Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Global warming is expected to make vegetables significantly scarcer around the world

Brainless Warmist rubbish. You can grow vegetables almost anywhere and a hotter climate would open up big lots of land in Canada and Siberia for farming

Global warming is expected to make vegetables significantly scarcer around the world, unless new growing practices and resilient crop varieties are adopted, researchers warned on Monday (June 11).

By the end of this century, less water and hotter air will combine to cut average yields of vegetables - which are crucial to a healthy diet - by nearly one-third, said the report in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

A 7.2 Fahrenheit (4 Celsius) increase in temperature, which scientists expect by 2100 if global warming continues on its current trajectory, reduces average yields by 31.5 per cent, said the report.

"Our study shows that environmental changes such as increased temperature and water scarcity may pose a real threat to global agricultural production, with likely further impacts on food security and population health," said lead author Pauline Scheelbeek of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

Southern Europe, large parts of Africa and South Asia may be particularly affected.

The findings are based on a systematic review of 174 studies examining the impact of environmental exposures on yield and nutritional content of vegetables and legumes since 1975.

Some previous research has pointed to a likely increase in crop yields as carbon dioxide rises, but the current review found that any such boost would be cancelled out by higher greenhouse gases, reduced water availability for irrigation and rising temperatures.

"We have brought together all the available evidence on the impact of environmental change on yields and quality of vegetables and legumes for the first time," said senior author Alan Dangour, also of LSHTM.

"Our analysis suggests that if we take a 'business as usual' approach, environmental changes will substantially reduce the global availability of these important foods," he added.

"Urgent action needs to be taken, including working to support the agriculture sector to increase its resilience to environmental changes and this must be a priority for governments across the world."

A second study in PNAS found that rising temperatures will increase the volatility of corn, the most widely grown crop on the planet.

Researchers confirmed prior studies that showed global warming would likely cut back on corn growth.

They also showed that heat waves may boost inconsistency and volatility across various regions from year to year, leading to price hikes and global shortages.

"Previous studies have often focused on just climate and plants, but here we look at climate, food and international markets," said lead author Michelle Tigchelaar, a University of Washington postdoctoral researcher in atmospheric sciences.

"We find that as the planet warms, it becomes more likely for different countries to simultaneously experience major crop losses, which has big implications for food prices and food security."

The vast majority of the global corn exports come from the United States, Brazil, Argentina and Ukraine.

"Under 4 degrees Celsius warming, which the world is on track to reach by the end of the century if current greenhouse gas emissions rates continue, there's an 86 percent chance that all four maize-exporting countries would simultaneously suffer a bad year," said the report.


A 145-year Continent-wide Increase in Mountain-top Species Richness
Paper Reviewed: Steinbauer, M.J., Grytnes, J.-A., Jurasinski, G., Kulonen, A., Lenoir, J., Pauli, H., Rixen, C., Winkler, M., Bardy-Durchhalter, M., Barni, E., Bjorkman, A.D., Breiner, F.T., Burg, S., Czortek, P., Dawes, M.A., Delimat, A., Dullinger, S., Erschbamer, B., Felde, V.A., Fernández-Arberas, O., Fossheim, K.F., Gómez-García, D., Georges, D., Grindrud, E.T., Haider, S., Haugum, S.V., Henriksen, H., Herreros, M.J., Jaroszewicz, B., Jaroszynska, F., Kanka, R., Kapfer, J., Klanderud, K., Kühn, I., Lamprecht, A., Matteodo, M., Morra di Cella, U., Normand, S., Odland, A., Olsen, S.L., Palacio, S., Petey, M., Piscová, V., Sedlakova, B., Steinbauer, K., Stöckli, V., Svenning, J.-C., Teppa, G., Theurillat, J.-P., Vittoz, P., Woodin, S.J., Zimmermann, N.E. and Wipf, S. 2018. "Accelerated increase in plant species richness on mountain summits is linked to warming". Nature 556: 231-234.

One of the great horror stories associated with predictions of CO2-induced global warming is that the warming (if it occurs) will be so fast and furious that many species of plants will not be able to migrate towards cooler regions -- poleward in latitude, or upward in elevation -- at rates that are rapid enough to avoid extinction.

Over the past two decades we have (1) reviewed several papers (see Extinction (Migrating Plants) and Extinction (Stationary Plants)), (2) published a major report and (3) produced a video documentary examining this claim.

Through these efforts we have learned that it is easy to make long-term predictions; but to substantiate them with facts is an entirely different matter. And even when the facts are largely in hand, one can still be blinded by preconceived ideas that make it difficult to comprehend the real meaning of what has been discovered. So it is with the specter of species extinction that hovers over the global warming debate. The vast majority of people who have studied the subject have not understood some of the issue's most basic elements; and they have consequently drawn conclusions that are not aligned with reality.

Proponents of what we shall call the CO2-induced global warming extinction hypothesis seem to be totally unaware of the fact that atmospheric CO2 enrichment tends to ameliorate the deleterious effects of rising temperatures on earth's vegetation. They appear not to know that more CO2 in the air enables plants to grow better at nearly all temperatures, but especially at higher temperatures. They feign ignorance of the knowledge (or truly do not know) that elevated CO2 boosts the optimum temperature at which plants grow best, and that it raises the upper-limiting temperature above which they experience death, making them much more resistant to heat stress.

The end result of these facts is that if the atmosphere's temperature and CO2 concentration rise together, plants are able to successfully adapt to the rising temperature, and they experience no ill effects of the warming. Under such conditions, plants living near the heat-limited boundaries of their ranges do not experience an impetus to migrate poleward or upward towards cooler regions of the globe. At the other end of the temperature spectrum, however, plants living near the cold-limited boundaries of their ranges are empowered to extend their ranges into areas where the temperature was previously too low for them to survive. And as they move into those once-forbidden areas, they actually expand their ranges, overlapping the similarly-expanding ranges of other plants and thereby increasing local plant biodiversity.

Vindication of our thesis has been gaining momentum year by year, as scientists have published papers examining this topic using real world data (see the many reviews we have archived in our Subject Index under the following headings: Alpine Ecosystems, Extinction and Range Expansion).

The latest such work comes from the 53-member research team of Steinbauer et al. (2018). Publishing in the journal Nature, this new group of scientists analyzed a massive continent-wide dataset of repeated plant surveys from 302 mountain summits across Europe dating all the way back to 1871 in an effort to "assess the temporal trajectory of mountain biodiversity changes." Vegetation surveys were conducted predominately on the uppermost 10 m of elevation on each summit during the summer, with each summit being resurveyed between one to six times between 1871 and 2016, for a total of 698 surveys over the period of study. Such surveys, in the words of the authors, were "optimal … for detecting changes in plant species richness over time."

So what did the records show? Has the global warming of the past century and a half driven plants in such mountain top ecosystems toward extinction?

In a word, no!

Contrary to climate alarmist contentions and model-based predictions, Steinbauer et al. report there has been "a continent-wide acceleration in the rate of increase in plant species richness, with five times as much species enrichment between 2007 and 2016 as fifty years ago, between 1957 and 1966" (see Figure 1 below). What is more, they note that this incredible trend of increasing biodiversity was "consistent across all [continental regions], with no single region showing the opposite pattern."

Nevertheless, despite such good news rooted in real-world observations, the team of researchers just can't seem to bring themselves to reject the CO2-induced global warming extinction hypothesis. Appearing to be still blinded by their preconceived ideas, they opine that "accelerating plant species richness increases are expected to be a transient phenomenon that hides the accumulation of a so-called extinction debt," where "a rapid loss of alpine-nival species may occur under accelerated global warming."

So sad!


Why Britain can never rely on wind power

For the last ten days or more the UK has been becalmed. In theory, our windmill fleet should be able to generate 20 gigawatts of power, more than 50 percent of peak demand at this time of year, but with barely a puff of wind this month, it has been generating next to nothing. If the weather forecasters are right, the lull will not end for a few more days yet. We should be thanking our lucky stars that we still have fossil fuels and nuclear to keep the lights on.

It’s hard to think of a better demonstration of the absurdity of windmills as a way of powering a modern economy. Despite this, Lord Deben, the former John Selwyn Gummer and current chairman of the Committee on Climate Change, has taken to the pages of the Guardian today to argue for more wind power, and in particular, onshore wind power.

Nevertheless, there are at least hints though that the government is finally “getting it” on the parlous state into which environmentalism has plunged the UK’s electricity grid: a planned new nuclear power station on Anglesey received a boost last week when it was announced that negotiations between the developer and the government were underway and that the state was looking to take a substantial stake in the project.

As low-carbon technologies go, nuclear of course has the great advantage of not being at the mercy of the weather, but as the debacle of Hinkley Point has shown, it is now so expensive as to make a nuclear strategy almost as mad as a renewables one.

Or is it? Another announcement last week received much less attention, but intriguingly suggests that nuclear could soon be a genuine competitor even to fossil fuels. Nuscale Energy is a US-based startup that is trying to develop small nuclear reactors that can be built in a modular fashion, allowing most of the construction to take place in a factory, before final assembly on site. The company has been riding a wave of optimism this year, after regulators gave approval to key safety elements of its design. With the major hurdle to full regulatory approval completed a few weeks later, the company now expects to be producing electricity at its first site, in Utah, by 2025.

Nuscale has previously suggested that its technology, once mature, might produce electricity at a cost of $85 per megawatt hour: cheaper than offshore wind and biomass, but more expensive than onshore wind or natural gas (although without the reliability issues of wind, which makes direct cost comparison difficult, and also without the carbon emissions of gas or biomass). However, a couple of days ago the company announced that optimisation of the design had allowed them to increase power output by 20 percent without materially affecting costs. That means that its cost per megawatt hour should fall by a similar proportion.

If Nuscale’s design changes meet with regulatory approval, and if the design performs as advertised, then the market could be upturned. Offshore wind and large-scale nuclear would probably become a thing of the past and any small price advantage of onshore wind would not compensate for its intermittency. The choice would be between cheap reliable fossil fuels and somewhat more expensive, but still reliable, modular nuclear reactors.

But perhaps I’m getting ahead of myself. Even if the design proves itself in Utah, there is no guarantee that anything will change here in the UK, where the formidable obstacle of the Whitehall machine must be overcome. And with the bureaucracy dominated by card-carrying members of the green fraternity – who oppose nuclear power despite it being carbon-free – that could be a long process indeed. Let’s hope the lull in the wind comes to an end soon.


Epic Renewables Fail as Solar Crashes and Wind Refuses to Blow

Don’t laugh too hard but this has been a terrible week for the renewable energy dream. Across the world solar energy share prices have crashed. This was caused by a sudden and unexpected decision by China, the world’s biggest solar manufacturer and user, to rein in subsidies.

According to Caixin Global: China has abruptly put the brakes on solar power subsidies, seeking to stem overcapacity in a sector that has benefited for years from government incentives.

The move caught many in the industry off guard.

The government won’t grant subsidies to any new ordinary solar projects this year. For those that are being built, the incentives will be cut by 0.05 yuan (0.8 U.S. cents) per kilowatt-hour (kWh).

Solar stocks have fallen across the board by double digits. It’s uncertain when they will recover.

It hasn’t been a good week for wind energy either. In Britain, the industry has become a national joke because for seven days its wind turbines stood still and produced no electricity. Great news for all the birds and bats they would otherwise have sliced and diced; no problem for the renewables industry troughers who still get their rich subsidies whether the wind blows or not. But definitely unfortunate PR for an industry which would prefer everyone not to notice one of wind energy’s main problems: it’s intermittent – which means that a) it’s not always there when you need it and so b) it requires constant back up from more reliable fossil fuel on standby.

We shouldn’t laugh, except actually we must. Otherwise guys like this will win the day.

Liebreich – founder of Bloomberg New Energy Finance – has done extremely well out of the climate change scare industry. That’s why he can afford to jet freely around the world (not first class, he insists in a subsequent tweet: just economy to Dublin to catch Gorillaz on Skype – as you do…)

Here he is having his cake and eating it. That is, he is virtue-signalling his environmental purity by railing swearily against “plastic pollution” – the fashionable cause du jour. Simultaneously, he is racking up the air miles and extending his carbon footprint like an Al Gore-style boss.

The global warming industry – the Climate Industrial Complex – has been estimated as being worth an annual $1.5 trillion, but that was three years ago and no doubt it’s a lot more valuable now. Like a lot of renewables advocates, Liebreich has made of a heck of a lot more money than he would had he been, say, a skeptical journalist writing about what a huge con the global warming industry is. But at the price, of course, of his soul…

He gives the game away in this rather elegant piece he wrote recently about the future of global energy industry. It concerns the dilemma that he claims oil companies face: do they give up on fossil fuel and move rapidly into renewables; or do they ride out fossil fuels slowly into the sunset, knowing that they are doomed, but extracting the last remaining value they can?

This is, of course, the purest green propaganda masquerading as dispassionate business advice.

Yes, it’s perfectly true that most Big Oil companies have now been hijacked by squishy sell-out globalists who can’t apologize often enough for the terribleness of their sticky black produce and who would dearly love all their profits to come from wind alone.

But against that there’s the reality that renewables still provide a tiny percentage of global energy consumption and that even by 2040 – if you believe BP’s projections, which I don’t: I think they’re heroically optimistically pro-renewables – fossil fuels are still going to provide well over half global energy consumption.

Anyway, I said earlier that Liebreich gives the game away in his piece. Here is the key moment:

There is no inherent dishonor or immorality in pursuing a Sunset Ride. Even the most ardent climate activist is going to be a user of fossil fuels and petrochemical products for many more decades, and no one with integrity can demonize products whose demand they themselves drive. Dishonor and immorality lie only in attempts to obfuscate or delay the global transition to clean energy and transport, either through lobbying and misinformation or through a failure to strive for the highest standards within one’s own operations. Oil and gas companies need to lead on eliminating fugitive emissions and flaring, and to act with transparency and honor around the world.

The entire renewables industry is an act of faith. The ONLY reason it can survive is through subsidies. And those subsidies can ONLY continue if renewables true believers can persuade enough gullible people to accept being fleeced by their gullible governments to pay over the odds for wind and solar in the name of the environment.

Once people start to lose that faith all bets are off.

That’s what’s so great about the collapse of the global solar markets and the ridicule heaped this week on the UK wind industry.

It really couldn’t happen to more deserving people.


Technology-forcing is great for fossil fuels

Technology-forcing policies have already redirected trillions of dollars against natural market forces, while technology-neutral policies are still struggling to get off the ground.

If I was the CEO of a fossil fuel company today, I’d be very happy with the current policy landscape. Everyone knows that fossil fuel use must start declining in the medium-term future, but wind/solar/BEV technology-forcing policies will ensure that this inevitable decline is delayed as long as possible.

While green advocates celebrated solar PV’s first 100 GW year, fossil fuels quietly accounted for 70% of energy growth in 2017

As an example, current BEV technology-forcing policies in the US cover the entire cost of a Chevy Bolt or Tesla Model 3 battery pack. As a result, about 0.1% of passenger cars are now BEVs, displacing about 0.03% of oil consumption. But the very low US gasoline taxes (lack of technology-neutral policies) means that the recent oil price crash caused a large relative reduction in gasoline prices, prompting people to buy large trucks and SUVs and drive more. As a result, US oil consumption has jumped a full 5% since the oil price crash, dwarfing the small reduction from BEV technology-forcing.

Indeed, after a single year of pain in a golden decade for oil & gas companies, the fossil fuel profit machine is again leaving clean energy companies behind. As shown below, the billions in profits from the two largest US oil & gas companies is matched only by the similarly large losses from prominent US clean energy players, both of which have benefited enormously from over a decade of strong technology-forcing policies and very generous capital markets.

Oil and gas both made significant gains, with even much maligned coal registering a significant uptick. Over the next decade or two, even a full commitment to all clean technology-forcing plans will not stop fossil fuel growth, leading to rapidly widening emissions gaps.

No amount of technology-forcing can change the fact that fossil fuels are perfect for industrialization (simple, low up-front costs, and directly applicable to all sectors of the economy), or that most of the world still needs to industrialize. No amount of technology-forcing will change the fact that some OPEC nations make 500% operating profit at a moderate oil price of $60/bbl.

Most sustainability advocates are totally distracted by the emotionally charged wind/solar power and BEV growth story. .. fossil fuel interests simply need to sit back and allow them to do their work for them

And no amount of technology-forcing will change our wasteful and unhealthy consumerist culture. (In fact, a significant part of the appeal of companies like Tesla is the false promise that exponential material consumption growth can continue uninterrupted without fossil fuels, that excessive consumption can be guilt-free.)

Displacing unabated fossil fuel combustion at the rate recommended by climate science will require the absolute maximum out of every one of the sustainable development pathways discussed in the previous article. And this can only be done through technology-neutral policies.

Technology-forcing is a great distraction

If humans were rational creatures, we would have had technology-neutral policies addressing all major externalized costs long ago. Almost everyone agrees that such policies are the most efficient way to address undesired effects that are not directly accounted for in current price signals. In addition, the scientific literature has already quantified these externalized costs to a sufficient degree of accuracy to initiate meaningful policies.




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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