Friday, October 02, 2009

Evidence of coal fired power stations in Antarctica 15 million years ago?

If natural events have been shown to produce a big warmup, why should we assume that the minute warming of the last century is somehow different? It's just an assertion to say so, a statement of faith rather than fact

For Sophie Warny, LSU assistant professor of geology and geophysics and curator at the LSU Museum of Natural Science, years of patience in analyzing Antarctic samples with low fossil recovery finally led to a scientific breakthrough. She and colleagues from around the world now have proof of a sudden, remarkably warm period in Antarctica that occurred about 15.7 million years ago and lasted for a few thousand years.

Last year, as Warny was studying samples sent to her from the latest Antarctic Geologic Drilling Program, or ANDRILL AND-2A, a multinational collaboration between the Antarctic Programs of the United States (funded by the National Science Foundation), New Zealand, Italy and Germany, one sample stood out as a complete anomaly.

"First I thought it was a mistake, that it was a sample from another location, not Antarctica, because of the unusual abundance in microscopic fossil cysts of marine algae called dinoflagellates. But it turned out not to be a mistake, it was just an amazingly rich layer," said Warny. "I immediately contacted my U.S. colleague, Rosemary Askin, our New Zealand colleagues, Michael Hannah and Ian Raine, and our German colleague, Barbara Mohr, to let them know about this unique sample as each of our countries had received a third of the ANDRILL samples."

Some colleagues had noted an increase in pollen grains of woody plants in the sample immediately above, but none of the other samples had such a unique abundance in algae, which at first gave Warny some doubts about potential contamination. "But the two scientists in charge of the drilling, David Harwood of University of Nebraska – Lincoln, and Fabio Florindo of Italy, were equally excited about the discovery," said Warny. "They had noticed that this thin layer had a unique consistency that had been characterized by their team as a diatomite, which is a layer extremely rich in fossils of another algae called diatoms."

All research parties involved met at the Antarctic Research Facility at Florida State University in Tallahassee. Together, they sampled the zone of interest in great detail and processed the new samples in various labs. One month later, the unusual abundance in microfossils was confirmed. Among the 1,107 meters of sediments recovered and analyzed for microfossil content, a two-meter thick layer in the core displayed extremely rich fossil content. This is unusual because the Antarctic ice sheet was formed about 35 million years ago, and the frigid temperatures there impede the presence of woody plants and blooms of dinoflagellate algae.

"We all analyzed the new samples and saw a 2,000 fold increase in two species of fossil dinoflagellate cysts, a five-fold increase in freshwater algae and up to an 80-fold increase in terrestrial pollen," said Warny. "Together, these shifts in the microfossil assemblages represent a relatively short period of time during which Antarctica became abruptly much warmer." These palynomorphs, a term used to described dust-size organic material such as pollen, spores and cysts of dinoflagellates and other algae, provide hard evidence that Antarctica underwent a brief but rapid period of warming about 15 million years before present.

"This event will lead to a better understanding of global connections and climate forcing, in other words, it will provide a better understanding of how external factors imposed fluctuations in Earth's climate system," said Harwood. "The Mid-Miocene Climate Optimum has long been recognized in global proxy records outside of the Antarctic region. Direct information from a setting proximal to the dynamic Antarctic ice sheets responsible for driving many of these changes is vital to the correct calibration and interpretation of these proxy records."

These startling results will offer new insight into Antarctica's climatic past – insights that could potentially help climate scientists better understand the current climate change scenario. "In the case of these results, the microfossils provide us with quantitative data of what the environment was actually like in Antarctica at the time, showing how this continent reacted when climatic conditions were warmer than they are today," said Warny.

According to the researchers, these fossils show that land temperatures reached a January average of 10 degrees Celsius – the equivalent of approximately 50 degrees Fahrenheit – and that estimated sea surface temperatures ranged between zero and 11.5 degrees Celsius. The presence of freshwater algae in the sediments suggests to researchers that an increase in meltwater and perhaps also in rainfall produced ponds and lakes adjacent to the Ross Sea during this warm period, which would obviously have resulted in some reduction in sea ice.

These findings most likely reflect a poleward shift of the jet stream in the Southern Hemisphere, which would have pushed warmer water toward the pole and allowed a few dinoflagellate species to flourish under such ice-free conditions. Researchers believe that shrub-like woody plants might also have been able to proliferate during an abrupt and brief warmer time interval.

"An understanding of this event, in the context of timing and magnitude of the change, has important implications for how the climate system operates and what the potential future response in a warmer global climate might be," said Harwood. "A clear understanding of what has happened in the past, and the integration of these data into ice sheet and climate models, are important steps in advancing the ability of these computer models to reproduce past conditions, and with improved models be able to better predict future climate responses."

While the results are certainly impressive, the work isn't yet complete. "The SMS Project Science Team is currently looking at the stratigraphic sequence and timing of climate events evident throughout the ANDRILL AND-2A drillcore, including those that enclose this event," said Florindo. "A broader understanding of ice sheet behavior under warmer-than-present conditions will emerge."


Stealing by Any Other Name

Senators John Kerry and Barbara Boxer can call the Waxman-Markey carbon cap-and-tax bill to be introduced in the Senate anything they want. “Pollution reduction.” “Cap-and-trade.” “Carbon limits.” But, at the end of the day, it’s still a tax.

And it’s still stealing. As a recent report by the Institute for Energy Research (IER) reveals, Waxman-Markey is a regressive tax that will hit the poorest the hardest.

According to the independent, expert analysis, “On a gross basis, the bill would cost $106 billion per year or $892 per household, ranging from $451 to $1,531 depending on income. On a net basis, households in the four lowest-earning quintiles would pay between $31 and $512 per year, while households in the highest-earning quintile would actually profit by $604 per year—effectively redistributing roughly $14 billion per year to the highest earning households in the U.S.”

Making matters worse, according to the study’s lead author, Andrew Chamberlain, “the free allowances distributed under Waxman-Markey will result in large windfall profits for the corporate allies of the legislation.”

Which, of course, includes so-called “green” industries: companies—carbon capture and sequestration companies, energy efficiency producers, and solar and wind companies, and “companies engaged in ‘clean’ energy innovation, and ‘clean’ vehicle technology companies,” according to the report. The bill would result in a windfall of $10.6 billion and $18.7 billion every single year for these companies, with a total of $135.3 billion between 2012 and 2020.

What emerges from IER’s analysis is legislation that attempts to reorder the nation’s energy industry, by redirecting profits around, and by forcing consumers to pay more for goods and services that depend upon carbon-emitting fuels like coal, oil, and gasoline. And it is designed to especially victimize lower-income consumers.

The legislation, HR 2454, would force carbon-emitting industries coal, oil, gasoline, and natural gas to purchase carbon permits. The bill aims to reduce industrial emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases by 17 percent by 2020 and 83 percent by 2050.

Meanwhile, “green” companies, which produce inefficient energy that will predictably result in inefficient transportation, manufacturing, and heavy industries, will be gaining a competitive advantage through the bill’s implementation. They will also be heavily subsidized through tax incentives and other favors, goodies, and kickbacks for their loyalty.

Really, the point is just to drive up the costs of gasoline, oil, and coal—energies the American people depend upon for electricity, transportation, heating, and just about everything else that makes America run. And it all comes at a time when the American people are desperately struggling just to make ends meet.

In the process, Congress will have handed over the nation’s energy policy to a radical faction that has but one agenda: to wreck the nation’s economic standing in the world by making energy unaffordable, eliminating real jobs, and sealing away American natural resources from an economy that will be unable to grow without them. All in the name of “saving mankind” – while destroying people.

The final House vote in favor of the legislation was a razor-thin 219 to 212. One can only hope that in the Senate, supposedly the most deliberative body in the world, the members of Congress will come to its senses.

Worst of all, according APS Physics, “Climate Sensitivity Revisited,” there is really no reason to reorganize the entire economy to affect “climate change” when the Monckton study raises serious doubts as to the accuracy of the UN International Panel on Climate Change’s computer models. The whole hypothesis is not even based on actual observable data. It turns out to be computer predictions that have proven to be wildly off.

All of which raises the question: Why? Why tax the poor to give to the rich, elite ruling class? Why destroy the economy when the nation is struggling to compete with China and India? Why open up this Pandora’s Box? Perhaps it’s because they are more interested in redirecting profits than with “saving the planet.” Perhaps, taking the charitable view, it is because they are horribly misguided and terminally na├»ve. Or, perhaps because it is just stealing by another name.


Another dishonest assertion-based scare

If they really think their theory would stand up to scientific testing, wouldn't it be better to do that testing of it, rather than make a film about it? The last paragraph below shows why they are making a film instead. Reality really is pesky for modernity-hating Greenies

Honey bees are being wiped out by a new generation of pesticides, it is claimed today. Chemicals routinely used on maize, oil seed rape and garden plants could be responsible for the mysterious decline, according to new documentary film Vanishing Of The Bees.

Honey bees are essential for the food supply and British farmers, contributing about £200million to the economy by pollinating crops. Scientists admit they are baffled by plummeting bee numbers in Europe and America over the past decade.

Last year nearly a fifth of UK colonies were wiped out - more than double the usual number that come into existence to replace them, according to beekeepers. The previous year, one in three colonies failed to survive the winter. Some keepers say Britain is starting to suffer from colony collapse disorder - a mysterious affliction that has devastated America since 2004 and sees entire hives disappear over the winter, leaving behind empty nests.

The new film suggests long-term exposure to a class of pesticides called neonicotinoids is partly to blame. Introduced in the 1990s because, unlike previous pesticides, they appear to be harmless to mammals, neonicotinoids are applied to seeds. Now American beekeeper Dave Hackenberg, who appears in the film, says pesticides are the prime suspect. 'Pollen is being tainted with something which is not killing the adults that are gathering it,' he said. 'But they are bringing the pollen back and feeding it to their young.'

He believes neonicotinoids in pollen disrupt the nervous systems of young bees, making them vulnerable to disease and causing them to leave hives without returning. The Government says there is no evidence of an unacceptable risk to bees from neonicotinoids. It says bees have been hit by viruses and the varroa mite, a pest which feeds on bees and make them vulnerable to disease. Another theory is that they are suffering from the loss of habitat such as wild flowers, meadows, rough pasture and untidy gardens.

But the Co-op - the UK's biggest farmer and one of the documentary's backers - says pesticides have not properly been tested on bees and called for urgent research into the link.

A spokesman for Bayer - the German firm that makes many of the neonicotinoids - said: 'The healthiest bees in the world are in Australia, where they have lots of neonicotinoids but they don't have varroa. 'If you look at a country where they have restricted the use of neonicotinoids, France, they have a worse bee problem there than in the UK.'



Backroom lab boys in the US Navy say they have developed hugely more efficient desalination machinery, ideal for making seawater drinkable. The new tech, as well as saving space and energy aboard US warships, could also bring relief to water-poor areas around the world.

"They say that water is the next petroleum," comments J Paul Armistead of the US Office of Naval Research (ONR). "Around the globe there are a lot of countries with a lot of worse water problems than we have, so bringing down the cost to desalinate water should help a lot."

At present, modern warships replenish their freshwater supplies from the sea around them using basic Reverse Osmosis (RO) plants. There are also already some nations in part dependent on desalinisation to keep their onshore water systems running, such as Israel and the United Arab Emirates, though distillation has been more common than RO in shorebased installations. A large RO plant is even being built in London's Thames estuary to provide backup supplies for the capital in case of dry summers - despite initial opposition from former Mayor Ken Livingstone on the grounds that it would be irresponsible to use energy (and so drive up carbon emissions) for such a purpose.

Freshwater scarcity is a much more serious problem in many regions around the globe than it is in London, and where there is easy access to seawater desalinisation could offer a solution for routine use, not just emergencies. However, this involves the use of a lot of energy. Even aboard warships, the RO plants seldom offer enough output for sailors to use water as profligately as Western civilians do.

Step forward Armistead and the assembled boffins of the ONR, with their Expeditionary Unit Water Purification Program, EUWP. This has been running since 2004, and the navy lab is now on the second generation of kit. "We plan to build prototype desalination units that will use 65 percent less energy and be 40 percent smaller by weight and by volume relative to current Navy reverse osmosis systems," says Armistead. "They should require roughly 75 percent less maintenance."

According to the ONR, a Gen I EUWP rig was set up in Mississippi and used to supply potable water to a hospital whose supplies had been cut off by Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Sucking saltwater from the Gulf of Mexico, the truck-portable unit pumped out 100,000 gallons of drinking water per day - the equivalent of a 24-hourly convoy of 18 road tankers. The Gen II gear, which has now been successfully tested, is supposed to be more puissant still.

The US navy's ships will start getting the new and enhanced water plants from 2014: and Armistead says that EUWP tech has already begun to spin out into civilian commercial applications. It would seem that the human race has no particular need to suffer from drought in future (at least that substantial majority of the human race which lives within reasonable reach of saltwater). Assuming that the human race has access to plentiful energy for running the desalination plants, anyway.

There's no such thing as a water shortage in particular, it would seem - just situations in which energy shortages can be even more damaging than you'd expect. But at least the new ONR kit will somewhat ease the growth of humanity's energy needs.


When Did Energy Become the Enemy?

By Alan Caruba

One of the most curious and, frankly, frightening aspects of environmentalism is its hatred of the use of energy. One can draw a straight line between the Carter administration that imposed a windfall tax on the U.S. oil industry and the present Obama administration that is all for offshore oil drilling just as long as it takes place in Brazil, not America. There is, in fact, offshore oil exploration and drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, particularly near Florida. The problem is that it is being undertaken by China and Russia.

In America, Ken Salazar, Obama’s Secretary of the Interior, is likely to slow offshore development, but it should be noted that 85% of the nation’s continental shelf has long been under a ban against exploration and development, and was throughout the eight years of the Bush Administration. The same holds true for vast oil deposits in Alaska’s ANWR area.

Until the 1970s, America’s economy thrived on affordable energy. Fully 85% of all the energy we need and use comes from coal, oil and natural gas. That is not going to change despite all the blather about “renewable energy” sources such as solar or wind. Neither of these has proven to be either reliable or affordable without huge government subsidies wherever they have been tried.

As Seldon B. Graham, Jr. notes in his book, “Why Your Gasoline Prices Are High”, in 1981 a windfall profits tax was imposed, “This tax, in effect, sent U.S.A. Oil’s exploration and drilling budgets straight to the government to spend as it pleased; thereby leaving little or no exploration and drilling budgets for USA Oil.” The result was “a death notice” to the industry. “Many U.S. oil and gas companies went bankrupt because of the windfall profits tax. Those U.S.A. oil companies which survived were forced to go overseas to explore and drill in foreign countries.”

The result of the windfall profits tax was that it forced “the U.S.A. to defend Middle East oil.” And that, dear reader, is why we are still in the Middle East providing an umbrella of protection, rescuing Kuwait from Iraq, then having to re-invade Iraq, and now faced with a decision to militarily end Iran’s quest for nuclear weapons with which to threaten other Middle East nations.

Graham, with more than fifty years experience in the oil industry, has also been vocal in opposition to yet another idiotic government mandate, the addition of ethanol to every gallon of gasoline drivers must purchase. Ethanol is touted as another “clean” energy alternative, but Graham notes that even as it reduces the mileage available from each gallon, it also emits more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. “Clean biofuel is the big lie”, says Graham. That said, carbon dioxide not only plays no role in “global warming”, but there is no global warming; the Earth being in a cooling cycle for the past ten years.

Just like Jimmy Carter, Barack Obama regards oil, natural gas, and coal as the enemy. Jerome Corsi of World Net Daily recently warned that “President Obama declared war on oil and natural gas at the United Nations global warming summit and he made the same pitch to the G20 meeting in Pittsburgh.” Obama told the UN, “I will work with my colleagues at the G20 to phase out fossil fuel subsidies so that we can better address our climate challenge.”

On September 10, Buddy Kleemeir, chairman of the Independent Petroleum Association of America told a Senate Finance Committee that “The Obama administration’s budget request would strip essential capital from new American natural gas and oil investment by radically raising taxes on American production.”

A recent New York Times article noted that “The oil industry has been on a hot streak this year, thanks to a series of major discoveries…these discoveries, spanning five continents, are the result of hefty investments that began earlier in the decade when oil prices rose…”

First, note that the discoveries are the result of risks taken nearly a decade ago. It takes a long time to find new oil reserves and it requires billions of dollars. Second, note that these discoveries have largely been in other continents.

Third, if U.S. policy deliberately reduces the ability to make those investments by phasing out “fossil fuel subsidies”, it ensures that the nation remains dependent on Middle East and other foreign oil imports. Fourth, it puts the lie to the endless talk of America becoming “energy independent.”

America has been systematically stripped of access to its own interior and offshore energy reserves since the 1970s and at the heart of this conspiracy have been the many environmental organizations that have first secured legislation to enable their obstruction and second to impose, often through the courts, measures that attack, not just energy, but agriculture, timber, and other formerly thriving elements of the nation’s economy. The destruction of America is moving apace and we have a president who continues to lie about “global warming” in order to further its decline.


Climate folly before failure

Comment from Australia

THE inconvenient truth is that there is no hope the UN climate change negotiations that start in Copenhagen on December 7 will deliver a new Kyoto treaty, with a global agreement on binding emissions targets. This was, of course, the original aim of the meeting but has been abandoned. On Monday The Guardian in Britain quoted a top European official who described the idea of negotiating on targets as naive and said the best that could be expected was that countries would put up what they wanted to commit to.

Just as well, really, if we consider figures published in an article in The Washington Post, also on Monday, by Danish statistician and environmentalist Bjorn Lomborg.

His Copenhagen Consensus Centre commissioned well-known climate economist Richard Tol, a contributor to the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, to estimate the cost of emissions targets needed to keep the rise in global temperature to under the 2C limit suggested by the IPCC's work. Tol's answer is a global price tag of $US40 trillion in 2100, to avoid expected climate damage costing $US1.1 trillion. These figures are based on mainstream economic models and subject to the usual limitations of modelling over long periods.

But the global warming projections behind all the alarm about climate change are based on complex climate models that also have serious limitations and, according to Lomborg, Tol's estimates are best-case outcomes. They aren't the only reason to be uneasy about the present thrust of UN climate change policy.

Kevin Rudd has been using various arguments to push his case for urgent, substantial action on climate change and one he used in the US last week is the threat of a European carbon tax on exports from countries "not doing their bit on climate change". Rudd only mentioned remarks by French President Nicolas Sarkozy, but it is actually a joint initiative by France and Germany's newly re-elected Chancellor Angela Merkel. Instead of, at least implicitly, accepting this as a legitimate tactic by the Europeans, Rudd should be denouncing it at every opportunity. The last thing Australia and the world need is a global trade war sparked by European attempts to bully the world into adopting its climate change policies, which are under attack in the EU itself, to shelter its industries from the economic damage its climate policies will impose.

Some more figures from Lomborg. Economic estimates suggest freer trade would deliver global benefits of the order of $US50trillion. Why put these gains at risk to avoid global warming damage estimated at $US1.1 trillion? Fortunately there has already been a reaction in Europe and in other countries against the Franco-German threat.

The looming failure at Copenhagen is a powerful argument against Australia rushing to pass the Rudd government's flawed emissions trading scheme, which isn't even proposed to start operating until 2011. For Australia, with an economic structure heavily dependent on cheap, carbon-based energy, to move ahead of the rest of the world is foolish.

Rudd and Climate Change Minister Penny Wong see things differently. In their view, getting the legislation through the Senate in November is essential for Australia's negotiating position at Copenhagen. According to Wong the eyes of the world are on us, waiting to see if the government succeeds. Nonsense, of course, as Rudd gave away in an interview with CNN in New York. Asked whether the US negotiating position had been weakened by the Obama administration's inability to get emissions trading legislation through the US Senate, Rudd replied that his own legislation had been recently blocked by Australia's Senate. He continued: "That doesn't impede me from being active in these negotiations and my observation of President Obama is that it doesn't impede him either." So much for the importance of passing legislation before Copenhagen and, in any case, the UN knows what Australia's position is on targets and emissions trading.

Rudd, of course, has other arguments. He declared in New York that what drove his government's interest in an emissions trading scheme was the need for business certainty. There can be no certainty in a scheme that has flexible emissions targets that will vary with global action.

Another scare tactic is to paint water problems in the Murray-Darling Basin as a product of climate change. More nonsense. The problems on the Murray-Darling rivers have nothing to do with climate change and everything to do with gutless and short-sighted politicians. Bureau of Meteorology records of rainfall during 108 years examined by Australian physicist Tom Quirk show no statistically significant trend, with rainfall variations entirely random. So much for the impact of global warming.

The government's attempts to create a sense of urgency and set a timetable that demands its legislation be passed in November are a stunt. The issue is whether Opposition Leader Malcolm Turnbull has the courage to do what he says is the only sensible course of action, to wait until after we know the outcome in Copenhagen.

However, having said this, Turnbull, who is in a complete funk over the possibility of a double-dissolution election on the issue, left the door open to negotiate with the government to pass its legislation, with amendments, in November. A clear majority of his back bench and probably at least half his front bench don't agree with this policy.

Both former Labor prime minister and treasurer Paul Keating and former Liberal deputy leader and treasurer Peter Costello have warned a double dissolution is not without risks for Rudd because the electorate likes governments to run their full term. Rudd has said more than once he doesn't want a double dissolution and also believes governments should run their full term.

Turnbull should take him at his word and have the guts to stand by what he says he believes is the right policy, and is indeed the sensible policy: wait until after Copenhagen.



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