Sunday, August 14, 2011

Hansen pisses on "renewables"

It's one of his rare bursts of sanity. He knows they are useless and calls them The Easter Bunny and Tooth Fairy. He wants TAX, TAX and more TAX on our energy use. In his dystopian vision, only the rich would be able to afford air-conditioning and central heating:

The tragedy is that many environmentalists line up on the side of the fossil fuel industry, advocating renewables as if they, plus energy efficiency, would solve the global climate change matter.

Can renewable energies provide all of society's energy needs in the foreseeable future? It is conceivable in a few places, such as New Zealand and Norway. But suggesting that renewables will let us phase rapidly off fossil fuels in the United States, China, India, or the world as a whole is almost the equivalent of believing in the Easter Bunny and Tooth Fairy.

This Easter Bunny fable is the basis of 'policy' thinking of many liberal politicians. Yet when such people are elected to the executive branch and must make real world decisions, they end up approving expanded off-shore drilling and allowing continued mountaintop removal, long-wall coal mining, hydro-fracking, etc. – maybe even a tar sands pipeline.

Why the inconsistency? Because they realize that renewable energies are grossly inadequate for our energy needs now and in the foreseeable future and they have no real plan. They pay homage to the Easter Bunny fantasy, because it is the easy thing to do in politics. They are reluctant to explain what is actually needed to phase out our need for fossil fuels.

Reluctance to be honest might seem strange, given that what is needed to solve the problem actually makes sense and is not harmful to most people. I will offer a possible explanation for their actions below. But first, let's look at one of the main sources of the Easter Bunny fable. Fig. 7 updates Figure 2 of "Storms of My Grandchildren"(

It compares actual U.S.6 energy consumption with projections made by the U.S. Energy Information Administration and by Amory Lovins in the 1970s. Note how EIA keeps adjusting energy projections down as reality disproves their assumptions of rapid growth.

Lovins, and many others, are right to assert that energy efficiency is the cheapest and most effective way to satisfy energy requirements. Of course, a principal reason for slow growth of energy use is that much of our manufacturing moved overseas.

Note the failure of U.S. energy to follow the 'soft' energy path of Lovins. Lovins asserts that we could phase out nuclear power, large hydro, coal, oil and gas. But soft renewables are still nearly invisible after 30 years, providing about one third of the thin renewable slice of total energy.

Yet Amory Lovins is the most popular person that I know and has received uncountable awards. He deserves them. But I believe his popularity is in part because he says everything people want to hear. He even says there is no need to have a tax on carbon.

Thus even fossil fuel companies love him. Fossil fuel companies are happy to support energy efficiency, which places the onus on the public and guarantees fossil fuel dominance far into the future.

When I saw Amory most recently and queried him, he affirmed that no tax was needed. He said that hundred dollar bills are being left on the ground by companies that ignore energy efficiency.

Indeed, there is still great potential in energy efficiency. However, the full potential of energy efficiency to help rapidly phase down fossil fuel CO2 emissions will be achieved only if there is a substantial rising price on carbon emissions. As long as fossil fuel energy is cheap, efficiency encourages more energy use.

For example, solid state lighting is much more efficient, but it encourages more extensive lighting. That would be o.k., if the energy source were carbon-free.

The Real World

Many well-meaning people proceed under the illusion that 'soft' renewable energies will replace fossil fuels if the government tries harder and provides more subsidies. Meanwhile, governments speak greenwash while allowing pursuit of fossil fuels with increasingly destructive technologies (hydrofracking, mountaintop removal, longwall mining, drilling in the deepest ocean, the Arctic and other pristine environments) and development of unconventional fossil fuels

It will be a tragedy if environmentalists allow the illusion of 'soft' energies to postpone demand for real solution of the energy, climate and national security problems. Solar power is just a small part of the solution. Subsidies yielding even its present tiny contribution may be unsustainable.

Victor and Yanosek discuss ineffectual U.S. policies to promote green energies and green jobs in the current issue of Foreign Affairs. They conclude that the policies do not promote technologies that can compete with fossil fuels without subsidies.

Victor and Yanosek suggest incentives for innovative technologies, including advanced nuclear power. Bill Gates is so distressed by the irrational pusillanimous U.S. energy policy that he is investing a piece of his personal fortune to help develop a specific 4th generation nuclear technology

The Real Solution

As long as fossil fuels are cheap, they will be burned. But fossil fuels are cheap only because they do not pay their costs to society. Costs include direct and indirect subsidies, human health costs from air and water pollution, and climate change impacts on current and future generations. The public can appreciate that a rising price must be placed on fossil fuel emissions, if we are to phase out our addiction to fossil fuels.

A carbon fee must be placed across-the-board on all fossil fuels in proportion to carbon emissions. The fee should be collected from fossil fuel companies at the first domestic sale (at domestic mine or port of entry).

More HERE (See the original for links, graphics etc.)

Killing Jobs, Cost Won't Stop Obama EPA

Air quality has improved dramatically in America since 1980. According to the EPA nitrogen dioxide emissions are down 40%, sulfur dioxide dropped by 56%, and lead emissions by a whopping 96%. And, these improvements happened while the population grew by 22% and energy consumption jumped 19%.

This would seem ample reason for the government to leave well enough alone, but that's not the case for the current Administration. The Obama EPA is preparing to implement two major new air quality regulations that will cost consumers hundreds of billions of dollars more in their energy bills and destroy great numbers of American jobs.

H. Sterling Burnett and Kenney Meier of the National Center for Policy Analysis have looked at the ramifications of the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule and the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards.

They concluded that because of higher costs and power plant closures by 2020 these two new regulations could destroy another 1.4 million jobs, and drive up electricity costs for consumers by 11.5% and some businesses could see as much as a 35% increase.

Environmental activists like the current EPA Administrator, Lisa Jackson, always claim improved air quality will translate to significant health benefits, but Burnett and Meier found those claims to be dramatically overstated. That's because very little of the targeted pollutants actually come from the air we breathe.

According to the researchers, "completely eliminating all U.S. power plant pollution would reduce hospital visits resulting from serious respiratory and cardiovascular health events by only 0.4 percent to 1.6 percent, according to estimates in a study commissioned by the Clean Air Task Force, an activist group."

With little to gain and considerable additional cost to be borne by business and consumers alike and with the U.S. economy in serious disrepair, Burnett and Meier say these new regulations are "arguably unnecessary." Reasonable people would likely arrive at the same conclusion, but don't look for the Obama Administration to back off any time soon - or ever.

After all, Obama declared war on the coal industry. In January of 2008, candidate Obama said, "If somebody wants to build a coal fired plant they can. It's just that it will bankrupt them because they will be charged a huge sum for all that greenhouse gas that's being emitted." And, job destruction and higher energy costs won't stop him from his mission.



by Judith Curry

The hypothesized link between a warming climate and increased frequency and magnitude of floods goes something like this: a warmer climate is associated with more water vapor in the atmosphere, which means more rainfall and more floods. Is there any observational support for this link?

A series of papers on this subject have been published by Gabriele Villarini at Princeton University. Two of the papers related to the U.S. are highlighted here.
Flood peak distributions for the eastern United States

Gabriele Villarini and James Smith


Annual maximum peak discharge time series from 572 stations with a record of at least 75 years in the eastern United States are used to examine flood peak distributions from a regional perspective.

The central issues of this study are (1) “mixtures” of flood peak distributions, (2) upper tail properties of flood peaks, (3) scaling properties of flood peaks, (4) spatial heterogeneities of flood peak distributions, and (5) temporal nonstationarities of annual flood peaks. Landfalling tropical cyclones are an important element of flood peak distributions throughout the eastern United States, but their relative importance in the “mixture” of annual flood peaks varies widely, and abruptly, in space over the region. Winter-spring extratropical systems and warm season thunderstorm systems also introduce distinct flood peak populations, with spatially varying control of flood frequency distributions over the eastern United States.

We examine abrupt changes in the mean and variance of flood peak distributions through change point analyses and temporal trends in the flood peak records through nonparametric tests. Abrupt changes, rather than slowly varying trends, are typically responsible for nonstationarities in annual flood peak records in the eastern United States, and detected change points are often linked to regulation of river basins.

Trend analyses for the 572 eastern United States gaging stations provide little evidence at this point (2009) for increasing flood peak distributions associated with human-induced climate change. Estimates of the location, scale, and shape parameters of the generalized extreme value (GEV) distribution provide a framework for examining scaling properties of flood peaks and upper tail properties of flood distributions.

It is shown that anomalously large values of the GEV shape parameter estimates are linked to the role of tropical cyclones in controlling the upper tail of flood distributions. Scaling analyses of flood peaks highlight the heterogeneities in flood magnitudes over the region with maxima in scaled flood magnitudes in the high-elevation Appalachian Mountains and minima in the low-gradient Coastal Plain.

(2010), Water Resour. Res., 46, W06504, doi:10.1029/2009WR008395. [Link] to abstract (paper not available online)

Pielke Jr. cites the following from the paper’s conclusions:

Only a small fraction of stations exhibited significant linear trends. For those stations with trends, there was a split between increasing and decreasing trends. No spatial structure was found for stations exhibiting trends. There is little indication that human-induced climate change has resulted in increasing flood magnitudes for the eastern United States.
Examining Flood Frequency Distributions in the Midwest U.S.

Gabriele Villarini, James Smith, Mary Lynn Baeck, Wiltoid Krajewski


Annual maximum peak discharge time series from 196 stream gage stations with a record of at least 75 years from the Midwest United States is examined to study flood peak distributions from a regional point of view. The focus of this study is to evaluate: (1) “mixtures” of flood peak distributions, (2) upper tail and scaling properties of the flood peak distributions, and (3) presence of temporal nonstationarities in the flood peak records.

Warm season convective systems are responsible for some of the largest floods in the area, in particular in Nebraska, Kansas, and Iowa. Spring events associated with snowmelt and rain-on-snow are common in the northern part of the study domain. Nonparametric tests are used to investigate the presence of abrupt and slowly varying changes. Change-points rather than monotonic trends are responsible for most violations of the stationarity assumption. The abrupt changes in flood peaks can be associated with anthropogenic changes, such as changes in land use/land cover, agricultural practice, and construction of dams.

The trend analyses do not suggest an increase in the flood peak distribution due to anthropogenic climate change. Examination of the upper tail and scaling properties of the flood peak distributions are examined by means of the location, scale, and shape parameters of the Generalized Extreme Value distribution.

Paper No. JAWRA-10-0046-P of the Journal of the American Water Resources Association(JAWRA). [Link] to abstract (paper not available online)

CO2Science provides the following summary of the paper:
What was learned

The four U.S. researchers report that in the vast majority of cases where streamflow changes were observed, they were “associated with change-points (both in mean and variance) rather than monotonic trends,” and they indicate that “these non-stationarities are often associated with anthropogenic effects.” But rather than increases in anthropogenic CO2 emissions, they cite such things as “changes in land use/land cover, changes in agricultural practice, and construction of dams and reservoirs.”

What it means

Based on their findings, and, as they note, “in agreement with previous studies” they conclude that “there is little indication that anthropogenic climate change has significantly affected the flood frequency distribution for the Midwest U.S.” And as they make doubly clear in the abstract of their paper, they say that “trend analyses do not suggest an increase in the flood peak distribution due to anthropogenic climate change.”

JC comments: Villarini’s analysis and interpretation seems pretty compelling to me, I like the methodology. So what is wrong with the picture that Kevin Trenberth (and others) have been painting (besides the fact that they don’t seem to have looked at actual flood data)? An increase in atmospheric water vapor associated with warmer temperatures doesn’t necessarily increase rainfall nor is it necessary that an increase in rainfall is distributed spatiotemporally to produce increased floods. It seems that whatever signal that might be found for an increase in floods from global warming is swamped by changes in land use and river engineering.


NASA Data Pit Scientific Method Against Climate Astrology

The Scientific Method is a beautiful thing. By requiring that scientific hypotheses be testable and subject to objective verification, the Scientific Method distinguishes the pursuit of objective knowledge (science) from faith-based principles and circular logic. The Scientific Method was instrumental in pulling Western Civilization out of the Dark Ages. Yet 1,000 years later, regarding one of the most scientifically and politically important issues of modern times, the Scientific Method is being sacrificed on the altar of Climate Astrology.

The Scientific Method is simple and straightforward. If you formulate a hypothesis, make predictions according to that hypothesis, and then identify facts or results that would objectively disprove the hypothesis, you are practicing science. If you leave out any of these steps, and most importantly if you leave out the final step, you are not practicing science.

To qualify as science, the scientist who formulates a hypothesis must as rigorously as possible test the hypothesis. Moreover, he or she must welcome and encourage other scientists to rigorously test the hypothesis as well. If the hypothesis fails, this is not a discredit to the scientist who formed the hypothesis. To the contrary, scientific knowledge advances because scientists are able to narrow the list of potential hypotheses that may be true.

The Scientific Method was in full display last week when the peer-reviewed science journal Remote Sensing published the results of an important study conducted by Dr. Roy Spencer, a principal research scientist at the University of Alabama in Huntsville and U.S. Science Team Leader for the Advanced Microwave Scanning Radiometer flying on NASA’s Aqua satellite. With access to NASA satellite data measuring the amount of heat escaping the earth’s atmosphere into space, Spencer compared the NASA satellite data to the amount of heat loss predicted by computer models relied upon by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in support of IPCC’s assertion that humans are causing a global warming crisis. Spencer found that the NASA satellite data reveal more heat is escaping into space than IPCC computer models have predicted.

Spencer’s discovery confirms prior heat-loss data reported by another set of NASA satellite instruments. Together, the NASA satellite instruments provide a 25-year record of real-world atmospheric conditions contradicting IPCC computer model predictions.

According to the Scientific Method, when real-world facts contradict a postulated hypothesis, the hypothesis fails. In this case, the failure of IPCC computer models to accurately predict atmospheric heat loss provided strong evidence that the IPCC computer models are based on faulty assumptions.

Rather than celebrating the advancement of knowledge provided by the NASA data and Spencer’s study, government employee “scientists” with a dog in the global warming fight viciously attacked Spencer and chastised the media for reporting this important scientific discovery.

Gavin Schmidt, a vigorous champion of the IPCC computer models and a government employee at NASA’s Goddard Institute (in a different branch of NASA than Spencer), protested the attention given to the NASA data by telling the press, “Climate sensitivity is not constrained by the last two decades of imperfect satellite data.”

This is a truly remarkable statement. Schmidt would have us believe that when 25 years of objective NASA satellite data contradict IPCC computer model predictions, we are supposed to ignore the real-world data and believe the discredited computer models instead. What are we supposed to do, pretend that the laws of physics have gone on a 25-year vacation?

Schmidt’s comments to the press are illustrative of a person whose taxpayer-funded paycheck is dependent upon the continuation of a failed global warming hypothesis. So long as the federal government operates under the assumption that we must study and address dangerous global warming, Schmidt’s job is secure. On the other hand, when scientists like Dr. Spencer report objective facts that falsify key components of global warming predictions, Schmidt’s government-provided paycheck is jeopardized and Schmidt lashes out.

Schmidt’s attempted denial of the NASA satellite facts is merely another example of global warming activists promoting faith-based principles and circular logic in contradiction of the Scientific Method. When it rains a lot, we are told this proves humans are creating a global warming crisis. When it doesn’t rain a lot, we are told this, too, proves humans are creating a global warming crisis. When temperatures are hot, we are told this proves humans are creating a global warming crisis. When temperatures are cold, we are told this, too, proves humans are creating a global warming crisis. In short, global warming activists have presented a theory for which they identify no set of facts or circumstances that could possibly disprove their theory – not even 25 years of objective NASA satellite data that directly contradict what their computer models say should be happening.

The faith-based circular logic of Schmidt and other global warming activists may be a lot of things, but it is not science. Some have described it as religion, but that is doing a disservice to religion. Religion dictates that when a self-professed prophet’s predictions fail to come true, that person is identified as a false prophet.

A more accurate description of the factual denial practiced by Schmidt regarding the NASA satellite data is Climate Astrology. Astrologers, after all, make all sorts of vague predictions such that anything that later occurs can be alleged to have been predicted in advance. “This could be the moment to take a relationship one stage further” is to National Enquirer astrology what “the null hypothesis should be that all weather events are affected by global warming” is to Climate Astrology. Ironically, Kevin Trenberth, the same government employee “ scientist” who said “the null hypothesis should be that all weather events are affected by global warming” is the same government employee who lashed out against the Spencer-reported NASA satellite data by telling the press, “I cannot believe it got published.”

Jeane Dixon famously spent decades making astrology predictions in the pages of the National Enquirer. Many of Dixon’s astrological predictions were so vague that they could not be disproven. For the astrology predictions that could be objectively compared to real-world events, most were proven false. Roy Spencer’s study of NASA satellite data was deservingly published in the peer-reviewed science journal Remote Sensing. Look for Schmidt and Trenberth’s Climate Astrology to soon appear in the pages of National Enquirer.



Severe storms along the French Mediterranean coast were more frequent during the cold climate of the Little Ice Age than during the warmer climate of the Medieval Warm Period, reports a paper presented at a July conference held by the International Union for Quaternary Research. The paper reconstructed 7,000 years of storm activity and found an “increase in storm activity” during the Little Ice Age, “Whereas the Medieval Warm Period is characterized by a low storm activity.”
Increase of storm events during the Holocene cold events in NW Mediterranean Sea

Sabatier, Pierre et al


This paper present a high resolution record of paleostorm events in the French Mediterrannean coast over the past 7000 years based on a long sediment core from lagoonal environment in Gulf of Lions. Using a multi-proxies approach on core associating grain size, faunal analysis, with a chronology derived from radiocarbon dates, we reconstruct Mid to Late Holocene history of backbarrier deposits in relation to landfalling activity. Even if change in lagoon geomorphological setting over the Holocene does not allow to compare storm events in terms of intensity trough time, we have recorded seven periods of increase in storm activity at 6200, 5400, 4600-4200, 3600-3100, 2600, 1900-1500 yr cal B.P. and over the Little Ice Age (450 and 50 yr cal B.P.). Whereas the Medieval Warm Period (1200-700 yr cal B.P.) is characterized by a low storm activity. These evidences of changes in coastal hydrodynamic are in phase with those observed over the North Atlantic and correspond to Holocene cooling evidenced associated to decreases of SST in the North Atlantic. These periods of low SST observed in North Atlantic can produce a stronger meridional temperature gradient and a southward position of the westerlies during these periods. We hypothesize here that this increase in storm activity during Holocene cold events over the North Atlantic and Mediterranean region was probably due to thermal gradient increase leading to enhanced lower tropospheric baroclinicity over a large Central Atlantic-European domain. These results demonstrate that North Atlantic region influence the Mediterranean climate at Holocene timescale, in relation to severe storm activity


Australia: Federal "Green" attack on big houses

This will have no effect, contrary to the hot air below. People who can afford a big house will not balk at a couple of hundred dollars for another useless bit of paper and nor will they be much motivated to save on energy costs. If they were real Greenies they would be buying a small house, to reduce their "footprint".

And calling big houses "McMansions" is just empty-headed abuse. "McMansions" originally referred to houses that all looked much alike but the bigger a house is, the more likely an architect will have been involved in its design. The term also reflects a contempt for popular design features, which is just snobbery

A NEW green scheme threatens to wipe tens of thousands of dollars from the market price of so-called "McMansions".

The Federal Government aims to introduce, by as soon as next year, mandatory energy star ratings for homes being sold or rented out. Under the favoured system, vendors and landlords would have to pay about $200 to have their property assessed, with a total cost to homeowners and property investors of $1.1 billion over the next 10 years.

Housing experts said most McMansions would score very poorly on the ratings system, which would be similar to the methodology used to identify the energy efficiency of whitegoods.

Mick Fabar, director of private energy-ratings firm Green Homes Australia, said: "Through our experience with our rating tool, those two-storey McMansions would not get over zero."

There are significant financial implications for owners of these homes - and most older dwellings which are also likely to rate lowly. Owners would need to either spend up on going green or face the prospect of a lower sale price.

A Federal Government study into a similar ACT scheme operating since 1999, which rates properties out of 10 stars, found that a 1-star difference affected selling prices by 3 per cent.

Asked whether the scheme would have a negative effect on the sale price of some homes, a spokeswoman for Climate Change and Energy Efficiency Minister Greg Combet said: "It will allow buyers and renters to better compare different properties, making it easier to identify a property which uses less energy or water and thereby save money."

But the Federal Opposition's spokesman for climate action, environment and heritage, Greg Hunt, said such a scheme would create "enormous uncertainty".

"It could push up the cost of rent for people just when they are feeling cost-of-living pressures," Mr Hunt said. "It's another cost imposed on people from the Government."

The new federal system is expected to replace the Bligh Government's so-called Sustainability Declaration which was introduced in 2009. Under the scheme, sellers were meant to sign a form detailing their home's energy-efficient features. But the property industry complained the forms were too complex and buyers were not interested in the information.



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