Friday, December 08, 2017

Tidalgate: Climate Alarmists Caught Faking Sea Level Rise

Alarmist scientists have been caught red-handed tampering with raw data in order to exaggerate sea level rise.

The raw (unadjusted) data from three Indian Ocean gauges – Aden, Karachi and Mumbai – showed that local sea level trends in the last 140 years had been very gently rising, neutral or negative (ie sea levels had fallen).

But after the evidence had been adjusted by tidal records gatekeepers at the global databank Permanent Service for Mean Sea Level (PSMSL) it suddenly showed a sharp and dramatic rise.

The whistle was blown by two Australian scientists Dr. Albert Parker and Dr. Clifford Ollier in a paper for Earth Systems and Environment.

The paper – Is the Sea Level Stable at Aden, Yemen? – examines the discrepancies between raw and adjusted sea level data in Aden, Karachi and Mumbai.

Kenneth Richard at No Tricks Zone reports:

    "The authors expose how PSMSL  data-adjusters make it appear that stable sea levels can be rendered to look like they are nonetheless rising at an accelerated pace.

    The data-adjusters take misaligned and incomplete sea level data from tide gauges that show no sea level rise (or even a falling trend).  Then, they subjectively and arbitrarily cobble them together, or realign them.   In each case assessed, PSMSL data-adjusters lower the earlier misaligned rates and raise the more recent measurements.  By doing so, they concoct a new linearly-rising trend."

The authors do not mince their words. They refer to these adjustments as “highly questionable” and “suspicious.”  That’s because they can find no plausible scientific explanation for the adjustments.

As they explain at the beginning of their paper, it is hard to put together consistent sea level records covering a long time period. This is because tide gauges are often the result of multiple sets of data, taken over different time periods using different instruments, which are then spliced together.

    "What is proposed as a single record in databases such as the Permanent Service for Mean Sea Level (PSMSL) (PSMSL 2017a) is often the composition of data collected by different instruments, sometimes in different locations or over different time windows, with significant gaps in between one measurement and the others. This is the case of the Aden, Yemen tide gauge that is the only tidal location of the Arabian Peninsula spanning a time window long enough to infer a trend and acceleration of the relative sea level (assuming there was continuous measurement and no quality issue).

In Aden, similar to Karachi and Mumbai and other tide gauges of the area, a single-tide gauge record is the result of multiple sets of data subjectively coupled together. While a new tide gauge is recording since about 2007, the alignment of the previous data is continuously changing."

So there is nothing per se wrong with PSMSL making adjustments in order to make the different datasets align.  What is wrong is the way that the scientists at PSMSL have adjusted them. In every case, they have revised them in order to make them produce a sharp upward trend in sea level rise – despite the fact that global records do not support this.

The truth, Parker and Ollier conclude in their paper, is that sea level has changed very little in the three sites examined:

    "The reconstructed tide gauge records of Aden, Mumbai and Karachi are perfectly consistent with multiple lines of evidence from other key sites of the Indian Ocean including Qatar, Maldives, Bangladesh and Visakhapatnam. The sea levels have been stable since the start of the twentieth century in Aden similar to Karachi and Mumbai."

But the official PSMSL data – as used by other global data-keeping bodies such as NOAA – claims that there has been a sharp increase.

In Aden, for example, the alarmists have turned a modest 1.21 mm/year rise into a 3.02 mm/year rise.   In Aden, with data 1880–1969, the trend was + 1.21 mm/year.

    "Per the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Centre for Operational Oceanographic Products and Services (NOAA 2017a), with data from an intermediate version of a single-tide gauge record by PSMSL we may call (n-1), the sea-level trend in Aden is + 3.02 mm/year based on the monthly average mean sea-level (MSL) results 1879–2011, Fig. 6a (image from NOAA(2017b) downloaded on September 13, 2017).

    Using the online analysis tool of Burton’s ( 2017a), with data from the latest update of the PSMSL database that we may call version n, with 2 more years of data, but also with some other corrections, see the data before the year 1900 shifted up, the sea-level trend in Aden is + 1.35 mm/year based on the MSL results 1879–2013, Fig. 6b (image from (2017b) downloaded on September 13, 2017). Worthy of note, the acceleration is now large and positive."

 Again, there is no plausible scientific explanation for these adjustments. As the authors put it:

    “It is always highly questionable to shift data collected in the far past without any proven new supporting material.”

Indeed, but it is perfectly consistent with the behavior of alarmist scientists in other fields, notably those concerning surface temperature data records. As we have reported here before, there is copious evidence to suggest that the gatekeepers of global warming have consistently and shamelessly cooked the books and rigged the data in order to give the impression that “climate change” is a major and unprecedented phenomenon.

A major part of the global warming scare narrative is that melting ice caps will cause sea levels to rise at a dangerous and unprecedented rate, enveloping low-lying Pacific islands, flooding vulnerable countries like Bangladesh and perhaps one day drowning even places like Manhattan.

There is little if any scientific evidence that this is actually happening.

What’s extraordinary is the desperation of scientists at what ought to be impeccably neutral and trustworthy institutions such as NASA, NOAA and PSMSL to pretend that it is.

When alarmists in charge of surface temperature datasets make dishonest adjustments to exaggerate the appearance of global warming, it looks like corruption.

When alarmists in the entirely separate field of sea level measurement make precisely the same sort of dishonest adjustments in order to accord with the same global warming narrative, it starts to look like a conspiracy.


EU Member States Abandon Legally Binding Targets For Renewable Energy

For the past ten years, EU member states have been obliged to meet national targets for renewable energy. From 2020, they will be free of these constraints.

The 2020 targets were adopted in 2008, when EU lawmakers were in a very different mood. It was before the economic crisis, and the EU’s crisis of confidence.

By 2014, in the second commission of President José Manuel Barroso, the zeitgeist had changed. Under Secretary-General Catherine Day, a new focus was placed on being less intrusive, and allowing more flexibility for national governments. And so new post-2020 targets were proposed that were far less proscriptive.

For renewables, the Commission has proposed a 27% share target for 2030, up from 20% in 2020. But it will only be binding at EU level. Individual EU countries will not be punished if they fail to meet the goal, because there are no binding national targets in the proposal.

Environmental groups have pointed out that without the national targets, there is no legally enforceable way to ensure the EU meets its goal. The Commission can take an EU member state to court if it misses a target. But it cannot take itself to court.

To allay concerns about the less-proscriptive approach, the Commission introduced the concept of ‘energy governance’ – a framework that will set milestones and rules that are meant to keep everyone on track and make the various pieces of energy legislation work together. It is an umbrella legislation, setting the rules for a bundle of laws.

This energy governance regulation, put forward by the Juncker commission last year, will be voted on by MEPs on Thursday, and by member states on 18 December. It is one part of a broader Clean Energy Package.

Negotiations for the third version of the Clean Energy for all Europeans package have officially begun.

A new regime

Green MEPs Michèle Rivasi and Claude Turmes are serving as co-rapporteurs leading the file, which will be voted on in a joint session of the Parliament’s environment and energy committees on Thursday. The importance of the legislation is reflected in the 1,700 amendments which have been tabled.

“Because we lost the national binding targets, this part of the governance is now getting really essential,” Turmes says. “If it isn’t watertight, you may have a high renewable target, but you have no instruments to get you there.”

Turmes says the governance legislation needs to solve three problems that have arisen because of the lack of binding national targets.

It needs to close the “ambition gap” between the existing targets and the EU’s commitment under the Paris agreement.
It needs to close the “delivery gap” – the ability for new governments to reneg on the commitments of the previous government.

And it needs to close the “trajectory gap” – the ability for countries to delay action in the early part of the decade, coasting on their 2020 targets until 2030 starts drawing near.
“We don’t want a hockey stick trajectory, we want a linear trajectory,” The Luxembourgish MEP explained.

Several member states who are advanced in renewables have also identified this as a concern, because they fear that they will have to do all the work and make up for the laggards. These countries, which include Germany, France, Portugal and Sweden, have convinced the Estonian presidency to table a proposal which would add interim targets in 2023 and 2025.

The European Parliament says the EU’s proposed 2030 target for renewable energy needs to be raised in order to speed up deployment early in the next decade. But EU member states have a different idea.

Contentious issues

The biggest areas of disagreement ahead of Thursday’s vote have emerged around long-term goals for 2050, interim targets and multi-level governance.

The parliament is expected to pass amendments giving cities and regions a greater role in energy governance. But this is expected to be resisted by member states who worry about diluting national authority.

There is also disagreement both within the Parliament and within the Council on whether governments should be able to keep regulated energy prices, and whether they should be able to continue subsidising coal plants in order to guarantee stand-by power capacity. This is part of related legislation on electricity market design.

The Commission has proposed to forbid capacity mechanism subsidies to go to any new plant that has a carbon intensity threshold of more than 550gCO2 per KWh of electricity, which would effectively ban subsidies to coal plants. It also wants a ban on giving such subsidies to existing plants from five years after the legislation comes into force.

A European Commission proposal to put an emissions limit on what power plants can be subsidised continues to divide the member states but the EU executive and the European Parliament stand united in supporting the CO2 cap.

But after fierce opposition by Poland and other countries heavily reliant on coal, the Estonian presidency has drafted a compromise which would allow such subsidies for existing plants indefinitely, and start the ban for new plants only five years after entry into force. Member state representatives will discuss the issue on Wednesday.

In the Parliament, a different compromise has been tabled as an amendment by Polish center-right MEP Jerzy Buzek, who chairs the energy and industry committee. Under the amendment, countries that produce more than 20% of their electricity from solid fuels would be exempt from the cap. These would be Poland, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Greece, Hungary, Portugal and Romania.


Time to Ditch the Renewable Fuel Standard, Save Americans Money

Politicians don’t have a crystal ball that can predict the future of energy prices, energy supplies, or demand for electricity and gasoline.

But they pretend to, and that’s a problem. It leads to market-distorting policies that harm Americans as consumers and taxpayers.

Take the Renewable Fuel Standard. Congress and the George W. Bush administration established the Renewable Fuel Standard in 2005 and expanded the program in 2007. The standard sets volumetric requirements (peaking at 36 billion gallons in 2022) to mix biofuels into the country’s fuel supply.

Ethanol, the most common biofuel, is made from corn, sugarcane, potatoes, soybeans, and other biomass. The Environmental Protection Agency has the authority to set yearly obligations to be met, which the agency recently did for 2018.

One of the main reasons the federal government enacted the Renewable Fuel Standard was to lessen U.S. dependence on oil and foreign sources of energy. In January 2007, then-Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said, “We can’t produce our way out of the problems we have with oil. The only alternative we have is to look to alternative fuels: the sun, the wind, geothermal, biomass.”

In other words, let’s replace oil with homegrown corn-based ethanol and soy bean-based biodiesel.

As dubious as the goal of energy independence is, the Renewable Fuel Standard is failing to achieve it. The large majority of transportation fuel is petroleum, and biofuels’ impact on the overall transportation fuel market is minimal.

In 2016, ethanol contributed a paltry 5 percent of the overall transportation fuel market. Natural gas provided 4 percent of the nation’s transportation fuel with no mandate in place. Instead, the market is at work and the abundance of cheap natural gas is spurring the growth of natural gas vehicles.

The growth of biofuels as a result of the mandate is minuscule compared to the country’s overall demand for fuel. Yet ethanol consumes a large share of the corn crop and an increasing amount of the soybean crop. The ethanol quota diverts valuable cropland away from other agricultural uses and increases feed prices for cattle and poultry farmers.

Even within the mandate, we’re relying on cheaper biofuels from foreign sources to meet the requirements. The U.S. consumed 2.85 billion gallons of biodiesel in 2016 while producing only 1.568 billion gallons of biodiesel in 2016. Over 708 million gallons were imported in 2016, with 448 million gallons imported exclusively from Argentina.

Practically one-quarter of all biodiesel consumed in the U.S. in 2016 was imported from other countries. An overall net exporter of ethanol last year, the U.S. was a net importer of biodiesel.

What’s the government’s solution? Just like it did for cheaper Brazilian ethanol years ago, the Commerce Department is imposing a 71.45 percent to 72.28 percent tariff on Argentinian biodiesel.

If the federal government is going to force a biofuel mandate on Americans, at the very least it should be able to buy the cheapest biofuels on the market.

The problem is not the importation and exportation of ethanol. Freely traded energy, no matter the source, will benefit households and businesses with competitive prices and more choices.

The issue is that the mandate was sold on the false promise of ethanol being the silver bullet to end our dependence on foreign oil, as well as claims of imminent resource exhaustion to justify the program.

For instance, Ken Salazar, then Colorado senator and later secretary of the interior for President Barack Obama, stated in November of 2005 that “by 20 to 25 years from now, we will be importing 70 percent of our oil from foreign countries. … The problem that we face for sure is due in part to dwindling resources here in America. Domestic reserves of oil and natural gas are declining while our demand continues to grow.”

While there’s still time for Salazar’s prediction to come true, the evidence and trends certainly aren’t pointing that way.

We’re not running out of natural resources. In fact, from the time Salazar made that prediction to now, America has reduced imports from over 307 million barrels of crude oil a month to 244 million barrels. The higher production of domestic oil as a result of the tracking boom has reduced net imports far more than ethanol has in the past decade.

Government programs like the Renewable Fuel Standard are ineffective because they cannot account for human ingenuity that can unlock new reserves of energy and innovations that breed new technologies.

The market will take care of America’s energy needs. Catering to rent seekers and special interests incentivizes more lobbying and government dependence, and stifles innovation.

Politicians like to make promises they can’t keep and make predictions that sound like an impressive feat of prognostication. But politicians feel no repercussions when the market proves them wrong.

It’s long past time to recognize the Renewable Fuel Standard has failed to deliver on its promises, and that the market predictions upon which it was based are not today’s energy reality.


The blessings of climate change

by Jeff Jacoby

POINT HOPE, ALASKA, is tiny and ill-provisioned, an Arctic backwater so inaccessible that basic groceries have to be flown in and gasoline can only be brought in by barge during the summer. The town is remote not only geographically, but also digitally: Its internet connection is so slow that teachers must spend hours downloading course material that most of us could pull off the internet in minutes.

But Point Hope's luck is changing. High-speed internet is coming, and with it the benefits of ties to the world: Improved education and health care, more options for consumers, new customers for local artists, and a chance to attract tourists.

All thanks to global warming.

The New York Times reported Sunday that Quintillion, a global communications company, is taking advantage of melting sea ice to build a faster digital link between Europe and Asia by positioning high-speed internet cables beneath the Arctic Ocean. Until recently, cable-laying ships couldn't get too far north, but climate change has meant less ice north of the Bering Strait. Consequently, Point Hope is now a stop on Quintillion's shipping route, and the company is supplying the town with broadband service. That means a better life for residents of one of the nation's most isolated communities.

In the church of climate alarmism, there may be no heresy more dangerous than the idea that the world will benefit from warming. Zealous preachers seek to scare their flock with forecasts of catastrophe, horror, and threats to civilization. Anyone who demurs is denounced as an apostate: an anti-science "denier."

But the truth — the inconvenient truth, to coin a phrase — is that while climate change brings negatives, it brings positives too. Polar melting may cause dislocation for those who live in low-lying coastal areas, but it will also lead to safe commercial shipping in formerly inhospitable northern seas, and to economic opportunity for high-latitude residents in places like Point Hope.

Shifts in climate are like shifts in the economy: They invariably spell good news for some and bad news for others. Falling interest rates are a blessing to homebuyers but a curse to savers; a strong dollar helps consumers buying imports but hinders exporters selling abroad. In the same way, changes in climate generate winners and losers. Some of global warming's effects will be disagreeable; others will be very welcome.

Worldwide, cold kills 20 times as many people as heat, so a warming planet will save lives. A plethora of data confirms the greater deadliness of cold weather, even in countries with very different climate patterns. One study of mortality rates, for example, found that deaths from cold outnumbered those from heat by a ratio of 33-to-2 in Australia, and 61-to-3 in Britain. Of 2,000 weather-related deaths in America tallied by the Centers for Disease Control, 63 percent were caused by excessive cold vs. 31 percent caused by excessive heat.

A warming planet will also be a greener planet. Is a greener planet. Rising levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere have already led to "persistent and widespread increase" in leaf cover — i.e., greening — across as much as half of the world's vegetated regions, according to a study published in Nature last year.

Alarmists mindlessly condemn atmospheric CO2 as "carbon pollution," but carbon dioxide is essential to the health and grown of plant life.

NASA satellites show that over the past 35 years, there has been an increase in world greenery equal in area to twice the continental United States. Climate change has been a particular blessing in Africa, where the "Sahel greening" has significantly reduced famine.

The effects of climate change range from the obvious (lower heating bills) to the subtle (more habitat for moose and endangered sharks). Territory formerly deemed too forbiddingly cold will grow more temperate — and valuable. Delicacies from lobster to blueberries may become more plentiful.

Bottom line? Global warming will bring gains as well as losses, upsides no less than downsides. Climate science isn't a black-and-white morality tale. Our climate discourse shouldn't be either.


Greenies wrong: Benefit to plants of CO2 rise not limited by nitrogen availability

The Relationship Between CO2-induced Plant Growth Stimulation and Nitrogen Acquisition
Paper Reviewed: Feng, Z., Rütting, T., Pleijel, H., Wallin, G., Reich, P.B., Kammann, C.I., Newton, P.C.D., Kobayashi, K., Luo, Y. and Uddling, J. 2015. Constraints to nitrogen acquisition of terrestrial plants under elevated CO2. Global Change Biology 21: 3152-3168.

In a paper published in the journal Global Change Biology, the ten-member research team of Feng et al. (2015) set out to investigate the relationship between CO2-induced plant growth stimulation and nitrogen acquisition by conducting a meta-analysis of the subject using data from 35 peer-reviewed journal articles. All of the data they utilized were derived from studies using Free-Air CO2 Enrichment (FACE) technology and represented observations obtained from grassland, forest and cropland ecosystems.

Results of their analysis revealed that "across all data, elevated CO2 increased aboveground net primary production by 16% and nitrogen acquisition by 8%." Similar findings were observed when narrowing the data down into a smaller subset of grasslands and forests that had been subjected to CO2 enrichment for a minimum of seven -- and maximum of eleven -- years. As shown in the figure below, aboveground net primary production remained relatively stable at around 15 percent as the length of experiment years increased. Nitrogen acquisition, on the other hand, increased with time, as did the nitrogen concentration of aboveground annual biomass, which became less negative. And in projecting the slope of the line fit to the nitrogen concentration data forward in time, it can be estimated that within 9 years of additional CO2 enrichment, this parameter will no longer be negative, as it will cross into positive territory at that time. Similarly, if the trend in nitrogen acquisition continues its advancement upward (dashed blue line), it would not be unrealistic to project a future increase in aboveground net primary production, as illustrated in the dashed green line.

The significance of the above findings was not lost on the authors of this study, who remark in the discussion section of their paper that "the expectation that the magnitude of positive ecosystem productivity responses to elevated CO2 will decline over time due to [the progressive nitrogen limitation (PNL) hypothesis] was not supported by our analysis of long-term (7-11 years) responses of plant productivity, nitrogen acquisition and nitrogen concentration in FACE experiments." The PNL hypothesis has long been championed by climate alarmists, who claim that low concentrations of soil nitrogen will curtail the ability of the productivity-enhancing effect of rising atmospheric CO2 concentrations to maintain increased plant growth and ecosystem carbon sequestration rates over the long term. Clearly, however, as illustrated by the data in this study, such limitation is not taking place.




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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