Monday, June 25, 2018

James Hansen: Prez. Obama ‘failed miserably’ on climate – ‘Late, ineffectual & partisan'

At least Hansen is honest in revealing that all of the alternative energy solutions agreed to in Paris and elsewhere will have no measurable effect, and are just political posturing to placate a gullible constituency

James Hansen’s long list of culprits for this inertia are both familiar – the nefarious lobbying of the fossil fuel industry – and surprising. Jerry Brown, the progressive governor of California, and the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, are “both pretending to be solving the problem” while being unambitious and shunning low-carbon nuclear power, Hansen argues.

James Hansen: ‘Promises like Paris don’t mean much, it’s wishful thinking. It’s a hoax that governments have played on us since the 1990s.’ 

There is particular scorn for Barack Obama. Hansen says in a scathing upcoming book that the former president “failed miserably” on climate change and oversaw policies that were “late, ineffectual and partisan”.

Hansen even accuses Obama of passing up the opportunity to thwart Donald Trump’s destruction of US climate action, by declining to settle a lawsuit the scientist, his granddaughter and 20 other young people are waging against the government, accusing it of unconstitutionally causing peril to their living environment.

“Near the end of his administration the US said it would reduce emissions 80% by 2050,” Hansen said.


Antarctica Is Getting Taller, and Here’s Why

If you read the article below in full, you will see that this is all just guesswork

Bedrock under Antarctica is rising more swiftly than ever recorded — about 1.6 inches (41 millimeters) upward per year. And thinning ice in Antarctica may be responsible.

That's because as ice melts, its weight on the rock below lightens. And over time, when enormous quantities of ice have disappeared, the bedrock rises in response, pushed up by the flow of the viscous mantle below Earth's surface, scientists reported in a new study.

These uplifting findings are both bad news and good news for the frozen continent.

The good news is that the uplift of supporting bedrock could make the remaining ice sheets more stable. The bad news is that in recent years, the rising earth has probably skewed satellite measurements of ice loss, leading researchers to underestimate the rate of vanishing ice by as much as 10 percent, the scientists reported.

An incomplete picture

Interplay between bedrock and mantle in Antarctica is just one of the many geologic processes that happen all over our dynamic planet. Under Earth's crust cover, the molten mantle extends over 1,796 miles (2,890 kilometers) down to Earth's core. Mantle movement is known to ripple up and affect the crust's tectonic plates, as these plates ride convection currents in the mantle's outermost part, known as the lithosphere.

But while computer models give scientists an idea of how the mantle behaves, the picture is incomplete, lead study author Valentina Barletta, a postdoctoral researcher at DTU Space, the National Space Institute at the Technical University of Denmark, told Live Science.

"The study of this — the distribution of viscosity in the mantle — is still in its infancy," Barletta said. "We know where the Earth is hotter and cooler — more or less. However, the viscosity of the mantle depends not just on temperature, but also on water content." Estimating the temperature of the mantle in a given area could therefore give an inaccurate view of how fast-moving it is — a cooler patch with high water content could be just as viscous as a hotter zone that contained less water, Barletta explained.

Dramatic changes such as those that the researchers observed in Antarctica's bedrock — nudged upward by the mantle below — were thought to happen over thousands, or even tens of thousands, of years. Their new findings show that this shift in response to vanishing ice can take place much more rapidly, over centuries or decades. This suggests that the mantle under Antarctica, which is lifting the bedrock upward, may be more fluid, flowing more quickly than previously suspected, the study authors reported.

Measuring rebound

Antarctica's bedrock is difficult to study because most of it is covered by thick layers of ice; the continent's ice sheet cover holds about 90 percent of all the ice on Earth, containing enough water to elevate sea levels worldwide by about 200 feet (61 meters), according to NASA. To measure how it was changing, the researchers installed six GPS stations at locations around the Amundsen Sea Embayment (ASE), a region of the ice sheet roughly the size of Texas, that drains into the Amundsen Sea. They places the GPS monitors in places where bedrock was exposed, gathering data at a spatial resolution of 0.6 miles (1 km), higher than any recorded in prior studies.

The scientists expected to see some evidence of slow uplift in the bedrock over time, which could be linked to historic ice loss — because "when ice melts, the earth rebounds elastically," Barletta said. Instead, they saw that the rate of the uplift was about four times faster than anticipated from ice-loss data. The velocity of the rebound in the ASE — 1.6 inches (41 millimeters) per year — was "one of the fastest rates ever recorded in glaciated areas," study co-author Abbas Khan, an associate professor at DTU Space, said in a statement.

Their findings suggested that the mantle underneath is fast-moving and fluid, responding rapidly as the heavy weight of ice is removed to push the bedrock upward very quickly, Barletta said.

An uncertain future for Antarctica's ice

The bedrock uplift is a result of ice loss over the past century, but ice continues to vanish from parts of Antarctica at a dramatic rate, spurred by human-induced climate change. An estimated 3 trillion tons of ice have vanished from the continent since 1992, causing about 0.3 inches (around 8 mm) of sea level rise. And scientists recently predicted that the West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS) could collapse entirely within the next 100 years, leading to sea level rise of up to nearly 10 feet (3 meters).

But the researchers suggest that there may be a ray of hope for the weakening WAIS. The deforming bedrock under Antarctica, buoyed by a fluid mantle, could provide an unexpected source of support for the WAIS, the scientists discovered. In fact, the bedrock's uplift could stabilize the WAIS enough to prevent a complete collapse, even under strong pressures from a warming world.

There's a downside to their findings, too. Estimates of ice loss in Antarctica depend on satellite measurements of gravity in localized areas, which can be affected by significant changes in mass. If the bedrock under Antarctica is rapidly adjusting in response to ice loss, its uplift would register in gravity measurements, compensating for some ice loss and obscuring just how much ice has truly disappeared by about 10 percent, according to the study.

Hopefully, now that scientists are aware of this discrepancy, it can be addressed in future models of disappearing ice, Barletta said.


GOP Senators Accuse National Science Foundation Of Funding Climate 'Propaganda'

Four Republican senators this week demanded an investigation of the National Science Foundation’s grants, accusing the federal agency of “propagandizing” by supporting a program to encourage TV meteorologists to report on climate change.

In a letter sent to the agency’s inspector general Wednesday, the senators ― Ted Cruz (Texas), Rand Paul (Ky.) and James Lankford (Okla.) and Jim Inhofe (Okla.) ― said the $4 million Climate Matters program, which sponsors classes and webinars for meteorologists and provides real-time data and graphics with TV stations, went beyond the scope of the National Science Foundation’s mission of funding “basic research.” They urged the inspector general to probe whether the grants violated the 1939 Hatch Act, which bars government agencies from engaging in partisan activity.

“It is unacceptable for federal agencies to support such research which attempts to convince individuals to adopt a particular viewpoint rather than conducting objective research examining a given topic,” they wrote in the letter.

The call for an investigation came the same day NBC News published a feature on Climate Central’s efforts to train more than 500 TV weathercasters across the country on how to understand global warming and its local impacts. NBC News first reported on the letter.

In a lengthy statement to HuffPost, the NSF said its grants undergo a rigorous merit review process “considered to be the ‘gold standard’ of scientific review” and said its staff receives an annual ethics training that includes the Hatch Act.

“Nearly every proposal is evaluated by a minimum of three independent reviewers consisting of scientists, engineers and educators who do not work at NSF or for the institution that employs the proposing researchers,” Sarah Bates, an agency spokeswoman, said in the statement. “Each proposal submitted to NSF — including those deemed ‘troubling’ by Senators Paul, Cruz, Lankford and Inhofe ― is reviewed by science and engineering experts well-versed in their particular discipline or field of expertise.”

The NSF’s inspector general did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The senators cited a six-year-old opinion column in The Washington Post that described Climate Central, the group that runs the program with researchers at George Mason University’s Center for Climate Change Communication, as “an advocacy group.” They called the NSF grants “egregious” and accused Climate Central of changing “the manner in which it describes itself, perhaps due to the attention it received from The Washington Post.”

“Research designed to sway individuals of a various group, be they meteorologists or engineers, to a politically contentious viewpoint is not science ― it is propagandizing,” the senators wrote.  Such efforts certainly fail to meet the standard of scientific research to which the NSF should be devoting federal taxpayer dollars.”

In reality, the Princeton, New Jersey-based nonprofit produces original research and deeply-reported feature stories. Climate Central operated a robust news site until last August, when it laid off most of its staff reporters to focus its resources on research.

“We are an independent organization and scrupulously avoid advocating for any policy or political position,” Climate Central CEO Ben Strauss, also the group’s chief scientist, wrote in an email Thursday.

He pointed out that the opinion column the senators cited was “not news reporting,” and that “it was soundly refuted at the time by then-CEO of Climate Central Paul Hanle in a letter to the editor.”

“Climate Central is not an advocacy organization, and the scientific consensus on climate change is not a political viewpoint,” he added.

The NSF funding covered less than a quarter of the Climate Matters budget over the last three years but provided a critical boost at a time when cable news’ failure to report on climate change is becoming a crisis unto itself. ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox aired a combined 260 minutes of climate change coverage last year, according to a February study released by liberal watchdog Media Matters for America.

Of that, 205 minutes, or 79 percent, focused on actions or statements by the Trump administration, most often the president’s decision to pull the United States out of the Paris climate accord. Nearly all coverage of climate change on the influential Sunday talk shows ― 94 of 95 minutes ― focused on the administration. At the same time, TV giant Sinclair Broadcast Group, criticized for requiring its local stations across the country to air right-wing political propaganda, is accused of forcing its meteorologists to insert climate denialism into their coverage.

In 2017, Climate Matters helped local weathercasters report on the impacts of climate change 879 times, covering 40 states and Puerto Rico.

“There have already been a few hundred stories so far in 2018,” Strauss said.

The Senators’ letter marks the latest high-profile Republican attack on federal funding to deal with climate change. Trump, who has repeatedly dismissed climate change as “a hoax,” purged federal websites of references to global warming and instructed the Environmental Protection Agency and Interior Department to eliminate regulations on greenhouse gas emissions and fossil fuel extraction in an effort to transform the country into the world’s leading oil and gas exporter. Republicans in Congress attempted to zero out funding for renewable energy subsidies in the GOP tax bill last year, despite including $25 billion in giveaways to the fossil fuel industry.

Even amid an ongoing avalanche of corruption scandals, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt has proposed a series of new rules to dramatically scale back the few remaining Obama-era rules to reduce planet-warming emissions, and prohibit the use of most public health studies when writing regulations, a move widely panned as an “attack on science.”

The GOP remains the only major political party in the developed world to make climate change denial a platform issue.

The scientific consensus on climate change is not a political viewpoint. Climate Central CEO Ben Strauss

The senators who authored the letter are among the biggest recipients of fossil fuel donations. In a ranking of all U.S. senators over the last three decades, Cruz came in third for the all-time largest total of direct contributions from oil and gas companies, receiving over $2.7 million since he took office, including during his presidential campaign, according to data collected by the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics. Inhofe ― who infamously brought a snowball to the Senate floor as proof of climate scientists’ supposed folly ― ranked seventh, with nearly $1.9 million. Lankford ranked 16th, with $1.1 million. Paul fell well below the others at $284,328.

Likewise, all four senators reject the overwhelming scientific consensus that burning fossil fuels causes climate change, putting them at odds not only with nearly every credible scientist but the vast majority of Americans.

Ninety-seven percent of peer-reviewed research has concluded that burning fossil fuels, deforestation and industrial farming are enshrouding the planet in heat-trapping gases, while a research review published in 2015 found significant flaws in the methodologies, assumptions or analyses used by the 3 percent of scientists who concluded otherwise. Meanwhile, 69 percent of survey respondents know global warming is happening, and 52 percent understand humans are the main cause, according to 2016 survey data from Yale University’s Program on Climate Change Communication.

Yet just 39 percent believe climate change is causing harm right now, according to a George Mason survey from March of 1,278 adults.

Climate communications experts say TV meteorologists are best positioned to bridge that cognitive gap by localizing the broad planetary trends, said Ed Maibach, director of George Mason University’s Center for Climate Change Communication, which partnered with Climate Central on Climate Matters.

“It’s important to share information with all Americans about the local impacts of climate change in their community,” Maibach, who has served as the principal investigator on all the NSF grants to fund Climate Matters, said in an email. “There is no better way to do that than through the local news.”

The program has yielded success. In 2010, only half of the 571 weathercasters George Mason surveyed believed global warming was happening, as NBC News reported, and a quarter called it “a scam.” A new survey taken last year showed that 95 percent of meteorologists believed the planet is warming.

Yet they remained divided on the cause. Just 15 percent said human activity is “largely or entirely” causing the climate to change, while 34 said it was mostly due to human activity. Twenty-one percent said natural events and human activity were equally to blame, and 13 percent said it was mostly due to natural events.

“NSF funding has helped us help TV weathercasters provide this important information to their viewers,” Maibach said. “And their viewers appreciate the information; hundreds of TV weathercasters have told us so.”

Climate communication has become a burgeoning field of study as scientists seek to better understand how people come to understand an environmental phenomenon of unprecedented proportions. The issue has the added challenge of overcoming years of misinformation spread by fossil fuel corporations, think tanks they funded and politicians who receive their patronage.

Climate denials efforts have managed to help politicize climate change even as fossil fuel emissions continue to rise and 2017 marked the most expensive year on record in damages from natural disasters linked to climate change.

On Thursday, an anonymous user with no previous submissions to Wikipedia updated Climate Central’s page to call it a “fake news” organization.


Green Mafia Lynch An Innocent Bystander: CO2

I live in SE Queensland. Yesterday the surface air temperature rose from a frosty 36ºF at sunrise to a balmy 72ºF in mid-afternoon. The enormous heat needed to achieve this 36º of warming came via radiation from the sun.

Carbon dioxide in the atmosphere plays no significant part in this daily heating event – in fact, it may intercept a tiny proportion of the incoming solar radiation and re-radiate it in all directions, thus keeping the daytime surface temperature a tiny bit cooler than it would have been otherwise.

At the deep Mount Isa Mine in NW Queensland, the surface temperature may average about 77ºF but it increases by about 20ºF every 50 meters of depth – rock walls are red hot in places.

The enormous heat causing this comes via conduction from Earth’s geothermal heat plus some oxidation and heating of the sulfide ores as they come in contact with natural air containing oxygen. Carbon dioxide in the atmosphere plays no part in this heating.

There are volcanic windows open right now in Hawaii, Japan and the Galapagos revealing the vast resources of volcanic geothermal heat which is always migrating towards the cooler surface, sometimes violently.

Temperatures vary greatly over Earth’s surface, making a mockery of attempts to calculate an “average” for the globe. Air surface temperature may be minus -22ºF at the South Pole, while at the same time it can be plus 86ºF at the Equator.

This enormous difference is caused by the varying intensity of solar radiation striking the surface – carbon dioxide in the atmosphere plays no significant part in creating this variance.

Surface air temperatures in big cities can be 9ºF hotter than surrounding rural land partly because bitumen roads, roofs, and runways heat up more than the grassy or forested countryside.

Mega-cities are also full of heat-producing humans, engines, trains, vehicles, air conditioners, heaters, stoves, fridges, pumps, and mowers.

Urban heat also comes from the warm bodies and hot exhalations from millions of humans digesting carbon-based foods, from stored chemical energy from burning hydrocarbons (wood, lignite, coal, oil, and gas) or from nuclear power.

Using green energy also adds to the urban heat. Wind towers and solar panels extract energy from wind and sun in the countryside and release it where most of the electricity is used, usually in cities and suburbs.

Carbon dioxide in the atmosphere plays no measurable part in producing these islands of urban heat.

Longer term, the Medieval Warm Era and the Little Ice Age were natural occurrences almost certainly triggered by solar cycles that activated undersea volcanic activity along Earth’s extensive mid-ocean trenches/ridges.

Human production of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere played zero part in these natural global warming and cooling episodes.

Carbon dioxide in the atmosphere varies annually with the seasons reaching a maximum in the South Hemisphere summer for two perfectly natural reasons.

First, the huge southern oceans expel carbon dioxide as the surface water warms with the return of the summer (like an opened bottle of soda water in the sun).

At the same time, it is turning to winter in the large northern hemisphere landmass where deciduous trees and forests are dropping their leaves, and crop residue is accumulating on cultivated lands.

As this dead plant material decomposes it recycles its CO2 to the atmosphere. And as winter grips these densely populated lands, humans are also burning wood, peat, cow dung, coal, oil, and gas to keep warm, releasing even more CO2.

Then as the sun-driven seasons change, the southern oceans cool again and much of this carbon dioxide returns to the sea from whence it came.

And the northern farms and forests grow faster in their summer, absorbing atmospheric carbon dioxide and solar energy to produce food and lumber.

This annual fluctuation of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is a result, not a cause, of the seasonal temperature changes.

What happens in the seasonal weather cycle also occurs as a result of longer climate cycles of cooling and warming.

The ice core records show that the changes in global temperatures precede by about 800 years any changes to the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

This is probably a result of large slow overturning in the oceans as global temperatures change in response to cycles of solar energy and earth volcanism.

Despite all of this evidence of natural changes in Earth’s temperature, man’s production of invisible life-supporting carbon dioxide is being slandered daily with words like “dirty” “black”, “polluting” “heat causing”.

And those who point to dissenting evidence are called “deniers”, “shills” and worse, and gagged by intimidation lawsuits and media silence.

Billions of dollars are also being spent on a propaganda storm of anti-carbon scare stories, Papal proclamations, cunning calculations, doctored data, and poignant pictures about polar bears, penguins, koalas, super-storms, social costs, floods, fires, mega-droughts, heat waves, and blizzards, all supposedly impacted by rising atmospheric carbon dioxide.

With just 0.04% in the atmosphere, to create such havoc carbon dioxide must be the most powerful super-gas ever imagined by the alarmists.

The green mafia is trying to lynch an innocent victim – the gas of life, carbon dioxide.

They would be better served by focusing on real pollution of air, land, and water caused by their own well-traveled, air-conditioned, electronic, fast-food, throw-away, tax-supported lifestyle.

If they fear carbon dioxide so much, they should stop exhaling.

We need more light and less heat in the climate debate.


This energy hex Australian governments place on all Australians is madness

If our worst enemies abroad were given one evil wish to destroy our economy they probably would look to curse perhaps our greatest natural advantage: access to almost unlimited cheap energy.

Yet, as if to prove that fact is stranger than even this madcap fiction, this is a hex we are visiting upon ourselves.

If a prosperous nation decided to burden its people with expensive and unreliable power, imposing hardships including job losses, costs on struggling families, reduced profits and missed investment opportunities, to create a more benign environment for all the people of the world, it would be truly altruistic. But if it were inflicting pain on its citizens and handicapping future generations for no discernible benefit, then it would be an act of sheer madness.

Yet here we are. We are in a self-imposed energy crisis. No one disputes the urgency — Coalition and Labor politicians, state and federal, agree prices are too high; they are spending on diesel generators, large-scale batteries and stored hydro to find a way through; companies are having power cut or being paid to reduce demand; consumers and industries fear dire consequences; regulators sound alarms about lack of supply; and policymakers float a raft of possible solutions.

Yet it is all our doing. By mandating renewable energy targets, committing to global carbon dioxide emissions-reduction goals, subsidising wind and solar generation including by domestic consumers, toying with emissions trading schemes and imposing (for a time) a carbon tax, we have up-ended our electricity market, forced out some of the cheapest and most reliable generation and made our power more expensive and less reliable. The lion’s share of investment across a decade — upwards of $30 billion — has gone into the sure bet of subsidised renewable energy that has a guaranteed market but that cannot be relied on to meet peak energy output at any given time. Billions more have been spent on government payments and grants. All this money is recouped in the end from consumers, who are paying enormous sums to go backwards.

Since 1999, average spot prices per megawatt hour have leapt from $50 to $110 in South Australia and from less than $25 in NSW and Victoria to $80 and $95 respectively. Electricity costs for manufacturers have increased 79 per cent since 2010 and in that period there have been net job losses of about 140,000 in the sector. Price rises have squeezed family budgets, created hardship for pensioners and forced companies to cut jobs or shut down.

South Australia was plunged into darkness for hours and the Australian Energy Market Operator has warned that without remedial action, even in NSW where cheap and reliable coal-fired power has been abundant, there will be supply vulnerability in the coming years that could lead to 200,000 homes going without power during peak summer demand. The closure of NSW’s Liddell coal-fired power station in a few years will make the situation worse.

This month AEMO warned again that the “unprecedented transformation” of our electricity system means Australia “does not have the energy reserves it once had to lean on” when we need it. This is deplorable.

We are the world’s largest coal exporter. We will soon be the largest exporter of liquefied natural gas. We are the third largest exporter of uranium.

Australia powers the economic and manufacturing powerhouses of northeast Asia, and other parts of the world, with cost-effective and reliable energy supplies. But we decline to do the same for ­ourselves.

We may as well feed the people of the world with our wheat and sheep exports while our own people go hungry. Why are we doing this to ourselves? Politicians from both major parties and the Greens pretend — surely they are feigning because they must know the facts — that this is our contribution to global efforts to combat global warming. This is fraudulent.

We need to do what the climate activists constantly implore of us: back the science. All the facts tell us that, scientifically, Australia’s climate action is doing nothing to improve the global environment. We are putting ourselves through extended economic pain, with deep social consequences, for nothing more than climate gestures. This is the hard edge of gesture politics: national virtue-signalling, with the poorest citizens and jobless paying the highest price.

Don’t take my word for it; listen to Chief Scientist Alan Finkel, who the government tasked with revising policy. He confirmed before a Senate estimates committee hearing a year ago that Australia’s carbon emissions amounted to 1.3 per cent of the global total (that proportion is shrinking as world emissions grow). Finkel was asked what difference it would make to climate change if all of our nation’s emissions were cut — pretend 25 million of us left Australia idle — so that world emissions dropped by 1.3 per cent. “Virtually nothing,” was his reply.

But wait. Our contribution is much less significant even than “virtually nothing” because we will not eliminate all our emissions. We aim to reduce them by 26 per cent — so our best impact may be a quarter of virtually nothing. Wait again; we become even more irrelevant. Global emissions are on the rise. Led by China (growing by up to 4 per cent so far this year) world CO2 emissions are increasing at close to 2 per cent. So, more science, more facts. China’s annual emissions are about 30 times higher than ours and in any given year the increase alone in China’s emissions can be more than double what we plan to cut by 2030. While global emissions rise our piddling cuts do zip. We are emitting into the wind. Our price rises, blackouts, job losses, investment droughts, subsidies and energy system dilemmas are all for nothing.

Anyone with a pulse must understand this. Why they persist with proposing or backing costly climate policies is the question. They want to display their commitment to the cause. They want to associate themselves with protecting the planet. It is earth motherhood, dictated by political fashion and a reluctance to go against the zeitgeist. What a sad indictment on our political/media class — indulging its progressive credentials for social and diplomatic acceptance at the expense of struggling families, jobless blue-collar workers and our economic competitiveness.

The Coalition is starting to tear itself apart again; led by Tony Abbott, those who understand mainstream concerns are rising up against those stuck in commercial, media and political orthodoxy. Malcolm Turnbull and Josh Frydenberg’s national energy guarantee is a retrofit mechanism to encourage some investment in dispatchable electricity.

As they negotiate for a bipartisan position they could be left with a stark choice: satisfy Labor and its premiers or placate the Coalition partyroom. It may be impossible to do both — the partyroom may at least demand a plan to extend the life of Liddell — and another political short-circuit may be in the offing.

The national energy system is so badly distorted by a decade of renewable subsidies and the threat of future carbon prices that there is no easy solution. All sides of the debate propose expensive government interventions. Investors in anything but renewables are wary.

If we had done nothing on climate action we might have had plentiful and cheap coal and gas power on the back of private investment. But we killed that goose. There is bound to be a reckoning; eventually we will reclaim the energy advantage we export to other nations. And if we ever need a zero-emissions future, we will embrace the silver bullet of nuclear energy. The only question is whether it takes us three years or three decades to come to our senses — and how many political careers will be hoist with this petard in the interim.




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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