Thursday, October 26, 2017

400 Scientific Papers Published In 2017 Support A Skeptical Position On Climate Alarm

A Growing Volume Of Evidence Undercuts ‘Consensus’ Science

During the first 10 months of 2017, 400 scientific papers have been published that cast doubt on the position that anthropogenic CO2 emissions function as the climate’s fundamental control knob…or that otherwise question the efficacy of climate models or the related “consensus” positions commonly endorsed by policymakers and mainstream media.

These 400 new papers support the position that there are significant limitations and uncertainties inherent in our understanding of climate and climate changes.  Climate science is not settled.

Modern temperatures, sea levels, and extreme weather events are neither unusual nor unprecedented.  Many regions of the Earth are cooler now than they have been for most of the last 10,000 years.

Natural factors such as the Sun (106 papers), multi-decadal oceanic-atmospheric oscillations such as the NAO, AMO/PDO, ENSO (37 papers), decadal-scale cloud cover variations, and internal variability, in general, have exerted a significant influence on weather and climate changes during both the past and present.  Detecting a clear anthropogenic forcing signal amidst the noise of unforced natural variability may, therefore, be difficult.

And current emissions-mitigation policies, especially related to the advocacy for renewables, are often costly, ineffective, and perhaps even harmful to the environment.  On the other hand, elevated CO2 and a warmer climate provide unheralded benefits to the biosphere (i.e., a greener planet and enhanced crop yields).

In 2016, there were 500 peer-reviewed scientific papers published in scholarly journals (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3) challenging “consensus” climate science. This amounts to more than 900 papers in less than two years.


The volcano scare

Ice sheets may melt rapidly in response to distant volcanoes

Ice sheets may melt rapidly in response to distant volcanoes
Study of ancient eruptions shows modern ice sheets could be vulnerable

Volcanic eruptions have been known to cool the global climate, but they can also exacerbate the melting of ice sheets, according to a paper published today in Nature Communications.

Researchers who analyzed ice cores and meltwater deposits found that ancient eruptions caused immediate and significant melting of the ice sheet that covered much of northern Europe at the end of the last ice age, some 12,000 to 13,000 years ago.

“Over a time span of 1,000 years, we found that volcanic eruptions generally correspond with enhanced ice sheet melting within a year or so,” says lead author Francesco Muschitiello, who completed the research as a postdoctoral fellow at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory.

These weren’t volcanoes erupting on or near the ice sheet, but located a thousand miles away in some cases. The eruptions heaved huge clouds of ash into the sky, and when the ash fell on the ice sheet, its darker color made the ice absorb more solar heat than usual.

“We know that if you have darker ice, you decrease the reflectance and it melts more quickly. It’s basic science,” says Muschitiello. “But no one so far has been able to demonstrate this direct link between volcanism and ice melting when it comes to ancient climates.”

The discovery comes from the cross-sections of deposits, called glacial varves, most of which had been collected in the 1980s and 1990s. Varves are the layered sediments that form when meltwater below an ice sheet routes large amounts of debris into lakes near the sheet’s edge. Like the rings of a tree, the layers of a glacial varve tell the story of each year’s conditions; a thicker layer indicates more melting, since there would have been a higher volume of water to carry the sediment.

The team also compared the varves to cores from the Greenland ice sheet, whose layers contain a record of ancient atmospheric conditions. Testing of those layers for sulfates revealed which years experienced explosive volcanic eruptions, which tend to release large amounts of ash. Matching up the ice layers with varve layers from the same time periods, the team found that years with explosive volcanic activity corresponded to thicker varve layers, indicating more melting of the northern European ice sheet.

Muschitiello and his colleagues studied a period ranging from 13,200 to 12,000 years ago, when the last ice age was transitioning into today’s warm climate. They focused specifically on volcanic eruptions in the northern high latitudes–events similar to the 2010 eruptions of Iceland’s Eyjafjallajökull volcano. Although that eruption was relatively minor, its large ash cloud shut down air traffic across most of Europe for about a week.

How much melting could an eruption like that cause? “It’s difficult to put an exact number to it,” says glaciologist and coauthor James Lea from the University of Liverpool. “It depends on many factors.” Running thousands of model simulations, the team found that the amount of melting depends on the individual eruption, which season it occurs in, the snowpack conditions at the time, and the elevation of the ice sheet. “Change any one of these and you would get different amounts of melt,” says Lea. In the worst scenarios, the model predicted that ash deposition would remove between 20 centimeters and almost one meter of ice from the surface of the highest parts of the ice sheet.

The model results should be taken with a pinch of salt, Muschitiello cautions, due to uncertainties about past conditions. However, because the team simulated a very broad range of potential conditions, he’s confident that the ice sheet’s real response lies somewhere within their range.

Michael Sigl, a paleoclimatologist from the Paul Scherrer Institute in Switzerland who wasn’t involved in the new study, says the hypothesis that ash particles might counteract the cooling effects of volcanic eruptions is intriguing. But, he said, “coincidences in the timing of rapid ice-sheet melting events and eruption dates do not automatically imply causation, and there may be other scenarios that could be consistent with the presented data.” Sigl’s own work has found a link between eruption-induced ozone depletion and deglaciation in the Southern Hemisphere. Nevertheless, he says, the new study shows that more work is needed to understand the effects of aerosol emissions from volcanic eruptions.

The preliminary results suggest that “present day ice sheets are potentially very vulnerable to volcanic eruptions,” says Muschitiello. They also point to a possible hole in the climate models that scientists use to make predictions about the future: Models currently don’t simulate the ice sheets’ response to changes in particulate deposition from the atmosphere in an interactive way.

Another intriguing implication is that previous research has suggested that melting ice sheets and glaciers could increase the frequency of volcanic eruptions in glaciated areas by lightening loads on earth’s crust, allowing underlying magma to rise. If the link between volcanism and ice sheet melting is confirmed, it could indicate the presence of a so-called “positive feedback loop” in which eruptions exacerbate melting, and more melting causes more eruptions, and so on.

Muschitiello says the study “can give us hints about the mechanisms at play when you’re expecting rapid climate change.”


Death of the polar bear as climate change icon validates Mitch Taylor’s skepticism

You could call it karma — the death of the polar bear icon after the shameful hubris of polar bear experts back in 2009.

That year, the IUCN Polar Bear Specialist Group booted 20-year member Mitch Taylor out of their organization, explaining that his skeptical views on human-caused global warming were “extremely unhelpful” to their polar bear conservation agenda.

Said chairman Andrew Derocher in his email to Taylor:  “Time will tell who is correct.”

It’s now clear that Mitch Taylor was right to be skeptical of sea ice models based on pessimistic climate change assumptions; he was also right to be more optimistic than his PBSG colleagues about the ability of polar bears to adapt to changing sea ice conditions (Taylor and Dowsley 2008), since the bears have turned out to be more resilient than even he expected.

Fat polar bears — not starving ones — dominate photos taken in recent years. The total failure of polar bear numbers to crash as predicted in response to the abrupt decline in summer sea ice in 2007 and persistent low summer sea ice levels since then (Crockford 2017), is vindication for Mitch Taylor. It’s time someone said so.


Regulatory scheme killed by EPA's Scott Pruitt cost taxpayers $68 billion

A practice known as "sue and settle" used by the Environmental Protection Agency to enact controversial regulations cost taxpayers $68 billion since 2005 and has an annual cost of $26 billion, according to a new report.

The American Action Forum found that "sue and settle," killed this month by EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, also dumped millions of hours of red tape on industries.

Pruitt ended the practice last week. During the Bush and Obama years, it was used by government activists and outside influence groups to force through new and costly regulations without the normal transparency required when rules are properly developed.

"Here's how it works," said Dan Bosch, the director of regulatory policy at AAF. "An interest group sues a federal agency alleging that the agency has not fulfilled its responsibility under the law. Rather than contest the lawsuit, the agency settles and enters into an agreement to initiate and/or expedite a rulemaking, complete with a legally binding deadline to promulgate."

He looked at the most expensive 23 regulations that went through the backdoor process and put a price tag of $67.9 billion on them. They also have $26.5 billion in annual costs. And, he added, "16 of these rules imposed a paperwork burden of more than eight million hours."

Businesses have cheered Pruitt's decision. When he made it, Pruitt said, "The days of regulation through litigation are over." He added, "We will no longer go behind closed doors and use consent decrees and settlement agreements to resolve lawsuits filed against the agency by special interest groups where doing so would circumvent the regulatory process set forth by Congress. Additionally, gone are the days of routinely paying tens of thousands of dollars in attorney's fees to these groups with which we swiftly settle."

The move was just the latest by the administration to target rules and regulations imposed by the Obama administration. Pruitt has been quick to put the brakes on EPA regulations he was handed and other agencies, notably the Interior Department, are also scrutinizing old rules.

Bosch said Pruitt's move will improve transparency.

"The October 16th directive issued by Administrator Pruitt aims to address sue and settle abuses at EPA by establishing procedures designed to make the settlement agreement process more transparent. The procedures include publishing notices online when the EPA has received a lawsuit, directly notifying affected states and regulated industries of the complaint within 15 days of receiving it, preventing the EPA from committing to a specific outcome, and allowing a public comment period or public hearing on whether to enter into the proposed consent decree or draft settlement agreement," he wrote.

And, he said, Pruitt's decision could bolster legislation targeting the practice. "The EPA directive also provides a good test case that could bolster efforts to pass legislation that would limit sue and settle across the federal government. The Sunshine for Regulations and Regulatory Decrees and Settlements Act, introduced in both houses of Congress in 2017, includes many of the provisions in the EPA directive, but goes further which gives these provisions more teeth, and codifies such policies that could otherwise be subject to reversal under a different administration. If the EPA's directive is effective at improving rules initiated through lawsuits, it would provide momentum to expand the practice beyond the EPA."


Australia:  Huge costs of "renewable" subsidies

Electricity customers face an extra burden of between $3.8 billion and $7.5bn in “windfall” subsidies for renewable power generators in the next decade ­because of the stroke of a pen in the last months of Kevin Rudd’s prime ministership.

Against advice from consultants, energy companies and the Australian Conservation Foundation, the Rudd government in 2010 extended the phasing out of the renewable subsidies for existing operators from 2020 to 2030.

The 10-year extension beyond the contracted 2020 phase-out under the Howard government is estimated to cost households and businesses up to an extra $7.5bn.

Based on a pre-2010 renewable generation estimate of about 9500 gigawatts an hour — and cost of certificates of about $80 — the highest estimated cost of the subsidy is $7.5bn. Under estimates based on the generation of 8300GW/h and a certificate price of $47, the total cost would be $3.8bn. The subsidy is coming into focus as the Turnbull government unveils its plans to stop subsidies for new renewable energy projects from 2020 because wind and solar power are becoming “cheaper than coal” and can survive without subsidies. Subsidies for existing projects will continue to be paid to 2030, in line with the Rudd government’s commitment.

The Turnbull government has estimated that not adopting a clean energy target suggested by the Finkel report will cut $11bn in potential renewable subsidies through renewable energy certificates.

Malcolm Turnbull and Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg are promoting the Coalition’s new energy plan as not adopting taxes or new subsidies.

“We call upon our political ­opponents to accept the National Energy Guarantee as recommended by the Energy Security Board,” Mr Frydenberg said. “It is a credible, workable, pro-market policy that delivers lower power prices and a more reliable system.”

After the election of the Rudd government in 2007, a series of changes was made to climate-change policy, including increasing the Howard government’s renewable energy target five times to 45,000 GW/h a year, splitting the then mandatory renewable energy target (MRET) into two, and trying to implement an emissions trading scheme by mid-2010.

In 2003, a Howard government review of the MRET, which recommended expanding renewable energy and emissions reduction targets, said the subsidies should not be extended beyond 2020.

Most of the political and parliamentary debate concentrated on ramifications of rapidly expanding rooftop solar systems and splitting the MRET into large and small sections.

Former Labor ministers cannot recall cabinet discussion or parliamentary debate over the extension of the subsidies for existing renewable generation to 2030, which was seen as a minor part of the massive changes to renewable energy policy.

But between 2008 and 2010, a Senate review, government advisers, the ACF, energy companies Origin and AGL as well as aluminium producer Rusal told the Labor government not to extend subsidies for existing renewable energy producers beyond 2020.

The Rudd government was told of the perception of “windfall profits” for existing renewable energy generators, was urged to keep the Howard government 2020 cut-off for subsidies and was reassured there was no sovereign risk because existing contracts and solar and wind farms had been built with the clear agreement that subsidies would end in2020.

Even Greenpeace and the ACF argued against windfall profits.

“Facilities built between 1997 and 2007 should only be eligible for incentives due under the existing MRET,” the ACF said in a submission to the Climate Change Authority.

The Australian Meat Processor Corporation said stations built before the introduction of MRET should not be allowed to access the scheme beyond 2020 because it “does not create a level playing field for these to be included”.

The Rudd government’s own discussion paper — Design Options for the Expanded national Renewable Energy Target Scheme — said the treatment of existing ­renewable energy generators could have large ramifications for climate change policy.

“Treatment of pre-existing power stations under the expanded national RET has implications for the supply of RECs in the market after 2020 and for the cost of the scheme,” the paper found.

“Treatment of pre-existing generators could also have implications for the credibility and effectiveness of the scheme in driving additional generation, if it is perceived that windfall gains after 2020 could accrue for business-as-usual generation by investments made in the expectation that a RECs revenue stream would be available only until 2020,” the paper said.

Despite the warnings the Labor government gave existing renewable energy generators access to the “windfall profits” beyond 2020 and locked in huge subsidies for a decade longer than contracted.




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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