Sunday, April 27, 2014

To hell with Archimedes! Melting iceberg to cause sea-level rise

The sheer scientific illiteracy of the story below is hard to beat.  Ever since Archimedes we have known that melting ice does NOT raise the water level.  And note that the breakoff is part of an Antarctic ice EXPANSION

NASA has reported an iceberg bigger than Chicago breaking into the ocean off Antarctica. Known as B31, it is one of the biggest on the planet at 255 square miles (660 sq km) and up to 500 metres thick.

NASA has been monitoring Antarctica's Pine Island Glacier by satellite since a crack was spotted in 2011.

It is feared it could adversely contribute to rising sea levels with the potential to increase water levels by 1.5 metres.

NASA glaciologist Kelly Brunt said: "It's one that's large enough that it warrants monitoring."

While the enormous iceberg is not located in a busy shipping area at the moment. Dr Bethan Davies, a research scientist at the University of Reading, said it could head into areas with more ships.

"It's floating off into the sea and will get caught up in the current and flow around the Antarctica continent where there are ships," she told Sky News.

In a statement released by NASA, Grant Bigg, from the University of Sheffield said: "The iceberg is now well out of Pine Island Bay and will soon join the more general flow in the Southern Ocean.

"We are doing some research on local ocean currents to try to explain the motion properly. It has been surprising how there have been periods of almost no motion, interspersed with rapid flow."


WHOOPS!  I read that a bit hastily.  The sea level rise was attributed to the glacier, not the iceberg.  Some headlines did however say:  "A TITANTIC iceberg that broke off a glacier last year is floating out of control in the Southern Ocean, threatening shipping lanes and raising sea levels."  That was the front page introduction to this report.  So there was indeed journalistic illiteracy at work in the matter

HMMM!  The Pine Island glacier appears to be partly land-based and partly afloat on Pine Island bay.  So when Warmists talk of it breaking off, it is presumably the floating part they are referring to.  And in that case my initial scorn is fully warranted.  The broken off Pine Island glacier would NOT cause a water rise  -- as it is already afloat.

A low carbon meatball!  Good luck with that!

Meat is carbon plus a bit of water and  trace elements

The pursuit of sustainability has led IKEA, the Swedish home-furnishings company, to develop "lower carbon alternatives" to the traditional beef-and-pork Swedish meatballs it now sells at its stores.

"IKEA is a responsible company, and we believe that we can play an important role in the move towards a more sustainable society," the company announced on April 22, Earth Day.

"We will continue to sell the regular meatballs that our customers enjoy every day at IKEA. However we will also provide lower carbon alternatives; a chicken meatball and a vegetarian meatball are under development and will complement our meatball offer in 2015."

Environmentalists hailed the move away from meat: "This is one of the first times a major retailer has introduced a meatless menu item explicitly to combat climate change," said the Center for Biological Diversity.

The group says most people don't realize how important it is to reduce meat consumption, which involves "agricultural emissions," such as methane from animals passing gas.

The Center for Biological Diversity recently launched a new campaign urging Americans to “take extinction off your plate.” Visitors to the website are urged to pledge that they will "eat less meat" and "save more wildlife."


Is spring EVER going to arrive on the Great Lakes? Nasa reveals stunning pictures of Lake Superior still covered in a record-breaking layer of ice

Hint:  Global cooling

Even though North America is a full month into astronomical spring, the Great Lakes have been slow to give up on the harsh winter, Nasa has revealed.

The space agency today published this stunning picture of the Great Lakes, showing a third of their expanse is still covered in ice.

Lake Superior was found to be the most affected, and was found to be 63.5 percent ice covered on April 20th.

Averaged across Lake Superior, ice was 22.6 centimeters (8.9 inches) thick; it was as much as twice that thickness in some locations.

Researcher George Leshkevich said that ice cover this spring is significantly above normal.

For comparison, Lake Superior had 3.6 percent ice cover on April 20, 2013; in 2012, ice was completely gone by April 12. In the last winter that ice cover grew so thick on Lake Superior (2009), it reached 93.7 percent on March 2 but was down to 6.7 percent by April 21.

Average water temperatures on all of the Great Lakes have been rising over the past 30 to 40 years and ice cover has generally been shrinking. (Lake Superior ice was down about 79 percent since the 1970s.)

But chilled by persistent polar air masses throughout the 2013-14 winter, ice cover reached 88.4 percent on February 13 and 92.2 percent on March 6, 2014, the second highest level in four decades of record-keeping.

Air temperatures in the Great Lakes region were well below normal for March, and the cool pattern is being reinforced along the coasts because the water is absorbing less sunlight and warming less than in typical spring conditions.

Lake Superior ice cover got as high as 95.3 percent on March 19. By April 22, it was reported at 59.9 percent; Lake Huron was nearly 30.4 percent. News outlets noted that as many as 70 ships have been backed up in Lakes Michigan, Huron, and Erie, waiting for passage into ports on Lake Superior.

The U.S. Coast Guard has been grouping ships together into small convoys after they pass through locks at Sault Ste. Marie, in order to maximize ice-breaking efficiency and to protect ships from damage.


Catastrophe, doom and oblivion

Lately, the climate change movement has been celebrating. A recent International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report expressed 95% confidence that half of the warming during the previous 60 years was manmade. In January, the EPA ruled that new coal plants must install carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology — technology that is not yet commercially viable (take that, climate deniers). Then there is the accumulation of almost 500 climate-related laws passed in 66 countries. According to Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA), "This surprising legislative momentum is happening across all continents. Encouragingly, this progress is being led by the big emerging and developing countries, such as China and Mexico, that together will represent 8 billion of the projected 9 billion people on Earth in 2050."

Riding the new-found momentum, climate change elites have sprung into action, reinvigorating the war on carbon and climate deniers. President Obama is conducting a regulatory version of Cap and Trade (legislation that failed to pass during his first term). He even has his own "Climate Change Action Plan." Senate Democrats are holding climate talkathons. John Kerry plans to broker a deal "committing the world’s economies to significant cuts in carbon emissions and sweeping changes in the global energy economy." Climate luminary Joe Biden theorizes, "It would be nice not to have any carbon fuels." To Al Gore, taxing carbon is not enough. "Tax denial," he chortles.

But, the bravado and self-congratulatory rhetoric is a veneer, hiding an astounding lack of planet-saving progress. So too are the pompous slogans and the grandiose policies, built on a delicate foundation of "settled science," "social justice," and wishful thinking. They mask an astounding ignorance of global energy consumption and production trends, not to mention economic realities. God forbid they are celebrating the progress they expect from Obama's action plan and Kerry's climate deal. Their schemes offer nothing new, unless climate scientists discover a way for pompous slogans to reduce GHG emissions.

A litany of ambitious carbon reduction promises and sophomoric flat-earther insults is not a measure of actual planet-saving progress. Nor is a litany of vain and, at best, nebulous "accomplishments" such as laws passed, treaties discussed, money spent, solar panels and windmills produced, and green jobs created. What is the actual effectiveness of the policies? Are we on track to keep GHG emissions below 450 ppm by 2050 (to avert the "carbon tsunami" and our fall from the "climate cliff")? How much do we have to pay developing countries as climate change compensation? How much will it cost to prevent the catastrophic 7.2-degree Fahrenheit global temperature increase that some authorities predicted to occur by 2100? Will these amounts be sufficient to finally save the planet?

One hopes that what is past is not prologue. The policies of the past 25 years have failed miserably in reducing global GHG emissions. They include 20 years of generous subsidies for renewable energy and the splurge of $150 billion in loans to green energy companies such as Solyndra, Abound Solar, Evergreen Solar, and A123 Systems. The current European Union plan (EU 20/20), said to be the world's most significant climate policy, will cost $20 trillion through the end of the century and would reduce the global temperature by 0.1°F. $20 trillion for a 0.1°F decrease? What about the other 7.1 Armageddon-like degrees?

Perhaps Obama's Climate Action Plan — constructed with similar haste, method, and disdain for economic and scientific realities – will be more effective than the EU 20/20 plan. Whatever he has in mind, it had better work fast. At the 2007 Climate Change Conference, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon proclaimed that the world is at a crossroads, where "one path leads to a comprehensive climate change agreement, the other to oblivion. The choice is clear." We must choose soon: "The situation is so desperately serious that any delay could push us past the tipping point." What has been accomplished since? No new treaties (toothless or otherwise). The Kyoto Protocol, still the world's only climate change treaty, has actually weakened. Russia, Japan, and Canada have recently dropped out — despite Obama's 2008 heal-the-planet speech. The officially designated rescue fuels (solar, wind, and biofuel) account for less than 2% of the world's energy supply; oil, gas, and coal account for 87%. GHG emissions are increasing, faster than ever. Evidently, we opted for oblivion.

According to a recent UN study, thanks to the abysmal failure of world governments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, we are probably doomed. English climate change scientist James Lovelock more than agrees; he believes we're only 40 years from global catastrophe. Unlike American climate gurus, Lovelock may have noticed the ongoing global energy shift in which developing countries are expected to consume 65% of the world's energy by 2040. Of all experts, Mr. Obama should have noticed that the developing world is hurtling into the future, furiously burning every calorie it can find of what he calls "yesterday's energy."

As this trend — said to "foreshadow a climate change catastrophe" — intensifies with the population growth of developing countries, other climate change experts warn that the end could come even sooner. Tokyo governor Shintaro Ishihara speculated, "It could be that the 2016 Games are the last Olympics in the history of mankind." Holy shit! No wonder Obama doesn't have time for meetings with the "Flat Earth Society."

This is a glimpse, from the world of climate change believers, of the effectiveness of the policies of their revered political leaders: catastrophe, doom, and oblivion, arriving ahead of schedule. Damn those flat-earthers.

In the real world, however, most people don't see the coming climate havoc with such clarity, or any clarity. Among the reasons for this hazy, infidel view: the temperature trend that produced the Kyoto Protocol of 1997 began to fade in, well, 1998; global temperatures have not increased in the 16 years since 1999. But climate change believers see it; they predicted it — all the horror that, for decades, they have been attributing to climate change. And they see the failure. Yet they refuse to see the vivid connection between paltry emissions reduction and futile policy.

The failure to save the planet is not the result of insufficiently apocalyptic warnings or public ridicule directed at uncooperative climate change deniers. Those who are unaware of the earth's curvature and temperature are irrelevant — all ten of them. Rather, it is the 6.9 billion people (of the 7 billion inhabiting the planet), who pay little, if any, attention to the incessant, shrill, vile, delusional hyperbole of the clueless climate-change elite. They are too busy dealing with bigger problems. The vast majority of people in the industrialized world are much more troubled by economic stagnation, unemployment, and debt. People in the developing world are consumed by the problems of poverty, famine, oppression, ignorance, despair, and natural disasters, to name a few — all the while struggling to be like their industrialized brethren. And when they become industrialized, they will switch to worrying about economic stagnation, unemployment, and debt. Only after that will they worry about climate change. Possibly.

Then there is the irrational insistence that renewable energy, alone, must save the planet. It is clear to anyone, except the political ideologues who long ago hijacked the global warming movement, that solar panels and windmills are not up to the task. At present, only subsidy and delusion sustain them. And who else but boneheads with a pie-in-the-sky political agenda would blithely dismiss more intelligent, proven technologies (natural gas and nuclear power) that could drastically reduce GHG emissions. For example, by replacing coal with natural gas, the shale-energy revolution (not the Obama green revolution) has reduced US emissions by 300 million tons — an amount that exceeds the world's total reduction from solar and wind combined — while reducing American energy costs by $100 billion.

Last September, in Why Climate Activists Need to Dial Back on the Panic, environmentalist Bjorn Lomborg lamented, "Our climate conversation has been dominated by fear and end-of-the-world thinking." He recommended that "instead of being scared silly, we need to realize that global warming is one of many challenges to tackle during the 21st century and start fixing it now with low-cost, realistic innovation." Maybe there is hope for the global warming movement.

Maybe not. Only a few months later, John Kerry descended upon Indonesia, brandishing global warming as a weapon of mass destruction (WMD), and promptly accused climate deniers of "burying their heads in the sand." Kerry, no doubt, thought that punching up his vapid climate change rhetoric with an edgy WMD metaphor would persuade Indonesians to turn down their thermostats and pump up their tires. Except that in Indonesia, where the average annual income is barely $3,000, most people don't have thermostats and tires.

Kerry also seemed unaware of the volcano that killed several people just two days before his arrival, and that Indonesia is located in the "Pacific Ring of Fire," so named for its deadly and frequent earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. But there stood the imperious and clueless Kerry, trying to scare people who live in a "ring of fire" into worrying about a little carbon-induced warming. Perhaps his "most fearsome weapon of mass destruction" embellishment will have more success in China, which accounts for almost 60% of the recent increase in global coal consumption, or in India, where the average annual income is $984.

For anyone who is serious about reducing manmade GHG emissions, there is nothing to celebrate. John Kerry (and his ilk) can offer nothing but catastrophe, doom, and oblivion to the global warming crusade.


The sustainability hoax

All over the country, city and regional governments are writing “sustainability plans,” which are supposedly aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions. While the goal may be laudable, for the most part these plans won’t significantly reduce emissions. However, they will certainly impose huge costs on urban residents and taxpayers.

From Lafayette, La., to the Twin Cities, to the San Francisco Bay area, the heart of the plans consists of a one-size-fits-all prescription: make costly transit improvements in major corridors and then subsidize the construction of high-density housing in those corridors so lots of people will have access to transit. This prescription not only demands a huge change in American lifestyles, but also offers no reason to think it will help save the planet.

The Department of Energy, for example, has found that multifamily housing actually uses more energy (and therefore emits more greenhouse gases) per square foot than single-family homes. The only way multifamily housing would save energy would be if people accept smaller homes. A better solution is making single-family homes more energy efficient, which costs less and does not require the loss of privacy in multifamily housing.

Meanwhile, data from the Department of Transportation show that transit uses, on average, about the same amount of energy — and emits about the same amount of greenhouse gases — per passenger mile as the average car. Getting people out of their cars and onto transit won’t reduce emissions, but it will inconvenience a lot of people because transit is slow, expensive and inflexible.

Even if transit were truly greener than driving, the transit-plus-density solution doesn’t even reduce driving. Between 1980 and 2010, San Francisco Bay area population densities grew by more than 55 percent, and the region built more than 200 miles of rail transit lines and scores of high-density developments along those lines. Yet per capita transit ridership fell by a third while per capita driving increased by at least 5 percent.

Moreover, cars are rapidly becoming more energy efficient. It takes around 10 years (and huge amounts of energy) to plan and build a rail transit line, but 10 years from today the average car on the road will be at least 25 percent more fuel-efficient than cars today.

We can do a lot of things to emissions, but we have to ask whether they are cost-effective. It won’t do much good to reduce emissions if we bankrupt ourselves in the process, as our descendants will be too busy trying to survive to worry about the planet as a whole.

A 2007 report from McKinsey & Company suggests anything that costs more than about $50 per ton of abated emissions is a waste of money. Even using the optimistic assumptions built into sustainability plans, the transit-and-density strategy will cost thousands of dollars per ton — and it is more likely that it won’t reduce emissions at all.

While transit and density won’t significantly reduce emissions, it will have huge effects on cities. It will make traffic more congested and roadways less safe. It will make housing less affordable and increase other consumer costs. Besides, the increased tax burden will drive away jobs.

Population data clearly show that the fastest-growing urban areas are ones that have kept housing affordable by not using land-use regulation to impose lifestyle changes on their residents. For example, urban areas in Texas, which has some of the least restrictive land-use laws, are growing far faster than in California, which has some of the most restrictive laws.

Data also show that urban areas that spend more on transit grow more slowly. Of the nation’s 65 largest urban areas, the ones that spent the most on transit in the 1990s tended to grow slower in the 2000s than the ones that spent less. This doesn’t mean regions have to settle for poor-quality transit: in most places outside of New York City, buses can move as many people as fast and as comfortably as trains at a far lower cost.

In short, the transit-plus-density prescription imposes major costs on cities without significantly saving energy or reducing emissions. Nor does it cure obesity, end poverty, or bring about world peace, as some of its advocates seem to believe. Urban leaders need to be wary of people who propose policies that are anything but sustainable.


Climate-change play funded by feds

 A new play about climate change opened Thursday in New York that’s part-thriller, part-musical, part-educational and all-controversial.

It’s backed by Uncle Sam.

The National Science Foundation, a federal agency, usually funds research projects. But in a rare move, it gave a nearly $700,000 grant for the play “The Great Immensity,” a mystery with music and songs that’s playing at New York’s Public Theater in Manhattan.

The Brooklyn-based theater company that developed the play, The Civilians, also received two federal grants from the National Endowment for the Arts that totaled $65,000.

But the science agency grant, made in 2010, is really bugging Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas, the chairman of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee.

“I support NSF research that can lead to discoveries that change our world, expand our horizons and save lives,” said Smith. “But spending taxpayer dollars to fund a climate change musical called ‘The Great Immensity’ sounds more like an immense waste of taxpayer dollars, money that could have funded higher priority research.”

Smith highlighted the $697,177 grant for the play at a congressional hearing this month as one of several questionable NSF grants, and he’s now pushing legislation that would require greater financial accountability from the agency.

Climate change is a term used to describe the extreme weather shifts in the last 50 years attributed to higher levels of carbon dioxide from the use of fossil fuels. The tension between Smith, who questions the extent of climate change, and the play’s proponents underscores the political divide over global warming.

The play, designed to entertain as well as educate theater-goers, is “a continent-hopping thriller,” according to “The Great Immensity” website, that follows a woman who’s searching for her husband after he disappears from a tropical island while working for a nature program.

There’s more intrigue as she discovers a plot that may upend an international climate conference in Paris. The play covers a lot of ground, from the Panama Canal to the Arctic Circle.

Written and directed by Steve Cosson with songs by Michael Friedman, it’s described in a Public Theater release as “a highly theatrical look into one of the most vital questions of our time: How can we change ourselves and our society in time to solve the enormous environmental challenges that confront us?”

Smith doesn’t see it that way.

While the Texan is protesting the NSF grant because he thinks the money should be spent on science research, he’s also skeptical about climate change.

“Contrary to the claims of those who want to strictly regulate carbon dioxide emissions and increase the cost of energy for all Americans, there is a great amount of uncertainty associated with climate science,” he wrote in a Washington Post opinion piece last year.

Most climate scientists think differently. According to NASA, 97 percent of climate scientists believe that human activity has caused a warming trend over the past century, and most leading scientific organizations agree.

The play’s author is in the activist wing of the theater world. Cosson is the founding artistic director of The Civilians, founded in 2001, which describes itself as investigative theater.

“The play takes its name from an enormous Chinese Panamax ship that the authors observed crossing the Panama Canal,” according to the theater troupe’s website. The drama was developed with material from interviews with scientists and indigenous people in Barro Colorado Island in the Panama Canal and the city of Churchill in arctic Canada.

What was the taxpayer money used for?

“NSF supported the R&D work early in this project, which includes script development,” Dana Topousis, the NSF’s acting division director of public affairs, said in an email. “NSF funding for ‘The Great Immensity’ included the development and finalization of the script during prototyping/testing, development of materials and multimedia for the stage production, actors’ salaries during prototype/testing and development of a website related to the play. NSF funding did not go to operating expenses or travel.”

The NEA gave $15,000 in 2010 for development and workshop production of the play and $50,000 in 2012 for “community engagement” to connect creative artists with the scientific community.

Environmental groups are supportive of the play; climate change critics support Smith.

“At The Climate Group, we believe that artistic platforms offer a unique opportunity to explore and enhance the most urgent issue of our time: climate change,” said Kirsten Strom , affiliate event coordinator for the environmental group’s Climate Week NYC. “Theater, music, poetry and paintings have a catalytic power and one which can really re-energize citizens.”

Jim Lakely, the director of communications at The Heartland Institute, a Chicago-based conservative research center, laughed when told of the federal investment in the play.

“No public money at all should be going to this frivolity,” he said. “It is the definition of wasted taxpayer dollars. Besides, it’s not like there’s a shortage of wealthy climate alarmists in the private sector who could fund this musical.”

“The Great Immensity” began previews April 11, opened Thursday and concludes its run next Thursday.



For more postings from me, see  DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC and AUSTRALIAN POLITICS. Home Pages are   here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here.  

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