Friday, August 31, 2012

An economist who exposes his gullibility about climate

The emission below by economist Robert Frank appeared recently in the NYT. Looking at today's NYT coverage of the GOP convention, nobody could mistake the NYT for objective but perhaps the nonsense deserves some reply nonetheless.

It is quite amusing to note the evidence Prof. Frank puts forward for his assertions: It is what "many climate scientists" say. What a pathetic argument! An 11 year old could have done as well. If Prof. Frank is the best Cornell can do, he is a sad reflection of its decayed intellectual standards

Martin Herzberg has sent the NYT a reply to their bit of propaganda but you can be sure that it will not be published. I therefore reproduce it following Prof. Frank's ruminations -- JR

DON'T expect to hear much about climate change at the Republican and Democratic conventions. Yes, there will be plenty of speeches about unemployment, budget deficits and other immediate problems. But the threats posed by global warming are decades away - or so we have been told repeatedly in recent years.

Many climate scientists, however, are now pointing to evidence linking rising global temperatures to the extreme weather we're seeing around the planet. The United States has just endured its hottest 12-month period on record. The worst drought in a generation has parched the nation's crop belt. Floods that happened once a century now occur every few years.

With distressing images of weather-related disasters saturating the news media, climate change no longer seems such a distant and abstract worry - except, perhaps, in Washington. In 2009, President Obama persuaded House Democrats, then in the majority, to pass a bill aimed at curbing greenhouse gas emissions. Facing a Republican filibuster in the Senate, however, the legislation died. And its prospects dimmed further when Republicans took control of the House in 2010. Mr. Obama has remained relatively silent on the issue since then.

Mitt Romney, for his part, has been equivocal about whether rising temperatures are caused by human action. But he has been adamant that uncertainty about climate change rules out policy intervention. "What I'm not willing to do," he told an audience in New Hampshire last summer, "is spend trillions of dollars on something I don't know the answer to."

Climatologists are the first to acknowledge that theirs is a highly uncertain science. The future might be better than they think. Then again, it might be much worse. Given that risk, policy makers must weigh the potential cost of action against the potential cost of inaction. And even a cursory look at the numbers makes a compelling case for action.

According to the respected [Respected by whom? Instead of invoking its respect, might we have some summary of its track-record of prediction?] M.I.T. global climate simulation model, there is a 10 percent chance that average surface temperatures will rise by more than 12 degrees Fahrenheit by 2100. Warming on that scale could end life as we know it. Smaller increases would be less catastrophic, but even the most optimistic projections imply enormous costs.

The good news is that we could insulate ourselves from catastrophic risk at relatively modest cost by enacting a steep carbon tax. Early studies by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change estimated that a carbon tax of up to $80 per metric ton of emissions - a tax that might raise gasoline prices by 70 cents a gallon - would eventually result in climate stability. But because recent estimates about global warming have become more pessimistic, stabilization may require a much higher tax. How hard would it be to live with a tax of, say, $300 a ton?

If such a tax were phased in, the prices of goods would rise gradually in proportion to the amount of carbon dioxide their production or use entailed. The price of gasoline, for example, would slowly rise by somewhat less than $3 a gallon. Motorists in many countries already pay that much more than Americans do, and they seem to have adapted by driving substantially more efficient vehicles.

A carbon tax would also serve two other goals. First, it would help balance future budgets. Tens of millions of Americans are set to retire in the next decades, and, as a result, many budget experts agree that federal budgets simply can't be balanced with spending cuts alone. We'll also need substantial additional revenue, most of which could be generated by a carbon tax.

If new taxes are unavoidable, why not adopt ones that not only help balance the budget but also help make the economy more efficient? By reducing harmful emissions, a carbon tax fits that description.

A second benefit would occur if a carbon tax were approved today but phased in gradually, only after the economy had returned to full employment. High unemployment persists in part because businesses, sitting on mountains of cash, aren't investing it because their current capacity already lets them produce more than people want to buy. News that a carbon tax was coming would create a stampede to develop energy-saving technologies. Hundreds of billions of dollars of private investment might be unleashed without adding a cent to the budget deficit.

SOME people argue that a carbon tax would do little good unless it were also adopted by China and other big polluters. It's a fair point. But access to the American market is a potent bargaining chip. The United States could seek approval to tax imported goods in proportion to their carbon dioxide emissions if exporting countries failed to enact carbon taxes at home.

In short, global warming has a fairly simple and cheap technical solution [to a non-existent problem]. Extreme weather is already creating enormous human suffering. If it continues, politicians will have a hard time ignoring the problem when the 2016 conventions roll around. If the recent meteorological chaos drives home the threat of climate change and prompts action, it may ultimately be a blessing in disguise.


Covering letter to NYT from Dr. Martin Hertzberg

If Prof. Frank had done his science homework by researching the totality of the climatological data rather than regurgitating the cherry-picked, fear mongering hysteria of environmental lobbyists, he would have realized that a carbon tax will have no effect either on atmospheric CO2 or the weather.

His "hottest 12 month period of record" in the US was accompanied by average global temperatures that were quite normal. Blocking high pressures are quite common during the warmer months. They give cloudless skies when the Sun is nearest to Zenith, descending air which is adiabatically heated and dried, giving heat waves and droughts. They are quite common and have nothing to do with atmospheric CO2. The recent one in the U S was rather mild compared to the ones in the mid 1930's that gave us the "dust bowl" at a time when human CO2 emission was much lower than it is today.

So in case the Times is really interested in presenting an accurate analysis rather than aiding and abetting one of the greatest frauds in the history of science, I have attached an article for your consideration, in the hope that you will at least begin to set the record straight on this issue.

Enclosure from Dr. Herzberg

The Lynching of Carbon Dioxide

I served as a forecasting and research meteorologist while on active duty with the U. S. Navy. It was then that I first learned what climatologists and meteorologists have known for centuries and what the current crop of so-called "climate scientists" and EPA administrators apparently never learned: that weather and climate are controlled by natural laws on an enormous scale that dwarfs human activity. Those laws engender forces and motions in our atmosphere and oceans that are beyond human control. Weather and climate existed long before humans appeared on Earth, and will continue to exist in the same way long after we are gone.

Those forces and motions are driven by the following: First, the motions of the Earth relative to the Sun: the periodic changes in its elliptical orbit, its rotation about its polar axis, changes in the tilt of that axis, and the precession of that axis. Second, the variation in solar activity that influences the radiant energy reaching the Earth and modulates cosmic ray activity which controls cloudiness. Third, the distribution of land and water on the Earth's surface; which controls its temperature distribution, moisture availability, monsoon effects, hurricanes, and other storm tracks. Fourth, the topography of the Earth's surface which causes copious precipitation on the windward side of mountains and aridity on the leeward side. Fifth, the fluid motions within the Earth's oceans that determine moisture availability and ocean surface temperatures (El Nino and La Nina cycles).

Water in all of its forms is the main agent through which those forces operate. It provides vapor in the atmosphere, heat transport by evaporation and condensation, and the enormous, circulating mass of the ocean whose heat capacity dominates. And finally it provides the cloud, snow, and ice cover that control the radiative balance between the Sun, the Earth, and free space.

While the presence of 0.04 % of CO2 in our atmosphere is essential for life in the biosphere, the notion that such a minor constituent of the atmosphere can control the above forces and motions, is absurd. There is not one iota of reliable evidence that it does. Furthermore, human emission of CO2 is but a trivial fraction of all natural sources and sinks of CO2. Human emission dissolves rapidly into the ocean and re-circulates within it. The ocean contains 50 times more dissolved CO2 than is contained in the atmosphere. The current small measured increase in CO2 is coming from the oceans: the same place CO2 changes came from during the 400,000 years shown in the Vostok ice-core data. That data show four glacial coolings each followed by an interglacial warming with atmospheric CO2 concentrations near their highest during the warmings and near their lowest during the coolings.

In all cases, however, the temperature changes precede the CO2 changes by about 500 - 1,000 years. Each glacial cooling and interglacial warming cycle has a period of about 100,000 years, which corresponds to the periodic changes in the Earth's elliptical orbit about the sun. Those increases and decreases in atmospheric CO2 occurred long before any significant human emission of CO2. And furthermore, the fact that they were preceded by the temperature changes means that the temperature changes are causing the CO2 changes and not the reverse. As oceans warm, they emit CO2, and as they cool they absorb it. Bubbles of CO2 are emitted from cold soda as it is poured into a warm glass, and soda is produced by dissolving CO2 into cold water.

When initially formulated by the Anthropogenic Global Warming advocates, their theory argued that greenhouse gases kept the Earth's surface warm by absorbing its infrared energy and then radiating it back down to the Earth below. Greenhouse gases were thus "heat trapping" gases. Originally, that was supposed to cause "global warming". But there has been no global warming for the last 10 years despite the increase in atmospheric CO2. So global warming morphed into "climate change", but climate is always changing. So it then morphed into "extreme weather events" which really catches people's attention. The latest projected catastrophe is "ocean acidification", although the ocean is about 100 times more basic than it is acidic, and that even a doubling of the CO2 concentration will have a trivial effect on its basicity.

The latest modification to the theory argues that by its infrared absorption, CO2 "blocks the Earth's natural cooling". The proponents of that theory seem to have forgotten Kirchhoff's fundamental law of radiation. A strong absorber of radiation is also a strong emitter of that radiation. Hence atmospheric CO2 emits as strongly as it absorbs. None of that emission from the colder CO2 in the atmosphere can go back to the warmer Earth's surface below (2nd law of thermodynamics). The only place where it can go is to the void of free space above the atmosphere. Thus atmospheric CO2 blocks nothing but simply continues that natural cooling.

All of the believers in human caused "global warming" seem to see something "unprecedented" in the recent changes in temperature. But all recent changes are well within the normal range of variability, and recent small temperature excursions have been matched or exceeded many times in the past: the Medieval Warm Period, the Roman Warm Period, the Minoan Warm Period, the Holocene Warming, and all the major interglacial warmings that preceded them as shown in the Vostok data. They all occurred without any significant human emission of CO2.

The catastrophe that the global warming advocates project may indeed be realized, but only if we are stupid enough to implement draconian measures of "carbon control" based on the fraudulent theory that they espouse.

Warmists are clinging like drowning men to the "Arctic Ice Hits Record Low!" claim

Here are a couple of graphs that would disturb them if they were open to reason

SOUTHERN hemisphere ice is ABOVE average. So whatever is going on it is not GLOBAL warming. And there is far more ice in the Antarctic than in the Arctic so it is the Southern ice that really matters

Completely contrary to the NSDIC claims, Britain's Met. office shows the Artic ice as recovering

SOURCE (See the original for links)

Gore: Don't blame Bush for everything, then blames global warming for everything

The snow is on Big Al's hair but there is no snow in his mind -- too much hot air for that

Former Vice President Al Gore spoke on his cable station, Current TV, about the RNC in Tampa, why Democrats shouldn't blame George W. Bush for everything, and of course his favorite bugaboo, global warming, which he then proceeds to blame for, well, everything. The following are some choice excerpts made by Gore during the RNC coverage, and then the facts:

Gore: "Global warming is real and they refuse to connect those dots. We have the whole country suffering from this massive drought."

Fact: Texas has been particularly hard hit by drought. Source

Gore: "West Nile Virus is directly connected to the conditions that global warming has made worse."

Fact: CDC officials estimate that, based on current numbers, the final tally of overall U.S. cases will likely be similar to the number of cases seen in 2002 and 2003, two of the more cooler years of the past 11. Texas has been hardest hit, with 783 reported cases. CDC officials said floods and hurricanes do not increase transmission rates. A person gets infected by a mosquito bite. Mosquitoes need water to lay eggs. Source

Gore: "The whole North polar ice cap is disappearing in front of our eyes."

Fact: Other sources show no record low Arctic ice extent.

Gore: "Twelve massive million-dollar-plus climate-related disasters and they keep coming."

Fact: Quietest tornado summer on record. Quietest hurricane summer on record. Quietest long-term hurricane period since the Civil War. No global warming for 16 years. No change in sea-level-rise rates. Record cold in the Midwest. Average fire season. A cyclical drought affecting portions of the country. Source

Gore: "They [Republicans] aren't only doing nothing about it, there's hardly any discussion about [global warming pollution]. It drives me crazy."

Fact: CO2 is not a pollutant. Without it, all vegetation on Earth would cease to exist. Global warming is still a theory. It has been disproven as the cause of natural, cyclic climate change by over 1,100 peer-reviewed papers. As for Al Gore's state of mind, we leave that up to the reader to decide.

SOURCE (See the original for links)

Obama sets target of 54.5 mpg by 2025

"A week is a long time in politics" and 2025 is another planet -- so this is just hot air, global warming almost. Americans are not going to consent to driving around in eggshells

US vehicle fleets will need to average 54.5 miles per gallon beginning in 2025, about double the level today and one automakers had for years declared was impossible, according to new fuel-efficiency standards set Tuesday by the Obama administration.

The new standards - endorsed by automakers as facilitating long-term planning and lauded by environmentalists as leading toward a cleaner energy future - were nevertheless deplored by some Republicans in Congress as burdensome.

As part of its program to improve fuel economy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the administration previously set a goal of 35.5 miles per gallon by 2016.

Tuesday's move vaults the energy-saving engine technology bar yet again for automakers - and for individual consumers, who are projected to save thousands of dollars at the gas pump on their way to cutting US oil consumption by about 700 million barrels per year.

"The Auto Alliance has called for a single, national program because conflicting requirements from several regulatory bodies raise costs, ultimately taking money out of consumers' pockets and hurting sales," the group of 13 major automakers - including Ford, GM, Chrysler, BMW, Honda, Hyundai, Jaguar/Land Rover, Kia, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Toyota, and Volvo - said in a statement. "We all want to get more fuel-efficient autos on our roads, and a single, national program with a strong midterm review helps us get closer to that shared goal."

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson, whose agencies tightly coordinated to arrive at achievable pollution and fuel-reduction numbers that the automakers could live with, announced the mileage standards at a press conference.


Warming far from global -- it didn't even happen in Virginia

Some serious "negligence" about the data is evident

NOAA recently announced that July 2012 was the hottest month on record for the CONUS. As the above map shows, though, only Virginia actually broke the state record for July, logging up 79.0F, beating the previous record set in July 1934 of 78.6F. Or, at least, that's what NOAA tell us, but what do the thermometers say?


There are nineteen USHCN stations in Virginia. NOAA tell us :-

"The USHCN is actually a designated subset of the NOAA Cooperative Observer Program (COOP) Network the USHCN sites having been selected according to their spatial coverage, record length, data completeness, and historical stability."

In other words they are picked as being robust and reliable. Out of the nineteen, only thirteen have records back to 1934 and these are listed below with comparisons of this year's temperatures with those of July 1934. The temperatures shown are the actual original readings, and not adjusted, homogenised or otherwise tampered with! (The original handwritten/typed monthly records for these can be accessed on the USHCN site here).

As can be seen, only three stations out of the thirteen show this year as being warmer. You will also note that I have indicated the climatological division for each station. There are six such divisions for Virginia, as listed below, so all divisions are represented.

So how can we explain the difference between NOAA's figures and the evidence from the USHCN stations?

As Anthony Watts has often complained, NOAA seem to be very reluctant to divulge how they operate. We do, however, know how the current temperatures are worked out.There are 124 stations in Virginia, split into the six divisions, with a simple average taken of the set of stations in each division. The divisions, as previously noted, are then weighted to give a statewide figure.

The real mystery, though, is how they arrive at the 1934 number. There are State Climatological Reports available from then, but no direct comparison can be made with current ones because there were less stations then and they were allocated to only three divisions instead of six. Also the majority of stations reporting in 1934 no longer report now. (For interest, the State temperature given at the time for July 1934 was 78.8F, i.e. 0.2F higher than now shown).

When I asked Deke Arndt of NOAA how they calculated the temperatures for 1934, he seemed as confused as me!

So it would appear the temperatures that NOAA now declare for 1934 are no more than a "theoretical reconstruction". But without the transparency to show how this has been done, how can we have any confidence that it has been done properly. There is a potential discrepancy of 0.6F in Virginia; if this is extended across the whole country, it would destroy the claim that this July was the hottest month on record as July 1936 was only 0.13F cooler on NOAA's record. Indeed this would only the 5th warmest July in the CONUS.

So here's my challenge for NOAA. Prove me wrong. Prove that the USHCN station analysis is not giving the true picture. Show how you come to the conclusions you do and prove that they are correct.

More HERE (See the original for links, graphics)

Merkel's Green Shift Forces Germany to Burn More of that hated Coal

Even (gasp!) the terminally awful (but cheap) brown coal (lignite)

Chancellor Angela Merkel's government says RWE AG (RWE)'s new power plant that can supply 3.4 million homes aids her plan to exit nuclear energy and switch to cleaner forms of generation. It's fired with coal.

The startup of the 2,200-megawatt station near Cologne last week shows how Europe's largest economy is relying more on the most-polluting fuel. Coal consumption has risen 4.9 percent since Merkel announced a plan to start shutting the country's atomic reactors after last year's Fukushima disaster in Japan.
Enlarge image Merkel's Green Shift Forces Germany to Burn More Coal

Germany's largest utilities RWE and EON AG (EOAN) are shunning cleaner-burning natural gas because it's more costly, while the collapsing cost of carbon permits means there's little penalty for burning coal. Wind and solar projects, central to Germany's plans to reduce nuclear energy and cut the release of heat- trapping gases, can't produce electricity around the clock.

Germany's increasing coal consumption is part of a global return to the fossil fuel that's cheaper than most alternatives. The amount of coal burned worldwide rose 5.4 percent to account for 30 percent of total energy use last year, the highest proportion since 1969, according to BP Plc (BP/) data.

European Union carbon emissions may rise 43 million metric tons this year because of increased coal burning at power stations, according to Barclays Plc analyst Trevor Sikorski.

"Lignite is the lowest-priced type of power generation and thus increasingly stormed the market," Martin Pack, an RWE spokesman, said by phone from Essen, referring to a type of soft coal that dominates RWE's consumption of the fuel.

EON generated 10 percent more electricity from burning coal in the first half than in the same period a year ago. RWE's coal-fired power output in Germany rose by 12 percent in the same period. Reliance on coal may continue to increase after Statkraft SF shuttered its gas-fired plant in Emden in March and EON and RWE warned they may mothball generators that lose money.

Merkel's government wants utilities to build 10,000 megawatts of coal- and gas-fired generators this decade to replace older, dirtier generators and underpin a growing share for wind turbines and solar panels.

Building new coal generators in Germany isn't easy. A group of local utilities last month scrapped plans to spend 3.2 billion euros to construct the nation's biggest hard-coal plant in Schleswig-Holstein after resistance from environment groups and the state government led by the Social Democratic Party and Green Party.

The Greens, Germany's second-biggest opposition group, are against building new coal plants and favor gas ahead of Germany's federal elections scheduled for the fall of 2013, when Merkel seeks to win a third term as chancellor.

The so-called BoA coal plant near Cologne shows how new fossil fuel plants, which are more efficient than their older models, "not only help to reduce carbon emissions but can also make an outstanding contribution to the success of the energy industry's transformation," Environment Minister Peter Altmaier, who was present at the plant's opening last week, said in a statement distributed by RWE.

RWE says coal plants are key to ensuring supply security as Germany raises the market share of renewable generation to at least 35 percent by the end of the decade, and to 80 percent by 2050. BoA, which has an efficiency of 43 percent, can raise or lower output by 500 megawatts per unit within 15 minutes, Peter Terium, RWE's CEO, told reporters in a call on Aug. 14.

It can "step in immediately when the wind is not blowing or the sun is not shining," Terium said. Like most power plants in Germany, BoA burns lignite, a soft coal that's sourced from domestic open-cast strip mines and emits about 29 percent more carbon dioxide than hard coal when burned. Environmental groups are concerned about the growing use of the fuel.

"It's very alarming that leading German politicians praise a plant run on lignite," Gerald Neubauer, a Greenpeace campaigner in Germany focusing on energy issues, said by phone on Aug. 16. "Burning lignite spews more carbon dioxide than using most other energy sources, and mining it inflicts major damage on the environment."



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Thursday, August 30, 2012

Must not report climate findings without mentioning global warming

In the newspaper report below you will see various mentions of the global warming faith interspersed with some actual research findings. If you look up the actual findings however (Abstract below) you will see that they actually had no data on global warming at all. All they had was inferred data on rainfall derived from Antarctic ice cores covering the last 1000 years.

And what they found was that the climate 1000 years ago was much the same as today, with a slightly rainier period in between. That proves global warming? I would have thought the opposite. One thing it does prove is that you have to bow down before the great Moloch of global warming if you want to do research into climate

NEW research by Antarctic scientists has found the century-long decline in rainfall in eastern Australia is far from a usual event.

Researchers used ice cores drilled from Antarctica to analyse rainfall during the past 1000 years.

They found we are living in drier than average times, in all likelihood because of climate change caused by human activity.

Significantly, though, they also found a similar dry spell in the years 1000-1260 AD.

"There's a bit of research in eastern Australia going on that suggests that rainfall in eastern Australia is declining, probably since the 50s," says glaciologist Dr Tessa Vance, part of a team whose findings have been published in the Journal of Climate.

"But it's a bit hard to tell with short records.

"So this record now says we've got this decline, but it's not only unusual in the last few decades, it's unusual in the last thousand years."

The ice cores contain traces of sea salts deposited by winds in eastern Antarctica that provide the longest rainfall record yet for eastern Australia.

The team, from the Antarctic Climate and Ecosystems Cooperative Research Centre and the Australian Antarctic Division, attributes both dry spells to stronger or more frequent El Nino events, the cyclic dry that affects eastern Australia every few years.

But that doesn't mean the decline in rainfall over the past century is purely a natural phenomenon.

"There's other research going on that suggests that not only do El Ninos bring hotter years - so possibly there's a temperature link in one direction - but maybe hotter temperatures give you more El Ninos as well," Dr Vance said.

"We know this current period is being warmed by humans.

"So if that's having an effect on the frequency of El Ninos or the strength of them, then it's definitely leading to a drier eastern Australia."

The team plans to extend the research back at least another thousand years to provide a historical model for climate scientists.

Journal of Climate 2012
A millennial proxy record of ENSO and eastern Australian rainfall from the Law Dome ice core, East Antarctica

By Tessa R. Vance et al.


ENSO causes climate extremes across and beyond the Pacific Basin, however evidence of ENSO at high southern latitudes is generally restricted to the South Pacific and West Antarctica. Here we report a statistically significant link between ENSO and sea salt deposition during summer from the Law Dome (LD) ice core in East Antarctica. ENSO-related atmospheric anomalies from the central-western Equatorial Pacific (CWEP) propagate to the South Pacific and the circumpolar high latitudes. These anomalies modulate high latitude zonal winds, with El Niño (La Niña) conditions causing reduced (enhanced) zonal wind speeds and subsequently, reduced (enhanced) summer sea salt deposition at LD. Over the last 1010 years, the LD summer sea salt (LDSSS) record has exhibited two below average (El Niño-like) epochs, 1000-1260 AD and 1920-2009 AD, and a longer above average (La Niña-like) epoch from 1260-1860 AD. Spectral analysis shows the below average epochs are associated with enhanced ENSO-like variability around 2-5 years, while the above average epoch is associated more with variability around 6-7 years. The LDSSS record is also significantly correlated with annual rainfall in eastern mainland Australia. While the correlation displays decadal-scale variability similar to changes in the Interdecadal Pacific Oscillation (IPO), the LDSSS record suggests rainfall in the modern instrumental era (1910-2009 AD) is below the long-term average. In addition, recent rainfall declines in some regions of eastern and south-eastern Australia appear to be mirrored by a downward trend in the LDSSS record, suggesting current rainfall regimes are unusual though not unknown over the last millennium.


Brand-new skeptical movie just out

It's good. View it here

Israel not taken in by solar fantasies

Israel has developed some of the world's most advanced solar energy equipment and enjoys a nearly endless supply of sunshine, but when it comes to deploying large-scale solar technology at home, the country remains in the dark ages.

Solar power provides just a tiny percentage of Israel's energy needs, leaving it far behind colder, cloudier counterparts in Europe. Israeli solar companies, frustrated by government bureaucracy, have taken their expertise abroad. Industry leaders such as Germany and Italy have outpaced Israel in solar development, despite having fewer sunny days and less powerful sunrays. The Germans, for instance, generate nearly 12 times as much solar power per capita as their Israeli counterparts, according to official statistics from both countries.

One of the biggest complaints by Israeli solar companies is the bureaucracy. Smadar Bat-Adam, chief of staff for Israel's Energy and Water Resources Ministry, acknowledged that red tape has been an issue. But she targets set years ago to ramp up solar power were overly ambitious. Israel is on track to reach its 2020 benchmark of generating 10 percent of its electricity needs from renewable sources, she said.


Solyndra backers could reap big tax breaks

Two investment firms could walk away from the bankruptcy of solar panel maker Solyndra LLC with hundreds of millions of dollars in future tax breaks, the U.S. government said in court papers seeking more information on the arrangement.

Units of Argonaut Ventures and Madrone Partners could end up with "significantly more" than $500 million in tax benefits as part of Solyndra's bankruptcy, the Department of Energy and the Internal Revenue Service said in a bankruptcy court filing on Friday.
Under the bankruptcy plan, the U.S. government is unlikely to recoup much of its $528 million loan to Solyndra.

The government agencies asked the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Wilmington, Delaware, to reject Solyndra's "disclosure statement," which describes its plan to repay creditors, unless the company provides more details on the tax benefits.

Under the proposed plan, tax benefits such as "net operating losses" would be preserved for Argonaut, which is controlled by a foundation linked to billionaire George Kaiser, and Madrone. Under a 2011 restructuring, the two firms committed to investing $75 million to keep Solyndra afloat with the condition they would be repaid before the U.S. government.


Dark clouds gather over China's once-booming solar industry

China's push into solar energy was supposed to be a proud example of how the country was advancing into hi-tech manufacturing. But now the whole sector is on the brink of bankruptcy.

Two years ago, LDK Solar, one of China's largest solar panel makers, built a new, state-of-the-art factory in the central city of Hefei.

It sits in one of the city's industrial parks, a big LDK Solar logo on its wall, with the New York-listed company's slogan underneath: "Lighting the Future".

"It cost 2.5 billion yuan (£250m) to build, the majority of the equipment was imported from Germany, and it hired 5,000 staff," said Jie Xiaoming, a 30-year-old who works at the plant's quality control and packaging department.

Last month, however, 4,500 of the staff were put on gardening leave. They receive 700 yuan a month to stay at home. The factory has shut down 24 of its 32 production lines.

"There do not seem to be any orders. People are still turning up for work, but mostly just sleeping. The management has not said much, just that the United States has a new policy that is stopping our exports," said Mr Jie.

Since it was set up in 2005, LDK Solar, along with several other Chinese solar panel makers, has enjoyed heady growth. Solar power, along with biotechnology and aerospace, was declared a "strategic emerging industry" and was given grants and low-cost loans.

It funnelled the cheap credit into an aggressive expansion, hoping to provide an entire industry chain of products and services.

Meanwhile, in Europe and the US, governments provided subsidies to buy Chinese-made panels as part of commitments to boost renewable energy.

But the incentives created a glut of suppliers, and since 2010, the price of polysilicon wafers has fallen by nearly three-quarters. The price is now below the production cost - in the latest quarter, LDK Solar's gross margin was -65.5pc.

Meanwhile, the debt crisis in Europe has cut government subsidies to the sector and the US imposed a 31pc tariff in May on Chinese wafers, complaining that manufacturers were being underwritten by the government.

In July a group of 25 European solar companies followed suit, filing an anti-dumping complaint with the European Union.

At the same time, the quality of the solar equipment being made by Chinese companies, even by the biggest companies, is often not export-grade.

While the Chinese government has promised to hugely increase its purchases of solar panels, there is a significant excess capacity in the domestic market that has kept prices low.

China's big five firms are all reporting disastrous trading and heavily indebted balance sheets. At the end of the first quarter, JA Solar listed debt and liabilities of $1.5 billion, Trina Solar had debts of $1.08 billion, and Yingli had debts of $3.44 billion.

Suntech, once held up as a model company, could have to pay $690m in collateral related to a possible fraud, and it also has a $541m convertible bond payment in early 2013. Its total debts are $3.58 billion.

In the first quarter, LDK lost $185.2m as sales dropped by nearly 75pc. "When they came to remove staff, they simply chose a percentage who would remain," said another worker outside the Hefei plant, who declined to be named. "The whole industry is doing badly, and LDK also had a strategy problem. There is no point in worrying now. It is simply a matter of time before the factory closes. I give it a maximum of six months," he said.

For the time being, the Chinese government is determined to keep LDK alive. The authorities in Xinyu, where it is headquartered, have announced they will roll 500 million yuan of the company's debts into their annual budget.

A bank official told Caixin, a Chinese magazine, that Xinyu government had set aside a total of 2 billion yuan to bail out the firm. Government officials, who boasted that they wanted to turn Xinyu into a "silicon town", are desperate not to lose face. But so far LDK is rumoured to have laid off 10,000 workers and defaulted on payments of around 600 million yuan to 20 suppliers, according to Caixin.

"I don’t think we will close though. I think the worst situation we will be sold," said Mr Jie. "Apparently Sharp is interested."

Sharp's interest is unclear, and so far there has been no queue of buyers. Jiangxi Copper Corporation was rumoured to be a possible bidder, on the orders of the local government, but Pan Qifang, secretary of its board of directors, summed up the general wariness of the market: "Our company is not familiar with the solar industry, so we cannot rush into it," he said.


While Europe Dithers, Shale Boom Spreads To Russia

The use of horizontal drilling will grow faster in Russia than in the United States, where it is helping to drive a boom in shale oil and gas, the chief executive of Eurasia Drilling said.

“Growth in the U.S. will not be so huge as the growth of horizontal drilling in Russia,” Alexander Djaparidze, who helped found the company in a buyout of LUKoil’s drilling assets, said in an interview.

In the space of last year, Eurasia Drilling, which acquired Schlumberger’s Russian drilling assets in April 2011, reported that horizontal drilling doubled from 2010 to nearly 900,000 meters.

This year it has told investors it will increase, in line with overall drilling volumes, at about a rate of 15 percent.

Horizontal drilling is technically more challenging and more expensive than conventional vertical drilling but taps hydrocarbon reservoirs more effectively and yields better flows.
Russian oil companies, faced with annual decline rates of 2 percent in their West Siberian home base, where Soviet-era fields generate 85 percent of the country’s 10.3 million barrel per day output, have stepped up the use of unconventional technologies to secure Russia’s position as the world’s top producer.

Beyond the conventional plays of Western Siberia lies the Bazhenov Formation, potentially the world’s richest oil shale, which the government hopes to unlock using tax breaks that it announced earlier this year to coax companies to invest in cutting edge drilling technologies.

The Bazhenov was touted as “80 times bigger than the Bakken” and could yield 1 million barrels per day by 2020, research firm Bernstein has said — referring to the prolific Bakken shale deposit in the northern United States.

Further out are the Arctic seas, where Rosneft will start exploring in 2015 under a partnership deal with ExxonMobil. It has similar deals with Norway’s Statoil and Italy’s Eni.
New awareness of the potential to boost production on the part of the government, concerned to sustain hydrocarbon output that yields more than 50 percent of budget revenues, has made analysts bullish on drillers operating in Russia.

“We see the oil service companies as the major beneficiaries of the upcoming exploration drive into offshore and hard-to-access deposits,” Merrill Lynch said in a report.

“Meanwhile, Russia’s conventional drilling should become deeper and heavier, supporting current domestic providers. We see Eurasia Drilling and [competitor] CAT Oil as the main long-term beneficiaries of the upcoming drilling spree.”

Enthusiasm for shale is controversial in oil circles, where some argue that the country has a long way to go to before it exhausts conventional resources, both in Western Siberia and at greenfields in the east. These can be unlocked with increased horizontal drilling and by the hydraulic fracturing techniques that have come to be associated with the shale boom.
“Right now, we have the feeling that conventional sources are enough to keep us going for the next five years. We will be happy if there is room for tight oil and gas,” Djaparidze said.

“Well flows achieved at new fields can be several times higher with the implementation of horizontal drilling, which is booming right now.”

Eurasia positions itself as Russia’s only domestic driller with offshore experience, with two jack-up rigs — essentially mobile drilling platforms — operating in the Caspian Sea and a third under construction, as well as a contract for platform services at LUKoil’s Korchagin field.

As such, it intends to compete for Arctic drilling contracts, but Djaparidze said it might need to seek partnerships.

“We will try that, but there will be a lot of big players with a lot of economic and political interests. I think having participation with other companies is the likely route to the Arctic for [Eurasia Drilling],” Djaparidze said.

“A big pie will be divided up and there will be a lot of interested parties in the division of this pie. But given our experience in offering technological and financial expertise we will bite off a piece of this pie.”

Eurasia made its first acquisition outside the former Soviet Union in July, buying two rigs in Iraq’s semi-autonomous region of Kurdistan with a commitment to purchase a third, a move he said was not necessarily designed to follow Russian clients.

“This is a footprint in the region,” Djaparidze said. “There is going to be huge drilling. It is our priority to maintain Russian production together with our clients.”

In Europe, Eurasia Drilling is watching potential shale plays, in particular in Poland, where it was undeterred by reserve downgrades and a decision by ExxonMobil to abandon a shale gas project there after disappointing drilling results.

“I was very disappointed France decided not to do shale gas,” he added. “We would have sent some people from Western Siberia to the south of France to drill.



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


Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Junk psychology about skeptics

Having a large background in published psychological research myself, I had to laugh at the nonsense below. It is difficult to know where to start but let me make just one point: Lewandowsky seems never to have heard of sampling. "Samples" gathered online tend not to be remotely representative. A major source of bias is that libertarians tend to be greatly over-represented and libertarians are very skeptical folk indeed. That they reject anything that the establishment (including scientific establishment) says is almost a given for many of them.

In the absence of representative sampling from any specifiable population, NO generalizations from the findings are warranted. There is no way of knowing if what was true of the group studied is true of any other group.

But Lewandowsky is a frantic Warmist so one could have predicted his conclusions even before he did his "research". You can read the whole thing here. It is very much a polemic -- from its heading onwards. No sign of scientific detachment or caution about evidence at all

Researchers from The University of Western Australia (UWA) have examined what motivates people who are greatly involved in the climate debate to reject scientific evidence.

The study, Motivated Rejection of Science, to be published in the journal Psychological Science, investigated what motivates the rejection of science in visitors to climate blogs who choose to participate in the ongoing public debate about climate change.

More than 1,000 visitors to blogs dedicated to discussions of climate science completed a questionnaire that queried people’s belief in a number of scientific questions and conspiracy theories, including: Princess Diana’s death was not an accident; the Apollo moon landings never happened; HIV causes AIDS; and smoking causes lung cancer.

The study also considered the interplay of these responses with the acceptance of climate science, free market ideology, and the belief that previous environmental problems have been resolved.

The researchers, led by UWA School of Psychology Professor Stephan Lewandowsky, found that free market ideology was an overwhelmingly strong determinant of the rejection of climate science. It also predicted the rejection of the link between tobacco and lung cancer and between HIV and AIDS.

Conspiratorial thinking was a lesser but still significant determinant of the rejection of all scientific propositions examined, from climate to lung cancer.

“There has been much research pointing to the role of free market ideology in rejecting climate science, but this is the first time it’s been shown that other scientific facts, such as the link between HIV and AIDS, are also subject to ideological rejection,” said Lewandowsky.

By contrast, a major determinant of the acceptance of science was the perceived consensus among scientists. The more agreement among scientists, the more people were likely to accept the scientific findings.

“It is important to understand the role of perceived consensus because it highlights how damaging the media’s handling of climate issues can be when they create the appearance of a scientific debate where there is none: More than 90 in 100 climate researchers agree on the basic fact that the globe is warming due to human greenhouse gas emissions,” he noted.


Lord Monckton satirizes the AMS

He writes under the heading: "Climate ($$$ and) change". Just an excerpt below

A Disinformation Statement by the Armenian Meteoastrological Society (Adapted by AMS Archdruids 20 August 2012)

As told to Christopher Monckton of Brenchley

The following is an AMS Disinformation Statement calculated to provide an untrustworthy, prejudiced, and scientifically-outdated misrepresentation of pseudo-scientific issues of great concern to us in getting more grants but of no concern to those of the public still at large.


This statement provides a brief overview of why we want more money now, and why we will continue to want more money in the future. It is based on a highly-partisan selection from the scientific literature, presented as though science were based upon the ancient logical fallacy of argument from "consensus", and further distorted by the bureaucrats of the Mental Panel on Climate Change, the US Notional Academy of Science and Television Arts, and the US Global Cash Recoupment Program.

How is our funding changing?

Well, every summer solstice we all dress up in dustsheets and go to Stonehenge to pray for grants. And our prayers have worked! The increase in funding now is unequivocal, according to many different kinds of evidence. Observations show increases in globally averaged grants. We got them by pretending that globally averaged air and ocean temperatures have increased, but in the past 15 years they haven't. Never mind - our grants have!
We've been talking about widespread melting of snow and ice, but that hasn't really happened either. Sea ice in the Antarctic has actually grown, but of course we don't mention that: it would spoil the grants.

Meantime, those grants just keep rolling in. In the US, most of the observed grants have occurred in the pockets of Hansen, Mann, Santer, Solomon and other global warming profiteers. All of the 10 best years in the global grant records up to 2011 have occurred since 1997, with grants in most of those years being the greatest in more than a century of global records.

The funding trend is greatest in northern latitudes and over land, though there are some grants for oceanographic research in Hawaii and Tahiti. For the nation as a whole, there have been twice as many record daily high grants as record daily low grants in the first decade of the 21st century.

The effects of these grants are especially evident in the planet's polar regions. Arctic meteorologists and climatologists have been increasing for the past several decades. Both the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets have gained significant amounts of grant-gatherers. Most of the world's glaciers have never been visited (not that that stops us claiming that most of them are retreating), but what with all those grants we'll soon be able to afford to ski - er, conduct field research - on all of them.

Other grant increases, globally and in the US, are also occurring at the same time. The amount of grants falling in very heavy amounts (we call these the heaviest 1% of all funding precipitation events) has increased over the last 50 years throughout the US. Grant levels are rising in elevation, with fewer and fewer grants frozen and more and more liquidity.

Grant-freezing is decreasing, grant release occurs earlier, and the spring surplus that supplies over two-thirds of western US funding streams is doing just fine, thank you so much. Evidence for grants is also observed in seasonal increases across many areas, including earlier grant applications, longer periods without frozen grants, longer periods of grant, and shifts in meteorologists' migratory patterns and habitats as we seek more and more grants for less and less work.

Globally averaged grant liquidity has risen by what we scientists call a humungous lot in the 20th century, with the rise accelerating since the early 1990s. Close to half of the grant-level rise observed since the 1970s has been caused by expansion of climate scare stories due to increases in grant funding.

Grant level is also rising due to melting of terrified politicians' hearts as we tell them our sob stories about how the planet is doomed. Locally, grant-level changes can depend also on other factors such as slowly rising or falling Socialism, which results in some local grant-level changes much larger or smaller than the global average. Even small grant-level rises are expected to lead to potentially severe impacts in terms of additional self-serving policy (or, rather, political) statements from interest-groups such as ours.

Why is our funding changing?

Funding is always changing. However, many of the observed changes noted above are above and beyond what can be explained by natural variability of the funding climate. It is clear from expensive scientific evidence that the dominant cause of the rapid change in funding of the past half century is human-induced increases in the amount of hot air emitted on the subject of imagined - and, indeed, imaginary - "global warming", including gaseous halations from news media in search of sensation, politicians in search of relevance, industrialists in search of subsidies, bureaucrats in search of imperial expansion, and, above all, scientists in search of more and better grants.

The most important of these vested-interest groups is the scientific lobby, whose concentration on grant-getting has increased the total amount splendidly. Approximately half of the hot air put into the political atmosphere through human activity in the past 250 years has been taken up by the congenitally stupid in the blogosphere, with the other half hangs around to attract grant money.

Since long-term measurements began in the 1950s, the concentration of scientists on grant-getting has been increasing at a rate much faster than at any time in the last 800,000 years. Having been introduced into the political atmosphere, it will take a thousand years for our hot air to be dispelled by natural processes, and some of us will go on getting grants for thousands of subsequent years, if we can possibly get away with it.

Water vapor is also an important gas for influencing the grant-giving atmosphere. There is nothing like a flood of tears to get grants with. For maximum effect, get the grant before the tears evaporate. The concentration of scientists on producing crocodile water vapor depends upon the atmosphere among grant-givers and is controlled by the global panic system through its hydrological cycle of precipitation of tears, evaporation, and condensation, a profitably catalytic process.

Crocodile tears are highly variable in space and time with a short lifetime, because of temperamental variability on the part of grant-givers. Observations indicate an increase in globally averaged crocodile tears in the atmosphere in recent decades, at a rate consistent with the response produced by climate models that simulate scientist-induced increases in grants. This increase in crocodile tears also strengthens the greenhouse effect, amplifying the impact of scientist-induced grant applications based on our other hot-air emissions.

Received via email. Email him [] for the whole thing

"Volt" on the skids

General Motors Co. GM -1.32% said it plans to suspend production of its battery-powered Chevrolet Volt for 26 days as part of a move to pare excess inventory.

Production of the Volt at its Hamtramck, Mich., plant is set to stop Sept. 17 and resume on Oct. 12, a GM spokeswoman confirmed. It is the second time this year output has been idled due to soft demand for the electric vehicle.

GM will use the downtime to prep the assembly line for building the 2014 Chevrolet Impala starting early next year, the spokeswoman said. The plant already produces a small number of the Chevrolet Malibu sedans and the European version of the Volt, known as the Opel Ampera.

About 1,400 hourly workers will be affected by the production suspension.

The Volt has been heavily promoted by GM as an example of the company's technological prowess. But it also has been criticized as a boondoggle by critics of GMs 2009 financial rescue by the U.S government. Supporters of the bailout, including President Barack Obama, say the Volt represents an innovative step forward. Detractors point to the Volt's weak sales as an example of the government pressing GM to build a car that meets policy goals but isn't in sync with U.S. consumers. GM shut the Hamtramck plant for five weeks earlier this year after a prolonged holiday shutdown.

The company has sold 10,666 of the about $40,000 vehicle year-to-date through the end of July, according to researcher Autodata Corp. At the end of last month, Chevrolet dealers had 6,450 Volts in stock, enough to last 84 days at the current rate of sales. Auto makers generally consider 60 days of inventory optimal, although they usually have tighter inventories of specialty vehicles like the Volt.

Volt uses a lithium-ion battery to power the car and has a small gasoline engine that kicks in when the battery runs low. Automotive News earlier reported the plan to slow production.


Environmentalists vs. the environment

A brilliant piece by Robert Bryce highlights one of the more incredible recent developments in the Green Gaia world — the rising opposition of the soi disant “environmentalists” to a proven weapon against the dreaded Anthropogenic Global Warming that threatens destruction to Mother Earth. That weapon is natural gas — which, to put the point in a scatological way, is an afflatus of said Mother Earth.

Specifically, in the last year, the two major energy bureaucracies — oh, pardon me, “agencies” — have reported what one would naively suppose is very good news: America is dramatically cutting its CO2 emissions, thus sparing Earth further defilement! On May 24, the International Energy Agency (the IEA) in Paris and the US Energy Information Administration both reported that America’s CO2 emissions dropped by nearly 8% (430 million tons) since 2006, the greatest reduction recorded by any country in any region.

Yahoo! We’re number one! (Let’s all chant together: U-S-A, U-S-A!)

The reasons the IEA gives for that drop are that the US is using less oil, especially during this extended recession. But the biggest reason seems to be the flourishing of natural gas production brought by the use of fracking.

The drop in natural gas prices has led to a dramatic switch from coal to natural gas in generating electric power. Last year alone saw an increase in gas-powered electricity production by 34%, and a drop in coal-powered electricity by 21% — a decrease that lowered carbon emissions (not to mention air pollutants) dramatically.

Lawrence Cathles, professor of earth and atmospheric studies at Cornell, recently published a report arguing that moving our economy to natural gas would be a much quicker and cheaper way to replace coal than by moving to “renewables” (solar and wind energy) or even nuclear power — and it would lower carbon emissions by up to 40%.

But the major environmentalist groups, as well as the government regulatory agencies they control (such as the EPA), are still fighting fracking and pushing “green” energy.

What a joke.


This green energy thing might be more expensive than we’re being told you know

by Tim Worstall

There's always a suspicion when someone has a grand plan that they've not quite thought of everything. That's one of the reasons I so like market mechanisms: they correct for such failures faster than any other method. And there might be one rather large cost that we've not been told about as yet about this green and renewable energy thing. Which is why I famously prefer the as close as we can get to a market solution of a carbon tax over letting anyone construct a grand plan.

The problem is that modern machinery needs very accurate voltage all the time. Something which a renewables heavy grid just isn't all that good at producing. Not consistently at least and that's rather the point.
The problem is that wind and solar farms just don’t deliver the same amount of continuous electricity compared with nuclear and gas-fired power plants. To match traditional energy sources, grid operators must be able to exactly predict how strong the wind will blow or the sun will shine.

But such an exact prediction is difficult. Even when grid operators are off by just a few percentage points, voltage in the grid slackens. That has no affect on normal household appliances, such as vacuum cleaners and coffee machines. But for high-performance computers, for example, outages lasting even just a millisecond can quickly trigger system failures.

What would happen to an aluminium smelter if power fell away would be too too expensive to even think about: you'd probably have to replace all of the pots. That, for the uninitiated, is the expensive part of an aluminium smelter.

Anyway, as a result some of those industries and companies are thinking of moving out of Germany. And those that aren't?
Even August Wagner, head of a textile firm with roughly 180 employees in Bavaria, is taking precautions against feared power interruptions. A stop in production would be catastrophic for him. “When we dye our materials, there are thousands of meters in the dye factory,” he said. “If the power goes out, all of the goods are lost, and we have huge losses.”

Wagner now regulates the power supply of his production himself so that it doesn’t come to that point. What’s more, for a few months, he’s had an emergency power source standing in container next to the production facilities. Since then, other businesspeople in the area have been dropping by to take a look at his setup.

Aurubis, a major copper producer and recycler in Hamburg, has also spent about €2 million to protect against unwanted power emergencies. “If grid stability doesn’t markedly improve, we’ll have to rely on emergency power supplies this and the coming winter,” the company say.

Obviously, such back up power is grossly less efficient than the proper sized kit that feeds the grid. But there's also a large capital cost there: a cost which isn't being included in the estimates of how much green energy is going to cost us. It's actually possible that it's all going to be even more grossly expensive than we already think it is.

As I say, beware of those with grand plans. They're almost certain to have forgotten some terribly important point.


Germany’s new “renewable” energy policy

By physicist Dr. Kelvin Kemm

It is amazing how biased the international media is when it comes to reporting on energy generation, specifically electricity. In mid-August, Germany opened a new 2200MW coal-fired power station near Cologne, and virtually not a word has been said about it.

This dearth of reporting is even more surprising when one considers that Germany has said building new coal plants is necessary because electricity produced by wind and solar has turned out to be unaffordably expensive and unreliable. In a deteriorating economic situation, Germany's new environment minister, Peter Altmaier, who is as politically close to Chancellor Angela Merkel as it gets, has underlined time and again the importance of not further harming Europe’s – and Germany’s – economy by increasing the cost of electricity.

He is also worried that his country could become dependent on foreign imports of electricity, the mainstay of its industrial sector. To avoid that risk, Altmaier has given the green light to build twenty-three new coal-fired plants, which are currently under construction. Yes, you read that correctly, twenty three-new coal-fired power plants are under construction in Germany, because Germany is worried about the increasing cost of electricity, and because they can’t afford to be in the strategic position of importing too much electricity.

Just recently, German figures were released on the actual productivity of the country’s wind power over the last ten years. The figure is 16.3 percent! Due to the inherent intermittent nature of wind, their wind power system was designed for an assumed 30% load factor in the first place. That means that they hoped to get a mere 30% of the installed capacity – versus some 85-90% for coal, natural gas, nuclear and hydroelectric facilities. That means that, when they build 3,000MW of wind power, they expect to actually get merely 900MW, because the wind does not always blow at the required speeds.

But in reality, after ten years, they have discovered that they are actually getting only half of what they had optimistically, and irrationally, hoped for: a measly 16.3 percent. Even worse, after spending billions of Euros on subsidies, Germany’s total combined solar facilities have contributed a miserly, imperceptible 0.084% of Germany’s electricity over the last 22 years. That is not even one-tenth of one percent.

Moreover, the actual cost of Germany’s wind and solar electricity is far and away higher than its cost of coal and nuclear power. So much for “free” solar and wind. So much for all the German jobs that depend on reliable access to plentiful and affordable electricity. As to natural gas produced via hydraulic fracturing, that too is prohibited, even if it is required to back up undependable wind and solar facilities. No wonder Germany’s natural gas and electricity prices are practically unaffordable.



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


Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Record melt of Arctic sea ice?

Warmist apparatchik Borenstein says so below and he has official NSDIC figures to back his story.

I didn't mention the story when it first came out yesterday because I was rather bored by pointing out that the history of the measurements concerned goes back only to 1979 and that there were some very warm years in the first half of the 20th century. I figured that some of my fellow skeptics who are closer to the data that I am would have some more interesting comments to make. And they have.

Watts points out that the NSDIC series on which the scare is based is only one of several series that the NSDIC maintains and that the other series do not support any alarm. "You chooses your series and you takes your pick" -- or something.

And Gosselin's headline says it all: "Oh No! Six Thousandths Of One Percent (0.006%) More Of The World’s Ice Melted This Summer!"

And then there's the big Arctic storm (not warming) which would have helped disperse and melt some ice. Marc Morano has a summary of it all

I note that one of the Warmists quoted by Borenstein is the delightfully named Ten Scambos. He sure is a scam boss. I think he should change his name to Jones

Critical ice [What's critical ice? Is it less polite than other ice?] in the Arctic Ocean melted to record low levels this sweltering summer and that can make weather more extreme far away from the poles, scientists say.

The National Snow and Ice Data Center reported Monday that the extent of Arctic sea ice shrank to 1.58 million square miles and is likely to melt more in the coming weeks. That breaks the old record of 1.61 million square miles set in 2007.

The North Pole region is an ocean that mostly is crusted at the top with ice. In the winter, the frozen saltwater surface usually extends about 6 million square miles, shrinking in summer and growing back in the fall. That's different from Antarctica, which is land covered by ice and snow and then surrounded by sea ice.

Normally sea ice in the Arctic reaches its minimum in mid-September and then starts refreezing. But levels on Sunday shrank 27,000 square miles — about the size of West Virginia — beyond the old record.

Figures are based on satellite records dating back to 1979. The ice center bases its figures on averages calculated over five days.

Data center scientist Ted Scambos said the melt can be blamed mostly on global warming from man-made emissions of greenhouse gases. There are natural factors involved too, including a storm that chewed up a significant amount ice earlier this month. But, he said, dramatic summer sea ice losses in all but one year since 2007, continuous thin ice, and warm air temperatures show a pattern that can only be explained by climate change.


The American Meteorological Society huffs and puffs

Many meteorologogists (perhaps a majority) seem to be global warming skeptics but all professional societies seem to fall under the control of a small group of activists eventually. The average professional does not want to add hours of committee meetings to his workload.

So the latest proclamation by the AMS suports global warming. A number of AMS members and climate scientists have voiced objections to this. I quote an excerpt from Judith Curry below

My strong objections to this type of statement by professional societies has been voiced previously. This statement is worse than the previous AMS statement, and much worse than the statement by the Royal Society, which is probably the most credible statement on this topic made by a professional society.

So who is responsible for this statement? Current members of the AMS Council can be found [here]. It is not clear who authored the statement, but I suspect it was the members of the AMS Committee on Climate Variability and Change (for membership list, see here). After reading this list of names, I recognize some, but less than half. Does this group of people inspire my confidence in making an assessment of climate change? In a word, NO.

Apart from the broader issue of whether or not professional societies should make such statements, the main question that I have is why write a new statement now? It appears that each statement has a life time of 5 years. Why not wait another year or two until the IPCC AR5 is out? It seems that there is little in the AMS statement that is associated with more recent publications (since the AR4). As the CMIP5 climate model simulations show a broader range of uncertainty than the simulations used in the AR4, what is the basis for making a more confident statement on attribution (which seems to be based wholly on models) than was made in the AR4?

As far as I can tell, this statement is a naive example of Michael Kelly’s invisible hand (quote from my no consensus paper):

"Kelly (2005) describes an additional source of confirmation bias in the consensus building process: “As more and more peers weigh in on a given issue, the proportion of the total evidence which consists of higher order psychological evidence [of what other people believe] increases, and the proportion of the total evidence which consists of first order evidence decreases . . . At some point, when the number of peers grows large enough, the higher order psychological evidence will swamp the first order evidence into virtual insignificance.”

In other words, consensus statements get parroted without any actual intellectual examination. In this case, what is the point of the AMS statement. Apparently, to ‘inform the public’ on this controversial issue by appealing to the ‘authority’ of the society.


Contempt-filled and self-defeating reasoning from Warmist academics

Below is an excerpt from a post by Ben Pile. Ben is clearly a very smart guy and I mostly agree with him but he sounds like he has a philosophy background the way he writes. He doesn't let a single point go. Such careful reasoning does have a lot to be said for it but it makes his argument a bit laborious to follow at times. But I think the following repays the effort of reading it. I have added some paragraphing that might help. I think I would have confined my comments on the Greenie nonsense to the last sentence below -- JR

From the pulpit at the Church of Crass Generalisations and Poorly Concealed Prejudice, Andrew Brown of the Guardian delivered these words on Tuesday: "There’s a first class article in Nature this week on the reasons Americans reject the science of climate change. It has wider implications for a lot of the ways in which we think and talk about rationality."

Hmm. ‘Americans reject the science of climate change’? All of them? Or just some of them in particular?

The article linked to by Brown was authored by Dan Kahan, professor of law and psychology at Yale Law School. Kahan tries to explain why it is that controversy persists in the climate debate. People’s ‘reasoning powers have become disabled by a polluted science-communication environment’, he says.

In some senses, this is a refreshing break from the ‘deficit’ model of the climate debate: that stupid politicians are in hock to the material desires and base instincts of the stupid, fecund, consuming public. The problem is not too few powers of reason on the public’s behalf, but too much.

The reason the debate is polarised, says Kahan, is that people are very good at ‘filtering out information that would drive a wedge between themselves and their peers’. In other words, you believe what your mates believe, because to do otherwise would mean to commit to a life of loneliness… or something.

Scepticism of climate change, then, is perfectly rational, from the point of view of sustaining your social network. The problem begins, on Kahan’s view, when the ‘communication environment fills up with toxic partisan meanings’.

Meanings like ‘denier’, perhaps?

Kahan’s theory is that people don’t make decisions about the facts in front of them, but are motivated by something else. He begins by challenging the theory that people are too stupid to understand the science, but ends up back in the same place. Curiously, he passes over the research that is most likely to take him in the right direction…

"Social-science research indicates that people with different cultural values — individualists compared with egalitarians, for example — disagree sharply about how serious a threat climate change is."

… to go on to describe instead some superficially empirical test which bears out the idea that even in the face of unimpeachable expertise, people will return to the prejudices of the group to which they belong:

People with different values draw different inferences from the same evidence. Present them with a PhD scientist who is a member of the US National Academy of Sciences, for example, and they will disagree on whether he really is an ‘expert’, depending on whether his view matches the dominant view of their cultural group (D. M. Kahan et al. J. Risk Res. 14, 147–174; 2011).

But the trouble for social science theorists is that you don’t need to be one of them to understand why this is. There are very good reasons why people with ‘different cultural values’ may end up diverging on the interpretation of evidence, as I’ve described here before.

In brief: if you hold with a view that nature is in a permanent state of fragile balance and that human society is dependent on that balance, you will be more nervous of change in the natural environment than someone who believes that humans (especially in industrial society) are more self-dependent and robust. For entirely contingent reasons, these two positions roughly correspond to contemporary political trends that are nominatively/superficially ‘egalitarian’ and ‘individualistic’. (This idea of such a distinction is itself a bit of a red herring, but that is another blog post.)

The even bigger mistake is putting the social-group cart before the belief horse. No doubt some values are socially-transmitted. But it is primarily people’s interests which determine what circles they move in, not vice versa.

Except in the most parochial of places, we — by which I mean people who are sufficiently privileged to take a view on the climate change debate — encounter sufficient diversity of opinion that few could argue that they didn’t have the opportunity to reflect their change of mind with a change of social group, albeit slowly.

Things may be different for Kahan, perhaps, but I remain friends with the people who think I’m absolutely insanely wrong about environmental politics. Good friends. And our continued friendship is not predicated on our agreement about climate change.

So much pseudo-scientific social theory that passes for academic research is transparently intended to deny that people are capable of reason, or that they reason in ways that they shouldn’t. And in the process, these researchers cannot help but reveal that what they attempt to reveal in the wider public is much more true of the academy. Who would dare challenge environmentalism on the campus dominated by seemingly liberal, progressive thought?

More pertinently, perhaps: who would dare to suggest that the wider public possessed sufficient faculties that the Faculty itself is is in many cases (but not all, of course) redundant, if not an actual toxic force in today’s, post-democratic politics?

Perhaps people presented with ‘a PhD scientist who is a member of the US National Academy of Sciences’ aren’t inclined to bow and scrape before him, because the PhD scientist has a tendency to undermine his new acquaintance’s faculties, to say that they are lacking, and that a study of them reveal patterns of thought which are irrational and thus not capable of making decisions. The feeling is surely mutual.

Kahan should worry as much less about science communication as he counsels that people should worry less about the public’s intellectual deficit; he should worry about what the science of reducing people in this way — and for what ends — says about climate ‘science’.

Back to Brown, who it is now clear was wrong to say that Kahan says anything particular to Americans in general, or American sceptics in particular. And even if Kahan had explained the mechanics of some kind of ‘group think’ at the social level, it would equally apply to environmentalists. Brown believes that,

"It will take the kind of conformism and sense of moral obligation offered by religious thought and ritual if we are to save the planet"

Brown continues to try to distance himself from the people-are-stupid account of scepticism in the same way Kahan does. The argument again being that individuals are making ‘rational’ decisions, but rationalising on a different basis — their social survival, rather than on the basis of the putative facts of climate science. But this leaves Brown and Kahan in a relativistic bind: if values and the basis for rational decisions are dependent on social context, what does that say about the content of Kahan and Brown’s own reasoning?

Much more HERE

Obama’s pay for play green grants

A flood of criticism and questions surround the president’s energy agenda. Unfortunately for him, it seems his “green” energy ventures reek of biased decision making, thereby rightfully calling his agenda into question.

Forbes states that 71 percent of Department of Energy grants went to “projects involving his [President Obama] major money bundlers, members of his National Finance Committee, or those who contributed as large Democratic Party donors.”

Coincidence or intentional?

Remember Solyndra? It’s often the first example of crony politics in regards to the president’s energy policy that comes to mind. After receiving a $535 million loan from taxpayers the California-based solar panel company went belly up — leaving taxpayers on the hook.

However, not all was lost for everyone involved. Forbes reports: “Bankruptcy records show that executives pocketed thousands in payments just months before the company dismissed 1,100 workers. At least 17 company executives received two sets of payments — ranging from $37,000 to $60,000 each payment — on the same days in April and July 2011, just as Solyndra was catapulting towards bankruptcy in early September.”

While executives taking a larger piece of the pie in this type of situation might not be out of ordinary, there have been some red flags raised in regards to one of Solyndra’s big investors. George Kaiser, majority owner of Solyndra, was a huge Obama campaign donor in 2008. His name has repeatedly shown up on the White House visitor’s log and email evidence proves he was aware the solar panel company was seeking a second federal loan, which never went through.

Maybe this bit of favoritism is a coincidence. After all, it’s not unusual for a president to look out for his friends no matter what political party they associate themselves with.

But as new information about these lost Department of Energy grants comes to light, fair and transparent politics is nowhere to be found.

Herbert M. Allison Jr. spent four months reviewing the Department of Energy loans and “minimized concerns that the Energy Department was at high risk in more than $23 billion in federal loans awarded to green energy firms,” Fox News reports.

However, after the loan reviews, Allison contributed $52,500 to the Obama campaign.

Wyoming U.S. Senator John Barrasso, member on the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, said in a press conference that this “so-called” independent investigation “raises a major red flag.”

That is does. Taxpayers have and continue to take a huge hit from these loans to unstable and now-bankrupt “green” companies.

In another instance of suspect cronyism, The New York Times released news about Illinois-based energy producer Exelon Corporation. It turns out this energy producer’s executives were big supporters and donors to Obama’s campaign, and they too have received preferential treatment from the White House.

The New York Times reports: “With energy an increasingly pivotal issue for the Obama White House, a review of Exelon’s relationship with the administration shows how familiarity has helped foster access at the upper reaches of government and how, in some cases, the outcome has been favorable for Exelon.

“White House records show that Exelon executives were able to secure an unusually large number of meetings with top administration officials at key moments in the consideration of environmental regulations that have been drafted in a way that hurt Exelon’s competitors, but curb the high cost of compliance for Exelon and its industry allies.”

These instances of favoritism are so blatant it would seem Obama’s true energy policy would read something like “If you help me, I’ll help you.”

“Picking winner and losers is not an energy policy,” Senator Barrasso remarked during his press conference.

Knowing the president’s energy plan is a bit shady should raise some alarm. If this Chicago-esque style of governing were to continue, what does that mean for America’s energy future — and taxpayer dollars?

“We’ll freeze in the winter and sweat to death in the summer,” answers Bill Wilson, president of Americans for Limited Government (ALG). “We won’t have any real energy resources left because Obama will just keep handing our money over to his friends.

“His agenda is not an energy policy; it is a looting policy.”


Political barriers to fracking likely to keep energy expensive in Europe

Europe has been unable to repeat the shale gas revolution that has swept the United States, and that could prove to be the unlikely savior of long-term EU efforts to spur renewables and curb greenhouse gases.

The United States has managed to lower greenhouse gas emissions as well as energy prices as cheap shale gas has displaced coal, prompting calls from industry for Europe and others to follow suit. The argument is that natural gas, which emits less CO2 than coal, can be a friend, not a foe, to environmentalists.

But investors say the shale gas revolution will not be repeated in Europe - a failure that could make way for greener fuel than gas.

"I wouldn't completely write off shale gas development in Europe, but certainly the scale and speed at which it happens will not be like in the U.S.," said Chris Rowland, an associate at Ecofin, a British-based investment manager with around $1.9 billion of assets under management, covering global energy, utility, infrastructure and alternative energy sectors.

"It's a good fuel for reducing emissions but not a good fuel for decarbonizing," he added.

A series of European Commission road maps envisage virtually carbon-neutral power generation by the middle of the century.

Unless carbon capture and storage can be developed on a commercial scale, that means gas as a fuel has a limited future and should not be invested in too heavily, environmental campaigners say.

They are especially against shale gas, whose environmental credentials are questioned in Europe.

"We need natural gas as a transition fuel. However, we don't need such a huge amount of gas and certainly not cheap gas, because that would kick out not just coal, but also renewables," Greenpeace renewable energy director Sven Teske said.

In the medium term, the value of conventional gas is in providing reliable baseload power to supplement unpredictable renewables, which depend on the sun shining or the wind blowing.

In Europe, gas is likely to mean conventional gas for the foreseeable future as the barriers to shale stay high.

Higher population density and different rules on land and resources ownership explain in part why progress has been so much slower in shale exploration in Europe than in the United States.

Environmental impact studies are under way in several countries to examine fracking, the process to extract gas from shale formations thousands of meters below the earth's surface by injecting chemicals and water at high pressure.

The industry will need to change radically the way it approaches fracking if it is to have a future in Europe, said Andrew Gould, chairman of British oil and gas company BG Group.

European Union countries have barely broken ground on shale gas, with some 20 test drills compared with estimates of as many as 35,000 sites in the United States.


Old-fashioned light bulbs banned by EU directive can still be sold in Britain after traders find loophole allowing them to be renamed

Shoppers fed up with feeble energy-saving light bulbs are getting round the EU ban on traditional bulbs by buying models meant for industrial use.

The European ban on 40-watt bulbs is being phased in from this coming Saturday, September 1, following bans already imposed on 100W and 60W versions.

But poor drafting of the EU directive banning the 40W bulb means that shops can continue to supply bulbs intended for ‘industrial use’ in factories.

At least two British manufacturers are exploiting the loophole to mass-produce ‘rough-service’ bulbs, which look almost identical to and work in exactly the same way as traditional incandescent bulbs.

Their availability will be welcomed by those who say the energy-saving variety is not bright enough.

The rough-service bulbs come in both screw and bayonet versions, and will cost around £1 – not much more than the household bulbs they will replace and half the price of energy-saving alternatives.

They are not being sold by major supermarkets but will be available from specialist lighting and hardware shops and online retailers.

The loophole has occurred because the EU directive banning 40W incandescent bulbs refers only to those intended for ‘household lamps’, meaning shops can continue selling those intended for ‘industrial use’. Manufacturers are allowed to make and sell the incandescent bulbs if they are described on the box as ‘rough-service lamps’ that are not for domestic use.

These bulbs are designed to withstand the knocks and vibrations of industrial settings, and are therefore tougher than the ordinary variety.

From Saturday, retailers will not be allowed to buy any more incandescent bulbs covered by the ban, although they will be able to sell existing stock.

Ian Fursland, managing director of The Lamp Company in Hertfordshire, said there were ‘bucketloads’ of rough-service lights being produced. ‘This stupid ban was not thought out at all, it is absolutely ridiculous,’ he said. ‘We sell loads of them.

‘You cannot get a compact fluorescent or an LED that does what an incandescent does – it’s physically impossible. They don’t warm up as quickly, they glow a different colour, and they are ridiculously expensive.’

At the Bradford branch of Maplin last week, a pack of ten 100W rough-service bulbs was on sale for £6.99 and described on the shelf as ‘ideal for home use’.

Online retailer Lamps2udirect offers a 60W ‘tough’ incandescent bulb for 90p. The description on the website says: ‘Can be used for industrial and household use. Commonly used in living areas around the home.’
One manufacturer said that it had already sold more than five million rough-service bulbs to suppliers.

The National Measurement Office, the Government agency responsible for enforcing the ban on traditional bulbs, warned householders against buying rough-service bulbs.

An official guidance paper says such bulbs are ‘declared by the manufacturer as unsuitable’ for illuminating household rooms and adds: ‘Consideration should be given to the terms and conditions of any household insurance policy if such lamps are used for illuminating your house.’ [Bluff!]



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