Sunday, 20 November 2016

Green Elites, Trumped?

Her's an amazing article from The Wall Street Journal. I've reblogged it, without further comment, from Greenie Watch. It's by Holman W. Jenkins, Jr. Who he? His profile and list of WSJ articles is to be found here.

Green Elites, Trumped

The planet will benefit if the climate movement is purged of its rottenness.

Hysterical, in both senses of the word, is the reaction of greens like Paul Krugman and the Sierra Club to last week’s election. “The planet is in danger,” fretted Tom Steyer, the California hedge funder who spends his billions trying to be popular with green voters.

Uh huh. In fact, the climate will be the last indicator to notice any transition from Barack Obama to Donald Trump. That’s because—as climate warriors were only too happy to point out until a week ago—Mr. Obama’s own commitments weren’t going to make any noticeable dent in a putative CO2 problem.

At most, Mr. Trump’s election will mean solar and wind have to compete more on their merits. So what?

He wants to lift the Obama war on coal—but he won’t stop the epochal replacement of coal by cheap natural gas, with half the greenhouse emissions per BTU.

He probably won’t even try to repeal an egregious taxpayer-funded rebate for wind and solar projects, because red states like this gimme too. But Republican state governments will continue to wind back subsidies that ordinary ratepayers pay through their electric bills so upscale homeowners can indulge themselves with solar.

Even so, the price of solar technology will continue to drop; the lithium-ion revolution will continue to drive efficiency gains in batteries.

Mr. Trump wants to spend on infrastructure, and the federal research establishment, a hotbed of battery enthusiasts, likely will benefit.

In a deregulatory mood, he might well pick up an uncharacteristically useful initiative from the Obama administration. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission quietly is revisiting a scientifically dubious radiation risk standard that drives up the cost of nuclear power.

What a Trump election will do is mostly dismantle a green gravy train powered by moral vanity that contributes nothing to the public welfare.

A phenomenon like Trump, whatever its antecedents, is an opportunity—in this case to purge a rottenness that begins at the commanding heights. The New York Times last year published a feature entitled “short answers to the hard questions about climate change” that was notable solely for ignoring the hardest question of all: How much are human activities actually affecting the climate?

This is the hardest question. It’s why we spend tens of billions collecting climate data and building computerized climate models. It’s why “climate sensitivity” remains the central problem of climate science, as lively and unresolved as it was 35 years ago.

Happily, it only takes a crude, blunderbussy kind of instrument to shatter such a fragile smugness—and if Mr. Trump and the phenomenon he represents are anything, it’s crude and blunderbussy.

As with any such shattering, the dividends will not be appropriated only by one party or political tendency.

Democrats must know by now they are in a failing marriage. Wealthy investors like George Soros,Nat Simons and Mr. Steyer, who finance the party’s green agenda, have ridden the Dems into the ground, with nothing to show for their millions, and vice versa.

On the contrary, the WikiLeaks release of Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta’s emails only dramatizes what a liability they’ve become, demanding attacks on scientists and even loyal Democrats who don’t endorse their climate-disaster scenarios. Their anti-coal, anti-pipeline, anti-fracking stance especially hurts Dems with union households, which turned out in record numbers for Mr. Trump.

It was always crazy to believe in an unprecedented act of global central planning to wean nations away from fossil fuels, but equally idiotic not to notice that our energy economy is ripe slowly to be transformed by technology anyway.

One greenie who is beyond the need for handouts is Bill Gates, who has made himself non grata by saying the current vogue for subsidizing power sources that will always need subsidies is a joke—an admission of defeat.

Honest warriors like Mr. Gates and retired NASA alarmist James Hansen insist real progress can’t be made without nuclear. Why haven’t others? Because the Tom Steyers and Bill McKibbens would sacrifice the planet 10 times over rather than no longer be fawned over at green confabs. That’s rottenness at work.

There’s a reason today’s climate movement increasingly devotes its time and energy to persecuting heretics—because it’s the most efficient way to suppress reasoned examination of policies that cost taxpayers billions without producing any public benefit whatsoever.

The theory and practice of climate advocacy, on one hand, has been thoroughly, irretrievably corrupted by self righteousness—blame Al Gore, that was his modus. Yet, on the other, it has allowed itself to become the agent of economic interests that can’t survive without pillaging middle-class taxpayers and energy users—exactly the kind of elitist cronyism that voters are sick of.

Without attributing any special virtue to Mr. Trump, he represents a chance for a new start. He might even turn out to be good for the planet.

Saturday, 12 November 2016

NASA scientist makes a booboo

Back in 2012, when so-called "Superstorm" Sandy was current news, there were lots of dire predictions of "What is to come". At the time, I bookmarked several newspaper, blog, and other articles. While I was sorting out my links, discarding purely alarmist, inaccurate, and dead pages, I came across this one, and spotted something significant I'd missed at the time. Titled "Superstorm Sandy and Sea Level Rise", an interview with Cynthia Rosenzweig, "a climate impacts expert at NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, co-chair of the New York City Panel on Climate Change, and director of the NOAA-sponsored Consortium for Climate Risk in the Urban Northeast.". Wow - she must really know her stuff? She certainly appears to, here's her response to the question 
What kind of sea level rise has New York Harbor seen over the past century?We’ve had roughly a foot of sea level rise in the New York City area in the past century. That’s measured at a tidal gauge near Battery Park just off the southern tip of Manhattan.
The majority of the sea level rise in the New York City region is due to global warming: primarily, because of thermal expansion of ocean water as it warms and secondly, melting of land-based ice sheets.
Land subsidence [sinking] in the New York City area has been roughly 3-4 inches per century, which is primarily due to the Earth’s crust rebounding* from being compressed by massive ice sheets that covered Canada and the northern U.S. about 20,000 years ago near the end of the last Ice Age. Local variations in ocean surface elevation associated with the strength of the Gulf Stream has played a small role as well.
That's fine, but later
How does sea level rise in New York Harbor compare to other parts of the U.S.? What about the global average? Sea level isn’t rising evenly throughout the world. On average, global sea level has risen about eight inches since 1880. So, the New York rate of sea level rise of nearly one foot is higher than the global average rate.
Just a cotton-picking moment, she said that land subsidence in the New York City area was 3 to 4 inches over the last century. That makes true sea-level rise at New York 8 to 9 inches, compared with the global rate of 8 inches since 1880. There was very little if any rise anywhere in the world between 1880 and 1912, a hundred years back from when this article was written. 12 inches is certainly much higher than the 8 for global, but the true comparison is between 8-9 inches and 8 inches. I hope this was a simple mistake. For now, I'll give her the benefit of the doubt.

Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Is there liquid water on Mars?

National Geographic thinks that there is, based on a paper published by a NASA scientist and seven others. Before going into details, first a few facts about conditions on the surface. The maximum surface temperature is 20°C in direct sunlight, and the minimum is 140°C near the poles. The atmospheric pressure is less than 1% of that on Earth, at about 0.007 bar, or 600 pascals against 101.3 Kpa on Earth. I note that the paper, titled Spectral evidence for hydrated salts in recurring slope lineae on Mars, doesn't mention pressure at all, but does mention temperatures which might allow the presence of liquid water. Let's get this straight, despite media hype, the authors didn't find evidence for liquid water on Mars, but as their paper title says, hydrated salts. They hypothesise that there may be evidence for highly-saturated solutions of salts in the seasonal dark streaks observed on the slopes of Gale Crater. They say "These results strongly support the hypothesis that seasonal warm slopes are forming liquid water on contemporary Mars, but also say "The origin of water forming the RSL is not understood". RSL (Recurring slope lineae) are the "seasonal dark streaks" observed from orbiting satellites.

The strange thing (or is it?) is that several of the authors and other scientists seem to be far more certain of  compelling evidence in interviews than is evident in the published paper. As I said earlier, the paper mentions atmospheric pressure absolutely nowhere. At a pressure of ).007 bar, the boiling point of pure water is 2°C, and temperatures can reach 20°C on the observed crater slopes. Even strong salt solutions would evaporate water at temperatures well below 2°C, and ice (which would be pure water of course) would sublimate - evaporate without melting.

The jury is definitely out on this one, but the press and media are having a field day, presenting what I see from actually reading the paper to be a rather thin hypothesis as confirmed fact.

All you need to know about glaciers, or maybe not

I could dedicate an entire  separate blog to rubbishing Guardian articles about the environment, climate change and the like. But for now, it amuses me to just pick the worst articles for this blog. Take today's article for instance, by one Wendell Tangborn. Who he? The Guardian has a mini résumé:
Wendell Tangborn has worked with glaciers for 55 years, beginning with South Cascade Glacier in Washington in 1960. Currently, his main interest is mass balance. He has developed a computer model that calculates a glacier's mass balance from routine weather observations and has published over 40 papers in glaciology. He lives on Vashon Island in Washington State.
He's "worked with glaciers"? I'll let that one pass, but it conjures up all sorts of strange images...
I don't doubt he's published over 40 papers in glaciology, but a Google Scholar search reveals that most of them concern the North and South Cascade Mountains that stretch from just over the Canadian border west of Vancouver (Canadian Cascades), through Washington and Oregon and into northern California. He is not an expert on glaciers worldwide, as the record of his published papers shows.
Glacier melt shows a climate change tipping point. We must pay attention 
Fossil fuel burning must taper off dramatically and be replaced with renewable sources of energy if we are going to survive as a species on this planet 
Mountain glaciers and humans have coexisted for roughly 200,000 years, but that long idyll appears to be ending. The earth’s 190,000 glaciers, sentinels of climate change that appear to be more sensitive to the climate than are humans, are disappearing at an unprecedented pace, the canaries in climate change’s coal mine.
There is evidence for many glaciers worldwide being in retreat, and there are estimates, but no one actually knows how many. Wendell's being rather less than truthful by implying here that all are in retreat. To cap it all, the "canary in the coal mine" appears here too. That coal mine must have hundreds of canaries in it by now, put there by many dozens of claims about climate, sea-level rise, coral reefs, glaciers - the list goes on and on. They can't all be "the canary in the coal mine".
It is all being driven by human activities, and it has been happening for three decades. The fate of both humans and glaciers will depend on drastically reducing carbon dioxide emissions during the next decade. 
Most of the world’s glaciers began changing in the late 1980s from relative stability to negative mass balances. Mass balance is the difference between growth from snow accumulation and shrinkage from snow and ice melting. The relatively abrupt change to negative glacier mass balances strongly suggests a climate tipping point, when the climate changes from one stable state to another.
Total rubbish - it's been happening at an increasing pace since the end of the "Little Ice Age" in the mid 19th. century. The World Glacier Inventory says that systematic glacier monitoring on a large scale began in 1894. The World Glacier Monitoring Service published a comprehensive report in 2008 titled "Global Glacier Changes: facts and figures" available here. On page 14 of the pdf is shown this figure:
     Fig. 5.9 The cumulative specific mass balance curves are shown for
     the mean of all glaciers and 30 ‘reference’ glaciers with (almost)
     continuous series since 1976. Source: Data from WGMS.

It should be obvious that "Most of the world’s glaciers began changing in the late 1980s from relative stability to negative mass balances." is baloney. There was no "relatively abrupt change" at all, hence no "climate tipping point". This is not science at all - it's politics. Perhaps it's true of some, or even all of the glaciers he's studied - the list isn't very long, judging by the abstracts of his papers, and certainly far, very far, from global.
There are other compelling signs that a climate tipping point has been reached. One of the most critical is the loss of the floating sea ice cover in the Arctic Ocean. In 2014, the late-summer extent of sea ice in the north polar seas was the lowest since satellite measurements began in 1979. Before 1979, evidence based on shipping and whaling charts suggests it has not been this low for at least hundreds of years. Paleo climatologists believe that Arctic sea ice cover last melted completely during summers about 125,000 years ago, during a warm period between ice ages.
More rubbish - in fact there is plenty of evidence pre-1979 that large parts of  the Arctic currently under ice were ice-free in late summer; newspaper articles and reports from ship's captains, whalers and explorers.
Reduction of northern-hemisphere sea ice means that more incoming sunlight is absorbed into darker ocean water instead of being reflected by ice and then re-radiated into the atmosphere as heat. This, in turn, reduces the extent of the annual northern-hemisphere snow cover, which further accelerates global warming. A related effect that could be even more environmentally devastating is the release of methane from permafrost and seafloor hydrates as the ocean warms. Another tipping-point indicator is the Greenland and West Antarctic ice sheets, which have shown signs of disintegrating during the past two decades. Just partial melting of these ice sheets will raise sea level several meters.
There is evidence that the warmer ocean water actually freezes quicker next winter precisely because it does radiate into the atmosphere, but not as heat, Wendell, but as long-wave infrared. He really knows his stuff, this Wendell.

He then says "Just partial melting of these ice sheets will raise sea level several meters". Depends just how much "partial" means, don't it? I've found out a little more about our Wendell - try this:
Tracking glaciers the Tangborn way 
Wendell Tangborn thinks he has invented a better mousetrap. He's still waiting for the scientific world to beat a path to his door. 
Sitting in a cramped home office overlooking the (rising) waters of Puget Sound, Tangborn talks about his plan to monitor 200 glaciers around the world to see whether or not — and, if so, how quickly — they're melting away. He has already done detailed reports on seven, including Juneau's incredible shrinking Mendenhall Glacier. He's working on 40 more, and hoping one or more foundations will supply enough money to hire the three people he'd need to keep track of all 200. 
People often cite the waxing or waning of glaciers to prove that the earth is or is not getting warmer. But according to Tangborn, no one is looking systematically at a large number of glaciers so that trends become obvious and the glaciers which are behaving contrary to the trends can be seen clearly as outliers.
What? "No one is looking systematically..."? The man's an ostrich with his head in the sand, or perhaps in a glacier crevasse. So in 2013 he'd reported on just seven glaciers out of his target 200. That target, using his own figure above of  190,000 would be just 0.1% of the total. Just how does he do it with his "better mousetrap"?
Basically, he uses temperature and precipitation data from fixed weather stations to calculate a glacier's "mass balance" — that is, the difference between the winter accumulation of snow and the summer melting of snow and ice. A positive balance means the glacier is growing; negative means it's shrinking. 
The program must be customized for every glacier. Tangborn must take account of the topography and total area of the glacier's surface. Once he plugs that into the program, he can sit in his office and get information that's as reliable as the data produced the old-fashioned way — the way he did it for many years — by climbing around on the ice with probing rods and shovels. 
For each glacier, Tangborn has to find a weather station that produces results in line with actual observations. That isn't necessarily the weather station right next door to the ice. Austrian scientists can't believe that Tangborn's using a weather station in Innsbruck to monitor the Vernagtferner glacier, which is 100 kilometers away, rather than a station close to the site. But, says Tangborn, somehow local weather phenomena keep the closer station from producing useful numbers.
This is clearly his "mass balance model", but he doesn't always use local weather data, but scratches around until he gets a fit with reality, or his reality at least. Innsbruck's elevation is 574m, the lowest point (the snout) of the Vernagtferner glacier is 2790m above sea level. He's using a weather station 100 km away, and more than 2000 metres lower, because "local weather phenomena keep the closer station from producing useful numbers". But it's the "local weather phenomena" which directly affect the glacier; no other weather phenomena can possibly affect it. Remember "He's still waiting for the scientific world to beat a path to his door.", and they haven't. I wonder why. Perhaps you can work it out for yourself.

Saturday, 26 September 2015

Huge, I mean HUGE rally for "Climate Justice" in Washington

I've absolutely no idea what "Climate Justice" means, I suspect most people don't, and I suspect many who claim to support it don't know either. Back in August, WaPo (The Washington Post) breathlessly told us that "For Pope Francis’s D.C. visit, environmental rally of up to 200K planned".
Several environmental groups are planning a major climate rally that will draw hundreds of thousands to the National Mall on Sept. 24, the day Pope Francis speaks to Congress and is expected to address the public afterwards. 
The permit for the gathering — which will make the moral case for reducing greenhouse gas emissions linked to global warming — is for 200,000 people. The Moral Action on Climate Network, along with the Earth Day Network, League of Conservation Voters, Sierra Club and other groups, have timed the rally on the Mall  the same day of the pope’s speech.  House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) has said the pope “has expressed an interest” in making an appearance on the Capitol’s West Front.
Wow - "hundreds of thousands" that must have been some sight last Thursday! Well no, apparently "Climate Justice" is such a burning issue on a nice, warm day in Washington that "hundreds" turned up, or so ThinkProgress estimated - "Pope’s Visit To D.C. Inspires Hundreds To Rally For Climate Justice".

Source: Think Progress

On Thursday morning — as Pope Francis prepared to make history by addressing Congress — hundreds of activists gathered on the National Mall. Holding signs, petitioning for signatures, and offering spirited remarks to an expectant crowd, the activists represented a spectrum of causes and religious denominations, from young evangelicals to Black Lives Matter leaders. And they all came together for a common purpose: to demand action on climate change. “We realize that climate change is the upstream issue, and that downstream, it affects all of us. It is a global an issue as you’ll ever want to encounter. If you’re concerned about immigration, then you realize climate change creates so many climate refugees. If you’re a person who is interested in protecting animals, then you realize that if we didn’t eat animals, we’d be reducing our carbon emissions by almost as much as the entire transportation sector,” Lise Van Susteren, head of Moral Action on Climate Justice, the organization responsible for the rally, told ThinkProgress. “Each group recognizes that we have so much common ground, and that if we put our energies together, that we can see some real differences.”

WaPo was a little more generous with an estimate of 2,000.
For pope-cheering climate rally, a modest crowd. 
The faith-based climate rally that took place Thursday in Washington drew a much smaller crowd than anticipated, though organizers say they still managed to convey their message. 
The Moral Action on Climate Justice network, which worked with the Earth Day Network, League of Conservation Voters, Sierra Club. Friends of of the Earth and other groups to organize the event, originally asked the National Park Service for a permit for 50,000 attendees. But Park Service countered the permit should be closer to 200,000, organizers said, given the popularity of Pope Francis. 
In the end, according to several observers, the overall attendance was closer to 2,000. Think Progress — which is published by the liberal think tank Center for American Progress — estimated there were “hundreds of activists” on the Mall for the event, which started early Friday.
Apparently, erstwhile supporters were put off by "traffic".
According to Moral Action on Climate Justice’s head Lise Van Susteren, crowds were deterred by media reports and government warnings that downtown traffic would be snarled by road closures related to the pope’s visit.
“Everybody was saying it was going to be traffic armageddon,” she said in an interview Friday. “Traffic armageddon was the tornado.”
But Van Susteren said the fact that 100 journalists were credentialed for the event, and disparate groups including evangelical and Black Lives Matter activists came together on stage is what matters.
“It’s not how many people are on the ground, really. That’s like how many people come to my birthday, party,” she said. “The issue is people who do count are there.”
Silly me thought that it was precisely "how many people are on the ground" which mattered to the organisers and the press and media for a rally or public protest. Lise continued:
“The point is to bring in evangelicals” into the climate debate, Van Susteren added. “You’ve got to show it’s a big tent.”
Indeed, and the metaphorical "big tent" was almost empty. The article ends:
Van Susteren declined to disclose the total cost of the rally, which was shared among several environmental groups, but said the Park Service required organizers pay for a range of costs on the assumption that nearly 200,000 people would come. That included one portable toilet for every 300 people, multiple jumbotrons, security fees and insurance.
Now lemme see; estimated 200,000, one portaloo for every 300 attendees, which makes a total of 666 toilets. One for every three of the estimated 2,000 who turned up. Taking the piss is so easy and hygenic with so many portaloos on the ground.

Just one last soundbite from ThinkProgress by someone called "Moby", who's a Vegan (who woulda guessed?)
“Any other issue that’s important to anyone, be they progressive or conservative, pales in comparison to climate change. Nothing else that we care about can exist if the climate changes. If there’s no food and there are hurricanes with 250 mph winds, and if half the world’s population is displaced, and if political systems start to fail, everything else we care about just falls by the wayside,” he told ThinkProgress. “It’s almost like we have to fix climate change and then get back to all the other issues that we care about.”
"Nothing else that we care about can exist if the climate changes" - well no, it matters more than just a jot how much the climate changes, and in which direction. Don't these muppets realise the climate is always changing and has always changed? Into and out of ice-ages is a lotta change, and early humans managed to survive the last glacial, without apparently too much trouble. "If there's no food..." - then we'll all be dead. If there's no food, there won't be half the world's population to be displaced, and no political systems either. All dead, including of course the 198,000 "traffic refugees" who cared so much about "Climate Justice" they couldn't be bothered to turn up on a nice sunny day in Washington.