Wednesday, February 01, 2017

Have the Warmists already succeeded in their Quixotic quest?  Has the rise in CO2 stopped already?

The rather startling paper from last December below does not seem to have got much press.  I wonder why?  It implies that the job of limiting CO2 in the atmosphere has already succeeded. CO2 levels have already peaked.  So can all the Warmists go into retirement now -- and congratulate themselves on a job well done?

Reaching peak emissions

Robert B. Jackson et al.

Rapid growth in global CO2 emissions from fossil fuels and industry ceased in the past two years, despite continued economic growth. Decreased coal use in China was largely responsible, coupled with slower global growth in petroleum and faster growth in renewables.


Role of terrestrial biosphere in counteracting climate change may have been underestimated

Something else not in  the models -- and its a big one

A new study analysed the extent to which changing land-use practices, such as deforestation, can affect carbon emissions.
Role of terrestrial biosphere in counteracting climate change may have been underestimated

New research suggests the capacity of the terrestrial biosphere to absorb carbon dioxide (CO2) may have been underestimated in past calculations due to certain land-use changes not being fully taken into account.

It is widely known that the terrestrial biosphere (the collective term for all the world’s land vegetation, soil, etc) is an important factor in mitigating climate change, as it absorbs about 20% of all fossil fuel CO2 emissions.

But its role as a net carbon sink is affected by land-use changes such as deforestation and expanded agricultural practice.

A new study, conducted by an international team including scientists from the University of Exeter, has analysed the extent to which these changing land-use practices affect carbon emissions – allowing the levels of CO2 uptake by the terrestrial biosphere to be more accurately predicted.

The results, published in the journal Nature Geoscience, not only show that CO2 emissions from changing land-use practices are likely to be significantly higher than previously thought, but also imply that these emissions are compensated for by a higher rate of carbon uptake among terrestrial ecosystems.

Co-author Professor Stephen Sitch, from the University of Exeter, said: “The results imply that reforestation projects and efforts to avoid further deforestation are of the utmost importance in our pursuit to limit global warming to below 2oC, as stated in the Paris climate agreement.”

Co-author Professor Pierre Friedlingstein, from the University of Exeter said: "The terrestrial biosphere is the least constrained component of the global carbon cycle. It is often estimated as the residual from how much of our fossil fuel CO2 emissions remain in the atmosphere or are absorbed by the ocean. Also it's a source of carbon following deforestation but it's also a carbon sink as a response to atmospheric CO2 increase.

"This study is a bit of a good news/bad news story. Bad news first: It shows that land-use changes emissions are larger than previous estimates. God news is: this implies that the land carbon sink is also larger than assumed before."

Co-author Dr Tom Pugh, from the University of Birmingham, said: “Our work shows that the terrestrial biosphere might have greater potential than previously thought to mitigate climate change by sequestering carbon emissions from fossil fuels. However, to fully realise this potential we will have to ensure that the significant emissions resulting from land-use changes are reduced as much as possible.”


NY Times makes out climate change believers are forced to speak in hidden codes

More Fake News from the NY Times

Here’s a creative effort to sell the story that the people with billion dollar industries, all the academic positions and a sympathetic media entourage are going underground, forced to disguise their belief about “climate change”.

This is a death-throes type article, clutching for ways to pretend Global Worriers are still relevant, and to feed a fantasy that they might be the underdog:

In America’s Heartland, Discussing Climate Change Without Saying ‘Climate Change’

So while climate change is part of daily conversation, it gets disguised as something else.

“People are all talking about it, without talking about it,” said Miriam Horn, the author of a recent book on conservative Americans and the environment, “Rancher, Farmer, Fisherman.” “It’s become such a charged topic that there’s a navigation people do.”

What really happened is that climate change is overused agitprop and people are tired of being beaten over the head with it. The first most compelling example the NY Times can find is a farmer called Doug Palen who talks about “carbon sequestration” in his soil (and what crop farmer wouldn’t?) Palen is painted as a “believer”: In short, he is a climate change realist. Just don’t expect him to utter the words “climate change.”

But this is the strongest statement he makes: “If politicians want to exhaust themselves debating the climate, that’s their choice,” Mr. Palen said, walking through fields of freshly planted winter wheat. “I have a farm to run.”

And he is so much of a believer “he didn’t vote for Hillary Clinton.” Need I say more?

Apparently anyone who discusses weather problems or ecology could be painted, via some kind of fantasy, as a believer in disguise who is hiding the topic of climate change.  This is the best they could do?

Palen may be a believer (who knows), but there’s no evidence of it in his quotes. The article goes to quite some length to tell us about him, but it’s all just good farming science. Palen has “a conservationist streak” and is a no-till farming advocate. He looks after his soil, and feels alienated by environmentalists because he uses chemicals. Palen even says he wants to “be left alone” by the EPA. He sounds like every skeptical farmer I know yet this is the guy painted as the star example of an underground believer?

Last week, Mr. Palen, the farmer, was again talking weather — if not climate change — at a conference of no-till farmers in Salina, Kan. Sessions included “Using Your Water Efficiently,” “Making Weather Work for You in 2017” and “Building Healthy Soil With Mob Grazing,” a practice that helps to fertilize the land.

As evidence the topic is too hot to discuss, The NY Times writer, Hiroko Tabuchi, tells us a science teacher has even suffered “car keying” (like that never happens) and once got a letter from a student saying: “Know that God’s love surpasses knowledge.” Scary stuff indeed. Why even mention these?

To be fair though, the teacher did get a book bag thrown at him, so now he asks students if they like light bulbs as a soft way to lead into climate talk –  as if climate science was anything like the science of light bulbs. (Light bulb models can predict things…)

Tabuchi manages to find some real believers who have realized they have to change their boring messaging. This also fits with my theory that ‘climate change’ is a dead dog topic on its way out. The last die-hards are repackaging the message, but few people care.


Gas from grass?

In December 2016, Biofuelwatch published a background briefing about Ecotricity’s “green gas from grass” (i.e. grass-based biomethane) proposals: “How Green is Ecotricity’s Green Gas from Grass”

Ecotricity has now sent us a response to this briefing.  You can read Ecotricity’s response and Biofuelwatch’s comments (in red) below or by downloading a pdf here.

Ecotricity’s response (black font) with Biofuelwatch comments (red font):


The launch of Ecotricity’s Green Gas campaign in November has  stimulated interest and discussion from many sources: farmers, environmentalists, supporters of sustainable agriculture, pro-fracking advocates and biofuel campaigners.

The purpose of the report is to explore what may be possible … and the potential opportunity for Britain.  And to start a debate about how Britain gets its gas in the coming decades. We welcome all feedback on our report, as part of that debate.

Biofuelwatch have challenged some elements of our report, and we are happy to respond to those here.

1) Biofuelwatch said: “According to Government figures total domestic demand for natural gas across the UK amounted to 292.4TWh.”

Ecotricity response: “That is the UK’s current annual domestic gas demand. However, our projections for the potential of green gas are not based on replacing current domestic gas demand – partly because growth in Green Gas won’t happen overnight and partly because our current consumption of gas has to change – we must be more efficient with it as with all forms of energy.  We stated clearly in the report that we have used a level of domestic gas demand in 2035 – of 219TWh.  National Grid go even further in their Future Energy Scenarios report, forecasting under their ‘Gone Green’ scenario that domestic gas demand could be reduced to 189TWh by 2030.”

Biofuelwatch comments: “Our report highlights the fact that Ecotricity’s figures rely on the assumption that future domestic gas use will significantly decline.  We had realised this after studying Ecotricity’s detailed “green gas” report, but we are concerned that this has not been made clear in much of the company’s publicity.  Thus, their “Campaign for Green Gas” webpage  states: “We can generate enough gas to power around 97% of Britain’s homes in our Green Gasmills, using a resource that will never run out – grass”.  It fails to say “…but only in several decades’ time and only if future Government policies drastically cut domestic gas use first”.  

Ecotricity’s petition claims: “We have a new option for making the gas we need, right here in Britain.” – rather than “a small proportion of the gas burned in the UK”, given that Ecotricity’s figure only relate to domestic gas use, which accounts for less than 40% of all gas burned in the UK, and then only to an optimistic forecast of greatly reduced future domestic gas demand. Those claims appear misleading to us, and we hope that Ecotricity will update all their publicity materials, as well as their petition text. We would also point out that Ecotricity’s ‘optimistic’ figure still relies on more UK land being used to grow grass for biomethane than is used to grow agricultural crops today.”

Biofuelwatch said: “Ecotricity’s forecast relies heavily on the assumption that domestic gas use will significantly decline between now and 2035.”

Ecotricity response: “Our report is clear on this; our calculations are based on this projected figure.  This forecast is based on a future scenario whereby Britain embraces wide-ranging energy efficiency measures in domestic homes.  One of the main ‘aims and purposes’ of Biofuelwatch is to “prioritise energy conservation and efficiency”. We share that aim.  And while we agree that current government policies on energy efficiency are not good enough, we believe that Britain can deliver the energy efficiency needed if the political will (and economic reality) is there. We believe it to be a realistic scenario.

Biofuelwatch comments: “Yes, we believe that UK energy use can and must be reduced significantly, although the Government’s energy policies are sadly moving us in the wrong direction.  In the heating sector, Energy conservation and efficiency are by far the most effective ways of cutting greenhouse gas emissions – and they also address fuel poverty at the same time. Of course, there will always be a residual demand for heating.  Biofuelwatch believes that there are far better ways for meeting this than converting more than the UK’s total annual cropland area to biomethane.”

Biofuelwatch says: “Ecotricity’s planning application refers to a single peer-reviewed study, one which focuses on the potential for producing biomethane from grass in Ireland. According to that study, it would be possible to produce biomethane with an energy content of 103.7 Gigajoules (=28.81 MWh) from one hectare of Irish grassland per year.”

Ecotricity response: “Actually our calculations are not based on this Irish study from 2009 but are based on the latest real-world experience of technology providers in 2016 with whom we are in discussions, which show that a standard Green Gas Mill will produce around 44MWh per hectare of grass. Even so, our calculations do fall within the parameters of this Irish study.

In paragraph 3.27 the study bases their dry solids yield from grassland on a 22% dry matter basis (220g/kg) while acknowledging that a dry matter content as high as 33% (330g/kg) would be feasible. Through much of our calculations we have assumed a dry matter content of 32%, so out findings operate within the studies range. For example, the report assumed 12 tDS/ha based on 22% dry matter; we are however working on 17.5 tDS/ha based on 32% dry matter. Every other assumption is the same, but the result is a much larger biomethane yield in MWh/ha.

Biofuelwatch comments: “We have now changed the briefing.  It no longer says that Ecotricity relies on any peer-reviewed science.  Thank you for clarifying that the company’s figures rely entirely on unpublished industry statements.”

Biofuelwatch says: “Based on the figure from the Irish grass-to-biomethane study, 10.2 million hectares of land would be needed to replace all of the natural gas used for domestic heating and hot water with biomethane.”

Ecotricity response: “We have not used the Irish study to calculate the amount of land it would take to meet domestic gas demand but calculated it based on the real world experience of the latest technology providers showing a Green Gas Mill could produce around 44MWh per hectare and the projected 2035 demand figure of 219TWh. This gives a figure of just over 6 million hectares of land to produce the amount of green gas needed for domestic demand by 2035, (or less if we used National Grid’s 2030 figure of 189TWh).”

Biofuelwatch comments: “By comparison, the UK currently grows agricultural crops on 4.78 million hectares of land.”

Biofuelwatch says: “Grassland accounts for 72% of agricultural land in the UK, and the 10.2 million hectares needed to realise Ecotricity’s vision would require 92% of it.”

“Growing enough grass to heat our homes would therefore make the UK almost completely dependent either on meat and dairy imports, or on factory farming inside the UK with virtually all of the animal feed imported from abroad.”


‘Trump’s energy U-turn will benefit developing nations’

President Trump’s fossil fuel policy U-turn will benefit developing nations and the fuel poor.

That’s according to Myron Ebell, former Head of President Trump’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Transition Team, who told ELN he expected the President to follow through on his promise to pull out of the Paris Agreement.

Speaking at a press conference earlier today, he said: “President Trump promised during the campaign that the US would withdraw from the Paris Climate Treaty, so I assume he will do that. He seems very intent on keeping his promises so I have no reason to think that he won’t.

“I think that this is a very hopeful sign for the world. Not only is the US changing direction but I think it offers hope for a brighter future for people all around the world particularly those in developing countries who do not have access to modern energy or have very limited access to modern energy.”
Mr Ebell felt that despite criticism from environmentalists and even other governments, President Trump would not change his mind and was not worried about any economic fallout from the decision as he believes the markets will always drive investment.

“If any new energy technology is better and cheaper than coal, oil and natural gas, the market will take care of it. You don’t need government action, you don’t need government policies – if wind and solar power or some other renewable technology becomes a better buy than fossil fuels, then they will come to dominate the market quite quickly. That’s the way free markets work.”

Mr Ebell told ELN he expected huge staff cuts at the EPA, either voluntarily or via redundancy.

He also suggested that Donald Trump could pull the US out of the Paris Agreement signed by former-President Obama last year as soon as possible and probably by using an executive order.



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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