one of the environmentalists. But they refused on the basis that we wouldn’t allow them to take water samples.”

An Adani spokesman said last night police were called after an unknown vessel arrived at Dingo Beach yesterday, allegedly breaching security conditions.

Whitsunday Regional Council mayor Andrew Willcox took a magnet with him to inspect the beach on Thursday “to prove a point” after he heard about the aerial photographs. “What they need to do is just stick to the actual facts ... I took a magnet with me because coal is not attracted to a magnet but magnetite is,” he said. “I just ran it over different sections of the beach and that black stuff there is definitely magnetite.”

Queensland Resources Council chief executive Ian Macfarlane rubbished the claims.

Andrew Morrell, who is a Juru traditional owner and part of a nat­ive title claim covering one third of the wetlands, said he thought there “could be some coal among the magnetite” and pushed for an investigation because traditional owners were concerned.



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