Monday, October 10, 2022

The future?

Satellite Temperature Data Show Almost All Climate Model Forecasts Over the Last 40 Years Were Wrong

A major survey into the accuracy of climate models has found that almost all the past temperature forecasts between 1980-2021 were excessive compared with accurate satellite measurements. The findings were recently published by Professor Nicola Scafetta, a physicist from the University of Naples. He attributes the inaccuracies to a limited understanding of Equilibrium Climate Sensitivity (ECS), the number of degrees centigrade the Earth’s temperature will rise with a doubling of carbon dioxide.

Scientists have spent decades trying to find an accurate ECS number, to no avail. Current estimates range from 0.5°C to around 6-7°C. Without knowing this vital figure, the so-called ‘settled’ science narrative around human-caused climate change remains a largely political invention, not a credible scientific proposition. Professor Scafetta has conducted extensive work into climate models and is a long-time critic of their results and forecasts. In a previous work, he said many of the climate models should be “dismissed and not used by policymakers”. Along with around 250 professors, he is a signatory to the World Climate Declaration which states there is no climate emergency and also notes climate models are “not remotely plausible as global tools”.

Scafetta’s latest work grouped 38 major climate models into low, medium and high ECS values, ranging between 1.8°C and 5.7°C. He found that models in the medium and high category “ran hot” in over 95% and 97% of cases respectively. The lower models were said to have done better when compared to global warming calculated for the period by the major surface datasets of 0.52-0.58°C. But the UAH satellite data showed warming up to 30% less during this period, suggesting even the low warming models produced “excessive warming” from 1980-2021.

According to Scafetta, these results are showed that the ECS figure could be as low as 1.2-2°C. Particular concern is expressed about surface temperature records that “appear to be severely affected by non-climatic warming biases”. Scafetta concludes that surface-based temperature records are likely to be affected by warming biases, such as the urban heat island effect due to expanding urban development, and subject to natural oscillations that are not reproduced by climate models. He concludes: “The global warming expected for the next few decades may be even more moderate than predicted by the low ECS-GCMs [Global Circulation Models], and could easily fall within a safe temperature range where climate adaptation policies will suffice.”

Scafetta’s work is vital in providing a realistic insight into the dominant role played by climate models in promoting the command-and-control Net Zero political agenda. Many of the constantly promoted climate thermogeddon scares use forecasts based on high ECS values. The higher values are behind every statement from bureaucrats, politicians, green activists and journalists that we are heading for a 2-3°C increase in global temperature in the near future. In the absence of any definitive ECS figure, these predictions are guesses.

In fact, once the ECS figure falls to around 1°C, it is moving into margin of error territory. However, many scientists have more or less given up trying to calculate ECS, since measuring the non-linear atmosphere is proving as difficult as it ever was. The atmosphere is a chaotic system with many powerful influences reacting unpredictably with each other. The huge heat transfers that obviously have a considerable part to play in climate are far from completely understood. Recent suggestions that modellers can ‘attribute’ single event weather events to human-caused climate change are unprovable, and little more than figments of over-active, agenda-driven imaginations. Furthermore, it is possible that carbon dioxide becomes ‘saturated’ beyond certain levels and its effect as a warming gas rapidly declines.

What we do know is that over the last 20 years, global warming has started to run out of steam. The latest September UAH satellite data, considered in some scientific circles as the most accurate measurement we have, show the current standstill has been extended to eight years. But whereas satellite data are common and invaluable in many geographical fields, these temperature results are less welcome. It is not hard to see why. Scafetta calculates that the results since the start of recordings around 1980 are 30% below surface temperature datasets. As it happens, the two adjustments since 2013 by the U.K.’s Met Office to its HadCRUT global surface temperature record have increased recent warming by a similar amount. Similar upward adjustments are to be found in the other major global datasets. A previous temperature pause from about 1998-2010 is no longer visible in these records.

Claims of ‘record’ heat years and ever higher temperatures are taken exclusively from the surface records. The satellite record is largely ignored. There are even attempts to cancel the inconvenient figures, with Google AdSense recently ‘demonetising’ the site of Dr. Roy Spencer, the Principal Research Scientist at the University of Alabama in Huntsville, one of the main compilers of the UAH satellite record. The record, of course, that is a vital part of Professor Scafetta’s work investigating the accuracy of climate models.


Trees are growing larger than ever before as a result of global warming

Trees are getting bigger because of more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, and are likely to be helping to mitigate global warming more than climate models suggest, scientists believe.

A new study from The Ohio State University has found that tree trunk volume in the US is up to 29 per cent bigger than it was 30 years ago, a finding that is likely to be mirrored elsewhere in the world.

Trees are known to act as a buffer zone against climate change by pulling in carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, but the latest research shows just how much they have been bulking up on the extra fuel.

“It’s well known that when you put a ton of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, it doesn’t stay up there forever,” said Brent Sohngen, professor of environmental and resource economics at Ohio State.

“A massive amount of it falls into the oceans, while the rest of it is taken up by trees and wetlands and those kinds of areas. Forests are taking carbon out of the atmosphere at a rate of about 13 per cent of our gross emissions.

“While we’re putting billions of tonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, we’re actually taking much of it out just by letting our forests grow.”

The team used historical data from the US Forest Service Forest Inventory and Analysis Program to compare how the wood volume of certain forest groups has changed over the past few decades.

The study estimates that between 1970 and 2015, there was a significant increase in the wood volume of trees, which correlates with a distinct rise in carbon emissions.

Elevated carbon levels are likely to have led to the equivalent of an extra tree ring growth for each tree in the 10 different temperate forest groups across the US, suggesting that trees are helping to shield Earth’s ecosystem from the impacts of global warming through their rapid growth, researchers said.

The phenomenon is known as “carbon fertilisation”, whereby an influx of carbon dioxide increases a plant’s rate of photosynthesis, spurring growth.

The amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere mixes almost evenly, so every place on Earth has nearly the same amount, researchers said, suggesting other forests and wooded areas would have seen a similar increase in biomass.

Significant volume increase

The team found that trunk volume had increased by 12.3 per cent in 75-year-old forests and 28.8 per cent in 25-year-old forests.

Some studies from Europe have recorded greater tree heights over time, which researchers have speculated may be due to carbon fertilisation.

Experts had previously speculated that the amount of carbon dioxide that trees would be able to take up would be capped by a lack of other elements needed for photosynthesis such as nitrogen and phosphorus.

However the researchers said that did not appear to be the case. Instead, a lack of carbon dioxide appears to be the most important limiting factor in tree growth.

The team are hoping to repeat the research using global data, but said they hope it would show policymakers and others the value of trees in mitigating climate change.

The research was published in the journal Nature Communications.


UK looks to cap renewable electricity generator revenues

The UK government is pressing ahead with plans to cap revenues that renewable electricity generators are making from sky-high wholesale power prices following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Companies generating power from wind and solar fear the plans, similar to proposals already announced by the European Union, will effectively amount to a windfall tax on renewable energy.

The businesses involved in renewable power generation that could be affected include EDF Energy, RWE, ScottishPower and SSE.

The government had been hoping to persuade electricity generators to agree voluntarily to 15-year fixed-price contracts well below current wholesale rates for their output.

But talks with the companies have collapsed and government legislation, which could be unveiled as early as next week, will be used to underpin a revenue cap on the generators, said people familiar with the plans.

With UK households contending with soaring energy bills, the government indicated to generators at a private meeting last week that it would pursue a cap, said people briefed on the discussions.

People briefed on last week’s meeting said prices of about £50 to £60 per megawatt hour were mentioned as a starting point for the cap, well below current prices of about £490/MWh, although no final decisions have been taken.

Ministers have been alarmed at profits being made by some electricity generators that are still benefiting from a government subsidy scheme that dates back to 2002, when the renewable industry was in its infancy.

The government has been examining potential levels for the revenue cap using evidence such as wholesale prices prior to the energy crisis.

A “high percentage” or all of the revenues above the cap set by the government would be paid to the Treasury, added one of these people.

The EU has announced a similar cap as part of plans to raise €140bn in windfall taxes.

Electricity generators fear the UK government’s plans will be more damaging to the sector than a 25 per cent windfall tax imposed on oil and gas companies in May by the then chancellor Rishi Sunak.

His 25 per cent “energy profits levy” was accompanied by a new investment allowance that energy companies can use to offset their tax bills if they press ahead with projects to boost UK production of fossil fuels.

“The major issue is not that the government is doing a windfall tax in some shape or form,” said one industry person who attended last week’s meeting between the government and electricity generators.

This person objected to how oil and gas companies affected by the recent windfall tax benefited from an investment allowance, and accused the government of effectively endorsing fossil fuel investment over renewable technologies.

The government is committed to the UK reaching net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

Another industry person briefed on the talks between ministers and the electricity generators said: “You’re disincentivising technologies you can build quickly to lower [energy] bills.”

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy declined to comment on the plans.


US Coal Prices Top $200 as World’s Energy Desperation Intensifies Ahead of Winter

U.S. coal prices soared past $200 per ton last week, according to new data from the Energy Information Administration (EIA).

Spot Central Appalachia coal prices climbed to $204.95 per ton for the week ended Sept. 30, up more than 3 percent from the previous week. That’s the highest price since 2005.

Newcastle coal futures, the benchmark for Asia, touched a record high of nearly $450 per ton, before easing to around $400.

Domestic coal production has been holding steady. EIA numbers show that U.S. coal output totaled 12.1 million short tons, up 1.9 percent year over year. In addition, year-to-date coal production totaled nearly 438 million short tons, up close to 4 percent from the same time a year ago. (A short ton, or just ton in the United States, equals 2,000 pounds. A long ton, used in the UK, is 2,240 pounds.)

In 2021, coal represented more than one-fifth (22 percent) of U.S. electricity generation, behind natural gas (38.3 percent). By comparison, wind and solar accounted for just 9.2 percent and 2.8 percent, respectively, last year.

But the fuel source has been surging on strengthening global demand, particularly as the Northern Hemisphere braces for cold and snowy weather.

Global Energy Demand Crunch

S&P Global data note that total spot transaction volumes rose 22 percent in the third quarter, up from the April–June period.

In July, the International Energy Agency (IEA) projected in a market update that worldwide coal consumption would return to all-time highs in 2022.

“Global coal demand is being propped up this year by rising natural gas prices, which have intensified gas-to-coal switching in many countries, as well as economic growth in India. Those factors are being partly offset by slowing economic growth in China and by the inability of some major coal producers to ramp up production,” the IEA stated in its report.

Indeed, Chinese coal imports slumped about 15 percent year over year in August. Beijing’s zero-COVID strategy has resulted in lockdowns in multiple pockets of the country, which has weakened economic growth and applied pressure on demand for a broad array of commodities, from soybeans to crude oil to coal.

However, that’s been offset by robust European demand. In the first half of the year, coal was Germany’s largest source of energy production, representing almost 30 percent, according to confirmed data from the Institute for Energy Research (IER). That’s a result of the European Union’s (EU) ban on Russian coal imports, forcing eurozone members to search for alternative sources. Moscow had provided approximately 70 percent of the EU’s thermal coal prior to the restrictions. In the first seven months of 2022, Australia exported 2.9 million metric tons of coal to Europe, up 73 percent from all of 2021.

European seaborne thermal coal demand is also forecast to increase 14 percent, or 12 million metric tons, in 2022.

“With many European nations increasing thermal coal use, an additional nine gigawatts (GW) of coal-fired capacity has been made available to meet energy demands and make up for the decline in Russian energy imports. Coal prices are surging, but they are still more affordable than record-high gas prices,” Adam Woods, Wood Mackenzie’s senior research analyst, wrote in a recent research note.

It isn’t only European households that have been struggling. The National Energy Assistance Directors Association warned that more than 20 million U.S. households are behind on their utility bills. The organization estimates that the average cost of home heating during the winter season will rise more than 17 percent, to $1,202, the highest in a decade (pdf).

Electricity costs surged close to 16 percent on an annualized basis in August, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

The situation could intensify, as coal-producing firms have been running at near maximum capacity without the infrastructure to boost output. Moreover, supply-chain snafus could prevent companies from even expanding production capabilities, experts say.

“The growing energy crisis created originally by the underperformance of renewable energy was exacerbated by the Russian invasion of Ukraine, resulting in Russia’s closure of the Nord Stream 1 pipeline due to sanctions imposed by the West,” the IER noted last week. “But the high prices are caused by energy shortages, and Europe is looking for enough energy supplies to get through the winter.”

According to Fitch Solutions, coal prices are expected to fall next year and in 2024.

While businesses and households are feeling financial pain, coal stocks are climbing on price growth. Peabody Energy, for example, shares jumped more than 3 percent on Oct. 5, to above $27, lifting its year-to-date gain to nearly 139 percent. Arch Resources rose roughly 2 percent, to $138 midweek, bringing its year-to-date increase to more than 50 percent.




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