Sunday, January 28, 2018

Shocking satellite images show how the world's lakes are shrinking at an alarming rate and turning to dust bowls

Pretty rubbishy stuff below. They admit that the dry lakes were caused by people taking water from rivers for irrigation etc. but still say -- with no evidence whatever -- that global warming contributed to the loss.

It might also be mentioned that Africa generally has been hard hit by drought recently -- but that was an effect of ElNino, not CO2. El Nino is winding down more slowly than expected but when it does the rain will return.

Had there ACTUALLY been any effect of global warming, rains would have INCREASED, not decreased -- which is High School physics

They were once great bodies of water containing an abundance of wildlife and an important resource for humans.

But a growing number of lakes, some that were once thriving destinations for tourists, are drying up faster than ever - and in the majority of cases the blame lies with water mismanagement and climate change, according to an ecology expert.

Shocking satellite pictures show how lakes such as the Aral Sea in Uzbekistan and Lake Urmia in Iran are getting smaller and smaller by the year.

In the case of the Aral Sea, it started drying up in the 1960s as water was taken away from the lake to irrigate the crops in the dried land of what was the USSR.

And the impact of that means the lake now only stands at 10 per cent of its former surface area of 26,300 square miles - and has decreased by an estimated 167 billion gallons of water.

A similar situation has arisen with Lake Urmia, which was once a luxury holiday destination, but has started to shrink due to dams on the rivers feeding it. Today, it has lost 40 per cent of its previous area of 2,000 square miles. 

Another tourist destination under threat is the Dead Sea in the Middle East, which is also shrinking at an alarming rate due to water mismanagement.

Water levels have been dropping by up to three feet per year, and Israel, Jordan and Palestine have agreed to a plan to pump in about 53 billion gallons of water a year from the Red Sea to boost levels.

Meanwhile the demand for water in the US states of California and Nevada has been blamed for Owen's Lake reducing significantly since 1926. This is because the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power diverted the Owens River into the LA Aqueduct instead of the lake.

Now, over 90 years on, city officials are spending $1.2 billion to try and stop the lake from becoming a complete dust bowl.

Lake Faguibine in Mali, shockingly, has been almost completely dry since 1990 following a prolonged drought. It had previously stood at 230 square miles but has almost completely disappeared.

According to lakes expert Lisa Borre, who is a researcher at the Cary Institute in Millbrook, New York, human intervention is the main reason these landmarks are disappearing.

She told MailOnline Travel: 'Extensive research on the worst of these disasters, including well documented examples such as the Aral Sea and Lake Urmia, show that the main culprit is diverting water or other mismanagement in the watershed that prevents enough water from reaching the lake.

'That said, the situation on every lake is unique and requires understanding of its natural setting and climate as well as what is happening to the source of water feeding the lake and the amount of water leaving the lake through natural and human causes.

'Climate change can exacerbate problems caused by mismanagement of water resources. With few exceptions, lakes across the globe are warming.

'Many experience natural cycles of drying and flooding, but climate change is also altering the natural water cycle, causing more variability and extreme conditions.'

Lake Assal in Djibouti is also evaporating at an alarming rate due to drought as temperatures in the African country can often reach over 50 degrees celsius, which could be a result of global warming. The lake also sees very little rainfall feed it and is one of the few bodies of water that is shrinking for reasons other than human intervention.

In Mexico, Lake Chapala has reduced by 25 per cent due to a combination of drought and diversion. The surface area of Lake Chapala in March 1986 was 1,048 square kilometers (259,000 acres). By March 2001, it had diminished to 812 square kilometers (201,000 acres)

And even though the loss of a lake may not seem like a problem for most people, Ms Borre says we should all be concerned.

She added: 'The loss of any lake is a concern because lakes provide important ecosystem services.

'In the most extreme cases, the toxic dust blowing off dried lake beds can create human health problems.

'Less freshwater in the lake creates higher salinity, making the water inhospitable to the fish, wildlife and humans that depend on the lake for water and food.

'Many of the most threatened lakes in the world are also important for biodiversity conservation and support migratory birds and diverse fisheries.

'When a lake dries up, it affects the human communities that depend on the lake for food, water, transportation, commerce and their very way of life.'


No CO2 warming for the last 40 years?

It is very cold here in the Eastern US and the President is joking about the lack of global warming. More interesting by far is the fact that there appears to have been no CO2 induced warming in the last 40 years, which is as far back as the satellite measurements go.

That this incredible fact has gone unnoticed is due mostly to the scientific community’s fixation on the warming shown by the surface temperature statistical models. But as explained here, these complex computer models are completely unreliable.

Also, the satellite measurements do show some global warming, which people have mistakenly assumed somehow supports the hypothesis of human caused, CO2 induced warming. Careful inspection shows that this assumption is false. There is in fact no evidence of CO2 warming in the entire satellite record.

To see this one must look at the satellite record in detail. To understand this, bear in mind that science is all about the specific details of an observation. These details can overthrow grand theories that are widely accepted.

For example, the negative result of the Michelson-Morley experiment led to the revolutionary special theory of relativity. When it comes to global warming, the 40 year satellite measurements provide a strong negative result for the CO2 warming hypothesis. The CO2 warming just is not there.

To see this negative result, let us look closely at this graphic.

It gives the monthly almost-global temperature readings for the lower atmosphere. The satellites do not cover the entire globe, just most of it. There is also a red line showing a 13-month running average temperature.

Note that on the vertical scale the temperatures are shown as what are called anomalies, not as actual temperatures. An anomaly here is the difference in degrees Celsius between the actual temperature and an arbitrarily chosen average temperature. That average temperature defines the zero line in the graph. Why this is done is not important for our discussion.

To begin with look at the period from the beginning to 1997. The red line shows that this is what is called an aperiodic oscillator. It is an oscillator because it consistently goes up and down, up and down, etc. It is aperiodic, as opposed to periodic, because the ups and downs are somewhat irregular.

It should be clear by inspection that there is very little, if any, overall warming during this period. That is, the red line is oscillating around roughly the -0.1 degree line.

When you have an aperiodic oscillator with this few oscillations there is no point in trying to be extremely precise, because the next oscillation might change things a bit. In particular, one must be very careful in doing straight line (that is, linear) trend analysis, because the result will be very sensitive to where you start and stop the trend.

So let’s just say that there is little or no warming during this period. This was well known at the time and it was a major issue in the climate change debate.

Then comes what is often called the giant El Nino, although it is actually a giant El Nino-La Nina cycle in ocean circulation. First the temperatures go way up, then way down, before stabilizing back into a natural aperiodic oscillator.

The giant El Nino-La Nina cycle looks to begin mid-1997, interrupting a downward moving aperiodic oscillation. It ends sometime in 2001, followed by a new aperiodic oscillation. However, this oscillation is warmer, centered roughly on the +0.15 line. The new oscillator continues until another big El Nino-La Nina oscillation hits, around 2015. What this last El Nino cycle will do remains to be seen

Thus the graph looks to have basically four distinct periods. First the little-to-no warming period from 1979 until 1997. Second the giant El Nino-La Nina cycle from 1997 until 2001. Third, the warmer little-to-no warming period from 2001 to 2015. Fourth the new El Nino-La Nina cycle that is still in progress.

Yes there is some warming but it appears to be almost entirely coincident with the giant El Nino-La Nina cycle. The simplest explanation is that the second flat aperiodic period is warmer than the first because of the El Nino effect. Perhaps some heat was injected into the atmosphere that remained, thereby increasing the baseline for the next aperiodic oscillator.

But in no case is there any evidence of CO2 induced warming here, nor of any human-caused warming for that matter. These causes would produce a relatively steady warming over time, not the single episodic warming that we clearly see here. In particular, to my knowledge there is no known way that the gradual CO2 increase could have caused this giant El Nino-La Nina cycle.

Thus the little warming that there is in the last 40 years appears to be more or less entirely natural. In any normal science this result would be sufficient to invalidate the hypothesis that the increasing CO2 concentration is causing global warming.


The EPA Has Managed To Bankrupt One Of The Biggest Refineries In The Northeast

There’s a headline I bet you didn’t see coming, huh? We’re living in a time when the American energy sector is surging and becoming a dominant force not only domestically, but globally as well.

There’s a president in the White House who is loosening up restrictions on drilling as we speak. Older pipeline projects are finally being finished and newer ones are kicking into gear. That includes Pennsylvania where, as we recently discussed, the Mariner East II Pipeline may soon be bringing even more product into the Philadelphia/New York region for processing and shipment.

So with all of those conditions in place, how in the world could the Philadelphia Energy Solutions LLC refinery, one of the biggest around, be filing for bankruptcy? That must be a mistake, right? But it’s not.

Philadelphia Energy Solutions LLC, owner of the largest oil refinery serving the New York Harbor gasoline and diesel market, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

The company, a joint-venture between The Carlyle Group LP and a subsidiary of Energy Transfer Partners LP, filed a petition Sunday in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Delaware. Chief Executive Greg Gatta said in a memo obtained by Bloomberg News that the company had a prepackaged reorganization plan and cited the more than $800 million it paid since 2012 to comply with the U.S. government’s Renewable Fuel Standard as a key factor for the decision.

The company’s debt is between $1 billion and $10 billion, it said in its filing, without providing further details in its initial petition.

How did that happen with energy products being so plentiful? The easy answer is provided by the company which owns the refinery. It’s not one of the newest designs so they’re not equipped to process biofuels and blend them into gasoline. And because of our old friend the Renewable Fuel Standard, that means that the refinery has to purchase government mandated RIN credits (Renewable Identification Number) in order to legally operate.

In case you’re wondering how much those RIN credits cost these days on the bizarre market which has grown out of the government mandate, Philadelphia Energy Solutions had to spend $217M in 2017 for them. That was their second highest operating cost, adding up to more than any other expense besides crude oil to process, and more than twice their total salary for the workforce. At the same time, as I mentioned above, an abundant oil supply is something of a double edged sword. High supply and steady demand means lower prices, so the government was jacking up their costs massively just as profits were getting slimmer.

Was there anything that could have been done? Of course. We were first saddled with this program by George W. Bush, much to our dismay. Then it really kicked into high gear under Barack Obama. But there was always hope that perhaps Donald Trump could help. Yes, he had sworn fealty to King Corn in Iowa when he was on the campaign trail, but at least some relief could have been offered. But when the EPA quietly floated a trial balloon about possibly scaling back the RFS standards a bit, Trump shot the idea down. More recently, several state governors, including Pennsylvania’s, pleaded with the President to grant waivers to some of the hardest hit states. Once again, Trump denied the request. And now Philadelphia Energy Solutions has entered Chapter 11.

Bush started this. Barack Obama made it worse. But Donald Trump had multiple chances to do something about it and he has refused. This one lands on his plate as far as I’m concerned.


California Considers $1,000 Fine for Waiters Offering Unsolicited Plastic Straws

Ian Calderon wants restaurateurs to think long and hard before giving you a straw.

Calderon, the Democratic majority leader in California's lower house, has introduced a bill to stop sit-down restaurants from offering customers straws with their beverages unless they specifically request one. Under Calderon's law, a waiter who serves a drink with an unrequested straw in it would face up to 6 months in jail and a fine of up to $1,000.

"We need to create awareness around the issue of one-time use plastic straws and its detrimental effects on our landfills, waterways, and oceans," Calderon explained in a press release.

This isn't just Calderon's crusade. The California cities of San Luis Obispo and Davis both passed straws-on-request laws last year, and Manhattan Beach maintains a prohibition on all disposable plastics. And up in Seattle, food service businesses won't be allowed to offer plastic straws or utensils as of July.

The Los Angeles Times has gotten behind the movement, endorsing straws-on-request policies in an editorial that also warned that "repetitive sucking may cause or exacerbate wrinkles on the lips or around the mouth." Celebrity astronomer Neil DeGrasse Tyson (always up for a little chiding) and Entourage star Adrian Grenier have appeared in videos where an octopus slaps them in the face for using a plastic straw.

The actual number of straws being used is unclear. Calderon, along with news outlets writing about this issue—from CNN to the San Francisco Chronicle—unfailingly state that Americans use 500 million plastic straws a day, many of them ending up in waterways and oceans. The 500 million figure is often attributed to the National Park Service; it in turn got it from the recycling company Eco-Cycle.

Eco-Cycle is unable to provide any data to back up this number, telling Reason that it was relying on the research of one Milo Cress. Cress—whose Be Straw Free Campaign is hosted on Eco-Cycle's website—tells Reason that he arrived at the 500 million straws a day figure from phone surveys he conducted of straw manufacturers in 2011, when he was just 9 years old.

Cress, who is now 16, says that the National Restaurant Association has endorsed his estimates in private correspondence. This may well be true, but the only references to the 500 million figure on the association's website again points back to the work done by Cress.

More important than how many straws Americans use each day is how many wind up in waterways. We don't know that figure either. The closest we have is the number of straws collected by the California Costal Commission during its annual Coastal Cleanup Day: a total of 835,425 straws and stirrers since 1988, or about 4.1 percent of debris collected.

Squishy moderates on the straw issue have pushed paper straws, which come compostable at only eight times the price. Eco-Cycle skews a bit more radical, with their "Be Straw Free" campaign—sponsored in part by reusable straw makers—that urges the adoption of glass or steel straws. Because we all know how good steel smelting is for the environment.

In any case, criminalizing unsolicited straws seems like a rather heavy-handed approach to the problem, especially since we don't actually know how big a problem it is. But don't take my word for that. Ask Milo Cress.

"If people are forced not to use straws, then they won't necessarily see that it's for the environment," he tells Reason. "They'll just think it's just another inconvenience imposed on them by government."


Honesty even among senior scientists cannot be assumed

A scooter, a polaroid camera, a drone and pink LED lights are some of the purchased items that have Queensland's chief scientist in hot water.

Suzanne Miller faced court on Wednesday over allegations she used a state government-funded credit card to buy the random items as well as a high-pressure cleaner, Go-Pro camera and industrial fan.

Miller, currently stood down from her position, appeared in Brisbane Magistrates Court to face 31 new counts of fraud.

The Crime and Corruption Commission slapped the 52-year-old, who was first charged last July over a $45,000 private health insurance claim, with the extra 31 offences in December.

It alleges Miller, who was also the chief executive of the Queensland Museum, used a corporate credit card to buy more than $30,000 worth of items for her own use between September 2013 and July 2017.

Court documents show the items, including the cameras, scooter, drone, high-pressure cleaner, pink LED lights, and fan.

Miller was stood aside on full pay in 2017 after she was charged with the separate fraud offence in July.

The state's corruption watchdog alleges she dishonestly gained private health insurance worth $45,000 as an employee of the Queensland Museum between February 2014 and July 2017.

The Scottish-born professor was also charged with one count of uttering a forged document in March 2015, namely an immigration letter.

Miller, who made no comment as she left court on Wednesday, had her bail continued and matters adjourned until February 19.




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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