Thursday, January 10, 2019

A jellyfish ‘epidemic’ has Australian scientists wondering if climate change is to be blamed

Why are they wondering?  We all know that EVERYTHING bad is caused by climate change!  It is however just a theory.  There is no proof.  Intermittent jellyfish infestations of Australia's Northern coastal waters have been happening for a long time -- definitely before global warming. They were a big concern when I was a kid and I am now 75

Authorities in Queensland, Australia, were forced to close beaches across the region over the weekend, amid what local officials said was a jellyfish ‘‘epidemic.’’ More than 13,000 stings were recorded in Queensland alone last week, with more than 2,500 people seeking treatment over the weekend, according to rescue organizations.

While the vast majority of those stings are not life-threatening and were caused by so-called bluebottle colonies, researchers say that the number of more serious injuries from less common jellyfish is also at above-average levels.

Some researchers also say this jellyfish infestation could be one more thing to blame on climate change.

‘‘Unlike other species, jellyfish are stimulated by just about any change to the ecosystem. So, it’s reasonable to say that the jellyfish might potentially be responding to the warmer-than-usual weather,’’ said marine life researcher Lisa Gershwin, who works with the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, which is Australia’s national science agency.

While researchers are still examining how much recent heat waves may have contributed to the current jellyfish bloom off Australia’s coasts, they can already say with certainty how they got to the beaches: strong and unusual winds pushing toward Queensland.

Gershwin and other scientists say that the surge in stings is unlikely to be coincidental. ‘‘Jellyfish are demanding our attention right now and we should be giving it to them. Those stings are an indication that something is wrong with our oceans — and we’re silly that we’re not listening,’’ said Gershwin.

While some scientists have been more careful about linking climate change and jellyfish blooms, given a lack of long-term data so far, most researchers agree that jellyfish populations respond positively to a number of human-induced changes, including pollution, overfishing, and warmer water. ‘‘All of this takes out their predators and competitors, so they’re the ‘last men standing,’ ’’ said Gershwin.

For some less common species, that’s also true for any contact with humans. While a so-called Irukandji variety of jellyfish can cause hours-long body pain and potential strokes, the number of actual deaths is relatively low. By 2017, there had only been two recorded fatalities in Queensland, according to the Department of Health there. Far more dangerous are box jellyfish, which have caused more than 70 fatalities across Australia.

Even though there is no definite way to predict future fatalities caused by jellyfish blooms, Australian researchers are concerned that the numbers could rise significantly.

Australian environmental activists say that their own government shares some of the blame, pointing at the lack of a coordinated effort to target plastic pollution in the waters around the Australian coastline, for example. In October, the conservative governing party faced additional criticism after it rejected calls to abandon coal power by 2050.

While Australia’s current government does not appear in a rush to tackle some of those factors, other nations like China have a far bigger carbon and plastic waste footprint and it’s unlikely that this will change any time soon. Combined, that makes for some pessimistic predictions.

‘‘[Jellyfish] are bad for the environment; they’re bad for humans. Having more jellyfish isn’t something good — but I’d say we’re on track to that,’’ said Gershwin.


What's the Point of a Carbon Tax Rebate?
The Irish government is proposing rebates to a carbon tax it recently imposed to households that comply with what it considers “low-carbon lifestyles.” The rebate, according to Prime Minister Leo Varadkar, might be in the form of a check, an increase in welfare benefits or a tax credit for people who live the way the government thinks they should.

Some believe that if implemented, the rebate could reduce tensions seen in many parts of Europe, but especially in France, where the “yellow vest” movement that began as a protest against President Emmanuel Macron’s big tax increase on gasoline, since rescinded, made a gallon of petrol among the most expensive in Europe with the tax accounting for more than half the cost.

I’m doubtful. People don’t like their governments forcing them to accept a lesser lifestyle because of an ideology some believe has yet to be definitively proved, while the elites continue to live as they like.

So strong is the faith of the climate change cult that McDonald’s, the world’s largest purchaser of beef, is considering “meat alternatives” because of alleged environmental damage from traditional farming methods, according to a story in the Financial Times.

In the United States, Chuck Todd, host of NBC’s “Meet the Press,” resembled the media in totalitarian countries when he announced that henceforth he would not give air time to climate change deniers. Todd says that’s because climate change is “settled science.” The many legitimate scientists with knowledge and experience in climate who disagree are to be isolated in an ideological gulag for not toeing the party line.

Roy Spencer is a meteorologist, a research scientist for the University of Alabama in Huntsville and the U.S. Science Team Leader for the Advanced Microwave Scanning Radiometer (AMSR-E) on NASA’s Aqua satellite. Writing for the Global Warming Policy Forum, a London-based think tank, Spencer says “2018 marked the second straight year when global temperatures declined and that last year was the sixth warmest year globally since El Nino peaked in February, 2016.”

As the Irish Times writes, recent projections by Ireland’s Economic and Social Justice Institute found that the carbon tax would have to increase substantially — from 100 euros per person annually to 1,500 euros if the country is to meet legally binding targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 2030.

Let’s see how that will go down with the Irish, who have only recently begun to emerge from a long economic recession.


U.S. carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions saw a yearly increase of 3.4 percent in 2018, according to preliminary estimates released Tuesday

The rise represents the second-biggest yearly gain in over two decades, independent research provider the Rhodium Group said in a note. The figures are based on "preliminary power generation, natural gas, and oil consumption data." The increase was only surpassed by the 2010 figures when the economy was bouncing back from the global financial crash, it said.

Breaking the figures down, the transportation sector remained the largest source of emissions in the U.S. for the third year in a row, with "robust growth in demand" for both diesel and jet fuel offsetting a "modest" drop in gasoline consumption.

While a record amount of coal-fired power plants were shut in 2018, emissions from the power sector grew by 1.9 percent, the note said. This was down to natural gas replacing the majority of this lost generation and feeding the majority of growth in electricity demand.

The buildings and industrial sectors also showed "big year-on-year emissions gains." This was in part down to "unusually cold" weather at the beginning of 2018. The estimates in Tuesday's note refer to energy-related CO2 emissions only.


Fracking’s Secret Projection Gap: Analysis shows many wells underperform

Thousands of shale wells drilled in the last five years are pumping less oil and gas than their owners forecast to investors, raising questions about the strength and profitability of the fracking boom that turned the U.S. into an oil superpower.

The Wall Street Journal compared the well-productivity estimates that top shale-oil companies gave investors to projections from third parties about how much oil and gas the wells are now on track to pump over their lives, based on public data of how they have performed to date.

Two-thirds of projections made by the fracking companies between 2014 and 2017 in America’s four hottest drilling regions appear to have been overly optimistic, according to the analysis of some 16,000 wells operated by 29 of the biggest producers in oil basins in Texas and North Dakota.

Collectively, the companies that made projections are on track to pump nearly 10% less oil and gas than they forecast for those areas, according to the analysis of data from Rystad Energy AS, an energy consulting firm. That is the equivalent of almost one billion barrels of oil and gas over 30 years, worth more than $30 billion at current prices. Some com panies are off track by more than 50% in certain regions.

The shale boom has lifted U.S. output to an all-time high of 11.5 million barrels a day, shaking up the geopolitical balance by putting U.S. production on par with Saudi Arabia and Russia. The Journal’s findings suggest current production levels may be hard to sustain without greater spending because operators will have to drill more wells to meet growth targets.

Yet shale drillers, most of whom have yet to consistently make money, are under pressure to cut spending in the face of a 40% crude-oil price decline since October.

Companies whose wells appear to lag behind forecasts, according to the analysis, include Pioneer Natural Resources Co. and Parsley Energy Inc., two of the biggest oil and gas producers in the Permian Basin of West Texas and New Mexico. The Journal’s review didn’t include some leading producers, such as Exxon Mobil Corp., because they didn’t make shale well projections.

Pioneer, Parsley and several other companies disputed the findings, saying the third-party estimates used by the Journal differ from their forecasts on key points such as the likely lifespan of shale wells.

Some companies, including major North Dakota producer Whiting Petroleum Corp., acknowledged the forecasts can be unreliable and said they were moving away from providing such estimates.

Another North Dakota driller, Oasis Petroleum Inc., said the projections it provided in investor presentations were estimates made as it tested drilling in vast tracts, including areas it has since abandoned. “It’s not a science,” said Richard Robuck, the company’s treasurer. “It’s more of an art.”

Few U.S. shale companies disclose exactly how they make their forecasts—the systems they use and the assumptions they make to estimate well-by well production—or whether their projections from years ago hit the mark. The fact that many have missed is an open secret in the industry.

“I certainly expect many of today’s estimates will turn out to have been pretty optimistic,” said Francis O’Sullivan, director of research for the MIT Energy Initiative, which has examined shale forecasting. He said the complex geology of shale basins and assumptions based on a small number of wells could make forecasts unreliable.

“There is profound variability in the performance of these wells,” he said.

Schlumberger Ltd., the oilfield- services giant, reported in a research paper that secondary shale wells completed near older, initial wells in West Texas have been as much as 30% less productive than the initial ones.

The problem threatens to upend growth projections for America’s hottest oil field, the company said in October.

Oil engineers and reserves specialists say existing data suggests there is a more accurate way to model well output. Operators, they say, must use more conservative assumptions about how quickly production will decline and how many wells can be drilled in a given area. Operators also should avoid making forecasts without a sufficient sample size of wells, they say.

Flawed forecasting doesn’t mean U.S. oil output is about to drop. Shale wells reach peak production quickly and rapidly decline, so companies are constantly drilling new wells. But if thousands of shale wells produce less over their lifetimes, companies will reap less of a long tail than anticipated, requiring them to spend more to sustain output and making it harder for them to reach profitability.

Shale companies have attracted huge amounts of capital from Wall Street over the past decade. So far, investors have largely lost money. Since 2008, an index of U.S. oil and gas companies has fallen 43%, while the S&P 500 index has more than doubled in that time, including dividends. The 29 companies in the Journal’s analysis have spent $112 billion more in cash than they generated from operations in the last 10 years, according to data from Fact Set, a financial-information firm.

All oil companies are required to file estimates of total proven oil reserves with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Those estimates, governed by strict rules, generally only capture future reserves companies plan to tap in a five-year period. As the fracking boom intensified, many exploration and production companies looked for a way to persuade investors to value their prospects outside of that five-year window. Shale companies began touting a metric known as estimated ultimate recovery, or EUR, in investor presentations.

The estimates, often represented graphically by what is known as a type curve, project how much oil and gas wells are likely to produce over several decades, including the rate of decline.

EUR estimates from many companies were grounded on two assumptions: that they could pack wells closer together, squeezing more value from the land they leased, and that they could replicate their best early wells. The results to date suggest those assumptions were often wrong.

The Journal’s analysis involves public data that at times gives an incomplete picture of well performance. North Dakota reports oil and gas production by well, but Texas does so only by land parcel. Third-party data providers must extrapolate to make up for that, meaning their data may not be as precise as well-level data maintained by companies.

The Journal relied primarily on figures from Rystad Energy, but consulted with several other third-party providers, including Oseberg Inc. and BLR Digital LLC, whose data pointed to similar conclusions. Those providers forecast well output over several decades based on early, publicly reported production data, taking into account typical decline rates.

When oil prices plummeted around 75% between 2014 and 2016, to below $30 a barrel, many shale companies used EUR estimates to try to persuade investors that the sector remained a strong place to put their money.

The production forecasts made by many companies were “dangerous” because they were based on a small population of wells, and the performance of individual wells varies significantly, said Norman MacDonald, a natural-resource specialist at asset manager Invesco Ltd.

“Companies were able to high-grade the numbers, show those to Wall Street, and the stock price went up accordingly,” said Mr. MacDonald, a portfolio manager who has urged shale companies to prioritize profits over production growth. “Geology doesn’t line up with Excel spreadsheets too well, unfortunately.”

In September 2015, Pioneer Natural Resources, based in Irving, Texas, told investors that it expected wells in the Eagle Ford shale of South Texas to produce 1.3 million barrels of oil and gas apiece. Those wells now appear to be on a pace to produce about 482,000 barrels, 63% less than forecast, according to the Journal’s analysis.

An average of Pioneer’s 2015 forecasts for wells it had recently fracked in the Midland portion of the Permian Basin suggested they would produce about 960,000 barrels of oil and gas each. Those wells are now on track to produce about 720,000 barrels, according to the Journal’s review, 25% below Pioneer’s projections.

Pioneer disputed the conclusions, noting that it assumes its wells will produce for at least 50 years, while Rystad Energy uses 30 years in its forecasts. Pioneer also assumes its well productivity will fall off at a slower rate than the 7% final decline rate Rystad assumes.

“We find it is simply impossible to compare the numbers due to the methodological differences,” a Pioneer spokesman said.

Adjusting for those factors doesn’t fully make up for the disparity in production forecasts.

If Pioneer’s wells produce for 50 years and decline at 5% annually, its current production trajectory would still be nearly 12% below the company’s forecast of 849,000 barrels of oil and gas in the Permian, according to the Journal’s analysis. In the Eagle Ford, estimated production would increase only slightly to 498,000 barrels, or 62% less than the company projected.

A spokesman for Pioneer said problems in the Eagle Ford in 2015 were “widely known,” and the data shows the company’s well performance has improved.

While it is difficult to know how long shale wells will remain productive, assuming tens of thousands of them will pump for 50 years without costly interventions to keep them flowing is extremely optimistic, according to specialists on reserves.


5 Things Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez doesn’t want you to know about the Green New Deal

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y, the self-described democratic socialist who has become a media sensation, is pushing for enactment of a radical plan called the Green New Deal that would ban the use of all fossil fuels from U.S. electricity generation, agriculture and manufacturing by 2030.

In addition to the energy provisions of the Green New Deal that have received the most attention from left-wing pundits and radical environmentalists, there is a lot of important information related to this proposal that proponents have deliberately kept out of the spotlight.

Here are five of the most important things you need to know about the Green New Deal.

1. It includes many radical programs that have nothing to do with so so-called “green” energy.

Supporters of the Green New Deal spend most of their time talking to the public about the proposal’s energy-related mandates, but some of the costliest parts of the plan are completely unrelated to the energy industry.

For example, Ocasio-Cortez’s proposal calls for the creation of “basic income programs” and single-payer health care.

The Green New Deal would also establish a federal jobs guarantee – one of the few non-energy-related parts of the plan Ocasio-Cortez has spent significant time advertising. And it would include provisions to “mitigate deeply entrenched racial, regional and gender-based inequalities in income and wealth.”

2. It would do nothing to curb global warming.

The primary justification given by Green New Deal proponents for the radical nature of the plan is that it is necessary to slow the rise of human-caused climate change, which Ocasio-Cortez and other liberals say will cause significant damage to the economy and human health over the next century.

Many scientists say there is no good evidence global warming will be catastrophic or that there’s anything humans can do to stop it. But even if we were to assume that global warming must be slowed down, the Green New Deal would do nothing to achieve this goal.

Even if the United States were to eliminate all of its carbon dioxide emissions by the start of 2030 – something that is likely impossible – the increased carbon dioxide emissions of the rest of world would more than offset the reductions in America.

Whether the Green New Deal is imposed or not, global carbon dioxide emissions are going to rise.

3. Renewable energy costs significantly more than fossil fuels.

The Green New Deal would eliminate fossil fuels from all electricity generation and transportation, forcing Americans to rely largely on expensive and unreliable renewable technologies like wind and solar power.

The Institute for Energy Research estimates that new solar power generation is nearly five times more expensive than using existing fossil fuel-powered electricity. Wind power is 3.5 times costlier.

These higher costs would drive up the price of all goods and services, not just electricity bills. And because all manufacturing would also be required to rely on “green” power, industries in the United States would struggle to match the prices of their foreign competitors, forcing some businesses to either close or move overseas.

4. The Green New Deal would empower and give handout to left-wing special interest groups and industries.

Some of the most vaguely worded parts of Ocasio-Cortez’s Green New Deal plan are those that promise to increase the power of labor unions and give favors to left-wing industries.

According to the proposal, the Green New Deal would “deeply involve national and local labor unions to take a leadership role in the process of job training and worker deployment,” and it promises the “funding (of) massive investment in the drawdown of greenhouse gases.” That’s a code phrase for giving billions of taxpayer dollars to renewable-energy companies.

5. It would run up the national debt by tens of trillions of dollars.

Although no one knows exactly how much the Green New Deal would cost, a very conservative estimate is $40 trillion in its first 10 to 15 years. The Mercatus Center estimates the single-payer health-care proposal supported by Ocasio-Cortez would, on its own, cost more than $32 trillion.

Ocasio-Cortez has suggested one way to pay for these gigantic government programs would be to increase the income tax rate for America’s wealthiest earners as high as 70 percent, but even that radical move would fail to fund the Green New Deal.

In Ocasio-Cortez’s draft resolution, she suggests funding her proposal using “the same ways that we paid for the 2008 bank bailout and extended quantitative easing programs, the same ways we paid for World War II and many other wars. The Federal Reserve can extend credit to power these projects and investments.”

In other words, Ocasio-Cortez says we should pay for these left-wing proposals by running up the national debt by trillions of dollars, putting the nation’s economy at risk of collapsing.



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1 comment:

C. S. P. Schofield said...

I have a question I would dearly like to see Ms. O-C answer...or ask for that matter. I believe I've mentioned it before, but it bears repeating.

Let us suppose that the impossibilities of running a power grid on purely intermittent sources have somehow been solved, and that we are (for some reason) willing to pave over significant parts of North America with Wind and/or Solar installations. So we have the capacity to supply all of an advanced, industrial nation's power needs out of solar and wind.

That means we are taking many times more energy OUT of the environment with wind and solar generation than we are now.

What does that do?

TANSTAAFL; There Ain't No Such Thing As A Free Lunch. That energy was doing SOMETHING. And now, in our imagined future, it isn't anymore. We have diverted it.

I keep asking people this. I have been asking it since I first got interested in the politics of power generation in the 1970's. And so far, nobody has had what I consider an answer. "That's just waste heat" is not an answer. In fact it's such a stupid assertion that it should be grounds for a whipping.