Sunday, January 13, 2019

Ocean heat is climbing 40% faster than thought (?)

I add the introduction to the academic article after the journalist report below. There seems to be nothing in the academic  paper to support the headline: "Ocean heat is climbing 40% faster than thought".

Zeke Hausfather is one of a trio of Warmist diehards behind the academic article and it would seem that he got carried away when he was talking to journalists about his article -- expanding his comments beyond what was found

But the paper is all based on corrections and estimates -- which are inherently unreliable anyway -- and if you wanted your corrections and estimates to be objective and unbiased, Zeke and his friends are the last ones you would turn to

New, independent observations from ocean buoys and other data sources show Earth's oceans are warming at a rate that's about 40% faster than indicated in the 2013 U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report.

Why it matters: The study, published Thursday in the journal Science, resolves a key uncertainty in climate science by reconciling analyses from a variety of different scientific teams.

The oceans are absorbing about 93% of the extra heat going into the climate system. So far, most of that heat resides in the upper ocean, and is only slowly diffusing down into deeper waters. Faster warming is already resulting in tangible, harmful impacts, from coral bleaching across the Great Barrier Reef to rapidly intensifying hurricanes.

Scientists describe the ocean as having a "long memory," meaning that the heat going into the waters now will continue to be released long after humans cut greenhouse gas emissions (assuming we do take that course).

Be smart: The data from four different research groups now generally match the ocean heat content projections from the newest climate models, the study finds, which indicates that these models are accurately simulating the Earth's radiation budget.

“We can see the emergence of the signal of global warming much more clearly in ocean heat content,” says study co-author Zeke Hausfather, an energy systems analyst at the climate research group Berkeley Earth.

Hausfather says 2018 will be the warmest year on record for the Earth's oceans, beating the record set just last year.

How it works: Because the ocean's heat content doesn't vary as sharply as surface temperatures, it is considered a more reliable indicator of global warming.

The impact: Warmer oceans are already causing unprecedented back-to-back coral bleaching events, and are contributing to sea-level rise. They're also causing glaciers to melt from below in Greenland and Antarctica.

Warmer waters provide critical fuel for extreme storms, with studies showing ties between Hurricane Harvey's devastating deluge and warmer than average waters in the Gulf of Mexico, for example.
Why you'll hear about this again: The oceans are a main reason why climate change will not relent even if emissions were to cease today, since they will continue to release heat, and also greenhouse gases, over time. There are also implications for carbon removal technologies, which are getting more attention from scientists and investments from major oil companies.

Lost in much of the discussion on carbon removal, however, is the potential for the oceans to spoil the party.

“The climate system has a long memory," Hausfather says, “It doesn’t warm as quickly as it otherwise would and it’s a lot harder to cool it back down once it starts warming.”

The bottom line: "Just like the oceans buffer the rate of warming, they would also similarly buffer the rate of cooling in a world where we had net-negative emissions," Hausfather says.
He cited a 2016 study that showed it would take slightly more negative emissions to reduce warming than it takes positive emissions to increase temperatures.


How fast are the oceans warming?

Lijing Cheng, John Abraham, Zeke Hausfather, Kevin E. Trenberth


Climate change from human activities mainly results from the energy imbalance in Earth's climate system caused by rising concentrations of heat-trapping gases. About 93% of the energy imbalance accumulates in the ocean as increased ocean heat content (OHC). The ocean record of this imbalance is much less affected by internal variability and is thus better suited for detecting and attributing human influences (1) than more commonly used surface temperature records. Recent observation-based estimates show rapid warming of Earth's oceans over the past few decades (see the figure) (1, 2). This warming has contributed to increases in rainfall intensity, rising sea levels, the destruction of coral reefs, declining ocean oxygen levels, and declines in ice sheets; glaciers; and ice caps in the polar regions (3, 4). Recent estimates of observed warming resemble those seen in models, indicating that models reliably project changes in OHC.

Science  11 Jan 2019: Vol. 363, Issue 6423, pp. 128-129. DOI: 10.1126/science.aav7619

Trump nominates Wheeler as permanent EPA administrator

President Trump nominated Andrew Wheeler to head the EPA on Wednesday, seeking to elevate the former coal lobbyist who has led the agency on an acting basis for six months.

Trump praised Wheeler in November for having “done a fantastic job” as acting administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency following the July 2018 resignation of the agency’s scandal-plagued chief, Scott Pruitt.

The nomination heads to the Senate, which confirmed Wheeler for his current job as the EPA’s deputy administrator last April by a vote of 53-45, amid complaints from Democrats and environmentalists that his energy-heavy roster of former lobbying clients could pose conflicts at the agency. Wheeler has vowed to steer clear of decisions affecting former clients, but those concerns are likely to figure prominently in a new round of Senate confirmation hearings and votes.

Senator John Barrasso, a Republican from Wyoming who heads the committee that oversees the EPA and is responsible for vetting Wheeler’s nomination, said in a statement that he would work with committee members toward Wheeler’s confirmation. Wheeler “has done an outstanding job leading EPA and is well qualified to run the agency on a permanent basis,” Barrasso said.

Wheeler, a politically savvy former Senate aide, shares Trump’s approach to environmental regulation — and his commitment to easing Obama administration regulations governing climate change and pollution. But he has moved more methodically than Pruitt to pursue it.

He also has cultivated a relationship with EPA staff, repeatedly invoking his own deep history with the agency in a bid to forge ties with career employees.

Wheeler said he was “honored and grateful” for the nomination. “For me, there is no greater responsibility than protecting human health and the environment,” Wheeler said in an e-mailed statement. “I look forward to carrying out this essential task on behalf of the American public.”

Environmentalists immediately blasted the move, with Brett Hartl, government affairs director of the Center for Biological Diversity, saying “the only thing Wheeler is going to protect at the EPA is the profits of polluters.”

“I’m sure corporate board rooms will celebrate this nomination,” Hartl said by e-mail. “But for anyone who drinks water, breathes air, or cares about wildlife, this will be nothing but awful.”

Unlike Pruitt, Wheeler has avoided the limelight, instead working doggedly behind the scenes to advance policy priorities. With Wheeler at the helm, the agency has already sought to ease Obama-era limits on carbon dioxide from new coal plants and has proposed changes that could make it harder to toughen mercury emissions standards at the facilities.

Wheeler’s professional life has been tethered to the EPA, beginning in 1991, when he was hired for a non-political job focusing on toxic chemicals. After four years working at the EPA under Presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton, he shifted to Capitol Hill, working for Republicans on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, including Oklahoma Republican James Inhofe.

After Wheeler left Capitol Hill in 2009, he took on a cadre of lobbying clients, eventually leading FaegreBD Consulting’s energy and environment practice group. His job was dedicated to advocating for chemical manufacturer Celanese Corp., coal producer Murray Energy Corp., uranium miner Energy Fuels Resources Inc., utility holding company Xcel Energy Inc., and other clients.


Greens begin push for nationwide 100 percent renewable energy mandate

Environmental groups are set to fan out on Capitol Hill on Thursday to lobby lawmakers to back a 100 percent renewable energy mandate for the nation as an essential part of the progressive "Green New Deal" agenda.

The groups, including Friends of the Earth, Center for Biological Diversity, and Food and Water Watch, along with 625 members, called on lawmakers in a letter to pursue legislation to ensure that all electricity comes from solar and wind by 2035 or sooner.

Renewable energy, under the groups’ definition, would not include any form of fossil fuel or combustion-based electricity generation, nuclear power plants, biomass energy, large-scale hydroelectric power, or waste-to-energy technologies.

The mandate corresponds to the United Nations' recently released report on climate change that recommends transitioning away from fossil fuels to avert the worst effects of climate change, including sea-level rise, stronger storms, flooding, and drought.

Those principles also align with the so-called "Green New Deal" agenda being floated by new Democrats in the House, which calls for taking more direct action to combat the threat of global warming.

Critics of that deal say that, if adopted, it would ultimately raise the cost of electricity and place additional burdens on the average consumer.

The activists swarming the Hill Thursday are also calling for mining and extraction policies that ensure fossil fuels are kept in the ground.

“Pursuing new fossil fuel projects at this moment in history is folly,” the groups state in a letter to lawmakers. “Most immediately, the federal government must stop selling off or leasing publicly owned lands, water, and mineral rights for development to fossil fuel producers.” The groups also want the government to ban approvals of all new fossil fuel power plants and infrastructure projects.

Additionally, the environmental activists are aiming to repeal recent legislation that ended the 40-year ban on crude oil exports to be reversed and to end the export of all other fossil fuels. They want a phase-out of existing fossil fuel plants and projects.

Meanwhile, another large environmental coalition called Environment America also launched a campaign to persuade the nation’s 20 new governors elected in November to enact laws and regulations to face the challenge posed by climate change.

Environment America is also using the U.N. report, in addition to the new national climate assessment issued by the U.S. government, to make the case for enacting new clean energy policies.

"With the stroke of a pen, governors can increase renewable energy use, reduce transportation emissions, and curb energy waste,” said Andrea McGimsey, Environment America’s senior director of global warming program. “These policies have proven effective and can bring immediate benefits to our health and environment."

Environment America’s list of principles is less prescriptive than the activist groups' letter to House and Senate lawmakers. For instance, it does not call specifically for a 100percent renewable energy goal, attributing the lack of specificity on the limits placed on governors by pre-existing laws.

Nevertheless, it does call on governors to enact aggressive clean-energy targets, impose limits on fossil fuel use and production, and transition to more electric cars.


The Two Energy Futures Facing America

There are two energy futures for America. One is freedom and prosperity. The other is politics, conflict, and waste. As with other goods and services, energy’s availability and affordability will depend on whether natural incentives and economic law are respected or hampered by government policy.

Free-Market Energy

The future of free-market energy is bright and open-ended. “It’s reasonable to expect the supply of energy to continue becoming more available and less scarce, forever,” Julian Simon wrote in his magnum opus, The Ultimate Resource II. “Discoveries, like resources, may well be infinite: the more we discover, the more we are able to discover.”

Resourceship, entrepreneurship applied to minerals, explains the seeming paradox of expanding depletable resources. Statistics confirmed Simon’s view, yet Malthusian critics belittled him as a na├»ve romantic. To which Simon responded: “I am not an optimist, I am a realist.”

Julian Simon had once feared overpopulation and resource depletion. The contradictory data, as he explained in his autobiography A Life Against the Grain, reversed his thinking. More people, greater wealth, more resources, healthier environment was the new finding that Simon turned into articles, books, and lectures in the last decades of his life.

Energy coordination and improvement do not depend on geography or race but on the right institutions. Sustainable energy—available, affordable, and reliable—requires private property rights, voluntary exchange, and the rule of law. Cultural and legal freedom unleash human ingenuity and problem-solving entrepreneurship, what Simon called the ultimate resource.

Philosopher Alex Epstein has reframed the energy-environmental debate in terms of human flourishing. Under this standard, consumer-chosen, taxpayer-neutral, dense, storable mineral energies are essential and moral.

Free-market energy is a process of improvement, not a state of perfection. There is always room for betterment as the good is no longer the best and as problems and setbacks occur. Profit/loss and legal consequences propel correction in a way that government intervention does not.

Problems spur improvement in ways that otherwise might not occur. “Material insufficiency and environmental problems have their benefits,” noted Julian Simon. “They focus the attention of individuals and communities, and constitute a set of challenges which can bring out the best in people.”

Energy Statism

Government interventionism has plagued domestic energy markets in pronounced and subtle ways. Price and allocation controls during wartime and in the 1970s caused shortages of gasoline, fuel oil, natural gas, and other essential products. More subtly, tariffs, quotas, entry restrictions, efficiency edicts, punitive taxes, tax subsidies, forced access, profit guarantees, and other government intervention distort energy markets away from consumer demand.

Socialism has reversed resource abundance in nations around the world. Venezuela is today’s example and is not unlike Mexico’s plunge into nationalism a century ago. International statism is responsible for much of the price volatility experienced in global oil markets.

American citizens must be educated on the perils of politicized energy and corporate cronyism at all levels of government. Capitalist institutions need to be introduced in state-dominated oil regions. Subsoil mineral rights and infrastructure privatization are golden opportunities for wealth creation and wealth democratization around the world.


“The world’s problem is not too many people,” Julian Simon concluded, “but a lack of political and economic freedom.” He explained:

The extent to which the political-social-economic system provides personal freedom from government coercion is a crucial element in the economics of resources and population…. The key elements of such a framework are economic liberty, respect for property, and fair and sensible rules of the market that are enforced equally for all.

This message for 2019 will be the same a century hence. It is optimistic and realistic. And it points toward a continuing open-ended role for natural gas, coal, and oil as the master resource.

Let freely functioning supply meet demand, and let market demand meet supply. Banish alarmism, pessimism, and coercion—the very things that incite and define government intervention and socialism where markets can and should prevail.


Paris Agreement to shrink Australian economy, says US’s Brookings Institution

Australia’s economy will be among the worst affected by the Paris climate change agreement, enduring slower growth, fewer jobs and a “notable” 6 per cent slump in the exchange rate, ­according to a new analysis of the global accord.

The report by the Washington-based Brookings Institut­ion also finds the treaty will fail to cut carbon emissions on 2015 levels or put the world on a path to keeping global temperature rises to 2C or less.

The co-ordinated push to save the planet from climate change will shrink the economy by about 2 per cent and sap household wealth by 0.5 per cent by 2030, even if Australia chooses to back out of the agreement, the report found.

“Because Australia relies heavily on fossil fuels for its own use and as a source of export revenue, it experiences a large fall in investment, a significant capital outflow, and the largest depreciation of the real exchange rate,” the ­report said.

“For Australia, the Paris Agreement still has a significant impact on GDP even when Australia does not participate. These losses occur because Australia’s exports of fossil fuels are still subject to the CO2 tax in other ­regions, and the revenue is ­collected outside ­Australia.”

The report estimated employment would fall 1 per cent — or 127,000 jobs based on present ­levels — by 2020, with some offsetting gains later as workers shifted to the renewable energy sector.

The analysis, which ignored the impact of climate change ­itself, found only Australia and OPEC nations came out behind overall because the benefits of less pollution, less traffic and lower mortality under the Paris Agreement did not offset the damage to economic growth, arising largely as a result of the implicit global tax on energy exports.

The Morrison government, which opted to remain in the Paris accord against the wishes of hardline conservatives, leapt on the ­report to attack Labor over its promised 45 per cent emissions cut. “Our economy is growing stronger than any G7 nation besides the US, while emissions per person are at their lowest levels in 28 years,” Acting Environment Minister Simon Birmingham said.

“The choice at the next election is between our responsible balancing of environmental and economic considerations or Labor’s reckless doubling of emissions targets, which will smash our economy and drive electricity prices even higher.”

Labor said its plan to ramp up emissions cuts was “calibrated to represent Australia’s fair share of emissions ­reductions to keep ­global warming to below 2C ”.

Opposition climate change spokesman Mark Butler said it was no surprise that current commitments by Paris signatories would fail to keep temperature rises below 2C.

“That is why the Paris Agreement includes a ratchet mechanism to increase ambition, and it is why the Morrison government are lying to Australians when they insist their already inadequate 26 per cent emissions-reduction target is sufficient and doesn’t need to be increased,” he said.

Warwick McKibbin, an ANU economics professor and one of the report’s authors, said ­Australia could not avoid ­economic pain by pulling out of the agreement.

“If we stay in, we’re better off because if we pull out, we’ll still be getting most of the economic damage — other countries won’t be buying our ­resources so much — but miss out on the benefits of curbing carbon emissions such as less pollution,” Professor McKibbin told The Australian.

“You don’t have to believe in climate change at all to support staying in Paris. That said, if you just cared about jobs or real wages but didn’t care about climate or pollution, you’d stay out.”

According to the report, Australia’s promised carbon emissions cuts equate to a 35 per cent reduction on forecast 2030 levels, compared with the US’s 25 per cent, China’s 27 per cent, Russia’s 20 per cent and Japan’s 42 per cent.

The research compared the promises to reduce carbon emissions of eight nations or groups of nations, and the costs and benefits to each if all fulfilled their undertaking using a carbon tax, which economists say is the most efficient way to curb emissions.

“Emissions are still not declining in absolute terms, let alone following a path consistent with a 2C stabilisation,” the research found, suggesting the goal of the Paris Agreement, signed in 2015, would not be reached even if all 197 participating countries lived up to their ­promises.

The Minerals Council of Australia said the report confirmed the “significant negative impact” of lowering carbon emissions, but reiterated its support for the accord.

MCA chief executive Tania Constable said using a mix of technologies and abatement methods was crucial to minimising the economic impact of emissions cuts in the treaty, and called for the removal of the ban on ­nuclear power under the Environment Protection and Bio­diversity Conservation Act. “This would be a costless way to allow zero emission dispatchable power sources available 24/7 into Australia’s energy mix,” she said.

The paper assumed a gov­ernment-introduced $5-a-tonne carbon tax from 2020 — which neither the Coalition nor Labor has foreshadowed — to cut ­Australia’s carbon emissions by a promised 26-28 per cent on 2005 levels by 2030.

In June 2017, Don­ald Trump withdrew the US from the agreement in a move many Australian conservatives, including Tony Abbott, wanted to ­emulate. But abandoning the treaty would make almost no difference to outcomes for Australia, assuming other signatories still fulfilled their promises, the study found.

Professor McKibbin said a Chinese withdrawal, however, would have a big positive effect on economic outcomes for Australia: “They’d still buy our fossil fuels but we wouldn’t lose the ­environmental ‘co-benefits’ of lower carbon emissions at home.”

The research found that ­“almost half of the reduction in global emissions comes from China’s participation”.

Liberal backbencher Craig Kelly, who has consistently called for Australia to pull out of the Paris Agreement, said the report confirmed “Paris is not pain-free … There is a lot pain in cutting emissions by 26 per cent: in lower wages and lower GDP growth, and a lower exchange rate that makes all imported goods more expensive. The pain of a 45 per cent cut would be enormous.”



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