Friday, May 12, 2017

Earth could break through a major climate threshold in the next 15 years, scientists warn

More speculation from the usual suspects.  Based as usual on models with no known predictive skill.  Only of interest to true believers

Global temperatures could exceed 1.5 degrees Celsius above their pre-industrial levels within the next 15 years, according to a new scientific study, crossing the first threshold under the Paris climate agreement and placing the world at a potentially dangerous level of climate change.

The report comes as climate agreement participants are watching the United States — where the Trump administration is debating whether to withdraw from the Paris accord — and as  scientists with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change are working on a special report about the 1.5-degree goal (equivalent to 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) and the consequences of overshooting it.

That IPCC’s upcoming special report and the increasing urgency about minimizing global warming were one impetus for the study, according to co-author Benjamin Henley, a research fellow at the University of Melbourne in Australia. “We are working on a number of scientific avenues to help inform that report,” he told The Washington Post.

The study focuses on a natural planetary system known as the Interdecadal Pacific Oscillation, or IPO (it’s also sometimes referred to as the Pacific Decadal Oscillation). It’s an alternating pattern of ocean temperatures that shifts periodically between warm and cool phases, helping to drive temperature and weather patterns all over the world.

During cool, or “negative,” phases, tropical regions of the Pacific Ocean tend to be colder, and the global mean temperature is lower. The system is similar to the El Niño/La Niña cycle, the major difference being that phases of the IPO tend to last much longer — sometimes a decade or more. The phenomenon is believed to be a natural form of climate variability unrelated to human-caused climate change, although it does have the potential to influence the progression of global warming.

For most of the 2000s, the IPO has been in a negative phase, and scientists think its cooling effect has helped to slightly offset the effect of climate change, an explanation for the so-called global warming pause in the first part of the 21st century. As multiple studies have pointed out, this temporary slowdown is consistent with the overall long-term warming trend and in no way suggests that human-induced climate change is not occurring. Rather, this natural variation in the global climate helped to slightly blunt those effects.

Many scientists believe that the planet is now transitioning back into a positive, or warm, phase, which could amplify, rather than offset, human-caused climate warming. This means we could reach milestone temperature thresholds faster than we would if the IPO had remained in its negative phase.

That’s the conclusion of the new study, written by Henley and Andrew King of the University of Melbourne. Using model projections of future climate warming under a business-as-usual scenario, they suggest that the Earth could hit the 1.5-degree temperature threshold as early as 2025, while the continuation of the negative phase probably would delay this event until after 2030.

The exact difference in timing depends on how we define the milestone itself, the researchers point out. We could say we’ve hit the threshold the first year the global mean temperature is 1.5 degrees warmer than it was during the preindustrial era, regardless of how the temperature fluctuates after that point.

Or we could say it has happened when the mean temperature meets this point over the course of a five-year period or longer. Or, because global mean temperature tends to wiggle up and down a bit from one year to the next, we could say it’s the point at which we cross the 1.5-degree threshold and never dip below it again.

Generally, however, the models suggested it would occur between 2025 and 2029 (most likely around 2026) if the IPO shifts to a positive phase, and around 2031 if it stays in a negative phase. (They were not able to investigate the final scenario, they noted, because it probably will occur much further in the future and the number of IPO phases humans have observed since detailed record-keeping began is not sufficient to inform the model simulations required.)

“The paper emphasizes the way that natural climate variations, like the IPO, can interact with the progression of human-caused global warming,” Gerald Meehl, a senior scientist with the National Center for Atmospheric Research, told The Washington Post. “Therefore, the timing of when we cross certain thresholds depends on the interplay between these two factors.” Meehl was not involved with the new study but has previously published research on the IPO.

And the 2025 date for hitting the 1.5-degree temperature threshold is looking more and more likely. Multiple studies in the past few years suggest that the transition to a positive IPO phase has begun. Henley said there’s some uncertainty about whether that has happened, but other scientists are more confident. Scientists John Fasullo and Kevin Trenberth, also of the National Center for Atmospheric Research, have published research to this effect, and both told The Post that we have been in a positive phase for several years now.

In fact, Trenberth and Fasullo suggested that the paper’s conclusions have been generally known for some time. They also pointed out that the study has its limitations. Fasullo suggested that the various reasons given for the 1.5-degree temperature threshold are “deficient” for precisely the reason that they’re sensitive to climate variations such as the IPO.

Trenberth said that the 1.5 degrees — as a single, concrete number — is “pretty irrelevant.” He noted that  “it is all of the other things going on when that stage is reached that really matter: the heat waves, wildfires, droughts, extreme rainfalls, etc.”

It’s also unclear, for now, how significant the difference between a positive and negative IPO really is in terms of what the planet would look like under either scenario. The timing difference for hitting the 1.5-degree target is only about five years. At the point when a positive IPO would cause us to cross the threshold, the researchers note that the global temperature under a negative IPO would probably be about 0.2 degrees Celsius cooler. Whether there would be a significant difference in the actual climate effects produced under these different mean temperatures is uncertain.

It’s also possible that the business-as-usual scenario used in the study won’t come to pass and that the Paris agreement will indeed drive down global emissions enough to push off 1.5 degrees for a longer period of time. (Overall, the accord lists a goal of staying “well below” 2 degrees Celsius, or 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit.)

But the paper clearly indicates that the 1.5-degree target is fast approaching. In fact, according to Meehl, the paper underscores a point that many climate scientists have been warning about: that we’re increasingly likely to blow past our climate goals, and soon. And with a potential U.S. withdrawal from the Paris accord looming, this scenario is now more likely than ever.

“Given our rapid approach, one way or another, to the 1.5-degree threshold, the most plausible way to reach it at this point looks like we would have to overshoot and attempt to come back down to it afterward with policies that would significantly reduce emissions going forward,” Meehl suggested. Some scientists have proposed technology that would actually remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, thus cooling the climate in the future, but that’s a long way from being a practical solution to climate change.

“I guess the important thing is that policymakers should be aware of just how quickly we are approaching 1.5 degrees, and just realizing the urgency of reducing emissions,” Henley said. “It’s critical to keep pursuing the 1.5-degree goal.”


Climate and exercise

An amusing study below.  The authors most probably wanted to show that warming made you lax and lethargic.  But they found the opposite. Pesky!

Climate change may alter human physical activity patterns

Nick Obradovich & James H. Fowler


Regular physical activity supports healthy human functioning1,​2,​3. Might climate change—by modifying the environmental determinants of human physical activity—alter exercise rates in the future4? Here we conduct an empirical investigation of the relationship between meteorological conditions, physical activity and future climate change. Using data on reported participation in recreational physical activity from over 1.9 million US survey respondents between 2002 and 2012, coupled with daily meteorological data, we show that both cold and acutely hot temperatures, as well as precipitation days, reduce physical activity. We combine our historical estimates with output from 21 climate models and project the possible physical activity effects of future climatic changes by 2050 and 2099. Our projection indicates that warming over the course of this century may increase net recreational physical activity in the United States. Activity may increase most during the winter in northern states and decline most during the summer in southern states.

Nature Human Behaviour 1, Article number: 0097 (2017).

Science Unsettled: Why Trump Should Dump The Paris Climate Deal

We keep hearing the "science is settled," yet once again data emerge showing that there has been no appreciable warming now for 19 years. Memo to global warming advocates: People are starting to notice.

Of course, it is pretty clear from the record that temperatures have risen in the past 150 years or so. But that should hardly be surprising, given that the period lasting into the early 19th century was known as the "Little Ice Age."

But more recently, alarms were sounded over the rise in 2015 and 2016 of global temperatures, even though the rise was a result of a temporary phenomenon — the "El Nino" effect of warming seawaters in the Pacific that create higher temperatures and weather disruptions around the world.

As Christopher Booker of the Sunday Telegraph in Britain noted this week, after being repeatedly warned about 2016 being "the hottest year on record," we now have arrived at this: "In recent months global temperatures have plummeted by more than 0.6 degrees: just as happened 17 years ago after a similarly strong El Nino."

By the way, those temperature readings are courtesy of satellites, which provide the most comprehensive and accurate temperature readings of all. Many of the scariest headlines come from far more limited, and localized, temperature readings, which can be deceptive.

Scare headlines about disappearing arctic ice are similarly being shown as overblown if not outright false. The Danish Meteorological Institute reports that since December Arctic temperatures have pretty much been below -20 degrees Celsius. Arctic ice and the Greenland ice cap are both expanding, not shrinking.

Knowing this, it pays to be skeptical of model-based data — not actual measured ones — that suggest a need to spend massive amounts of money to keep a purely hypothetical threat from taking place. It makes no sense.

We've been told that the world will have to spend 2% of GDP, or roughly $1.5 trillion each year, to keep the threat of global warming at bay — even though estimates show that even if everything requested by the Paris Climate Change Accord were done, the effect on global climate would be negligible.

What's galling is that, thanks to the fracking revolution, the U.S. is already sharply cutting its emissions of CO2. In February, the American Interest noted that "U.S. energy-related CO2 emissions hit a 25-year low the first six months of 2016, continuing the progress that the EPA says we made in 2015."

So, temperatures and the output of CO2 are both falling? Meanwhile, recent reporting suggests the models on which the supposed global warming "science" is based have turned out to be highly questionable, unable to predict even past warming — something a model is supposed to be able to do.

As we noted recently, since the 1997 Kyoto Accord, U.S. output of greenhouse gases has plummeted 7.3%, despite U.S. GDP growing by 52% during that time. Our greenhouse gas footprint is shrinking, not growing. Meanwhile, nations such as China and India that are boosting their output of greenhouse gases dramatically remain untouched by any of the recent anti-global warming agreements — including the damaging one that Obama agreed to in Paris in late 2015, but never submitted to the Senate for approval.

Which raises a big question. The Trump administration right now is under intense pressure both here and abroad to remain in Obama's fraudulent Paris climate deal, which, as far as we can tell, is intentionally designed to destroy the U.S. economy and lower Americans' standard of living.

Given the bad science and the enormous costs on which the Paris deal is based, why continue to give it any credence at all?

President Trump should do himself and the U.S. a favor and withdraw from the Paris deal. As the renewed decline in temperatures shows, the only real threat Americans face is an unholy alliance between global bureaucrats and financially corrupted scientists eager for massive amounts of new spending so that they can stay employed. Time to put them all out of business.


Google Asked to Label Anti-Fracking Websites as ‘Fake News’

An oil and gas drilling advocacy group published an open letter to Google asking the search engine giant to consider “purging or demoting” websites spreading misinformation about hydraulic fracturing.

Google rewrote its search engine algorithm to bury “fake news” websites in the wake of the 2016 presidential election. Now the industry-funded Texans for Natural Gas wants Google to include anti-fracking websites.

“We believe many of the most prominent anti-fracking websites have content that is misleading, false, or offensive – if not all three,” the group wrote in an open letter to Google published Monday.

“As a result, we urge you to consider purging or demoting these websites from your algorithm, which in turn will encourage a more honest public discussion about hydraulic fracturing, and oil and natural gas development in general,” the group wrote.

Google raters “assess search results — to flag web pages that host hoaxes, conspiracy theories, and what the company calls ‘low-quality’ content,” Bloomberg reported in April.

Google and Facebook both were heavily criticized for allowing “fake news” to taint the presidential election.

Fracking involves injecting large amounts of water, mixed with some chemicals and sand, deep underground to unlock vast reserves of oil and natural gas. The drilling technique sparked an energy boom, but riled up environmentalists who saw it as a threat to the planet.

Texans for Natural Gas argue that environmental groups have put out plenty of false information about fracking.

The Sierra Club, for example, claims on its website that “[f]racking has contaminated the drinking water of hundreds of thousands of Americans.” It cites no evidence to back up this charge.

The Environmental Protection Agency released its final study on fracking’s impacts on groundwater in late 2016, and found no widespread evidence that fracking was contaminating groundwater.

“While the number of identified cases of drinking water contamination is small, the scientific evidence is insufficient to support estimates of the frequency of contamination,” Thomas Burke, the former deputy assistant administrator at EPA, told reporters in December.

In another example, Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune said fracking was harming newborn babies, pointing to a study he thought found such an association. The 2015 study in question, however, did not make that finding.

Study co-author Dr. Bruce Pitt of the University of Pittsburgh said it’s “important to stress that our study does not say that these pollutants caused the lower birth weights.”

Some environmentalists have gone even further. Sharon Wilson of Earthworks compared fracking to “rape.”

“It is a violation of justice and it is despoiling the land,” Wilson wrote in a 2015 blog post. “Victims usually suffer PTSD.”

“Claims made by the radical environmentalist campaign against hydraulic fracturing are protected by the First Amendment,” Texans for Natural Gas wrote to Google, adding:

Groups that wish to peddle misleading information about oil and natural gas are fully within their rights to do so. Many of the groups engaging in anti-fracking advocacy have devoted significant resources to Search Engine Optimization (SEO), and as a result they receive significant web traffic.

But that is no reason for Google to reward such misinformation with its powerful search engine. We urge you consider adding these groups’ websites to your review of fake news and the kinds of content that you do not wish to promote.


Australia: Former PM John Howard says Australia's greatest immediate policy challenge was barely mentioned in the federal budget - the looming energy crisis

FORMER PM John Howard says Australia's greatest immediate policy challenge was barely mentioned in the federal budget - the looming energy crisis.

Speaking at a post-budget business breakfast with former New Zealand PM John Key, Mr Howard described the risk of supply and price rises as scandalous given Australia natural endowments of energy sources.

The nation had 38 per cent of the world's easily recoverable uranium reserves, hundreds of years of coal reserves, was a major natural gas producer and could also produce plenty of solar and wind power, he said.

"That we should be facing a potential energy crisis in the eastern states is a serious condemnation of the political process," he said.

"That gas exploration has been hampered, narrowed, redirected and prohibited by some state governments is a policy scandal of the first order."

He also claimed state governments had overzealously embraced renewable energy targets, leading to a massive increase in costs.

"When my government was defeated in 2007, the renewable energy target was two per cent and it should never have been increased?" he said.

Some major energy users have shut some operations as a result, such as Rio Tinto, while others are threatening to do so, such as Glencore coal boss Peter Freyberg in comments this week.

Mr Howard said Australia was extremely fortunate economically and was approaching a world record of consecutive quarters of growth, but was getting to the "brake linings" and falling behind competitors.

A Senate that was more diverse than in his time made the crucial economic reform needed more difficult to pass, he said.



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