Daily Archives: March 7, 2011

Could be inconvenient

What If the Biggest Solar Storm on Record Happened Today?

Repeat of 1859 Carrington Event would devastate modern world, experts say.

On February 14 the sun erupted with the largest solar flare seen in four years—big enough to interfere with radio communications and GPS signals for airplanes on long-distance flights.

As solar storms go, the Valentine’s Day flare was actually modest. But the burst of activity is only the start of the upcoming solar maximum, due to peak in the next couple of years.

“The sun has an activity cycle, much like hurricane season,” Tom Bogdan, director of the Space Weather Prediction Center in Boulder, Colorado, said earlier this month at a meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Washington, D.C.

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Super-duper storm

USC California superstorm would be costliest US disaster

A hurricane-like superstorm expected to hit California once every 200 years would cause devastation to the state’s businesses unheard of even in the Great Recession, a USC economist warns.

Researchers estimate the total property damage and business interruption costs of the massive rainstorm would be nearly $1 trillion. (USC)

Note that such storms are neither implausible nor unprecedented. In fact you can see a great example of tropical moisture transport to higher latitudes in a series of 93 satellite images selected by Warwick Hughes here (or you can be kind to Warwick’s bandwidth and download the series with player here). There is no suggestion these are other than common or garden weather events that make up this planet’s climate – if conditions are right then whoever happens to be on the receiving end of such an event can expect to get really wet. It’s a pretty nifty of example of an “atmospheric river” though.

Real harm caused by climate panic

Disasters Caused By (Fear Of) Climate Change

Climate change has caused incredible suffering already.

Actually, climate change hasn’t done much, or perhaps anything at all (yet?). The reason for the “incredible suffering” has been the fear of climate change. For example:

How many more victims of AGWers are needed, before the catastrophists see what they’re doing to our world? (Maurizio Morabito, OmniClimate)

More renewable subsidies jettisoned

Arrivederci Solare!

Monday, 07 March 2011 17:21 No Tricks Zone
Italy is about to join the growing list of European countries cutting back subsidies to solar and wind energy, so reports the online Berlin TAZ.

A complete stop to solar energy and deep cuts in wind energy: Italy’s government passed a decree that could spell an abrupt end in the recently started renewable energy boom.”

This comes at the heels of a number of countries cutting back on solar subsidies throughout Europe – mainly due to their high costs to consumers and technical problems integrating these sources into the existing infrastructure. (GWPF)

Paying premiums for unreliable energy supplies is simply not affordable – good riddance!

The disaster of “green jobs”

POLITICIANS love “creating” jobs, especially when these jobs serve a greater good, such as fighting climate change.

Greens leader Bob Brown recently praised Germany’s renewable energy policy.

Brown believes that investment in green technologies saved Germany’s economy from the global financial crisis.

This in itself is a questionable assertion: the German gross domestic product fell by 4.7 per cent in 2009, and despite a 3.6 per cent growth in 2010, output has not returned to pre-crisis levels.

Brown also claims “330,000 extra jobs have been created in Germany because of legislation moving to a clean, green energy future”. If only. (The Australian)

Unfortunately politicians of many persuasions have fallen for the “green jobs” mantra but the bottom line is that buying someone a menial task at exorbitant cost is just plain stupid. It is akin to bulldozing your assets because it’ll make work rebuilding them, does that sound like profit-making progress to you?

About that Australian carbon tax…

Updates at end of post:

Much has been made in world media of Australia “implementing a price on carbon” with leftists crowing about a fait accompli – nothing could be further from the truth:

Record Labor low on carbon fury: Newspoll – JULIA Gillard’s carbon tax plan has reversed public support for action on global warming, damaged her leadership and delivered Labor its lowest primary support on record. –The Australian

ALP loses its licence to campaign on global warming – JULIA Gillard’s decision to announce her plan for a carbon tax from July 1 next year could be the political game-changer for her leadership, the Labor government and, most importantly, the future of climate change action in Australia. –Dennis Shanahan, Political Editor, The Australian

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HWGA: Rising ocean temperatures will be devastating for sea urchins and abalone

What’s wrong with this picture?

5 day-old sea urchins raised under normal and extreme conditions

A 5-day sea urchin reared in today's ocean conditions (20C, ph 8.2) and one in extreme conditions (40C and ph 7.6).

Under what set of absurd assumptions do they expect to raise ocean temperatures by 20 °C? Obviously none, put that caption down to really dumb journalists perhaps because I haven’t seen the study or a news release and I can’t imagine Proc Roy Soc B publishing such a thing. Assume they meant +4 °C for localized change as being at least vaguely plausible but local changes are not nearly so critical for species survival. A clue to the motivation for this bizarre piece of nonsense may be found further down the page – rather than a Sydney Morning Herald Science piece it appears to be a promo for the World Wide Font of nonsense and their Dearth Hour (where people with the best intentions get to sit in the dark for an hour).

Energy of the Past?

Tom Albanese of Rio Tinto and Michael Morris of American Electric Power on whether coal’s days are numbered

Predictions of coal’s demise are everywhere. At the same time, though, it remains an important power source world-wide. The Wall Street Journal’s Jeffrey Ball talked with Tom Albanese, chief executive of mining giant Rio Tinto PLC, and Michael Morris, CEO of American Electric Power Co., about how coal fits into the future of energy supply.

… A Familiar Balance

MR. BALL: I’m just curious for your sense of the likely scale of renewable-electricity technology. Solar power is in the 1% range, much less than that; wind globally now is about 1% of electricity generation. What do you think is realistic?

MR. ALBANESE: I always tell our team, don’t underestimate solar. You’ve got infinite amounts of solar energy out there and you’ve got a lot of smart people around the world. They’re going to try to figure out a way of converting that to electrons, so don’t underestimate it.

But, that being said, it’s still a pretty high price point compared to alternative technologies.

MR. MORRIS: The penetration will continue to grow, but I think it will always be a small part. The intermittency of the two sources is the real Achilles’ heel.

MR. ALBANESE: In the long term for it to really work you’ve got to create hybrid solutions where you have solar and wind side by side with some type of centralized power generation that can be turned up and turned down.

MR. BALL: To be clear, Mike, you don’t see any fundamental change in the way that the global energy pie looks with regard to coal versus renewables? Renewables are always going to be a small slice and coal is always, at least as far your crystal ball sees, going to be the dominant slice?

MR. MORRIS: I believe that to be the case. Gas will grow at the expense of coal. Wall Street Journal

Asia rice output threatened by pesticide overuse

I can never understand activists’ desperate efforts to obstruct biotech-protected/-enhanced crops when the alternative, particularly in developing and underdeveloped regions, is poor farmers throwing every poison they can lay hands on in a desperate attempt to protect their crops from the ever-threatening natural world:

SINGAPORE — The unbridled manufacture and use of pesticides in Asia is raising the spectre of “pest storms” devastating the region’s rice farms and threatening food security, scientists have warned.

Increased production of cheap pesticides in China and India, lax regulation and inadequate farmer education are destroying ecosystems around paddies, allowing pests to thrive and multiply, they said.

The problem has emerged over the last decade and — if left unchecked — pests could lay waste to vast tracts of Asia’s rice farms, according to scientists who took part in a workshop in Singapore last week.

“There is increasing concern that the more we use pesticides in rice fields, it is actually making the pest problem worse,” Australian scientist George Lukacs told AFP in an interview.

Under pressure to raise yields to meet growing demand, poorly trained farmers tend to be over-reliant on the chemicals.

“There are big outbreaks of pests or what they are calling in China ‘pest storms’ as a result of the over-application of pesticides,” Lukacs said.

Rice is a staple throughout much of Asia, including the world’s two most populous countries China and India, making the region vulnerable to soaring food prices and supply problems, economists say. AFP


Aus: Glut of panels hits wind growth

A GLUT in the renewable energy market caused by a massive take-up in solar rooftop panels threatens to stymie wind-farm developments in Australia for at least three years.

Renewable energy operators say current energy prices are too low to justify investment in wind farms.

While renewable energy certificates closed on Friday at $35.25, an improvement of about $5 since Christmas, experts warned the price was still at least $10-$15 below what was needed to spark wind farm investment in the absence of the carbon price.

Andrew Richards, corporate and government affairs executive manager of Pacific Hydro, said based on current electricity wholesale prices, the certificates needed to be $45-$50 to spark investment.

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The Associate of Albedo and OLR Radiation with Variations of Precipitation-Implications for AGW

Written by William M. Gray and Barry Schwartz

We have analyzed a wide variety of albedo and IR differences which are associated with rainfall variations on many different space and time scales. Our goal is to determine the extent to which we are able to accept or reject the reality of the Global Climate Model (GCM) simulations. The following analysis indicates that the GCM simulation of the influence of a doubling of CO2 give far too much global warming. We anticipate that a doubling of CO2 will act in a way to cause the global hydrologic cycle to increase in strength by approximately 3-4 percent. Our analysis indicates that there will be very little global temperature increase (~0.3oC) for a doubling of CO2, certainly not the 2-5oC projected by the GCMs. Science and Public Policy Institute

Australian scientist lectures on climate and energy security

This is a week old but the linked presentation could be of interest:

On Tuesday, February 22, 2011, David Archibald, an Australian scientist working in the fields of oil exploration, medical research, climate science and energy, spoke at IWP on “Climate and U.S. Energy Security.”

He started his presentation by putting current climatic conditions within the context of recent and historic records, and asked the question, “Is the world warming?”

Through various graphs showing temperature trends up to millions of years ago, Mr. Archibald showed that there has not been a change in average temperature since 1976, when the Great Pacific Climate Shift triggered the normal thirty-year cycle of warmer weather from colder temperatures. In fact, he explained, it was much warmer 1000 years ago – so much so that the sea level was a meter higher than it is at present.

Mr. Archibald then posed the question, for which he is famed in the climate debate, of whether carbon dioxide was linked to global warming. While the carbon dioxide heating effect is real and related to warming, it is minuscule and logarithmic.

Mr. Archibald said the logical reason for temperature increase is the sun. Predicted solar activity is used to predict climate, and the current prediction is for a 24-year cold period similar to that experienced at the beginning of the 19th century. In turn, the agricultural consequences of that cold period will be significantly reduced Canadian and other high-latitude grain production, drought in East Africa and South America, and reduced monsoonal strength in Asia. Institute of World Politics


The Guardian likes citizens paying far too much for fuel

Oil prices: Green light from the black stuff
Potentially, at least, and if the right lessons are drawn, today’s threat could be tomorrow’s opportunity

It will come as little comfort to many motorists blenching at the pumps today at having to pay 130p or more a litre to fill up their cars with unleaded petrol, but the surge in the price of oil may not all be bad news. Potentially, at least, and if the right lessons are drawn, today’s threat could be tomorrow’s opportunity.

Be clear, however. The 15% jump in the cost of crude oil since the new year will lead to higher inflation and lower growth, particularly if central banks respond by pushing up interest rates. If sustained, this will be the fifth significant rise in oil prices since 1973, and each of the previous four was followed by a recession. This will have political consequences too. If consumers are paying more for their petrol, domestic energy bills and public transport, they have less to spend on everything else. Historically, support for the government drops when there is a squeeze on disposable incomes of the sort currently being endured. And worse may be to come. Chris Huhne, the energy secretary, says there is a real threat of crude prices hitting $160 a barrel; the business secretary, Vince Cable, is warning of a “fully fledged energy and commodity price shock”. The Guardian

On Climate, Who Needs the Facts?

The IPCC is the leading international scientific body studying climate change. Despite criticism — much of it manufactured by climate-change deniers — the panel has for more than a decade provided rigorous and balanced information to policy makers to help guide their efforts to prevent and mitigate the potentially disastrous effects of global warming.

Regrettably, politics trumps science among House Republicans, who recently voted to zero out this country’s extremely modest $2.3 million annual commitment to the IPCC. The bill also slashes spending on a half-dozen domestic programs that study the causes and effects of climate change. New York Times

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Misguided, misinformed or deceptive?

ATS President Blasts Effort to Allow Unlimited Carbon Pollution

Released: 3/4/2011 4:50 PM EST
Source: American Thoracic Society (ATS)

Newswise — March 4, 2011–American Thoracic Society President Dean E. Schraufnagel, MD, expressed opposition to legislation introduced today by Senator James Inhofe (R-OK) and Representative Fred Upton (R-MI) to prohibit the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency from issuing rules on carbon pollution and other greenhouse gases. Newswise

Big problem: the “carbon pollution” under discussion is actually carbon dioxide and you’d think the ATS would know it’s essential for your existence – it is the increasing level in your lungs (to about 50,000 ppm or 100 times that in the atmosphere) that triggers exhalation and keeps you breathing. Carbon particulates could be problematic but they are not actually gases, greenhouse or otherwise, they are solids suspended in gas or liquid. There is no effort to allow “unlimited pollution” or any genuinely significant pollution at all really.