Thursday, October 17, 2019

Climate change: Fake news or global threat? This is the science

Under the above heading there recently appeared in the London Daily Telegraph a BIIIIG article by Sarah Knapton, their Science Editor.

She discusses in an unbiased way most of the issues in the global warming controversy.  She makes it clear that there are big debates among scientists about the truth of the theory. Because the article covers such a wide range of issues I can see no way of usefully excerpting it here.  So I will simply mention a few points where Sarah was bulldozed by the warmists.

She rightly points out that the Medieval Warm Period is a severe embarrassment for the Warmists but lets them get away with their usual response to it -- which is that the MWP was a local event in the North Atlantic area only.  That has long been known to be a complete crock.  The effect is also seen in Argentina, New Zealand and China.  Are they all in the North Atlantic?

She also lets them get way with a pretence that the only "hiatus" in the warming effect was in the early 21st century.  She does not embarrass them with the long hiatus from 1945 to 1975.

And she lets pass the assertion that CO2 does have a warming effect without raising the crucial question: "How much?"  Most skeptics are prepared to say that a warming effect from CO2 does exist but say that the effect is tiny, trivial. And on both theoretical and empirical grounds the temperature changes we have seen in response to rising CO2 levels would indeed appear to have been minuscule -- to the point where they may be below the threshold of detection.

As I said, these are just a few of the crucial issues that were not canvassed in the Knapton article.  Their omission leaves the skeptical case very poorly represented -- JR

A New Dark Age: California’s Blackouts Are Self-Inflicted

California, the richest state in the nation—and one that’s often portrayed as the progressive harbinger of the future for the rest of the country—has been hit with its latest Third World-style disaster.

On top of high poverty rates, skyrocketing homelessness, rising crime, and the return of medieval-sounding diseases, the state—specifically, the San Francisco Bay Area—has been hit with a mass blackout.

About 1 million people in one of the most densely populated parts of the country have had their power shut off by the utility company, Pacific Gas and Electric.

The local utility, PG&E, initiated the blackout in an effort to limit the potential for mass wildfires, which ravaged the state in 2018 and bankrupted the company. Exposed power lines and infrastructure make the likelihood of sparking fires much greater in places where there is ample dry fuel (more on that later). Still, the fires are back this year.

The blackout, which has hit cities throughout Northern California, is causing chaos: businesses have to shut down, people can’t go to work, and in some blacked-out areas, curfews have been put in place to prevent crime.

It’s a mess.

Much of the blame for the blackout has been hurled at the utility, with some even turning to vandalizing PG&E offices and shooting at its trucks.

Though it’s easy to criticize PG&E, which hardly looks good in this whole mess, there is a lot of blame to go around—and no, it doesn’t have anything to do with “climate change.”

Poor land management has been a major contributing factor to the uptick in massive wildfires in the West and around the country. California is particularly susceptible.

Fires need heat, and they need fuel. At certain times of the year in California, the state is hot as dry winds blow in from Nevada, a combustible environment for fire. That’s hardly a new situation in the Golden State.

Unfortunately, there’s now far more fuel in our forests that has built up over decades because of a change in forest management strategy.

Former California Assemblyman Chuck DeVore, who now lives in Texas, has done a great job of highlighting this issue and explaining how the blackout crisis was largely caused by politicians.

Renewable energy has been prioritized over reliable infrastructure, DeVore recently wrote in The Federalist, while there has been an uptick of vulnerable power lines to connect distant wind farms to urban centers.

PG&E shifted its priority to the overpriced renewables at the behest of politicians, The Wall Street Journal explained in an article aptly titled “California’s Dark Ages.”

For years, the utility skimped on safety upgrades and repairs while pumping billions into green energy and electric-car subsidies to please its overlords in Sacramento. Credit Suisse has estimated that long-term contracts with developers of renewables cost the utility $2.2 billion annually more than current market power rates.

Now, in large parts of California, if you want to keep the lights on during the blackouts, you better have a flashlight or a gas lamp. Twenty-first century green dreams have led to 19th-century realities.

The Dark Ages indeed.

Worse than the misguided green energy push and poor infrastructure, of course, has been the shifting forest management strategy—mostly the result of misguided environmentalist ideology—that turned large swaths of the state into a tinderbox.

“With a decline in the harvest came a decline in the allied efforts to clear brush, build and maintain access roads and firebreaks,” DeVore wrote in The Federalist. “This led inexorably to a decades’ long build-up in the fuel load. Federal funds set aside for increasingly unpopular forest-management efforts were instead shifted to fire-suppression expenses.”

One failure led to another as poor forest management has necessitated vastly increased budgets for putting out the fires, which will undoubtedly continue to be a threat.

Further, DeVore noted, these fires pose more danger to people than ever before as middle-class Californians flee the state’s expensive urban areas to the more affordable, but also more at-risk parts of the state.

So, the current blackouts are ultimately the result of short-term reality and long-term dysfunctional governance.

California is a wealthy state with vast natural advantages and near-limitless potential for growth. It’s why so many Americans have moved there over the past century.

Despite those attributes, California’s future success looks, well, a whole lot darker due to political dysfunction and the inability to address the growing problems facing the state.

Let us all hope that America’s future is a lot brighter than California’s.


It Costs $532,000 to Decommission A Single Wind Turbine

It looks like Minnesota will have a very expensive mess to clean up when the wind turbines currently operating in the state reach the end of their 20 year useful lifetimes.

According to utility documents filed by Xcel Energy for it’s Nobles Wind facility, it will cost approximately $445,000 (in 2009 dollars) per turbine to decommission the wind facility. This means it would cost $532,000 per turbine (in 2019 dollars) for each of the 134 turbines in operation at this facility, bringing the total cost of decommissioning the Nobles project to $71 million. However, Xcel also stated these estimates were conservative, meaning this likely represents the high-end cost of decommissioning.

Other wind turbines have six-figure decommissioning costs, as well. According to utility documents for the Palmer’s Creek Wind facility in Chippewa County, Minnesota, it would cost $7,385,822 to decommission the 18 wind turbines operating at that site, a cost of $410,000 per turbine.

One would think such a price tag would at least result in a thorough decommissioning job, but one would be wrong.

According to the Nobles Wind document, “Restoration activities will include and not be limited to removal of all physical material and equipment related to the project to a depth of 48 inches.”

This means Xcel will only remediate the site to a depth of four feet, leaving most of the massive concrete foundations, which go as deep as 15 feet, used to anchor the wind turbines , in the ground indefinitely.

Furthermore, according to the website Renewable Technology, Nobles Wind facility has an extensive underground collector cable system, laid at a depth of four feet, connecting the turbines to a central substation. Xcel’s documents were not specific enough to determine if they would be removing these cables, but the Palmer’s Wind Farm project explicitly states that cables deeper than 4 feet would not be removed:

Wind turbines and solar panels are often given a free pass when it comes to their impact on the environment even though they can cause substantial environmental degradation. In contrast, liberal politicians and special interest groups have continued to delay the replacement of an aging oil pipeline with a newer, and safer replacement.

This double standard is a disservice to Minnesotans who must pay more for their energy, and also the environment.


Climate Alarmism of the Last 120 Years

What is clear is that the climate has been constantly changing for a very long time. 

To error is human. And if science is only as good as the scientist, then, since scientists are human … any reasonable person would be foolish not to hold a healthy amount of skepticism toward any declarations of the science being “settled.” This is especially the case when it comes to the politically charged topic of global warming or climate change or whatever it will be called in the near future. A few years ago, Anthony Watts of Watts Up With That? put together a list of the last 120 years of climate alarmism. Given that the list is still relevant because alarmists never quit issuing new dire predictions, here are a few examples of just how wrong they’ve been over the years:

1895 — Geologists Think the World May Be Frozen Up Again —The New York Times

1902 — “Disappearing Glaciers … deteriorating slowly, with a persistency that means their final annihilation … scientific fact … surely disappearing.” —Los Angeles Times

1923 — “Scientist says Arctic ice will wipe out Canada” —Professor Gregory of Yale University, American representative to the Pan-Pacific Science Congress, in the Chicago Tribune

1933 — America in Longest Warm Spell Since 1776; Temperature Line Records a 25-Year Rise —The New York Times

1954 — Climate — the Heat May Be Off —Fortune Magazine

1969 — “The Arctic pack ice is thinning and … the ocean at the North Pole may become an open sea within a decade or two” —The New York Times

1969 — “If I were a gambler, I would take even money that England will not exist in the year 2000” —Paul Ehrlich (while he now predicts doom from global warming, this quote only gets honorable mention, as he was talking about his crazy fear of overpopulation)

1974 — Global cooling for the past forty years —Time Magazine

1974 — “Climatological Cassandras are becoming increasingly apprehensive, for the weather aberrations they are studying may be the harbinger of another ice age” —The Washington Post

1974 — “The facts of the present climate change are such that the most optimistic experts would assign near certainty to major crop failure … mass deaths by starvation, and probably anarchy and violence.” —The New York Times

1975 — “The threat of a new ice age must now stand alongside nuclear war as a likely source of wholesale death and misery for mankind” Nigel Calder, editor, New Scientist magazine, in an article in International Wildlife Magazine

1990 — “We’ve got to ride the global warming issue. Even if the theory of global warming is wrong, we will be doing the right thing — in terms of economic policy and environmental policy.” —Senator Timothy Wirth

1998 — No matter if the science [of global warming] is all phony … climate change [provides] the greatest opportunity to bring about justice and equality in the world.“ —Christine Stewart, Canadian Minister of the Environment, Calgary Herald

2006 — "I believe it is appropriate to have an over-representation of factual presentations on how dangerous it is, as a predicate for opening up the audience to listen to what the solutions are, and how hopeful it is that we are going to solve this crisis.” —Al Gore, Grist magazine

2014  — Climate change: It’s even worse than we thought. Five years ago, the last report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change painted a gloomy picture of our planet’s future. As climate scientists gather evidence for the next report, due in 2014, Michael Le Page gives seven reasons why things are looking even grimmer. —New Scientist (undated in 2014)

Again, these are but a few of the climate headlines over the last century. What is telling is how in more recent years the climate alarmism has become increasingly tied to leftist politics, to the detriment of science.


Australia: Things hotting up at Bureau of Meteorology

Why is the Australian Bureau of Meteorology a protected species? How many warnings does the government need before it conducts a parliamentary inquiry and independent audit.

Surely, for $1m a day, taxpayers are at least entitled to reliable data. Yet what we get are homogenised records achieved by mixing, matching and even deleting temperature data, often from unreliable or geographically unrelated sites and almost always with a warming bias.

In 2015 minister for the environment Greg Hunt saw off a golden opportunity when he batted away then prime minister Tony Abbott’s wish to have an audit. Hunt found the bureau’s “hard science, hard data and literally millions of points of information through satellite and local monitoring” convincing.

Hunt’s successor, Josh Frydenberg, similarly refused to have an audit. Both turned a blind eye to the BoM’s unscientific obsession to report record heat.

When satellite data conflicted with its “hottest-ever summer” hype, they ignored it. And they listened to colleagues and BoM supporters who were consumed by climate-change politics.

The bureau’s focus on politics rather than science was revealed a decade ago in the leaked “Climategate” emails which exposed unscientific practices and appalling quality control.

Professor Phil Jones, former director at the University of East Anglia’s Climatic Research Unit, referred to Australians “inventing the December 1995 monthly value” and wanting to see “the section on variability and extreme events beefed up”.

A frustrated CRU climatologist/programmer, Ian (Harry) Harris, wrote: “Getting seriously fed up with the state of the Australian data. So many new stations have been introduced, so many false references … so many changes that aren’t documented.”

The bureau’s supervisor of climate analysis, Dr David Jones, dismisses sceptics as “scientifically incompetent. We have a policy of providing any complainer with every single station observation when they question our data (this usually snows them)”.

Former chief executive Rob Vertessy confirms this thinking, saying: “People … running interference on the national weather agency are unproductive and, it’s actually dangerous.”

This patronising fortress mentality does little to dispel concerns about integrity.

The BoM’s casual approach to Celsius conversion with its warming bias sticks in the memory. So too the spectacle of Rutherglen, where a 0.35C cooling became a 1.73C warming. When hot and dry Hillston, 300km away in southern New South Wales, is included in the “homogenisation” process, no wonder.

There’s also the mystery of Goulburn Airport, in NSW southern tablelands, where the lowest ever July temperature was -9.1C, recorded in 1988. In 2017 that was broken when the temperature dropped to -10.4C. The bureau recorded -10C. A similar under-recording occurred at Thredbo Top Station.

After an inquiry from Frydenberg, the BoM responded there were issues with those automatic weather stations but, out of 695 sites, they were the only ones where temperature records had been affected. How reassuring that the ever-alert Dr Jennifer Marohasy, who raised the alarm, had found the offending two.

Respected climate writer Joanne Nova recently reported another example of the bureau’s reluctance to record cooler temperatures. Although Friday, April 19, was the coldest April day in Albany, Western Australia, the bureau somehow “lost” the crucial Albany Airport data set.

So, while temperatures for hundreds of kilometres around registered similar maximums to the airport’s 10.4C, the official airport maximum for April 19 remains blank, while the city of Albany records the day before’s temperature of 25.1C.

The bureau’s warming bias is shameless. It couldn’t wait to announce January 7 last year as the Sydney Basin’s hottest-ever day. But it was required to quickly retract this and acknowledge 1939 was hotter — but not before the captive media had sensationalised the headlines.

Suspicions of BoM neglect and carelessness are being confirmed by diligent volunteer auditors. A number of weather stations have been found on or near asphalt, busy highways, beside galvanised iron fences and metal sheds, atop tin roofs or adjacent airconditioning units. Even when these sites are not included in the official ACORN set, they are still used to adjust temperatures within it.

Now, Nova reveals, volunteers have discovered changes at the Port Hedland site have over the years corrupted its data. It is one of only 112 certified locations and its temperatures are used in the “best practice” official set which forms part of the global record. How many more non-compliant, certified sites are there? And why is it only volunteers can find them?

And why, to quote Nova: “After all the headlines, after it was measured on supposedly modern first-class equipment, even data just 18 months old is being re-fiddled?”

So when satellites suggest 1991 was our hottest summer, and the bureau says 2019, who should we believe?

The BoM is a large and expensive agency, employing almost 1700 people. It requires $400m a year to run. The importance of its database and the reliability of its forecasts go well beyond daily bulletins. Many industries depend on them. Yet, despite the bureau’s boasts of scientific integrity, government cannot ignore the continual release of conflicting evidence nor the BoM’s repeated failure to predict catastrophic weather events such as floods and droughts.

Moreover, despite the bureau’s protests of “best practice”, evidence is being produced which questions the bureau’s compliance with World Meteorological Organisation standards.

The bureau rejects this but then this question may fall into the “unproductive” and “actually dangerous” category.

If the bureau was a public company ASIC would have long since investigated it. What makes government so frightened to act?



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.  

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

RE - "Climate change: Fake news or global threat? This is the science."

IMO - it doesn't matter how "balanced" a review of the science it is; if the whole purpose of the scam is to steal our freedoms and impose socialism worldwide, even the most "balanced" analysis is misdirection in order to perpetuate the deception to achieve a very undesirable goal.

And don't forget that so much of the down side of the "science" is a result of "adjustments" (data tampering), which means the "science" has been biased to warming, and so even the most "balanced" review of it that ignores that flaw will be biased, as well.

We've seen them pull that stunt before. Nigel Calder said it best...

They are running out of tricks, it seems.