Wednesday, September 23, 2009


"Climate change is here, it is a reality", reports John Vidal. As one devastating drought follows another, the future is bleak for millions in east Africa, he writes. Describing the pitiful scenes, he recounts how, after three years of disastrous rains, the families from the Borana tribe, who by custom travel thousands of miles a year in search of water and pasture, have unanimously decided to settle down.

Back in April, they packed up their pots, pans and meagre belongings, deserted their mud and thatch homes at Bute and set off on their last trek, to Yaeblo, a village of near-destitute charcoal makers that has sprung up on the side of a dirt road near Moyale. Now they live in temporary "benders" – shelters made from branches covered with plastic sheeting. They look like survivors from an earthquake or a flood, says Vidal, but in fact these are some of the world's first climate-change refugees.

Meanwhile, the UN is telling us that, three weeks after Burkina Faso, in West Africa , was hit by devastating floods, people in the worst-affected areas are struggling to get back to normal. Eight people died when heavy rains swept through Burkina Faso in early September. It was the heaviest rainfall in 90 years. Earlier this month, the same UN announced that heavy flooding had affected some 350,000 people across West Africa, killing at least 32 in Ghana and Burkina Faso.

Fortunately, help is at hand. Yesterday, the Church of England launched a "climate justice fund". It will, the earnest clerics tell us, support Anglican dioceses in Africa to respond to disasters caused by climate change, such as flooding.

Never mind the contradiction – the BBC has it sussed. Noting that West Africa has been hit by floods while the east of the continent is suffering from a drought, it airily informs us that "analysts say" that these "twin battles" will become more common as a result of climate change. Come rain or shine, hot or cold, windy or calm ... there is only one cause.


Why I am an Anthropogenic Global Warming Sceptic

by Michael Hammer

I HAVE been asked several times ‘why am I so sceptical of the anthropogenic global warming (AGW) hypothesis’? There are many reasons, some of which I have documented in previous articles at this weblog, but these have relied on sometimes complex calculations which I admit can be difficult to appreciate. So I would like to outline here a few of my reasons based only on simple consistency with the AGW proponents’ own data.

1. The AGW movement claims there has been a global temperature rise of 0.5C over the last 60 years and that this is due to increasing CO2. Both AGW proponents and sceptics accept that the relationship between energy retained and CO2 concentration is logarithmic (a constant increase in retained energy for each doubling of CO2). The AGW movement data also shows that since 1900 CO2 has risen by very close to half a doubling over this 60 year period.

IPCC have claimed in their 4th assessment report (summary for policy makers), that the most likely temperature rise by 2070, when CO2 will have risen by a further half doubling to twice the level in 1900, is a further 3C rise (page 12). Why would the first half doubling give 0.5C rise while the second half doubling gives 3C or 6 times as much rise?

2. One claim I have heard is that it takes the climate a long time to respond to the change in CO2 concentration and we have not yet seen the entire rise from the first half doubling. The same IPCC 4th assessment report (page 12, 13 and 14) indicates that if CO2 were stabilised at the current level, the temperature would rise by a further 0.2C over 2 decades stabilising at 0.7C above the 1900 level.

If the current temperature rise is not yet at the equilibrium level then for the business as usual scenario the temperature rise by 2070 will also not be at the equilibrium level. Yet the IPCC data suggests the equilibrium rise from the first half doubling is not even one quarter of the less than equilibrium rise from the second half doubling. To me this is illogical.

3. IPCC claim an increase in retained energy of around 3.7 watts/sqM for each doubling of CO2 (1.66 watts/sqM for the current rise page 4). They admit this is much too small to result in a 3+ degree temperature rise. The large temperature rise is based on claims of very large net positive feedback in the climate system.

Yet, every natural stable system I can think of exhibits net negative feedback. Indeed the terms stability and negative feedback are synonymous since negative feedback is what causes stability. By contrast, positive feedback causes instability (such as tipping points where a large change in output occurs for a small change in input). Stability does not mean zero change, it means the response to changes in input are small enough and sufficiently controlled so as to not cause system destruction or runaway. If you want to argue that the climate system is not stable then I would ask why it has remained conducive to continued life on this planet for billions of years. This is despite all the change in CO2 levels, volcanic eruptions, changes in solar output and orbital changes over the millennia. To me, that is a very good definition of climate stability.



European leaders who once saw Barack Obama's election as a new dawn in the battle against global warming are becoming concerned, three months ahead of a key UN climate summit in Copenhagen.

One sign of this is the revival of the idea for a "carbon tax" to protect Europe's industry and environment, amid fears that Europe's commitments on tackling climate change will not be matched in the United States and elsewhere. "I confess that I am very worried by the prospects for Copenhagen (in December). The negotiations are dangerously close to deadlock at the moment," EU Commission chief Jose Manuel Barroso told a think-tank in New York on Monday. "This may not be a simple negotiating stand-off that we can fix next year. It risks being an acrimonious collapse, delaying action against climate change perhaps for years. And the world right now cannot afford such a disastrous outcome," he warned.

While Barroso in his speech did not once mention the United States, Washington gained a poor environmental reputation under former president George W. Bush, failing to ratify the Kyoto agreement which the talks in Copenhagen are aimed at replacing.

World leaders will converge on New York and Pittsburgh this week for pivotal talks on the efforts to remake global climate rules, with success far from assured.

For many observers Obama, and the whole of the US political class, are too consumed with reforming their national health system to concentrate on climate change.

"The US are less willing, the leadership (of the Obama administration) is not that clear in the current negotiations, they show a lack of ambition," a source close to the Swedish EU presidency said. "The US are crucial on the talks in order to achieve a global deal. If they do not make ambitious commitments to reduce CO2 emissions, it will be very difficult to strike a deal in Copenhagen," he added.



As world leaders and their top advisers convened in Manhattan for Tuesday’s United Nations summit on global warming, there were hints of accord on a few issues that could form the basis for a climate deal in December in Copenhagen – something less that a full-blown treaty but sufficient to avoid total breakdown of an international effort.

But in remarks by officials, there were also displays of the deep rifts that persist between rich countries and emerging powers. How this all shakes out in the 77 days leading up to the Copenhagen meeting remains to be seen. But for the moment, the familiar roadblocks to a climate deal appear to be strong and holding.

Most notable today was the continuing insistence by top officials from developing countries, including the president of South Korea and representatives of China and India, that the world’s established powers need to provide money and technology to help developing countries shift away from fossil fuels.

In an interview with several journalists from The Times, President Lee Myung-bak of South Korea described his country’s plans for voluntarily curbing emissions and intensifying research on non-polluting energy technology. But, echoing China and other fast-developing countries, he also insisted that a predicate for serious engagement by developing countries was a concrete commitment by wealthy nations. The rich nations, he said, must recognize that they in essence owe the rest of the world a climate debt for the greenhouse gases that have accumulated in the atmosphere from their century-plus head start in burning fossil fuels.

More at The NYT


Pity Britain’s organic farmers. According a full-page report in today’s Guardian, they’re close to going bust. Sales of organic produce have fallen 13% per cent in a year (organic vegetables, for example, are down £34.1 million). So Green and Blacks, Rachel’s and Yeo Valley are all fighting for their survival, and the firms are meeting today in London to help co-ordinate a fightback.

But what has caused the demise of the organic food industry? Well, no surprises, it was the recession. Andrew Baker, the chief executive of Duchy Originals (the Prince Of Wales’s expensive food company) told the Guardian: “The organic industry hasn’t done a good enough job of informing consumers about the benefits, so it was vulnerable in recession when the choices we make are based on price.”

Aha! So the recession has forced people to make choices based on price, has it? Welcome to planet earth, Andrew. That’s what most of us have been doing our entire consumer lives. And it seems the well-off, organic brigade, are now learning how to look after the pennies too. Sure, they won’t admit at their trendy soirĂ©es that the chicken they are serving is Waitrose own-brand battery hen - but then the guests won’t able to tell it’s not organic, Normandy-raised, and corn-fed either. (I wonder, what the hell else are you supposed to feed a chicken?) We know that organic food isn’t more nutritious. And it’s also pretty obvious that it doesn’t taste any better. It’s clear, then, that the organic food industry has been quiet over consumer benefits because, besides feelings of righteous smuggery, there aren’t any.

But the decline of organic food has broader implications. It shows that when you are strapped for cash, eco-worry simply moves further down your list of priorities. You want to pay the electricity bills, you don’t want to default on your mortgage, and the kids need to be fed - so what if their vegetables are coated with insecticide?

Translated to an international level, it’s the state of the worldwide economy that’s going to stump Barack Obama when he meets at the UN to talk about climate change tomorrow. And the problem won’t have been solved by Thursday, when the G20 comes together. Why? Because most countries - particularly those which are developing - recognise that while climate change is a seriously important problem, there are far more pressing issues at hand.


Nuclear must be part of energy equation

ENERGY Secretary Steven Chu turned NIMBYism on its head recently when he told National Public Radio listeners that he would rather live close to a nuclear power plant than to a coal-fired power plant. The nuclear energy industry’s safety record, Chu said, is “really very, very good.’’

The substance and timing of Chu’s comments are important, since the United States is at a crossroads with regard to energy policies. In the coming decades, we will witness dramatic change in the way electricity is produced and distributed, all while enhancing protection of our environment.

Electricity is the backbone of our nation’s economy, and the availability of reliable, affordable supplies has helped make it possible for Americans to achieve a standard of living envied and sought after around the world. Electricity is such an extricable part of our lives that, even with improved efficiency measures and amid the current economic downturn, our nation’s need for electricity - including clean, reliable sources such as nuclear energy - continues to climb.

Recent analyses have concluded that the nation’s use of nuclear energy must increase in the coming decades to meet rising electricity demand and dramatically reduce emissions of greenhouse gases linked to the threat of climate change.

The Environmental Protection Agency, for example, in its June analysis of the Waxman-Markey climate change bill found that the contribution of low- or zero-carbon energy technologies to electricity supply would increase from the current level (14 percent) to 26 percent by 2020 and 38 percent by 2050. Meeting the bill’s 2050 carbon reductions, which will be driven by a cap and trade system on carbon emitters, including coal-fired power plants, will require as many as 187 new nuclear energy facilities, EPA said.

Similarly, the National Academy of Sciences concluded in a July report, that substantial reductions in greenhouse gas emissions from the electricity sector are achievable through a portfolio approach that includes nuclear energy. The report identifies new-generation nuclear energy and coal-fired generators with carbon capture and sequestering capacity as two “key technologies’’ that must be demonstrated during the next decade “to allow for their widespread deployment starting around 2020.’’

In a 2008 study commissioned by the Nuclear Energy Institute, Boston-based Polestar Applied Technology found that the continued operation of New England’s five nuclear plants and an unprecedented expansion of electricity generation from wind farms will be needed to meet the emissions limits established for 2019 under the Northeast’s Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative.

No single technology can independently slow and reverse increases in carbon emissions. But these studies confirm nuclear energy is an indispensable part of a comprehensive approach that, encouragingly, is identified in energy and climate change bills pending in the Congress. The Waxman-Markey bill and a Senate renewable energy bill do this by establishing a Clean Energy Deployment Administration, which would function as a permanent financing platform to provide loans, loan guarantees, and other credit support for clean-energy technologies, including renewable energy and new nuclear energy facilities.

US manufacturers, some of them located in New England, will benefit because construction of new nuclear power plants will create demand for commodities like concrete and steel and hundreds of components, large and small. A single new nuclear power plant requires approximately 400,000 cubic yards of concrete, 66,000 tons of steel, 44 miles of piping, 300 miles of electric wiring, and 130,000 electrical components.

Consumers of the electricity generated by new nuclear plants benefit because the loan guarantee program allows lower-cost financing, so the plant delivers lower-cost electricity.

Talk about a win-win situation: good-paying, long-term employment opportunities coupled with the reliable, low-carbon electricity supplies that we need.

Economic impact studies show that the average nuclear power station generates approximately $430 million a year in total output for the local community, and nearly $40 million in total labor income. The average plant also generates approximately $20 million annually in state and local taxes, and about $75 million annually in federal taxes.

New England’s five reactors produce about 25 percent of the region’s electricity. Nationally, 104 reactors reliably and affordably generate one-fifth of electricity needs. As we strive in upcoming decades to meet rising electricity demand and curb emissions of greenhouse gases, nuclear energy’s usefulness will continue to grow.



For more postings from me, see DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

...the rest of the story. Climate is changing and always will. The climate celebrities, however, are linking climate and the economy. Yes, there has been warming to end the Pleistocene. Climate is a multiple input, multiple loop, multiple output, complex system. The facts and the hypotheses, however, do not support CO2 as a serious 'pollutant'. In fact, it is plant fertilizer and seriously important to all life on the planet. It is the red herring used to unwind our economy. That issue makes the science relevant.
Sulphate from volcanoes can have a catastrophic effect, but water vapour is far more important. Water vapour (0.4% overall by volume in air, but 1 – 4 % near the surface) is the most effective green house blanket followed by methane (0.0001745%). The third ranking gas is CO2 (0.0383%), and it does not correlate well with global warming or cooling either; in fact, CO2 in the atmosphere trails warming which is clear natural evidence for its well-studied inverse solubility in water: CO2 dissolves rapidly in cold water and bubbles rapidly out of warm water. The equilibrium in seawater is very high; making seawater a great 'sink'; CO2 is 34 times more soluble in water than air is soluble in water.
CO2 has been rising and Earth and her oceans have been warming. However, the correlation trails. Correlation, moreover, is not causation. The causation is under scientific review, however, and while the radiation from the sun varies only in the fourth decimal place, the magnetism is awesome.
“Using a box of air in a Copenhagen lab, physicists traced the growth of clusters of molecules of the kind that build cloud condensation nuclei. These are specks of sulphuric acid on which cloud droplets form. High-energy particles driven through the laboratory ceiling by exploded stars far away in the Galaxy - the cosmic rays - liberate electrons in the air, which help the molecular clusters to form much faster than climate scientists have modeled in the atmosphere. That may explain the link between cosmic rays, cloudiness and climate change.”
As I understand it, the hypothesis of the Danish National Space Center goes as follows:
Quiet sun allows the geomagnetic shield to drop. Incoming galactic cosmic ray flux creates more low-level clouds, more snow, and more albedo effect as more is heat reflected resulting in a colder climate.
Active sun has an enhanced magnetic field which induces Earth’s geomagnetic shield response. Earth has fewer low-level clouds, less rain, snow and ice, and less albedo (less heat reflected) producing a warmer climate.
That is how the bulk of climate change works, coupled with (modulated by) sunspot peak frequency there are cycles of global warming and cooling like waves in the ocean. When the waves are closely spaced, all the planets warm; when the waves are spaced farther apart, all the planets cool.
The change in cloud cover is only a small percentage, and the ultimate cause of the solar magnetic cycle may be cyclicity in the Sun-Jupiter centre of gravity. We await more on that.
Although the post 60s warming period appears to be over, it has allowed the principal green house gas, water vapour, to kick in with more humidity, clouds, rain and snow depending on where you live to provide the negative feedback that scientists use to explain the existence of complex life on Earth for 550 million years. Ancient sedimentary rocks and paleontological evidence indicate the planet has had abundant liquid water over the entire span. The planet heats and cools naturally and our gasses are the thermostat. Nothing unusual going on except for the Orwellian politics.
Check the web site of the Danish National Space Center.