Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Climate change makes trees grow... faster?

An amusing attempted scare below.  They found that wood in trees these days is less dense than wood from 150 years ago.  They admit that they don't know why but suspect that it might be an effect of increasing CO2 in the air over the years. I think they are right.  Increased CO2 makes all green things grow faster and faster growth probably is less dense growth.

But where is tha problem?  Trees already vary greatly in density.  Tropical trees such as black bean are like iron.  I once broke my drill bit trying to drill a hole in a black bean stud.

And, conversely, some wood is very light.  Most types of pine are very low in density.  And pine grows just about everywhere.  And what type of wood is used in house framing?  Pine.  Douglas fir and Oregon are both pines and are higly valued for their light but strong properties.  And in Tasmania Huon pine is greatly valued in making artisan furniture and other beautiful things.  The conclusion?  We LOVE low density wood

Trees are growing more rapidly due to climate change. This sounds like good news. After all, this means that trees are storing more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere in their wood and hence taking away the key ingredient in global warming. But is it that simple? A team from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) analyzed wood samples from the oldest existing experimental areas spanning a period of 150 years -- and reached a surprising conclusion.

The team led by Hans Pretzsch, Professor for Forest Growth and Yield Science at the TUM, examined wood samples from several hundred trees and analyzed every single annual ring using a high-tech procedure -- a total of 30,000 of them.

Pretzsch explains the analysis procedure: "The heart of the Lignostation is a high-frequency probe which scans each sample in steps of a hundredth of a millimeter. By doing so, we measure the specific weight of the wood with an accuracy and resolution which until recently was unthinkable."

The wood samples come from the oldest experimental forest plots in Europe which were created at the same time the TU Munich was founded 150 years ago. The samples were taken from common European tree species such as spruces, pines, beeches, and oaks. "We have detailed knowledge of the history of every single plot and tree," says Pretzsch. "This allows us to rule out the possibility that our findings could result from the forest being managed differently now as compared to a hundred years ago."

Climate change is making the wood lighter

With the combination of wood samples from the 1870s to the present day coupled with the latest measurement technology, the team at the School of Life Sciences Weihenstephan were able to demonstrate that the annually growing wood has gradually become lighter since observations began: By up to eight to twelve percent since 1900. Within the same period, the volume growth of the trees in central Europe has accelerated by 29 to one hundred percent.

In other words: Even though a greater volume of wood is being produced today, it now contains less material than just a few decades ago. However, the explanation which immediately comes to mind does not apply.

"Some people might now surmise that the more rapid growth could itself be the cause for our observations," says Dr. Peter Biber, co-author of the study -- "In some tree species, it is in fact the case that wider annual rings also tend to have lighter wood. But we have taken this effect into account. The decrease in wood density we are talking about is due to other factors."

Instead, Pretzsch and his team see the causes as being the long-term increase in temperature due to climate change and the resulting lengthening of the vegetation period. But the nitrogen input from agriculture, traffic, and industry also play a part. A number of details lead experts to surmise this, such as the decrease in the density of late wood and the increase in the percentage of early wood in the annual rings.

Lighter wood -- What's the problem?

Lighter wood is less solid and it has a lower calorific value. This is crucial for numerous application scenarios ranging from wood construction to energy production. Less solid wood in living trees also increases the risk of damage events such as breakage due to wind and snow in forests.

But the most important finding for practical and political aspects is that the current climate-relevant carbon sequestration of the forests is being overestimated as long as it is calculated with established but outdated wood densities. "The accelerated growth is still resulting in surplus carbon sequestration," says Pretzsch. "But scaling up for the forests of central Europe, the traditional estimate would be to high by about ten million metric tons of carbon per year."


Are Western Wildfires Driven by Global Warming — Man-Made or Otherwise?

The news media has made the number and intensity of wildfires in western states this summer a household topic. As of Aug. 14, there were hundreds of them, and of major ones, 17 were burning in Alaska, 11 in Arizona, 10 each in Oregon and Colorado, and nine in California. The media and many environmentalists blame them on global warming.

The numbers sound bad to people not studied in the field, but in actuality they’re not unusual. In fact, the number of fires has been decreasing since the 1970s. But the total acreage burned has been increasing over that period. But an even longer view shows an entirely different picture, according to data kept by the National Interagency Fire Center shown in this graph:

Clearly, both the number of fires and the number of acres burned were far higher from the late 1920s through the 1940s than since 2000.

Nonetheless, global warming alarmists and their media lapdogs get it wrong.

“The effects of global warming on temperature, precipitation levels, and soil moisture are turning many of our forests into kindling during wildfire season,” says the Union of Concerned Scientists.

The Associated Press claims "Science Says: Hotter weather turbocharges US West wildfires.“

The Chicago Sun Times handles it this way:

As human-caused climate change has warmed the world over the past 35 years, the land consumed by flames has more than doubled.

Experts say the way global warming worsens wildfires comes down to the basic dynamics of fire. Fires need ignition, oxygen and fuel. And what’s really changed is fuel — the trees, brush and other plants that go up in flames.

"Hotter drier weather means our fuels are drier so it’s easier for fires to start and spread and burn more intensely,” said University of Alberta fire scientist Mike Flannigan.

But University of Washington Professor of Atmospheric Sciences Cliff Mass pointed out in a recent interview with the Daily Caller:

Correlation is not causation. Temperatures are warming, that is true. Wildfire area is increasing in parts of the west, also true. But one does not necessarily cause another. Wildfire area could well be increasing because of previous fire suppression, mismanagement of our forests, and a huge influx of people into the west, lightning fires and providing lots of fuel for them.

Likewise, University of Alabama-Huntsville’s Distinguished Professor of Atmospheric Science John Christy says human mismanagement is the more important cause of the huge fires:

If you don’t let the low-intensity fires burn, that fuel builds up year after year. Now once a fire gets going and it gets going enough, it has so much fuel that we can’t put it out. In that sense, you could say that fires today are more intense, but it’s because of human management practices, not because mother nature has done something.

Yes, what’s really changed is fuel — not how dry it is because of rising temperature or declining precipitation (neither of which has a trend sufficient to make much difference in combustibility) but how much of it there is.

Driven largely by environmentalists who insisted that human management of nature is somehow bad, western states and the federal government generally adopted policies of suppressing fires and not removing undergrowth from forests. Yet fires are a natural phenomenon essential to long-term forest health. Preventing and suppressing them results in denser undergrowth, which means more fuel. Fires then burn hotter and move faster, accounting for the fact that acres burned have generally increased (though not greatly) since the 1970s, while the number of fires has not.


Corrupt environmental police in Massachusetts

The Massachusetts State Police isn’t the only state law enforcement agency mired in a payroll morass.

Members of the Massachusetts Environmental Police regularly take overtime assignments and off-duty details in the middle of the workday, scheduling their normal state work around more profitable side gigs, according to payroll records.

Agency officials and Governor Charlie Baker vowed to crack down on the practice following media reports two years ago, but the routine continues today.

Despite earlier warnings, environmental officers also continue to stay on the clock while traveling between regular and extra shifts, records show. They also use paid time off to stretch their schedules and ensure overtime payouts, according to timesheet data.

“It’s a situation that’s ripe for corruption,” said Thomas Nolan, a criminology researcher and former Boston Police lieutenant.

Still, the ongoing situation at Environment Police has not risen to the same level as the alleged criminal overtime fraud at State Police, which erupted into a major scandal this year. Two troopers have pleaded guilty to federal embezzlement charges, four others are being prosecuted, and dozens more are under investigation.

The low-profile Environmental Police, which employs 83 officers on a $11 million annual budget, enforces fishing, hunting, boating, and recreational vehicle laws. It is led by Colonel James McGinn, a former State Police sergeant who served as Baker’s personal campaign driver before Baker appointed him to the agency’s helm in 2014.

Officials from the state’s executive environmental office told the Globe scheduling flexibility allows officers to do critical work.

Spokeswoman Katie Gronendyke said the work officers do on split shifts is “a crucial component of the Environmental Police’s mission to protect the health, safety, and rights of the public while preserving the environment for future generations.”

Officials also insisted officers can work while traveling between assignments and that the agency is largely powerless to tell officers how they can use time-off benefits.

The average base pay of environmental officers is about $80,000, though about half the force earned six-figure payouts last year with overtime and private details. The highest-paid officer made $181,300, including $26,645 in overtime and nearly $68,000 from details and other pay, records show.

McGinn, who retired from State Police in 2005, earns an annual salary of $132,200. He declined an interview request.

In the fall of 2016, a series of media reports exposed the agency’s “split-shift” policy, allowing officers to interrupt regular shifts, work some hours of higher-paying overtime or detail work, then finish their regular shift.

WCVB-TV also found some officers spent work hours at home or sitting in their trucks during security details.

Baker has pledged changes within the agency, including recently activating GPS tracking technology in State Police cruisers to strengthen accountability.

In contrast, Environmental Police removed GPS tracking devices from its patrol vehicles three years ago at the union’s request. The agency said tracking capabilities have not been restored.

The Globe reported last summer the executive environmental office’s leader Secretary Matthew Beaton used taxpayer funds to pay for a plane ticket during a Florida vacation and was shuttled between the State House and Boston’s airport in an unmarked, fully equipped Environmental Police vehicle, with Perrin as his chauffeur.

Beaton quietly paid back the money only after it was found by an internal audit months later. He faced questions about whether he was qualified for his job when Baker picked him in 2014.

In spring 2017, the Globe detailed how state environmental agencies were rife with employees who have political and family ties, despite Baker’s campaign vow to ban patronage hires. That spurred the state’s Democratic Party to call for an investigation and at least one employee abruptly left months later.

It came on the heels of a series of embarrassing revelations in fall 2016 over environmental agencies’ staff misusing state resources, along with allegations of political intimidation, prompting Baker to order suspensions and firings.


Wind turbine is BLOWN OVER: 196 foot structure is toppled in a park as powerful typhoon hits Japan

A 196-foot wind turbine toppled over after a powerful typhoon tore through Japan. The structure in Hokudan Earthquake Memorial Park was built in 2002 in memory of the Great Hanshin Earthquake which devastated parts of Hyogo prefecture in 1995.

It was uprooted early this morning as powerful Typhoon Cimaron hit the western part of the country.

The turbine was pictured lying fragmented on its side with pieces littered across a road running alongside the park.

The storm caused scattered damage, flooding and landslides as it swept across western Japan.

A worship hall collapsed at a Shinto shrine in Kyoto, leaving the roof almost on the ground.

Strong winds also tipped over trucks on the Akashi-Kaikyo Bridge that connects Awaji Island and Honshu.

Japan's disaster agency tallied 30 people injured, two seriously.

More than 300 flights have been cancelled and high-speed bullet train service was suspended in the region.

The Japan Meteorological Agency said Cimarron, now a tropical storm, was back at sea and heading for northern Japan after bringing heavy rain and high winds to the port city of Kobe and elsewhere in western Japan overnight.


Australia: Green groups want to send water out to sea rather than give it to drought-hit farmers

Environmentalists have lashed Barnaby Joyce's call to divert water to drought-stricken farmers, labelling the special drought envoy's "kneejerk" plan as ill-informed.

The former Nationals leader made a splash as he kicked off his new job, calling for environmental water from the Murray-Darling Basin Plan to be used to grow fodder for stock.

"You either accept this is a national emergency and you're going to do something distinct to deal with it or you just say 'no, no, we really like the pictures of starving cattle'," he told ABC radio on Tuesday. "The water that is going to the environment is going past the irrigation properties that grow the fodder to keep cattle alive."

But the Australian Conservation Foundation's Paul Sinclair said the Murray-Darling river system was also suffering through the drought.

"Mr Joyce's kneejerk and ill-informed reaction risks the health of flood plains, wetlands and wildlife, not to mention the communities downstream that rely on a living river for their livelihoods," Dr Sinclair said.

He said water clawed back from irrigators cost the government billions, and needed to be used to make sure everyone could benefit from a healthy river.

Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young slammed Mr Joyce's plan, saying he should ask his "corporate irrigator mates" to help drought-affected farmers. "Barnaby Joyce has used his first day on the job to go back to his old tricks - trying to rip water off of the environment," Senator Hanson-Young said.

Nationals cabinet minister Matt Canavan said the former agriculture and water minister's plan should be considered. "It's almost like he was born for this role to be the drought envoy," Senator Canavan told reporters in Sydney.

Mr Joyce insists he's not eyeing off a return to the front bench after being handed extra responsibility. "I really want to get stuck into this, not because of some ulterior plan, because the drought is there," Mr Joyce said. "I'm going to do my bit to help them with that and if that's where it stops that's where it stops."

Mr Joyce was deputy prime minister until February when he was forced to quit amid a storm of controversy surrounding his affair with a staffer.

New Prime Minister Scott Morrison made him drought envoy on Sunday as he announced his ministerial team.




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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