Wednesday, October 10, 2012

New Paper Confirms CO2 Lagged Global Temperature – Models Get It All Wrong Again

Today website Die kalte Sonne tells us there’s a new paper appearing in the Geophysical Research Letters on the relationship of CO2 and temperature.

Let’s recall how Al Gore in his Oscar-winning An Inconvenient Truth proudly stood before the CO2-temperature curve of the last several hundred thousand years and fooled his gullible audience into thinking that CO2 drove global temperature in the past, and not vice versa.

Too bad Gore didn’t take a closer look at the curves. If he had, he would have noticed that temperature rose first with CO2 following, and so CO2 could not possibly have been the main driver. What really happened is that a warming Earth warmed the oceans, which in turn released CO2 into the atmosphere. That’s the real inconvenient truth.

Now there’s a new study by Jinho Ahn et al of Seoul National University. His team has taken another look at the temperature fluctuations 39,000 years ago. What did they find? Did CO2 lead temperature, or was it the other way around.

The data don’t lie, but obviously Gore does.  The results were clear: In the abstract the authors write:  "This rise in CO2 was synchronous with, or slightly later than, a rapid increase of Antarctic temperature inferred from stable isotopes.”

Morover, it was thought that atmospheric carbon dioxide and temperature in Antarctica varied on millennial time scales and that these changes were gradual. But the authors of the paper write:  "In a detailed analysis of one event we now find that approximately half of the CO2 increase that occurred during the 1500-year cold period between Dansgaard-Oeschger (DO) events 8 and 9 happened rapidly, over less than two centuries.”

Lüning and Vahrenholt at Die kalte Sonne find this interesting. They write:  "…about half of the total CO2 increase took place within just 200 years. This brings up important questions. The authors point out that the models based on the CO2 cycle are unable to to reproduce the rapid changes in CO2 condentrations.”

Back to the drawing board for climate modellers. But this time they really ought to put the horse before the cart.


Reef Alarmists Jump The Shark

The Great Barrier Reef is doomed again. A recent widely publicised scientific study reports the dramatic finding that it has lost half its coral in the last 27 years. Forty-eight precent of the loss is attributed to storm damage, with bleaching and crown-of-thorns starfish being responsible for 10% and 42% respectively. The average annual rate of coral loss over the 27-year period was estimated to be 3.38% and growth was put at 2.85%, leaving a net decline of 0.53% per year. Further effort and research on starfish control is suggested to be the most promising means of reversing the decline. Elimination of the loss due to starfish would leave a net gain of 0.89%.

While the news reports present the appearance of scientific precision and certainty, examination of the study itself reveals a number of doubtful assumptions, undisclosed conditions and instances where strong conflicting evidence is unmentioned. Examples of this include:

*    The margin of error in visual surveys of coral cover is high and unassessed; yet, they are presented to hundredths of a precent without any qualifying explanation, as if they are precisely accurate. Coral cover is highly variable between reefs and over different areas or at different years on the same reef. Visual estimates of the percentage of coral cover can differ significantly, depending on  where, when  and by whom  the observations were made. Also, many of the observers doing the surveys upon which this study is based were inexperienced students primed by learned expectations of threats to the reef.
 *   The reef is vast and in any given year surveys sample only a small portion. The reported sudden decline in coral cover in the last couple of years is almost certain to have been exaggerated by surveys made to assess the damage from severe cyclones crossing the reef in 2009 and 2011, with few or no surveys in unaffected areas in those years.
*    The study states, “Cyclone intensities are increasing with warming ocean temperatures….”

This statement is unsubstantiated and contrary to available evidence. The most definitive recent studies find no increase in tropical cyclone frequency or intensity. On the GBR severe cyclone activity for the past century has also been well below the level for the preceding century. The study also states:

“The recent frequency and intensity of mass coral bleaching are of major concern, and are directly attributable to rising atmospheric greenhouse gases.”

No evidence exists for this claim. The mass-bleaching events of recent decades have coincided with surface water warming resulting from periods of extended calm associated with strong El Niño events. This impedes normal evaporative cooling as well as wave driven mixing. There is no evidence of any increase in the frequency or strength of El Niño events, and climate models project increased wind speeds from warming, not more calms. The report further states:
“Water quality is a key environmental driver for the GBR. Central and southern rivers now carry five- to ninefold higher nutrient and sediment loads from cleared, fertilized, and urbanized catchments into the GBR compared with pre-European settlement.”

No actual measurements of pre-European sedimentation rates exist. These are only estimates and extrapolations from unverified proxies which may or may not represent what is claimed. What is certain is that the inshore areas of the GBR are heavily blanketed in sediments that have accumulated over thousands of years and turbidity in coastal waters is overwhelmingly governed by re-suspension of these sediments through wave action, not by current day runoff from the land.

The most widely cited study purporting to show a large increase in sedimentation after European settlement was based on an increase in barium in coral skeletons just after 60,000 head of cattle were introduced into the Burdekin area in 1870. This was attributed to an increase in erosion caused by the cattle. But this period also coincided with the ending of an extended period of extreme drought and no explanation has ever been offered for why the barium level has subsequently decreased despite the million head of cattle now in the same catchment.

The assumption that levels of turbidity in flood runoff events are almost entirely attributable to farming and grazing is unwarranted, and it is readily observable that runoff turbidity from crop and grazing areas is often markedly less than from undisturbed natural areas. Crops and grasses are simply better at retaining soil than is either the rainforest or open eucalypt woodland they have replaced. Sediment-trapping by dams and cessation of the widespread annual burning practiced by the pre-European inhabitants of the area can also be expected to have reduced sediment outflows.

There is good reason to expect that agriculture and grazing may well have resulted in a net reduction in levels of sediment discharge, compared to pre-European condition. The claims of multi-fold increases in sedimentation are simply speculation wrapped in techno-waffle and presented as fact.....

The core claim is that the reef has lost half of its coral in the past 27 years and that: “Without significant changes to the rates of disturbance and coral growth, coral cover in the central and southern regions of the GBR is likely to decline to 5–10% by 2022.”

If this is true, the implications for future research and management are profound. It means that the current condition of the GBR is essentially no better than that of the heavily exploited and effectively unmanaged reefs of the Caribbean or SE Asia. It means all the money and effort that has gone into management and research has been an abject failure. It means that the promised “resilience” to environmental impacts that was the major justification for greatly expanded green zones and sundry other stringent and costly restrictions on productive usage have achieved nothing, and that the vaunted resilience has been just another theoretical academic fantasy. It means that the claims of having the best managed reefs in the world have been only a self-serving delusion. It means that all the past assertions of successful management have been untrue and the research supposedly supporting it has been either grossly incompetent or a deliberate misrepresentation.

Worse still, this all took place when, for nearly three decades the reef,  was supposedly dying off in clear view of all the experts and they even had the surveys to confirm it. Were they too slack to look at their data until now or did they hide it because it didn’t suit their agenda at the time? If they were that incompetent or dishonest in the past, why should we now believe them now?

On the other hand, if the whole business of threats to the reef has simply been grossly exaggerated then it is also time to end the charade. In addition to rent-seekers there is abundant evidence of a variety of other unhealthy influences being involved as well. These include media sensationalism, political pandering for green votes, postmodern scientific corruption, “noble cause” corruption, ill-informed eco-evangelism and bureaucratic empire building.

Regardless of the reef-salvation industry’s industry’s motives, its efforts can only be viewed as either honest but incompetent or duplicitous and self-serving. It is time to severely cut the funding for this elaborate and costly farce. By their own reckoning the reef saviours have failed miserably and we can no longer afford them.

Personally, I suspect that the surest way to save the reef would be to cut funding for management and research by half and link future cuts or increases to the balance of economic and environmental outcomes. I have little doubt that would soon effect a miraculous recovery.

Much more HERE

Plant making Volt batteries furloughs workers

President Obama touted it in 2010 as evidence "manufacturing jobs are coming back to the United States,” but two years later, a Michigan hybrid battery plant built with $150 million in taxpayer funds is putting workers on furlough before a single battery has been produced.

Workers at the Compact Power manufacturing facilities in Holland, Mich., run by LG Chem, have been placed on rotating furloughs, working only three weeks per month based on lack of demand for lithium-ion cells.

The facility, which was opened in July 2010 with a groundbreaking attended by Obama, has yet to produce a single battery for the Chevrolet Volt, the troubled electric car from General Motors. The plant's batteries also were intended to be used in Ford's electric Focus.

Production of the taxpayer-subsidized Volt has been plagued by work stoppages, and the effect has trickled down to companies and plants that build parts for it -- including the batteries.

“Considering the lack of demand for electric vehicles, despite billions of dollars from the Obama administration that were supposed to stimulate it, it’s not surprising what has happened with LG Chem. Just because a ton of money is poured into a product does not mean that people will buy it,” Paul Chesser, an associate fellow with the National Legal and Policy Center, told

The 650,000-square-foot, $300 million facility was slated to produce 15,000 batteries per year, while creating hundreds of new jobs. But to date, only 200 workers are employed at the plant by by the South Korean company. Batteries for the Chevy Volts that have been produced have been made by an LG plant in South Korea.

The factory was partly funded by a $150 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy. LG also received sizeable tax breaks from the local government, saving nearly $50 million in property taxes over 15 years and another $2.5 million annually in business taxes. Landing the factory was hailed as a coup when shovels first hit the ground.

“You are leading the way in showing how manufacturing jobs are coming right back here to the United States of America,” Obama told workers at the ground-breaking ceremony. “Our goal has never been to create a government program, but rather to unleash private-sector growth. And we're seeing results.”

Randy Boileau, a spokesperson for LG Chem in Holland, told that battery production is expected to pick up once Volt assembly lines in Detroit resume production on Oct. 15. He said the facility has spent the past two years building infrastructure and conducting pre-production “test runs.”

“The market conditions haven’t been as favorable, but this hasn’t slowed down plans one bit,” Boileau said. “LG Chem has repeatedly said that this facility is a critical component for them globally.”

Boileau pointed out the workers who are on furloughs one week a month are eligible to collect unemployment for that week, and he said the company covers the contributions to their individual benefits during the period.

The Volt has been plagued by low sales since it first rolled off the line three years ago. Orders have picked up for 2012 but are still well below projections.

Chesser said no amount of government subsidies can counter the practical problems posed by plug-in cars.

“Electric car batteries do not perform much better than they did 100 years ago," he said. "Research has not conquered the battery storage issue, and therefore the electric transportation ‘stimulus’ did not boost the ‘technology of the future,’ but instead a century-old technology as far as performance and capability goes.”

He added that the LG Chem plant's problems show that the unpopularity of electric cars despite heavy taxpayer subsidies has had more widespread negative effects than most realize.

“Billions of dollars were put into Volt research, and Ford received $5.9 billion in stimulus loans to retrofit plants to produce [electric vehicles]," Chesser said. "The battery companies like LG Chem that were supposed to service them have no customers to speak of. Their existence was solely based on access to taxpayer money.

“Had it been private investors rather than government bureaucrats making the decision, there either would have been a reality check about the industry, or only those who made individual decisions to invest would have lost their money, not taxpayers.”


Sun Sets on China's Solar Industry

On Friday, shares of Trina Solar closed at $4.62, down $0.18 for the day.  The stock has been falling for a long time, declining more than 85% in the last three years.  That’s not bad, however, considering Trina is a Chinese solar company.  Rival Suntech Power has seen its shares, also listed on the Big Board, drop.  They are at about 2% of their 2007 values.  And Yingli Green Energy plunged 7.3% on Friday in New York, and it is now trading close to its five-year low.

In last two years, shares of Chinese solar cell producers have fallen by about half, and more price declines are on the way.  The prospects for these manufacturers are poor.

More important, the seemingly intractable problems of the sector highlight the limits—and impending failure—of the country’s industrial policy.  It’s not that Chinese technocrats did not accomplish their ambitious goals.  They set out to create an industry that would dominate the world, and they succeeded.  They aided solar cell manufacturers with easy credit from state banks—perhaps as much as $18 billion of cheap loans—and, some say, subsidies.  As a result of central and local government support, Chinese manufacturers began to expand rapidly.  Chinese competitors now own 70% of the world’s wafer-producing capacity.

Make that overcapacity.  “Massive subsidies and state intervention have stimulated overcapacity more than 20 times total Chinese consumption and close to double total global demand,” said Milan Nitzschke, president of EU ProSun, in a statement released late last month.  The company alleges that 90% of Chinese production had to be exported and that Beijing used subsidies to keep its manufacturers in business.

EU ProSun, a subsidiary of SolarWorld of Germany, has filed a complaint with the European Commission alleging China’s subsidies were illegal.  The Commission is already investigating charges that Chinese producers have been dumping production in Europe.  In July, ProSun filed an anti-dumping complaint with the Commission.  European solar panel makers say Chinese companies have been selling at 80% below their cost.

Chinese producers are clearly worried about the investigations in Brussels.  Europe, the world’s largest solar market, accounted for $27 billion of their sales last year.  That was about a third of their production and 7% of all Chinese exports to the European Union.

The U.S., on the other hand, takes around 7% of China solar exports, and what is left of the American industry is filing trade actions against Chinese producers as well.


Population haters

Some people in environmental lobbies seem to treat people as a kind of pollution.  Although happy to see plants and other animals proliferate, they seem to regard humans as a kind of blot on an otherwise 'natural' landscape.

Human beings affect the planet, and always have done.  Our hominid ancestors undoubtedly caused mass extinctions with their efficient hunting techniques, and our predecessors changed the appearance of the planet as agriculture developed.  More recently our industry and transport systems have changed it.

We are told by some that the Earth cannot support its projected population, having neither the food, the water, the energy or the space to sustain it.  None of this is likely to be true.  Just as the Green Revolution transformed agricultural output in the 20th Century, so can genetically modified crops transform food production in the 21st Century.  New techniques for water purification are developed almost annually, and the Earth is not short of water to treat.  Gas will supply abundant energy for decades, and following close behind it is the steady reduction in the cost of photovoltaic power.  And human beings, though they are found in every habitat on the surface of the Earth, occupy only a tiny fraction of its area.

As nations become richer, their people no longer need large families to supplement the family budget and to support them in old age.  Population levels off as the world becomes wealthier, and is unlikely even to approach the levels touted by alarmists.
In fact human beings are as asset, not a burden.  Their creative intelligence has created opportunities for many people to live more rewarding lives well above the subsistence level that was the lot of their predecessors.  Human ingenuity and technical skill have given us wonderful cities in which to interact and co-operate with our fellow humans.  Their intellect and creativity have given us buildings that lift the spirit, literature that inspires, music that elevates the soul, and paintings that convey insights into the human condition.

Humankind has faced problems and has used its ingenuity to solve them.  It finds ways to make resources go further, fields to produce more crops, engines that are cleaner, and advances in transport and communication that shrink the world and enable us to interact with more of our species.  Julian Simon described the human imagination coupled to the human spirit as "The Ultimate Resource."


UK may lift curbs on shale gas, offer tax help

The British government expressed support for shale gas on Monday, with the energy minister saying he hoped to allow more exploration and the finance minister talking of a favourable tax regime for the energy source opposed by many environmentalists.

Edward Davey, who heads Britain's Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC), said he hoped to lift a suspension on new shale gas exploration that was imposed last year due to concerns about the fracking technology used to exploit it.  "I hope it will prove possible for me to give a green light to shale," Davey told a gas conference in London.

Speaking at the ruling Conservative Party conference in Birmingham, central England, Chancellor (finance minister) George Osborne said he was considering a "generous new tax regime" to encourage investment in shale gas.

"The idea that we should be sitting on enormous energy reserves that could potentially create thousands of jobs and reduce consumer bills and not do anything about it is absolutely absurd," an aide of Osborne told reporters at the party conference.

The aide said one option for a shale gas tax regime would be to remove it from a supplementary charge on corporation tax that applies to offshore North Sea oil and gas exploration.

"I'm sure there are other options, but that is why we want to have a consultation with the industry," the aide added.

The government suspended the development of shale gas extraction last year after the work triggered two small earthquakes near Blackpool, in the northwest, adding to fears about hydraulic fracturing - a method of drilling through shale deposits to retrieve gas by injecting liquids and chemicals.

"In principle, I'm all in favour of exploiting new resources. I would welcome as much as anyone a way to boost Britain's indigenous gas supplies and to reduce energy prices to consumers and businesses alike," Davey said.

The British business lobby welcomed the government's move on proposals to provide incentives for shale gas exploration.

"It makes sense to maximise the amount of energy we can produce at home at reasonable cost," John Cridland, Director-General of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) said in a statement.

"Incentivising the exploration of shale gas sits alongside investment in renewables," he added.

The energy ministry now has to decide whether to allow new holes to be drilled. Davey said his department was approaching the question with caution.

"I make no apology for being a little more patient. Questions about regulatory oversight and the involvement of communities need to be answered rather than simply dismissed," he said.

The British Geological Survey estimates Britain's onshore shale reserves at 5.3 trillion cubic feet (150 billion cubic metres), which would be enough to meet its gas consumption for one and a half years, although UK shale gas exploration firms such as Cuadrilla Resources have put their figures as high as 200 trillion cubic feet.

In the United States, a shale gas boom has resulted in a sharp rise in natural gas production, leading to a collapse in domestic prices and the possibility of the U.S. exporting liquefied natural gas (LNG) by 2015.




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


No comments: