Friday, August 17, 2018

Unexpected effects of climate change: worse food safety, more car wrecks

I hate to be cliche but this study is comparing apples and oranges.  It compares unusually hot days with permanently hot weather.

I grew up in tropical Australia where our normal temperature range for most of the year was way higher than what Greenies fear for the rest of the world.

Our tempertures were often in the 90s F.  So were we lazybones who had lots of car crashes?  We would have heard all about it if it were so but we did not and when I moved to more temperate climes people's behaviour seemed no different from what I had been accustomed to. Though I suspect that we drank a bit more cold beer.  And here's the rub:  People MOVE there for the less stressful environment.  Lots of people like it hot.  So it cannot be too bad there can it!

What the Solons below overlook is that the human body has a considerable range of heat adaptation and if you are PERMANENTLY in a hot climate, you will adapt to it and the heat will become hardly noticed.

We always laughed at news of fatal "heat waves" in Britain.  Our WINTER temperatures were similar to British "heatwaves" yet we just went about our business with no accounts of "heatwave" deaths at all.

So the prophecies below can be dismissed as ignorant of human diversity

On excessively hot days, there are more likely to be fatal car accidents and food safety problems, and police officers and government food inspectors tend to do less of their duties, according to a study published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology scientists, who analyzed data from across the United States, suggest that if the climate continues to change, by 2050 -- and in another 50 or so years beyond that -- our world may be less safe than it is today.

"The crux of the idea -- which is that weather affects how we perform our duties and how we go about our daily lives and the risks that we experience -- is indeed simplistic," said Nick Obradovich, co-author of the study and a research scientist at MIT's Media Lab.

What is not at all simple is that he and his colleagues used a "massive amount of data" to understand how temperature affects crucial government work, and this is the "first time, to our knowledge, that's been done."

"Hot temperatures are basically bad for human functioning," Obradovich said. This is the case across "a broad suite of things" that scientists have studied: Sleep quality, mood, mental health, risk of suicide and work productivity are all "harmed by hot temperatures."

So, do hot temperatures harm government workers' ability to do their jobs?

Obradovich and his colleagues analyzed data from more than 70 million police stops between 2000 and 2017 and more than 500,000 fatal motor vehicle crashes between 2001 and 2015. They also looked at nearly 13 million food safety violations (for restaurants and food production facilities) recorded across more than 4 million inspections between 2012 and 2016.

The researchers established the usual range of temperatures for cities and states and then examined "what happens if you have, all else equal, just an unusually warm day in that range?" Obradovich explained.

"So, let's say it's summer in Columbus, Ohio, and usually that day is, say, 90 degrees Fahrenheit, but today it is 92 degrees Fahrenheit."

Next, the research team asked, "on any given day, is this facility -- is this restaurant or food production facility -- inspected or not? And the probability that a facility is inspected goes down in hot temperatures," Obradovich said. "That's one of the main findings."

A similar picture emerged when the researchers examined traffic accidents and policing.

"What you see is that fatal crash incidence goes up in hot temperatures," Obradovich said. Here, an average temperature range of 30° C to 40° C (or 86° F to 104° F) produces an amplified risk of fatal car crashes of half a percentage point, the study finds.

"It also goes up in particularly cold temperatures, but you see a sharper increase in the hot temperature range," he said.
"So people are more likely to have a fatal crash in hot temperatures, but also, the probability of traffic stops -- the number of traffic stops that are conducted in a county on a given day when it is hot -- goes down," Obradovich said.


New Docs Suggest EPA Staff Worked With Lobbyists To Thwart Repealing Obama-Era Fuel Regs

New documents show Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) comments critical of the Trump administration’s agenda were sent to the White House by an official whose name appeared in recently revealed emails suggesting agency staff colluded with lobbyists opposed to another deregulatory plan.

William Charmley, the director of the Assessment & Standards division at EPA’s Office of Transportation and Air Quality, sent at least two emails to White House officials in recent months with analysis critical of a Trump administration deregulatory effort.

One email sent June 18 included an EPA memo that criticized key aspects of the Trump administration’s plan to roll back Obama-era greenhouse gas emissions standards for cars and trucks.

The memo sought “to soften the government’s proposal to ease vehicle emission standards,” according to Bloomberg, which first reported on the document Tuesday. EPA officials also “repeatedly questioned assumptions in NHTSA’s draft of the plan,” Bloomberg reported.

For example, the memo sent by Charmley noted the “proposed standards are detrimental to safety, rather than beneficial,” contradicting EPA and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) public claims the rule would save 12,000 lives from fatal accidents.

EPA officials also disagreed with the “changes in prices, fuel economy, and other attributes expected to result” from increased new car sales from rolling back fuel economy rules, the memo noted.

EPA and NHTSA jointly announced a plan in August to roll back Obama-era climate regulations on cars that aimed to achieve an average fuel economy of over 50 miles per gallon by 2025.

The administration said suspending those rules would save money and lives by making safer cars more affordable.

“These emails are but a fraction of the robust dialogue that occurred during interagency deliberations for the proposed rule,” EPA spokesman John Konkus said in an emailed statement.

“EPA is currently soliciting comments on eight different alternative standards and we look forward to reviewing any new data and information,” Konkus said.

However, this is not the first time Charmely has appeared in a public release of documents. His name also came up in emails released earlier in 2018 suggesting Michigan-based EPA officials colluded with trucking lobbyists to undermine the Trump administration’s agenda.

Charmely emailed with Truck and Engine Manufacturers Association (EMA) lobbyist Matthew Spears about a study used by opponents of EPA plans to repeal Obama-era rules on glider trucks, according to emails obtained by publisher Steve Milloy.

In the emails, Charmley tells Spears the anti-glider study was nearing completion and laid out positions taken by trucking industry opponents of gliders.

The study was never sanctioned by EPA leadership, was not peer-reviewed and bore no official agency markings, but environmentalists and industry opponents of glider kits — trucks with used engines — used it to bolster their case.

Emails show Volvo lobbyist Steven Berry worked with EPA career officials to procure gliders for the study, and Charmley was also contacted by Volvo lobbyist Susan Alt about opposition letters to glider kit deregulation.

Alt somehow obtained a copy of the EPA’s findings, which she touted during a December 2017 public hearing on EPA’s proposal to repeal regulations on glider kits. It’s unclear how she got the study, which was never publicly released.

Four federal lawmakers asked EPA’s Office of Inspector General to investigate communications Charmley and other officials had with opponents of repealing glider kit regulations put in place by the Obama administration in 2016.

“When EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt repealed the current glider rule, career employees at the EPA communicated with the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) with the intent of eliminating the glider industry,” four GOP lawmakers, led by Rep. Bill Posey of Florida, wrote to EPA Inspector General Arthur Elkins in June.

“In our opinion, EPA’s conduct undermines the current Administration’s policies and prevents the repeal of the rule,” Republicans wrote.


Nir Shaviv: The missing link between exploding stars, clouds and climate on Earth

Nir Shaviv is co-author along with Henrik Svensmark and others of a major new paper in Nature Communications titled Increased ionization supports growth of aerosols into cloud condensation nuclei. He has a write up at his Sciencebits blog. Here’s the introduction:

Our new results published today in nature communications provide the last piece of a long studied puzzle. We finally found the actual physical mechanism linking between atmospheric ionization and the formation of cloud condensation nuclei. Thus, we now understand the complete physical picture linking solar activity and our galactic environment (which govern the flux of cosmic rays ionizing the atmosphere) to climate here on Earth though changes in the cloud characteristics. In short, as small aerosols grow to become cloud condensation nuclei, they grow faster under higher background ionization rates. Consequently, they have a higher chance of surviving the growth without being eaten by larger aerosols. This effect was calculated theoretically and measured in a specially designed experiment conducted at the Danish Space Research Institute at the Danish Technical University, together with our colleagues Martin Andreas Bødker Enghoff and Jacob Svensmark.


It has long been known that solar variations appear to have a large effect on climate. This was already suggested by William Herschel over 200 years ago. Over the past several decades, more empirical evidence have unequivocally demonstrated the existence of such a link, as exemplified in the examples in the box below.

The fact that the ocean sea level changes with solar activity (see Box 1 above) clearly demonstrates that there is a link between solar activity climate, but it can be used to quantify the solar climate link and show that it is very large. In fact, this “calorimetric” measurement of the solar radiative forcing is about 1 to 1.5 W/m2 over the solar cycle, compared with the 0.1-0.2 W/m2 change expected from just changes in the solar irradiance. This means that a mechanism amplifying solar activity should be operating—the sun has a much larger effect on climate than can be naively expected from just changes in the solar output.

Over the years, a couple of mechanisms were suggested to explain the large solar climate link. However, one particular mechanism has accumulated a significant amount of evidence in its support. The mechanism is that of solar wind modulation of the cosmic rays, which govern the amount of atmospheric ionization, and which in turn affect the formation of cloud condensation nuclei and therefore how much light do the clouds reflect back to space, as we now explain.

Cosmic Rays are high energy particles originating from supernova remnants. These particles diffuse through the Milky Way. When they reach the solar system they can diffuse into the inner parts (where Earth is) but lose some energy along the way as they interact with the solar wind. Here on Earth they are responsible for most of the ionization in the Troposphere (the lower 10-20 km of the atmosphere where most of the “weather” takes place). We now know that this ionization plays a role in the formation of cloud condensation nuclei (CCNs). The latter are small (typically 50nm or larger) aerosols upon which water vapor can condense when saturation (i.e., 100% humidity) is reached in the atmosphere. Since the properties of clouds, such as their lifetime and reflectivity, depends on the number of CCNs, changing the CCNs formation rate will impact Earth’s energy balance.

The full link is therefore as follows: A more active sun implies a lower CR flux reaching Earth and with it, lower ionization. This in turn implies that fewer cloud condensation nuclei are produced such that the clouds that later form live shorter lives and are less white, thereby allowing more solar radiation to pass through and warm our planet.


Germany’s Failed Climate Goals. A Wake-Up Call for Governments Everywhere

Germany, the nation that did more than any other to unleash the modern renewable-energy industry, is likely to fall short of its goals for reducing harmful carbon-dioxide emissions even after spending over 500 billion euros ($580 billion) by 2025 to overhaul its energy system.

Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government is grappling with the implications of failing to sufficiently raise the renewable share. Those may include extending the life of the most polluting fossil-fuel plants and scaling back future climate pledges under the landmark Paris Agreement, negotiated by more than 190 countries in 2015.

A shortfall in Germany is an ominous signal for other nations struggling to reach their own targets. Emboldened by its prowess in engineering and a consensus across all political parties in favoring green energy, Germany was the first major economy to make a big shift in its energy mix toward low-carbon sources.

Germany’s emissions miss should act as a “wake-up” call to all countries, said Gail Whiteman, professor of environment sustainability at the U.K.’s Lancaster University. “It does not necessarily mean that China or India or even the U.S.A. can’t cut their emissions. The key point is that we need a new kind of climate leadership, both at the nation-state level and across all other actors including companies and mayors.”

Falling short on greenhouse-gas goals has implications for the planet. Scientists have linked the heatwave in the Northern Hemisphere this season to climate change. Higher temperatures shut down power plants across Europe, ignited forest fires in California and shrank glaciers atop Sweden’s highest mountain.

That’s worried scientists, who fear they may have underestimated the impact of rising carbon emissions. “The human fingerprint on rising temperatures was clear in the heatwave this year,” said Michael Mann, a professor of atmospheric science at Penn State University.

“Stalled weather systems caused by a weakening and changing jet stream are probably playing with the unprecedented weather extremes we’re seeing around the world, with human-caused climate change playing a likely role here,” Mann said.

Germany stepped up as a leader on climate change at the start of the century, pioneering a system of subsidies for wind and solar farms that sparked a global boom in manufacturing the technologies.

Merkel, who as environment minister in the 1990s sketched some of the first international climate deals organized by the United Nations, in 2007 pledged to slash emissions by 40 percent by 2020 compared to 1990 levels. She backed that up with more than 100 measures in order to meet that goal. The reductions Germany achieved didn’t have a big impact on the picture for global emissions because of an increase in emissions from developing nations.

“At the time they set their goals, they were very ambitious,” recalled Patricia Espinosa, the lead United Nations envoy on climate change. “It was a political statement that the chancellor was trying to make. What happened was that the industry—particularly the car industry—didn’t come along. Technically they can do it. Economically they can do it. But it’s political.”

Even without hitting the targets, Germany’s energy agenda is having a big impact on the mix of fuels used to generate electricity. Renewables are close to replacing coal as the primary source, and natural gas use is declining. The real problem is that Germany is also also trying to phase out nuclear reactors, a response to the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi meltdown in Japan. And with the 2020 goals looking like a stretch, there’s increasing concern that tighter goals the country is planning for 2030 will be completely out of reach.

“The challenge looks really difficult,” said Andreas Loeschel, head of the government commission monitoring Germany’s energy transition. “There was too much confidence that renewables would do the trick. It’s about getting dirty energy out of the mix.”

Shutting down nuclear plants is leaving Germany short of generation plants that can work on the breezeless dark days in winter when wind farms and solar plants won’t provide much to the grid—and demand is at its peak. Another problem: When it’s windy and bright, the grid is so flooded with power that prices in the wholesale market sometimes drop below zero.

The result is a puzzle for politicians. The Bundestag enacted legislation to make sure climate targets are hit, including stringent rules governing energy use, a new building code to make buildings carbon neutral and a utility bill charge that would subsidize investment in green energy.

But grid managers need to keep the lights on. To do that, some big generators like RWE AG are anticipating the government may have to allow some coal plants to remain working longer than ministers would like.

Other nations are looking at how Germany acts if only because many other big polluters have a bigger problem in making reductions. Germany’s economy is dominated by services that require less energy and produce less carbon than places tilted toward industry and manufacturing. China, which is the biggest source of greenhouse gas emissions, has a larger share of its economy tied to factories and therefore will find it harder to make reductions.


Sydney rock oysters getting smaller as oceans become more acidic due to climate change

EVERYTHING is caused by climate change!  The study behind the article below does not yet appear to be online. None of my usual search techniques located it anyway.  So I am a bit handicapped in commenting on it.

I would for instance like to know details of the survey technique they used to arrive at their conclusion that Sydney oysters are  shrinking.  Without representative sampling no generalizations are possible.  My bet is that they did not do comprehensive and representative sampling.

But in the absence of that information, we can still detect some dubious conclusions.  If there has been a decline, how do we know it is due to global warming?  We do not know.  There could be many other causes of the effect.  The most obvious alternative cause would be disease.  Oysters are prone to all sorts of disease stressors: QX disease, POMS disease and many more.  And given the frequency of such attacks there are probably some as yet undetected diseases at work.

Oyster farmers believe that acidic runoff from the land adversely affect oysters.  Susan Fitzer says that has recently been reduced but again I would like details of that assertion and the surveys on which it is based.

And sewage runoff is known to affect oysters.  And there seems little doubt that the breakneck expansion of the Sydney population is putting a lot more sewage into the ocean. (Yes. Sydney does do that).  Could that adversely affect oysters?

And the alleged acidity is in fact reduced alkalinity. Does any level of alkalinity affect oysters?  I can't see why it should.

And the "acidity" is said to be a result of increased global warming.  But, according to the satellites,  global temperatures have been  falling for the last couple of years.

Furthermore the entire prediction that acidity will increase in the oceans is deliberately dishonest. If, as Warmists predict, the world will warm, that will make the oceans warmer too. And as water warms it OUTGASES CO2, as every drinker of coca cola can observe. Those bubbles in your coke are outgassed bubbles of CO2, outgassed as the drink warms. And less CO2 means less carbonic acid. So a warming ocean will become more ALKALINE.

The Warmists try to have it both ways, saying the oceans will be both warmer and more acidic.  But that flies in the face of basic and easily demonstrable physics.  But they are only pretend scientists so I guess that is OK

And we read here that  ancient planktonic foraminifer shells were still going strong at CO2 levels 5 times higher than today. That sounds like a good augury for oyster shells.

So I think we can say with some confidence that the causal chain suggested by Susan Fitzer is rubbish on a number of counts

The famous Sydney rock oyster is shrinking as oceans become more acidic, new research has found.

In news that will rock seafood lovers, a study released overnight by academics in the UK found oysters in New South Wales have become smaller and fewer in number because of coastal acidification.

It’s part of what researchers fear is a worldwide trend driven by climate change and coastal runoff.

Headed by University of Stirling academic Susan Fitzer, the study looked at oyster leases at Wallis Lake and Port Stephens, both on the NSW coast north of Sydney.

They make up the two largest Sydney rock oyster production areas in NSW.

The study found the oysters’ diminishing size and falling population is due to acidification from land and sea sources, part of a global trend.

“Sydney rock oysters are becoming smaller and their population is decreasing as a result of coastal acidification,” Fitzer said.

“The first thing consumers will notice is smaller oysters, mussels and other molluscs on their plates, but if ocean acidification and coastal acidification are exacerbated by future climate change and sea level rise, this could have a huge impact on commercial aquaculture and populations around the world.”

The risk to oyster populations around the globe from soil runoff has long been recognised.

In 2014 oyster farmers in Port Stephens released an industry-driven environmental management policy which recognised that damage to oyster leases from the drainage from acid-sulphate soils was both “likely” to occur and “severe” in consequence.

But Fitzer’s research argues that run-off is not caused by agricultural activity and is rather the consequence of the impacts of climate change.

“A lot of work has been done near to Australia’s oyster fisheries to mitigate the impact of sulphate soils causing acidification, and there has been a marked decline in levels,” she said.

“The run-off from sulfate soils aren’t produced by agricultural activity, they occur as a natural result of climate change-driven increases in rainfall and sea-level rise.

“But the trend persists and small changes in pH are having a huge impact on these molluscs.”

Increased acidification affects oyster growth by limiting the amount of carbonate in the water.

“Acidic water is damaging oysters’ ability to grow their shells. We see lots of disorder in the calcite layers, because there isn’t enough carbonate in the water for the oysters to draw on for optimal shell formation and growth,” Fitzer said.

“This is the first time that the Sydney rock oysters’ shell crystallography has been studied, and we now know disruption to this process could have a significant impact on Australian aquaculture,” she said.

Fitzer’s research was published in the Journal of Ecology and Environment.




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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