Friday, September 21, 2018

Hurricane Florence was due to ocean COOLING

Even before Hurricane Florence barreled into the North Carolina coast, a misleading claim about the storm and global warming echoed across the internet.

Florence made landfall in North Carolina as a Category 1 hurricane on Friday, but the day before, The New York Times published a video claiming the storm had formed in “unusually warm waters” in the Atlantic Ocean, heated up by man-made global warming.

In comparing Florence to last year’s Hurricane Harvey, the NYTimes’ reporter said “both of these hurricanes formed in unusually warm waters.” That’s false, according to Cato Institute atmospheric scientist Ryan Maue.

“Ocean surface temperatures along Florence track were abnormally cool for most of its life-cycle partly due to the unusual, higher latitude of the storm,” Maue tweeted on Tuesday night. “The integrated [sea surface temperature] track-based anomaly averaged from Sept 4-11 was 0.6°C below 1985-2017 ‘normal.’”

Florence formed in colder than normal waters in the eastern Atlantic Ocean. Florence also reached major hurricane strength (Category 3 or higher) in cooler waters, before heading into warmer waters where it didn’t do what weather forecasters expected — it weakened and fell apart.

In fact, what’s amazing is how strong the storm got and how long it stayed together over “marginal” ocean temperatures, Maue tweeted.

The National Hurricane Center initially forecast Florence to hit land at Category 3 or 4 strength on the Saffir-Simpson scale, making it a major hurricane at landfall. Forecasters likely expected the warmer waters close to the U.S. coast to intensify the storm.

Instead, Florence weakened as it approached the Carolinas, despite the warmer waters close to the coast. Florence made landfall as a Category 1 hurricane, though the storm still brought heavy rainfall and flooding across the southeast.

However, NYTime’s video on Hurricane Florence ignored such data. Likewise, Pennsylvania State University climate scientist Michael Mann claimed warmer than normal water temperatures “supercharged” Florence.

Mann blamed an “ocean heat wave,” linking to a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) article published about one week before Florence made landfall.

However, the article Mann cited as evidence is referring to the warm coastal waters of New England and eastern Canada — hundreds of miles from Florence’s actual track.

But even the warmer waters near the U.S. coast were actually close to the 30-year average, Maue said.


Eco-Socialism? Hundreds Of Academics Call For An End To Economic Growth

More than 200 academics signed onto a public letter calling on governments to eschew economic growth in order to plan for a “post-growth economy” based on wealth redistribution.

“For the past seven decades, GDP growth has stood as the primary economic objective of European nations,” 238 academics wrote in public letter published by The Guardian on Sunday.

“But as our economies have grown, so has our negative impact on the environment,” they wrote. “We are now exceeding the safe operating space for humanity on this planet, and there is no sign that economic activity is being decoupled from resource use or pollution at anything like the scale required.”

“Today, solving social problems within European nations does not require more growth. It requires a fairer distribution of the income and wealth that we already have,” the academics wrote

The letter echoes the 1960s-era “population bomb” fears. Back then, academics, like former White House science czar John Holdren and biologist Paul Ehrlich, argued out of control population control would outstrip the Earth’s ability to support humanity.

Ehrlich and Holdren predicted the world would eventually move, like it or not, to a “no-growth” economy where famine, hunger and poverty would run rampant until the population stabilized.

Those predictions turned out to be wrong as humanity’s physical and material well-being has increased substantially since then as population growth exploded.

However, hundreds of academics are echoing the Malthusian fears of the 1960s, and calling for governments to prepare for a “no-growth economy” where gross domestic product (GDP) is not a concern.

“If current trends continue, there may be no growth at all in Europe within a decade,” the academics wrote in their letter. “Right now the response is to try to fuel growth by issuing more debt, shredding environmental regulations, extending working hours, and cutting social protections.”

“This aggressive pursuit of growth at all costs divides society, creates economic instability, and undermines democracy,” they wrote.

Copenhagen Consensus Center president Bjorn Lomborg, also known as the “skeptical environmentalist,” called the academics’ demands “silly,” especially the argument “that degrowth can improve our quality of life.”

“The claim that no-growth or de-growth would be good for us is simply wrong,” Lomborg tweeted on Monday.

The academics called for policies that emphasized wealth redistribution and environmentalism over those that add to the material well-being of a country. The letter, however, does not address population growth.

“Resource use could be curbed by introducing a carbon tax, and the revenue could be returned as a dividend for everyone or used to finance social programmes,” academics wrote in their letter.

“Introducing both a basic and a maximum income would reduce inequality further, while helping to redistribute care work and reducing the power imbalances that undermine democracy,” they wrote. “New technologies could be used to reduce working time and improve quality of life, instead of being used to lay off masses of workers and increase the profits of the privileged few.”


Fracking takes a step forward in Britain

Cuadrilla has today received hydraulic fracturing consent from the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) for its second horizontal shale exploration well at its Preston New Road site in Lancashire. Consent was granted for the first horizontal well in July this year. Planning and permits required for both wells are already secured.

Francis Egan, CEO of Cuadrilla, said:

“We are delighted to receive this consent. We are currently completing works on site in readiness to start hydraulically fracturing both wells in the next few weeks. The UK’s need for a new and reliable source of natural gas, the cleanest fossil fuel, is underlined by a new report¹ suggesting the UK is going to have to rely on more coal to generate electricity. That would be a massive backwards step in reducing carbon emissions, as would continuing to import gas over long distances by pipe and ship. We are very proud to be the first operator in the UK to make significant headway in shale gas exploration.”

The first horizontal shale well was completed by Cuadrilla in April 2018 through the Lower Bowland shale rock at approximately 2,300m below surface and extends laterally for some 800m. The second horizontal shale gas well was completed in July 2018 and was drilled through the Upper Bowland shale at an approximate depth of 2,100m below the surface, extending laterally for some 750 metres through the shale. These are the first two horizontal shale exploration wells to be drilled onshore in the UK. Following hydraulic fracturing of these first two horizontal wells Cuadrilla will run an initial flow test of the gas produced from both wells for approximately six months.


Tougher Laws On Pipeline Protests Face Test In Louisiana

After a high-profile campaign to oppose the Dakota Access Pipeline in 2016, a number of states moved to make it harder to protest oil and gas projects. Now in Louisiana, the first felony arrests of protesters could be a test case of these tougher laws as opponents vow a legal challenge.

The controversy here is over the Bayou Bridge Pipeline, the last leg of the Dakota Access. If completed, it will bring crude oil from the Bakken oil fields of North Dakota, through Louisiana, where it will be exported abroad.

On a recent day, deep in the Atchafalaya swamp of South Louisiana, twigs snap under the rubber boots of about 40 protesters as they march through shaded woods. Many have tied bandannas around their faces, leaving only their eyes exposed. In the distance, backhoes fling mud as construction workers clear a path for the new Bayou Bridge Pipeline.

"Y'all are trespassing!" a construction worker shouts.

"Go home!" a protester yells back.

After a few minutes, the construction workers shut off their equipment and the protesters celebrate. But later, things get heated after the sheriff's department shows up. A deputy pins one woman to the ground, and the two sides engage in a muddy tug of war until she tumbles free.

It's incidents like this that have helped push lawmakers to take action. Earlier this year, Louisiana state Rep. Major Thibaut proposed a bill with stricter penalties for pipeline protesters.

"You know that there's a right way to do things and a wrong way," Thibaut told a state legislative committee. "And if you want to protest against something ... get your permit and you go do it in a legal fashion."

Trespassing in Louisiana is normally a misdemeanor offense. But the new law deems oil and gas pipelines to be "critical infrastructure," a classification that includes places like nuclear plants, oil refineries and water treatment facilities. As of Aug. 1, trespassing near oil and gas pipelines in the state is now a felony offense, with a possible sentence of up to five years in jail.

Several states have either passed or are considering similar laws, including Oklahoma, Iowa and Pennsylvania.

The oil and gas industry is a big part of many states' economies, including Louisiana. Craig Stevens, who represents pipeline interests with Grow America's Infrastructure Now, says these new laws will help ensure pipelines are not delayed and will also help keep both workers and protesters safe.

"It wasn't too long ago when there were, I think, four protesters that broke through and tried to penetrate, and actually did pierce a pipeline up in the Midwest," he says. "And they used blowtorches. I mean that's the type of thing could actually explode and kill somebody."

Pipeline opponents say more than 10 people have been arrested under Louisiana's stricter law. Journalist-activist Karen Savage captured the first arrests on video, which shows several security officers pulling three protesters from kayaks onto an airboat.

Those arrested said they didn't think they were doing anything illegal since they were on water, which is considered public property.

"It's a ridiculous over-criminalization of people who protest," says Bill Quigley, a law professor at Loyola University in New Orleans who represents protesters here and in other states.

Quigley calls the new law unconstitutional on First Amendment grounds, and he says he plans to challenge it in court. He hopes doing so will encourage other states to walk back their own laws.

So far, it's not clear whether the local district attorney will prosecute those charged with felonies. But at the Bayou Bridge protest, anti-pipeline organizer Cherri Foytlin says she and others won't be deterred.

"I hope to God no more felonies," she says. "But if there is, then they will be righteous ones."

The next day, Foytlin and three others were also arrested.


Computer Climate Simulations Just Crashed

Ross McKitrick and John Christy have an important new paper out in Earth and Space Science.

This is the latest fusillade in the long battle over whether the climate simulations that lie behind demands for decarbonisation and other political action actually amount to nothing but a hill of beans (as they say on the other side of the pond).

Computer climate simulations predict that manmade global warming will cause the troposphere over the tropics to warm much faster than the surface, and there have been a series of scientific papers arguing whether these predictions are being borne out in practice. In a blog post published yesterday, McKitrick relates some of the back story, including attempts by one mainstream scientist to withhold his data, and the subsequent revelation that he had truncated it in a way that fundamentally altered the conclusions that would be drawn. McKitrick also outlines a series of subsequent papers that have concluded that real-world warming in the troposphere is much less than predicted:

[W]hether we test the tropospheric trend magnitudes, or the ratio of tropospheric to surface trends, across all kinds of data sets, and across all major trend intervals, models have been shown to exaggerate the amplification rate and the warming rate, globally and in the tropics.

So it’s not looking too good for the models. The next logical step is to consider what this means for the bigger picture, and this is where the new paper comes in. As McKitrick points out, if climate simulators get the rainfall in the Amazon wrong, it’s perhaps not the end of the story – that part of the model might be adjusted. But he and Christy are suggesting that what the models indicate about the tropical troposphere is essentially a diagnostic of their structures – almost all climate models agree that it will warm rapidly and it should only be greenhouse gases that can cause such a warming.

In other words, if the models get this wrong, something is fundamentally wrong.

Which is why it’s so important that the authors conclude their paper thus:

Comparing modeled to observed trends over the past 60 years…shows that all models warm more rapidly than observations and in the majority of individual cases the discrepancy is statistically significant. We argue that this provides informative evidence against the major hypothesis in most current climate models.




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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