Sunday, June 17, 2018

Antarctica Still Doing Just Great, Shock!

In his article below James Delingpole has provided a good demolition of the latest scare story.  I dismissed the story rather peremptorily a couple of days ago so Delingpole adds some welcome mockery of the claims. I note from the journal abstract that a sea level rise of 3.7 mm (7.6 - 3.9)is within the range of their estimates of sea-level rise over the last 25 years.  That is just a small fraction of one inch, probably unnoticeable

This has been the global warming scare story of the week, heavily promoted by the usual suspects, including Time, CBS, the Washington Post, the Guardian, the New York Timesand, inevitably, the BBC. Here is the BBC version:

"Antarctica is shedding ice at an accelerating rate.

Satellites monitoring the state of the White Continent indicate some 200 billion tonnes a year are now being lost to the ocean as a result of melting.

This is pushing up global sea levels by 0.6mm annually – a three-fold increase since 2012 when the last such assessment was undertaken.

Scientists report the new numbers in the journal Nature.

Governments will need to take account of the information and its accelerating trend as they plan future defences to protect low-lying coastal communities.

The researchers say the losses are occurring predominantly in the West of the continent, where warm waters are getting under and melting the fronts of glaciers that terminate in the ocean.

“We can’t say when it started – we didn’t collect measurements in the sea back then,” explained Prof Andrew Shepherd, who leads the Ice sheet Mass Balance Inter-comparison Exercise (Imbie).

“But what we can say is that it’s too warm for Antarctica today. It’s about half a degree Celsius warmer than the continent can withstand and it’s melting about five metres of ice from its base each year, and that’s what’s triggering the sea-level contribution that we’re seeing,” he told BBC News."

So it’s over, right? The Warmunists were right, the deniers were wrong and global warming is a super serial crisis we need to deal with NOW not the day after tomorrow…

Actually no.

The first thing to note is that the study is published in Nature, which is alarmist central and therefore to be treated with a degree of skepticism.

If you read the abstract, it’s actually pretty dry and unexciting.

"The Antarctic Ice Sheet is an important indicator of climate change and driver of sea-level rise. Here we combine satellite observations of its changing volume, flow and gravitational attraction with modelling of its surface mass balance to show that it lost 2,720 ± 1,390 billion tonnes of ice between 1992 and 2017, which corresponds to an increase in mean sea level of 7.6 ± 3.9 millimetres (errors are one standard deviation). Over this period, ocean-driven melting has caused rates of ice loss from West Antarctica to increase from 53 ± 29 billion to 159 ± 26 billion tonnes per year; ice-shelf collapse has increased the rate of ice loss from the Antarctic Peninsula from 7 ± 13 billion to 33 ± 16 billion tonnes per year. We find large variations in and among model estimates of surface mass balance and glacial isostatic adjustment for East Antarctica, with its average rate of mass gain over the period 1992–2017 (5 ± 46 billion tonnes per year) being the least certain."

But such is the way of climate alarmism is that the scientists involved have to talk up their findings and make them sound scary. Then the mainstream media adds its spin to make them scarier still.

The reality is more prosaic. Those dramatic sea level rises, for example.

Despite the apocalyptic headline, ice loss has only been contributing about 0.3mm a year to sea level rise, about an inch per century. Given that sea levels have been rising at around 8 inches a century since the 19thC, there is no evidence that this is not a long term phenomenon we are seeing.

Then, again per Homewood, there’s the issue of reliability.

Then there is the question of the accuracy of measurements. A major study by NASA in 2015 discovered that Antarctic ice mass has actually been increasing since 1992, basically because of greater snowfall, and not decreasing as this new study claims.

In reality, measurements of ice mass are not exact and are subject to huge margins of error.

And it’s not as though scientists have records going back long enough (Antarctica is a big, inhospitable place: remember Captain Scott?) to get any proper historical perspective:

Indeed as Shephard himself is forced to admit, we did not start collecting data until 1992. This sort of melting could have been going on for centuries or longer. In fact, another paper published this month by Kingslake et al finds that there has been  extensive retreat and re-advance of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet during the Holocene.

As Shephard also remarks, the melting in West Antarctica is due to the intrusion of warmer water, and therefore nothing at all to do with GHGs or “global warming”. It is highly unlikely that such changes in ocean currents have not happened many times before.

Just to repeat that key point: scientists only been collecting data since the year REM released Automatic for the People. Not really that long ago in the great scheme of things.

Finally, there’s the awkward matter – awkward if you’re a warmist trying to generate climate alarm, that is – of context.

“Antarctica loses three trillion tonnes of ice in 25 years” sounds like a serious problem.

Until you realize how big Antarctica is. As David Middleton has calculated at Watts Up With That? three trillion metric tons is something the Antarctic can lose quite comfortably.

In a story headlined ‘Good News! 99.989% of the Antarctic Ice Sheet Didn’t Melt!’, Middleton reminds us that most of the Antarctic is still there.

One of his readers below has done the math on what three trillion metric tons of ice-melt-caused sea rise looks like.

3 Trillion Metric Tons of mass equates to 7.6mm Sea Level Rise. (2.54mm per inch is 7.62 for 3″)
3T Tons sounds like a lot but reality is, 1 trillion tons equates to 1″ of sea level rise.

Not very much.

Big global warming scare story over. Until they come up with a new one next week.

More HERE  (See the original for links, graphics etc.)

Federal Judge Stumps Trial Lawyers Handling NYC’s Climate Lawsuit With One Question

A federal judge posed a question to lawyers representing New York City in its global warming lawsuit against five major oil companies — does the city invest in fossil fuels?

The answer is an unambiguous yes, but attorneys representing the city told U.S. District Court Judge John Keenan they “don’t know,” further arguing that fact was “beyond the scope of the pleadings” during a court hearing on Tuesday.

Keenan didn’t seem to buy it and pressed attorney Matthew Pawa on whether or not New York City was trying to relitigate failed attempts to get a monetary judgment on damages allegedly caused by man-made warming.

New York City filed its lawsuit against oil companies in January, demanding compensation for damages allegedly caused by global warming, including future damages. The city hired the firm Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro LLP to handle its suit in exchange for a share of any winnings — potentially billions of dollars.

Keenan heard arguments on Tuesday on whether or not New York City’s lawsuit should be dismissed. Pawa argued carbon dioxide emissions from oil companies products constituted a “nuisance,” but Keenan didn’t seem to buy it.

“I don’t think it’s hard to take judicial notice of the fact the city police department has a lot of cars, that the firehouse has trucks,” Keenan said. “Isn’t the plaintiff using the product that is the subject of this lawsuit?”

Pawa admitted the city used fossil fuels, but said the question wasn’t pertinent to defendants’ — BP, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobil and Royal Dutch Shell — motion to dismiss the case.

After huddling with co-counsel, Pawa also said: “We don’t know the answer to that your honor” when asked about the city’s fossil fuel investments.

Pawa’s answer was odd given New York City announced earlier this year it would divest from fossil fuel assets within five years. The announcement was made the same time Mayor Bill De Blasio announced their lawsuit against oil companies — the very case Pawa was arguing in court.

“In total, the City’s five pension funds hold roughly $5 billion in the securities of over 190 fossil fuel companies,” reads the city’s January news release on divestment. “The City’s move is among the most significant divestment efforts in the world to date.”

Pawa did not respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment on why he told Judge Keenan he did not know if the city was invested in fossil fuel companies.

Hagens Berman is handling lawsuits for at least three other local governments — San Francisco, Oakland and King County, Wa. All these suits are against the same five oil companies. The firm handles these cases on a contingency fee basis, meaning they get a percentage of any winnings.

The firm Seeger Weiss LLP is also handling New York City’s lawsuit, and the firm Sher Edling LLP is handling lawsuits for six California cities and counties against fossil fuel companies. These firms are also working for a percentage of any winnings.

The suits allege global warming violate state nuisance and trespassing laws, which have sometimes been applied to pollution. Trial lawyers also accused energy companies of trying to downplay the harms their products allegedly cause.

In March, U.S. District Judge William Alsup said plaintiff’s attempts to show oil companies conspired to cover up global warming science “shows nothing of the sort,” according to a journalist present at the hearing.


GM golden rice gets approval from food regulators in the US

GOLDEN rice, which has been genetically modified to prevent blindness in undernourished children, was judged safe to eat last week by the US Food and Drug Administration.

The rice contains extra genes that make a precursor to vitamin A, which is vital for preventing childhood blindness. A single helping can supply half the recommended daily intake of vitamin A, according to its developers at the International Rice Research Institute in the Philippines. The genes also give it its distinctive golden hue.

The nod by the FDA makes the US the fourth country to approve the rice this year, behind Canada, Australia and New Zealand. Having the rice cleared in these countries means there would be no regulatory issues if they imported food containing small quantities of the rice.

But its developer says the most important approvals are still awaited in the Philippines and Bangladesh, where the rice could have the greatest impact. Applications were lodged there last year.


Natural gas pipelines key to U.S. energy policy

 Today we need a rational discussion on energy policy that isn’t run by a single group or agenda. There aren’t any perfect solutions, because we don’t live in a perfect world. We need to evaluate and manage the risks and rewards from different energy sources; and we need consumers, business owners, energy companies and environmentalists to let their voices be heard.

What form of energy is abundant, easy to transport and store and burns cleaner than oil or coal? Flummoxed? It’s natural gas. But because it’s not a “green” energy source, environmentalists have waged war against new natural gas pipelines across the country — especially in the Northeast. This opposition is misguided and harmful to individuals, business owners, the environment and our national security.

To maintain a first-world standard of living, a nation needs abundant, affordable and reliable sources of energy, and natural gas checks all boxes. It’s abundant, with U.S. natural gas production more than 28.8 million mcfs (million cubic feet), according to the Energy Information Administration. At less than $3/mcf, it’s affordable; and the United States had marketed production of 73.8 billion cubic feet of natural gas per day in 2017. Production for 2018 and 2019 is forecast to be over 10 percent and 12 percent higher, respectively.

It’s also the cleanest burning fossil fuel. Natural gas produces almost 50 percent less CO2 than anthracite coal, and more than 25 percent less than diesel fuel and heating oil. Some utility companies are forced to use coal or heating oil as substitutes when there’s not enough available natural gas. When environmental activists stop construction of natural gas pipelines, this increases carbon emissions and air pollution — contrary to their stated goals.

While there are inherent risks with pipelines, it’s in a natural gas company’s best interest to make it as safe as possible. Energy companies don’t want to see a pipeline break and have to reimburse a property owner or individual for damages. They just want energy to flow from Point A to Point B with a minimum of expense.

The state of Massachusetts imports liquefied natural gas (LNG) from Yemen, instead of allowing pipelines to be built. Other Northeast states have similar anti-pipeline policies. This is why the cost of electricity is 19-20 cents per kilowatt hour (kWh), compared to a national average of 12-13 cents/kWh, versus 9 cents/kWh in Texas. This keeps America more dependent on foreign energy and gives Middle Eastern nations and Russia an advantage in the world energy marketplace. In my opinion, it also compromises our national security.

Environmental activists who oppose natural gas pipelines because they blindly hate all fossil fuels, and/or President Donald Trump, are acting contrary to their stated interests of lower carbon emissions. And the unintended consequences are higher energy prices and a lower standard of living. However, there are some who understand the consequences of this misguided opposition. Patrick Moore, the co-founder and former leader of Greenpeace, said this:

“… I do not accept that the environmental movement should be given a veto over national energy or economic policy. That is for elected governments.

“My strong conviction on who should, and should not, have a veto on environmental issues stems from years of international sustainability work. I’ve had several meetings lately in India on issues around energy and agriculture. About 300 million people, mostly farmers, are without electricity in India. Yet environmental scientists have blocked virtually every hydroelectric project recently proposed to provide electricity, irrigation and flood control.

“As a result of this effective environmental veto, India has embarked on a massive build-out of coal-fired power plants that blacken the skies and provide no irrigation or flood control. This is what results from misguided campaigns led by ill-informed activists who do not think about the consequences of their wrong-headed positions, and demand veto power.

“Let’s avoid this notion of providing a single interest group with a veto over important aspects of energy policy, including pipelines. And while we’re at it, let’s avoid making decisions on crucial energy infrastructure on the basis of sensationalism, misinformation and fear.”

Today we need a rational discussion on energy policy that isn’t run by a single group or agenda. There aren’t any perfect solutions, because we don’t live in a perfect world. We need to evaluate and manage the risks and rewards from different energy sources; and we need consumers, business owners, energy companies and environmentalists to let their voices be heard. We should all work toward the goal to keep the United States economically strong and secure. Regardless of your political views or affiliations, on this we should all agree.


Antarctica’s Ice May Be More Durable Than We Thought

One of the biggest potential dangers of increasing climate change is sea level rise caused by the melting of the polar ice caps. As our planet heats up, large ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica will melt, potentially triggering several feet of increased sea level rise. If the entire Antarctic ice sheet melts into the ocean, it could lead to dozens of feet of sea level rise, likely enough to wipe out entire cities.

Of course, it’s important to remember that ice sheets are complex and predicting how they will react is difficult—there’s a wide range of possibilities. Perhaps the best way for scientists to predict how ice sheets will behave in the future is by learning how they behaved in the past, so one group of scientists traveled to the East Antarctic Ice Sheet to learn its history.

Specifically, the researchers were interested in what happened to the ice sheet during the Pliocene epoch, the geologic period from about 5.4 million years ago to around 2.5 million. During the Pliocene, global temperatures were a few degrees warmer than they are today, which means this era is a good model for what our world might look like in a few decades if climate change remains unchecked.

To determine just what happened to the ice sheet during this period, the researchers drilled deep into the rock beneath it. The scientists were looking for samples of certain isotopes, beryllium-10 and aluminum-26. These particular isotopes are created from the impact of cosmic rays from space. When these cosmic rays hit the atoms in the soil, they trigger atomic reactions that produce these isotopes.

The key fact here is that cosmic rays can’t penetrate the ice. If there was ice over the ground during the Pliocene, the cosmic rays wouldn’t have reached the ground and these isotopes shouldn’t be present in the soil. But if the ice sheet melted significantly, the researchers would find higher levels of these isotopes.

This scientific task is not as easy as it sounds. “Isolating these rare isotopes from grains of ancient sand is like finding a very small needle in a very large haystack,” said study author Paul Bierman. “But measuring them gives us a powerful view of Antarctica’s past that has never been seen before.”

In the end, the researchers found only trace amounts of the isotopes, suggesting that the ice sheet was present throughout the entire Pliocene. This is good news for us because it means the ice sheet will also likely survive the next few decades of climate change as well.

“Based on this evidence from the Pliocene, today’s current carbon dioxide levels are not enough to destabilize the land-based ice on the Antarctic continent,” said study author Jeremy Shakun.



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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