Friday, July 10, 2009

More Greenie nonsense: Global warming shrinks Greenland glacier

Since there has been no global warming since 1998, the explanation given is not just speculative but obviously false. Greenland glaciers are however known to be responsive to changes in the surrounding ocean currents

One of the world's largest glaciers, on the west coast of Greenland, is shrinking at an alarming rate as a result of global warming - with potentially dire consequences. Ilulissat, a UNESCO-listed glacier, is shedding ice into the sea faster than ever before, according to one of Denmark's top experts on glaciology. Andreas Peter Ahlstroem, a researcher with the Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland institute, said the glacier has receded by more than 10 miles (15 km) since 2001.

The Ilulissat glacier and icefjord have been on UNESCO's world heritage list since 2004 and it is the most visited site in Greenland. Its ice and pools of emerald-blue water are admired by tourists and studied by scientists and politicians around the world.

The Danish government chose Ilulissat as the venue for recent talks with some 30 countries to discuss ways to slow global warming - a place that Shfaqat Abbas Khan, a glacier expert from the Danish Space Centre, describes as the "most visible and striking example of climate change." The glacier is the most active in the northern hemisphere, producing 85 million tonnes of icebergs per day, according to Mr Khan.

He has been studying Ilulissat using satellites, GPS or through his own visits to the area and says December's UN climate change conference in the Danish capital of Copenhagen may come too late to save the glacier. "A lot of glaciers in Greenland are melting at more or less the same pace and even with an ambitious agreement at the summit ... it will be impossible to stop this," Mr Khan said.

The melting ice is both a consequence and a cause of global warming: ice reflects heat, as opposed to water which absorbs it and warms up the climate, thus causing more glaciers and snow to melt. Khan explained that Ilulissat is losing more than 30 cubic kms (seven cubic miles) of ice a year, compared to 10 cubic kilometres in 2000 and just five in 1992. "We should aim to at least reduce CO2 emissions and limit the damage done," he said.


Solar update: Sun still quiet

An email from James Marusek []

The sun is still quiet. As of the end of June the cumulative number of spotless days (days without sunspots) now stands at 651 days. The minimum leading up to the "old solar cycles" (SC 10-15) averaged 797 spotless days.

The Ap index is a proxy measurement for the intensity of solar magnetic activity as it alters the geomagnetic field on Earth. It has been referred to as the common yardstick for solar magnetic activity. The Ap Index for the month June was "4". An Ap index of "4" is the lowest recorded number since measurements began in January 1932.

The monthly Ap index beginning in November 2008 have been three months at "4", then two months at "5" followed by another three months at "4". Magnetically, the sun has shown very little signs of waking up.

Existing climate models are based on guesswork about the effects of soot

As the recent journal article below points out

In-situ measurements of the mixing state and optical properties of soot with implications for radiative forcing estimates

By Ryan C. Moffeta and Kimberly A. Pratherb


Our ability to predict how global temperatures will change in the future is currently limited by the large uncertainties associated with aerosols. Soot aerosols represent a major research focus as they influence climate by absorbing incoming solar radiation resulting in a highly uncertain warming effect. The uncertainty stems from the fact that the actual amount soot warms our atmosphere strongly depends on the manner and degree in which it is mixed with other species, a property referred to as mixing state. In global models and inferences from atmospheric heating measurements, soot radiative forcing estimates currently differ by a factor of 6, ranging between 0.2–1.2 W/m2, making soot second only to CO2 in terms of global warming potential. This article reports coupled in situ measurements of the size-resolved mixing state, optical properties, and aging timescales for soot particles. Fresh fractal soot particles dominate the measured absorption during peak traffic periods (6–9 AM local time). Immediately after sunrise, soot particles begin to age by developing a coating of secondary species including sulfate, ammonium, organics, nitrate, and water. Based on these direct measurements, the core-shell arrangement results in a maximum absorption enhancement of 1.6× over fresh soot. These atmospheric observations help explain the larger values for soot forcing measured by others and will be used to obtain closure in optical property measurements to reduce one of the largest remaining uncertainties in climate change.



The economic reality of climate-change policy is sinking in at last

Climate change is set to figure prominently in this week's Group of Eight summit in Italy, but take any pronouncements about greenhouse-gas emissions targets with a grain of salt. While leaders may still think it's good politics to sing from the green hymnal, other realities are finally starting to sink in, especially in Old Europe. To wit: Restrictions on greenhouse-gas emissions involve huge costs for uncertain gains and are just what economies in recession don't need.

Concerns about high costs and lost jobs have already threatened carbon-emissions control plans in Australia and New Zealand, and to make sure cap-and-trade would pass in the U.S. House of Representatives, supporters had to push through the legislation before anyone could read it. The fraying of the anti-carbon consensus in Western Europe is especially striking. Polls consistently show that voters in most Western European countries support attempts to ameliorate climate change, at least in the abstract. The EU implemented a cap-and-trade Emissions Trading Scheme in 2005.

But that enthusiasm may be reaching its limit. Governments in industry-heavy countries are now less willing to sacrifice jobs for cooler temperatures. Germany's generally environmentalist Chancellor Angela Merkel insisted on exemptions for her country's industry from December's EU climate package, which pledged to reduce carbon emissions by 20% below 1990 levels by 2020. Germany also plans to build several dozen coal-fired power plants in the next few years.

Italy insisted on a clause in the December climate deal that requires the EU to renegotiate its climate policy after the United Nations summit in Copenhagen later this year. That amounts to a veto since China and India aren't expected to sign up for aggressive emissions targets; any renegotiated EU deal is likely to contain even more loopholes and exemptions to keep from denting European competitiveness.

Just as telling, Europe has been at best half-hearted in meeting its emissions-reduction targets under the 1997 Kyoto Protocol. To the extent Europe appears on track to meet its targets, it's largely because warmer weather and higher market prices for energy have driven consumption down.

Credit a deteriorating economy for this about-face. Businesses and unions finally are starting to speak out against intrusive and expensive emissions regulations. In December, Phillipe Varin, chief executive of Corus, Europe's second-largest steel producer, told the London Independent that the cost of carbon credits and new technologies needed to reduce emissions would destroy European steel production, forcing manufacturing overseas.

Jaroslaw Grzesik, deputy head of energy at Poland's Solidarity trade union said last month that the union estimated the EU's climate policy would cost 800,000 European jobs. Before the December negotiations, the London-based think tank Open Europe estimated the EU climate package would cost governments, businesses and householders in the EU-25 more than €73 billion ($102 billion) a year until 2020. No wonder leaders decided to water it down.

Meanwhile, the supposed economic benefits of climate-change amelioration are evaporating. In Germany, government subsidies for installing solar panels -- and, it was presumed, thereby creating domestic manufacturing jobs -- backfired when it turned out that it was cheaper to make solar panels in China. A recent paper by Gabriel Calzada Álvarez, an economics professor at Universidad Rey Juan Carlos, said that since Spain starting investing in "green jobs" policies in 2000, the country has lost 110,500 jobs in other parts of the economy. That amounts to 2.2 jobs lost for every new "green job" created.

This has politicians worried. They might have been willing to sacrifice a few jobs when they signed Kyoto in 1997. But economic times were flush then. Now a global slowdown is forcing a rethink on whether emissions control is worth the cost. With the scientific debate about the causes, effects and solutions of climate change growing more vigorous, that's a question worth asking.

Despite all the backtracking in practice, climate rhetoric is still alive and well. Sweden, which assumed the EU presidency last week, promises more action on emissions control. Gordon Brown, Nicolas Sarkozy and other leaders continue to talk a good game. Mr. Brown has even proposed a $100 billion-a-year fund to help countries like China and India clean up their emissions acts. Good luck getting that passed in the current fiscal and economic environment.

In other words, Western European leaders are the latest to discover that climate-change talk is cheap, but carbon-emissions regulation is expensive. That might be bad news for green activists, but it's very good news for Europeans worried about their jobs and their economy.



The world's major economies will not strike a deal on climate protection at the September meeting of the Group of 20, Chancellor Angela Merkel said Thursday.

"There won't be a breakthrough on climate, but there will certainly be talks on the sidelines of Pittsburgh. It's the last direct opportunity for heads of states to meet up," Merkel told reporters after a meeting of the Group of Eight industrialized nations and the Group of Five emerging economies. "The issue won't be solved in Pittsburgh, it will only be carried forward."

An agreement by big industrialized countries on medium-term targets to reduce greenhouse gas emission is possible by the end of the year in time for the climate change conference in Copenhagen, she said.

"I believe we can succeed to have medium-term targets in the industrialized nations by the end of the year," Merkel said. "They might not always be corresponding, but we have a timeframe until 2050."



So all the “Gs” gathered in Italy this week appear to be floundering in their efforts to craft some sort of meaningful deal on climate change. Rich countries agreed to far-off, ambitious targets on emissions reductions, but shuddered at any more immediate commitments. Developing countries basically punted altogether. None of that bodes well at all for the year-end climate confab in Denmark.

Here’s a thought: What if, instead of putting so much energy into global conferences and far-off targets, countries rich and poor put their efforts into actually cleaning up their economies now? That’s the thrust behind a new paper from academics at Oxford University and the London School of Economics, “How To Get Climate Policy Back on Course.” Among the authors are a couple of familiar names—British professor and longtime Kyoto critic Gwyn Prins and U.S. political scientist and critic of current climate policy Roger Pielke, Jr.

The upshot: Current climate policy, exemplified by the Kyoto Protocol and its likely successor, has failed. Emissions targets are unenforceable and usually tough for signatories to meet. By leaving out developing countries, Kyoto may have even been counterproductive.

Real progress on reducing greenhouse-gas emissions will be easier—and crucially, cheaper—if the world focuses less on headline-grabbing targets and more on doing what it’s done for the last two centuries. That is, steadily decarbonizing the energy system by using cleaner forms of energy, more efficient industrial processes, and the like.

The authors point to Japan’s much-maligned strategy of making its economy more energy-efficient—rather than pledging European-style cuts–as the best way to curb emissions. The biggest benefit is that making the energy and industrial sectors more efficient saves money. That should appeal to rich and poor countries alike, the authors say, and even global-warming skeptics.

So how to get there? A modest carbon tax which would finance more government investment in clean technology, the authors propose, citing the technophiles at the Breakthrough Institute: “The core argument of the Breakthrough Institute is an elementary political truth, namely that clean energy will only advance radically when it is made cheaper than dirty energy at point-of-use by the consumer.”


Chicago has its coolest July 8 in 118 years

For the 12th time this meteorological summer (since June 1), daytime highs failed to reach 70 degrees Wednesday. Only one other year in the past half century has hosted so many sub-70-degree days up to this point in a summer season -- 1969, when 14 such days occurred.

Wednesday's paltry 65-degree high at O'Hare International Airport (an early-May-level temperature and a reading 18 degrees below normal) was also the city's coolest July 8 high in 118 years -- since a 61-degree high on the date in 1891.



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