Tuesday, November 17, 2015

New studies flip climate-change notions upside down

The sun will go into "hibernation" mode around 2030, and it has already started to get sleepy. At the Royal Astronomical Society's annual meeting in July, Professor Valentina Zharkova of Northumbria University in the UK confirmed it - the sun will begin its Maunder Minimum (Grand Solar Minimum) in 15 years. Other scientists had suggested years ago that this change was imminent, but Zharkova's model is said to have near-perfect accuracy.

So what is a "solar minimum"?

Our sun doesn't maintain a constant intensity. Instead, it cycles in spans of approximately 11 years. When it's at its maximum, it has the highest number of sunspots on its surface in that particular cycle. When it's at its minimum, it has almost none. When there are more sunspots, the sun is brighter. When there are fewer, the sun radiates less heat toward Earth.

But that's not the only cooling effect of a solar minimum. A dim sun doesn't deflect cosmic rays away from Earth as efficiently as a bright sun. So, when these rays enter our atmosphere, they seed clouds, which in turn cool our planet even more and increase precipitation in the form of rain, snow and hail.

Solar cycles

Since the early 1800s we have enjoyed healthy solar cycles and the rich agriculture and mild northern temperatures that they guarantee. During the Middle Ages, however, Earth felt the impact of four solar minimums over the course of 400 years.

The last Maunder Minimum and its accompanying mini-Ice Age saw the most consistent cold, continuing into the early 1800s.

The last time we became concerned about cooler temperatures - possibly dangerously cooler - was in the 1970s. Global temperatures have declined since the 1940s, as measured by Pacific Decadal Oscillation. The PDO Index is a recurring pattern of ocean-atmosphere climate variability centred over the Pacific Ocean. Determined by deep currents, it is said to shift between warm and cool modes. Some scientists worried that it might stay cool and drag down the Atlantic Decadal Oscillation with it, spurring a new Ice Age. The fear was exacerbated by the fact that Earth has been in the current inter-glacial period for 10,000 years (depending on how the starting point is gauged).

If Earth were to enter the next Ice Age too quickly, glaciers could advance much further south, rainforests could turn into savannah, and sea levels could drop dramatically, causing havoc.

The BBC, all three major American TV networks, Time magazine and the New York Times all ran feature stories highlighting the scare. Fortunately, by 1978 the PDO Index shifted back to warm and the fear abated.

Climate science vs the sceptics

By the 1990s the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) had formed the "97 per cent consensus". The consensus was that Earth was warming more than it should, not just due to natural causes but also human activity. This was termed Anthropogenic Global Warming. The culprit was identified as carbon dioxide generated from the burning of fossil fuels.

CO2 is a greenhouse gas and its increase in the atmosphere could be dangerous, the panel claimed. Some of these scientists, particularly those working at the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Nasa's Goddard Institute for Space Studies and Britain's Meteorological Office, have gone so far as to declare CO2 as the primary driver of climate on Earth. This modern "climate science" has stirred unprecedented controversy in the field. Sceptics, clinging to more traditional approaches, say the science has been corrupted by the billions of dollars in government funding for climate-change research and agencies and industries that claim to be "fighting climate change". The counter-argument is that the sceptics are backed by the oil, gas and coal industries or are affiliated with conservative political groups.

The biggest bone of contention between the two groups is how the data are assessed. In the United States, the recorded temperature data go back to 1880, and elsewhere not even that far. Those data have to be "stapled on" to the ice-core data used to determine temperatures in earlier times. This has led to controversial representations, such as the infamous "hockey stick" graph released by the IPCC that gave the impression the world is hotter now than ever. Many scientists slammed the graph as wholly unrealistic, insisting that previous eras, such as the medieval warm period and the Holocene maximum were warmer than today.

Another issue is the urban "heat island" effect. Black asphalt roads and concrete structures absorb heat from the sun. Roy Spencer, a climatologist at the University of Alabama and former IPCC alumnus, charged in 2013 that the NOAA was "warming up" readings at rural temperature stations to match the urban ones rather than the reverse. A spokesman for the NOAA responded but stopped short of denying it.

In the 2009 "climategate scandal", e-mails and documents from IPCC-affiliated scientists were leaked that indicated they had manipulated data and reports to jibe with the AGW theory. References were made to "hiding the decline" through the use of "tricks". Then in 2012 Anthony Watts, a meteorologist and self-described whistle-blower, caught the NOAA changing temperature data from the 1930s to make the decade appear colder than it had been. Another whistle-blower, blogger Tony Heller, although clearly aligned with conservative groups like the Heartland Institute, has amassed impressive data. He claims that, since 1997, the world has actually been getting colder and Goddard and the NOAA are committing "climate fraud". The NOAA has declined to respond.

Global cooling?

Around 2000, the PDO Index started to blow cold again, possibly causing global warming to "pause", as the mainstream scientists describe it. IPCC-affiliated scientists as well as Nasa and the NOAA attribute the pause to other factors. This is when the plot thickens.

Solar cycle 24 - two cycles prior the cycle that's expected to bottom out into a Maunder Minimum - was weak. In 2013-14 it reached its maximum far below average. Meanwhile extreme cold-weather anomalies have occurred around the world. Last year "polar vortices" slammed into the central US and Siberia as a third hovered over the Atlantic. All 50 US states, including Hawaii, had temperatures below freezing for the first time in recorded history. Snowfall records were broken in cities in the US, Canada, Italy, New Zealand, Australia, Japan and elsewhere. Southern American states and central Mexico, where snow is rare, got heavy snow, as did the Middle East.

This past summer the cold didn't let up, with more temperature records across the US and rare summer snows seen in Canada, the US and China. Birds have migrated early in the last two years. Antarctic sea ice set a new record in 2013 and it was broken again in 2014.

Not even Thailand was immune. In 2014 Bangkok hit its coldest low in 30 years, while 63 lives were lost in the North.

Scientists at the Climate and Environmental Physics and Oeschger Centre for Climate Change Research at the University of Berne in Switzerland have recently backed up theories that support the sun's importance in determining the climate on Earth. A paper published last year by the American Meteorological Society contradicts claims by IPCC scientists that the sun couldn't be responsible for major shifts in climate.

Judith Curry, chair of the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at the Georgia Institute of Technology, rejected IPCC assertions that solar variations don't matter. Among the many studies and authorities she cited was the National Research Council's recent report "The Effects of Solar Variability on Earth's Climate".

Other researchers and organisations are also predicting global cooling - the Russian Academy of Science, the Astronomical Institute of the Slovak Academy of Scientists, the Institute of Terrestrial Magnetism Russia, Victor Manuel Velesco Herrera at the National University of Mexico, the Bulgarian Institute of Astronomy, Dr Tim Patterson at Carleton University in Canada, Drs Lin Zhen at Nanjing University in China, just to name a few.

For now nevertheless, the IPCC and other authoritative agencies are sticking to their CO2-dominant climate-forcing theory. They attribute the cold spells to a disruption in the jet stream caused by Anthropogenic Global Warming. Some of their theories have heads being scratched, for instance the "pause" in global warming they attribute to heat being absorbed deep into the oceans. When Antarctic ice reached record levels in 2013, scientists were "baffled" because the water beneath the ice was warm, they claimed. In climate science old and new, nothing is certain.


Great news: carbon dioxide rose less than 2 parts per million in 2014!

Is two millionths of ANYTHING likely to be important?

A new report released this week by the U.N.-funded WMO said that the levels of the three most potent 'greenhouse gases' in our atmosphere reached new levels in 2014. The good news is that CO2 rose less than 2 ppm, with the other two gases barely climbing at all. The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) said carbon dioxide (CO2) levels increased only to 397.7 parts per million (PPM), up 1.9 PPM from 2013.

They also said methane levels measured 1,833 parts per billion (PPB) in 2014, and were up only 9 PPB from 2013. The globally averaged level of nitrous oxide in 2014 grew to 327.1 PPB, which is 1.1 PPB above the previous year. The largest greenhouse gas in our atmosphere is water vapor, which makes up 95% of all so-called greenhouse gases. All of which may be bad news if you've instituted economy-crippling policies ahead of a UN-sponsored climate treaty.

But if you've ever wondered what the greenhouse gas/effect means, this may help: A greenhouse is a glass-covered enclosure that is pumped with higher amounts of CO2 (usually around 1,800 PPM) to promote plant growth. As the sun's visible and ultraviolet light passes through the glass ceiling and walls, it gets absorbed by the floor, ground, and greenhouse contents. This heat then radiates off the items in the greenhouse and, because it's in an enclosed structure (the glass), is unable to escape into the cooler air around the structure.

Think of it like your car in the hot sun. It's not filled with CO2, but the heat has no way to escape because of the glass and steel enclosure. Scientists believe that gases like water vapor and CO2 act like the glass and steel, preventing the heat from escaping into space, giving you an Earth-sized greenhouse. Hence the term "greenhouse effect" and "greenhouse gases."

The theory of global warming involves a lot of assumptions. First it states that, with all things being equal, the Earth "maintains a constant average temperature averaged out over the course of a year." As sunlight comes in, it heats the air and Earth, some gets absorbed, some gets emitted back into outer space, and what's left maintains a relatively moderate temperature for the planet. Remember, energy can't be destroyed. So what comes in has to either be converted into something else, absorbed, or reflected back into outer space.

How fast this energy is radiated back into outer space depends on how much of a particular gas is in the atmosphere, like water vapor, clouds, carbon dioxide, and methane. The more of a particular gas we have in the atmosphere, the less energy can get bounced back out into space.

This causes the lower atmosphere to stay warmer (near the surface), but also warms the upper atmosphere (remember, energy can't be destroyed). Water vapor is the most potent shield for keeping this energy from escaping the Earth. For a more in-depth tutorial and examples, go here.

Global warming theory also says that increased levels of carbon dioxide and certain other gases are causing an increase in the average temperature of the Earth's atmosphere. It predicts that the upper atmosphere will warm from trapped heat, just like in a greenhouse. The surface of the Earth warms later to reach equilibrium. Except since 1979, we've had orbiting satellites measuring the atmosphere and it shows the upper atmosphere is warming much less than expected by this theory.

Because nature abhors imbalances, global warming theory also says that the lower atmosphere must then respond to this upper atmospheric heat by increasing in temperature until the energy coming in equals the energy going out. To do this, the Earth's temperature at the surface goes up to meet the temperature of the upper atmosphere and balance is restored. But as noted above that isn't happening. That fact alone should put the global warming theory into the coffin.

But there is far too much money involved in the global-warming cottage industry and, as less hysterical climate scientists keep trying to say, the planet is not as sensitive to imbalances as some people would have you believe. In fact, the Earth is quite adept at keeping up with changes as it has done so for the last 4.5 billion years.

The largest CO2 sponge on the planet are the oceans around us. The largest emitter of CO2 on the planet are microbes that produce CO2 as they consumer decaying organic matter. What man contributes, while significant, barely registers when compared to natural, ongoing processes (including, but not limited to, volcanic activity beneath the oceans).

Regardless of all this, the 2014 CO2 level is actually a 12-month average as CO2 in the atmosphere fluctuates throughout the year, and is lower when the Northern Hemisphere is in full bloom (plants absorb CO2) and higher in the winter (when more ocean is covered in ice and fewer plants are in bloom).

To put this in context, CO2 levels went up on such an infinitesimal scale as to be unquantifiable. Methane, which is considered to have 21-23 times the heat trapping power of CO2, rose to 1,833 PPB in 2014. That's up 9 parts per billion (with a B). Mix 9 red marbles into a billion white marbles, and you begin to understand the silliness that ensues every time one of these reports come out.

Which always seem to happen right before a UN-sponsored climate conference like the one coming up in December.


American Meteorological Society: Investigating NOAA’s Dodgy Scientists Is ‘Intimidation’

The American Meteorological Society has weighed into the debate on the climate fraud allegedly committed by scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

It thinks that NOAA’s dodgy, data-fudging, parti-pris scientists should be allowed to go on spending taxpayers’ money on green propaganda unimpeded by the scrutiny of pesky skeptics like Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX)

Here’s how the AMS’s executive director, Keith L Seitter, puts it in an open letter to the congressman:

    "Singling out specific research studies, and implicitly questioning the integrity of the researchers conducting those studies, can be viewed as a form of intimidation that could deter scientists from freely carrying out research on important national challenges."

The reason for this, he goes on to “explain”, is that scientists who work for public institutions such as NOAA are a bit like a cross between Einstein, St Francis of Assisi and Joan of Arc, only, obviously more brilliant, saintly, self-sacrificial and nobly dedicated to the furtherance of human knowledge. As he puts it:

    "NOAA and other Federal agencies employ world-class scientists who seek knowledge and understanding with commitment and dedication".

Also, Seitter goes on further to “explain”, climate change is an area of science so politically sensitive and so incredibly important to the future of mankind that it deserves special exemption from the normal codes of rigor, transparency, open enquiry, not making stuff up, and so on to which scientists are usually subject.

    "Earth sciences and their applications have growing implications for public health and safety, economic development, protection of the environment and ecosystems, and national security. Thus, scientists, policy makers, and their supporting institutions share a special responsibility at this time for guarding and promoting the freedom of responsible scientific expression."

I do hope Rep Lamar Smith feels properly chastened by this letter. The “facts” about global warming are far too important to be left to ordinary taxpayers who have to pay for all this vital research.


Climate change will 'SHRINK sharks and make them less deadly'

This might be good news if it were true.  But this is just a study of fish in a tank.  Not a report of what is naturally happening in the oceans

If temperatures and CO2 levels rise in the way climate experts expect, by the end of the century sharks will be considerably smaller and less aggressive than they are today.

Experts from Australia have discovered that warmer waters and ocean acidification can stunt the growth of the predators and affect their sense of smell used for hunting.

To cope with higher CO2 levels, the sharks studied had to use more energy, and this reduced how effectively they metabolised the food they could find.

During lab experiments, researchers from the University of Adelaide studied Port Jackson sharks in large tanks with natural habitat and prey.

When the water temperature was increased, the team noticed that embryos developed much faster.

However, the combination of warmer water and higher CO2 increased the sharks' energy requirement, reduced metabolic efficiency and removed their ability to locate food through olfaction, or smelling.

These effects led to significant reductions in the growth rates of these sharks.

'In warmer water, sharks are hungrier but with increased CO2 they won't be able to find their food,' said leader Associate Professor Ivan Nagelkerken.

'With a reduced ability to hunt, sharks will no longer be able to exert the same top-down control over the marine food

The Port Jackson shark is a bottom-feeding shark that primarily relies on its ability to smell to find food.

It is found around southern Australia and is a migratory species that travels south in the summer and returns to the north during winter to breed.

Adults can grow up to 5.5ft long (1.67 metres) and the shark is part of the bullhead family.  

Under higher CO2, the sharks in the study took much longer to find their food, or didn't even bother trying, resulting in considerably smaller sharks.

Marine ecologist Professor Sean Connell said the results of the latest study provide strong support for the call to prevent global overfishing of sharks.

'One-third of shark and ray species are already threatened worldwide because of overfishing,' he said.

'Climate change and ocean acidification are going to add another layer of stress and accelerate those extinction rates.'


Climate Change Predictions 2030

Climate scientist/activist and blogger Michael Tobis just republished his predictions for what climate change will bring us by 2030. He originally made his predictions in 2010.

His predictions are pretty vanilla, which is as it should be, as even dedicated activists understand that the climate isn’t going to fall apart any time soon. The IPCC thinks we won’t really see much in the way of effects until the second half of the century and even that’s with a pessimistic view of atmospheric sensitivity.

Truth be told, most of Tobis’ predictions have little to do with climate change, being more philosophical observations about the nature of life. He thinks we will all be eating farmed seafood instead of fresh caught fish–he doesn’t relate that to climate change (nor should he). He thinks life will be more hectic. Okay. Amazingly, he thinks that politicians will still be practicing politics.

But he does say that CO2 concentrations will not only continue to rise, but will accelerate. That’s a prediction worth watching. He also predicts there will be demands for geoengineering, something that has not yet materialized.

For me, five years out is what I feel most comfortable predicting, far too short a timescale for climate change and its impacts. Instead I’ll provide some data context for some of what Tobis has predicted.

Regarding CO2 concentrations, they have increased at an accelerating pace since the 1960s. In the 1950s, CO2 concentrations increased at about 0.75 ppm annually. In the past 15 years, the concentrations have increased at about 2.25 ppm per year. We’re emitting more CO2, more of it sticks around. Pretty simple.

Whether it will continue to accelerate or not will only be proven by time. It is almost certain that emissions will continue to increase. Global population continues to rise.

The developing world is getting richer. They’re using some of that money to buy things that use energy.

The only counterbalance to that that we have seen is increasing vegetative cover on the planet, having risen perhaps as much as 12-17% over the past 30 years. If that goes on, those plants will eat some of that pesky CO2 and spit out the oxygen that we prefer in our lungs. But it’s doubtful that that will be enough.

The other prediction Tobis made in 2010 that I want to comment on is this one:

“As climate deterioration continues, the initial impact will fall, unfortunately but inevitably, largely on less-developed subtropical regions. This year’s events in Pakistan will be marked as the harbinger. This will greatly exacerbate the already absurd tensions between the Islamic world and everybody else. The west will not be able to motivate any useful intervention. Low-grade guerilla war will persist. We will find ourselves turning into Israelis.”

Of course this might be true. But there isn’t any sign of it as yet. Two days ago there was a horrible terrorist attack in Paris. But globally, violence is down. Wars are fewer in number, whether they are civil wars or wars between states and fewer lives are being lost as a result.

Climate deterioration, if it ever existed, does not appear to be continuing. Global drought has decreased over the past century. Heatwaves in the U.S. show no trend, according to the EPA.

Sea level rise is happening at pretty much the same rate today that it was when Tobis made his predictions. Storms and tornadoes have not increased in either strength or frequency. And although the number of refugees and migrants has increased, it is apparently due primarily to bitter conflict in the Middle East, not climate change.

As for the Pakistani flood in 2010, it had nothing to do with climate change and everything to do with the huge population increase in the country that saw flood zones see too many people move into harm’s way.

We’ll see if Tobis’ predictions for 2030 come true or not. I confess I would have more confidence in his crystal ball if he had been able to predict the past.

SOURCE  (See the original for links and graphics)

In Defense of Exxon Mobil, Oil, and a Poor, Connecting World

Last year, the world sold 88,000,000 oil-based vehicles and just 320,000 of them ran on electricity (read those numbers again). And rest assured Mr. Gore: there’s so much more to come. India and China have just 40 and 75 cars per 1,000 people respectively, compared to 850 for the U.S.

But, perhaps the most ridiculous push against oil is the most obvious: replacing jet fuel refined from crude oil is impossible because of sheer energy density. And the world, of course, is becoming more connected, not less. Considering that this year, 92% of Americans will take a domestic flight and 67% will take an international flight, all Americans must realize that it’s now “the world’s turn to fly.”

There are now over 36 million flights carrying over 3 billion people per year. And rising incomes in the undeveloped world will have passenger traffic expanding at 5% per year over the next 30 years. Just take China, where the rate is 0.2 flights per person per year, versus 2 trips for Americans.

And remember: any agreement in the approaching “Paris climate conference,” where once again rich energy users will catastrophically demote poverty and energy deprivation to an afterthought, will be….NON-LEGALLY binding. Importantly, this means that anything out of Paris WILL NOT be a treaty. And more importantly, even the legally binding treaty of The Kyoto Protocol among the developed nations, where incremental energy demand was clearly limited, has been statistically documented as a failure.

Rich people that devour energy, yet for whatever reason seek to block that energy from poor people are NOT “environmentalists.”

Indeed, undeveloped nations are in much better position to know the undeniable truth that we once knew: the world has no higher goal than reducing poverty, and that begins with the fundamental reality of more energy, lots more energy, being required. We must support oil companies: the International Energy Agency is now “Worried About Low Energy Prices And The Risk Of Investment Falling Short.”

And as publicly traded companies, our oil companies are owned by the everyday Americans that own pension funds, IRAs, and mutual funds. Overall, Exxon Mobil had a direct $62 billion contribution to the U.S. economy in 2014.

Exxon Mobil is just 2% of the massive 94 million b/d global oil market, while OPEC and the Former Soviet Union produce 60%. And Exxon Mobil actually doesn’t make as much money as people think. Exxon Mobil’s profit margins, the real indication of how “rich” a company is, are a very average 5-11%, compared to 17-28% for Pfizer and 20-27% for Apple.

Moreover, Exxon Mobil is increasingly focused on natural gas, the fastest growing major fuel in the developing economies and the flexible backup required for intermittent wind and solar power. Without gas, there’s little realistic chance for these renewables to penetrate the U.S. electricity portfolio beyond a few percentage points. And with Russia being easily the largest natural gas exporter, and seeking friends in an increasingly global gas market, the U.S. needs to be producing (and exporting when possible) as much gas as possible.

And finally my fellow American consumer, know the most basic fact: it’s you and me that are responsible for the emissions that oil and gas companies are getting blamed for. And we emit because we consume these fuels that are highly beneficial, where their “positive externalities” far outweigh their “negative externalities” Mr. Musk and have given us among the best living standards in the world. In short, oil companies work for us.

So, go ahead and cheer with Mr. McKibben when problems arise for Exxon Mobil and the other domestic oil companies…but I implore you to be smart…use your head…and know the truth. From food to clothes to flights to re-fueling your car, they inevitably just mean higher prices for us and more power for Mr. Putin and OPEC.



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.  

Preserving the graphics:  Most graphics on this site are hotlinked from elsewhere.  But hotlinked graphics sometimes have only a short life -- as little as a week in some cases.  After that they no longer come up.  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 or here


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