Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Study: Antarctic ice melting from below

Not melting from top-down heat re-radiated by CO2?

In what represents the first comprehensive study of all of the frozen continent's ice shelves, researchers have found that basal melt, that is, melting from underneath driven by warm ocean waters, accounted for 55 percent of shelf loss from 2003 to 2008.

This figure is much higher than previously thought. Before this study, it was suspected that much of Antarctica's ice loss was the result of icebergs splitting apart and falling into the sea.

“We find that iceberg calving is not the dominant process of ice removal. In fact, ice shelves mostly melt from the bottom before they even form icebergs,” said the study's lead author, Eric Rignot, in a press release. “This has profound implications for our understanding of interactions between Antarctica and climate change. It basically puts the Southern Ocean up front as the most significant control on the evolution of the polar ice sheet.”

The findings, which appear in the current issue of the journal Science, will help scientists better understand how Antarctic ice loss will contribute to sea level rise. Antarctica holds about 60 percent of the planet's fresh water.

Dr. Rignot, a professor at University of California, Irvine, who also works at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, found that fewer than a dozen small ice sheets was responsible for half of the meltwater. Antarctica's largest ice sheets, Ross, Filchner, and Ronne, which make up two-thirds of the continent's shelves, were behind only 15 percent of the melting.


Global Warming versus Rising Sea Levels?

Will climate change raise the sea level? If so, by how much? The issue, like many related to global warming, is far from settled. The principal data come from the long-term records, going back to about 1900, from about two dozen stations around the world—not as large a storehouse of information as we would like. Since issuing its first assessment report, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has reduced its estimated range of sea level rise from 10 to 367 centimeters (published in 1990), to 18 to 59 centimeters (published in 2007)—a lot less than the 600 centimeter (20 feet) rise predicted by Al Gore and James Hansen. But new data and analyses suggest that global warming might slow down a rising sea level, not accelerate it, according to Independent Institute Research Fellow S. Fred Singer.

The observed rise in sea level over the past century—18 centimeters (7 inches)—reportedly comes from two main sources: thermal expansion of the oceans and the melting of continental glaciers. Contrary to popular lore, the polar regions, mostly Antarctica, seem to have helped keep the sea level from rising even more through precipitation and ice accumulation. This was reported in the IPCC’s second assessment (1996). Interestingly, however, it now seems clear that 1 F (0.6 C) warming of the past 100 years doesn’t explain the observed sea level rise. Other mechanisms, including the melting of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS), seem to be involved.

If so, then expect sea levels to continue to rise at about the same rate—even though global warming itself could contribute to slowing that rise, via its effect on precipitation and ice accumulation at the poles. “And there is nothing that we can do to stop this future sea level rise!,” Singer writes in American Thinker. “It is as inevitable as the ocean tides. Fortunately, coral reefs will continue to grow, as they have in the past, to keep up with SLR. The rest of us will just have to adapt to future [sea level rise], as our ancestors did some 10,000 years ago. At least we are better equipped with technology to deal with such environmental changes.”


"Progressives" Blame Capitalism Instead of Obama For Coal Bankruptcy

The American coal industry is in free-fall and companies are being forced to do whatever it takes to keep from closing their doors. It’s a difficult situation for all involved, and the progressive media is eager to levy the blame on the free market. Even when the facts suggest big government picking winners and losers is at fault, a good crisis never goes to waste for progressives, and thus those details are unabashedly ignored.

Case in point is a recent article published by the always fair and balanced Atlantic about the bankruptcy of the Patriot Coal Company. The article lambasted Patriot’s court-approved plan to avoid complete liquidation as a scheme to rob union members of their pensions. This narrative is narrow-minded and ignores the broader trends of what is really happening to the once-proud American coal industry.

The story hinges on a May 29th ruling that allowed Patriot to shed $1.6 billion in union retiree pensions and health benefits and replace it with a several hundred million dollar healthcare trust fund. The United Miners Workers Union was also given a 35 percent ownership in the company as part of the agreement.

There’s plenty of blame to go around here. Patriot Coal is a spin-off company of Peabody Energy. When the two companies separated, Patriot was stuck with 40 percent of the pension and benefits overhead while only receiving 16 percent of the former company’s capital. This is only one element of the story, but it's what the media has chosen to focus on entirely since it's the most convenient detail for their agenda.

They’re now running wild attacking capitalism as the culprit. Indeed the title of the Atlantic article is “This Is Capitalism Now: How a Coal Company Bilked 20,000 Workers Out of Health Benefits”.

Notably missing in the media coverage, however, is the real cause of Patriot’s bankruptcy: President Obama’s war on coal.

The Patriot Coal story is a textbook example of the way progressives escape accountability. We are meant to sympathize with the unions in their plight against the company. What’s ignored is the industry’s fight to survive the regulatory onslaught from the Obama administration and the union’s previously fervent support of the President’s campaign.

Notwithstanding Peabody’s actions, it’s outrageous to ignore President Obama’s stubborn determination to bankrupt the coal industry. Recall when then candidate Obama said in 2008, “Under my plan of a cap-and-trade system electricity rates would necessarily skyrocket” He added, “So, if somebody wants to build a coal plant, they can – it’s just that it will bankrupt them.”

Following his election, Obama doggedly pursued his anti-coal agenda with cap-and-trade. After the legislation failed, he used the EPA to issue regulations that have dramatically reduced coal use.

According to the Energy Information Administration, in first quarter of 2011, 49 percent of electricity was derived from coal. That figure dropped to 34 percent one year later –- the year Patriot sought bankruptcy protection.

An analysis by the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity found combined EPA regulations are contributing to the closure of more than 280 coal power units. Further, the agency’s proposed greenhouse gas rule would essentially ban construction of any new coal-based power plants.

Investors can’t ignore these details like the media can. They are reacting to the reduced demand for coal as evidenced by crashing values of coal company stocks. Peabody stock, for example, was just over $70 per share in April 2011. It’s now selling for about $19.

Despite Obama’s pledge to bankrupt coal fired utilities, the United Mine Workers Union endorsed his campaign in 2008. Following the fulfillment of his openly hostile agenda against their jobs, the union elected to sit on the sidelines in 2012 instead of fighting for their livelihoods.

Now they’re reaping what they’ve sown.

Without coal leaving the ground and being burned to produce power, the coal producers can’t fulfill obligations made when coal demand was high and the regulatory regime wasn’t tyrannical.

Given this government’s explicit policy to bankrupt the coal industry, the media and unions are na├»ve if they are honestly surprised that Patriot is on the verge of bankruptcy. They have no room to criticize companies doing everything possible to prevent liquidation and the mass layoffs that follow.

The Atlantic’s exploitation of this story is just another facet of an all-out media assault on free market capitalism waged without regard to inconvenient facts that completely impeach their narrative.


Jiggery pokery in climate talks

In the final minutes of COP 18, the UN climate talks in Doha, Qatari vice prime minister Abdullah bin Hamad al-Attiyah brought down the gavel — ending the COP and snubbing delegates of nations waiting to speak. Among them was the Russian delegation which was frantically waving papers in the air demanding to be recognized.

Russia has neither forgiven, nor forgotten.

When the UN climate talks opened in Bonn last week, Russia, joined by Ukraine and Belarus, blocked adoption of the agenda of the “Subsidiary Body for Implementation” (SBI). The SBI is the key negotiating track towards signing a UN climate treaty in Paris in 2015. The SBI has been unable to conduct any business in Bonn and has announced that it has suspended its business.  This has prevented the UN from considering, among other items, advancing the loss and damage mechanism (see CFACT’s report) that was perhaps the most significant outcome agreed to in Doha.

Many developing nations are not happy at seeing “loss and damage” blocked, as it is a key pathway for those seeking a global warming route to wealth redistribution.

Russia has raised a much needed question as to whether there is a fundamental lack of fairness and due process at the UN climate talks. The Doha outcome, for example, was “agreed to,” but was it ever properly voted upon? Is it proper for the UNFCCC to allow major portions of the outcome of the climate talks to be drafted behind closed doors, present them at the 11th hour and then proceed based on a “consensus” rather than a recorded vote? Can the UN lawfully slam the gavel on any nation, such as Russia, and refuse to recognize them? Reuters reports that ‘Christiana Figueres, the U.N.’s climate chief, said a consensus was reached,’ but Oleg Shamanov, Russia’s head of delegation, called it an “absolutely obvious violation of the procedure.”

Reuters further reports that, ‘in 2010, Bolivian chief negotiator Pablo Solon claimed that security had blocked him from attending the talks, while a year later Venezuela’s envoy had to stand on a chair to voice her objections. Jayanthi Natarajan, India’s minister of forests and environment, said she was threatened and told not to object to any text at talks in Durban in 2011. “In the past we have very negative examples where procedures were not followed … and the culmination point was Doha. It’s unacceptable,” Shamanov said.’

If the UNFCCC successfully gets its climate treaty in Paris in 2015, the treaty will govern a tremendous portion of the economic activity of all mankind. Not billions, but trillions of dollars will be at stake. Nations will subordinate major portions of their sovereignty to the United Nations. Aside from whether the climate treaty is wise (it is not), can such a thing be created without due process? Without a vote? This would seem to contravene the principles upon which the UN was founded.

Those who stand for individual freedom and the due process which protects it owe Russia their thanks. Russia’s actions, however, appear to be largely self motivated. When al-Attiyah gaveled Russia down in Doha he wounded Russian pride — something Russia is historically willing to fight for.

A larger Russian motivation, however, appears to be what is being called in Bonn the “hot air” issue. Russia was not at all pleased when the UN COP pulled the plug in Doha on all the emissions credits Russia had acquired under the first Kyoto treaty and told Russia it couldn’t carry them forward.  Russia, which has announced that it will not be part of a second commitment period for the Kyoto protocol and has signaled a reluctance to sign on in Paris, wants to keep its credits anyway. Russia would like to sell its old credits to the countries which do sign aboard and would be paid effectively for nothing but hot air.

European carbon markets have recently collapsed with the price of carbon hitting record lows. The UNFCCC believes that allowing Russia, Ukraine, Poland and other former Soviet bloc nations to retain the huge stockpile of carbon credits they picked up under Kyoto would relentlessly flood and depress the carbon market in perpetuity. The irony is that in effect, the former Eastern bloc nations are claiming credit and demanding compensation for Communism, which depressed their economic development. Many of the former Eastern bloc’s carbon credits accrued during their painful transition from Communism which temporarily depressed their economies still further.  If any compensation is due for the harms caused by Communism, Russia should be paying, not receiving.

Poland, which will host UN COP 19 in November, has approximately 500m tons of carbon credits which it refuses to part with. Poland generates much of its power from coal and would like to use those credits both to offset the emissions from its use of coal and to continue to sell to other nations. Poland is estimated to have sold €190 million in credits to nations including Japan, Ireland and Spain.

Poland was a victim of Communism. Should Russia and the other nations of the former Soviet Union truly be compensated for the economic destruction wreaked by Communism? The absurdity of how money changes hands through UN processes apparently knows no bounds.

The good news is that the treaty negotiating track at the UN climate talks in Bonn is temporarily suspended, although Ms. Figueres vows to be back on track by Warsaw. The bad news is that there are very few “good guys” involved. The UN climate talks have become a place where radical ideology trumps science, consensus is gaveled into policy with little regard for due process and the nations of the world are bribed to go along with handouts of other people’s money.

Who do you suppose worked for the money that everyone at the UN is so anxious to redistribute?


EPA attempts to regulate urban development

Still no recognotion that "smart growth" has turned out to be dumb growth.  You want to live in a tiny house jammed up against your neighbors?  The EPA has a future for you!  And these clowns actually think their "report" will be useful to people!  Only to people with no brain of their own

Is there a "compact, mixed-use community" in your future? Probably. But it won't be near a "sensitive area" -- lakeside, riverside, seaside, forest or farm.

Many Americans may find themselves living in a TOD -- a "transit oriented development" -- where people can walk or bike from their (compact) homes to their jobs or the shopping center.

The advantages of such planned, future development include membership in political organizations and community groups, according to an EPA report released on Monday.

In 148 pages, the EPA advocates locating new development away from "sensitive areas," choosing previously developed sites near transit hubs instead. It advocates the construction of "compact, mixed-used communities" that are convenient for bicyclists and pedestrians; and the use of "green building" techniques, such as natural lighting to conserve energy.

The report accepts "climate change," exacerbated by "human activity," as an undisputed fact (page 65); and it includes a section on "Emotional Health and Community Engagement," which outlines the "benefit to communities when its members participate in political organizations, charitable activities, community organizations, and group recreational activities"(page 73).

“This report will be useful for communities across the country looking to make smart development decisions,” said EPA Acting Administrator Bob Perciasepe. “Whether it’s housing, transportation, or environmental issues, this report can help communities protect public health and the environment by avoiding harmful development strategies.”

The EPA says its report is "important and timely" because population growth and demographic changes will substantially change the way the United States is developed over the next half century and beyond. The report "provides information that can help state and local governments decide how to accommodate expected population growth within their borders in the most environmentally responsible manner."

The EPA notes that the U.S. population is projected to grow 42 percent between 2010 and 2050, from 310 million to 439 million. "These new people will need additional housing and infrastructure," it says. It estimates that as much as two-thirds of the development that will exist in 40 to 45 years does not exist today.

"These projected trends present an opportunity to improve the environmental performance of our built environment. Where and how we build new housing and infrastructure needed to accommodate projected population growth will have important environmental impacts."

According to the report:

"Where we build involves locating development in a region or land area. It includes safeguarding sensitive areas such as riparian buffers, wetlands, and critical habitat from development pressures; directing new development to infill, brownfield, and greyfield sites to take advantage of existing infrastructure and preserve green space; and putting homes, workplaces, and services close to each other in convenient, accessible locations.

How we build includes developing more compactly to preserve open spaces and water quality; mixing uses to reduce travel distances; designing communities and streets to promote walking and biking; and improving building design, construction, and materials selection to use natural resources more efficiently and improve buildings’ environmental performance."

The report is the second edition of a document first published in 2001.

Just last week, the EPA announced it will offer "technical assistance" to three towns or cities interested in "smart growth" strategies.

-- In Rhode Island, EPA officials will help North Kingstown and other R.I. communities "prepare for rising sea levels and reduce the potential impact of climate change on major public infrastructure, private sector investments, and other key economic assets."

-- In Arkansas, EPA officials will help Mississippi County capitalize on the potential redevelopment opportunities related to new steel manufacturing jobs coming to the region. "The project will identify neighborhoods that are best suited for expanding housing opportunities and minimizing commuting time to new jobs. The planning effort may also focus on updates to existing infrastructure, reuse of existing buildings, and development of new public spaces for existing residents and new employees moving to the region."

-- In Washington State, the EPA will work with local governments to a'identify infrastructure, workforce training, and other economic development strategies for encouraging redevelopment in a neighborhood and industrial area south of downtown Kelso, and to create guidelines for public investments that will improve health and equity for residents.a'

Since 2005, EPA says it has supported 36 "Smart Growth Implementation Assistance projects" serving 49 communities.


Australia:  Wind power 'terrorising' rural communities, rally hear

FARMERS from across the country have described a constant rumbling and pulsing in their heads and a feeling of oppressive anxiety they attribute to wind power.

About 150 people from small towns across the country turned up to a three-hour rally at Canberra's Parliament House hosted by shock jock Alan Jones, who was keen to keep the tone polite.

In scenes very different to the infamous carbon tax protest on the same spot in 2011, where protesters held offensive placards including "ditch the witch", Mr Jones reminded those gathered "to be very peaceful and make sure the argument wins the day".

"So be careful of your placards and make sure they are all in very good taste."

He told the crowd companies were terrorising rural communities and if there were no issues with wind power, turbines should be erected in his home Macquarie Street in Sydney.

But the rally also heard from everyday farmers upset with turbines in their communities.

Retired Naval electronics engineering officer and beef farmer David Mortimer said he and his wife had been "wind turbine tragics" when they accepted a $12,000-a-year deal to host them on their land at Millicent, SA.

They now have four turbines 2.5km from their home they say have robbed them of their health and 17 more are planned for close by.

Mr Mortimer now suffers night-time panic attacks, acute anxiety, heart palpitations, tinnitus, earaches, headaches and angina-like pains and his wife has dizzy spells, although both have been cleared by doctors.

"I get this sensation of absolute acute anxiety and it feels like someone is pushing an x-ray blanket over me and weighting me down into the chair and I can't get out ... I feel like I'm on narcotics," he said.

"We've got this constant turmoil, constant pulsing in our head, constant rumbling ... deep, drumming rumbling."

"The new ones they want to put in are going to kill us."

Clean Energy Council Policy Director Russell Marsh dismissed the claims, saying no international research had attributed health impacts to wind power.

When away from home, the silence was like a vacuum, he said.

Lyn Jarvis, from Wellington, is fighting plans for turbines across from her NSW stud beef farm, said she was saddened to see so many people in her position.

"The wind industry, they brand us," she said.  "I'm not a bloody activist, I'm a farmer. I don't want to be here.  "We're not activists, we're trying to protect what's ours."

She said there was not enough research into the effects of wind energy.

Coalition senators who spoke promised an Abbott Government would review the renewable energy target that at least 20 per cent of Australia's electricity will come from renewable sources by 2020 and claimed wind energy was costly and received too many taxpayer subsidies.




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


1 comment:

Joseph said...

"EPA attempts to regulate urban development" is not a matter of the EPA vs. private citizens; it's the EPA vs. other regulators.

The "urban sprawl debate" is between two groups of people controllers. One group wants to fight congestion by reducing population density in crowded areas and the other wants to fight sprawl by reducing population density in uncrowded areas. Sometimes the two sides cooperate and pass BANANA (Build Almost Nothing Anywhere Near Anything) regulations. The resulting housing shortage is blamed on greedy landlords and used as a pretext for more regulations.