Monday, September 04, 2017

Ship of Fools IV: Another Green Arctic Expedition Scuppered by Ice

A sailing expedition to the North Pole to raise awareness of global warming has been forced to turn back, 590 nautical miles short of its destination, after the yachts found their passage blocked by large quantities of an unexpected frozen white substance. According to Arctic Mission’s website:

"A meeting of the four skippers was held led by Erik de Jong, with Pen Hadow present, and it was agreed further northward progress would increase considerably the risks to the expedition, with very limited scientific reward. The decision to head south, back to an area of less concentrated sea ice in the vicinity of 79 degrees 30 minutes North, was made at 18.30 (Alaskan time)."

Concentrated sea ice? In the Arctic Circle? Whoever would have imagined?

As usual, on these occasions, the expedition leaders are covering their embarrassment by billing their failure as a great success.

"Arctic Mission has undertaken an extensive oceanographic, wildlife and ecosystem research programme during the voyage, led by Tim Gordon of the University of Exeter (UK). This has included work on acoustic ecology, copepod distributions and physiology, microplastic pollution surveying, inorganic carbon chemistry, seabird range expansion and microbial DNA sequencing. Scientific findings will be released following comprehensive data analysis and formal publication in peer-reviewed journals in 2018/19.

It is believed Arctic Mission has sailed further north from the coastlines surrounding the Arctic Ocean than any vessel in history without icebreaker support."

Well maybe. But that wasn’t the original point of the expedition when it was announced in the Sunday Times earlier this summer:

"It is a polar record Pen Hadow wishes were impossible to achieve. The explorer, who was the first person to walk solo across the pack ice from Canada to the North Pole in 2003, will now try to highlight climate change by becoming the first to sail there in a yacht."

Hadow, 55, said it would be a bittersweet achievement to achieve the feat because it would mean that the polar ice cap had shrunk to record lows. “I’m very conflicted,” he said. “If we do reach the North Pole by sail, I think the image would be iconic for the rest of the century and a call to action,” he said. “If 50ft yachts can do this, imagine what commercial shipping can do.”

This is not the first time Hadow has been denied the “bittersweet achievement” of pinning Arctic melt on “climate change.” In 2009 – with encouragement from the Prince of Wales – Hadow led the Catlin Arctic Survey expedition which had to be cancelled less than half way into its 800 mile trek because the equipment broke in the freezing temperatures.

His latest failure comes a year after yet another sailing expedition – this one called The Polar Ocean Challenge, led by veteran explorer David Hempleman-Adams – was also frustrated by unexpectedly large quantities of ice. That was Ship of Fools II.

Ship of Fools I was, of course, the glorious December 2013 expedition to Antarctica – led by an Australian alarmist called Chris Turney, one of the correspondents in the Climategate scandal  – which had to be called off after becoming stuck in ice which Turney insisted could not have been predicted.

Then earlier this summer, we learned of Ship of Fools III – a Canadian research expedition which had to be cancelled because, you guessed it, of “unprecedented” summer sea ice.

Why are these hapless fools such suckers for punishment? Short answer: because that’s where the money is.

The Arctic is a mightily beautiful place to visit – as I once saw myself on a 300-mile trip on a skidoo round Svalbard – but it has been pretty well explored. So the only way these days you’re going to get sponsors to stump up for your icebergs ‘n’ polar bears jolly is if you can persuade them it’s all about “raising awareness” and “saving the planet.”

Rapacious corporations love to soften their image by having it associated with cuddly, caring green projects – especially if it accords with their business model. Insurance companies like Catlin – which sponsored Hadow’s previous expedition – for example have a strong vested interest in bigging up the climate threat because then they can persuade more clients to insure against the weather disasters which, supposedly, will become more likely as the planet heats up due to man’s selfishness, greed and refusal to amend his lifestyle…

The other problem, of course, is misreporting in the mainstream media which for years has been quoting “experts” assuring us of the Arctic ice’s imminent disappearance.

Meanwhile, in the real world, Arctic ice is stubbornly refusing to follow the alarmists’ doomsday narrative.

In Greenland, for example, the ice sheet since last September has grown at close to record rates.

As Tony Heller notes – using the latest data from National Snow and Ice Data Center – it looks as though there are never going to be any of those “ice free summers” the alarmists promised us.

This is both good news and bad news.

It’s bad news for the mainstream media and especially for Environment Correspondents. Their opportunities for writing stories about the dread plight of the Arctic – and embarking on fun freebies to experience it at first hand – are likely to diminish with each passing year. Soon, it’s quite possible, green hacktivists will have forgotten what it’s like to see the Aurora Borealis from the deck of a Munich Re sponsored research vessel or to hear kittiwakes mewling over the bluey-white ice floes at midnight when it’s still as bright as day or the ratta-tat-tat on their keyboards as they bash out yet another thousand words on the vanishing polar bear. They might not even have jobs which enable them to make the most of their 2.2 in Whale-Watching, Bunny-Hugging and Misanthropy from the University of Easy Access: they might have to get one more suited to their talents, like picking up empty bottles for Greenpeace at pop festivals.

It’s good news for us, though. Me especially. I don’t even have to go looking for stories, like journalists used to have to do in the old days. They just sail right past my nose like this latest dumb-assed Arctic failure expedition just did. I open us all a big bag of popcorn and write it up for Breitbart for our amusement and delectation. And it’s not even as though I’m going to get any competition. About the only people covering this stuff are skeptical bloggers. Most of the mainstream media are looking away, pretending it’s not happening, because it just doesn’t suit their alarmist narrative.


No, Michael Mann, Global Warming Didn't Cause Hurricane Harvey's Devastation

Global Warming: When a controversial climatologist claims Hurricane Harvey's brutal downpour that devastated Houston is a result of global warming, it warrants examining the claim. We have, and it appears baseless. But that won't stop climate-change extremists from making that claim again in the future.

First, a little background.

Penn State meteorology professor Michael Mann has gained dubious renown for something no scientist desires: fiddling with data, and getting caught. In this case, it was temperature data. Mann's famous "hockey stick" rendition of temperature and climate changes makes it appear as if temperatures began rising sharply in the 19th century as carbon dioxide from the Industrial Revolution began to build up, and then soared uncontrollably in recent years to near-record highs for the last millennium.

Mann used proxy data for much of his chart, which, because of its distinctive shape, was soon called the hockey stick. It became the symbol of "science" proving that global warming was now disastrously heating our planet. And it was the centerpiece of the United Nations' efforts to propagandize on behalf of making the developed world poorer to temper the effects of global warming. The U.N.'s proposals would require a massive decline in the West's standard of living, and hundreds of billions of dollars in taxes.

The only problem is, according to critics, Mann's data were manipulated in such a way as to make them incorrect. Ironically, Mann published his hockey-stick paper in 1998, after which satellite temperature data — the most complete and accurate weather data we have — show virtually no statistically significant change in global temperatures.

Worse still, Canadian statisticians Stephen McIntyre and Ross McKitrick discovered that Mann's statistical manipulations of the raw data were mathematically questionable at best and dishonest at worst. When the two force-fed Mann's own statistical formulas with random data, they generated ... a hockey stick. So, in essence, the climate books were cooked to make global warming seem extreme, no matter what data were used.

"Suddenly the hockey stick, the poster child of the global-warming community, turns out to be an artifact of poor mathematics," science writer Richard Muller noted in the 2004 issue of the MIT Review, on the controversy. "How could it happen?"

It could happen because the giant global-warming industry — made up of government bureaucrats, professors, scientists, researchers and think-tank fellows, and allied as it is to the U.N.'s socialist agenda — depends on government grants and aid to "prove" global warming is a threat. This year, according to a Daily Caller Foundation estimate, the U.S. federal government alone will spend some $27 billion on climate change, much of it on research.

Any scientist whose work doesn't slavishly follow the strict theology of the climate-change religion has little chance of getting his or her research funded by the U.S. government, whose bureaucracy has every reason to want to see global warming as a threat.

And now, Mann is at it again.

Writing in the leftist British newspaper The Guardian, under the alarming headline "It's a fact: climate change made Hurricane Harvey more deadly," Mann had this to say: "Harvey was almost certainly more intense than it would have been in the absence of human-caused warming, which means stronger winds, more wind damage and a larger storm surge."

Interesting observation, but not a "fact" at all, as he suggests, but rather a hotly disputed opinion. Moreover, it's cherry-picking of the worst sort: Wait for a disaster to happen, and then say, in effect, "Global warming. I told you so."

"This is an example of what will be a relentless tirade of statements. Say nothing, make no forecast you can actually be held accountable for, then come out after and grab headlines with stuff like this," wrote Joe Bastardi, the chief forecaster of Weather Bell Analytics, a weather consultancy and forecasting firm.

Yet, ever since Hurricane Katrina in 2004, climate-change advocates have warned that hurricanes and storms would be far worse as a result of global warming. It was inevitable, we were told.

But the fact is, since 2010, the number of severe, category 4 hurricanes has declined sharply. Moreover, those who follow hurricanes and tropical storms for a living suggest global warming isn't the cause.

CNN Newsroom host John Berman asked former National Hurricane Center Director Bill Read point-blank whether climate change had affected the intensity of Hurricane Harvey.

Read said he "probably wouldn't attribute (global warming to) what we're looking at here. This is not an uncommon occurrence to see storms grow and intensify rapidly in the western Gulf of Mexico. That is, as long as we've been tracking them, that has occurred."

In short, it's part of a long-term weather pattern — not climate change. And a look at the number of hurricanes by decade shows conclusively that the number and severity of hurricanes have mostly declined in recent decades, not risen.

"There is no reason to be debating Harvey and climate change in the context of an unfolding disaster, other than political opportunism and attention-seeking," said climate scientist and University of Colorado Professor Roger Pielke. "It's not a good look for scientists or journalists who are promoting this issue."

Pielke destroys the notion that global warming has made hurricanes or tropical storms worse by noting that from 1926 to 1969, a period of 44 years, there were 14 category 4 hurricanes that made landfall. From 1970 to 2017, or 47 years, there have been just four. If anything, if you were a global warming advocate and being honest, you'd have to say that higher temperatures have caused the number of severe hurricanes hitting the U.S. to decline by 70%.

All of the news shows, newspapers, news websites and magazines will be peddling the same shamanistic nonsense: Global warming is to blame for everything nasty in the natural world, but especially for the brutal hurricanes that occasionally rip into our coast. But the facts show it just ain't true.


Revisiting wind turbine impacts

Erroneous recent calculation highlights need to assess renewable energy sustainability claims

Paul Driessen

It’s amazing, though hardly surprising, how quickly some used Hurricane Harvey’s devastation to claim that fossil fuel emissions are driving catastrophic climate change and weather. Their proffered solution, of course, is to replace those fuels with “clean, sustainable, renewable” energy.

I’ve criticized this supposed solution many times, on multiple grounds. Unfortunately, a hasty numerical calculation for a recent column was way off base, and readers properly chastised me for the error. I just blew it, using megawatts instead of megawatt-hours to derive the number of wind turbines … and amount of land … it would take to replace the world’s 2016 electricity entirely with wind energy.

My conclusion that it would require 830 million turbines and twice the land area of North America was thus off by embarrassing amounts. However, my reviewers offered many “correct” numbers.

Their turbine totals ranged from 2 million to 4, 10 and 12 million; their acreage figures from 0.5 to 40, 60 and even 247 per turbine. Total acreage for all the turbines ranged from the size of France or Texas – to half of North America. Energy scholar Cork Hayden graciously provided analytical aid.

Bottom line: Assumptions are key – about turbine size; number, location and extent of good wind sites; ability to actually erect turbines on those sites; wind turbine capacity factor, in average hours per day of electricity generation; duration and quality of wind power per year, especially as turbines proliferate into increasingly poor wind areas; and power generation needed to charge huge battery arrays to ensure reliable electricity during multiple windless days (2, 7, 14 or more) when turbines provide no power.

Another variable, of course, is the amount of electricity that is to be replaced by wind. In 2016, the world used 25 billion megawatt-hours (MWh) of electrical energy, generated by fossil fuel, hydroelectric and nuclear power stations, with minor contributions from wood (biomass) and trivial amounts of wind and solar. Year-round average power generation was 2.85 million megawatts (MW) or 2.85 terawatts (TW) – compared to zero generation in 1881.

Electricity makes our industries, jobs, travel, communication, living standards, health and safety possible, and demand will certainly grow as more nations electrify, and more vehicles are battery-powered.

Here are my fundamental assumptions: Wind turbines replace 100% of today’s 2.85 TW global electricity generation, by some future date – as many activists and politicians insist we must (and can) do. Turbines are all 1.8-MW nameplate power. Average turbine capacity factor gradually falls from 33% to 16.5% as the best wind sites are utilized, and much poorer sites must be developed.

(In the USA many of the best wind sites are off the Washington-to-California and Maine-to-Georgia coastlines, and in the Great Lakes, where water depths and powerful local opposition would make it impossible to install many turbines. Onshore turbine size is limited by the size of blades that can be hauled by trucks on winding roads. The same situation would likely apply around most of the globe.)

Further assumptions: One-third of turbine output powers society; two-thirds charge batteries that provide power for 48 of every 72 hours that wind is not blowing. And winds always cooperate with that scheme – always arriving just in the nick of time, as batteries are depleted, and never disappearing for more than two days, even during sweltering summers or frigid winters when demand soars but winds disappear.

Of course, most of these assumptions exist only in the realm of fairies, pixie dust, green energy utopia and easy number crunching. They are meant to initiate important analyses and debates that climate alarmists, renewable energy proponents, legislators and policy makers have never conducted.

Using these assumptions, generating 25 billion megawatt-hours would require 1.6 million 1.8-MW turbines functioning at full 1.8-MW capacity in strong winds, all day, every day, with no worries about storage. If they operate only eight hours a day (33% engineered capacity), we just use electricity when it’s available, instead of when we need it. But that’s terribly inconvenient and disruptive.

So we employ the Dr. Hayden system, instead. We erect 4.8 million turbines that operate steadily for eight hours, sending one-third of their electricity to the grid and two-thirds to batteries. That would yield 8 hours of direct power while the wind is blowing (33% capacity factor) – and let us draw power from the batteries for the next 16 hours, until the wind regularly picks up again. “I love magic,” he says.

That clearly won’t work. We really need at least 48 hours of storage – and thus three times as many turbines, under a similar arrangement, but providing more flexibility, to recognize unpredictable wind patterns and the likelihood of two windless days in a row. We’re up to 14.4 million 1.8-MW turbines.

Want a bigger safety net? To assure against seven windless days? 50 million turbines should do it.

But then we’re really into the mediocre wind sites. Capacity plummets to 16.5% or so. Perhaps 100 million turbines will do the trick. Pray that lulls last no more than a week. Or send the army to those intransigent, unpatriotic coastal communities, and forcibly install turbines in their super windy areas.

That would also ensure that electricity generation is close to our big urban centers – hence shorter transmission lines, and less cement, steel, copper, et cetera to build the power lines. It’s a win-win situation, except for those who have to look at or live next to turbines and transmission lines, of course.

How much land are we talking about, to generate 25 billion megawatt-hours of global annual electricity? Assuming top quality wind sites, at 5 kilowatts per acre (average output per land area for any turbine at the windiest locations), onshore turbines operating 24/7/365 would require some 570 million acres.

That’s 25% of the United States – or 30% of the Lower 48 US states. It’s almost all the land in Washington, Oregon, California, Idaho, Nevada, Montana, Wyoming, Utah and Arizona combined!

Change the assumptions – change the numbers. To store electricity for windless days, total power generation (and thus turbine numbers and land acreage) begins to skyrocket. For 48 hours of backup, triple the power generation; that’s the entire Lower 48. For a full week of backup, add in Canada.

Let’s not forget the transmission lines and batteries. They also need land (and raw materials).

How many batteries? Storing 1 gigawatt-hour (GWh) of electricity – to provide power for 48 windless hours for a US city of 700,000 people – would require 480,000 of Tesla’s new 100-kWh lithium-ion battery packs. Backing up 2.85 TW for just two windless days would require 1.4 trillion Tesla units! And this assumes the batteries are charged and discharged with 100% efficiency.

Just imagine the land, raw materials, mining, manufacturing and energy that would be needed to make all those batteries (and replace them every few years). As energy and technology analyst Mark Mills has noted, all the world’s existing lithium battery factories combined manufacture only a tiny fraction of that.

I’m sure the world’s battery makers would be more than happy to take our hard-earned taxpayer and consumer cash to build more factories and make all those batteries – to save us from dangerous climate change that is no longer governed by the sun and other powerful natural forces.

Let’s get real. It’s time to stop playing with pixie dust and renewable energy utopia schemes. Time to open our schools and legislatures to actual thinking about energy, sustainability, climate change and what makes our jobs, health and living standards possible. Time for full-bore studies and legislative hearings on all these issues – in the USA, UK, EU and everywhere else.

Sustainability and renewable energy claims are too grounded in ideology, magic and politics. Wind and solar energy forecasts ignore the need to find and mine vast new metal and mineral deposits – and open US lands that are now off limits, unless we want to import all our wind turbines, solar panels and batteries. They assume land use impacts don’t really exist if they are in other people’s backyards.

Worse, too often anyone trying to raise these inconvenient truths is shouted down, silenced, ignored. That has to stop. The stakes are too high for ideology and pixie dust to drive fundamental public policies.

Via email

Wind retreat in Germany

While Germany likes to fancy itself as being among the "global leaders" in tackling climate change by expanding green energies, the country has in fact taken very little action recently to back up the appearances.

If anything, Germany is more in the green energy retreat mode. There are good reasons for this.

German flagship business daily "Handelsblatt" reported here yesterday how Germany's wind energy market is now "threatening to implode" and as a result "thousands of jobs are at risk".

Jos‚ Luis Blanco, CEO of German wind energy giant Nordex, blames the market chaos on "policymakers changing the rules". Subsidies have been getting cut back substantially.

The problem, Blanco says, is that worldwide green energy subsidies are being capped and wind parks as a result are no longer looking profitable to investors. The Handelsblatt writes that "things have never been this bad".

50% drop in new German wind parks

The online Hasepost here reports that while in 2016 some 4600 megawatts of new German wind power capacity were installed onshore, the figure will fall almost 50% to 2450 megawatts of new power by 2019. The fall could even be greater.

Blanco told Handelsblatt:

"In the next two years we will see a substantial collapse in the installation of new wind parks in Germany  - we will have to react to this." [.]

Comeback coal

Yesterday at the East German Energy Forum in Leipzig, both the centrist CDU and the SPD socialists were in agreement: brown coal (lignite) must remain a part of Germany's energy mix, the online Lausitzer Rundschau writes. Speaking before 400 industry representatives, Brandenburg's Minister President Dietmar Woidke (SPD) complained that green energies are foremost "unreliable energy sources".

Saxony Anhalt Minister President Reiner Haseloff (CDU) called for more realism, saying that "brown coal belonged to east Germany until 2050?.


CIA Veteran Sees Russian Connection to 2 Groups Opposing Fracking, Pipelines

Some environmental activists who pressure politicians to halt production of natural gas are acting as “agents of influence” on behalf of the Kremlin and Russian energy interests, according to a retired CIA officer’s analysis of the money trail.

As they lead the charge against two natural gas pipelines, activists allied with a statewide group called Virginia Organizing advance Russia’s geopolitical ambitions at the expense of U.S. energy independence, 29-year CIA veteran Kenneth L. Stiles told The Daily Signal.

Two of these local environmental groups “are, without a doubt, agents of influence to Moscow through [a] networking system of shell companies and foundations,” Stiles said.

Russia’s incentive in what some see as actual collusion with well-funded, liberal environmental groups in the United States isn’t difficult to understand, Stiles argues, since American natural gas development affects the profitability of Gazprom, a large Russian oil and gas company.

With the public comment period open for one of the Virginia pipeline projects, Mountain Valley, local activists’ relationship with Virginia Organizing Inc. and the covert support the larger group receives from Russian President Vladimir Putin’s government deserve greater scrutiny, Stiles said.

“People must understand that this is not just a local issue,” he said in an interview with The Daily Signal. “Geopolitically, this is Putin’s Moscow attempting to thwart America’s efforts to gain energy independence and dominance and to help our allies get from underneath Putin’s energy boot.”

Stiles singles out Preserve Montgomery County and Friends of Nelson County, two groups affiliated with Charlottesville-based Virginia Organizing, through which all donations to either flow.

Virginia Organizing describes itself as a “nonpartisan, statewide grassroots organization dedicated to challenging injustice by empowering people in local communities to address issues that affect the quality of their lives.”

Preserve Montgomery County, based in Blacksburg, Virginia, was formed “to unite citizens” in opposition to “the intrusion” of the Mountain Valley Pipeline, according to the organization’s website, and to “work in cooperation with other regional groups to fight the pipelines and their assault on the environment.”

Under the heading “No Fracked Gas Pipelines,” a section of the website addresses environmental concerns about the process of hydraulic fracturing, widely known as fracking, to reach oil and natural gas.

Preserve Montgomery County calls on local residents to become “intervenors” with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to block the Mountain Valley Pipeline. Nellysford-based Friends of Nelson County, meanwhile, targets the Atlantic Coast Pipeline.

Stiles, 58, who joined Virginia Tech in Blacksburg in 2011 after leaving the CIA, said he sees an unsavory connection between anti-pipeline campaigns in his home state and top Russian officials.

He said the Kremlin has a vested interest in undermining a “natural gas revolution” in America that also could free Europe from its reliance on Russian energy.

As The Daily Signal previously reported, congressional investigators with the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology uncovered evidence that Russia is conducting what they call a “propaganda war against fossil fuels” by covertly funding U.S. environmental groups.

This covert funding, the investigators argue, is part of an elaborate scheme to turn American public opinion and public policy against fracking techniques that make it possible to extract natural gas.

Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas, the House committee’s chairman, and Rep. Randy Weber, R-Texas, chairman of its energy subcommittee, sent a letter June 29 to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin asking him to “conduct a full and complete investigation” into the money trail connecting Putin’s government with U.S. environmental activists accused of spreading “disinformation” about fracking and natural gas.

Russia and its partners in Bermuda, identified in the letter, could be in violation of federal statutes “pertaining to agents of foreign governments or those lobbying on behalf of domestic and foreign interests,” Smith and Weber wrote to Mnuchin.

The Russians “executed a political agenda with little or no paper trail,” the letter explains, by using a Bermuda-based shell company, Klein Ltd., “to funnel tens of millions of dollars” to a San Francisco-based nonprofit called the Sea Change Foundation that focuses on climate change.

The Sea Change Foundation then moves the money in the form of grants to other nonprofit environmental groups such as the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Sierra Club, and the League of Conservation Voters Education Fund.

The letter from the House committee cites a July 2014 report from the Republican staff of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works that unpacks the Sea Change Foundation’s donations to other groups.

Republicans regained control of the Senate three months later, and with Donald Trump’s election as president, House Republicans now see a way to get traction on the issue.

“I have asked Secretary Mnuchin to track a pattern of international money flowing into the U.S., and the Treasury Department is well positioned to gather facts and review findings through the lens of U.S. laws,” Smith said in an email to The Daily Signal. “We cannot allow foreign interests to deliberately manipulate our energy industry, and the American people deserve to know the truth about the foreign money.”




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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