Europe Moves Closer To Shale Gas Development

fracking2Yesterday, two major events took place, bringing Europe a step closer towards developing a domestic shale gas industry. In the UK the Infrastructure Bill has been given Royal Assent and in Germany the Federal Government held a public hearing on the planned hydraulic fracturing draft law. Shale Gas Europe, 13 February 2015

U.S. natural gas production is poised to reach a record for a fifth year as shale drillers boost efficiency, driving prices toward a low of more than a decade. Output will rise 3.2 percent in 2015, led by gains at the Marcellus formation, the nation’s biggest shale deposit, according to the Energy Information Administration. Marcellus production will increase 2.8 percent through February after a 21 percent gain in 2014, a year when prices tumbled 32 percent. Producers in Pennsylvania and West Virginia have cut break-even costs by half since 2008, according to Oppenheimer & Co. –Naureen Malik, Bloomberg, 7 February 2015

The German government has issued a draft law allowing fracking in shale and coal bed rock starting at a depth of 3,000 metres, permitting test fracking above 3,000 metres. After a long debate over the use of fracking technology in Germany, the federal government issued a draft law allowing the controversial gas extraction method under certain conditions and in isolated cases. —EurActiv, 13 February 2015

Environmental impact assessments do not have to be mandatory for shale gas exploration, the EU court has ruled.—ENDS Europe, 13 February 2015

Gas really is rather special: it provides us in this country with 84 per cent of our domestic heat, 27 per cent of our electricity, much of the feedstock for our synthetic consumer products, and pretty well all of the nitrogen fertiliser that has fed the world and largely banished famine. All this from a surprisingly small number of surprisingly small holes in the ground and the seabed, drilled with fewer accidents and spills than most other energy sources. That is one reason why I will be arguing and voting to help the government improve its Infrastructure Bill today when it comes before the House of Lords, so as to make a shale gas industry in this country possible. –Matt Ridley, The Times, 9 February 2015

Shale gas extraction is a process that has proved very safe and clean in the United States. It has had virtually no impact on groundwater, earthquakes or surface pollution anywhere. These are exaggerated myths constantly repeated by the wealthy multinational pressure groups such as Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth, by wealthy fashion designers and their nimby friends in gin-and-jag country, and by Vladimir Putin and other Russians with an interest in expensive gas. –Matt Ridley, The Times, 9 February 2015

American power plants burned more natural gas last month than ever before. Power generators used an average 23.1 billion cubic feet per day of gas in January 2015, up 13 percent from the 20.5 bcfd average in January 2014, according to Thomson Reuters Analytics. That was the most gas consumed by the power sector during the month of January on record, according to federal data going back to 1973. —The American Interest, 11 February 2015

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New paper claims AGW pushed the “Western US toward the driest period in 1,000 years”

droughtA modeling study published in Science Advances claims global warming has pushed the “Western US toward the driest period in 1,000 years” and “the U.S. Southwest and Great Plains will face persistent drought worse than anything seen in times ancient or modern, with the drying conditions “driven primarily” by human-induced global warming.”

However, the tree-ring proxy data in the paper shows that at the end of the record in ~2002, soil moisture of the central plains was considerably above the average of the past millennium, and peaked around ~1930, a relatively warm period in the US. The proxy record also shows many periods of drought during the Little Ice Age and that the 20th century was relatively wet period in comparison to the past millennium.

For the US Southwest, the proxy data also shows a soil moisture peak around ~1930. If warming is a cause of decreased soil moisture as the paper claims, the proxy data would be expected to show the opposite pattern to that observed. Although the end of the Southwest proxy record in ~2002, conditions were relatively dry, but not as dry as at least 3 other periods during the Little Ice Age. Many other paleoclimate studies have found both droughts and floods were more common during the Little Ice Age in comparison to the 20th century.

Thus, the claim that AGW has “pushed the Western US toward the driest period in 1,000 years” is not supported by the proxy data shown in the paper. In addition, the modeling claim that AGW will cause “unprecedented risk of drought in the 21st century” is entirely based upon overheated climate models which have been falsified at confidence levels exceeding 98%. As shown below, the models did not reproduce the peaks in soil moisture around ~1930 or the peak around ~2000 in the central plains, further evidence that the modeling assumptions are incorrect and the claim of unprecedented drought not supported by observations.

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Warming pushes Western US toward driest period in 1,000 years: Unprecedented Risk of Drought in 21st Century

Date: February 12, 2015

Summary: During the second half of the 21st century, the U.S. Southwest and Great Plains will face persistent drought worse than anything seen in times ancient or modern, with the drying conditions “driven primarily” by human-induced global warming, a new study predicts.

The research says the drying would surpass in severity any of the decades-long “megadroughts” that occurred much earlier during the past 1,000 years — one of which has been tied by some researchers to the decline of the Anasazi or Ancient Pueblo Peoples in the Colorado Plateau in the late 13th century. Many studies have already predicted that the Southwest could dry due to global warming, but this is the first to say that such drying could exceed the worst conditions of the distant past. The impacts today would be devastating, given the region’s much larger population and use of resources.

“We are the first to do this kind of quantitative comparison between the projections and the distant past, and the story is a bit bleak,” said Jason E. Smerdon, a co-author and climate scientist at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, part of the Earth Institute at Columbia University. “Even when selecting for the worst megadrought-dominated period, the 21st century projections make the megadroughts seem like quaint walks through the Garden of Eden.”

“The surprising thing to us was really how consistent the response was over these regions, nearly regardless of what model we used or what soil moisture metric we looked at,” said lead author Benjamin I. Cook of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies and the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory. “It all showed this really, really significant drying.”

The new study, “Unprecedented 21st-Century Drought Risk in the American Southwest and Central Plains,” will be featured in the inaugural edition of the new online journal Science Advances, produced by the American Association for the Advancement of Science, which also publishes the leading journal Science.

Today, 11 of the past 14 years have been drought years in much of the American West, including California, Nevada, New Mexico and Arizona and across the Southern Plains to Texas and Oklahoma, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor, a collaboration of U.S. government agencies.

The current drought directly affects more than64 million people in the Southwest and Southern Plains, according to NASA, and many more are indirectly affected because of the impacts on agricultural regions.

Shrinking water supplies have forced western states to impose water use restrictions; aquifers are being drawn down to unsustainable levels, and major surface reservoirs such as Lake Mead and Lake Powell are at historically low levels. This winter’s snowpack in the Sierras, a major water source for Los Angeles and other cities, is less than a quarter of what authorities call a “normal” level, according to a February report from the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power. California water officials last year cut off the flow of water from the northern part of the state to the south, forcing farmers in the Central Valley to leave hundreds of thousands of acres unplanted.

“Changes in precipitation, temperature and drought, and the consequences it has for our society — which is critically dependent on our freshwater resources for food, electricity and industry — are likely to be the most immediate climate impacts we experience as a result of greenhouse gas emissions,” said Kevin Anchukaitis, a climate researcher at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. Anchukaitis said the findings “require us to think rather immediately about how we could and would adapt.”

Much of our knowledge about past droughts comes from extensive study of tree rings conducted by Lamont-Doherty scientist Edward Cook (Benjamin’s father) and others, who in 2009 created the North American Drought Atlas. The atlas recreates the history of drought over the previous 2,005 years, based on hundreds of tree-ring chronologies, gleaned in turn from tens of thousands of tree samples across the United States, Mexico and parts of Canada.

For the current study, researchers used data from the atlas to represent past climate, and applied three different measures for drought — two soil moisture measurements at varying depths, and a version of the Palmer Drought Severity Index, which gauges precipitation and evaporation and transpiration — the net input of water into the land. While some have questioned how accurately the Palmer drought index truly reflects soil moisture, the researchers found it matched well with other measures, and that it “provides a bridge between the [climate] models and drought in observations,” Cook said.

The researchers applied 17 different climate models to analyze the future impact of rising average temperatures on the regions. And, they compared two different global warming scenarios — one with “business as usual,” projecting a continued rise in emissions of the greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming; and a second scenario in which emissions are moderated.

By most of those measures, they came to the same conclusions.

“The results … are extremely unfavorable for the continuation of agricultural and water resource management as they are currently practiced in the Great Plains and southwestern United States,” said David Stahle, professor in the Department of Geosciences at the University of Arkansas and director of the Tree-Ring Laboratory there. Stahle was not involved in the study, though he worked on the North American Drought Atlas.

Smerdon said he and his colleagues are confident in their results. The effects of CO2on higher average temperature and the subsequent connection to drying in the Southwest and Great Plains emerge as a “strong signal” across the majority of the models, regardless of the drought metrics that are used, he said. And, he added, they are consistent with many previous studies.

Anchukaitis said the paper “provides an elegant and convincing connection” between reconstructions of past climate and the models pointing to the risk of future drought.

Toby R. Ault of Cornell University is a co-author of the study. Funding was provided by the NASA Modeling, Analysis and Prediction Program, NASA Strategic Science, and the U.S. National Science Foundation.

Story Source:
The above story is based on materials provided by The Earth Institute at Columbia University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

Journal Reference:
Benjamin I. Cook, Toby R. Ault, Jason E. Smerdon. Unprecedented 21st century drought risk in the American Southwest and Central Plains. Science Advances, 12 February 2015 DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.1400082 

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Megadrought Hysteria

A new study is causing shockwaves amongst the climate alarmism community.

According to Slate.com, we are about to enter the “The United States of Megadrought.” The article shows the following graphs of historical, current, and projected moisture balances in the Central Plains and Southwest regions (negative numbers indicate dry conditions, with the magnitude indicating the degree of dryness).

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Look closely at these plots. First off, both regions were generally drier in the past than over the last several decades. In addition, there appears to be no clear anthropogenic climate change signature in either of these datasets. All we appear to be seeing of late is variability well within the historical record.

Yet the climate modeling efforts suggest we are about to go off the megadrought cliff in the near future. Who knows? Predictions cannot be refuted until they fail to pass. But given the poor performance of climate models to date, we should be very skeptical of any climate modeling projections — and we certainly should not be basing any policy on the models.

Seth Borenstein’s latest article for the Associated Press on this topic is featured at CNS News — which I thought was supposed to be a conservative news outlet, but I guess not. Live and learn.

According to the AP report:

“‘Nearly every year is going to be dry toward the end of the 21st century compared to what we think of as normal conditions now,’ said study lead author Benjamin Cook, a NASA atmospheric scientist. ‘We’re going to have to think about a much drier future in western North America….”

The regions Cook looked at include California, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, northern Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota, most of Iowa, southern Minnesota, western Missouri, western Arkansas, and northwestern Louisiana.”

Now there is no doubt that the Southwest is getting drier, regardless of the possible causes and whether or not this is natural variability or some anthropogenic signature. But the Central Plains is a whole different kettle of fish.

The following charts (using data from NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center) show long-term drought (the well-established PDSI index: green=non-drought; yellow=drought; the magnitude of the number indicates the severity of the non-drought or drought conditions) for six of the regions mentioned in the AP article: South Dakota, Oklahoma, Nebraska, northwest Louisiana, Kansas, and Iowa.

charts

Long-term severe drought has all but disappeared in these regions since the 1960s. The trends are all towards less long-term drought, not more. This is in complete contrast to the predictions of the study in question.

Even the drought in northwestern Louisiana over the past decade isn’t nearly as severe as what was experienced during the 1900-1970 period. What makes it seem particularly bad is that it came after the wettest period in recorded history for the region during the 1990s and first half of the 2000s.

If trends during the past century are any indication — and they should be — anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions are not causing more frequent, longer, or more severe droughts in any of these areas, which makes predictions of the impending megadrought apocalypse seem to be of questionable accuracy.

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Winters in Boston Becoming Drier

winterMuch has been said in recent weeks about how bigger snowstorms in Boston are (supposedly) just what climate models have predicted. “Global warming” is putting more water vapor into the air, leading to more “fuel” for winter storms and more winter precipitation.

While this general trend is seen in climate models for global average conditions (warming leads to more precipitation), what do the models really predict for Boston?

And what has actually been observed in Boston?

The following plot shows that the observed total January precipitation in Boston has actually decreased since the 1930‚Ä≤s, contrary to the average “projections” (in reality, hindcasts) from a total of 42 climate models, at the closest model gridpoint to Boston:

precipFig. 1. January total precipitation at Boston, 1936 to 2015, in observations versus the average of 42 climate models. A small bias in the model precip is removed so the linear trends start at the same point early in the record.

Note that even the forecast increase in January precipitation is so small that it probably would never be noticed if it actually occurred.

During the same period, January temperatures in Boston have seen a statistically insignificant +0.1 deg. F per decade warming, in contrast to 2.5 times faster average warming produced by the 42 climate models:

Fig. 2. As in Fig. 1., but for temperature.Fig. 2. As in Fig. 1., but for temperature.

What is very evident is the huge amount of natural variability from year to year, as Bostonians are well aware.

It’s just weather, folks. Blaming everything on “climate change” is just plain lazy.

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Green Subsidy Sharks: EU Wants India To Contribute To $100 Billion UN Climate Fund

cartoonThe European Union Sunday said it expects India and other emerging economies to contribute to the Green Climate Fund after 2020, stating that “geopolitical realities have changed significantly”. South Africa, speaking on behalf of G-77 plus China, and supported by BASIC, LMDC and other groups of small nations, warned that “any attempt to re-negotiate, re-write or re-define” the basic principles of the UNFCCC would delay the process of reaching the Paris agreement. —Press Trust of India, 9 February 2015

Climate change negotiations started at Geneva on Sunday, working to draw the rough blueprint for the global Paris agreement, which will be agreed upon by the end of the year. The signs of solidarity over select issues, which had emerged in the developing country block, G77+China, at Lima last year, reverberated at the Geneva venue too. On Monday several of the groups that fall within the umbrella of the G77 demanded that the ‘Loss and Damage’ track of negotiations be treated separately from the talks on the issue of adaptation. At the same time, the European Union (EU) demanded that the preamble of the Paris agreement not have any reference to the existing provisions of the United Nations (UN) Framework Convention on Climate Change or to historical responsibility of the developed countries. –Nitin Sethi, Business Standard, 10 February 2015

Almost 200 nations complicated a drive for a UN deal to combat climate change in 2015 on Wednesday by more than doubling the length of a draft negotiating text to about 100 pages of radically varying solutions. The new text, of about 100 pages, swells a draft of 38 pages from talks in Lima last year, complicating the task ahead of a Paris summit starting in November that is due to agree a UN deal to limit global warming. Geneva is the last session for adding texts. Under UN rules, an official draft as the basis for talks has to be ready six months before the summit. The text lists a huge range of options that are unlikely to be resolved before Paris. —Reuters, 12 February 2015

The alarmists keep telling us their concern about global warming is all about man’s stewardship of the environment. But we know that’s not true. A United Nations official has now confirmed this. At a news conference last week in Brussels, Christiana Figueres, executive secretary of U.N.’s Framework Convention on Climate Change, admitted that the goal of environmental activists is not to save the world from ecological calamity but to destroy capitalism. “This is the first time in the history of mankind that we are setting ourselves the task of intentionally, within a defined period of time, to change the economic development model that has been reigning for at least 150 years, since the Industrial Revolution,” she said. Referring to a new international treaty environmentalists hope will be adopted at the Paris climate change conference later this year, she added: “This is probably the most difficult task we have ever given ourselves, which is to intentionally transform the economic development model for the first time in human history.” —Investor’s Business Daily, 10 February 2015

After analyzing more than 3200 articles, it finds that skeptical voices increased their presence markedly across all newspapers and all types of articles in the second period, and maintained a significant presence in many in the third. Clearly,  over a considerable period of time, and judged by their ongoing presence in the UK’s print media, skeptics have been successful merchants of doubt. Previous studies have shown that since its formation in 2009, the GWPF has been particularly adept at achieving a very significant presence in the UK print media. –James Painter & Neil T. Gavin, Environmental Communication, 27 January 2015

A wave of political and regulatory uncertainty sweeping across the EU has caused the rate of wind farm installations to plummet by as much as 90 per cent in some countries. Investments have been severely undermined by “erratic and harsh” changes to renewable energy policies in several previously large wind markets, according to the European Wind Energy Association. The rate of installations plunged by 90 per cent in Denmark; 84 per cent in Spain and 75 per cent in Italy, the association has reported in its latest annual assessment of the industry. –Pilita Clark, Financial Times, 10 February 2015

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TIm Cook, Enough Already

appleTim Cook is the CEO of Apple. Apple is wildly successful, but we don’t know how much of the credit should go to Cook and how much to the legendary Steve Jobs, who died 3-1/2 years ago. Cook has become a sort of Silicon Valley philosopher, using his platform at Apple to pontificate on this and that.

…snip…

Cook likes to pontificate about climate change (formerly known as global warming). Are his pontifications greenwashing — to make Apple seem to be with it to the residents of trendy places like Palo Alto or Mill Valley? Maybe the problem is that Cook spends too much time talking to Al Gore, the high priest of global warming nonsense. Al Gore is on Apple’s board of directors. Cook’s public statements make it clear that he is incredibly ill informed concerning global warming and auxiliary topics like solar energy.

At a recent presentation in San Francisco, Cook said: “We know at Apple that climate change is real,” and, “The time for action is now.”  Nobody knows what it means to say that climate change is real. Does it mean that the Earth is warming. No, at least not for the last 18 years. Does it mean that the weather is getting worse or more extreme? No, the evidence for that is not real. Does it mean that sea level rise is accelerating? No, that’s not happening either. Does it mean that the ice caps in Greenland and Antarctica are suddenly melting? No, that’s not happening, unless you consider a transient melting of 1/15,000th of the Greenland ice cap to prove something. Perhaps Cook thinks that computer models of the Earth’s climate, that disagree with each other, are infallible, even though they’ve been completely wrong for the last 18 years. Maybe “climate change is real” means that climate change has been really good for its promoters. Think of all the Iowa farmers selling corn to alcohol producers and all the scientists getting government grants.

Cook is simply repeating Al Gore slogans backed up by very self-interested scientists and their labor unions, otherwise known as scientific societies.

According to Cook “the time for action is now.” Suppose that global warming theory, against all evidence, is really true.  Further, let’s suppose that global warming is harmful and justifies spending trillions of dollars to fight it. What would be a plausible action?

According to establishment global warming theory, global warming can be slowed and then stopped by stopping the increase of CO2 in the atmosphere. Apple’s global warming prevention program is to substitute renewable electricity, generated by methods that don’t emit CO2. Apple has built or plans to build approximately 200 megawatts of solar electricity capacity. Capacity means the amount of power generated when the sun is shining squarely on the solar panels. The average power is about 20% as great. So Apple’s solar installations generate an average power, as if spread over 24 hours, of about 40 megawatts — 20% of 200 megawatts. The amount of power produced by the Apple solar installations, that are spread over thousands of acres and that cost hundreds of millions of dollars, could be duplicated by a very small natural gas generating plant.  The solar installations deliver power for about 20 cents per kilowatt hour. This is about 4 times more expensive than electricity generated by natural gas. Apple’s overpriced solar electricity is sufficient to displace 1% or 2% of the total amount of CO2 that Apple is responsible for, according to Apple’s own Environmental Responsibility Report. Apple’s solar electricity has a negligible effect on CO2 emissions. It is a publicity stunt, otherwise known as greenwashing.

Apple claims to run much of its domestic operations on renewable (non CO2 producing) electricity. However this is done via bookkeeping schemes that allocate to Apple a disproportionate fraction of the non-CO2 electricity circulating in the electric grid. The electricity actually being used mostly comes from coal or natural gas. Obviously, if Apple is allocated the renewable electricity, then other users have less renewable electricity, thus increasing CO2 emissions that other users of the electric grid are supposedly responsible for. So, no CO2 emissions are reduced by this bookkeeping scheme. It is simply a scheme for making Apple look good. Apple is taking publicity credit for reducing the same CO2 that other producers and political entities are also taking credit for.

Amusingly, in its Environmental Responsibility Report, when describing the character of the electricity available via the electric grid at its North Carolina data center, Apple manages to characterize nuclear electricity as non-renewable, even though nuclear electricity generation does not emit CO2. Nuclear electricity is politically incorrect among the anti-nuke environmentalists and thus unsuitable for preventing global warming. It does not matter that it is CO2-free. Political imagery trumps facts.

Apple also implies that CO2-free hydroelectricity is not renewable, following the lead of the state of California that decrees that only very small hydroelectric installations without dams (“micro-hydro’) is renewable. Maybe this makes sense to someone at the Sierra Club where dams have been declared politically incorrect because they interfere with fish and kayaking.

Apple’s Environmental Responsibility Report manages to describe Apple’s CO2 emissions without mentioning the word “China.” Apple’s manufacturing is largely done in China and China is the world’s foremost emitter of CO2, since its economy runs on coal generated electricity. And it is from China that most of Apple’s CO2 emissions emanate. Since CO2 rapidly mixes in the atmosphere and spreads around the world, Apple deserves no credit for concentrating its efforts on reducing CO2 emissions to emissions in the U.S.

It is worth mentioning some other deceptive claims in Apple’s Environmental Responsibility Report. Apple takes credit for phasing out lead-containing solder. But the entire electronics industry was forced to eliminate lead in solder due to regulations imposed by nut-case European regulators. Lead had been in solder used for electronics for 100 years without problems. Forcing its elimination cost billions with no benefits whatsoever. Few people are eating circuit boards. Many soldered-in electronics components had to be redesigned to resist higher soldering temperatures resulting from eliminating lead in solder.

Apple takes credit for eliminating so called endocrine disrupters in plastics, but endocrine disrupters, like global warming, is little more than speculative junk science.

Never the less, Apple is actually a wonderful company with great products. Even wonderful companies sometimes engage in irrelevant stupidities or utilize deceptive publicity.

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EPA’s dumb mercury rules

volcanoThis year, the United States Supreme Court is going to review the Environmental Protection Agency’s outrageous rules for mercury emissions from power plants, and hopefully the Court will see through the Agency’s patently absurd reasoning.

The EPA’s mercury rule is yet another example of the Obama administration’s extreme bending of the law in service of its perseveration on global warming. In this case, the point of regulating mercury emissions — which are miniscule — is to further the administration’s goal of shutting down every coal-fired power plant in the country, even though they currently supply about 40% of America’s electricity.

The EPA has to justify regulations in order to shoehorn them into some mystical interpretation of a small section of the 1990 amendments to the Clean Air Act that allows it to regulate hazardous air pollutants. And what could be more hazardous than dreaded airborne mercury from the combustion of coal in our power plants?

The Court should be aware that:

1. There is more mercury in the air from natural sources — volcanoes come to mind — than from all human activity.

2. Mercury emitted from both volcanoes and coal-fired smokestacks resides for months in the air, usually until it is precipitated out by some rainstorm. As a result, a large amount of the mercury that falls in North America originated in highly polluted China.

3. All U.S. emissions are a mere 2% of the global total.

4. U.S. power plants emit only half of that — about 0.5% of the total — and by 2016 will emit even less than that.

In its rule-making, the EPA had to demonstrate benefits, or more precisely, how much cost is extracted by current mercury emissions. So, who would benefit?

No one. The EPA had to literally invent a population that does not exist, but which might be affected. So it estimated, in its imagination, the effect on children who were born to a hypothetical population of 240,000 “women of child-bearing age in subsistence fishing populations who consume freshwater fish that they or their family caught.”

And “consume” these hypothetical fisher women did — 300 pounds per year.

And now for the harm this would visit upon their children. To determine this the EPA, of course, has a computer model, which determined how much consumption of this fish would lower the kids’ I.Q.

I.Q. scores, which are supposed to measure processing speed, logical inference, and creative insight, have an average value of 100, with a measurement error of plus or minus five points. It is a fact that repetitive testing — something I endured in grade school — tends to reveal very similar scores.

The EPA’s model predicts that mercury will lower the I.Q. of these poor children by 0.00209 points, a negligible rounding error when the range of measurement error is 10 points. The EPA doesn’t show that this loss of I.Q. could have any impact on a person’s life.

No, instead, the EPA has another model, which claims that the loss of 0.00209 I.Q. points will cost this imaginary population up to $6,000,000 (in 2007 dollars) a year due to reduced earnings.

Yet, to prevent an I.Q. loss of an impossible-to-measure 0.00209 points, or some 3 hundred thousandths of the range of error in I.Q. scores, the EPA’s mercury rule will effectively shut down every coal-fired power plant in America. Hopefully the Supreme Court will see through the absurdity.

Patrick J. Michaels is director of the Center for the Study of Science at Cato, a Washington DC-based think tank.

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Biggest science scandal: Official temperature records were systematically adjusted by climate scientists

arcticA new article written by Christopher Booker titled ‘The fiddling with temperature data is the biggest science scandal ever’ published in The Telegraph claims that official temperature records were systematically adjusted to show that the earth has warmed much more than the actual data justified.

The article’s theme is that scientists manipulated the data on purpose to exaggerate global warming.

In the article, Booker claims that readings from thermometers in Paraguay were adjusted by climate scientists to make them look like the temperature is increasing, when the measurements off the detectors actually show the opposite.

Paul Homewood, anti-climate change activist stated that changes were made in published temperature graphs for three weather stations in Paraguay.

Homewood checked other South American weather stations around the original three. In each case he found the suspicious “adjustments”.

First these were made by the US government’s Global Historical Climate Network (GHCN). They were then amplified by two of the main official surface records, the Goddard Institute for Space Studies (Giss) and the National Climate Data Center (NCDC).

These institutes use the warming trends to estimate temperatures across the vast regions of the Earth where no measurements are taken. Homewood added that world relies on these records for its understanding of global warming.

Homewood has now turned his attention to the weather stations across much of the Arctic, between Canada and the heart of Siberia.

He again found the same one-way adjustments made by scientists to show warming up to 1 degree C or higher than was indicated by the data that was actually recorded.

Traust Jonsson, who formerly ran Iceland’s climate research, was shocked to see how the new version records completely ‘disappears’ Iceland’s ‘sea ice years’ around 1970, when a period of extreme cooling almost devastated his country’s economy.

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Top 10 Global Warming Lies That May Shock You

turbinesGlobal warming alarmists frequently make false and deplorable assertions (see, for example, my recent column debunking false claims that global warming is causing a decline in wheat production), but the Environmental Defense Fund’s recent fund-raising mailer, “10 Global Warming Effects That May Shock You,” may well set a new low. However, climate realists can make lemonade from EDF’s preposterous mailer by using it to show open-minded people the difference between global warming alarmists and global warming truth-tellers.

EDF has assembled what it believes to be the 10 most powerful global warming assertions in the alarmists’ playbook, yet each assertion either backfires on alarmists or has been proven false. While reading how flawed EDF’s assertions are, remember these are the very best arguments global warming alarmists can make. Open-minded readers should have very little difficulty dismissing the mythical global warming crisis after examining the top 10 assertions in the alarmist playbook.

Alarmist Assertion #1

“Bats Drop from the Sky ‚Äì In 2014, a scorching summer heat wave caused more than 100,000 bats to literally drop dead and fall from the sky in Queensland, Australia.”

The Facts

Global warming alarmists’ preferred electricity source ‚Äì wind power ‚Äì kills nearly 1 million bats every year (to say nothing of the more than 500,000 birds killed every year) in the United States alone. This appalling death toll occurs every year even while wind power produces just 3% of U.S. electricity. Ramping up wind power to 10, 20, or 30% of U.S. electricity production would likely increase annual bat kills to 10-to-30 million every year. Killing 30 million bats every year in response to dubious claims that global warming might once in a great while kill 100,000 bats makes no sense.

Just as importantly, alarmists present no evidence that global warming caused the summer heat wave in a notoriously hot desert near the equator.  To the contrary, climate change theory and objective data show our recent global warming is occurring primarily in the winter, toward the poles, and at night.

Australia’s highest recorded temperature occurred more than half a century ago, and only two of Australia’s seven states have set their all-time temperature record during the past 40 years. Indeed, Queensland’s 2014 heat wave paled in comparison to the 1972 heat wave that occurred 42 years of global warming ago. If global warming caused the 2014 Queensland heat wave, why wasn’t it as severe as the 1972 Queensland heat wave? Blaming every single summer heat wave or extreme weather event on global warming is a stale and discredited tactic in the alarmist playbook. Objective science proves extreme weather events such as hurricanes, tornadoes, heat waves, and droughts have become less frequent and less severe as a result of the Earth’s recent modest warming.

Alarmist Assertion #2

“Lyme Disease Spreads” ‚Äì Warmer temperatures are contributing to the range expansion and severity of tick-borne Lyme disease.”

The Facts

Lyme Disease is much more common in northern, cooler regions of the United States than in southern, warmer regions. Asserting, without any supporting data or evidence, that a disease that prospers in cool climates will become more prevalent as a result of global warming defies objective data and common sense. Moreover, a team of scientists extensively researched Lyme Disease climate and habitat and reported in the peer-reviewed science journal EcoHealth, “the only environmental variable consistently association with increased [Lyme Disease] risk and incidence was the presence of forests.”

Granted, alarmists can argue that forests are thriving under global warming, with the result that forest-dwelling ticks will also benefit. However, expanding forests are universally ‚Äì and properly ‚Äì viewed as environmentally beneficial. Alarmist attempts to frame thriving forests as harmful perfectly illustrate the alarmists’ proclivity to claim anything and everything ‚Äì no matter how beneficial ‚Äì is severely harmful and caused by global warming.

Moreover, even if global warming expanded Lyme Disease range, one must look at the totality of global warming’s impact on the range of viruses and diseases. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports Lyme Disease “is rare as a cause of death in the United States.” According to the CDC, Lyme Disease is a contributing factor to less than 25 deaths per year in the United States. Indeed, during a recent five-year span examined by the CDC, “only 1 [death] record was consistent with clinical manifestations of Lyme Disease.” Any attempts to claim global warming will cause a few more Lyme Disease deaths must be weighed against the 36,000 Americans who are killed by the flu each year. The U.S. National Institutes of Health have documented how influenza is aided and abetted by cold climate. Any attempt to connect a warmer climate to an increase in Lyme Disease must be accompanied by an acknowledgement of a warmer climate’s propensity to reduce influenza incidence and mortality. The net impact of a warmer climate on viruses and diseases such as Lyme Disease and influenza is substantially beneficial and life-saving.

Alarmist Assertion #3

“National Security Threatened ‚Äì The impacts of climate change are expected to act as a ‘threat multiplier’ in many of the world’s most unstable regions, exacerbating droughts and other natural disasters as well as leading to food, water and other resource shortages that may spur mass migrations.”

The Facts

The alarmists’ asserted national security threat depends on assertions that (1) global warming is causing a reduction in food and water supplies and (2) migrations of people to places with more food and water will increase risks of military conflict. Objective facts refute both assertions.

Regarding food and water supplies, global crop production has soared as the Earth gradually warms. Atmospheric carbon dioxide is essential to plant life, and adding more of it to the atmosphere enhances plant growth and crop production. Longer growing seasons and fewer frost events also benefit plant growth and crop production. As this column has repeatedly documented (see articles here, here, and here, for example), global crops set new production records virtually every year as our planet modestly warms. If crop shortages cause national security threats and global warming increases crop production, then global warming benefits rather than jeopardizes national security.

The same holds true for water supplies. Objective data show there has been a gradual increase in global precipitation and soil moisture as our planet warms. Warmer temperatures evaporate more water from the oceans, which in turn stimulates more frequent precipitation over continental land masses. The result of this enhanced precipitation is an improvement in soil moisture at almost all sites in the Global Soil Moisture Data Bank. If declining precipitation and declining soil moisture are military threat multipliers, than global warming is creating a safer, more peaceful world.

Alarmist Assertion #4

“Sea Levels Rising ‚Äì Warmer temperatures are causing glaciers and polar ice sheets to melt, increasing the amount of water in the world’s seas and oceans.”

The Facts

The pace of sea level rise remained relatively constant throughout the 20th century, even as global temperatures gradually rose. There has similarly been no increase in the pace of sea level rise in recent decades. Utilizing 20th century technologies, humans effectively adapted to global sea level rise. Utilizing 21st century technologies, humans will be even better equipped to adapt to global sea level rise.

Also, the alarmist assertion that polar ice sheets are melting is simply false. Although alarmists frequently point to a modest recent shrinkage in the Arctic ice sheet, that decline has been completely offset by ice sheet expansion in the Antarctic. Cumulatively, polar ice sheets have not declined at all since NASA satellite instruments began precisely measuring them 35 years ago.

Alarmist Assertion #5

“Allergies Worsen ‚Äì Allergy sufferers beware: Climate change could cause pollen counts to double in the next 30 years. The warming temperatures cause advancing weed growth, a bane for allergy sufferers.”

The Facts

Pollen is a product and mechanism of plant reproduction and growth. As such, pollen counts will rise and fall along with plant health and vegetation intensity. Any increase in pollen will be the result of a greener biosphere with more plant growth.  Similar to the alarmist argument, discussed above, that expanding forests will create more habitat for the ticks that spread Lyme Disease, alarmists here are taking overwhelmingly good news about global warming improving plant health and making it seem like this good news is actually bad news because healthier plants mean more pollen.

Indeed, NASA satellite instruments have documented a spectacular greening of the Earth, with foliage gains most prevalent in previously arid, semi-desert regions. For people experiencing an increase in vegetation in previously barren regions, this greening of the Earth is welcome and wonderful news. For global warming alarmists, however, a greener biosphere is terrible news and something to be opposed. This, in a nutshell, defines the opposing sides in the global warming debate. Global warming alarmists claim a greener biosphere with richer and more abundant plant life is horrible and justifies massive, economy-destroying energy restrictions. Global warming realists understand that a greener biosphere with richer and more abundant plant life is not a horrible thing simply because humans may have had some role in creating it.

Alarmist Assertion #6

“Beetles Destroy Iconic Western Forests ‚Äì Climate change has sent tree-killing beetles called mountain pine beetles into overdrive. Under normal conditions those beetles reproduce just once annually, but the warming climate has allowed them to churn out an extra generation of new bugs each year.”

The Facts

Alarmists claim warmer winters are causing an increase in pine beetle populations. This assertion is thoroughly debunked by objective, real-world data.

As an initial matter, alarmists have responded to recent bitterly cold winters by claiming global warming is causing colder winters. One cannot claim global warming is causing colder winters and then turn around and simultaneously claim global warming is causing warmer winters. Global warming activists’ propensity for doing so shows just how little value they place in a truthful debate.

Objective scientific data verify winters are not getting colder, which counters the key prerequisite to EDF’s pine beetle claim. NOAA temperature data show winter temperatures in the United States have been getting colder for at least the past two decades. Pine beetles cannot be taking advantage of warmer winters if winters are in fact getting colder. Moreover, recent U.S. Forest Service data show pine beetle infestations have recently declined dramatically throughout the western United States.

Forests and plant life are expanding globally, and particularly in the western United States. Pine beetles are a natural part of forest ecosystems. Expanding pine forests can support more beetles. The predictable increase in pine beetles is largely a product of, rather than a foil against, expanding pine forests. One can hardly argue that western pine forests are “destroying iconic Western forests” when western forests are becoming denser and more prevalent as the planet warms.

Also, beetles have bored through North American forests for millennia, long before people built coal-fired power plants and drove SUVs. Beetles are not dependent on warm winters, as evidenced by their historic prevalence in places such as Alaska.

Finally, pine beetles tend to target dead, unhealthy, more vulnerable pine trees rather than healthy trees. Decades of over-aggressive fire suppression policies have caused an unnatural buildup of older, denser, more vulnerable pine forests. These conditions predictably aid pine beetles.

Alarmist Assertion #7

“Canada: The New America ‚Äì ‘Lusher’ vegetation growth typically associated with the United States is now becoming more common in Canada, scientists reported in a 2012 Nature Climate Change study.”

The Facts

Only global warming alarmists would claim that lusher vegetation and more abundant plant life is a bad thing. Playing on a general tendency for people to fear change, EDF and global warming alarmists argue that changes in the biosphere that make it richer, lusher, and more conducive to life are changes to be feared and opposed. If barren ecosystems constitute an ideal planet, then the alarmist fears of more plant life make sense. On the contrary, global warming realists understand a climate more conducive to richer, more abundant plant life is beneficial rather than harmful.

Alarmist Assertion #8

“Economic Consequences ‚Äì The costs associated with climate change rise along with the temperatures. Severe storms and floods combined with agricultural losses cause billions of dollars in damages, and money is needed to treat and control the spread of disease”

The Facts

Severe storms, floods and agricultural losses may cost a great deal of money, but such extreme weather events ‚Äì and their resulting costs ‚Äì are dramatically declining as the Earth modestly warms. Accordingly, EDF’s asserted economic costs are actually economic benefits.

As documented by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and here at Forbes.com, severe storms are becoming less frequent and severe as the Earth modestly warms. This is especially evident regarding hurricane and tornado activity, which are both at historic lows. Similarly, scientific measurements and peer-reviewed studies report no increase in flooding events regarding natural-flowing rivers and streams. Any increase in flooding activity is due to human alterations of river and stream flow rather than precipitation changes.

Also, the modest recent warming is producing U.S. and global crop production records virtually every year, creating billions of dollars in new economic and human welfare benefits each and every year. This creates a net economic benefit completely ignored by EDF.

Regarding “the spread of disease,” as documented in “Alarmist Assertion #2,” objective evidence shows global warming will thwart deadly outbreaks of influenza and other cold-dependent viruses.

Additionally, the alarmists’ desired means of reducing carbon dioxide emissions ‚Äì more expensive energy sources ‚Äì make economic conditions even worse. Forcing the American economy to operate on expensive and unreliable wind and solar power will have tremendous negative economic consequences. President Obama acknowledged this fact when he promised that under his global warming plan, “electricity rates would necessarily skyrocket.” The economic consequences of Obama’s global warming policies can already be seen in electricity prices, which are currently the highest in U.S. history.  Remarkably, Obama’s global warming policies are increasing electricity prices even while new natural gas discoveries, revolutionary advances in natural gas production technologies, and a dramatic resultant decline in natural gas prices would otherwise spur a dramatic decline in electricity prices.

Alarmist Assertion #9

“Infectious Diseases Thrive ‚Äì The World Health Organization reports that outbreaks of new or resurgent diseases are on the rise and in more disparate countries than ever before, including tropical illnesses in once cold climates.”

The Facts

Outbreaks of “new or resurgent diseases” are occurring precisely because governments have caved in to environmental activist groups like EDF and implemented their anti-science agendas. For example, DDT had all but eliminated malaria in the United States and on the global stage during the mid-20th century. However, environmental activists championed false environmental accusations against DDT and dramatically reduced use of the life-saving mosquito killer throughout much of the world.  As a result, malaria has reemerged with a vengeance and millions of people die every year as a result.

Also, as documented above in “Alarmist Assertion #2,” global warming will reduce the impact and death toll of cold-related viruses such as influenza. In the United States alone, influenza kills 36,000 people every year, which dwarfs all heat-dependent viruses and diseases combined. Few people other than global warming alarmists would argue that it is better to have 36,000 people die each year from influenza than have a few people die each year from Lyme Disease (which, as documented above, isn’t even related to global warming).

Alarmist Assertion #10

“Shrinking Glaciers ‚Äì In 2013, an iceberg larger than the city of Chicago broke off the Pine Island Glacier, the most important glacier of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet. And at Montana’s Glacier National Park glaciers have gone from 150 to just 35 over the past century.”

The Facts

Calling attention to anecdotal incidents of icebergs breaking off the Antarctic ice sheet, while deliberately ignoring the overall growth of the Antarctic ice sheet, is a misleading and favorite tactic of global warming alarmists. Icebergs break off the Antarctic ice sheet every year, with or without global warming, particularly in the Antarctic summer. However, a particular iceberg ‚Äì no matter how large ‚Äì breaking off the Antarctic ice sheet does not necessarily result in “Shrinking Glaciers” as EDF alleges. To the contrary, the Antarctic Ice Sheet has been growing at a steady and substantial pace ever since NASA satellites first began measuring the Antarctic ice sheet in 1979. Indeed, during the same year that the EDF claims “an iceberg larger than the city of Chicago” broke off the Antarctic ice sheet and caused “Shrinking Glaciers,” the Antarctic ice sheet repeatedly set new records for its largest extent in recorded history. Those 2013 records were repeatedly broken again in 2014. The Antarctic ice sheet in 2013 and 2014 was more extensive than any time in recorded history, and yet the EDF pushes the lie that the Antarctic Ice Sheet is shrinking.

The EDF’s assertion about Glacier National Park is also misleading. Alpine glaciers at Glacier National Park and elsewhere have been receding for over 300 years, since the Earth’s temperature bottomed out during the depths of the Little Ice Age. The warming of the past 300 years and the resulting recession of alpine glaciers predated humans building coal-fired power plants and driving SUVs. Moreover, opening up more of the Earth’s surface to vegetation and plant and animal life would normally be considered a beneficial change, if global warming alarmists had not so thoroughly politicized the global warming discussion.

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There you have it. These are the 10 best arguments global warming activists like EDF can make, along with the objective scientific facts that prove them wrong.

No wonder global warming alarmists are so terrified of people having access to both sides of the debate.

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Northeastern Snow is breaking backs, not records

snowShoveling out from under the United States Northeastern snowfall is putting a lot of backs out of kilter, as well as pronouncements that a new pattern is emerging: climate change is causing more snowstorms.

The global warming doomsters didn’t wait long to chime in on the Northeast’s heavy snowfall, blaming it on excessive moisture in the atmosphere collected from warmer bodies of water, and portending it will be a record breaker. The problem with that scenario is that it doesn’t stand up to the observed data. And it flies in the face of the peer-reviewed literature they are so apt to quote.

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Trudeau’s carbon scheme targets Alberta

Liberal Party Leader Justin TrudeauLiberal Party Leader Justin TrudeauWhat does Justin Trudeau really think about Alberta and the oilsands and the people who work there?

The real answer is he probably doesn’t think a lot about it — or any other policy area. Trudeau is more about looking dreamy. He leaves the grown-up stuff, like policy, to someone else. In this case, to Gerald Butts, his “principal adviser.”

Butts has quite a lot to say about the oilsands. For years, he was the boss of the World Wildlife Fund Canada, an environmentalist lobby group that took hundreds of thousands of dollars from foreign interests to campaign against the oilsands. Never against OPEC oil; only against Canadian oil.

When he was at the WWF, Butts compared government oilsands defenders to tobacco executives. Here’s the first few lines of a column he wrote for the Toronto Star, Canada’s largest newspaper: “Keep smoking, kids. We need the tax revenue. Trust us, we will cure cancer by the time you get it. So goes our national political leaders’ myopic view of the tar sands.”

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In 2012, Butts was asked about the Northern Gateway Pipeline. His answer was blunt: “Truth be told, we don’t think there ought to be a carbon-based energy industry by the middle of this century… The real alternative is not an alternative route, it’s an alternative economy.”

Canada is the second-largest country in the world, one of the coldest countries in the world. But Butts believes we should simply stop using oil or gas, and rely on expensive, experimental green technology to heat our homes and move around. It’s bizarre, it’s deeply unserious.

Yet is clearly animates Trudeau’s approach to the oilsands. Trudeau visited Calgary against last week and he outlined his plan for a carbon tax. He said we have to do it, because the oilsands have shamed our country internationally.

“You get a lot of people around the world who are worried about climate change who are looking for something that they can point to or something to do. And the lack of environmental responsibility on the world stage by Canada has led to people being able to point to our oilsands and make them, entirely unfairly, the poster child for climate change.”

You stupid, greedy Albertans. You have shamed us internationally. You have brought this carbon tax upon yourself.

“If we want to restore our international reputation, something we need to create jobs and spur investment, we must take action and we must do it now …And that starts with a mature and honest conversation about carbon pricing.”

It’s not true, of course. Canada is actually the most reputable country in the world, according to an international survey of 27,000 people done by the Reputation Institute.

And our carbon emissions – which have decreased under Stephen Harper’s government – just aren’t something other people care about. The liberal Pew Research Centre did a poll just last month asking Americans about their priorities. “Climate change” ranked 22nd out of 23 possible choices. No one cares. Global warming doesn’t even register in polls of Third World countries – that’s a made-up problem for rich white folks. Like Trudeau.

Trudeau says he’ll bring in a law requiring provinces to “price” carbon – that’s code for taxing it. When Sun News Network asked him three times if he would penalize a province that doesn’t go along with it, he refused to answer, three times.

But when you’re trying to end Canada’s international shame, and eliminate an entire carbon economy, what’s a little Alberta-baiting?

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Hubert Lamb And The Transformation Of Climate Science

lambAfter leading and establishing historical climatology during the 1960s, Hubert Lamb [pictured] became the founding Director of the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia (CRU). What is not widely known is that, in contrast to current research directions at CRU, its founding director was an early and vocal climate sceptic.

Against the idea that greenhouse gas emissions were (or would soon be) noticeably warming the planet, Lamb raised objections on many levels. “His greatest concern was not so much the lack of science behind the theory,” Mr Lewin said, “it was how the growing preoccupation with man-made warming was distorting the science.”

Lewin said that “Lamb was already sounding this warning as early as 1972; soon after that the entire science would be transformed.”

As research into man-made warming began to dominate climate studies, Lamb worried that the recent advances in our understanding of natural changes were falling into neglect.

A foreword by eminent climatologist, Professor Richard Lindzen, explains how, “in this new paradigm, the natural variability that Lamb emphasized was now relegated to ‘noise’.”

Speaking from his own experience, Lindzen says that “Lamb’s intellectual trajectory is typical of what many other senior climate scientists around the world experienced.”

Bernie Lewin is an historian of science investigating the global warming scare in the context of the history and philosophy of science. Over the last 5 years he has published many essays on various sceptical blogs, including his own, Enthusiasm Scepticism and Science.

Full paper (pdf)

Contacts
Bernie Lewin
bernardjlewin@gmail.com

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