Friday, October 19, 2012

Climate Warmer 1000 Years Ago

A new paper, looking back at the climate of the past two thousand years, published in the journal “Climate of the Past,” will either cause something of a stir, or provide confirmation of what some regard as having already emerged from the peer-reviewed scientific literature. The title of the paper is, “The extra-tropical Northern Hemisphere temperature in the last two millennia: reconstructions of low-frequency variability,” by B Christiansen of the Danish Meteorological Institute and F C Ljungqvist of Stockholm University. The link to the journal is here, and the paper can be read in its entirety here.

The climate of the past few hundred years is of clear importance because it allows scientists to put today’s warm period into context, and provides some evidence of the influence of the quantity of greenhouse gasses that mankind has injected into the atmosphere. In much literature and during many debates statements to the effect that it is warmer now than it has been for thousands of years are frequently used.

As the authors point out the major problem with reconstructing the climate of the past few thousand years is that the so-called instrumental period – for which we have direct measurements – only stretches back as far as the middle of the 19th century. To overcome this researchers in this paper compile an impressive number of temperature proxies situated in the extra-tropical Northern Hemisphere. There are 91 in total, comprising ice-cores, tree-rings (density and width), lake and sea sediments, historical records, speleotherms, and pollen. All of them go back to 1500 AD and 32 go back as far as 1 AD.

The reconstruction of past climate has improved significantly in the past few years due to the availability of more proxies and better statistical analysis. The authors acknowledge this and point out the differences that are emerging from the reconstructions conducted about a decade ago. They mention two such reconstructions performed by Michael Mann that they say, perhaps typically for the period, show little variability. They add they display, “little evidence for previous temperature anomalies comparable to those of the 20th century.” The authors conclude that previous climate reconstructions “seriously underestimate” variability and trends in the climate record of the past two millennia.

This new analysis shows that the warming we have seen in the late-20th century is not unprecedented, as can be seen in figure 1. Seen in the reconstruction is a well-defined peak of temperature between 950–1050 AD. They also find that the first millennium is warmer than the second.

The researchers conclude: “The level of warmth during the peak of the MWP (Medieval Warm Period) in the second half of the 10th century, equaling or slightly exceeding the mid-20th century warming, is in agreement with the results from other more recent large-scale multi-proxy temperature reconstructions.”

Ljungqvist et al. also show that, “on centennial time-scales, the MWP is no less homogeneous than the Little Ice Age if all available proxy evidence, including low-resolution records are taken into consideration in order to give a better spatial data coverage.”

In conclusion this impressive piece of research makes a significant contribution to a growing body of evidence that both the global extent of the MWP, and the temperature was similar, or even greater than the Current Warm Period, even though the atmospheric CO2 concentrations today are some 40% greater than they were during the MWP.

Some argue that without anthropogenic greenhouse gasses the world would have cooled in the past few decades. That might be the case, but the statement that it is warmer now than it has been for thousands of years is untrue. The rate of warming seen recently is also not unprecedented.

In the context of climate sensitivity – the real world climatic reaction to increasing greenhouse gasses – and climate model uncertainty, it is an interesting question to ask: if Nature alone in the past can produce temperatures like those we see today, why can’t she do so again?

SOURCE  (See the original for links)

Atlantic Sea Surface Temperature As Warm In 1775 As Today

Another piece of research using climate proxies has cast some light on the recent evolution of sea surface temperature in a region of the Atlantic.

The researchers, from the National University of Mexico and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in the USA, writing in the journal Paleoceanography, point out that accurate low-latitude sea surface temperature records that predate the instrumental era (post-1850) are needed to put recent warming in the context of natural climate variability and to understand what they describe as the possible influence of anthropogenic climate change on this variability.

They obtain a most interesting 235-year-long sea surface temperature reconstruction based on annual growth rates of coral (Atlantic coral Siderastrea sidereal) at three sites in Mexico located within the Atlantic Warm Pool (AWP). The point out that AWP surface temperatures vary in concert the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (AMO) – a basin-wide, quasiperiodic (60–80 years) oscillation of North Atlantic sea surface temperatures.

They find that the annual growth rates of all colonies are significantly, inversely correlated to regional sea surface temperatures. The temperature data they obtain shows an additional multidecadal sea surface temperature cycle prior to instrumental record that suggests that AWP multidecadal variability, and likely AMO variability, persisted since at least 1775 AD with an amplitude comparable to that of the instrumental era.

The sea surface temperature reconstruction shows that it remained within 1 deg C of recent values during the past 225 years, consistent with previous reconstructions.

The graph they produce is fascinating. It shows a decline in sea surface temperature from 1773 to 1860, then a peak at 1880 which then declines to 1910. The year 1910 is a significant one for those studying rises in sea level as it is from 1910 that the gradient of recent sea level rise changes and persists that that rate of increase to the present day.

The rise in sea surface temperature since 1910 is qualitatively the same as the rise in global surface temperature over this period, a rise between 1910 – 40, a slight decline to about 1980 and a rise thereafter.

SOURCE  (See the original for links)

British PM accused of 'making up' policy as Government 'chaos' over energy continues

David Cameron has been accused of causing 'chaos' over energy policy after ministers appeared to row back from his announcement that firms would be forced to switch customers on to the cheapest tariffs.

Labour said the Government's energy policy was a "shambles," amid claims that the Prime Minister's announcement had taken ministers and officials from the Department for Energy by surprise.

The Energy Secretary, Ed Davey, delivered a speech at the CBI this morning in which he made no mention of Mr Cameron's plan and instead said that the Government would tackle rising prices by promoting competition within the market.

Forced to respond to an urgent question in the House of Commons to explain the confusion, John Hayes, the Energy Minister, said that forcing firms to switch customers to a lower rate was one of a "number of options being considered" by the Government ahead of the Energy Bill, which will be unveiled next month

His words appear to row back from Mr Cameron's announcement at Prime Minister's Question Time, in which he promised: “I can announce that we will be legislating so that energy companies have to give the lowest tariff to their customers.”

As well as Mr Davey, the energy industry is said to have been unaware of the plan in advance, and experts immediately warned that it could cause further suffering from consumers, as companies withdrew competitive rates and offered a single tariff.

Asked if he was knew about Mr Cameron's announcement before it was made, Mr Hayes said: "The Prime Minister comes to this House weekly to be scrutinised by this House.

"Does he give me advance of every question? Does he get notice of every question? The answer is of course, no.

"I think the Prime Minister was completely clear. We will use the Energy Bill to get people lower tariffs and of course there are different options to be considered in that process.  "But those options will be discussed with the industry, they will be discussed with consumer groups and more than all of that they will be effective in a way that only this Government and, I'm bound to say, that this minister, is well known for."

Caroline Flint, the shadow energy secretary, said that Mr Cameron had been "making up policy as he goes along," claiming that the confusion resembled a scene from the BBC satire, The Thick of It.

She told the Commons: "Yesterday the Prime Minister threw energy policy into confusion, caused chaos in the energy industry and I think I have to say it left his own ministers at a loss over what Government energy policy actually is."

"Now it appears energy companies will not be forced to put all customers on cheaper tariffs after all."

"We all mis-speak from time to time and the Prime Minister was under a lot of pressure yesterday.  "But for the Government to spend a day pretending to have a policy they have no intention of implementing is no way to run the country. It is like something out of The Thick of It."

Labour claimed that Mr Davey, a Liberal Democrat, had failed to answer the urgent question, and had left it to Mr Hayes, because he was unwilling to defend Mr Cameron.

In his speech at the CBI, the Liberal Democrat minister said that prices would come down because of increased competition in the market, with suppliers given incentives to boost supply levels.

He did not mention forcing suppliers to offer their cheapest rates, instead saying: "Our reforms will stabilise consumer prices. With the increased diversity in the energy mix they herald and the long-term contracts for suppliers, we will shift decisively away from the current situation where volatile global gas prices determine the market electricity price.

"So our reforms are good news for consumers, including for business consumers. They are long overdue."

His lack of acknowledgement of the Prime Minister's plain appeared to confirm rumours that the Liberal Democrats had not been consulted about his proposal.

Ironically, also in his speech, Mr Davey had addressed reports that he had clashed with George Osborne, the Chancellor, over subsidies for green technology, promising business leaders that both sides were now signed up to energy reforms which are due to be put before the Commons next month.

He said: "Believe me when I say that no one would be happier to see the politics taken out of energy policy.  "What could make life easier for the Energy and Climate Change Secretary than political consensus?

"So I hear your message ... and I can say with confidence that the Coalition is united behind these energy market reforms."

The main energy suppliers were also unaware of Mr Cameron's announcement, while U-Switch, the price comparison watchdog, warned that it would lead companies to stop special deals and offer only one rate.


Winners and losers energy policies

We can and must rejuvenate our economy by developing America’s resource bounties

Paul Driessen

Governor Mitt Romney strongly supports North American energy independence as the foundation of renewed US employment and prosperity. President Obama is waging war on fossil fuels, job creation, and efforts to end our economic recession and reduce dependence on Middle Eastern and Russian oil.

Romney’s emphasis on careful analysis and due diligence brought him and Bain Capital notable winners like AMC Entertainment, Burger King, Burlington Coat Factory, Domino’s Pizza, Dunkin’ Donuts and Staples. Obama’s focus on ideology, political calculation, cronyism and campaign contributors produced scandalous losers like A123, Abound Solar, Crescent Dunes, Ener1, Fisker, Mountain Plaza, Solyndra, Tesla, and a host of wind and biofuel projects that would collapse if their taxpayer subsidies were cut off.

Not surprisingly, US gasoline prices are double what they were the day Obama took office. Some 25 million Americans are without full-time jobs – leaving 23% of the workforce unemployed, involuntarily working part-time or at jobs where they are overqualified, making far less money than they did previously, or no longer looking for a job. Our 64% “labor participation rate” is at a 30-year low.

There are still 4.5 million fewer jobs than in 2007, even though our population has grown; the hourly wage of college-educated Americans age 23 to 29 fell 4.7% between 2007 and 2011; median household income plummeted $3,040 since the recession (supposedly, officially) ended in June 2009; and a record 45 million Americans are on food stamps.

Meanwhile, the ever-unstable Middle East is even more unstable. Terrorists murdered our ambassador to Libya. A pitiful anti-Islamist video excused riots in Egypt, where a Muslim Brotherhood leader is now president. More than 33,000 have died in a nasty Syrian civil war. Internecine conflicts continue in Iraq and elsewhere. The seemingly perpetual Israeli-Palestinian conflict remains poised to intensify. the Taliban and Al Qaeda continue to build power and launch vicious attacks, such as gunning down the US embassy’s Yemeni security chief in Sana’a. And we are importing oil from brutal human rights violators.

Outside the Middle East, the Putin government is using energy to pressure and blackmail European nations dependent on Russian oil and gas, while orchestrating anti-fracking campaigns to keep EU countries from tapping their abundant shale gas supplies. Politics, events and human rights violations raise further questions about Russia, Ecuador, Venezuela, Nigeria and Sudan. And many of these countries are among our most important oil suppliers – because we refuse to develop our own deposits.

Since oil is sold in a world market, producing more in the United States means we could import less from abroad, free up more oil for other nations, and push prices down. Exporting US natural gas and drilling, fracking and production expertise would make other nations less dependent on the Middle East and Russia, bring natural gas prices down further, turbo-charge economies, and encourage African countries to use gas to generate electricity, rather than “flaring” it as an unwanted byproduct of oil production.

Romney understands this. He is calling for more oil and natural gas production here in the United States, changes to excessive and counterproductive federal regulations that raise energy costs and kill jobs, and increased use of friendly Canadian oil to serve America’s consumers. He knows this will protect us against disruptions in Middle East oil supplies, reduce the flow of American dollars to totalitarian human rights violators, create American jobs, increase tax revenues, and jumpstart our sluggish economy.

President Obama, by contrast, continues to ignore reality and embrace policies based on hope, green dreams, and a determination to “fundamentally transform” America’s Constitution, economy, society and business system. He continues to waste billions of taxpayer dollars to subsidize unreliable, unsustainable, inefficient, insufficient energy forms that are at best decades from competing in the free market – even as 80% of Department of Energy grants and loans went to companies owned or controlled by Obama contributors; DOE restructured its $465 million loan to Tesla, to make sure the electric-car company doesn’t run out of cash right before the election; and President Obama says malnourished, energy-deprived Africans should avoid fossil fuels and rely instead on wind, solar and biofuel power.

Many recipients of involuntary taxpayer largesse are donors to Obama and Democrat re-election campaigns; have electoral clout in crucial swing states, where corn growers and others benefit from ethanol, wind and solar schemes; or provide crucial propaganda and campaign services via government employee and labor unions and tax-exempt radical environmentalist organizations.

While Obama turns his back on the reliable fossil fuels that power America’s economic engine, he denounces and demonizes companies that produce this hydrocarbon energy, pay billions of dollars in taxes and support millions of American jobs. He singles out America’s oil and natural gas sector for discriminatory tax increases and excessive regulations, and makes more and more federal lands, waters and resources off limits to responsible exploration and development.

Environmental activists and the Obama Administration express outrage about subsidies for traditional, efficient means of generating electricity, which amount to $0.25-$0.44 (25-44 cents) per megawatt-hour for coal and natural gas and $1.59 per MWH for nuclear. But they are eerily silent about enormous subsidies for wind ($23.37 per MWH) and solar electricity ($24.34 per MWH).

They express equal outrage about importing petroleum from Canada’s oil sands via the Keystone Pipeline – but are silent about imports of thick, gooey crude from Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez. They brag about increased US oil and gas production on private lands, but insist that there be little or no drilling in the Outer Continental Shelf, Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, Rocky Mountains or even National Petroleum Reserve Alaska, which Congress set aside decades ago specifically to safeguard our national security by increasing exploration in areas with the best potential for oil and gas.

Lisa Jackson’s Environmental Protection Agency is imposing draconian restrictions on power plants and other CO2 sources, as another way of “skinning the cat” and hyper-regulating coal out of the US energy picture, after Congress rejected cap-tax-and-trade legislation. Meantime, Rep. Jim McDermott (D-WA) has introduced the Managed Carbon Price Act, which analysts say will impose regressive taxes that will rise to $5.20 per gallon of gasoline by 2024 and equally hefty surcharges on other hydrocarbon use.

The impact on transportation, shipping, commuting, manufacturing, jobs and families is frightening to contemplate. So is the fact that these actions are coming even as Britain’s Meteorological Office released data showing that the world stopped getting warmer almost 16 years ago – and that average global temperatures rose an impossible-to-measure and statistically insignificant 0.03 degrees C per decade.

Meanwhile, Germany, Italy and Japan plan to phase out nuclear power, thereby increasing their use of natural gas and coal for electricity – while China and India plan to build 900 new coal-fired power plants to electrify their growing economies. All will pump millions of tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere – dwarfing any reductions the USA might achieve by closing more power plants and further shackling our economy.

The Administration’s actions have been arrogant, irresponsible and autocratic. Win or lose in November, the White House, EPA, DOE and Interior Department will impose boxcars of punitive new regulations that have been put on hold until November 7.

We can dig ourselves out of this hole. We can and must rejuvenate and reinvigorate our economy, by developing America’s resource bounties.

We don’t need to “fundamentally transform” America’s economy, society and free enterprise system. We need to fundamentally transform the anti-hydrocarbon culture that pervades the Congress, White House, Executive Branch and radical environmental groups that have brought us to where we are today.

Received from the author via email

Warmist paper withdrawn

I had some succinct comments on this bit of nonsense on May 20.  Warmists have a severe problem with selective vision  -- not being able to see what is staring them in the face if it conflicts with their theories.  I was rather ill in most of May but some things just leap out at you.  It seems that they leaped out at a few other people too -- JR

In June, we wrote about the withdrawal of a paper claiming that temperatures in the last 60 years were warmest in the last 1,000 years. At the time, we reported, following posts by others, that the authors had been made aware of errors in their work and were withdrawing it to correct their calculations.

For several months, the page housing the Journal of Climate study read:  "The requested article is not currently available on this site."

It still does. But another page that should house the paper now reads, as commenter Skiphil notes:  "Due to errors discovered in this paper during the publication process, it was withdrawn by the authors prior to being published in final form."

In June, one of the authors, David Karoly, told us and others he expected to resubmit the paper to the journal, and that’s what the University of Melbourne also reports on top of the original press release about the paper (also noted by Skiphil):

"Scientific study resubmitted.

An issue has been identified in the processing of the data used in the study, “Evidence of unusual late 20th century warming from an Australasian temperature reconstruction spanning the last millennium” by Joelle Gergis, Raphael Neukom, Ailie Gallant, Steven Phipps and David Karoly, accepted for publication in the Journal of Climate.

The manuscript has been re-submitted to the Journal of Climate and is being reviewed again."

SOURCE  (See the original for links)


Three current articles below

Renewables energy target 'driving up prices'

THE Australian Energy Markets Commission has warned that the renewables energy target is distorting power markets, both driving up power prices for consumers while causing uneconomic outcomes for generators and their owners.

"I do have some issues with the competitive sector of the electricity market," the commission's chairman, John Pierce, told a business forum earlier today.

"The renewables energy target, especially, [since] one consequence is to depress wholesale [electricity] prices and drive retail [electricity] prices up." This is because electricity generated from renewable energy sources such as wind earns much of its revenue from renewable energy certificates and not primarily from the electricity market, unlike competing generators.

And, due to its intermittent source of energy, it will produce electricity even when it would not be economic to do so, which forces down power prices to unrealistic levels.

As a result, the wholesale price of electricity has been driven down by rising renewables output, which can make it uneconomic for larger generators to produce electricity, and make it difficult for investors to back new projects in the future.

"That is reflected by changes of state regulators changing wholesale producer allowances, moving away from marginal cost basis to using estimates of spot prices on the [national electricity market]," he said.

This will undermine the competitive position of the smaller, independent power retailers, who do not own their own source of electricity supply, and ultimately may reduce the level of competition in the electricity markets.

Separately, the NSW Minister for Energy, Chris Hartcher, said the poor management of the electricity sector had resulted in electricity distributors over-investing as much as $1.8-1.9 billion over the past five years.

In Victoria, the figure was a more modest $400 million, he said.

This is due to the poor way the sector has been managed by the Australian Energy Regulator, which approves spending plans of the network companies. As a result, NSW wants the AER to be separated from the Australian Consumer and Competition Commission, he said.

Mr Hartcher ruled out reducing the reliability standard of electricity supply in NSW, which has been the subject of some debate as the source of much of the over-investment in capacity in the network.

"Reliability is not an area of compromise," he told the forum.  Rather, he is looking for greater spending efficiencies, along with changes to work practices, to keep a lid on power prices.

Earlier today, the Productivity Commission released a report, highlighting the poor management of the electricity sector in unnecessarily driving up power prices.

Mr Pierce's comments followed the decision earlier this week of EnergyAustralia, known formerly as TruEnergy, to shut down one of its generators at the Yallourn power station in Victoria. It blamed weak demand and the impact of the carbon price for its decision.


Despised  HOV lanes of freeway to be scrapped by new conservative government

The High Occupancy Vehicle lanes beloved of Greenies are called T2 and T3 lanes in Queensland.  Brisbane also has a "Green bridge" over which buses only are allowed.  Lets's hope that nonsense ends soon too

THE despised T2 lanes on the Pacific Motorway will be scrapped next year and replaced with a total of four general traffic lanes, increasing the road capacity by 50 per cent.

Transport Minister Scott Emerson will announce the changes on Thursday which will be in place by mid-2013 at a cost of $5 million.

The reconfiguration means the removal of two of the "shoulders" or "police enforcement lanes" which flank the three existing traffic lanes.

Mr Emerson said the price tag was a bargain compared with the $100 million it would cost to build the extra lanes, if the T2 lanes were retained.  "The T2 lanes had 10 years and the feedback that I get from most people who use this road is that they don't think it's being used sufficiently to justify it continuing," Mr Emerson said.  "It's important to realise that by getting rid of the T2 lane we actually get an extra lane as well.  "That's a pretty big win for motorists."

He said the eight-lane section would run for 5km from the Klumpp Rd interchange to the Gateway Motorway merge, before reverting to six lanes.

"The Pacific Motorway during peak times looks like a car park and so this announcement will mean greater capacity for motorists travelling on this stretch," Mr Emerson said.

Paul Turner from peak motoring body RACQ welcomed the decision and urged the Brisbane City Council to also consider the future of its T2 and T3 lanes on suburban streets.

"The T2 lane (on the M3) has caused more congestion than it's solved because it's forced traffic into two lanes which could be three, or even four as it turns out," Mr Turner said.

"Overall we think lanes that artificially limit the traffic haven't worked and we'd like to see them removed."

He said the lanes' removal would reduce poor behaviour by frustrated motorists.

A spokesman for Lord Mayor Graham Quirk said BCC recently removed the T2 lane on Tiber St at Norman Park which was less than 1km long.


"Public" bikes in Brisbane spark little interest

WITH some 165 cities around the world now operating public bike-sharing schemes, it seems that any globally-aspiring city must have one.

They are part of a familiar checklist for cities striving to become the greenest, the most innovative, the most liveable.

* Show-stopping architecture? Check.

* Thriving cafe/restaurant/bar scene? Check.

* Non-stop stream of cultural events? Check.

* Bike share scheme? Check.

In 2010, Brisbane and Melbourne introduced Australia's first schemes, which work by allowing subscribers access to a network of bicycles docked in stations scattered around the city. Brisbane has up to 2000 bikes and 150 stations, while Melbourne has 600 bikes and 50 stations.

Such schemes show a lot of promise in helping address critical environmental, social and planning issues faced by cities, but only if they are implemented with local conditions in mind, not copied and pasted, as appears to have been the case in Australia.

As a result, the Australian schemes are at risk of being more ornamental than functional.

Both Brisbane and Melbourne's have attracted criticism for their underwhelming performance, leading to adjustments on the run.

Prices have been lowered, helmets made available and sign-up methods streamlined in the hope of enticing more people to subscribe.

Recent reporting indicates that the measures have had some impact in increasing usage, albeit from a low base.

Although, when set against the experience of similarly-sized schemes in comparable cities, usage rates are still much lower.

So, why haven't people taken to bike sharing in Australia yet?

New research led by Elliot Fishman from the Queensland University of Technology sheds some light on this. He and his colleagues asked people about their attitudes and behaviours regarding Brisbane's CityCycle bike sharing scheme.

The results are instructive, though not all that promising for a quick fix.

First, participants indicated that they would be more likely to use CityCycle if they could do so spontaneously. This is related in large part to mandatory helmet requirements.

Being required to wear a helmet for schemes such as CityCycle is akin to "opening up a pub and then asking everybody to bring their own glasses", Fishman told the ABC.

Australia is the only country operating a bike-share scheme with mandatory helmet requirements. Mexico City, for example, repealed its helmet law in preparation for its bike-sharing scheme.

The problem in Brisbane is not helped by other compounding factors, including the prohibitively lengthy sign-up process and 10pm closing of docking stations.

Survey participants were apprehensive about using CityCycle because of concerns about safety, which result from a lack of appropriate bicycle infrastructure and the perceived negative attitude of car drivers toward cyclists.

Although safety is an issue relating to cycling in general, the success of CityCycle is dependent on it being approachable for people without extensive cycling experience.

If unchanged, this is likely to fundamentally undermine the success of the scheme. Overcoming such barriers will not be quick and easy.

Mandatory helmet laws have considerable support, infrastructure takes years to rollout, and the attitudes of cyclists and drivers toward one another will likely be slow to change.

Nor is it a good look, in the meantime, having 150 fully-stocked bike stations around Brisbane acting as gentle but ever-present reminders of the scheme's limits.

In rushing to keep up with the Joneses, it seems that local realities have been underestimated or, worse, overlooked. It is, of course, not a bad thing looking for inspiration over the fence. It would be foolish to think that other places didn't have worthwhile ideas for making Australian cities better places to live, work and visit. It's just not much use unless you have your own house in order. And worse if you forget about the house altogether.




Preserving the graphics:  Graphics hotlinked to this site sometimes have only a short life and if I host graphics with blogspot, the graphics sometimes get shrunk down to illegibility.  From January 2011 on, therefore, I have posted a monthly copy of everything on this blog to a separate site where I can host text and graphics together -- which should make the graphics available even if they are no longer coming up on this site.  See  here and here


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