Monday, December 03, 2018

Fossil algae reveals past CO2 levels at 1,000 ppm: Proof that the planet is not in jeopardy from present day CO2 emissions.

Earth scientists are able to travel far back in time to reconstruct the geological past and paleoclimate to make better predictions about future climate conditions. Scientists at the Netherlands Institute for Sea Research (NIOZ) and Utrecht University succeeded in developing a new indicator (proxy) of ancient CO2-levels, using the organic molecule phytane, a debris product of chlorophyll. This new organic proxy not only provides the most continuous record of CO2-concentrations ever, it also breaks a record in its time span, covering half a billion years. The data show the present idea that rises in CO2-levels that used to take millions of years, are now happening in a century. These findings are published in Science Advances on November 28th.

As CO2 increases today, it's vital to understand what impact these changes will have. To better predict the future, we must understand long-term changes in CO2 over geologic history. Direct measurements of past CO2 are available, e.g. bubbles in ice cores containing ancient gases. However, ice cores have a limited time span of one million years. To go farther back in time, earth scientists have developed various indirect measurements of CO2 from proxies e.g. from algae, leaves, ancient soils and chemicals stored in ancient sediments to reconstruct past environmental conditions.

Phytane, a new way to travel in time

A new proxy, using a degradation product of chlorophyll, allows geochemists to infer a continuous record of historic CO2-levels in deep time. Scientists at NIOZ have recently developed phytane as a promising new organic proxy that uncovers half a billion years of CO2-levels in the oceans, from the Cambrian until recent times.

Using the new proxy, they were able to make the most continuous record of ancient carbon dioxide levels ever. "We developed and validated a new way to time travel - going farther back in time and to more places", says NIOZ-scientist Caitlyn Witkowski. "With phytane, we now have the longest CO2-record with one single marine proxy. This new data is invaluable to modelers who can now more accurately make predictions of the future."

Witkowski and colleagues selected more than 300 samples of marine sediments from deep sea cores and oils from all over the globe, reflecting the majority of geological periods in the last 500 million years.

Fossil molecules

Past chemical reactions can be `stored' in fossil molecules, and so they may reflect various ancient environmental conditions. Geochemists are able to `read' these conditions, such as seawater temperature, pH, salinity and CO2-levels. Organic matter, such as phytane, reflects the pressure of CO2 in ocean water or the atmosphere (pCO2).

Little green miracles

Although all organic matter has the potential to reflect CO2, phytane is special. Phytane is the pigment responsible for our green world. Anything that uses photosynthesis to absorb sunlight, including plants, algae, and some species of bacteria, has chlorophyll from which phytane comes. Plants and algae take in CO2 and produce oxygen. Without these little green miracles, our world just wouldn't be the same.

Because chlorophyll is found all around the world, phytane is also everywhere and is a major constituent of decayed and fossilized biomass. "Phytane doesn't chemically change over the course of time, even if it is millions of years old," Witkowski says.

Carbon isotope fractionation

CO2 of the past is estimated from organic matter, such as phytane, through the phenomenon of carbon isotope fractionation during photosynthesis. When taking up CO2, plants and algae prefer the light carbon isotope (12C) over the heavy carbon isotope (13C). They only use the heavy carbon isotope when CO2-levels in the surrounding water or atmosphere are low. The proportion between these two isotopes therefore reflects the level of carbon dioxide in the environment at the moment of growth.

This also explains why Witkowski didn't use terrestrial plants as a source for her research, exclusively using phytane from (fossilized) marine sources. The plant world is divided into so-called C3- and C4-plants, each with their own unique ratio of light-to-heavy carbon. Phytoplankton all have very similar ratios compared to their plant counterparts. Witkowski: "By choosing only marine sources, we could limit uncertainty of the phytane source in the dataset."

"In our data, we see high levels of carbon dioxide, reaching 1000 ppm as opposed to today's 410 ppm. In this respect, present day levels are not unique, but the speed of these changes have never been seen before. Changes that typically take millions of years are now happening in a century. This additional CO2-data may help us understand the future of our planet." In future research, phytane can be used to go even further back in time than the Phanerozoic, the earliest found in two billion-year-old samples.


Dr. Willie Soon versus the Climate Apocalypse

More honesty and less hubris, more evidence and less dogmatism, would do a world of good

Dr. Jeffrey Foss

"What can I do to correct these crazy, super wrong errors?" Willie Soon asked plaintively in a recent e-chat. "What errors, Willie?" I asked.

"Errors in Total Solar Irradiance," he replied. "The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change keeps using the wrong numbers! It's making me feel sick to keep seeing this error. I keep telling them - but they keep ignoring their mistake."

Astrophysicist Dr. Willie Soon really does get sick when he sees scientists veering off their mission: to discover the truth. I've seen his face flush with shock and shame for science when scientists cherry-pick data. It ruins his appetite - a real downer for someone who loves his food as much as Willie does.

You have got to love a guy like that, if you love science - and I do. I'm a philosopher of science, not a scientist, but my love for science runs deep - as does my faith. So I cannot help but admire Willie and his good old-fashioned passion for science.

Willie Soon may one day be a household name. More and more he appears at the pointy end of scientific criticism of Climate Apocalypse. In two recent lawsuits against Big Oil, one by New York City and the other by San Francisco and Oakland, Dr. Soon is named as the "paid agent" of "climate change denialism." As the man who - Gasp! - singlehandedly convinced Big Oil to continue business as usual.

Can you even imagine that? I can't: Big Oil couldn't turn off its taps in big cities even if it wanted to.

Putting such silly lawsuits aside, it is a big honor, historically speaking, for Dr. Soon to be the face of scientific rebuttal of Climate Apocalypse, since feeding the developed world's apocalypse addiction is the main tool of a powerful global political agenda.

The IPCC - along with the United Nations and many environmentalist organizations, politicians, bureaucrats and their followers - desperately want to halt and even roll back development in the industrialized world, and keep Africa and other poor countries permanently undeveloped, while China races ahead. They want Willie silenced. We the people need to make sure he is heard.

Dr. Soon never sought the job of defending us against the slick, computer model-driven, anti-fossil fuel  certainties of Climate Apocalypse. Willie just happened to choose solar science as a career and, like many solar scientists, after nearly three decades of scientific research in his case, came to believe that changes in the sun's brightness, sunspots and energy output, changes in the orbital position of the Earth relative to the sun, and other powerful natural forces drive climate change. In brief, our sun controls our climate.

Even the IPCC initially indicated agreement with him, citing his work approvingly in its second (1996) and third (2001) Assessment Reports. That later changed, significantly. Sure, everyone agrees that the sun caused the waxing and waning of the ice ages, just as solar scientists say. However, the sun had to be played down if carbon dioxide (CO2) was to be played up - an abuse of science that makes Willie sick.

Unfortunately for the IPCC, solar scientists think solar changes also explain Earth's most recent warming period which, they point out, began way back in the 1830s - long before we burned enough fossil fuels to make any difference. They also observed the shrinking of the Martian ice-caps in the 1990s, and their return in the last few years - in perfect time with the waning and waxing of Arctic ice caps here on Earth.

Only the sun - not the CO2 from our fires - could cause that Earth-Mars synchronicity. And surely it is no mere coincidence that a grand maximum in solar brightness (Total Solar Irradiance or TSI) took place in the 1990s as both planets' ice caps shrank, or that the sun cooled (TSI decreased) as both planets' ice caps grew once again. All that brings us back to Dr. Soon's disagreements with the IPCC.

The IPCC now insists that solar variability is so tiny that they can just ignore it, and proclaim CO2 emissions as the driving force behind climate change. But solar researchers long ago discovered unexpected variability in the sun's brightness - variability that is confirmed in other stars of the sun's type. Why does the IPCC ignore these facts? Why does it insist on spoiling Willie's appetite?

It sure looks like the IPCC is hiding the best findings of solar science so that it can trumpet the decreases in planetary warming (the so-called "greenhouse effect") that they embed in the "scenarios" (as they call them) emanating from their computer models. Ignoring the increase in solar brightness over the 80s and 90s, they instead enthusiastically blame the warmth of the 1990s on human production of CO2.

In just such ways they sell us their Climate Apocalypse - along with the roll-back of human energy use, comfort, living standards and progress: sacrifices that the great green gods of Gaia demand of us if we are to avoid existential cataclysms. Thankfully, virgins are still safe - for now.       

Surely Willie and solar scientists are right about the primacy of the sun. Why? Because the observable real world is the final test of science. And the data - actual evidence - shows that global temperatures follow changes in solar brightness on all time-scales, from decades to millions of years. On the other hand, CO2 and temperature have generally gone their own separate ways on these time scales.

Global temperatures stopped going up in the first two decades of this century, even though CO2 has steadily risen. The IPCC blames this global warming "hiatus" on "natural climate variability," meaning something random, something not included in their models, something the IPCC didn't see coming.

This confirms the fact that their models do not add up to a real theory of climate. Otherwise the theory would be falsified by their incorrect predictions. They predicted a continuous increase in temperature, locked to a continuous increase in CO2. But instead, temperature has remained steady over the last two decades, while CO2 climbed even faster than before.

IPCC modelers still insist that the models are nevertheless correct, somehow - that the world would be even colder now if it weren't for this pesky hiatus in CO2-driven warming. Of course, they have to say that - even though they previously insisted the Earth would not be as cool as it is right now.

Still, their politically correct commands stridently persist: stay colder in winter, stay hotter in summer, take cold showers, drive less, make fewer trips, fly less, don't eat foods that aren't "local," bury your loved ones in cardboard boxes, turn off the lights. Their list of diktats is big and continuously growing.

Unlike the IPCC, Willie and I cannot simply ignore the fact that there were multiple ice ages millions of years ago, when CO2 levels were four times higher than now. And even when CO2 and temperature do trend in tandem, as in the famous gigantic graph in Al Gore's movie, the CO2 rises followed temperature increases by a few centuries. That means rising CO2 could not possibly have caused the temperature increases - an inconvenient truth that Gore doesn't care about and studiously ignores.

Unfortunately, through their powerful political and media cadres, the IPCC has created a highly effective propaganda and war-on-fossil-fuels vehicle, to herd public opinion - and marginalize or silence any scientist who dares to disagree with it. For better or worse, richer or poorer, my dear, passionate Dr. Soon is one scientist who is always ready to stand in the path of that tank and face it down: anytime, anywhere.

I'm frightened by the dangers to Willie, his family and his career, due to his daily battles with the Climate Apocalypse industry. I can't get it out of my mind that the university office building of climatologist John Christy - who shares Willie's skepticism of Climate Apocalypse - was shot full of bullet holes last year. But let's not let a spattering of gunfire spoil a friendly scientific debate. Right?

Willie's courage makes me proud to know him, and to be an aficionado of science like he is. When it comes to the long game, my money is on Dr. Willie Soon. We the people hunger for truth, as does science itself. And that hunger will inevitably eclipse our romantic dalliance with the Climate Apocalypse.

Via email

Former Shell President Fires Back After Obama Claims Responsibility for Oil Boom

Former president of Shell Oil, John Hofmeister, said former President Barack Obama had nothing to do with America's increased oil production and actually frustrated many areas of the energy sector.

Obama claimed he was responsible for America's recent oil boom during an event hosted by Rice University's Baker Institute on Tuesday night.

Hofmeister challenged his assessment.

"American energy production - You wouldn't always know it but it went up every year I was president," Obama said. "That whole, suddenly America's like the biggest oil producer and the biggest gas - that was me, people."

"The facts are the facts. And, yes, the production did increase throughout his term," Hofmeister said on "Fox & Friends" Thursday.

"But, frankly, he had nothing to do with it."

"This was production in states like Texas, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Colorado - North Dakota in particular. And these were all state decisions made with industry applications for permits. The federal government had no role."

Hofmeister said Obama opposed the energy industry at every turn with his actions against offshore drilling and his handling of the Keystone Pipeline.

"If anything, he was trying to frustrate the efforts by taking federal lands off of the availability list - Putting them just, no more drilling (sic). He shut down the Gulf of Mexico for a period of six months," he said.

"(He) changed the regulations from an average of 60 to 80 pages per permit to 600 to 800 pages per permit. He also never approved the Keystone XL peep line after dangling all the potential customers for 8 years. And it was in the 8th year when he said no Keystone Pipeline."

"I would say that he was not a leader when it comes to energy," Hofmeister declared.


EPA Chief Suggests Obama Administration Pushed `Worst-Case Scenario' in US Climate Report

Environmental Protection Agency Acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler suggested the Obama administration told the authors of the latest National Climate Assessment to emphasize "worst-case" global warming predictions.

"And I don't know this for a fact - I wouldn't be surprised if the Obama administration told the report's authors to take a look at the worst-case scenario for this report," Wheeler told The Washington Post in an interview Wednesday.

Wheeler isn't the first to criticize the NCA's focus on "worst-case" global warming predictions, but his comments sparked a backlash from former President Barack Obama's chief science adviser.

John Holdren, Obama's former science czar, told Politico that's "absolutely false." Holdren said the report considered a wide range of scenarios, and that he had no role in selecting the fourth NCA's authors.

The NCA is produced by the U.S. Global Change Research Program, which includes officials from 13 federal agencies.

"My only instruction was that the USGCRP should continue the distinguished tradition of the first three by drawing on the most current peer-reviewed science to illuminate what climate change is doing and is projected to do across the geographic regions and economic and ecological underpinnings of well-being in the United States," Holdren said.

However, Wheeler does have a point. Holdren did not mention a May 2015 memo from the Subcommittee on Global Change Research's environment committee, which is part of the White House National Science and Technology Council.

The SGCR memo instructs NCA authors to "focus on RCP 8.5 as a high-end scenario and RCP 4.5 as a low-end scenario." The memo says using RCP 8.5 and RCP 4.5 "as core scenarios is generally consistent with the range of emission scenarios used in" the third NCA.

"In addition, using a low-end and a high-end scenario will facilitate communications of assessment findings," reads the memo.

SGCR is made up of executive branch officials and is overseen by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. Holdren headed OSTP at the time the memo was issued.

RCP 8.5 is considered a "business as usual" scenario where nothing is done to cut emissions. The latest NCA's dire predictions of future global warming lean heavily on RCP 8.5 - indeed many parts of the report only reference the alarming results of RCP 8.5 modeling.

However, experts have increasingly challenged RCP 8.5 as highly unlikely and unrealistic.

The United Nations climate panel is moving away from focusing on RCP 8.5, and two University of British Columbia researchers published a study last year calling RCP 8.5 "exceptionally unlikely."

The 2017 study found that RCP 8.5 suffered from "systematic errors in fossil production outlooks" and should not be a priority for future scientific research."

University of Colorado professor Roger Pielke, Jr. criticized the NCA's use of RCP 8.5 as a "business as usual" scenario in order to justify policies to cut greenhouse gas emissions.


In defence of coal

Australia’s green zealots are making life harder for the world’s poor

Thermal coal will become an illegal substance in Australia if Greens deputy leader Adam Bandt gets his way. ‘Coal is the next asbestos’, Bandt declared earlier this month. ‘It is toxic and dangerous. We need to stop exporting coal.’

An economic recession induced by the closure of a $20 billion export industry would be barely felt in the inner-city quinoa zone from where the Greens harvest most of their support.

Doctors, teachers, public servants and other professional suppliers of public services do not lose their jobs in a recession. Indeed, they tend to thrive, thanks to politicians who respond to economic downturns with new government programmes of which they are the potential providers.

It will be a different story in the coal-mining regions of the Hunter Valley in New South Wales and parts of Queensland where honest Australians get their hands dirty delivering a third of the world’s coal exports efficiently and cheaply.

The solar-panel-sheltered classes will not notice the dramatic rise in electricity prices. By day they would make a profit selling excess electricity into the grid, and survive mild nights with batteries which the Greens will subsidise.

Residents of working-class western Sydney, on the other hand, where the winter nights are chilly, summer days sweltering and incomes tighter, will feel the brunt of rising electricity prices which, bizarrely in a country with abundant coal and uranium, are already among the highest in the world.

A ban on coal exports would be tough on the world’s poor in general, particularly those in Asia, where the bulk of Australian coal lands.

The billions emerging from poverty thanks to free markets, free trade and stable electricity supplies are not yet prosperous enough to survive an increase in power prices from the short supply of coal. Hope will evaporate for the 750million electricity-starved Asians burning kerosene and cow dung.

Every symbolic crusade needs a totem. For the Prohibition movement a century ago it was the saloon bars. In the early days of the Green movement it was dams, an emblem of humankind’s reckless invasion of the wilderness, and the sub-species that would undoubtedly be driven to extinction by the rising waters.

The epitome of daminisation, the demonisation of reservoir construction, occurred 12 years ago towards the end of a prolonged drought, as the water supply in the Brisbane basin was rapidly running out.

The campaign against the Traveston Crossing Dam pitched the Mary River turtle, giant barred frog, Queensland lungfish and Richmond birdwing butterfly in an equal contest against the people. The result was a triumph for non-sentience.

The spread of global-warming anxiety since the turn of the century prompted a search for a new emblem. Doe-eyed polar bears adrift on ice occupied the slot for a while, until the activists discovered the emotive charm of Queensland’s Barrier Reef and the dark underbelly of coal.

The Barrier Reef is the most protected, pampered coral formation in the world. Billions have been spent to preserve it. The theory that it is being damaged by climate change is far from proven. It has been damaged by farm-water runoff, now controlled and filtered, and the crown-of-thorns starfish, an insidious aquatic vandal that has become the target of a multimillion-dollar cull.

The chance opportunity to put coal and coral together came in 2010 when the Queensland government opened the way for a rail line from the North Galilee Basin to the coast, as a precursor for mining some of the richest untapped coal reserves in the world.

In 2011, an anti-coal axis of environmental activists, including Greenpeace and others, held a secret counsel of war in the New South Wales Blue Mountains to formulate a strategy.

The strategy document that emerged, Stopping the Australian Coal Export Boom, proposed a ‘hearts and minds’ campaign to change the image of coal from ‘the backbone of the economy’ to ‘a destructive industry’ that ‘corrupts our democracy and threatens the global climate’.

The movement had rich friends, including the Rockefeller Family Fund and the Australian internet entrepreneur Graeme Wood, the founder of the online travel service Wotif and a prominent backer of the Australian digital edition of the Guardian.

Law-fare and corporate activism became their chosen methods. With a campaign strategy that would make Coca-Cola envious and the help of international single-issue campaigners like Avaaz, they turned the fight to stop the proposed Adani coal mine in Queensland into a global crusade.

‘They’re trying to put a toxic coal complex in the heart of the magical Great Barrier Reef — it’s a crazy plan, but we’ve got a chance to stop it’, read an email that spread across the world.

‘This is a do-or-die moment for the reef-wrecking coal mine… Let’s stop the reef-killing deal.’

For the record, the Adani mine is 260 miles inland and the reef, at its closest, is 10 miles offshore. To claim it is ‘in the heart of the magical Great Barrier Reef’ is like saying Oxford is at the heart of Lake Windermere.

Yet the campaign has been ruthlessly successful. Adani’s plans to use the blessed reserves of central Queensland to fuel prosperity in India have been delayed, and might never go ahead.

History is unlikely to be kind to the decarbonisation movement. Coercive attempts to stop the use of fossil fuels are delivering the same perverse economic consequences as the attempts to close down American saloon bars in the 1920s.

The consumers pay more for a substance they choose not to live without, while the producers count the profits.

The American fondness for alcohol hardly abated during Prohibition. With demand and supply unequally matched, the price of beer rose by 700 per cent in the US between 1920 and 1933. The price of a bottle of brandy rose by 433 per cent and spirits by 270 per cent. A fourfold increase in deaths from alcohol poisoning and a rise in organised crime were just two unintended consequences. The enrichment of the alcohol companies was another.

A report released this month by international financial analysts Redburn predicts a similar result from the crusade against fossil fuels.

The attempt to starve coal producers of capital has impeded their attempts to build new coal mines, but it hasn’t got in the way of profits. The price of coal has risen to a six-year high, which is good news for the coal business, but bad news if you’re living in, say, India’s Bihar state, where three out of four households don’t have electricity.

If the price of coal rises, says Redburn, ‘the one to two billion people on the planet with zero or unreliable access to modern energy would remain priced out of the market’.

Redburn’s analysts turn the tables on so-called ethical investors by forcing them to confront the consequences of fossil-fuel divestment, a phenomenon that has swept university campuses, shareholder meetings and boardrooms, much as anti-alcohol mania did a century ago.

‘Given the pernicious consequences of energy undersupply, we would go so far as to argue that the socially responsible investor has a duty to ensure capital is available to the fossil fuel industry, for as long as it is needed’, they write.

Unless the supply of coal is increased, the world’s poor will be trapped for even longer in poverty, burning whatever they can get to keep life and limb together. Industrial development will be constrained. Fewer goods and services will be purchased. The smug inner glow of virtue-seeking First World activists will hardly compensate for the global decline in material prosperity.



For more postings from me, see  DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC and AUSTRALIAN POLITICS. Home Pages are   here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here.  

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


No comments: