Friday, November 30, 2012

More Settled Science: Wrong about Ice Melt in Greenland, Sea-Rise

New research published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences tends to now show that ice melt estimates previously calculated for Greenland have not significantly accelerated- as has been previously postulated- nor has the melt contributed in a meaningful way to the rise of sea levels.

Recently, much of the destruction on the east coast as a consequence of Super-Mega-Hurricane Sandy Gore was blamed on the rise in sea-levels, which have been blamed on… drum roll…global warming.

The newest revelation, amongst many in the last several years that have muffled the global warming chants of “settled science, settled science, settled science,” confirms that the model generally used to support climate change, global warming and/or Super-Mega-Hurricane Sandy Gore, is neither settled nor scientific.

Global Warming theorists have advanced the notion the melt from Greenland’s ice sheet is the prime culprit in elevated sea-levels. They advanced this theory after their previous theory- the ice melt in the Himalayas- was shown by the same process that has now debunked the Greenland ice theory to have been exaggerated.

And yes, the seas have risen not withstanding Obama’s election promise to make the seas stop rising. Presumably the Greatest Superhero President Ever was going to use some sort of magical veto power that was transmitted to him through his cartoon Nobel Prize Heroes to compel the seas to stop rising.

But back in the real world where science is based on facts, and prizes are awarded based on real accomplishments outside of Scandinavia and American Idol, the new report- which was generated by researchers at Princeton University- shows that the Greenland ice melt is happening at such a slow pace that in fact, there is no need to fret over the loss of ice in the Land of Green.

From the UK’s Register:

"If the Greenland ice losses aren't accelerating, there's no real reason to worry about them. According to the Princeton statement:

At current melt rates, the Greenland ice sheet would take about 13,000 years to melt completely, which would result in a global sea-level rise of more than 21 feet (6.5 meters)."

So does this mean that Obama has to serve 3,250 four-year terms as president before he can make the seas actually stop rising?

Liberals would like to think so. It will probably take that long just to get an Obama budget passed.

The Register says what the report really means is that sea-rise levels from the Greenland melt will be insignificant.

“Put another way, in that scenario we would be looking at 5cm of sea level rise from Greenland by the year 2130: a paltry amount,” writes the Register. “Authoritative recent research drawing together all possible causes of sea level rise bears this out, suggesting maximum possible rise in the worst case by 2100 will be 30cm. More probably it will be less, and there will hardly be any difference between the 20th and 21st centuries in sea level terms.”

But that’s very much a different conclusion than was drawn over the summer when scientists at NASA told us- gasp!- that all the ice in Greenland was melting at once, an event that had never been recorded in 30 years of satellite imaging of the ice sheets!

Imagine ice melting in the summer. Well, I never…

Yes. Never before- um, since they started looking at it in the late 1970s- had all the ice in Greenland melted at the same time. There must have been some union rule against it until now.

Bloggsters, like ScienceBlogs’ Greg Laden jumped on that NASA report saying “I have always felt that sea level rise would be quicker and higher than my colleagues in climate science have suggested.”

And he cited the report as more proof that the global-warming apocalypse, created by the fossil fuels that made possible things like indoor plumbing, modern medicine, sanitation and footwear not made from bark, will destroy the hallmarks of civilization like indoor plumbing, modern medicine, sanitation and footwear not made from bark.

But now we know that Laden was wrong. And he’ll just have to find some other culprit for the change in the weather.

But getting past all the scientific inquiry and theorizing based on fantasy, not facts, is what global warming scientists do best.

It doesn’t have to be settled or science. It just has to sell.


New paper finds Roman Warming Period in Florida was warmer than today

A new paper published in Quaternary International reconstructs temperatures in SW Florida and finds that summer temperatures during the Roman Warm Period [RWP] from 300 BC-550 AD were "insignificantly different from today" and that winters during the RWP were "colder than today at 150-200 AD and 250-300 AD, similar to today at 200-250 AD, 300-350 AD and 450-500 AD, and warmer than today at 500-550 AD." The paper adds to hundreds of other peer-reviewed papers demonstrating temperatures during the Medieval, Roman, Minoan, and other unnamed warming periods were as warm or warmer than today.

The paper also shows that tiny variations in Total Solar Irradiance [TSI] of less than 1 W/m2 correlated with significant changes in reconstructed temperature of up to 5C. The IPCC claims that changes in TSI during the 20th century of about 1.5 W/m2 cannot account for 0.7C observed global warming, but data from this paper and others suggests otherwise. In addition, the paper shows TSI lagged by 50 years is better correlated to reconstructed temperatures, perhaps as a result of the enormous thermal inertia of the oceans.
Seasonal climate change across the Roman Warm Period/Vandal Minimum transition using isotope sclerochronology in archaeological shells and otoliths, southwest Florida, USA

Ting Wang et al.


Archaeological evidence suggests that southwest Florida experienced variably warmer and wetter climate during the Roman Warm Period (RWP; 300 BC-550 AD) relative to the Vandal Minimum (VM; 550-800 AD). This hypothesis was tested by reconstructing seasonal-scale climate conditions for the latter part of the RWP (1-550 AD) by using high-resolution oxygen isotope ratios (δ18O) of archaeological shells (Mercenaria campechiensis) and otoliths (Ariopsis felis). Eight shells radiocarbon-dated to 150-550 AD recorded that the RWP summers at 150-250 AD were insignificantly different from today and the RWP summers at 250-350 AD and 450-550 AD were drier relative to today. Eight otoliths indicate that the winters were variable during the RWP, colder than today at 150-200 AD and 250-300 AD, similar to today at 200-250 AD, 300-350 AD and 450-500 AD, and warmer than today at 500-550 AD. The climate reconstructions agree with archaeological observations and are partially coherent with the history of sea-level change, with a drying and cooling trend at the 95% confidence level across the RWP/VM transition. The climate transition is not only consistent with falling sea level, but also coherent with reduced solar radiation. Reduced solar radiation may have triggered a change in atmospheric circulation patterns that precipitated the observed climate transition.

Some British industries to be shielded from green energy costs as household bills to soar

Energy-intensive industries will be shielded from subsidising new nuclear power plants and wind farms, under Government plans that will see other businesses and consumers paying billions of pounds more for electricity.

Government estimates show that policies to subsidise low-carbon power alone will add £95 to household bills by 2020.

Ministers will on Thursday unveil the long-awaited Energy Bill, intended to encourage £110bn of investment in low-carbon generation this decade. It will offer generators long-term contracts guaranteeing prices for electricity from new power plants - paid for through levies on electricity bills.

Government estimates show that these and other subsidies for low-carbon power will add £95 to household bills by 2020. The cost to all energy consumers is likely to triple, up to cap set at £7.6bn a year by 2020 - with other 'green’ policies adding yet more.

Industry and consumer groups have warned that the additional costs could plunge more households into 'fuel poverty’, put some firms out of business and force industries to relocate overseas.

In an attempt to assuage fears, the Government will today unveil plans to exempt energy-intensive industries from additional costs arising from the new long-term electricity contracts.

Energy Secretary Ed Davey said: “Decarbonisation should not mean deindustrialisation. There would be no advantage in simply forcing UK businesses to relocate to other countries.”

Ministers are yet to specify which industries will be exempt, or how much money they will save.

However, a spokesman for the Department of Energy and Climate Change said the exemption would not affect the £7.6bn total for subsidies by 2020 - so would see other businesses and households pick up the costs instead.

He insisted the impact of the exemption on others was “likely to be extremely small”.

Business Secretary Vince Cable said the move was a “critical reform” to ensure industry remained competitive.

Manufacturers union EEF welcomed the move but said the Government must act to protect all energy consumers.

The British Chambers of Commerce called on the Government to address wider concerns over business energy costs, warning that nearly 40pc of businesses felt rising energy bills had adversely affected their growth.

Ministers will also today announce a consultation on plans to reduce the UK’s energy demand. These could include paying consumers for electricity saved by installing energy-efficient lighting.


Alice in Wonderland science

Our energy and environment deserve better – in South Africa and Qatar

By Kelvin Kemm (Dr Kelvin Kemm is a nuclear physicist and business strategy consultant in Pretoria, South Africa)

A few weeks ago, perhaps as a prologue to the “global warming disaster” convention in Doha, Qatar, South Africa’s Department of Environment Affairs took out a full-page advertisement in our country’s newspapers, promoting National Marine Week.

The ad showed a map of the Antarctic continent, from above the pole, surrounded by the vast blue Southern Ocean. It also promoted South Africa’s new Antarctic research vessel, SA Agulhas II.

The advertisement’s text mentioned the massive Antarctic Circumpolar Current, which is responsible for distributing vital nutrients to the world’s oceans. It noted that the truly massive quantities of phytoplankton found in the ocean are vital marine building blocks in ocean processes. All that is true, and I certainly applaud efforts to protect the environment and promote National Marine Week and our country’s research efforts.

But then, sadly, the ad’s discussion of physics content went off the rails. Referring to phytoplankton, it said “these microscopic creatures also use carbon to create energy.” Wrong!

The most basic law of thermodynamics says energy is neither created nor destroyed, but merely converted from one form to another. The only way to “create” energy is via a nuclear process, whereby matter is converted to energy in a nuclear reaction, as Einstein famously postulated over a century ago. Nuclear processes operate outside the laws of thermodynamics, but there is certainly no nuclear process going on in phytoplankton.

I could have lived with that slip up in the physics. But it got worse – much worse. The ad went on to blame global warming for upsetting the phytoplankton. In a declaration straight out of Alice in Wonderland, it asserted: “The increase in surface temperature over Antarctica from climate change is having a catastrophic knock-on effect, depleting phytoplankton stocks, melting the Antarctic ice sheet and causing an alarming reduction in all marine life.”

First, to the best of my knowledge, there has been no “alarming reduction in all marine life.” None of my colleagues are aware of it. Second, the surface temperature over Antarctica is not increasing.

In fact, a new record has just been attained. Antarctic sea ice has just reached an all-time record for total acreage. Day 265 of the year 2012 set an all time record, and then on day 266 that record was broken. The days 265 to 270 were the six highest Antarctic sea ice extent days of all time.

The environment department then compounded these errors by committing the unforgivable scientific sin of claiming a supposed increase in surface air temperature over Antarctica “is having a catastrophic knock-on effect” – then providing no evidence to back up its assertion and not telling readers what the alleged knock-on effect is.

I cannot even begin to imagine how this knock-on is supposed to alter the Circumpolar Current, which in turn is somehow supposed to affect the “energy creation” capabilities of phytoplankton. Come off it, folks.

There is so much good Antarctic science to be proud of – and, for that matter, really fine South African scientific achievements in the Antarctic to brag about. That the DEA would feel compelled to celebrate National Maritime Week by resorting to phytoplankton scares supposedly related to nonexistent Antarctic heating is beyond mystifying.

Meanwhile, over the last few months, newspaper stories have told of reduced sea ice extent at our planet’s other pole, the Arctic. Terms like “alarming rate” of ice depletion were bandied about casually. Yes, there were reductions in Arctic sea ice cover.

However, on September 18, a video posted by NASA on its website showed that a large and long lasting Arctic cyclone “wreaked havoc on the Arctic sea ice cover,” by “breaking up sea ice.” The unusual reduction in Arctic sea ice cover was due to high winds – not to any warming of the Arctic or global warming in general. NASA’s belated analysis demonstrated that a large section of ice north of the Chukchi Sea was cut off by the churning storm, broken up and pushed south into warmer waters, where it melted.

The storm also broke up other ice, accelerating drifting and melting elsewhere. Reuters finally reported that “NASA says a powerful cyclone formed off the coast of Alaska in early August and moved toward the centre of the Arctic Ocean, weakening the already thin sea ice as it went.”

NASA noted that this was an “uncommon event” and that there have been only about eight storms of similar strength during August in 34 years of satellite records. However, a major storm every four years is not all that “uncommon.” Paul A. Newman, Chief Scientist for Atmospheric Sciences at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Centre, added that such wind disturbances produce many effects and can also lift warmer water from the depths of the Arctic Ocean up to the surface to accelerate melting.

For some reason – probably having to do with its regular promotion of “dangerous manmade global warming” claims – the storm story was barely mentioned in the mainstream popular media. By contrast, the “alarming ice cover reduction” narrative was covered extensively.

Now jump back in time five years, to December 12, 2007. On that date Associated Press writer Seth Borenstein distributed an article that stated: “An already relentless melting of the Arctic greatly accelerated this summer – a sign that some scientists worry could mean global warming has passed an ominous tipping point. One scientist even speculated that summer sea ice could be gone in five years.”

Well, five years have come and gone. Borenstein was dead wrong. Does anyone suppose the AP will now publish an apology, admitting that its “science writer” was on thin ice when he made this outlandish statement, and saying he should not have tried to scare the public like that?

Perhaps the answer can be found in Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland.

“There's no use trying,” Alice said. “One can’t believe impossible things.” “I daresay you haven’t had much practice,” said the Queen. “When I was younger, I always did it for half an hour a day. Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”

Especially with the Doha climate change confab in full swing, taxpayers, newspaper readers – and anyone dreaming of a better life through reliable, affordable energy – deserves more honest reporting and more science-based energy and environmental policies than they have been getting.

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Carbon Taxes

One suggestion for dealing with greenhouse gas emissions is to implement a revenue-neutral tax on carbon emissions. If we implemented a carbon tax and cut income taxes by the same amount, we would be reducing taxes on something we want (income) and increasing taxes on something we don’t (air pollution).

As good as it sounds, I’m skeptical of the merits of carbon taxes, even if our CO2 emissions cause global warming. Fossil fuels have been the energy source behind the remarkable economic progress we have had since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution. Taxing that energy source will lower economic growth. Reducing income taxes should increase economic growth, but the issue is more complex than just which tax would, in theory, be the least detrimental to growth. Here are six reasons for my skepticism on carbon taxes.

1. Fossil fuels have powered the Industrial Revolution. Let’s say that the Earth is 2-3 degrees warmer today than it would have been had the Industrial Revolution never occurred. Is that amount of warming worth it? Would you rather live in today’s world, or have the standard of living of people in 1750 and an Earth 2-3 degrees cooler? If that is the cost of the remarkable economic progress that has resulted from the Industrial Revolution, most people would gladly accept the warming.

2. Carbon taxes would slow economic growth not only because they would make the power that fuels it more costly, but also because carbon taxes are unlikely to be revenue-neutral, even when their advocates propose it. Look at the VAT in the EU, which was proposed as a revenue-neutral tax reform, and sparked a substantial growth of government across the EU countries. Look at the federal income tax, which started as a progressive tax with a top marginal tax rate of 7%. A carbon tax would not be implemented by an omniscient benevolent government that would produce the “optimal” policy, but by a democratic process that is laced with special interest politics and cronyism. A new revenue source, even if intended by its architects to be revenue-neutral, ultimately would lead to bigger government, placing even more of a burden on the productive capacity of the economy.

3. If we are concerned about our children and grandchildren, then combining the first two points, would we make future generations better off by leaving them a world that is slightly cooler, but also poorer?

4. We should weigh the benefits as well as the costs of global warming. What if the people arguing that human use of fossil fuels is warming the planet are right? CO2, which is often viewed as a pollutant, is necessary for plant growth, and a higher concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere will mean healthier plants. A warmer climate will mean a longer growing season, so we can better feed our population. It would open up land to crops that currently is too far north. People in some places would surely be made worse off from a warmer planet, but people in other places — Siberia, Canada — would be better off. People are mobile, and populations would shift as climate change made some places more desirable relative to others. Global warming would bring with it benefits as well as costs.

5. There are benefits to waiting to deal with global warming, if it is a problem. One is that technology will develop so that it will become cheaper to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the future. For example Air Fuel Synthesis is a company that takes CO2 from the air and hydrogen from water to make oil. I don’t know whether this is the winning technology, but over time more technological advances like this will occur, making it more cost-effective to deal with greenhouse gas emissions. Also over time, people get wealthier (if we don’t kill the goose that lays the golden eggs), and are willing to pay for “green” energy. People in wealthier countries are choosing to spend their own money to buy solar panels to generate electricity, and to engage in other “green” activity without any government mandates telling them they have to. If it is desirable to do something to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions, there are some benefits to doing something later rather than now.

6. Carbon taxes could increase the emissions of greenhouse gasses. If the US implemented carbon taxes unilaterally, that would raise the cost of manufacturing in the US, which would push manufacturing to other countries (like China) where manufacturing produces higher emissions than in the relatively clean US. The shift in manufacturing from low emissions countries to high emissions countries would result in more greenhouse gas emissions.

People who are skeptical about global warming will, of course, see no reason for carbon taxes, but the six points above make the argument that people who think global warming is real and man-made have good reason to question the desirability of carbon taxes.


Climate Change Think Tank Warns of Robot Uprising

Martin Rees, former president of the Royal Society, and ueber-alarmist, continues his descent into fringe theories

You know that sneaking suspicion you’ve always had that climate change alarmists are all doom fetishists with an unhealthy obsession with apocalyptic scenarios? Well you’re not too far from the mark, it would seem.

Martin Rees, former president of the Royal Society, and author of uber-alarmist global warming book Our Final Century, has teamed up with philosophy professor, Huw Price and Skype co-founder Jaan Tallinn to form the Centre for the Study of Existential Risk (CSER), a think tank devoted to looking at climate change and other ways we could all die. Maybe. Perhaps.

The BBC reports on the think tank and the inspiration behind it:

"The Centre for the Study of Existential Risk (CSER) will study dangers posed by biotechnology, artificial life, nanotechnology and climate change.

The scientists said that to dismiss concerns of a potential robot uprising would be “dangerous”.

Fears that machines may take over have been central to the plot of some of the most popular science fiction films."

It is certainly appropriate that climate change is to be studied under the same roof as robot uprisings and fears about the triffids taking over the planet. Perhaps Bigfoot will also be looked into as well, we’re not sure on that one yet.

But what is certain is that from being a front page news story and worldwide concern, climate change alarmism has slipped ever further down the slope to fringe status, joining crackpot theories like robot uprisings at the outer margins of speculation. How fitting.




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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