Monday, April 30, 2018

A Hawaiian island got about 50 inches of rain in 24 hours. Scientists warn it's a sign of the future (?)

Utter rubbish.  The Green/Left seem to think a thing becomes true because they say it is.  No proof needed.  Meteorologist Anthony Watts comments:

"Kauai is home to the largest annual rainfall record, ever, so this isn’t any surprise. One of the wettest spots on earth, with an annual average rainfall of 460 inches (1,200 cm), is located on the east side of Mount Waiʻaleʻale. During a storm on January 24–25, 1956, a rain gauge at Kauaʻi’s former Kilauea Sugar Plantation recorded a record 12 in (300 mm) of precipitation in just 60 minutes. The 12 in (300 mm) value for one hour is an underestimate, since the rain gauge overflowed, which may have resulted in an error by as much as an inch. At that rate, 24 hour rainfall would have been 288 in. S this isn’t all that special"

TonyHeller has more

Since the 1940s, the Hawaiian island of Kauai has endured two tsunamis and two hurricanes, but locals say they have never experienced anything like the thunderstorm that drenched the island this month.

"The rain gauge in Hanalei broke at 28 inches within 24 hours," said state Rep. Nadine Nakamura of the North Shore community. "In a neighboring valley, their rain gauge showed 44 inches within 24 hours. It's off the charts."

Actually, it was even worse. This week the National Weather Service said nearly 50 inches of rain fell in 24 hours.

Now, as Kauai continues to recover, scientists warn that this deluge on April 14 and 15 was something new — the first major storm in Hawaii linked to climate change.

"The flooding on Kauai is consistent with an extreme rainfall that comes with a warmer atmosphere," said Chip Fletcher, a leading expert on the impact of climate change on Pacific island communities.

He noted that the intense rainfall not only triggered landslides, it also caused the Hanalei River to flood and carve a new path through Hanalei. Homes, cars and animals were swept away in raging waters, but no residents or visitors died. Some were airlifted to safety or rescued by boat.

Members of a bison herd were displaced or carried off by floodwaters, and some were rescued from the ocean after swimming for their lives. "Poor buffalo," said Sue Kanoho, executive director of the Kauai Visitors Bureau, who saw video and photos of the animals roaming around businesses and neighborhoods.

The picturesque North Shore communities of Wainiha and Haena are considered the hardest-hit because the only road that leads to them, Kuhio Highway, is now blocked by landslides. Officials say it may not fully reopen for months.

So what can we expect in the future?

"Just recognize that we're moving into a new climate, and our communities are scaled and built for a climate that no longer exists," said Fletcher, a professor of geology and geophysics at the University of Hawaii at Manoa.

Kawika Winter, a natural resource manager, put the storm in perspective.

"This is the most severe rain event [in Hawaii] that we know about since records started being kept in 1905," Winter said as he was about to catch a boat from Hanalei to join recovery efforts in Haena. "We're the most remote community on the North Shore, which is why being cut off is extremely devastating."

Winter is involved in research on climate change and community resilience — the ways places recover from unexpected and catastrophic events.

"In the Pacific Islands, we don't have the luxury of debating whether climate change is real," he said. "Climate change is affecting us, and has been for some time. There are striking similarities with the flooding that we experienced on Kauai and the recent flooding in California. The warmer atmosphere is holding more moisture and that builds up until it meets with cold dry air, creating this massive unstable system, which causes what some meteorologists are now referring to as a 'rain bomb.'"


America's Next Energy Crisis

Some disasters arise unexpectedly, like an earthquake or massive storm. Others seem inevitable. Who didn’t see the 2008 financial crisis coming? In hindsight, most of us.

In reality, most crises that seem inevitable after the fact often catch nearly all of us by surprise when they occur. The factors were obvious enough, but few people saw them coming together.

There's a potential crisis that will seem predictable, after the fact. It's better to take thoughtful consideration and positive action now and not say "I told you so" later.

Our electrical grid is being stretched to the brink. The U.S. is making itself less resilient against catastrophic failure from a major weather event or terror attack every day. Our infrastructure increasingly depends on much less secure, resilient and reliable sources of energy, like wind, solar or even natural gas. These sources do not provide the dependable availability of nuclear or coal.

During the polar vortex in 2014, coal and nuclear power plants in the Midwest and Northeast had to run at full capacity to ensure tens of millions of Americans didn’t lose power or heat. The output was a testament to a system that included the resilience of those power plants.

What's worrying is that many of those coal and nuclear plants are no longer operating. Many more will be phased out soon. These closures are the result in part of a regulatory framework that imposes much higher burdens on these pillars of our electrical-power grid than the less secure sources to which we're now calling "our future." We anticipate growing by subtracting resilient energy sources, and the math doesn’t work.

Most Americans don’t think much about electricity. It charges our phones and turns the lights on when we flick a switch. When it works, there isn’t much reason to think about it. We have been lucky to avoid a major catastrophe, but we're mixing in more and more ingredients for an outage that could disrupt life for millions, particularly in the Northeast or Midwest.

Not thinking about it creates a dangerous blind spot. Because most of us take electricity for granted, very few Americans understand our electricity supply is steaming toward this crisis. And, like most crises, we will be wishing we had done something earlier to prevent it.

Thankfully, the Department of Energy under Secretary Rick Perry is examining the problem. The department is expected to release a report later this month that details these concerns with the existing power grid and the value of so-called “baseload power” – coal, nuclear and hydro-electricity.

As a former assistant secretary of energy for fossil energy during Barack Obama’s presidency, I am encouraged by the department’s review, particularly its focus on the reliability and resilience of the electricity grid and the benefits of coal and nuclear power.

Coal and nuclear plants are unmatched in their ability to generate reliable energy under all circumstances, but these plants are being retired at an alarming rate because of a combination of punitive regulations, low natural gas prices, and government subsidies and mandates for renewables.

Perhaps the bigger concern is the "magical thinking" behind some analysis trying to wish our electricity system into resiliency and reliability without these traditional base-load power plants. It can be uncomfortable to face facts honestly.

There is no reliable way to store meaningful amounts of electricity today. It must be produced when it is needed. That is a big problem for renewable energy sources, like wind and solar, that only produce power under the right circumstances – when the sun is shining and the wind is blowing. Even natural gas is less secure than coal and nuclear power because it relies on pipeline supply of fuel on demand.

A base-load power plant typically stores in excess of a 30-day supply of coal on site, enough to outlast potential disruptions. Natural gas plants require a constant on-demand supply of gas to continue producing electricity. Under normal circumstances, that is a predictable process. But a weather shock, pipeline repair, unforeseen human mistake or a terror attack can quickly disrupt operations at those plants. One 500-megawatt plant generates enough electricity to power roughly 350,000 homes. Would the electrical grid be able to adapt, if three, four, or more plants on that same gas line went down at once? Unlikely.

Diversifying our energy supply also means keeping plants that generate the most consistent power. Our inability to do so as a country has put us at risk of disaster. We are at a crisis point. We can’t predict when a sudden circumstance will test our ability to adapt, but we can act now to strengthen the ability of our electrical grid to adapt and recover rapidly.

Our economic and national security depend on it.


The BBC has withdrawn Human Planet from distribution after admitting that the series faked scenes of an Indonesian hunter harpooning a whale. In all, there have been four fakery stories surrounding the series.

The natural history programme is currently available on Netflix but will be withdrawn within 24 hours while the corporation conducts an “editorial review”.

It is the second Human Planet fakery story this month. It emerged that film-makers had staged scenes of a rainforest tribe supposedly living in a treehouse 140 feet from the ground.

The opening episode of the 2011 series visited the Indonesian island of Lembata and focused on a young man named Benjamin Blikololong. He was shown jumping into the sea during a sperm whale hunt, and viewers were told he had succeeded in harpooning it.

A voiceover from John Hurt said: “Benjamin’s moment has arrived.” After he leapt into the water brandishing the weapon, Hurt said: “He’s got it.” Viewers are then Blikololong received a larger share of the whale meat because he “struck the decisive blow”.

But a journalist writing a book on the whale hunters, who live on the tiny island of Lembata, met Blikololong and heard that he had not harpooned the whale. He then contacted the BBC.

In a statement, the corporation said: “The BBC has been alerted to a further editorial breach in the Human Planet series from 2011.

“In Episode 1, Oceans, a Lamaleran whale hunter named Benjamin Blikololong is shown supposedly harpooning a whale. On review, the BBC does not consider that the portrayal of his role was accurate, although the sequence does reflect how they hunt whales.

“The BBC has decided to withdraw Human Planet from distribution for a full editorial review.”

In all, there have been four fakery stories surrounding the series.


Beware the lure of solar battery stores

Like a murder of crows encircling roadkill, government subsidies are always going to attract some fairly disreputable attention. Businesses big and small, and individuals rich or wannabe rich, will flock to even the hint of a free lunch. It’s just easier than making an honest living.

Solar feed-in-tariffs are a case in point. In just one of the absurd and damaging steps taken to combat global warming, Gordon Brown’s government decided, in its dying years, to encourage householders to install solar panels on their roofs. With the economics of solar panels wildly against such a move, the only way to make it happen was to offer absurd prices for the power generated. It worked, and in the space of a few years a new industry came into being, but one only sustained by government diktat. What’s more, it represented a huge bung to the middle and upper classes, since only the comparatively wealthy could afford to pay for a photovoltaic system.

Worse still, there was never even the slightest chance that rooftop solar would ever make a meaningful difference to the UK’s carbon dioxide emissions. As the late David Mackay pointed out in his widely respected book Renewable Energy Without the Hot Air, there are simply not enough south-facing rooftops or enough light in our northerly climes for rooftop solar to ever be anything more than an empty gesture. From the start, the whole industry represented an embarrassing exercise in virtue signalling.

Eventually, a semblance of sanity was restored when the parlous state of the public finances forced a reverse, and the resulting 2015 reduction in tariff levels led to a dramatic fall in installations. However, there are still a lot of rooftop solar installations around, and with those who signed up before 2015 still receiving the absurd original tariff level, there are a lot of middle-class homeowners with solar money burning holes in their pockets. The crows have noticed, and are gathering again.

The rooftop solar field is currently being circled – perhaps somewhat surprisingly — by the big motor manufacturers. The auto industry — benefiting from another stream of government subsidies — has been working away at another uneconomic technology, namely electric vehicles. Along the way, they have developed considerable expertise in cutting-edge battery technology, and they are now realising that there is a potentially valuable cross-selling opportunity. They just need to convince homeowners that a battery store alongside their solar panels would make their homes even “greener” and thus more worthy of mention at suburban dinner parties.

At the front of the queue of businesses looking to enter the field is Elon Musk’s Tesla. It is perhaps not surprising that a business built on government subsidy would be the first to spot another state teat to which it could attach itself. However, BMW and other more commercial household names are also said to be watching the market closely.

Once again, though, it is the economics that are problematic, and homeowners should beware. The costs and benefits of installing a battery store alongside a rooftop solar system do not stack up. Although government policies have pushed the typical electricity bill up to £500 per year, a battery can still only save a fraction of that amount.

Meanwhile, large battery stores do not come cheap and, moreover, they wear out too quickly. Once you start weighing up the costs and benefits, the picture looks bleak. In fact, battery costs would have to fall by half just to break even over their lifetimes. They would have to fall even further to provide any sort of a return.

Still, the cynic in me wonders whether Whitehall’s green blob will not see this apparently knotty problem as being relatively straightforward to solve. It simply requires a new stream of subsidies. Worse still, government ministers, in their present mood, are probably quite happy to go along with the idea.


Lawmaker Torches Macron On Paris Deal

Louisiana Sen. Bill Cassidy noted one obvious problem Thursday with French President Emmanuel Macron’s recent clarion call for the U.S. to stay connected to the Paris Climate agreement.

Exempting China and India from abiding to the non-binding deal is one of the main reasons why greenhouse gas emission are pitching upward, Cassidy said in an interview with Fox News’ Brian Kilmeade. Environmental rules in the U.S. are causing companies to shift production to countries not tethered to the accord’s strict provisions.

“Paris climate accord leaves out China and India until 2030, and they’re the major polluter,” Cassidy said of the move allowing both countries to opt out of the international agreement until 2030. “It has no teeth,” he added, “and no one is going to achieve their goals except maybe the U.S.”

Major manufacturers have wagered China is the path of least resistance. “It’s cheaper to produce there because of regulations in the U.S. and the E.U.” said Cassidy, who became a Republican in 2006 after several decades as a Democrat. “And now we have more global greenhouse gas emissions, but the loss of American jobs.”

Carbon emissions rose in 2017 after stalling for three years in a row, according to a report by the International Energy Agency (IEA). IEA’s report mirrors findings published in the Global Carbon Project in 2017, predicting global emissions would rise two percent.

CO2 emissions rose because of a 2.1 percent increase in global energy demand — 70 percent of which was met by fossil fuels, especially natural gas and coal-fired electricity. China’s six percent jump in electricity demand was met by coal, IEA reported.

The rise in emissions came as the world economy grew 3.7 percent in 2017. Higher economic growth means more emissions, despite claims economic growth had begun to “decouple” from greenhouse gas emissions. Much of that economic output is a result of American and European companies shifting manufacturing to places where labor costs are lower.




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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