Friday, October 16, 2009

A skeptic got it right

Warmist theories about CO2 generated NO accurate predictions of 21st century climate changes but a skeptic basing his predictions solely on long-term regularities in ocean current changes scored several bullseyes. Accurate predictions are of course the acid test of any scientific theory. An interesting communication and an interesting document from distinguished meteorologist Bill Gray below:

At NOAA's 21st Climate Workshop in Huntsville, AL in 1996 I presented a paper titled "Forecast of Global Circulation Characteristics in the Next 25-30 Years." We are now 13 years along the way to this paper's verification. All the major features that were predicted are on target.

This 4-page paper's 25-30 year prediction (see below) was based on the known and characteristic multi-decadal changes in the Atlantic Ocean's circulation. It assumed a multi-decadal continuation of the positive change in the Atlantic Ocean Thermohaline Circulation (THC) which occurred in 1995. These changes in the Atlantic Ocean THC were predicted to continue and to result in the following changes in global weather features which have taken place during 1996-2009 in comparison to the similar observed parameter circulation features during the earlier 25-year period of 1970-1994.

1. More Northern Hemisphere blocking patterns - weaker North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO)

2. Fewer El Nino activity (cooler ENSO conditions)

3. Increased Sahel rainfall

4. Much more Atlantic major hurricane activity

5. Small decrease in global mean surface temperature.

These and other predicted conditions are, so far, occurring and beginning to lead to verification of my forecast. This 1996 forecast was made from changing ocean circulation features alone. CO2 increases played no role in this forecast. Known natural climate features were unquestionably the dominant processes in causing such parameter alterations. If CO2 gas increases played any role at all its influence was in the noise level and undetectable. Please read the write-up of 13 years ago:

21st NOAA Climate Workshop, Huntsville, AL (1996)


By William M. Gray (written in 1996)

Department of Atmospheric Science, Colorado State University, Ft. Collins, CO 80523


Over the last quarter century the global circulation has behaved in a number ofdistinctive ways from its general characteristics in the prior quarter century (mid-1940s to late 1960s). In comparison with the earlier period or with long-term climatology, the period since 1970 has seen:

1. positive southern minus northern hemisphere SST anomaly conditions,

2. stronger middle latitude westerlies over the Pacific and Atlantic and less North Atlantic blocking action,

3. more frequent and stronger El Nino conditions,

4. Sahel drought conditions,

5. less frequent Atlantic major hurricane activity,

6. small increase of surface global temperatures, and

7. many other changes.

These recent quarter century changes appear to be of natural origin. The author hypothesizes that they are a consequence of the abrupt slowdown in the Atlantic thermohaline (or conveyor) circulation which occurred in the late 1960s. This oceanic circulation slowdown was a consequence of the sharp decrease in North Atlantic salinity at this time (The Great Salinity Anomaly). But more recent observations show that Atlantic salinity has been increasing in recent years. It is likely that we are presently seeing a change to a stronger thermohaline circulation. This will likely cause a reversal of the above listed conditions. Back and forth shifts in the strength of the thermohaline circulation on multi-decadal time scales have been documented or inferred from a variety of observational sources going back centuries and thousands of years to the last ice age.

If a return to global circulation conditions more typical of the period 25-50 years ago does occur in the next few years then we should see a general reversal of the above listed global circulation characteristics including a small decrease in average global surface temperature.

Many meteorologists have interpreted the increase in global surface temperature since the late 1960s, and the overall global surface temperature increases since 1900 as an indication that global warming from man induced greenhouse gases. But there are likely other more plausible explanations for such global temperature changes. It is more likely that the surface temperature changes of the last century are a response to naturally occurring temperature changes which are not or very little related to man-induced greenhouse gas increases. Surface temperature changes appear to have resulted from variations in the global ocean conveyor belt circulation.


It is likely that the multi-decadal alteration in the strength of the Atlantic Ocean's (Fig. 1) conveyor belt circulation is the driving mechanism for much of the global multi-decadal circulation and climate variations which have been observed over the last half century and in past periods. The Atlantic (or thermohaline) portion of the conveyor belt is part of a much larger global ocean conveyor circulation.

Figure 1: Conceptual illustration of the Atlantic conveyor belt circulation. High salinity water is chilled and sinks in the far North Atlantic, promoting a compensating northward surface layer flow of more warm, high salinity water (after Broecker, 1991).

When the Atlantic portion of the global conveyor belt flows stronger than normal, global circulations and ocean currents take on characteristic patterns which are different from those patterns when the conveyor belt circulation is weaker than normal.

During periods of strong conveyor belt circulation, North Atlantic sea surface temperature (SST) warms but other global SST temperatures tend to cool. Small global surface cooling results because more warm ocean water is taken away from the tropical oceans and advected to the North Atlantic where it sinks (due to its special high salt content). In addition, the eastern Pacific and southern hemisphere oceans, due to slackening of El Nino activity, do not then receive as much warm water from the western Pacific warm pool region. It is known that global surface temperatures tend to increase during El Nino events and be lower during non-El Nino periods.

Strong Atlantic conveyor belt circulation conditions lead to a gradual cooling of global surface temperatures. Such cooling conditions appear to have taken place during the periods of 1870-1899 and 1943-1968 when global surface temperatures were observed to gradually decrease (Fig. 2).

Opposite conditions occur when the Atlantic conveyor belt weakens. A weak conveyor belt leads to a cooling of North Atlantic surface waters. Some of the warmer upper ocean water normally supplied to the North Atlantic when the conveyor belt is strong remains instead over the broader portions of the oceans and affects a general area average temperature rise. It is during these periods of reduced conveyor belt circulation that the western Sahel experiences drought conditions, that Atlantic low latitude hurricane activity is suppressed, and that more frequent and stronger El Nino events occur. These are also the periods when global surface temperatures increase. Such conditions of weak conveyor belt circulation and global surface temperature increase occurred during the years of 1900-1942 and again since 1968.

Figure 2: Portrayal of four multi-decadal time periods with different conveyor belt strengths, Sahel rainfall, Atlantic hurricane activity and frequent major El Nino events, and global surface temperature tendency.

Such consistent variations of basic meteorological parameters which are associated with global surface temperature changes suggest a direct cause-effect relationship. It is likely that most of the global warming that has taken place since the late 1960s is due to alterations in the global's ocean circulations which has been driven by a substantial weakening in the strength of the Atlantic conveyor belt. Such basic ocean circulation changes should not be attributed to man-induced greenhouse gas increases.

As the North Atlantic is the primary ocean region where upper water (due to special higher salinity conditions) sinks to deep water levels, it is important to understand the causes of such sinking variation. If North Atlantic Ocean sinking were slowed down (such as apparently has occurred since the late 1960s) then the tropical oceans would advect less energy poleward into the North Atlantic. This normally exported energy to the North Atlantic would go instead into a slow warming of the other ocean regions which feed into it particularly the Indian ocean and the Western Pacific. A gradual and slow warming of the non-North Atlantic Oceans would occur. Such changes have occurred since the early 1970s.

It is observed that there has been a sharp rise in the frequency and intensity of El Nino events since the late 1960s when the Atlantic conveyor belt is believed to have undergone a substantial weakening. It should be noted that El Nino events were less frequent and generally weaker during the 25-year period of 1943-1967 when the Atlantic conveyor belt strength was believed to be much stronger. And El Nino events were also less prevalent during the last three decades of the 19th century (1870-1899) when Western Sahel rainfall and low latitude hurricane activity was enhanced and when global temperatures appear to have cooled somewhat.

Thus, it may be that the general warming of the globe's surface ocean temperatures that has been observed since the late 1960s are but a consequence of the typical multi-decadal alterations of the Atlantic ocean's conveyor belt and of the natural global temperature response to such conveyor belt strength changes.


It is likely that there has not been and will not be a significant warming of the global surface temperatures due to man-generated greenhouse gases over the next 25-50 years. How can this be true when most greenhouse gas models indicate a substantial warming?

Because the evidence for greenhouse gas warming has come from quite complicated numerical models which contain a number of physical assumptions related to moisture and cloud processes which may not well mimic the real atmosphere.

This is particularly the case with respect to the strong warming resulting from the positive water vapor feedback loop which is contained in almost all greenhouse gas modeling simulations.

Water vapor feedback processes represents approximately 75-80 percent of the 2-4oC global warming which modeling simulations show to occur as a result of a doubling of CO2. Nearly all greenhouse gas model results show that the atmosphere will increases its water vapor content as man-made greenhouse gases increase. It is this extra water vapor increase which is projected to cause the majority of the man-inducedgreenhouse gas warming in the global simulations. The author is of the view that middle and upper-level water vapor which undergo slight decreases (not increases) as anthropogenic greenhouse gases increase.


Since late 1994 an ongoing major rearrangement of the Atlantic Ocean SST features has been underway. These SST changes are broadscale and substantial in comparison with variations taking place during typical two year periods. These include a general warming of the North Atlantic and a cooling of the South Atlantic. We hypothesize that these changes aredue to a major change in the Atlantic Ocean thermohaline or ``conveyor belt" circulation. Salinity contents in the North Atlantic have shown a large increase. These changes are also consistent with other global circulation changes that have occurred during the last 1-2 years. It appears that we are now experiencing a major shift towards a stronger Atlantic Ocean thermohaline circulation. It has been nearly three decades since the SST anomaly patterns of the Atlantic Ocean has experienced such a strong north (warm) to south (cool) SST difference as now observed. We expect that these changing Atlantic SST patterns will lead to enhanced intense (or major) hurricane activity in coming years and to a small global surface temperature cooling. It is likely that the mean global surface temperature change in the next 20-30 years will be more driven by nature than by anthropogenic influences and be one of weak cooling, not warm.

Rationalizing rationing

Apple Inc. may have drunk the Kool-Aid, but most of the companies feuding with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce over climate policy are energy-rationing profiteers ("Backers of climate bill quit chamber," Page 1, Tuesday).

Nike Inc., for example, manufactures sports shoes in factories in developing Asian countries. Unlike most businesses represented by the chamber, Nike would not face higher energy costs from either the Waxman-Markey bill (American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009) or regulation by the Environmental Protection Agency of carbon dioxide under the Clean Air Act. What's more, if the successor treaty to the Kyoto Protocol continues to exempt developing countries from binding emissions limits, the comparative advantage (lower energy costs) that developing countries already enjoy under Kyoto will increase, sharpening Nike's competitive edge.

Or consider Exelon Corp., the nation's largest nuclear power generator. The Waxman-Markey bill would lavish millions more tons' worth of energy-ration coupons on Exelon than the company would need to cover the CO2 emissions from its much smaller fleet of fossil electric generating units. As Amanda DeBard indicates, under Waxman-Markey, Exelon would reap about $1 billion in windfall profits annually from the sale of surplus ration coupons.

Exelon and its ilk put their special interest in short-term gains from market-rigging rules ahead of the business community's long-term general interest in limited government, economic growth and affordable energy.


Only belief in the gift of prophecy could explain the confidence of the latest Warmist prediction

The Arctic will be ice-free in summer within 20 years, they say, in defiance of recent trends. Definitely good imaginations, though

Ships will be able to sail in open water to the North Pole in the summer of 2020, according to a study that found a rapid acceleration in the loss of sea ice. The Arctic will be ice-free in summer within 20 years, the study found, while the Earth will lose the white cap that can be seen in photographs taken from space.

The Polar Ocean Physics Group from Cambridge University compared measurements of ice thickness recorded by a Royal Navy nuclear submarine with those taken two years later in the same area by Pen Hadow, the explorer. [Highly comparable and reliable, no doubt. And doing projections from just two years of data is about as dumb and statistically ignorant as you can get] The two sets of measurements were consistent, revealing that the findings by HMS Tireless in 2007 were not an aberration caused by a particularly warm year.

Peter Wadhams, Professor of Ocean Physics at Cambridge, said that cargo ships would no longer need to rely on special ice-breaking vessels to cross from the Pacific to the Atlantic via the Northwest Passage. The route would be ice-free for several months every year, cutting more than 3,000 miles from the normal journey from the Far East to Europe via the Suez canal. "The North Pole will be exposed in ten years. You would be able to sail a Japanese car carrier across the North Pole and out into the Atlantic," Professor Wadhams said. "The ice will retreat to a zone north of Greenland and Ellesmere Island by 2020 and that area will be less than half the present summer area. The change in the Arctic summer sea ice is the biggest impact global warming is having on the physical appearance of the planet."

This month, the National Snow and Ice Data Centre, which is part of the University of Colorado, said that Arctic ice coverage was the third-lowest since satellite records began in 1979. The coverage was greater than in 2007 and 2008 largely because of cloudy skies during late summer. Each of the past five years has been one of the five lowest years.

Professor Wadhams, who was on board the submarine supervising sonar measurements of the ice, said that Mr Hadow's findings confirmed that the underlying trend was towards increasingly thin and patchy ice cover. Mr Hadow and his two team members spent 73 days between March 1 and May 7 this year walking 280 miles (450.6km) across the Arctic while taking measurements. They drilled 1,500 holes and found that the average thickness of ice floes was 1.8m (5.9ft). This was too thin to have survived the previous year's summer melting and indicated that the area of moving ice had been formed in open sea during the winter.

Mr Hadow said that future expeditions to the Arctic in summer would need to change their techniques and equipment to cope with more frequent stretches of open water. "A hundred years ago explorers used dogs to haul sledges and then we went through the stage of people hauling sledges," he said. "Now we have people wearing immersion suits and needing to swim, with the sledge floating. I foresee a time when the sledge will become more of a canoe." Mr Hadow said that he had decided to change the focus of his polar expeditions from exploration to collecting data that could help to predict changes in the climate.

Martin Summerkorn, climate change adviser to the WWF Arctic Programme, said that the loss of sea ice predicted by the Cambridge study would have profound consequences beyond the polar region. Without ice to reflect sunlight, the Arctic Ocean would warm more quickly, resulting in the release of greenhouse gases stored in the Arctic permafrost soils. These soils contain twice as much carbon as is in the atmosphere. Mr Summerkorn said that the warming of the Arctic surface waters would accelerate the melting of the Greenland ice sheet, speeding up the sea level rise. "This could lead to flooding affecting one quarter of the world's population and extreme global weather changes," he said.


Excuses for Lack of Global Warming

"What Happened to Global Warming?" asks Science, the flagship publication of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), in its October 2, 2009, issue, before immediately answering, "Scientists Say Just Wait a Bit." By a "bit," AAAS means a "few years."

The "blogosphere," it seems, "has been having a field day with global warming's apparent decade-long stagnation." The world is supposed to sign a global warming agreement in a few years less than a bit, in Copenhagen in December, to be exact, but "What's the point, bloggers ask?"

So global warming skeptics are "bloggers." Here are a few of these bloggers:

* S. Fred Singer--first Director of the National Weather Satellite Service and Professor Emeritus of Environmental Science at the University of Virginia

* Dr. David Bromwich--President of the International Commission on Polar Meteorology

* Prof. Hendrik Tennekes--Director of Research, Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute

* Dr. Christopher Landsea--past Chairman of the American Meteorological Society's Committee on Tropical Meteorology and Tropical Cyclones

* Dr. Antonino Zichichi--one of the world's foremost physicists, former president of the European Physical Society

* Prof. Freeman Dyson-- another of the world's foremost physicists

* Prof. Tom V. Segalstad--head of the Geological Museum, University of Oslo

* Dr. Syun-Ichi Akasofu--founding director of the International Arctic Research Center

* Dr. Claude Allegre--member, United States National Academy of Sciences and French Academy of Science

* Dr. Richard Lindzen--Professor of Meteorology at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and member of the National Research Council Board on Atmospheric Sciences and Climate

* Dr. Habibullo Abdussamatov--head of the space research laboratory of the Russian Academy of Science's Pulkovo Observatory and of the International Space Station's Astrometria Project

* Dr. Richard Tol--principal researcher at the Institute for Environmental Studies at Vrije Universiteit and Adjunct Professor at the Center for Integrated Study of the Human Dimensions of Global Change at Carnegie Mellon University

* Dr. Sami Solanki--director and scientific member at the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research in Germany

* Dr. Eigils Friis-Christensen--director of the Danish National Space Centre, Vice-President of the International Association of Geomagnetism and Aeronomy

* Dr. Edward Wegman--former Chairman of the Committee on Applied and Theoretical Statistics of the National Academy of Sciences

For a less incomplete list of bloggers, see The Deniers by Lawrence Solomon. Another list can be found here. A list of 31,000 scientist-bloggers can be found here.

"Climate researchers" do not deign to answer back in the blogosphere, according to AAAS, preferring instead to reply "in their preferred venue, the peer-reviewed literature": "The pause in warming is real enough, but it's just temporary, they are argue from their analyses. A natural swing in climate to the cool side has been holding greenhouse warming back, and such swings don't last forever."

After pretending that global warming skeptics are bloggers, not scientists, and that their home is the blogosphere, not the peer-reviewed literature, AAAS attributes the more-than-decade-long failure of the globe to warm to a "natural swing in climate." In other words, when the climate warms, it is as a result of anthropogenic causes, but when it cools or fails to warm, it is as a result of natural causes. Increases of temperature are human-caused. Decreases are nature-caused.

Skeptics have been saying for decades that the warming from about 1978 to 1998, which was after all only 0.40C, was probably due to natural causes; now AAAS says that the flat or downward trend since 1998 is due to natural causes, which had nothing to do with the rise between 1978 and 1998. They told us that the temperature of the earth would continue to rise, and when it did not, they said, see, our critics were wrong.

People who argue this way are not scientists, but lawyers with a bad case.



Three current articles below

The beginning of the end?

The press are becoming less hysterical and more outspoken about challenges to "global warming". The video accessed below is from the Left-leaning Melbourne "Age" and while it's hardly ground breaking, it's not your typical doom and gloom story. Click HERE

Going fission: Is nuclear power the only way to meet Australia's future energy needs and cut carbon emissions?

Another surprisingly realistic article from "The Age" below. The "Age" is usually just a Leftist rag

THE 500 environmentalists who last month tried to shut down Hazelwood, Victoria's second-biggest power station, have inadvertently illuminated a distinctly Australian problem.

If asked, most Australians would profess to wanting to lower greenhouse gas emissions, now among the highest per person in the world. They would also want to retain living standards, supported by an economy that has slipped largely unscathed through the global financial crisis. And most would want this without resorting to a largely greenhouse-free energy source that has gained favour in many other advanced or growing economies: nuclear power.

The Rudd Government (and most of the states) walk a strange tightrope: they admit generating 80 per cent of the country's electricity with coal creates huge environmental problems but, unlike most other countries, have pinned hopes of future energy supply on unproven technologies to clean up coal, which, incidentally, is also our biggest export earner. The Federal Government's favourite option, carbon dioxide capture and storage (CCS), has not worked on a large scale and, even if it proves feasible, might be decades away. Says Professor Mark Diesendorf of the University of NSW's Institute of Environmental Studies: ''If it works, and if it is not as expensive as some of the overseas estimates suggest, you are looking at somewhere between 2025 and 2030 before CCS could start really making a difference.''

Three years ago Victoria was applauding a planned clean-coal power station for the Latrobe Valley, which Energy Minister Peter Batchelor said would make it a world leader in clean-coal technology. But last month the project was converted into a ''dual gas'' station. Carbon capture was scrapped. At the earliest, the plant will begin to produce power in 2013. The company responsible, HRL Technologies, says carbon-capture technology will be retro-fitted ''when commercially viable''.

CSIRO scientist Dr Lincoln Paterson, who is researching carbon dioxide storage, says all the elements of the technology exist, but have yet to be tied into a power station. A demonstration project at Loy Yang B is capturing carbon from flue gases. And in a demonstration near Port Campbell last year, 60,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide was removed from one underground ''reservoir'' and piped into another two kilometres away. ''If cost was not a factor you could do it today . but the reality is you can't ignore cost. Cost is a critical element of the practicality,'' Paterson says.

Against this backdrop, Australia, a uranium exporter, has about 39 per cent of the world's most easily accessible uranium (but political restrictions mean it supplies 19 per cent of the world's demand). The Federal Government even admits that nuclear power helps reduce greenhouse emissions - but refuses to consider using it. ''Nuclear power globally is part of the climate change solution,'' says federal Resources and Energy Minister Martin Ferguson. ''The Government accepts that and we are committed to the development of the uranium mining industry with all the associated safeguards. Australia, unlike a lot of those other nations, is energy rich, hence our focus on the immediate energy options. Here there is no requirement on us as a nation to go down the nuclear path. ''It is the view of the Australian community that we should pursue all energy options other than nuclear.''

While no proposal to explore nuclear energy has been prepared or is under consideration for cabinet, senior Government figures are speculating about what Australia's options might be if renewable energy technologies and carbon capture don't deliver sufficient cuts in emissions and adequate energy supply.

The Government expects Australia's population to almost double to 35 million by 2049. Even with efficiencies, that is going to mean a big increase in electricity demand.

Professor John Price, of Monash University's mechanical engineering department, says: ''We are reaching a point where there are no choices available to us. What are we going to do in 10 years' time? We are going to have electric cars. We are going to have desalination plants in every capital city. These are huge new demands that are not yet on our electricity system. ''Nuclear energy requires carbon dioxide production during mining and construction, but after that it's really zero.''

Proponents of nuclear power say it is the only way to provide baseload power for a growing economy and meet climate change targets. But in July three high-profile supporters gave up the cause. Hugh Morgan, Ron Walker and Robert de Crespigny applied to deregister their company, Australian Nuclear Energy, in recognition of the Government's hostility. It had been set up in the last years of the Howard government, as the prime minister appointed former Telstra chief Dr Ziggy Switkowski to head an inquiry, which came down in favour of a domestic nuclear power industry.

Morgan says he believes Australia has left itself vulnerable to a future energy supply disaster by placing its hopes in unproven carbon capture and renewables: ''If you need high-voltage electricity to maintain any significant industry in the country you need regular baseload power that they can rely on in 20 or 30 years. That is the umbilical cord to everyone else's industrial investments.''

He says 450 new nuclear plants are planned or under construction globally, which will double the existing number of plants. But he fears even if Australia wanted to start building, because of global demand it would be way behind in the queue.

There is one Labor identity who has spoken out in support of an Australian nuclear industry. National secretary of the Australian Workers' Union Paul Howes says most of the opposition to nuclear power is seemingly from older people influenced by the Cold War nuclear disarmament movement. ''People are worried about nuclear waste, but they are only now beginning to consider the environmental costs of coal,'' says Howes. ''There are new generation reactors being developed which will largely eliminate radioactive waste. They say nuclear is more expensive, but it becomes cheaper than coal when we add a carbon price as well as the costs of carbon capture.''

Indeed, energy production has social costs that the independent Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering tried to quantify this year that are not included in any wholesale price. These include effects on human health, climate and crops. ''Combining greenhouse and health damage costs for Australia gives representative total external costs of $19 a megawatt hour for natural gas, $42 a megawatt hour for black coal and $52 a megawatt hour for brown coal,'' the academy says. These ''external costs'' were found to be much lower for renewable and nuclear energy: from $1.50 for wind power, $5 for solar photovoltaic and up to $7 a megawatt hour for nuclear energy.

IT IS a sparkling, blue-skied day above the hills of Toora, near Wilsons Promontory. From a distance the green ridges seem to have been colonised by a troupe of baton twirlers, as the blades of the wind farm respond to a rising south-westerly. It is about 100 metres to the tops of the blades, prompting critics to lament the industrialisation of the landscape.

Still, wind is the most practical of renewable sources right now, clean and cheap. Victoria has approved wind farms up to 2000 megawatt capacity (one megawatt equals 1 million watts, roughly enough to power 400 homes a year), with another 2500 megawatts in prospect, but since it is an intermittent resource, wind delivers only a third of its nominated capacity.

If fully deployed, Victoria's water desalination plant will consume 92 megawatts. To compensate, AGL will build a wind farm of more than 300 megawatt capacity. With more than 150 turbines, Macarthur will dwarf Toora's 12 turbines, but wind energy is only ever a top-up to baseload power. In Europe, particularly Germany, Denmark and Spain, experience has made energy authorities reinforce wind energy with baseload coal or nuclear up to 90 per cent of their potential.

Martin Ferguson adds that solar photovoltaic energy - which converts sunlight directly to electricity - is not a renewable energy answer.

Solar thermal energy may hold more potential. A German company, Solar Millennium AG, has built several solar thermal plants in southern Spain that, by storing heat during the day, can run at full power for 7« hours after sunset. ''Now that we have thermal storage it is no longer true that solar energy is not a baseload electricity source,'' says Diesendorf.

Solar Millennium is looking to Australia for expansion through the Federal Government's Solar Flagship program, but its existing plants are, at 50 megawatts, less than one-thirtieth the capacity of Hazelwood. The solar cause also suffered a huge setback last month when Australia's leading solar energy developer, Solar Systems, which was to build a 154-megawatt power station in Mildura, went into liquidation. The persistent doubt is that renewables may not economically deliver sufficient capacity to replace existing power stations.

Nuclear power, which does provide baseload power stations of similar capacity to coal, continues to be deeply opposed by many Australians. A poll conducted this year by the Uranium Information Centre found the 40 to 55 years age group most trenchantly opposed to nuclear power. This is the generation that grew up in the shadow of the Cold War; that experienced the anti-nuclear movement of the 1970s; that witnessed Chernobyl and the breakdown of the Three Mile Island reactor in Pennsylvania, overlaid with cultural influences including films such as the apocalyptic Dr Strangelove and the nuclear industry conspiracies The China Syndrome and Silkwood.

In the face of climate change, younger people are less resistant.

However, the climate change threat has not diminished opposition from veteran anti-nuclear campaigner La Trobe University professor Joseph Camilleri. ''I don't think we have anywhere near a fully fledged, widely accepted, long-term system of waste disposal. Until and unless that comes through . to be thinking of a substantial expansion of the industry is foolhardy,'' he says.

Equally pertinent, he says, is that while nuclear power, in theory, may help counter climate change, in practice it is problematic. The reality is the sizeable expansion of nuclear energy would take place in parts of Asia and Latin America, which may not meet the operational and waste-handling challenges. There would be serious questions about ''the technical, regulatory and other requirements, and whether on grounds of safety, waste disposal and proliferation they would be able to meet the standard that we currently accept in most parts of the industrialised West'', Camilleri says.

But so-called fourth-generation nuclear reactors, which yield much more power with less nuclear fuel, actually consume large amounts of their own dangerous waste. Some have already been successfully tested in pilot plants.

Neverthless, Mark Wakeham, director of Environment Victoria's anti-Hazelwood campaign, says political and practical obstacles such as the long construction time for nuclear plants, stand in the way. ''It takes decades and we don't have decades,'' Wakeham says. ''Every proposed nuclear power plant in the last two decades internationally has delivered over budget and has been significantly delayed. Our view is it's inherently problematic. It's a very large consumer of water so there's very few locations that you could actually site a nuclear power station in Victoria. Basically it would need to be near Port Phillip Bay or Western Port Bay, and if you reckon it's hard to get a wind farm constructed in Victoria at the moment, try building a nuclear power station.''

Monash University's Price, who has worked as an engineer in the UK nuclear power industry, says that the public perception in Australia is at odds with reality. ''[Nuclear energy] is a great deal cheaper than wind power and solar power, though is more expensive than brown coal,'' Price says. ''There have been very few large accidents. In fact, only Chernobyl stands out, and that is not a reactor system that would have been approved in the West. The other reactor systems have all had terrific records.''

Although the Federal Government remains resolutely anti-nuclear, it has an agency that is quite the reverse. The Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO) runs Australia's only nuclear plant at Lucas Heights in Sydney's outer south-west, the 20-megawatt OPAL reactor, a joint German-Argentinian design that opened last year. (Lucas Heights was founded in 1958 in the early stages of the Cold War by the Menzies government with a 10-megawatt reactor, which was mainly used for nuclear medicine.)

HEAD of ANSTO Ziggy Switkowski believes that in its opposition to nuclear power Australia is alone among developed countries committed to deep greenhouse reductions. ''Australia stands alone in claiming that we are different, that we have a whole range of alternatives that in combination will get us to our target. It is ambitious but the numbers just don't work,'' he says. ''[We must] provide for the next generation of baseload electricity generation with clean energy. The only way to do that is with nuclear power. There is no other alternative. ''If we accept we want to move to a carbon-free economy by 2050, while there will be contributions from solar, wind and geothermal, the largest driver of that transition globally will be nuclear power. I don't think the case can be made that Australia is different, because we are not.''

CSIRO's Lincoln Paterson says he is no advocate for the nuclear industry, but even accounting for the Chernobyl tragedy, nuclear is relatively low risk considering 6000 or so people die annually from coal mining in China. ''There is a risk with nuclear, but there's a pretty horrendous risk if we do nothing,'' Paterson says. ''I've flown in and out of Bangladesh and there are 160 million people within 10 metres of sea level, and you start wondering what's going to happen to them. ''Wind by itself can't do it. Carbon capture and storage by itself can't do it. Nuclear by itself can't do it. It's going to require all of those technologies to make a contribution, and that's going to depend on where you are in the world and what the particular attributes of your country are.''

It is, Camilleri says, one of the most serious challenges humanity has faced in the past several hundred years, calling for extraordinary political and technical responses. And we are not there yet.


Sun goes down on solar-powered Australian schools

I suppose we have to be thankful for small mercies but the amount of taxpayer funds already spent on Greenie tokenism that will achieve precisely nothing is a disgrace. Typical of uncaring Leftist waste of other people's money, though

THE Rudd government's $480 million "national solar schools" program was quietly suspended yesterday afternoon via a notice posted on the popular scheme's website. "The National Solar Schools Program has been suspended to any new claims in 2009-10. This suspension takes effect as of 3:00pm 15 October 2009," the notice said.

A spokesman for Environment Minister Peter Garrett, who did not formally announce the program's closure, said 1300 schools had been approved under the program last year and 500 had already been approved this financial year, with another 700 "still in the pipeline for assessment". Those 700 would be funded if eligible, and additional money made available if required. [Plenty of money for Greenie causes] But no more applications will now be considered until next financial year.

Announcing the program in July 2008, Mr Garrett said "the Rudd Labor government wants every Australian school -- primary, secondary, public and private -- to have the opportunity to become a 'solar school' and the commencement of this half-a-billion dollar program delivers on our election commitment." "... Industry too will benefit from the program from the $480 million federal funding injection, creating increased demand for large solar power systems for school roofs," Mr Garrett said at the time.

The suspension is the latest in a series of changes and cuts to government solar programs, including the introduction of a means test on the household solar panel rebate and the ending of the remote solar program.

Opposition environment spokesman Greg Hunt said it was "amazing that this government can waste $16billion on unwanted school halls but suspend a key solar program that every school appears to want".

The program has already hit implementation hurdles with NSW's centralised tendering process meaning no school had installed panels more than a year after the program started, and many schools running into problems hooking their panels into the power grid.

Mr Garrett's spokesman said the Department of the Environment would contact every school registered under the program as well as those with applications on hand to advise of the suspension until next year. Under the program schools were eligible for up to $50,000 to install solar power systems, or energy efficiency spending on items such as lighting, fans or awnings. Rainwater tanks, small wind turbines, small hydro power generators and skylights were also eligible.



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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

"Water vapor feedback processes represents approximately 75-80 percent of the 2-4oC global warming which modeling simulations show to occur as a result of a doubling of CO2."


Next I need to know if their models claim humidity doesn't cause more rain nor lots more sunlight blocking clouds. If their models account for this then the criticism does not apply even though the author's statement may be technically true. What if it really is the fact though that "80% of heating is due to humidity but the overall effect of humidity is not that important due to how models accurately predict that humidity does not remain as gaseous water in the atmosphere due to cloud formation and eventual loss of cloud vapor due to snow and rain."

It's a damning statement but I can't use it in a debate unless I know what is missing in the model. Water vapor does after all increase with warmth and water vapor is very much a greenhouse gas.

Humidity has a massive sink though, located at the South Pole. I sort of doubt that models include *that* in humidity feedback mechanisms. So here I'm onto something, if my doubt is correct.

Now if humidity were an important player, in this case the absolutely dominant one, then one would desire a historical graph of average global humidity, right?

The graph is called the HadCRUH and goes back to '73:

It's not earth shattering either way but it is indeed increasing linearly. Yet they leave out the last 7 years! I can't read the NetCDF file format they offer. The only software I can find is in source code format.